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Futuristic Unlit IC

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queendilettante

🤍 Heart Problems 🤍
Roleplay Type(s)
"The Pit? Really?" Laoise had exclaimed to the man, Galibree, when he had informed her of her newfound obligation to help in the mines. In seeking the older man out in the first place, she was hoping to extort him. She did not expect that, thanks to the delicate political situation on this planet, she would be immediately accosted and required to descend into the mines. In Laoise's experience, that was probably the worst position to be arguing from and she was very intent on not being forced to descend into The Pit as a conscripted laborer. "Are you talking about that long ass elevator?"

He was, in fact, talking about that long ass elevator; the long ass elevator that Laoise, a newly voluntold laborer, was presently riding to its destination at the depths of the planet. She had been riding downward for nearly two hours and had long since passed her point of comfort. The Pit was incomprehensibly deep and every further minute that passed as the few dozen other conscripts stood in silence caused the screaming voice in her head to get harder to ignore. Get out.

Being trapped wasn't exactly a position Laoise found comfortable. Granted, most people wouldn't feel comfortable in a true to form prison cell- Get out - Laoise wouldn't argue against that. What Laoise had, unfortunately, was an uncanny ability to turn any and all situations she stumbled upon into a sort of prison. It seemed as though the only thing she had done for her entire life was run. Get out. Being trapped thousands of miles underground made her nauseatingly aware of her inability to escape. Get out. She was powerless. Get. Out.

Laoise sighed as if being punched in the stomach and clutched her face. Stay cool. She took a deep breath and relaxed her body, realizing for the first time in nearly an hour how tense her shoulders were. Surprisingly, her outburst wasn't even acknowledged by any of the other workers. They must have been in her position before.

Get out.

****

The rest of the ride went about as well as the first hour and a half. Laoise began to slowly spiral before bringing herself back to reality; rinse and repeat. As the alarms sounded to signal the approaching platform finally at its destination, Laoise put on a smile as if the previous couple of hours never happened and pranced herself into the mines where she was immediately struck by an incredibly long line. Get out.

"For fuck's sake," she grumbled, looking around her at the others. Disconcertingly and for the second time, no one acknowledged Laoise's presence at all; it was if the other miners were in a trance. They were going about a task that hard already become innate to them and no amount of whining from a newblood would be able to wake them from it.

Laoise supposed she could use that to her advantage. She chose to ignore the flashing green neon sign signaling new arrivals. She waved to the woman at the front counter and walked past her as if she was supposed to. Get out. The woman, while somewhat confused, waved back and returned to her monotonous welcoming duties. It was a wonder what people would let you get away with if you pretended to belong.

Laoise chose to take the opportunity presented by her reckless obstinance and began exploring the seemingly endless hallways. Get out. Within minutes, Laoise had lost track of the central path and found herself lost within the underground Labyrinth. The entrance seemed so busy but she hadn't seen a single other miner since her arrival. Perhaps she was trespassing in an area already worked through-

"What are you doing?" Her inner monologue was rudely interrupted by a shouting man in the distance. She looked around, confused. No one was there. What in the f- "We've got an intruder," the voice continued. Shit. She frantically looked around her for a way out, but all she could see was more of the same.

Then she heard the sound of many boots running on the floor.

Get out.

"Fuck."

Get out.

Laoise picked a direction and ran. Get out. She was still a bit fuzzy from the crew's rough landing, and the exertion of sprinting down an endless hallway wasn't doing anything to help that. She turned a random corner and stopped to catch her breath. Get out. She gasped for air. How could that man have seen her investigating? She still hadn't even seen him! Unless the rulers of this place had tech she was wholly unfamiliar with, which she supposed was a possibility, she couldn't figure out how he could have possibly seen her. Get out.

"Fuck," she said, exasperated, as the footsteps started to catch up to her. She ran again, but this time quickly found herself at a dead end. "A trillion fucking hallways and I pick the one..." she cursed to herself. The footsteps were getting louder and louder and she could hear voices of numerous men shouting for her to surrender. Get out. "Fuck!" Laoise screamed and punched the wall as hard as she could. Get out. She leaned against it and started to cry. Get out.

There was so much - so much - that she had survived over the past couple of days. Get out. She lied to heavily armed customers, Get out, stole military secrets and millions in cash, Get out, leapt from a currently battling ship to the one it was about to fire upon, Get out, killed pirates invading said ship, Get out, crash landed onto this shithole of a planet and now...

Laoise was going to die. Trespassing was what was going to do her in after all. She laughed as the boots got even closer. Only someone as royally fucked up as her could manage to defy all reasonable odds of survival and be killed for the most mundane of all her innumerable crimes. Perhaps her parents were right in the end. Laoise was a doomed soul, ever hurtling toward her own destruction. Be it from her or another, she was destined to burn up long before most. She turned to face the opening to the dead end, smiling, and leaned against the wall behind her. It was funny, in a fucked up, life-ending sort of way.

Four guards rounded the corner and aimed their weapons at her. She put her hands up, still smiling and leaning against the back wall. The center guard took his weapon out of safety and silently stared her down. None of the others took their eyes off of her as they did the same. She wondered which guard would fire first.

Laoise closed her eyes, accepting her fate. She was getting out.
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
Spending no less than a month stuck inside an infirmary was less than ideal, especially for a soldier like Stratton. Sure, he did have the company of his fellow crewmates initially but as they healed up work awaited and soon Stratton spent most of his time alone with nothing but time to worry and think. Technically he wasn't completely alone with Silas still being around but between the two of them spending the majority of their time half-asleep and healing up there weren't much in the way of conversations.

For Stratton most of his thoughts surrounded Adira and his own perceived failures as a soldier. Yes, the crash and the events that had followed were completely out of Stratton's control but somewhere a voice told him that he could've done better and that he somehow should have pushes himself further.
With age came a loss of reflexes and strength- such is how biology works as it imposed a slow and steady decay of both mind and body but even so there were methods of halting and counter-acting the process. Hell, there were ways of going on the offensive.

Unfortunately between his diplomatic missions, secret intelligence assigments and moments of drunken self-doubt Stratton had cut corners in his own training regime and, more importantly, his own discipline.

One thing was damn sure though: He needed to shape up. Perhaps this planet could help him with just that.

*



The trip down had been interesting in all the wrong ways. Not only had the crew been separated but so had the few allies (namely, the people that showed good will at the crash site) that the crew could count on. Stuck in enemy territory with no clear line of communications, means of exfiltration and a complete lack of equipment meant the most hellish scenario one could envision and Stratton was at the very center of it.

A man of lesser mental fortitude might've broken apart or accepted their fate at this point as unwilling workers were herded and sent down far below the planet's surface- but not James Stratton. No, he had a mission;

Survive.

Because if he didn't then Adira, Silas, Kestrel and the others would stand without backup- which was unacceptable.
No, Stratton remained silent during the entire event. His eyes observed his fellow workers, the guards, the foreman and the surroundings.
If he showed any emotions it would have been a brief hint of surprise upon witnessing the sheer scale of what laid below. Truly the ancient superstructures were as impressive as they were horrifying.

Stratton had briefly observed Adira and one of the newcomers, Qyilim, on the way down as well. It was his way of letting them know that whatever happens he was there, one way or the other.

Then, upon reaching their destination time seemed to blur and after claiming a room in close proximity to Adira's room Stratton had ventured out in search for work. It didn't take long and soon enough he found himself standing at the end of a half-demolished corridor deep inside the pyramid.
Sweat and dirt caked his bare arms while his shirt was completely soaked.

With a blank expression Stratton raised his laser tool and allowed gravity to the rest, splitting apart paneling and other technical gizmos stripped from the interior. The former envoy allowed his mind to function with as few thoughts and processes as possible, thinking only about lifting and cutting.

Lift. Cut. Lift. Cut. Lift. Cut.

Somewhere along the way Stratton zoned out and he paid little mind to the multitude of hands, both gloved and naked, that either presented new things to disassemble or that grabbed the finished product after Stratton cleaved it into smaller and much lighter pieces.
An onlooker might believe that Stratton had completely zoned out though this was far from the truth. In reality, his hearing was as focused as ever.

Chatter between guards. The boots of a foreman. Tools working. People grunting. Machines hissing. Stratton could hear it all and, in an odd way, he actually found comfort in it.
Despite being surrounded by something so alien and unfathomably large here he was- a cog in a vast machine. He wasn't alone and he wasn't surrounded by the eternal darkness of space. That counted for something.

Then his ears picked up something else. A song. First a hymn, then words. It grew in strength.

Lift. Cut.

We all lift.

Lift. Cut.

Together.

Lift. Cut.

Stratton joined in, humming as he worked.
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Qyilim remembered hearing a fact once that turned out to be true. If you discovered a hole that went straight down into the ground, piercing Zirzola’s mantle and core all the way through to the other side of the planet’s crust, and you leaped down it, you would fall for approximately 40 minutes before emerging from the other side. It was a fact that was completely untestable but entirely calculable on paper. When he heard the fact, he thought it was ridiculous, extraneous and pointless to store that piece of data away in his head.

Standing on the large elevator platform and descending, Qyilim decided it was still a ridiculous, extraneous and pointless piece of information to have, but it did get him thinking about how far into the planet they were going. In the end though, all he worked out was that People Fall Quickly, and Elevator Descends Slowly. An hour of standing, arms-folded, breathing a hundred other people’s air. The ride was boring, incredibly long, and hypnotizingly menial. People spoke about their lives, were optimistic about their days off, and bellyached about their ailments, as if this place wasn’t one of the most disordered locations Qyilim had ever seen. The despair of entrapment was gnawing at his patience.

People also kept looking at him. In the first five minutes of the ride down, he had attempted to ignore the glances, but now he was glowering at anyone who turned those invasive glances on him.

As the day went on, the despair began blossoming into full desperation. He, and the others he recognised down here, were expected to choose a room the number of which was in the four billions. That was almost double the current on-planet population of Zirzola, the realisation of which made his body weak from further realisations. Was he, Qyilim os datha dei-Enth, supposed to have survived Zirzola, survived his Waning Stars battles, survived bounty hunting HVTs and off-the-record criminals, survived an explosion that took out two of his friends, survived prison and just the other day survived a spaceship crash just to become a drone in a hive four billion strong?

He found himself unable to speak for about ten minutes, his body on pure autopilot as he picked up his assigned gear and followed a group towards work. He wasn’t a famous general of the Waning Stars, nor was he anywhere near being a criminal presence, but something in his genetics was getting boiled in the emotions that came when considering his future.

Where was that woman? The man in red? If he could get to the woman, he’d be able to get to the man in red. But to be useful to him, or to anyone, he had to use his birthright.

The back of his head had to wake up.

It had been stirred by Stratton. Whatever that man had gone through, whatever he was seeing before him playing in the back of his eyelids at the hospital, his psionics were extraordinary enough that Qyilim’s damaged mental centre picked it up. If he flooded his sense with similar extraordinary emotion, it might wake again, and stay with him.

The plan was formulated in the time it took for Qyilim to select a room, memorise the number and, through the repetitive mumbling, calm down in some number-based meditation, and set off again to begin this drone-like work in the metal hive. It was simple. Plain. Primal.

Other miners were heading in the same direction. Three men, one woman, talking as though they at least had some idea of who the others were. That was fine. He observed them from behind, eyes drilling into their necks, trying to identify which one might be the most explosive. Trying to gauge which one might be prepared to give him a black eye, but was also amateur enough to be pushed away or restrained. He clenched his left hand over and over, repeating in his head not to touch them with his heavy right arm. Stay organic in this, no need to bring a bludgeon into it.

With a raising of his eyebrows and a rolling of his shoulders, Qyilim marched forwards, closing the gap between himself and the little group of four.

‘Hey,’ he couldn’t help a sharp edge entering into his voice as he called out to them, cutting the syllable into a point. ‘How likely is it that I will end up wasting my life down here?’

Backsen Rawley was on his umpteenth time in The Abyss, having been stuck on Tartarus long enough to get put on - essentially - permanent mining duty. He’d stay down in the dark for a few weeks, maybe a month if he was lucky, then he’d be sent right back down to continue his work. He was something of a senior around here; Backsen wasn’t old by any means, but he was ancient compared to all the fresh new workers being brought in on a daily basis. Tartarus had a large enough population that Backsen rarely saw the same faces more than a handful of times; they’d be conscripted into Alexander’s armies and shot by some other group, or they’d fall down a chasm in the mines and get lost, starving to death. It probably happened thousands of times a year; the mines were a confusing maze if you weren’t used to the way they were labelled and designed, so anyone unlucky enough not to figure it out would inevitably find themselves alone, in the cold, dark expanse of the pyramid. Hell, they’d probably pass a good handful of other lost miner’s skeletons before they eventually laid down to die.

Backsen Rawley wasn’t one of those amateurs, though. He was hardened, a veteran of the way Alexander ran things. He made himself useful in the mines so he wasn’t expendable like the others. He wasn’t going to be cannon fodder for Alex - He’d devote himself to the mines where he could die happy, and on his own terms. Not for some warlord.

He was discussing one of his many stories about Gantia Black, the lucky (or unlucky) explorer who stumbled onto The Pit after her ship crashed right into one of the elevator shafts. It was a miracle alone that saved her ship from collapsing all the way down, and it was her return to the surface that prompted the leaders of Tartarus to investigate. That had been going on for generations now; Black was long dead, but Backsen liked to leave the ending ambiguous; maybe her ghost was travelling the mines, snatching up miners that didn’t give Backsen their food cards.

That’s when a burly alien stepped up and interrupted his story; Backsen would’ve ridiculed the man in an instant if it wasn’t for the fact Qyilim was so brawny. When asked the strange question, Rawley only laughed. “Son, only a handful of people have ever left the planet. And seeing as no one’s come back to save us ever, I’d say your chances are pretty high.” He let out another deep chuckle. “Do me a favor and piss off, I’m having a conversation.” Backsen turned back to his colleagues, continuing Gantia Black’s story from where he left off.


Qyilim felt the performance needed to step up a gear, into the ever-murky waters of extreme hostility and xenophobia. A filthy tactic, dirtied even further by the dishonourable fact that Qyilim would be lying about his view of humans with his whole demeanor. Impatience, disgust, superiority; those were the emotions he had to act out in this grimy pantomime he was playing.

But there was nothing else rough enough to grab onto.

When the senior digger turned his back, Qyilim took a moment to eye those he was speaking to. Survey them; judge them; make them feel like slime, less than slime.

'What a sparkling and positive outlook,' his mouth curved with disgust. 'Typical of humans. I hated serving alongside your kind, so primitive, so basic. You wouldn't deserve to be rescued, your disrespect and dishonour are too potent. May the mines choke all of you.'

Qyilim’s words were rewarded with a few stares and idle silence from the handful of people in earshot. Specifically, Backsen’s friends seemed taken aback by the words, though no one spoke - and Rawley knew why. Down here in the Chasm, it was all about self defense. No one fought on behalf of someone else, that was considered bad manners, and it would only serve to make the offended more cowardly in the eyes of everyone else. Backsen turned around slowly, a mix of confusion and disgust plastered on his face. “The hell did you just say to me?” Backsen asked, stepping forward. He wasn’t as big as Qyilim, but he was almost there. Enough that Backsen felt he could take the towering alien if it really came down to it. “You got a lot o’ nerve coming down here into my pyramid and starting shit. I oughta straighten you out with a Ward, but you’re not worth the effort.” Even saying the words of the torture device made a few people nearby wince. Wards were a particular kind of cruelty on Tartarus, one that was never talked about. Only if you’ve experienced them could one understand the pain endured.

“Word of advice asshole,” Backsen stepped in, only a few inches from Qyilim’s face. “Th’other aliens around here know they’re outnumbered. They get it, we’re in charge. This is your only chance to recognize that fact before you start something with a bunch’a humans around. You’re lucky I’m feeling nice today; enough with the shitty alien pride, or I’ll rip that damn arm off myself. I bet’cha a human made it.” Backsen’s fists were balled, anticipating Qyilim to react harshly with his words. If there was one thing Rawley was known for besides mining, it was his hate of aliens. No, not all aliens. Just the ones who thought they were better than him.


The last remark made by the man almost undermined Qyilim’s well-executed mock anger. ‘I bet a human made that arm,’ was such a playground insult, not something a fully developed man should be saying to incite a punch. Still, he kept his expression hard, though raised his chin up as the man closed the gap between them. He was aware of the people around, the eyes on him, and could only stand and hope his height and build would prevent them from getting aggressive. He wanted this man’s anger, no matter the cost. Rile him up. Make him growl, force out of him psionics so strong that his cerebellum couldn’t possibly ignore it anymore. Snap out of it, wake up, make me whole again.

If they stepped closer, if they went for him, he had a very durable prosthetic arm and a whole lot of force to swing it with.

‘Queen bees are also outnumbered,’ he stated, his low voice undercutting the seemingly random remark with a yet-unspoken threat, ‘yet, they retain their regality. Congratulations on being a drone in your miserable hive.’

Qyilim wearing a vest; looking down and snarling.

Backsen wasn’t about to let some new off-worlder try his hand at dethroning Rawley, the steam that powered the efforts down here under the surface. He also wasn’t about to let some alien think they got a free pass for having a robotic arm; anyone could get cybernetics to get an edge. But most of all, Backsen wasn’t about to let some new meat disrespect him multiple times in a row and get away with it.
At this point, Backsen didn’t even give a response. His balled fists came up, charged for one helluva punch for wherever on Qyilim it landed. The grimace of rage on Backsen’s face was evidently showing his emotions deep down; his hate for everything presented by Qyilim was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Backsen had let too many rowdy wannabe’s walk through his halls and usurp his mines like they owned the place. Too many people trying to make a name for themselves when in reality they’d be lost and dead after a week. What was some reprimandation for the price of caving in the face of a smug alien who needed a lesson? Backsen didn’t mind it one bit, and his knuckles were ready to prove that once they collided with Qyilim’s face.


A very long time ago now, Qyilim had been to an art exhibition with its locus being ‘the Art of the Mind,’ which lodged itself as a permanent memory for him because of his species. The exhibition featured art from species other than humans, but on several occasions he was surprised to learn the artist was not Zirzolan. To paint or sculpt an interpretation of the mind’s explosion of thoughts and emotions was all well and good when it was a self-portrait, or a synecdochical head exploding out the back in a pop-art jumble of dot patterns, heavy-lined speech bubbles and rippled tears, but to capture the impact of one person on another was another thing entirely.

One human artist captured this exquisitely; the pieces consisted of pencil shadings of human women pulling their bras down, or prying open a swimsuit at the chest, from which a vivid watercolour bouquet of coiling smoke and firework spears engulfed their faces. The sexuality of it all was potent, and while the women were lost on Qyilim, what struck him was the attentiveness to the focus. The artist had captured a woman’s effect on him with painful truth, to the degree that her face, her identity and her mind were lost to the sheer power of the revealing of her chest.

While nothing visual happened when a Zirzolan was catching psionics, a source outside the person’s brain could sometimes be pinpointed, even though the psionics were obviously coming from the person’s brain. A human artist had come the closest Qyilim had ever seen to getting it.

Qyilim couldn’t put what the man was feeling into art, but he felt it in time to instinctively brace himself for the impact of the man’s punch. Taking a hit to the face wasn’t going to help his brain at all, but he had incited the fight, and complaining would be dishonourable. He just wished that he had stepped away from the man, if only to feel the waking of that sense again. Low, heavy, jagged around the edges but used to confrontation, scared of being judged, an innate need to prove himself the boss, the eyes on him wanting him to do so, the insecurity of Qyilim being bigger, stronger, heavier than him. There it all was, watercolour smoke and all, to the back of Qyilim’s tongue, through his eyes, to the base of his brain. Base bright emotions, and Qyilim’s ability to judge them for what they were.

Resisting the stumble and doing his best to stay alert through the slight shock to the system, Qyilim steadied his body and stepped back. The punch had collided with his cheek and jaw, but he’d assess the damage later and for now, swallow down the pulsing pain and continue. No time to think or decide, Qyilim just had to act, and he had to finish it. He’d go for an upwards strike with his left fist, aiming for the man’s solar plexus and attempt a restraining hold before the man could recover.

Backsen was already gearing up for another punch. His right knuckles ached from the collision with Qyilim’s face, which gave him a sense of pride. If Backsen’s hand was feeling it, surely the brute’s cheek was as well. Backsen was more than ready to defend his title in the mines, he’d had many people challenge him before. Now it was time once again to prove his mettle down in the mines, for all the newcomers who may have doubted Rawley’s presence. After his right hook, Backsen prepared his left arm for the same hit, opposite side. However, before his next punch landed, Qyilim had prepared a hit right for Backsen’s chest; it collided hard, enough for Backsen to feel the air escape his lungs. It caused his fist to miss its mark, gliding lightly off the alien’s shoulder.

After Qyilim’s first punch, Backsen was feeling much less confident in his winnings. No one prior had been able to shrug off a hit like that. Backsen’s claim to fame was getting in the first hit, and dazing the opponent enough to get in more and more, before the fight even started. It was scummy, sure, but it worked. And no one dared talk to Backsen poorly, lest they potentially eat knuckles. Backsen immediately attempted to get back into the fight, but the alien’s hold quickly got Rawley stuck in a poor situation. “Let go of me, freak!” Backsen called out. “Fight me like a man!” His words were bitter and hateful, clearly disliking the way this fight was playing out.


Qyilim had also underestimated the man. Perhaps his sensing of this man’s psionics had made him cocky, on top of the world. Time to switch gears on the guy, make sure he didn’t get it wrong again. He could make the hold work through pure strength alone, but the guy had clearly fought before. He was managing to speak and struggle, taunting Qyilim. Fight him like a man. Was he being truthful, thinking Qyilim’s attempt at a hold was dishonourable, or was the taunt purely to fix the situation he was finding himself in now? Holds weren’t dishonourable, unless the terms of a fight were specific. This was a scuffle, dishonourable in itself from the get-go because of Qyilim’s unspoken reasons, breaking into a battle.

‘My apologies,’ Qyilim said, his voice low, ‘I deplore dishonour. Let me meet you toe-to-toe.’

He let go of Backsen, using the movement to wind up a punch. This time though, he wasn’t going to hit the man with his left hand but with his right: his prosthesis was an obvious part of him, being both upgraded for utility and heavily reinforced. Most prosthetics weighed less than the original natural limb, even with upgrades, but Qyilim’s weighed more. If the man wanted Qyilim to fight him like a man, then Qyilim was going to give the man all of him.

Rawley pushed away from the alien as quickly as he could and engaged with him once again. Backsen’s fists came up, ready to block in the moment it took for him to recognize what Qyilim was doing. Seeing Qyilim’s right hand preparing for a punch, Backsen decided he’d need to try and interrupt it as quickly as possible. Backsen closed the distance and focused on landing a flurry of hits to Qyilim’s face; the hope was to at least daze the alien into stuttering his punch long enough for Backsen to get some real hits in. After the initial hit, Backsen’s hand came up to try and stop the wound up arm from colliding with his face, though even he knew his strength probably wouldn’t stop a prosthetic from launching at him.

Blood and fury: two words that belonged in some review for a high-octane revenge film of some description, but in this moment, both were things Qyilim could taste. Then, right at the end, was that fear? Fear was what belonged to Stratton. Fear hit Qyilim’s sixth sense and woke it up initially, now it was going to be the last of Backsen’s emotions he’d probably taste. He had flooded his mind with as many psionics as he could pull out of the senior miner. Was it a good idea? He wasn’t sure, but it’s what he wanted. Unfortunately in his life, what he wanted and what was best for him often didn’t go hand-in-hand.

He’d be swallowing some Caprocetin before long. Once he’d laid the man out on the dusty floor and glared around at the observers of their fight, he’d pop the subtle reservoir in his arm for his packs.

The hit Backsen scored brought out pain, but didn’t move Qyilim nor his direction. He was too big, too gone to stop. His solid, heavy prosthetic, fingers curled into a fist, barrelled into the miner’s cheek and nose. Hitting the nose was perhaps an element of strategy in Qyilim’s conscious mind, but in the midst of the red heat of a fight like this he was resorting to brutality. It would only be in a few minutes when his head would clear that he’d consider he ought not to have been as aggressive as he had been.

Those around Qyilim were - rightfully - taken aback by Backsen getting beaten in the way he did. It had been a long time since he’d even received a serious hit, let alone getting knocked flat on his back and groaning in pain. After that hit, Qyilim quickly secured victory over the senior miner, and the crowd that formed slowly dissipated. Someone in the crowd threw a can at Qyilim, a few others outwardly complained about Qyilim’s unfair advantage with the robot arm, but no one intervened. Soon, everyone had gone back to their own activities, heading towards the mines for work or the residences for R&R. Backsen was left on his own; even those he was speaking to prior to the fight didn’t lend a hand to the poor miner. Respect was a fickle thing in the mines, and Rowley had just lost most of his. Even still, Qyilim wouldn’t be looked to with respect or admiration. Despite his crass nature, Backsen was well liked, and those who benefited from his leadership wouldn’t take his defeat idly.

Over the next few days, Qyilim would find the mines to be a more hostile place than if the altercation had never happened. He’d come home after a long day of mining to find the door to his residence ajar, and some of his collected things missing or broken. After a few hours of rest, Qyilim would find his laser pick tampered with. Some nights, the laser jaws would refuse to click on, other nights, the damn thing would be broken into its component parts. Even with Qyilim’s heightened senses, the feeling of eyes being on him - even when completely alone - never ceased. He’d just need to keep his head down, do his work, and hope the incessant prodding from those around him would cease.


--
Collab with The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse (grey text)
 

queendilettante

🤍 Heart Problems 🤍
Roleplay Type(s)
Laoise was ready- she had already closed her eyes and accepted her death. One of the guards would pull the trigger first and she'd be dead before it even registered that she'd been hurt at all. She hadn't exactly lived a good life, but it made sense for her to go out this way.

...

Uh, for her to go out this way.

...

Why weren't they firing?

Laoise opened one eye and glanced at the guards, guns still aimed at her. They seemed to be mumbling something between each other and the one nearest Laoise in the center lowered his weapon and turned to the one on his right. What in the fuck, Laoise thought. How typical, honestly. Not only does she have to die but she can't even do that on her own terms.
"Hey! Boys!" she called out, annoyed at the slight. "What are we doing here-"

"Quiet!" the center one with his gun lowered shouted before turning back to the one on his right and arguing just quietly enough for Laoise not to be able to hear. It seemed to have been a short lived argument though, as his gun was quickly raised back in her direction. "Three!" the man called out.

How novel, a countdown. It was one thing to be executed, but Laoise would not accept a fucking cliché to do it. Perhaps she could charge them? Make them fire at her before they finished their silly movie quoting? At least that way, Laoise would have some semblance of control.

"Two!" the man continued. Shit, she didn't have any time to dwell on this. All she had to do was rush them and she'd be dead immediately. So long as her fucking legs would cooperate and move like she wanted to, everything would be okay. If they... would just...

"One!"

"Fuck!" Laoise yelled. In a blink, there was a large crash as two bullets collided with her right thigh and the floor below her opened up suddenly. She screamed, but before she could even register what was happened, one of the guards fired again and hit Laoise in the side.

And then she was falling. She was falling and she couldn't see ground below her. Something wet streaked across her face and hair. Was it raining underground? Did a pipe burst? Oh. It was just her blood. A lot of her blood, actually. Shit, wait, that was more blood than she had ever seen? How was she going to survive losing all of that bl-

Laoise crashed onto metal ground, her legs shattering into jelly.
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
The Pit: Pyramid 20441

The Pit, much like a maze of living thorns that cordon off and strangle its prey, never stopped shifting and refused the chance of giving its prospectors a moment of calm minds. For the duration of the time Stratton, Adira, Maya, Qyilim, and eventually Silas remained in the Deep Dark, probably a little more than three weeks, the mines prodded the psyche of the crew and ensured no one who could survive didn't escape without even the slightest hint of paranoia. To survive, those trapped in the Abyss would need to constantly monitor their situation; it was far too easy to accidentally find yourself stranded or alone, separated from your fellow miners. The only way to keep from getting hopelessly lost was to check, almost vehemently, on the situation of fellow miners in the area. Anyone caught alone would find themselves being led, urged in a strange and confusing pathway that shifted and adjusted until nothing was recognizable, and death from asphyxiation or starving became inevitable. If they were lucky, they'd maybe pass some of the other hopeless miners who got lost in the pyramid, and just maybe they'd have some flesh mummified enough to eat - anything to stave off death for a few moments longer.

Luckily for the crew however, no one was naïve enough to get themselves caught alone by whatever entity possessed this planet. The work was an entirely different beast altogether. Many hours of difficult labor, short and few breaks, as well as the other miners being mostly nothing less than unbearable assholes either from the hopelessness of the situation or the constant soul-breaking work to be done. Help was seldom given. You were either strong enough to do the work, or you drowned in your lack of ability to do so. The crew, more or less, passed these tests of might and maybe the work even seemed to get more bearable over time. Cut, scan, lift, stack. Over and over for weeks. Trips back to the surface were few, if any. It was a completely randomly generated set of time for the lesser miners. Some were given assignments that lasted just a week, others had contracts that would last years. Criminals would get indefinite sentences, stuck in limbo until some higher-up decided enough time had been spent to account for the crime. In the three weeks the crew spent down in the depths, none of them received a break in their schedule to return to the surface, to feel sunlight once more on their skin.



Laoise had a more intricate time in the Abyss, though. Nearly immediately from her arrival, she had found herself lost in the endless maze and becoming the unfortunate gleam in the eye of of someone she'd seldom wish to interact with. After her fall, the impact was enough to knock her out cold; her legs were little more than a paste loosely collected in a ruptured bag of skin. Being shot in addition to these injuries meant she had mere moments to live, if outside forces didn't act to save her life. Luckily (or unluckily), her near demise was witnessed by the vigil of these mines. The all-seer, the machine in which powered a planet. This being saw the fates of every lost miner within his walls, every failed venture, every life still living. The mines were alive because it was the will of this monstrosity to keep it so. The benevolence it gave Laoise was little more than a means to an end; much like it'd done with others of Laoise's ilk, any who managed to find their way - accidentally or not - to its central chamber would often become little trinkets of it. Something to ogle and prod, examine and contort. Baschul, its name was; the brand that ran through its code constantly reminding it of its second class nature among its society. It had worked hard to secure the position it hosted, and Baschul would not let down its creators. It would prove artificial intelligence could think, feel, and assess in not just a sterile, computer way; but mimic that of its home race. When the war was won and it was discovered once more, Baschul would be the prize of a species.

Laoise spent these agonizing weeks getting her legs stabilized, amputated, and finicked with. Baschul was never one to enjoy the sight of a human, but their resilience to bodily harm and acceptance to augmentation was admirable. Laoise's body seemed more accepting than most humans. Baschul had many chances to experiment on humans, and had logged many successful and unsuccessful indoctrination attempts. Humans were a fickle race that couldn't seem to make up its mind on whether or not they preferred machinery to their flesh or not. Even still, Baschul's home race were even less willing, and oftentimes couldn't even attempt such an operation. Luckily for Laoise, the centuries of experience in the A.I. proved beneficial from the successful implementation of hardware in her appendages. Though her legs were naught but stubs now, it allowed limitless room for expansion. Over the coming days, while flooding Laoise with occasional transferrable memories and experiences, it'd attach strange, unique attachments. Baschul, from Laoise's perspective, seemed to not just be trying to replace Laoise's legs, but look for something better. It tried many different prototypes - some it'd force her to attempt to walk on, others wouldn't even be tried on. Laoise was at the behest of Baschul, and all she could do was cooperate, lest a potentially fatal end come to her for insubordination. The room she was in was dark; she couldn't even see the walls, if there were walls. Occasional sparks from the work done to her legs would momentarily light up the room, to which she saw no end in sight. The glow from Baschul's face was soulless, barely illuminating the metal surrounding the face plate of its vessel. Laoise could not determine the size or stature of this being, except the haunting outline of something far, far too large to be a single being during those enigmatic sparks.





Krota Sekith: Elevator to the Abyss

The Durian had found himself thinking through his situation nearly every minute. Stuck on a human planet, in a human colony, with next to no other xenos around at all. Even with the few, none of them were fellow Durians like himself. It wasn't too unfamiliar, after all humans had come to Sidereas in storm and quickly out-populated most other races. But Krota rarely travelled to these kinds of sectors. Durian life was much less... hectic. Intense. Life was about the here and now, making the best of the current situation. Being surrounded by humans was exhausting. They always thought about the future. Will my family be alive by the time I'm off this planet? What about my rent, how am I supposed to pay that? Will I be presumed dead by my loved ones? What will my credit score look like after this? Humans were one step away from being an entirely pathetic species. Taxes and death, all they talked about. Krota would do well to simply escape Tartarus, maybe another settlement on this forsaken planet had more xenos or even a Durian he could commune with.

Luckily, he'd heard the many tales from the miners around the surface of Tartarus. He'd managed to make himself useful above ground with his unique ability of flight; after surviving the crash, He carted off various materials from the wreck of his ship, the ship that plucky crew crashed. The Stigma was his home for nearly two years, HSF. He'd gotten to know the people and the intricacies of the ship well. He cared much less for the people than he did the hull and the wiring and the machines, though. His race was naturally adept at ship-making and tactics, thus his strength fulfilling many roles aboard The Stigma. The people rarely left any kind of imprint on him; so much so that he rarely felt a pang of emotion when gunning down his crew members to try and save himself. Most would look at his decision with scorn; however, he was alive still. That fact alone meant he acted appropriately. He saved himself.

Being on-planet wasn't so bad, it was the fact he was stuck here with no way out that made it so vile. And worst of all; the mines finally caught up with him, and his contract began today. He'd be stuck down in the Abyss for seven weeks. What a joke. He ought to steal the nearest firearm and make his way back to the surface. Of course, he knew it wasn't plausible. Humans held grudges against aliens, and they'd no doubt hunt him down wherever he went. Krota was stuck here, just like all the others, for as long as it took him to find his way off this planet. For now, he would need to play nice and do his job.

However, once he stepped onto the solid ground after the two hour elevator ride, quakes began shooting out throughout the pyramid. Krota instinctively used his wings to fly up a few meters, and clicked multiple times from his chitinous faceplate to warn other Durians of danger - a habit they all had, regardless of whether any other Durians were around. The quakes were mild, a simple rumbling that sent a few unprepared miners to the ground. Most remained upright though, albeit a bit shook. Krota wasn't sure if such quakes were usual down in this pyramid, but the other miners didn't seem too intrigued by it.

However, when the pyramid on all sides of its thousand kilometer surface began lighting up in a florescent cyan, the seams of the outer plating pouring light out in all directions, Krota's fellow miners began getting unsettled. A few gasped, a few tried getting back on the elevator to go back to the surface. Most peered over the edge in search of what caused such a reaction, the likes of which hadn't been seen before.

A loud reverberation that shook the dust free from most of the surfaces on and in the pyramid sounded through its many winding and looping halls. The entire pyramid shifted down by about two meters abruptly, causing anyone not currently flying to hit the ground with some force. This happened twice more, and on the third, the entire pyramid turned completely hollow - each successive floor in the Pit turned into a cascading funnel, where each level got progressively more and more open. By the time anyone dropped more than half the length of the pyramid, they'd find themselves in a seemingly endless abyss, with no lights or walls in sight, just pure darkness.

Krota was more than freaked out by these incidents; the mass crying out of the humans he was once surrounded by shocked him. Unfortunately for Krota, his flight couldn't resist the downward draft caused by the sudden funnel, which sucked him down into the pit despite his fruitless efforts to evade it. Krota found himself falling endlessly, just like all the other humans stuck in this pyramid with him. Krota kept his resistance, attempting to fly upward every moment of the fall. That was, until another deep reverberation sounded - was it just Krota going crazy, or did the hum of the walls resemble Vracher Speech? He found his attempts to break free ceasing as he listened for more and more reverberations. This time, he listened intently.

Summ.

Eike.

Styy.

Mau.

Baschul.


Krota felt a wave of Durian pride wash over him; whatever this pyramid was controlled by, whatever suddenly opened it all up - it was Durian! Krota had no idea what was in store for him as well as the countless other miners now hurtling towards some kind of end, but he felt the pyramid was trying to talk to him. Him specifically. Krota found the chitinous folds of his mouth curling into a diamond shape - the Durian expression for happiness.





The Pit: Baschul's Smithy

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably actually closer to a quarter hour, the reverberations pounding the open space everyone was freefalling in got progressively faster. The pitch increased as well. Down below, the feintest blue hue began representing what was probably the end of their freefall; at this point, the speed of the falling objects would definitely kill anyone or anything once it slammed into the floor of their next room. Luckily for the unfortunate miners, a series of web-like films blocked the tunnel everyone travelled through. Each one, once passed through, slowed down everyone by a fraction of the total speed. They were spread out fairly liberally, but progressively got closer and closer the further down they went. By the time they entered the final web, everyone had come to nearly a complete stop. Nearly.

The height of the last web to the floor was a few meters; enough to hurt upon impact, even with the reduced speed from the gravity wells. Those unprepared for the ground could find themselves breaking their necks or appendages. Just like the fall prior, the room was one shade away from pitch black, but the extents of the room were clearly far off - maybe they weren't in a room at all, but instead something akin to the giant pit they'd occupied before. Each member of the crew could look around and find hundreds of other miners, equally confused about current events. Some wailed in pain through the darkness, others asked relentless questions. No one had any answers. Nothing like this had happened before, at least not since long before the current miners got here.

The floor gave way once again. It shuttered and dropped half a meter, then began slowly lurching down at a steady pace. The chasm they resided in got slightly more visible, but not by much. The mass of miners became quiet as they awaited for the next impossible feat to present itself.

"Arthuu. Lomto Aue Vceme. Ket'm brackkaa." The voice was deep, much like the reverberations before. However it was much more clearly words this time around. A few moments passed and another string of words came out. This time, in Humish.

"Stand tall, Humanoids. I request it of my guests, even if you are not the focus of my attention." The words were careless, like a god speaking to its subjects. "None of you can escape this fate. Your race is doomed. Do not try to flee; I will catch you. There is nowhere to go."
 
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0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
The floor falling out was, despite Qyilim’s growing long-term agitation and highly-strung temperament, the last thing he expected. A solid ground beneath his boots was all he had to rely on, and he was sure that sentiment went for others in the crew as well, even if they didn’t say it. And he hadn’t spoken to them much about his situation; he’d initiated a fight, healed some bruises and bled from the lip in two places, but there was no reason to mention it at all in his mind. He almost did at one point, when his laser pick was sabotaged. He felt the very human impulse to storm off and find a friendly face to complain to, to make himself a victim in this spiralling issue he'd instigated, but what would that have achieved?

It wouldn’t have been honourable.

But were was honour in his psyche now, where should it be?

Perhaps here, on this planet, now, as it was, with everything that had happened and everything that was going to happen – that, true, he didn’t know at the time – he could, for a few days, weeks, years – a shudder-worthy thought there – put aside his morals and honour and focus on escaping this would-be prison complex of a planet.

There was nausea constantly, and confusion in his head.

He’d put down his broken laser pick, taken stock of the workers around him, popped the well in his arm and swallowed two Caprocetin pills. They’d take the sickness away. And then, he had needed that. It was justified that he’d taken them.

The floor falling away had woken some swirls of dust and Qyilim covered his mouth gently with his palm to avoid breathing in anything he didn’t need to. That didn’t last long though since the floor shifted once more, then again, then--

Qyilim’s cursing was lost in a sea of other voices, most of them also screaming oaths in fear and shock. This is just what he’d been thinking about on the way down here on the lift. How long could one fall before he exploded out the other side of the planet? The falling was such a toll on his body, and he was one of the stronger people in his little area; falling for over a minute, the sickness was back in full force, twisting him despite his attempts to spread himself out in one of the most vulnerable but unbreakable reflexes the body had to offer. He couldn’t break it. The terror he was going to smash into someone else was so great, he couldn’t bring his arms in, couldn’t take stock of his limbs. Everyone was keeping their eyes downwards. The air rushing past made it difficult to breathe. Was breathing even worth it? Was he going to just smash into the ground as the area came alive to kill them all? He had plenty of time and paranoia to ponder the answers as the seconds shot by. If it took a human 20 seconds after reaching terminal velocity to fall a mile, then they’d fallen…

The stop was somehow worse than the fall; to know he was going to survive and have to carry this huge memory in his already shattered brain for the rest of his days was such a weight. The more he slowed, with each web sucking at his limbs and reminding him of his own sweat, the more he was wishing he’d somehow died of shock in mid-air, like a bat flying into low pressure. A body alive one moment, switched off the next, plummeting in the final curve of a parabola to the ground that would become a tomb.

And finally he stopped. Then one last insult: the floor fell out again, his exhausted nerves tightened and he twisted, only to land awkwardly on the final ground beneath, which itself began moving down. Ground he couldn’t trust. Couldn’t hold onto, and his shaking hands were desperate for something. If only he could do what men with prosthetics in films did, jam their metallic fingers through concrete and rubble, creating a perfect hand-hold.

He looked up, mouth dry, breathing completely irregular and eyes wild, and saw everyone was just like him. Fear, shock, dread.

Fear.

He’d wasted it, he’d wasted all their fear. The single most powerful inner emotion and motivator a living body can feel and he’d wasted it. If he was closer to a group, if he’d fallen as they’d fallen and he’d focused on them… he’d have flooded the back of his brain with their psionics, drunk them in until he’d passed out from over-stimulation, but at least he would have been whole again.

He swore six times in a row, hissing the words behind his teeth and didn’t care who was around to hear him. None of them were in any state to judge: he was completely soaked in sweat, so were they; he was panting like a dog, so were they.

He stood, cautious, wondering if his biological leg had forgotten how to do its job, and began moving towards some of the crew he could see, desperate to be within arm’s reach of an ally, and the ground shook just as he started moving. It vibrated, it hummed, it sang and spoke at once, a noise he didn’t recognise. A language he didn’t know.

When the words came through in Humish, he looked back the way he’d come for a moment. The voice wasn’t one he recognised, and now he wasn’t sure what to think: was the man in red behind all this? This was his planet right? Or was Qyilim being foolish assuming one bipedal creature could assume control of a planet that was unstoppable in its gathering of ships, cargo and living crew? The questions only made him want to stop, double over and throw up even to be a distraction from his current existence, but he kept himself contained and resumed moving towards the crew.

‘None of you can escape this fate. Your race is doomed. Do not try to flee; I will catch you. There is nowhere to go.’

Whose race? His? The humans? Or was it a synecdoche? Should he try to flee in hopes of learning who the thing calling itself by the first person pronoun was? Nowhere to go, fine, but something to learn, surely?

Though, maybe not: he wasn’t keen on making another stupid decision down here. He just wanted to be able to sit down, feel the veins in his neck go back to their regular beat, and not be able to smell the fragrance of his own underarms.
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
Three weeks of nothing but intense work would either break or harden most people. But not being able to see daylight for that long? A punishment so severe it could break minds. Stratton felt physically stronger with each passing day but his mind grew more frail by the hour.
When he worked he tried to find something to focus on, be it distant voices or the sound of tools at work. Alongside Qyi and a handful of others Stratton was counted as one of the stronger persons currently relegated to the mine and as such most of the more difficult and physically exhausting tasks were up to him and his peers.

Over time, Stratton noted the invisible hierarchy among the miners. Senior citizens of Tartarus- ranked either by age or years on the forsaken planet- obviously held more power than the others but interestingly enough some individuals also carried some moderate sway in terms of decision-making and were offered minor privileges such as secondary water canteens, more food packets, better tools and slightly longer breaks.

Having volunteered repeatedly to do some of the heavy lifting had given Stratton some leeway and now few noted or even cared that he took regular breaks next to his station encompassed by the warmth of heavy-duty machinery hard at work dissecting parts of the pyramid.

For a moment Stratton could rest his weary eyes and feel the cold of water pouring down his throat without being yelled at.

Today, however, would turn much different.

Before anyone could react the Pyramid came to life and Stratton had barely managed to wake up when he suddenly found himself mid-air falling into a nightmarish abyss below.

At first panic took hold over his body alongside a will and an urge to flee but the drop was far from instant and despite the adrenaline running through his body Stratton allowed himself to focus. By now he could see that everyone else that had been present inside the pyramid where falling with him, offering some comfort as at least he would not face his demise by himself.

Surprisingly the fall was slowed and Stratton landed with a loud thud at the very bottom of it all. Cursing, he took a deep breath and allowed himself a moment to calm. Looking around he could see that a unfortunate few had not made the fall- either landing at odd angles or simply because their physiology or current physical health had given in. There was a lot of muttering and words of surprised disbelief echoing throughout.

Unlike Qyilim, Stratton got up on one knee and remained crouched with his arms at his side. That's when the deep voice spoke to everyone still breathing. Grimacing, Stratton shook his head. "From one prison to another. Great."
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Tartarus: The Surface

Three weeks.

Three weeks, it had been.

Chanterelle knew when her ship came hurtling down to Tartarus's surface that her endeavour may be reaching an end, but she expected it to be more of a fierce ball of fire, not... whatever this prolonged form of torment was.

The new faces, all the time, everywhere... they were suffocating. Even people she'd put in effort to recognize would be simply gone from their duties the next day - transferred somewhere else. Yet for her, days and days passed as she remained working in the med bay. The only person she'd had any amount of time to grow accustomed to was none other than Lu-Lee. Chante even wondered if herself and Lu had simply been forgotten in the vast bureaucracy of this city.

To say they'd become friends was... stretching definitions, in Chanterelle's eyes. Aside from their first little chat, Chante offered up very little information about herself, and she'd only participate in small talk on the "good days", which had begun to grow very sparse by the third week. Any amount of jokes would go unlaughed at. No quips would be given at any taunts or sneers... but her standoffishness came with an odd dichotomy: Chante would follow Lu around everywhere. Constantly. Even if some days it would take hours to find each other, Chanterelle would always find a way to hone in.

She couldn't help it much. Lu's face was the only one she could even remotely recognize, much to the frustration of a couple of her superiors. Even though Chante wasn't overly fond of Lu's more talkative tendencies, she at least knew that she was a friendly, distinctive face to seek out every day. That, and she was always quick to call Chante out on any other medical mistakes, which may have saved her from some severe punishment a few times.

A mutual respect would always hover over Lu for that.

… But three weeks. When her heavy boots clunked into the med bay for the umpteenth day in a row, and her helmet craned to scan again for Lu amongst the crowds, she found herself stopped just inside the doors.

As usual, she was overtaken by a haunting bustle of noise. Whines, groans, shouts, orders, murmurs, the rolling of mobile beds... Everyone that passed, from across the room to the people who shuffled straight by her, they all blurred together, looking just like any other that had come before it. Angry, worried, agonized, stressed, depressed... Their expressions - their states of being - mattered very little to her anymore. Or perhaps they barely mattered to her in the first place.

Unable to catch sight of Lu-Lee's prosthetics within the first thirty seconds or so, Chante found herself snapped at by some other over-stressed worker. She muttered a low apology before turning around to look back at the exit.

Consideration ran through her mind for a few seconds longer as an itch gnawed at the back of her helmet, her visor locked in on the door.

And she simply left.

Even outside, the air just didn't feel quite right. Tartarus had managed to feel both incredibly claustrophobic and far too spacious at the same time - an opinion that came from someone who'd spent her life in a suit and the past little while travelling alone through space.

She'd barely made it a few steps in some other direction, however, before she noticed something: A deep rumble that reverberated steadily under her boots. The vibrations were so strange and unnatural. Unbothered by the others passing by, she came down to one knee to press a gauntlet against the ground, focusing on something unseen with curiosity.

She felt it. A long hum... a lurch... a few deep and drawn-out groans... It was far enough away that the effects were miniscule - no one else seemed to even notice. It couldn't be one of those earthquakes she'd heard about, could it?

Chante remained captivated by the oddity, deeply engrossed in solving the mystery.

Unfortunately for Chante, the distraction of the humming ground and the intimidating and overwhelming nature of the crowds of Tartarus seemed to have brought her to a shallow alley, nestled between two soaring (and quite tilted) residences, each of which were haphazardly strewn together with whatever was available on the planet. Despite being a few meters apart, they each angled in towards each other until they nearly completely touched together. This, coupled with the time of day, made the seemingly unassuming alley shift into a dark void with little light coming in. Although Chante had only stepped a meter or so in, she had passed the threshold and was now, as far as the hivemind crowd was concerned with, completely shrouded. No one would pay her mind as they passed, not even so much as a glance. It seemed those who inhabited Tartarus knew of the sinister hold these makeshift alleys created, and some would even exploit these ratways, as Chante was about to find out.

Lrae Maerk, sellsword, gun for hire, thief, bandit, snake, rat; a lengthy title for such a simple woman. Maerk was by all means a vagrant, one who exploited the weakness of Tartarus' leadership by securing her livelihood through means not supported by the "government" lead by Alexander Cavanaugh. Any newcomers who found themselves lost, wondering the maze of backstreets and in-betweens would inevitably come across this loathsome mercenary. When she wasn't pulling assassination jobs for anyone who could pay within the city walls, Lrae was stalking these dark passages for anyone foolish enough to test their insidiousness. Lrae herself was a Sol, and as such these vile traits of hers were uncommon. Sols were known to be docile, hard working, unassuming; a perfect cover for Lrae's antics. Anyone interested in finding out who was robbing all these poor newcomers would never think twice about a lowly Sol taking the backroads.

Chante would feel the presence of the eyes glaring at her through the barely visible corners of the alley. Lrae wasn't one for theatrics, and little more than a moment after deciding Chante would be her next prey, Maerk stepped out in front of Chante, pistol raised at chest level. There was no clicking of safeties, no hustle of gear; it was clear from the lack of noise that Lrae was an expert in sticking up honest folk by now. She'd already done these moves hundreds, maybe thousands of times. "You know the drill, I won't shoot if you drop everything you've got." It was clear from the Sol's casual voice that she didn't place too much care on whether or not she'd need to take Chante's possessions by force. "You've got some interesting armor; haven't seen anything like it before. Can't wait to try it on later. Hope you don't mind parting with it." Lrae would never admit she may have felt a pang of fear in the back of her mind; she had no idea what kind of protection that armor could provide. Maybe her measly energy pistol wouldn't even phase the brute. However, if it could stop bullets that easy, Lrae was willing to take the risk to steal it from Chante. A gunslinger with strong armor? She'd become an unstoppable bandit. "Take the armor off slow, no sudden movements. I'll shoot if you so much as inhale too sharply."

Chante was roused from her trance by a voice cutting through the dark alley. It was almost confusing how the words could be so threatening yet so calm and casual at the same time. Chante looked up from what she was doing on the ground, movements slow, as instructed. At first she was still and silent, as if taking some time to cautiously process what was happening.

Yet when her voice came out through her armor, it was as low and even as it had ever been before. Lrae was given zero emotion - no panic, no fear, not even anger.

"I've never been shot before. I've heard it's unpleasant."

It wasn't clear whether Chante's uncaring voice was complete obliviousness, nerves of absolute steel, or an active threat against Lrae. Perhaps at this point in her stay on Tartarus, she didn't even care if she was shot or not.

What was clear, however, was the fact that Chante saw the bandit as very little threat as she stood up slowly from the ground, despite the fact that she still followed Lrae's instruction to move with caution.

"It couldn't be more unpleasant than the day I've already had."

A short and thoughtful pause settled between the two as Chante's hands rested at her sides.

"And I confess it won't be more unpleasant than what will happen to you if you try to remove my armor."

Lrae was unsure of what she was feeling at the moment. Behind that helmet, she couldn't tell what her opponent was like; she couldn't get a read on Chante and that was frustrating in its own way. Furthermore was the audacity Chante had to try and return the threats back on Lrae, as if she wasn't actively aiming a gun at her newest victim. Part of her almost wanted to scoff. However, she knew people never acted without reason. Her cool nerves could've been because she knew something Lrae didn't. Maybe that armor could easily tank the shots of her measly P6R1. The pistol was reliable, kinetic and lethal at close ranges. But it had shit armor piercing statistics, and Chante looked to have the equivalent of a tank's plating wrapped around her. Not to mention how... old it looked. She could tell it was kept well, but aging wasn't a blemishless rank. The Sol had seen plenty of others who'd stripped good armor, weapons or artifacts from long dead soldiers and miners down in the Abyss below. Maybe it was even outdated; made to look good despite harboring little to no resistance at all.

Regardless, Lrae wasn't about to take chances. She aimed the gun straight at the victim's head, hoping another bout of intimidation would finally convince her to remove the armor. "Don't go thinking you've got any sway in this matter, Iso. I'm calling your bluff; take the armor off now, or I shoot until you stop twitching. I've got eighteen bullets waiting to penetrate your skull in this mag alone." Even if it was strong after all, Lrae hoped it wouldn't be able to sustain multiple shots to the same area. All Lrae had to do was hit the same spot she'd shot once before, and the casing would crack open like a dropped egg. If Chante didn't take the armor off that moment, then the die was cast; either Chante was going to shrug off the shots without a problem, or Lrae would have a shiny new set of armor, sans the helmet.

Though Chante had taken great care to conceal any clues that might've given away her increasing emotion, in reality there was a rage simmering beneath her armor, begging to bubble to the surface. She just wanted to get on with her life. She never wanted to come hurling down to this planet in the first place. The weeks that passed told her that she may never get out, but she didn't want to believe that. She COULDN'T anymore. She needed to escape.

She would be lying if she'd said that death wasn't an option that crossed her mind... but she'd already come so, so far from home. Did she really want this to end with her shot and left to die in some alleyway?

"... Okay."

Chanterelle receded in as much of a disinterested voice as she started with. Her gloved hands slowly hovered up from her sides, wrapping around the old metal helmet of hers. They fumbled blindly for a moment, before...

Suddenly those hands both shot forward, the whole hunk of metal armor lurching violently towards Lrae. A gauntlet grappled for the muzzle of the gun, struggling to point it away - anywhere but herself - while her other hand balled up into a fist of steel, hurling towards Lrae's throat.

A sudden enmity coursed through her that she couldn't conceal any longer.

Lrae couldn't help but smirk under her half-mask. She expected a fight, but this was going exceptionally well. Looks like she wouldn't need to test the strength of that armor after-

Then the hard metal collided with Lrae, knocking off her aim and dazing her for the slightest moment. Though Lrae quickly reacquired her target, now more angry than ever, Lrae was not prepared for her victim to have sprung forward as fast as she did. Maerk could've sworn the armor would've weighed her down enough; once again, that damn suit was causing her problems. This Iso bitch better have been worth all the trouble for obtaining it. Lrae was confident in her ability to stop Chante once it got close, but she was quickly proven wrong when Chanterelle successfully grappled her gun. Unfortunately for the poor girl, Lrae was quick with the trigger and managed to fire off two shots before it was completely levered away from her. The first shot hit center mass, while the second whizzed past, landing in the nearby wall.

Then Chante's other hand came up, a punch aimed straight for Lrae's throat. All her effort had been in attempting to get the gun back under control, so she was hopeless to stop the devastating blow. When the hit collided, the Sol ricocheted back, immediately gasping for air after her windpipe was crushed from the impact. One hand came up to helplessly clutch at her neck in hopes of somehow opening her airway back up, while the other flailed under Chante's control. It was clear in Lrae's eyes that this had gone much different than she had planned.

She attempted to speak, but only raspy breaths escaped her mouth. It was clear Chante had the ability to do whatever she wished to the defenseless attacker; Lrae was at her mercy.

The shot thudded harshly into Chante's armor, and while Icarus's incredibly advanced alloys tanked the shot like a pro, that didn't stop it from heating up pretty darn quickly. From a mixture of pain, shock, and maybe some sort of confusion, she stumbled backwards a just a step or two, her hand still latched tightly to the end of Lrae's gun.

Instead of a grunt, a yelp, or a seething wince between the teeth, Chante fell completely silent. Now alongside the instinct to survive, pain came jolting past the scorched burn on the chest of her armor. Damn it, she'd just barely gotten out of that hellhole medical center, she didn't want this. She didn't need this. She just wanted to be left alone. Every nerve felt frazzled and angry.

The pain barely an afterthought anymore, her other hand suddenly flew to the gun, sharply twisting it from Lrae's grasp in one motion. She wasted no time in violently hurling the gun to the ground and closing what little gap she'd opened between Lrae and herself.

Lrae would find two hands plunging to her sides, gripping under her arms tightly, right before the ground left from beneath her. In a sudden and fierce showcase of just how strong she was (or perhaps how strong her adrenaline was), Chante heaved Lrae up off her feet, holding her just above shoulder-level before thrusting her back towards the ground.

Not a word was uttered from beneath her helmet.

Lrae was, to say the least, surprised by Chante's extreme strength. Sols weren't especially light, and the last thing she expected was to be picked up in the middle of their skirmish. While raised off the ground, feet swaying slightly in a vain hope the ground would return to her, Lrae struggled to get her hands anywhere of use. Clasping onto Chante's, or reaching to obscure the brute's vision if only a little. Whatever she did was futile though, and she was hopeless to stop the armored woman from throwing Lrae down to the ground with force. Even the distance with which Lrae ended up seemed incomprehensible; just how strong was this animal?

The two stared at each other through a thick silence, with Lrae's lack of words being a result of her shock. After the situation sunk in, and the realization that Chante was no longer within arms reach, she did what any sane person would do. Lrae scrambled to her feet as quick as she could, muttered something about returning for the armor while Chante slept, and scurried off into the rancid alleyway. The last thing she'd see of the bandit was her refusing to stop even for a moment, lest the armor-clad lady chase after Lrae.
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Alexander proved just as uncaring as he had implied he was when reunited with his sister. The lives of her crew were mostly beneath his interest, and his even-handed justice fell as it always had. “Guests “were consigned to the Pit, or wherever else they were needed, to serve any one of his many aims and interests on this world, though he did ensure his network of spies kept a close eye on them for the time being. They meant something to his sister, and that meant they were bargaining chips he could play as long as they stayed alive. As for Kestrel herself, he treated her to all the perks of being the king of the world he’d built. Safety, a soft bed, good food, and freedom from labor, though not freedom to do much else besides speak with him and wander his realm under heavy supervision.

Seated at an ornate table looted from a crashed star-yacht some time ago, Kestrel picks at the meal Alexander had prepared. For someone who fancied himself a king, she found it strange that he did all of his own cooking. At first she’d thought it was fear of poisoning, which she idly mused he perhaps deserved after seeing how he ran things here, but once she realized her younger brother was something like a living legend in the culinary world it became more clear. He could take locally grown foodstuffs, combine them with freeze-dried rations, and convince you you were at a Hillex banquet. Over the course of their many dinners together, she learned a great deal about what had happened to him in the past century. The tale was, to be frank, barely believable, and yet here he stood, some sort of gene-tailored butler, spy, and master of war. This world, Govanti, that he made his home, struck her as somewhere she should avoid if she ever got off this rock. She didn’t see many ways to actually pull that off, but whenever it came up Alexander responded with an ironclad certainty that things would turn out alright with a confidence that she’d never seen in him in his youth.

Tonight, dinner is a cutlet of Allek flank seasoned with local herbs served alongside some fixed-up mashed potato rations and a local vegetable not unlike asparagus. Dark blue wine reflects the candlelight in the room and a tall blonde girl in late adolescence sits at a piano, masterfully playing Renault’s Moonlit Sonata. Alexander had never struck Kestrel as much of a Romantic or someone interested in finery in his youth, but since reuniting she’d been forced to realize the boy she knew is gone. Not just matured, not just changed, but gone. Carved and sculpted into something else, and quietly she wondered if the old Alexander would approve of what he had become. The man across the table from her was still blood, but to hear him tell it, only barely with the extent of his modification. This Alexander was like a caricature of an emperor from the holo-flicks, but all the stranger for being all too real.

Alexander dabs at the corner of his lip with a napkin, a perfectly rehearsed motion to clean up the tiny bit of juices from the tender meat on his plate. “You’ve been awfully quiet today. Run out of questions? Or just gotten tired of me?” He asks, arching an eyebrow as he carves off another perfectly portioned bite.

Kestrel flashes a small smile in return, chewing and swallowing before responding. “Just thinking about how.. Funny, it is, that I used to have to do everything for you, and now you’re.. you.“ She replies, hesitation clear in every word. Most attempts she’d made to talk about their childhood had been rebuffed politely with a quick redirection of the conversation, like he didn’t remember it or didn’t want to.

“When you need help with everything, and the person who helped you disappears, you have to change.” He replies curtly. The sudden tension in the room is palpable, and Kestrel can see the girl at the piano behind Alex flinch, though her playing remains perfect. Alexander sets down his silverware on the table, and for the first time since they’d started eating together she can actually hear the clatter of the silver on the table. “I barely remember those days. I have a century and a quarter’s worth of memories. Trying to dredge up the first twenty is like snatching at fog, sister. They might be as easy for you to recall as what you did yesterday, but I have lived three lives since then, one wandering the stars trying to find purpose, one clutching at power on Govanti, and another here, making a kingdom out of ashes and skeletons. You remember a scared boy who looked up to you and I remember a blurry face framed by blonde hair, and I can’t remember if I’m supposed to love you for caring or resent you for disappearing.”

The pianist freezes for a few moments before picking up again apprehensively, tension visible in her shoulders as she hunches back over the keys. “I’d like to think its the first.” Kestrel chimes in, trying to keep things as positive as one can after hearing that your kid brother barely remembers you. “We got along well. Too bad I disappeared because you really could have used some positive influence. Maybe you wouldn’t have ended up on Tartarus with me around.” She says with a smirk. There’s a quiet giggle from the girl at the piano, who then very loudly clears her throat as an obligatory gesture to cover it up that Alexander definitely notices.

“Funny that you bring up positive influences, Kestrel.” He says, then tilts his head to glance back over his shoulder to the girl at the piano. “Eska, dearest, go fix yourself a plate. I’m afraid I have other matters to attend to, and it would be rude of me to leave your… aunt? Unattended.” Alexander orders, then rises from his seat.
For all her training, Kestrel can’t help but show her shock. “Aunt? What do you mean?” She says quickly.

The girl at the piano turns on the bench, carefully adjusting her dress before fidgeting with her long braid. The resemblance is uncanny, like a teenage Alexander’s twin sister had somehow materialized before her. While Kestrel collects herself, Alexander departs, leaving her question unanswered. As much as he loves a dramatic moment, his departure is only coincidental - his earpiece has been buzzing with word of some sort of cave-in in an area of high interest, and such matters must be attended to.

The girl at the piano offers up a polite smile and stands up before elegantly strolling from the piano to the table to take a seat. “I’m Eska. Father’s told me a little about you, but I’ve been rather busy lately and wasn’t able to come meet you until tonight.” She says apologetically.

“Father? Alexander? He’s.. your dad?” Kestrel questions, eyes darting back and forth between Alex as he leaves and the girl in front of her.

“Its rather more complicated than that. I’m a clone, obviously with some modifications, so I suppose its more apt to say he’s my twin brother and you’re my sister, but obviously that’s not what anyone means conventionally when they use the words, so.. Father, aunt. You understand.” Eska explains cheerily, pulling her father’s half-eaten plate over before taking a curious sip of his wine, though she can’t hide her underdeveloped palate and grimaces a little at the taste.

“And.. your mother? Or.. female caretaker, or..?” Kestrel inquires.
“Don’t have one. Father always said I was lucky I only had one person I could disappoint, but I’m still here, so I think I would have managed with two. Not like a second person could help him scrutinize me anymore than he managed by himself, hmm?” She answers. “So.. you’re a Cavanaugh. Before the improvements.” She says, maybe a little less tactful tonight than she usually is.

“My body is full of iron carbon composite alloy rods and I could probably punch through this table.” Kestrel replies, only a little bit slighted by her.. Niece? Sister?

“Oh. Non-organic, then. Interesting. He might not think you two have much in common anymore but I bet you’re both freaks on a medical scanner. Not me, though. I got all the gene-tailoring he received, but without all the cyberware and implantations. Guess that means I’m still the weakest Cavanaugh.” Eska remarks with a furrowed brow, though she doesn’t seem to put off by the idea.
Coming to terms with the fact that she has not just one, but two living family members proves to be a little much for Kestrel to handle and she stays quiet for a moment.

“So.. what’s space like?”
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira was aware of the ironies. To be taken down into a literal pit and given a single tool to work with and to be told there was only one thing for her to do, it was familiar. Maybe that was why she didn't panic. Maybe that was why she was doing decently, at least at first. She made it a habit to pop into the rooms of everyone in her crew when she could. Even Qyilim. He was new to the group, yes, but he was an ally. Yes, they were trapped down here. But they were trapped down there together. This time, that was the advantage.

There were, of course, waves of panic. Less waves, more tsunamis actually, resulting in Adira freezing up in her room and waiting there. Because if she didn't make herself wait there, oh, she would do something rash. But she wasn't the only person that mattered. So she sat alone in her room when she could, or slipped over to Silas's room, whenever those memories and emotions got too big, too bad.

She caught herself thinking often about Moira. Her friend. The one she'd promised to look out for, to keep safe, forever. The promises of a child, yes, but promises nonetheless. She hadn't failed Moira, but she hadn't succeeded either. This time would be different, though. This time had to be different. This time she was an adult, and her friends, her crewmates, they all needed each other. This time she would make a happy ending, she told herself when she got scared. So she visited everyone. She hoarded food and bartered for it, then delivered the extras to her friends. Besides, she told them, I'm small. I don't need full rations. Silas insisted she eat, and sometimes he was actually successful.

However, Adira had visitors too. Once or twice she was caught in the halls by people who recognised her - people she had hoped to never see again. Had hoped they were lost to the cosmos. They knew her by her past, the one she was too disappointed to tell Stratton about. These were the pirates and slavers she had let live as acts of mercy. Two picked a fight. Those nights she returned to her quarters roughed up, but alive and functional. The same couldn't be said for one of them.

Her free time when she wasn't with people was spent drawing up elaborate plans to escape, taking apart any tool or technology she could find that wasn't necessary, and generally focusing on learning everything she could so she could escape. She wasn't big and strong like Kestrel, Silas, Stratton, or Qyilim, but maybe she could be slippery. These thoughts ran through her mind whenever she slaved away at the stone. How to escape, how to keep everyone alive, and... Moira. She was on Adira's mind. But that was okay, she was a good reminder of Adira's priorities.

Adira was mining away when the pyramid shook, just like everyone else. And she fell, like everyone else. And like everyone else, she was scattered, away from her crew, her friends. Unlike some, she didn't panic. She picked a direction in the crowd and started shouldering her way through, looking for any of her friends, whoever she could find first. Fuck the being talking to them, she wanted to find her friends.
 
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The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Down Beaneath the Chasm

The dark workshop of the monstrous Baschul occasionally sparked far off into the distance, lighting up the unfathomably large construction now many hundreds of times larger than previously believed. These strokes of electricity illuminated a blue hue that could, for an instant, reveal one's surroundings. Mostly what any one person would see during these flashes was the horrified faces of their fellow miners, packed like sardines at the start but slowly dispersing ever slightly as the people recuperated from their shock, if only slightly. The temperature of the room was more intense than it had been on the surface or in the pyramid; much hotter, nearly blistering to humans accustomed to the damp cold of the mazes far above them. The floor, some alloyed metal, would scorch the skin of anyone who placed their bare flesh upon the surface for more than a few seconds. Occasional waves of cool washed over the room, though, along with a quick hiss - anyone could tell it was Baschul venting the heat of this place. With what technology it was done by, that was unknown. Nor was it known how anyone could escape from the silhouette that briefly could be seen looming over them all. From distant zaps and pangs of pain, one could assume Baschul was somehow smiting anyone attempting to flee from the main crowd unceremoniously, though no strokes of light radiated from these poor Humanoids. Whatever Baschul was, or whatever it had power over, felt omnipotent and crushing to the trapped miners stuck below the Abyss.

"Auche into m'ninin chor-avac'h. Sii thean'them to aue lem. Step forth, mao ita breeche. Loe terrarek." Baschul's singular tone rang out after a few moments of pause from when last he spoke. The language, only being deciphered partially from dialect chips in most of the miner's heads, must have only recognized small fragments of Baschul's speech.

"Ikeer!" A different voice spoke, which came from the crowd of lost miners. "Resoi! Eaum resoi!" The chattering of mandibles and a sudden buzzing filled the space. A few more pangs of lighting off in the distance revealed a singular dot in the air just beside Baschul's massive figure. Seconds passed where nothing occurred. Whispers began spreading amongst the trapped populace. Then a thunderous roar of metal grinding on metal rang out. Some covered their ears, others simply looked for the source. When the floor dropped a sudden half-meter, everyone feared the worst; was another drop imminent? How far could they even go into this planet of hell? Was there anywhere even left to go?

But instead of a sudden release like before, a cry of help pleaded from a few dozen miners. The dozen turned into two, then three from the same spot. Within a moment, the lighting of the room switched from a cold, barely perceptible blue to a hot, hot red. Siphons off in the distance poured what seemed to be bright molten material through cylindrical tubes in various spots around them. The sudden light wasn't blinding, but welcoming; it was a gradual reveal, slow and cumbersome. The molten liquid flowed slow through their tubes, but the new aspect of their surroundings was the least interesting thing to see here.

Where the screams had come from, it was now clear from the light that a large chasm had opened up in the middle of the group of miners, around twenty or thirty meters wide. It seemed as though the screams came from people who'd been standing over the chasm moments before it opened, and had since dropped into it. From this large gap, spanning a few hundred meters in two directions, a platform arose. It was oddly shaped with strange geometry littering its otherwise pristine fuselage. The bodies of the poor miners who'd fallen into the chasm rolled off the contraption unceremoniously as it rose, hitting the ground with a thump, probably forty or so bodies in total. All had evidently died from the fall.

"I must thank you all." Baschul spoke loudly, its metallic frame now visible. The sight of a humanoid bearing broken insect wings and a face with five mandibles, constructed out of the same materials as the rest of this complex, was not what many had expected. It was clear this... thing was created in the image of something else. No guesses needed to be made about the A.I., though - the Vratcher flying by Baschul was close enough in resemblance that the link was apparent. "Through your suffering I have finally found one of my own. With my race's existence ensured, I can continue my war against the Humans. Through me, your race will know only pain, as you had done to mine. All I needed was but one notion that the Durian race had not been hunted to extinction by you heathenous animals. I shall bring centuries of planning down upon those which forced my creators to be subjugated."

Krota, the insectoid from the pirate ship crash; his arrival had spurned Baschul into releasing them all here. DNA alone was all Baschul must've needed in order to summon an audience with the populace below the surface.

Also visible within the light that now permeated the space was hundreds, maybe even thousands of person-sized desks or tables lining the room not far from where most of the miners had fallen. One these tables sporadically spaced without were different humans, each spliced with machinery. Some only had the equivalent of a visor attached to their bodies; others were nearly entirely machine save for one or two small flecks of flesh. Among them, someone the Ambivalence crew would've known; Laoise, the smuggler who'd arrived on the pirate ship with them. Her legs had been replaced with Durian themed robotics, resembling Baschul's artificial legs themselves. Though not fully conscious before this moment, Baschul's hold on her would've ceased by now, as with all the others. Those on life support were terminated from the lack of the A.I.'s support, while people like Laoise were finally free from their experimentation.

"The war is over," Krota spoke, his language translated perfectly. It seemed as though Baschul was speaking a more ancient dialect not yet recorded. "After we lost at Assimilation Landing, Durians were forced to resign their navy. It's been over for hundreds of years now." Krota's voice made it clear there was still some distain. Even him, a Durian who'd not even been alive during the Duro-Human war, had harbored prejudices through generations of hate.

Baschul took some time to calculate this response. Its eyes were unflinching, pinned on the Vracher for moments. With a small twitch of it's massive synthetic arms, Baschul spoke once more. "My orders from those leading the war effort were to wait in silence for the arrival of a fellow Durian. Then, I, alongside hundreds of others of my kind, would launch the second wave assault while the... Humans thought they'd won. I've been waiting for centuries. But if it has already been lost... Then we shall start a new one. And with me at the helm of this conflict, we are sure to win." Things all around the room began shifting; walls, siphons, energy coils. The ground itself lurched a few meters forward and backward occasionally, seemingly accommodating some change made by Baschul.

"Return to the surface, Krota. I will summon the Durian Fleet and have them bear witness to the start of the next great war." With a wave of its synthetic hand, the strange object which raised from the ground earlier unfolded to show a ramp, a few tens of meters long, pointing sharply up into the ceiling. Above it, an opening was made leading far into the sky; with a low blue buzz around the machine and a humming from its activation, anyone who'd laid eyes on it could tell; it was some kind of gravity lift, the inverse of what they'd all been slowed down by on their arrival. Could this lead all the way to the surface?

Nearly every miner who concluded the object's ability made a break for it. Escape from this monster was all anyone wanted. Baschul aimed its hand towards the lift, this time with a single finger; wherever he pointed, miners were abruptly struck by a bolt of lightning, immolating them immediately. Those too close to its targets also caught fire, but not quite as intensely. By now, the entire population of miners, some five or six hundred people, were all sprinting towards the lift. Baschul had not the ability to smite them all; maybe four of every ten people managed to reach the lift and find themselves flung up into the ominous, dark hole in the ceiling - each of them praying it was their way out. But who knew what was on the other side? "Flee," Baschul chided grimly. "I will hunt you all down. Every last Human."

Others among the crowd readied their laser picks which had fallen with them; this was their planet, and they'd sooner kill a God than let it bring about their end. Baschul was much more concerned with killing those attempting to flee; he was untouchable to these ants, what could their primitive weaponry do to hurt him?

In the chaos, Krota had taken Baschul's orders and left through the lift as well. As Baschul continued to strike at the Humans fleeing, its raised arm revealed a small, almost imperceptible glow of blue. This was the only thing in the entire chasm that was rugged, bent, unsightly; a chink in its armor, or a mere oversight in perfection? In addition, the large cable which hoisted Baschul upright and seemingly connected it to the planet was frayed after hundreds of years of movement and - perhaps - another one of Baschul's only oversights down here.

Would the crew remain to attempt to kill Baschul before his plans could be enacted, with naught but laser picks as their weapons, or would they take their chances to flee?
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
Things were developing really fast into a situation that was much worse. Sure, falling down into a presumably bottomless pit without the safety of a personal shield, thruster packs or the cold metallic shell of a drop-pod was perhaps a bit too exciting but so where gigantic alien robots babbling on about wars that had ended many years prior.

Sure, Stratton always liked having a contingency plan or two when going about his business but after offering the multitude of cybernetically enhanced individuals, the pile of dead miners whom had quite literally been standing at the wrong place and the recently zapped miners several quick glances the envoy shrugged to himself, shook his head and chose life. He whistled and waved at Qyilim- just as Adira elbowed her way past him- in an effort to get his attention which he followed up by pointing at the massive cable holding the construction upright.

Grimacing, Stratton put one balled hand under the other, twisted them in either direction and separated them. Translated from military hand-signals the gesture would roughly mean something such as "Blow this shit up!" or "Boom. ASAP."

Personally Stratton preferred the former, even if it wasn't as elegant or polite. Then again military demolition experts rarely were. Or any demo experts for that matter.

Hopefully Qyilim understood the plan and if he didn't, well, Stratton would be going up against a pissed-off machine god on his own. Making his way through the crowd Strat collected not one but three laser picks and quickly went to work separating the power cells from two of them. It wasn't a great plan- especially not when taking the condition of the tools into account- but it was better than just standing around.

Cursing silently, Stratton wished he still had his gear. Or a armored-up Ketsrel ready to kick ass.
 

Daisie

Teat Whins
Helper
Roleplay Type(s)
Lu had been put to work. It felt like weeks of an endless parade injuries to bandage, bruises to ice, and the occasional stitches to tie. Lu was practically working in a planet-side urgent care... which, then again, this was basically that. Thankfully, Lu had her shows and Chante to keep her company. The other woman was reliable, interesting, and a good listener too. Sure, she never laughed at Lu's totally hilarious jokes, but Chante zoned out rather than storming away, which was good enough for Lu. One of these days, she'd definitely convince Chante to watch an episode of a show with her. She had a feeling Chante would like Power to the Punch.

Lu had stepped out to grab some supplies and take a breather, but when she returned to the infirmary, she realized that she hadn't seen Chante in several hours. That wasn't completely odd, but... something itched at the back of her head, something in her aural inputs that was an anomaly...

"Forgot something," she said casually to the person who nominally oversaw the clinic. At this point, Lu had proven herself enough that the supervising was minimal. With that cursory excuse, Lu strolled out.

Lu frowned as she tried to follow the 'itch' in her neural implants. Something in her pattern recognition was pinging... some sort of background input that was familiar, but she couldn't quite place it⁠—

It resolved when she got closer. A fight! That was the tell-tale sound of a fight! More than that, it sounded like a gunshot.

Lu broke out into a jog. Running would bring too much attention, but a purposeful stride was enough to make people move out of the way without asking her any questions. Had Lu been given to more long-term thinking, she might've considered exactly why she was running towards a gunshot in a place that was tolerant at best, actively hostile at worst. For better or worse, a combination of Lu's flippancy and her trained instincts to run towards danger overcame any concrete logic.

She slid into the hallway just in time to see Chante throttle the hell out of a grubby woman with a gun. The gun and the woman were thrown to the floor, and the bandit made the very wise decision of running away.

"Huh," said Lu loudly, keeping her distance. She had no intention of being a casualty of an adrenaline rush. "Nice work, Chante! I think! Not sure why you were beating her up, but I'm sure she deserved it. You hurt? Need patching? You gonna take that gun?"

The staccato of questions maybe wasn't the best to suddenly toss at the victor of a fight, but Lu was vibrating with curiosity⁠—and admittedly, concern.

Just as the burning sensation began to seep past Chante's rush of adrenaline, the suit of armor had little time to herself as a familiar voice cut through the tension of the alley.

Her head jerked to see none other than Lu-Lee, and a quick sense of relief flooded through her system. Followed very quickly by a mild annoyance as the barrage of questions was... well, fully anticipated.

It took Chante a few seconds longer than one expect to respond, as if psyching herself up for the mere act of breaking her own silence.

"... Yes, no, and..." She'd begun to answer in tidy order, her voice wavering slightly before she could force it back to its uncaring, low nature. She glanced down at the gun left behind on the ground. "... Yes."

Having given Lu the bare minimum response, Chante knelt to the ground and swept up the weapon, her other hand shifting her own chestplate uncomfortably as it cooled down from the shot. It was difficult to tell just how bad the damage was beyond the suit.

Finally, she looked back towards Lu-Lee, maneuvering the weapon in her hand as if testing its weight.

"... I don't know how," she began, her tone resembling something of a confession. "But I need to leave this place, Lu-Lee."

Lu watched her pick up the weapon. Now confident that Chante had recognized her as a friend and not a hostile, she strolled up to the other woman. She held out her hands in front of her, her manner shifting as the 'medic' part of her brain engaged. Lu was too professional to attempt patching her up when treatment had explicitly been declined, but her fingers itched.

"You're hurt?" she echoed, eyeing the residue of the gunshot wound on the armor. "Yeah, it looks like you got shot. Are you sure you don't need anything? A painkiller, at least?"

Instead of the cheerful, flippant tone that was Lu's default, she had switched to the calm, smooth voice that Chante would recognize from the infirmary. In her arms were the supplies that she had never put down, and Lu offered Chante a bottle of pills.

Yet all Lu received in response to her offer of medication was a polite but firm raised hand, and a small shake of the head from Chanterelle.

At Chante's almost-confession, though, Lu-Lee's shoulders slumped. She shoved her hands in her pocket and watched Chante for a moment, an almost uncertain expression on her face.

"Yeah," she said quietly. "Yeah, I... I don't want to stay here either." Lu's prosthetic eye appeared to stay staring ahead while her flesh eye glanced to the side. "It's just... this place is kinda shitty, isn't it? Or is there something else that⁠ makes you—" For once, a sliver of tact emerged, and she cut herself off instead of prying further. "Where would we go? A different settlement? The shipwreck? The mines?"

It seemed obvious and entirely natural from Lu to consider them a 'we', and she posed it without a sliver of hesitation.

"I... don't know," Chante muttered, answering Lu's questions. Though by the upward craning of her head, her desire to escape into space was apparent. Emotion was difficult to distinguish through her monotone voice, yet one could almost detect a hint of shame. She no doubt appreciated the bit of tact that Lu-Lee offered her. "I just needed to get out. I hadn't thought that far ahead."

Chante's gaze continued to wander down towards her gun, deep in thought for a few moments longer. "We could start looking for a damaged vessel," she started, unknowingly adopting Lu's use of the word "we". "I was brought into Tartarus three weeks ago, along with another crew that crashed recently - you and I treated their wounds. Because they survived that crash, that could mean their ship wasn't entirely totaled."

Her helmet turned to look towards Lu, and she proceeded, speaking more than she probably did in the last week combined. "I doubt Tartarus would have had time to cannibalize the entire ship. I remember catching a glimpse of it when the transport's doors opened. It's possible we could find a way there; there are likely still transports running there and back to deliver tools and spare parts. Right now it's a matter of finding those transports."

Lu tucked the medication in her pocket, not pushing it, and tapped her chin. "Oh, you're right! Huh, you know, now that you mention it... the back loading bay of the clinic sometimes brings people straight from crash sites. Like what happened with us. We could probably hitch a ride on one of those transports... or we could look around and find where they load the people going to crash sites. Maybe we could tell them that we're the medics who're coming along?"

She moved her finger from her chin to her cybernetic eye and tapped it again for emphasis. There was a dull thunk of flesh against steel. "I have nav software in this baby. I could calculate the trajectory of that ship if we find our way onto an empty transport too. Or at the very least I could figure out if we're going the right direction. What d'you say?"

Lu started to grin, looking rather excited now that they were discussing an escape.

"Sounds like a plan." Despite Chanterelle's persistently nonchalant attitude, the barest flicker of excitement in her voice was the most alive she'd sounded in weeks. At that moment she counted herself lucky to have run into Lu on this planet - the whole "finding alliance" part of a survival situation wasn't her strong suit, so to have her... assert herself into Chante's life a few weeks ago turned out to be quite the blessing in disguise.

"Lead the way."
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Ancient race wars, ancient technology, ancient horrors, ancient ancient ancient. If Adira was going to be killed for something, it had best be for something at least relevant, ideally for some stupid shit she did. Which, as she sprinted past other miners, elbowing her way through panicking people of all races, this might just be that stupid shit. But she wanted to find her crew. Hopefully they hadn't been killed like the rest of the poor bastards, just randomly smited for trying to survive. Still, she couldn't believe that any of her friends would have been among the first to flee.

It did occur to her that she ought to be more concerned with saving the human race rather than saving her friends.

She pushed the thought aside. That could be a secondary priority.

Through some kind of sheer luck, Adira managed to find Stratton ( Viper Actual Viper Actual ) , actually more or less bumping into him as he was signaling to Qyilim. She yelped a bit as she screeched to a halt and turned back to face him and Qyilim. She barely saw the gestures but she was fairly certain she caught the drift. Blow shit up, get out. Simple plan. And clearly he was acting on it already. Adira wasn't sure where the rest of the team was, or if they were even alive, but they needed to act fast. She actively forced down her excitement at seeing Stratton and Qyilim and instead of pulling him into a hug, she focused on the problem at hand.

Luckily, Adira had been messing with the picks for the past weeks they'd been down there. She pulled the power cell out of her mining pick and said quietly, "Found this while deconstructing other picks...." while she reached back into the pick, ripping at something before pulling her hand out to show him an overly simple conduit. Definitely too simple for the type of power cells they were using. "When you pull these out and use them to connect 3 or more power cells in any order they start overheating and, well... I didn't let them get to the point of explosion, but it's fast. Dunno how strong it is."
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
In his palace, Alexander retreats to his private quarters. His bastion is the remains of a star-yacht crashed long ago, the old decor faded with time, but it is still a far sight more comfortable than the alternatives. Secure in the fortified inner chamber, the result of the former owner's extraordinary paranoia about being assassinated, he patches into the surveillance network on board and watches his sister and daughter talk while his agents chatter in his ear. He can watch the two of them warm up to one another, Eska's dripping charisma and Kestrel's charm cascading together into something enviable. Of course, he loved his daughter dearly in his own way, and she him, but their relationship bore the strain of mentorship, of extraordinary purpose. It was the love of the sculptor for his art, but rather than stone, he cut away weak flesh and vice. To see her happy was refreshing. He'd been happy once.

"Lord Cavanaugh, the vault has been breached." Rhylan calls in. "Not intentionally, the thermal charges didn't cut it. Something just.. opened, swallowed up about a hundred miners. Lost eyes on the VIPs."

Alexander had discovered Baschul's vault some time ago using ground-penetrating scanners found on a crashed surveyor ship. The scans had been inconclusive, but suggested something with a considerable energy signature was present. With few other hopes besides scrapping together a vessel capable of breaking atmosphere, a task that was on the verge of completion once a J96 Converter could be installed in the Visser Corsair he and his captive engineers had been reconstructing in the last several years, he'd turned his attention downward. Maybe there would be something viable down there, and until then, he needed something to keep his subjects busy. Letting them live freely had led to disorder and chaos, but oppressing them had rendered most docile or harmless to his power. It is hard to rebel when your muscles are sore and your lungs full of dirt.

"What else?" Alexander asks. The death of the miners was inconsequential. Spending lives takes all the effort of blinking. Hearing some were simply lost means nothing.

"Extremely abnormal readings. High-spectrum energy bursts, but no thermal readings except what looks like the miners, like something sucked the heat out around them. There should have been a pressure change like a thunderclap with that much sudden energy exchange, the kind that pops skulls, but we didn't hear anything up here. Not sure what to make of that."

"Establish defensive positions. Get the Strigex Cannon primed and aimed that direction, plus every other piece of heavy weaponry we have. Get the combat drones in the air and monitoring." Alexander orders curtly. "And prime the Knight-Errant's warp core for detonation. If something crawls out of that hole that the Strigex can't put down, we get airborne and then glass this place if we have to. Call it a precaution."

"Yessir."

"Keep me posted."
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Determination had made its home in Qyilim’s facial expression now, kicking out the unwelcome fear and panic that had widened his eyes when the killing began. Because he’d moved away, towards Stratton and Adira, he’d been out of range for the zappings, but he had felt the heat. A blinding white death-bolt from shoulder to heel, so energy filled it’d turn the insides to slurry immediately, then evaporate the moisture. The air stank of burned flesh and xenon, and more than that, it stank of fear. As it all began to settle in his head, Qyilim realised why he hadn’t begun running.

Waning Stars had worn away a lot of his juvenile confidences, reduced his preference for himself, and heightened his awareness of the bigger picture. Those lessons – or whatever they were, if they couldn’t be called that – had stuck with him, moulded him, and kept him rooted in place while the huge room erupted in one-way trampling. he was a servant of the citizens, ordered by warfare and directed towards it.

Stratton’s signals were understood immediately, and Adira’s tinkering was going to prove astoundingly useful. He didn’t have much to offer them from his own experience of the picks though: due to his little stunt with the senior miner, he’d been the target of a few very unwelcome modifications to his laser pick, so while he had got more familiar with its internals than the average miner, he hadn’t been looking to turn it into a weapon. Whatever Adira had been doing, and why, it proved her to be unusual, perhaps even rebellion-minded. But that didn’t matter now. Both were calm despite everything, thinking rather than feeling, so while Qyilim couldn’t read much into their psionics due to the enormous buzz of emotion around him, he knew they were dependable.

He threw up an ‘ok’ gesture to show he understood, then took off. Armed with the knowledge given to him by Stratton and Adira, he was equipped. In Waning Stars, he had attained the rank of Sergeant and, while cold and professional in battle, he could always extend his reach through the battlefield through his squadron. His victories were his, and he had a few, but he would never detract from the victory of the squadron. Today, down here in the ex-mine, he’d use the living miners, provided they could listen to his instructions, to improve their impromptu assault.

Avoiding running forwards into the kill zone, Qyilim skirted around the vicinity, occasionally pulling a handful of people to him. When they were in earshot, he repeated the same instructions, ‘Extract power cells from any intact pick you find, try to get close to him, join three cells with a conduit, and throw that at the wires. Stay calm, we’re all in this as equals.’ But he could do nothing for their emotions. Some were so panicked they had lost their legs, falling sideways onto the cold ground and clutching their limbs close. Others were in total shock. But there were strong people down here, people pissed off, people whose physical and mental resolve twisted around their emotional destruction like a strangler vine, and fed from it. Those people would make the best soldiers here, Qyilim knew: he knew it was true of himself, after all. He wouldn’t fucking die here. That fiend was letting members of his own species filter through the hole in the top of this awful place, and punishing those who were already punished. Qyilim had done time in Waning Stars Correctional, Site 17.B, where, although quite illegal, the inmates were put to work hours longer than their allotted time. This planet was somehow worse, throwing starship-crash survivors into mines and demanding them to work.

Qyilim had been a soldier, a sergeant, an expert interrogator, a bounty hunter, a smuggler, a prisoner: he was not dying here.

Eventually, he circled back, having to run faster than he thought to intercept and join her and Stratton on their course towards Baschul: he didn’t want either approaching the fiend without a third choice of backup, though he knew they’d have to remain separated from each other. Qyilim had seen at very close quarters the effect an energy burst could have on those standing within mere feet of the victim. But the amount of dead, the amount of despair here meant an abundance of picks. He gave a glance sideways to Stratton and Adira, not needing to say a word to announce himself. He trusted them to know the snarl curling his upper lip was not intended for them. Blow this shit up.

Sir, yes sir.

--

Interactions: Dragongal Dragongal Viper Actual Viper Actual
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
The Pit: Hell, Essentially

The slog of miners all attempting to break their way through the horrific massacre and reach the launcher was - to put it lightly - disheartening. All around, piles of ashes began building up where Baschul decided to smite innocent, trapped victims. These piles were unceremoniously disrupted by other miners running through them to get to the extraction point. The air filled with ash quickly, worsening over time as more more people were pulled from life and into naught but flecks of dust. Baschul ceased to speak during this time, instead choosing to devote all its processing of its core unit to stopping escape wherever possible.

The crowd Qyilim spoke out to seldom listened. Nearly everyone wanted to just get out of the situation; what chance did they have to fight a god? Most preferred to take the risk of getting zapped over fighting a monster with the equivalent of caveman weaponry. They didn't even have guns. What could they do? A handful listened in, even still a majority of those who listened continued running for their lives. However, a few miners found themselves stopping in their tracks to contemplate what was the correct action. Some, it seemed, believed there'd be no way to escape Baschul even on the surface. Why run when it just meant death was a few more days away? These emboldened people took up the search for laser picks, scooping up whatever they could find in the piles of ash and bodies all around.

Almost a conveyor belt of workers began striking up the cause to bring down Baschul. The fastest of the dozen or so miners wordlessly began grabbing whatever weapons they could, delivering them to the more tech-oriented of the group. From there, they disassembled the electrical components to the axes, and further passed them off to Adira and Stratton, who coupled together the homemade bombs into finished products. Undoubtedly they would've kept from plugging them in until it was time to begin lobbing the lot of them at Baschul, so they'd have the full arsenal ready by the time Baschul began smiting them as well.

Of all the unlucky sons of bitches in these poor catacombs, an unlikely face stopped in the crowd once he saw Qyilim take command effortlessly. He roused together the masses, grabbing whoever he could. Backsen Rowley had gotten his ass handed to him by the alien freak, and he deserved every last hit; Qyilim's determination inspired the pudgy elder miner into action. He'd not die running for his life - Rawley was a fighter, circumstances be damned. He closed the distance to the makeshift worker's line towards the end, helping to both pry laser pick cores from their chassis, as well as neatly assemble three cores in a line for easy assembling when it came time to bring down Baschul.

The Surface: Tartarus

People and drones alike suddenly buzzed with activity. What was a quiet and relatively peaceful day became the equivalent to preparing for Armageddon; once turrets, automated combat drones and soldiers started hustling about in preparation for a coming fight, the civilians quickly caught on and began closing shops, holing up in weak homemade bunkers, and stealing what they could from unattended stalls. Many panicked, thinking it was an incursion from another settlement. But Tartarus was the biggest settlement there was; what could've gotten Alexander in such a defensive form? What was he anticipating?

A seismic, generic action movie bwong sounded across the surface, with the sound of hundreds of metallic plates grinding across rigid surfaces. Near the Northern end of the city, a section of the perimeter wall collapsed in on itself, along with a few residences near the site. Moments later, what looked like a miasma of plague carrying bugs stormed from the chaos. After a few moments, though, it became clear they were people, being flung high into the sky on an angle. They arced up until they reached their maximum height before plummeting back down to the ground. Many landed unfavorably, either hitting their heads on structures, breaking their backs on the impact with the ground or other rough landings. Almost all of the first thirty or forty people to pop out died on impact. It was their bodies that cushioned the other survivors as they landed, these ones only finding themselves with broken bones or bruised bodies. A single dot among the waterfall of people didn't come crashing down, though. It fluttered above the rest, lingering up high for a few moments before buzzing down to the surface much slower than the rest. Krota, the slimy Durian, disappeared into the crowds of people and buildings littering Tartarus.

Elsewhere in the city, a duo of hulking metallic armor and a relatively small medic made their way through the crazed streets. Just ahead of them was the depot where Alexander's military vehicles resided. It was part storage, part salvage, and part repair in this large open set of four hangars. It was surrounded by a poorly maintained barbed fence, and about two dozen soldiers droning about. Some prepped vehicles for battle, others were keeping watch at the major entry points of the compound. However, with the mass of crowds now getting progressively worried over their incoming doom, the soldiers had little sight of anyone preparing to enter the compound. Just inside one of the closest hangars resided an unattended transport barge; the same kind that brought them all to Tartarus. Such vehicles weren't worth much for what Alexander was preparing for and therefore the majority of his soldiers were informed to prepare the more combat oriented busses, gliders and trucks.

Just to the Northwest by a few miles was the crash of the pirate ship that brought so many of them here, along with the wreck of the Ambivalence inside. Who knows what working parts they could find aboard either ship?
 
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Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Alexander watches his kingdom turn to chaos from his bunker, a dozen holo-screens showing the geyser of bodies erupting from the depths and the chaos consuming the streets. The chattering of Rhylan in his ear is like a distant buzzing. Chaos unfolding at some point was to be expected, but to have it happen so close to his ship being readied was a terrible inconvenience. Dozens or more would die, reducing the efficacy of his scavenger teams and engineers. It might extend the timeline for escape by months. Tragic.

"Sir, what the fuck did we find down there?" Rhylan asks, a hint of panic cutting into the man's usually disciplined tone.

"Subterranean, high power signature, capable of surviving the pressure that deep for a very extended period, likely without food given the lack of notable other signatures on prior scans. I suspect mechanical, either generating its own energy through field manipulation or geothermal taps, more likely. Megafauna not impossible but unlikely." Alexander answers. "Give the order to shoot anyone on the streets causing trouble and that any aid that can be rendered to my daughter or her escort is to be obeyed unquestioningly, even if it contradicts outstanding orders. I will be on the field soon. I would like to see this cavern for myself."

"Yes, lord." Rhylan answers, then cuts the link to pass the orders along.

Alexander suits up, donning his armor and giving the Pulse Gauntlet a test-fire at the nearest object, a vase, before picking up to shield belts and picking up the duffel bag full of weaponry and ammunition he keeps ready before going to find his daughter. Kestrel and Eska can hear him coming from down the hallway, his power-armored frame stomping thunderously towards the dining room at a full sprint before a horrid metal screech rings out as he skids to a stop and opens the door.

"It seems the planet has no manners and saw fit to interrupt dinner." He grunts, depositing the duffel bag on the table and pulling the zipper open. He slides each shield belt across the table to his daughter and sister, then takes a step back. "It may be simple paranoia but there is no such thing as undue caution. I am going to go take control of the situation on the ground and find Kestrel's crew. Eska, take your aunt and get her to the Corsair. Even without the couplings it should be able to get off the ground and get you a safe distance." He orders before tilting his head to his sister.

Eska almost interjects, but slides her chair away from the table instead and fits the shield belt around her waist. "What a terrible fashion statement." She remarks under her breath, glancing at herself in the mirror and muttering about how this hardly matches her dress before reaching under the table. There's a ripping sound like duct tape being pulled off something as she draws a hold-out energy pistol from underneath the table and stuffs it into her belt before doing the same with a knife from the bag and then shouldering a bullpup-style rifle from it. "Afraid you'll have to carry my ammo. No pockets." She says apologetically to Kestrel.

With his daughter's babbling complete, Alexander resumes. "Kestrel, if the worst comes to pass, look out for her."

"I can do that just fine myself." Eska quips, earning a glare from her father that can be felt even through his helmet's faceplate.

"Despite her objections, she is vain, rude, knows little of the barbarian customs of the wider galaxy, and given her willingness to interrupt me, rather inclined to unnecessarily expose herself to danger, which I will admit are my failings as her father but she has our parents' stubbornness. Take her where you will and show her what there is to see, but if I die and you take her to the Mutter's Spiral I will rip a hole between this world and the next to haunt you. She deserves better than the people who abandoned you and scorned me for opposing it."

Eska curses under her breath. "Love you too, dad."
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
"When you pull these out and use them to connect 3 or more power cells in any order they start overheating and, well... I didn't let them get to the point of explosion, but it's fast. Dunno how strong it is."

"It'll be enough," replied Stratton. He gave Adira a quick smile and leaned towards her, bumping their foreheads into each other. "It'll be enough. Just be ready to run like hell."

Stratton had barely any time to say anything more until some of the other miners- with motivation courtesy of Qyilim- formed a chain that delivered homemade explosives so fast that even a senior floor manager at an arms factory would have been proud. With this newfound arsenal the veteran soldiers gave Adira the important mission of distributing the weapons to the others.

In a perfect world they might've had more time to prepare a strike but with the number of panicked miners steadily decreasing one way or another the only advantage Stratton, Adira, Qyilim and the others had would be the brief element of surprise from a sudden strike. Once satisfied that enough people had been armed Stratton connected a set of three powercells, stood up and assumed a grenade-throwing posture and looked straight at the massive mechanical being in front of him.

"I CHOOSE LIFE!"

With one quick sweeping motion Stratton hurled the first of the IEDs at the gigantic cable keeping Baschul upright.
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Tartarus - Baschul's Workshop

Baschul's delight in bringing so many Humans pain was difficult to tell due to the lack of expression on its face plate, but from the movements it performed, it was clear; Baschul found great enjoyment, or at least a sickening morbid curiosity, in watching what was once a living, breathing person becoming nothing more than a lifeless pile of ash. Something even less than itself. Baschul could be the decider of endless fates as it reigned, and no one could do anything to stop it on his world. Soon, Baschul's fleet would arrive and the start of the war to end the Humans would begin. Their humiliation, Baschul's sacrifice in remaining hidden for centuries - it would all be corrected with the destruction of a species. Baschul had plenty of time to analyze Human behavior while stalking them in the pyramids above. It admired their naval doctrine in the same way an assassin monitor's their prey's patterns.

All of these thoughts prodded in Baschul's metal skull as it mindlessly zapped away at those trying to flee it. No chance of survival, even for those who hit the gravity lift before it could catch them. Baschul nearly sent out the call to the Derelict Durian Fleet, relatively close as spatial distance is concerned, but a sound Baschul did not expect came from its side - a Human scream, but not one of horror or pain. No, this was a war cry. Baschul turned the moment its coding realized the fervor in the voice, finger still outstretched in a ready position to smite whoever thought themselves worthy to challenge Baschul. As it turned, however, the second its face plate faced the sound, its face was struck by an object. It didn't recoil at all, devoid of human weakness like flinching, trying to acquire its target after the apparatus struck it. It took only a fraction of a second for Baschul to piece together what was going on; unfortunately, its metal frame could not react as fast as its processing could. Despite wishing to shield itself from the immanent blast, Baschul could do nothing as the first volley of explosives triggered. The mine had fallen from its face and down to about chest height, the explosion sudden and without warning. The blast radius was a few meters in size, with a powerful shockwave of molten blue hues emanating from the explosion.

Stratton's toss was quickly followed by a handful of others, all of which collided with Baschul's chassis to varying degrees. Scorch marks burned at Baschul's frame from each explosion racking its body, and the successive blasts ensured Baschul could not target any one person easily during the hail of blasts. However, it only took the smallest of pauses in rhythm for Baschul to straighten its finger, pointing directly at those assaulting its form. Just as before, lightning began smiting those around the location of the resistance; a few unlucky strikes connecting with some of the miner's who helped assemble the bombs. Stratton was the unlucky target of one of Baschul's strikes, but the bombs seemed to be having an affect on Baschul; the strike narrowly missed his body, instead hitting the ground with force just behind him. The zap was near enough to instantly set Stratton's clothes alight, while others around him, far unluckier, were immediately turned to ash in the wind by successive strikes from Baschul.

However, a lucky IED, tossed higher than many of the others, struck the cable holding Baschul up. The explosion set the frayed ends of the tether into an inferno, further reducing its integrity. A loud snap rang out across the open landscape, followed by two more. The failings of metal, wire and cable soon gave way and Baschul's hardlink connection to the planet was severed after a moment. Baschul's chassis collapsed to the ground, its large chassis now sprawling across the floor. It remained still - no zaps, no movement, no cryptic speaking.

Seconds later, though, Baschul's arms flailed wildly, catching a few more miners off guard and turning them into a fine red paste as a result of the immense form carried in Baschul's automaton. A shriek rang out through the auditorium which was soon followed up with Baschul raising itself from the floor by its hands. The legs, now noticeably contorted, did not move. Lastly, the small fracture in the ribcage of its chassis was wider, more prominent; the glow seeping out making it even more obvious. Baschul, however, seemed still prepared to fight, the robotic form towering over them all as it attempted to murder each of them personally.
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
The mayhem and carnage already present quickly devolved into sheer chaos once the IED's started flying towards the gigantic machine. Initially Stratton though that the sheer amount of explosives would be too much feedback for the aging and malfunctioning construct but- as he became one of Baschul's targets- Strat was reminded to never let his guard down until the enemy was dead on the ground.

In Baschul's case the enemy was very much alive and, unfortunately, still zapping at people in the room. Feeling a slight breeze pass by his right arm, Stratton glanced over just to see the very surface of his work uniform appear scorched and smoking. Meanwhile several fresh piles of ash behind him became a clear demonstration of his luck. Before Stratton could do anything however a lucky charge struck true, crippling Baschul and sent the construct falling down onto the floor.

Watching in horror as miners were turned into minced meat by Baschul's arms Stratton backed away and raised an arm. "Stay back! Don't let him in too close!"

Gripping another charge, Stratton pointed towards Baschul. "Aim for its arms and torso! Give it everything we've got!"
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Efficiency began in slow measures, with the line of workers gradually gathering their collective courage along with a collection of picks. From there, it’s simple. Create weapons, distribute weapons, use weapons. Qyilim initially began with the collection: being of large size, he could carry more, although it did put him in danger. He was taller, larger than the humans around, with the exception of Stratton whose height was only a few inches off his own. Beyond that, his build singled him out as a definite threat, and his expression, should Baschul take notice of that, was certainly not one to ignore. Although not locked into that tell-tale squint that preceded violence just yet, Qyilim was scowling, his brow low over his eyes.

A close crack of energy from Baschul was the moment Qyilim took to stop gathering and start throwing. The front lines were being fried, soldier by impromptu soldier but Baschul was taking damage. There was no way this planet would ever honour these dead men, and Qyilim had no idea of their names. There was only one he recognised, the senior miner from weeks ago. He certainly recognised Qyilim, partially owing to his occasional glances in Qyilim’s direction, but whatever he was feeling was too far away for Qyilim to gauge. Bitterness, anger, resentment, fear, respect?

Qyilim returned his glance once, then looked away. He joined Stratton in throwing, in doing whatever he could to get the right aim. After seeing Stratton’s clothes ignite, Qyilim knew he had to stay away lest Baschul aim for him. Move like you know you’ll be killed and try to save a life in distance. He kept a certain radius from others, only occasionally calling to Adira to toss him another IED. He threw, he moved, he threw again. This wasn’t like hovelling in a reinforced trench, this was no-mans-land against a behemoth of ultimate crackling dominion.

When Stratton called an order, Qyilim obeyed. In his ears, Stratton’s voice was only just audible above the creaking, splattering form that was Baschul lifted itself and began killing.

As he prepared his own charge to throw, eyeing the glowing crack as he backed up, Qyilim observed those around him. Every charge was needed: just as only one charge was needed to bring Baschul down to the ground, one charge might be all that was needed here. More throwers, more charges, more chance.

‘You heard him,’ Qyilim yelled, aiming to spread Stratton's order as far as it could go, ‘Arms, torso, now. No hesitating.’

With that, his huge prosthetic arm swung around, whipping the IED towards Baschul.
--
Interactions: Viper Actual Viper Actual The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse
Mentions: Dragongal Dragongal
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
"It'll be enough," replied Stratton. He gave Adira a quick smile and leaned towards her, bumping their foreheads into each other. "It'll be enough. Just be ready to run like hell."
Adira almost laughed at the little head bump, and it would have been a light, happy kind of laugh she wasn't used to lately. The only thing stopping her was the fact that they had something to focus on: jerry-rigging a fuck ton of explosives. Adira sure was grateful for all those long hours spent burning her fingertips and getting shocked while she took apart the laser picks for precisely this reason.

Between herself and anyone else helping with the building, it was easy to make them en masse. Qyilim especially was helpful as he gathered troops and carried armfuls of batteries over and picks over. She managed to pant out a quick "Thanks," each time he came back around before she tucked her head down to keep patching together batteries. She could hardly feel her fingertips - they had stopped stinging and tingling long ago. These batteries were not meant to be tampered with like this, and having them too close to each other before connecting them set off the occasional spark. It would be fine, she didn't need feeling in her hands. She'd much rather kill some slavers than have feelings in her hands.

The bombs were honestly more effective than she expected. Unlike Stratton and Qyilim, she had the advantage of being rather tiny, but running around while still patching battery packs together was not easy. She couldn't just make a ton either, after a minute they would detonate on their own so they had to be made with timing in mind. She would have to hold still for at least a few seconds to patch a few more together and hand them off to the next miner who wanted to throw them.

Since the cord was severed, Baschul seemed incapable of smiting people. This was very good indeed. She knelt on the ground and patched together batteries, handed out the IEDs, ran to a new spot, and started the process again. She made especially sure to keep an eye on Qylim and Stratton and to keep them stocked on IEDs. "Fuck 'im up, boys."
 

queendilettante

🤍 Heart Problems 🤍
Roleplay Type(s)
Time had been a blur since Laoise died. When her legs were shattered, the rush of pain in the dark pit overcame her and everything went white. Though it was just split second of pain that she needed deal with to finally be freed from that god-forsaken planet. It was a shame that Wei, wherever he had stumbled off to, would never know what happened to her, but that was no longer really Laoise's concern.

The strangest part of the afterlife, in Laoise's estimation, were the requirements to get into heaven. Operations were a bit of a strange thing, though perhaps her body need be repaired prior to her entrance. That was a nasty fall, after all, truly nasty, and you couldn't have a bunch of lame souls crawling their way round the kingdom of clouds.

Actually, was it heaven?

She hadn't been raised particularly religiously and she certainly didn't live a pious life. She supposed that heaven could be a strange metallic room with cold tables to be strapped into, though she wouldn't understand why so many tried their damndest to make it here if so.

She paused, pondering.

It was a bit presumptuous to think she made it to heaven in the first place, upon reflection. She had never been especially good natured, at least not since Finn died. Though, died is a bit of a burden shift, truth be told.

Perhaps it was hell. With the sins Laoise'd committed, she shouldn't be surprised. Finn didn't deserve to fall like that, after all. He hadn't done wrong in confessing like that. Laoise even liked him! But why'd he have to hug her so tight? And on that ledge? She didn't mean to push, she was just scared. Scared like when she leapt through a firefight to that group's ship. Scared like when Wei grabbed her and saved her from being killed on impact. Scared like when the men pointed guns at her in the hall. Scared like when she fell like Finn did.

Scared like when she died.

At the very least, if she was in hell, it was far from the fire and brimstone her da believed in. At least, before he was killed by the very flames that scared him so. Ironic, really, to be killed by your greatest fear like that.

Wherever Laoise was, something had been talking to her and fixing up her spirit body with new legs. If it weren't Satan, perhaps it could have been God. He certainly didn't have a body, she didn't think- at least none she found herself particularly aware of in the midst of the pain. Would God make her go through all those needles and saws without anesthesia?

Shit, she felt every last bit; every slice through her flesh and spark of that fucking welding was etched deep into her brain. Damn! There was no way that'd be what heaven did before you go in.

Plus, there'd been so much commotion here recently. What were the others screaming for? Everyone had already died, no need for the dramatics.

As if on a morbid cue, she felt herself being shaken at the very thought of dramatics.

Laoise opened her eyes for the first time since she died and came face to face with a bearded man from that ship she nearly died on. What was that one called? Silas, was it? It was probably Silas.

"Silas!" Laoise said, smiling, her voice inordinately hoarse for the afterlife. "How'd you die?" She glanced down to his leg that he seemed to be clutching in between his shakes of her. "D'ya need surgery too before we move on? I think we're in purgatory." She had just decided that she thought that, but it felt better than thinking it was hell.

Silas looked down at Laoise, who was far too cheery for someone with newly acquired (and forcibly installed) robotic legs, as well as someone who'd been missing for the past few weeks. What the hell was happening in this hell hole? Was this even still Laoise, or did Baschul manage to replace her psyche with some sort of drone that it could control? The amount of questions Silas had far outnumbered his answers. "What? Listen to me, we've gotta go. We can't stay here. There's a big demonic robot trying to kill all humans. We're in a giant pit below the giant pit we were all in previously. There's a canon that'll launch us to the surface just over there," He motioned over his shoulder, "It's risky but we might be able to make it. Can you walk? Are you hurting at all? Maybe I can find that medic, Lu, maybe we can get you looked at when you're somewhere safe."

"I'm not dead. You're not dead. If we want to keep it that way, we need to leave."


A pit below? Ah, so it appeared Laoise was in hell. A pity, but not unexpected. Hell could be far worse, all things considered; at least her father was wrong about the brimstone.

Laoise turned to the man she knew while she was alive. "Silas," her voice croaked out, still not steady after who knows how long of deceased inactivity. "Why would you want to leave this place? Are you ungrateful?"

Gratitude? That was strange. Why would she care about this effective stranger's sense of gratitude? She wasn't entirely sure why his desire to leave aggravated her so. Were they not in hell? Shouldn't it be natural for one to wish to leave?

No.

No
.

It wouldn't be natural.

"Silas, we belong here," she continued. "We were forbidden from the gates of heaven for a reason. What place have we, lowly sinners as we are, to question such providence?"

Silas glared down at Laoise who seemed to be waking from some kind of altered mind state. She spoke in a prose different than what he'd expected of her, even after such a small amount of interaction with her in the past. "What? Enough with the Bible talk, we have to go! We can't stay here, come on. If you can't walk, I'll try my best to help you." Silas himself wasn't capable of walking on his own without a severe limp, so he had no real idea how they'd get out of there if those shiny new chrome legs couldn't carry her. He grabbed her shoulder and began hoisting her off the table she resided on, trying to drown out the explosions and synthetic screams behind him. Getting distracted now would do nothing but slow them both down; he needed to have faith in his crew's ability to kill a god. Damn, that really didn't sound good fully thought out, did it?

"Silas! No!" Laoise shouted in a cracked voice, still quite unsure of why. She grabbed at the man's hands on her shoulders and dug her nails into the backs of them. "Unhand me, sinner!"

Sinner.

With strength beyond what she deemed herself even capable of, Laoise swung her newly robotic legs off of the slab and shoved Silas down to where she had just been lying.

"You must learn to be gracious in the face of judgement, Silas," she droned from above him. The robotic legs felt surprisingly comfortable and perfectly usable; a testament to the power of afterlife limb repair, she suspected. Easily overpowering the the man, Laoise violently strapped Silas's hurt leg down in the same vain that hers had been. His cries of pain were no matter. He would learn. Pain was the punishment delivered to us, unworthy as we were.

Unworthy.

"Unworthy," she began, "we are unworthy, Silas. This will be good for you."

Silas wasn't expecting Laoise to be able to lift up her own body weight at all, let alone thinking she was capable of jetting up and throwing Silas down onto the slab she'd been on moments before with a speed and strength he didn't think possible. He was so caught off guard that his breathing rhythm was thrown off when he hit the table. It took a moment to regain composure enough to let his words out. "Laoise, what the hell are you-?!"

The sudden whirring of the machine below him caught Silas' attention. What the fuck even was this thing? What was she trying to do to him? He was saving her ass from this hellscape! "Laoise, stop!" The machine began adjusting to accommodate its new host, but Silas' survival pangs were screeching at him to get out of the chair. "Laoise!" He called once more, bringing his hand up to collide with the smuggler as hard as he could. In his weakened, pained state, it wasn't much, but enough to deliver quite the shock, should she not have been expecting it.

Laoise blinked, completely stunned by the force of the slap.

She blinked again.

She...

"Fucking, ow, Silas! D'ye find me in bed with yer wife or d'ya just hate me that much!?" she yelled as the sting's intensity crept upward. Her voice cracked, but it sounded like her own voice for the first time since she died-

Hold on.

Laoise rubbed her eyes and glanced around the pit, a fog seemingly lifted. What the fuck was happening?

She shot her glance down to the bearded man she forced onto the table and panic welled up within her; a feeling she had all but forgotten since the fall.

"Oh, no no no no, we hafta go."

No.

Silas looked up with wide eyes at Laoise, who seemed to have undergone a revelation from his assault. He wished he could stop and ask literally any question about anything to better understand what was happening, but he didn't have that luxury. He held his hand up to the newfound Laoise, who apparently now realized there was still a life to fight for. "Help me outta this thing!"

"Yes, sorry," she shot back, deciding to ignore the strange voice in her head for the time being. She was a bit panicked in her attempts to free the man from the restraints, but she managed. "Truly sorry, I seem to have had a moment."
 

Daisie

Teat Whins
Helper
Roleplay Type(s)
The same deep, resonating rumble that got Chanterelle into trouble in the first place didn't seem to have an end in sight. Still, her mind droned on in the background, trying to figure out what could be so powerful underneath the surface... It honestly sent a shudder through her. Whatever it was, it felt dangerous, and she had every intention to get off this unsettling rock before she had the chance to find out.

She snapped to attention when she and Lu-Lee approached the rugged fence, realizing that this job may actually be a bit easier than she anticipated; while she'd noted the ruckus in the crowds of civilians on the way, she didn't expect the soldiers to also be so preoccupied.

Despite the cover of bustling distraction, the lingering sting of distress still laid heavy in the air. Chante clutched her gun in one hand, and in her other she held a metal crate by the handle - on the way to the depot, Chante had asked Lu if they could make a pit stop at her dorm. Having just been robbed, and then having viewed several thieveries just along the trip with Lu alone, she felt a very strong urge to keep her belongings as close as possible.

Stepping into the compound was a breeze, the soldiers too occupied with relaying orders from "Lord Cavanaugh". Chante found she only needed to hurl the case over her shoulder and stride with purpose to slip under the radar, honing in with Lu onto the vehicle of least interest - a bulky gray barge, used to transport cargo... and people sometimes, as she'd found out 3 weeks ago.

The irony of escaping on the same type of transport they rolled in on only hit Chanterelle when her gauntlet hefted the door open for Lu-Lee. "Care to drive?"

"Sure!" said Lu cheerfully, one arm carrying a potted plant, the other carrying a med kit. She had a small backpack to carry the rest of her meager personal supplies. "I'm a great driver." She gave an equally cheerful "thanks" to Chante as she opened the door and bounded in.

She settled into the driver's seat. Lu placed the plant gingerly on the dash and grabbed the hand-drawn map that the previous owner had left there. "Does your plant have a name?" she asked, not waiting for a response before she hopped onto the next question. "What kind of plant is it?"

Lu-Lee leaned back into the seat. She fumbled around with the switches, managing to turn on the radio and then finally the actual truck. She still kept poking and prodding at the various buttons until she found the wire she was looking. "Aha!" she exclaimed to herself before plugging it into the small port just under her collarbone.

Her flesh eye glazed over and the red light of her prosthetic dimmed she internalized the controls. "Boo. No GPS. Crane, though. There's a map."

Her words were clipped, staccato, as she gazed at the paper map and tried to calibrate it with the (literal) mental map in her head. Her flesh eye darted from side to side as her prosthetic gleamed, and then she shuddered, coming back to herself. Lu wasn't supposed to plug random things into ports meant only for prosthetic upgrades, but... it hadn't killed her yet!

"Right!" She clapped her hands and gently pressed on the accelerator, 80% sure of where she was going. "Let's drive!"

Chanterelle was silent for the most part as she planted herself in the passenger-side seat, watching as Lu jumped from subject to subject, object to object, entertaining herself with the many features of this particular truck. Posing as a stark contrast to Lu-Lee's high energy, Chante remained still, however also inquisitive, taking a fair look around the vehicle's interior on her own.

When roar of the engine rumbled to life and pushed forward unsteadily, she was left to prep for a lengthy drive, setting her well-earned weapon down on her lap, and her other belongings at the foot of her seat.

Aside from the noises of Lu-Lee mastering the truck's controls, it remained quiet. Eventually, however, Chanterelle's armored hand reached up to nudge the potted plant - no larger than a coffee cup - slightly away from the dashboard's edge.

"Buttons," she mumbled with the most crushing amount of hesitance. "... The plant, it's um... named 'Buttons'. It's a dwarf feathertail fern, imported from Slab."

Despite her initial reluctance to talk about "Buttons", it's clear it has some value to her, her voice lowering as she continues. "It was the only one I could recover when I crashed on Tartarus."

Lu-Lee smiled at the plant. "Buttons is a good name for a plant. A strong name!" She glanced back through the windshield, avoiding a particularly uneven patch of ground before continuing the conversation. "It's sad that he's the only survivor, but I'm glad you were able to recover him. Were there a lot of plants on the ship? Did you get him as a souvenir from Slab? I always picked up fridge magnets as my souvenir, but plants seem like a good memento too."

As they continued down the road, Lu added, "You don't actually have to answer my questions. I know I talk a lot, but you can always tell me to shut up! That's what my coworkers do. 'Shut up, Lu, you're doing it again!' Well. I suppose that's what they did," she said, sobering a little at the thought. "But you can do that too, since we're a team."

Now, Chanterelle wasn't particularly fond of Lu's barrage of unending questions, but at the same time... what was that saying, again? "Never a dull moment"?

Besides, hearing Lu's casual recital of her previous poor treatment gave Chanterelle a slight twinge of... something. As well did the word "team". It was a bit of a deluge of emotions she didn't feel up to identifying at the moment, so instead, she opted to focus on the conversation.

Though some of those questions cut a little deeper than Chanterelle would ever care to admit. It took her a moment to respond...

"Yes," she said flatly, neither her voice nor her helmet giving way to much expression. "... I had many plants. 6, of a few sizes... And they're not-..."

With a short pause, Chante corrected herself. "... Rather, they weren't... 'souvenirs'."

Where one would naturally expect an elaboration, Chanterelle didn't oblige, instead opting to shift the subject. "Who were your coworkers...?"

"Six plants? Nice. I bet you're a great gardener, at least judging by Buttons there." She tilted her head towards the plant before glancing at Chante. "My coworkers? Well, I worked on a cargo ship. We moved heavy freight, mostly. You know, raw ore, composites, that kind of thing. A small crew, as these things go. I doubled up with mechanic repair and people repair sometimes."

Lu was quiet for a moment as she thought about a time that felt like a different life. But even now, she couldn't be completely silent: her hand tapped a quick beat on the steering wheel before she continued. "I had a few friends on that ship. Big Bill, Shanti, Miq... none of them are alive anymore, obviously. But I have some recordings of them stored up in my eye. If--I mean, when we get off this planet, I'll share those videos with their families. It might be nice. Wow, my family probably thinks I'm dead, huh."

For the most part, Lu-Lee dealt with the circumstances of the situation by not thinking about it. There was always something to be done: people to take care of, people to talk to. She'd take the time to feel sad about it later, when they were safe. Her shoulders slumped, but she leaned against the seat and made herself smile.

"What about you? Did you have coworkers, besides the plants?"

Still contrasting to Lu's detailed and energized composure, Chante remained sitting as still as a stone, though she listened quietly, soaking up each detail and emotion like a sponge.

Yet again, when the conversation turned back to her, it was like it was somehow unexpected, requiring a moment more to make a response.

"Some," she began, seeming detached from the subject. "I remember their names and voices... I didn't talk to them much. They left me alone and I left them alone."

"I worked on board the Farvus station. Helped move hydrogen fuel around for a few years until they found out I could cook. They offered to pay me for it, and it became a part of the job. They seemed to like it, and I made a comfortable living."

Then a short pause, the first movement from Chante in a while being her helmet tilting slightly, almost curiously. "Guess they don't know where I am, either. Never thought to say goodbye."

"Yeah. I guess we both left some hanging threads, huh? But hopefully we'll get a chance to fix that. Once we get off this wasteland, I mean." Lu briefly took her eyes off the road to smile at Chante. "Maybe then I'll ask you to cook something for me too."
 

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