"I could fucking live without Rorik." The creature said out loud. But the other three. He had no clue what to do. Creature's instinct was to immediately pack up his gear and walk away. Maybe go find Lukina. But he swore that oath. The Empress had given him a home. So many were counting on him to do something, and Creature hated it. Hated when he was the one making decisions. It terrified him and drove him to self-medicating in order to deal with the anxiety of it.
Bob, Sneak, and Vella had been moved and laid down by a fire pit in the hours after the battle. The other soldiers had likewise made camp, but there was no laughter or conversation. Just Creature sitting away from them all, on a shattered tank, with a case of his Ginger ale next to him.
He gave no orders because he had none to give. This city was all the Empress's idea. She needed it. WIthout her, there was no point to any of this.
The last thing she really remembered before it was simply over was stepping into the mech, and now everything hurt. There were glimpses, images and sounds in her head as if they had appeared and disturbed her from a deep sleep, before she faded back into it. They were overbearing and loud, hard to think about like her head was simply too tired to process what it was beyond 'overbearing.' Her chest hurt, she was drenched in a cold sweat that refused to cease, a throbbing headache kept her awake, and she had thrown up no less than three times, and that was just when she was conscious. Her chest had, more or less, closed and was uninfected, but her body had fought tooth and nail against the injection Creature had given her. It was still fresh and raw, but the ugly scar it would leave was closing in.
She had drunk more than her own ration of water, and already she vowed to scrap the damned mech if given the chance. She had been angry, and while she was thankful that she hadn't witnessed her own violent actions, she despised the idea of 'losing time.' You blink one minute, and when you open your eyes hours had passed. It had never been a welcome feeling for her, to fear, the confusion, the pain. She resisted the urge to shiver, the cold sweat almost ignoring the heat of the fire. And through it all, she was exhausted, she wanted to pass out and miss a few sunrises, and then take a long shower, and then maybe, maybe, get back up and get moving.
But life didn't work that way, so there was no point to waiting. "So Creature, you actually have a plan, or is sulking the sum of it?" Her voice broke the silence, a grating tinge to it. Her throat was dry, and didn't want to carry her words. If the plan was to rest, that was one thing, but she hated the idea of just wallowing in her own pity. Not while the Taianese were out there, gloating over some victory. There was no victory here for them, not in any way that mattered, and she would make sure that they realized that. There was something here that was deemed important enough for this risk, and she wasn't going to sit here while fucking Creature-
She stepped to her feet, the building rage taming her headache for the moment. She wore a hoodie she had packed, given her vest had a massive hole in the middle. "I don't know what the fuck is down there, but whatever it is we're hitting the gene-splicers with it. Tell me you have a plan, or I'm making one." Her tone was brutish, impolite. She was angry, furious even, not necessarily at Creature but that did little to stop her tone from lashing at him.
Vella tried to speak, but initially, the only sound that came out was a series hacking coughs which sounded just as painful as they were to Vella.
“We...should come up with our own….” She eked out in a raspy voice. “Can’t...leave...without...Empress.” Vella finished with a deep breath of relief, before taking a deep swig of water and collapsing back down on her cot.
"Honk!" went the goose-like sound from its throat. Bob then started to fall asleep atop his newly found pillows.
"Any plan is relatively futile if we don't know where we are going or what we are up against." The large wasp spoke up after a minute , his thick accent a bit more gravely than normal "We also will more than likely be torn to shreads, especially in our current conditions."
As if to accentuate his point he took a bite out of a meaty portions of his rations, "Should a least of tried to get something fresher." He further mumbled to himself.
His legs folded up under him and he easily stood himself up, looking around the camp and taking in the surroundings from a better vantage point. It seemed clear from the mood of the camp that they hadn't won. His cloak was a wreck, he still felt at least three holes in him, and he only had the use of one hand and one eye. But by some quirk of fate he was still alive.
"Qismet misses his due this time." Sneak said to himself, before looking over his shoulder in a pang of paranoia.
Then he remembered something and stuck his fingers into his shattered eyesocket, howling in pain before running around looking for anyone conscious and responsive.
"I need someone to look into my eye socket! Do you see a flashing light?!"
Jill, and Barlor heard a man’s voice speak out of the phone. "We have to deal with scenarios that are increasingly winner take all. There are billions of people out there, and the other guys will certainly have someone doing the same thing that you are. The winner is going to be the person that pushed themselves harder, that didn't make excuses, that made every risky bet and came out ahead."
Creature then sprang to life and hopped off of the busted vehicle, grabbing his things. “So like that Wazu guy said. We can’t sit here taking a break!” He exclaimed clapping his hands together. We have to put in the extra hour. And by that I mean we have to put it in that Tai Pan ship.”
“Okay. This is kind of a suicide mission. Those elitist assholes took our empress, so I’m gonna go up there and take her back. You all look like you got your asses kicked...and we don’t have a ship....”
Creature paced about, placing a prosthetic finger to his chin. He snapped it. “Those Atraxians have ships! But...we don’t have a pilot....”
“What ever we can finger that out later.” Creature then cracked open a can of Ginger beer and took a deep swig. He then pulled out a dermal syringe and applied it to his flesh just above his pubic bone. The device filled up with a thick viscuious slush. “Time to perk you fuckers up.”
He approached Jill, and before she could react he planted the device on her neck. “This won’t hurt as bad as the blood.”
“Alright come and get it!”
She had been wronged, the gene-splicers she so fiercely despised had taken arms against her, and they would regret ever looking her way. "If we can get on an Atraxian ship, then-" Before she could finish, her eyes widened as she watched in horror as Creature jabbed the used needle in her neck. Immediately her nerves protested, the burning circle where the needlehead violently ripped through only being a precursor to the searing pain that spread through her veins. Her legs almost gave up, stiffening and pushing her away from the large Gartagen. "Ah! Fuck! I'll stomp your damn balls out you thick-necked knob-head!" What followed was more incoherent, angry screaming.
It sounded like an impotent squeak.
"Oh for shit sake Bob it's just a new tentacle!" Creature exclaimed as he shoved the dermal syringe into Sneak's eye. Sneak would feel the contents of the syringe empty into his eye socket. Then the painful and uncomfortable sensation of his wounds beginning to rapidly heal. "The fuggin Racoon thing here is taking it like a champ!" Creature said as he turned and began advancing on Barlor. If Barlor had any objections, Creature ignored it before finishing off the syringe in him and then doing the same to Vella. The creature then deposited the syringe back into his leather bag and started walking back the way they had come.
As Creature walked he began rallying the remaining soldiers. A few would stay behind, but other than that the plan would require everybody. "Alright. Atraxians corpses are back the way we came. We are gonna go grab all their shit and wear it. Then sneak behind enemy lines and steal a ship." Creature said. "It sounds fucking stupid, but if anybody else has a better plan...."
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Boot-up initiated. Estimated 256256 days since last operation. (Error?) Late-Wake-Up package running. New-Boot. Testing hydraulics... Testing locomotive systems... Applying lubricant... Efficiency restored... Ammo check... Secondary weapon(s) missing. Annoying. Primary weapons intact, full ammunition. Goody. Activating visual sensors... audio... radar... infrared... yadda yadda. Now I can see. Now I can think. Mostly. Standing up... done. Opening eyes... done.
For a good while she simply strode forward with no actual goal in mind, scanning and listening intently until she heard something interesting: Screams. Mikali stopped in place, changed direction, and strode onward, approaching the source of the noise, soon hearing a myriad of other vocalisations, mostly of pain. Wounded? Mourning? Good, good. A camp site, quickly erected, a crackling fire. A shout: Spotted by sentries. Forgot to check shield systems. Running diagnostic.
Mikali stopped her advance, close to the perimeter of the mysterious camp, lowering her main weapon systems on either side of her torso to make her less threatening. Now that she had the attention of the people keeping watch, she only needed to wait and see what the ultimate reaction was. She had to make a good first impression, so she activated her emotive display. A holographic projector at the front of her 'head' hummed to life and displayed a stylised, cartoon face. Her 'avatar', brown eyes and a cute smile. No one would want to shoot such an adorable face without first asking questions!
His only betral of this pain as a grunt and an audible "Ow" escaping his mandibles.
As the pain subsided to a more manageable level the waspinoid spoke up.
"I do not wish to be the rain on your parade, but I doubt most of us look like these Atraxians. How are we do blend in with the rest unless the rest are that dumb. Again I have not seen these things in the flesh so I cannot be the best of judges"
"What dah fuck is wrong with you guys?" Sneak asked, looking at the rest of the crew going through various states of screaming incoherently, seizing, or becoming catatonic temporarily. Watching in concern.
"Also, that's the stupidest plan ever. You should pretend to be a warparty bringing back prisoners, while I infiltrate using my natural abilities." Sneak suggested, before turning around to where the sound of loud stompy footsteps approached the camp.
"Something's coming." He said simply, staring into the dark at the squat form of the war machine, and then it grew a face.
'Ho boy, time to get the platelets over!'
'He's a bleeder, that's for sure.'
'Ugh. It's gonna take forever to build this fibrin clot.'
Hearing all this in his head, Bob's inscrutable alien face turned to look at them all before briefly setting on Creature. He then simply went back to resting his head on somewhere soft. "I think it's a kill bot. Maybe it's here to put us out of our misery?" the tentacle alien's speaker box remarked.
Creature nodded at Jill, then turned to Bob. Creature walked over to Bob and lazily jumped across the top of Bob's shell. Creature squirmed about maneuvering his body so that he was laying comfortably across Bob's shell. Placing his face near to Bob's head he spoke and pointed at Jill. "See that chick?" Creature said with his deep growly voice, that caused Bob's shell to vibrate with each word. "The one without the arms. That's my girlfriend. She doesn't know about it yet but like... it's cool. Anyway, we are gonna go do something stupid as fuck. It's seriously such a stupid plan, I had to name it after you. Plan: Stupid Motherfucker. So since it's named in your honor, could you like to get up and come fucking help us rescue the Empress and our friends?"
Chillingly, as Creature spoke, the Creature tentacle moved over and mouthed every word, emulating every word in front of Bob. "Eh. That's creepy as shit." Creature said grabbing the tiny Bob/tentacle doppelganger and snapping its neck. The tentacle went limp and slapped the ground. "Sorry about the side effects."
When Mikki arrived and stepped into view Creature looked up. "This uh....complicates Plan: Stupid mother fucker. Uhhh. Hey, Squirrel guy, how do we sneak the massive kill robot that's being friendly and happy through?"
"Can't we just kill off some patrols and take their stuff? Have all of us dress up like them like last time?" Bob's speaker box pondered aloud, a tentacle curled under his chin like a great thinker hunched over in thought. Looking at their entire motley group though, he started to worry. "Maybe we could give some of them stilts or something?" he tried to helpfully suggest. "I like women, but if we're caught, they'll be even worse off than us guys," the human turned alien adult actor on purge-vacation pointed out with yet another one of his many limbs.
Getting up on his feet, the miracle blood that Creature injected him with working its magic, the large insectoid shouldered his rifle and staired over the rest of the motley crew.
"So whats the plan of getting us captured then?"
"Hiya, everyone!" she greeted amiably in a high-pitched, girlish voice, extending a small, prehensile metal arm from the underside of her torso to wave at the group. "My name is Mikali! I am a custom-built combat robot." Her smile faltered and shifted to a pout as she moved onto the next topic. "I have just powered up for the first time and I am in need of an owner; I have none listed on file. Do, uh, any of you need an armed, armoured robot for anything? I am at 66% combat readiness: Most of my armaments are loaded and intact."
"That's perhaps one of the worst ideas I've heard, but it's an idea." Jill begrudgingly agreed. "-But you're helping me take all this shit off, and let me make something ab-so-fucking-lutely clear." She stomped up to Creature. "If a single Atraxian touches me in a way I object to, I'm taking every ounce of revenge out on you." It was hard to tell how much of the violent threat was earnest annd how much simply spawned from the fury that had been sparked earlier, but the point she was making was completely clear.