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The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Down Beneath the Chasm

With the combined efforts of Stratton, Qyilim, Adira, and a few dozen other miners, Baschul was luckily able to be crippled from its extremely dangerous and volatile form. Even despite the fact it no longer had the entire planet trying to kill them, Baschul's metallic body could turn anyone not paying attention into a puddle of gore. All it took was a second to have consciousness fall away, become next to nothing as a result of multiple tons of weight being slammed down upon you. After the first few unfortunate workers got decimated by Baschul's arms, most of the others quickly understood that getting close was death. Even with proper spacing though, its arms could carry Baschul in whatever direction it needed to for killing more of them. The improvised explosives were doing a number on Baschul's chassis, specifically from whatever power the batteries were made of. The shell almost didn't phase the god at all, but the blue hued toxin that splattered Baschul was apparently extremely corrosive. After only a handful of throws, Baschul quickly became similar to that of a mannequin after a fire; charred, almost humanlike in appearance, but so alien in stature, feel.

One of the unfortunate victims to Baschul's wild thrashing was a well known angsty miner, Backsen Rawley. After a particularly nice toss, he was out of IED's to throw, and instead tried creating a distraction so his fellow aggressors could continue getting hits off. He ran counter clockwise around Baschul, screaming any insult that came to his mind. Could this thing even understand an insult? Did it care? He didn't know, but Backsen was going to help out in any way he could. To his surprise, Baschul had glared daggers at the senior miner and targeted him next. Of course, Backsen was pretty much as good as dead the second its eyes landed on him. He expertly dodged a few if its swings, but the fourth to come at him caught his arm and pinned it to the ground. With a cry of pain, Baschul swiped its hand across the ground, sending the armless Rawley skidding across the surface, leaving a trail of blood from his stump. He still had his life, but he'd be decommissioned for the rest of the fight.

After a well placed IED struck Baschul right at the crux of the wound in its chest, a wail of simulated cries sounded out much like when the cable was first cut. Baschul's head tilted up, twitched to the left sporadically, and its limbs went stiff. A series of unintelligible words fell from its mouth, clearly in Vratcher speech, as the glowing blue core visible within the incision on Baschul's chestplate flickered wildly from a bright cyan to a dull white. Corrosive substances further damaged the automaton from where past explosives had landed, and eventually even its left arm completely gave out, with Baschul collapsing to the ground.

Baschul knew when it was defeated. Every part of its body was crumpled, broken, unable to move. All it had was a head barely hanging on and a right arm. Though it had no feeling, all it took was a quick system report to understand the chest cavity was beyond repair, and therefore Baschul was on its last leg. But Baschul wasn't a loser, nor was he prepared to become one. Though the strategic use of explosives was outside Baschul's thoughts for how clever the humans could be, it would not let them win outright. With a determined movement, Baschul moved his hand high into the sky, and brought it back down onto the ground. The smooth metal surface seemed to respond in some way; even without the hardlink connection, Baschul's arm seemed to pave the way for its surroundings. Its arm was swallowed up by the floor, and after a brief exchange between Baschul and the planet, Baschul's chassis abruptly began falling apart as if by command. What was once a limb turned into piles of scrap, wires, salvage. The core's light dwindled until eventually it grew dark and cold like the rest of the facility. The only thing to remain in tact was the head, which severed from the body and rolled to its right temple, facing the lift that nearly all the escaping miners had managed to get through. The left arm remained imbedded in the ground, like a ship crashing into the surface.

With a small flicker of cyan from Baschul's eyes, the remaining power allowed it to speak to its killers once more. "Enjoy slavery among the superior people, humans. I will ensure they treat you all terribly." With that, the light dimmed and went out for the last time in the skull, and proceeded to fall apart like the rest of the body had done. When the collapse was finished and Baschul remained nothing but a pile of metal in strange heaps, a part of what was probably its brain remained in tact. A single shard of metal, similar in size to a credit card, protruded from the pile. Though it didn't necessarily glow, it had the slightest, barely perceptible hue to it.

When the head was finished dematerializing, the miners that survived - a grand total of 16 - cheered, hollered, and celebrated their imminent success. Even if they all died down in this dump, at least they'd taken a god with them, and at least no other poor souls would find themselves stuck here ever again. At least, that was the hope. There was a chance nothing had changed, they were all stuck here, and no one was coming to save them; but no one thought about that now. Instead, it was time to leave this accursed place and head to the surface. Some miners went right for the lift, others searched Baschul's core for scrap to sell or examine, and others tended to the wounded as best as they could before carting them off towards the well.

Silas had watched it all happen from his spot across the way from the rest of the group. Being in his state, and Laoise being in hers, there was nothing either of them could've done to help. Instead, their goal was to make it to the lift as fast as they could and hope they didn't feel Baschul's lightning strike them. When it was toppled and the threat of immolation went away, they'd simply carried on in their objective. Unfortunately their state meant fast movement was impossible, and breaks had to be taken often. Neither were in their physical prime after what had happened, both of them with a bum leg each.

After the battle, Silas stopped and waved a hand towards those he knew. "Is everyone okay?!" He called out across the distance between them, simultaneously trying to motion for their help in getting to the well.
 
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queendilettante

🤍 Heart Problems 🤍
Roleplay Type(s)
Laoise rested her hand on the shoulder of the apparently-more-injured-than-she-realized Silas. In just the trek over, which, thanks to Silas, took far longer than her antsy self had hoped, essentially all of their month-long problems had disappeared, and through zero effort on her part. She was used to getting what she wanted, sure, but this felt excessive. Was he really gone? That... thing that had experimented on her?

God.

No, not God. It wasn't a god, that much was made perfectly evident by the still-stinging mark of Silas's slap. It was a vindictive something but it was not a god. A god worth its weight in salt wouldn't have tortured her in the way it did. No being that demented was worthy of-

... Worthy?

Unworthy.

Oh, yes, that was going to be a problem. It felt as if Silas's slap had only woken part of her brain up, with the rest still-

Well, still in a rather unpleasant state. And, seeing the inordinate destruction around the trivial number of survivors, it was going to be a problem for another time. Laoise was a bit less than keen on being slapped again.

After the battle, Silas stopped and waved a hand towards those he knew. "Is everyone okay?!" He called out across the distance between them, simultaneously trying to motion for their help in getting to the well.

Ah, yes, Laoise thought, Forgot he has a crew. It seemed so long ago to her now, but Silas had a life with those others on his ship. If it weren't for Laoise and Wei literally jumping ship to join them against the pirates, she'd have never crashed on this planet.

A pang of remorse filled her chest at the thought of Wei, who was probably dead, but she pushed it from her mind. As things were shaping up, Laoise'd have no way off the planet without getting in Silas's good graces. Though... She glanced down at the injured, barely hobbling man. Perhaps he wasn't the best basket to stick all her eggs in at the moment with his state.

Laoise followed his gaze to a few others. Two of which looked at least loosely familiar. The woman was the ship's captain, that much Laoise was fairly certain of, and the human man looked familiar from the crash. The captain could have been a better bet, but-

No.

No.

Laoise shook her head. No, she was already with Silas. She needed to commit to this role, lest risk spending even a second longer than she had to on this planet.

"Someone help with him," she called after Silas toward the group. "If not for my assistance, I doubt this one'd have survived the trek over here." A bit on the nose there, but it was better than nothing.
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
His chest was heaving. His neck was sweating. His mouth was dry. But he could breathe and join in the cheer, raising his left fist to the air. Their would-be killer was destroyed. His impact could be felt later, the lives that creature had taken could be grieved later. But Qyilim didn’t know any of them. As he raised his fist, he glanced around the space, spotting Stratton and Adira were safe. There was also movement behind where Baschul had been, two shapes in the dust. Qyilim wasn’t close enough to them, and he had someone else on his mind. There had been too much death in this place for one day. The two figures were not violent; they could help each other.

His fist came down quickly as Qyilim, with a much-needed breath that reached the base of his lungs, turned and began to run. He arrived first at Adira, catching her eye as he stooped to swipe up a component from one of the many laser picks she’d been dissecting throughout the fight. The part he’d selected was decently long but of a manageable diameter. It looked – and felt when he had it in his fist – stable. Usable. Very usable. Leaving Adira with only the glance to say thanks, he changed direction, aiming for the man he’d fought with. While he hadn’t seen in great detail what had happened to Rawley, Qyilim had recognised the man joining the fight and, with his own eyes pinned to Baschul, of course seen the senior miner get flung to somewhere else in the space. The flinging had been accompanied by a shallow parabola of blood. Weeks ago, he’d fought with this man, and now...

Actually... more accurately, Qyilim decided, he had made a victim of Rawley. As unpleasant as Rawley had proven himself to be in the interaction, Qyilim had been obsessive enough to start it. The steps he’d taken while his brain was recovering were unacceptably immoral.

But he knew, as he approached Rawley and saw the state he was in, that he wouldn’t do his best for Rawley to earn forgiveness, or even to balance out his honour. No, none of that mattered, and to let it matter was selfish. Right now, Qyilim would try and save a life just because it was a life that hadn’t died yet.

He was still alive. Just missing a limb. A limb for which there were excellent prosthetics. But Qyilim didn’t mention that. Not yet, at least. Again, much like forgiveness, to begin talking about something he knew a lot about was inappropriate.

‘Breathe,’ he said to Backsen as he got on his knees beside the man. ‘You must keep as calm as possible. Think about something meaningless. What I am about to do will hurt.’

Dropping the rod by his knees, Qyilim tore off his work vest, taking the flimsy thing in his hands and ripping a thick strip from the bottom. In the action, he realised how heated his body was, and how welcome the cool underground air was on his sweating skin. His tattoos, once contrasting dark against his skin, had become less striking with age, and down here in the darkness and beneath his sweat, they hardly stood out at all. The chill of the vicinity was soothing. Once a biting oppression, now a relief amidst the destruction. The rip of fabric also tore through the relative quiet. Backsen’s discomfort was one noise, but without the clunking and zapping of Baschul, the space was silent. A lot of life lost. Piles of dust once mortal.

Qyilim gritted his teeth, looked at Rawley in a moment of hesitation, then got to work. He was no medic, but on the field a Sergeant had to know how to tend to wounds, if only to temporarily patch up a soldier while they waited for a field doctor.

Backsen was in some form of shock, staring over at Baschul's deconstructed corpse. The pile of metal was fixated on by the senior miner, who clutched his stump habitually. His expression clearly showed he didn't believe the giant murderous racist robot wasn't dead yet. He was just waiting for the damn thing to show up with a second health bar, the boss music kicking in, and Baschul would finish what he started by ending Backsen's life. Murderous racist robot, ha. Backsen almost snapped himself out of his own stupor with the realization he made about Baschul. Had it not been for the severe, almost numbing pain in his arm - no, the pain of his missing arm - then he'd be on his back with a guttural laugh. It wasn't until Qyilim arrived and began tending to the hefty miner. His eyes lifted from Baschul to the alien, unblinking and unwavering in his stare down. Rawley was expecting little more than to be left for dead by the rest of the miners, all trying to make their way to the surface. But no, some had remained, and among them, the same alien he'd insulted and threw fists with a few weeks ago. The same fucker that knocked Backsen on his ass - and also somehow convinced Rawley to join their hopeless crusade in bringing down the monster. And above all that, he was actively trying to save his life. What the fuck had he done to deserve this kind of treatment? Backsen was now more in shock at the alien's conviction than his lost limb. He'd seen so many amputations, felt so much chronic pain these past few years stuck on this planet, it was almost like he had conditioned himself to stave off the feeling of pain. It was still there, it still hurt, but he could put it in a box and keep it from flooding his thoughts.

"Get out of here," Backsen pleaded to Qyilim. His voice was quiet, somber. Extremely unlike the loud and boisterous first encounter with Qyilim. It almost didn't even sound like the same voice. "Before it wakes up again, go."


Qyilim caught the man’s eye as he spoke, but decided not to speak more than he had to. They couldn’t afford to linger on a conversation. The sincerity in Qyilim’s eyes would have to do for now. But Qyilim understood. He knew the miner was being truthful – he really did want Qyilim to go, to save himself. Those pleading tones were backed up with psionics that told Qyilim that either the man considered himself dead enough to take up the banner of martyr, or that he was a soul who weighed the actions of others and judged their value on the consequences of those actions. Neither of those mindsets could be sympathised with from Qyilim’s side of the field.

Backsen’s blood pooled in his hand as he lifted the limb, sliding the fabric strip underneath. He pulled the fabric strip around the remainder of Backsen’s arm as many times as he could, above the site of loss, and tied it tight. He felt a pang of sweat break out again, aware that he would be initiating pain, pain which he would hear in the back of his mind.

Did he want that? Or did he wish to avoid it?

‘Sorry again,’ he muttered, slipping the rod he’d collected from Adira into the knot. Without waiting for Backsen to acknowledge it, he twisted.

Rawley was trying his best to focus on anything but the pain. His face contorted to that of immense concentration. The first thing that came to his mind was Qyilim, the alien helping with his recent loss. He hated aliens. His anger grew deep and burning, like a brazier set alight suddenly... or, that's what he was hoping would happen. The anger he could so easily spark within himself simply wasn't there. He tried and tried, listing out all the reasons in his mind why humans were superior, why they all belonged in the mud outside his metaphorical palace. But it just wasn't happening. What the hell had happened to him? Of course, when the real pain finally shot through him, Backsen screamed out with agony in his lungs, writhing beneath Qyilim to try and get it to go away. In his state, though, he was no match for the alien's strength, and the torture continued. Backsen would cry out for the entirety of the process, nearly fainting once or twice.

Fortunately, that process was short. When the bright blood stopped flowing, Qyilim knew he had been successful, and secured the metal rod into the bandage. The darker blood would continue oozing, squeezed out by the force of the tourniquet.

With his hands still bloody, Qyilim popped a compartment in his prothesis and retrieved his Caprocetin pack, immediately popping one from its foil and throwing it down his throat. A dull taste of blood accompanied the pill. The thought occurred to give one to Backsen, knowing it’d likely take away his pain for a time, but that died soon after it geminated. No. Qyilim couldn’t spare any. He slipped the pack back into his arm, sealing the compartment, then set about picking Backsen up. He couldn’t throw the miner over his shoulder due to his injury, so the only method was the much more taxing front carry.

‘Keep the arm elevated, higher than your heart,’ Qyilim ordered as he slipped his arms under Backsen’s knees and shoulders. ‘Not sure how we’ll get out of here but stop the talk of leaving yourself behind. This victory is on the verge of pyrrhic from the lives lost, I do not intend to push it over that line.’

The Caprocetin would keep him true for now. He could already feel it buzzing around, dulling the psionics emanating from Backsen’s pained self. He cared if the man lived or died, but past what he did there was no reason to dwell on Backsen’s pain.

‘I was not myself when last we met, and your reaction to me was understandable,’ he continued as he made his way towards the exit, glancing not at Backsen but at the vicinity to check the locations of his acquaintances. ‘So let me reintroduce myself properly, with respect to you. My name’s Qyilim os datha dei-Enth. Thank you for fighting alongside me.’

--
Collab with The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse (grey text)
Mentions: Dragongal Dragongal Viper Actual Viper Actual queendilettante queendilettante
 
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Dragongal

Miss Medic
(Collaboration with Viper Actual Viper Actual )

"Fuck 'im up, boys."

Normally such a statement would have earned a toothy grin or a chuckle from Stratton but because of the current situation there were but a hint of a smirk as Strat grabbed a fresh IED to hurl at the ancient robot.

He watched in horror as men and women were swept away and turned into pink mist or crimson streaks on the floor and walls with every swipe from Baschul. Yet, he wouldn't give up. None of them would. When the robot then let out a series of cries before going stiff thanks to a lucky hit Stratton almost didn't believe it.

When Baschul finally collapsed and started to collapse into a heap of scrap the Waning Stars liaison just stared in silence. Dead or not the survivors weren't out of the woods just yet

Stratton blinked and started to re-orient himself. As the surge of battle began to withdraw the room became much clearer, as did the carnage that filled it. Looking around with wide eyes, Stratton was initially looking for one specific person. "Adira?" He asked, aloud, repeating her name a second time but louder.

I could've sworn I saw her five seconds ago.

During the battle Stratton had in reality only passed by Adira momentarily before moving on towards Baschul, resulting in him displacing himself deeper into the room than he had realized.

He cupped his hands around his mouth. The taste of ash and metal was almost as strong as the smell of the charred bodies strew all around. "Adira!"


Adira was also among those celebrating, though she did have to throw the last IED into an unoccupied space because well, there was no need for it now and it was absolutely going to detonate. She had a whole stack of batteries now with no need to turn them into bombs. She set them down in a neat pile and directed the miners who still had un-modified batteries to add to the stack. They had to be handled carefully; the acid and electrical burns on her hands made that clear.

There was a lot of screaming in pain and a lot of hollering in joy, too. She didn't hear her name until Stratton's last call. At that point she had begun looking for anyone she recognized, and spotted Stratton not too far away. The man was tall enough to be easily seen after all. She raised up a blackened, burned and bloodied hand and called back, "Strat!! Over here!" She was not about to leave this pile of materials unattended.


Recognizing her voice, Stratton snapped to the direction of Adira's voice. Without saying anything further he began to jog towards her, grimacing as he did due to the many minor injuries and general bruising that he had sustained during the battle- not to mention hours of intense physical labor.

As he neared Adira he didn't say anything and instead embraced her in a hug. Closing his eyes and sighing with relief he spoke directly into her ear;

"Are you alright? Are you hurt? Do you need any help?"


With most people, Adira would have flinched. If it had been almost anyone else she would have pulled away and brought an arm up to bar them from getting closer. People didn't usually touch her at all. She couldn't even remember the last time anyone had hugged her - it had definitely been either Stratton or Silas last time since they were the only two she allowed close enough in both a literal and emotional sense.

Stratton could probably tell that this was a relatively new gesture for her by the way she tensed up and hesitantly moved her arms to try to return the gesture. But damn did she do her best, even if it was slow. She nodded into Stratton's shoulder. "I'm okay. Only thing really hurt is my hands and it's negligible" she lied, "Are you okay?"


Stratton sighed once again. His hands started to tremble slightly as the adrenaline began to withdraw. "I'm fine," he said. Stratton chuckled. "I'm bruised and I almost got turned into barbecue but I'm fine."

It didn't take long for the chuckle to turn into something else. Stratton seemed like he was trying to conceal it but Adira would be close enough to hear that the Waning Stars liaison was crying. He spoke softer the next time he opened his mouth, perhaps for the first time ever since Adira met him as a little girl;

"You're alright. We're alright. We're gonna make it, Adira."


Adira could feel Stratton shaking ever so slightly and soon realized what was happening. After all, they had watched countless people be murdered and they had almost died as well. They friends were who-knows-where, and they had just killed a machine god of some kind. Honestly, maybe Adira ought to be crying too. Especially since she really hadn't realized until now just how much Stratton still had her back after all these years.

She wasn't great in these situations, and she knew as much. But she also knew she didn't have to be great at this. She just hugged around his waist more tightly and nodded against his shoulder.

"We're gonna make it."


Stratton went silent but it would not last as soon enough the other members of the crew were calling for them;

Is everyone okay?!"

Straightening up, Stratton looked up and reluctantly let Adira go. "Back to work," he muttered.

He nodded towards Silas and replied;
"We're fine! Are you guys alright?"


Adira looked up toward Silas and waved as well to show that she saw him. "See? We're gonna make it just fine," she said quietly toward Stratton.
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
Tartarus - Pirate ship crash site

With the long ride nearly over for the two, Chante and Lu would see a handful of similar barges pass by on their way to Tartarus from the crash site. Some were half full with materials, no doubt salvage they were taking from the pirate ship. Some were loaded with bodies of the crew before the crash, others were full of outfitted soldiers clearly responding to the distress back at the slum city. None stopped to react to the barge Chante and Lu were taking to the crash, though a few of the soldiers did give glances clearly in a "why are they going back?" fashion. There were no checkpoints, no stops, and no one halting their progress towards the crash getting closer in the distance.

When they approached the ship, only a handful of bodies were seen moving around the point of interest. Many of them appeared equipped with the same gear as those found in the mines, with rigs designed to support salvage and collection of materials. Scattered among them though were a handful of heavily armed soldiers, equipped with long rifles and vests packed to the brim with all kinds of military equipment. Among the group lingering outside the ship either guarding or bringing salvage out of the charred ship, there was a total of 20 or 30, with about three quarters dedicated to the salvage effort.

One soldier saw the approach of the barge Chante and Lu were bringing in, and motioned with one hand for them to park at a depot clearly left open for vehicles coming in and out of the area. It was clear from his pause in initial orders that he wasn't expecting a vehicle to return to the wreck so soon after dispatching the others.

Lu turned to Chante and flashes a bright smile. "Let's play this cool," she whispered. "I'm sure it'll be fine!"

With that note of confidence, Lu rolled down the window and leaned out slightly, so that her 'good' side was more visible to the soldier.

"Heading back out to salvage, sir," Lu said. Her voice was low, drawling, and somewhat bored: the hallmark tone of any low-level grunt who was going right back to the typical job. It was a feeling that she had personally experienced a dozen times on the various freight jobs she'd been on, and it was easy to channel that in this moment.

Still, the adrenaline was coming out in full force, and her foot tapped slightly against the floor of the car, just light and steady enough that Chante would notice. (This was all very exciting, sure, but unlike on her soaps, the stakes were real, and Lu was keenly aware of that.) She kept her face neutral, though, a feat made easier by the metal plating covering half of it.

After a second, she added, "Any specific place you want us to go?" Her eyes flickered to the dashboard, idly categorizing the details of her vehicle like any other driver.

The soldier held a hand up to pause once Lu got the barge in place, and came up to the driver's side, speaking to her through the window. "I was told they needed more soldiers back at Tartarus. No one told me they'd be sending back more trucks for salvage. What's going on back there? Has it been handled?" It was clear from his voice that this was atypical and unexpected. He spoke through light head protection which covered his mouth and face, similar to that of most of the other Tartarus grunts, but his tone was clearly skeptical despite the lack of expression.

While Lu's tone was unenthused for once, what came out of Chante was almost blasphemous.

"Oh, for the love of-!" She seethed suddenly, more vigor in her voice than in the whole time she'd been on Tartarus. Even her cadence shifted, like a whole different person. "You've got to be kidding me. She didn't even call us in?"

"Ay-ay-ay. I swear, she's got no respect for us two. We get it, we're different, but that doesn't mean you get to sideline us when all hell breaks loose. We're capable too, you know!"

Her gauntlet came up to press against her visor, weary and fed up. "Look, we've had a long day of being juggled from place to place; it's an outright zoo over there. I don't know anything about anything, we're just trying to get by and go home."

It was clear the man wasn't expecting such an emphatic response from Chante, but the combined efforts of them both seemed to sway the soldier. "Cya has a problem with newcomers, there's no denying that. Just stick to your roles and she'll lighten up on you eventually. Go ahead and begin loading up, we're almost done with the salvage operation. We scored big here; those pirate's FTLT drive looks like it's in working order. The grunts'll get it to your rig to cart back to Tartarus." The soldier waved his hand in the direction of the smoldering wreck, turning away to once again begin watching the perimeter. Lu and Chante's antics had worked on him, thank the Stars.

"Will do, sir. Thanks for the tip. Promise not to cause too much trouble." Lu gave a short, sharp nod to the soldier, a quick gesture of respect, and waited until he turned away from them. Then, she slowly eased the vehicle forward, letting out a breath only once they're out of the view of the soldier.

"Good one," Lu turned to Chante and said with a grin and a hint of surprised admiration, "You done anything like that before?"

She continued driving forward, towards where the soldier directed. "So, we need to get to the bays, right?" Lu said out loud, partly to herself, partly to Chante. "What do you say we drive this baby up there to load? Or do you want to get our lump of metal as close as possible and then walk the rest of the way?"

As Chante always seemed to do, she paused, letting some silence sink between herself and Lu before responding. She chose her words very carefully.

"... Once or twice." She'd returned to her regular monotonous, short sentences.

"Whatever gets us off this rock in one piece, I'm ready for," she commented as she leaned forward to view the busted craft better. Though her voice was steady and unenthusiastic, her glove gripped across the tall dashboard, anxiously.

Few hiccups occurred after the checkpoint with the sole perimeter guard. Chante and Lu were waved through the crash site past the standard depot for loading to pick up the FTLT drive from where it resided. As Lu weaved between large shards of shipwreck and debris, through well-tread paths into the trophy room; as they rolled up on the open vehicle bay, the shoddy wreck of the Ambivalence became clear among other well-wrecked ships. It was clear that plenty of effort was put into gaining access to the Ambivalence's drive, having been gutted further than it already had been when last the crew had left it. By now, it was little more than a distinguishable pile of scrap, that was only one part to a larger mess.

Raised above a scaffold system, the drive dangled on a handful of chains and ropes which leveraged it just barely out of the chassis of the Ambi. The bay was large enough for Lu to back the barge up to the wreck, only a half meter or so from the pile of metal. Many eyes were on the duo, salvagers who'd spent the last month or so freeing the drive from its cage. It was clear the gravity of the situation had all the workers on edge. Finding a working drive on the wrecks that found their way onto Tartarus was near impossible, and the sole problem in leaving. If they mishandled this drive, should it slip from its bonds or fall off the barge, Alexander would no doubt punish all involved. This drive would be the only chance for his regime to leave the planet, leaving it for the next dynasty to take over in his absence, once again starting the cycle of searching for a new drive.

Once in place, Lu and Chante had little to do but wait for the crew to slowly and assuredly lower the drive down onto the bed of the barge. Extreme caution was practiced by all involved, no one dare being caught slacking in a moment such as this. Once it was stable on the barge, extra time was placed into anchoring it to the bed and securing the load. All in all, only a handful of minutes were spent waiting around by the two. Though the crew was cautious, they were indeed experts and trusted salvagers, probably hand picked by someone in Alexander's regime. Finally, a sticker was slapped onto the front and rear of the barge, a neon red sign with some strange symbol.

Once loaded, one of the miners slammed the side of the barge with his fist twice, signaling it's readiness to be delivered. From here, it was a straight shot back to Tartarus. Weaving expertly out of the crash site and finding themselves free of all the worker's eyes constantly on them, Chante and Lu had but one goal left. Deliver the drive to Alexander, where no doubt his expert engineers were informed of the package on its way, ready to finish up fixing his ship for him to leave the planet.

As soon as the perimeter guards of Tartarus saw the neon red stickers emblazoned on the barge, the already buzzing soldiers scrambled to open the gates an raise the barriers, making sure to stay clear of the barge's path. No one dared to halt such a package, noted by the stickers along its bumper. The entrance was wide open and all possible traffic in or out was halted at gunpoint to allow unobstructed passage through.

Though the destination wasn't known by Lu and Chante, they were joined by a patrol of mounted soldiers upon Teragors, the same beasts which had sallied out to meet the shipwrecked crew at Alexander's side. The beasts cawed angrily as they were swerved around the barge, nipping at any passing civilian who got too close. Even despite the absolute chaos that had enveloped Tartarus, no one dared to cross the path of the patrol. Any who were foolish enough to try it would be gunned down by the soldiers or eaten by the beasts as they passed. At the front, directly leading the barge was Manor Vae, their first contact from inside Tartarus, adorned with heavy combat gear and a stocky energy rifle. Wordlessly, it was assumed the drivers of the barge would already know the route, though it didn't matter for the clueless Lu and Chante, as the escort directed their path anyway.

Lord Alexander Cavanaugh's palace amongst the dirt and grime of Tartarus soon rose in the distance as the convoy quickly advanced on it. It was clear that, regardless of the current problems the miners faced down below, the upmost importance was placed on delivering the drive safely into Alexander's care. The entrance to his imposing compound was open, just as the entrance to Tartarus was, already anticipating the delivery of the package.

As unfortunate as it was for Chante and Lu, their best chance at leaving the planet within the next decade was finding a way onto Alexander's ship by any means necessary. Fortunately for them, they'd managed to find themselves being accidentally escorted directly to their destination which, for anyone else, may have been unreachable.



Tartarus - Baschul's Smithy

Silas tried his best to take account of everyone he knew - Adira and Stratton were near one another, looking to be lacking any major damage, which was a relief for the engineer. Laoise was right by his side of course, while Qyilim was a bit further away past the corpse of Baschul, tending to the wounded. Silas had no idea where Kestrel was, though considering her ties with Alexander, she was no doubt either already a corpse in a mass grave or living in luxury alongside her sibling. He feared not for the Cavanaugh girl, as even someone as iron-fisted as Alex seemed keen on catching up with his long lost sister. Finally, the only people he had come to know in his time on Tartarus were the medic and the walking tank from the crash; they'd both kept him from bleeding out after arriving in the slum city for the first time, and they remained brightly burned into his memory as a result. He'd hoped all his unaccounted for acquaintances were faring well.

After Laoise and Silas closed the gap with Stratton and Adira, having soon been joined by Qyilim carrying Backsen, Silas breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm all for happy endings and celebrating, but let's do that when we're out of this Stars forsaken place." He turned to his right, noting that the gravity lift was still active. By now, every other miner who'd been dumped into Baschul's Smithy had either fled or died. The only ones who had remained were those that chose to stay and fight; Silas and his crew, alongside a few other miners. Once the threat was pacified though, most had quickly chose to leave through the cannon at their earliest convenience.

"I don't see a better way out of here." Silas said with a sigh, wincing slightly as the pain in his leg came back to the front of his mind. He didn't like the idea of throwing himself into another unknown, but it was better than spending time with a giant robot corpse in an unfathomably large chamber, thousands of miles beneath the surface. After everyone had finished checking in on one another, the group had little more to do than hop into the well and catapult themselves towards the surface, in the same strange passageway they had all fallen down earlier.

As seemed customary of the planet, the long ride up to the surface only cemented in Silas' crew that Baschul's labyrinth had probably trapped and killed hundreds of thousands of people over its lifetime. Who knows how long it was even doing this for? the Duro-Human war that had sparked Baschul's hiding had ended over fifty years ago, and ever since, it'd been tormenting and experimenting on humans in whatever twisted and sick ways it could come up with. For science, for study, for pleasure, no one could be certain. There was plenty of time to reflect on the events that had taken place on the long ride up. Anxiety and adrenaline still filled the hearts of the crew, as uncertainty still persisted. Did this cannon even let out somewhere safe? Would it catapult them right out into space where they'd all die swiftly? Or maybe Alexander would decide they had all been tainted by Baschul's presence and would be gunned down upon reaching the surface?

Luckily for the battered crew, a few humanitarians had set up a stash of soft items such as pillows, fabrics and cushions in hopes of helping to ease the rough landing of being launched out of the mysterious chute in the ground. The landing was still hard though, and could easily have knocked the wind out of anyone had they landed wrong. After the initial roll was done, the remaining crew could safely stand on solid ground, without threat of deific beings to smite them or soldiers to shoot them. Many lingered around the location of the exit, gawking at the sinkhole that swallowed an entire block to make way for the gravity lift. A few particularly helpful people were ready and waiting with bandages, scarcely guarded medicine for the wounded, or simply water and food for the survivors. Of course, only a handful of people were committed to such acts. Most had cleared off, hoping to hide in the safety of their shanty homes or flee Tartarus altogether.

The crew had little time to rest, however, as the shoddy intercom throughout the city rang out with a crackling of life. "Associates of Kestrel Cavanaugh are to be present at Lord Alexander's estate immediately. Identify yourself at the gates for admission. Any who attempt to enter without express permission from Kestrel or Alexander Cavanaugh will be shot on sight. I repeat, associates of Kestrel Cavanaugh must hold audience with Lord Cavanaugh as soon as possible." The message was repeated on a loop over and over, urging Silas' crew to report to the Cavanaugh villa.

Silas luckily had landed without further hurting his bad leg, and will some assistance from the able bodied around him, he stood. To no one in particular, he spoke. "Guess we don't have much of a choice in the matter do we?"
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
"See? We're gonna make it just fine," she said quietly toward Stratton.
"I'm all for happy endings and celebrating, but let's do that when we're out of this Stars forsaken place."

Stratton could only nod in agreement. As Silas spoke he nodded once again while also clearing his throat. "Agreed. Let's move out."

While not overly excited to rely on a catapult to get back to the surface it was at least better than remaining down in Baschul's nexus which now served as his tomb. Cautiously, Stratton motioned for Adira to go first.

"I'll be right behind you," he said while clearly looking uncomfortable with the situation. That said if the catapult would break down then at least he'd gotten Adira out of the place beforehand. Once Adira had stepped up and gotten launched away Stratton took a deep breath, closed his eyes and did the same.

During the flight upwards Stratton tried to maintain slow and controlled breaths while also trying to silence any thoughts and instincts that told him that he should be screaming at the top of his lungs. Adding to that he tried to remain as still as possible in the event that any movement- involuntary or otherwise- would steer him off course.

Thankfully he gracefully landed among the pillows and cushions which was a pleasant surprise for his sore and bruised body. Upon landing he exhaled and chuckled.

"Well, that was an experience and a half."

When the speakers then called for the crew Stratton let out a very audible sigh.
 

Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira was very relieved to be reunited with others of her crew. But like Silas said, this was not time to celebrate. That would come eventually. Maybe. Possibly? A proper celebration of safetly hadn't happened yet in all her adventures, but maybe one day.

She held a hand up to Stratton as he rushed her forward and she turned to Qyilim ( 0stinato 0stinato ). She called, "I'll try to get medical equipment for him!" She didn't know why in the world Qyilim seemed so determined to save this man, but then again she would be a hypocrite if she scolded him for trying to save every last person before clearing the scene. And it was important to Qyi, so she would do what she could.

Adira closed her eyes for almost the entire flight up to the surface. She wasn't scared of heights but this was all kinda fucked up. Humans were not meant to fly without technology assisting them. And yes, technology did assist them by sending them flying into the air, but it was still, in her opinion, fucky.

She flopped onto the pillows and ungraciously crawled off of the cushioning and groaning as she got back to her feet before Stratton could fly up. She looked around at the medics standing nearby with their gear and said "Someone missing a limb will be flying up soon, he'll probably need a proper tourniquet."

After that, Adira was back standing between Silas and Stratton and waiting for the rest of the stragglers to fly up. Maybe they would actually get to celebrate? To relax? Do something nice and wholesome and healing before stumbling into the next catastrophe? She heard the announcement and had one thing to say: "Fuck."
 

Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Alexander stands near a large window where he'd been peering out over his kingdom until the arrival of Eska, who he had turned to face. His daughter, fully embracing whatever recent phase has made her so petulant, stands several feet to the side braiding her hair. He'd called her up here to speak for what would be one of the last times, and she wouldn't even look at him. He'd taught her too well to scorn unworthy authorities, so much so that she had perhaps deemed him one. How many other mistakes had he made in her upbringing? Not many. She was the perfect inheritor to his legacy, better than every one of her dead siblings. Funny that the one most like him looked the least like him. For a moment, he sees a younger Kestrel in her and can't decide if that's something to be proud of or not. Kestrel wasn't, isn't, a conqueror. But she is good.

He breaks the news all at once.


"I am dying." He says simply. Eska bristles, and he clicks his tongue scoldingly at her. Showing emotion so readily is a weakness, and she's reminded of it.

"How do you mean?" She asks quickly, turning to face him with a frown.

"Cellular degeneration. My cybernetics and biological modifications from Govanti have been failing since my exile. My immune system no longer recognizes this body as my own and is attacking it. It has been for years, but I can feel it now, and the facilities on this world are insufficient to treat it. In the next few years I'll weaken, slowly at first and then quite quickly." He explains. "You'll be spared the same fate. No such flaw exists in your genetics, no Govanti trap waiting to kill you slowly when you fail to appear for routine checkups."

She lets out a quiet sigh of relief, and he can't resent her for it. Being upset at someone else for not wanting to die would be childish. After all, this isn't his moment, even if its his fate being discussed.


"And what does that mean for Tartarus? For our empire? You've said it yourself a thousand times that I'm not ready to rule on my own, that I haven't bled enough to earn what you built." Eska asks, inquisitive brows furrowed.

"It means precious little. The dynasty was always meant to live beyond me, and you were always meant to carry it. Ready or not, it is your destiny." He answers with an unusually casual shrug, a movement that seems almost alien to her. "But Tartarus is a bygone relic, fit only to be consigned to the trash heap. Soon, it will burn. It will be forgotten by all but you and those you accompany off this worthless rock, only to be remembered in the histories of your ascension as a footnote of the place of your birth. We have found an FTLT drive intact that will render the Trinity-class vessel operational. You will depart with your aunt and her.. fellow wayfarers, as soon as it is ready. We detected an outbound signal, powerful enough to break the interference, relaying our coordinates and a call to the Durians for aid. They will come, they will bombard this city to dust from orbit. They will land, and they will find me and my soldiers waiting. We will make them bleed for every inch of my planet they dare set foot on, and I will strike such terror into their hearts that their children's children will fear our name. But you will slip past their fleets and see the stars for yourself, see what will be yours."

She wants to argue, to propose alternatives, but there's no point in debating him. Alexander did not make up his mind easily, she'd learned, and once set in his intentions he was immovable, not to mention usually correct.

"I will not disappoint, father."

"I know."

--------------------------------------------------------------
It takes very little time for the "associates of Kestrel Cavanaugh" to be delivered to Alexander, as his roving security teams have become quite adept at extending such invitations over the years. With their characteristic stoic quietness, a few armed thugs escort the lot of them to Alexander's villa, the mostly intact wreckage of a crashed ship of considerable size. It had been the former home of most other would-be kings of Tartarus, and Alexander was always one for tradition. The various escorts don't bother checking anyone for weaponry or anything else that might make them a threat, and each group is eventually delivered to a conference room dominated by a large ovular table surrounded by plush seats, well beyond the comfort levels of anything else to be found on the planet.

Alexander is seated at the head of the table in a much sturdier looking chair, one that can handle his armored bulk, with his feet kicked up on a chair. A younger woman who looks eerily similar to Kestrel sits in the chair to his left wearing a relatively simple but elegant tunic and pants, picking her fingernails with a particularly nasty looking dagger. A compact sub-machine gun is set on the table in front of her beside a half-eaten cookie.

"Ahh, good. The lot of you survived the disruption. I heard not all were so lucky." Alexander remarks, eyeing them all briefly before gesturing for them to be seated. He talks like he has never been interrupted, like someone who expects you to silently beg permission to speak. "Unfortunately, very few are likely to survive the next. A signal was detected on some of our more sensitive equipment broadcasting what appeared to be coordinates followed by an invitation to the Durians to come rescue one of their old artificial pets from our clutches. Would one of you like to explain what you found down there while we still have time?"
 

0stinato

Þe wormes awnswers to þe body
Roleplay Availability
Roleplay Type(s)
Responding only as much as he had to through the initial haze of Caprocetin, Qyilim nodded to Adira when she went to get help, waited for that help, then handed off the injured man to the appropriate people. He expected to get reviewed, his body checked for injuries, but the triage would certainly place him at the bottom of any prospective list that might be hurriedly drawn up. The blood upon his person was not his own, and his scarring was internal. Was this worse than his time serving? When people died on the battlefield, they fell and laid still. Often with their eyes open. Here they were vaporised, disintegrated, burned, cremated in all of five seconds. Was it worse to witness? Worse for him?

Something told him Tartarus wasn’t big on mental health concerns.

He almost missed the intercom announcement. It was only the turning of the heads of those he had met on this little space rock that alerted him to something going on. Blinking, he came back to himself, felt in a shock the slick texture of Backsen’s blood on his hands, of the sweat on his back, the roughness of his throat where he’d breathed in too much dust, the exhaustion that tugged at this eyelids, and he did nothing but try to listen.

Associates. He’d associate himself with her, he’d force that association into place by virtue of those surrounding him now. He’d done what he could and supported the efforts of the defence.

The next to speak was Silas. Qyilim’s mind spiralled onto him.

But first...

Qyilim wiped his hands methodically on his vest. It would do little to clean him, but at least he wouldn’t dirty Silas’ shoulder when he grabbed it.

And grab it Qyilim did, a grasp designed to negate any argument Silas might make against his goals. He spoke with force but not with malice. He had to make himself a priority in the minds of the only others that might have a chance to get him off this planet.

‘I do not know Kestrel Cavanaugh, but I will before this day ends. I am going with you, and I expect you will accept me as an ally. You know more than I do, but, and I hope you will agree, I deserve answers.’

He let his words linger for a moment before letting go of Silas’ shoulder and crossing his arms. His mind was fogging over but, for the first time in a while, he wished it wasn’t. He’d taken the pill, he’d made the choice. But if he was walking into a cobra’s nest, into the chambers of “Lord” Cavanaugh, he would rather his mind was clear. He would rather have free reign to interpret the man’s psionics, if indeed he projected any. Maybe then he would catch a stray emotion intended on being kept hidden. But now, he would only be able to rely on his practiced insight abilities.

--

Another feeling was threatening to eclipse Qyilim’s priorities as he was marched through the villa. He was being walked through a beautifully architectured location by absolute professionals, armed guards so occupied by their vocations that they scarcely showed any personable traits whatsoever, and yet his mind was unable to appreciate either one of these at all. The brain fog occupied one half one his mind, his logic and reason struggling against the anaesthetising tide buffeting it, and the other was animalistic and craving. He had to eat. So strong was the compulsion that Qyilim’s eye was drawn to the cookie sitting on a plate beside the young girl in the conference room before it landed on the SMG mere inches away.

"Ahh, good. The lot of you survived the disruption. I heard not all were so lucky." Alexander remarks, eyeing them all briefly before gesturing for them to be seated. He talks like he has never been interrupted, like someone who expects you to silently beg permission to speak. "Unfortunately, very few are likely to survive the next. A signal was detected on some of our more sensitive equipment broadcasting what appeared to be coordinates followed by an invitation to the Durians to come rescue one of their old artificial pets from our clutches. Would one of you like to explain what you found down there while we still have time?"

Moral outrage? Abject disgust? A tirade about the comparative equality of all life? Should he be feeling any of that? And was he, somewhere deep down, beyond the layers that distracted his mind, or was he as uncaring and jaded as those he had served for, worked for, survived under? Report to him. Issue your report, spare the details.

‘It was a creature that sought only destruction of the human race, and before its attack spoke to another of its species about a Durian Fleet being summoned to start a war. The other member of its species was given permission to leave. It then killed almost everyone who survived the fall into its domain. Upon defeat, anything perceptively biological seemed to crumble, and all metal collapsed to scrap, but the head seemed to hold something metallic and small that may be valuable to this invading army. I personally did not prioritise investigating what the metallic object was, so that is all I can tell you about it.’

Report. And damn it all.

--
Interactions: The Jenkins Curse The Jenkins Curse Vudukudu Vudukudu
Mentions: Dragongal Dragongal Epiphany Epiphany
 

Viper Actual

Ask me about my tourniquet fetish.
Supporter
Upon entering the villa Stratton immediately focused on the young woman seated next to Alexander. The resemblance was remarkably... Disturbing.

While the presence of a mini-Kestrel did make him uncomfortable Stratton maintained a neutral expression. The only thing that even hinted to a reaction from him was a quick glance at Adira and Silas. He gave the former a 'You seeing what I'm seeing?'-look before facing forward once more.

As Qyilim spoke Stratton remained silent, standing with his arms tucked behind his back and his chin slightly up. He would make no mistake because blood-relatives or not Alexander was still a dictator whose main currency was violence and terror.

If prompted to Strat knew that he'd execute the crew on the spot. After all, he didn't know any of them besides Kestrel and even then Strat wasn't feeling entirely motivated to bet his life on that relationship bearing much weight or sway.

Once Qyilim finished Stratton cleared his throat and took half a step forward. "This machine was concealed at the bottom of the pyramid, either laying dormant or observing from a great space beneath the primary superstructure."

"Aside from razor-sharp claws and massive hands the machine was also equipped with terrifying ranged weaponry unlike anything I've ever witnessed throughout my military career. It used said ranged weapons to great effect as we were all herded and funneled into the device that acted as a man-cannon."

Stratton took a deep breath and exhaled. "Ultimately it was defeated not because of superior weapons or tactics but because of arrogance and damage caused by the ages. Time had left several chinks in its armor, exposing brittle key components that we were able to strike with relative effectiveness."

"I hope you drop a bomb down that hole because if you don't I fear that the Durians will gain access to technology that has been kept out of their reach for decades."
 

Daisie

Teat Whins
Helper
Roleplay Type(s)
The plan was simple. Stay down, stay quiet, and don't stand out.

It was a shame Chanterelle could only do one of those three things. A suit like hers always gathered interest wherever she went - as if the stick-up in the alley wasn't evidence enough of that. She was getting tired of the constant stress. All the eyes on her...

This table felt no different. The attendant that invited her to this gathering called her an associate of some "Kestrel Cavanaugh". What was she supposed to do with that? Say "No, I don't know her, I'm too busy impersonating a scrap worker"? So Chante sat quietly in her chair, slowly gazing around at the others.

Some of the figures around the table felt familiar in a vague fashion, but she couldn't recognize them if her life depended on it. She'd only gathered that the famed Lord Cavanaugh sat at the its head, along with a woman whose submachine gun would no doubt shred Chanterelle's armor and her little newly-acquired pistol.

The air in her suit was crowded with tension. She just wanted to get off this planet with the belongings at her feet... and her tiny plant, still held safe in Lu's lap. Some of that restlessness may have dissipated when everyone else arrived and seized attention, but bits of it still lingered... that unrelenting, claustrophobic urge to escape.

Despite the constant, looming stress of being found out, Chanterelle's exterior blatantly contradicted her emotion. Completely still and silent - ironically, to a fault. She laid back in her chair, helmet slightly tilted back as if somewhat bored. Her feet didn't squirm, her knees didn't bounce, her fingers didn't drum. Her only movement was when she occasionally looked about, following the conversation as it evolved before her.

The two men came forward with their recollections, the first account coming from the large, muscled man sitting directly next to her with the prosthetic arm and leg. His story was corroborated by an older, grayer man across the table, with the straight but unkempt beard. As she began to memorize their attributes, interest flickered within her as she listened more and more. A machine. A Durian one, at that. She had little doubt that this was behind the dreaded underground droning that got her mugged in the first place, and was somewhat relieved to hear that her instinct to run straight for the hills wasn't completely uncalled for. A piece of technology like that sounded like something straight out of a technological horror novel.

Yet as the witnesses continued recounting the details... the weaponry, the grotesque death counts, the harrowing sheet of hopelessness... she remained strangely detached. She stared at both their faces respectively as they reported to Cavanaugh, almost as if observing a specimen. If she had to be honest, she found the tales curious. From behind the opaque gray visor, she analyzed both Qyil and Stratton's subtle dismay with uncanny indifference.
 
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Dragongal

Miss Medic
Adira didn't like this. Not that she was happy with their previous situation, mind, but there was something particularly irksome about being addressed by a brutalistic ruler practically on a throne, lounging about after so many had just been turned to ash. Adira bit back the frustration at the fact that once again, she and her allies wouldn't be able to rest after all the hard word they'd done, after surviving another brush with death; instead they got dragged in front of some self-righteous ass in another stupid power play.

Now was, obviously, not the time to say any of that. She stood at parade rest, hiding her shaking and burned hands that she had balled into fists so hard she felt sparks going up her arms from the nerve damage. Through her annoyance and exhaustion she almost didn't catch something Alexander said that was of particular importance.

"Unfortunately, very few are likely to survive the next.

The Durians were coming, and clearly Alexander fully believed they were going to wage war on this little planet. What chance did anyone down here have if they did decide to wage a war? The people on this planet would basically be cavemen fighting a fully armed tank. Why was he sitting there talking to them? Why was he so nonchalant? For fuck's sake his daughter -maybe? - was next to him why was he so calm?

The words slipped out before she thought it through, "Given what that thing said while we were down there, talking about re-starting the Durian war, and that it sent a message to a Durian fleet, precautions need to be taken. While there's no guarantee the Durians really have an interest re-starting the war they will surely investigate, and potentially with extreme violence - especially if they think this was unprovoked."

He knew this. Even as she spoke she knew he knew this. So why was nobody taking precautionary measures of any kind? She looked at the girl beside him, looked at Kestrel, lookedt at Stratton, then Silas, then Qyilim, then back to Alexander. He knew.

And he wasn't about to try to save anyone. He had some plan, Adira thought, with how calmly he say there. He had a plan and it didn't involve saving any of the innocent people stranded on this planet. They were going to die and they probably wouldn't even know why.

That stung.

Whether it was the fear for her friends, the frustration of the nonchalance of this man, of the absolute, dark out of despair at this helplessness, all of it stung and she had to bite back saying more words, choice words, words that would get her executed. And out of all her life, now was the moment she didn't want her big mouth to get her executed, not when maybe, just  maybe she could help her friends survive this.
 

The Jenkins Curse

Among the Stars
Supporter
‘I do not know Kestrel Cavanaugh, but I will before this day ends. I am going with you, and I expect you will accept me as an ally. You know more than I do, but, and I hope you will agree, I deserve answers.’

Silas turned to face Qyilim, keeping his focus on him as he spoke plainly and with clear intent. Silas gave a rather curt nod, almost dismissing his concerns. "You're one of us, Qyi. If I can't bring you along into his compound, I'm not going either."

The entire trip to Alexander's villa was, for Silas, a limbo for him to recount all the mistakes that led up to this moment. Sure, he and his team survived essentially a downtrodden god from vaporizing the entire crew, but they were stuck on a planet with a warlord calling the shots and no possible chance at escape. Better yet, the god they killed called for backup - and not the kind a plucky crew can simply run away from, at least not when stuck on the surface. And now that they were about to get caught up in a bunch of red tape and diplomacy, Silas saw little chance for an escape. But he was their leader, if only because his name was on the checks, and he would be struck down by a fleet's worth of lasers at the front. If this was their real final stand, an imminent death drawing them in as time passed, Silas saw no one better in the galaxy to ride Charon's ferry with.

Upon entrance into Alexander's presence, the first thing Silas felt was anxiety. Seeing the face of the warden who subjected him and his friends to weeks of hard labor, even if indirectly, it only made Silas wonder what cruel intentions he may have had for them. Once his initial emotions wore off though, he realized that - more so than anyone else on this planet - they may actually be in a decent position. Kestrel was there, unharmed and no worse than when they all arrived. Silas provided a small wave, hoping Kestrel noticed it and Alexander did not. There was also a... Kestrel clone? A long lost sister too, perhaps? The girl's presence definitely wasn't expected by the engineer, but whether it would be a good or bad addition would be decided later. Of course, also seeing Chante and Lu from when they all originally crashed on Tartarus - the folks who saved his life - brought further comfort. As he did before with Kestrel, Silas offered a small wave to acknowledge and appreciate Lu and Chante's survival. For the first time in weeks, his entire crew was together in one room, plus a few vagrants they found along the way. Despite whatever his initial thoughts may have been, this extended family had turned out pretty alright. Saviors, everyday heroes, honest people all. If they were all about to be executed, at least they were all together.

However it became quite clear Alexander had other plans. Someone such as him seemed ill suited for long, evil villain monologs just to send them all to a firing squad. Sure, he seemed to enjoy hearing his own voice, but execution felt... off limits, somehow. Maybe it was the relatively calm presence of Kestrel and her small doppelganger that eased him a bit. He asked for a report on what happened, and without much of a pause, Qyilim followed by Stratton gave an accurate retelling of the situation. Thank the Stars they were here, Silas thought. I'd not be able to tell a story so precise. Must be Waning Stars' rigid training, the way they both responded so matter-of-fact and to the point.

And then Adira's heartfelt response. She was right, the scene seemed far too calm and stagnant for a planetary massacre about to commence. And the Durians of all people... If any race was capable of waging a war with Waning Stars and winning, it was them. Silas admired their ship design and engineering, something Silas still felt outrivaled anything a Human could make. And they were about to show up here with an entire fleet to vaporize them all.

"What's the likelihood we're all doomed?" Silas asked plainly, with a slight shake in his voice. "I assume you've got a way off this rock. What about us? Are we to die with the rest?" While Silas detested the idea of a planet being condemned to die, he saw no reason why he couldn't at least try and save his crew from certain annihilation. Lord Cavanaugh seemed to be the only person on the planet to provide them a way off.
 
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Vudukudu

Farseer to the Warsong Clan
Alexander remains seated even as some of the guests stand. On Govanti they would be chastised for their lack of manners. Here, those still standing can be forgiven the offense. As they recount the day's events, he nods sagely. He is about to speak when his daughter pipes up first.

Eska had been watching them, all of them, since the moment they arrived, nonchalantly tending to her fingernails while they spoke. Once it seems the gathered crew has finished being useful, she leans forward and carefully sets the dagger down on the table, giving it a light clink to draw attention to herself. "You all fear death rather terribly for people who have just been saved. Its tiresome. You especially." She says, pointing one index finger at Adira and bending it slightly. "At ease, soldier. There's no army here save for my own and my father's, and you belong to neither." She says with a sneer. "I was told the Waning Stars military produced capable men and women, so I suggest you relax your hands, cease your trembling, and live up to the stories." Once the point seems to have gotten across, she plucks a communicator from the table without breaking eye contact with Adira. There's a quiet beep when she thumbs the transmission.

"Rowland, take a crew and rig one of the JSM tactical nukes, 25 kiloton, to the Durian relic's corpse. Set it to detonate when tampered with or when a bio-scanner detects more than ten Durian signatures in the vicinity. Also inform your lieutenants that there is an active bounty on the heads of every Durian on the planet, to be announced to the public immediately, and that the Durian race is now in a state of war with the Imperial House of Cavanaugh. Please refer all troops to the newly available Operation Black Star file in their Tac-Net and begin preparations immediately." Eska rattles off coolly, like she hasn't just ordered a small extermination, the preparation of a guerrilla war, and ordered her subordinates to begin arming themselves with an arsenal of recovered nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons pillaged from crashed ships or concocted in her father's labs. "Let the men know that they are reasonably safe from orbital strikes as long as they follow orders and that we intend to force the Durians to meet us on the ground, and that every ship the Durians dare land on my father's planet is perfectly capable of interstellar travel and that this invasion is the perfect opportunity for the lot of us to escape this rock if they have the good sense to toe the line and follow orders. Imperatrix Eska, out."

There is a brief pause before the response comes in. "Understood, Imperatrix."

Once her orders are concluded, she nods at Adira. "I hope that resolved any concerns you may have had."

Once his daughter's display is over, Alexander turns his steely gaze to Silas. "With talk like that, the only thing you are doomed to is a lifetime of cowardice and shame. Find your spine before I change my mind about this, whelp." He chastises. "Do you suppose yourselves so significant, so important to the universe, that I would deign waste the time to bring you up here in the midst of my preparations for war, just to tell you what is coming and then abandon you to your fate? The arrogance of it is astounding. Remember your place." Alexander's voice is full of scorn and ruthlessness. "No, I have, perhaps against my better judgment, decided against strapping explosive collars to the lot of you and conscripting you into my forces. You so happen to be one of the only intact crews on this planet capable of getting my daughter off of Tartarus if provided a vessel capable of doing so. I have one such vessel, and you will use it to take her and my sister to the wider galaxy. In return for this gift of life, I expect you to keep Eska aboard and treat her with whatever respect she proves by her actions that she deserves. While you make your escape, I will show the Durians how much blood it costs to take what is mine. There is a vessel, only completed just minutes ago, awaiting for your departure. Is there anything else, or can I return to more important matters?"
 

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"I was told the Waning Stars military produced capable men and women, so I suggest you relax your hands, cease your trembling, and live up to the stories."

Stratton's eyebrows sunk ever so slightly in response to the girl's statement. He clenched his jaw and took a deep breath through his nose before glancing at both Qyilim and Adira. In case of the latter his gaze lingered briefly. He had learned a long time ago that he could read his adoptive daughter just as easy as she could read him- military intelligence training or not.

Currently, the look which Stratton projected onto Adira was that of a exhausted parent dealing with a crying baby. There was a hint of a frown at the edge of his lips though to anyone on the other side of the room he'd appear just as neutral as before.

Slowly, Stratton's eyes then fixed themselves at the girl next to Alexander who was now in the process of echoing every dictator-stereotype imaginable. The nonchalant and arrogant tone of her was quite disturbing though as sad as it was Stratton had met many just like her and Alexander during his missions as a diplomatic envoy. Then again, there were more at stake this time and when Alexander mentioned that the crew had been summoned to take his daughter to safety Strat resisted the urge to laugh out loud.

"Is there anything else, or can I return to more important matters?"

Balling his fists behind his back, Stratton had a thing or two he wanted to say but most likely shouldn't.

Incompetent officers, be they glory-hounds or armchair tacticians, had always been capable of causing massive losses in war. A little runt like Alexander's daughter was no different and she'd learn soon- very soon- that in the real world you had to adapt or die. That is the basis for survival, regardless of context.

Stratton exhaled. Slowly. I look forward to seeing her do just that;

Adapt.
 

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