It had been a full two days since the events in the tent had occurred. Dallas found his investigations into creature had turned up rather... spectacularly alarming. The paper work submitted notifying the local authorities of his Knighthood had indeed been filed. He had indeed been lying initially about his knighthood, but when he confessed the original Viscountess had indeed made the appropriate filing, chartering him as a Knight. Yesterday, an update to his Kowloonian file listed him as the Lord of the Lorani province -- the paper work was filed by the Empress' office.
Creature moved about the camp, not with his usual panther like grace, but rather this time like a weasel. skulking about. Checking on everybody. Sneaking. He checked on Valériane. Kamilla, she screeched at him for spying on her while she was undressed. He of course found Thaddeus and Mizuki in bed. Lukina was in his tent, recovering from her surgery, but she'd likely be back up and about today. He snuck into his tent, and came out with a rolled-up bit of paper. Nodding at it, he advanced over to the stables where the new Calvary mounts were kept.
He was always so shady. Always up to no good. Maybe he was legit now, but guys like him would eventually break the law. Today was one of those days where he was up to no good. Creature had woken early. He walked out of his followers’ tent and gave instructions to his page who nodded. He checked his weapons, and slapped on his helmet, which had a cage around the face made from similar materials. He walked over to his mount and hopped on the back of the horrid looking monstrous black bird. The animal was missing half its feathers. one of the wings was just a burnt appendage, and the normal one looked too small for its massive body. The animal was armored, with some scrapped plates. Creature took the reins and yelled "Onward Dickface McGoo!" The bird let out a savage "KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW!" The woke up the camp and broke into a full run out of it.
He was heading west.
Lukina woke to the noise of the large bird, she was groggy from the haze of medication she had been given. She noticed that the tent was empty. Creature had been hovering (Though he did give her privacy) over her for the past two days, she remembered it even through the fog of her memory. He kept her from getting up. He was not there now, so she swung her legs off the bed and tested the weight of the cybernetic against the soft dirt. It wasn't the prettiest piece of technology and was meant for a larger man but it would do until she could order a better one.
The Doctor had to amputate more of her leg to get the cybernetic to fit. She suspected it would throw off her balance for a while but she wasn't planning on climbing for a few more days. The burning question was, where did Creature go? She thought she heard him yell something.
The half-elf pushed herself to standing and took a couple steps. It was clumsy, she could easily hear the mechanisms of the cybernetic hiss and shift with each movement. This leg wouldn't be appropriate for her to scout with, it was too loud. She cursed and shuffled to get dressed, she was tired of being in bed, tired of being stuck only in a blanket.
As Lukina struggled with getting dressed, a pair of hands came to help- guiding her pants up her legs; handing her belt and shirt; and aiding in fastening all Lukina's kit. Then came Lukina's weapons: polished, cleaned and placed into her holsters. The Page stood, thick curly locks of hair on her head, and little bony nubs on where her ears should have been. She wore little more than a dirty shift dress, and trotted around the camp bare footed. When Lukina was fully fitted, the child nodded, and then smiled.
"Thank you, little one, where did Creature go?" It was slightly unnerving to have someone help her get dressed but Lukina appreciated the Page's assistance today.
The Page pointed. "He said..." She then inhaled and spoke in a higher pitched version of Creature's voice; it was a pretty good imitation. "I gotta go to that fucking weapons cache Lukes told me about. So fucking help her if she needs it. Don't tell her or anybody where I fucking went."
"That idiot," Lukina sighed and gave Page a fresh bag of star candy. "Thank you. I guess, I should go find him before he gets lost again."
The Page nodded. "You are welcome, Sir Lukina!" She said with her normal, high-pitched voice. "There is a bird-horse outside if you want to use it, some of the footmen and women have taken to riding them... I can saddle one up for you..."
"That's actually a very good idea. I gotta catch him and I don't think this leg is ready for running," Lukina smiled brightly at the Page. She felt more at ease in her kit. With some time, she'd stop noticing the unnatural heaviness of her new left leg. "Oh, just so you know, between us, Du Rochon means, 'Knight night' in Elvish." She added with a wink.
She scratched her hair and tilted her head. "Knight of the Night? Cool. I hope I get a cool name like that one day!" She said waving and returning the wink with a smile that showed some small teeth. One of them was missing.
"Something like that." The half-elf knight moved, clumsily, her usual gracefulness absent with the installation of the ill-sized cybernetic.
Lukina would find the Page had not been lying. There were over a hundred of the large, multi-colored avian mounts in corral that had been added to the camp. A few dozen had been properly saddled, with some of them being fitted for leather and even metal armor plating. They were not powered armor, but they certainly would fit the bill for the time being. They stood over 9 feet tall, and were a vast plethora of colors, with some of them having bioluminescent spots on their bodies. All she needed to do was pick a color.... which some of them had every color swirled or striped into their downy feathers.
Lukina stared at the strange birds and settled for a brown colored one, thinking that if she needed to head into the forest, it would be easier to hide a 9ft tall brown bird rather than a red one. "How do I saddle this thing?"
The Page pointed. "Some of them already have saddles." She said motioning to the dozen or so that were preening themselves with heavy saddles on their backs. They were green, blue, red, dark red, orange, Even a brown one. They were cooing and chirping. "I don't really know how to ride..." she said softly.
"I'll figure it out," Lukina slowly approached a brown bird with a saddle on its back. Thinking of it like a horse. "Hello... bird. You want to get out of here and run?"
The brown bird tilted its head at Lukina. It pupil dilated. It opened its mouth presenting a large, dry tongue. "Aaaaak." It said lowering its self for her to mount it. This bird was not the large psychotic bird Creature rode. It also had all its feathers, and did not seem apt to attack everything that came near it.
Lukina carefully moved to swing her leg over the saddle, gently petting the bird's neck as she settled in the saddle. "Maybe it's just Creature that makes things crazy?"
One of the Ranch hands was standing nearby, the tall aliens. "Oh, that black one the Knight rides? No. That thing was messed up way before it met him. Are you gonna bring that girl back?" He asked not really stepping forward to stop Lukina, but he was looking concerned. "These were some of the training steeds, and well Gallve will have my tail if one is missing..."
"I intend to bring her back, and the crazy ones," Lukina promised. "What do you call these things? Does she have a name?"
"They are called Kirikuu, and no, we just call that one girl, or the brown one." He said tipping his hat back to wipe his brow. "We use them as our riding animals back on our world. These are smaller than the ones back home though. Faster. We breed them for races and entertainment, but they seem great for you little folk to ride."
"We've moved away from organic, sentient mounts but, I am grateful to not have to walk right now," Lukina smiled. "Are there any specifics I should know before I head after the crazy things?"
"Well, have you ever ridden on an animal before?" He said resting on the hastily built wooden fence.
"Kick ‘em once, and he will increase the gait. Kick ‘em again and she will go faster. Kick ‘em hard and that bird will haul ass as fast as any vehicle. If you run into a fight, that beak it has can open most anything. The Kirikuu is passive to riders, but when left wild? Oh, they can pull person apart. If you want ‘em to turn, pull the reins in the direction you want to go. If you want to stop, pull the reigns back hard, and they will hold."
The footsteps of the Marshal were slightly loud as well as the sound of swatting of skin. He'd repaired the holes in his armor as well as applied synthetic skin to the freshly constructed arms. He wore a slightly different belt and holster, one that fit more of the cowboy-lawman look. The buckle bore the sigil of the Kowloonian Suzerainty, with the rising sun edging out of a plated horizon line. The holster was leather, bearing a slight bit of personalization in the form reinforcement on his belt. On the left breast of his coat was the gold badge of the Marshal, shining dully in the early light.
His coat moved with the wind as he dropped a cigarette and placed his boot on top of it to stamp it out.
"You goin' after him?" Dallas looked up and moved his left hand to move her Starson slightly upwards to he could physically see Lukina if she mounted the bird-thing.
The half-elf knight steadied herself as the Kirikuu raised up to its full height again. She regarded the Marshall curiously, her own allegiances were identified by the golden stag crest of house Arliegh at her collar and the golden Wyvern of the Uial Lug Free Company on her gauntlet on her right wrist against the black bodysuit she wore, likely some sort of stealth suit. "Yes. I'm going after him. I know where he thinks he's heading and he gets into trouble if he's left to wander on his own." Lukina guided the bird closer to Dallas. "You want up or are you going to grab your own Kirikuu?"
"So that's what they callin 'em." Dallas looked over to the ranch hand and calmly asked, "You got another you're willin' to lend to an old rancher?"
The fur-clad man's large, floofy ears twitched and swiveled towards the main thoroughfare through the assortment of tents, where a few men at arms wandered in and out from. Curious, his eyes turned to slits, raising his head high in the air and sniffing. Smelled like prey.
The man would see the camp had a wooden wall, it was made of spiked logs that were dug into the ground. There was a central gate entrance with watch towers all along the wall, and guards with long range scoped rifles watching the ground below. He would see the bird-horse rushing out of the main gate and running swiftly to the west.
Prey it was. A lone, flightless-looking bird making its way out from the herd. It'd made an easy kill, all he had to do was stalk the rider until he dismounted and drag it away without him noticing.
The furry man took in a deep breath, so deep it was as if his lungs themselves were bellows. With that, he raised his arms and slammed them into the floor. A sickening cracking sound, like a spine being compressed from both ends until it broke, rang out in a muffled tone around him.
Gritting those sharp, canine teeth, the man's hair began to ripple and flow like syrup over his skin. The sound of breaking bones and popping continued, his face growing outwards into a long muzzle, his entire form finally snapping in a horrific crunching from bipedal to quadrupedal. The flowing fur and bubbling skin subsided, eyes opening to reveal the same striking cyan as before, the only thing unchanged. It was time to hunt.
The wold man would find that the "Prey" Was fast. Extremely fast. But it was not evading him or even hiding from him. The dampness of the river after 10 miles of this trek gave away to the dryness of the western planes. The River carved through the eastern part of the province and filtered out far to the south west. Far West was a vast mountain range that gave way to a desert and dusty plains region that held towns, mines and farms who irrigated from the river. The scent of the Gartagen was very alien to the wolf, it was almost repugnant. He would likely taste of ginger, menthol, tobacco and sadness. The bird on the other hand would be much more palatable if he could catch them.
The pair, Lukina and Dallas, who both had skill tracking people would find Creature was not doing much to hid his trail, he was brazen as ever, but he most certainly had something following behind him. From the looks of tracks, a local predator. Both heading deep into the wester lands of the province.
Lukina regarded the large tracks from the back of the Kirikuu curiously. "I don't know what sort of creature those tracks belong to but it looks big from the distance between the prints, and fast. Creature might be in trouble if it catches him," she looked to Dallas. "Do you recognize the creature that these tracks belong to, Marshall?"
The Marshal looked down at the tracks as he gave his two cents, "Looks like some kind of fucked up wolf, one with a large ass stride." He looked up at the Elf before looking a slight bit grim, "Looks like it was or is following him, we might need to step up the pace."
A fucked up wolf was one way to put it. The beast loped after Creature's trail, the Gartagen’s potent scent being easily carried by the wind which whistled over the plains and through the mountains - luckily, this meant he couldn't smell the others following him. He was fast yet the bird was quickly getting too far ahead as to be tiny in the distance, the lupine figure bounding over rocks and fallen trees hot on Creature's heels.
"This planet is strange, I'm still not familiar with all the predators but yes, we should hurry," Lukina kicked the Kirikuu to spur it faster, firmly grasping the reins and leaning more into the massive bird's brown feathers to not to get pitched from the change in speed. "Try to keep up!"
Dallas whipped the reins and gave a sharp 'Yah!" He stood up on the stirrups and leaned forward with the Kirikuu as it gave it's cry. Judging by his stance, he'd ridden before though in the same light not too long ago.
Much like the wold, Lukina and Dallas found much the same. Dusty plains. Mountains looking off, their peaks visible over the horizon. This was a different part of Piyapon, not the lush verdant blue lands they had been fighting over. But here it was open, no hills, the few trees here were pathetic slender things. Though the harsh dryness of this region did little to halt the Piyapon wild life. As they moved, they observed that the "Wolf's" tracks were fresher.
But it was after nearly an hour of riding that they found what Creature was looking for, in the distance there was a solitary mountain. It was very hard to miss, but considering there were few water sources and the sun's glaring heat, nobody seemed particularly interested in venturing out this way.
It was then Dallas heard a loud YELP!
His Kirikuu let out a loud "EEEEEE!" And began frantically looking around. They finally caught up to the "fucked up wolf" that had been trailing Creature and then promptly ran over with the galloping bird horse.
The direwolf had heard and most definitely smelled the two stinking birds coming up on one side of him. The beast had been taking a shortcut, passing behind a small hillock before rejoining the main "path" - if it could be called such - with a giant leap up to it. What he hadn't accounted for was the presence of more of the tasty-looking birds. His instincts to attack kicked in, bounding a second time to collide brutally with the feathered animals' sides, diving between their legs.
Lukina's eyes widened at the site of the direwolf. "What the hell is that?" She pressed her legs firmly against the sides of her bird and pulled her rifle from her back, trying to steady herself. "Creature! Marshall!"
Dallas drew his revolver from his holster and pushed the selector to actual rounds as he turned the bird to go for intercept. His arm leveled out against the beast as his voice called out, "HEY!"
Shaking his predator's head a few times, the wolf's lips curled into a snarl. He'd been stunned by the appearance of these two - four, now his eyes picked out the lines between the riders and mounts. This wasn't what he'd bargained for. In a split-second decision, the grey-furred one tensed his legs and in one massive leap soared many tens of meters to the left of the path, natural camouflage helping him disappear into the brush as he hit the ground running.
The half-elf was curious but her concern was the Knight Commander, and the weapons cache. She rested the rifle against her shoulder, "Sir Creature, you and the bird all right?" She slowed her Kirikuu, still searching the brush for the direwolf. She had only heard stories of beasts like that from her Elven grandfather. Apparently, such things still existed.
There was a buzz of static in response. The only reason that would have happened would be if Creature had gone underground, and that there was an electromagnetic source that was muddling the frequencies making radio communications an impossibility. The tracks of Creature's steed could be seen increasing in rapidity as the animal was clearly forced to run full tilt towards the mountain off in the distance.
Dallas turned his mount to run parallel to the brush towards the mountain with enough distance that he could wheel his gun around to get a round off on the wolf-thing if it went for him. He gave another 'Yah!' and whipped the reins again the keep up the speed.
Lukina stared after the Marshall, yelling, he was far too loud for her taste. She gave the Kirikuu another kick and chased after him, her eyes scanning the brush as the bird surged forward. Fucking cowboy. She grinned, this was certainly different from being in the forest a few days ago. The view was beautiful but what had Creature gotten into this time?
The run to the mountain was, most telling. Lukina had sharper senses then her human comrade, and she observed that this wasn’t a mountain. This was a crashed star ship. The dust and sediment from the dust storms had collected all over the monstrosity, with some of the desert fauna growing up into and around it, but this star ship was now being pulled into the very flesh of the planet herself. As the drew closer they could see Creature's mount was standing, free range, and anxiously walking around the area where Creature had dismounted.
"This is strange," Lukina eased her mount to a stop as they came alongside Creature's insane Kirikuu. "I don't know... this isn't what I meant to send Creature too. This was a ship, once." The massive bird lowered itself so the half-elf could dismount. "It's not safe for the Kirikuu to be out here alone with that monstrosity running around. We might be able to get them into the ship... there should be a tunnel entrance around here, somewhere."
"The hell do you mean ship?" Dallas then looked up at the mountain and remembered he was an idiot. "Oh, that ship. Well, let's get them inside with haste." Dallas slowed his mount down enough to park it near Creature's. He dismounted and looked around for any sign of the wolf-thing or anything somewhat tunnel-like.
"Well, Cowboy, I'm guessing Creature is inside already so we should be able to find his tracks... unless he fell into a hole, which is always possible with him, he's heavier than me and this terrain built up around the ship," Lukina nodded and led her bird after her by the reins, after touching it gently on the side of its beak with a smile. "I'm Lukina Aleksasha Petrora, by the way, if you didn't query the database already for my registration with the Diadem."
"Marshal Dallas Collin McClosky, or just Dallas." He began leading his bird like one would lead a horse, moving to get Creature's as well. "Alright, if I was a tunnel or a hole in the ground, where would I be?"
As Dallas spoke Lukina would see there was a massive entrance that loomed open like a great maw. From the looks of it, launch bay door that were half open. Arachnids had their webbing on the corners, and Creature's cloven foot prints could be seen entering. Judging by his stance it was not with caution. Much to the relief of both, there were no additional foot prints going in, save for that of the local fauna.
Lukina frowned at the presence of the spider webs. She kept her rifle at the ready as they made their way towards the bay doors. "That's a pretty good clue," she laughed lightly. "How'd you get lucky enough to pull Azalea to monitor? I'm sure that Uial Lug would be easier."
Dallas laughed, "I don't exactly know, but judging as I've gotten more action here than apparently pissing off people back home I guess I'm lucky?" He checked his revolver once to make sure nothing was jostled by the heavy riding before turning back towards the elf, "So, I guess we've found where he's going."
"He's looking for a weapons cache. This wasn't what I meant but there might be an armory on here that we could use to equip the company with... provided the spiders and that Wolf thing don't eat us first," She smiled as she continued cautiously forward. She listened for a moment for indications of living creatures scuttling around.
Almost immediately on entering the ship, they saw in this launch bay. Tanks, APCs, shuttles, Power armors. All of them sutakame. All of them unable to be repaired.
Lukina dropped the reins and pulled her rifle more firmly up to her shoulder as she scanned the bay. "...hell..." She murmured as she scanned the equipment. Just the site of the broken equipment sent chills down her spine, the memories of the war were still fresh in her mind. Where is he?
"Oh cool, broken shit from squids. Wonder if any of this shit works." Dallas' optical implants began scanning for heat signatures more than anything else as he quietly began humming to take his mind off the amount of shit in the room.
Dallas looked to Lukina, taking the note of the slight change in her stance following the discovery that the wreck was sutakame in origin. Dallas closed his distance to her slightly and attempted to get her mind off the subject, "So, we at least know that this ship's been here a while. I doubt anything survived here."
"This planet is a realm of improbability, that wolf thing isn't supposed to exist anymore than Elves are outside of the gated city. Giant alien bird horses and glowing aliens... all sorts of things that aren't native to Piyapon do well here. It's better to proceed with caution and get Creature and leave. We'll get moon dropped if we even thought of using this gear, even if it did work," her eyes swept the shadows of the ruined equipment before them and she perked her ears, straining to hear anything strange... clattering of claws and a rustling of feathers.
Lukina spun around to look at the Kirikuu.
The hanger bay however had more than just their tracks. Other larger foot prints were about, some of them had been by the door. They were hard to make out, but clearly, they were boot prints indicating this place was not empty or devoid of occupants. The Kirikuu was growling as it stomped into the hanger bay. the sound of its powerful lungs could be heard as it anxiously sucked in air. "HAAAKAAAAAA!" It exclaimed, its raspy cawing magnified by the echo that went deep into the ship.
The echo faded into chilling silence then suddenly in response, the ship shook, with a great booming roar.
To make matters worse, Creature's tracks went straight into a door way he had clearly forced open only recently.
Dallas looked towards the area in which the sound came from, "That's... not natural..." He looked to Lukina and blinked, "Fuck your moon, that thing ain't tiny and I'd rather have something that'll kill something big."
"There is nothing natural about this ship, let's get the Knight Commander and get out of here," Lukina replied, gripping her rifle tighter as she moved more tactically towards the open doorway as her Marine training kicked in.
"So fucking ditto." Dallas was a few steps behind her, his left hand moved to hold his revolver tactically as he shifted the fire-selector to the laser for the extra umph. He tried to make his steps as quiet as possible as he looked around the hangar one last time. "I hate this fucking tub already."
"It's worse when they get the drop on you," the half-elf whispered as she pressed against the wall by the doorway, leading with her rifle as she checked the next room before moving forward again, making a note of Creature's tracks.
"Yeah, my brother told me fucking horror stories. One of his loaders got snatched and didn't want to leave the tank for a week for anything, poor thing." Dallas was still on her tail, looking over his shoulder every fourth step.
As they came through the door. The ship shuddered. Rumbled, then began loudly thrumming. Pulsing, the lights in the hanger flickered on and a good bit of them stayed out, but now there was an eerie alien glow. The door suddenly shut behind Lukina and Dallas trapping them in the ship.
Dallas snapped around, "FUCKING HELL! Ah shit... that didn't sound good." He tensed, "And I don't like that everything turned on." His hands were tensed on the grip, his eyes shifting around everything.
Behind Dallas a young, athletic, fur-clad man stood stock still in his gaze, looking coolly back at the cowboy. He was almost on all fours in a predatory stance, bent over with his fluffy ears standing straight up. It was as if he was a rabbit caught in headlights.
Dallas, not wanting to deal with everything at once barked off, "Fuck off you, go play with that stick over there." He didn't realize until after he had spoken that this thing looked sort-of like the wolf-thing that he'd chased down two seconds ago, at least in color. He then blinked and yelled out, "LUKINA!"
Lukina grimaced and spun around with her rifle pointed at the stranger. "What in Saule's name?" She was unsettled by the ship's power coming on. This was not a place she wanted to be inside. "Something is engaging the ship's power. It might be Creature, and not something else." She set her jaw and took in the full weight of the furry man. "Who are you? Anata wa nan desu ka?"
Dallas looked at the elf with a side glace, "What, do you think it understands moonspeak too or should I start barking and growling?" He trained his revolver on the thing but left his finger limp on the trigger. It didn't seem too threatening... yet.
A few seconds of silence lingered, before the newcomer straightened up in a nonaggressive fashion."Ní thuigim," he spoke simply, gesturing that he was unarmed. His lightest of blue eyes never left the tip of Dallas' gun.
"Yeah, I don't trust you enough to put this down so you go and deal with it." His implants didn't leave the creature, "Lukina, I don't think it understands us and I'd rather get this show on the road so we can get our idiot friend and get the fuck out of here."
"Let's go, we're stuck with him for now. He can tag along unless he does something that warrants a couple of bullets," she sighed and set her jaw.
Above them the next deck had some holes in it from battle damage or something shooting from above. A flurry of fast moving boots shoved past. "This way!" One of the men yelled.
"...what the fuck." Lukina stared up at the ceiling. "Seriously, what the fuck?" She had no idea what was going on. Her eyes scanned the overhead and then went back down to the footprints in the dust on the deck. She closed her eyes for a long moment and listened to the room around them.
Their new party member blinked a few times, apparently unperturbed that there were more people around. Internally, he simply thought these people were going to a meeting of some sort. He pointed up to the crack in the ceiling, one ear flopping one side as he tilted his head in that questioning way canines do. It was almost as if he was asking if they were with these others.
The dull thumping of gun fire could be heard deeper with in in the ship. As well as the desperate sound of men calling out battle commands. Looking around in the area, Lukina could see bed rolls, backpacks, and rations. Clearly, the men came here and had arrived before Creature. They must have done a good job hiding their tracks as well.
Lukina opened her eyes again and looked at the fur man. She pointed up at the ceiling and shook her head, no. She returned her gaze to the floor and the visible tracks. "There must be another way out. We should have seen their tracks unless this is a volumeric playback of a battle that happened here before. Let's move. Fur guy is the least of our worries right now." She wanted nothing more than to pull on her hood and ghost it through the ship but she had two others with her and that was not a good tactic right now.
Dallas let his gun move down and nodded to her, "Alright, let's the this done and over with. You're the one that actually fought these fucks, I'm just a police officer." He kept his pace with the elf, quietly stepping where she stepped while every few steps looking around to check of the fur dude.
The fur guy, for his part, kept quiet and simply padded after the others with his bare feet not making a sound. He seemed oddly at ease, as if an invisible force field was surrounding and protecting him from the world.
Creature's tracks continued down through this prepping room, and through a corridor. There was a pause in the tracks, and several discarded cigarette butts were on the deck. He had clearly paused to have a smoke break and other wise lurk about before proceeding. This corridor was long, but at the end of it Lukina, Dallas and the Wold in smelled blood, and see a bloody mess of rags piled on the floor with a taloned hand sticking from under the bloody mess.
"That's not a hand, we might have run into a group of people fighting over salvage or something," Lukina continued past the Creature signs, annoyed that he was just casual bumbling around alone. She wrinkled her nose at the bloody rags and kept as much distance from the remains as she could, advancing further down the corridor.
Conversely, the new dude beelined for the rags and the gnarled hand, scooping it up on in one hand. His nails appeared to be tough and sharpened as he took a good long sniff of the flesh. 'Free food.' he thought, following behind Lukina immediately afterwards.
The Wolf, man thing would smell rot. Not the scent of Creature. He smelled of blood, pussy, tobacco, whatever drugs and least of all- mint. This was not Creature. Though judging by the smell, and burn cuts in its body, it had been slain by Creature. Lukina knew what this was almost immediately. It was a smallish sized, soft shelled Crab breed Suta. It had apparently slid out from above, in the ventilation system and dropped down on Creature. What resulted was a cluster fuck of a fight in this hall way. The door just beyond the fight had been kicked, and then seared open.
The half-elf looked above them and then back down to the floor. "Great. There are still crab-types on this damn thing," she whispered mostly to herself as she checked the next doorway for signs of hostiles before moving forward again.
The cyan-eyed man followed a mere few paces behind, shrugging and taking a big bite into the snack someone left behind. 'Hrm… Tastes funny.' he decided, spitting a little bit of sharp carapace out of his mouth. His Seeds wouldn't get much energy from the flesh but he wasn't just going to leave it there for someone else.
Dallas resisted the urge to reject his breakfast. "Dear.... gah fuck..." The Marshal looked back over at Lukina and returned to following her, "Come on... guy... You might wanna come along."
By passing it they came into a major area of this ship. The galley hall. There Lukina, Dallas and the wolf saw them- seven ebon armor clad men creeping through the rubble and armed with sinister looking xeno rifles. The Black army was here, and they now knew how they their enemy had been arming themselves. The alien armors weren't as intimidating when they were filed down and painted black.
Lukina's eyes narrowed. The presence of the Black Army made this complicated. Far more complicated especially since they weren't properly equipped to deal with this many. She crouched down low and motioned for Dallas and the Wolf to do the same. Her stealth-suit only had the bare minimum of protection to keep her insides intact against regular small arms fire... she relied on her element of surprise to keep her safe and this was not a good place. It was only a matter of time. She looked for cover that they could maneuver to and stay out of sight as a group. She pulled on the hood of her stealthsuit to make herself blend into what shadows there were. "We are potentially screwed. Those rifles are nasty" she whispered to Dallas. "I can pull their attention so you can get to the next room."
Dallas looked to the elf and nodded, taking what he at least thought was her arm before whispering, "Don't get yourself killed, I have enough on my heart already." He then crouched down into the shadows and began to look for a way to sneak across the room quietly and as fast as possible.
"Heartbreak comes with the job, Marshall," Lukina whispered, shimmering out of existence and easing away from the Wolf and the Marshall. The Wolf could still catch her scent and hear the whirs of the servos in her leg with his superior primal senses.
Their furry companion toned down the crunching and chewing sounds emanating from his jaws. If the others looked close enough they could see nearly all the dazzling white teeth in his mouth were canines, or at least tapering to a sharp point. His ears twitched at the sounds of the Army's boots thudding on the floor of the tunnel, looking expectantly at the other two to see how they would react.
The good news was that the men below did not seem to notice the newcomers above them. They were clearing through the ruins in the bowls of this ship as if searching for something. A deep booming voice called out. "What was it?!"
"Don't know sarge, probably another critter running about."
"Well keep sweeping, we need these tanks and guns stat. The King wants to bring those fucking morons a direct fight to take them off that bridge before Winter!"
Lukina moved as quietly as she could forward, past the Wolf, hoping he would follow. She was looking for an opportunity to cause a distraction which would draw the men somewhere else and not towards her small group. Her eyes scanned the catwalk and the larger room below them for cover and Creature's tracks.
The bright-eyed wolf guy followed Lukina, the gnarled flesh in his jaws much like how a dog would carry a bone. He seemed to be catching on to what exactly was happening between the two "groups" of people, keeping low to the ground as he padded after her, his unbooted feet making no more noise than a light breeze.
Creature, at his heart, was rather simple. He often took the path of least resistance in his wanderings. His tracks went to Lukina's left...downward where the brow of the ship was pointing deep into the Piyapon crust. The black army soldiers were doing what soldiers did, sweeping and clearing the room, but they were not looking up. Likely due to having swept this area prior to going a deck down into the galley. The leader barked further instructions. They halted when they located another body, one of their own. The fallen soldier's black armor was slashed open from shoulder to hip in a left-right motion, the wound was cauterized and had minimal blood and viscera around it. "Shit, looks like Igo got stupid." The soldier sighed.
"He was weak." Their leader replied sounding undisturbed by the loss. "Little idiot never could stomach a real fight. That's what he gets. Take his gear, leave what is left."
"Hey....do you think it’s the Red Terror?" Another soldier asked.
The leader huffed. "I hope so. I'll skin that Gartman myself."
"Find any of the weapons in this junk, take any prisoners you can, or kill them. The King demands we bring him a proper tithe. He wants more bodies for the fight that we are about to bring."
Lukina looked for an exit and frowned as the group below them paused. She slowly eased left and down, and tried to form a plan. The idea had occurred to her to throw her voice but then they'd be looking for her and only she was cloaked. That left the Marshall and the wolf open. She stopped and waited for the soldiers to move again. Her ran through her kit's inventory as she waited. All her grenades were too much for this environment and would draw more attention.
Wolf hummed lightly, apparently in thought, as Lukina scanned through her equipment. He glanced at the alien flesh in his hand, then to the far exit nearby the men. Closing one eye, he tossed the meat down that corridor, causing a sound as if a foot was scuffing down that direction to carry to the soldiers - a distraction that will hopefully allow them to do what they wanted.
The soldiers started moving. They stripped the body of their fallen comrade, and began stacking on the hatch to the next room. Clearing it, they one by one began filing into it vanishing from sight. Their voices were distant, but they were largely unafraid of anything in this ship. Judging by their conversation, this was not the first time they had visited this ship.
Lukina saw a closed closet door suddenly flop open. A heavy cloven boot stepped out on to the grating that made up this cat walk. Creature stood up, both of his swords on his back, and his pistol in his right hand, with his heavy shield in the other. He snorted, and looked up, not seeing Lukina, Dallas or the new wolf man...thing. "Fucking assholes," he growled as he tightened himself up and began walking down the catwalk to the next door.
"Creature!" She hissed at the large Gartagen. "This is not the right place!" The half-elf made a face despite being cloaked and hooded so there was no way that Creature could see it. She moved towards him and kicked him in the leg. "Jerk."
"EEEEEK!" Creature responded once again having been startled. "WHAT THE FU!--" He said doing a fast sharp 180 degree heel spin only to lay his eyes on Lukina. He relaxed, his pistol lifted up almost as fast as it had trained on her general direction. Well, she had her shroud on so it was more like he felt and heard her; specifically, her husky breathing that he did not have the heart to tell her was husky - a gift from her human parentage. "Biiiiitch, what in the fuck are you doing on this squid dick of a ship?"
Lukina, and the wolf, and Dallas heard a shout from the other room, "WHAT WAS THAT NOISE?!"
"Leaving," she hissed. "Came looking for you and now we have to duck squids and Black Army." Lukina said quietly, pushing Creature in a direction of an exit but she stopped since the way they came it had closed. "Have to get out of here. We're not equipped for this."
Wolf stepped over to where his flesh lay, scooping it up and balancing it over one shoulder. He hummed in a strange growling fashion, stepping back over to the group. His eyes lit up with recognition as he saw Creature - the lone bird rider - and raised an eyebrow at how strangely this day turned out.
Lukina stubbornly, perhaps maintained her suit's shroud as the three men stood nearby. "We might have to fight our way back out the way we came. But these two aren't dressed for a frontal assault against these guys," she replied quietly.
Creature eyed Lukina, she was right -they were not equipped for this. This style of warfare was a far cry from the old skirmish style that the Alliance had trained for, which to the Gartagen mind was fast, loose and did not take into account the fact that Space War had changed things.
Creature gripped his large Shield with his maimed hand and turned. "Alright. Crash course on ship fighting. Take your hand and grab my armor, or belt. But that high penetration rifle away, Grenades will fuck us up in here too." Creature said creating a barrier. He held his pistol with his grip up at her. the read and leveled the top of the shield so that it let him see over it. That hairy fuck and the police can bring up the rear. "Take this." He then drew his Sheshka from its sheath that was across his lower back. "We are gonna do this one step at fucking time."
Lukina disengaged her shroud and nodded to Creature, slinging her rifle over her shoulder and took the Sheska and the pistol. She removed her hood and grabbed his belt as she was instructed, keeping the sheska at her side, clipped on her belt and readied the large pistol. She was skeptical of holding the Gartagen pistol with one hand, noting the size of the gun versus the size of her hand. She knew that the action and the recoil would kick like a mule.
"Use single action...more accurate. I have moon clips in my pouch on left hip. Unlock the cylinder and the tungsten slugs will be pulled in by the magnets."
Creature then turned his head, and locked his eye on Lukina. "Biiiitch, are you scared yet?" He said smiling, apparently enjoying this fuck up of his a bit too much then was warranted.
Lukina made an annoyed face at Creature as she reached into the left hip pouch to retrieve the clips. "Was your map upside down or something? This is not where you were supposed to be. Freaking Suta, really?"
"Yea, how the fuck did you know that? Are elves fucking psychic too? I got turned around and stumbled on to this stupid thing. Why are you even up with these two geniuses, I thought you were leaving to go therapy and shit."
Lukina rolled her eyes. "I made the map. I saw you leave and the Marshall followed me. The other was following you. I can't leave just yet."
Creature began advancing across the cat walk. Dallas behind them and the wolf hopefully moving with them as well. The truth was, Creature did not care for the other two. He had been in tight situations before, but it always muddled things for him when people he cared about were at a risk. "You can leave whenever you want." Creature said as he walked through the porthole and into the corridor of the ship. "It actually kind of pisses me off, you've been pretty pissy when you would wake up. I mean sorry about the fucking 'I am in love' with you shit. I was pretty stupid for saying it. I can shut it off you want."
"...you really want to have this conversation right now?" Lukina followed behind Creature, holding the gun ready.
"Nothing else to talk about." Creature responded as he pushed down what was a narrow corridor. This was likely their zero G service tunnel, but with this ship crashed it had become a regular walk way. It was dark, and the ship was groaning. Lukina, and the wolf would smell rotten flesh as they went deeper into this fallen monster.
"I've never had a relationship before. I've never had emotional attachments to other people before aside from my family, so no, I don't know how to deal with love confessions. I'm sorry, I'm confused," Lukina's voice was low, if she wasn't so concerned about surviving this misadventure she probably would have been blushing.
Creature paused. and tensed up, raising the shield. His head an inch from the interior of it. "Yeah. I have been in like two. The love thing was never something that I could easily explain. Creature took a step back, and Lukina would feel her foot brush up against something that clattered at her feet.
"But just because I fucking feel a certain way doesn’t mean it is owed back..."
Her eyes dropped to the object at her feet, she winced at the sound. She was concerned with the amount of noise they were making. This was not her ideal place for this particular conversation but they were having it. "Things get complicated when love is in the equation. I don't know how to feel."
"That's dumb," Creature said in response. "Love is simple. But I have my own - okay this probably isn't the time!" It was then Lukina would hear loud clicking and the shrill squealing coming down the corridor.
CRONG! Creature was struck, but that Neutro shield simply took the hit. "Ffffuck!" He said the darkness concealing the assailant. A loud high pitched squeal scratched through the air. CRONG! Another blow hit the shield, but this time Creature shoved forward. "It’s a fucking crab suta!" Creature grunted as he held the wall.
Lukina cringed. And braced the pistol with both of her hands. "Been a few years but they die pretty well with big bullets," she muttered. She was behind Creature still, she would need to maneuver around him or press in closer to his shield to shoot over it. "Hold and I'll shoot." She grumbled as she pressed close to the shield and found she was too short to easily shoot over the damn thing. "Damn it. I'm gonna climb on you so I can shoot the damn thing.. try to stay still, please." She sighed and climbed on top of Creature's shoulders. "This is the most awkward..."
Creature's tail was low and being used to help balance. His powerful legs were powering forward when he halted. Creature had tucked his little sword away and was holding his shield with both hand. "I wanted in between your legs but This was NOT what I fucking had in mind." He grunted clinching his teeth as he was throwing all of his strength into keeping this thing at bay. Lukina would find that the armor and jacket he wore were hard, but his body did not stress under her weight. If Lukina fitted her goggles on she could see the suta was clashing with Creature's shield. It was big. Bigger then Creature, but not a full sized Crab type. It shrieked loudly and slammed itself back into the shield, its claws opened and trying to clamp down on the rounded shield.
Lukina pulled her goggle down over her eyes so she could actually see the thing that was on the other side of the shield. She balanced herself on shoulders and leveled the pistol, bracing it with both of her hands. "Now is definitely not.." She squeezed the trigger as she aimed down at the crab suta's front carapace. It thundered in her small hands and her legs pressed down for extra stability. "..the time for that."
The gun kicked like a mule, and the report was deafening causing the ship around them to shake. The solid tungsten round hit the beast. It shrieked, and went hard launching itself forward.
Creature responded, but tilting his shield forward and thrusting it up. There was a hard CRUNG! Lukina would look up and find herself face to face with the suta, that Creature had pinned to the ceiling by its stumpy neck. It snapped its jaws, trying to get to her.
Lukina fired the pistol at the suta's face again. "Ugh. I didn't miss this."
The gun kicked again and the round went into the Suta's eye causing its body fluids to jet out all over Lukina. It squealed in agony this time, but the snapping stopped. The tentacles it had were ticking the outer epidermis of her armor, and they suddenly went limp. The fluids from the tentacles oozing on to the deck below her.
Lukina shot the crab suta again, remembering her training against them. "Fucking things. Have to kill the secondary brain too or else have something worse following us later."
"Yeah." Creature pulled his sword out and thrust it up into the Suta's chest cavity. The carapace made an audible cracking as the sword cut into it like butter. Creature then rotated the weapon and dug it around just to be sure. The Suta came to life for a moment, then spasmed and went limp. Creature fell back all at once, and the heavy Suta clattered lifelessly on the deck. "Okay. I'm fucking glad you came." Creature added holding up his sword clinched fist to Lukina for a celebratory dap.
Lukina bumped his fist and flipped off his shoulders, her feet lightly landing on the walkway again. She tried to wipe the alien goop from her face "Ugh. Hate fighting these things. Always have."
As they began advancing forward and passed the broken Crab Suta, Creature helped Lukina down not even missing a step. It was as she dropped down that her weight and the movement, caused the deck plating to creak, then popped. Creature looked down. The deck plating buckled and collapsed. Sending the pair tumbling down into the darkness.
The sensation of falling was familiar to the half-elf and she did what had been conditioned into her- she attempted to deploy her hook and line into anything that would hold above them and reached for Creature. "This is your fault, let's hope we don't break everything..."
The flurry of movement caught the wolf off-guard and before he knew what was happening a alien fell from the heavens and grappled into him.
The Agarthan roared in indignation despite his human appearance. The sharp carapace cut and bit into his muscular form, causing him to hiss.
Strange purple blood trickled to the floor and crackled as it hit the metal, fizzling before evaporating into nothing from the wounds.
He was under attack and his body, bred over generations of civil war, reacted violently. His fangs and claws cracked and grew, his fur spreading in a strange partial-transformation. Some sort of automatic reaction.
Wolf growled as the Suta screeched and thrashed, reaching over with his jaws to bit and nails to claw.
Dallas aimed his revolver at the crab as he selected the laser again and wasted no time in snapping one bolt of before readying the next to follow right after it. "GO! RUN! FUCK!"
The Agarthan would feel pressure and the sting as he transformed. The Crab's powerful claw was not sharp however, but strong. It didn’t break the skin, but the Agarthan would feel intense pressure on his right collar bone, threatening to break it. It was then the wolf snapped forward and those fangs bore into the soft leathery shell of the adolescent crab. The wolf's mouth would fill with a putrid flavored fluid.
The laser blast struck the back of the crab with a shrill squeal and its red streak illuminated the scene giving Dallas a clear view. The monster crab squealed in pain and retaliated. Tentacles from its body lashed out and snapped at Dallas in retaliation, threatening to entangle him, and give him a Suta special.
Dallas growled and pulled his knife out of his coat and cut at the tentacles grabbing at him and attempted to increase range and fire again. He needed to break away, break far away.
Struggling with the wolf the Suta screeched in pain as its tentacles were slashed.
The half-wolf jerked his body away from Dallas, hoping to carry the Suta far from the other humanoid. He could feel the pressure on his collar and the horrific taste of fresh Suta flesh. The hand he'd been gnawing had dried out somewhat and the taste was more of an interesting flavor rather than the disgusting goop that streamed over his gums.
The wolf would feel the pressure grow more intense, and then the second claw came around to wrap around the wolf's neck. The soft leathery claws didn’t break the skin, but the pressure was intimidating. The would found he had gnawed through the Crab's left arm, but the right now was cutting off the air flow. They whipped around, and Dallas found a clear show was presented. One where he did not risk killing his Lupine companion. The entire right flank of the long, pink skinned crab was one big target for the country boy from Eden.
There was no recoil on the lasers, but only a limited number of charges. For the split second, Dallas elected to run and leave the poor thing to the crab. His better half aimed his revolver before he repeatedly fired until the laser grew weaker and finally refused to fire. The Crab Suta's hide was struck, the laser causing the flesh that was hit to bubble and pop on the other end. The Crab twitched and screeched, then fell limp to the ground from the repeated shots. Dallas was free to see the darkened hole Creature and Lukina had fallen into. The wolf, had a Suta arm clinched in its jaws, and the other claw around its neck limply fell off.
"Good, now I am a hero...and totally fucking lost." He turned and began running the direction Lukina and Creature had gone, "Now time to get more fucking lost!" He almost fell in a big hole in the ground that he barely saw and looked down, "Now how the fuck did that happen?"
He scanned the room with his implants on heat looking for any trail of the two or anything else for that matter before he found himself looking down into the hole. Dallas looked down into that pit. It was long and deep. He could, for a moment see a slight small red light. So dimly his mind could barely process if it was there, or just his eyes playing a trick. He felt a brush against him. His thoughts were filled with remorse and then an invitation.
"You alive out there, Marshall?" The Marshall's communicator crackled with the soft voice of the half-elf knight.
The hook connected, and Lukina felt her line go tense. Creature dropped his sheshka caught Lukina's forearm with his good hand, and his talons dug in to her flesh just enough to break the skin, but he halted his fear enough so that he didn't hurt her. Between his battle rattle, that heavy shield, and well, him. Lukina would feel her muscles stressing as gravity became the new enemy. Creature flexed his talons back, which relaxed his grip and he began sliding down her forearm. "Fucking. You weren't supposed to come, girl!"
The half-elf grunted as the scent of her blood reminded her that she was still alive. "Can you climb? I'm strong but fuck, you're heavy," she muttered softly. "I might be able to deploy my second line but I need you to hang on to me to do it." Lukina felt the stress sweat dampen her forehead.
"Are you prepared to do what you have to do?"
The memory of his conversation with the Mikado played out in his head. Creature looked below, and saw only darkness, and his feet and tail looming above it. The Gartagen let out a sigh, but he reasoned things where changing and so had he.
Creature's shield on his maimed hand was fastened to his arm by three leather straps with heavy buckles. His maimed hand was, only 25% effective so he had to compensate with it. He slid more till the point where his hand entangled her own. "FUCK!" Creature shouted looking up enraged, though Lukina could see it. That Amber eye, with its hot fury, there was a little bit of fear in it. If Lukina turned her head she would see a small crab Suta looking down at them. Chittering. Laughing at the fight the wolf was having, and the gunshots from Dallas' MacKannon. it was reaching out with his claw to her zip line. "Okay, okay! So. I'm gonna let fucking go. and you are gonna stop that thing from cutting your line, okay?"
Lukina drew the large pistol and aimed it at the Suta. "Hey fuckface! I'm gonna come to you, just like you shits like it." She didn't want Creature to let go, she didn't want to fall, she sure as hell didn't want to be face to face with the Suta. She murmured, "Don't die on me."
Creature's grip was tenuous. But he did not want to impale her hand to save his life. Normally he would have done just that. Use whomever as a ladder, and snapped that baby crab's stupid looking neck. "Listen fucker! You are more important than me. I'm some fucking Gartman But this world is your home and your fucking people. I don't mean shit...."
Lukina would then feel Creature release his grip. He went into a free fall and was consumed by the darkness below her.
It only took a muscle movement for Lukina to retract the line, pulling herself forward towards the crab Suta and firing 3 shots from the pistol in rapid succession.
The Little crab shrieked and leapt, aiming bare its claws down on her zip line. The first shot missed. The second hit it, severing its abdomen from its body, and the third struck the little crab dead center shattering it in a mist of body fluids.
She only had a few seconds after that to slacken her line with another trained movement to let herself fall again. She dove, searching for the heavy Gartagen in the darkness below her as she clutched her pistol. "Where are you? Lukina wanted to deploy her second line to descend faster but she'd risk hitting Creature. "Spread your arms out, create more air resistance!"
It was then Lukina smashed right into Creature as he said, "I managed to-". He had spread his feet and hand out and managed to dig his claws into the metal, and then stone of this dry jetty in order to stop his descent and maybe climb back up. But in her haste, she collided with him and they fell once again.
The drop initially was long, but they hit the bottom only a second or two later. Creature struck the stone with a loud, rattling clatter. Lukina struck him, and Creature acting as something of a cushion, broke her fall. Creature let out a soft groan. "Let me be dead. Let me be dead. I'm not fucking dead...fuck.."
Lukina heard his little prayer, and lifted her head to look around. It was pitch black, but if her goggles were on she would see this room was a massive cavern. The floor they landed on was littered with bones. Rib cages, skulls, Squid exoskeletons. Hundreds of them in all directions.
Her line was still tethered. She groaned as she looked around, "Fuck the others are still up there. The Marshall hasn't fought these before. We have to go back for them.. I.. can teach you how to use this rig, I have 2. We can get back up there and help them." Her eyes scanned the cavern with all the bones and she retrieved her fallen pistol.
Lukina located the pistol and Creature's sheshka amidst the grave yard they landed in. Creature just lay there. "Yeah. Maybe it would be a bad fuck-"
She grabbed Creature's sheshka and placed it on him. She knelt beside him and tried to figure out how badly he was injured. "How bad?" She asked softly.
Creature grabbed the sword and rose to his feet. "I'll be fine." He said grabbing his shield arm and popping it back into its socket with an audible crunch that reverberated throughout the chamber.
"BOOK!" A feminine voice called out, her raspy voice reverberating throughout the cavern. "YES!"
"Bucket! ---Is somebody here?" She called out.
"I see you, little girl. Big boy...." The voice said growing close to Lukina. A soft teal glow then illuminated the cavern.
Lukina's ears pricked as she turned to face the voice, her back to Creature as her hands steadied her grip on the large pistol. Everything ached. The doctor had been right about her left leg, she still didn't feel much in it though she was sure if she saw tomorrow, it'd be sore. Her goggles focused on the source of the glow. She was still tethered but she couldn’t reliably pull Creature with her.
Lukina found herself face to face with something, a female face. But the alien carapace was across her body, meshed in with her scalp, and it was thicker around her torso. Long, slender, powerful limbs were resting on her hips, with thick cloven hands and feet. Blood red eyes peered down at her, and a set of tentacles swayed from her back in a slow, hypnotic motion. "More food? Or have you come to pay tribute?" The woman said.
"Lukina...." Creature said from behind.
Lukina edged away from the creature they classified simply as a “Nightmare”. She knew what it was and she thought bitterly to herself, This is a shitty time to not be in power armor. "Tribute?" These Suta are incredibly intelligent. I might be able to buy time. She held her pistol steady, mindful of her tether. "Don't watch her tentacles," she hissed. She knew there were are least 3 others in the cavern from the names the Nightmare called out.
"She's trying," Creature said sounding almost winded.
The half-elf backed into Creature and stopped, still watching the Nightmare's face.
The nightmare advanced with her. Her face was stony. She was not smiling, but she clearly was not enraged. "It has been years since I've had...guests!" She suddenly sounding cheerful. Creature was standing, and he moved his shield around Lukina. He started inching in the direction of her tether.
"You are scared? Why are you scared? I won't hurt you...." The Nightmare said moving to cut off their retreat. She paused briefly to look up into the hole they had fallen from. For several seconds she gazed up into the light of the pitfall's entrance. Lukina could feel the nightmare poking her mind. But it wasn't forceful. More akin to a gentle tapping, or caressing rather than forcefulness that was reputed to be used by these rather powerful beings.
Lukina's mind offered up memories of the war, of wet battlefields and brutal fire fights. Her tether was attached to her forearm, she pressed gently against Creature's side and lifted her arms up over her head, still clutching her pistol. "Grab me, now, Creature." She hissed. The memories of pain, fear, the heavy iron scent of blood and the taste of gore and gun smoke were flooding her senses.
The nightmare paused and looked down. "You were soldiers too," she said in response to the memories. The nightmare frowned, and Lukina felt a stab into her mind as the Nightmare dug deeper. "What are you hiding from me?"
In that moment, Lukina touched the mind of the Nightmare, and could see her thoughts and memories of the war. The being had done horrific things to others. Unspeakable horrors. But something happened. This particular one became disillusioned. She resigned to serve a kind of penance in this cavern as a kind of prison for the things she had willingly done. Utterly repentant, this Nightmare was about to ask Lukina and Creature if they would mind a little conversation.
Creature yelped in pain. "FUCK THIS!" He exclaimed as his large sword came from its scabbard and hissed to life. In one movement, Creature planted it into the Nightmare's head, cleaving her face in half. The Nightmare dropped to her knees, coming free from the laser sword Creature fancied.
He swiftly wrapped his arm around Lukina. "Uh, I think they can regenerate so we need to fucking go now!" He was close to her, and his blood was dripping down his chin on to Lukina.
Lukina deployed her secondary line and retracted her deployed tether with a flex of her forearm, the line yanked them rapidly upwards. "They can," she murmured. The memories had brought tears to her eyes as they moved up.
They went back up only via second tunnel. "Well, I can honestly fucking say I had no plans on going down into that fucking shit hole. HEY SHITTY BROKEN SHIP, SENT ME INTO A NIGHTMARE LAIR. You...." Creature then realized Lukina was weeping. He huffed himself in silence. "Sorry for... bleeding on you."
The extra line had lessened some of the strain of pulling both her and Creature back up. Lukina blinked away tears, searching for a place to stop. "Some things... there is no penance for," she whispered. But am I any better?
"I saw her fucking thoughts...." Creature said, his breathing sounding husky and forced. "Yeah. You are right about that..." Creature agreed. "But at what point are we redeemed? Can we be forgiven for the horrible shit we've done?" He added. He held on to Lukina rather loosely, his body was next to limp as she carried him up the tunnel they had fallen into.
The pistol was still clutched in her hands. She slowed their ascent to get firmer control over where they would land. The Gartagen was heavy against her. Carrying someone his weight had not been a consideration when she had her rig built but it would to be upgraded like the rest of her gear. "Isolation, loneliness is not the path to redemption... it's acceptance but it doesn't fix anything. It doesn't change anything. It's hiding from it, running away," Lukina sniffed. Her heart was racing, she had not been prepared for reliving the war in her own eyes and through a Nightmare's. It was too much pain, anger and loneliness to take. She had no choice. They had to escape, there were people that needed to be saved. "Let's get the other two and get the hell out of here."
Touching down on the deck where they had previously been, it appeared that the wolf and Dallas had moved on. Creature hopped off as quickly as he could. "So what fixes things then?" Creature said putting his sword away, and pulling out his sheshka once more. "I mean, I'm not disagreeing with you. Hiding in a fucking hole isn’t the way to it....but what is?"
Lukina stopped. She disengaged one line as she stepped onto the deck and then disengaged the other. She waited for the lines to return before she lowered the pistol, her arms shaking. She fell to her knees, breathing heavily as she stared at the deck. She still clutched the pistol's grip. Sobs shook her body as she finally let her terror go.
Lukina felt a hand touch her the top of her head. He crouched down and embraced her with a stiff hug. "Hey, hey, I'm fucking here. You aren't alone." He rasped. As the embrace was around her, she could feel his heart was hammering away. His own terror was manifesting in full, but he knew he had to shove that shit down. He couldn't let his own terror rule him, not now or ever.
She closed her eyes, returning the hug before she pulled away and rose to her feet. The half-elf sniffed, and removed her goggles for a moment to wipe the tears from her eyes and then the excess moisture from the lenses. Her heartbeat had slowed, thought her body still trembled. She exhaled loudly. "I can find them. They left a trail," she said quietly.
There was resolve in those green eyes as she pulled her goggles back on. Her mother had given her that much in her time training, it was what little of the Agranorn arts she had managed to master. She looked at Creature over her shoulder for a moment, "You find a cause and people worth fighting for, worth dying for... innocent people. Doing the hard thing and martyring your life to pay back the karmic debt you owe the universe... till your last breath, fight for something bigger than you." She fixed the lenses back on so she could try to interpret the footprints against the deck.
Creature trailed behind her, watching her back as they moved forward. Indeed there was a trail. The pair had managed to fight off the sutakame crabs, but had sagely opted to not go diving down the squid hole. Creature listened and pondered it. "I have no fucking idea what Karmic is." Creature grumbled. "I meant what I said. When I let go." Creature said. "I'm just some Gartman. People aren't speaking about me. They are speaking of the fucking half-elf girl, the Huoshio warrior. If I fucking died people would move on. If you died, I'd have your mom, the empress everybody fucking looking at me. You shouldn’t have a fucking come after me." Creature said keeping his eyes forward.
"The Page, Hilda, your friends, you have more people that care than you realize. You became the Lord of the Province, but your life has always had meaning, value... If not in your eyes, then the eyes of Chiharu, Tiwaz, Saule, Lamia... whatever pantheon there is... to the universe. If you believe in nothing else, believe in life and death. Life is harder than death but holds as much value," her voice was soft as she tracked the others forward. The half-elf strained to listen to the chamber beyond the thudding of their hearts and their harsh breathing. She stopped trembling and retrieved the pistol from her belt again, holding it loosely between her hands.
"Besides you and Valériane I don't have any friends. The Page is my only family." Creature said being honest for a moment. Mostly honest with himself. "Before all of this I was just a wanderer. I'd have probably knocked over an ATM or gas station to get a fix. Then suddenly I have you and everybody else making me fucking feel shit again. I came to this place so none of you would fucking have to."
"You have the entirety of the Azalea Free Company. We are friends, and friends help shoulder the burden, no matter how shitty it might be. It's a give and take, it's not fair to take this on by yourself. You are the Lord of those people. We've taken some hits but we're still alive. We have to learn and move forward. Yes, winter is coming and cowboying up and running in like some hero isn't always the answer. I know I thought about doing it too but I was reminded that it was selfish to not consider the ones I left behind. Those huoshio need someone strong to follow."
"What the fuck do you mean by that?" Creature said. "The shit about thinking about cowboying up and going it alone."
"The point, is, I didn't leave. I didn't go it alone. I didn't even come here after you alone," Lukina added softly. "Thoughts are thoughts, you don't have to act on them. You don't have to bury your memories or pain in drugs."
"No, no, fuck you. I asked what the hell are you talking about." Creature said stopping in the middle of this sutakame warship and staring at her.
The half-elf turned and stared up at him. She was dwarfed by him, especially when he was in his battle armor. She moved her goggles to her forehead. "I am every bit a warrior as you. I have every bit of responsibility to the citizens of Piyapon as you. I have survived when I have should have died just like you. I have a right to try to think of ways to win this war, just like you. I discussed a plan and was told it was a bad idea so I will not pursue it because I value the people that I would leave behind if I failed and what it would do if I didn't come back." Her voice was still quiet in the darkness as she met his gaze. No trace of the girl that was sobbing a few minutes ago.
"Yeah, no shit. But I want to know about the specifics of that fucking plan you mentioned." Creature said his amber eye shifting to a sharp daggery glare. "I know you aren't a delicate flower in need of protecting and all of that shit, trust me, I don't condescend to you or anybody."
Lukina set her jaw. "For certain reasons, it is inadvisable for a woman to confront the would be king. My plan was to upgrade my kit, get infiltration power armor, alter myself and go in and assassinate the king. I am also looking into a method to protect the rest of us from the poison he uses that would cause us harm." She met his amber gaze with her own determined bright green eyes. "You aren't the only one that wants to spare those they care about from further harm. Why do you have to be the only one ready to sacrifice all the time?" Her didn't raise her voice but there was no anger in it, only stubborn determination.
"Maybe just this once, I could spare you from fighting a suicide mission by yourself. Lords don't need to dip their hands in the blood of their enemies; that's what knights are for, so you don't have to." Her lower lip trembled for a moment. "Maybe for once, you could live without needing a fix to get you through the next battle because there would be no next battle. You and Hilda could live in your house and be happy."
Creature was silent at the response. His eye looked at Lukina's face, then lowered to her feet. He started walking again. He realized that she had a point. Why should he stop her from protecting the ones she cared about from harm? Who was he to decide for people that he had to fight for them. Why the fuck did she just bring up Hilda?!
"I don't think Hilda is alive. She has been listed as officially MIA on the roster. Plus fucking Mao cheat. Maybe I'll go looking for her. Maybe. But the house was more for her than for me. I'll be fucking honest. The marriage thing is more Taianese society than my own. My own people do it a bit differently. But the fucking feeling I have for you is deeper. I can't fucking....explain it." Creature started shaking. He was shaking so badly that Lukina could hear his gear rattling against itself, and it was the heavy clunking of his footsteps. "You gave me back something I fucking lost. Fucking hope."
He huffed as they came to the port door. Another dark looming hole that the tracks the wolf and Dallas had left led into. The tracks were punctuated with the droplets of xeno fluids all over the grating of the deck.
Creature moved ahead through the port hole with that Sheshka sword held behind his shield, ready to clear the room. "Yeah, I'm a lord now, but I am still a fucking Gartman. I dunno how elves do it, but I know humans don't do it the Gart way. We Sharani? Gartagens? The fucking words are interchangeable. But here is the secret to us Garts; the head fucking Gartagen always goes first and for the enemy leader. Ask me what the leader's lover does." Creature then vanished into the darkness of the next room in front of Lukina.
Lukina followed after Creature flipping her goggles back down so she could scan the darkness head. She raised her pistol into a secure firing grip as she checked the room. She had a lot to process, relationship talk was the last thing on her list of conversation topics as they searched for the others and were trying to avoid two groups of enemies. She went quiet as she finally stepped into the room.
"Stop fucking thinking so loud." Creature grunted as he inched into the room. It had two entrances. "Plus, sorry for fucking talking about that shit. Talking about mundane crap calms me down from the fact we are creeping through an apparently not so fucking dead sutakame battleship. It makes it seem, I dunno, minor."
"You've never fought these before?" Lukina asked softly, scanning the tracks on the floor for an indication of where they went. "I don't usually talk this much on a job, not generally a good thing for a sniper to be chatty. Gives away a position but I think they know we're here now."
"I've fought them too many times. This uh...isn't the fucking same." Creature said his voice lower than before. "This feels like we are walking over fucking graves." He added. Lukina would find the tracks had vanished from their view. "I wish we were fucking sniping right now."
Lukina stopped and frowned. "Where did they go?" She chewed on her lower lip for a moment.. maybe.. "You alive out there, Marshall?" She whispered into her gauntlet, trying to ping the Marshall on the Kowloonian Marshalls’ communications channel.
"Graves of somebody else's fucking nightmares..." Creature snorted.
Dallas' voice crackled over the comms, "Yeah, really fucking lost at the top of a big ass hole." There was a sound of moving cloth, "The fuck just brushed me, where did that one guy go?"
Lukina would have pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose if it wasn't clutching a pistol. "Do not fall down that hole. I don't care how lonely she might be, but Nightmares aren't a good idea to pay social visits too. We passed you somehow." She was relieved.
Lukina would feel a poking on her right butt cheek. Creature had, gently poked her with the tip of that Sheshka, enough to give her a sharp painful prick. "Hey, did that asshole say anything cheesy or whatever to you? I already but eight in his ass, I'll hack his fucking balls off for trying to fuck every chick in the camp." He said making a swiping motion with his Sheska.
"The fuck's a nightmare?" Meanwhile, he pulled out a small coin that had somehow got its way into his coat and gently flipped it down the hole, listening for how deep it went.
Lukina glared at Creature. She hissed at him, "Watch that thing." She shook her head. "You don't want to know right now. Stay there, we'll route to you." "They are back where we came from, we passed them somehow. I thought that was your trick?" She added as she backed out of the room to return to where they had left. Dallas would see both Creature and Lukina appear at the other end of the long corridor. They were on the other side of the dark hole. Creature leered at the wolf and at Dallas. "The fuck are you doing here? " Creature said pointing the Sheshka at Dallas, only just now realizing who had come with Lukina.
"Looking for your drunk ass." Dallas got up from dropping incompatible change down the big fuck-off hole and placed his revolver back in its holster. "Find anything good in this wreck or what?"
Lukina moved the goggles up to her forehead and lowered her pistol for a moment. "No. Let's get out of here," she suggested softly. "And no fighting with one another right now. Got enough to deal with."
"I came here to save him, what do you think I'd do? Throw him down this nightmare hole?" Dallas replied defensively.
"Well. Yeah. I did kind of shoot you. I'd probably hold a fucking grudge over it." Creature said shrugging. "But if you are okay with it then fuck it."
"What says I'm just not in the mood to just do this wonderful thing called calling in friends and dealing with enough paperwork for me to smother you in inkwells?" Dallas squinted his eyes slightly, "It is really fucking dark in here."
Creature turned his back to Dallas and began pushing back the way they came. Creature leading, with that shield between them offered some reassurance. Lukina with her marine training had probably heard stories of the Gartagens and their somewhat different tactics. But this was their bread and butter. Ship clearing. They would come to a room and Creature would plant that shield and let the two gunners scan it. With the wolf behind ready to melee with anything that came from the rear. If a grenade was lobbed, Creature would just brace the shield and the detonation would be deflected away since the unbreakable nature of Neutronium took advantage of physics, and force always taking the path of least resistance.
With that, Lukina pulled her goggles back over her eyes and made a face. The shield was still too damn tall for her. She peeked around the side of the shield with her pistol at the ready.
The room they came on next, as the Gartagen pushed through this dead star ship was, to Lukina and Dallas eyes, strange. They could see light from the outside pouring in like a haven. The final leg of this adventure turned escape had taken them from obviously Suta inhabited sections of the ship to a part of the ship inhabited by what could, judging by the markings be only the Black army. Those men they saw a earlier were the regular guards, and they were on patrol. They came to a large cargo loading portion of this ship. It was a large flat empty room, with a entrance to the outside dug in through the rock. In this room however was not supplies, and kit harvested. Rather Lukina would see something on the floor. Pallets, and blankets. With sleeping children in them. Mothers were resting on the floor with their babes. Only the babes had spiny protrusions coming from their bodies. Strange sharp toothed smiles were all that welcomed them. Creature peered over the shield and silently observed. "What the fuck is going on...?"
Lukina cringed. "They are half-Vekimen. We should go. Now."
"Half Veki-what?" Creature stammered not quite knowing what the piss a full Vekiman was. Creature looked on, his eye darting around. This was not a small number. There were hundreds of them. In the corners of this room mounds of bloody rags could be seen. Dallas would see the sleeping women were all naked, and had bite and claw marks all over their bodies. Scabbing, bruises. Clearly this nursery was not an easy life for these unfortunate people.
"You have Vekimen in your camp. Large alien species, vicious fighters for the most part." Her skin crawled seeing them.
"You mean, Patches? That weird thing that babbles on about fixing and cleaning bullshit all day? That’s what he is?"
"Big horny Lizards." Dallas added on as he seemed to recall some bad memory.
"Wha- horny is right, there are fucking hundreds of these things." Creature hissed
"They're lucky they survived this. We have to go, right now." Lukina nudged Creature.
"Should we fucking do ‘em?" Creature asked inching forward, being as silent as he could. The babes remained asleep, as did their care takers. Judging by the bones and scraps, these little ones did not need much protection. Creature looked on at them. He had honestly little knowledge of the Vekimen, or their reproductive capabilities as a whole. However, he now understood what the Empress was hinting at. Pushing through it the party came to the exit of the tunnel, and made it to the outside. Creature took his pistol back, and stood looking at the ship. "Okay. Both of you fucking start talking. What was that shit?" He said still walking
Dallas looked at Lukina, his expression silently asking what she'd seen that he hadn't.
Lukina removed her goggles, the need for them had past. "Let's find the birds and go. We can talk about that once we are away from the patrols." She shook her head at him. "A nursery from hell."
Dallas looked at Creature with a look that contained worry but then dissipated as he began looking for the birds.
"That you will never tell anybody about." The black army soldiers were walking up to them with their weapon's all drawn and aimed at Creature, Lukina, the wolf, and Dallas. The armor was old sutakame pattern, but they had worked it over, painted it black, and shaved down or removed all the old markings. They were standing up and looking the small party. In total there were seven of them. They were holding rifles and pistols. The Leader was wielding a single edged straight sword, and an old WC standard issue pistol. "Are you all from that stilly little outfit that is mostly made of skanks and whores?"
The leader swaggered on. Aiming his pistol at Lukina. "Drop your gear or I’mma shoot this little slut in her face."
"I figured the king wanted brides. My type is rare." Lukina responded coolly as she stared at the Black Army Leader. "By their condition, he needs more." Despite being splattered in Suta gore, the half-elf was in pretty good condition.
It was at this point that Wolf from the rear, the three birds being carried by their tethers as he sauntered up to the rest of the group. He was covered in a thin slime of disgusting Suta entrails and didn't seem particularly happy about it. He didn’t seem to care very much at all, it was more like a minor annoyance, thought one he obviously sorely wanted to be rid of.
The leader looked at Lukina. "Did this thing just speak to me and suggest she could be some sorta sacrifice? His Royal Highness isn’t looking for half breeds." The officer said, spitting the word half breed at her like some sort of cuss.
He then changed his aim to Creature. "Okay, just surrender and we won't kill you slow. The Half breed can be my fucking camp whore or whatever." He said yawning slightly.
Lukina took a couple of steps towards Creature. "No, don't hurt him." She held her hands up, one hand tugging on her hair as she stared in dismay.
The furry newcomer just seemed a little confused, looking between them rather curiously obviously not understanding he was potentially in danger.
"No one here's going to get any closer to killing his drunk ass but me." The Marshal had his thumbs in his belt, staring through the leader's eyes. "Y'all don't know who I am, sad to say, but there is one reason that y'all don't want me dyin'," Dallas looked around the group,
"Ya' see, when us Marshals get deployed they go and watch out for our heartbeats. If they stop, we do this little thing called cleanup. For those who don't know what cleaning up means, it's where we drop enough ordnance to dig your grave ten feet under itself and then cover that in more dirt than I have on your mother."
His eyes rested back on the leaders, "So if you feel like playing nice with our big ol' rifles back at our firebase and up in orbit? You better put that piece down."
She moved a little closer to Creature while Dallas tried to talk them down.
The men were, distracted by Dallas, and did not notice the wolf was moving, or that Lukina was inching about to a better position. Dallas' little speech was working, and they were looking. The leader paused as Dallas spoke then Dallas saw it, a twitch in his muscles as he was about to bring that gun over to him, and gun the Marshall down.
A sound of steel leaving leather echoed across the clearing as a revolver made a quiet click of a hammer reaching its ready as it leveled at the leader's temple. "Don't you fucking dare." The Marshal's finger was already coiled at the trigger's maximum.
Lukina reached Creature and pushed him. "Move dummy," she whispered.
Creature drew his pistol and brought his shield to cover both he and Lukina. He moved. When he did all hell broke loose. The leader fired on Dallas, and that energy shot sparked. Creature fired his own pistol, the heavy slug slamming into the armored helmet of one of the men. The men opened fire sending the pulse bolts at Dallas, Creature and the wolf. The shot from the leader grazed Dallas on the side of his face. His aim was slightly off.
Dallas fired at the leader's head, the .455 round barking out of the chamber with a loud sound of metal hitting metal. Dallas simply pulled the trigger back again and aimed slightly lowed to make sure the second round hit its mark. Dallas' aim was true, more so than the leaders. He was a lot less calm then he had been letting on and her missed. Dallas's shot missed too, catching the man in his throat rather than his head. The man was lifted off of his feet from the force of the bullet striking his armor and breaking through. His feet touched the ground and his body folded up like a discarded ragdoll tossed to the ground.
Lukina blinked out of existence behind the shield.
The furry dude just followed close behind, holding the three birds in one hand. With the gunfire rattling out he seemed a little confused at why these humans and people were fighting each other after they had been stood together when he came here.
Creature had moving cover and those impaler bolts struck his shield, slowing his movements. Another thunderous shot belched out of his own pistol, the heavy tungsten shell catching another of the goons in the chest. Only the armor held and the man went end over end tumbling through the dirt. The wolf would feel a sharp burn as one of the Impailer bolts struck his right shoulder. Dallas took an Impaler bolt in the dead center of his armor. Creature who was lining up another shot, took a hit to his helmet, the force flipping him over backwards.
As the Impaler struck Creature's armor, Wolf had some idea who was on who's side. He sprinted into the bushes to begin morphing, keeping his eyes on the battle to determine the enemies as he did.
Dallas pulled a battery out of his pocket as he coughed, ejecting the dead one and ramming the clean one home. In the same motion, he leveled the weapon at the goon and let loose two quick lasers before lunging towards him with heavy foot falls and force.
The laser bolts were snap fired but they struck the man, in the chest. His armor sizzled and popped and discolored from the hits. He then counter charged at Dallas. His feet smashing into the rocks. Dallas who was came in to try to spear the man would feel his world flash with light as the butt of that Impaler rifle was slammed into his face. Sending Dallas to the ground. The soldier flipped the rifle in his hand and let out a loud growl, bring the butt of the weapon up into the air like a Sledge hammer, preparing to bring it down on to Dallas to finish him.
The monstrous wolf, larger than any man, leaped through the air easily, soaring down upon the nearest enemy with fangs and claws and death. His cyan eyes glowed with fury now he had his mark, an aspect of chaos raining from the sky.
The wolf growled and roared like a whirlwind of teeth and fangs at the Nearest trooper. To his credit, the black armored trooper did not even flinch. He raised his weapon and fired. SLAP!SLAP!SLAP! The height pitched slapping of the Impaler rifle reverberated throughout the arid air, and the three shots hit the wolf dead center. But that blood lust only intensified. The pain only made the wolf hungry.
Two of the soldiers rushed up, and drew their blades. One of the struck Creature in the face. The other, much Larger and wielding a hatched sent the weapon into the other side of his head, knocking him around. Creature stumbled, the shot from the Impaler had already rattled him, but these Black Army guys wanted to get the wet work in.
From Lukina's vantage point she would see the remaining four, two kicking the fuck out of Creature, one about to bash Dallas' skull in, and the other frantically firing on their furry companion who was growling and putting on a show at his "prey."
The wolf pounced on his target and savaged the man with a a flurry of claws and teeth.
Lukina was grateful to be outside. She was finally able to use her rifle. She moved to flank the Black Army soldiers and opened fire on the men from behind and above. She had managed to find higher ground. Lukina picked the center mass of the soldier attacking Dallas as her first target with the Showstopper. Between the armor and the bulk of the soldier the danger of the bullet going into the Marshall was less of a risk than a head shot. She squeezed the trigger to fire twice into the Black Army soldier. The soldier was bringing that rifle down with everything he had. Lukina held her breath and fired in between her heart beat as she was trained. She felt the recoil of the weapon roll through her entire body. The bullets from the magnetic weapon. The first bullet struck him right through the heart. The viscera coming out of his back was wet, the second shot was halted by his armor and he flew off of his feet and went tumbling into the ground, effectively saving Dallas life, and prevented him from being bludgeoned into a pulp.
The smaller black armored man too his sword and brought it down in between Creature's collar bone and shoulder blade. The sudden trauma sent Creature to his knee. The bigger man brought his hand axe into a back hand motion, Causing creature's head to flick around like a bobble, the oily red/black Gartagen blood flicking out like a sprinkler. Lukina could see the red streak and bone on Creature's unarmored jaw and neck from where the heavy axe cleaved. The front of Creature's armor was quickly slicked with his blood.
The less durable party member was saved so Lukina turned her attention to the soldiers attacking Creature, looking for a clear shot. She followed the movements of the man with the axe, caressing her rifle as she stared down the scope and determining the pattern of the man's movement to risk a headshot. She held her breath and squeezed the trigger. Hoping that Creature would recover once she plinked the people attacking him.
The round streaked out-from her rifle with its trade mark yellowish trace, and Lukina would see sparks fly as it hit the man in the helmet, he spun forward and low, tumbling forward forcing his friend into a stumble. Creature leveled his pistol up, and fired it. Over and over into the man. Lukina would see that shield arm come up and over grabbing the sword using black soldier. Creature rose, lifting the man off of his feet and sent in a head butt that caved in the face of the soldier's helmet like a beer car. Creature discarded him as such.
Creature stood, and looking around to find all of the soldier's had been slain, though, Lukina would see he still had a sword buried into his torso.
Lukina rechecked the small battlefield for more opponents through her scope. Checking for another patrol.
Nothing came. Dallas got to his feet and picked his ten gallon hat up off the dirt. His face bruised, and burnt. Blood caking around his nose he'd smile and tip his hat at her in thanks. Lukina would note the smile was now short his left central incisor, giving Dallas country look much more intensity.
With the field clear, she re-slung her rifle and eased down the dirt laden side of the ship to rejoin them as her slender form blinked back into existence.
Creature holstered his pistol, and the sword that was in his body was soon pulled and tossed to the ground. "HEY DICKFACE MCGOO! WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?!"
There was silence. Then Lukina heard "SQKAAAAAAW!!!!!!!" The savaged bird came trotting up from the other side of the ship, with her and Dallas' mounts in tow. It took a few, but the bird eventually made its way to Creature who didn't mount it. After unstrapping his shield and hanging it on the bird's chest he began deftly digging through one of the saddle bags. Once done, the bird would begin trying to preen its master at which point Lukina would see Creature fiddling with a small object, the shape and size of a large egg, only rather than being white it was soft khaki. He started walking towards the entrance to that nursery.
Lukina slid to a stop as she watched Creature walk towards the nursery. She did not follow him. She pulled the hood down and wiped sweat from her face. "Creature, you all right? Marshall?"
"I don't guess you have a med pack on you." Dallas said half way following.
Creature held his hand up. "You know." Creature said slowing his pace and turning his head so that he could side eye Lukina. "I hear about elf culture A LOT. But none of you ever ask about the shit culture I came from. You never asked me about what the lover does." Creature said
"What does the lover do?" Lukina pulled a package from her pouch and offered it to Dallas. "I do. Let me get a look at you." She turned to Dallas to appraise the damage.
Lukina observed that Dallas had taken a nasty hit. His cheek bone was fractured, indicated by the blackness forming under his eye. He'd likely have a huge shiner and limited use of his left eye for a day or two. But she had seen human’s take injuries like this in boot in strides. As she doctored him, Dallas smirked. "Yeah, I have enough on my heart." His hand grabbing her lower back just above the glute and pulling her on him. "I thank ‘ya for that lil’ rescya darlin'."
Lukina's smile was strained as she was pulled against the man. "You definitely have a concussion on top of that fracture. You'll need to see the Doc. For now, I can stab you with this needle. Kindly, let go or be stabbed where it will hurt the most." Her fingers pulled a large needle free of the pouch.
Creature had turned around, and that amber eye was burning hot with a type of rage. Creature had a deep respect for Lukina and to see her treated like a bar room skank had the Gartman contemplating blowing Dallas' toes off. Creature had been around but he most certainly stated his intentions and was no womanizer. He did not profess his feelings unless he meant it.
Dallas smiled showing that missing tooth once more. "Okay Ma'am." He then let go of Lukina, though taking time to savor her touch with his hand.
Lukina raised a hand at Creature to stop.
Creature cooled it. To his credit he let his emotions go wild, however, he had not intervened. He knew Lukina had it. "Well. The lover. Man or woman, doesn't' fucking matter. They are considered one. So a duel happens, fight, choice. It’s as if the other made it. You fight one you fight the other. Share a life, share a fucking shadow. Little positive thing my people have I fucking guess."
"Anyway, I am going to take this fucking bomb, and kill the holy fucking fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck,, out of those sleeping monster-lizard-babies so they don't grow into a slobbering toothy ass army to come fuck everything that moves. This little bomb has bit of antimatter in it. I also added a second containment house to this bomb, so the explosion might take this ship out." Creature then offered the little bomb to Lukina. "But considering you fought the fucking squids, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you if you wanted the privilege."
"Let me take care of this first, Creature." Lukina offered an apologetic smile, "Okay, I need to inject these nanites locally to where the injury is so it'll stabilize the injury." She lightly touched the bruised cheek and pressed the cool, numbing contents of the needle into Dallas's face.
Dallas' shameless smile vanished into a pained frown. "Are those the nanites y'all pulled from me, because if so that's fucking funny." Creature said, yelling from where he was standing.
"Nah, these are the foxy ones," She replied as she patted Dallas on the shoulder and tossed the needle into the ship, as she walked over to Creature. "Sure, I will gladly destroy this ship." She accepted the bomb.
Creature tossed it over to her. Of course if she did not catch it the containment could be broken and run the risk of triggering an antimatter reaction around them resulting in them being annihilated as a result. "Alright."
Lukina caught the bomb, carefully. "What's the timer on this thing or are we throwing it into the ship and running like hell?"
"Sixty microns." Creature said. "But we probably should bail out once you toss it. It should prime when it hits the deck in that hole. Just make sure it goes in good and deep." Creature said. "Well, uh. Haha. "
Lukina looked at the opening in the ship. "You should start running then, I have no idea how long 60 microns is."
Creature huffed. "Uhhh, seconds. Sixty seconds. Plus I wanna watch it go. Fuck this ship. Fuck the sutakame and fuck these black army fucks."
The half-elf stared at the ship for a moment at the room pull of the hideous things she had been ordered to extinguish as she saw them, the hull of a ship full of bad memories, of the living monsters and nightmares from the war that had ravaged her life and hurled the bomb as hard as she could into the inside of the ship, towards the cursed nursery. She turned and ran back to her Kirikuu and jumped onto the creature's back and kicked it forward and away from the thing.
The seconds ticked down as the bomb impacted and slid across the metal floor of the cargo hold. It clanked and stopped, the seals breached. The force of the explosion ripped outwards in a corona of orange, red fury shredded metal, flesh in a giant wave of heat and force the rippled outwards. The hull of the ship groaned. The heat triggered secondary explosions from the munitions that were stored inside the ship. The ship thundered as it collapsed upon itself as it was ripped apart from its base, unable to bear the weight of the ruined space hulk.
Thick black smoke, dust and plume of flame shot up were the ship once stood. The Black Army Men that were still inside screamed in horror as they were shredded by shrapnel and crushed by debris. They screamed as the force of the explosion shook loose their organs and gasped as the heat burned their lungs like tissue paper.
Lukina didn't look back, she was too concerned with getting clear of the blast area as the force of the shockwave almost knocked her from the Kirikuu. She kicked the brown bird, urged it faster towards safety.
They rode away, having cleared the blast radius just enough to avoid being irradiated by any of the redundant sub systems they inevitably detonated after the initial cataclysmic explosion. Creature and his battered black Kirikuu came up next to Lukina.
"Well. Not bad for a first date."
"That was an awful first anything. Definitely not a date," Lukina huffed. "Why do guys buy that scared little girl crap every time?"
"Dunno. I always found a girl can kill just as well as dude."
"They also eat up the offer of being a willing fuck toy too," Lukina affectionately hugged the neck of Kirikuu.
"Don't let that go to your head, I think they were going to shoot us all anyway and take our shit."
Back at Azalea camp.
Lukina peering outside of Creature's tent saw Dallas wave, and wink at her. He milled about before heading over to the "Drops" as Creature called them. The drops were a simple cluster of water closets that resided on the far side of the camp. Dallas eventually headed that way and vanished behind one of the doors shutting it and locking it.
Creature sauntered over to the drops, discarded a spent Ginger beer can, and cracking open another. Then with the precision and premeditation of a shark circling a wounded dolphin, he went in for the kill. He knocked on the door. "Uhhh fucker, don't get yourself killed, I have enough on my heart already." Then with a calm, forceful push, Creature shoved the FOL hut over onto its side. Dallas still in it.