RPG #12 - Fallen

Discussion in 'RPG #12 - Fallen' started by Nienor, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    Adrianna and the surrounding ships were udner heavy fire, as were most rebel forces in the area. With his cloak up Dailan wasnt a visible target to the gunners but he still had to be careful to avoid enemy fire. Years of single man missions made it seem easy, when you were fleeing or boarding a ship it was only you they were aiming at, but now he could glide between shots with ease.

    Suddenly Adrianna's craft went close to a shot dipped then exploded. Dailan could hardily think for a moment, surely the girl wasnt that much of a fool, the shot was nowhere near her, did she fly into it? He began a scan and found nothing, patroling along the current course where the ship was. Dailan didnt fail, but this idiot girl had gotten herslef killed on his watch. No more babysitting. He resolved.

    Just then ahead of them a last bolt flashed down and sparked in the middle of nowhere as if it had hit something, it could have been a piece of debris but something about it caught his eye. "Scan that sector" he ordered the computer.

    "Scanning" A few moments passed. "Spacial anomoly found" it finally concluded.

    Dailan looked over the console, the visual image before him seemed like a crack in the blackness of space, but he knew all to well what he was seeing. Clever girl. But why would she cloak so suddenly and fake an explosion? he went over the computer and plotted her course then nodded at the results. Fehzah needed to see this.

    “Update on Adrianna’s location,” He typed in

    “What’s the matter? Don’t expect any help, you’re getting none,”

    Dailan groaned at that, typical of employers, happy to hire but after that they want everything sooner without anything more on their behalf. He was fast losing patience with all the Ellcha “I was of the opinion that you spend your money on people who are skilled enough to decipher dots on the screen .”

    “Don’t get funny with me, young man. What about Adrianna’s location?”

    “She’s alive, but her location seems to be one subject to suspicion,”

    “I told her to follow my craft should she decide to flee, and you know that. Is she fleeing?”

    “I’ve plotted her location against my map and fit in the possible ways to reach Xenu, and she’s traveling along one of them now.” was Dailan’s response.

    There was a long pause, after a while he broke the silence by typing; “Orders?”

    “Kill her.” Finally, something more his style, sure the girl had pulled off faking her death well enough to fool most people but killing was infinately better than babysitting.

    “I’ll pay you double for killing her.” Dailan wondered how long the idiot's memory was from his hiring earlier that day. He decided angainst arguing as a waste of time and simply typed in his response. “Will do.”

    He swung his ship around as swept after Adrianna's, adjusting his sensors so he could track the ship by its leaking atmosphere. When he was a good distance behind her and matching gere course he went over to the weapons systems. Powering up the forward gun turret he took aim at the trail of fuel behind her. "Too easy" he said and fired.

    The shot arced out and hit the slow ooze from the ship, there was a flash as the combusible fuel ignited and exploded, but something went wrong. the leak must have drained most of the tank, instead of blowing th eship it only took out most of the engines at the back half. What was worse was the rest of the fuel leaking into space flared too damaging any ships in the vicinity. Dailan had tried to accound for this when he fired and stayed away but when one of the closer ships got caught in the fuel blaze the wrechage flew out in every direction. A huge chunk of debris crashed into his ship.
     
  2. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Dhel was staring at the apparently-empty area when she saw something from the corner of her eye. “Val, give me the controls. I think I just saw a ship – ”

    “SH*T!” Val swerved as a huge chunk of debris bigger than their ship flew straight towards them.

    “Make that an exploding ship,” she amended. “You’d better keep the controls.”

    “Thanks for telling me.” Val’s voice was tight with anxiety, and Dhel shot down another piece of metal, watching it explode into dozens of pieces.

    “Aborted message from Fehazh,” the computer said in her ear. “Message lost.”

    How useless. “Find out what you can about Fehazh, will you?” Dhel said.

    “The ship’s connections are lost. Unable to find system.”

    What the hell? “Val, Fehazh’s ship is lost.”

    “Wonderful. Just wonderful. We’re going to keep with our present orders, though, and when we find the girl, I am going to kick her sorry ass,” Val snarled. “If she wasn’t there in the first place, we would never have gotten involved in this stupidity.”

    “Think about it this way – at least we weren’t on Fehazh’s ship.”

    “Still…” Both of them jumped as something bumped into their craft. “That was the engines, wasn’t it?” Dhel asked very quietly.

    “Uh-huh.” The controls were sluggish now, almost dead.

    “Show a display of all possible landing sites,” Dhel told the computer, and her heart leapt in hope as she saw the planet blinking like a little diamond, except that it probably had a lot more mud. “Think you could chart a course there?”

    “I’ll try.” Val didn’t sound very happy about it, though. “It’s going to be a crash landing.”

    “Yeah, well, at least we can control it… a little.”

    Val tried to move the ship out of the way of another piece of debris, but failed. Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she frantically typed out commands, and Dhel concentrated on shooting down every piece of debris that she could. Thank you to whatever authority might be listening that the guns were still working.

    Then the craft shuddered, and it began streaming downwards towards the planet as Val swore again.

    Somehow, I don’t think that this is what she planned…
     
  3. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Sarhun had been chewing on a piece of dried root when the attack came.

    He never ate meat, for he abhorred hunting, an unavoidable side effect from speaking with animals. But the bright side was that the squirrels would fetch him nuts, and the other animals would bring him various foodstuffs to keep him alive.

    But they could do nothing when the vision struck without warning, merciless in its power.

    Metal boxes ride through the sky, shooting terrible flashes of flame at each other, destroying wantonly without regard for life. This is horrible enough at first, for thousands of these boxes are dying, but he is shocked when he sees the humanoid forms in the boxes, guiding them from one place to another. How is it that humans can fly within the stars? Are they gods?

    Not gods, a voice whispers, and he shrieks with pain as its power rips through his weak, mortal mind, but the voice does not care. Still your tongue or I will do so for you. He knows that the voice speaks only truth, so weeping, he represses his harsh cries into barely audible sobs. You will go to them, and you will kill them all before they can wreak their destruction upon this land.

    He listens to the command with horror.
    I will not kill! I have sworn not to –

    You will do as I tell you, insolent fool! He screams again, convulsing in utter agony as the voice flails at him with its power. You will kill them when I tell you to!

    No!

    This time, the pain is too deep for words, and the breath is sucked from his body. He feels as if he is being pulled apart into thousands of pieces, and lines of white-hot fire are burning into him.

    Finally, at last, the pain resides.
    You will do as I tell you, yes?

    Exhausted though he is, he still has enough energy to whisper no. And the voice flogs him mercilessly until he is approaching death, and at least he screams his submission.

    Very good, the voice says, and then it leaves him.

    When Sarhun awoke, he was lying on the floor, curled about his side, and the pain had carried over. “Water,” he croaked, but no one was there to bring any. He closed his eyes and let blessed numbness carry him into unconsciousness.

    Several hours later, as the sun rose, something nudged his face. Sarhun wanted to scream at the renewed agony, but it would cost too much energy. It nudged him again, and somehow, he managed to blink his stiff eyelids open.

    A bowl of water was right before him.

    Too exhausted to care about where it came from, he extended his tongue and lapped up the drops, sighing in bliss as it tricked down his throat. When it got too low for him to lick it any further, he stared at the half-full container in dismay. He needed more water, but there was no way he could pick up the bowl in his current condition. Though he had defied them before, it had never been to this extent, and this was by far the worst punishment he had ever received.

    Blessed coolness touched his parched lips. He stared at the bowl in uncomprehending befuddlement, but drank gratefully as something tipped it and poured entire sips of water into his open mouth.

    After this process had been repeated several times, someone placed a root in his mouth. He could not even recognize what it was, and nor could he chew it; he rolled it around in his mouth before spitting it out in resignation. Then he heard something – or someone – biting a piece off, and he could hear that same someone grinding it with their teeth.

    Moments later, it was soft enough for him to swallow. After eating a few bites, he felt invigorated enough to try and roll over, but an angry chitter warned him not to try.

    He stared at the squirrel before him as it scampered away, calling out to others of its own kind. They lifted the bowl from his chest and disappeared from his sight, but they soon returned with the overflowing bowl. Another squirrel had some more roots in his jaw, and as they drew closer, he recognized it for irai root, a plant with healing qualities.

    Thank you, he whispered into their minds.

    Glad. Like to help nice two-legger. Drink. Eat. Sleep.

    Sarhun obeyed their commands in that order, and soon, he closed his eyes in the warm sunlight, letting it bathe his face. Before he fell asleep, though, he thought that he felt half a dozen small, furry bodies snuggling next to him, and he smiled.
     
  4. AcrobaticHippo

    AcrobaticHippo Determined

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    “What now?” Adrianna growled in frustration as something slammed into the back of her ship. She was sick and tired of debris crashing into her ship; the sooner she got out of this hellhole the better.

    She started steering the ship towards starboard, hoping to avoid the line of fire or whatever it was. The ship did not respond to her commands.

    “What the hell-“

    “Adrianna, the engines have been…destroyed by a shot,” Adran told her hesitantly. “That’s why the controls aren’t responding.”

    A few seconds passed before Adrianna could manage to comprehend the information entirely. Engines out? So that means that our next destination is down, down, down, and possibly all the way to Hell, instead of Xenu?

    She let loose a string of expletives which made Adran wince; she did not care, though. There had to be an outlet for her to release her anger; first Aalya’s death, then the narrow escape from getting her a*s fried, now this. Everything was going terribly, terribly wrong, and it had to culminate in her death, of all things.

    “Umm…this may not be very appropriate, but calm down,” Adran spoke soothingly. “See that little diamond there? It represents Helrich IV, which you know hasn’t been explored at all. We’re currently perpendicular to it, so we’ll most likely crash there.”

    Adrianna looked; sure enough, there was a tiny blue diamond, blinking away. Well, at least I know where I may die…

    She groaned and raked her fingers through her hair. “What I want to know is…WHO shot down my craft?”

    “It can’t be the ladies in Shatterstar, the shot came from behind and they were on our right,” he replied.

    Her fingers curled in a ball. “These are probably my last few words, so I’m going to make them important. I’m going to close my eyes and wish for three things: that whichever a*shole who shot my craft gets his engines damaged as well, that you and I survive this crash landing, and that he survives so I can hunt him down and rip him limb from limb,” she snarled. “Oh, and just in case I die…it was nice knowing you, Adran.”

    She took one last look outside, at the planet – it looked like a medium-sized ball from far away, but Adrianna could see the maroon and orange swirls intertwining and stretching. across the planet’s surface. This is bizarre…the place where I will probably meet my end is so beautiful…it’s almost like that explosion which took Aalya’s life…well, at least I die somewhere pretty…

    She squeezed her eyes shut, her lips slightly parted and her hands balled tightly as the ship plummeted down towards the waiting planet.
     
  5. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    "Warning, Warning. Hull breach detected, atmosphere venting"

    Dailan had only enough time to unclip his seatbelt and tumble from the controls to look around, the canopy of his ship was crushed, the metal buckling in places and the screen cracked.

    He stumbeld back away from it to the computer terminals at the back and engaged the blast screen. Motors whirred into action and the heavy metal plate began to slide up over the screen, but the buckling was too much it only covered halfway.

    "Danger, blast-screen ineffective, total loss of life support in forward cabin imminent."

    Moving back further he slammed on the door controls to seek refuge in the back compartments of the ship, where hopefully life-support was working, when he pushed the button and nothing happened his eyes were drawn to the red light above the controls.

    "Door sealed, zero atmosphere beyond, advise alternative route"

    Dailan got mad. "Shut the hell up if youre not going to give me some good news"

    "Class M planet detected in immediate vicinity, probability of reaching its atmosphere before life support fails; 46%"

    That made him think a moment. "Set in course on autopilot and get us there asap" Hopefully he could patch the hull enough to fly on nav-imputs alone, there was little chance of finding more armoured glass to fix the screen.

    "Error, Engines damaged, further use increases risk of total failure, original estimate revised to 30% chance of survival"

    "I said GOOD news only, get us there, engines are less important than air" He tried the back door again and failed, the readouts claimed the top-hatch had broken, the lift shaft was exposed to the vacuum of space and he was going nowhere.

    He felt the engines kick into motion and the ship lurch forward, inertial dampening must have failed, there was a grinding vibration coming from under the floor which wasnt good. Dailan turned back to the viewscreen and looked out of the uncovered half to see their destination, the planet glowed bright blue and green, by now it was enveloping his entire view, theyd need to get there fast, already he could see the cracks spreading across the glass.

    turning back he checked the storage compartment for some sealant to prolonge the strength of the glass but found nothing, he must have left it in the other half of the ship.

    There was a jolt as the nost of the ship began to pierce the upper layer of the planets atmosphere, more jolts followed and then a roaring built up as the heat of reentry amassed. Soon after he could hear air whipping back through the tiny holes in the screen, he'd made it back into breathable atmosphere. The only problem was he was in a radical uncontrolled descent.

    "Engage landing protocalls"

    "Error, not possible at this time, engine damage beyond safe operating levels, main thrusters nonresponsive." The ground below resolved into a sea of green and a thick wooded canopy below, getting much to close for confort.

    "Then engage retroburners"

    "Error, retroburners damaged in collision, use not advised."

    Dailan slammed his fist into the wall. "But not fully inoperable? burn them now or i'll smash your memory-core into dust"

    He was close to the ground now, to close and moving too fast, even now the burneres woul only slow him, but it would mean the difference between living or being obliterated into a million pieces "Failsafes disengaged, retroburners firing."

    He was slammed to the floor with a thud when they fired like huge airbrakes, after a few moments the ship began to shake and the burners cut out. When Dailan got to his feet to look the ship was gliding just above the treeline, the burn had slowed them and put them at a shallower fall, but they were still falling. Soon he could hear branches whipping the undreside and the ship plunged below the treetops, the ship thudded with bangs but wrenched most of the branches away as it passed. A huge shuddering thud tood the ship as it glaced off a tree and hit the ground.

    Dailan was sent flying back by the shock and into the metal wall ebhind him, a sharp of metal and bits of wood flew from the ruin of the ship's cockpit and the last thing he saw before darkness took him was the shards piercing his neck.
     
  6. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    “All right, this is going to be a crash landing.” Val sounded calmer than Dhel would have, but she could still hear the taut tension in her voice. “I’m controlling it as best I can, and I think I can manage it so that we’re not going to die or even be injured in the crash. But it’s beyond hope to save the craft. We’re going to be marooned on that damn planet until someone can rescue us.”

    It took a moment before the words fully sank in. “Marooned on this Helrich IV, and we can’t ask for help, either because the radio equipment’s going to be broken, or because the USC would capture us if we sent out a request for help. We’re going to be stuck on a damn planet for who knows how long,” she said flatly. “Cut off completely from any kind of civilization.”

    “Uh-huh.”

    “The only bright side to it is that we’ll probably land alive uninjured. What’s the odds on that?”

    “Landing alive?” Val shrugged. “Probably 85-90 percent, which is pretty damn good considering that the engines are semi-busted. Landing uninjured, 65-70 percent, which is again pretty good. Landing with this p.o.s. intact and able to carry us back out? Nil.”

    Dhel clenched her fists on the gun controls. “I think I’ll help you in kicking that girl’s sorry ass.” She slammed the keys with more force than necessary, and watched with vicious pleasure as a hunk of metal exploded. “Report on all emergency equipment and display it on my screen.”

    She watched the list appear on her screen, and had to admit that this was better than she had thought. There were plenty of tech and non-tech weapons, even old-age ones such as swords and bows. The two of them had been trained even in such barbaric and antique weaponry, so it wasn’t as if they would be helpless. It also contained medical kits, and of all things, seeds from different planets, even some from their home.

    Hang on… “Check the living conditions on Helrich IV, and whether the air is breathable, that sort of thing.”

    “Exact same conditions as Laraj I,” the computer reported, and she exchanged a glance with her partner. Laraj I was their home planet, and these seeds would come in useful if they were stuck on Helrich IV for longer than a year. From assassin to farmer. How poetic.

    She examined the list of emergency equipment once more, and decided that they would have more than what they needed to survive on this forsaken mudball while they were there. It even contained rudimentary materials to create a homing capsule, provided that they could find enough energy to power it in the first place. But that, too, was useless while the USC controlled the skies.

    “How long do we have until we need to activate the emergency shields?”

    “Couple minutes, more or less.” Val managed to lounge on her seat with half-lidded eyes, ignoring the possibility that the shields had been destroyed as well. “Anyway, when we break through the atmosphere, there might be a few shocks, ok?”

    “All right, shields activating,” Val announced as they flared to life. Dhel stopped the guns immediately, letting the shields do their work. They managed to deflect most of the debris, although the occasional fist-sized rock broke through and thudded into their ship.

    Five minutes later, there were more than a few shocks. “This – is – not – fun,” Dhel panted, her breath stolen by the jolts as the craft shuddered through. “Son – of – a – b*tch!”

    “Yeah.” Val was bent over the controls, her face tight with concentration as she tapped out the necessary commands. “Ok, here goes, we’re crashing in a few minutes. Try to relax.”

    “Yeah, that’s just a little tough, seeing how my guts might be spilled onto this seat any moment. Not reflecting on your skills as a pilot, of course,” she added. Then she glanced at the display screen and froze. “Oh bloody f*ck, we’re right over a f*cking pool of water,” she snarled.

    Val looked over as well, then smashed a fist onto her screen before typing out some final commands. Dhel winced, knowing that it might be damaged, but then decided that it didn’t really matter anymore. “Get the packs and the damn bowls ready.”

    Bowls were a recent Laraj invention, and she hoped that their craft might carry one. Luckily, it did, and both of them dove inside the tiny craft with the emergency equipment and their own packs. It’s a good thing we’re both small, or we’d have had to chuck some of the packs out. Bowls were tiny skycrafts that were used in emergency evacuations. They were enough to get them landed safely, but not much else; it certainly couldn’t go higher than tree level if it was starting off the ground. It had been an adaptation of a Laraj children’s toy used to jump from a safe height and “fly” to the ground, and known to land even on water, so that was all right. Hopefully.

    “We’re launching soon,” Val said quietly. “I set the timer to two minutes, and it’s been over a minute and a half already.”

    Fifteen seconds later, the hatch opened, and the bowl whizzed down from the craft onto Helrich IV.
     
  7. Morgan_of_Salerone

    Morgan_of_Salerone New Member

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    Zendah the Merciless watched from the back of his warhorse as his warriors annihilated the tiny Ghalian village. Crimson flames flickered hungrily around the dry thatch of the neat, little roofs, and frightened children clung to their screaming mothers. Zendah allowed his twisted face a small smile. It was over in moments.

    “Line up the mothers there, and the children here,” he ordered. “Bring the men to me.” Zendah waited as his warriors carried out his bidding.

    Such tiny, delicate people, he thought. It was no wonder why they were defeated so easily. When all was arranged, Zendah let the tension build, the only sound the crackling of flames. His dismounted, and strode over to where the children stood. They cringed away and he smiled, his tortured face becoming even more monstrous. He knelt down a reached out a hand to stroke the smooth cheek of a young girl, but a boy – no older than nine winters – snapped at him and batted his hand away.

    “Leave my sister alone!” he cried.

    “Ah, my pardons.” Zendah said as he straightened. “I never meant any offence.” The Ghalian language was thick on his tongue. Turning back to his warriors, he said in his own speech,

    “Kill him.”

    The mother of the offending child cried out and strained against the strong arms of her captors as one warrior strode forward and quickly snapped the boy’s neck.

    “The next offender shall not be so lucky.” Zendah called in the villager’s language. “You are my slaves, and shall behave a such. One wrong move,” he paused, looking about at the women and men gathered on his opposite sides. A wicked grin lit up his face. “And it will not be you who pay the blood price, but your children. Nor will their deaths be as clean or quick as this boy’s.” If Zendah had a heart, the sobs coming from the women may have given him pause, but as it was, he merely strode over the men.

    “You will fight for me,” he said calmly. “For every battle you lose, your child shall lose one digit of his foot or hand. If I hear of any sort of betrayal, on or off the battlefield, your child shall lose first their ears, and if you re-offend, it shall next be their tongue, nose or eyes. If you have no children, than it shall be your sister or brother, mother or father that will suffer this fate. If you do not tell me who your relations are, than I shall lay this punishment on all of the women and children.”

    “But sir,” croaked a tear-stained young man. “What if we have no family?”

    “Then it will be your ill-luck to suffer this punishment. You need not your tongue to thrust a spear through an enemy’s gut.” Zendah turned and sauntered away, ignoring the hopeless sobs of his victims.
    ---------------------------
    It was only a few hours later when the scouts came in, babbling and wild eyed.

    "What is the meaning of this?" Zendah thundered, rage clear on his face.

    "The gods! Rahtaes! He is calling the stars down upon us!" one of them cried.

    Zendah gazed down at the two of them, disgusted. Seeing the expression on his face the other scout quickly cut the other off.

    "Look, Chief of Chiefs, we have proof of our words." Pulling out a wooden box, the scout opened it and offered it to Zendah.

    It was heavily charred inside, smoking and hot. Lying in the middle was a melted lump of some sort of metal the warlord had never seen before.

    "Show me where you found this," he commanded. The scouts hurried to obey. Zendah stood, staring at the lump for a moment. Today was turning out to be an unusual day.
     
  8. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    "Where am I?" He called out into the darkness, the only reply was the slow dripping of water. Around him the deep blue nothingness descended into an intense feeling of malice and dread.

    The dripping gave way to the sound of rippling water and a whisper rose up around him.

    "My son, my errant child"

    The voice was familiar but so distant and quiet it was hard to remember.

    Dailan reached for his gun but found the holster empty, his foldout sword was not in its shieth and all his pockets contained nothing. He tried to repeat his question but the words were cut out by a piercing pain running down his entire body.

    On the floor now he tried to rise but the pain shot through him again, and when he was done writhing in agony, on the cold stone floor he heard the whispering again.

    "my own blood, betrayer, kinslayer, fool!"

    The pain came once more, more shocking than ever before, starting in his head and taking over his whole body, he kicked and tried to shout but he was mute from agony. The dark world around him faded to white.


    -------------------------------

    It could have been hours or days or just minutes from when he lost consciousness but when he woke it was daylight through the cracked window and the holes in the hull.

    When Dailan tried to lift his head to see more he couldnt. his hands reached up to probe and found the reason, a shaft of metal from the forward screen had punctured his neck at a shallow angle, narrowly missing his jugular and oesophegus it came out the back of his neck and into the wall pinning him there. He was surprised to find no pain, his neuronetwork must have blocked it out.

    Quickly he checked to see if he could move, an injury like this could cause paralysis or worse, but luckly his only difficulty came from having his head pinned to the wall.

    Taking the end of the rod in his hand he tried yanking it out but that didnt help. Then he tried sliding his head down, but not only was the rod tapers but when he tried to move it he could feel the metal scraping on bone or one of his implant and pain surged so greatly he had to stop.

    there was only one more option. He often used his nanites to break down materials to form others, and when he had bullets lodged in his body he found it useful to break them down instead of having to remove them himself.

    He focused his mind but when he tried to control his nanites he was hit with pain so unbearable his whole body shook with convusions and his neck pulled at the rod it was peirced with. After a minute of blinding agony there was a ping and a clatter as the end of the rod fell to the floor and Dailan was free. he rolled forward and grasped his neck where the rod had been, there were deformations but the skin was fixed and at last he could move freely.

    When he got up he found he was tired and aching front the crash so he found his chair and sat down, the thing was tilted but it was better than nothing.

    "Computer" He said in a raspy voice.

    nothing happened for a while untill one screen flickered slighly and a stream of jargon came out of the speakers before it stopped. A second later another screen lit up and displayed a ship schematic.

    "Primary and secondary power cores damaged, auxiliary power engaged, request?"

    "Damage report."

    The schematics began to flash red in places and showed various readouts.

    "Main engines damages extensively, inoperable untill repaired. Main injectors damaged beyond repair, replacements needed. Reactor casing cracked, cannot engage untill fixed. Inertial dampeners damaged beyond repair, retroburners damaged but operable, fuel levels at 12%, outer hatch missing, hull severely damaged, breached in 9 places, Computer core active but secondary memory cache amaged. Weapons systems still active but front turret is damages, launch tube 2 is bent and its autoloader damaged. Power levels at 23% and falling at a rate of 12 Kilojoules per minute, total system shutdown in 108.3 days."

    Dailan pondered over the data for a moment, not much good news at all. He wondered what to do, most of the ship was damaged, he could patch up the hull and rewire some circuitry but unless he get replacement parts for the engines and found some fuel or energy cells he would be stuck here.

    "Status of self repair mode?" He said after a moments hesitation.

    "Self repair mode engaged but limited to the following areas; computer systems, reactor casing, minor hull breaches, minor engines systems. Repair will take 48 hours but will not enable takeoff."

    He nodded, there was little hope for that anyway, self repair was a minor backup system and was severely limited in its capacity, it would take much more to get the ship to fly again.

    At last he set out to checking the ship for parts and supplies. Now that he was in breathable space he could open the door that was previously pressure sealed, when he went in he saw the top hatch was blown open, and the power lift was damaged. Ignoring it he went back into his small armoury.

    The armoury was the most heavily shielded part of the ship with the thickest hull, it had survived mostly intact but some of the loser weapons had fallen from their racks. On the floor the explosives cache was locked tight and undamaged, which was lucky, if it had been blown open or exposed to the heat of the entry at best the ship would have been vaporisted, at worst the area for a hundred miles around would be scorched and dead.

    He left the armoury for now and proceeded into the back section of the ship where the small bunk for him and cargo were held. The boxes wer ejumbled and thrown about but nothing too damaged, there was a hole in the roof and another to his left at the floor. His first priority was checking for engine spare parts which he kept and compared them to the list he had bene given. He came up short by a large degree. Only one or two of the bits he needed were there so he left them for now and searched the rest for useful tools.

    While searching he saw the medikit and the medical console to one side, and with the pain he had felt earlier he thought it good to check up. He started with a quick scan but it didnt end there. Warning lights flashed up and the readout began.

    "Minor internal haemoraging due to nanite buildup, nanite levels at 106%." that was odd to say the least. Dailan's nanites were self replicating, they only lasted a short while before they degraded and lost power but then were collected by others and recycled in his nanofactories, usually they sayed at the same level and only fluctuated by a percent or two if he had lost blood, and as far as he could tell he had bruised but the only major injury was the neck one.

    Either way excess nanites could be bad so he tried to secrete some through his palm to lower the levels. As soon as he tried the convulsions and agony took him again in a pain so terrible he could hardily think straight. When it was over he looked at his plam where he had tried to vent the nanites and saw his skin there was greyish and blotchy from nanite buildup.

    the medical console beeped again, it had scanned his body during the event and was now processing the results.

    "Neural network tranciever and nanite-control node damaged due to forced blow." Dailan rubbed his neck where the rod had been lodged, those two implants were at the base of his skull and on his spine, right where the rod had been. "Nanite control limited, subcommands disabled or degraded."

    That was bad, very bad, worse than the ship and it explained the pain he was having. He could no longer fully control his nanites, and furthermore without his commands they would normally follow a strict set of functions but the list had been degraded and that could mean they could do more harm than good. From the nanite count he had guessed one, they were self replictating but limited, the damage to his neural network must have changed it or stopped limiting them, his nanofactories would produce more than he needed which was extremely bad. With too many they could pool in places, eventually if they got too far it would start damaging hs organic tissues. What was worse was nanites were metal, to be produced they recycled dead ones and took in small quantities of metal, reproducing at this rate would mean they would need more and more.

    The irony of the situation was when any part of his complex set of implants was damaged, the onyl way to repair it was with his nanites, the repair function was also built into their basic functioning as a safeguard it total control was not possible. But right now both were malfunctioning and the only solution was a replacement. And the technology in his body was some of the most advanced in the universe, nowhere could it be found publicly, and on some primitive mudheap like this his chances were zero.

    Whats the point is fixing the ship if I'm broken? he though, but it was no good, the best he could do was try and fix his ship to get away and get a replacement somehow, of fix something up from parts he could find in the meantime.

    He returned to the cockpit to consult with the main computer, asking it to scan the terrain of the planet he was on.

    "M class atmosphere, temperate, forests primarily with areas of water and flat ground elsewhere. Foreign elemets detected, probability debris from the battle or crashed ships; 84%, probability of replacement parts for ship found here; 30%."

    "At least its a start" he muttered and downloaded the scans into his neural link, which thankfully was still working. his best chance now was finding the parts he needed so he set about getting ready for that.

    Going back to rummage through his cargo he came out with some emergency supplies, medikits, food rations, water which he put into a bag. Not knowing what to find outside he left some of the portable transports where they were and set out to kitting up.

    He put on his tactical vest with its armoured coating strapped on tight. Then he put on his belt which held numerous things, such as 2 cases of pin-grenades, lights, tensile wire, binoculars etc. all the things he might have a need for. after that he strapped twin holsters to his thighs and put in two heavy duty pistols in, he then fixed on his tactical knee and elbow pads and his long black coat with the cloaking device strapped on last. Then he went to the racks and chose out an all purpose assault rifle, which was built with an ammuniton refiner for long term use and an underbarrel launcher; after which he got some rockets for. He slung the rifle over his shoulder and put on his pack of supplies at last ready.

    "Computer, is ship's cloak functional?"

    "Cloak partially functional, failure at breaches."

    "Enable cloak and lock all doors behind me, activate security systems for anyne trying to board but me."

    "Engaged"

    And so Dailan set out from his downed craft into the forest around him. As he walked he felt his left plam begin to throb and the greyish patch on it had grown.
     
  9. AcrobaticHippo

    AcrobaticHippo Determined

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    Adrianna blinked once, then twice before her eyes flew wide open. Sunlight was streaming in through the holes in the damaged hull and lapping urgently at her face, as though it had been trying to wake her for some time.

    Adrianna groaned softly. Where am I...

    The groan turned into a sharp gasp as pain rained down on her right arm like needles. Adrianna bit her lower lip. She hoped that it was not a broken bone; a non-functioning limb would mean that she'd lose control of quite a few nifty weapons and not move around so easily for fear of aggravating it even further. Besides, she needed all her strength in a foreign place; this planet was no exception.

    She moved her right arm slightly, checking to see whether it bent; it did, and the fingers flexed themselves perfectly. Her right arm was fine, all right...in fact, it even looked beautiful, with moderate-sized shards sticking out all over.

    "Where's a medic when I need one," she grumbled, surveying the level of damage to her ship. The once sleek, electric blue craft was now a sorry-looking mess with bits of the hull strewn across the floor. The screen showing a map of the planetary system had shattered into smithereens; the front screen was not much better off, though at least it was not completely destroyed.

    Adrianna's eyes travelled back to her hand. I don't know how bad the damage is...if the shards pierced my brachial artery, my arm is gone. Or even worse, my life.

    She gave a start as someone else in the room started showing signs of life; she had been so preoccupied with her arm and the state of damage that she had forgotten about Adran.

    "Adran!" she called out, running over. The engineer stirred slightly and moaned as his eyes fluttered open.

    "Whe-where are we...?" he trailed off, slightly groggy.

    "Precisely what I've wanted to know ever since waking up," she told him. "Check for any swellings...any broken bones? Any intense pain?"

    "No..." he replied. "There's some debris on me, but I'm sure I'll survive that."

    He pushed the light debris off him and stood up, his eyes lingering on her arm. "Not looking too good, eh?"

    "No...I've got to yank these shards out, but I don't know if any managed to pierce through a major blood vessel or something," she replied. "If that's the case, then that's the end of my arm."

    She indicated the cargo room with her other hand. "Could you bring some antiseptic and water? I won't use a lot of water, we'll need some for drinking as well..."

    He nodded as she set to work yanking the glass shards out. She tensed slightly each time a shard was removed, though thankfully, there was no thick spray of blood gushing out or anything. Once all the shards were removed, she sighed in relief. No cuts deep enough to cause any permanent damage...that news was as sweet as honey.

    Adran returned with the antiseptic, bandages and water and watched as Adrianna cleaned her wound and applied antiseptic. He then helped her wrap the bandage around her arm tightly. Once it was done, she smiled at him gratefully.

    "I'm going to assume that my major vessels were spared...I'll go and pack some stuff while you check the status of the ship," she told him before heading to the cargo room. The boxes were mostly in good shape, thanks to her fine packing skills. She took a few boxes labelled "Food" and "Medicine" as well as some water bottles before heading to the control room once again.

    "What do the readings say?" she asked him. She did not think she would like the answer; the look on his face already told her so.
     
  10. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Val clenched her hands on the steering wheel, hoping that the tiny craft could carry them to safety. The lake was a huge one, and they were heading straight for the middle of it, and no matter how hard she yanked on the controls, the wind was too great for her to turn.

    Dhel looked grim, and well she might, as the craft sped downwards. Val closed her eyes and waited for the bowl to hit the lake.

    “Bowl malfunctioning,” the controls reported. “Controls broken.”

    She let out a stream of swear-words, finishing with, “ – stupidb*tchofahunkoftin!”

    After her outburst, neither of them wasted any time in moaning over their situation, and they didn’t say clichés like, “It was nice knowing you.” Val and Dhel had worked together for over half a century, and all the things that needed to be said had been said.

    So she was more than a little surprised when Dhel cleared her throat. “Umm, Val?”

    “Yeah?”

    “How well can you swim?”

    Before she could answer the question, the bowl hit the water, and instead of floating – the way it was supposed to – it sank.

    Val watched the shadowy underworld around them, so dark and menacing. When it touched bottom several moments later, she exchanged a glance with her partner. There was no way that they could stay here; they would run out of air soon.

    “Pretty good,” she answered laconically. “You?”

    “Not very.” Swimming had never been high on their list of priorities; after all, they were space-mercs, not planet mercs. “How hard is it going to be to swim up?”

    “Not too hard, I should think – ” A tentacle touched the glass right in front of them, and she patted her pistols, needing the reassurance. “Oh dear.”

    “Yeah.”

    “All right, here’s the plan,” she said, ignoring the huge shape that was approaching closer and closer. “In a few seconds, I’m gonna open the top, and you’re going to swim as fast as you can to the surface.”

    “Me? What about you?”

    She jerked a thumb at the leering monstrosity that looked like all mouth and tentacles and very little else.

    “Oh.”

    “Are the emergency bags waterproof?”

    “Yeah, and they’re inflatable.”

    “Inflate them. Use them to get to the surface, all right?”

    “Got it.” Val watched the monster withdraw a little, perhaps fearing contact with the bowl. Then it disappeared completely, and she felt like cheering. “Ready?”

    “Give me a few – never mind, I’m finished.”

    “Three, two, one –” They simultaneously took a huge lungful of air, and Val pressed the open button. She followed Dhel as her partner began kicking up to the surface, keeping an eye out for the creature.

    When a tentacle grabbed her ankle, Val was ready and waiting. Knowing that her pistols and laser blades would be useless, she had both sansen in her hands, and she jabbed at it, feeling it withdraw immediately. Nonetheless, her skin crawled, and she wished that she could scrub at the spot where the tentacle had touched her.

    She swam as fast as she could, but spots began to glow in front of her eyes and her chest felt as if it would break apart when she finally saw a lessening in the gloomy dark. With an extra surge, she lifted her face to the surface and took great gasps of air, forgetting in her elation about the monster, which was a stupid mistake.

    A dozen tentacles grasped her feet, pulling her back into the water, and she swore silently as her long black hair floated in front of her face, obscuring her vision. Sparing one hand to push it back, she caught her first clear glimpse of the monster – and wished that she hadn’t. Her original impression had been mostly correct; it was little more than tentacles and mouth.

    She’d forgotten about the teeth.

    She swallowed as she saw another mass of tentacles and teeth approaching, lazily swimming towards her. Ohsh*tohsh*tohsh*t…

    And for one moment, Valhanna wished that she had told Dhel that it had been nice knowing her.
     
  11. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    "What do the readings say?" she asked him.

    "The ship was damaged badly in the crash, we'll never make it out of the stmosphere unless we get parts, and even then......with the tools we have here it may take months to fix it all."

    It was not good news, then again crashing a ship wasnt likely to do anything better, and they were lucky to escape with their lives. Adran took a quick look around at the ship, broken, holes here and there, bulkheads buckled and bent, it was terrible. Adran has spent so many hours making this ship what it was, fine tunign every system to perfection, and now it was ruined. He put one hand to the wall by him and shook his head.

    "I'll start picking out whats left of the tools to begin the repairs we can." He said wuickly, going back to the console and looking over the reports.

    "Arent you forgetting something?" He heard Adrianna say, shrugging his shoulders he let her continue, and with a sigh she did. "We've just crashed after a battle, one we didnt win, theres a good chance the USC may run sweeps of all the crash sites they find, and if they find us...."

    "But we cant just leave it like this, how are we going to get away?"

    "We can come back when we're sure the USC have gone, anyway theres no time to argue, pack up what we need and lets get ready to go."

    Adran looked at her for a moment and nodded sollemnly, he'd be coming back. Just then he rememberes something.

    "SAM!" he shouted and ran to the cargo hold. Here and here boxes were strewn about but most had retained some order. Adran ran to the far end and shouted again, being him was a faint rumble. A second later several boxed tumbled away and the large robot got up from benieth the mess. Adran was glad to know he had survived the crash, the ship was bad enough, but without SAM things woul be muhc worse.

    "System checkup" He said and the robot's red eyes flashed once, the Data concerning the robots status displayed on one of Adran's portable computers and showed that SAM was mostly fine.

    "Come on, lets get packing"

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Checking his map once more Dailan shook his head, there were miles left between him and the first crash site, so he had plenty of time before he got there. There was a good chance the USC would have scans done of the planet, but under the canopy of the forest he could keep hidden and likely be mistaken for some indiginous life form. But the onyl matter was how long he shoul stay under cover before t was safe to search the wrecks? He didnt know for sure, a few days? a week? more? it all depended on the number of crashes and the USC's persistence.

    Putting the map away he took a break from walking and fetched out his canteen, taking a gulp over water he wiped his mouth with his hand, then he noticed the change. The grey patch had grown larger, only slightly, and in its centre i had become darker. Nanite buildup, dead nanites that werent being refined, it equated to him hand being filled with metal, it may make his more dense and stronger, but it made it heavier, less dextrous and eventually it would destroy his organic tissues. He had to do something.

    The forest seemed all quiet with nothing but birds singing, yet Dailan knew someone was coming, his hearing attuned to the smallest lapse in normality, anyone else wouldnt have heard the four men sliding swiftly behind the trunks of the tree's down to the forest floor, but Dailan did.

    He shouldered his rifle.

    When they came out from hiding he saw they werent USC, and by their primitive garb and weapons he guessed this planet had natives, interesting. Still, primitive planets were dangerous to an extent, their peoples usually frightened and hostile to the strangeness of modern technologies. Unfortunately for them Dailan wasnt one of the people who gave a crap.

    "Who are you to tresspass in our lands?" one began, clutching a sword as the others pointed bows at him.

    "Looks like a ghalian to me, lets kill him and move on. not worth the hastle"

    "Nah, look at him, not drssed like one, and besides Ghalians are too frightened to come this far."

    Dailan didnt like being talked at, he had the feeling they were doing it to unnerve him, because they thought they had the edge with bows raised pointed at his chest, where his armour plating was.

    "I'm just passing through, and if you dont move aside you'll be regretting it pretty quickly."

    The leader looked at him and smiled. "hah, good one, you know I think we will kill him and move on now, I'ts probabl......" The words were cut off abruptly as half of his head exploded in a blue flash as the shot from Dailan's rifle hit him, the rest a charred black mess. The one other man closes jumped, dropped his bow and ran. The other two loosed their arrows.

    One hit Dailan where his heart was and the soft head bounced on his armour with a ping, the second hit him in the arm where he wasnt armoured.

    Lettign out a short spray of shots to disturb the attackers, one ran at the sight of the blue blasts, the other was hit int the side and limped of clutching his bleeding side.

    Dailan looked at his arm and the feathered shaft sticking out of it. Taking it by the end he ripped it out and concentrated on fixing the wound with his nanites, too late he remembered what had happened last time.

    He convulsed as the pain shot through him, his arm felt like it was on fire and his head like an explosion, after a time of absolute agony he regained control and loked at his arm, the wound was healed but it was now greyish like the patch on his had, worse, the line where the arrow had pierced the flesh had a scar, but ti was shiny and metalic. Soon he began to feel a burning deep inside his bones like exhaustion but worse, his active nanites were becoming few most of his body was full of dead ones, he need to feed his sytems, get metal for the nanofatories to produce more nanites or else the painn would get worse.

    Quickly he picke dup the arrow that had struck him and helod the head in his palm, there was another smaller jolt of agony, and after a minute or two the arrowhead was gone. He set about searching the dead man for more bits of metal to use,a ll the while forgetting the situation around him. Things were just getting worse and worse.
     
  12. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Dhel broke the surface, heaving in great gasps of air. A second later, she noticed that Val wasn’t with her.

    Where is she? she thought frantically. Still in the water?

    Diving back in, she kept her eyes open and felt them widen as she saw the tentacle-teeth-monster-thing attacking her partner. Without a second thought, she kicked over to the thing and jabbed her sansen at the tentacles, making it temporarily release its hold on Val. The creature’s mate didn’t impede them as together, Val and Dhel kicked out for the nearest bank, driven to speed by desperation. She took only a moment to stick the sansen back into her belt before swimming onward, Clumsy as her strokes were, she managed to keep pace with Val’s more graceful swimming.

    They used the inflated packs to float and kick, breathing as deeply as they could. After they were both safely out of the way, Val drew her pistol, set it to kill, and shot at the creature, watching it thrash about. “Do you have any idea how to kill that thing?” Dhel asked. “I mean, where’s the head and heart of it?”

    “If I shoot it often enough, it’ll die.” Her tone made it clear that the subject was closed to discussion. “Did you want to help?”

    Sighing, she pulled out her own pistol and pulled the trigger. “I really hate planets,” she complained as the creature flinched. “Too many animals around.”

    Val snorted. “Oh, come on. Who couldn’t love a bundle of tentacles and teeth? It’s been my daydream since childhood to have one of these things follow me home.”

    “Yeah, right.” She kept kicking, trying to resist the temptation to look behind and see where the hell that oversized octopus was now.

    “Dhel?”

    “Hmm?”

    “Start swimming faster. Those monsters have kids.”

    “I so needed to hear that,” she muttered under her breath as she kicked out. Twisting around, she aimed and shot one of the dark, murky shapes in the water. When a scarlet pool of blood began staining the clear surface of the lake, she knew that she had hit true. None of her other shots had so much as made a scratch on the adults.

    Looking back, she saw that all of them had paused to devour the struggling pup, giving them some more time. Val wore a twisted look on her face; any creature that ate its own young was disgusting beyond measure.

    They stopped only once to shoot down some more of the young, and at last, the two of them reached the bank without further incident. Climbing out of the water, she wrung her hair dry and tried to shake the rest of the water off as best as she could. Shivering slightly as a slight breeze blew her way, she bent down to rummage through the packs for dry clothes when Val froze.

    “Octopuses, even overgrown ones, can’t walk on land,” she said, daring the creatures to defy her. Dhel watched the rippling waves as it drew closer and closer. “On the other hand… I don’t think that’s an octopus. Run!” she shrieked, and Dhel gathered up the packs and ran, a pistol already in her hand.

    The lumbering monstrosity had reached the shallows now, and they caught their first clear look at the thing.

    It was a ball of flesh covered with hundreds of writhing tentacles, and that ball didn’t seem to be much more than teeth and three eyes. Dhel sighted, then shot at the eye, watching it shrug off the injury as if it was nothing. As it continued its advance, Dhel realized that pistols were useless, at least against the adults.

    Putting the pistol back in its holster, she pulled out one of her sansen and waited coolly for the creature to come around. “You distract it,” she called to Val. The creature was eerily silent; it made no noise save to make its way across the sand, dragging itself with tentacles. It was larger than both Val and Dhel put together, and Dhel wished that they didn’t have to close with it to use sansen. Guns would have been so much simpler.

    “OK,” Val answered, and she began taunting the creature, drawing its attention away from Dhel as she sneaked behind it, avoiding stepping on the tentacles. Then, drawing a deep breath and gathering her courage, she leapt onto the tentacles climbed until she was close to the ball of flesh.

    A huge eye fully as big as her hand stared back at her, and without hesitation, she jabbed the sansen in the orb. It squealed with pain as she set it to kill, and she gripped the slimy tentacles firmly – although she did cringe a little – as it jerked about in pain. Then, shifting her grip a little, she swung around until she was face-to-eye with another of the great orbs. Repeating the process, she was flung off as it went into its final death convulsions. Luckily, she hit nothing but soft, yielding dirt, and although she came up wheezing, she wasn’t injured.

    The creature gave a final shudder and lay still. Val and Dhel waited for a few moments, wondering if the mate and children would come to shore as well, but it didn’t. “I wonder how it would taste,” Val said thoughtfully. “Some humans I met once fed me octopus, and it tasted pretty good – ”

    Dhel shuddered violently. “No! Just leave it there.”

    “Or roll it into the lake,” Val suggested. “It might keep the creature’s mate and young occupied.”

    “Do you really want to feed the kids so they can grow up to be big and strong like papa – or mama – whichever it is?” Dhel asked sarcastically.

    Val regarded the size of the creature, then shook her head. “Nah. Besides, I don’t really want to touch the thing. Whatever possessed you to jump on its back, anyway?”

    “Guns weren’t doing anything, and since it had a few hundred tentacles, using a sansen against one of those wouldn’t help very much either.”

    “Huh.” Val was silent for a while, then said, “Well, let’s get out of here.” And with that, the two of them shouldered the emergency packs. Although they were still dripping wet, the urgency to leave this lake and its overgrown monsters was far more compelling than changing into dry clothes. They could do that later.

    At nightfall – they had made planetfall around noon – they stopped walking. Their clothes had dried during that time, and the two of them chewed on a strip of jerky before lying down to sleep. Val’s breathing slowed within moments, but Dhel had one last thought before dropping off herself.

    When I find who was responsible for our crash, I am so going to kill them. Slowly. And painfully. Or maybe I’ll just feed them to our pet monsters…
     
  13. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    “Get up nice and slow and no one will be harmed.”

    Val didn’t allow a single flicker of surprise to cross her face. Surprisingly, Helrich IV had native inhabitants… and more surprisingly, they spoke a form of strange Federate. It sounded a little weird in syntax and grammar, but other than that… How the hell did they manage that? she wondered.

    “Activate thought messaging ability,” she said under her breath, knowing that Dhel was doing the same.

    “What was that?” There were no less than twenty primitives, but that wasn’t a problem; both she and Dhel could activate temporary shields for about a minute, and that would be enough to kill them all.

    Nonetheless, it might be useful to get some information first.

    “Please don’t hurt us,” she said, looking as harmless as possible. It wasn’t that hard; she was small and seemed fragile, and people often believed her illusions. More fools them.

    Besides that, they were women, and the natives were men. And here’s hoping that the presence of so much combined testosterone makes them incautious.

    Agreed, Dhel said on the other end. Info first, that sort of thing, right?

    Yeah. She stood up, holding her hands above her head, and did a quick examination of their “captors.”

    It’s like we’ve landed in a damn Terran-medieval universe, she thought, looking at their boiled leather and metal armor. None of it seemed to be advanced past steel or iron, and they would be easy prey for Val and Dhel.

    “All right, names? You don’t look like Eldorans or Ghalians.”

    Bullsh*t time. Let me handle this, ok?

    Got it. “My name is Valhanna Amaryn, and this is my sister Dhellani. We don’t know who Eldorans or Ghalians are. We’re from the Laraj land.” Using that name was enough, as the Laraj planet was about a lightyear’s travel away, and besides, she hadn’t lied once.

    The primitives seemed a little excited at this. “You’re from beyond the sea?”

    “Lord Zendah will want to hear about this,” another one said. With an ingratiating smile that was the biggest lie she’d ever seen, he said, “Won’t you come with us? We’re Eldorans, and we’ll be sure to protect you from the Ghalians. They’re horrible men, and they’d do unspeakable things to pretty little things like you.”

    Hah. What do you say to killing them now? I really don’t like these people.

    Yeah, neither do I. Activate shields after my word, ok? “Oh, but who would hurt us?” Val asked with a predatory grin, making the nearest man step back just a little. “Now!

    In a flash, both of them had called upon natural Laraj abilities to activate shields about themselves. “They have magic!” one of the primitives screamed.

    “Stop stating the obvious and just kill them!”

    That last command proved to be a little difficult to execute as Val’s hands dove to the pistols at her waist, swung up, and shot him in the head.

    Forty-five seconds later, all twenty of them were dead. Val was a little disappointed; the huge squid monster had been a bigger challenge. “Waste of time and ammo,” she said distastefully, prodding one corpse with her booted toe. “I’m going to use sansen instead.”

    “Good idea; we’ll be stuck out here for who knows how long. Well, let’s get going.” Picking up the packs again, the two of them trudged deeper into this unknown land.
     
  14. AcrobaticHippo

    AcrobaticHippo Determined

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    "Stick close to me and stay alert; it's all green here and we wouldn't want to lose each other," Adrianna hissed to Adran as she tossed a few packages to him. She knew he'd have enough common sense to do these things, but she wanted to remind him to be on full alert; he wasn't armed, and anything could just happen and get him killed without her noticing.

    She grabbed her gun using her left hand, wincing inwardly. It blowed, not being able to use her favoured arm in a possibly dangerous place, but she figured she'd have to make do. She then nodded to the engineer and they set off through the dense forest, making sure not to trip over gnarly roots.

    After a mostly uneventful journey, they stopped at a small clearing and placed their belongings in a small pile near them. Adrianna sat gingerly on the ground and motioned for Adran to do the same, all the while keeping her eyes peeled for anything amiss.

    "Is your arm okay?" Adran asked after a few moments.

    "It's less painful, but it's not good enough to serve us in this hellhole," she replied, leaning against a tree trunk.

    A few more moments passed before she continued. "Have something to eat and drink...you need the energy," she told him, slowly getting up. He reached for one of the canteens and drank deeply, pausing to look up at her.

    "Aren't you-" he began, then got cut off by a loud "BANG!" He stopped mid-sentence, a frozen look on his face. Adrianna had her gun pointed at a seemingly weird angle- what had she just shot?

    His question was answered when he heard a "THUMP!" sound almost immediately after. "Unfriendlies," Adrianna replied, eyes hardening. She indicated that he turn around and he did, to find a man with brilliant red hair sprawled face-down on the ground with a spear at his side.

    He was dead.

    Adrianna strode over to him and checked his pulse for confirmation, before standing up with a stony look on her face. "He was perched on a tree, aiming his spear right at your head," she told the stunned engineer as she flipped the corpse around with her boot, revealing a gaping hole in his chest.

    "Y-you can still shoot?" Adran asked after he had regained his speech.

    "Not as well," Adrianna replied. "If I had shot him using my right hand, I'd have gotten a nice headshot. Pity." She went back to where their belongings were. "That creature may have been a spy of some sort...this area isn't safe. Let's go, Adran."
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  15. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    “We need to split up,” Val said at the end of their third day on Helrich IV. “We’re not getting anything done, and much as I’d prefer to continue working together, it’ll go faster if we don’t. The Eldorans we met mentioned only their race and Ghalians, and judging by the amount of opposition we’ve met so far, anything we meet here isn’t gonna be much of a challenge.”

    Her partner’s face seemed strangely vulnerable, and Val understood. They hadn’t worked by themselves for twenty-six years, but always as a team. On the other hand, she really wanted to get off this planet quickly.

    “I’ll go that way,” she said, pointing towards the west. “You go east, ok?”

    “All right.” Dhel sounded unhappy about it though. “Meet back here if we can in about a month?”

    “Good enough.” With the arrangements made, both of them went to sleep.

    When they woke up the next morning, they kept conversation to an absolute minimum, avoiding their parting until the last minute. This is not going to be fun, Val thought. Even if we’re going to see each other in a month, we’ve never been separated to work independently before. Although there had been times that they had split up to accomplish different tasks, they had been working as a team, knowing that the other partner would come racing to their aid should they need it. Now, they were alone.

    “Keep in touch,” Dhel said at last.

    Val fingered the jeweled pin in her ear and smiled wryly. “Always, sister-mine.” For the first few days, she knew, they would be keeping the thought-sharing running. She wasn’t ashamed to admit that she was going to miss Dhel a lot, and the thought-sharing would help at least a little. “Bye, then,” she said, when it was clear that Dhel was waiting for her. “Good luck, keep in touch.”

    “Same to you,” Dhel answered, hugging her. And with no more than that, Dhel strode off in the direction of the rising sun, leaving Val to go her own way.

    She managed to hold out for two hours before she said, “Dhel, you there?”

    “You broke before I did,” her partner pointed out. Val could picture her right there and then. Her head would be canted to one side, an expression of puzzlement and amusement readable in the quirk of her mouth, though most would see nothing but stony silence.

    “Yes, I did.” For the rest of the day, neither said anything, content to know that the other was there on the other side of the connection.

    Val frowned as something surfaced in her memory. “They have magic!” one of the primitives had screamed. The jeweled pins used no magic; it was merely a technological tool adapted to Laraj genetic abilities. But if they knew magic… did that mean that these primitives had magic? If so… what could she use to defend herself against it? Shields were all very well, but they were strictly temporary. Use them for over a minute and she was inviting herself to the very real possibility of draining all her energy and falling unconscious where she stood.

    Something to think on for later, she decided.

    As night fell, Val found a huge tree to sleep under. Chewing on yet more trail rations, she wrapped a few blankets around herself, her sansen close to hand as she curled up on the ground, ignoring the stones digging into her side.

    “Val?” This time, it was her turn to smile.

    “You broke first.”

    “Uh-huh. Well, good night.”

    “ ’Night.”

    And as she slipped into sleep, she dreamed a dream with no sight and no sound, only words.

    Your name, a strange voice demanded. Yours and the other one’s.

    Obediently, without knowing why, she said, Valhanna and Dhellani Amaryn of the Laraj land.

    The Laraj planet, no?

    Her benumbed mind struggled with a thought. Why was this question strange? Nonetheless, she replied, Yes.

    Five interstellar travelers crashed on one planet. What is the purpose of this, I wonder? Val, knowing that the question was not intended for her, remained silent.

    Go back to your sleep, Valhanna Amaryn. I will speak with you tomorrow.

    When she awoke, she tried to remember a dream with a voice, but could not. The voice had asked questions, and she had answered, but had she told the voice truths or lies? What questions had the voice asked?

    Disturbed, she walked on.
     
  16. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    With an ease born of long practice, he slipped inside the dreams, moving from one to the next with a twist of a thought. Most he ignored… but some, he noticed. When he touched their dreams, they resonated to his power as alien and unknown.

    There are new minds in the land, he thought, new pawns for this game of ours. Ghosting to the west, he touched on two minds, and as he went towards the east, he touched three. Most of the five were separate and distant, though two were very close together physically.

    And two were inseparable in mind and heart. Their thoughts were somehow linked together, running on a taut line of magic and technology alike between them. When he examined them, they even looked like twins, but he could feel that their blood was different in subtle ways.

    He probed the dreams of the one to the west, asking questions that she answered. She would not remember his touch, he knew, or if she did, it would be a vague memory, easy to shake off and forget.

    What can I do with these five interstellar travelers? More importantly, what can the Seeker do? The Seeker had begun gathering his own pawns already, specifically the one called Sarhun Anvyr and the other called the Nightwitch.

    When he discarded the Nightwitch fifteen years ago, I thought that she was useless. More fool me. Now, he could tell that the Seeker had left the pawn alone for a while so as to let the powerful girl mature into an equally powerful woman.

    And I? What do I have? Nothing, that’s what. Danysha Ahnyamwe might yet side with the Seeker, depending on what he offers her. And one of the new ones bears the Seeker’s touch already, and I don’t know who.

    He was called the Meddler, but what use was that when there was nothing to meddle in? And how was he a Player when he didn’t have any pawns to play?

    Combine the two, and you get this: “If the rules don’t suit you, don’t play the game or change them.” But how am I supposed to do that? The Seeker won’t allow us to change games, and if I quit this one, I admit to defeat and possibly my own death. And you can’t change the rules if there isn’t anything you can change to your advantage. If you have no pieces and the other opponent has many, no matter what you do, you lose.

    Very well then; it appeared that he needed to gather his own pawns. He supposed that these five interstellar travelers would serve, even if one bore the mark of the Seeker already. It was better to take the risk – he might win, after all. But then again, he might lose.

    Slipping into the dreams of another, he said, How nice to meet you, Dhellani Amaryn. Now start telling me about yourself. Why are you here, for example?

    Pliant only because she was unable to resist his will, she complied.
     
  17. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    "Detonations reported on the rebel flagship" The comm officer reported from amongst his consoles. "escpae pods are being launched" The low pulsing alarm echoed across the ship signifying alert status.

    Gia stood to one end by the door waiting. the thick titanium bunkhead made a notable perch where she could watch out over the room untill she was called for.

    Admiral Gaden cracked his knuckles where he stood over the combat map. "Order squadrons alpha through gamma to divert course and destroy any remaining enemy ships, disbled or otherwise, recall the rest"

    "Yes sir" the comm officer said.

    "And assign the main gun batteries to do the same and put the rest on stanby" Most of the fully operational rebel ships int he system had bugged out when swordbreaker arrived. Any meager attempts to destroy the behemoth were quashed in moments and the ships reduced to flame and vapour. All that was left now were those to stubborn to run and those who took a long time to die.

    Mopping up the last straggling resistance was simple enough and with that order Gaden left his post, left the command in the hands of his first officer and strode towards Gia.

    "Walk with me" the old man said and left the room. the large doors parting before him. Gia had no choice but to follow. She was exempt from the military chain of command, but admirals deserved some respect, and she had been assigned to his command by father himself.

    They walked in silence, through the stark corridors of the military vessel untill they reached the officer's quarters. there they entered Gaden's cabin.

    Right away the old man went to his liquor shelf and poured himself some whiskey. "Can i offer you a drink?" Gia declined and Gaden set himself to sipping the liquor while taking his seat.

    "An excellent operation, losses in the second wave were below 20%, this ship is proving to be almost as intimidating as it is powerful"

    Gia wasnt one for small talk, she nodded slowly.

    Looking at her long and hard, Gaden took a sip and sent back to his speech. "During the latter stages of the battle we recieved a communique from base from a Dr. Kemph, expecting anything in particular?"

    She looked at him then, fire in her eyes, the man was a pig, keeping this from her, she could crack his neck here and now, and she would have if only she could justify it to Father. but the man was one of the few fully briefed on swordbreaker a new captain for the ship would be hard to come by.

    Gaden must have taken that for one of her silences and proceded. "It was addressed to me before you ask. I was informed to tell you that you are to submit your report to him at once, before we move out. I've set the guns and a few fighter squadrons to mopping up but theres a lot of debris out there, i doubt we'll get a third of it today. But the sip is required elsewhere and we move out in two hours. You have untill then."

    "Is that all?"

    Gaden nodded and she left, the man had begun to get on her nerves and she had a lot to say. A report wouldnt cut it, she needed to speak to Father at once.

    Making her way back to the private quarters she had been assigned. Gia locked the door and turned on the console, activating all the security checks and scrambling the channel for secrecy, she made the videocall directly to Father's lab, where he spent most of his time.

    The screen flicekd on to the brightly lit office, Father sat in his chair at the console, a small smile on his face.

    "Father" she said, glad to see him, yet equally reluctant at what she had to say. "He was here"

    Father nodded "I expected as much, he has descended to the lowest reaches of the galaxy, and there is much funding poured into this rebellion, it was wise to send you. What happened?"

    "I found him, I had him, but he escaped."

    Father's smile lessened to normality and he nodded. "Do you have any ideas as to where he may have gone?"

    "With swordbreaker's arrival most of the rebel ships that did not flee were destroyed. He was never one for fleeing but I doubt he was killed. He was too cunning for that" Disdain washed over her face, when she knew she had let it show emabressment followed. Across the screen Father looked concerned.

    "Perhaps this a mistake, your anger is getting the better of you, maybe i should reassign you and send Hander instead."

    Gripped by panic she pleaded. "Please, no. Hander is a fool, I need to be the one to find him, I need to...." She cut off there, to the outside world she was calm, cool, and deadly, but to father her heart was exposed and she felt like crying again.

    "We all felt the pain when Dailan killed his brethren, we all crave vengeance, but your feelings are getting the better of you. Besides, I have made a decision, I want him alive, and I fear he will never get back to me that way if you are the one to find him."

    "Father, killing him would be hard enough, taking him alive......It will be near impossible. i am the most proficient of us left, surely I am the only one who can do this?"

    Closing his eyes once more, Father nodded, and when he opened them, his smile returned. "You are right Gia, I am relying on you for this, do not fail me. I have already lost enough of my children. I will send orders to Gaden, you will have whatever you need. Find him and bring him to me." The link cut off then and Gia ws left facing a black screen. She shed a single tear and then went back to her cold hearted outlook.

    After an hour she went back to Admiral Gaden and told him her plans. she assigned he the command of one of the Destroyer class ship in the fleet, and gave her mop up duty. She would comb this drifting field of scrap for any sign of that tr****r, and she would find him. and then, then she would make him pay.
     
  18. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    And then a third traveller that he spoke to. Name, he said.

    “Anna.”

    Your real name, if you please.

    “Adrianna Elhcha.” The girl sounded almost sleepy, even if she was dreaming, and the Meddler wondered how long it would take her to ‘waken’ to full alertness within the dream.

    And your companion?

    “Adran.”

    What of the man chasing you?

    “There’s no one here except us,” she insisted.

    Then explain to me why this one has the mark of the Seeker on him.

    The girl frowned when he showed her the image, finally beginning to rouse, and as she did so, the dream gained more form. The shapeless mist began to solidify into a spaceship, the kind that he had first come here on… and the Seeker as well.

    He knew that as she began to ‘awaken’ to the dream, she would impose her own memories there – and her own face upon him as well. It would be a beloved face, one she would be inclined to trust, one she would pull from her own memories, but one he had never seen himself. “That’s Dailan,” she said. “He’s my protector.”

    Is he now. Then why does he bear the mark of the Seeker? he wondered to himself, not letting the girl share his thought. “I see,” he said aloud for the first time.

    “Who are you?” she asked.

    He grinned a little, knowing that she would interpret it as a rakish grin, yet one that was sincere. “You can call me the Meddler, or the Player, I suppose.”

    “The Meddler?”

    “Aye, the Meddler. The Seeker and I have a… disagreement, you might call it.”

    “A disagreement?”

    He merely smiled, which served only to irritate the girl, but some things could not be helped. “And whose side should I be on?” she asked.

    “Why, my dear, that’s your choice. But I assure you that one choice is markedly more unpleasant than the other.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” She was lifting one of her hands, the one with a gun attached, and with a sudden motion, she shot him in the arm with a bullet. When it did him no damage at all, but merely passed through his body as the flesh healed itself again, she gaped.

    “My dear girl, I don’t think you really understand what you’ve gotten yourself into. When the Seeker and I first came here, we were prepared. You? What chance do you have? None, that’s what.”

    “Prepared for what? What chance do I have for what? Answer me, damn you!”

    The Meddler smiled cheerfully. “I’ll tell you what I like in my own time, but for now, you’d better do what I tell you if you intend to survive. I’ll talk to you tomorrow night.” And with that, he blurred the girl’s memory. She would remember it as an oddly vivid dream that she couldn’t remember anything of, and shrug it off. Only when she slept again would she remember what had transpired.

    Stepping out of Adrianna Elhcha’s dream, he moved onto Valhanna Amaryn.
     
  19. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    Val’s day passed entirely without incident, although Dhel reported that she had been forced to kill a lone Eldoran scout. When the sun went down, she forced herself to lie down, but she was too uneasy to sleep. Yet as the minutes passed, she sank into slumber.

    “Why, hello,” the man who looked so very like Anzed said. “Valhanna Amaryn, no? I’ve been talking with Dhel here.”

    Craning to see around him, she saw that her partner was indeed sitting on the ground. The landscape had been cut and pasted from their childhood home – the training facility where they had trained.

    On her guard now, she made her way to Dhel and sat down as well, wondering how the man had reached into her memories. “I didn’t, you know,” he said, and at her startled look, he laughed out loud. “I let you pick the landscape in the dream, and even the face I wear.”

    “Then how did you know what I was thinking?”

    He shrugged. “It’s easy to tell.”

    Dhel interrupted, “Could you show us what you really look like? And what your name is?”

    He grinned rakishly, much as Anzed had done, and somehow he became a young man of medium height and laughing blue eyes with a sardonic cast to his features. “Satisfied?” he asked, brushing back a strand of brown hair. Without waiting for an answer, he went on, “As for who I am, you can call me the Meddler, or the Player.”

    “Who are you really?” Val pressed.

    “I oppose the Seeker,” he said, neatly sidestepping the question. Before Val could question him further, Dhel gasped. “No, your jeweled pins will not work here,” the Meddler said. “So speak aloud. I won’t have you whispering behind my back.”

    “Won’t have?” Val asked, growing more than a little angry at his easy arrogance. “We owe no allegiance to you.”

    The Meddler regarded her with those blue eyes, and suddenly, she found herself very frightened. Despite herself, she shrank back from the intensity in his face, she who had never been frightened. “It is unwise, Valhanna Amaryn, to make statements when you are in the position of weakness.”

    “Position of weakness? Val and I are two of the best mercs in the galaxy,” Dhel protested.

    “What can you do against magic?”

    That question froze both of them where they sat. “Magic?” Val managed to whisper at last.

    “Yes, magic,” the Meddler said, mimicking her tone exactly. “Frightened, are you?”

    She wasn’t afraid to admit it. “Yes.” The old Laraj stories – history – set before the Rising was enough to frighten anyone. Mage wars had figured prominently in those stories, and were also the reason why the nine of original twenty-one planets in the Laraj solar system no longer existed.

    “What if I told you that the Seeker and I were from before the Rising?”

    The words took a moment to fully sink in, but when they did, she could feel the blood draining from her face. Moving close to Dhel for comfort, she said uneasily, “That’s impossible.”

    The Meddler smiled with a hint of contempt this time. “I’ll give you a few hints from time to time, my dear. See if you can figure out who I was – and who the Seeker was, back in the day.”

    “You could have been anyone, from a ditch-digger to An’sedarin himself.” An’sedarin. That was enough to make her swallow and shiver. An’sedarin, ruler of the Empire, Black Mage-King.

    “I could be,” he agreed, still smiling. “So could the Seeker. But this gets us nowhere. I have a… proposition to offer you.”

    “What happens if we refuse?”

    “Nothing – from me, anyway. But the alternative is better. You can either be my pawn… or the Seeker’s. Your choice.”

    “Is one better than the other?”

    “You’ll have to decide that for yourself, my dear. Now, the beginning of our deal is in fact quite simple. The first part is that you agree to let me guide you to where you need to go. The second is to introduce me to the people you meet as allies. And the third… is to trust.”

    “What people?” Val demanded, as Dhel asked, “Trust who? You?”

    The Meddler’s smooth smile was really beginning to get on her nerves. “Ah, here’s where the third part comes into play already. You must trust, and that means no doubt. No questions.”

    Val looked at Dhel, who looked helplessly back. What can we do? her partner seemed to be asking. Despite his charm, she could sense the very real danger in his smiles and words, and she didn’t think that the Seeker, whoever he was, would be any better. Even his name sounded ominous. Neither did she want to get on the Meddler’s bad side.

    She swallowed yet again, her throat suddenly dry. “All right,” she said, trying to sound confident and quite sure that she was failing. “We agree to your… proposal.”

    “Excellent!” He really did sound pleased in a childlike way, but Val didn’t think that she’d mistaken the glint of satisfaction in those very blue eyes. The satisfaction of someone’s who’s successfully manipulated someone, she thought, disquieted. “I’ll see you on the morrow then, my allies.”

    Allies? Or pawns?

    It was the last thing she thought before drifting into true sleep, and when she awoke, her blankets were drenched with sweat.

    The Meddler. Survivor of the Laraj Mage Wars. Even though the very thought was ludicrous, she somehow knew it for bone-deep truth.

    Shivering madly, she rose and walked on in a daze.
     
  20. Liadan

    Liadan Insert Title Here

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    “It’s still in the middle of the night,” Dhel grumbled as the Meddler held out her pack to her. Nonetheless, she shouldered it when he continued to stare at her with those very blue eyes. I’ve never seen eyes of that color before. Most people had pale, watery hues, but his were the blue of the depths of the sea.

    “Were you planning on sleeping anyway?” She almost jumped when the eyes impossibly changed color, now the blue of a summer sky at noon.

    “No.”

    “Then get moving.” He strode away without a second look, and cursing under her breath, she ran after him.

    “Where are we going?”

    “No questions, remember?”

    Gods damn closemouthed bastards.

    “Cursing me won’t help either.”

    At least I did it silently. Mind-reading bastard.

    He laughed at that. “You’re good. Tricked that out of me, didn’t you?”

    I’m not completely stupid, despite what you believe.

    “I don’t believe that either of you are stupid. Just over-confident and ignorant of what forces are at work here.”

    That amounts to stupid, doesn’t it?

    “No, it doesn’t.”

    Dhel thought about arguing, then just resigned herself to following the Meddler. He didn’t stop at all, and from midnight to dawn, they walked on and on. But as the sun rose, he sniffed the air like a hound casting for a scent, and smiled in satisfaction. “Ah, here we are.” He pointed a little to the north. “Five minutes walk from here.” When he made no move to continue onward, she raised an eyebrow. “Ladies first,” the Meddler said, making a mockery of the courtesy. “I’ll wait here for a bit.”

    “Fine. You can carry my pack, then.” Patting herself to check for her weapons, she tossed it to him. Although she had nothing in her hands, she loosened the sansen from its sheath. Just in case.

    As she approached, she could hear a man and a woman arguing. The woman sounded upset, almost in tears. The man sounded awkward, and Dhel hid a grin.

    Using the leafy foliage for camouflage, she moved in closer, and couldn’t stop the gasp as she saw Adrianna Elhcha, the girl she had been assigned to protect. Adrianna’s head had been in her hands, but she jerked alert at the sound. “Someone’s there who shouldn’t be,” she announced, and she swung an arm up, aimed, and fired at where Dhel had been standing.

    Had been.

    Sansen already in hand, she dropped down to dodge the bullet, rolled to her feet, and was behind the man in a moment, arm around his chest and sansen digging into his side. “Drop the weapon,” she said.

    “No. Let go of Adran or I’ll kill you.”

    Dhel smiled, and it was a pity that Adrianna couldn’t see her, shielded as she was by this Adran’s body. “Have you ever heard of a sansen?” she asked very softly.

    When Adrianna shook her head, she jabbed it into Adran’s side, already bracing for the reaction. His entire body convulsed and his toes splayed as he arched in agony, and Adrianna froze.

    Before anyone could move, the Meddler, damn his interfering hide, strode into the little clearing. “Dhellani Amaryn! What are you doing?” he exclaimed, sounding quite scandalized.

    “Teaching them both a lesson.”

    “Let go of Adran, if you please.” When she hesitated, he whispered into her mind, Trust.

    How did he do that? she wondered.

    It’s how you and Val share thoughts, dear girl, he answered. Now let go.

    Releasing the man, she walked to the Meddler’s side. When she heard Adrianna shifting, her body tensed, but he whispered again, Trust.

    Even so, it was hard to keep still when the Elhcha tried to shoot. But the Meddler’s magic stopped the bullet in midair, and both Adrianna and Adran gaped.

    “Everyone’s weapons will not be functioning until I allow it,” he said quite calmly. Except your sansen. Despite my best efforts, I cannot do anything about them.

    Dhel smiled a little smugly.

    “Now sit down,” the Meddler ordered, doing so himself. “You would be Adrianna Elhcha, and this one would be Adran, no? I’m the Meddler. You might have heard of me.” And with that, he leaned against the bole of a tree and waited.