1-10: Recovery and Restoration

Completed episodes of the Azalea Company. Coming to a webcomic near you! https://www.su-comic.com
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1-10: Recovery and Restoration

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The team had returned to the camp, and almost immediately, the Medics had set on them. Thaddeaus with his wound had a medic hitting him with her scanner and then trying to strip him down. Valériane had it the worse as her body was in the worst condition. She was taken from Mizuki by a Gartagen medic and a helper and laid onto a make shift stretcher that was little more than four posts lashed together with a thick sheet bound to it. Moving her was secondary to tending to her wounds. The medic began with her back, disinfecting the lash cuts, and applying pain killers to her blood stream. She then began biding her cuts together with sharp smelling foam substance.

Creature, was in horrible shape. His armor was cracked and split open, he was slick with his own blood, but he moved, aggressively like a panther on the hunt towards the Camp's entrance wall. He activated a small switch on his PDA to magnify his voice. He paused, taking in Valériane.

"Uhhh. Alright. I fucking lied. I'm not a Knight. 100% full of shit. I only said I was a dumb fucking knight so I could get laid. I never fessed up because well, I was a coward and you were all happy for some stupid fucking reason. Well some of y'all have gotten hurt and fucked to high heaven because of it. Valériane is uhhh.... that's my fault for lying. Never would have happened. We only came here because I was trying to get a shitty house to fuck my fat ass wife in. Took you all into a fight with a bunch of savage monsters. Those fucking people that did this shit are psychotic barbarians and I don't want them to do that to any of you so uhhh... go home, be safe. I’m gonna go get turnt or some shit." He then held up two fingers with his good hand and shut his mike off. He began stalking down the stairs. "Oh, fucking Page. Get your shit and let’s go." The Megaphone PDA suddenly cut off.

The Page however stood at the edge of her tent rather defiantly. Not getting any of her things. She huffed, and dashed over to Valériane. But the time she got there her black eyes were welling with tears. Now she understood why her Guardian was so upset.

Thaddeus was getting worked on when he heard the call. "The fuck is Creature on about, I’m thinking fighting that black knight damaged his brain." He pushed the medic off. "I am fine, need to go see that our fearless leader to be cared for." Thad wondered towards the direction Creature was speaking from.

"Uh, you got hit by an Impaler, you need serious medica-" The Medic was shoved away, but she persisted trying to get at Thaddeus.

The half-elf blinked back into view as she disengaged her Stealthsuit. She tugged the hood free to reveal her youthful face. "Creature." She said rather loudly as she followed after the blue alien, her rifle slung over her shoulder. "Hey!"

Creature was on the ground, and did not pause as he started walking towards his tent to get the things he left in it; mostly the excess of his medical cache. "Look save it. You are fucking way more idealistic than me." Creature said to Lukina, not even bothering to look at her.

"Motherfucker, listen." Lukina pulled a long thick brass colored handle from her back. She held it at her side.

REIA looked up from her work, repairing a damaged Impaler recovered from the first assault. The android twinkled unhappily at the shamble that was the result of the group's own assault teams outing. Connecting the last exposed wires together and slamming the casing back together the large robot stood up.

It was about this time Thad made it to Creature, with the medic attached to his leg. "Why is this guy still walking around. Guy just faced down a brute, the fuck not a knight, that is the knightliest thing I ever seen." Thad shouted at Creature.

That sharp amber eye stabbed at Thaddeus. "I did that, to fucking kill him for laying a hand on Valériane. I was being fucking selfish. It was her right to gut him and I fucking stole that from her." He said with venom in his tone.

"Not really," Mizuki said, having appeared seemingly out of nowhere next to Thad. "Especially with the black whatever is still alive."

"MOST KINDLY COMRADES. PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE SUBJECT CREATURE." The loud electronic buzz of the Rayleigh's AI shouted out towards Thadd and Lukina, the subsequent newcomer. There was a soft vwhip-CRACK of an Impaler overcharging and then a second voice hissed in following the first. "I am contemplating shooting the august Commander for dereliction of duty."

"Go right ahead bot." Creature snorted. "I deserve one to my fucked-up face anyway."

"I'm not gonna hurt him you bucket of.... Oh. Chotto fucking matte, you fucks." The young woman looked increasingly irritated, as Lukina looked from the group to Creature. "Creature," she said more firmly.

"Now hold on just a minute there, before blasting more holes in this guy, he needs some medical care. He is talking about feelings and shit, He needs some serious care," Thad said in a dead serious tone.

Creature had made it to his tent, and kicked his foot locker over, he then bent over and began loading up pill bottles, syringes, and powder bags into his leather satchel. "HEY! FUCK STICK!" He roared. "If you don't want to get your shit you can stay here!" He said yelling at the Page.

"Fine!"

Creature paused, as he took out two Chakrams, and pulled Valériane's assault rifle from his back and placed them on his bed. He then remembered her pistol. "That little fucker. FINE! STAY!"

Creature finally looked at Lukina and Thaddeus, as well as the Bot. "Look just feed the fucking kid." He let out a sigh.

"I don't want to see that shit any more. I don't want it to fucking happen to any of you!" He then delivered a powerful fist to the foot locker, smashing it into pieces.

"He would leave Sub-commander Valériane with an untenable situation on her hands - I do not forget who takes my card and who casts it aside." The lights on the robot flared aggressively. "He would toss aside everything now because he does not realize anyone who followed him had nothing - and is now to be left with less. He has a family. An establishment to run to. Selfishness should always be left dressed in red."

"Listen." The half-elf started tapping her foot against the ground. Her time amongst the Alliance Marines had roughed up her demeanor. Her thumb activated the switch on her sword, a long blade deployed from the thick hilt. "LISTEN. FUCKING HEAVENS."

Thaddeus was starting to go crossed eyed from all this talk. "Look here holy bot knight, this guy went there and fought. With my own eyes I seen him go toe to toe with that devil. Selfish or not he didn't have to save her but he did." He said looking dead at the robot.

"CATCH." The siren of a voice shouted as REIA tossed her Impaler at Thaddeus. The large combat droid then brushed her way like a bull in a china shop towards the tent.

"Somebody defrag this robot. Chiharu fucking help me," Creature said.

"I am totally going to kick all of your asses." Lukina said, threatening the group. "I AM A REAL KNIGHT. Fucking motherfucker. And you are gonna be a real one too, so chill the fuck out. If you walk away then they all did all of this for nothing." Her eyes narrowed. "I KNOW you didn't want them to get hurt... especially her but bullshit happens. Now you must deal with it so she doesn't feel like horseshit the rest of her life. You want to help her, find your wife, find Ayana and her kid."

Yeah, what she said, Mizuki thought, chuckling darkly as everyone's attempts to keep Creature there seemed to smash into each other.

Creature paused at that. There was a truth to Lukina's words, but his moment of lucidity was soon disrupted by the large REIA unit that was behaving way too much like a thinking person.

"I will. Not. Be. Touched." The robot swiveled her body and head around to glare towards anyone that thought badly enough to get close. With a heavy clank REIA moved closer to Creature and made a snarling-screech of a sound that was purely electronic. "I thought you were a creature that knew pain. You just want to own it."

"Yeah pal, that’s why I am packing up my shit, so I can go crawl into an alleyway and not feel anything for a few days," Creature stated.

Thad put the over charged weapon carefully on the ground. Taking a few steps back away from it. "Yes, we are all knights...we get it. So, can we get Creature some medical help here please? Same for the robot that seems to have decided to feel feelings..." Thad said, completely confused as to how any of this mattered when people needed help.

"Thaddeus, I'm not a human. I'm barely even a fucking Gart," Creature started. "All the fucking gene therapy, surgeries and additions. I am some kind of fucking freak. My nanite colony organ will have me fully healed by tomorrow. So, don't fucking sweat it, get the docs for the people that need it."

REIA seemed agitated now as the robot began to pace back and forth. Her steps switching between a metallic clacking of noise and utter quiet as it seemed to suit her flowing mood. "You run. IT DOES NOT WORK. You hide. IT DOES NOT WORK. You sulk. IT DOES NOT WORK. You cry. IT DOES NOT WORK."

The android seemed to stop and hovered its head before it shook it once more, violently. Her head swiveled and her main ocular unit brightened as it locked on Thadd. "Where is my gun. Death will help in this situation."

Creature then stood up, Looking to REIA and Lukina. "So, what? Making me a real Knight...go Find Ayana? Fuck, I am not even worthy of it. That fucking shit book talks about everything a Knight is, and I isn't."

"Actually, holding the title gives you more power than you think. The book is a kid's story. Being a knight is being a soldier that leads others. You are a soldier. All the noble ideals in the world can't be preserved without someone dying. There are people that need to be protected from those evil motherfuckers running around. You can't walk from this fight. Not after you went for him directly. He will pursue and tear everything down, you made this personal." The half-elf twirled the claymore in her hand in the way Creature had showed her his specific stances. "You don't get to drink tea or save kittens. You kill people to keep other people safe."

Thaddeus walked over and hugged REIA. "It’s ok, we are all back safe and sound. I put your weapon just over there out of reach."

There was a static hiss of pneumatics and crackling electronics as Thaddeus hugged REIA. The lights on the android dulled to a faint hum of power. "I will count. You will make no less than four steps from me and remove your physical contact. You do not want me to count to 'A'."

"R"

Thad released the bot and stepped back some. "Ok, its counting letters now...you don't count letters, you count numbers. Ah, forget it, just go pick up your weapon and blast something already." He walked a few steps back towards Creature and addressed him. "When you’re done feeling sorry for yourself, Valériane is looking for you. Should go see her." Thad said to him.

"Weirdo," Mizuki said, giving the man a hip check. "Hugging a robot."

Thad smiled as Mizuki. "Was worth a shot, robots need lovin' too ya know."

"Thank you..." REIA stated evenly to the man that disengaged himself from her. He received a second quick look at his comment on "lovin'" but ultimately the android skipped over the quiet exchange. "My Impaler will be left out of this continuing conversation."

Creature glared at his Page who was hovering over Valériane. The Page grimaced back at him then stuck out her tongue. Creature watched Thaddeus hug the REIA and shook his head. "This isn't your fucking fight either." He said in response to Lukina. "Two weeks ago, this was none of our concern. None of you. If I had kept my fucking mouth shut, Valériane would be in that bar serving drinks, dreaming of... heroics... But those assholes would fucking do it to somebody else." He said with a sigh.

"Fine, if y'all want me to fucking stay and fight these monsters, I guess I fucking will. I guess if this Kowloon or whatever it's called is our home now, I should do what I can to make sure it doesn't get burned to the ground..."

The robot's attention snapped back towards Creature. "You do not choose for others. This is most important to remember. Each choice to stand. Each choice to fight. Individual."

Thad let out a cheer. "That is the Creature I know...quick, page, go find someone to have sex with him to make sure he is still of right mind." He said in a joking fashion.

REIA stalked over towards where Valériane was laid and picked up the page and maneuvered the child's body outside the flaps of the tent before setting them down. As she walked back in a heavy hand crashed into Thaddeus's back and pushed him into his Commander's open lap. "Good to see you volunteer to appease your superior's appetites."

As the page was set outside, the Viscountess looked down at the little girl and sighed, rubbing her temples with both hands. What she had heard, and was still hearing was troublesome to say the least, but at least it wasn't anything that couldn't be handled. Everything was a mess. Everything was awful. But, they had won, and they were alive, the Hanewoman admitted to herself.

The half-elf stared at the Hane Lady, bristling. She knew the Lady on sight, it was her Liege's orders to know the nobility of Kowloon on sight. Her evergreen eyes appraised the noble woman. "And here is the Lady." Her grip on the claymore tightened as she lowered the sword so its tip was parallel to the ground.

Thaddeus fell to the floor into Creatures lap. "Gawd damn it lewd bot. It didn't mean me..." He quickly got back to his feet. "I swear, need to install a joke program into your brain."

Creature grabbed Thaddeus by his wound, and shoved him from him. "You know they can have your ass flogged and shit, right?" Creature said slapping his comrade off. When the Viscountess presented herself, he rose to his feet.

"My humor is fine. That is why you were picked." REIA responded flatly.

"Yes, I am here it would seem," the towering Hane sarcastically responded to the half-elf, her tone deadpan with the displeasure of seeing Lukina. Making her way into the tent proper, the buxom blonde's presence commanded their attention as she became the center, the focus. "I am pleased to hear of your victory, however, I have also been hearing your conversation as I stood outside," the Viscountess explained. The moment of silence, the implication of what she had heard, became ominous. Looking at Creature, her silver eyes piercing and cool, she asked, "Will it be a problem? Your lack of title?"

There was an obnoxious crack of a GINGER'S BEER! Can, and then a short burp. "Uhhh, sorry. Everybody seemed to get off on it when I had a title. No one fucking wanted to listen when I said I lied about it." Creature stated in response to the Hane woman's query.

Mizuki rolled her eyes at the Gart's glib reply, but stayed quiet, as others seemed to be taking the lead.

Thad moved over next to Mizuki to keep himself out of trouble. While she was not directly to blame, had the Viscountess been the bait, Valériane would not have suffered her fate.

Creature looked at Thaddeus and Mizuki. "Don't go making a fucking baby or anything..." He muttered shaking his head seeing the obvious romantic interest between the pair.

"You lead a host. It has pulled you back when you denied it - lack or not of a title. Gained or given, the cohort is the actual proof of strength. Words are-" REIA's lights flared and the android made a hand motion where she held her hand horizontally in front of her and shook it in an indecisive motion. "They are a start. Nothing more."

Rolling her eyes at their response and babbling, the platinum haired Hane held up a hand to stop them from speaking any further. "Ser Creature is a knight. My Knight. There will be no more discussion on that topic." It was utterly anticlimactic, without any pomp or ceremony and though her people may be the most superstitious of the great houses, they were also the most pragmatic. "More important things are to be had," she began, crossing her arms under her considerable bust. "Do you have a course of action set? Your next step in mind?" the Viscountess asked, looking over them all for an answer.

Creature had won one battle, but not the war, the woman knew. It wasn't over, and she had use for him yet.

Lukina seemed satisfied with the Hane claiming Creature as her knight. The blade of the claymore collapsed down again into the thick brass. It was a start. Her eyes looked to the Gartagen again.

Creature smashed his can of Ginger beer. "Yea h- " he let rip another burp, " - we need to keep this area secure. If those psychopaths spill into the neighboring provinces they will just fucking grow and grow and become a bigger threat to the rest of Piyapon. But winter is on the way, and that river is going to open up. We need to start reaching out to the towns and - " he belched again, " - people of this region... food, supplies, and to let them know we are fighting for them. Don't give 'em any ground to run to."

An out stretched finger pointed to the REIA. "Okay. fucking toaster oven. Are you with the company or not? If you ain't then you gotta go.... Can't have people not swearing fealty or whatever to the Viscountess… it would make her look like shit."

His amber eye then moved to Lukina. Ser Lukina or Lady? Dame? Whatever. "Double for you Dame....I think that’s what female knights are fucking called? Gotta do it as one. Can't have crossed loyalties and shit. You never accepted -brp- the offer so uhhh... You talked me into staying, are you with me?"

REIA looked over at the Viscountess and then deftly flicked a business card towards the Hane woman. "R.E.I.A. As it reads. Your knight knows what I do." The droid's lights flickered and she cocked her head to the side. "Do you need my knees in the dirt or does it suffice?"

Lukina twirled the handle in her hand idly for the moment. "I am permitted to take on additional contracts in service to my own Lord. I can assist in this matter until the war is over. I ultimately serve Lady Bhelith Arleigh and Kowloon." She nodded and gave the Hane woman a knowing glance before looking back to Creature. "I accept the offer of employment. The rest is a negotiation for another time."

"Yeah. Technically so do I now." Creature said slightly grumbling the word.

"Consider yourselves hired," the Viscountess replied, eying Lukina with suspicion. There was no helping it, if others were going to be nosy, so the woman knew to make use of the elf. Snatching the droid's card out of the air, it promptly vanished as she tucked it away, casually lost in the Hane woman's ample cleavage without so much as another thought. "Your plan of action is reasonable," she began with her sultry voice, "However, our previous disaster was the result of a lack of information on our enemy. Do you have plans to gather intelligence? We have yet to learn any significant details with any certainty," the Hane calmly pointed out.

"Well we learned a shitload about them. Mobile force, guerilla fighters, most of them are fucking men and they aren't too happy to have an Empress, a Viscountess. They are also forcing people in this region into their ranks. They answer to some fucking dipshit called The Black King. I think they are motivated by wanting everything you, and the Empress has, new, male dominated nation where women are fucking chattel, and the men are made into killing machines. They don't give a shit about race. Also, they are using the land and populace as a screen...so short of this camp, everybody is fucking suspect. Terror tactics, conscription... judging by how they treated Valériane," He said nodding over to the Huoshio. "That’s what you are looking at if they win."

Though she kept the military assessment in mind, there was something that stood out about what the Gartagen had said. "You are saying they are motivated by ideology?" the Viscountess asked, her words as unpleasantly cold and hard as that mere thought. By the way the small, black wings draping her shoulders shifted, they could tell she was not happy.

"Fuck yes. They were almost fanatical. Didn't seem keen on retreat. The commander of the force that took your shit out, was some Ogre. I think the core of them are off-worlders... probably outcasts and dissidents from all over the sector trickling the fuck in..."

"The subject I interrogated was beyond question a fanatic. A broken spine does not make someone as verbose as the response that was received." REIA commented coolly.

Creature pointed to the bot. "Lukina saw 'em up close with her scope."

"They've been trained in some capacity, they are more uniformly weaponized and armored, it speaks to a structured militant group, possibly ex-military or pirates. The locals have been reporting that women are being taken from around the area as well. Which leads credence to their intentions towards you, my Lady. They took Valériane thinking she was you. They need a trophy," Lukina's girlish voice was firm. "Not many of the older ways appreciate women in power. But most men want a harem."

Thad spoke up to add information he picked up from camp. "While I was clearing the camp, I noticed that there were lots of young recruits. One even shared they were forced. Giving the locals, some hope would go a long way. No idea if she would be up for it but someone having survived these brutes would send a powerful message."

Creature was already priming one of his needles for self-medication as he spoke. "Judging by the way they latched on to that fucking radio announcement about you going to fucking Lucarin City...they had zero respect for your authority or troops...."

"Ideas are bulletproof," the Hane seemed to recall. Focusing on the moment again, she looked to Creature. "This does not bode well. Your campaign will be harder should you fail to gather more about their belief - without, we cannot break their spirit so easily," the Viscountess pointed out. "In addition to your war plans, you and your men are to find out more. We are at a disadvantage otherwise. Now, if you will excuse me." Turning, her calf-length ponytail swaying, she began to leave.

"My Lady," Creature said nodding as the Hane woman as she took her leave. If this was going to work they needed to cement their bond and the authority, or else a lack of discipline would eat them alive before any enemy hit them again. "Alright. Fucking.... Robot, Thaddeus Mizuki. Get some rest and then gather a salvage party to go to their camp and take any left overs."

"My Knight," the Viscountess firmly replied, her womanly form silhouetted as she briefly stood on the threshold. With that, she left.

Creature waited until the large Hane woman left, his eye following her muscular ass as it walked away. "Uhhh, Dame Lukina... We need more scouts scouring this land. We need to secure it before winter... if not then we are going to have more of them coming from all fucking directions....We also need to get some better equipment. Shield wall tactics are working... but it would be better with some cheap ass impulse PA or something. This ragtag bullshit isn't cutting it.

"I'll do what I can to get them trained and ready. I think I saw something that might help the situation the other day if you are up for a... stroll. You should make sure she is taken care of," the lady knight said gently as the Hane left.

Creature had kicked off his boots, and shot up his narco, and had moved to sitting in his bedding. He began unfastening his battered armor, discarding it on the floor rather carelessly. The only bit of his gear he gave any thought to was that Sword of his which he gently slid over the edge of a wall of pillows. Lukina, Mizuki, Thaddeus would see he had savage gashes in his arms, legs, chest from the battle Ogre, but they were already scabbing over and healing., his blood had caused his shirt to stick to his skin, making the corpulent scarring on the left side of his body very noticeable.

Creature found himself gazing on Valériane, as the medics had dressed her wounds and covered her form from view. They hauled her off. "I'll... visit her before we leave. Go get some rest. We are short on tents and places to sleep. But uh...."

"I'm too tired to fuck, you can share this shit with me if you like." He said leaning back into the depth of his bedding and curling up

"How chivalrous of you," Lukina commented with a smile. She looked to the others for a moment, thinking perhaps they would join Creature.

"He's a pretty good lay," Mizuki said, before putting her arm around Thad, "But I've got my own bedwarmer."

Thaddeus in turn put his arm around Mizuki. "I been upgraded from towel boy to bedwarmer. Moving up in the world." He said with a chuckle.

Creature had his PDA out as Mizuki spoke. "HILDA, I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!" He roared. "I KEEP CALLING AND YOU WON’T ANSWER YOU FAT FUCKER! SO, ANSWER YOUR CALLS! THEN WHEN YOUR COPY COMES OUT! I AM GOING TO FUCK YOUR DEAD BODY INFRONT OF IT!" He then hung up. "Sorry. Trying to get a hold of my wife."

"That's a different negotiation," the half-elf shook her head and turned out of the tent, walking out normally instead of disappearing this time. "I have a perfectly good tree to sleep in. I bid you good night, Ser Creature."

With that Thad with Mizuki in arm, walked out of Creatures tent. The day had been long and much needed sleep sounded amazing. More so when the company makes it even better.
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