2-02: B side: Remember to Say Your Prayers.

**Profanity warning. ** The Azalea Free Company of Kowloon led by none other than Creature and his group of aberrant and rag-tag lieutenants, is an Kowloon free company motivated by their desire for knightly honor, a roof over their heads, basic necessities, and a lover's embrace! Throughout their adventures, they will fight unscrupulous bandits, hell-bent armies, and all manner of existential dangers to Kowloon. Regardless of whether or not they emerge victorious in these encounters, the men and women of the Azalea are united in their will and purpose!
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2-02: B side: Remember to Say Your Prayers.

Post by Tony »

Lucarin city at present was bustling. Lukina would see people from all over the city were out and about. Mothers gathered their children and were loading their possessions onto pack animals. Carriages and vehicles were rushing through the streets heading to the starports. The city had not devolved into rioting, but with the news of the oncoming invasion, the people of Lucarin were taking this seriously and moving out of the way. Unfortunately, others were merely boarding up their homes and reinforcing the buildings. The people leaving would likely realize that any transport heading out was not interested in moving refugees. In the distance, one of them was already blasting off.

Lukina would find her contacts of the old Gartagen military outfits she had encountered were sparse. Most of them had fallen during the Gozan conflict. A few had flat out retired. One of them, Sub-commander Shan'hali, however, was still active. The data file suggested that Shan'hali was stationed mostly two AU down spin at an old Union listening post. She was close.

If the half-elf smoked, this would be time to pull a cigarette. She watched the bustle of activity with deepening concern. Lamia is on her side, she might succeed in rousing assistance. She raised her gauntlet and activated the commlink, dialing for Sub-commander Shan'hali. She leaned against the walls of the mansion, she saw the image of what happened to Omega superimposed over Lucerin. She didn't want that future. They all had fought and bled so much to prevent that outcome.

Lukina looked upwards, searching the sky as she waited for someone to answer. She felt the undercurrent of the energy of the city ebbing when it should have been surging. It made her uncomfortable, the balance of it was off. The presence of the Empress and her chosen tipped the load in the other direction but she wasn't sure how involved the lady Arleigh would become in this conflict with her selected Embers.

The call connected. Shan'hali responded. "Oh. I did not expect to receive a call from Lady Aleksasha. I hope this is about repaying me?" A silken sultry voice said with a hint of flirtation added to it for effect. "Forgive me...you caught me off guard, and in bed. How are you today Madam Blood Tree?"

As the Gartagen woman spoke Lukina would feel the rumbling of the ground as starship engines fired up prepping for lift off and atmospheric exit.

Lukina winced at being called by her mother's name. "I am well, I apologize for disturbing you."

"You....this is not Lady Aleksasha," Shan'hali said, her voice sharpening at the realization. "I know of only one Bloodtree...."

"There are only 2 of us left. I am Lukina Aleksasha Petrora, we've worked together before... during the war." Lukina's voice was polite. She wasn't about to call her mother to get help finding assistance but it was starting to sound tempting.

"Gor Gozan. Yes. I was the one who pulled your company out during the withdrawal. I suffered a demotion for that favor, however, your mother was most convincing. Aleksasha is your mother, yes?"

"Lady Aleksasha Bloodtree is my mother," Lukina replied gently. "She was much appreciative of the assistance." Her hand found the pommel of her zweihander. She was growing anxious and twirled the closed sword idly in her right hand as she waited.

Lukina heard a yawn suck in air. "Well. This call was adorable, but I have had a long watch. Tell your mother I said hello. I, however, must get my rest...."

"That's disappointing. She said I might be able to ask you for assistance in this matter... I guess I can see if that other Gartagen she recommended might be better suited..."

"Partiana? But he has been stationed in the Sancatius Rift. But if you need a favor dear Bloodtree, simply ask. My people have a tradition of helping the Udari. I am only three days away from you. However, I can not help you if you

"The Atraxians are headed to this system. I need help getting my company ready for the coming battle and only the Gartagens have had any success fending them off. They'll hit us before they sweep south to my mother's system," Lukina stated softly. Her thumb brushed lightly against the stones under the wyvern's tail.

"I see. I am afraid I can not lend any ground or space support. I can not abandon my post. You understand protocal and orders....buuut." Shan'hali went silent for several seconds. Lukina's PDA would light up with an incoming information packet. The information she received was detailed observational data on the incoming Atraxian migration.

"My purpose here is to observe this Migration of Atraxians. The data details their numbers, which....is greater than your population in the Kowloon region. However, we predict their attack will be into the southern system...the one your mother is located in. Atraxians are attracted to the energy you see, and that particular world gives off a mild concentration of raw untapped energy. I...wish I could do more, but unfortunately, these are not Gartagen problems. However, the Empress of the Union is willing to take in elven refugees from the conflict. I strongly recommend you and your mother consider it."

The blade of the glittering zweihander deployed to its full length as Lukina shook her head. "Thank you for the information. We cannot abandon our posts at the sign of trouble. Mother told me once that our family sword was of Gartagen make... perhaps, it'll help me buy more time with Empress Arleigh's mages... We burn brightest before the coming darkness."

"If you have that sword your mother showed me, then yes. You have the right of it. If you change your mind, I will have a transport ready and on standby to evacuate you and your mother. I will, however, offer my prayers for you and your world. May the star gods protect you from this maelstrom."

"Lamia show us the path back to Saule's light in the coming darkness. Thank you. I have a war to plan."

As Lukina said her prayer, her eyes danced from the glimmer of her ancient blade, and up to a small tenement building across the street. It was a run-down construction project. The windows were missing and a thick green vine was populating half of the roof. Next to it was a public water closet. The water closet had a large rifle and a thick bag leaning up next to it, both of them of Gartagen make. Gartagen weapons were generally pretty easy to spot. Their aesthetic was sturdy, though never ostentatious. They were also extremely rare, and the only Gartagen she knew personally, did not have a firearm this large at his disposal.

"I will send you new information as I receive it. Good luck." Shan'hali said softly. There was a brief pause, then the caller hung up.

The half-elf considered the weapons and moved forward, engaging an invisibility spell to investigate. She was not aware of new Gartagens in the province, she hadn't sensed another font of energy like that of Creature but she had little experience with other Gartagens in Lorani, the only other Gart was the Doctor in Paju.

The energy Lukina sensed was rather large, but not the bottomless well that was Creature. His energy pattern was akin to a massive lighthouse in the middle of the darkened bay on a moonless night. As she made her approach the water closet shuddered.

A deep voice grunted out. "Eh? Head is occupied. Gonna be a while. I reckon ya betta jus move on."

She stopped and settled in the doorway of the building, watching the water closet. Lukina looked up at the abandoned tenement. She considered taking up a sniping position but he knew she was there. "You're a long way from Gor Gozan."

"Ya. But I ain't from der. Gor Gozan is a dead dream." The deep voice grunted. The water closet shuddered once more. The door opened with a squeak, and the tiny shack shuddered as the largest Gartagen Lukina had ever seen stepped out. "All yers. Didn't take as long as I thought." The big Gartagen said motioning to the outhouse with a thumb.

He was as tall as Creature, yet compared to her friend, This Gartagen was three times as wide. His biceps were as thick as Lukina's waist, as were his thighs. He wore the Gartagen armor, and under the helmet was a hard, blue face with blue eyes to match. Most other Gartagens were often not much larger than Lukina. "Hrm. I guess i'm finaleh losin it. I smell ya, but I can't see ya. Ight...well outhouse is all yers." He grunted as he moved over and grabbed his pack and rifle.

Lukina stared up at him and was grateful he couldn't see the face she made. She took a couple of steps back and let herself be seen again. The glittering blade of the Gartagen made zweihander was parallel with the ground as she held it easily at her right side in her right hand. "Where are you from, Gartman?" Her voice carried a little more loudly, her armor was well worn but still maintained its matte sheen.

"Grew up on da streets of da Imperial city. Me an my brothas.." He said hoisting the large rifle over his shoulder and securing the straps. His eyes looked over to the sword. "Where'd ya get dat little ladeh?"

"My family had it made 2 centuries ago," the half-elf replied politely.

"Udari gurl. Good sword. Dat's from da great forge. Yer famileh musta been somethin ta convince da smiths to make one fer em. Can't make blades like dat no more. Not since Gozan crapped out. Anyway...ya have a goodun." The big Gartagen said turning away and moving towards the sidewalk.

"Are you looking for someone?" She followed after him, retracting the blade. "Not many of your people come out this way. Are you looking for Lord Rochon?"

'Who? Rochon? Neva heard of em. What a bad name. I'm headin fer some place call Saroon Narst. Gotta meet wit da Last Udari." The Gartagen said. "Offical courtly business. Me and muh sire got sent by da Gartagen Empress as a show of goodwill. Da Gartagen Empress is friends with The Arleigh Queen. Seein as im her hand, da empress sent meh. Somethin bout honoring tha old alliance."

"Funny thing, then you are in the right place. The Lady Arleigh is here right now instead of Soran Nast. I can take you to her... where is yur sire?" Lukina raised an eyebrow as she scanned the area, trying to locate another strange energy signature that didn't belong.

The big Gartagen pointed down the road to a hooded figure sitting on a bench looking at a Datapad. "Muh kid. Kinda like squire. Gartagen kids apprentice with their folks for a few years. She is nearin da end of her sting. Sure enough Lukina would see a young female Gartagen eying a Datapad. The local populace took notice. Gartagens didn't commonly sit around town, but these two seemed completely fine. Sura her self looked unbothered by the looks she was receiving.

"I can take you both to her. She's in a meeting with Lord Rochon," she smoothed a gloved hand over her ruby hair, perhaps, Laima hadn't abandoned them.

"Well. Dat's all well an gewd. But I can't say I believe ya. Random invisible gurl runs up. Says she knows who im lookin for. I dun even know yer name. I mean ya don't smell like a robber or bandit, but I ain't from around hea. Uhh...no offense." He said with a grunt as he continued walking towards Sura. As he approached Sura rose as she found the young woman tailing her father.

"I am Lukina Aleksasha Petrora, Herald of Lady Bhelith of House Arliegh," Lukina replied simply. "I have documentation as well, but you are outside the Manor, she looked towards the large building. "Providence and the old Gods say the signs are good."

Bronzi paused and shifted a formal bow to Lukina. "Ujia Bronzi. Hand of the Empress. Champion of the Imperial city. It's an honor to meet ya Heral Petrora.

"Iest cin sidh Udari, in Gonhirrum." Sura said bowing. "My elvish is a little rusty.." The blue face girl said smiling.

Lukina returned the smile and the bow. "Peace be with you as well. The Lord Rochon is actually a Gartagen as well..."

The two gartagens looked at each other. Sura swarfed by her father only stood a few inches above Lukina. Much like her father however, her eyes burned with intelligence. Though by comparison she was far more comely. Bronzi's helmeted head tilted slightly to the right, and so did Sura's. "I thought the Gozan Gartagens were....avoiding contact with the local population?" Sura said looking at her father.

"Aye, ain't been a trade mission out disway from da homeworlds in twenty years." Bronzi said nodding in agreement. "Cept for maybe Pgoo."

"I met him recently too." Lukina shrugged. "If you two are ready, I can take you in."

The pair nodded. "Ight. Takes us to yer leada." Bronzi said smirking from under his helmet...
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