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Insatiable Curiosity (The Reboot)

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    As Leon slotted a power cell into his weapon, Varatyr clumsily drew his sidearm without sheathing his sword, and transferred it to his left hand.

    When Leon went to pass him a power cell, Varatyr instead met it with his gun, sliding the power cell home in one movement.

    Varatyr noted the opening immediately, and quickly tapped Leon on the shoulder.

    “The guard station,” he said, indicating it, before tapping his rifle with his tail.

    Leon glanced at him, then the office, before nodding, hefting the duffle bag onto his shoulder. In addition to the D-sink power cells for Varatyr’s rifle, the position also offered much better cover, and a flanking position on the guards.

    “Go!” Varatyr barked, and the two of them took off at a sprint, Varatyr’s shield collapsing into its retracted state within the first couple of steps. He took a swipe at a passing guard as he ran, his blade shimmering and shrieking as he struck out. The guard stumbled, looking confused, then collapsed, his head rolling away from his shoulders.

    Leon pulled ahead, despite Varatyr’s armour boosting his sprint speed, and reached the guard station first, slipping inside and into cover, peeking out to cover Varatyr as the Plated Dragon covered the last few metres.

    Varatyr’s momentum caused him to skid as he came to a stop inside the guard station, his armoured claws leaving long marks on the floor.

    He quickly took cover next to Leon, looking around the office for his weapon’s D-sinks. When he located them, he stored his blade and sidearm, grabbed the D-sinks, slotting one into his weapon, and storing the others on his armour, before turning and opening fire, the huge rifle sending a powerful ion bolt thundering at the guards.

    Leon, meanwhile, laid down fire onto the guards, further adding to the confusion Argril and Garran were causing.
    Arratra's Signature
    Fanfiction


    Deviantart


    Insatiable Curiosity

    Major Leon Stormstrider

    Varatyr Scorchtalon

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      Immediately after the thunderbolt-boom report of Varatyr's weapon, Leon became aware of a... presence coming up in behind he and Varatyr! His eye flicking a fast orbit back, he saw a tiger trying to sneak up on them! What was more, the beast had a wickedly curved blade in his right paw!

      The tiger, a guard supervisor from the looks of the rank insignia on his collars, had evidently taken cover in an adjoining closet when the fighting had begun. Now, apparently weaponless save for this knife, he was hoping to sneak up and stab Leon and Varatyr in their backs!

      (GM's note: Arratra, this tiger is going to turn out to be an expert martial artist. I want to give you a chance to strut your stuff. So let Leon go. We'll have us a fun fight. )

      *****

      The elevator opened at once for Victorious. It hadn't for the bear. It had without any problem at all for her.

      Daryn was good. He was very good. There was no telling how the elevator recognized her, but it had. Perhaps Daryn could explain how, if asked, but all Victorious knew, was that she had stepped up to its set of doors and they'd slid right open for her.

      Or maybe it wasn't Daryn. A mech stood inside the carriage. Coincidence, then? The mech had been riding up, and the doors opened for it just as Vic had stepped up to them. Either way, the mech's pilot, his face visible behind the face plate, wore the same bewildered expression as the last pilot's face had.

      "Out of the way, sugah," said Odolana's voice. "Got two more coming up. We're gonna kick that lion's arse. If you're looking for your bird friend, take this car down two levels and get out at CL-3. He's on that level right now."

      Then waiting for Victorious to step aside, the mech clanked out of the elevator and strode immediately to join the fray with Sandar.

      Which was turning into a serious firefight. Sandar was holding his own against the two mechs, and one of the mechs was starting to billow smoke from around its rear heat sinks. Either way, it was no place to be for someone without some serious armor or a force field. The kinds of weapons that were being fired in this fight would have melted flesh just by a shot from one of them passing too close to a body. Victorious needed to get out of there. She needed to get out of there now.

      *****

      As soon as he got readings that the station's weapons systems had gone inactive and that the force field was down, the little fox wasted no time at all docking his ship.

      "Move! Move! Move!" roared Rian - he and the other Daedalus disembarking as fast as the airlock signaled a positive seal, the eight more lightly armored marines filing out in behind them in a fast, expert dispersion pattern. Then, when Rian activated one of the docking complexes' inner airlocks, he opened it to pure chaos.

      Varatyr's 1201 had just taken out a guard, and after turning his whole body into pink mist and tatters of gore, it had blasted through two tables and hit a stanchion, erupting into a brief but very vibrant lightning storm upon impact. Guards were shouting, firing from in behind what cover was available to them, and people by the hundreds were racing for whatever exits they could find.

      "Marines!" Rian shouted, his voice booming over his mech's speakers. "Behind me and Lawrence!"

      Lawrence was the other Daedalus pilot.

      "First Lieutenant!" Rian then called that mech's pilot. "Advance and sweep! Start taking out those guards!"

      Both mechs were carrying 1201s. These weapons, however, were being fed power directly from the mechs' power supplies. As such, when Rian and his partner started opening up, they sent streams of ion bolts into the fight, each as powerful as the one that Varatyr had just unleashed.

      Guards started simply exploding. The Supermarket became true bedlam - dozens of ultra bright ion bolts firing in carefully placed streams from the two advancing Daedalus' weapons.

      In seconds, it was over. What guards that hadn't been killed, having seen what the situation was turning into, had thrown down their weapons and had thrown their hands high. Just like that, the team from the Insatiable Curiosity had taken the Supermarket. The fight here was over.

      "Start taking prisoners!" Rian shouted. "Standard protocol. Cuff'em and sit'em along the walls. We'll sort through them when this is over."

      That said, Rian advanced his mech toward Garran. He cradled his 1201 in the crook of the mech's left arm and used the right to salute the lion.

      "Area secure, Sir!" Rian reported. "Orders!"

      *****

      Rick was busy receiving another checkup from Fordis, when the comm station on his desk beeped. He had set the station to not disturb him unless it was a message from one of his senior staff. The beep meant the message likely an important one.

      "Just a moment, Doctor," Rick told Fordis. Getting up, he pulled on his robe and strode out to where his desk was. Sitting down behind his desk, he saw that there was a message from Jaquoi.

      After reading it, Rick started to write a short reply. Tilting his head slightly though and quirking his lip, he decided to contact his new Master at Arms directly.

      "Mister Jaquoi," Rick said with formal respect, when Haheen picked up the comm.

      Haheen could immediately see the age and the strain in his Captain's face. He had bags under his eyes, and he looked haggard - a man who has not seen many restful nights in quite the while. And who was under stress, enormous amounts of it. The Captain nonetheless, regarded Haheen with a level, expectant expression, a person in full command of his faculties.

      "I think you coming to dinner would be a good idea. I've been aware of the Templars for a long time, both those aboard my ship, and I think you will agree, what may be becoming a mounting problem for the League, as well. Be in my quarters in one hour. If you will, please stop by one of the restaurants and pick something up."

      Rick, despite his face being haggard, gave Haheen a rueful smile. "I am afraid I don't feel up much to cooking this evening."

      After Haheen signed off, Rick got up and went back into his bed chamber, where Fordis still waited.

      "So I am to go on the pill tomorrow."

      It was a statement, Rick nodding down at his doctor.

      "Very well. Please finish your examination. I have a guest arriving in an hour. I will be wanting time to make myself presentable."
      Rick Canaan's Signature
      A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

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        Leon flashed into motion the instant he spotted the tiger.

        With the tiger already so close, Leon didn’t bother with his carbine; he whirled, his weapon clattering to the floor, as his claws flashed for the wrist of the hand that held the knife.

        Tinkeno was an unusual martial art when it came to fighting someone with a blade; instead of focusing on controlling the enemy weapon, it focused on removing it from the fight, preferably by disarming (hence Leon’s attack at the wrist). This was because a Tinkeno stylist would be using the art either armed (with clawed gauntlets) themselves, or with natural claws (though in this latter case, they would preferably be wearing protective demi-gauntlets; gauntlets Leon wasn’t wearing, as part of playing a cocky Flashing Claw stylist).

        The tiger’s response to Leon’s attack caused the raptor to narrow his eyes.

        The tiger was a martial artist, though Leon wasn’t able to determine which style just yet.

        “Leon-,” Varatyr started, turning, only to stop when Leon held out an arm, palm to him.

        “Don’t,” he barked, “You won’t have an opening. I’ll handle this. Handle the guards outside.”

        My sidearm doesn’t have a power cell, and I won’t have time to load it, Leon observed, cursing himself for the oversight, And the 909 and 1201 would only be useful as a club in these confines. Varatyr’s blades aren’t going to be much use, either; too much danger of them hitting one of us unintentionally.

        He took a breath, dumping the duffel bag onto the floor.

        “I make a point of knowing the names of fellow martial artists when I fight them,” Leon said, dropping into a stance, “So, you are?”

        :::

        Varatyr cursed, before slipping out of the booth to get of out Leon’s way, and deploying his shield as he re-entered the rest of the fight… to find it already ending.

        He stopped, startled.

        “This is Leon’s backup?” he blurted, before shaking his head, and looking back into the booth.

        “Hey!” He called, transferring his rifle to his shield hand and waving his now-free right hand, “Garran, or whatever your name is! Stormstrider’s engaging an enemy combatant over here!”
        Arratra's Signature
        Fanfiction


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        Insatiable Curiosity

        Major Leon Stormstrider

        Varatyr Scorchtalon

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          Daryn wished he could hear some of the reactions from the previous station owners at having to listen to that children’s song over and over again while a firefight was going on. It brought a glimmer to his eye and a rightward tilt to his head. He would probably get reports on how things were going soon, but for the moment there was still work yet to be done.

          First and foremost was blocking the AI. As Knife had said, it was aware of them and was watching, which meant that it probably had a link to the station. Daryn took a look at the Unisphere link and discovered far more traffic going through it than there should be. Given only the upper crust of the station’s staff had access to it, there should not be as much traffic going through it.

          This meant that MAICH was likely observing via the Unisphere. Well, given the state of these systems, Daryn didn’t have time to do anything subtle. The link was only for the upper echelon of the station, so they didn’t bother to install monitoring or logging on it. After all, why would you, when everyone that is going to use it is trustworthy, right? Daryn knew better.

          Unfortunately, it meant that he couldn’t isolate just the AI’s traffic in this case, so the best he could do was simply shutting down the link itself. He locked it using a strong incredibly long key. Then for good measure, he shut the systems that ran the link down. You couldn’t route traffic if the systems were off. That should block the AI, at least, for now.

          He then set his sights on exfiltrating Sandar’s data. His memory card was plugged in and he got down to copying his home directory, which would contain all of his personal files. Then he copied over all the emails and inter-station comm logs. There was a lot there, and no doubt most of it would be useless, but he preferred to have as complete a backup as he could. He then went back and copied all of the other home directories for the station’s staff. These might be revealing in their own way.

          As he did this, he thought about Knife. What was it that was floating around in this station’s systems? He put a message into a self-addressed packet and sent it out into the network. It would go out to the gateway, then come back. If Knife had something to say to him, he could simply add to the packet before it was sent back to him. Of course, he made sure to send the packet from a separate device. Just in case someone got any ideas of trying to take his station over.

          Daryn> Knife? I don’t know what of you is in here, but if you want a ride back, let me know.

          With luck, he was dealing with something other than just a simple automation script.

          Daryn couldn’t believe that things hadn’t exploded on him yet. Isn’t that how things always went in the holovids? The hero would be just on the cusp of success, only to be thwarted at the last second by something he couldn’t have foreseen? He was waiting for that moment to happen. He was waiting for all of his work to prove completely worthless.

          He blinked and shook his head. With self-sabotaging thoughts like that, things would go badly indeed. He took a deep breath and got his racing heart under control. “Do what you can bird, don’t worry about what you can’t control.” he recalled Rick having told him on several occasions. It was advice he needed to take to heart now.

          The data was copying over, email was copying over, messaging traffic was copying over. That left one other thing to see to, the rest of the mission. He needed to see what the rest of his team was up to. He opened up a camera feed and took a peak, sliding the window to a corner and having the system follow their comm ID’s. He then opened up a comm channel to his team to update them on his status, "The station's systems are ours. Had a false start earlier, but I've got full control now. Doors and elevators will open to you all. I'll be your eyes from here from this point on."
          Daryn's Signature



          “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

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            It certainly seemed like he'd have to speed up his examination when the Captain came back. The squirrel nodded his head and picked up the pace, ensuring that his augments were picking up every vital he could, as well as dealing with old-school medical techniques. It didn't seem like much, but the data would be gathered in mere moments.

            "Alright, Captain, I think I have everything I'll need for a proper diagnostic. You'll definitely be needing to go on the pill, of course, but with what I'm gathering, you might need something a bit more. We'll have to see."

            The squirrel furrowed his brow, concerned. "Though with the amount of sleep you've been getting, compared to all of the excess stress you've been under, it cannot possibly have been good on your heart. You'll get a diagnosis before the end of the day, Captain. I certainly hope it's a good one."

            With a nod, the squirrel would step back toward the door, unable to look the Captain in the eye for a moment.

            "...funny thing, that. Hope, in my field." He shook his head as he stepped off toward the elevator.

            Comment


              Garran face was stoic as he squeezed the trigger of his rifle, discharge its last bit of power into a bolt on energy that served to end one of his assailant's life in a rather unceremonious spray of charred flesh and boiled blood. He kept careful track of Argril's movements. Even as the super-soldier moved in a blur of violence and bloodshed, his mind shone with a single-minded devotion to doing what was asked of him. His programming had taught him how to kill, and his master had told him to do it. It was a clarity of purpose that might have engendered a sort of envy had it not come at the cost of most of Argril's adult personality, free-will, and normal physiology. Garran wasn't sure whether to feel more pity for the dog or the dozens of guards whom he had ordered the dog to kill.

              Pity and reflection would have to come later however. The unleashing of Argril, and the sudden influx of reinforcements had rendered any resistance moot at this point. That was, except one resolute tiger who had moved to engage Leon. Garran scowled and approached. He slung his empty rifle over his back and raised his side-arm. They were too close, Garran couldn’t possibly get a shot on the Tiger while he and the major were tangling at this range. The Major’s companion seemed to have come to a similar realization. Recollections of the Major’s skill-set told him that by all rights, Leon should be fine. The cost was time, time they needed to get to Daryn and get everyone to safety. Even as the Curiosity’s marines secured the area, it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the Station mobilized against them.

              As Argril howled and the last remaining guards through down their weapons, Garran ordered the dog to stand-down. Stand down from maximum attrition, police any D-cells you need to recuperate, he commanded mentally towards the dog. As one of the Curiosity’s marines hustled past him, Garran waved to get his attention. “I need reloads, standard carbine D-cells,” he grunted, keeping one eye on the Major.

              The marine nodded in understanding and reached into his tactical vest, producing three power-cells. “That’s half of mine, don’t waste them!” he said, his bravado undermined slightly by the tinges of fear that plucked at the edges of his mind.

              “I don’t plan on missing,” Garran responded with a chuckle, playing into the exchange and trying to sound calm.
              As Garran loaded the first power-cell, Daryn’s COM sprang to life, "The station's systems are ours. Had a false start earlier, but I've got full control now. Doors and elevators will open to you all. I'll be your eyes from here from this point on."

              Garran sighed, things were still moving. The silence from Victorious and Salvatore was still worrying. “Alright Commander, we have the Super-Market. We’re coming to get you, do you have eyes on Salvatore and Victorious?” he asked.
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                (GM's Note: This is just to keep things moving, while we wait for Slice's post. No, no worries, Slice, no guilt here... hehe )

                Argril acknowledged the order, standing down at once. He gave Garran a nod and then started going through the remains of the dead, looking for any D-sinks he might be able to use.

                He had though, looked longingly toward the office where Leon was engaged, but had followed orders. Like actually, the good dog he so much wished to be.

                As to that quarter, the tiger gave his raptor opponent a savage little smile.

                "Oberton," he answered. "Remember it. Tell your friends to remember it. It will be the name that is carved under yours on your tomb stone. 'Killed by Oberton'. Poetic. Don't you think?"

                Leon's slap for the tiger's knife had missed, the tiger having twisted his arm away in an expert feint.

                "Want me to put this down, do you?" he asked, glancing at the knife and circling with Leon. "Well, I won't need it, anyway. Not to kill the likes of you."

                With a flick of his wrist, he flung the knife, it striking to stick quivering in a dart board some of the guards had set up in the office. It was a dead on bulls eye. The tiger had barely glanced before making the throw.

                He was big, too, and muscular. He had Leon by at least a good twelve centimeters and looked like he outweighed him by a good twenty-five kilos. A big Bengal tiger, and well practiced and confident in his skill in the extreme.

                He struck.

                There was no warning, no grunt or anything to indicate he was about to attack.

                'The Falcon Seizes on the Wing'. It was a move that greatly resembled that attack by that bird - a claw reaching out to take another in flight. It was everything Leon could do to block it. He did manage to block it, though.

                But the tiger spun himself around Leon's back, coming back-to-back with him - 'The Courtier Waltzes'. It wasn't an attack, but another feint, one meant to make an opponent need to turn around. It was also a move which could find an opponent easily tripped. When they did try to turn around, the other who had set up the position could foul the other's legs with a foot, causing a stumble.

                Instead of going for that, though, the tiger caught the door to the office in a hand and slammed it, which the move had also placed him in perfect position to do. Then two fluid steps and the door was locked. A mechanical thumb-turn. It set with a loud snackt.

                He and Leon were now isolated from the others.

                And that is when the tiger struck. Really struck.

                'Arc of the Moon', followed in the same fluid movement with The Fisherbird Steps Over the Lilypad.

                It was a fast claw-sweep to Leon's face with a hand, followed in the same movement by a foot aiming to sweep its claws across Leon's gut - a beautiful even elegant dance-like whirl. It would have been a wonderful movement in a dance, if not for the fact that it was also so deadly. It also told Leon that he was in a fight, a real fight. And a fight for his life.

                *****

                "It's the damdest thing, Sir," said Rian to Garran, handing some more power packs over. He had removed the packs from one of his mech's storage compartments with one of its fiddler arms.

                "You would think that these guards would have had better coordination. But it was almost one-sided, both when you and your team were fighting them alone, and after, when we stepped into the fight. I think I have an inkling why, though. I tried to tap into their comms to try to order their surrender before we opened up on'em, and that's where it got weird. There was music playing over their comms. Blasting, actually. Some weird little song I know I've heard somewhere. Something about..."

                Rian cleared his throat over his mech's speakers, the sound of the pilot inside embarrassed.

                "'You love me, I love you...'" He cleared his throat again, really embarrassed now. "Anyway, we thought you might be wanting these, so I made sure we brought some extras. They're extra dense. Will give you more shots than standard charge loads."

                Rian handed Garran three of the extra loaded packs.

                That's about when Daryn's announcement came over their comms.

                "Sir, might I suggest - we check out the lower sections? From what I was made to understand by the tactical briefing we received, the areas below us is called the 'Mire'. Then below that is the facility's power and refinement areas. One may offer up our enemies opportunity for hostage-taking, and the other... Well, Sir. If some of the dirtbags that run the station are able to get to it, they might be able to blow the whole thing."

                Rian made his mech come to full attention.

                "Sir, request permission for me and my marines to reconnoiter the lower areas. With your leave, we will begin immediately."
                Rick Canaan's Signature
                A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

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                  He’s boastful, cocky, Leon thought, watching the tiger carefully, He’s taller and heavier, but he doesn’t seem to have realised that I’m a Tinkeno practitioner.

                  “I wouldn’t exactly call it a masterpiece,” Leon replied, “Still, thank you. I’ll make sure to remember your name.”

                  He watched as the tiger threw away the blade, raising an eyebrow.

                  “The likes of me, eh?” Leon replied, “We’ll see.”

                  The tiger attacked the instant after Leon finished speaking, and the raptor blurred into motion.

                  The Falcon Seizes on the Wing was a move that originated from the Flashing Claw style, though almost every clawfighting style had incorporated it, as it was extremely difficult to block without incurring injury; it was better to avoid the move than to try blocking it.

                  Leon, who had his back to the door-frame, didn’t have that option, and instead had to counter it. He did so by interposing his own claws, knocking the reaching hand out of alignment.

                  It was a risky block, and Leon only barely avoided getting nicked. His own claws brushed the fur of the tiger.

                  The Courtier Waltzes followed; Again, it had originally been a Flashing Claw move, and again one that other styles had borrowed, Tinkeno included.

                  It was also a move Leon had a counter to.

                  Leon twisted, one foot still planted, the other rising, slipping backwards, and then stomping down, scythe-claw down to rip into the foe’s calf, a backhand flashing for the back of the head, only to miss when the tiger wasn’t in the expected position.

                  He’s determined to make this one-on-one, Leon noted as he turned to face Oberton, He’s not a Tinkeno stylist, then.

                  Tinkeno was designed for active combat use, meaning it needed to be able to handle multiple opponents.

                  What followed was pure Flashing Claw.

                  The combination of Arc of the Moon and The Fisherbird Steps Over the Lilypad was a graceful, impressive move… but had a flaw; a very simple counter that required lightning reflexes to avoid.

                  Leon swayed back, pulling both his face and his stomach out of the way of the enemy’s claw, his hand snapping down to intercept Oberton’s calf, claws aimed to pierce; a move known as the Hunting Trap.

                  It was a dip into the lethal side of Tinkeno, but in this situation, it seemed unavoidable.

                  :::

                  “Wha- Vratt!” Varatyr spat on hearing the sound of the lock on the door being locked, “Bastard locked the door on us!”

                  He growled in frustration, before turning to the discussion right as Rian mentioned that enemy comms had been disrupted.

                  “They did lose coordination partway through the firefight,” he commented, before pausing as Rian gave a slight taste of the song.

                  “Wait… that’s what they were hearing,” he asked incredulously.
                  Arratra's Signature
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                  Insatiable Curiosity

                  Major Leon Stormstrider

                  Varatyr Scorchtalon

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                    Originally posted by Rick Canaan View Post
                    (GM's Note: This is just to keep things moving, while we wait for Slice's post. No, no worries, Slice, no guilt here... hehe )
                    ((Haha, duly noted! Hopefully didn't keep you waiting too long))

                    -

                    Victorious didn’t need telling twice. The moment the mech marched out of the elevator, she took it down two levels. She readied her newly acquired weapon and aimed them at the doors, ready on the trigger as they slid open.

                    She looked left. Then right.

                    Nothing. The others must be distracting them. For everything else she could say about that dog, it wasn’t an easy one to take down.

                    And Garren?

                    He was the one who took it down.

                    At a light jog, the caribou left the elevator, aiming around every corner as she headed directly to CL-3.

                    She reached the door to the place just as she got Daryn’s message.

                    “Well?” she replied over the comms, “Am I going to have to knock?”

                    -

                    Haheen saluted as the Captain came onto his screen, straightening himself to look more presentable. He noted immediately, of course, the tiredness in Rick’s eyes, but he didn’t let a flicker of pity cross his face. He knew men like Rick. They didn’t take well to being pitied and protected – they wanted to get through on their own merit.

                    “Of course, Captain,” said the rat, in response to being asked to pick up food for them, “it would be my pleasure. See you in an hour.”

                    And he meant it too. He dropped by his quarters to freshen up, put on his dress uniform, and swept his head fur back to look that little bit more distinguished. As an afterthought, he took out a rarely used bottle of make-up and gently layered a coating of it over his scar, masking it slightly with the tones of his skin. It was still visible, of course, but caught the eye less. He used to wear it more often, but found he walked with his chin down anyway, so no one could see it at all. Masking it gave him that little bit more confidence to raise his chin, and look up at his company.

                    This done, he sent a message ahead to one of the finer restaurants that he knew on the station and requested the Captain’s favourite, for him to pick up on the way. As an afterthought, he asked for a second of the dish, at an appropriately smaller size for himself. And a bottle of Raveshian scale ale, a somewhat lavish drink that his homeworld was famous for, with a distinctive taste and a recipe that had been secret for generations. They said that only three living people were ever privy to the knowledge of how it was made; two Raveshians and one Chatellite. Their tongues were plucked from their mouths so the secret never spread, yet in all other ways they lived in luxury, overseeing the production of the ale until their dying day. It was the highest position a rat could ever attain.

                    Once he had picked the meal up and paid for it, Haheen made his way to the Captain’s quarters. The chef had insisted that the order was on the house, a favour for his friend the Captain. Haheen had insisted harder that everyone should pay their share. As a compromise, the chef’s nephew, a lean and eager hare, had been brought in to carry the food for Haheen, to save him labouring under the load.

                    The pair of them arrived before Rick’s door twenty three seconds early. Haheen waited. The hare peered from behind a stack of carefully packaged goods.

                    “Erm… would you like me to knock, Mr Jaquoi, sir?” he asked.

                    Haheen just held up a hand.

                    Three. Two. One.

                    He knocked, precisely on the hour.

                    Comment


                      (GM's note: I am going to assume that Daryn would open the door for Victorious and I'm going to proceed from there. Daryn would be relieved to see an ally after all, and would be glad to have her with him.)

                      Just as Daryn opened the door for Victorious, he saw something move in the corridor some distance behind her. It was as if some shadowy figure had stepped out from in behind one of the mainframe units, and was...!

                      A Pufft! sounded from the figure, a dart striking the back of Victorious' neck even before Daryn's eyes had time to widen.

                      The caribou fell forward into the doorway, all seventy-odd kilos of her.

                      "Target's down!" whispered a voice from the figure down the corridor. "Moving in!"

                      "Good," replied another voice. Daryn recognized this voice. It was the same voice that had given them those two briefings before this mission had started.

                      Odolana.

                      Moving quickly, the figure resolved into a wolf in tactical armor, black, with what looked like an air-weapon. He had it aimed at Daryn.

                      "Unless you want one of these, get your hands up," he said, slowing to a stop about a meter behind Victorious' hooves. "There's enough in'em to put her out. They'd likely kill you."

                      The wolf gestured with the weapon. "Now take two steps back. Keep your hands up, where I can see them, and no talking."

                      A second figure then appeared out in the corridor. It was armored the same as the first.

                      "Coming up behind you," it called out in a new, low voice. "You got the caribou?"

                      "Yeah."

                      "Good. Cover the bird. I'll get the caribou in the door. Don't let the bird contact any of his people. They got a fricken supersoldier down there. We don't want it coming up here."

                      "Right," replied the first. He motioned at Daryn with his weapon again.

                      "Now turn around, and move real slow. Do anything I don't like, and I'll pump one of these into your feathered arse."

                      *****

                      As soon as Leon attacked back, he realized something. He'd already realized part of this, but he was also realizing that the tiger was just as arrogant in his style of fighting, as he had been with his words. He was good, yes. Very good, even. He was so good, though, that he might be prone to underestimating his opponents. Up until now, he'd probably never faced anyone who could beat him.

                      That was until he'd met Leon Stormstrider.

                      Leon had an advantage the tiger didn't. Leon was not arrogant. He was far from. He was careful, precise and knew his abilities and limitations and respected both. His master had drilled both of these into him until they had become second nature, and it was also just in Leon's personality to be these things. They were what had landed him the position as Captain Canaan's head bodyguard. He knew they were what was going to let him beat this tiger.

                      Leon came to realize all of this when he'd made his move. The tiger blocked it, avoiding injury, but had done so almost contemptuously. In so doing, he was already underestimating Leon. He took a danced step back and then tried for The Ram Batters Down the Gate. It was a thrust with the heel of the hand, meant to break an opponent's jaw, or to at least stun, if it connected. It however, left him wide open for Whirlwind on Ice - a move that would grab that arm with Leon's opposite hand, direct the strike down and harmlessly across his chest, and permit Leon to spin his back into the tiger's side, and from there, blast up against the side of his head with an elbow.

                      And just like that, the tiger was stumbling away, dazed, staggered by the blow. From there, Leon could go for almost any move he thought appropriate. The tiger was left wide open for it by his mistake in so contemptuously underestimating his opponent.

                      *****

                      As soon as Haheen knocked, the doors opened.

                      They slid open, revealing the interior of an elevator.

                      "Please come ahead, Master at Arms," said a voice from inside the car. It was the Captain's voice. "I will meet you in my lounge."

                      It was about a fifteen-second ride up. The rabbit glanced nervously a couple of times up at Haheen, but otherwise held his peace. If he did gulp audibly once.

                      The doors opened. They opened onto pure opulence. Dark blue carpet, lavish hardwood furniture with leather upholstery, a grandfather clock that stood no less than four meters tall, and the emblem of the starship they were on, emblazoned in the middle of carpet, five meters across.

                      Inward from this emblem toward the elevator, stood the Captain. He had obviously just freshly washed and had changed into a clean uniform. But more than any of that, he looked resplendent in the uniform. It was dark blue with silver buttons down the front of its tunic, and silver clawed paws its collars. More than two dozen service ribbons decorated the shirt above the left pocket, and there were nine hashmarks down the front sleeve, they indicating at least thirty-six years in League naval service.

                      But while the uniform itself looked resplendent, the person who wore it gave it a dignity few would be able to easily equal. Tall and poised, his face and neck as black as space itself, a blaze of purest white which dominated the center of that black face, and eyes that were nothing short of startlingly light blue - stria of light blue and silver with a directness and power to give their full attention that made his gaze upon one nothing short of enthralling.

                      Enthralling because within whose face they were set, was regarding Haheen with a small smile of welcome, and a flicker of curiosity for the person whom Haheen had brought. These eyes, under any other circumstance, had the power to command an indomitable presence. These were eyes who had seen thousands follow orders their owner had given. They were eyes that have seen war. They were eyes that had beheld death, and knew they would behold it again. They have beheld the deaths of millions. Had beheld the death of worlds, of his own world and others. But they were also eyes that would never give way to despair. They would seek, forever, the means and ways to prevail.

                      They were eyes that conveyed the presence of a man of titanium will.

                      The rabbit immediately dropped his eyes and was just as quick to make a curtsy to the Captain.

                      The Captain returned it with a brief nod.

                      "You may bring it to my dining table," he said then, lifting his eyes from the rabbit to settle them on Haheen.

                      The instant of surveying Haheen received in that look, was enough to send shivers up and down any lesser man's spine. If it didn't right then just turn that man's bowels to water and have him ready to confess any and every sin he'd ever committed. There was a power to Rick Canaan. To be looked upon by him, was to know the power of nature, itself.

                      It was only an instant, however, and was just as quickly replaced by the small smile of welcome.

                      "Master at Arms," he said formally. "Please. Come in."

                      The rabbit had already scurried past and was already busily setting his burden up on the dining table.

                      Rick raised a brow as the smells from the food made its way into the room, when the rabbit began uncovering the dishes.

                      "From the smell of things, it appears you asked Renald to prepare my favorites."

                      Rick made a formal gesture for Haheen to proceed him.

                      "So please, let's eat. And from your message, it seems we may have quite a bit to discuss."
                      Rick Canaan's Signature
                      A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

                      Comment


                        Leon didn’t give any signs that he’d made his realisation, not allowing his focus or readiness waver in the slightest.

                        The tiger knocked away Leon’s hand, but he did so carelessly, not realising which style the deceptively simple counter came from.

                        Leon flowed back into his stance as Oberton retreated. When the tiger came in with The Ram Batters Down the Gate, the raptor immediately countered with Whirlwind on Ice, whirling, one hand pushing Oberton's hand safely across his chest, the other arm whirling around at his temple.

                        The move did have an additional effect, however; not only did Leon’s elbow slam into Oberton’s temple, but the raptor’s stiff, heavy tail slammed into the side of the tiger’s abdomen.

                        As Oberton staggered, Leon, recognising his opportunity to end this, pressed in hard, hooking his leg around the tiger’s as he turned, pulling with his leg and pushing with his other hand.

                        The tiger, already off-balance, wouldn’t be able to avoid toppling, and Leon capitalised, seizing him by the wrist and rolling him over to pull both hands behind his back. Leon’s knee pressed into the small of Oberton’s back as he shifted out of range of his toe claws.

                        Leon pulled a length of cut-resistant cord from his belt pouch, and tied it tight around Oberton’s wrists, preventing him from being able to reach it with his claws.

                        “I never did give you my name, did I?” Leon said after a moment, “Major Leon Stormstrider. I’m a Fourth-plate in Tinkeno.”

                        Like other martial arts, clawfighting styles used coloured belts to denote levels of training. However, rather than using tabs on a black belt to denote levels of mastery, clawfighters used small plates of metal affixed to the outer surface of the belt.

                        Traditionally, two plates were required before you were permitted to teach students.

                        Leon was waiting until he earned his fifth before he actually started teaching classes (likely to the Curiosity’s Marines personnel), partly out of worry he wouldn’t be a good teacher; the Captain was an exception, since it was one-on-one instruction, and had been swordplay, not Tinkeno, though it had helped with Leon’s confidence in his competence at teaching.

                        (OOC: I hope I didn't overstep here,)
                        Arratra's Signature
                        Fanfiction


                        Deviantart


                        Insatiable Curiosity

                        Major Leon Stormstrider

                        Varatyr Scorchtalon

                        Comment


                          Daryn was about to greet Victorious when everything seemed to just happen. One moment he was about to say "Hello." and the next he found himself staggering backwards, trying to catch the Caribou and make sure she didn't land so hard.

                          His mind was racing, as was his heart. Things just got very, very real, and what surprised him the most was that he was not surprised at all. He had been right. His mind seemed to split into two at this point, outwardly terrified and shaking. Inwardly, he knew that he had taken precautions for just such an event. He hadn't completely trusted Odolana, and so his infiltration had taken that into account.

                          He let Victorious down as best he could, and his hand brushed past the dart as it went by. With luck, it would be enough to dislodge the dart and keep the full dose of the poison from going into her. He wasn't counting on it, but it was worth the attempt.

                          He got up and raised his hands, putting them behind his head. Then backed up and turned around as instructed. If they had wanted them both dead they could have done so already. No, he was supposed to be a bargaining chip. His life for Rick's cooperation. He was getting rather irritated by this role. The sort of people that would put him into it had no scruples. He'd already lost his wings for the same reason.

                          Well, as he cooperated with the two rogues, he knew well that his scripts were still running. One of those scripts was set to prompt him for action every two minutes. If he didn't respond, his team would get an automated SOS message. He didn't have to say or do a thing, because he'd set this in motion already. The professional part of him still saw a way out, still believed that things would be able to be worked out.

                          He wanted to get a good look at Odolana but was only able to manage a glance before he had to turn around. What would his visions tell him? That is if they appeared at all. At the very least, he'd get a piece of information that might be valuable or help him through this.

                          Meanwhile, the forward facing part of him let out his frustrations in the form of sobs. Soft, yet terrible. He was trying to stifle them, but several did escape his beak. As did the tears. He wasn't acting, he wasn't playing a part, he wasn't pretending to be scared. He really was scared. He didn't know how he managed not to give into that fear completely. All he knew was that he was operating in two very distinct modes at the moment. Perhaps it was having suspected Odolana to begin with, and having that confirmed didn't send him down a spiral of despair. To these two though, he had been cowed, as they no doubt had expected.

                          Everything came down to the plans he had set in motion, and the competence of his teammates in following through on his warning, if it went out. He'd done what he could ahead of time, now things were no longer in his hands. If he had his suit, he'd fight them off, but he didn't, and there wasn't much point in wishing for what wasn't possible. Things were going to play out as they would.
                          Daryn's Signature



                          “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

                          Comment


                            As the elevator rose up, Haheen felt the rabbit’s nervous gaze on him. The rat didn’t turn around, instead staring directly ahead at the doors that would open at the top, but somehow the rabbit’s furtive worry reminded him of Captain Yanktee. Haheen blinked slowly.

                            “Don’t worry,” he said quietly to the rabbit, without looking over. It was a small gesture, but not one that came naturally to the rat. He started to wonder if Yanktee was having an effect on him.

                            That was when the doors opened. Haheen heard the rabbit audibly gasp at the sight. He knew then that this story would be told in that family for generations to come. ‘The day grandpa was invited into the quarters of Captain Canaan himself’. Haheen wondered, briefly, whether he would even still feature in the recollection after a few tellings, or whether he would disappear into the background behind the enormous clock and the grand carpet. He allowed himself the slightest of smirks as he imagined the rabbit telling his children in a decade’s time about when “Captain Canaan requested me personally, inviting me in and shaking my hand!”. It was fascinating how these powerful figures shaped the lives around them, so much like a sun catching rocks in their orbit, altering the paths of other entities without ever realising.

                            The Captain had certainly altered Haheen’s life irreversibly. It was not through the grandeur of his room, though, which was barely spared a glance by the rat, who had seen much opulence in his lifetime. No. It was the man himself who Haheen was looking at as he stepped into the room; a tall, powerful figure that commanded utter respect. Gone was the tiredness that Haheen had witnessed earlier when he had called Rick. Now, it was as if the horse were carved from marble. It was hard to imagine any force being enough to bring him down.

                            Given the events of recent days, Haheen hoped that impression was matched by reality.

                            When Rick’s eyes landed on Haheen, the rat threw a sharp salute. That stare lingered for a moment, almost causing Haheen to break his gaze. Was he being… assessed? Would he be found wanting?

                            As soon as those thoughts had crossed his mind, the stare was replaced by a smile, so quickly that Haheen started to wonder if he’d imagined the earlier expression. Rooted to the spot by that thought, he was only spurred into action by the invite by the Captain’s invite in, which he responded to with a nod and a walk to the table. He appreciated Rick’s directness. No doubt the horse had worked out Haheen’s distaste for small talk. Straight to business suited him just fine.

                            “Please accept this bottle of Raveshian Scale Ale as my gift to you,” Haheen began, giving the rabbit time to lay out the food, courtesy again, and then leave the way he came. Haheen made a mental note to drop by with a tip after the meal. The kid had done well. “The taste is unique among all drinks of the galaxy,” Haheen continued, explaining the beverage to Rick, “and while some have been known to kill for another sample, others use it as a punishment drink at lavish parties. As such, please don’t feel the need to drink it all if it doesn’t suit your tastes. I shouldn’t be offended if you shared it with Ventarus or Salvatore, who I can imagine making good use of it.”

                            When he had finished, Haheen popped the cork from the bottle and poured a small glass for Rick and a smaller one for himself, leaving the bottle within Rick’s reach in case he did want more. Then, settling down by his food, Haheen looked across to his captain.

                            “Now, if it suits you, sir, to my main point; I am concerned about tensions on board the ship. In particular, the situation with the Templars of the Light. I fear if we respond to them with a crushing force, we will only invoke further violent retaliation, and possibly find them allies among those sympathetic to oppressed faiths. However, if we do nothing, the more radical elements of the organisation could spread throughout the ship. Especially because of some of their more…”

                            The rat paused, glancing almost nervously at Rick before continuing.

                            Local beliefs. I don’t suppose M’nonk spoke to you about his justifications for attacking you?”

                            Comment


                              "I am aware," Rick replied. There was no nod, only a slight look downward, the Captain's fingers touching the glass with the ale Haheen had poured him, they turning it slowly.

                              He looked up. His eyes met Haheen's again.

                              "Mister Conser sent me the video footage you found. To say that I was not slightly taken aback by what I saw, would be a minor understatement. I had been worried that the Congressman's visit aboard my ship would result in polarization amongst my crew, but if this got out, especially to those people, we could all find ourselves being forced to answer questions..."

                              Pausing, Rick took up the drink and sampled it.

                              He glanced at the glass, then, intrigued by its flavor, then set the glass back down.

                              "That we may not have answers for."

                              Rick gave a soft sigh, his shoulders slumping slightly.

                              "Without proper context, what is in that footage is very easy to perceive as..."

                              Another pause, Rick obviously searching for the right word.

                              "Diabolical," he said finally.

                              That made him snort a soft chuckle. It wasn't the laughter of derision or a snort of dismissal. It was one of mild disbelief.

                              "With everything we have going on, it would just stand to reason that the Universe would see fit to ensure we didn't find ourselves with too little to do, wouldn't it?" Rick shook his head slightly. "If only I could wish that Cortez had never visited my ship."

                              That prompted another soft snort. "But wishes are like harvesting apples. We have a saying among my people. 'During a bountiful apple harvest, you could wish that none of them would fall and hit your head, or that you crush none underfoot during harvest, but you got on with it, because the apples rot if you wish for too long'."

                              Rick sat back. He had dismissed the rabbit, sending him back down to the bridge with one of his bodyguards - Quake, who had been on duty - so Rick began serving himself from the dishes the rabbit and Haheen had brought. He took several moments to select his food and fill his plate with it, using the time to think.

                              Stewed bell peppers and rice, with caramelized carrots, steamed broccoli and diced apricots. The food selections marked Rick as Vegan. Not by choice or lifestyle in his case, but by species requirements. Finally, his plate full, he said, "But I agree. Anything we do to discourage the rumors will only give them traction. In addition, if we give the rumors time to grow, they will swell to a point to where they will limit our choices about how we can respond. Which may leave us no choice but to respond with force. Which I agree would be the last thing we should do."

                              He took up a forkful of his food, took his time chewing, then followed with another sip from the ale.

                              "We're all in this together, Master at Arms," he said, then, dabbing at his lip with the corner of his napkin and looking at Haheen. "If we begin fighting amongst ourselves, we begin doing the AI's work for it. We need a solution. We need one quickly. One that will, like you said, leave us with other hopefully more productive options."

                              Rick glanced then at Haheen's plate, which hadn't any food on it yet.

                              "But enjoy your meal. We can discuss options after dinner. And while we eat, I will attempt to explain a few things for which I also think you wished to visit me for."

                              The significant look Haheen received told him he was about to get those answers. About the Abraxian and why he had done what he'd done.

                              As Haheen began to serve himself, Rick began giving him those answers.

                              "I don't know a great deal about them," he began. "But nobody in the League does." A thoughtful look. "Apart from perhaps Mister Skystrike." That produced a slight smile, but which was at once followed by the flicker of a worried expression. Daryn was still on his mission, wasn't he. It was gone in the next instant, determination to trust his XO and to have faith in the abilities of his people, replacing the worry.

                              Rick went on.

                              "What we do know, though, is that they are a benevolent race. Or maybe a more apt way of putting it, might be to say they couldn't spare the time or energy to bother themselves with us." A small smile. "Much the same as we can't be bothered with a harmless ant colony we might find in our back gardens. All we do know, is that they are an ancient race, some believing them to be among the first ones to achieve sentience in our universe. From what League science and anthropologists have been able to gather, it has been made into popular belief that they are over a dozen billion years old. Cortez, and his joining his race to the League, has been only a very recent development, it happening within only the last twenty or so years."

                              Rick paused here to have a couple more bites of his food.

                              "Which is a story which has its own significance. Daryn, Commander Skystrike, was the first in the League to have actual contact with one of their kind in what many believe, to be several hundreds of thousand of years. Nobody knows why for sure. Not even Daryn. But he believes that the Abraxian he encountered had somehow become injured, and had found itself on his homeworld. Daryn was but a young man then, still an adolescent. I think he was sixteen or seventeen when it happened. Either way, Cortez never told him why he was there, and has never offered an explanation since. But what he and I both believe, is that it gave the Abraxians a new perspective on us. Personal contact, spending time with one of us. He and Cortez formed a bond."

                              Which made Rick sit back.

                              "Which, as we have been led to believe, may be verboten in their culture. We don't know for sure. But we suspect that it caused a rift in Abraxian culture the likes of which they hadn't experienced in millions of years. The rift was so profound that it caused them to divide into factions. There is the old guard, those among them that believe that going on the way they have for billions of years is the only way, and now a conservation faction, of which Cortez is a part, and which he himself may have started."

                              Rick sat forward again, taking the time to have a couple more bites of his food. Then he said, "They have a faith, the Abraxian people. Call it more a logic of existence, if you will. They believe in balance. We, with our comparatively feeble understanding of how the universe works, understand it only as a vague concept. They understand it at a more fundamental, perhaps even profound level. It also dictates their cultural imperative of non-interference. They believe if they become directly involved with any lesser species, it could set a balance-restoring event into motion that would destroy any lesser race they paid that special attention in. They even believe that their direct involvement in the natural development of the universe could find the universe itself destroyed."

                              Rick raised a hand, gesturing with it, adding a shrug. "They're concepts too difficult yet, for any of us to fully grasp. All we have are the principles. Newtonian law, physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, that sort of thing. They're concepts we apply to our daily lives without really thinking about them. But the Abraxians, they understand them at a level the same as you and I understand the importance of having air to breathe, food to eat and water to drink. If we don't pay the required level attention to them, we die. Balance is given the same level of concern by they." Another shrug, a smaller one. "It could also be said to go back to the old adage that 'Power invites challenge'. The Abraxians fear, or perhaps know it at the level of a fundamental reality - and that if they exercise any small portion of the power they hold, they could invite challenge that could wipe out everything. Which is why, as we understand it, that Cortez and his people taking a specific interest in us, divided them into factions."

                              Rick ate a couple of more forkfuls of food, then, and wiped the corners of his mouth with his napkin, thereafter dropping it next to his plate and leaning forward on his elbows.

                              "But Cortez is still an Abraxian at his core of fundamental beliefs. Not even he, with his 'love', I guess you could say, for us, would permit him to go too far. Which is what brings us to what he did to us."

                              Rick gave Haheen a small nod. Rick knew his Master at Arms would know what he was talking about.

                              "In his mind, no doubt, Cortez believed he was taking an unfathomable risk by doing what he did. It would also insure, logically, that he would do no such a thing without purpose. Great purpose, and a purpose which would be of ultimate benefit to us."

                              A spread of Rick's hands.

                              "If he wished us harm, trust me, he could have. No. He wished to give us something to help us. And he wished to do it in a way that he hoped would not disrupt balance too far, or invite too much challenge."

                              Rick raised a brow at Haheen.

                              "Do you know what the gift was Cortez gave you?" A small smile. "Daryn, he's seeing visions which are relevant to those with whom he interacts. Me?" Another small smile, but which was followed almost at once by a small frown.

                              "That requires a little explanation." Rick had looked down at his plate, in thought, but now returned his eyes back up to Haheen, his lip quirked downward with the reflecting going on his head.

                              "I was sitting in the interrogation observation room while you were questioning M'nonk, so yes. However, I think that is only the beginning of it."

                              Rick sat back again. He looked disturbed. He rested an arm over the back of his chair, let out a soft breath. "M'nonk is an expert tactician. He's been in the League Marines for over twenty five years. He taught classes in shipboard engagement and boarding procedures for six of those years. He knew I was coming, Master at Arms. If he so chose, and logically, he should have been ready for my arrival, if his intent really was to kill me. But he wasn't. If anything, it was like my arrival caught him completely flatfooted."

                              Rick gave Haheen a slight shake of his head, his eyes like augers.

                              "I don't believe he was caught off guard at all. I think he was dealing with a conflict of such proportions that it was completely outside his sphere of experience. If that elk had of wanted, he would have been well more than ready for my showing up. And you would be attending my funeral right now, instead of sitting and having dinner with me. He would have laid a trap for me and my guard that would, without question, have succeeded. He is that good. Why he didn't, why he wasn't ready, was because, I believe, a direct result of the gift Cortez bestowed upon me." A shrug, another small one. "This is only speculation on my part, but it fits. M'nonk couldn't act the way he wanted because he was forbidden to. By... I don't know what one might call it. Quantum Entanglement theory put to use to prevent certain thoughts from coming to full fruition, maybe? We do believe, after all, that the Abraxians understand quantum dynamics at a level to which we could never hope to aspire within the next million years. But it leads me to believe that when a person considers doing me harm, they are unable to follow through with it."

                              That produced a small smile. A wry one.

                              "It isn't a theory I am eager to attempt to prove, mind you, but it fits. I have read M'nonk's record. There is not a single engagement of which he was in command, that failed. There was something acting upon him, something that was influencing him, interfering with his thoughts for doing me harm. And that something, I believe, is what Cortez did to me."

                              Rick paused here. He just looked at Haheen for a few moments, searching his eyes, reading his expressions, gauging how he might be taking all of this in. Finally, he said, "I saw the cut footage of your encounter with Cortez. I am uncertain why he would cut the footage like that - maybe to ensure we'd find it and in so doing, recognize the significance in it maybe? I don't know. But one thing I am certain about. If Cortez did something to you, it was to help you. To help us. If you aren't certain, then find out. Discover what it was. And do it quickly."

                              Rick's expression left little doubt that this last was not just a suggestion.

                              Rick gave a small nod.

                              "Whatever it is, I have little doubt that it is relevant to our situation. And it is meant to aid us. Daryn and his visions. Me and people unable to deliberately do me harm. I also saw that Ventarus received a like visitation. When he returns from his mission, I intend to instill in him the same imperative. You?" A wave of a hand. "Who knows? It may be something to directly aid you in your role as head of security. Have you experienced anything odd lately?"

                              That made Rick nod. Haheen had been unable to suppress a flicker of reflection from coming to his face. The profound feelings of safety he had experienced during his moment of vulnerability, when Yanktee had come near.

                              "You have." Rick gave Haheen another nod. "Tell me what it was, then we can try to understand what it means together, and how it might benefit us."

                              *****

                              Odolana wasn't among the people that emerged from hiding in the server racks. Only the two wolves. Daryn did see visions and auras around the wolves, however. They both had visions above them that reflected small amounts of uncertainty, but also determination, this latter empowered by their devotion for whom they worked.

                              "We're not homicidal lunatics," the first wolf said, motioning for Daryn to back up. "You do as we ask, and nobody will get hurt."

                              The second wolf, stooping down, took Victorious' supine form up by her shoulders and pulled her the rest of the way into the room. Stepping over her, then, he closed the door and locked it. He then proceeded to take up Victorious' arms and cuff them, then drew her legs up one by one, drawing them up over her back, cuffing them as well, and to the cuffs he had fastened her arms with, hogtying her.

                              Just then, Daryn's automated SOS went out.

                              "Shit!" hissed the first wolf. He had evidently heard the alert go out over his comm unit.

                              "What?" demanded the second, looking up sharply from binding Victorious.

                              "He's got some kind of automated SOS programmed into his routines! One just went out!"

                              The second wolf nodded, apparently unperturbed by the development. Calmly, he took a syringe out of a slot in his armor's chest harness. Pulling its cap off with his teeth, he injected it in almost the same place Victorious had taken the dart.

                              She gasped awake almost immediately.

                              Putting the cap back on the syringe, the wolf just as calmly put the syringe back into his harness. He then took a standard sized ball peen hammer out of a ring on his belt harness. He looked at Daryn, still stooped over Victorious, who was now coming fully awake beneath him.

                              "Call your people," he said calmly. "Tell them it was an automation you'd set up and that you forgot to get to it in time." He raised the hammer over Victorious' right elbow, raising it high enough to indicate a telling blow if he brought it down.

                              "Do it," he said. "Do it now."
                              Rick Canaan's Signature
                              A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

                              Comment


                                "Sounds good, you guys keep tight down there. Close quarters like that someone could toss a det-pack up in your leg joints before you even knew they were there," Garran responded to the power-armor pilot. He had seen it happen personally, it was impressive how indigenous resistances could adapt to damage even the most robust weapons the League fielded. "As for the music, I think our bird in the sky is responsible," he continued, trying to keep the impatience from his voice, it was easy to feel secure in the super-market full of heavily armed Curiosity marines, but Skystrike had no such luxury. Garran recalled Argril with a command, watching as the large dog assimilated the last power-cell he had collected. As the dog approached, Daryn's automated SOS arrived Garran's blood ran cold as he the basic messaged looped. "Damnit, Skystrike's in trouble. We have to move," he growled over COMs. The Curiosity Marines and Battle-dress were already headed to the mire, even then a large group would move too slow. He looked to Argril, then to Leon was who was still locked in combat with the Tiger.

                                "Argril find the Commander, protect him at all costs," he ordered, his muzzle curling around his fangs. He pulled his side-arm and aimed it at Leon's opponent. His finger curling on the trigger as he waited for an opening to fire without killing the Major. Damnit Leon we don't have time for this, he thought to himself.
                                Dusty's Signature
                                IC Character Sheet

                                Comment


                                  "Understood, Sir," Rian replied, saluting again with his mech's right arm.

                                  Turning the goliath machine, then, he started off toward the station's core and its central elevators, his second Daedalus following him, and he barking orders to his eight marines.

                                  "But what about the Commander?" one of the marines asked Rian, running to catch up. "He's sent an SOS, Sir. He may need our..."

                                  "The Lieutenant Commander has things well in hand, soldier," Rian was heard to reply. "He has his work to do, as does the Commander, and we have ours. Now get into position and await my orders."

                                  "Aye, Sir," the marine was heard to reply, hurrying to join the other marines.

                                  Argril had only given one brief nod in response to Garran's instructions, and by the time Garran thought to look for him again, he was simply... gone.

                                  Finally, when Garran was able to look back toward the security office, he saw that the fight between Leon and his assailant was apparently over, Leon the victor, and the tiger on the floor beneath him, his wrists being secured. The tiger looked like he was down for the count, a nice pretty lump forming on the right side of his head. Everyone knew that Stormstrider was good, but that had taken all of ten seconds to be decided. That tiger had had what - twenty five kilos on the smaller raptor? Size though, was seldom a factor where skill in close-quarters combat was involved, though, as Leon had just proved amply.

                                  *****

                                  "Their dog is on the move!" came Odolana's voice crackling over the wolves' radios. "You need to get Skystrike secured and do it now! If that dog gets in there with you, this is all but over! Do you understand?! Over!"

                                  "We understand, ma'am," said the wolf standing over Victorious' hog-tied form. He raised the hammer higher. He looked at Daryn.

                                  "If I bring this down, she loses the use of the arm. Call them. Do it, Sir. Do it now."
                                  Rick Canaan's Signature
                                  A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

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                                    Daryn had a lump in his throat and he felt as if he was about to vomit again. Though it would likely just come out as dry-heaves given he’d already emptied his stomach earlier. He started to visibly shake and his voice quavered as he replied, “Do you think they’re going to believe that everything is fine if I send a voice message in this state?” he asked with as much dignity as he could manage, given the circumstances.

                                    “Fine, just stop. Put the hammer away. I’ll send them a text, just let me get to the terminal to do it.”

                                    He would hope that the wolves were at least sensible enough to realize that he was definitely right about what he said. His team wasn’t stupid, they’d figure out something was wrong quickly enough.

                                    He looked down at Victorious, shaking his head. He knew what he should have been able to do. He knew a real Commander would have been able to assess the situation and put a value on her arm in relation to the mission’s success, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do that. He didn’t want to see her hurt.

                                    He sighed as he began to type his message to the team. He hated to do it, but what choice did he have? He had turned out to be a liability to this mission, and there was no way to sugarcoat that. XO of the Insatiable Curiousity?! He was just a farce. When he got back to the ship... If he got back to the ship, he would have to resign. That forward facing, base part of him was threatening to win out and become the real Daryn.

                                    That professional part of him, at the back of his mind, that part of him that he could one day become had other ideas. He typed the message, his fingers shaking, hitting the shift key for letters that don’t need capitalizing. To anyone watching, it would just look like his nerves and anxiety were getting to him, which they were. Argril was on his way up here, they wanted him to stop his progress. He couldn’t be sure that Garran would do on getting this, but he could at least give them some intel. If Garran didn’t spot the hidden message, his new interface system might. One thing he did know was that if Argril wasn’t stopped, or seen to be turned around, he’d likely be dead in the next few minutes. He hoped that Garran would understand and take appropriate measures.

                                    Hey!

                                    sOrry about the Sos. was Talking to
                                    vic and forgot i had A script running. everything’s Good on this End.

                                    He hit Ctrl+Enter and the message was sent. It was at this point that he remembered Knife’s ‘Ghost’ in the machine. He thought to himself, “Well, now would certainly be a good time for a little help.” He didn’t expect any miracles, but maybe, just maybe the Jaguar might be able to help. It was a slim hope, and one he didn’t really hold out for. Realistically, Garran was the one who would control whether he got through this, as he certainly didn’t seem in control of much of anything anymore.
                                    Daryn's Signature



                                    “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

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                                      The first wolf watched closely over Daryn's shoulder.

                                      "He's sent it, Sir. A convincingly enough looking message, too."

                                      The second wolf nodded, lowering his hammer.

                                      "Ma'am," he said then, keying his mic. "The Commander's cooperating. What's the status on their supersoldier?"

                                      "Still on the move," Odolana's voice replied. "Though he doesn't seem to know exactly where the Commander is. He's just rode an elevator up to the administrative level and he's looking around. Wait. Right then. He's inspecting Sandar's body."

                                      "You got the lion, then?" interrupted the wolf.

                                      "Yeah. He's down."

                                      "Well, just have the mechs take out the dog, too."

                                      "Not an option," Odolana replied. "It took all five of them to do it, but three of them got reduced to smoking wrecks and the other two are barely functional."

                                      The wolf barked a soft curse.

                                      "Don't worry," Odolana told him. "Our plan's still in motion. Now that you have the commander cooperating, get him started on the rest."

                                      "Understood, Ma'am."

                                      Lowering his hand away from his mic and ear piece, the wolf looked up at Daryn.

                                      "First thing you gotta do," he said, "is relax. We told you, if you do like we ask, nobody will get hurt. We meant it."

                                      As if in demonstration of keeping this promise, the wolf dropped his hammer back into its loop on his belt.

                                      "Now," he said. "You're going to turn all of the station's controls over to us."

                                      He took a pad and pen out of one of his armor's breast utility pockets. He eased forward just enough to put them in the console right in front of Daryn, the other wolf's weapon still trained on him.

                                      "All of your passwords. Write them down, and any other information we'll need to operate the control menus."

                                      He stepped back again. Then lowering his weapon, he took a bottle of water out of a pouch on his armor's right leg. It was about half a liter. "But first, drink this. It's just water. You look like you need it. Then, once you've written everything down like we've asked, I'll give you another to give to First Lieutenant Victorious here."
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                                      A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

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                                        ((Limited time tonight, so I'll just do Victorious and will post Haheen over the next day or so))

                                        Victorious gasped awake as warmth surged through her body. Her vision reeled and blurred, and she looked around with wild eyes and a gaping mouth as she tried to process her situation. She had gone from looking at the Commander from the doorway to tied up on the floor in the middle of the room. She could still feel the figure hovering nearby. By the time she had worked out what was happening, Daryn was already typing out the message.

                                        "No," she croaked, "Don't listen to them!"

                                        Too late.

                                        What had she just done? Lay gaping as she allowed herself to be taken hostage and derail an entire mission? She should have begged Daryn not to bow to the pressure, should have let them smash her arm to pieces. She was a failure. An embarrassment.

                                        Her father had been right.

                                        These thoughts dominated Victorious' mind as she lay there. It was only as she heard her own name mentioned by her captor that she was thrust back into the situation at hand.

                                        "Don't drink anything they give you!" she growled at Daryn, before turning to the wolf at her side - or as much of him as she could from her position - and spitting. "I've got fluids enough, you flankbiter"

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                                          Leon used a second length of cord to bind Oberton’s legs, before standing and stepping over the tiger to reach the door.

                                          Leon deftly unlocked the mechanical thumb-turn, the motions of doing so well familiar to the colonial, before pausing and taking a second look at the lock.

                                          Opening the door, he gave Garran a nod.

                                          “Hostile neutralised,” he reported, indicating the bound tiger.

                                          “Damn, that was fast,” Varatyr breathed, “What was that? Tinkeno?”

                                          Leon nodded.

                                          “Yeah,” he replied, “I first learned while with the Marines, and I’ve continued practising since. Still, this is a conversation for later. We’ve got a prisoner to deal with.”

                                          He turned, striding over to the bound tiger and giving him an assessing stare.

                                          “Now then, Oberton,” he said, “you are our prisoner. If you cooperate, I will see about getting you privileges such as entertainment and better food. Do you understand me?”

                                          (OOC:A little short, but the best I could come up with. Hope this suffices.)
                                          Arratra's Signature
                                          Fanfiction


                                          Deviantart


                                          Insatiable Curiosity

                                          Major Leon Stormstrider

                                          Varatyr Scorchtalon

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