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0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
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Had there been this many interested parties clustered around the Holden when it had crashed? This ship crash had brought so many people out of the woodwork, so many with different goals. He had two ideas in mind as to why he hadn’t seen anyone after the Holden had crashed: it was not a big ship, and he was thrown a short distance away. Perhaps some people had come by and assisted others, but there were less of them than around this crash. It would make sense why no one had found him, if they were prioritising people at the wreck.

Out of everyone below, he wondered if any were as hungry as he was. His appetite was deeply unsettled, and his biorhythms were off-kilter as a result. Ravenous wasn’t anywhere near describing what Qyilim felt. A stray thought occupied the side of his mind for a moment: was Zirzolan hunger considered by Terrans and other similar species to be a disability, or was he misremembering something?

And, Qyil, did it even matter right now?

An adamant part of him kept screaming that it did matter. He was used to eating five meals a day. Yet since being here – he wasn’t experienced enough to count the days, so didn’t even bother trying – he’d be lucky to poach for two meals a day. And on the ebb of a concussion too.


A rhythmic beating pulled him back to the present; he surveyed the crater for a reason for the thundering sensation, though there was no source in there. Several people were gathered around a rather large man and they all looked either too small, too injured or just too exhausted to transport him. He parted his lips, going to stand up, when he saw a band of others heading towards the crater with a seemingly different purpose. From this distance, Qyilim couldn’t tell if they were hostile, but at that moment, he had a choice to make immediately.

Which side of the crater did he want to be on?

The answer was obvious. As the cavalry drew closer, Qyilim, now at least semi-confident that no one in the crater was going to take a pot shot at him out of nowhere, climbed to the other side of the crater’s dune, keeping his eyes upwards towards the man in red who had reached the zenith of the dune.

He hunched down, ready to both throw himself prone and bring his compact pistol up with his left hand. Not all of the warband had made themselves visible to those down in the crater. Crafty buggers. Qyilim had the most information about their numbers, yet no way of communicating it. That was a Waning Stars military lesson he had internalised very quickly upon joining the ranks: speak, and never assume your brother in arms knows what you know; save his life and speak. Being Zirzolan, he had a better understanding of when to speak than the other species he served beside. He knew when his brothers and sisters on the field were focused on something else and knew when they’d be more likely to be listening.


Hang on.


Maybe he just wasn’t close enough to the people in the crater, but he could swear he was. Moving only his eyes to not draw the attention of the man in red, he glanced down at the cluster of people around the injured man. Nothing. There was nothing there! He had 24 years’ experience interpreting and reading the psionics of non-Zirzolan races, was particularly good at it from his interrogation training and knew how to use it in combat from his bounty hunting days. Keeping track of one’s team via psionic interpretation was a huge boon, since he could always move where he needed to, or avoid a dangerous zone without them needing to speak. The simple thoughts became the most valuable in combat.

Painkillers robbed his brain of its interpretation abilities, but he wasn’t on painkillers now. He had avoided them since puzzling out that he was concussed. Previous concussions had never stolen away one of his most valuable personal assets.

He swore under his breath, knowing panic was setting in. All he could do was try to get his breathing under control and remain poised, eyes on the man in red above.

---
Mentions: Vudukudu Vudukudu
Alluded to: The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse dae mec dae mec thorspuddingcup thorspuddingcup Dragongal Dragongal
 
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sublimed

.bored now.
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"I pulled the two that were on the bridge off first," Dekxer grunted as they made their way to the exit. The ship groaned with strain in every step. "You're probably the last person left. Now, hold on." Dekx secured Stratton on his back in a piggyback hold and jumped. He then carried the man to where the others were. As he did, he heard an all too familiar sound of horns and drums.

"Shit, they're getting faster about sending out the war dogs," he spat as he lowered the man called Stratton down on the sand. "His ability to lord over everyone is as notorious as it is pathetic. Just bear through it...we need to get you all patched up and that won't happen unless you 'submit'." He calmly said to the others as Alec's voice rang out on all comms.
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
"Hello, my names Maya. My group and I have been stranded here for a few months, we have a camp not too terribly far from here if you would like to get your bearings there." Maya pointed back at the scientists she had traveled here with up on the small hill above them. "We should have some supplies you can use. Do you need any help gathering more survivors? I have some tools in my bag we can use to cut people out if need be."

Adira looked up at Maya ( thorspuddingcup thorspuddingcup ) and nodded. "We need to get away from the crash, we have one more person in there... I think I see the rest of our crew behind the ship over there. This ship wasn't ours, I don't know where any supplies are, and I don't know its fuel composition, I only have a guess at best." Before Adira could ask for a blanket to get under Silas to move him, there was that rhythmic thrumming sound coming over the sand.

Drums of war... Poetic, but old fashioned. If anything, they were irritating. And hearing someone shouting over a loudspeaker was even worse. "Fuckin'.... really? Not now, not now...." It seemed like the whole terrain was shifting. That form she had noticed earlier slid down the sand dune and into the ditch, now very clearly a person, and one who was probably not on the warmonger's side ( 0stinato 0stinato ) . Adira wasn't one to pray, but she certainly hoped this big guy wasn't against them. She looked up at Dekxer and down to Stratton. ( Viper Actual Viper Actual ) "Welcome back, Stratt. Good to see you're alive and... hopefully well. I'd update you on the situation if I even knew what was going on." A glance back up to Dekxer ( sublimed sublimed ). "We need to move everyone away from the crash. Can you help? Or maybe keep this Alexander guy at bay while we move?"

Adira looked down at Silas, then to everyone around them. "Look... they want my weapons they can get them in a minute, this ship is going to blow up or fall apart and we will get killed!" It would probably look like they were running, so she gestured at the smoke spewing from the crash, then down to Silas and now Stratton to make it clear they were trying to tend to their wounded and not get blow to hell.
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
"You're probably the last person left. Now, hold on."

"Alright," replied Stratton before suddenly realized what was about to happen. "WAI-"

His plea fell short as the stranger secured Stratton on his back and jumped off of the ship. Even with augments, cybernetic implants or special gear the distance down was anything but short. Once they had landed Stratton blinked twice and shook his head. "This is why I'm too old to do pod deployments." As Dexker set him down near the others he offered a curt nod. "Thanks, kid."

Just then a unfamiliar voice echoed across the dunes alongside the rhythmic thumping of drums of war. Old-fashioned, sure but Stratton couldn't ignore the psychological effect it had on those facing it. Granted, last time he heard someone use drums they had met a rather violent and bloody end after Stratton and his company unleashed a cascade of automatic weapons fire on them. Looking around him there was unfortunately no company of hardened WS drop-troopers around though he was relieved to see the crew be relatively intact. There were other strangers around that looked friendly enough but for now Stratton was focused entirely on checking up on Adira who wasn't too far from where he'd been sat down.

"Takes more than a violent crash-landing to put this old dog down, Captain." He said while making a quick faux salute. Stratton grimaced as his wounded shoulder ached. Blood was slowly dripping out between the shoulder pad and the deltoid armor but it didn't seem to be a catastrophic bleeding. "Aside from a fucked shoulder I'm good to go. Legs are bit numb but if I at least one of my combat stims are intact then I should be good to go."

As Adira called out the game-plan Stratton searched through the pockets on the front of his armor. Luckily enough he managed to find a compact white and red auto-injector. Pulling off his helmet Stratton's bloodied and bruised face was now completely visible as he bit down on the injector cap and spat it out. He took a deep breath and tilted his head before shoving the injector into his neck and pressing down on the "trigger" up top, injecting its contents.

While usually against combat stims (as some soldiers tend to abuse them or even overdose themselves) now wasn't really the time to take the moral high ground. Cursing in between breaths Stratton only just now realized that his rifle must still be on the ship. Looking to his right he grabbed his pistol and yanked it out of its holster before giving Adira a confident nod.
 

dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
There was a sudden flurry of introductions, arrivals, and departures that Lu kept note of as she rummaged in her pack for a blanket. Some asshole had gone through her medic duffel kit, and now nothing was where it was supposed to be. (Seriously, people! They just needed to ask: there was a specific organization system she used to avoid delays during situations like this.) With a triumphant "A-ha!," she pulled out the tightly wrapped blanket that someone had shoved in the middle of her bandages. Lu started to unravel the blanket, only to hear a bunch of headache-inducing drums and an equally loud voice. Lu reduced the sensitivity of her aural implants and sighed.

"Oh, shit! It's the feudal cosplayer," she muttered. The potato settlement she lived in did some trading with Cavanaugh's ilk, and she'd freelanced her services to his people before. Lu pulled out a roll of bandages as well, eyeing the man with the injured shoulder. "We can move, uh... Silo?" She quickly replayed the past conversation with her implant and corrected herself. "Sorry, Silas." Lu gestured to the man who Dekx rescued. "And I can wrap up your shoulder, or one of your friends can? We really should move clear of this, if Lordy Cavanough lets us."

Seeing that everyone around her was surrendering their weapons, Lu held up her hands, bandage still in it, and said loudly, "Er, no fighting! Just surrendering and medic-ing! But can we move away from the wreck?"

(She was uncertain if Cavanaugh or any of his 'friends' would remember her. The metal plate in her face made her distinctive, but Lu didn't think she'd made herself memorable otherwise.)
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Silas was hoping his terrible headache would go away soon; it was even worse than the pain in his leg. At least he could just try and ignore that. But a headache? Silas felt completely out of commission from it. He'd always been bad at dealing with them, but this was one of the worst feelings he'd had in a while. He rarely bothered to look around at those trying to help, and tried muttering a "thanks" from time to time, glad helpful survivors were around to tend to him in his current state. He was all too familiar with the feeling of surviving a crash and hoped he never had to deal with it again in his life. Wishful thinking, clearly. However, his blistering headache only worsened when distinctive drums reverberated through his skull. Silas swore he'd just pass out at some point from all the pain, but he somehow held on to consciousness for the time being.

Silas focused his strained eyes on the figure at the dune; a noble man clad in crimson armor and a flowing white cape. He clearly found himself to be the regal type. However, despite the intimidating war drums and visuals, Silas held onto one thing. Barely able to focus, he said, "Cav... Cavanaugh? Like, Kes?" His head rested once more on the ground, his headache having worsened further from straining to focus on the figure a short distance away. He spoke something to them but at this point, Silas wasn't in any mood to converse. He hoped the others could deal with that. He had no tabs on most of the other crew, but he did see Stratton making it out alive with help from Dekxer. Good, at least he wasn't dead. Silas couldn't bear to think of losing more crew members, though he knew they were already extremely lucky to have survived that crash.

But from the smoke billowing from the crash, and the burst of fire now protruding from the fuselage in the bridge where most of his crew had left, Silas knew they had maybe moments left before it collapsed fully. The loud groans of metal stressing also signaled the wreck's end. Silas prayed to all the Stars he knew by name, hoping no one was hurt further from this.
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
strawbqby strawbqby
The cute sunburned brunette had to go and ruin a first impression by going for Kestrel's gun. Thankfully, her reaction time was-

...Well, that pretty much confirmed the odds of at least a concussion. In the length of a blink, the girl had disarmed her and Kestrel's hand grasped at her now-empty holster a full second too late. Still, the stranger didn't seem to have any military training. The voice from behind resulted in the sunburned girl actually standing up and turning her back to look at the source. No soldier would take their eyes off a potentially still-effective combatant like that.

queendilettante queendilettante
At Laoise's announcement, Kestrel's gaze shifted from the sunburned stranger to the other stranger. Albeit one she was at least peripherally aware of. Possibly? The blonde, or maybe redhead(?), looked as rough as she felt and the direction of her approach came from the ship so at least that suggested she'd already been aboard. Unless-

No, wait, she was talking. With a thought, Kestrel replayed the greeting in her head and huffed out a pained sigh. "I am, actually. What's the condition of the ship and crew? Did you see anyone else?"

strawbqby strawbqby queendilettante queendilettante
After the introduction, both of the complete strangers decided it was a fine idea to pick up a woman who'd just been physically launched through the hull of a ship! Maybe it was the blow to the head, maybe it was shock or maybe it was the last couple of years being already surreal but she just sighed and went along with it, accepting the help up. Good thing, given she massed nearly twice as much as she looked.

This wasn't the time or place to get distracted with pain, though, so Kestrel finally did something she'd sworn she'd never do once that medic on Granite had figured out how the alien implant worked. The iron carbon composite filaments that had spread throughout her body functioned as a parallel nervous system. And in this case, that meant she could simply switch the pain off by thinking really hard about it. Blissful numbness replaced the feeling of soft tissue damage and she nodded once at Laoise's suggestion.

Vudukudu Vudukudu
The arrival of another highly battered man once more reminds her that she's unarmed. He and Laoise seemed to know each other, which suggested...what? She didn't know any of these people. And there was no question this man was a warrior.

...at which point a voice, probably amplified by similar projection technology to her own suit, ordered them all to surrender. Kestrel turned very slowly, well aware that whoever was out there had them dead to sights if they were that close. Sure enough, she didn't see a damn thing. Not that her broken helmet was doing her much good. And her pistol was still lying on the ground a dozen feet away thanks to someone thinking it was a good idea to disarm her.

So she did the next best thing.

The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse dae mec dae mec Viper Actual Viper Actual Dragongal Dragongal sublimed sublimed 0stinato 0stinato thorspuddingcup thorspuddingcup queendilettante queendilettante strawbqby strawbqby Nevix Nevix
Kestrel slowly raised her arms. Toggling on her environmental suit's still working voice projector with a thought, she turned it up loud enough to easily project back...and hopefully be loud enough for everyone else in the area to hear as well. Hopefully that would mean reinforcements. Or, more hopefully, her surviving crew members would have the smarts to not walk out into the open and use her opening a dialogue as an opportunity to flank the bastard who had a drop on them all.

"No one down here wants a fight," she replies to the unseen speaker. "Look, I'm unarmed. If you've committed a crime on this or any other planet, we're not here for you. These people with me aren't a danger. We're an independent operation. This ship is the Ambivalence. I'm Kestrel Cavanaugh. Send a delegate or come out so we can discuss your terms. Or you can go about your business in peace and we'll get on with ours. How about it?"
 

thorspuddingcup

Fantasy Romance Archivist
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Maya nodded as she listened to Adira. ( Dragongal Dragongal )"For the time being the camp we have made for ourselves should work for you guys." The medic began to unravel a blanket, which was great. Maya did not have one on her. It never occurred to her to even pack one. What was she going to do? Take a nap? "Let me go see if I can help you find the remaining survivor. It looks like we have the medical stuff covered here. Once we have everyone together I'll take you to relative safety."

Maya stood up, knee's cracking as she did so, and began walking through the thick smoke to see if she could figure out where the last crew member was located. She stopped dead in her tracks at the sound of drums. Where were they coming from? Turning around, Maya saw a man dressed rather crudely (to be fair, they were on a basically abandonment planet). If Maya hand't used the restroom earlier, she probably would have wet herself right there. The sight was terrifying enough without the man making threats. The medic mumbled something about a feudal cosplayer and Maya walked back to her side. "Do you know who the hell that is? What's his deal? And why haven't I ever seen him before?" ( dae mec dae mec )The questions tumbled forth out of her mouth like water from a spout.
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
"No one down here wants a fight," she replies to the unseen speaker. "Look, I'm unarmed. If you've committed a crime on this or any other planet, we're not here for you. These people with me aren't a danger. We're an independent operation. This ship is the Ambivalence. I'm Kestrel Cavanaugh. Send a delegate or come out so we can discuss your terms. Or you can go about your business in peace and we'll get on with ours. How about it?"

Alexander would flinch if he didn't have literal decades of training in maintaining perfect decorum. Beyond that, extensive biological manipulation had granted him much more control over his physical responses to stimuli than the average human enjoyed. Another reminder that he'd become something like another species.

He hadn't used the name Cavanaugh in almost a century. He'd used to introduce himself that way, at least for awhile on Govanti, until he'd given up his surname and pledged himself to House Damocles. Surrendering his identity was part of proving to them that he was a servant to the cause. For ninety years, he'd just been Alexander. Now, a voice rang in his ears that sounded familiar, and it had his name. A name that belonged to a ghost, a woman he'd buried a century ago. Even despite his control, his right eye twitches.

It takes him a moment to muster a response. Turning to his men, he frowns. "Hold." He orders, then dismounts and takes his coil-blade from its place on the saddle. Honor demanded he spoke for himself, and putting his men in harm's way for vanity was unacceptable. If this woman was who she said she is, he would have to see it himself. If she wasn't, he'd take her head.

His voice rumbles over the wreckage again, and he begins to stroll down the hill by himself. Halfway down, he removes his helm and cradles it under his left arm. "Let us speak then, on an open field." He bellows, then coils his weapon around his left wrist like an ornamental bracelet. Of course, most people weren't familiar with that as a Govantian gesture of good will, but all the same it was better to not be terribly visibly armed and in this state it looked more like decoration than the lethal whip it is. "Kestrel Cavanaugh, make yourself known."
 

dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
"Kestrel Cavanaugh?" mumbled Lu as the woman . "Funny coincidence."

A different woman asked her a question, and Lu glanced at her, hands still in the air. "He calls himself Lord Cavanaugh, because he takes the Lord of the Flies deal real seriously," she said, quiet but conversational in tone. "He runs a literal medieval-style group over that way--" she gestured with a bandage roll vaguely in the direction of his settlement, "--and it's a good thing you haven't run into him. They like to murder people that they don't consider useful, and they have a very narrow definition of useful. I don't really know what his deal is besides getting more power. Haven't really asked. Since, uh, it's better to avoid his attention. Have you ever seen the show Kingmakers and Queens?"

Lu shifted in place, trying not to sigh. She wasn't an impatient person, unless it involved potential patients (hah!), and Silas with the likely-concussion counted as one. She'd like to treat him and get away from the collapsing ship, please. Lu watched as the feudal lord actually listened and started to approach them. Interesting. Maybe this really was like Kingmakers and Queens.
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Silas still wasn't in very good condition at the moment. At best he was half aware of anything happening, mostly just trying to focus his attention on the - now helmetless - man ahead of him. Not far off but distant enough that he probably couldn't hear Lu and Maya's conversation. He listened as much as he could while still having a pounding headache. Cavanaugh? Silas wasn't one for piecing things together in his state, but he had... theories at the moment. He just hoped they'd all live to see if it was real or not. He propped himself up as best he could to pay attention to what was about to unfold. Either they were all about to get a big warm welcome to Alexander's group, or their lives were about to get cut short. Silas didn't even have any kind of weapon on him to defend himself. Now more than ever before in his life, he was helpless to defend himself and the others in the event that Alexander decided to just kill them all. He hoped it wouldn't come down to it, though. He knew Kestrel well enough that he assumed she'd have the social tact to keep as many people out of harm's way as possible.

Really all Silas hoped for was that, if the current speakers were actually related, they had left on good terms. The last thing the crew of the Ambivalence needed was to come across a defiant relative hell bent on ending lives for a feud from decades past. Still though, at this point, all Silas could really do was watch and see what happened. He could barely speak a cohesive sentence, let alone try and help bargain or negotiate. It was pretty much up to Kestrel to keep the crew alive at this point.
 

Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
Vudukudu Vudukudu
Clad in her armored environmental suit, Kestrel took a step forward and then another. It felt strange to walk. Mostly because the implant those aliens had put in her all those years ago had replaced her nervous system, which among other things meant that her conception of pain (and anything else) was more computer signal than nerve conduction. She'd toggled 'pain' off and it'd turned off enough that she felt more like a pilot driving a drone than a woman walking in her own body.

No help for it. She'd been in a crash, from space through the atmosphere on this planet to the ground, and the impact had hurled her through the hull of the ship. Kestrel's health telemetry showed a stable blood pressure but God knows what kind of internal damage she'd sustained. This could be killing her, walking away from the ship towards the source of that voice. And she had to do it. There were an unknown number of hostiles out there, all with cover, all probably armed. Every second she bought her crew was time they could use to come up with a plan to save themselves.

Kestrel didn't want to die. But Cavanaugh's were bred for this, risking their lives for the civilians in their care.

As she walked, she glanced down at her mobile drone manufactory and grimaced. Offline. Hopefully it could self-repair.

Ahead was a man with a helmet tucked under his left arm. It seemed soldierly. With a shrug, she did the same, popping the seals to her damaged spacesuit's helmet with a thought while reaching up and pulling it up and off with her hands. Next, Kestrel pulled off the skullcap keeping her non-regulation length blonde hair out of her face. Some men still had problems killing women and damn if she wasn't going to seize every advantage she had.

Drawing closer, she frowned slightly at the familiar cast of features. Had to be a coincidence. Her younger brother was thousands of lightyears from here by now, and a good century older than she was. Still, Kestrel slowed to a stop a bit sooner than she'd planned to as her eyes and brain refused to agree.

Goddamn this concussion.

"I've done as you asked," she said, as her counterpart approached. Kestrel forced a smile, hoping her face wasn't as visibly banged up as her body felt. "Open field. I'm unarmed but you can confirm that if you want. Most of my people are still down so you won't have any trouble. You and your men out there can relax. I know that might feel hard to do. You've been down here God knows how long, on your own, making the hard choices needed to stay alive. We've been in our share of scrapes too, just like you. You can talk to me. I can help you get what you need. Maybe together, we can help each other."

This was basic Cavanaugh negotiation training at play and it was as reflexive as breathing to her. Accommodate your counterpart, stay calm and smile when appropriate. Verbally yield power to them by offering or even suggesting they check you for weapons. Show respect to them, try to empathize and actively listen. Build connections between them and you.

If only he didn't look so unnervingly like her brother. That face was starting to seriously throw her off her game.

"Why don't we start with your name?"
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Alexander watches as the woman who shares his sister's name approaches, then stops to make him come closer to her side than his. It doesn't bother him either way - he had nothing to fear from them. The sight gave him several things to consider, though, like how his dead sister was here.

Alexander’s eyes narrow at the question before he tilts his head slightly. “You talk a lot for a dead woman.” He says, crossing his arms over his chest. His right arm moves so he can scratch idly at his chin before raking his hand through his hair, putting it back into place after his helmet had made a mess of it. “But you’re still reading from the same old textbook, sis.” He adds with an almost imperceptible grin.

Kestrel watches the man approach, for once more interested in making a firm ID than in threat assessment. His remarks are thoroughly off-balancing, though. So she just stares at him for a long moment. In ideal circumstances, making a positive ID would be as simple as using her chipset to query his but not a lot of signal was getting through anywhere, as far as she could tell. Still, she had to consider the possibilities here.

On the one hand, Alexander being alive felt flatly impossible.

But on the other hand, what else could this be? An alien shapeshifter? Who could also read minds?

"Sometimes talking's the difference between alive and dead," she answers, struggling to keep her own smile going over the shock of taking this seriously. "That's in the textbook too. Which you should know. Of course, this," and she gestures emphatically around them at the planet and the smoldering ship behind her, "isn't. But you know how it is. Stick with what works until it doesn't."

After another moment of staring, she just shakes her head. "How the hell are you alive? And here?"

Alex chuckles softly under his breath. It was certainly her. The face, the name, and her behavior all lined up. He’d made a career cracking infiltrators, among other things - she wasn’t one.

“Not sure why you’re surprised I’m alive. I’m not the one here who vanished without a trace a hundred years ago.” He says pointedly. He seems.. unenthused, maybe, about this little family reunion. He gave up the idea of his own family long ago, and her being here is a grim reminder of a past life. “And that’s a long story. For now, I’m afraid I require your unconditional surrender, and that of your subordinates. I pledge no harm will come to them, on my honor.”

"Long story for both of us," she answered with a huff. Before rolling her eyes at the obvious oversimplification. Of course it'd be a long story.

It doesn't escape her notice that Alexander's emotionally restrained. Does it square with her memories of her brother? He'd always been...eager. Ready to prove himself, often before he was ready. The man standing here now didn't look like he had anything to prove at all. Then there were his orders. Why would he ask for her unconditional surrender? He didn't have a motive, at least not one she could understand. Unless it wasn't his motive. Chain of command? What was going on here? Wait-

"...is the Spiral here?" she asks as horrified possibility occurs. "Is that how you're here?"

Alex shrugs and raises an eyebrow as the look on his sister’s face turns from confusion to horror. He can only shake his head at her question. “I haven’t seen or heard of that sterile scrapheap since around the time you disappeared. No, I’m here by more unfortunate circumstances, just as you seem to be.” He answers, gesturing at the wrecked ship with one armored hand. “Welcome to my planet. I’d very much like to be off of it, but until then I must insist on maintaining the proper.. privileges and appearances, one might say.”

Kestrel took a moment to rein in her emotional reaction. Thankfully, training, genetics and practice all made it relatively easy to get a grip on herself. Questions for later. Right now, she needed to think. She mentally reviewed his opening remarks.

Lay down your arms and surrender. You too may serve. I require your unconditional surrender. I must insist on maintaining the proper privileges and appearances.

So, not the Spiral but a different chain of command. One he might be at the top of, or might not. Her eyes flicked away from Alexander back up the slope towards the concealed locations of his probable soldiers. Either he wasn't in charge or being in charge didn't mean his men would mindlessly obey him. Which, given the survival situation this planet seemed to engender, wasn't surprising. Maybe he had a reputation to uphold and giving contrary orders would undermine that. She just didn't know enough. But he did. Could she trust him to get her and her crew through...whatever this was, in good faith?

I'd very much like to be off of it. On my honor.

And he was her brother. A Cavanaugh. No matter what he'd been through, blood was blood.

"I surrender," she says, enunciating the formal words clearly, particularly if there was an audience listening in. "If you'll give me the chance to speak with my crew, I'll convey your instruction and my recommendation they follow it. Understand that we just crashed here. I've had no opportunity to reestablish communications or assess the condition of the ship or crew. But I doubt anyone in there's in much shape to put up a fight."

Her voice drops a touch in pitch with feeling and urgency. "You know how chaotic an emergent, developing situation can be, particularly when it comes to disaster. Work with me on finding and stabilizing my people and you'll have no trouble from us. This isn't a condition on surrender, Alexander. It's..." she pauses while groping for the right word before settling on, "pragmatism."

Well.. things weren’t as clear cut as Kestrel might be hoping regarding his thoughts on their blood ties, but for the time being Kestrel and the ship she came in on presented an opportunity. Mostly in that something of that size almost certainly had the couplings he needed to get his salvaged Nova Courier out of the atmosphere.

Tapping into his helmet’s comms, he signals his men. “They’ve surrendered. No blood today, friends. The woman with me is formally under my protection. The rest are to be treated as.. guests, I suppose.” He explains, then lowers the helmet again. “No part of approaching a crashed ship that still poses a detonation risk sounds pragmatic to me, Kestrel. I’m afraid the lives of your crew are tangential to my aims.”
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
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Had everyone else moved? Looking down into the crater again, Qyilim reckoned no one was where they once were; no one’s faces were on the heads that now stood in their spots. He wasn’t fit for this level of focus, not at all. He wasn’t a stranger to concussions, certainly not in theory due to his position in the Waning Stars Military. It was important for anyone to recognise and be able to deal with certain conditions while awaiting a field medic, and Qyilim, who had attained the rank of Sergeant, took those conditions seriously. Well. On anyone else, he took them seriously: apparently on himself, he thought he could just wade through the difficulties until they went away.

He wasn’t in his little bounty squad anymore, nor was he in prison. For all intents and purposes, he was currently operating alone. And that meant taking care of himself.

He’d done alright, he reckoned, up til now: stopping himself from downing Caprocetin demonstrated his strength, right? His resolve? His survivability and instinct to do whatever necessary to just keep breathing?

Though, what a dream it would be to let someone else take the wheel and collapse for a while. And just someone to talk to. Anyone to talk to. Hell, he’d take the moody-chops Victor from his old squad on a date if it just meant he could speak to someone. Sure, the only thing on the menu would be razor-blade grass with a side of strange grey sand, but they could at least reminisce!

Now, had his little internal struggle given him more energy to deal with external forces, or had it sapped it? He surveyed the crater again, relieved to see everyone had stopped moving so much. But they were all focused on the contact between the man in red ( Vudukudu Vudukudu ) and a woman ( Epiphany Epiphany ) approaching him. And there it was – Qyilim felt sick again. These people couldn’t all be cyborgs or humanoids augmented not to project their psionics, could they? Some of them were definitely flesh, given the visible injuries so…

Maybe it was something about the planet he was on? Although, when the Holden was crashing, he definitely remembered someone else’s scream and their psionic projection of ‘Hide, hide, hide!’ so the planet probably wasn’t to blame.

Well, even if he couldn’t do the one single thing a Zirzolan had evolved to do, perhaps he could still offer mundane help to those in the crater.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, dei-Enth, you’ll be laughing at the irony later.



Hoping not to cause further panic, Qyilim decided to ignore one part of his survival instinct and tucked his compact pistol back inside his right arm’s holster. If the man in red decided to decimate everyone in the vicinity, then his last thoughts would certainly be, “Why did I do that?” but for now, there was a need to appear non-threatening.

After all, he couldn’t tell what the hell anyone was projecting. Did they think he was dangerous due to his approach, his size, his weapon? Or did they recognise him as a fellow luckless crashee with similar injuries?

Where were their psionics? What layer of ether were they getting stuck in? What part of himself was so broken that their psionics were washing over him entirely?

When he spoke, approaching the group consisting of Lu, Silas, Adira, Maya, Dekxer and Stratton, ( dae mec dae mec The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse thorspuddingcup thorspuddingcup sublimed sublimed Viper Actual Viper Actual ) he realised his voice was contorted with his own distress. It curled in all the wrong places, and when he tried to get it under control, he did so with a frustrated gasp. It didn’t help that he was keeping the man in red in his peripheral vision, so maintaining eye contact with anyone was impossible.

“I have, ah… I don’t… I’m not a threat to you if you’re not a threat to me. I have come from behind the dune, and I know the man on the crest has at least ten other soldiers with him, many of which have taken up concealed spots. Take this information as a gesture of goodwill. I can also offer… pai… my vigilance. I am not against you.”

Well then: he had intended to offer his Caprocetin to the survivors, knowing very well the value of painkillers on the field, but some gnarled hand had throttled that offer before the words made it out of his mouth. Perhaps it was for the best: when would he get more Caprocetin? He needed it more. He’d get tremors without it. They’d live. They had done so far.

“My name’s Qyilim os datha dei-Enth, I have served 8 years in the Waning Stars Military. Please believe when I say, I am not your threat.”

He glanced at the man in red again, eye wandering to the woman he was engaged in dialogue with. How useful would he have been to her if he could interpret the man in red’s psionics?

“If there is any way I can be of service, please put me to it,” Qyilim performed a half-bow with his massive frame, praying he would not have to draw his compact pistol again today.
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
The fact that Kestrel and this Alexander were siblings didn't go over Adira's head. She was busy with other things. Prioritizing was something she was supposed to be good at, right?

As Adira called out the game-plan Stratton searched through the pockets on the front of his armor. Luckily enough he managed to find a compact white and red auto-injector. Pulling off his helmet Stratton's bloodied and bruised face was now completely visible as he bit down on the injector cap and spat it out. He took a deep breath and tilted his head before shoving the injector into his neck and pressing down on the "trigger" up top, injecting its contents.

While usually against combat stims (as some soldiers tend to abuse them or even overdose themselves) now wasn't really the time to take the moral high ground. Cursing in between breaths Stratton only just now realized that his rifle must still be on the ship. Looking to his right he grabbed his pistol and yanked it out of its holster before giving Adira a confident nod.
"Wait - " Too late, Stratton had seen fit to inject himself with what was the equivalent of synthetic adrenaline. Too late to go on about how that could make injuries worse. But he knew that, didn't he? He had to. And he chose to do that anyway. She bite back a comment and nods to him. "We may not be fighting, but... we need you at our backs while we move. And... thanks, Stratton."

With a triumphant "A-ha!," she pulled out the tightly wrapped blanket that someone had shoved in the middle of her bandages. Lu started to unravel the blanket, only to hear a bunch of headache-inducing drums and an equally loud voice. Lu reduced the sensitivity of her aural implants and sighed.

"Oh, shit! It's the feudal cosplayer," she muttered. The potato settlement she lived in did some trading with Cavanaugh's ilk, and she'd freelanced her services to his people before. Lu pulled out a roll of bandages as well, eyeing the man with the injured shoulder. "We can move, uh... Silo?" She quickly replayed the past conversation with her implant and corrected herself. "Sorry, Silas." Lu gestured to the man who Dekx rescued. "And I can wrap up your shoulder, or one of your friends can? We really should move clear of this, if Lordy Cavanough lets us."

As the conversation between the Cavanaughs continued, Adira looked up toward Lu. "Okay, the situation's defused, we're not about to get shot, and the ship is falling apart. Let's get the blanket under him," she said with a glance up at Lu, her more-or-less savior at the moment. To Maya ( thorspuddingcup thorspuddingcup ) she said, "I don't know which missing crew member you mean... I think everyone is accounted for? I'm not sure."

For the most part, Adira was ignoring the conversation between Alexander and Kestrel. No immediately life-threatening words had been exchanged, in fact, it seemed like they were going to be left alone, and she was focused on gently moving Silas and getting the blanket under him.

Then Qyilim ( 0stinato 0stinato ) approached. Adira shifted her position to kneel between Silas and Qyilim, just in case. Her eyes shot up to Stratton ( Viper Actual Viper Actual ), then back to Qyilim. Everyone here so far had been so helpful and kind - Maya and Lu and Dekxer - but how long could that kind of luck last? To say Adira eyed him warily is an understatement, but she listened patiently to what he had to say. In the end she had to conclude: if he was lying, well, he was a damn good liar. Besides, he had the bearing of someone in Waning Stars - she'd know. The bow was extra reinforcement - nobody would toss that in if they were pretending to have been in Waning Stars. It immediately set him aside as "other" and a liar wouldn't want that for sure. Adira looked up at Stratton and nodded to show her approval before looking back to Qyilim.

She looked him over slowly and sighed, nodded, and shifted to the side. "Thank you, Qyilim, we could use the help." She started to offer her name, but realized that if he had been in Waning, that might not be the best idea to do right off the bat. Too much gossip in good circles and bad. She cleared her throat. "We can... go over formalities later. Once Miss Lu and I finish getting the blanket under him, can you please help us drag him to safety? His leg's broken and he can hardly sit up with his head injury. We'll help you in return if you need, once my crew is safe."

She sat up a bit more and said to Maya ( thorspuddingcup thorspuddingcup ) "There's some of our allies over there, where Kestrel was, can you tell them we're moving away from the crash and that they should join us? You can tell them Adira sent you."
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
Sitting up with a brief but pained expression, Stratton managed to at the very least get one leg up halfway which resulted in him watching Kestrel depart the group from a crouched position partially obscured by debris sticking up like jagged metal blades out of the ground. He suppressed a cough before putting his helmet back on. When yet another stranger approached the party- this one seemingly experienced in warfare if their gait and build was anything to go by- Stratton partially concealed his sidearm with his left hand until Adira gave him a nod.

It was a silent gesture but an important one. Verbally or not Stratton knew better than to distrust Adira's judgment and as such his left hand returned to its original position underneath the pistol.

As the party prepared to move Stratton looked back towards Kestrel and noticed that she was now on her way back. "Captain," said Stratton with his face concealed by his opaque helmet visor. "Ketsrel is coming back."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Silas' head was spinning as he tried to sit up again. It was clear through the pained expression on his face that it wasn't an easy task. He had a splitting headache that made it hard to think of anything outside the pain. "I guess we're going off with Lord Kavanaugh?" He asked to no one in particular. He wasn't even really sure if he overheard their conversation properly. It seemed as though Kestrel and her brother were somewhat amicable and even willing to cooperate with one another. Even if he was willing to help his crew just because of their relationship with Kestrel, Silas felt it was better than nothing. He just hoped they had painkillers back at Alexander's compound. Or, hell, maybe even an actual makeshift ER. Lu, hopefully, could patch him up if they had anything to work with.

With Adira occupied with talking to the others, Silas looked over at the next closest. "Hey, Q-wi-lum, help me up. I don't really feel like dying on this beach." Silas held his hand up to Qyilim. Sure, his leg was busted, but at this point he'd rather limp away from the wreck. He didn't have a very high pain tolerance but at this point Silas didn't really have a choice. Plus, this Qyilim fellow seemed decently strong enough - maybe he could even carry him, if need be. "At least drag me on this cot I'm laying on. I don't think Adira could pull me," Silas chuckled to himself.

Given what this ‘Lord Kavanaugh’ had said, Qyilim knew it wasn’t a place he wanted to end up in a hurry. The dream would be to get off this planet, but who knew if that was possible anymore? For a moment, he allowed himself a mental moment to consider: there he was, drifting on a small vessel, being warned of the pull of this planet’s gravity, next moment they were falling and then, beyond that, concussed and using a piece of still-warm wreckage as a shelter, stumbling and finding it difficult to breathe. What was the decision here? It seemed there was only one way to go, and it was with this Kavanaugh guy. He had men up with him, men who seemed to come from a culture stable enough to go out and hunt for survivors. Should he risk it, become a wanted man on this cold little husk of a heavy planet, or should he be docile for now?

The only upside was… the girl speaking to Kavanaugh. Whatever her history was, he had to learn it. Had to understand it. Had to gain more information before he made his choice.

“The name’s Qyilim. And I can do better than drag you. Although things will seem heavier for me while I am on this planet, I have reliably carried people or things equal to my own weight. The only thing I would ask is,” he paused as he reached down. He was slow, careful, not making a single fast move so his presence wouldn’t spook these people. He made sure that, as he picked up Silus, his heavy-duty right arm was under the man’s knees. No one wanted to rest against that for hours. He lifted Silus and, although he was expecting the man’s mass to be more than he expected, he still realised the true grasp this planet had on all weight. He steadied himself, then stood upright, looking down at Silus from the side of his eye, “what is that woman doing?”


Silas was more than surprised with the ease in which Qyilim could lift Silas up. Even if there was fault, Silas wasn't a small person and they were on a large planetoid. His eyebrows raised in shock, but was more than happy to not have to walk. "Appreciate the help," He muttered. To answer his question, Silas responded, "As far as I can tell, they're related. Siblings, or something else. Kestrel's with my crew, but I don't know who the red guy is. Far as I can tell, they at least know each other. And it looks like Kestrel's given us a way out of this mess with the least bloodshed possible." Silas was silently thanking her for keeping an altercation from taking place. "Looks like we might all get wrangled up and brought to his compound, though. So, not sure if you've got someone cooking stew for you at home, but I think you're gonna miss dinner. Don't think anyone's getting a free pass out of this one." Silas' headache was a little better than when he initially regained consciousness, but it was still an unwanted pain. "Let's hope he doesn't have a firing squad waiting for us."

“I see. So, she is to be trusted, I assume,” Qyilim replied, ready to interpret as best he could the man’s expressions. It was strange: the only experience on which he could rely was the analogue training he had received in interrogation tactics and criminal psychology, since psionics were out of his reach now.

Either way, he wanted to get a read on Silas. If Silas said she could be trusted, and was sincere, that would be the best answer. Anything else and he would seriously regret investigating the wreckage. The clarity provided by Silas regarding Alexander was also quite unwelcome. No way was Qyilim going to allow himself to survive military service, criminal activity, prison and a nasty ship crash only to die at the hands of some – seemingly – ego-driven warlord who was making his own jurisdiction.

But remember the training. Hospitality was one of the most influential tools in an interrogator’s arsenal, closely followed by genuine sincerity. Sure, he was comparatively on the other side of the proverbial table this time, but he could still play the game. His hand was looking bad, but he still had a few dirty plays he could make. Thinking of them made him grimace, since they were underhanded and completely dishonourable, but the fear that they may not work in the first place at least removed the thought that he had anything to lost.

“Direct me where you wish to go and I will transport you. I am free for instructions, should anyone wish to give me any.” Qyilim said, speaking first to Silas then to the rest of the people around him.


Silas nodded to Qyilim's offer to be taken where he wished. Not long after that question was asked, though, whatever conversation going on with Alexander and Kestrel seemed to have concluded by the sight of Kavanaugh's men buzzing with - seemingly - new orders. In the distance, where some of the arrivals from other settlements were positioned, a few of Kavanaugh's men... apprehended their vehicles and persons. It was clear who was the big fish on this planet from the way Alexander and his soldiers commandeered the area. It didn't take long for orders to be barked at Qyilim and the other survivors - join Alexander on a ride to his settlement. There was no ultimatum given. It was clearly a "do this, or get shot" command. With an exasperated sigh, and a wince of pain, Silas responded, "Let's just comply for now. Sorry to rope you into whatever this is, but it seems we have no choice."

Back in the bad ol' days, Qyilim was quite happy to take orders. Back then, he was under the illusion that officers and the like actually knew what they were doing. When he rose slightly though the ranks, he began to realize that wasn't always true. For a while, it didn't matter; he did his job and did it well, so things only started looking bad when he was on the other side of the law.

Honour was dead and he carted around it's corpse with resentment. But for now, he wasn't carrying a corpse. He was carrying an injured but alive man.

"It seems I roped myself into this by investigating the wreck," Qyilim quietly replied to Silas as he approached the barges. "Please don't apologize for things like this, or I might start keeping score of failings that were never yours to begin with. We're both in the same position by nothing other than circumstance and travel. I don't wish to dislike those I am sided with."

He was careful boarding the barge, looking first for somewhere to set Silas down before settling himself. Damn. With the weight of the large man gone from his shoulders, the pain in his head and stomach became more pronounced. He gripped his prosthetic forearm, right on the slip that held his painkillers, and said nothing further.


***​


With the wreck of the frigate smoldering in the backdrop, it was clear by the arrival of bargeboats that their time on the beach was over. Whether or not the crew wanted to, it was on Alexander's dime what happened to them. Considering there was still an active hazard in the area, and nowhere else to go but the far and stretching plains of the mysterious planet they're on, it was in good taste to play nice with the warlord for the time being. With the arrival of settlements from far and wide coming to aid those who crashed, it was with jurisdiction only available to the Cavanaugh lord that he was able to organize all incoming barges and redirect them to his settlement, not far from where the crew had crashed. Wounded were herded onto the barges, and anyone able to stand were tasked with helping their less fortunate comrades. All in all, plenty of helpers showed up to support those in need. After all, everyone was stuck on the same planet together. It just happened to be mostly controlled by an... eccentric warlord.

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The trip was less than ideal for anyone scooped up by Alexander's men. While not under his leadership, none of the other settlements could outright refuse to help him in such a situation; he had the guns, the men, and the devotion. Any of the rescue barges that arrived were quickly brought under Alexander's control and rerouted to his settlement. It was less than ideal for anyone wounded considering the rough terrain and the ragged vehicles used to transport them like cattle. The cargo spaces of these hastily scrapped-together vehicles had little comfort and even less space. If there weren't six or seven altogether, they'd no doubt be piled up on top of each other just to transport. The lack of windows also detrimental to anyone wishing to get their mind off the current situation. Conscience was stuck inside this room like a prison of the mind. Even though these were rescue barges, they held little comfort. The destination was also equally unsettling. No one dared reveal information that Alexander may not have wanted anyone to know, and so most of his posse were subject to complete silence or short, barked orders.

It was only through these obscure and harsh words that it was evident they'd arrived at wherever Alexander had planned to take them. Metal rattled outside the vessels and after an abrupt halt, various raps sounded off on their hulls from the outside. The bay doors at the rear of the vessel hissed open and creaked wide once pulled on by Alexander's men, ushering their new "guests" out.

One particular soldier, clad in a rather pristine cloak over her armor and helmet, motioned the crew of the Ambivalence - and other fellow detainees - out. "Let's go, we need to clear these for repurposing." She spoke unenthusiastically. "Keep within the compound for now. Once you have clearance, I'll escort you to your temporary quarters. Any wounded, step off to the side here and we'll take you to the infirmary." The view around them was awash with greys and dull pigments, shanty in nature and seemingly held together by a thread. They seemed to be at the bottom of an incline, maybe a hill or mountainside, that stretched up on one side and littered with makeshift housing. At a closer glance, it was clear most of the structures were old fuselages and deteriorating ship hulls. Under the mess of this shantytown was a visible underbelly; mechanical structures protruded like scales of a dragon, hiding the full visage from view and only giving glances. It was clear this town wasn't built in just some random spot, but rather a large industrial zone of some kind.

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"If you have any questions, ask me; Manor Vae. Welcome, new conscripts, to Tartarus. Both planet, and city."
 
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Daisie

Teat Whins
Helper
Roleplay Type(s)
The rumble of the vehicle beneath her swayed both her and the new "rescues" back and forth. Inwardly, she couldn't help but curse herself for getting caught up in any of this in the first place. She'd been walking alone for a few days, now, avoiding everything and everyone she could. In fact, she'd managed to do pretty well for herself...

... Up until now.

Truth be told, Chanterelle had no interest in being rescued, nor did she enjoy the secretive nature of their destination. The amount of people in that cramped space set her unease, and every time a neighbour shifted, she'd maneuver whatever small belongings she was allowed to take aboard with her even closer. She hadn't been exposed to this many new people in a long time - a thought that kept her tense, alert, and vastly apprehensive.

Well, at least it was dark. She always found some sort of safety in the shad-

At that moment, the doors swung open, rays of light flooding in and washing over the entire assembly. Her armor clacked against itself as she raised an arm to shield her visor, and all at once everyone was ordered off. "Stressed" couldn't begin to describe her emotion as she latched on to her own belongings and tried to navigate her bulky armor through the rushing and frightened group.

Chanterelle, too, came out into the light along with many others.

One glance at her would tell anyone of her allegiance to Icarus, fully clad from head to toe in one of Icarus's specialized CCG Personal Containment suits, but a second glance would only make one question that claim. The white suit was obviously far more worn with age than a professional would allow, and that was coupled with some strange modifications that looked very unofficial - namely a port attached to the chest specially built to receive... something or other.

As she stepped out of the vehicle in two hefty boots, she towered over many of the other captives fellow guests, being as tall as or just under most of the men there. Most notably in one hand, she clutched the handle of a thick, industrial-grade crate, not much bigger than a large carry-on suitcase. It had barely fit on the vehicle in the first place, but Chante notably refused to unhand it back when she was being threatened welcomed aboard.

In her other arm, though, was an oddity. Tucked between her chest and arm sat a small, potted plant, no larger than a coffee mug. The little green stem boasted quite a few leaves, looking like some sort of tiny fern, crumpled and dry at the edges but still very much alive. She held it arguably closer than her important-looking luggage.

She gazed around the masses through an impenetrable, one-way visor, completely obscuring any and all expression from underneath.

Tartarus, huh? Though the rustic, scrapped-together environment was by no means welcoming, she looked up at the suffocating city and felt... well, more at home than out in the open wilderness. Threatened, but... maybe she could utilize this place, somehow.

Her mind began racing immediately on what she was even going to do... She didn't have time to mess around on this middle-of-nowhere planet. She needed to get back up again... But how was she even going to do that? She was no ship-builder; her small, one-person vessel had been practically eviscerated in the crash, and now she was thrown into a city with zero information on culture, navigation, or currency...

... And most important of all, she needed to find a drink for her struggling little plant.

...

She was going to have to talk to someone, wasn't she?

"Manor Vae" was done giving her introduction quickly, and soon Chanterelle was left looking again over whoever else had been picked up alongside her. She needed an ally of some sort. Ugh, how she hated social intricacies.

After giving the person who happened to be standing directly next to her a long, thorough, and not-so-subtle look up and down, Chanterelle spoke in a lowered voice to said person.

That person happened to be Captain Adira.

"Name's Chanterelle," she introduced in possibly the most direct way possible. Her voice rumbled low, but was still audibly feminine. Then a rather interesting request came as she presented her potted plant in her armored metal hand.

"If you help me find clean water for this, I'll be indebted. You don't want to be here, and neither do I. I'll help."

Dragongal Dragongal
 
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Dragongal

Miss Medic
Qyilim and Silas were right. Besides calling out for materials and getting the blanket under Silas and directing some people around, Adira was, more or less, useless to them. She didn't have a medical kit, and she probably would hardly be able to drag Silas through the sand (not that that would be a good idea for him medically anyway). She softly thanked Qyilim as he picked up her friend, then again when he set Silas down.

She was pretty blurry on everything that happened between then.

The people herding them onto the ship weren't especially aggressive, and Adira's crew - her friends - were around her. No guns were drawn, no harsh words were exchanged, so she maintained the same decorum. At the moment these people were offering aid. In the future this may not be the case but in the future she wouldn't have broken ribs and Silas would be able to walk and Stratton wouldn't be injured and on battle drugs and who knew what else would happen. Between the hot sun, her concussion, the pure stress, and her own hypervigilance only on the weapons around them, most of the details were glazed over, a soaked watercolor brush smearing across fresh ink and diluting it down to its bare essentials..

Water.

She looked up at Chanterelle from where she sat at Silas's side with Qyilim near them. The symbol of Icarus caught her eye and caused Adira to bristle for just a moment before she straightened up her back slightly and took in the state of the rest of the armor. Adira actually hadn't seen any of this make in ages - she'd never even been in actual combat with anyone wearing that armor. Strange. Maybe this person had crashed on the planet long ago? Maybe the armor wasn't even theirs. The modifications in the chest caught her eye too, and right now she wasn't in a place to be picky about allies. While she absolutely would not trust this individual, that was no reason to reject help. She set her jaw and nodded. "Name's Adira. We're going to the medical bay. I'm sure they will have fresh water there."
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
Surrendering to an enemy was always a gamble that could be followed by any number of grave consequences. Slavery. Inprisonment. Execution. The list goes on.

Though none of these potential scenarios were as certain as death when attempting to combat an enemy with greater numbers while shipwrecked on a remote planet. Because of that Stratton choose to remain silent- even though nearly every part of his body wanted to fight back. That however might be a side-effect of the combat-stims.

Against his will, his instincts and his training Stratton decided to choose life and once the enemy soldiers began herding the crew of the Ambivalence onto scrappy-looking transport vehicles he stayed close to Adira in an effort to watch her back. During the transport he attempted to visually observe the state of the other crewmembers though that task proved difficult.
Stratton did not want to reveal anything by accident so he did his best to refrain from verbal communications and even resorted to using special hand signals with Adira- signals only those that had served on that Waning Star ship a long, long time ago would know.

Upon disembarking Stratton continued to remain silent and merely memorizes everything and anything he could lay his eyes on. Things especially worth noting were security cameras, emergency exits, guard posts, maintenance- or sewer-access and other general security measures.

As more or less everything appeared to be layer upon layer of scrap and starship debris Stratton had to improvize as the local infrastructure and layouts would not mirror that of a building designed by an architect but rather a maze of different shapes and sizes that once were countless different starships.

Spacing out slightly from Adira, Stratton was able to observe more relatively unhindered though it didn't take long for someone quite obviously donning Icarus armor to approach her. That armor, I haven't seen that type too many times.

He glanced at Adira, now engaged in conversation with the figure. If they found out who Adira is we might be in trouble.
Approaching silently through the crowd of captives, Stratton appeares seemingly out of the blue next to Adira and the stranger just as they finished introductions.

"Stratton," said the envoy. "A friend of Adira's."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Manor Vae gave the newcomers some time to take in the sights; they'd be there for at least the next few years, so they may as well get comfortable with the view. Alexander seldom let those out of his service, and the only way off the planet was to climb the political ladder and be one of the lucky few chosen to escape. On Tartarus, you had to make ties with those in high places if you wanted any chance at escape. Each generation was the same for the few centuries. Those in charge would send their lackeys out to new wrecks, collect any working equipment from the crashes, and return in hopes of eventually building a new ship from scratch. This was a process that sometimes took decades to complete, though some generations were rumored to have patched up a space faring ship in a little over three years. At the rate the current leadership was going, though, it looked like they'd be stuck there for at least another year. Vae wasn't excited, but at least she had earned her spot on the ship, whenever Alexander managed to get one built. She'd been waiting for half a decade at this point; she could hold out.

Once the wounded were gathered, the same barges that delivered them to Tartarus were used to transport them to the medical center. A shoddy sign above the entryway had a cross built out of I-beams, but due to deterioration, the sign now hung to make a foreboding X. Still, it was a place stocked with medical officers, medicine, and many other tools to help bring the crew back from near-death. Silas, Stratton, Adira and Qyilim were transported into the camp as wounded, while Chante and Lu went as medical assistants. Their arrival would be much appreciated, as they were short staffed and required the extra hands.

Once they arrived, the doors to the transport opened and the wounded were ushered out in an unceremonious way. Those retrieving them were soldiers, not doctors; Silas was put on a stretcher and carried in by two, while Adira and Stratton were assisted by three more. When the soldiers saw Lu and Chante were unharmed, they assumed the two were here to offer help. They were ushered inside with the wounded and escorted to the head of the center.

The facility was packed with those varying from banged up to critically wounded. Dozens of them lined the walls of the open building, with only a fraction of the people to tend to them. An occasional scream was heard far off, filled with pain.

A frail, gaunt woman in a (mostly) white coat turned to see the new arrivals. She was middle aged with a hint of greying blond hair, and tanned skin. She held a bag in her hand containing various medical equipment, which she set down by the table Stratton was placed on. "You both must have experience to be brought here. I'm Doctor Lyssa Mouge; I don't have much time to monitor your skills, so do what you can while I work on this one." She curtly gestured to Stratton. "My medical facility is yours to share, unless you steal or show that you're unhelpful. You'll be promptly shot if that's the case, so do well." From her tone, it seemed like she had said that line over hundreds of times and was used to having to put faith into untrustworthy newcomers. Mouge turned back to Stratton and began checking him over, signaling the end to the conversation; unfortunately for Chante and Lu, the two would clearly be expected to work with the unfamiliar infirmary, with nearly no inauguration. Their medical prowess would be put to the test.

Not far away, Adira, Silas, and Qyilim were brought onto similar slabs of metal, what seemed to be just the hull of a derelict ship, and left without anyone working on them. The soldiers resumed their position along the walls of the building, or back at the entrance.

"Nice looking place, Doc," said Lu, not expecting a response from Mouge. She was used to talking to herself anyway. Lu glanced at Chante as she rummaged the equipment for bandages and ointment. "You with the shiny armor, got any experience with this? I thought I'd stop the active bleeding first. I'm Lu, by the way."

Chanterelle... couldn't say she was pleased with operating under the threat of death, but to be fair, she wasn't pleased with any of this in the first place. It was all... so, so many new people. The faces of the few medics rushing past her blurred together - it was a really bad time to have a facial recognition disorder. She'd probably have difficulty finding Adira or Stratton again now that she'd lost sight of them in the fuss.

That's when Lu's voice suddenly sounded from beside her. Up until this point, Chante had had difficulty focusing on any one thing in the pandemonium, but the instant she looked at the face of the woman speaking to her, she felt an odd sense of relief.

A cybernetic eye. Finally, something recognizable!

Chanterelle had almost forgotten to respond.

"... Not much. Basic training..." She muttered in a somewhat hasty manner to make up for her strange pause, low voice rumbling yet still feminine. She then held up her bulky, awkward, heavily-gloved hands. "Can't stitch wounds shut, but the surface of this thing kills bacteria if we run out of antibiotic ointment. Isn't perfect, but could be useful... I can carry people, too... or hold them down."


"Great!" Lu smiled, and her flesh eye crinkled. "Could always use a hand. Especially one that can kill bacteria. Help me with Silas and Adira here? Might have to move them a bit and you look much better at that kind of thing."

Lu crouched by Silas first, testing his pupillary reflex and then scalp for tenderness. "Let me know if anything hurts," she said, brisk but professional. "How're you feeling?"

As she assessed Silas, she looked over her shoulder to shoot Chante a curious look. "Nice suit you got there. My mechanics are internal rather than external," she tapped on her metal face plate, "but I appreciate a good exo when I see it. How'd you get it? Not on this planet, right?"


Silas gave a half-hearted "I'm fine," while waving his hand dismissively. "Leg's numb, but besides that I'm doing great." The mangled limb he mentioned of was in a rough state, though through modern medical procedures it should be able to fully recover given time. The skin was, in most places of his leg, stripped and some parts were mildly burned. He had a gash on his head too, blood trickling slowly just above his eye.

Chanterelle, in the meantime, was hesitating to answer Lu's barrage of questions. For a moment or two, it wasn't even clear if she had heard them in the first place. Finally, she answered whilst setting her supplies off in a corner where she could keep an eye on them - her luggage case, and small potted plant on top of it.

"... No, it was a gift," she finally said, shooting a glance in Lu's direction as she shuffled through the medical kit, herself. The chit-chat made her... uneasy. She'd barely met this little "Lu" character and it'd only taken 15 seconds to get to the invasive questions.

... Well, she supposed she had better pass the time somehow. Being a stranger didn't serve her in any useful manner.

"It keeps me alive. My body doesn't work like most people's - it's for my safety."

Her helmet then swiveled, prying her gaze from Lu to Silas. "... This will hurt," she warned bluntly before beginning to clean off the wounds covering his leg, sanitizing as she went along.

Ahh, turns out metallic super-gloves don't make for a particularly gentle experience. Or maybe Chanterelle was just incapable of having any modicum of finesse.

Either way, it's certainly... bracing.


She cleaned the wound above Silas's eye. "Nothing unsalvageable, that's true," she said cheerily. "You're going to be just fine, Silas."

To Chanterelle's reply, Lu craned her head back. "Oh, neat! Where'd you get it? Emission? Frontus? I heard that Pixeron was starting to work on exo-mods too." Her eyes linger on a moment Icarus markings. There's a noticeable pause before she visibly dismisses it and continues chattering. "I got mine from Frontus. Blew up in a ship accident, believe it or not. So my crash-landing on this planet was my second time. At least my face and back are intact this time!"


Chanterelle watched with increasing horror as the barrage of questions appeared to have no end. Though the pause on Lu's part was short, Chante was keen enough to notice the glance towards her armor's affiliation... Something she'd have to hope wasn't going to cause issues down the line.

When Lu neglected to give her ample time to respond to the inquiries, Chante was not only relieved... but also intrigued. She remained quiet for a few moments more, beginning to wrap the patient's leg in gauze.

"... Ship accident, hm...?" She finally pried, herself, genuine interest ringing through her tone.


"Something went off with the shuttle's. We didn't land so much as fall to the planet. Got massive burns on the lateral half of my face--eye and ear--plus my back was crushed too. So I ended up with a good chunk of hardware in me! Good stuff, especially since it lets me carry around some soaps." She said it all without a hint of self-consciousness.

Lu examined the gauze on Silas's legs with a critical eye. "Leave the burns uncovered, if you can," she said, her voice briefly switching to a clinical, professional tone. "I'll look for some non-adherent dressing first." Cheery again, Lu added, "And your story?"


The breakneck tone change didn't appear to affect Chante much. She remedied medical her error quickly, but once again, that final question tagged onto the end was one she found arguably more sinister than the professional, informative critique of her treatment tactics.

Chante's mind began racing. Was this... some sort of interrogation tactic that'd gone over her head? Was she being swindled, somehow?

Rather than stuttering or fumbling her words, however, her whole body paused instead, deep and pensive... as if selecting her next sentence.

"... Nothing interesting," she mumbled in an even lower voice than before. "Crashed here, same as you."

A subject change was about due. "... You said you have... 'soaps' in your, erm... hardware...? Maybe those would work better to clean the wounds."

Well, something was going over her head, that's for sure.
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
While sitting in rough indigestible grasses below a slab of singed metal from the Holden, Qyilim thought he would have gone mad from hunger. It occupied him constantly, not quite eclipsing the obsession with discarding and retrieving his remaining Caprocetin stash in his attempts to refrain from ingesting the painkillers, but it came close. He'd already lost two limbs, maybe he could just hack off his remaining biological leg and eat that. Surely his own leg would sustain him for a while. Might be quite difficult to cut off, considering he didn't have a blade, though.

Those were the types of crazed thoughts he was sure would devour his sanity. But, sheltered near to Silas in the barges, he realised that his mind focusing so hard on hunger was the only thing prevent him from going mad from stimulus. Everything was loud, extremely so, and the city's stink was enough to knock him out of kilter, but he remained vigilant and raring, hungry, obsessing. What he wouldn't do.
His first thought when he saw Chanterelle's ( Daisie Daisie ) potted plant was to take it and consume it, but rationality hadn't died in his mind yet. First of all, he thought, who knows what it was; he wasn't a botanist so eating it could be a terrible idea. Second of all, look how small it is. It'd cost him more energy to digest an excrete than it would give him, as grim as it was to admit. Third, the woman or belonged to was kitted up with armour, Icarus armour. She was clearly capable, as Icarus agents often were and, although he was begrudging, he couldn't ignore that. Icarus had their own ways of doing things and, right or wrong, those methods got results. He wouldn't trust her not to have something concealed.

After all, he had something concealed.
It brought him to the question of loyalty, but he knew that wasn't a question that bore much need at the moment. Still, it was damn good to know what her loyalty was. If his psionic interpretation wasn't being prevented somehow, he would have known upon meeting Silas, ( The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse ) Stratton ( Viper Actual Viper Actual ) and Adira ( Dragongal Dragongal ) where they stood. That was the reason he'd even mentioned the Waning Stars. So far, all he had was that Adira had looked to Stratton and nodded, and Stratton had relaxed very slightly.

But assuming what those movements meant went against his training. Assume and you get in real hot shit. Or, in the realm of interrogation, assume and you push aside certainty. Assume, and someone innocent gets jailed, and someone guilty walks free.
He noticed that Adira and Stratton engaged with the woman from Icarus, but wasn't prepared to engage himself. If he and Adira were Icarus too, he would be outnumbered, and if they were not, the woman gaining that knowledge could have messy results.
A little scuffle between Waning Stars and Icarus wasn't really the priority, nor was it something Qyilim wanted to get into. It'd force him to make a decision about Waning Stars for himself, one he had put off making for years. Was he loyal to the cause he'd fought and given two of his limbs, and lost two of his friends for? He didn't want to say no, but he couldn't easily say yes.

On Tartarus though, loyalty was either demanded or disposed of and Qyilim couldn't tell which. He tried to work it out as he was settled onto the cold, quite unorthodox medical surface nearby Silas and Adira. All he wanted to know was what had happened to his psionic interpretation abilities, but he wasn't making any bets that any nurse or triage specialist would know enough about his kind to answer that. Similarly, he didn't expect Lu ( dae mec dae mec ) or Chaunterelle to know either.

Neither of them were paying him any heed, both focused on each other and on Silas. The conversation between the two was highly informative, especially when it was regarding the Icarus armour, but he would sacrifice the fact-finding for the chance to sate his belly. It gave him the perfect opportunity, after waiting for an opening, to slip away. He was sure he'd been seen - his size made that a certainty - but he didn't care. His focus was food. He followed his nose, followed the backtrail of those carrying food, and told himself he would do nothing when he discovered the location other than eat. Hopefully Doctor Mouge wouldn't have him shot if he ate more than his share...

Hopefully.
 

queendilettante

🤍 Heart Problems 🤍
Roleplay Type(s)
Laoise briefly threw her hand up next to her head in a half-hearted attempt at “good-bye” to the objecting nurse behind her as she stepped through the front doors to the rundown infirmary. That same hand then found itself on her scowling forehead. What a mess. She was used to being in near constant danger - after all, she wouldn’t have the skills she does now if she didn’t grow up under the constant threat of a knife in her back. And, who’s to say that survivable danger wasn’t good for a person?
Yet, crash landing on an abandoned planet ruled by a fascistic overlord after nearly being blown out of the sky by pirates and the Russians that she just stole from seemed to push those limits a bit too far.

Laoise groaned much louder than she meant to and slid down the rough probably-asbestos lined wall as she pulled out and lit a cigarette. Thoughts of, “I quit a few months ago,” flooded her brain as she brought the cancer stick to her lips and deeply inhaled. The dry burn of her lungs greeted her like an old friend, one that kept fucking her over but she couldn’t stay away from. She exhaled, smiling. Ah, well- can always quit again.

Silas, I’m-

Nope. She stopped the thought. She couldn’t think about the hurt in the - ostensibly, at least - stranger’s eyes; the sense of betrayal on his face was too much for her. They had nearly been killed how many times in the span of 6 hours? And, for what? Did camaraderie through shared suffering mean nothing to her? She survived with those people, was that not enough?

No- It was never enough. Those people were, at best, lucky idiots; every single one of them was bound to be dead within the year. Laoise’s days of blindly following paths straight to hell were behind her.

Laoise took another, deep drag of cigarette and held the smoke in her lungs as long as she could bear. She was alive and the coughing fit that accompanied the tar was worth it to prove that. Being alive was a goal she clearly needed to reacquaint herself with.

It’s not like I could even handle their deaths if I let myself get close to them-

She cut herself off again. Fuck this- all of it, truly. Laoise flicked the cigarette on the ground and didn’t put it out. She turned and sarcastically waved to the nurse through the glass doors before turning and walking away; she was filled with an undue pride and, despite her conscious objections to the notion, sadness.

“See you later, everyone,” she spoke aloud as if trying and failing to convince herself, “I hope you all survive!”

Unnecessarily dramatic exit aside, Laoise was feeling significantly lighter the further she got from the infirmary; the inevitable deaths of those she barely survived with were leaving her mind as her feet carried her further and further from them and their suffering. She smiled.

That light feeling was quickly tempered, though, by the realization that she was trapped on this planet and had just abandoned her only safety net.

Well, Laoise, this has never stopped you before.

And so she approached the first unassuming-looking man that she saw.

“Hello hello, sir!” she started, feigning extraordinary enthusiasm to the completely unenthusiastic recipient of her greeting. “You look like you could use some help, and believe you me, I am incredibly helpful.” She winked at the man.

“Help?” He asked, confused.

“Well,” Laoise began with no idea how the sentence was going to end, “look at you! You’re standing on the side of this road all alone and you,” she paused, frantically scanning the man for any reason that she could have come up to him.

“I what?” he interrupted, quite rudely if you asked Laoise.

“Youuuu-” she emphasized, still stalling, “have… a… uhm… clipboard!” She pointed at a clipped set of papers on a post behind the man. “You’re telling me a big, strong, respectable man such as yourself would be carrying a clipboard if he wasn’t doing something very important? Nay sir, I protest the notion.” She smiled as flirtatiously as she could stomach at the older man.

“Oh,” he blushed, “I’m just standing out here for my boss.”

“Boss? And who might that be, darling?”

“Galibree; he’s looking for he-” the man caught himself as if realizing too late that Laoise had cornered him. He sighed and rubbed his temples before continuing. “He’s looking for help with a project in the mines.”

“Now wasn’t that easy, sweetie?” she gloated. “And where might I find this man that needs help with a project in the mines?”
 
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The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter




It didn't take long for the crew to get - mostly - patched up. Most wounds were treated, with only a few yet to be fixed. Silas' leg, however, left him stuck in the infirmary for at least a few more days after the other crew members were let out. The last, Stratton, was out just a day or so after the previous. As each patient was slowly released from their positions in the hospital, they were immediately scooped up into haulers, their destination being the mysterious metal perforations that occasionally peaked throughout Tartarus. Most of them were spires, but their geometry never seemed to duplicate. The crew was filled in on their new assigned tasks; everyone except Chante and Lu were commissioned as miners deep underground. Little information was given on this role, but it was clear the job would explain itself when they arrived at the entrance.
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The mine entrance was clearly not an average one; the structure surrounding it was ancient, mechanical. Impossibly large even on the outside, it was clear this was simply the entryway of a large underground complex that couldn't otherwise be seen. The perforations visible throughout the city showed clearly that this was not just a single location, either; the metallic, industrial design was consistent throughout the entirety of Tartarus, and if one would look out to the horizon, they could see even more spanning as far as the eye could see. The sheer size of just what was visible would probably boggle anyone to comprehend it. For those designated as average workers, which included Stratton, Adira, Qyilim, Maya, and (eventually) Silas, they were given unique instruments of unknown properties. When asked, they'd be informed it was a laser saw; one of the only devices capable of cutting through the substances of the structure. The make was clearly improvised; some looked liable to exploding if handled incorrectly, while others seemed somewhat well made. Other than this, no questions were answered in a straightforward way.

Once inside, the crew alongside dozens of other miners were ushered to a platform, easily a hundred or so feet squared, and lowered down at a slow, steady pace. The lights dimmed as they got lower, but the machinery did not dissipate as well. Even as they dropped hundreds, thousands of feet underground, the mechanical substance permeated the entire way down. No dirt, no rock, no slag. The other workers, clearly used to this job by now, lazily talked to one another or checked their personal gear during the ride down.

"How long were you commissioned for?" Asked one miner to another, just a few feet from the crew.

"Three weeks," Responded the other, who seemed less than thrilled about the decision.

"Cheer up man, this is the place to be. I'd much rather be down here where it's not blazing hot. Plus the work is easy, when no supervisors are around. Just look on the bright side."

"I am looking on the bright side. This place gives me the creeps. I don't want to spend one night down here. You've heard the stories of people falling, or just straight up disappearing. I want to survive this planet, and being down here isn't the way to do that."

It took nearly an hour trip straight down for something incredible to open up for them. The single shaft they had seen for an hour suddenly opened up into an expanse so large, it almost didn't seem real even to the highest of skeptics. Minimalist structure permeated for thousands of miles in every direction, geometric shapes simple yet infinitely detailed. Most were pyramid shaped, paralleled from the floor of the chasm to the roof in a sort of hourglass shape. The change in pressure would've easily knocked down anyone unprepared for the sudden change.

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From where the lift exited the ceiling of the chasm, it then took another forty minutes to reach the top of one of the pyramid structures. It was an unceremonious landing, as the other miners picked up whatever gear they set down and began walking out onto the new, strange architecture. Following the others, the crew found themselves travelling down along one of the sloped surfaces of the pyramid on railcars, clearly installed by the stranded residents of Tartarus. Their designs greatly contrasted the existing structures, made out of twisted metal, scrapped fuselage and hastily constructed rail. This ride, however, was much faster, carrying the crew a significant distance in only a handful of minutes. Of course, on this ride, though, it felt as though the entire thing was about to collapse at any moment.

Finally reaching their destination after a nearly two hour trip, the crew was greeted by a green neon sign off the main trolley drop-off that read "NEW MINERS REPORT HERE." The person awaiting them, a radiant beam of light permeating the slog of grumbling, uncaring miners, was barely visible through the crowd of Average Joe's. She held a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other; primative tools even for a colony of stranded. "Hello!" The woman greeted, her frizzy crimson hair jolting as she gave a frenzied wave to the clear outsiders. "Welcome to The Pit! I'm sure you have many questions, and we'd love to answer them for you. For now, though, I'm going to need your name and the code of your issued laser pick, please." Once this information was given, the eccentric lady beamed once more with a renewed smile after jotting down the information. "Great! It's lovely to have you here supporting the effort. After Alexander's inauguration, we've had a newfound pride in exploring this vast and mysterious chasm." It was clear to anyone in earshot that the words spoken were recited and well practiced; not a note out of place or a word misspoken. "My name is Aimsa, and I am the sectioned quartermaster of Pyramid 20441. Please, any questions you have and I will be more than happy to answer them. Otherwise, you can join the other miners on their way to the barracks. The signs will guide you if you get lost." Once she finished speaking, Aimsa was left with an almost painful smile on her face as she awaited whatever the new arrivals would ask.

When all prevailing questions were answered, the members of the crew would follow along with the other miners who entered the pyramid, an unceremonious and rather drab doorway clearly carved out by tools. The interior was just as cold and emotionless as the exterior; the walls were slanted at strange angles and the majority of it was uncolored, blank surfaces. Inside, clear pathways were carved out by the miners from decades ago in a mazelike fashion, with rows and rows of possible corridors to go down. Following the signs, it was clear where the barracks of the pyramid were; a bleak, almost prison-like complex with three stories and hundreds of feet of single bedrooms lining the walls. The crew were each assigned a room, designated by a number somewhere between 4,032,254,303 - 4,032,254,705. Each room was only about 7'-7', and contained a storage locker with a unique combination (given to the crew by the quartermaster), and a slab for a bed (clearly cut out from the interior of the pyramid and recycled for use) with a rather comfy looking, puffy beige blanket on top. It was advised for all new miners to start their shift within the first hour of arriving. It was also disclosed that each new miner was to be sent to The Lion's Den, but the parameters of why this was important was not mentioned. The signs would help guide the crew to the aforementioned mine.

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Dragongal

Miss Medic
Stratton joining into the conversation with Chante was unexpected, but not unwelcome. They were in this together, and as such it would be best to stick together. Showing that they were friends made them harder to pick off than a single loner. They didn't get long to chat before Manor Vae continued with escorting them to the medical bay. Though, escorting sounded a bit too polite, didn't it? Manor Vae herself was pleasant enough but taking in the context that they would likely be some kind of almost-captive for a jackass with a small army put a tarnish on her sterling introductions. Still, Adira was appreciative of the low medical table for her to sit on. She crossed her legs and put her arms behind her, her breath hitching as she leaned back and straightened her spine to take a deep breath, letting her lungs attempt to fully expand. It hurt, stars it did, but every small breath she took after that still hurt less than when she had been standing.

Chante and Dae set straight to work caring for Silas - as we only right. He had clearly gotten the worst injuries of anyone that had been in the crash. Adira kept an eye on the two tending to him, flinching as they first approached. These weren't doctors in a medical setting, these were two people with unknown levels of medical skills, and any proficiency they did claim couldn't be verified. So, Adira watched. And waited. And gave them a chance to prove that they could actually help. If they were causing more harm than good, then Adira would be sure to return that harm to them tenfold.

She had to admit, she hadn't known Silas's leg was so bad. As the torn fabric covering it was pulled away, she was grateful to learn that Chante's gloves were antibiotic. She was also grateful to hear her mention why she had the exo suit - even if vaguely. It put her mind at ease that it was necessary to keep her alive, and not just a constant, passive threat to any WS member who saw her. While Adira wasn't nearly as staunchly pro-WS as some people thought she ought to be, there was history between her and Icarus, and it had never been healthy. But then again, most of her history wasn't healthy.

Qyilim left the room. Which was odd, since Adira had been assuming he wasn't in perfect health either, and he wasn't walking off with any direction of where to go, but she wasn't about to question this man she never met. Besides, she was too busy enjoying breathing. Adira sighed and mumbled to Stratton, "At least we can try to heal up for the moment... anything else we can figure out later, when we're not actively crippled." After watching Dae and Chante work on Silas's injuries with relative skill, and determing that they would in fact not accidentally kill him, Adira let herself look to Qyilim as he returned to the room. She nodded to him and softly said, "I didn't get to properly thank you for your help, earlier. I saw you hiding behind the dune. You didn't have to help us. So... thank you."


Greed was the antidote Qyilim clearly needed. Despite the quality of the food in this place being akin to the scraping-together of leftover loose MRE packs that had fallen down the back of shelves in the dry storage of a WS military base - actually, now that he thought about it, what he ate may well have been exactly that - he was satisfied and much more relaxed. Of course, he'd be ravenous again in five or six hours but for now, he breathed a little easier. His head still clunked along, brain struggling against its mental bruises, but his body knew what to do.

Blissful.

He had intended to slink back into the room he had been put in with the others, but Adira's eyes fell on him the moment he stepped over - and ducked his head under - the threshold. Perhaps he should make some lame excuse about having trouble finding a bathroom. After all, it wasn't like they'd been shown where the facilities were. But it seemed he wouldn't have to do that.

He hesitated where he stood, his stare searching her face for her feelings but failing to detect them, then looked away. A moment later he returned to his metal slab, making himself as comfortable as one could on these things, before looking at her again.

'I have seen the kinship many of you hold between each other. I've observed it several times, and it makes me both melancholic and hopeful. While what you say is true, that I did not have to assist you, I will be truthful and explain that I believe I mostly did it to ensure my own survival. It would be dishonourable of me to not make you aware of that now we are safer, and give you the opportunity of deciding whether you which to continue your association with me or not.' Qyilim spoke with acute attention to his choice of words, a deliberateness that he knew did not help him appear friendly.


Upon being escorted to the medbay Stratton struggled to maintain his vigilance. By now the combat stims and their effects were growing weak, with little in the way of slowing him down as fatigue began to set. As he was put on a cold metal slab his eyes wandered over to Adira, though it grew increasingly difficult to maintain focus on his captain the longer he watched.

What felt like an eternity was a mere thirty seconds or so until Stratton allowed himself to close his eyes. Once the good doctor got to work on him he was already passed out and too weak to even attempt staying awake. The last thing he wanted was to leave his captain alone and exposed while surrounded by several unknowns and at least one confirmed Icarus-supporter.

Unfortunately for Adira her words fell on deaf ears as a blacked-out Stratton remained completely motionless on the metal stretcher he had been place on- aside from the slow movement of his chest going up and down in tandem with his lungs inhaling and exhaling air.


Qyilim glanced at Stratton as Adira addressed him, and felt a tinge of distress upon seeing Stratton dead to the world - but breathing - next to them. All he could assume was that Stratton had taken injuries bad enough to need rest, or was completely exhausted. 'Should I call someone over to tend to him?' Qyilim asked, narrowing his eyes.


Adira never considered herself much of a people person. She had the people she liked, sure, but those were relatively few and far between in all reality. The only people skills she had learned, she had learned in order to manipulate people as needed. Well. Persuade people. So her people skills weren't spectacular. Still, it didn't take an interpersonal communications genius to figure out that Qyilim was... Tense. Not quite nervous, but definitely not comfortable.

She had to respect his honesty. He could have lied and said he did it out of the good of his heart. Really, though... Would Adira have done differently? Something other than looking out for herself first? In a situation like that, with people she didn't even know? It was only sensible, and that can't be held against someone.

Before Adira could reply, Qyilim asked about Stratton. Adira looked over at her friend passed out on the metal table and shook her head. "He took combat stims earlier, when we didn't know what was happening. This is the crash from them. Besides, whether you call someone over or not... I don't think it will do much. I think they plan to get to each of us when they get to us, and he's not actively dying at the moment. I don't think the wait will be long, though, the nurses and... doctors are here and probably want to wrap this up soon."

She looked back to Qyilim. "I understand what you did. It's only smart to put yourself first, especially around strangers. Still, whatever your reason... Thank you for your help. It does seem we may all be in this together now, though."


A long time ago...

Shrapnel and small pieces of debris showered over the troopers as they hunkered down in the battered and partially damaged trenches running alongside the foot of the mountain.

Above tracers lit up the dark night sky as heavy weapons, gun emplacements and armored vehicles exchanged fire and beyond that far above in the sky warships belaugered one another with ordnance of varying sizes as swarms of fighter- and bomber-craft were locked into deadly dogfights.

Lance-Corporal James Stratton adjusted his footing as an artillery shell detonated no less than ten meters away from the trench he used as shelter, causing the ground to quake and rumble. Steaming-hot piles of dirt were hurled in every direction which obscured his line of sight temporarily.
Gritting his teeth behind the reinforced visor of his helmet Stratton propped up his carbine into one of many firing ports offered by the thick alloy platings which had been hammered into the ground to provide the soldiers with cover.

His helmet HUD was updated to provide Stratton with markers for the very faint and quite small silhouettes of enemy soldiers. The sound of his carbine joined the many others already engaging the enemy with empty shell-casings being sprayed onto the soldier to Stratton's right.

The soldier however, did not care; His body was motionless in the trench and blood was slowly pouring out of the large hole that had shattered his visor into a million pieces. His weapon and magazine pouches had been stripped by his fellow soldiers and as the fighting continued the body sank deeper and deeper into the mud below.

Stratton crouched and prepared another magazine just as friendly gunships strafed enemy positions. Despite their technological inferiority the hostile troops- Icarus infantry and pro-Icarus militia- had made significant advances on the Waning Stars forces.
Outnumbered and cornered against a mountain, the WS forces lacked the numerical superiority on the planet and had been due for mass-evacuation just as Icarus ships made a surprise attack from above.

Now both fleets were locked into a battle of attrition while forces on the ground engaged in brutal infantry-dominated combat.

The battalion comms crackled to life.

"Empire to all units, Empire to all units."

Stratton didn't stop shooting. Two soldiers next to him finished reloading a machinegun, letting the heavy weapon tear through a squad of Icarus troops pinned down in the open.

"Be advised: Icarus forces preparing mass-charge. I repeat; Icarus forces preparing mass-charge."

A rocket flew past him, crashing into a tank covered in sandbags. The impact caused ammunition to cook-off and explode which sent the turret flying into the air.

"Recommend enacting Berserker Protocol. Good luck down there, Empire out."

That's it
? Stratton reloaded once again and almost slipped on an empty magazine in the process. He cursed just as someone patted him on the back. Looking up he spotted an officer. A major. The majors voice echoed over the comms;
"You heard command! Those Icarus bastards are coming- Let's make sure we give them a proper greeting!"

The major spun around and pulled out a small cylindrical cartridge from one of his utility pouches. "Insert Berserker-stimulant!"

Quickly, Stratton did what he was told. He produced his own cartridge and jabbed it into a socket on his left thigh plating, normally reserved for auxiliary oxygen tubes during EVA-operations.

Around him his fellow soldiers did the same. The combat stims were strong and their effects were near-instant;

Stratton tasted iron and felt his heart pounding faster and faster. At the same time his fatigue seemed to vanish and his mind felt sharpened like never before. His armor and weapon felt lighter than he remembered.

Then came a voice from the heavens;

"CHARGEEE!!!"

Stratton didn't think. He acted.

In a surprise move the entire WS frontline vaulted over their cover and rushed towards a wall of Icarus infantry whom had used barricades on treads as shelter during their advance. On both sides automatic gunfire echoed but were quickly replaced by the sound of metal against metal as soldiers delivered punches, kicks and jabs at one another. Some drew their knives while others unholstered their sidearms.

Stratton mowed down an enemy soldier with ease as he emptied an entire magazine into his chest. Had it not been for the stims he would've heard the boy- no older than sixteen- as he screamed in pain and collapsed backwards into the blood-soaked ground.

Turning around, Stratton looked for his next target.

A steel-clad fist appeared out of nowhere and connected with his helmet...


Now...

With a sudden jolt Stratton opened his eyes and attempted to grab a non-existing pistol from a holster that wasn't there.

His breathing was out of control as his eyes darted all over the place. He coughed, recoiled and turned over to the side a mere second before puking onto the floor.

Cursing, Stratton came to. Pain shot through most of his body as he regained his senses. He laid down once again and slowed his breathing.


Adira didn't see what Stratt was grabbing for. But she could hear the metal table rattle and the shifting of fabric as he moved. It even sounded sudden. Sudden and traumatized.

By the time Adira turned to look, Stratton was coughing. Coughing and breathing far too quickly. Too panicked. Even for someone just waking up and vomiting, this was pure panic. Few things could induce that kind of panic from someone who was sleeping.

"Stratton!" Adira jumped up and swung her legs off of the table as Stratton laid back down. Luckily he had thrown up on the other side, so she could approach the slab of metal to get closer. "Are you okay?" She knew better than to touch him. She knew better than to even be too loud around him. She hadn't seen him like this before, but she still knew. Personal experience told her. Never touch someone just coming out of a flashback. And definitely don't raise your voice at them. In a calm, even tone, she said, "Stratton, we're right here."


Stratton took a deep breath and sighed. He closed his eyes momentarily and nodded. "I'm fine, Addy."

He looked up at her and touched her with his hand. "It's alright," he said, clearly lying and attempting to ignore the pain that he was most likely experiencing right now.

"I, uh..." He struggled with his words and blinked. "Had a dream. Went back someplace familiar."

He eyeballed his surroundings, stopping momentarily at Qyilim, before continuing; "It was a long time, that's all." Stratton nodded towards Adira. "How are you holding up? The rest of the crew?"


'I never work at my optimal capacity when I am alone. I function, but my specialities often work best when paired with those--'

Qyilim scowled and sat upright. His eye was drawn to Stratton's supine form on the other side of Adira, pulled there by instinct. Stratton was projecting potent psionics into the surroundings, and Qyilim could feel them, sense them, almost taste them in the base of his brain. It felt like that part of his mind was facing a rude awakening from a deep sleep, the kind of awakening where a simple question becomes incomprehensible. In this case, Qyilim was struggling to work out what Stratton was feeling, but he knew it was negative and he knew it was extreme.

When Stratton burst awake - or recovered consciousness, Qyilim wasn't sure - and began reacting to an event that wasn't there, Qyilim knew he was right. He swung his legs down to stand as Adira moved over to him, staring at the suffering man with focus, searching his face, trying to see if he could feel more of his psionics. But after Stratton awoke, the intensity seemed to collapse and Qyilim's brain fell back into its stupor. His jaw tensed but he let his expression return to a more placid state as he approached Stratton himself.


Adira had no interest on calling Stratton out on his lie. If he wanted to pretend to be invulnerable and in perfect condition, then that was probably what he felt he needed at the moment. On a normal day she might have chastised him for lying to her and making his own life harder for it, but… not in front of all the new people. She nodded and kept her answer short and sweet, reciting. “I’m fine. Probably just a concussion and some broken ribs. Silas is… he’ll definitely make it, but his leg is badly damaged. I don’t know about the rest of the crew, but they were all walking last I saw. Right now, just focus on your own recovery, okay? That’s your assignment.
 
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