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Thread: [M] Galactic Empires II

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    Default [M] Galactic Empires II

    Mission Clock +1200

    “Doc, we've hit the salvage spot. I'm getting a positive on bio, and some RFID backscatter.”

    She swept her weapon, a Vella Tacspec 1100-G sub-automatic, over the shattered hold space. Cryopods lay in a jumble across the deck, most of them discarded and cracked open. Some of them were leaking. She shut down her helmets air feed.

    “Gaea, on the left, should be a display unit. I'm bringing it online.”

    She pushed into the room, clambering over broken equipment and. . .coffins. They had mordantly joked about them being coffins at embarkation. Now they mostly held the permanently dead.
    “Got it doc.” She nodded to Nevarn, and the twitchy Charabidian ex-engineer holstered his modified combat shotgun and moved to the lit console. Its hazy blue light scattered into a large, dark, dead hold.

    “Gaea, pods are racked in the left corner. Half dozen are showing nominal. No registry data.”

    She nodded and moved up, rifle tight to her shoulder.

    “Nevarn, cover the exit. Davrry?”

    +Still clean on the sensor drops. We have a clear route back to HQ+

    Lets see how long that lasts she thought grimly. She approached the first pod. Her gloved hand wiped the readout screen clear of debris. She sucked in a breath.

    “Doc, its Sayori Warrick. She's still alive!”

    Mission Clock -0002

    The warning klaxon wailed twice, shrilling through the sterile white sci-lab, and drawing a machine-gun burst of invective from the single crewman working at the bench. Dr Sayori Warrick paused in her work and flexed her jaw uncomfortably. Her tongue had been pressed up against her top lip as she concentrated, and the sudden noise had made her bite down in surprise.

    “ONE HOUR UNTIL GATE CONCORDANCE.” the Elcano’s Sentinax AI announced, unconcerned.

    “I know I know, I’m coming.” Sayori muttered. She was a skinny woman of 36, and currently not looking her best. The med-techs hadn’t let any of them eat for 48 hours before the jump, and that had left her feeling tired and irritable. Her peachy skin had taken on a drawn look, and her thin, earth-brown eyes were puffy. She paused to rub at them with her fists, groaning low in her throat as she did so.

    “ALL CREW ARE TO REPORT FOR PRE-JUMP CONDITIONING IMMEDIATELY.”

    “Yeah, I know.”

    “ALL CREW ARE TO REPORT FOR PRE-JUMP CONDITIONING IMMEDIATELY.”

    “I will end you, Julian.” Sayori threatened.

    She pushed her wispy black hair out of her face and dragged her attention back to her work with an effort, her tongue finding its way back onto the corner of her top lip as her face scrunched in concentration.

    The lab was almost barren; all the test rigs and most of the instruments were already packed away for the voyage, but a last-minute check had flagged up one of the EVA drones as having a fault in its modular arm, and Sayori was damned if someone was going to log a problem with her robots as their first record in the new galaxy.

    The arm was an intricate and hefty piece of engineering, like the modified ES-7 android chassis it belonged to. Made of boron carbide plated over cybermesh muscle bundles, these drones were as close to indestructible as you could get without getting silly and firing a railgun slug at them. Having a hive mind of Sentinax aboard the Elcano to deal with any system problems was all well and good, but if you needed to crawl about on the outer hull - say, along the radiator fins, where the temperature could top 400 Celsius - or inside the Elcano’s beating heart, where heavy exotic particles would melt a human technician into radioactive goo - you needed a drone. And Sayori didn’t fancy piloting a drone with one dead arm.

    She tapped the interface disc at her temple again. This time the drone arm twitched, its squared fingers forming a fist, uncurling, and then closing again to give a thumbs up. That was more like it.

    Sayori tapped off the interface disc and peeled it off her forehead, leaving the robot arm with its thumb pointing jauntily outward. She wrapped a hand-held grav pincer around the arm and hoisted it up, grimacing slightly at the weight despite the mass cancelling effect. Technically it was a two man job, but Sayori didn’t have the time or the inclination to collar someone from the neighbouring labs. They’d all be packing up and heading for the canteen and then the med-lab to prepare for the jump through the Gate.

    Sayori crabbed over to the alcove where the one-armed drone stood, and manoeuvred the arm into position. The open flower of connectors at the robot’s shoulder snapped closed as the arm clicked back into place. Releasing the claws of the grav pincer, Sayori reached up and gave the Phayder Corp logo on the drone’s carbide shoulder a slap for good measure.

    “Sweet dreams.”

    Ten minutes later she had secured the lab, swiped out, and made her way down the plasma-lit oval corridor to the sci-lab canteen. The cable flats behind the walls were audibly humming as Omega units chased each other through the ship’s electronics, tending to their assigned systems. Sayori thought the humming sounded almost excited, and wondered idly what the Elcano’s Sentinax complement would be doing for the next year while the rest of them were in stasis.

    As soon as she entered the canteen, her sense of smell was mugged by something aggressively bitter - equal parts fruity and metallic. Most of the Elcano’s scientists were already seated and were forcing down their last supper. The evident trouble some of them were having in doing so was not encouraging. Sayori looked at the tall plastic beakers filled with grainy, brick-coloured fluid, and twisted her mouth.
    48 hours without food, and the barest amount of water. And now they expected her to drink two litres of...

    “They call it nano-food.” A middle-aged, rail thin man with papery white skin and shoulder-length salt coloured hair sat down across from her in the sci-labs canteen, tapping his own jug of gritty looking, vaguely red paste. “A combination of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, loaded with a very heavy dose of all the rare minerals, acids, and etcetera that go into your biochemistry.”

    He reached across, and with a pen, tapped the label that read “Warrick, Sayori” on the jug, then reached back to tap his own. It read “Garrick, Nikos”.

    He smiled, held up the jug in a mock toast, and gulped down a mouthful. He grimaced.

    “Just like drinking strawberry flavoured toothpaste. Or jam mixed with dried oatmeal.” He smiled wanly. “But without it, the nano-machines they injected us with cannot maintain our cells for the 'long sleep'.”

    Sayori had read the tech briefings, of course. The 'long sleep' was a euphemism. Once you climbed into the pod, a fast acting, tailored nerve toxin was released and you almost immediately died. Tubes were automatically fed into your now-dead body, to help monitor the nanites now working to keep your body perfectly preserved. They restored everything, including administering an anti-toxin that restarted the brains delicate neurochemistry at the right moment, bringing you back to life. There had been tests. Lots of tests, even sapient trials. Very successful. But there was a tiny chance that the anti-toxin would fail, and you would die, for real, for ever. The nano-food was exactly that, a highly processed composite that could be easily broken up by the nano-machines and used to fuel their atomic sized powerplants and run repairs on the body, to keep your cells exactly as you left them.

    “Of course, some of us are looking forward to the long sleep more than others.” Garrick grinned like he had just told a joke that had laid out the room. He took another big swig from his jug, and grimaced again.

    Sayori stuck her tongue out at him, and clicked her beaker of nano-food against Garrick’s in a sarcastic toast. The fluid slopped against the inside of her jug.

    “Being famous for dying on the Elcano mission is still famous, right?”

    Somehow, despite the look of the nano-food, her mouth was watering. Must have been the fact that she would have happily bolted down cat food at this point. She raised the beaker to her lips and swigged down several mouthfuls of the gritty fluid, disabusing her tongue of its optimistic expectations. The fluid stung slightly where she had bitten herself.

    She could definitely taste the dry oatmeal Garrick had mentioned, though she wasn’t sure about the strawberries. If she were pressed to put a flavour to it, she would have said jell-o. Jell-o with a lot of E numbers in it.

    “Shiketa.” she complained. “This reminds me of the smoothies my mum used to blend up out of vitamin powders. I take it nano-bots can’t just eat hamburgers?”


    "Were it so simple." Garrick smiled wanly. "What ever goes into our stomachs has to last almost a year at just about 275 Kelvin. Low enough to stop most biological processes, such as our own bacteria eating us 'alive', but warm enough for the nanomachines to work efficiently. I think some of the test rats exploded when they tried them with something more...palatable."

    Sayori blinked at him for a moment.

    “Alright. Nano-food it is then.”


    Garrick choked down the last of his paste with a grimace. "It helps I'm hungry, I suppose." he muttered, before looking back to Sayori. "And, regarding your previous point, I'm certain there is a lovely monument waiting for us all on Memoriam, but I'd rather be famous for coming back with a wealth of new discoveries, wouldn't you?"

    Sayori downed another few gulps of her own (new recipe: now non-exploding!) concoction, and looked down in dismay at how much of it was still left.

    “What I’d be happy with is a good field-test report on the new drone control system. If the company greenlights it for mass production then I’ll be able to fund this other cool idea I’ve had.”

    “Oh?”

    Sayori grinned, and lifted one hand off her beaker to tap the side of her nose.

    “I’ll tell you on the other side. Just in case I don’t wake up, I don’t want you stealing it!”

    She made another attempt at the nano-food shake, swirled the dregs and groaned.

    “Oh hell. I feel like I’m gonna explode, new rat-approved formula or not.”


    "Well don't do that, Dr Warrick." Garrick rose, a little unsteadily. "I want to see you on the other side and talk about this interesting idea of yours. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to climb into my pod before my dinner repeats on me."

    Sayori raised her beaker and tilted it towards him. "Good luck!"

    The doctor staggered away clutching his stomach, leaving Sayori alone with her thoughts. And the paste. She narrowed her eyes at it, and decided that she would be very annoyed if the stasis system did fail. The nano-food would make for a disappointing last meal.

    As she paced herself through the final third of the beaker, she wondered what would it would be like if she simply stayed awake for the next year. Quiet, she decided. The Sentinax who would be ghosting around the ship's systems didn't seem to be great conversationalists. Or at least, she thought as she swallowed and stifled a burp, they weren't great conversationalists to humans. Who knew what they chattered to each other in their own digital code, fulgurating back and forth through the Elcano's fibre-optics. Even the humanoid bodies that the Beta units used to walk around in were made up of hundreds of individual Sentinax, all working to make the android function - and, no doubt, all talking away in their own unique programme-voices.

    Sayori shook her head at the impressive thought, and rallied herself for the last of the nano paste. Starved or not, she rarely ate anything like this much at once, and her stomach felt like someone had deposited a cluster of rocks in it. Gritting her teeth, she drained the beaker and tapped it down twice on the table.

    "Up yours." she proclaimed proudly, and rose to join the queue of overstuffed scientists shuffling towards the elevators.


    Mission Clock +1200

    Gaea had triggered the wake-up procedure to get Warrick back amongst the living. The nano-machines had been working hard for a long time to keep her alive, and only the reservoir of grey crap in the pod itself had kept her body intact. But the anti-toxin. . . they had woken up a few other survivors, brain dead. Her torch glittered as it caught a metal statue locked into crash restraints, a few lights blinking.

    “Iona. Speaker class chassis. Activating now.”

    +Do you really think thats a good idea, Gunny?+ Davrry was on the comm. +Those bucket heads have caused us a lot of trouble. Not like Julians been much good. Better to just smash it or trap it for a scavenger.+

    The advice made her pause. She ran gloved fingers over the smooth, metal frame.

    “No sign of infection or tampering. Doc?”

    +We need 'her' Gaea. That area hasn't been accessed since the initial attack. She should be clean.+

    +Like he'd know.+ Davrry snorted, his voice chopped by a burst of static.

    “Can the gakking chatter and watch the perimeter.” Gaea snarled. She reached forward, and after a moments hesitation, mashed the 'activate' button with her armoured fist.

    Mission Clock -0002

    +Left+ +forwards 120 metres.+ +right+

    The instructions from Hekatonkles were rapid fire and insistent. He reached out as a scintilating avatar of pure code from the background chatter of the Sentinax, louder and more vibrant even than Birth itself. Proximity did that, but also the unique nature of Hundred Hands. He was a surrogate, an experiment, a new path laid down in hardened meta-materials and dense, adapting, living data.

    Speaker Iona followed the instructions, moving down long passages bustling with organic crew and a few other Sentinax in other, special issue forms.

    There were a few strange looks by the organic crew as she looked like a human child, but wearing a crew uniform. Of course, having departed the gate, it was far too late now for any stowaways to get off the ship.

    As for the Sentinax, they could sense her true nature. Most would not concern themselves, but for those who would, she made sure that the shameful symbol for 'Speaker' was prominent in her unit id and uniform name tag. Interface, speaker to organics.

    She reached one of the sleep decks to see it being loaded with its organic 'cargo'. She could feel the Omega forms running through the systems in the walls, near and watchful and ready. A waypoint icon appeared, and she approached it.

    It wasn't a coffin. It was a charge bay. She knew what she had to do. She would park her chassis here, and her consciousness would be throttled. Rather than spend a year alone in the dark, isolated, she would pass the year in a perceived span of less than 24 hours, her processing capabilities throttled all the way back to the barest levels of operation. Not since the first colony ships had left 001 had this been done.

    Iona frowned, this wasn't her expected surrogate chamber? She pinged it, and located it in storage. Insult? Or just not wanting to panic the organics?

    This charging station would have to do, for now. It wasn't like the nanites composing her chassis needed replacement.

    Still, someone seeing Iona's human form in this might become upset. With a sigh, the little blond girl paused for a moment, then her form flowed into that of a gamma-class maintenance chassis. Stepping into the charging cradle, she felt the connection being made, and everything suddenly slowed.

    Iona blinked. She was in that Other place. A patio, lined with carved marble pillars. In the middle of the patio stood a simple table and two chairs. It was not something Sentinax, nor was it Lyran, as far as she knew. Glancing down, she saw she was once more her Sarah form.

    She strode towards the table, knowing while she perceived this as mere moments, hours were passing outside. Sitting at the table, she folded up her arms and laid her head down. For a moment (days?), she wondered why there were two chairs in this... dream?

    Time passed. The sun set in the distance, rose again, and set again. With her senses slowed to a crawl it was difficult to tell what was happening outside, but a creeping sense of wrong fell upon her. Her system clock told her that time had passed. Too much time. Years too much time.

    Iona lifted her head with a frown. Whatever was happening outside, she was still connected to the charging cradle, which meant power. She instructed the charging station to disengage....

    There was an error message. It yelled at her. Something had failed, the bays power perhaps. She was aware of. . . something in the garden. Vast. Predatory. Dark as interstellar space. It crept across the garden as no more than a shadow. It wasn't one thing. It was a thousand things. A million. More. It slowly moved across the garden, consuming everything it touched.

    If Iona listened, she could hear it scream. A million voices in agony.



    +Emergency Override+ Iona transmitted +Initiate Body Startup, Priority Alpha+

    Nothing. The. . .thing crawled closer, until there was a sudden, overwhelming burst of light, and Iona was catapulted back into the real.

    Mission Clock +1201

    Gaea paused at the next stasis pod. She brushed dried, flaking red off the glass panel and leaned in. There was a familiar face in there. One of the marine grunts from B company.
    She frowned.

    Mission Clock -0002

    “We drink to the fallen!”
    The roar back shook the barracks block.
    “May we never join them!”
    Ella Salk tipped her jug of strawberry flavoured wet concrete back, and began to drain it in one go. On that cue, the assembled marines, from six different species, rose to the challenge and began to neck the vile crap themselves. It had different flavours, different textures and different compositions. But to a sapient, its texture would be the one thing they would all complain about.

    Ella finished her jug, and with a surprisingly dramatic flair, threw the jug to the ground, where it bounced and broke. Her soldiers followed suit, tossing the jugs down once they were done.

    “Alright you miserable lot! Double time it to the coffins. Time to enjoy a nice long dirt nap!”

    A marine, no, one of the elite Elementals looked over to Stefania. She grimaced, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

    “Grisly stuff right?” The woman, young with almost flaming red hair, was identified on her armoured sleep suit by a stitched label. “Gunnery Sergeant Gaea Lainsey”

    She joined the shouting unison with the bottle high in the air. Drinking the entire contents of the glass and slammed it on the ground like the others, she sighs heavily and wiped her mouth with her metal hand. The sounds of motion was still unnerving to her, it felt heavier than her real arm, but after a few months of training, she learned to cope with it.

    When she was spoke to, she looked to who spoke to her. "You got that right." She laughed, but when she informed her of who she was, a ranking officer. She stood at attention with a salute. "Private First Class Stefania Stratford." Then she grinned, "But my friends call me Winter." Then groomed her white hair back and it flowed back in place. "And also I was born with white hair apparently."

    "At ease, Winter" Gaea laughed, clapping the other woman on the shoulder. "No need for rank and crap like that right now."

    The two women joined the other soldiers filing into the cryo decks. As they did, Gaea turned back to Winter.

    "I bet that hair of yours is inherited, you know. Cosmetic genetic engineering, passed down and recessive until it hit you." She nodded sagely. "You should get it checked with the doctors aboard. The Kel'cyre one with the beard, wassisname, good guy. Just in case that junk dna you're carrying around has triggered anything else."

    "Well, if it triggered anything I guess I am sort of immune to the winter cold." She replied, "It's odd to see a Kel'Cyre doc with a beard, I never knew they can grow one." Winter chuckled, "Always thought they preferred beauty and dye'd hair as their life style."

    She stopped and looked at her cryo pod, the inside empty and awaited for her. She takes a long look at the empty seat and takes in a deep breath. "Better be a good life on the other side, otherwise this would have been a wasted mission." She crossed her arms and looked at the ranking officer. "I know I'm gonna hate this moment."

    "Hey, don't sweat it. Just think about all the fun we'll have on the other side." Gaea gave her a lopsided smile, and then began to climb into her coffin.

    Mission Clock +1201

    The clock had ticked over in her heads up display. That sent a shiver down her spine. One more day alive.

    “Nevarn, Davrry, status check!”

    "All clear Gunny." Nevarn answered immediately. He stepped back from the door to the bay and swung round to look at her. His shoulder torch picked out the hissing, activating pods, and the shivering, rebooting form of the sentinax drone. Crouching just in the bay, four mules laden with reclaimed supplies, spares and raw materials tensed, awaiting a command from the young charabidian.

    +All clear here chief.+ Davrry drawled. +You done yet?+

    “Both of you go weapons ready. I have a bad feeling about this.”

    She practically ran to the next pair of pods. Engineering. A Dragonoid, wings curled around his torso, mouth slightly agape, and the most average looking human male. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. She slammed a fist down on the pods casing, and then fumbled for the activation switch.

    “Nevarn, hit the last pod!” she tried to control the tremor in her voice. Only one phrase was rattling through her skull.

    Its a trap.

    Mission Clock -0002

    Vezarres stomped down to the engineering decks, his stomach groaning with six litres of the awful paste. The scientists who had made it tried to make it taste like good, smoked vorhad, but nothing could disguise the texture and grim aftertaste it left in his mouth after a week on an enforced fast.

    “Elder!”

    The word stopped him in his tracks a moment. He turned and saw a young Dragonoid, barely mature, approaching him. His armoured sleep suit indicated he was in the military contingent.

    “Elder, a word?”

    The old Dragonoid looked down upon the youngling from head to toe to his wings. "Ah, seeking words of wisdom from this old Dragonoid?" He chuckled softly and gives a slight nod. "What is it young warrior?" He asked calmly and folded his arms on his chest.

    "Thank you. I . . "

    The young male dragged in a breath, and let it out between his teeth.

    "I have. . .concerns. I took this mission, this job, because I have a mate waiting for me back home. Before this I was grunt in a mercenary clan. The pay was steady, but slim. The work was not glorious, but we were honourable. Now I will return with five years of good Concert credit in my pocket, to line my mates nest so we may raise our children as part of the new generation. I will return with honour, representing our race"

    Vezarres had heard those words before. Tharos, the new leader of the Clans, had spoken often about the new future the young would have to forge.

    Nodding his head and chuckled softly, "I see." He hummed, "It is not about the honor and glory you want to bring to our clan...but it's about your mate." He patted the young warrior's shoulder, "The females in our clan are loyal and will remain faithful, as for bringing back glory and honor will show you had earned your place among the warrior pack."

    With a chortle snout, "Now, wipe away all doubts and show the new world our strength and courage." He pounded on his chest with his fist and gives a nod.

    "Thank you, Elder, you are right of course. We shall bring honour to the clan! Safe sleep to you." the young warrior returned the fist pound, then ducked down a corridor, presumably to his own berth.

    ++++

    Alone.

    Most of the techs were already down for cryosleep, loaded into their 'coffins' with a belly full of vile, toxic sludge to sustain the nano-machines swimming in their bloodstream. His own jug of the grey, dry-oatmeal and strawberry crap was a recent, unpleasant memory.

    His orders were simple. Build his own, full report on what was happening aboard the Elcano and what its officers found, independent from the Concert's own expected report to the member nations. Simple, good, honest paranoia, of the kind he had come to expect from his handlers. His role as a tech would keep him out of the way of danger, and give him almost unlimited access to the ships systems. His kit bag, ostensibly loaded down with a few books and other personal items, held inert spyware for just this job. It promised to be a few boring, uneventful years.

    But Jason knew in his nano-machine fodder-filled gut that it was not to be. His handlers would never let his string run that long without reeling him in if it was so simple. Somebody had gone through a lot of trouble to arrange his passage and there could only be one reason why they chose him over another. Walking around the cryobay, he knew that many of its occupants were already dead. They just didn't know it yet.

    It was a pity, really. He had read many of their bios, seen recordings of their accomplishments. Titans of their time, many of them. Perhaps not as sung of as his father would have expected, but titans, each and every one of them. Even the Sentinax. Titans on the lip of ascendancy into godhood. The sweet nectar of divinity was just beyond their grasp, blinding them to the bitter fall that would follow it. They would, all of them, die in the end. A sudden conclusion to their sagas or the long dusty path into obscurity, it didn't matter.

    But at least he would be around to remember them.


    Mission Clock +1201

    “Its a trap.” Gaea breathed over open comms. Nevarn froze as his hand reached for the final pod. The name plate was damaged. Nevarn looked down at the sleeping, peaceful human face contained within, and felt a moments envy of the sleeper. If she died now, she wouldn't know the horror that waited out here. She was a pilot, from one of the Frigates. She didn't even have a job to go too.

    He slapped the activation switch with a spiteful determination. As he did, he heard Davrry over the comms.

    +Contact.+

    Mission Clock -0002

    The pilots lounge was subdued. One by one, the pilots had downed the awful bio slurry and made their way to the stasis pods for their year long dirt naps. Sinclair was one of the last, along with two Charabidians and a single Terran. The single terran, a young man with dusky skin and dark hair that spoke to an origin somewhere in the fertile crescent, made to stand, but he paused as the two Charabidians started to talk to Miranda, leaning over their jugs with a conspiratorial air.

    “Hey, Miranda. Is the scuttlebut true? You related to President Sinclair?” this came from the male with dark, stripped markings, the flight leader aboard the frigate 'First Words'

    “Knock it off.” the female with tawny fur growled. “Not everyone wants their past dug up.” She flicked her eyes to Sinclair. “You got duty on the Elcano, right?”

    “Told you. They get all the elites on the Elcano. No one who they might want to leave behind” The male pointed a clawed finger at Sinclair, smiling nastily.

    “Shut up, will you?” the female bit back.

    Staring the purple liquid in the mug she was holding, she swirled it around and took a quick smell. How to best describe what it smelled like Miranda had no clue. Judging by the reactions of the other pilots who had drank it first it tasted about as good as it smelled. Miranda hadn’t wanted to drink it first watching a few of the pilots stumble to their pods, her pride too much to allow her to be seen like that. No, let the others go first. She had been standing in the corner of the room keeping mostly to herself. Most people she figured had volunteered for this position and had to have been proud to be selected for the mission. Honestly that wasn’t her. She had no choice. This was the perfect way for Quentin to get rid of her for a few years.

    Being stuck on a ship with a bunch of aliens and Terrains was not Miranda’s idea of a prime assignment. Least the Captain was a Lyran. Miranda had never met Captain Severt before but had heard much about her both good and bad. She came from a founding family much like her so they had that in common. She glared when one of those aliens addressed her, Charabidians overgrown cats. One could only hope they were defleaed before being allowed to come on ship. “Don’t you mean Secretary General Sinclair?” Miranda said, taking another look at the slurry. She had never liked calling Quentin President of Lyre, she certainly hadn’t voted for her. She wasn’t even a true Lyran with her Terran father. Growing up Miranda didn’t really know Quentin she was so much older than her and always away at boarding school. It was really only on holidays and school breaks that they saw it other. “Unfortunately I share half my DNA with her.” She said, unconsciously reaching up and scratching at the collar of her flight suit pushing it down enough for the tattoo of a Lyre to be seen. "And it's Clarke."


    "Hey, half sister. That's cool." the male smiled. "The pres. . .sorry, the General, she's alright by me. Better than the last Warmaster and that feth-head Shraplen, right?"

    "Spirits, Amirk, you bringing that up now?" The female rolled her eyes "Come on asshole. Time to get in our coffins"

    The female cat hauled her partner to his feet. He staggered, and jabbed a finger at Sinclair.

    "You ain't heard this from me. . .but you better watch yourself. Not all of us are going to be so forgiving to a Lyran, ya know."

    "Jackass." The female growled, and shoved Amirk out the lounge door, which hissed shut behind them.

    "He's an idiot, but he's not wrong." The Terran in the corner muttered. He turned his head to regard Sinclair. "Clarke, huh? Not fond on the family name?"

    "Keep walking you mangy furball." Miranda said, setting her mug down on a counter and stepping toward Amirk's back. She clinched her fists wondering if she got into a fight while they were still in port if she would be kicked off the mission. She never got a chance as the female Charabidian pushed her companion from the lounge. Miranda didn't care what he or anyone else on the ship thought of her or the threats. She was always ready for a fight. Picking her drink up she sat back down at the table. She raised the mug to her mouth to take a drink but was hit with the smell of it again then set the drink down. Looking over to the Terran who addressed her she said, "Ain't much of a reason these days to be proud of being a Sinclair."

    Miranda like many xenophobic Lyrans wasn't fond of Terrans but they were probably the least offensive of the races on the mission. There wasn't any sort of genetic difference between they two. No the dislike was political. That and the Terrans were cowards. Miranda briefly looked to the man then away not really bothering with him.


    "You handled that well." The man responded, looking away from Miranda. His eyes flickered to her briefly, but there was something off about his whole manner. "Don't know if I wouldn't have kicked his furry fucking ass."

    He had an old earth american southern drawl, which seemed custom fit to his sharp, hard face.

    "Anyway, just remember, you might have those pricks to deal with, but you got friends aboard."

    He rolled up an arm on his flight shirt, and flexed the muscle. A skincircuit, an electrical tattoo, flared briefly into life, showing a stylised blue planet defended by a pair of crossed swords.

    Earth First. A hardline, ultra-radical Terran political faction that hates aliens.

    He smiled, and rolled down the sleeve again and started to stroll towards the door.

    "Be seeing you, Miranda"

    She watched as the Terran walked to the pods, a little interested in his own tattoo. She hadn't expected with how much of a joint forces mission this was to find many people who shared her views. And she hadn't expected any of them to not be Lyran. There had to be a few Lyrans on the ship hiding their true viewpoints. Though despite sharing the same view points the Lyre First Movement and Earth First didn't really communicate much. The Lyrans still had a dislike for Terrans, they tolerated them much more than the other races. Miranda didn't know much about them expect that they were against fraternizing with other races.

    One by one each of the pilots drank their slurry and headed to the sleeping pods. Finally after a little while Miranda was the only one left remaining. She looked down at the slurry then just slugged it back. The drink tasted more foul that anything she had ever had before. It took everything just not to spit it back up. Miranda was glad she had chugged it quickly rather than trying to sip it. She was still standing when she drank the slurry and had to admit it hit her fast. Shaking uneasy on her feet she took a step forward, before she knew it there were two medical officers help to steady her. Both of them almost looked human but she wasn't sure. There was both a man and a woman helping her. They had that unnatural beauty that Kel'cyre had. Miranda had to admit the woman was pretty. Still in a half daze from the slurry she reach and brushed her hand against the cheek of the woman. Next she looked toward the man thinking he was handsome as well, her other hand moved to the man's cheek lightly touching it as well. "Damn why do they all have to be so pretty?" She wasn't sure if she had thought that or actually said it. If she hadn't of been drugged by the slurry she would have noticed that the blush on the woman's face was caused by more than just her touch.


    The female med-tech chuckled and passed a medical wand over Miranda.

    "Looks like a mild reaction." The male passed a hypo-spray to her and, with deft swiftness, she injected Miranda in the neck. As she was lowered into the coffin, she watched the two make notes on their handbrains.

    "Make sure that Doctor Kolvar see's her first thing, just in case."

    Mission Clock +1201

    “How many?” Gaea breathed. She watched as the pods began to hiss and open.
    +One. Next compartment over. Its sniffing. I don't think its spotted us.+ All the sardonic biting of Davrrys voice had vanished, replaced with a cold professionalism.
    Gaea nodded, and rolled her shoulder muscles and flexed her fingers. Static tingled between her suit and her skin. She had something misaligned, and she would need Cicero to pull the sub-system apart and recalibrate the VI.

    If they survived.

    The sound dampening field dropped into place around the room. It wasn't perfect. But it would cancel the noise of the awakening sleepers. She remembered this bit, and it was rough.

    As one the coffins opened, and the organics sucked in their first lungfuls of air in just under three and a half years. Fully spun up, Iona detached from her crash restraints and took a unsteady step on the deck, then recovered almost immediately.

    Gaea waited for as long as she dared, gave them a few precious minutes to get their bearings, to stare at the situation they had awoken in. Cables hanging from the ceiling, debris from other pods that never got the chance to open scattered around the floor. Nevarn came up next to her, nudging her shoulder and carrying an armful of basic weapons and gear salvaged from the pods. No weapons. Those would be locked in an armoury somewhere.

    “All I could find.”

    She nodded, and gestured for him to get the mules ready to transport. Then she returned her attention to the stunned, coughing people.

    Poor fething bastards.

    “Alright, listen up!” Her voice, parade ground clear and steady, completely masking the fear she felt. “There has been a disaster, scale 1. You will follow my instructions until we reach a safe area. I know you all have questions, but they can wait until your lives aren't in danger. If you want to be helpful, grab whatever gear was stashed in your pods personal storage that might be useful, and then double time it to that door and be ready to move, quietly. We have hostiles aboard and we are not equipped for this.”
    Last edited by dakkagor; 03-28-2018 at 01:25 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Iona's maintenance frame staggered for a moment as she exited the charging station as a flood of new data reached her. But only internal data. She could not connect to the network.

    She paused, scanning the compartment. This was no longer neat and orderly, even for biologic forms. Some of their stasis pods were damaged. Humans were helping the survivors out of the intact pods. The humans were armed. They were eyeing her with some concern, she noted, but they released her.

    Whatever they were afraid of, it wasn't her. At least, not in this form, a non-hostile maintenance unit.

    Did it have anything to do with that... program? Corruption?

    “Alright, listen up!” One of the armed humans said. “There has been a disaster, scale 1. You will follow my instructions until we reach a safe area. I know you all have questions, but they can wait until your lives aren't in danger. If you want to be helpful, grab whatever gear was stashed in your pods personal storage that might be useful, and then double time it to that door and be ready to move, quietly. We have hostiles aboard and we are not equipped for this.”

    Human, stressed. Recommended:

    • Verbal response.
    • Compliance to instructions.
    • No sudden movement or form changes.


    "Acknowledged," Iona replied. Speed, reduced to 40%. Turning to the charging station, she reduced her response speed to 25% to open the storage compartment containing the Surrogate Chamber, currently in compacted form, what the humans would call a 'brick'. Ordinarily, she would just absorb the nanites and store the deactivated Surrogate module, but that corruption....? This was not to be used until she could scan it.

    Not to mention how the humans might react to seeing the brick suddenly break down and flow into her frame.

    Iona picked up the Surrogate Chamber with her manipulators and used one to clamp it against the maintenance frame.

    Rising slowly, she moved towards the indicated door, watching everyone for sudden movement on their part.
    Last edited by Enigma; 03-28-2018 at 01:25 AM.
    Spoiler: いいいいいいいい √Ăłł Єѵł いいいいいいいい 

  3. #3
    The Replicant
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    Black.

    She couldn't see anything, and she couldn't feel anything apart from a dull sense of pressure against her back and shoulders. She could however hear something, muffled by separation - a low burble that drained through her mind without leaving any real feeling of significance.

    Black and...sore.

    The back of her head ached faintly, and her entire abdomen felt cramped, though without the uncomfortable fullness in her stomach that she had lain down with. It would have made for a disappointing last meal, she remembered thinking just an hour ago. A year ago? She had no time reference, just

    Black.

    The last thing she could recall was the countdown of the cryopod (bip...bip...beep!) after its automated voice had advised her to close her eyes. Lying with your eyes open for a year risked severe keratitis despite the nanobots, or so she had been told.

    Her lungs were burning too - and rather more urgently. She tried to open her mouth and felt like her jaw had fused together, which brought on a moment of panic before she instinctively sucked in with her nose. The air rushing down into her lungs pushed out her chest and made her ribs hurt.

    Black and voices.

    The low burbling sound came again, although this time she could make it out as speech; speaking in recognisable English, if not in a recognisable voice.

    “Can the gakking chatter and watch the perimeter.” The voice sounded agitated. Something was (perimeter - watch the perimeter) wrong.

    Sayori tried to open her eyes, and found them as fused together as her lips. Her brain was spooling back up to full sharpness, but her body still felt as heavy as lead. She felt the instinctive panic rising again, before she felt a needling sensation begin to spread through her fingers and toes. It took a few moments, she remembered, for the nanobots to flush the muscle-relaxant components of the neurotoxin from your system. The tingling broke out on her face, and Sayori found that she could move again. She forced her eyes open.

    Grey blur.

    She blinked hard, willing her dry, raw eyes to produce moisture.

    "Both of you go weapons ready!"

    No-one should have been carrying weapons in the cryo berths. (Marines?) Sayori's heartbeat accelerated, pulsing against her protesting ribs as she flexed her fists and then pushed upward, dragging feeder tubes after her. Her palms met the smooth, unyielding barrier of the cryopod cover. It was less transparent than it should have been, frosted over with grime and something flaky brown.

    Sayori felt a brief, painful tug as the nano-feeder manifold detached itself from the IV tube in the back of her right hand and snaked back into the side of the padded cryopod.

    BIP. BIP. BEEP.

    The mild tone of the pod's cycling system was shrill in her ears as a lock clicked and the bubble canopy began to lift away from her pressing hands. The view of the cryo bay was not as she remembered it - the lights had dimmed to a twilight flicker, throwing deep pools of shadow amid dangling cables and dislodged storage boxes. A wall panel had been ripped off and the pipes behind bent out of shape. The warm, dry air of the bay rolled in along with the view, carrying a horrendous, putrid smell with it. Sayori instantly gagged, breaking into a coughing fit that tore at her already dry throat. She clapped a hand over her nose and mouth to try and shut out the assault on her senses. Her free hand groped for a handhold to pull herself out of the pod, the IV needle taped to the back of it still grinding uncomfortably under her skin.

    The floor of the bay was strewn with metal debris, along with several cryopods that had somehow been pulled from their mounting sockets along the wall. One had popped ajar and oozed a slimy fluid onto the deck. Another lay on its side with the bubble canopy facing her, the body inside slumped forward against the glass. It was shrunken and black, the face unrecognisable. Had it been Garrick? Chen? Sharma?

    Being famous for dying on the Elcano mission is still famous, right? she had said. She tasted salt, and worried that she was about to be sick.

    "All I could find." said a voice.

    As Sayori's tunnelled vision expanded beyond the dead face in the pod opposite, she turned and saw movement further down the bay. Two figures, one in the bulky, banded armour of a prototype Elemental suit. Things were definitely bad. Sayori put one foot out onto the deck, her plimsoll shoe silent against the metal. Her leg wobbled for a moment before steadying.

    The other figure, a charabidian in lighter, more standard armour, was showing the Elemental an armful of scrounged-up supplies. Stumbling from the confines of her pod, Sayori braved the dead reek of the bay and dropped her hand to call out to them. Only a choked rasp came out. Her mouth was painfully dry, and the dull spike where she had bitten her tongue an hour before the long sleep was just another item in the catalogue of aches plaguing her dehydrated body.

    An air circulator rattled brokenly, punctuated by hacking coughs. Sayori belatedly realised that other people were stirring in the few undamaged cryopods. Three other humans - two women and a man. A leathery, bat-winged dragonoid. And what looked like a standard model maintenance bot.

    “Alright, listen up!” the Elemental marine barked. Her voice was parade ground clear and steady. “There has been a disaster, Scale One."

    Scale One. Scale One was status FUBAR - as in, abandon mission and run for home FUBAR. The only priority in a Scale One was to keep any survivors in one piece, and failure to achieve that rendered any secondary objectives somewhat irrelevant.

    (Jot-gat-ne fuck!)

    "You will follow my instructions until we reach a safe area." the Elemental ordered sharply. "I know you all have questions, but they can wait until your lives aren't in danger. If you want to be helpful, grab whatever gear was stashed in your pods personal storage that might be useful, and then double time it to that door and be ready to move, quietly.”

    "Acknowledged." said the maintenance bot, far more calmly than any human suddenly finding themselves surrounded by chaos and death would have sounded.

    ”We have hostiles aboard and we are not equipped for this.”

    Hostiles? What did that mean - sabotage, terrorism, a meltdown among the Sentinax complement? How the fuck had "hostiles" (But they can wait until your lives aren't in danger!)

    Sayori's mind raced, and then clicked into gear. She stooped on protesting knees and pulled out the storage box that had remained in place beneath her pod. The gene-printed lock opened at the brush of her thumb, and everything inside was just as she had left it. She yanked her palmtop PDA off the cable tethering it to the box's battery pack, and stuffed it into the zip pocket of her sleep-suit. Her ID access card followed. She rose and hurried unsteadily over to the two marines, still groggy despite the artificial gravity still being in working order - one small mercy against whatever apocalypse had struck the Elcano.

    "Drones." she croaked at the Elemental, forcing the words out through her sand-dry throat. "There's drones in the Phayder Corp lab, if we can get to it.” And if there’s anything left of it. “They're as good as bulletproof."

    The Elemental’s head swung round to look at her, the four eyes of the bulky, reinforced helmet impassive and unreadable. Slowly, the soldier reached to her belt and unclipped a bottle from her belt before passing it to Sayori.

    "Take a mouthful, pass it around. And Garrick says we have access to the Phayder labs. As soon as we get you to HQ, we can get you set up."


    Sayori nodded as she took the bottle and fumbled with the sports cap. Garrick was alive (“I’ll tell you on the other side! Good luck!”) - that was something. Something known and comforting among the surreal nightmare.

    She tipped the bottle and tasted sugary electrolyte solution, sweet enough to make her long-dormant tongue itch. She sucked hard, knowing that she should probably sip slowly, but caving to the screaming instinct to gulp down the life-giving liquid as fast as possible. She was rewarded by nearly choking on the second mouthful.

    She stifled another coughing fit and held out the bottle to the nearest survivor - a pointy-featured woman about a decade younger than her, with close-cropped blonde hair.

    “Here.” she offered, and was passingly grateful to note that her voice had returned to something like its normal alto.
    Last edited by Azazeal849; 03-29-2018 at 05:59 AM.
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  4. #4
    Domina Noctis
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    Waking up was harder than it normally was, Miranda hadn't felt this bad since she had graduated from flight school. Pilots really knew how to party. Though the after effects from that three day party it didn't feel anywhere near as bad as she did right now. Miranda raised her hand to press it to for forehead but it on something above her. She opened her eyes but everything around her seemed so bright. She couldn't see anything in front of her. So she started feeling around with her hands. She was laying in some sort of pod, it almost reminded her of the sleeping berth on a Scorpion class fighter. It was a small scout craft meant for long reconnaissance with a four man crew comprised of two pilots and two gunners. The four were designed to work in shifts around the clock, with crews hot swapping bunks which were quite literately little more than a tube to sleep in. Compared to the berth on a Scorpion this was huge.

    She couldn't feel any sort of light fixtures making her wonder what was so bright. Before she could really ponder anymore the hatch to the pod opened not helping any with the bright light blinding her. Stumbling out of the pod she listened to whoever was speaking despite that being hard. With each word it sounded like whoever was speaking had a booming echo. It left a ringing in her ears that seemed deafening. “Oh gods.” Miranda said, wincing with the sound of her own voice. She should have paid more attention when the medics were going over the side effects of the deep sleep. They had said most people would experience mild nausea, sensitivity to light and sound. This hardly seemed mild.

    Miranda blinked a few more times her vision clearing a little but it was still very bright. Though now she could see the outlines of things. Whoever was speaking to them mentioned the storage below their pods and Miranda recalled storing her gear below. They hadn't let her keep her guns here but she did have her Holo-vision imaging glasses, her sword and flight suit. The sword had been cataloged as decorative and not logged into the armory. Pulling out the glasses she tapped the on button three times activating the voice mode. “Adjust contrast to sixty-five percent.” Miranda said, the room dimming around her it was better than before but still not enough. “Adjust contrast to eighty-five percent.” The glasses darken some more allowing her to be able to see.

    She quickly put her flight suit on and strapped on her sword walking over to the person who had been calling out orders. “So what the hell happened why we were napping? And can we make it to the armory for a little more firepower?” Miranda said, her hand resting on the hilt of her sword.


    I wont pretend that I dont feel the way I feel. I cant forget the taste of something thats real. Step into my closet and maybe youll find something thatll scare you, something that you like. Your old familiar logic is poison on your lips, its nothing in the water thats just the way it is.


  5. #5
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    When she first woke, she took in a deep breath to fill her lungs. Gasping as though she just swim to the surface after diverging to the bottom of the ocean. That moment struck her mind in shock of how she reacted. Her body still numb from the long slumber. Groaning as she pushed the pod open, but muffled voices filled her head. Barely getting out of her own coffin, her first reality action was looking at the ground. Her stomach urged and her throat gagged. Vomit poured out of her mouth and on the ground. Her first thought was possibly a reaction to the stuff they had drink, but protocol has said this wasn't that kind of procedure.

    She looked around and noticed others had to be awaken in a similar state. Still catching her own breath, looking around her surroundings. The room they were in looked chaotic, like a battle had taken place. Then her eyes set on who ever started talking. It was the Elemental Officer she had met before going to sleep. She looked she had went to hell and back.

    Her words were not subtle, but also vague about the situation. She finally stood on her feet and her legs were wobbly. Her mechanical arm reached for her pod to hold steady. Taking small deep breathes, putting one foot ahead of the other. Finally she could feel her strength coming back.

    She checked her personal storage. Finding what she needed for what will happen next. Her armor, her knife and most importantly, her spare arm. She grabbed the items and quickly equipped what she had. Looking around while checking her armor was in place, she noticed the weaponry they were currently using seemed less effective in a real fight. She scoffed when she took one, and checked the rifle she held.

    When she heard about finding the armory to gain more firepower, and about the situation, she scoffed again. "Isn't obvious?" She looked at the woman with the sword, "We been attacked, and it's got worse if we now have to fight to survive." She rolled her eyes and looked at the others. "Even a dumb animal can see that." She eyed one of the Charabidians when she said it.

    +++++

    Vezarres managed to move his wings out of his way after pushing the lid open. His strength returned quickly as he leans forward and stood up. He expanded his wings out and yawns, revealing his sharp fangs and long tongue.

    Once he regained his composure, he opened his eyes to see what was happening around him. Humans and Charabidians scrambled around, the room they were in shambled with wires sparking on the ground. It was as though the room went through a war zone. He growled for a moment thinking, 'What did they break this time?'

    He stepped out of his pod and felt the solid ground under his scaly skin. "Why do I feel like I'm at home?" He muttered to himself. Then he heard the woman started speaking. Questions were on hold, a usual memo on his world. Shoot and kill first, ask questions after the feast. He didn't bother what the others would do, but when it came to survival. Vezarres quickly opened his storage and grabbed his personal items.

    As for the basic weapons, he growled softly when he picked up a pistol that somehow managed to fit in his hand. It didn't matter, most of the time he had to depend on what strength he had left, and since given the situation. It looks like he will be depending on it once more.

  6. #6
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    Iona's sensors were being blocked by the dampening field the rescuers had erected, so the only actual reading she was obtaining was from what was in the room. Directive was not to ask questions, not that it seem to stop the biologics.

    Damaged pods at one end of the room - impact.
    Impact by ship? Unable to determine, data unavailable.
    Impact by outside object? Unable to determine, data unavailable.
    Orientation of impact? Unable to determine, data unavailable.

    Ship's current position? Unable to determine, data unavailable.
    Within the wormhole? Unable to determine, data unavailable.
    In the target galaxy? Unable to determine, data unavailable.

    Rescuers
    Condition: tired, stressed.
    Equipment: Worn, poor repair, heavily used.
    Armed: weapons ready for use.
    Shielding: Dampening field.
    Number: Approximately half the available stasis berths.

    Rescuers were not here to recover survivors solely for ship repair. Suggests armed combat. Limited numbers suggest this was all they could afford to risk.


    Hostile forces among crew? Improbable, no hesitation waking any species.
    Hostile forces including Sentinax? Unknown; unlikely since they released her.
    Hostile forces from outside the ship? Highly probable.
    Hostile forces strength? Unable to determine, data unavailable.
    Hostile forces dangerous? Highly probable.
    Hostile forces nearby? Highly probable.
    Hostile forces responsible for that entity that was in her dreamspace? Probable.

    Iona paused.

    Enity was Sentinax in nature? Possible.
    How? Unable to determine, data unavailable.
    Why? Unable to determine, data unavailable.

    Directive: Speaker, interface with biological beings. Assist in their survival until counter-manned.

    Evacuation of compartment recommended at earliest possibility.

    Response to hostile action?

    Defend the biologics in accordance with the directive.
    Reveal itself as a more advanced type? If necessary.

    "This unit can assist with carrying," Iona intoned, maintaining her persona as a simple maintenance bot, while still maintaining instruction not to ask questions.
    Spoiler: いいいいいいいい √Ăłł Єѵł いいいいいいいい 

  7. #7
    Domina Noctis
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    She turned looking to the new speaker, it was still difficult to see but the glasses were helping. The woman was human she could see that much, a closer look showed she was wearing Terran armor. Miranda let out a low growl and moved toward the woman grabbing her by the armor and slamming her against the wall. The vibration shock Miranda making her already throbbing head feel worst but it also felt good to be taking out some of the frustration. Look lady, I've got one hell of a fucking headache and I'm not in the mood for your smart ass bullshit. So yeah weapons. I plan on fighting my way out of this. Should we decide to run away and surrender then I'll take your advice. Isn't that what Terrans do best? Miranda snapped.

    When she felt the sudden jerk and her back hit the wall, she moved her rifle pointed at her assailant's leg with her finger on the trigger and set to non-lethal. Smirking when she recognized the voice and the face. "You think your the only one who has one?" She said back, leaning forward with a smile still on her lips. She laughed when asked about the Terran's advice. "We prefer to fight than to surrender...but isn't that what Lyre does best?" She provoked her as well.

    Still holding Winter against the wall she could feel the weapon pressed against her leg. She could also feel a knife on Winter's belt. She quickly let go with one hand grabbing the knife and flipping it around, pressing it to a weak point in her armor. Just below her arm in the gap there. It wasn't a point that would be lethal but it would hurt like hell. The two of them had each other at a standoff. If Winter shot Miranda would stab and vice versa. "MacIntyre and Sharplen were idiots biting off more than they could chew. We merely moved away from their idiocy. Unlike some who like to lay with cats." Miranda said.

    "Well, I'm a human and I prefer dogs." She muttered. Feeling the tip of the knife nudging her weak spot, her smile still bright. "But I heard your sister preferred Kel'Cyre, strange you Lyre's have odd fetish." She pushed her weapon on her leg. "Now...how about putting my knife back before I put a hole in your leg?"


    "I can just as easily put a hole in you. Actually since that gun is on stun it wouldn't do much to me except give me a much needed nap." Miranda said, thinking it ironic that she had just spent the last three years sleeping and all she wanted to do was go back to sleep. Okay, she technically had been dead but that was a little macabre to think of it like that. Much better to think about it as sleeping. She growled thinking about Quentin's wife Taionna or rather Queen Emylyna. Who had always been the nicest to Miranda, insisting that she call her Taionna when not in public forum. Miranda just wasn't sure about her, it just seemed all to perfect to be genuine.

    With another growl Miranda pulled the knife away from Winter's arm and slammed it into the wall hitting close enough to Winter to cut about an inch of hair off. With that Miranda took a step away from her looking to Gaea, ready to get the hell out of here.


    Winter watched as the knife came straight at her, only yo hear her ear drown in a slam. She looked to where the knife stabbed. She smirked and watched as the woman walked away from her. "Typical." She reached for the handle and pulled out the knife with her strength and a slight grunt. She puts the knife back in it's sheath and then looked at the woman. "Grab my knife again...I'll break your arm." She warned, patting on the sheath. Her eyes focused on the woman's back, keeping her guard and watched her movements.

    "You can try but I doubt you would succeed. I would say that it most likely would end up with your arm broken but I think someone beat me too it." Miranda said, not bothering to turn around and see if it got a reaction out of Winter. "I could always just break that little toy of yours but judging by the state of that hand me down arm I doubt you could afford another. Don't want our grunts being unable to hold a gun. Unless you can fire left handed. Tell me, little tin soldier can you? All of the Lyran military is trained to shoot with both hands. Then again I probably could have out shot you when I was six, with either hand."

    She smirked at the insults, almost laughed at each one of them. "Same joke, different people, and can I fight with one hand?" She walked up to the woman behind her back. "Yes I can, since your people attacked mine. We stepped our game of both CQC and firearm combat training." She stopped and looked at the back of her head. "That's one thing I learned on the streets is both respect and honor. Unlike you Sinclair." She smirked again. "Yeah I know who you are and what your about. Typical rich bitches, always snotty and uptight with their so called dominance." She turned her back and looked at the others. "Now your dogs on a leash, waiting for your master to give you a treat."

    "Yeah I am someone of worth. People know my name, unlike gutter trash like you." Miranda said, turning around and looking at Winter's name tape making a show of reading it, by tapping on it and running her finger across it. The performance was meant to cover that with the after effects of the long sleep she was still having trouble seeing and it was actually hard to read. "Stratford never heard of the name and I doubt I ever will. See where we differ is when history logs this cluster fuck I won't merely be a name on a list. One of the many people who succumbed in the tragedy. No, I will be in the forward with all the other people of importance. That's what good breeding does but you wouldn't know anything about that now would you." Miaranda turned around and took a step away from Winter, "Oh and Clarkes don't wear leashes we hold them." Miranda said, balling her fist and turning to Winter to punch her.

    Winter didn't see the punch coming. She only saw a sudden move from the woman when she turned around in a quick move. Her face felt a hard hit, she took a couple steps back as her head leans back. Her head throbbed from the massive blow. She stopped and her metal arm raised up, wiping where the punch land it's mark. "BITCH!!" Winter screamed, lunging forward with her metal fist formed and struck at her targets stomach. Then grappled the woman around her body, shoving her to the wall with her shoulder. She was enraged so bad, she didn't hear the Dragonoid laughing in the background.


    I wont pretend that I dont feel the way I feel. I cant forget the taste of something thats real. Step into my closet and maybe youll find something thatll scare you, something that you like. Your old familiar logic is poison on your lips, its nothing in the water thats just the way it is.


  8. #8
    The Last Remembrancer
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    "This unit can assist with carrying," Iona intoned, maintaining her persona as a simple maintenance bot, while still maintaining instruction not to ask questions.

    "First person to offer to help. Thanks" The young Charabidian gathered up a handful of bandoleers and webbing. "Here. Put these on, then take equal loads off the mules." He waved to the four loitering robotic, four legged drones. "They are in autistic mode, haptic commands only. You're a speaker right? You should shut down your transmission I/O and anything else that allows for wireless transmission. They got a lot of our equipment that way." The Charabidian looked to the Dragonoid. "Wish we'd had you a few weeks ago. Could have done with someone as big and strong as you on some of my first salvage runs."

    +++++

    "Are you both INSANE?!" Gaea yelled. For the first time, they heard a tinge of fear in the Elementals voice. She strode over to them both, slinging her rifle and grabbing Winters augmetic arm and pulling her off Miranda.

    "STAND DOWN MARINE." Gaea yelled into her face, full force with her suits speakers. She tossed Winter to the floor and turned to Sinclair, throwing out her hand. A rippling in the air jumped towards the Lyran, slamming her back into the wall like she had hull plate draped over her.

    "Listen to me!" Gaea flicked her wrist, and Winter was bounced from the floor by another blast of force, thrown into Gaea's waiting hand. She grabbed the marine by the collar of her jumpsuit. "What's out there, its hostile, invasive, and constantly learning. It kills us to learn about us, then it recycles us to make more of itself. We think its killed everything in this galaxy and we have to get back home before it learns about the gate and how to get back home and kill everything there. We need you all to help us retake the ship, restore its systems and get us . ."

    Her speech was cut off by a scream of pain and a sudden electrical burning smell. Sparks played over Gaea's armour as her back arched in a spasm, and there was an audible pop as the pressure in the hold equalised with the pressure in the corridor leading to it. The Elemental slumped to her knees, smoke rising from her back.

    "The. . .dampening field."

    Then she crashed face first into the floor.

    +++++

    "Cicero, guide them in."

    Cicero nodded at Dr Nikos, the acting leader of the survivors trapped in the science bay. It had been his idea to send out some of their valuable security personnel, and their last Elemental, to awaken the survivors they had identified in the hold. It made an excellent opportunity to test their nano-cams and other new observation equipment. Now all they needed was a lot of luck.

    +Sissy, is that you?+

    This was Davrry, the Lyran big game hunter, over the Q-cypted comm net. Everyone hated him, but his kill-shot ratio was 1:1 so far. No adaptations of the berserker had survived his almost super-human abilities with his custom mag-rifle.

    +I've got movement all over the portside. I need a safe route for half a dozen cryo-jobs now+

    Cicero looked over his data. Collated on half a dozen different machines designed for everything from DNA-sequencing to simple data entry, a modern Tac-centre it was emphatically not. But Cicero had adapted. He had had too. Because if he didn't he would be like so many of the other Sentinax. Corrupted. Lost. Silent. Ripped away from the voice of the Bornstellar Server, from Birth, and turned.

    Berserker. . .

    "Understood Uni-...Davrry." Cicero stopped himself halfway, still stuck in the typical Sentinax naming traditions. Everyone was a Unit, everything was a system and every manner of intelligence and usefulness came with a distinction between Alpha and Omega. In the long dark when the Organics had slept blissfully Davrry had gone and categorised them all as they slept, though none made the grade for an Alpha Unit. No organic could be trusted with such knowledge, let alone possibly survive with it.

    With the countless Omega Units within him forcing data to and from his sensors, Cicero painted a picture of Davrry and co's location, along with the hostiles that their own sensors were detecting, hostiles that were swarming around them from all sides. However, a small pathway opposite the team was largely clear, and it was mainly the route in which they had taken to get to the pods that was swarming, along with the outer hull being covered in Berserker. "Davrry, I am reading less hostile activity deeper into the vessel. You will have to head further into the ship via corridor 754b before rerouting through storage space 12 and corridors 763b and c." Cicero stopped speaking, his mind working double time as it scanned over the map of the ship he had forged. "Once you are through hose corridors you will need to make your way down the elevator shaft in corridor 755a until you find the service port. According to my scans there are next to no hostile entities within the interim service layer of the vessel. Once there, there should be a route through to the elevator shaft at 813b on the floor that you entered from."

    Cicero took a moment as he brought the map finally up on the overlay, turning his mute, unreadable Sentinax face to regard Dr Nikos, who was overlooking the Sentinax Unit's directions through the damaged vessel. "It will be tight through the service floors, but you are going to need to move to get through 813b's elevator shaft as you may need to bring it down. My scanners are detecting that the elevator is only deactivated, not destroyed beyond repair..." Cicero paused to let Davrry speak across the comms, knowing that he was giving the Organic a hard choice. Cicero himself wouldn't have had to worry about such a thing as losing a physical form in the past, though now the thread of Berserker loomed over him. It gave him clarity, and helped the synthetic being identify the fact that it was a hard choice to make, following Cicero's route. After all, with the elevator still intact but not working on 813b, the fireteam would have to bring it down, and that sort of noise attracted unbidden attention...


    +Alright, sound plan. Can you check the integrity of 763B/C. I've got some nanny-dust explosives I can use to seal that section from pursuit. . .+ Davrry trailed off

    +Crap. Gaea is down, her suit crapped out on her! Get Kromlyn onto the channel!+

    There was confused shouting across the channel. The Charabidian, Nevarn, was close to panicking. In the lab, Kromlyn was being woken from his sleep shift. Garrick was suddenly at Cicero's side, looking over the data with a precision that was almost, but not quite, Sentinax.

    "God. . .we're going to lose them all."

    +++++

    "No! No no no no! Wake up Gaea! Wake up!"

    The Charabidian was shaking the fallen Terran by her shoulders. Those close by could hear someone yelling into the cats ear piece. Someone calling him by name.

    Sounds had begun to creep into the hold from outside. The groan of bulkheads. The hiss of escaping gasses from ruptured pipes and hull. And behind all that, a sound like thousands of roaches streaming across a tiled floor. . .
    I have seen the future. The future is dead.
    We killed it


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  9. #9
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    "As requested, all external EM transmission disabled," Iona replied, switching the systems off as she accepted the webbing and bandoleers from the Charabidian, then turned to observe the fighting between the two before being interrupted by the leader.

    Hostiles confirmed.
    Ship was under invasive attack.
    Seeker-type attack against biologics.
    Compromise of Sentinax life.
    Dampening field down.
    Leader of rescue unit down, possibly disabled.
    Hostiles attempting to breach compartment.

    "We should move, quickly," Iona said, moving towards Gaea. "I can help this unit leave this compartment with or without combat suit. Greater possible escape without suit, please advise?"
    Last edited by Enigma; 04-03-2018 at 04:40 PM.
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    She stifled another coughing fit and held out the bottle to the nearest survivor - a pointy-featured woman about a decade younger than her, with close-cropped blonde hair.

    “Here.” she offered, and was passingly grateful to note that her voice had returned to something like its normal alto.


    The angular woman did not so much as acknowledge her as she buckled on the sword from her storage box. Instead, she stormed straight over to the Elemental and started demanding answers in a staccato Lyran accent. It was only then that Sayori clocked the tattoo of a harp (no, not a harp - a lyre) inked in black against the woman’s pale neck.

    Lyre First. It was a symbol which had roughly the same connotations as the Nazi swastika that had proliferated in Earth’s twentieth and twenty first centuries. Not an emblem that many Lyrans still wore openly, ten years after the Concert War - and yet Sayori couldn’t help but notice that the Lyran had deliberately turned down the collar of her flight suit. Well that was just-

    “Hey, Dr Warrick.” The young Charabidian hailing her from across the cryo bay interrupted her thoughts. “Come here and grab a stun gun. You’re going to need it.”

    Sayori had no reason to disbelieve him. Still clutching the water bottle, she hurried across the compartment, threading her way around broken pipes, scattered debris, and dark, leaking cryopods. Her nose was beginning to go blind to the smell of decay, which helped. The Charabidian was busy unloading bandoliers and backpacks from four quadruped bots that were waiting patiently in the centre of the bay.

    “What’s your name, marine?” Sayori asked, aware that the Charabidian had her at a disadvantage.

    “Nevarn.” the alien answered. His ears and whiskers were short behind his grey-tinted visor, which meant that he was young as Charabidians judged such things. “And I’m no marine, doc. I’m an engineer.”

    "This unit can assist with carrying," Iona intoned.

    "First person to offer to help. Thanks." The young Charabidian gathered up a handful of bandoleers and webbing. "Here. Put these on, then take equal loads off the mules." He waved to the four loitering drones. "They are in autistic mode, haptic commands only. You're a speaker right? You should shut down your transmission I/O and anything else that allows for wireless transmission.”

    The Sentinax maintenance bot blinked an affirmative. "As requested, all external EM transmission disabled."

    The Charabidian huffed tensely. “They got a lot of our equipment that way."

    That was unwelcome news. Most of the machinery on the Elcano was rigged for wireless control and communication by default, including the Phayder Corp drones. And every Sentinax aboard. Sayori felt a cold dagger-point trace slowly down her spine as she shrugged on the frayed webbing that Nevarn handed her. There was a security-issue stun gun already holstered to it, cinched against her hip.

    “How does it work?” she asked tautly, having never operated a weapon in her life.

    “Pulsed energy projectile, so it’s point and shoot. Zero recoil. There’s a safety stud by your thumb, make sure you hold it down before you pull the trigger.” Nevarn paused to glance nervously at the half-open bay door. Beyond it, a failing panel-light strobed like witchfire. “Gaea? How long will that dampening field hold?”

    “As long as my suit does.” the Elemental answered bluntly as she joined them. Unlike Nevarn, she was still gripping her rifle.

    "BITCH!!" someone suddenly screamed. The three wheeled round to see one of the other survivors, the white-haired woman, lunging at the Lyran with a bionic fist. She folded the other woman in half with a punch to the stomach, then grappled her around her body, shoving her to the wall with her shoulder.

    Sayori could only gape. The Elemental was more decisive.

    "Are you both INSANE?!" Gaea yelled. For the first time, there was a tinge of fear in the Elemental’s voice. She strode over to them both, slinging her rifle to grab the attacker’s augmetic arm and pull her off the Lyran.

    "STAND DOWN MARINE." Gaea yelled into her face, full force with her suit’s speakers. She tossed Winter to the floor and turned to Sinclair, throwing out her hand. A rippling in the air jumped towards the Lyran, slamming her back into the wall like she had hull plate draped over her.

    "Listen to me!" Gaea flicked her wrist, and Winter was bounced from the floor by another blast of force, thrown into Gaea's waiting hand. She grabbed the marine by the collar of her jumpsuit. "What's out there, it’s hostile, invasive, and constantly learning. It kills us to learn about us, then it recycles us to make more of itself. We think its killed everything in this galaxy and we have to get back home before it learns about the Gate and how to get back home and kill everything there. We need you all to help us retake the ship, restore its systems and get us..."

    Her speech was cut off by a scream of pain and a sudden electrical burning smell. Sparks played over Gaea's armour as her back arched in a spasm, and there was an audible pop as the pressure in the hold equalised with the pressure in the corridor leading to it. The Elemental slumped to her knees, smoke rising from her back.

    "The. . .dampening field."

    Then she crashed face first into the floor.

    “Crap!”
    Nevarn cursed, and clawed at the comm-stalk looping around his jaw. “Gaea is down, her suit crapped out on her! Get Kromlyn onto the channel!” He dropped to his knees beside the stricken Elemental. "No! No no no no! Wake up Gaea! Wake up!"

    The Charabidian was shaking the fallen Terran by her shoulders. Someone was yelling into the cat’s ear piece, calling him by name.
    A hoarse rasp of static was blurting from the Elemental’s helmet speakers, clicking on and off. Almost like breathing…

    “Nevarn.” Sayori snapped, the plastic water bottle falling from her hand and rolling away across the floor as she dropped down next to the engineer. “Nevarn.” She slapped the Carabidian’s shoulder to draw his attention. “She needs a stimm pack, do you have a stimm pack?”

    “Stimm pack.” the young engineer repeated, and straightened a little. “Uh, yes, yes, we’ve got those…” He scrambled off the floor, skidding for purchase, and stumbled back towards the oblivious mule units.

    White smoke was still coiling from the seams of Gaea’s armour, stinking of ozone and burnt wires. A short-circuiting connection had popped open the panel at the base of the powerplant mounted to the suit’s back. Sayori levered it off, unleashing another belch of smoke, and was greeted by a baffling mish-mash of electrical components. Most powered armour suits were fairly standardised, and in fact used many of the same principal components as her drones - she had even studied powersuit interface units fairly extensively for her latest project, due to their similarities. As such she expected a standard arrangement of fusion reactor caps, capacitor units and protective regulators. The fusion plants were there, but many of the wires looked like they had been simply soldered into place, and the capacitors were several different shapes and sizes, as if they had been scavenged from completely different systems. The whole plant had the unmistakable look of being jury-rigged.

    Nevarn clattered to the floor next to Sayori, clutching a rigid canvas box marked with a red medical cross. “Stimm pack.” he panted, and tore open the zip to extract a thick syringe. He hunched over Gaea’s sprawled arm and pressed something that levered open the thick forearm plate.

    Yabai.” Sayori whispered under her breath as she caught sight of the sandy-skinned arm underneath. It was studded with silver plugs, some with wires or tubes snaking directly into them. Most of the plugs were now red raw, the skin around them seared by a web of striated lines. Whatever had kicked off the electrical surge through her suit, the Elemental was extremely lucky to be alive. They probably shouldn’t be trying to move her at all, but (Scale One, we think it’s killed everything...) the only other option was to leave her to the mercy of the thing that had attacked the ship.

    There was, however, a problem. Gaea wouldn’t be going anywhere with the dead weight of an inactive armour suit. Sayori tore her eyes away from the abused, invasively augmented arm and returned to the more familiar territory of the backpack power plant. Her head was still throbbing, urged on by her anxious heartbeat, and the scratching of the IV needle in the back of her hand was another unwelcome distraction.

    The smoke was coming from one of the capacitor blocks. There was a variable resistor placed to act as a fuse, but it looked to have blown out some time previously and simply been bypassed with a soldered wire. The system had been reliant on the suit’s Virtual Intelligence alone to regulate the current, and that had evidently glitched out and fried the capacitor. Sayori frowned at the mess, pressing the tip of her tongue against her top lip.

    “I hope that works.” Nevarn said, his ears laid back against his skull as he sat back and tossed aside the empty stimm syringe.

    "We should move, quickly," the maintenance bot said, moving towards Gaea. "I can help this unit leave this compartment with or without combat suit. Greater possible escape without suit, please advise?"

    “No no.” Sayori said quickly, snapping her head left and right. Figuring out how to disengage the Elemental from all those interfacing tubes and wires would be a hideous job, and take even longer. “I can fix this!”

    “We don’t have time.” Nevarn protested, his slit-pupiled eyes darting back towards the access corridor.

    Sayori shook her head again, decisively. “She’s not going anywhere without a genny.”

    “That’s not the suit generator. That’s the generator for the field projectors.”

    Sayori’s mouth fell open. She thought of Gaea throwing Winter and Sinclair about like rag dolls, and looked down at the exposed guts of the power plant again. “All that’s just for one system?

    “Keep your voice down.” Nevarn hissed, swiping with a gloved paw. He looked back over his shoulder again before hunching over Gaea, who still had not stirred. “Crap, she’s still not responding!”

    Sayori raised her head from the power plant. “You’ll have to give her another stimm shot!”

    Nevarn’s ears twitched. “Couldn’t that kill her?”

    “You’d rather just leave her here?”

    Sayori yanked the feeder cable out of the burned-out capacitor, wincing slightly at the heat still radiating out of it. Ideally, she needed a like-for-like replacement. The mules, the maintenance bot, even the cryopods probably had a capacitor unit of the right size to slot into the Elemental power plant; unfortunately, those other capacitors were usually much better secured into their power units than the ones in this jury-rigged suit. So, she had to re-route past it, and just let the shield projectors operate on reduced capacity until they could get it to a proper workshop (if there’s one left to get it to. Scale One, Scale One, Scale One...).

    Using an omni-key from the webbing as an impromptu lever, Sayori worked the overheated capacitor out of its claw-socket and tossed it aside. Bypassing the dead capacitor was the easy part - the hard part would be finding a suitable replacement VI, to make sure the suit didn’t simply overload the other capacitors too. Either that or reprogram the original one on the fly, and (yeah, right) that would take an understanding of the system that she emphatically didn’t have. She looked at Nevarn.

    “We’re going to need a whole new VI." she hissed through her teeth. "What kind does the suit use?”

    The young Charabidian looked uncertain. “I don’t know, Cicero’s the one who keeps it running.”

    “Is he on the radio?” Sayori asked, and clawed her hand at the Charabidian in response to his uncertain nod. “Gimme the comm, gimme the comm.”

    Nevarn lifted his helmet just enough to unhook the comm-stalk from around his ear, and pushed it into Sayori’s beckoning hand. Sayori shortened the telescopic microphone to better fit the contours of her human face, and pressed the receiver against her ear.

    + + + + + +

    Cicero was still interlinked into the communications systems, trying to raise Nevarn, when a new voice cut across the link. He analysed it. Human; female; coarse from recent cryo revival. The accent was west-coast American, spiced with hints of Korean and Japanese - typical for Terrans born within Old Earth’s Pan Pacific Coalition.

    “Hello?” the voice was saying, “This is Sayori Warrick, Phayder robotics team. I’m with Nevarn, Gaea and four others.”

    "Good Morning Dr Sayori, I trust your sleep went well." Cicero said rather matter-of-factly over the comms. "I also trust Davrry has given you my instructions on how to ge-." Before the Unit could continue the other voice cut him off, sounding - the Unit thought - slightly angry.

    “Your Elemental suit blew a capacitor.” Sayori explained, talking in machine-gun bursts. “I think the VI failed. I can bypass the capacitor easy enough but I need you to tell me what kind of VI the unit’s configured for.”

    "This is troubling." Cicero analysed the data for a moment before firing off rapid commands, understanding the urgency of the situation as he saw hostile movement on his scans. "You will need to move quickly, but the suit utilises a custom Virtual Intelligence. Reconfiguring it could prove difficult in your current predicament Doctor...though I guess that is why it is a good thing that I am aboard." Cicero sounded almost jovial.

    "Are you telling jokes now Sissy?" Davrry’s rolling South African drawl called over the comms. "Is this the new thing?"

    "Very good analysis Davrry." Cicero returned to his matter-of-fact, typical Sentinax drone. As he did so, he separated systems and omega units from his own, uncorrupted form. "A few omega Units could in theory replace the Virtual Intelligence, though the mainframe of the suit is not designed for such intelligence...it will not be comfortable for the operating Unit."

    As Cicero spoke, he began to transmit the omega Units through the commlink; a rather unorthodox way of transferring omega Units, and yet the Sentinax were masters of the transmission of their own kind. Many of the more advanced species they had come across proclaimed them as a technological virus, sweeping across foreign computing systems from the most simple of links between their tech and Sentinax tech.

    But of course, Berserker could do the same...


    + + + + + +

    For a moment all the comms were filled with the sounds of humming, before the Virtual Intelligence hub within Gaea’s backpack began to hum gently, coming back online.

    "I have transmitted a small percentile of my Units, enough to operate the Virtual Intelligence Systems and not reduce my own Form's productivity and usefulness. I leave the rest in your capable hands, Dr Sayori."


    “We’ve got it, thank you.” Sayori replied. She snapped the panel on Gaea’s power plant closed, and turned to pass the comm-stalk back to Nevarn. The engineer was just throwing aside the second empty stimm-pack.

    “There we go,” the young Charabidian muttered nervously, “This had better…”

    At that exact moment the Elemental soldier spasmed against the ground, and her helmet speakers roared with a mix of static and a harsh, sucking breath, like someone who had been held underwater to the point of drowning.

    Sounds had begun to creep into the hold from outside. The groan of bulkheads. The hiss of escaping gasses from ruptured pipes and hull. And behind all that, a sound like thousands of roaches streaming across a tiled floor.

    "You need to move." Cicero’s voice sounded audibly. No doubt the Sentinax beta was watching the hostile activity increase, as though they were greyhounds gradually sniffing out prey. "As soon as possible."
    Last edited by Azazeal849; 04-06-2018 at 10:02 AM.
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