Chapter Four Prologue: Killers With the Cross

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The Black Forge, a collection of misfits all, attempts to survive in a hostile universe, by trading, fighting, and exploring while running low on spare parts, food, and keeping one step a head of the bank.
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Bullroarer4
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Chapter Four Prologue: Killers With the Cross

Post by Bullroarer4 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:24 pm

Killers with the cross
Kotoku
Kotoku I
Jazera Starport, Black Forge Dropships

It was about mid-day, and the twin suns were high in the sky as they baked the tarmac of the starport. As the members of the Black Forge went about their business, above their heads a starship was approaching Jazera. A needle ship glided through the atmosphere, wings slid out from shutters in the sides of the ship as it coasted to a landing at the starport, two hundred meters from the dropships of the Black Forge.

It was pure white, save for the crest on its side; a Bull's head erased on a field of blue. The crest of House Castità. Soon, a car emerged from the ship, and began to make its way over to the Black Forge's ships.

Xir was outside with the fully healed Beast assisting in its physical therapy with stretching and strengthening its newly grafted muscles, when they saw ship land near the dropship. opening comms Xir contacts Dav. "It looks like we have a visitor captain. They're heading towards to dropship. They arrived in a really fancy ship."

Aiyana had been in her room resting, after listening to how the match between Dav and Muk went, the elf was just glad no one was seriously hurt. What she wasn't planning on though was hearing the sound of a ship approaching and that made her force herself up and out of bed. Quickly getting dress, Aiyana would wash her face and head out so that she could squint and look up at the ship that was pulling in, "You know what kinda ship it is, I can't clearly make out the crest on it." Aiyana would ask Xir or anyone else that was close by as her arms crossed while walking out- the elf was still in a small mood just from being tired.

Leo had been sleeping outside, mostly to avoid getting ordered to work on anything and to just enjoy the sunlight a bit. When the ship came in for a landing, the noise was enough to wake him up. He pushed the hat up off his eyes and squinted at the gleaming ship that had landed, probably some rich guy that was just dropping by to refuel. Only when the car came out and started heading towards them was when Leo sat up, pushing himself off the crates he was resting on and walked up next to Aiyana and Xir. "What would some pompous prick want from us?"

Xir looks towards two companions bring the tentacles up to its skull to speak. "the ship has a look like it might have come from the Reservoir system, but my dealings there where either with Mobs, or Small business owners. It must be a ship from one of the great houses.".

The car soon made its way towards the ship. It became easier to make out as it grew closer, it was white, like the ship, and had the same crest on it. It made its way towards the dropships, before stopping at the base of the ship where people were gathering. The back door of the car opened, and a man in a dark grey suit stepped out. "Is this the Black Forge?"

Leaving Beast behind Xir joins the crowd and speaks to the man. "this is the black Forge you have business with our captain?"

"Pompous prick? Who are they?" Aiyana would ask before going quiet at the car that drove up. Crossing her arms, she cocked a hip and raised a brow at them, "What’s with the fanciness?" Aiyana asked after Xir as she hopped down the steps to get a better look, not overly recognizing things as she hadn't studied up on others.

"Your captain? Yes, I suppose I do. Where can I find Captain SteinBar?" The man asked, directing the question towards Leo as he ignored the non-humans.

Leo noticed the gesture against the non-humans, it only cemented a further resentment for whoever these people are. While he wasn’t well versed in house symbols, he saw that it was one, probably some group of greedy royalty. He put his hand on his hip. “I don’t trust folk like you that much, mind askin’ us what your here for first? And he’s the one you should ask.” He nodded at Xir. Leo tried his best to hide his resentment for them.

At her being obviously ignored and passed over, it struck a sore chord in Aiyana, the elven woman torn between shrinking away and slapping the man. Sadly, she chose the former as she didn't want to get them all in trouble for her rash choice. With that she would shake her head, "He can chew on a tree before I help him." Aiyana said simply before turning on her heel and walking back inside, not overly trusting herself to not cold clock the man but would instead just stay near the entrance and listen and watch.

Dav responded to Xir's message, "Send one and only one up. The rest can wait. High Nobles of Reservoir tend to lack a certain amount of honor and they will not befoul our decks with their heretical and honorless behavior."

Damion was leaving the ships training room when he came across everyone gathering. wearing a tank top and cargo pants with boot he walks over to Ayanna "so who are the spooks?" he asks gesturing to the guys in suits.

"People I'd gladly shoot out of a cargo hold into the sun." she told him, obviously in a mood as she stared at them, "Some snobs who want to talk to Dav...from the way they act they don't like non-humans so I'm staying away." Aiyana told Damion, her arms still crossed as her eyes would continue to watch them before looking up at him and then back at the suits.

"they’re just hateful because their weak compared to every other sentient species around them and their only equalizer is tech and money" Damion said loud enough for them to hear.

"Don't give them a reason to use that tech on you...its cruel." she told him, her hand moving to a spot on the back of her neck before pulling away, "I need to meditate before I blow up their car for fun." Aiyana told him with a little smile as she gently patted his arm before walking off, not wanting to be around this much more.

"Be safe Ayanna." Damion said before heading to his room to wash up.

Xir taping its comms in acknowledgement, Xir said to the Noble looking man. "the Captain will see you now. I will escort you to the Captain's office.".

The Nobleman followed the Alien looking Xir through the corridors and up a secondary lift.

"Hmmm, how outdated." The courier mused as they made their way through the ship.

-------

Once the lift stopped, the doorway opened onto the captain's private level. Xir escorted the Noble to Dav's office. Behind Dav, Chuan leaned in. Dav handed her a tablet. "See to this please.", Dav commanded. Chuan left the office, tail swishing in agitation. Dav waited a moment before offering the courier the folding chair in front of his desk. Dav greeted the courier with a half-smile before speaking, "What brings you out this way from Reservoir, M'Lord?"

The courier looked around for a moment as if expecting something, and then sighed and sat down. "I've come out here to this... port... if you can call it that, because I've been tasked with returning the Young Master Castità to Luxuria to serve in the house militia. I assume that you're aware of my lord's displeasure with the young master's... departure some time ago. Rest assured, he would be most pleased if you were to cooperate."

Dav kept his smile in place. His response was anything but, "I'm sure he would. Unfortunately, the Young Master has a contract. I am not inclined to release him as of yet. And the terms are of more than money, so you can stop there if you think your dirty coin will sway me here."

The courier seemed incredulous. Never before had those who he had been sent to bring a message to refused to cooperate with his lord. Going against the nobility was simply unthinkable!

"I'm sure that there is something that my lord can provide you with." The man began, as he started to show signs of growing nervous. "A new set of ships? Perhaps up to date battleframes?"

Dav made the appearance of thinking about the offer. In truth, he had no intention of letting Alex go anywhere with these monkeys in suits. If Alex wanted out, he would do the asking himself. So now what to do with these guests.

Dav responded after a half minute of thought and Dav began to rise from behind the desk, "A valuable battleframe pilot I can trust is far more valuable to me than a whole fleet of ships. You may speak to him, but supervised by my third in command, Xir. Speak your piece, but you do not have my leave to take a pilot of the Black Forge. He will continue to serve here until such time as I am finished with him, AND ...NOT...ONE...MINUTE...SOONER!"

By that point Dav was towering above the seated representative of whatever house from whatever system from wherever. Dav was truly enraged that they would dare to take one of his pilots. Dav screamed, "XIR! See this...Man...to Alex for a few minutes of conversation, then see him off Black Forge property. I am done with him."

Xir stepped forward from the corner then opened the door while increasing its glow in its skin, to re-enforce to the man of his need to move. Xir then opens comms to Alex. “Alex, you have a visitor that wants to see you before the Captain wants me to remove him from the Black Forge. Please let me know where you would like to meet him.”

Alex responded over the communications device. "Bring him to the crew quarters on deck 10. I'll talk to him there."

The messenger, meanwhile, was mollified, and followed Xir's implicit instructions, seemingly intimidated by the alien's glow.

Xir taped it's comm's in acknowledgement before Xir directed the messenger to follow to the crew quarters. Xir easily was a foot taller and weight about 800 lbs. more than the little humanoid messenger. Once reaching Alex's designated location, it knocked on the door allowing the messenger to enter after Alex's permission. Xir closed the door staying outside but using its senses to keep a decent appraisal of the inside for safety of Xir's brother in arms. Paying particular attention to their physical placement in the room and for sudden movement rather then what ever they may be taking about.

From what Xir could sense, the conversation was brief. The courier seemed mostly mollified by Dav's earlier actions and was mostly just informing Alex that his farther would be extremely displeased.



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Kotoku system
Kotoku I

Plummeting through the atmosphere from a HALO insertion, the members of the advance scout Team Osiris studied their approach. A few minutes before the 12 members strong team pushed a crate of supplies out the back of an Osiris Transport before leaping out themselves. With a skill born from many similar missions, the team glided through the thin clouds, contrails forming from the minimal resistance. Two, trailing a few hundred feet behind the lead operator, noticed the disturbance and activated her comms, "Tighten it up, eight. They don't have commercial flights on this planet." Almost immediately, the man-made cloud streamers dissipated. A few moments later, the transport begun deceleration in preparation to land at the starport and unload the cover goods. All according to plan.

The mission: a two-week scout and evasion mission followed by assembling a basic camp in nearby gullies to the south of the single settlement, Jazera, followed by collection of intel on the habits and important structures of this frontier town.

The chutes on the supply pallet opened automatically at 600 meters, the operators quickly followed suit, landing in perfect formation around the pallet, one corner crumpled from a slight shift in the load.

One, the leader of the team, squelched a quick message to the transport. "Team down, no casualties. Proceeding with mission."

Ace quickly divided his team to their preassigned tasks. Some began parceling the supply pallet, others gathered the synthetic spider silk chutes and repackaged them. Even the pallet was broken down and reformed into heavy duty frame packs. In minutes, only the slightest scuff marks on the ground indicated something had occurred in the clearing.

Touching helmets together, Ace gave concise orders born from long practice and familiarity. No unnecessary transmissions. As little sound as possible.

Always better to be safe than sorry, he thought.

Soon, the team split up and headed out in pairs to complete their respective assignments. Some for support, some for equipment set-up, and some for ground reconnaissance. One had a different purpose. One apart from the finely-honed team. A pure killer.

Kotoku I
Eastern Plains

The twins moved quickly through the thin brush and scattered stands of trees. Advanced helmets gathered gigabytes of data as they moved. Everything from atmospheric pressure to visual topography. The helmets’ AI were working nonstop to gather the information. Some hours later, they reached the edge of the settlement. With darkness creeping up on the operators, they settled down in a shallow gully, to await darkness and the cloak of protection it would provide.

A few hours later, the twins continue their mission. Climbing out of the fold in the land, even their jaded hearts and minds were taken aback by the beauty and majesty of the largest building in the settlement. Towering above the simple dwellings, the monument to these people's God was illuminated by hundreds of modest lights.

Eight striking vertical granite pillars connected with stone and mortar flying buttresses and faced with local white marble, the stained-glass windows refracting the light passing through the high panels in the walls and ceilings, imparting an aura above and around the structure. A glowing testament to both ancient and modern architecture, the temple imparted a divinely inspired presence. The multicolored aura held the darkness at bay, comforting the local inhabitants as they rested in their beds.

For the first time in memory, the twins felt something move in the depths of their souls. They each looked at each other and held hands, just for a moment, then continued, tracking and cataloging important information.

Ace would begin marking the LZ so that the next group would know what the conditions were in the surrounding area. Viewing his group's helmet cams, he would direct them while he set up camp for the night. Aries would store and compile all the data that she received from the other AIs.

The twins moved quickly through Jazera, two ghosts in the night. After marking the space port, little more than a huge thick pad of Ferro Crete with berthing for a dozen transport ships, several aviation fuel tanks, and a dirt road north towards Jazera and the warehouses, a few miles away.

As the twins ventured northwards into town they passed through warehouses and in between small cottages, taking note of the residents and the unusual supplies in the warehouses. Of note is the large amount of white linen in several warehouses. The residents, those that the twins have seen, peeking through windows and avoiding the errant night jogger, seemed to be predominately male from a variety of species. Angela made a note of this information.

The hydro fusion power plant was inactive currently, sitting unguarded on the south bank of the main river bisecting the city. A quick inspection by Tyko revealed the main power unit had yet to be installed, leading him to believe the city's power needs were still being supplied by the colony ship, grounded across the river. From their vantage point at the power station, a solid Ferrocrete block, devoid of embellishments, three modern, functional bridges. One, a pylon suspension bridge, and two smaller truss bridges made of what looked like ship girders. On the far side of the river, the bridges contained guards and gates, populated by the local constabulary, apparently detaining and returning across the river a few young Human males.

Where are all the women? Angela wondered.

With the bridges guarded, the twins drift swim across the slow-moving river, with little debris noted. Sliding out of the water, the two deadly snakes observed a far different scene. In large, two- and three-story homes made from local stone, wood, and marble. Families gathered around dinner tables, with many including several women and many children, headed by a well-groomed and Patriarchal male. Species seemed irrelevant, as the races seemed to intermingle, regardless of station or wealth.

Near the colony ship, ad hoc government building and power source, the twins observed the dormant ship. A loud, high pitched giggle nearby solved the mystery of where the single colony females resided.

Over a dozen dormitory style buildings, four stories in height and made from ferrocrete and wood, were inundated with all manner of immigrant females. A few Hanefolk easily mingled with Humans, Taienese, and some Elves. All were clean, but poor. The look of those who have fled war and famine, the hunted. Centered inside the square box of Dormitories, the twins got a close-up view of the Temple square. A decorative wall surrounded well-tended gardens. Several small buildings interspersed around, and, in the gardens, their all wood construction helped blend the low buildings into the background. The mighty and solid Temple, eight pillars covered in fine carvings, previously undetected at a far distance formed the structural support for the many embellished flying buttresses. The lights shining upon the Temple, the interior illuminations visible from outside the complex.

Risking a moment of conversation, Tyko pressed his helmet to Angela's.

"Sis you know how I feel about these kinds of places. We both came from a twisted one after all, but this one is inspiring. You think we can convince the boss not to blow it up?"

"That all depends on how he's feeling now doesn't it. Take a picture just in case though."

Making their way back to East, following the river, they noted their final piece of the local scenery: a water treatment plant. Also unguarded, a few quick photos and scans revealed a biochemical method of cleaning, balancing, and polishing of the water before it is pumped to the city, the greater share heading towards the northern banks.

Crossing back across the river, the twins began their forced march through the night back to their team leader and boss, two wraiths passing in the night. They wondered which side was right this time, and if Psychopomp would earn more than they bargained for...

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Walking slow to avoid detection he only had one job infiltrate the old dropship and download the current roster of inhabitants. To ensure the boss got his guy. After exiting the river slightly after the twins, he headed to the ship no problem plenty of holes to slide in. He climbed up the side of the external thruster port quietly and agile as he could. Making no sounds other than low breathing. The metal was cold but rough on his feet from the elements. He didn't understand why they had to kill them all for one guy. He didn't care for their live just so much effort. But the boss said it, so it must be done.

One last jump then he reached the top of the ship’s thrusters. The view was entrancing the small village with its peppered lights. The sound of the river with the night sky. Sad its gonna all burn he thought to himself. Walking around the upper wing he noticed an outer hatch. It was damaged probably from the rough landing but let's roll the dice he thought. Leaning down he pulled with his arm to disengage the locks to his delight the bent out unlocking the door.

He lifted it 12 to 16 inches to slide in. He eased down on the catwalk and listened fir guards or anyone working late there was nothing but silence. The fools had cut all the ships sensors off to give them as much power for as long as they could. He took off in a dead run to the bridge traversing collapsed ceilings and over holes in the deck. Grabbing a bar, he pried open the door to the bridge. Sat down and diverted just enough power to the terminal he was on to get the info. As it downloaded, he got curious why were this ship here exactly mercs use to inhabit this planet. He pulled the captains’ log " Day 30 we are in close pursuit of Mr. SteinBar. 6 systems about 9 planets. You don’t cross tai pan. They are so obsessed with him. The no kill order is ridiculous. But I don't miss. " [data corrupted]. The captain seemed kind of like a douche, Tantus thought chuckling under his breath. Either way this SteinBar guy sounded like an awesome hunt. But he’s probably dead already you don’t run long from tai pan. Tantus knew this well his group was who the sent to find the unfindable. Then shortly after being found they are ended sometimes creatively. (Ping) "Data received" he grabbed the drive and made his exit back up through the ship up the catwalk and out the hatch.

After crossing the river, he met up at the rendezvous point the twins were back already. Oh god you could just see the bleeding hearts of those two. But Tantus remembered they came from a crappy upbringing. At least they had one.


Smoking his own blend of opium and altracco he opened the file on the black forge. The Hodge podge of races and humanoids was surprising. Thank the gods they only had one animal form among them. Most weren’t a problem he'd meet most. The ones he hadn't… well they didn't matter. Finally, he turned the page to SteinBar. The page was mostly empty other than a small paragraph stating "Dav SteinBar is a enemy of the empire upon finding him give no quarter. He is extremely violent with no conscious. His crimes are murder, heresy, espionage, and mass genocide. This is a kill order. Do not capture kill immediately". Tantus read it again in disbelief these books on Dav’s subordinates but a paragraph is all he gets. He dumps his pipe out. Time to go out this is my only day off I'm not wasting it chasing a ghost.

The data Tantus had received gave him a clear directive... Infiltrate and assassinate the primary threat... Dav SteinBar.

OOC [JP completed by: Bullroarer4, Ace, Nyxborn, Sloanrocks, mechameme, Kitekat, weeping angel, and Hal9000]
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Re: Chapter Four Prologue: Killers With the Cross

Post by Bullroarer4 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:02 am

Kotoku system
Kotoku I
November 4th, 3019 (Earth Standard)

Duke Glynvalur sat in his office, three guests across from him. They were all affiliated with The Black Forge. One was the CO. Dav SteinBar sat in the singular chair. Beside him stood the imposing Xir, Dav's XO of ground operations and Third in command. Xir viewed the negotiations with great interest. The other was Chuan, Captain of the Icarus now and Dav's first officer and, based upon her behavior in this meeting, probably his lover. Chuan's tail frequently was used to tickle the not quite healed wounds beneath his pressed uniform. Dav winced whenever his wounds were caressed by the soft, yet firm floofy tail. A large grin rested upon her face as she entered numbers into a data pad.

Dav responded to the Duke in between soft yet painful strokes, "Let me be clear, your grace. You are offering me and the Black Forge a contract to raid and pillage Tai Pan?"

Glynvalur looked shocked. "Heaven's no, Mr. Dav. I am offering a letter of marque as well as compensation for captured and destroyed military facilities and shipping. If it bears the flag of Tai Pan, seize or destroy it. I am NOT authorizing the assault or destruction of purely civilian assets. We have reached an agreement with the Throne of Reservoir through a subsidiary to purchase any goods you happen to acquire through these operations. I believe a Mr. Sorano would be the point of contact. He is known to you, yes?"

Dav made a face to curdle milk before nodding, "Yeah... I know him. He is not the most honorable of individuals, but his coin is good, and he deals fairly. How will we travel from system to system?"

The Duke replied, "I have arranged for the transport of your two vessels to the Taienese system of your choice. From there you can make your own way. The contracts and letter of Marque are registered with MECHA on Vice. The details are covered in the contract, but the short version is I need time to organize treaties with other systems looking to break free of their yokes. You are the largest and best equipped mercenary company available. You are a bit famous as well. You are the first to defeat the Tai Pan war machine. They have been shown they can be beaten, and with another victory other entrepreneurs will see profit in taking a piece of the Tai Pan pie or outright succession themselves."

Dav nodded before standing up with a wince when he caught a floofy tail sliding behind his open coat. extending the other hand towards Duke Glynvalur, "Good luck to you, your grace."

The Duke responded by firmly grabbing the hand and shaking it, "Good luck to the both of us. This is a momentous occasion. One where we can bring lasting peace and liberty to this region of space. I expect the response by Tai Pan to be both swift and brutal. Once you leave, we here will likely be blockaded and laid under siege. Your actions will be instrumental in both funding and convincing others of the rightness of bringing this monster of a nation to its knees. Be well, Captain. Leave as soon as possible."

Dav responded before letting go of the Duke's hand, "We will, your grace."

Dav strode out of the office with Xir and Chuan in tow, moving with purpose towards the lower entrance and the waiting car. Chuan transmitted orders to the awaiting company aboard the two spherical star craft. it read simply, "Load up. Lift off in 6 hours."

Dav asked Xir, "Did you learn anything from this exchange, Xir?"

Xir taking a moment to think about the captain's question it responded, "well captain, first and foremost he seems to be relying on us a great deal to sway others to join this government of his. Despite his speech discussing how much support he had already. Second, his mentioning the blockade which means, for us, we have nowhere to retreat to if things go south wherever we go from here. Under absolutely worst-case scenario I may have a place for us to hide. But it would be worse case scenario."
Xir continued, "he's also is effectively using us as his primary military force in his war "

Dav glanced Xir's way, "You are learning, Xir. You are learning well. Indeed, we are. Let’s get off this rock before the Tai Pan regulars show up and show us what real warriors can do."

Xir smiles in its mind at the Captains statement. If the captain only knew what it has learned in more than 300 human years of life, but if the Captain feels better about being a teacher and father figure to its crew, that is fine with Xir.



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Kotoku system
Kotoku I
Jazeera Star Port

Damion began moving his mech into the Icarus taking his time to get used to making the mech walk. "damn these guys make it look much easier than it really is." he spoke to himself as he walked. every other step his optical lenses drifted to look to make sure each weapon was loaded.

With orders to load up, Steven did so in a quick way, having all his belongings, Clad Enforcer and Mute on the ship. With the entire rest period being used to fix, repair and build the mecha and ships, he was ready to see what his work paid off in the long run of things

Aiyana smiled at her mecha, it looked good and had the new name painted on it- Wildfire. It made her a bit prouder to run this big hunk of destructive metal. When the orders were given, Aiyana would walk the Crushah to the ship and load up on the Icarus, settling into her spot as she flicked through things and checked her mechs vitals one last time. Everything was green across the board and that made her smile. Aiyana would pull out her large mug of coffee, lean back and just relax. Another mission and another chance to get a handle on driving her mecha and hopefully no one would get too badly injured this time.

Once Damion had parked and shutdown his mech he grabbed a cutting torch and would cut very shallow lines into the left torso right above the light railgun that spelled out 'Thundergod'. once complete he put away the cutting torch and climbed back into the mech lighting up a quick smoke before sending a short message to Aiyana "looking good over there Aiyana, hope to work with you again soon."

Aiyana kicked her feet up once things were settled, the message coming over her com's making her chuckle a bit, "Thanks, don't get your ass blown up alright? Look forward to it as well there Damion." she messaged back over as she sipped her coffee while flipping through her new systems book.

Damion chuckled. "Yes ma'am, I'll try not to get too badly hurt to where I have to come see you."

Rolled her eyes, "Don't call me ma'am...I'm not that old." she groaned as she flicked the switch.

Damion sighed, slightly smiling as he put out the source of his smoke "May I call you to share a drink?"

Raised a brow, "Depends if you call me ma'am again."

Damion raised a brow before responding. "Why would I when you just told me not to?"

"You seem like the smartass sort is all but sure, we come out of this in one piece we can get a drink." she told him, laughing as Aiyana shook her head at him.

Leo climbed into his mech, turning on the needed systems and moved his mech to the bay. He took his time, walking around in it just *felt* different then the sims. Leo walked it to where he was directed and set the Sagi down gently. The Front opened and Leo climbed out. He overheard Aiyana and Damion talking, never having really introduced himself to them. "I hope I ain't breakin' a mood here, but I think I've never talked to you two before."

Aiyana flicked her com's open again, "No, not at all. " Aiyana told him- while still in her mecha. "I'm Aiyana, your friendly medic who will keep you alive if you need it." Aiyana said with a little chuckle.

Damion flicked his lighter closed again, a new lit smoke resting between his synthetic lips. "Greetings, I'm Damion, your local mech sniper and synth."

"Well nice meetin' you two. I’m Leo, not really much else to it but if you got a broken machine, I'm the one to call. Got picked up as pilot after the last mission, still workin' my way 'round the place." Leo fiddled with his own mech, inspecting the joints and mounts to make sure they were all ok.

"Nice to meet you. Oh! I vaguely recall, I'm sorry I didn't greet you proper I was a bit wrapped up healing our lovely leader." Aiyana said with a laugh and groan, "Please...just keep an eye on things, I'd rather not see you both get blown up." Aiyana told them, a bit of a motherly tone in her voice as Aiyana didn't want her team mates to get hurt but knew it could and probably would happen.

Damion nodded. "Well if she can't heal me, I’ll see if you can fix me if it comes to that. But we should get along just fine so long as you’re not friends with any eight to nine-foot-tall muscle-bound idiot with a large gun."

"I don't plan on it; I’ve already gotten blown up once and that was enough." The chuckle could be heard over the radio.

"What did you do to get blown up? Step on something or get shot at?" Aiyana asked before shaking her head at Damion, "I wonder who that is you speak of." Aiyana teased as she took a drink of her coffee.

"Naw, was my own fault. Back in my old job we used bombs to crack open the asteroids to get the ores from within. I must have bought a faulty one, went off in my ship. Explosion cost me my ship and my arm n' leg"

"Shit, sorry to hear that." Damion said before shifting glances to Aiyana. "Some ass named Astilla who mag dumped an area before fire hit our tree line. A few of us just bailed shortly after.... It was a while ago."

That made her go quiet hearing that name and before they could really hear it Aiyana was swearing and cursing- the mech and turned off com's muffling her until she relaxed and turned it on, " He sounds like a real piece of work." Aiyana said as she downed more coffee, "And ow, hopefully you can buy better equipment now though, an explosion is no fun to heal from." Aiyana said trying to just brush over her little reaction.

"Well, was a 'while back. At least my mech survived, she’s a tough nut to crack." Leo had climbed back into his own mech, letting the seat absorb him and leaned back. "What scares me more is fightin'. I've never really, uh, been in battle before. Piloting mechs is what I'm good at, not shootin' at em' "

"Well as long as you enjoy the line of work that's all that matters," noting the muffled shouting when Aiyana's coms went quiet. "Hey, it's not all bad, I used the whole thing to escape with some help, plus for some reason the fireball jump started my sentiency."

Aiyana was not wanting to respond to that and was really glad to be hiding up in her mech at the moment, "That’s good that your mech survived, might mean she's good luck." she told him before smiling a tiny bit, "You'll be ok. Just focus and don't shoot us and you need back up don't hesitate to ask." Aiyana told him as she avoided what Damion said, "I enjoy healing, its draining but rewarding to do and mech well...I'm still green." Aiyana said, pushing away the other topic.

"Sagi's got it in her, she’s been passed down from my Pops. She is good luck charm for the family." He rubbed the armrest of the seat and chuckled. "Well, I can show you a thing or two about mech piloting if you want. I may not shoot a gun well but give me any bucket of rust and I can make her do a ballet."

Damion began climbing down and out of his mech. "As much as I would like to keep chatting with you two, I've got to pass the new plating blueprint to higher ups and call up my contact on spare replacement parts if needed for myself."

That made her laugh some at his comment, "Thanks, I think I will take you up on that after.' Aiyana told him before giving a nod, "Sure thing Damion, don't miss the take off." Aiyana told him as she poured herself more coffee- probably a bad idea, "But you'll be good, if you want to stick near me, I will not protest." Aiyana offered, a little laugh in her tone.

"Sure thing Damion, and if you need any help with machine parts I may be able to aid you in that." Leo pulled up readings on one of the main screens, everything was generally in the green or at least not going to blow up anytime soon. "So, you’re a healer Aiyana? I've never really talked to one before. Most minin' clans don't have that many elf folk in em'."

Smiled some, "Yes. Dav found me and asked me to join, I was wondering around from station to station." she told him as she sipped her coffee, "Healing is...tricky, it takes time but is also draining but it’s nothing I can't handle." Aiyana told him, "Anything you want to know about healers I guess?"

"Honestly, how does it... work? Like how are you taught to heal? Because that would have been useful to have someone like that on the long-haul trips for Minin' "

"Not really...It’s part of what I can do. Some of us elves are born with abilities- psionics to put it frankly and I exceled well with healing and anything fire related." Aiyana explained, "Healing though...it’s like a warm feeling- as if you drank a hot drink and you get that cozy feeling, that’s what it would feel like for you if I was healing you." Aiyana explained to him hoping that made sense, "I had to figure out most of my abilities on my own- it’s a really long story but still, I'd say I am a pretty good healer because of healing a lot of war wounded men and women."

Leo was able to get the gist of what Aiyana said. "Well, if it works it works. You're doing good work healin' folk. How much can you heal? I’m guessin' that my arm and leg may be a bit too much, given its up to joints and about 20 years too late."

Tapped her chin some, "Quiet a bit, from just the common cold to internal injuries and gashes...I mean if its attached I can heal with time." she told him before shaking her head, "After this, let me take a look and see what I can do. Old damage is still manageable, just might take a little more effort. I know when I'm at my limit and need to take a break." Aiyana told him, if she could help him improve by this, she would gladly help, "You just will have to get me a bag of coffee beans for it." Aiyana told him with a little laugh.

Leo chuckled, "Well, I only drink tea sadly so no coffee 'round my place. But if you can get an arm out of a stump, I'll for sure buy you one." He looked down at his arm, a worn and crude prosthetic. "Maybe I can trade ya that for a few tricks with piloting huh?"

That made her chuckle, "Tea works too." Aiyana told him before her brows furrowed, "Arm...in a stump? Is it still there?" Aiyana asked him a bit confused before smiling and nodding, "Sure, I've only driven a couple times so I'll take all the tips and help I can get."

"Yeah, shrapnel from the bomb turned everything elbow and knee-down to mush. I've got a cheap robot arm and leg, dried up the last of my savings when it happened. Had to live out of the Sagi while I recovered." Talking about it made him prod at his arm. He began boiling a cup for tea in the small provisions area on the Sagi.

That posed a unique problem, "Maybe you should take me to that spot sometime...I don't think I can work wonders but maybe I can do something to help ease the pain of it all." Aiyana offered, still willing to help him out if she could.

"If you can't that’s fine, it’s kinda grown on me at this point. But no hurt in not tryin'. Anythin' you want me to help you with? Along with piloting I could help you with a tune up"

"Well if I can't do much, I can at least ease any pain from where the prosthesis is attached." she told him before shaking her head, "Right now she good but I'd love it if you could show me when we get back. I should really do a final check over things." Aiyana told him as she capped her coffee and got up, "You need any help, let me know, k?"

"Same with you Aiyana, nice to get to know you" Leo pulled the screens away, darkening the cockpit to get some quick shuteye as the tea scent filled the air.

Damion would return, hopping into his mecha without a word, darkening the cockpit of his mech. The only light was from his silver optical eyes and the glow of his mech's console. "Hey Leo, you said you have a robot leg, you looking for a better one? My treat."

Leo had started falling asleep, the sudden sound of the radio cause him to flinch "What? oh, uh, well I kinda like the one I got. Has sentimental value even if it’s a piece of junk. But if I'm lookin' for a new one then I'll talk to you"

Damion nodded, turning off his comm. "As you wish." He would sit there as his optical lenses dimmed so that he can "sleep" briefly.

Leo turned off the radio fully this time, letting the only light and sound being the status lights and deep thrum of the reactor in the Sagi. He eventually drifting off to sleep.

Muk drove Doomcrakka into the Icarus mech bay. He walked the metal monster into its berth and shut it down. There were no remaining signs of the damage from his duel with Dav. The mech actually seemed like it was in better shape than before the fight. Metal plates were welded a bit straighter and the paint was applied more evenly.

He opened the back of the mech and walked out onto the gantry, climbing down to the floor of the mech bay. A little dog rode in a perch strapped to Muk’s shoulder. It looked like a Horgi - a cross between a corgi and a husky with its clear blue eyes, small size and friendly demeanor. The dog started whining and Muk gave him a gentle pat on the head.

“Oy, don’t ya cry, Barbfang. Muk’s gonna feed ya. Dat ol’ Shaman ain’t gonna try ta eat yas again. Muk bit ‘is head off, rememba.” He said softly. He started walking around looking for his new room that Dav mentioned was right off the mech bay.

Aiyana was mostly in her mech or climb on it to get used to the side- it was probably a funny sightseeing the small elf on such a big thing but something whining caught her attention and made her drop to the floor. Raising a brow at Muk, Aiyana was surprised to see him holding what looked like a shrink out husky, "You have a dog?" Aiyana's voice piped up a bit surprised at the sight.

Muk stopped and turned back to Aiyana. “Ya Muk.. Uh, I gots a doggo.” He said, practicing a smile at her. It was a horrifying expression that looked more like he was about to eat her. “Dav kicked ma butt. Dat’s when I found out ‘bout dis humie god. So I gotta act like a humie an’ he’ll favor Mu-me. I watched humie movies and da first thing about bein’ a humie is gettin a dog. Dis talking all humie-like is hard but da doggo is easy.” Muk explained.

The little dog barked at Aiyana and started wagging its tail furiously. “Aw, da lil guy likes ya! Ya wanna pet ‘im?” He asked.

Brushed her hands off on her pants, the smile was rather well freaky and Aiyana may have a little nightmare about it later but the elf wasn't going to say anything about it as she smiled back at him, "You didn't get hurt did you? " Aiyana asked him while walking over and then smiling at the excited dog

"Well, hats off to you for trying a new way. I know little of humans’ gods or is it one god? Either way." Aiyana said as she would try to reach to pet but her short elf self could not. “It was a good fight by the way, but I am glad you are still with us to fight alongside us." Aiyana told him. They may not have talked much at all, but she did respect his skills, "What’s his name?"

Muk watched her struggling to reach and realized she couldn’t. Without even thinking he picked her up gently in one hand and lifted her up easily. Barbfang licked at her face before she was high enough to look down at him. “Nah, I’s fine. Kragonak is my old god but da humie one’s three gods in one or somethin. Bro’seif, dey call ‘im. Don’t know all about ‘im yet but I’s learnin ta read ‘is book.” He said. “Den I can use ‘is power to make da folks dat don’t believe follow me and ‘im.”

He suddenly recalled her question and stopped rambling. “Dis is Barbclaw. Had ta kill my Shaman cause ‘e tried to eat him. Didn’t need da bugga anymore, anyway. I lost followin’ him.” Muk said, shrugging.

Aiyana was NOT expecting to be suddenly lifted in the air, her eyes bugging out of her head for a moment at the sudden new height achievement. The elf was a mix of shocked staring and laughing at how casual that was but then that fluffy dog licked her, and she decided to forgive the big guy. "Hi there lil fella." Aiyana said softly as she petted the dog, rubbing his ears as she listened to him, "Well, good thing I already follow him. I don't really believe in any gods myself." Aiyana told him rather simply.

"Hi there Barbclaw." The elf said smiling before her eyes went wide, "Why would he eat him? He's all fluff." Aiyana said poking and playing with the fluffy small dog. Aiyana was now debating on a pet because of this, "Well, if you ever need help reading, I can give you a hand whenever we have down time. It’s always nice to read a good book or one that is important to us." Aiyana told him with a little nod while petting the dog.

“Rotbag’s a dumbass in humie talk. He ain’t gonna be botherin us again.” Muk said. “I uhh... Neva read a book after Kragonak gave ‘is blessin an’ made Muk big an’ green. Dat was in da Atraxian words. Thanks for ta help. Want Muk to put you down now?”

That made her laugh, "Dumbass goes across places- even us elves." Aiyana said laughing some. The elf continued to pet the dog, rubbing behind his ears and under his chin, " You're welcome, that’s what friends are for and I don't mind as long as I get to pet him- he's so friggen soft and fluffy!" Aiyana told him with a little grin- she loved animals and now really needed a pet.

Damion's eyes pierced through the darkness of his cockpit watching the orc and Aiyana converse. He'd never seen one of them up close, but the survivors back home used to tell their children stories of them. "didn’t think you guys could be civil like you." Damion said from the cockpit coms.

Muk turned to look up at Damion’s cockpit. “Civil? Ya betta not be bustin Muk’s balls, humie. I don’t know dat word.” He said, looking annoyed. The sounds of Barbfang’s stomach growling distracted him. “Oh, need ta feed ‘im.” Muk remembered. He gently put Aiyana down and patted her on the head.

“Grub’s in my room. Gotta find it. Muk... I am goin’ ta feed ‘im. See yas pinkskins lata.” Muk said. He walked around for a minute until he found his new Muk-sized quarters. He slapped a button beside the door and the door slid open. As soon as Muk passed through, it closed behind him.

"Civil is acting how we are right now and just not being an asshole." Aiyana explained, shaking her head some before suddenly shrinking now as Muk set her down, "You do that, you ever need someone to watch him, just send the handsome boy my way." Aiyana told him as she smoothed out her clothes before she went to start climbing back up to her cockpit.

The sounds of clanking feet echoed through the Icarus' mech bay. Lyon's mech, now called the "Scoundrel" purely by habit, or rather how he's been acting, marched into the space, turning around as the hydraulics and pneumatics whistled. Bursts of steam erupted through the mech's joints as it sagged downwards. Lyon climbed out the backside of the mech, carefully crawling up to the top, grabbing the hanging power cable and screwing it onto the Scoundrel.

Damion looked towards the new mech entering the Icarus, his optical lenses shining through the dark cockpit as he stared. "So new blood, what's your name?"

Lyon stared back, with an inquisitive look at first. The foreign figure was unarguably strange, even frightening to a degree with its lifeless eyesight. Lyon's seen stranger in Xir though. "Lyon," he simply replied, returning to a default, resigned look, not bothering to question was he was called the newcomer.

As everybody parked their mecha in the bays, Steven kept watching, scanning, surveying the mecha and the dropships for the upcoming mission, and relaying all the statuses to Xir and Dav.

Damion sighed before speaking again to Lyon. "Damion.... I look out for you on the battlefield."

"I see. Thanks." Lyon politely replied, before going back to work on his battle frame.


It took a lot of work for Xir to separate the mounted biological technology from its Daedalus cargo hanger where beast slept, and Xir did its work. The upside was the new manufacturing hangar on Icarus seemed to be better suited for Xir's needs. The power conduits were in better condition for the heat lamps and there were pre-designed inlays in the walls for Xir's experiments or table space. The growing tanks also easily remounted to the support beams. As much as Xir didn't like it, it knew that Beast would be taking more punishment and this space would be better suited for healing and recovery. Hopefully both Beast and Xir had improved the odds by learning something from the past battles. Unfortunately, with Xir's many years of life, by humanoid standards, it really didn't encounter anywhere near as much combat as it had in the last couple months.



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Kotoku
Kotoku I
Jazeera
Ducal Seat

Duke Glynvalur sat upon the slightly raised dais in the lords receiving room adjacent to his office. His ducal seat was a simple, but padded chair. He sat with one leg propped upon his other knee. Before him was the latest applicant to the League of Autonomous Worlds.

Dressed in a brown suit, representative Tin, sits across Duke Glynvalur. He sits, hands folded and eyes staring at the Duke. If he is well-versed in human-lit then Tin would appear to be like an orc, but shorter but with boarder shoulders. An orc dwarf one might say. "Well? Did our application pass?"

Glynvalur smiled at the representative. "Pending signing the charter and allowing a representative branch upon your worlds, yes. You are accepted. Understand, the free movement of peoples is part of the LAW charter."

"We already signed the paper a week ago and waited for a representative to come to the capital for another week. We've been waiting our asses off."

Duke Glynvalur frowned. "Diplomacy takes time, representative Tin. The LAW representative has been dispatched, but for safety, is traveling incognito aboard civilian transport in a circuitous manner. He should arrive within the week bearing a letter sealed with the ducal signet. We shall call a press conference once the representative is safely within your borders. We can't allow foreign operatives to disrupt these momentous occasions with assassinations or detainment."

"Noted. We'll be waiting."


---------------------------------------------------
Kotoku
Gateway Jump point
November 1, 3019

Dav awoke to a buzzing alarm. Chuan rested beside him, tail half exposed out from the thin blankets. On her hand was a black band encircling her left ring finger. Dav touched the comms unit, "Dav here, what’s up?"

The comms replied, a feminine disembodied voice carrying a note of longing and irritation, "Dav, let Captain Chuan know it is time to guide the Icarus into its berth and to relieve me from my post. We have a date, remember husband?"

Dav blinked a few times before checking his chronometer. Jessica, Chuan's new pilot and Dav's new wife, was correct. Chuan was finicky about major piloting operations and Dav did make a date. "Will do, honey. I will meet you at your quarters."

Dav licked Chuan's nose, a thing she enjoyed and never grew tired of, then whispered, "Awaken, love. It’s time to go to work."

Chuan locked eyes with Dav, wrapping her arms around his neck. She kissed him then said, "I know. I heard her. She can wait a few minutes and in exchange, she can have the next day off. I will cover her next shift. It gives me time to have you put that bun in my oven as well as in her."

Dav smiled, knowing his recent conversion to Broseifism came with a few perks. Much responsibility, but a few perks.

Tantus shifted thru the hallways quietly. No hood no black clothes that was for amateurs. The Icarus wasn’t hard to find or explore. They let anyone join this rag tag group. He heard from bars and taverns the black forge was making history. Fighting Tai Pan they would say thru drunken eyes. Tantus snuck in right before liftoff by carrying a grease box for Muk’s mech. He swore it was cooking grease but the Atraxian wrote on it himself. The files were right dumb and illiterate.

For the past 10 hours he waited to get Dav alone he already secured his escape ship. Just needed that damn fox to leave. Then at 0600 his door slide open and the elegant fox walked out like a queen addressing her followers. The arrogance he thought. She expected the hallway as the door closed Tantus knew it would need to be quick and clean he unsheathed his Damascus blade and entered the poor soul’s room.

Dav was turned away from him lightly sleeping the room reeked of pheromones. It was all his senses could bare. This guys a freaking bull. He’s no human, he thought. He eased toward Dav who began to snore grabbed him so he could look in his eyes because Tantus gave a kill that respect he never stabbed a man in the back. Dav was stunned Tantus looked him in the eyes and his blade dropped to the ground then it all went black.

He woke to voices. A hysterical woman and a man calm, comforting. His head pounded as his senses all started to clear and become less clouded. Chuan sternly said" who is this Gartagen? How is he on my ship.? He has no Id his clothes are stolen from one of the mechanics bunks. Dav why didn't he kill you he paused do you know him?" Dav answered calmly trying to grasp how he'd gotten so comfortable to almost get killed while he was sleeping. "Chuan if I knew him trust me, I would tell you. Honestly, I thought it was Jessica until I turned over and it was him. Regardless who he is, I'm his target. Let's wake him up and find out.".

"Do you want Damion or Vlad to interrogate him." Chuan asked.

Dav smiled and responded, "I'll handle this. Can you go check Jessica for me? She was really rattled." Chuan tried to stare him down before she responded, "You sure I should leave you alone?" Chuan smiled a little snarl before Dav pressed, "Relax babe. He’s chained up and I won't kill him. I need answers first." Chuan glared one more time and left the room to go check on Jessica.

The door shut and Tantus raised his head before chuckling, " You really should talk farther away when you’re gonna interrogate someone. Now I know you won't kill me." Dav smiled and said, "I wanted her gone because she was gonna kill you before I got my answers. How’s the head? Yea those beautiful thighs of her are lethal when she wants to be. So, let's start with your name and rank?"

Tantus looked at him confused. This man wasn’t intimidated at all and I was seconds away from killing him. Dav continued, "Well you might as well answer me because we both know you’re not gonna harm me." Tantus was awestruck and insulted. "You really think that, Dav? You don’t know anything about me." Dav stood up and sighed " I've had a lot of things try to kill me and they all had the same cold eyes .You kid, you had it then you saw my face and it melted away. How do you know me?" Tantus thought back to when he was a baby. Dav saved him from being killed. How could he kill him after looking and searching for him for 20 years?

"Ok I've got about 9 days till we hit port, so stew on it. I'll be back." Dav smiled at him with no anger revealed. Nothing but a curiosity. Who the fuck is this guy, Tantus thought over and over?

Several hours passed. It was cold, but he knew couldn't sit there. He plucked a barbed off his back and started picking his hand cuffs. With a small "click, click" they opened, relieving the pressure on his wrists. Keeping his hands behind his back, he waited. An hour went by, he heard the door open and Dav entered.

"Hungry here, eat." Dav ordered as he slid a plate across the table. ""Before you lie, I know you uncuffed yourself. So, eat." Tantus looked at the food considered it then changed his mind. "Let's start over. I'm Dav SteinBar. I run this company of the Black Forge. You are a Gartagen from the Shia system. I haven't messed with your kind in 20 something years. So why now? I thought I was on good terms with the Gartagen empire." "
"How is that?" Tantus questioned. Dav grinned "Well, I helped repel Tai Pan years ago from several of their planets". " No, you fought with Tai Pan against the Gartagen" Tantus countered, resting his hands on the tabletop.

Dav, puzzled even more, responded, " So you know me other than your pitiful attempt to kill me" Tantus looked up at him through angered eyes " 20 years ago on my home planet of Artus you saved a small child from being burned to death in the middle of fire fight and dropped him off at the medical building. You fought with Tai Pan to keep my own people from killing me." Dav’s mouth dropped he sat down. "What's your name kid. I want that first." "Tantus Jaeger" he responded calmly. "So Tantus I have never nor will I ever work for Tai Pan.”

Dav continued, “They are a disease. they overtake civilizations and destroy their identity. Artus… yea I was there. Saved a kid, but I didn't drop him for Tai Pan and his own people weren't trying to kill him. We fought hard and I lost two mechs that run, so I remember it well. We pushed Tai Pan back. They were losing. I remember Tai Pan ships were dropping incendiary charges everywhere in their retreat. If you’re that kid, you better be thankful when I came through your house. Gartagen troops were sweeping trying to save as many of as they could but I was farther advanced then they were. I dropped you at the medical building and kept advancing. The part you didn't know is we missed a platoon of Tai Pan soldiers in their route. They came in after us that night. They slaughtered the adults and took off with the children." Dav, now in a rage over the injustice and evil of kidnapping, stood up, his mannerism now uncontrolled.

Dav walked out furious. Slamming the door behind him. Chuan was waiting outside " you think he’s telling the truth, don’t you?" Chuan asked " Baby just look at him. He’s a kid. The timeline works with his story. Plus, we beat Tai Pan that day. Gartagen forces got the credit but it was my group leading the charge. I got cocky. 42 injured men and 15 nurses were cut down after I left. No one had any idea of the number of kids."

"Well, your done talking to him. let me try. He’s opening up some." Chuan suggested. Chuan entered the room, careful of the intruder. "I'm glad you and my husband hit it off so well, but I'd like some real answers please. Who do you work for?"

"I must've really shaken you to up. Always focused on what's in front of you. No wonder Dav married you first." Tantus pulled a pipe out his bag and packed it with his own blend of spices and opiates. Striking a match, he began "So you just helped a system wide revolution against my employer. They sent me in to your home to murder him with a knife real nasty like." He inhaled deep and exhaled slow. “Dav knew this was coming. Why didn't you? But your problems not with me. It's with my regiment."

Chuan looked at him intensely, “Who are you with Tantus?" He looked back and smiled " I'm with the 9ine. I'm number 5." He leaned back and inhaled again. Chuan’s face went pale. She quickly exited to Dav standing outside. "You hear that?" Chuan asked.

Dav replied, "Yes, I did. Baby it's ok. I'm gonna be fine. They haven't caught me yet." Dav walked past Chuan into the room, closed and locked the door, then sat down. He looked at Tantus a long time before asking, "Who knows where I am?"

Tantus replied, "Fortunately, it's just me. I was told to keep it all in the dark other than your murder. I was supposed to frame Muk to sow disorder in your group."

Dav smiled, “Since you failed, you can’t go back." Tantus looked back, holding back rage. While removing a short blade from his coat pocket Tantus replied to Dav’s offensive statement, "I didn't fail. I choose not to kill at that point. There is a marked difference."
Dav chuckled, surprised at this creature’s honor while looking at Tantus. "Want to switch sides, fight for the good guys for once?"

Tantus inhaled deeply and looked at him thoughtfully for a long second, “Yes. But no one touches my mech."

Dav responded, "You drive one of ours for now. We can pick yours up later."

OOC [JP completed by: Bullroarer4, Dimirhunterjsh, Arsenicjohn, Nyxborn, Sloanrocks, Ray of meep, Kitekat, weeping angel, Ahoy, and Hal9000]
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