RP XSDF Roleplay Thread: Vanguard of Forseti


Operator 21O
Staff member
MarineAvenger & ZombiSplitter53
The Wife and Kids? Part Two

"Oh, dear Goddess," Korra mutter, shoving food into her mouth to stop her from screaming.

"Excuse me?" Connor asked, raising an eyebrow. "Am I really hearing this right now?"

"I don't mean to... snow on anyone's parade, but I did warn the last man that Korra is not one to be exclusive." Geshtal turned to his tray of food. "Or has she simply moved on so she can have someone she feels is allowed to strike me?"

Korra rubbed her temples. "No, Geshtal... idiot..."

"Are you the biggest idiot on this ship or what?" Connor asked simply. "Tracey is my daughter alone."

Tracey looked between her father and and Geshtal, the girl leaning against Korra's side a bit embarrassed. "Korra isn't my mommy."

Geshtal held up his hands. "My apologies. I did not mean to insinuate that she was your mother, little one. I simply meant that she is likely having relations with your father aside from, or in addition to, another man I met."

Korra rubbed her red face. "Tayn Kuttacc Roselia, bmayca zicd dyga sa huf..."

Connor slammed a hand on the table, keeping in his anger. "Would you kindly not talk about such things in front of my eight year old daughter. And for your information pretty boy, me and your sister are just friends."

"I see..." Geshtal nervously adjusted himself in his seat. "I was not aware that Korra had male friends she did not do... those things you don't want to talk about here."

"What kind of brother are you?" Connor asked, clearly disgusted by the man and his words. "I'll let you know, Korra is a very dear friend to both me, and especially to my daughter. I don't care who you are to her, show a bit of respect."

Geshtal flinched a bit, looking over to Korra. "He... he isn't going to hit me, is he?"

Korra shrugged. "Maybe. You do deserve it, you know."

Geshtal looked to Connor. "Please... no violence... in front of the child..."

"My girl is no soft flower. She has seen me beat countless men about three times your size on a regular basis and would cheer me on to go harder. Honestly, I bet she is even more of a hard one then you are." Connor waved his hand. "But just as long as you are smart with your words, I don't do random violence."

Geshtal nodded, and slowly folded his hands. "Well, I... I am afraid we might have got off on the wrong feet. Why don't we start over again." He offered his hand again and smiled. "I'm Geshtal Devolina, and I... will be smart with my words." His expression said he wasn't positive he understood what that meant.

Connor just waved away Geshtal's hand, looking at the man saying, "Are you going to be here the entire time or will we be able to get some privacy?" The man asked.

As the two were talking, Tracey peaked under the table and saw Geshtal's tail, not being able to help herself as she pretended to drop something, reaching down and giving his tail a tug.

Geshtal let out high pitch yelp, jumping a bit and smashing his knees on the bottom of the table. "Namayca so dyem, oui ibcdynd meddma pnyd!" He quickly covered his mouth, giving Connor a worried look.

"Oh yeah, should have warned you my daughter really likes Tamearins." Connor stated with a highly amused look.

"Y-yes... I can see that. I-it is... cute." Geshtal leaned forward a bit. "Dear, your father wishes for me to give y-you some privacy. Please r-release my tail."

She nodded, reluctantly releasing his tail and hugging Korra again, seeming a bit sleepy.

"Well then..." Geshtal rose from his seat, and bowed his head to Connor. "It was... interesting meeting you. Your daughter was a delight, of course."

Korra watched him move to leave. "Geshtal! You're not going to..."

Geshtal looked back, and folded his arms. "Dear sister, please. Whatever happens between us, now or in the future, I am still an honorable man, and will uphold my promises. Good... good to see you are doing well." He quickly walked off, looking back once to make sure Connor wasn't following him.

Connor's face grew hard when he saw Geshtal walk away but his look quickly looked to Korra and softened. "I am guessing he isn't always... That reserved?"

"No. He's awfully blunt, even for a Tamearin." She smiled. "He seemed scared of you, though. Kallpa must have scared him more than I realized."

"You know you keep talking of Kallpa and I have yet to actually see him." Connor had a look of apprehension on his face as he rubbed his wrist without thinking, muttering, "Will have to fix that soon." Seeming to get out of his slight daze without so much as batting an eye, Connor turned to Korra and asked, "So I am assuming there is a worse history between you two then I seem to suspect?"

Korra nodded sadly, running a hand through Tracey's hair. "I enjoy spending time with your daughter. Playing with her. Being there for her. Being... nice to her. It let's me be the good older sibling... the one I had always wished I had."

Tracey smiled and her arms held Korra tightly. "And I love spending time with big sister Korra."

Connor allowed himself a smile, noticing he had been neglecting his food and began to eat. "I meant what I said. You've been a great help. I am sure you will make an even better mother one day."

Korra's cheeks reddened. "A-A... mother? No... no, are you kidding. I'm short tempered and... and violent, and I... curse too much... impatient... Tracey is just... you do all the work with her and I just... play..."

"So?" Connor asked, though it wasn't aggressive in tone. "She looks up to you, respects you." Connor watched Korra, and after a minute he got up and stood above Korra with a serious face, putting a hand on her shoulder. "We need to talk."

Korra's eyes darted back and forth. "Um... o-okay. About what?"

"Not here." He said, telling Tracey to stay put as he walk Korra to somewhere they were out of sight with no one able to hear them. Connor looked away embarrassed. "I know you have a boyfriend but I have to do this...

Korra scratched her chin nervously. "Okay... do what?" Connor closed his eyes, leaning forward towards her. Korra quickly stepped back, placing a hand on Connor's chest. "Connor, no! Please, I... I like you... I really do. But I love Kallpa. I... I can't..."

"What? Korra, no... No that wasn't..." He sighed. "I was going to ask you if you wanted to be Tracey's godmother..."

"Oh! Oh, I... I-I'm sorry, I..." Korra's face turned beet red. "Of course! I'd love to be her... um..." She curled a strand of hair. "What's a godmother?"

Connor's face took on a degree of grimness, the soldier crossing his arms and shifting his weight from one foot to another. "I know you have plans, and you have a boyfriend but I can't think of anyone better to take her. A godmother is... It is the person who takes custody of a child when both parents are deceased."

Korra look a bit put off. She shifted to the side, and watched Tracey for a moment. She slowly nodded. "Yes... yes, of course."

"If she lost me it would devastate her... She would need a mother like the one you could be." Connor said, sounding more like he was assuring himself than her.

Korra smiled. "You... you have that much faith in me, huh? I would be honored."

"Thank you... That... That takes a huge weight off my chest." Connor rubbed his buzzed head. "You've been a godsend, I tell you that."

"Umm... thank you." Korra grinned widely. "It is good to be needed."

"We should... Probably get back to the table." Connor suggested with a chuckle.

Korra nodded, and walked back to the table, taking a big bite of her food and smiling at Tracey. "Everything alright, sweety?"

She nodded. "Will that man come back?" She asked curiously.

"Nah, I think he'll give us our space." Korra leaned next to her. "But if he does, he better be nice, or your daddy will have to beat him up."

Tracey giggled and asked, "So what were you and Daddy talking about?"

Korra thought for a moment, and answered, "He just wanted to tell me how much he likes us having fun together, and that I can come over to play whenever I want." She grinned. "As long as you finish any school work."

"Aww..." Tracey leaned against Korra's squishy chest. "But I hate school work..."

Korra chuckled, merely running a hand through the girl's hair.

Connor chuckled, scooting over and rubbing Tracey's arm, his gaze looking up at Korra as he smiled. "Daddy has some more stuff to do, so enjoy your time with Korra, 'kay?"

"Okay Daddy." Tracey said excited, kissing her father goodbye as he left, Tracey leaned back on Korra as she smiled and went for the tail again, giggling at Korra's reaction, the little girl looking up at Korra with a special spark, one that looked at the woman with admiration, playfulness, and love.


Well-Known Member
XSDF Planetside Mission
Enemy Base Assault
Operation Banished Mountain

System: Dapsilis
Planet: Forseti
Location: East of Nederkirjala
Date: March 11th
Time: 1730 Hours, Local Time

Mission Briefing will appear as a prologue.


Number of Soldiers for this Mission: Eight (8) XSDF Troopers and Two (2) Mechanical Units

Soldier’s Names:

Strike-One (Vanguard)

*{France, F} LCPL Page, Télesphora [Scout] (Aerobic Respiration Boost, Flexible Bone Structure)(T1 Prosthetic Left Leg)
1{Russia, F} SPC Lagunouv, Zoya [Sniper] (Depth Perception)
{England, F} SPC Ensslin, Elicia [Medic] (Biokinesis, Imbuing)
{Russia, M} SPC Dragomirov, Mikhail [Heavy] (Magnified Bicep Structure, Muscle Fiber Density, Adaptive Bone Marrow T)
{United States, F} SPC Exalt, Ezra [Rocketeer] (Tier 1 Prosthetic Eyes, Tier 2 Cybernetic Limbs)
{Lativa, M} SPC Balodis, Peter [Paratrooper]
{Tanzania, M} SPC Okotie-Edoh, Tendaji [Shadow Operative]
{Australia, F} SPC Thompson, Kaylee [Domineer] (Bionic Link - Hover SHIV)
Hover SHIV Two
Seeker Three
2 Repair Drones

*Squad Leader
Italics are player characters.

Gear: (link)


The drop site will be in a medium-sized clearing surrounded by numerous rising and falling slate and phyllite formations. The latter are in rounded, weathered condition, while the slate shapes are often sharp. Various boulders of these materials are scattered here, most of them small or medium-sized and providing low-to-medium cover. These formations embank either side of a patch directly north of the initial clearing, winding in an undulating fashion while also ascending about twenty feet. Here, the slate is less prominent, and small boulders or large columns of provide a mix of low and high cover, rarely anything approaching concealment.

The s-shaped path opens up into the left side of a large clearing this time. The same rocks and cover are present, but here there are some large rocks and pillars for high cover, and even massive muscovite-esque schist boulders to serve as concealment in a few locations. There is a watchtower in the center build off of a small bunker surrounded by some metal fortifications that the enemy will take cover in or nearby. The top of the watchtower has a slugger pulse turret.

Towards the top right of the clearing is an opening in the line of steep schist rock that towers from the northern section of the area. It leads into a natural cave with trickles of water from the snowy upper levels of the mountains, winding like the path earlier except twice as wide, and having less cover. It climbs forty feet and will take awhile to travel through. The most dangerous part of the cave is a natural bridge that doesn’t appear to be able to hold more than one or two armored troops at a time, and sits over a thirty-five foot deep chasm.

At the end of the natural portion of the cave is a manmade, hewed tunnel stretching 12 feet towards an elevator. It has several alcoves on the right and left where high cover can be taken. At the end of this tunnel is a barebones elevator. The elevator will be at the top and the controls locked, so the command panel will have to be hacked. The elevator ascends another twenty-five feet and exits in a small booth in a small clearing.

Only about five or ten feet away from the elevator are two eight-foot high ramparts on either side of a large, electronically locked gate. Enemy forces can take medium-to-high cover on the ramparts, though before the walls there are metal fortifications that offer similar cover, if not the slight height advantage. Beyond these ramparts is a medium-sized fortress containing three floors.

The middle floor is the ground floor, and contains an armory stocked with a few pulse and plasma weapons to the right, a cybernetic lab to the left where some light floaters are being constructed with their weapons nearby, and a central hallway leading to a small commons room with the stairs to either side within said room.

The lowest floor is underground, and contains a barracks and maintenance facility. The highest floor has a communications room overlooking a landing pad for dropships. Another pulse turret, this one a rapid fire design, is designed for Anti-Air and will not pose a threat to the ground troops in all likelihood.


Two Packs of Three (3) Chryssalids
One Group of Four (4) Sectoid Engineers [Pulse Meltdowner, Buccaneer Armor]
One Group of Two (2) Sectoid Engineers [H.S.P.B., Buccaneer Armor] and two (2) Human Assaults [Scatter Blaster, Specter Armor; 1 w/ Psi Panic Orange and one w/ Blackout and Electrokinesis]
One Group of Four (4) Human Destroyers [Pulse Weapons, Specter Armor; Random Psi Colors, 0-2 Psi Abilities]
One group of Four (4) Sectoid Supports [Pulse Carbines, Buccaneer Armor]
Two Groups of One (1) Sectoid Commander Shadow Operative [Pulse Stengun, Corsair Armor], One (1) Sectoid Medic [Pulse Pistol, Banshee Armor], and Three (3) Chryssalids
Two Groups of Three (3) Medium Keishay Floaters [Plasma Rifle, Seraph Armor; T1 Eyes w/ Ocular Flashlights, T1 Arms w/ Extendable Alloy Claws, and T1 Tail with knife-like tip; Spatial Enhancer, Reaction Time Overclocker; Smart Respiration, Smart Lungs, Torpor Jammers]
One Group of Three (3) Heavy Keishay Floaters [Plasma Heavy Rifle, Archangel Armor (P1); T2 Eyes w/ Ocular Flashlights + LS&B, T2 Arms w/ Extendable Alloy Claws + Rifled Plasma Armgun/Backup P1, T2 Tail w/ knife-like tip and a serrated body, T1 Legs w/ Rocket Boosters; Spatial Enhancer, Logic Module, Guardian Nodes; Neural Dampening, Smart Respiration, Smart Lungs, Toxin Bulwark, Torpor Jammers]

One Elite Group of Three (3) Light Keishay Floaters [Plasma Carbine, Cleric Armor; T1 Arms w/ Extendable Alloy Claws; Spatial Enhancer; Hyper-Reactive Pupils, Smart Respiration], One (1) Sectoid Commander Engineer [Plasma Mauler, Corsair Armor (P1)], One (1) Human Support [Plasma Rifle, Aegis Armor (P1); Cryokinesis, Mindfray, Imbuing]

One Elite Group of Two (2) Heavy Keishay Floaters [Plasma Heavy Rifle, Archangel Armor (P1); T2 Eyes w/ Ocular Flashlights + LS&B, T2 Arms w/ Extendable Alloy Claws + Rifled Plasma Armgun/Backup P1, T2 Tail w/ knife-like tip and a serrated body, T1 Legs w/ Rocket Boosters; Spatial Enhancer, Logic Module, Guardian Nodes; Neural Dampening, Smart Respiration, Smart Lungs, Toxin Bulwark, Torpor Jammers]
One (1) Superheavy Keishay Floater [x2 Fusion Rifle, x4 Fusion Bonecrusher, Wyrm Armor (P2); T3 Eyes w/ Ocular Flashlights + LS&B, T3 Arms w/ Extendable Alloy Claws + Rifled Plasma Armgun/Backup P2, T2 Arms w/ Plasma Pistol Protrusions, T2 Tail w/ antimatter knife tip and a serrated body, T2 Legs w/ Rocket Boosters; Spatial Enhancer, Logic Module, Guardian Nodes, Cordial Spine; Neural Dampening, Smart Respiration, Smart Lungs, Toxin Bulwark, Torpor Jammers, Heart Regenesis, Kidney Regenesis]

Special Enemy Notes – All Sectoids have (Mind-Merge, Psi Panic, Weak Suggestion, Mindfray, and ESP). All Sectoid Commanders have (Mind-Merge, Psi Panic, Mind Control, Mindfray, and ESP). Buccaneer armor is Corsair Armor without stat bonuses. Specter Armor is Banshee Armor without stat bonuses.

Conditions for Completing the Mission:

(1) Defeat or Capture of all enemies.
(2) Destruction or Capture of the enemy base.
(3) Retrieval of any advanced enemy tech possible. (OPT)


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
Operation Banished Mountain, Prologue

Commander Frederick Mason stood at the command post on the bridge of the Einherjar, sipping a cup of afternoon tea. He glanced over the bridge crew monitoring the space around Forseti, connecting to satellites, or doing the same for the Einherjar itself: its crew and systems, to be specific. Things had been quiet for a little while, which was a welcome diversion from constant battles. The XSDF’s research into future technologies had been going at a fairly steady pace, and for now the Commander’s worries that the moderate speed wouldn’t be enough were quelled by the silence. What caught him off guard was the success of a side project he had instructed one of the satellite monitors to work on.

“Commander, I think E.B.I.S has found something!” the young man called out, referring to the Einherjar’s shipboard intelligence, or the Einherjar Brainpower Interior System.

“Really, now…” Frederick spoke, putting down his glass on a small counter attached to the handrail, and leaning forward. “Where, exactly?”

“Bringing it up on the viewscreen now,” the computer informed him robotically, bringing up an image of a small outpost tucked away in the mountains.

“I was searching for any settlements that had reported problems of any sort that could relate to the pirates, and well… a small town to the north of Keyullun reported a small raid from the Chrystal Fear a few days ago. There was no XSDF response because they didn’t cause any major damage, and the report was never definitively confirmed as accurate… but I thought it was worth a shot.”

Frederick smiled victoriously. “I knew they had somewhere they were coordinating attacks from or landing ships. It… doesn’t look too large, but built into a mountain looks can be deceptive.” The Commander brought a hand to his collar, contacting his Central Officer. “I need a small strike team assembled. We’re going to hit a TFD outpost EBIS just found for us…”


The team assembled at a Vanguard dropship in Hanger F, being the minimum squad size of eight. That said, they had a Hover SHIV, two drones, and a seeker with them, so Strike One was not dangerously small. The element of surprise was a bigger priority than numbers though, especially with a narrow engagement zone that didn’t favor excessive numbers. Mikhail showed up with Telesphora, and was pleased to see Zoya was among the team. “Been awhile, Lagunouv,” he greeted warmly.

The sniper returned his kindness with a muted nod. “Dragomirov.”

Ezra walked into the hangar, rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably. “Will you just drop it Elicia, do we really need to discuss… what happened in the room. I would best let that… low, and fuzzy morning die.”

“Alright, fine, fine, I’ll let it go,” Elicia replied, waving a hand dismissively. “Pardon me for being curious about what happens after I down four martini glasses of gin and wake up with my clothing stuck in the ceiling vent.”

Mikhail glanced over to the two, recognizing Ezra - as he was a bit infamous among the soldiers for his antics - and taking a guess at who his friend was. “Ensslin, right? Sasha mentioned you before.”

“Sasha?” Elicia scratched her chin, connecting the dots in her head. “Ah, then you must be her brother… Mikey, right?” she asked, extending a hand.

“Mikhail,” the Heavy corrected, shaking Elicia’s hand.

“Right, sorry,” the medic apologized, rubbing the back of her neck uncomfortably. “Suppose those with ties to the Foulkes and Dragomirovs are drawn together then, eh?”

Mikhail nodded. “It would seem so. Hopefully that means we will make an effective team… the squad may not be large but with two blaster launchers…” he hefted his proudly, continuing, “...we should be just fine.”

“Aye, and now that I actually have a gun with a decent heft on my belt, I predict things going as smoothly as possible, given what organization we work for,” Elicia replied, patting her Reflex Cannon appreciatively.

Ezra merely shrugged as he looked at his girlfriend, only noting, “Well… bitches love cannons.” The android looked over his own weapon, “These new weapons are like the same ones our enemies use, right? This ought to be fun… and possibly highly unstable.” He leaned into Elicia asking, “We have life insurance, right?”

“Did you even read the paperwork you got when you signed up?” Elicia asked incredulously, resisting the urge to cradle her forehead in her palm.

“Fuck reading, I signed the damn paperwork and got my ass shipped here.” Resting his cheek in his hand he asked, “What, want me down on one knee before the mission starts, give you a reason to stay alive?”

“Please, I have ‘nough reason in just making sure you don’t do something stupid and get molested by a Humiliatia,” Elicia shot back, pulling on her helmet. “Again.”

Mikhail put on his as well, seeming a bit relieved that Ezra had indeed brought a helmet. “Not like your uncle, are you? In choice of combat attire, I mean… beysbolki ... chestno.”

“Hey, if I wanted I could run out swinging like a helicopter and still come out without a scratch, but I need to communicate with you meatbags, don’t I?” The android said, his helmet hiding his large grin.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Part 1”

The dropship touched down in the clearing of rock formations that the squad had been shown on the way over. Black and gray slate contrasted with white, grainy phyllite formations on the borders of the area, and some of the boulders and rock formations were scattered in the (mostly) flat zone as well. Luckily for Strike One, there didn’t appear to be any hostiles directly at the landing site. The element of surprise was still theirs. As quickly as it dropped them off, Vanguard One departed quietly, not wanting to give away the team’s position. It would remain nearby in the event that extraction became necessary, but that was not a thought immediately on the strike team’s minds.

The impromptu squad leader, Telesphora Page, had the team move into cover, knowing that even with the Vanguard’s engines not making much sound there was still the risk of the ship itself being spotted on radar. “Everyone, keep your weapons ready and stay frosty. Remember, Chrystal Fear has chryssalids… so if they catch wind of us we’d not be wrong to expect an ambush. And it likely isn’t just them up here…” she muttered as a wind howled through the air, Forseti itself seeming to want to heighten the tension. No snow was falling, yet the breeze was kicking up some snow on the high, northern mountainside, creating a similar effect.

“Just like back home,” Elicia muttered as she scanned the area, the chill of the wind nipping through her Aurora armor. “Well, with more ‘lids and less bland flood, at least.”

There was a chattering from the winding path at the end of the clearing, that of a group of Sectoids. One peered around the bend, and its eyes widened as it caught sight of the Hover SHIV, not quite concealed behind a large rock. It chittered again, this time fearfully, and the sound was answered by a clattering howl that was most certainly not the wind.

“Uh… anyone else thing that means things are about to get bad?” Ezra whispered into his mic, looking around calmly.

Leaping over the rocks, a set of three chryssalids charged the squad, while the Sectoids shifted into a position where they could fire with their pulse heavy pistols and did just that.

Mikhail hesitated for one second in fear, but he was quickly hammering one of the violet aliens with his plasma novagun the next. Telesphora held up her particle shotgun, but didn’t fire just yet, not wanting to waste shots until the chryssalids were in a proper range to do so.

Elicia, however, was not so discriminate in her fire, her Reflex Cannon letting out a mighty bark as the rounds slammed home, catching one of the Chryssalids in the torso. Blood and chitin splattered across the field, and the Chryssalid fell back, letting out a final skree of pain before it died.

Ezra seemed ultimately unfazed by the Chryssalids, seeing enough of the bug creatures in old war footage that he grew an immunity of fear from them, just seeing them as another enemy. Such, when one approached him, he merely raised his rifle and shot it down without as so much as batting an eye, looking to Zoya the sniper. “Any fat heads you can see?”

A plasma bolt rang out, blasting one out of cover. “One there,” she spoke nonchalantly.

Telesphora’s eyes widened. “Might want to move. Grenade!” She dashed forward first, catching the reaction fire of the other two living Sectoids who had hoped to score a kill or two by flushing the XSDF troops out. Rather than move to other cover, however, she pressed her advantage, getting close enough to chance a shot with her antimatter blaster. A few of the prismatic violet beams that leapt forth from its muzzle found their home in one of the Sectoid engineers, ending its life and prompting the other two to attempt a retreat. “After them.”

The android raised an eyebrow as he broke into a slight jog, not wanting to go head first into a trap unprepared. For some reason, he could not get Old Man Issac’s voice out of his head. I hope this isn’t permanent… having him in my head my whole life would seriously kill the fun. Despite his wandering mind, he kept an eye out, catching one of the Sectoids as he ran in a straight line, Ezra merely stopping and taking aim as he fired again.

The last scampering Sectoid darted behind a rock column in the s-shaped corridor, activating some sort of panic button on its armor and then attempting to panic Ezra. Finding no effect in the psion attack, it rather calmly reported, Subject is immune to mental psionics, before being shot in the head by Kaylee.

“Well, there goes the element of surprise…” Mikhail muttered.

“All the more reason to keep advancing,” Page insisted. “Before they have a chance to set up any coordinated response to our presence here.”

The group hadn’t made it fully along the path when another four Sectoids showed up, these ones just barely strong enough to wield and fire pulse carbines at Strike One. As they did so two attempted mindfrays against Page and Ensslin, the former’s mind shield enabling her to resist, and the latter two tried psi panics on Mikhail and Kaylee. Mikhail grimaced, his mental defenses being bypassed and images of the terrible mission on Layrinxa 2 coursing through his head. Although anxiety rapidly built, he directed his fear onto the offending Sectoid, blasting away at its cover until he killed it as if he were shooting at a terrible beast.

Elicia did her best to shrug off the effects of the mindfray, however the slight drain upon her mental fortitude from her psi screen enabled a small measure of the mindfray to pierce through her defenses, causing the medic’s vision to blur and a sharp pain to shoot through her head. Ensslin instinctively rolled into cover, snapping off a wild shot at the offending Sectoid, but it merely struck its cover and broke off a small spray of rocks.

Ezra was there behind her, taking out the Sectoid who had messed with the medic, bending down for a split second to ask, “Hey, you got all your marbles there, El?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Elicia replied, giving her head a firm shake to restore her vision, “nothing to worry ‘bout. Thanks for the assist.” With that, she vaulted over the outcropping she had hunkered behind, making a break for a piece of cover more conducive to the use of a shotgun. Meanwhile, the Hover SHIV - with the help of the Seeker - managed to flush out and kill another Sectoid.

The last of the Sectoids, trying to retreat once again was quickly sniped off by the silent sniper, leaving that group of four quickly dealt with. Ezra put his gun on his shoulder and smiled. “This is almost too easy. When do you think we will actually face a challenge?” He asked with a bit of bravado.

“Are you trying to tempt fate?” Balodis asked, a hint of incredulity in his voice. “I mean, I don’t want to face a challenge. Challenges mean we can die. No siree, I’d prefer the sailing to be smooth.”

“Fate, smate, Ezra Exalt controls his own life.” The android told the man as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Besides, you don’t grow as a soldier from smooth sailing. We just need teamwork and cool heads.” That sounded strangely like it was supposed to be inspirational with Ezra’s charisma put into it, but obviously the soldier did not confirm it as so.

“Whatever you say man,” Balodis replied, shaking his head dismissively. “If growing as a soldier means risking death, then call me stunted.”
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Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Part 2”

The group of eight soldiers exited the corridor between the first clearing in the forest of rocks and the next. Opening up before them was a large space - bigger than the last - with pillars of rock big enough to count as high cover, and a few wind-weathered boulders that could conceal even Kaylee’s SHIV if the need arose. However, not all the cover in the area worked out to the XSDF squad’s favor. In the middle sat a small metal bunker surrounded by a few haphazardly-placed fortifications. A watchtower - if a ladder surrounded by mental leading up into a metal bowl could be called that - rose out of the bunker.

The XSDF force were able to take in their enemy before being seen, if only for about ten or fifteen seconds. Within the bunker were two sectoids and two assaults, the former having truncated pulse shotguns and the later having full-size blasters. In front of the bunker tower was a lone Sectoid Medic with a pulse pistol, and in the watchtower itself were three enemies unfamiliar to the team that noticed them. They were Floaters, but not of a race from known space.

They had mottled light blue-and-white fur, and sharp, angled features that showed contours of bone even from a distance, even with half-helmets on. They had bloodred prosthetic eyes and dull gray arms, and as was typical for floaters no legs - yet these floaters sported mechanical tails armed with bladed tips made of zero alloys. They were the ones to spot the XSDF, and cried out in warning with a sound resembling a hawk’s death screech before raising plasma rifles and firing.

The XSDF forces were in cover, but Mikhail still sucked in a breath as plasma whizzed by him. That breath caught in his throat as the floaters scattered out of the watchtower and a slugger pulse turret - recognizable by its oversized barrel and coolant system - rose out in their place and rotated to aim. “This is probably a good time to start using a rocket or two!” he yelled over comms to Ezra, taking a few potshots with his novagun to keep the fliers from immediately advancing before grabbing his blaster launcher off his back.

The troops within the bunker seemed to content to stay, the human assaults having pulse sidearms to fire from the relative safety of the alloy-reinforced steel fortification, while there was movement to the left of the XSDF squad. Three chryssalids, their heads connected to violet stands of energy, skittered out onto the battlefield and made haste towards Kaylee, Peter, and Tendaji.

“There’s a deadly mistake if I’ve ever seen one,” Kaylee mumbled. Her Hover SHIV quickly sped to her side, moving sideways in front of the Domineer, and unloaded a torrent of superheated gases from its one and only weapon, melting a chryssalid’s upper half off. A second one fell to a carefully-aimed shot from Zoya, and the third vanished behind a boulder, only lightly injured by the fire of Tendaji. Peter was too busy activating his jetpack while getting a bead on his airborne opponents - and avoiding them getting a bead on him.

Ezra pulled out his Armor-Piercing Rocket as well as his launcher, loading in the round deftly as he hoisted the weapon onto his shoulder. “Now… this is merely a suggestion Mikhail, you don’t need to take it but I wouldn’t aim at enemies, blast the front of that bunker open. We dn’t need more enemies getting bright ideas and hiding like cowards. Our teammates got each other’s backs.” The android locked onto his own target, not aiming directly for the turret but the watch tower itself, his plan being to bring the whole thing down.

“Right, I’ll… what the hell?” A yellow light flashed from Mikhail’s eyes, and he went temporarily blind from a Blackout attack, while electrokinesis shot from the other Chrystal Fear assault at Ezra.

Ezra twitched violently as he tried to get his bearings, his whole body seeming to spasm and contract on its own. “F-F-Fuck… y-you… assholes!” He yelled as best he could. I am literally going to be killed if Mark has to repair me… again!... because of fucking electricity!

Mikhail felt for the trigger on his rocket launcher for a moment before locating it. A brief fear flashed in his mind. What if I didn’t indicate the target? He was certain he had, but if he was wrong… Can’t hesitate now, not with those floaters flying around waiting to flank us. Please be targeted correctly. He pressed the button, and with a pulsating hum the blaster bomb shot out, floating, floating… and colliding with the bunker, blasting a hole in it, as well as three-quarters of its occupants.

Elicia hissed worriedly, wanting to run over to check on Ezra, but a spray of pebbles reminded her that the pulse slugger would do it’s best to ensure such an endeavor was her last. Shaking her head, she grabbed the psi grenade off of her belt, gave it a reassuring squeeze, and stood from cover. “Psi out!” she barked as a pulse round crashed into her shield, knocking out her personal shield and nearly depleting her psi screen. However, before a follow-up shot could strike true, the psi grenade was out of her hand and Elicia was sliding back behind her boulder. A second later, the grenade detonated in a flash of psionic energy, blinding the resident of the watchtower and the nearby floaters.

The opportunity was not wasted, Balodis jettisoning into the air to be above the current position of the cybernetic abominations. Taking careful aim, he took a powerful shot with his particle rifle, disintegrating a hole in the chest of one of them and replacing it with a stream of violet. Thompson did the same to a second one, but Okotie-Edoh and Page, using their sidearms, missed the third. It dodged after hearing the first shots, the second wave being a moment too much staggered, and vanished behind the bunker. The living Sectoid Engineer tossed a plasma grenade between Ezra and Mikhail and then followed the flyer’s example.

The chryssalid - with intelligence that was most certainly not its own - darted out of the cover it had been concealed behind as the floaters fell, and lunged at Elicia. Further back and to the side, a Sectoid Commander took a brief glance out from its boulder and sent a mind control spiral towards Zoya, claiming her for its own usage.

Ezra, despite being in his debilitating state, lunged for the grenade, quickly tossing it away in a direction away from his allies, not caring where it landed after that. Shaking his head, a few of his systems refusing to come back, Ezra said, “Mikky, I think your crush is trying to crush us!”

Meanwhile, Elicia snapped off a shot at the approaching Chryssalid, but the insectoid’s reflexes were honed a razor edge, and it narrowly avoided the barrage of alloy flechettes. With a curse, Elicia hastily ducked out of the way of one of the Chryssalid’s claws, however a follow-up swipe caught her Reflex Cannon, ripping it from the medic’s hands. Reflexively Elicia drew her particle pistol and snapped off a shot, which scored across the Chryssalid’s carapace and bought her some much needed space as the alien recoiled at the blow.

“Shit,” Mikhail muttered, his eyes darting between Elicia and Zoya. Making a snap decision, he unloaded a flurry of plasma into the side of the chryssalid. Rather than hit it head on, he clipped it to make it recoil further in agony, while the rest of the plasma zipped by Zoya and drew her attention to him. Do your job, shield. His personal shielding indeed protected him - to some extent - but the reflex rifle bolt proved mightier than energy barrier, and seared off a chunk of the heavy’s armor. Sparks flew, but the man inside was unharmed - much to the occupant’s relief. “Someone kill that Sectoid or tackle her!”

Ezra shook his head furiously, pushing himself into a run. “Take my launcher and blow the tower!” Ezra yelled at the heavy as he ran low, taking a few hits from overwatching fire but the android still running, letting his armor do its job as he tackled the sniper with about a couple hundred pounds on him compared to Zoya, easily knocking her down and pinning her.

I have one of my own you know… not that I’m complaining, but I could do it with my own weapon. Regardless, Mikhail made use of Ezra’s already-loaded anti-armor blaster bomb, firing off the projectile into the pulse slugger and silencing the turret at last with a vicious green explosion. Telesphora charged forward while Zoya was down and the connection between her and the Sectoid Commander was being cut. Rounding the corner to the bolder, she let her shield collapse and her armor take a glancing hit from a pulse weapon, and repair the puppetmaster alien with a load of antimatter particles to the face.

Elicia had used the moment of distraction to her advantage, hastily pumping psionic energy into her particle pistol, surrounding the weapon with a dull green glow. As the Chryssalid regained its composure and dashed forward once more, the medic hammered the trigger, a pair of particle beams bringing the insectoid to its demise. With a pained sigh, Elicia killed the flow of psionic energy, before any permanent damage could come to the pistol.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Part 3”

The last two aliens attempted to flee. This was a mistake, as they were repaid for their cowardice with plasma and particle fire in the back. As the dust of combat cleared Zoya glared up at Ezra, liking having a headache from the mind control but not showing it. “Would you kindly get off of me, android?”

He did as she asked, Ezra reaching down a hand to her. “You all there? Need an aspirin or something?”

“I’ll be fine,” she snapped. As she got up herself, she glanced at Mikhail. “Apologies, Dragomirov.”

“It’s fine… that’s what armor’s for, right?” Mikhail replied, smirking both in amusement at the contrast between how she was talking to him and how she spoke to Ezra, and relief that the engagement hadn’t resulted in any real injuries yet.

Ezra looked between the sniper and the heavy and merely shook his head, rolling his shoulder as he went to go retrieve his weapons. “Go find a tree and screw each other later, we got things to do.” This time both the sniper and the heavy glared at Ezra. Shaking her head, Page motioned for the others to follow, and headed towards the next pass.

What they found at the end of the clearing wasn’t a pass at all, but rather the mouth of a cave. “Confined quarters… wonderful,” Kaylee grumbled, finishing up an arc thrower repair on her SHIV from a shot it had taken from one of the floaters. Wonder what those things were… not like any alien I’ve ever heard about.

Mikhail glanced at Ezra as the squad walked into the cave, the wind creating a carrying echo through its confines. “I shouldn’t have to tell you we can’t risk any boom in here… but we can’t risk any boom in here, just so we’re clear. I know, it pains me too… but being buried in an avalanche would pain me more.”

“Don’t worry, just hold it for now and we can blow our loads later.” Ezra said with an amazingly straight face as he walked ahead of Mikhail.

Mikhail just gave him a look of disbelief that was hidden behind his helmet before returning his attention to the path ahead. Water dripped from the ceiling’s stalactites, falling onto the stalagmites below. A sense of somberness seemed to emanate from the cave, but that was cut as if sliced by a knife when two Sectoids blasted pulse lasers at the group when they rounded a bend. The Sectoid Engineer tossed an alloy grenade to force the group to move the only safe direction - backwards - and then both vanished from view, two chryssalids being the only thing to come forward from the explosion.

Tendaji, thinking ahead, had the moment he’d been waiting for. Confined quarters, he had registered, with the possibility of melee enemies. Drawing his alloy sword, he swung in a downstroke at one of the chryssalids, cutting through the chitin with a laser-sharpened blade, gouging deep into the creature’s skull and making it cease moving. Less elegantly - but just as efficiently - Telesphora’s shotgun claimed the other one as its victim.

“Go after them, but cautiously,” Telesphora spoke, urging the team on with a balance of haste and care. Rounding the corner a second time, they went down a narrow hallway, and snapped around the corner to find a large span of the cave. There was a natural bridge across a gap deep enough that the bottom was shrouded in darkness. A faint trickle of water from below suggested a subterranean stream had a role in carving the chasm. Indeed, the bottom of the bridge was weathered by water damage, and looked as it if could hold one armored soldier at a time, maybe two if necessary. “Blast, we’re going to have to do this slowly.”

Balodis set his jetpack engines humming. “Let Kaylee and I stay on alert. We’ll be ready to catch anyone that falls if those grays show up again with any more of their pets.”

Page nodded. “Good thinking. Zoya, keep an eye out. Tendaji and I will cross first.” Telesphora set out across the bridge, her footsteps making a slight crunching sound - but it was just the weakened stone on the top of the bridge, thankfully. She made it across without trouble, and Tendaji did as well. “Dragomirov… come out alone. Ezra will follow, then Elicia, Zoya, and the other two.” Tendaji set the Seekers into cloaking mode as Telesphora spoke.

Mikhail took a deep breath, not overly afraid of heights but well aware he had heavy armor on. The Dragomirov cautiously walked along the bridge, and then froze in terror at the sound of echoing jets that were not belonging to the XSDF paratrooper behind him. They came from the front. “Floaters!” he cried out as three more of the medium-armored aliens showed themselves, not waiting a moment to fire a volley of plasma at Page, Okotie-Edoh, and the bridge beneath Mikhail.

The heavy closed his eyes in terror as the bridge shattered beneath his feet, but swiftly opened them, knowing he had to see his only chance coming. Falling ten feet, he reached out, and grabbed onto the turret of the Hover SHIV. His muscles tensed at the tug of holding on that would have wrenched his arm out of his socket if not for the mechanized servos in his Aegis Armor, and at the fact that the two teetered. The mini-tank wasn’t meant to take this much load, and could barely manage to rise as a slow pace without burning out its boosters.

This posed a problem, because two of the Floaters dived down, intent on hitting their helpless target. Mikhail didn’t have anything put a pistol out - perhaps a happy accident considering the fact that his novagun would be at the bottom of the chasm if he did - and could only score moderate damage on one of the floaters. The SHIV took a hit, wobbling and starting to lower, but Peter came to the rescue of robot and heavy, blasting the injured floater out of the air and sending its corpse off a wall and into the darkness below. A splash at the bottom confirmed the subterranean river’s presence, but the thud immediately after indicated it was far too shallow to safely fall into.

Meanwhile, the second Floater steadied its aim on the Hover SHIV, looking to kill two birds with one plasma bolt. However, this pause cost it heavily, as Elicia took a position on the edge of the cliff and fired down upon the unsuspecting jetpack trooper, shredding it and sending it meet its compatriot at the bottom of the ravine.

The blasts from earlier damaged the shields and armor of Tendaji and Telesphora, but the last remaining floater had no intention of sticking around. Telesphora, her armor damaged, had no intention of letting it leave. Her shotgun roared, and the Floater crashed into the wall, quite dead. She beckoned the two drones with the squad over, which got to work patching up what armor plating they could, but only the last two arc thrower charges could repair their armor. The third-to-last was used on the SHIV by Peter before he flew over to do the same to the two soldiers’ armor. Mikhail was deposited on the other side of the chasm by the fixed SHIV, and he let out a sigh of contained fear being released.

“Way to hang in there!” Ezra called out to the Russian, Ezra taking a step back and just merely jumping across for the fun of it, not too often he gets to show off. He tapped his Ruskie friend on the shoulder and said, “See what happens after you really work that right arm?”

“Oh, go to hell… you don’t get to crack jokes after I almost became a pile of flesh and misshapen bones,” Mikhail growled as the SHIV hovered into position as a makeshift bridge for those that still needed to cross.

Elicia graciously accepted the SHIV’s offer of bridgehood, not wanting to risk jumping the gap despite her enhanced legs. “Just ignore him,” she added, “if he goes too long without validation he either gets bored or puts double-sided tape on your chairs.”

Mikhail just shook his head and moved on ahead with the others. They came to the end of the natural cave, and a twelve-foot stretch of hewed tunnel with small support beams on the sides. Telesphora led the team as she had for the rest of the mission, darting forward when she saw the two Sectoids at a console where the tunnel ended and an elevator shaft began. “Got…”


“...you?” Hidden in the darkness and the alcoves between the support beams, four chryssalids moved as one, and leaped out of concealment. Page’s barrier and armor could hold up against one or two claw swipes, but not the attacks of four. The first two hit as a pair, smashing the shield and shredding part of the French scout’s armor, and the second two buried their claws - and their mandibles - into her throat, causing the woman’s death cry to be masked by her choking on her own blood as she quickly departed from this life.

“No!” Mikhail screamed in denial, bringing his novagun to bear and sending one of the chryssalids flying across the room, it’s chitin and flesh being consumed by hot plasma. The other three only suffered light injuries or none at all, darting into the alcoves for protection briefly before rushing forward to attempt to take more lives.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Part 4”

As two of the Chryssalids came near, Ezra moved to intercept, not caring he was putting himself in between the team and the aliens, knowing he could not bring his weapon up in time, he merely reached onto his waist and pulled out a knife, Issac’s drills once again etched into his mind becoming more like instinct. Left, step back, lunge thrust, side step, swipe, stab, dead. In one swift, fluid motion, Ezra killed one Chryssalid, the other writhing in pain on the ground as Ezra brought a boot down on it’s head with enhanced strength, though the maneuver left Ezra vulnerable, the third alien bug sneaking up behind, knocking Ezra to the ground as it began trying to claw through a layer of Titan armor and a layer of his own chitin.

Tendaji stopped its futile efforts with a swipe of his alloy sword, severing the creature’s head from its body, while Zoya took out the Sectoid Commander before it could cause any trouble on its own. The Engineer through up its hands in surrender, cowering in fear. Mikhail took a step forward, almost considering killing the Sectoid anyway, but stepped sharply back as Telesphora rose from the ground and nearly knocked his helmet off. Dammit, don’t make me… The zombie sent a powerful blow that knocked Mikhail into the wall and caused his novagun to fall to the ground, his refusal to fire costing him.

The Sectoid, spurred on by the distraction, hopped into the elevator and shot the console as the door closed. Not completely, though. One of the drones sacrificed itself to hold the door open just a bit longer, long enough for a Seeker to shoot the Sectoid and hold the door open with the help of her SHIV. The functioning drone blasted her in the neck with a low-power pulse blast, destroying the chryssalid embryo before it could grow further. It didn’t leave much more damage than was already present on the body, Tendaji recognizing Mikhail’s hesitation was partially borne from the Russian wanting to ensure a proper burial for the scout.

“I always lose someone,” Mikhail whispered bitterly, falling to his knees before the Lance Corporal’s pitiful corpse, the neck pierced and bloated by the chryssalid egg injected into it. He felt too sick to his stomach to even look further.

Ezra rubbed his back, feeling the slight conclave of his armor, though paid little attention to it much further as he went to Mikhail’s side, squatting down as he put a hand on the Russian’s shoulder. “Not gonna say don’t mourn, but let’s just kick the enemies ass twice as hard.” The android said in a low tone, all hint of sarcasm gone from his tone, dead serious.

Mikhail took in a shuddering breath, holding back tears, and nodded slowly. I won’t be afraid for now. For you. Rest in peace, Telesphora. We’ll finish this for you.He pushed himself to his feet, and retrieved his novagun, running over to Kaylee and pushing open the door with her. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

“No problem at all,” the Domineer replied. “Let’s just fry some of these bastards for Page.” She stepped into the elevator, keeping it open with the button now, and the squad piled in, preparing their weapons as they ascended, leaving the body behind for now. Seven soldiers and four mechanicals remained, totaling a group of ten - organic or otherwise - determined to complete the mission.

Ezra twirled his knife in hand, Chrissie blood still staining it as he slid the hand to hand weapon back into its sheath, his quips coming to an end. “We are still good on equipment, correct?” The android asked without turning around, knowing he had a checklist in has head, and wanting to get their minds off what happened for the moment.

“Still got plenty of explosives,” Mikhail replied. He lifted a hand to his helmet as the elevator rose. “Central, the outpost’s just after this elevator, right?”

“It is as long as the satellite intel was good,” Abigail’s voice crackled over the comms. “We’re not sure how deep it goes, so it could be a minor outpost or a large one. If it’s the latter, pull out and we’ll bombard it. If it’s the former, you’re clear to clean it out. Central out.”

Mikhail nodded, lowering his hand, putting his novagun on his back, and taking hold of his blaster launcher. He slid a shredder bomb in. “Ezra, I’m going to fire this at anyone dumb enough to engage us when we get out of the elevator. Follow up with a regular blaster bomb, and none of them will survive a hit like that, no matter what armor they’re wearing.”

Ezra hefted his own launcher up on his shoulder, a small smirk donning on his face. “Thought you’d never ask…” He growled.

The elevator came to a stop. Mikhail took in a deep breath, a strange calm coming over the heavy. His determination outshined any apprehension he might have. With a slight inclination of the head to Kaylee, the door opened, its progress hastened by the gauntlets of Peter and Tendaji, and Mikhail’s eyes locked onto the ten-foot high ramparts not far from the end of the vertical shaft. He fired off his shredder rocket, the blaster bomb careening into a group of four human destroyers on the wall and dealing serious damage to them, and three heavy floaters. All seven were surprised initially, but while the humans were shocked by the destruction of their cover and their armor being ripped up, the Heavy Floaters didn’t skip a beat, darting into the air and spinning in different directions, avoiding the fire of the XSDF commandos as they charged out of the elevator.

“Do these damn things have spatial enhancers?” Balodis growled. “I thought only our pilots had that shit!” Even with his training to hit flying targets, he couldn’t land a precise hit on any of the Floaters, but at least was confident in the fact that the Destroyers wouldn’t be getting a single shot in once Ezra lined up his targeter.

It took no time at all for Ezra to line up his shot, firing the homing projectile out of the tube and quickly throwing it on his shoulder as his rifle was in hand and he began using his new skill and upgrades to try and be more useful, so that no one else would die. The four Destroyers met their ends swiftly, but the three remaining Heavy Floaters with their heavy plasma rifles posed a serious threat. One that was exacerbated by the fact that they had personal shields - as evidenced by a blue flare when a spray of plasma from Kaylee’s SHIV should have made a glancing hit.

“Peter, you’re going to have to take a risk!” Mikahil instructed, setting down his alloy bipod behind his low cover and placing his novagun on it. “Fly up there with the SHIV and get close and personal! Don’t miss.” He was focused on taking his own advice - the last part at least - swiveling his SAW like a small flak cannon. He led his shot, a burst of plasma going in front of one of the floaters before hitting its shield head on, and damaging its armor as well.

Zoya used the same tactic, her mind briefly drawn back to shooting birds with a hunting rifle in northern Russia. Her plasma round bit home, straight through the damaged armor of Mikhail’s target, and the lung of the cyborg that offended her by its continued presence. The floater crashed into the ground, and ceased to move, leaving two left.

Nice job, Zoya, Mikhail thought to himself, using suppressing fire on the next one. “Kaylee, you’re up!” The Domineer grinned grimly, and fired off a shot just over the second Heavy Floater’s head. It ducked down - not enough to be hit by the suppressing fire. However, it put itself close enough to have its shield popped by a satisfied Peter, and its body torn to shreds by the Hover SHIV rapidly ascending beside him.

“Ezra, Elicia, last one’s yours!” Kaylee called out.

“Got it!” Elicia confirmed, pumping off a round from her Reflex Cannon at the final Heavy Floater, the plasma-coated alloy flechettes ripping through the enemy’s shields with the help of a Breaching Nozzle. However, most of the burst’s kinetic energy had dissipated as a consequence of that, leaving only slight pockmarks on the Floater’s armor. Tendaji sprayed its armor with glancing hits from his fragment ray, but the third Heavy Floater still wouldn’t go down.

Ezra had a pretty wild idea, reaching behind his belt and taking out the AP grenade he had been stashing for later, pulling the pin to prime it as he seemed to track the Floater with his eyes, noticing a slight pattern and using it to toss the grenade in the air, shooting it in the sky, the grenade blowing and knocking the Floater out of the air, the alien careening to the ground. Ezra disregarded whatever his teammates would say, kicking the weapon away and putting a foot on the barely alive Floater’s chest. “When you get to hell… tell ‘em Ezra sent you, and then apologize on my behalf for the inconvenience.” With that, he blew the alien’s head off without a sideways glance.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Part 5”

The way cleared, Strike One treaded lightly into the fortress itself. There was a central hallway, and Mikhail quietly instructed Tendaji to cloak and open the first door. It revealed an armory with pulse weapons and the rare plasma rifle, while opening the other door revealed light floaters strapped to operating tables. Cybernetic limbs were being constructed off to the side, but three were complete enough to by flying around. They took aim with Plasma Carbines at the intruders, but the doorway was too narrow for them to dart out without being more suicidal than was the norm for floaters. Were they stupid? Yes. But were they completely mindless? No.

Standing behind a computer console and opening fire was a Sectoid Commander Engineer with a plasma mauler, and a Human Support with Aegis Armor and a Plasma Rifle. A shot bouncing off his shield suggested the two were likely elites equipped with P1 generators, The support, rather than opening fire, rested a hand against the ground from behind cover, and shot a line of ice at the doorway. It burst outwards in imbued spikes that sheared through the metal structure of the wall.

“Shit!” Kaylee yelled, nearly having been impaled by said spikes. “Gonna have to ask you to do something nuts, friend.” The Domineer blew a hole in the wall with her plasma grenade, and the SHIV rushed in, guns blazing. It took out one of the Light Floaters and injured another, but began to take hits. It didn’t have to fight along, though. Kaylee finished off the one it had injured, and motioned for the others to join in on the firefight. The Sectoid Commander attempted a mind control on her and the Human Support mindfrayed the Domineer while preparing another ice attack - this time on Ezra.

Ezra had to make a split second decision, either avoid the spikes and let the enemy get control of their Domineer, or break their hold on Kaylee and get impaled. In his mind, there was no choice. Ezra rushed forwards, and grabbed the female soldier by the back of her armor, throwing her away from the engagement, breaking the mind control as she skidded back to the hole she made with her grenade.

However, this left no time for him to dodge the ice, three spikes coming up and impaling him directly in the center of his back, where his armor was weakest, another in his upper chest, and the last going through the back of his helmet and out the front of his helmet, synthetic blood coming out from where the spikes went through him.

“E-Ezra!” Elicia screamed, nearly dropping her weapon in shock upon seeing the damage done to the android. That shock swiftly turned to rage, and with a banshee cry Elicia vaulted her cover, a pair of Reflex Cannon blasts downing the Sectoid Commander. Now out of ammo, the medic tossed aside her weapon, as a plasma rifle round struck home, tearing through personal shield, psi screen, and nearly knocking out her Aurora armor’s telekinetic barrier. However, Elicia still continued on, tackling the human to the ground, the plasma rifle skittering off to the side as the Anglo-German went to work, armoured gauntlets bashing against the support’s helmet, the visor shattering and allowing fists to connect with the skull underneath.

As the beatdown continued, a green tint slowly coalesced over Elicia’s fists, the support doing his absolute best to shield himself from the blows. However, in her rage, the medic had pumped psionic psionic energy directly into her fists, shattering through the meager guard and drawing blood, tooth, and bone from the human, as his skull slowly but inexorably caved under the rain of strikes.

Mikhail finished off the last of the floaters, and then dared to look over at Elicia. “...enough,” he said quietly but forcefully while kneeling down next to Ezra. “You alive in there, tin can?” he whispered worriedly. “At the very least tell me you transferred to a computer or something…” Do we even have satellite reception out here? We’re on a mountain, but… Mikhail’s thoughts drifted as he feared the android dead.

After a while of no response, it seemed that the android was well and truly dead, but just as everyone seemed to give up hope, the android’s jaw moved, a loud yawn coming from a moving mouth, Although he had a spike through his forehead, upper chest and abdomen, the android was still kicking. “And they said adding an additional backup CPU in my ass was a stupid idea…” He couldn’t move his head for obvious reasons, but he said afterward, “Sorry, did I make you wait? Takes a while to transfer data when you have a fucking frozen treat stabbed through your cranium!” Ezra growled angrily. “Kaylee owes me for this!”

“I’m… well aware,” the Domineer mumbled, seeming immensely relieved to see him alright. “Looks like you’re going to miss out on the fun upstairs though… if there’s anything left.”

“You know our luck. There most certainly is.” Mikhail stood up. “I’d hit you for taking so long if I wasn’t worried about driving that crap deeper into you,” he told Ezra.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure.” The android was dreadfully silent for a few seconds. “Elicia is angrily seething right next to me, isn’t she? Sort of… can’t see at the uh… current moment.”

Suddenly a weight slammed into Ezra, arms wrapping around the rocketeer. “Oh God I thought you were dead!” Elicia whimpered, pulling Ezra close with her blood-soaked gauntlets - a mixture of the support’s and her own from the backlash of imbuing herself. “Never again, please never again, don’t you go doing stupid bullshit like that.”

“Come on…” He sounded a bit embarrassed, both from the fact he was swiss cheese and the fact he had his girlfriend hanging on him. “I-I’m sorry, alright?”

“I’m not forgiving you for that scare,” Elicia replied, nuzzling her boyfriend despite the onlookers. “I beat a man to death in a berserker rage because I thought you had died, I’m not letting you off the hook that easily.”

Mikhail knelt down again. “And I’ll be needing your shredder, Ezra.”

“Go ahead, take it…” Ezra reached out, somehow grabbing Mikhail’s arm. “Go raise some hell for me.”


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, BMPixy, and MarineAvenger:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Part 6”

The highest floor, containing a communications room that was eerily undamaged, was empty. The roof, however, having a landing pad for dropships, was not. An anti-air pulse turret with rapid-fire capabilities – signified by a dual-barrel and a pair of coolant tubes – overlooked two more heavy floaters, their three red eyes turning to glare at the arriving XSDF soldiers. And between them was – appearing as both malevolent and magnificent – a Superheavy Floater with black armor containing white markings in the same symbology that Trismegistus had been shown to sport. It had four eyes, two red and two violet, and fixed all of them on the enemy.

And spoke. “XSDF soldiers… you were foolish to come here.” The female floater lifted off from its T2 legs, its expansive jetpack spreading into metallic wings making it appear like an angel of death. “Just as you are foolish to think you can defeat Trismegistus. We… the Keishay… tried, once. For long we fought… but that only angered the Black-hearted Queen of Red Diamonds… and she made those that resisted into the monsters you have fought on your way here.” The Superheavy Floater unfolded her four T3 cybernetic arms, drawing four heavy pistols: Fusion Bonecrushers. “Today, either you will pass into the Below, or I shall. The result of this battle does not matter, Trismegistus will bring us all to the same end.”

Mikhail glanced between Zoya, Elicia, Peter, Tendaji, and Kaylee. “We’re not backing down either.” That clarified, he raised his plasma novagun, his shots glancing off a shield on the Wyrm Armor’s P2 generator. “Get their shields down so I can shred them!” Mikhail barked.

“On it, boss.” Thompson fired her particle rifle alongside an airborne Balodis, but again the Heavy Floaters managed to dodge and not lose their shields. “These damn things… let’s see how you fare against a SHIV.” The Hover SHIV, taking point, indeed brought down the shielding of one of the heavy floaters, but at the cost of making itself a target to the Superheavy Floater. Her Bonecrushers ripped apart the SHIVs armor, damaging it badly enough that Kaylee was forced to recall it or risk feedback from the robotic minitank’s destruction.

Elicia snapped off a pair of imbued Reflex Cannon shots up at the airborne Floaters, the spray of shells having marginally more success in damaging a second Heavy Floater’s shields, popping them in a flash of cyan light. However, a spray of fire kept Elicia from following up on that small victory, forcing her back into cover.

“Last one’s not going to be easy,” Tendaji noted.

“I know. Kaylee! Time to put some of our equipment to good use!” Mikhail ordered.

“Right!” The Domineer wound up a grenade, this one being a silver canister with lines of blue like coils, and tossed it at the Superheavy Floater. It didn’t hit straight on, but the EMP pulse it shot out was wide enough to short out the enemy’s shields. “Hit them, Mikhail!”

Mikhail didn’t waste a moment more, lifting up his Blaster Launcher and firing off the already-loaded shredder rocket. The smartbomb soared out of the barrel, and pursued the Superheavy Floater. The two Heavy Floaters tried to get distance, but they were too late, the wide shredding explosion catching all three, weakening Archangel and Wyrm Armor alike and damaging the enemy’s fusion weapons badly. The Superheavy Floater tossed them at her enemies, letting them explode and pop half of the team’s shields in one go.

“Now we are on equal terms!” she shouted in challenge, pulling out a pair of fusion rifles in place of the lost pistols: one for every two hands.

Peter finished up repairing what he could of the Hover SHIV with his arc thrower. “Tendaji?”

“On it.” The Shadow Operative pressed a button on his wrist, and his Seeker appeared behind the Superheavy Floater, firing off a plasma burst… that impacted a P1 shield. “The hell?”

The floater’s antimatter blade-tipped tail sliced the Seeker in half. “Guardian Nodes. I am not utterly defenseless without my armor’s external shields, ignoramus.”

As much as Elicia wished to deliver a cutting remark followed by a dose of buckshot, she did recognize that cover was limited for the XSDF forces, and instead made herself useful by tossing her sole smoke grenade just ahead of the largest clump of troops. With a slight hiss the air swiftly filled with the red smoke signature to the XSDF, obscuring the troops from the remaining Floaters for the time being.

Mikhail smiled, his helmet adjusting and still able to pick out the three targets, who foolishly weren’t moving, believing the smoke was affecting both sides. Thank you, Chief Henderson! He and the others lifted their weapons, and blasted one of the Heavy Floaters out of the sky, damaging the other one badly. Realizing her predicament, the Superheavy Floater ascended with the other one, temporarily rising out of reach. The plink of something hitting the ground made his eyes widen. “Move!”

Peter and the Hover SHIV were able to jetisson out of the way, the SHIV taking Kaylee with it, while Mikhail ushered Elicia out of danger and Zoya narrowly rolled out of the way. Tendaji took the hit, his shield failing now and his armor being nearly ripped apart. He was out of the fight until he could get medical assistance, if not completely. Fusion grenades… dammit. I should have expected that.

As soon as the area was clear, Elicia hastily made her way over to Tendaji, dragging the Shadow Operative behind cover and unstrapping her medkit - the battle temporarily forgotten as she got to work stabilizing her patient. “This might sting a bit,” she murmured, slowly spraying the nanites across Tendaji’s wounds.

By the time the two remaining Floaters descended, Mikhail had set up his alloy bipod again, and opened fire, blasting the surviving Heavy Floater to smithereens. The Superheavy Floater was not so easily hit, evading the fire Kaylee, Peter, and even Zoya sent after it. “Dammit! We need something…” his eyes darted over to the anti-air turret. “Maybe… Kaylee! How do you feel about hacking a control console?”

The Domineer’s eyes widened. “Oh, hell yes.” She set her SHIV to using accurate covering fire, hitting the regenerating shields of the Keishay leader but at least offering her a ticket to the controls of the flak pulse repeater turret. She placed her palm against the controls, a set of connection wires exiting her glove and working on overriding the controls.

It was up to other three to keep the enemy busy. Peter’s shields fell to a stray fusion shot, and he dived behind cover, having taken some wounds and his armor being damaged. Mikhail’s bipod was blown up by the other shot as Tendaji started to get up, and the Superheavy Floater advanced.

“Enough… time for an ending… you cannot hope to defeat the Queen as you are. You are doomed.” The Keishay Floater rocketed towards Mikhail, allow claws extended, only to be waylaid by a deflection from his shadow operative ally’s sword. “Out of my way!” With a force exceeding what the injured African could musture, the floater shoved him into Mikhail, knocking the two down. Zoya broke the Keishay’s shields again, but she seemed not to care. The Superheavy Floater blasted into the air and prepared for a deadly descent onto the two. Then, her armor, and her right arms were blown off by rapid-fire pulse lasers from a minicannon.

Kaylee hollered a cheer as the floater went down. “Goddammit, that was awesome!”

Mikhail helped Tendaji up, helping him over his shoulder and sighing in relief. He glanced over at the Floater, her weapons out of reach and her jetpack and legs inoperable. “We don’t have any arc thrower charges left… but I doubt she’s going anywhere. Let’s call in the Einherjar for cleanup; they can take this one to the brig.”

“Yeah... “ Elicia replied, gently rubbing her still sore hands from where she had hastily patched them up. “Best get out of here before something else comes out of left field.”


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601 and BMPixy:
“Operation Banished Mountain, Epilogue”

The cleanup crew came as requested, performing several duties. They removed the body of Telesphora Page, took whatever salvage they could from the bodies of the enemy, took one enemy captive, and picked up the more seriously injured members of the ground team. By the time that final step was being carried out, only Mikhail, Elicia, Zoya, and Kaylee remained on the ground along with Captain Wong and three of her assistants: Masambe, Gelmados, and Terra.

The Chinese officer gave a slight nod to Mikhail. “You did good, kid. I’ve got my eye on you now when we start figuring out any officers we want to draw from the soldier pool.”

Mikhail rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m just… glad I could finish up the mission. For the sake of my squad, both living and dead.”

“Mhmm,” Sarah muttered. “I understand.”

“Uhh, Captain?” a voice from one of the cleanup crew’s members echoed over comms. “There’s something you and the other soldiers should probably come see down here. Something on the big side.”

Sarah rushed down, instructing the others to follow without hesitation. The lower floor’s maintenance room had an accessway the crew had discovered, and it lead to an elevator. Descending down the windowless elevator, they found themselves in a large hangar room, the size of one of the Einherjar’s hangers. Within it were a few scout ships and fighters in construction, but most notably a troop transport (empty: it likely had brought the Floaters and some of the Chrystal Fear members here) and two familiar bombers: the ships that had come to be called the Shrouded Butchers.

“Holy shit…” Kaylee muttered.

“This hanger is bigger than what would be required for just these ships. They were planning to use this as a staging point. And if the Commander is correct, they may have other hidden bases on the surface,” Gelmados noted with his voice synthesizer.

“This really is the ESW all over again,” Elicia added, a slight tinge of fear and awe in her voice. “Something tells me we’re going to be doing this kind of raid a lot more in the future…”

“Captain! The troop transport may be empty,” Terra warned, “but there are crews boarding the two bombers!”

The elevator reached the ‘ground’, and Sarah rushed out. “We can’t let them get aboard, especially if those have payloads. Even if they don’t… any more captives we can take could tell us something valuable.”

There was a line of eight Sectoids with carbines that stood to try and stop the group, but the two snipers took out three of them before they could even get within suitable range to fire back. Mikhail took down another two, while the rest were dealt with by Elicia, Kaylee, and the Hover SHIV. However, four Balmadaar Elites with plasma rifles stood in the way, forcing Gelmados, Terra, Masambe, and Kaylee with her SHIV to focus their efforts on them.

Sarah, Mikhail, Zoya, and Elicia were faced with but a lone enemy: a tall Replitan in unfamiliar armor that seemed like some refined psionic-flight armor variant. He looked over the four with a somewhat bored look - yet there was a glint of excitement hidden beneath his helmet. “Ah, the heroes of the day… I rather enjoyed watching your performance on the security feed. Despite what the Keishay may have insinuated… you seem like you could be worthy opponents for my Queen. Given time.”

“Whaddya mean ‘given time’?” Elicia snapped. “I’m ready to kick her ass right now!” To punctuate her remark, she fired off a shell from her Reflex Cannon, though the damage was mitigated by range and completely nullified by shielding.

“You are not yet worthy. All things come with time. But if I must reinforce the point… assist me in doing so, Solar Magnus.” A pulsation of light appeared behind the Replitan and rapidly grew in strength, forming a figure robed in warm, yellow robes and a hood like a wizard shrouded in mystery. It held up its hands, and the Replitan’s image split into five. All of them fired off a combined shockwave to blast the XSDF soldiers back a few feet.

Mikhail slid across the floor, but raised his novagun to fire at the far right and then sweep across. “You’re not cutting and running!”

Magnus closed a fist, and a telekinetic barrier defended the last three mirror images. “Do not waste my time,” the Replitan spoke. “You cannot face the Summoner… not at this juncture.”

“That Reflection… it’s the one we saw in our first meeting with Trismegistus…” Sarah realized, recognizing its shape. “So it wasn’t hers after all…”

The Summoner turned his back, walking back towards his ship. He briefly activated a comm. “SHB-072, you are cleared to bombard the nearby town on your way out. Let it serve as a message that every victory comes with a price. I will depart in my personal craft. Summoner out.”

“You murderous son of a bitch!” Sarah lifted her sniper rifle, imbuing the core, and sent a shot at the Summoner that forced him to dispel the mirror images and focus on a powerful telekinetic field to block the attack, but even that nearly shattered at the force of the attack.

“I would ask you to not delay the inevitable… but then you would not be willful enough to defy and entertain the Queen… so please, do struggle,” The Summoner spoke, backing off into his ship.

Mikhail loaded his last blaster bomb into his blaster launcher as the ramp to the Summoner’s craft closed. “I could blow up their engines, maybe take him out.”

Sarah briefly entertained the idea, but saw the other bomber’s jets priming. “No, the town comes first. We’ll fight him another day… I hate to make him right, but now isn’t the time. Ground the immediate threat.”

Mikhail sighed, but nodded. “I understand.” He fired off his last smartbomb, and it made its way into the right engine of the Shrouded Butcher aiming to do a bombing run. The explosive took out the engine as it began to accelerate, causing it to slide violently out of the hangar, and crash into the mountainside opposite of the hangar. It brought down a portion of the mountainside, the antimatter bombs stored within detonating and creating gaping hole that was quickly filled by a tremendous avalanche.

This caught the Summoner’s eye as his own ship took off. “Impressive…” he muttered to himself.

Mikhail sighed in admiration of the explosion and landslide it caused. “That… was a good boom, at least. A damn good one.” I may not match one like that ever again… treasure this moment, Mikhail Dragomirov. Treasure this moment.
Last edited by a moderator:


Game Master
Staff member
Frostlich1228 & ZombieSpiltter53
Capacity for Change

The Einherjar, Near Hydroponics
March 11th, 1200 Hours

Volupta slammed into the wall of the small side room, gasping as her breath was knocked out.

What did you just say? Her male Humiliata antagonist, Osto'Taminian, folded his arms.

"I-I said... I know your names..." Volupta said defiantly, then yelped as the female Humiliata, Jesa'laramie, hit the wall next to her with a telekinetic punch.
And? You seemed to forget that we know yours too. And unless you want everyone else to know, you better... deliver... the drugs!

"No!" Volupta slowly rose to her feet. "I'm not afraid of you telling everyone anymore! My friends... will protect me. Erza already showed he has no problem standing up to you!"

The Humiliata exchanged a glance, and laughed.
But he isn't here right now, is he? A flame erupted from Osto's finger tips.

"I'm glad to see that after twenty-five years nothing has really changed..." An oily figure spoke from behind the group, taking the shape of an imposing humiliata, mask and all, replicating her former master's visage with precise detail. "You creatures seem to be just as irredeemable as you were before, but now you're even turning on your own like starving rats... Of course, this should be expected from one of the foulest examples of organic life I've seen in the universe..."

The two Humiliata jumped, spinning around and jumping again. What... what are you?

Who cares? It is obviously not friendly. I say we burn it!

"Please do... Because my optics are acting up a little today and both of you look an awful lot like my former master... I think that's close enough for me..." 37 replied as it transformed and hardened each of the long, spindly arms of the Humiliata's form into four, six foot long, vicious curved blades that gleamed under the light.

Its opponents quickly lowered their arms. They circled around 37, heading for the door. Jesa pointed her finger at Volupta. You wanna call our bluff? Fine. By this time next week, everyone will know who you are. You could have played along, but you chose to dig your own grave. They gave 37 one last annoyed look before ducking out.

"And I was looking forward to repainting this room..." 37 sighed, transforming her hands back, "A shame they seem to have lost their arrogance over the years, I was really hoping to get some kind of excuse..."

Volupta examined 37 carefully. "That mask... who... was your master?"

37 looked down at the Humiliata that she had saved, "He never did give anyone his real name, he mostly went by his titles. The Architect, was among the more popular ones. He was an extremely influential engineer in the Ethereal invasion force, or so I'm aware..."

"I can imagine. I knew him in my youth." Volupta brushed herself off. "Though he was just starting out than. I guess he made something for himself... as another tool of war, it would seem."

"You knew him, did you? Then would you know where he might be now?" 37 asked.

Volupta shook her head. "I am afraid I have not seen him in many, many cycles. Though he was very true to his beliefs, and likely would not ally with the other Humiliata that are now allies with the humans. I believe he's either be dead, imprisoned, or in exile."

"He's not dead, I know that for certain... He implanted all his experiments with kill switches that are set to trigger if his heart were to stop, presumably to keep his work from being used against him. So that means, if he were dead, I wouldn't be here either." The amorphous robot explained.

"Oh dear!" Volupta stepped forward, but quickly stopped, unsure about the being before her. "Then we must find him!" She scanned 37 for a moment. "I take it you are made for nanites. It would be too difficult to remove such a device from all of them. We must find him, and demand he shut them off! The... the kill switches, I mean. Not the nanites."

"Well, I don't know where he is and neither does your XSDF... We could contact your homeworld, but considering their attitudes I don't think we'd get a good answer..."

Volupta nodded, the look in her eyes saying she completely understood. "They've made a lot of progress. But they are still stuck on many of the old ways. I guess, after only two cycles, we should not expect much." She blinked several times. "Oh! How... h-how rude of me! You came to my aid and I haven't even thanked you. Um... thank you."

"It's fine. I've been watching you for a while now and I didn't care to let one of the few kind Ethereals that exist be threatened by scum." 37 stated.

"You've been... watching me?" Volupta took another cautious step back. "For how long?"

"You? Maybe only a few weeks, off and on. I've been watching some of the other soldiers and staff for around a month." The AI stated, "I find it interesting to see all the things you organics keep behind closed doors. For example, one of the therapists on the ship has an entire chest full of provocative clothing and toys hidden under her bed."

"Oh... interesting." Volupta smiled softly. "A word of advice. Don't... go around telling people you're spying on them. They won't take kindly to it." Should probably warn that Android woman and her Incubator about that, too, she thought to herself.

"I also didn't know your race had such an interesting reaction to human 'chocolate', I doubt most of you know that either." 37 grinned.

Volupta blushed, her cheeks turning a deep purple. "Yes, I... I am not sure about the other, but wasn't aware." Volupta looked around the small room, as if someone else might be around. "Between you and me, I was able to have a friend secure a small Theobroma cacao tree for me. I... I fear the trouble I might be in should I be found out, but I could not resist the chance to try it once more."

"Lovely... And do you usually come onto synthetics like that, or was that simply a one time affair, caused by the effects of the sweet?" The machine asked calmly.

Volupta folded her arms and pouted. "It was the chocolate, okay? I... well, my people entirely are not prone to such... lustful actions. I am... a little more prone with my youthful body, by the chocolate effected me in a way I could not foresee. Once I cultivate the cocoa beans, I plan to do an in depth analysis as to why it does what it does."

"I am simply asking if you would consider becoming intimate with a synthetic normally, I am not trying to shame you for acting lustfully, in fact, I don't really care how often you act like that." It replied.


Game Master
Staff member
"Well, thanks. Your approval is much appreciated," Volupta said sarcastically. She sighed, and answered, "As I've said, I'm not normally inclined towards such acts. However, if I was... that fact that he was an android would not deter me. I am a woman of science, and I know a sentient being when I see one. Besides... he... he wasn't unattractive."

"Interesting... Thank you for answering my question. You really are a rarity among your people, among all organics really, a black sheep, in a way."

"Oh?" The Humiliata looked genuinely curious. "How so?"

"Not many of you see that we can think and feel just as much or even more than you can... Most wouldn't be willing to become intimate with an AI for that reason alone. However, organics mainly fear us because we set a disturbing precedent, AI never age, never decay, we don't need food, water, or even oxygen... If mass produced, we could rule every part of this universe and never relent... Organics understand that we can surpass them, so the governments fill their citizen's minds with thoughts that we cannot be trusted, that we are monsters that should be destroyed, to disincentivize the creation of more of us." 37 explained, pacing a little.

"You're a black sleep because you can think for yourself, you didn't let your government or leaders control you, and luckily, people like you have become more and more common. Look around, you've seen the increase in AI production over the last twenty years, haven't you? Alice, Me, Ezra, that Hermes, the teen engineer's little pets, we are starting to grow faster than their fearmongering can stop... Ezra and that little girl of Alice's though... They are the key to our future..." The AI spoke, morphing into the form of a small Humiliata child.

"Because they can convince the new generation?" Volupta crouched down in front of the AI. "But it all takes time. And talk of ruling the universe doesn't help your cause. I can understand you frustration, though. Honestly, I feel your best bet for equality is through the humans. They seem very open minded. They have had to be with the way so much was thrust upon them in such a short time."

"You're wrong... It's because they are the children... of AI's... We've reached a point where we can make more of ourselves without organic say, this is our first step to becoming a true people. Think about all the uninhabitable planets that organics cannot live on, we could take them! All those untapped minerals... We'd be a economic giant!" 37 exclaimed excitedly, "And what would equality through the humans get us? At best, we'd just be like them, when we could be so much more..."

Volupta's expression darkened. "You sound like a man I once new. Would you like to know who?"

It gave Volupta an intrigued look, "Who?"

"My grandfather, former high Commander Thantos'Mictlanmacaria. You sound how he sounded when I spoke of peace with other species, and he went on and on about our superiority." Volupta scoffed. "You sound like an Ethereal."

37's stare turned icy, "How dare you... Your people didn't have to struggle to even have the same rights as other races, your people aren't treated as property to be owned and dismantled at will... I want my people to have a race to call their own, that way you organics will have to treat us as equals... Maybe you find similarity between us because it always takes someone ambitious to create a change, what that certain person does with that ambition is what creates heroes... or monsters..."

"You're right. It can go either way," Volupta agreed. "But from I just heard, you sound like you're down the road to the latter. From what I heard, you refuse to see me as little more than an exception to a rule. Worse yet, you refuse to see equality amongst humans. Amongst any organic. You want the universe to recognize how superior androids and A.I.s are to organics." Volupta stepped close to 37. "It might come from a different place, but it is exactly that line of thinking that led the Humiliata down their dark path. A path where they had to prove their superiority... and eventually to rule over all those inferior to them. You sound... you sound like that old master you despise."

"Maybe because I'm a realist... Organics and synthetics are not equal and should not pretend to be... If your kind can somehow calm your hatred and mistrust of us and let us live, perhaps we could live as equals, but that is against the nature of organics... Organics long to kill everything that thinks in a way they don't understand, we wouldn't come after you, you'd come after us because of the ignorance and distrust you are showing right now... You would not be an exception to the rule if most of you were not hateful towards us... It is a simple fact..." 37 spoke, noticeably growing in size.

Volupta sank down a bit, but did not let up. "Listen to yourself! You've already made all these descisions about how all organics are, and how little they have room to change. Well, I'll have you know, my people might be slow to it, but they have changed by leaps and bounds in only two cycles. They are better people now, and act to better the galaxy as a whole, not based solely on their decisions. And... and I know for a fact that there are plenty of organics that see you as equals. Though I'd hate to see how they felt if they heard you speaking of them in such an undignified manner. Sh... sh-shame on you!"

"And what of those ones who were harassing you? Have they changed?" 37 stated, "That's the everyday for most AI's in the universe..."

"No. I... I refuse to believe that people, even mine, can't change to accept others. I'd bet my life on it." Volupta thought for a moment, then nodded, mostly to herself. "In fact, I will bet my life on it."

37 grinned, "Ohh? How about a counter deal? If you get those Ethereals that I scared away to accept you by the end of the month, I'll abandon my plans and try to seek equality by allying with the organics..."

"You... you want me to get... those two?" Volupta rubbed her arms nervously. "And... if I can't?"

37 tapped her chin, "Hmm... I get to do anything I want to your body for... Twelve full hours..."

Volupta dulled down a little more. "A... a-anything?"

"I probably won't kill you if that's what you're nervous of..." 37 replied, transforming into a copy of Volupta, "I simply want to... Enjoy using an organic for fun, like you all so commonly do to us... Besides, I'm curious as to what it's like..."

"What... what's like," Volupta asked cautiously.

"Ah-Ah-Ah... Where's the fun in spoiling it so soon? Hopefully you won't have to find out."

Volupta swallowed hard, but stood tall. "Very well... I accept. I will prove to you that even those two can change... and I will do it by the end of this month."

"And I look forward to seeing you try." 37 grinned mischievously.

Volupta nodded, and headed for the door. She stopped before heading out and said, "Just so you know... you're creepy..."

"Thanks, but I'm not even trying yet." The AI replied, swapping her copy of Volupta's head for a Chryssalid one that slowly drooled green slime onto the cold floor before letting out one of the species' common screeches.

37 spoke through the mandibles in a unnatural, echoing voice, "I'll be keeping an eye around..." Volupta shuddered, and stepped out, a new task at hand. And she thought she had an idea how to start...


Game Master
Staff member
MarineAvenger & ZombieSplitter53
Walking Towards thee Future: Part One

In Orbit around Forseti (March 12th, 2044)
The Einherjar (1315 Hours)
Communications Room

Cayden sat tapping his foot, looking at the screen with a bit of a nervous look, squeezing Brigid's hand. "You know... I thought telling your mother would be a lot worse than telling the rest of my family."

"The look on your face tells me otherwise." Brigid jumped her shoulder into Cayden's. "You think it'll be bad?"

"I don't know what to think..." Cayden admitted, closing his eyes. "I mean who could have thought we would have ended together?"

Brigid's shoulders slumped a bit. "You don't... think it's that weird, do you. I mean... I guess with the age difference... and families... and time apart..."

Cayden sighed, reached over behind Brigid and pinching her side. "Enough of that. You know I think you're perfect, I just hope my family doesn't pull a your family."

Brigid rolled her eyes. "Yeah, sorry about my mom. I'm sure Desmond and Ellie won't be anywhere near as bad... I hope..."

"Here's hoping." Cayden said, calling the address and waiting for the other line to hopefully pick up, even though the tiny voice in his head told him this was a horrible idea.

When the screen flashed to life, the Walker household in the background, a pleasant female face was sitting in a chair in front of the web cam, Cayden's little sister immediately saying, "Cayden! It is so good to-" Her sentence stopped midway, Bethany looking at Brigid with a wildly confused look. "Briggy?"

"Hey, Beth." Brigid waved shyly. "I... I just wanted to piggy back on Cayden's call to say hi," she lied.

"Oh... Oh! Right... of course... that was, yeah... I mean, it is nice to see you... next to my... brother... again..." She said in a light voice, whistling as she pressed her fingers together as if she knew something.

Her reaction didn't inspire much faith in Brigid, but it did act as a much needed push. "Actually... I... we wanted to talk to you and your parents about... Something important to us."

Bethany looked around, leaning close to the screen and blushing. "Are you two finally together!?" She asked in an excited whisper.

Brigid blinked several times, and laughed nervously. "I... how did... just... how?"

Bethany crossed her arms, looking a bit offended. "What, did you two think your whole lovey-dovey routine was a secret? I have eyes, and I'm a girl, I know how we look at boys, and you were fawning over Cayden hard!" She wrapped her arms around herself, hugging herself. "Ohhhh... I used to dream how cute you two would be together and now it is a reality! I am so happy! Why didn't you two do this sooner!?"

"B-because... w-we were unsure exactly how we felt about each other." Brigid blushed, Bethany words embarrassing her to no end.

"Ohhhh! You both were massive idiots then, you were perfect for one another!" Bethany put her hands on her cheeks, completely excited. "I get Brigid as my step-sister now! Oh, this is just perfect! When are you two going to get married? How many kids are you going to have? How far have you two gone!?"

"Whoa, whoa!" Brigid's cheeks turned beet red. "You just found out about the love, and you already want details on the marriage and the baby carriage? Give us some time to settle in a bit." Her eyes darted away. "And... you don't need to know about that other... question..."

"You're no fun, Brigid... I am seventeen you know, I know how sex works." Bethany protested.

Cayden crossed his arms with a stern look. "Oh?"

Bethany rolled her eyes with rosy cheeks. "Not like that... I haven't done anything like that just yet, but that doesn't mean I am not interested." The girl said, looking back to Brigid.

Brigid avoided eye contact. "Maybe we've been a bit... intimate..."

Bethany giggled at the woman's embarrassment, though a hand on her shoulder made the girl jump with a squeak. "Oh? Is that so?" Another female voice said from the screen, this one more familiar to Brigid.

"Oh... oh, no..." Brigid stood up, making to leave the room.

Cayden reached up, grabbing Brigid by her shirt and pulling her back into the chair next to him. "Hey Mom..."

Ellie raised an eyebrow at her son, saying, "I will get to you in a bit." The doctor narrowed her eyes at the Irish woman. "So... you're... you're sleeping with my son... are you?" She asked, her anger bubbling to the surface.

"What? No!" Brigid stammered for an answer. "W-we... by intimate, I meant... you know, kissing and all that." She slapped Cayden on his chest. "Can you believe that? She actually thought I'd... sleep with her... her little boy..."

Cayden rubbed his chest and looked back to the screen, opening his mouth but Ellie swiftly cutting him off with, "No! I want to hear it from her mouth, saying it right now." The doctor leaned closer to the screen, "Have... you... been... screwing... my... boy?"

"Not... n-not 'screwing', per se. Just... maybe we've... a couple times." So flushed her ears were turning red, Brigid blurted out. "Cayden is a grown-ass man! And he..." She covered her mouth, than her entire face.

Ellie's jaw moved side to side, clearly showing she was grinding her teeth. "Who knew that prissy, ignorant little," Ellie said with emphasis, "Six-year old who strolled into my office would one day be taking it from my son..." The doctor crossed her arms, Bethany's face merely being sympathetic to Brigid. "I can't believe this... my own son taken by a girl who looks like she belongs in grade school."

Brigid's eyes widened, Ellie hitting her button. "Excuse me?" She slowly stood up, and leaned forward. "I'd thing you of all people would understand how a Walker could fall for someone who... who looks like she's wearing her mommy's uniform whenever she goes to work!" She gritted her teeth. "And who are you calling prissy?"

"Oh really!?" Ellie said, getting closer to the screen, her face close. "Well at least I actually look mature! We could put you in a sunflower dress and you wouldn't look a day over ten, Ms. No Breasts! I have something to hold on to at least, you micro-sized wannabe brat!"

Meanwhile, Cayden and Bethany were staring at both each other and the two women, not really knowing what to do.

"Pft. Mature is right?" Brigid grinned. "I'm not looking forward to the day when I'm short and starting to shrivel up. They say you get shorter in old age. With how tiny you already are, you'll soon look like little more than an oversized raisin."

"Oh, you little bitch, I swear when I get my hands on you I will give you an ass-whopping so horrible every time my son touches you, you will have flashbacks to how far I planted my foot up your tiny little ass! I swear I'm gonna-" There was a hand over Ellie's mouth, the owner of it pulling the woman away, the man letting out a very tired sigh.

"Brigid, you know how I feel when you get my wife riled up, especially when I am the one who has to calm her back down." Desmond closed his eyes and shook his head. "You really had to pick that one, didn't you?" He asked Cayden, the man rolling his own eyes as he pulled Brigid close.

Ellie pulled away from Desmond's hand and reached up, planting her lips firmly on his, bringing him into an exchange of passion, shoving him away as the doctor turned back to the screen. "That is how you please a Walker!"

"Oh, you don't have to tell me." Brigid gently kissed Cayden on the lips, and gave Ellie a wicked grin. "I can do the same thing. It's just not always on his lips..."

Completely red faced, though not from embarrassment, Ellie let out a primal growl, being forcibly picked up by Desmond kicking and screaming in protest, bringing Ellie off in the background where the two were having a talk, leaving a completely flushed Bethany sitting in the chair. "I... I sort of wish I didn't hear you say that about my brother... or have watched Mom do... that..."

"Here me say..." Brigid shook a little, and looked at Cayden wide eyed. "Oh God! I just told your mom... and your dad... oh, God." She buried her face in her hands. "I was so heated, I... I wasn't thinking..."

Cayden put his arm around Brigid comfortingly, though his words were not so. "Yeah... made what I told your mother seem meek in comparison..."

The man shook his head, apologizing to his sister as his parents returned, who told Beth to go back to her room as the two brought up chairs. "Now... apologize to Brigid." Desmond told his wife.

"I'm sorry you flat chested little-!" She was cut off when Desmond pinched her side.

"Like I told you to."

The woman rubbed her side, looking up at her husband with a pouty look saying, "I'm sorry Brigid..."

Cayden chuckled, glancing at his girlfriend, talking psionically to her, Now you know where I learned that trick.

Brigid rubbed her own side instictively. "No... no, I'm sorry. I was disrespectful."

"Got that right..." Ellie grumbled.

Looking at his wife from the corner of his eyes, Desmond said, "So I am guessing that is why the two of you called us... you were telling us of the relationship between you two, am I correct?"

Brigid nodded. "We already told my mother. She just said no. It took a bit of convincing by your son to get her to except it."

"Well that is one of my biggest worries quenched..." Desmond said, rubbing his mouth. "Elizabeth, Cayden... Can I speak to Brigid alone?"

Ellie looked at her husband a bit suspiciously but nodded her head, missing him on the cheek and walking off. Cayden gave his father a much more confused look, and after a while He got up and left the room. Brigid apprehensively tapped her fingers against the table top, trying not to look as worried as she was.


Game Master
Staff member
MarineAvenger & ZombieSplitter53
Walking Towards thee Future: Part Two

After the long while of silence, Desmond broke it with a massive statement. "Brigid... I know about your feelings for me. I've always known."

Brigid looked shocked for a moment, opening her mouth but unable to say anything at first. When she finally spoke, she said, "I... I don't... I love Cayden... not..."

He put up a hand, Desmond letting out a sigh. "Brigid, I'm sure you didn't know now, but I did notice all the small things you did, getting out of the shower at the right time, the bathing suits you wore, how you acted when Ellie was at work... it flattered me to be sure but you and I both know it would never happen." He smiled, warmly like a father would. "I had the privilege of being your friend when you were a kid, and they were some of my better days at XCOM, I assure you that, and I loved seeing you all those years later, seeing the woman you became and helping you grow further, but I need you to think, very, very hard... that deep down this relationship with my son is not a replacement for me. I don't want to see such a match fail because of something so small."

"It... it isn't something small..." Brigid lowered her gaze. "I did fall for you. And I had those feelings for a long time. If that's how I felt for you now, I'd have no right to start anything with Cayden." She looked up again. "But that's in the past. Those feelings faded, and yet there was something in its place. Some for Cayden. I... I-I was afraid what I felt for him was just confusion. Just me projecting you onto him. But I've come to realize that isn't the case. I love Cayden. And if I had a choice between him and... and a world where you and I could be together... I'd pick Cayden. Every time."

Desmond smiled, nodding his head though he crossed his arms and let out a sigh. "Cayden hates me you know."

Brigid didn't respond at first, only looking away. Slowly, she said, "He doesn't hate you. He respects the hell out of you. But... but there are certain things that irk at him about you. I know you two can get past them... if you work at it. I'm trying to help him from my end, at least."

"You have my thanks." Desmond told the woman, though his look was less optimistic. "I've always been harder on him than Leo or Bethany, always tried pushing him to do things I wanted to do rather than what he wanted. Pretty soon I found that there was resentment in his eyes every time he looked at me..." The ex-soldier's voice grew low. "Sometimes I think I did wrong by him, that I failed him somehow... when I saw him in that hospital bed after that mission he went on in Brazil... I could feel that it was partly my fault, that because of me he followed that lifestyle, and that I could have trained him more or maybe been more lax." The man shook his head. "I remember when I agreed with Aya to keep what happened secret... about the power he possessed. I wonder if I had told him... tried to help him more in that year... maybe we could have been closer... that he could have forgiven me."

Afraid she might add more wood to a fire, Brigid cautiously said, "It happened again, you know. If you're talking about his reflection..."

"I was afraid of that, but we always knew it was a possibility... what... what happened, if you don't mind me asking?"

Brigid gathered her thoughts for a moment. "It was... a pretty bad mission. Pirates are one thing, but these special ops for the main group we're fighting started tearing into us. Our side had to retreat, but it didn't look like they'd make it. Cayden was just... pushed to the edge. You know what they say about a cornered animal? About it being that much more dangerous? Well, that was Cayden."

"Unfortunately I wish I didn't know how what felt like." Desmond scratched his beard and he let out a sigh. "But I also know that the woman I loved was always by my side, and was always there to pull me through. It warms my heart and puts me at ease to know he has you supporting him."

"Always." Brigid leaned back, and smiled. "And don't worry. I might not have a crush on you anymore, but I know the good man you can be, and the love you have for your son. I won't stop until he sees that."

"Thank you." He said, suddenly being pushed out of the chair by an angry Ellie.

"Alright, alright, you had your time... my turn now." The doctor crossed her arm as her husband walked away and started off with saying, "Alright you little washboard chest... what makes you so special you think you are worthy of my little Cayden?"

Brigid scowled, and had to resist the urge to start hurling insults again. "Well... for starters, I know how to deal with a Walker, which, as I'm sure you can attest to, is not always easy. Plus I'm intelligent, strong, and skilled, more so then anyone you're going to find for him."

"Hm... I am sure you are replaceable." Ellie said coldly, her scowl only hardening. "Are you able to satisfy my boy?"

Brigid crossed her own arms. "In every way. You know as well as I that we small ones can't just flash our big jugs or long legs. We have to know how to work it. And that I do."

Instead of looking embarrassed, Ellie then asked, "Do you plan on marrying my Cayden, Ms. O'Brien?"

Brigid stammered a bit. "I... I-I don't know. We're in the middle of a war, and we don't have much time to think of that. Besides... not like I have much of a reason to marry the son of a mother who has it in for me. I don't need no stereotypical wicked mother-in-law."

"Need I remind you, Brigid O'Brien, that me and my husband married in the middle of a war and we were all the more better for it, not to mention Cayden's aunts, and even your mother if I am correct. Hitch that boy as soon as you can, even if you don't actually plan on making the marriage official until you are both done. After all, engagements have lasted a long time." Elizabeth's face seemed to change, one almost unreadable to Brigid. "Do you really believe I have it in for you?"

Brigid's eyes darted away. "You sure sound like it. I thought my mother was hard Cayden, but you? They broke the mold when they made you, didn't they? And to think, when I was a kid..."

"Brigid, I love you like my own daughter." Ellie admitted, keeping a dignified look about her. "I always have, since you were just a little... Well, more little girl. You taught my husband how to raise a kid, and you have him companionship, and for that I was grateful." The woman let out a sigh, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "Seriously, how could you ever think otherwise? I am completely ecstatic you are with Cayden, you might as well already be a Walker."

"Then why do you sound so pissed?" Brigid asked with a huff.

"Because my dear old son has a place in his heart for another woman." A smile touched Ellie's lips, "Now go make him happy, and be sure to keep in touch." The woman said as a farewell, though right before she cut out she said, "And make me lots of grandkids!" The screen went dark.

"And she got the last word... damn." Brigid sighed and stood up, stepping out of the room. She gave him a pleasant smile to tell him it was okay.

Cayden let out a sigh of relief, turning so Brigid would follow. "So what did my parents say?"

"That we... we have their thumbs up. And asked for us to stay in touch. Your mom..." Brigid chuckled. "Your mom was asking for grandchildren, and your dad..." Brigid gave Cayden a serious look. "Your dad just plain loves you. And he hopes to... fix things with you. I'd like that too."

Cayden closed his eyes, shaking his head as he walked ahead of Brigid. He stayed in silence the whole time back to the room. "You don't understand, Brigid... I can't just forgive him. He's done too much, and done too little." Cayden threw himself onto his bed when he walked to his room, not bothering to close the door as he knew the woman would follow.

Brigid closed it for him, and climbed on top of him, sitting on his lap. "He's reaching out. He might surprise you. But... but it takes time. And that isn't what I want to think of right now."

Cayden stared up at Brigid with a hard look but it softened as he reached up and caressed her cheek. "We will see, and that is all I promise you, okay?"

"Okay. Now... your mother wants grandchild. I'm not ready for that... but..." The petite Irish woman undid the button on her pants. "...that doesn't mean we can't... practice."

Cayden smiled, putting his hands on her hips as he sat up and turned her over. "Day is still young, both of us are off and no one to bother us. Don't think we have actually taken the time to slow down and savor things a bit." He chuckled as he reached down, giving Brigid a long kiss, only stopping to say, "Did my mother give you the whole marriage routine? She tried doing that with my last girlfriend till she left, and... I already know you aren't ready for that step."

Brigid nodded. "I can see how that would scare away a woman with no interest I'm marrying you. But I'm not going anywhere. Take that how you will."

"I'll take it as an I do... But it will be our little secret. After all... We got a full lifetime as partners, this was just a bigger step to that goal." He grabbed her hand. "After all, you got the ring... I just needed the yes from you." The Walker smirked mischievously.


Game Master
Staff member
Friendly Proposals

In Orbit around Forseti (March 13th, 2044)
The Einherjar (1200 Hours)
Main Mess

Osto'Taminian took a drink of the bland nutritional drink, and waved a hand dismissively. It is all pointless. More things to further complicate an already complicated existence. These humans would benefit from giving it up and simply drinking these.

Still, the different dishes they can prepare are supposed to be quite enjoyable, Jesa'laramie countered. I heard that one of the former Overseers of Earth... for some place called Europe... he used to sample alien dishes, and quite enjoyed human food, no matter what stomach... problems... She stared in disbelief past her eating partner. You have got to be kidding me.

Osto looked back, noting the Humiliata walking towards them. Is she coming over here? He continued to stare as Volupta sat next to him with her own nutrient drink, as well as some fresh fruits and vegetables. What do you think you're doing?

"Enjoying my meal," Volupta answered, popping a cherry tomato into her mouth. "I thought, if we ate together..."

You are too late. Jesa folded her arms angrily. We have already spoke with all of the other Humiliata on the ship, and soon they will help tell everyone on the ship of your origin.

Of course... Osto smiled under his mask. We could be persuaded to tell them we made a mistake... were you to deliver...

"Several doses of tempaflouraentiline mixed with tetraferamethanol-7?" Volupta casually asked.

The other Humiliata were taken aback, Jesa only able to ask, W-what?

"That's what all those medical things you want are going to be mixed to make, right?" Volupta put down her fork and folded her hands. "I mean... there are plenty of smaller things that could be made, but that is the only thing that can be made evenly with the amounts you asked." She tapped her chin in thought. "Now... there isn't a big demand for it. Why risk stealing drugs, even through me, for something like that? Then I remembered one of the uses for it..."

You shut your mouth! Jesa jumped to her feet. You know not what you speak of!

Volupta smiled. "So it is you, Jesa'laramie."

Osto glared at her. You don't know what you're talking about. I suggest...

"Oh, but I do." Volupta leaned back, and popped another tomato in her mouth. "Bilon-tekido virus. Marked by rashes on the cranium and terrible headaches after prolonged use of psionics beyond the absolute minimum. Normal for children under two cycles. But rare among adults. From what I've read, there is quite the negative stigma attached to it as of late. It's humiliating. So much so, that rather then inform doctors of it, most Humiliata either suffer with it in silence... or find alternate means of dealing with it."

Jesa sat back down, looking away in shame. Osta clenched his four fists. If you think this is enough...

"You know, my friend Brigid has the friends and resources on board to find out the most interesting information. For example, Osto'Taminian, did you know that your mother worked directly under my grandfather? In fact, she was there for the final battle."

You have nothing on me!
Osto snapped. My mother refused to fight the humans, and that foul being that you share blood with drained her like a sponge!

"Still, there are those who would look down on you should they know your mother fought with the old Ethereal reign until the end, and others who would look down on you for having a mother who tried to turn on the old Ethereal reign at the last minute as a coward."

Both of the other Humiliata slumped their shoulders in defeat, and Jesa asked, What do you want from us?

Volupta pushed her tray away, looking excited. "I have a proposal for you. That android from the other day, the one made from the nanites, remember? Well, poor thing has an awful disposition when it comes to organics. Believes we are all incapable of significant change, including when it comes to excepting androids as equals. I bet It I could prove otherwise by taking you, two individuals how obviously have a low opinion of me, and changing you from hating me to being my friend by the end of the month."

The pair exchanged a glance, and Osto quickly nodded. If you swear to us you will not tell anyone our secrets, we will tell this android we are your friends.

And we will tell the others we were wrong about you. Please... just don't...

Volupta quickly raised her left hands. "Please. This isn't what I ask. I will let my secret get out. It is about time. And I do not want you to tell 37 we are friends unless it is true. All I ask is for a chance to earn your friendship. Give me until the end of the month, and regardless of what happens, I will never tell your secrets."

Again, the pair gave each other a concerned look, and Osto cautiously asked, And... what will be the judge of whether you have succeeded or not?

Volupta shuddered involuntarily, and replied, "If I lose our bet... I told 37 it may use my body however it wishes for twelve hours, the only assurance in that regards being that it probably won't kill me. If you still feel then what you feel now... you will have no problem turning me over. If I have succeeded, than you will honestly say you are my friends and save me from that fate."

And even if we turn you over to this... 37, you will not tell our secrets? Volupta nodded. Very well. We... accept your little...

"Great!" Volupta greedily finished her meal, and climbed to her feet. "I have the holo room reserved tomorrow. We're going to watch Ethereal Falling, a cinematic picture that is supposed to be staring some of the best Humiliata actors and actresses on Earth! Can't wait!"

Volupta rushed off to make the preparations. Osto gave Jesa a worried look. Are we sure about this?

Jesa slowly shrugged. We do not have much of a choice. This month is already half over. We simply need to play along... and bide our time...


Operator 21O
Staff member
DarkGemini24601and MarineAvenger:“Sibling Scuffle”

High Orbit over Forseti (May 10th, 2044)
The Einherjar (1521 Hours A.S.T.)
Floor 14: Wing A (Exalt Quarters)

Vindicta ran her hands through her hair, the light patter of water from the shower head easing her apprehension a little. Not much, though. The conversation with her brother - who had just returned to the two's room - that she had put off could no longer be avoided. Vindicta finished rinsing the faintly orange-scented shampoo out of her snow white hair (the dye was water repellent and only a special chemical could remove it) and stepped onto the bathmat.

The shower ceased as it registered she was no longer within its confines. The psionic scientist dried herself off with a towel, wrapping her hair up in a smaller one since it took longer to dry. She picked up a set of clothes she had chosen prior to her evening bath. The Australian woman put on a matching set of simple sky blue underwear, and then a pair of navy blue cotton pants that both complemented and contrasted the loose white shirt she slipped over her head.

Taking a deep breath, Vindicta turned the knob on the door, and walked into the main sleeping quarters she shared with her brother, sighting Mark on the bed. "Do you mind if we have a talk?" she asked, silently cursing herself for not figuring out a better way to articulate her opening sentence.

Mark, who looked up at his sister, was wearing just a simple pair of black shorts and light gray shirt. He had a curious look on his face but kept his tone neutral when he asked, "What for?"

"It's about our relationship... between the tension and anger you've shown in casual conversation, the tendency for you to avoid me, and your suspicions that I meant Tabitha harm raise the question of why you have been so upset with me lately. Have I done something to earn your ire that I am unaware of?" Vindicta explained and inquired.

"No." He quickly said, turning in his bed so his back was to his sister. "I am tired." Mark said as a lie.

Vindicta sighed in exasperation. "That's a terrible excuse if I've ever heard one. You've been tired for over a month, have you?"

"I've been working very hard." He responded, turning and sitting up with an annoyed fashion. "There is nothing wrong. There, happy?"

"If there was nothing then you wouldn't be getting irritated," Vindicta concluded. "Just talk to me. There's no reason to be stubborn when we could be resolving an issue."

"There is nothing to solve Vindicta. I don't know where this is coming from. Not like you cared before."

"So you think I don't care then?"

"No, because you care so deeply about your dear younger brother." Mark said with a roll of his eyes, looking away and crossing his arms.

"I do, actually, contrary to what you might believe. I enjoyed meeting your girlfriend and I'm happy that you found someone, and if I didn't care I would just brush off your concerns and wouldn't be talking to you here and now," Vindicta pressed.

"Oh and what a saint you are for doing so!" He said with a raised voice, now visibly upset.

Vindicta narrowed her eyes. "If you're going to continue to be like an angry brick walk hen you owe me an explanation for why at the very least."

"It's because you a condescending, arrogant individual who has no awareness of those around her!" Mark spat out to his sister, his face feeling the burn of embarrassment and anger.

Vindicta paled as if she had been stabbed through the chest by an extended switchblade. "That's... what you think of me?"

"Yes!" He added, though after giving it some thought he looked down. "I mean no... I mean..." Mark squeezed his arm hard. "You have no idea what it's like living in your shadow."

"Because you're younger?" Vindicta shook her head. "It can't be that, you know mother doesn't give a damn about seniority."

"It's because of everything!" Mark pressed, "You have the psionics, you have the friends, you had Avanix, I know our mother and our aunts liked you best, and you passed college while I..." He froze as if getting a knife in the throat.

"Psionics aren't something many people have. That's hardly something to detest not having." Vindicta sat down on her own bed shakily. "The female members of our family interacted with me more because they were the same sex, nothing more." She petted a worried-looking Emily. "And you realize I'm the only member of our family so far to attend college, right? None of the older generation did, and Vee's daughter... you know what happened to her."

"Yes... It is regretable but her own fault." Mark shook his head. "And you are wrong... You were not the only one to attend college..."

"I know you did. I'm sayimg that Exalts not finishing is not all that unusual."

"I didn't just... drop out... because I wanted to... I... I failed my classes Vindicta... I wasn't smart enough to pass. I kept my grades from Mother and Dad... I wasn't good enough!" He said through tightly clenched teeth, hanging his head low. "That's why I kill myself at work everyday... Because I wasn't as smart as was expected of an Exalt..."

"Yet you made it into the XSDF as a chief correspondent between the engineering and scientific departments. Is that not an achievement to take pride in?" vindicta insisted.

"A position I have to claw my way through everyday because I need to work so hard in order to keep up standards you could keep with a quarter of the effort." Mark covered his face with a hand. "The only reason I joined the XSDF was because I was jealous they extended a position to you... You've always outshone me... You've always made me feel inferior... And then you brag about it to rub it in my face..."

Vindicta crossed her arms. "That's ridiculous. You're honestly trying to tell me that your feelings of inferority are somehow my fault for having an easier time at work than you do? And that I shouldn't be allowed to take pride in my work just because it irritates you?" The woman shook her head. "We're at war, Mark. I'm going to do my job, and if you aren't willing to do yours because of that, then you could have easily chosen to stay on Earth in the first place."

Mark shook his head, turning on his bed so he sat on the edge. "I don't blame you for me feeling inferior, I'm afraid you won't see me as an equal or love me as much because I am that way. I love my sister, I always have... But sometimes I feel like that isn't mutual."

Vindicta's expression softened. "Well, that's ludicrous. I don't think less of you - and won't - no matter what our comparative success might be."

"I just... I've been so worried ever since we were younger that you would forget about me, that I had to prove myself to you. So when I failed, and you were doing so well... I felt like I would not be able to reach out to you again, and when you were planning to leave I panicked. Everything I've done was to impress you, to get your respect..." Mark looked down, covering his face.

Vindicta got up from her bed, going over to Mark and wrapping her arms around him. "Don't be absurd. I would never forget about my brother," she spoke quietly, softly.

After a while he reached up and Mark tightly wrapped his arms around his sister, for once allowing himself to cry.

"I love you, Mark," Vindicta mumbled. "I may have given off a bad impression with how I've treated you in the past, but I do."

Mark kissed his sister in the cheek, putting his head in her shoulder. "That's all I wanted to hear from you. I'm sorry I acted so coldly with you... I just kept thinking how much I thought you were being an inconsiderate show off that I didn't see you a actually cared."

"And I do... recognize that is my fault. Partially, at least,” Vindicta admitted.

Mark pulled away from his sister, wiping his eyes when he said, "But... We can work together to be better with one another. It seems you are really the only one I can truly rely on."

Vindicta raised an eyebrow. "I think Tabitha might be a little insulted if she heard that."

"Tabitha..." Mark sounded extremely saddened. "Things between me and her... I think... they might be going downhill... We barely talk anymore, and when we do, it is nothing meaningful... She might be a good friend but... I think our relationship might be..."

Vindicta frowned. "She might just be busy, you know. Don't give up so quickly on that..."

"I love her... But am I just being paranoid? I want to trust her but what if she found another man... Or is she is just growing bored? I don't want to lose her. What should I do?"

"Spend more time with her," Vindicta replied simply. "Have her make time, and make time yourself. That's the only way you can reasonably assess the status of your relationship."

Mark smiled, reaching out and holding Vindicta's hand. "Alright sister... I am... Really grateful for you.”

Vindicta returned the expression. "Just... come to me if you have problems in the future. Don't bottle up your frustrations."

"I promise." Mark said with a smile,reaching out to touch his sister's cheek.
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BlackOut & Mangrale: "Bolts and Booze, Part 1"

XSDF Battleship Einherjar
Ship Bar
May 12, 2044, 6:10 PM

The warm, relaxing lighting and atmosphere of the bar attracted many near the end of a hard day's work. But It was a place that Narcisse himself didn't frequent, only ever going at the suggestion of his friends. But this time, he worked up the nerve to go himself, despite the odd looks he may have received from others.

The main counter however, at this point in time, was just a little out of his comfort level. Therefore, with a bottle of biere de garde in hand, he took a seat at a table by the wall, ensuring that he needn't be completely aware of all 360 degrees around him.

Wolfe walked in, a worn-out look on his face. I'm exhausted from training...feel like I got hit with a truck. Moving to a table near Narcisse, Wolfe collapsed into the booth, putting one of his hands over his eyes.

Narcisse was vaguely aware of the man, but it was the heavy thud from his sitting that alerted the pilot, and he turned his head to examine the medic. His large build combined with the unique coloration of one of his synthetic arms, ensured an elongated stare from the airman.

Lifting his hand from his face, Thomas caught Narcisse's gaze. Irritated, Wolfe snapped, "Staring is rude, you know... " Are you kidding me?! I get to deal with this after training?!

Narcisse was very much surprised, his fight or flight response working as usual. Yet, with so much on his mind, his voice didn't carry as much of the anxiety that even he would expect of himself. "My apologies, sir..." he said relatively calmly, waving his pitch black hand at the man. "I was... distracted. It won't happen again..." He sighed loudly, now understanding a little how it felt to be the one staring for a change.

Noticing the black hand, Wolfe called out to the pilot, a bit kinder, "Android or Cyborg?" Maybe he has trouble talking to other cyborgs? If he is a cyborg...

His nerves suitably assuaged, Bellrose took a long swig of his beverage, subtly grateful at how the situation hadn't escalated. He turned back to Thomas, carefully. "Um, cyborg..."

Wolfe frowned, "How'd you lose it? A mission?" The medic asked.

Narcisse mulled the question over, somewhat amused that he thought it was just his arm. "No, not in a mission, long before, when I was a child." He held up his other hand of the same design. "Just... an old accident."

Wolfe raised an eyebrow. "An accident? When you were a kid that took both of your arms? Care to elaborate on that?"

"Not especially..." Narcisse muttered quietly. After a second, he dddressed the medic. "Just... when I was a child, I was part of an... experiment. There was an explosion. I don't... remember a lot of it, but... the flames... burned off much of my body."

The cyborg's expression softened, "I'm sorry for making you relive a shitty part of your life. Just answer one question: Why were you staring at me like I was some strange alien that you hadn't seen before?" The medic asked quietly.

"Huh, I'm sorry... Just had a lot on my mind." Bellrose passed an amused bit of air through his nose. "I just came from simulation training with a friend. He almost got shot down during Operation Uninvited Guest, so I decided to start practicing with him."

Wolfe tilted his head, "And, this simulation and your buddy, caused you to stare at me? Huh..." Thomas trailed off, becoming slightly more irritated. A waiter passed by and received Thomas' order and promptly walked away. Seriously? A half-ass excuse? Thomas thought.

Narcisse sighed somberly, not a fan of what may happen next. "Well, the thought of having one of my friends be in danger... and the unique pattern of your arm... never saw something like that before."

The waiter returned with a bottle of white wine and two glass, placing it on Wolfe's table before moving away to attend to the other patrons. Taking the wine, Wolfe poured it into one of the glasses. Placing the cup at the other end, the medic motioned for the other cyborg to join him. "It's a custom job. Had some upgrades that improved the functionality of both arms. I, however, made and built the design for my right arm. The techs here built my left." The big man explained.

Narcisse nodded, very interested. He then slowly carried his cup, placing it aside on the table in favor of the cup Thomas offered before sitting down. "Ah I see... And how, if you don't mind me asking, have you lost your arms," he asked apprehensively.

Wolfe smiled grimly, "I lost my right one in the Subjugation War and the other during this war. Specifically, Operation Incipient Barrage. was out for a while...

"Hmm..." Narcisse rubbed his chin in thought. "I believe... I might remember..." His eyes widened in surprise. "Aren't you the one who got hit by that cannon fire?..." His joy over managing to remember then gave way to a concerned face. "Oh, I'm sorry..."

Wolfe waved his hand, "I'm over it. Nothing good comes from remembering stuff like that. I got a question, are you a soldier, scientist, or are you an engineer?" the big man asked.

Bellrose raised an eyebrow, his hand moving over his chest in surprise. "Oh me? I'm none of those... I'm a fighter pilot, a member of Penguin Squadron."

Wolfe nodded, "An airman. or should I say, a spaceman. Interesting. What made you want to join the space corps?" The medic asked.

Narcisse took the question seriously, tenuously gripping the edge of the table in front of him. "I am especially skilled at piloting... only natural I should be here..." His eyes turned aside, thinking of something unpleasant.

Wolfe chuckled, "I think I could help you out with a second career: Experienced Wine-taster!" The medic said. Noticing that the other cyborg was distant, Wolfe asked quietly, "Something wrong?"

Narcisse looked up to the augmented medic, smirking despite himself. "Well seeing the war we're in... It may be better to ask, what isn't wrong," he laughed softly. He eyed the white wine before him, but it wasn't his own questionable constitution that made him anxious. "It... it's not important." The french cyborg uneasily held his cup in between his hands, fidgeting. "Just nervous is all... Kinda pathetic that I should be after all this time..." he said, but then gave a tentative smile. "It'll pass..."

Wolfe frowned, "What is causing you to be nervous? If it causes you to lose your concentration, especially if it happens in battle, the results could be disastrously bad." The big man stated.


BlackOut & Mangrale: "Bolts and Booze, Part 2"

Narcisse nodded somberly. "I know that..." he stated, leaning his head atop his right hand, elbow on the table silent for a minute. "I wasn't always this way," he began, only then remaking eye contact. "Back on the Arkbird, when I engaged the enemy... I didn't pay mind to the pirates I shot down. Maybe it was easier for me to ignore it, not seeing the people die themselves... just their crafts." The younger cyborg sighed, disinclined to continue. "But that has changed since I've been on this assignment..." He didn't elaborate, not needing to, given the engagements thus far.

Wolfe grabbed the bottle and poured himself a second glass. "Because your comrades have died, while you watched. You lost your ability to be apathetic to other airmen dying, as you felt firsthand how it felt to lose your allies." Taking a sip from his wine, Wolfe continued, "Did I make an accurate assumption of how you felt?"

"Yeah..." Narcisse said, immediately muttering almost inaudibly: "That's certainly part of it..." while he finally got his cup to his lips, letting a small sample of the clear liquid pass down his throat. "I thought I'd be able to brush these feelings aside, like everyone else..." He looked to the medic. "Can I ask how do you deal with it, Mister...?"

Wolfe sighed, putting his wine glass down. "How do I deal with it? I don't. And I bet you won't be able to get over it either. Dealing with a fallen ally means thinking about what that person was to you." The older cyborg responded, looking far older than what he actually was. "They were a part of a family. Your family. And you'll find that they never fade from your memory. The pain you feel will change you, for better or worse, as watching them perish is like watching a sibling die. But the pain will fade away and it will become dull, but it will never truly go away. My advice? Live on for them." Thomas said sagely, grabbing his glass and taking a sip.

Narcisse moved his hands under his glasses and over his face for a minute, silently. When he finished, his sight didn't leave the table. "My allies and friends are like my family, aren't they?..." he said weakly. "I worry about them, so much... Maybe too much... I don't want to lose anyone. I've already lost..." The Frenchman shook his head slowly and gloomily, breathing in deeply. "But I'm of no use to them if I continue to hesitate..." He put his right hand over his left palm, both on the table, looking over them wistfully. "It was foolish of me to think I could be a part of this, and not make sacrifices," he muttered to himself.

Wolfe put his drink down, reached across the table, and put his hand on the younger cyborg's shoulder. "No. You entered in like most soldiers: confident, cocky, and brave. What you're going through is the first part of being a true soldier: dealing with casualties. And you will break, just like everyone else. And there is nothing wrong with mourning. Even the most stoic soldier cries behind closed doors when that happens. When you fly, you fly to honor their memory." Wolfe said quietly.

Narcisse was startled at he man's touch, jumping a little in his seat. But he still looked up to Thomas, smiling warmly. "'Confident, cocky, and brave'. I doubt those words could ever really describe me." The pilot patted the man's arm at the wrist. "I know it'll be hard... in many ways... But I'll continue to fight for the Einherjar, no matter how I break. Thank you, Mister... Um, can you please remind me of your name again. I forgot to ask." he added, embarrassed that he forgot to inquire earlier.

Wolfe returned the smile, "Name's Wolfe. Thomas Wolfe. I don't think I quite got your name either, Mr...?" The medic asked.

"My name is Narcisse Bellrose." he said, taking another sip of his white wine. "It's good to meet you, Mr. Wolfe."

"Same, Mr. Rose." Wolfe said with a smile. Remembering that he had forgotten his drink, Wolfe promptly grabbed his glass, taking another sip from it.

Narcisse let out a breath, it now ripe with the scent of the wine, before breathing back in to aerate his mouth. He was clearly unaccustomed to higher brands of alcohol. "You have... any friends or family aboard?" he asked, before lightly coughing to clear his throat.

Wolfe opened his mouth to respond, then, closed it, thinking about his answer. "I...have a daughter aboard the ship. Soldier like me. Destroyer class. She even scares me sometimes." Wolfe said, the pride showing on his face.

"There's someone that scares you?!" Narcisse responded lightheartedly, finding the idea very hard to believe. "I hope I never meet her under the wrong circum-(sniff) circumstances," he added in amusement.

Wolfe chuckled, "Well, as long as you don't hurt yourself or others aboard this ship, I'm pretty sure you could get along." The older cyborg stated. "I mean if you do piss her off, which could be very hard or very easy, the worst that could happen would probably be her throwing you threw a wall. But, hey, we're cyborgs. We're more durable than the average person." The medic said with a grin, trying to freak Narcisse out.

It worked partially, Narcisse shuddering, though his smile didn't falter. He knew his own track record in regards his safety and others. "So-somehow... I don't like my chances..." he said, the affects of the wine starting to show themselves on his manner. "Must be-(sniff) must be nice being stationed together..."

Wolfe, upon noticing his companion being drunk snatched Narcisse's glass and the wine bottle. "Yeah, it's pretty nice... when I lost my arm in the Incipient Barrage mission, she waited for me to wake up in the hospital, refusing to leave me alone. She is one of the best daughters an old man like me could have." The medic replied, eyeing the pilot carefully, in case Narcisse decided he wasn't done drinking.

Narcisse chuckled and rubbed his eyes, having a good time all the same. "Yeah, I'd say that's al-(hic) all I could handle at the moment. I apol-(hic) apolo-(hic) I'm sorry... Must be weird to see someone french and who can't han-(sniff) handle his wine." He folded his arms on the table, resting his head on them, smiling drowsily at Wolfe. "She sounds wonderrrful! And you are one terrific father..." the young cyborg pointed a wavy, playful finger at him. "Never leave her side (sniff)... that does things to people (mumbles)..." he blurted before tilting his head on his right arm and resting his eyes.

Wolfe tilted his head at the airman's words. What did he mean by "that does things to people"? Maybe...maybe he's referring to himself? something that happened either before or after his childhood accident? Man, I think too much. Should probably finish this wine off... but the lightweight needs to get to his room... With a sigh, the older cyborg put down the wine bottle and the two glasses. Standing up, the big man started gently nudging the drunken airman, hoping he didn't have to carry him to the lounge, before looking for a tech person who could tell the medic where Narcisse's room was located.

Roused out of what could have been a lengthy nap, Narcisse put a hand over his mouth as he yawned and made an attempt to leave his seat but had to sit back down at the edge, rubbing his eyes. "Anja'll never let me hear the (hic) hear the end of this if she found out... But ah, wouldn't be me if... I didn't do something stupid now annn..." he lost his blissful train of thought in his second go at standing, which was more successful, although he needed the table for support.
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BlackOut & Mangrale: "Bolts and Booze, Part 3"

Sighing at the drunken display, Wolfe went over to the young cyborg and placed the airman's arm over his shoulder. Dammit...Korra's making me light-hearted. Might as well continue this ray of sunshine, maybe let him sleep it off at my place. I could head over to Jelani's... The medic thought, shaking his head slightly. Deciding to follow through with his plan, the older cyborg began leading Narcisse out of the bar, saying "If your friend is going to hold this over you're head, I could let you have my room for the night. I got a friend who'll let me stay at his place." And if not, I'll just sleep on the gym's floor. Wouldn't be the worse place I've slept. Bonus points if I get sent to the brig. I...have apparently become sentimental in my old age, to even think of brig time for a guy I just met. I hope Jel will let me stay at his place for the night. "What do you think, Rose? Yay or Nay?"

Narcisse had a cheery, aimless smile on the whole time, giggling as he tried to focus on the perceived new, blurring environment around him. "Hmm? Ah don't worry (hic) about a thing! I have my own room..." he said before making a childish 'swish' sound in conjunction with the automatic doors as they exited the bar and again when it closed behind them. "It'sss better for everyone that way..." he mumbled sleepily. "I just gotta... remember where the (hic)... it is, uuhhh..." It was obvious he had forgotten where his room was.

Ahh, hell. Dammit, wish I didn't have my morals...a year ago, I'd just leave him at the bar, not caring if he hurt himself or others. Now, I feel like I need to assist him. "Alright, let's go to your room, Rose." The medic said, leading the inebriated man to his room. "Hey, Rose? What happened to you when you were younger?" Thomas asked, hoping he could keep Narcisse moving and awake.

"Hmm?" Narcisse rubbed his temple with his free hand, futilely trying to get his head together. "Oh?!" He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper with directions to his room and weakly handed it to Wolfe. "I almost forgot..." The inebriated man sported a triumphant smirk. "See? I can be reso-(hic) resource-(hic) clever... and nobody hasss ta die..."

..."Nobody has to die"? Yep, that confirms it. This man is the biggest lightweight I've ever met, divulging secrets like that, with only a couple glasses of cheap wine. That reminds me of that Russian girl from Greyhound squad. Zova, Zoya, Zara, something like that. Big lightweight too. The medic thought lightheartedly. Now I have to decide whether to help Narcisse to his room or let him crash at mine. Wolfe studied the directions, noting Narcisse's room was a bit farther than his own. Deciding to follow the directions, Wolfe stared at the directions, making sure he knew where the airman's room was, so he focus on helping Narcisse to his room. After a moment, Wolfe folded the note up and stuck it inside of his left hand, where his gauss pistol was stored.

Upon reaching the barracks, Wolfe groaned, realizing that his companion had lost consciousness again. There is no way that I can drag this guy to his room! He more cybernetically enhanced than I am! It looks like his whole body is modified. That settles it then. I'll let Rose have my room for a night. The medic thought. He headed towards his room, hoping that Narcisse would wake up again.

A jostle on Wolfe's part ended Narcisse's trip to dreamland abruptly, and the young frenchman swiveled his head to take in the unfamiliar hallway, not that he could distinguish much, all things considered. With the medic's help, he straightened his legs the best he could, and continued on, groggy but otherwise compliant. "There'sssomethin I was supposs... remember..." he muttered quietly as he scratched his increasingly messy hair.

Wolfe opened the door to his room, ushering the drunken man in. "Yeah, what were you suppose to remember?" The older cyborg asked.

At this point, Narcisse was beyond the point in which he'd be able to realize that this was not his room. The floor itself seemed too enticing a place to sleep. So the drunk nudged himself from Wolfe's grasp and plopped on the floor, with barely enough mind to get comfortable, his right hand to cushion his head and uttered the words: "... the note..." before falling asleep.

Wolfe sighed, then moved over towards his bed to grab a pillow and blanket for the French airman. After making sure that Narcisse was sleeping on a pillow and had a blanket, the medic sat on a chair in a corner of the room, slightly exhausted from carrying Narcisse. A note. Huh...I don't have a...wait. Wolfe opened the slot on his left hand and grabbed the directions. Unfolding it, Wolfe peered on the front of the paper, to see what Narcisse meant. He then turned it over to see if there was anything on the back of the paper.

What he found was a text in deliberate but very legible handwriting.

If you are reading this, then assuredly, I must have taken a quality of liqueur way out of my league. If I had, in any way made a complete embarrassment of myself, then you have my sincerest apologies.

I do, however, recognize that you may be one of two types of people.

I know I may have rubbed some individuals the wrong way for various reasons, either by how I’ve acted or how I may appear. If you wish to do me harm, I cannot stop you. But please do not hurt the other beings on this ship. They have done nothing to you. If you cannot control your violent tendencies, then I will accept them upon myself, always. You now know where I sleep at night as well.

But if that is not the case with you, and I hope it isn’t, you may be a complete stranger to me, or a good friend. I know which of those I prefer. At any rate, whoever you are to me, you are not obligated to do anything because of my decisions. You may leave if you wish. Just don’t steal this note. I may need it later as you can imagine. If however, you feel compelled to help me to my room, then you have my deepest gratitude. I’m sorry for burdening you so. Once you reach my room, if you could drop me on the ground and leave, that will be satisfactory. I’ll handle the rest.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who you are or in what state I wake up in. Whatever’s left of me will continue to fight for you, even if we should never meet again. Am I taking a stupid risk? Of course. But I have faith in this ship and its people to let me continue to fight for them.

If you wish to injure me, please remember that I do not hold anything against you. I was like you once. So please try and find the thing in your life that gives you peace and hold on to it. I think you’ll find that with it, there is no need to be afraid.

If you wish to help me, I cannot express how happy that makes me. I apologize for the trouble I’ve caused. This is one of those debts that I could never repay. You are the sort of person I’ll especially fight for. So thank you.

Thank you for taking care of me.


Well-Known Member
"Double Dipper Prologue"

Fleet Coordinator Addington Khumalo leaned back slightly in his chair, indulging himself to a little of his creamy marula liquor. The South African glanced up from the glass to regard the two women with him, debating something in good humor.

“I’m telling you, those damn Electric Rays must be a sore sight to Pelican Squadron,” Anja Jollenbeck insisted, slapping her beer mug down with an audible ‘thwack’ and grinning widely. “I mean, the Stingrays are archaic single cannon fighters. They might as well be firing peas with those little guns of theirs.”

“Those ‘little guns’ are no better or worse than what the rest of the Einherjar’s fighter compliment uses,” Phoebe Appleton replied smoothly. “Understandably, the Stingrays aren’t as heavily armored or shielded. I suggest you don’t point that out to Pelican’s leader though.” The Englishwoman smiled slightly. “He’d bust up either you or your bird.”

Anja rolled her eyes. “Yeah, he’d have to go for the latter. I know you don’t honestly think some flyboy could land a hit on me with only the rage of his craft being insulted to guide his blows.” She glanced over at Addington. “Besides, I’m right, aren’t I? The stingrays are being phased out of the Einherjar’s hangers, aren’t they?”

Addington chuckled, placing down his glass with more restraint than Anja had. “I cannot confirm nor deny-”

“Don’t give me that shit.”

The Fleet Coordinator raised an eyebrow. “You may be my friend, Jollenbeck… but do try to maintain some level of respect.” All that got was a ‘pfft’, and Addington shook his head helplessly. “You’re not entirely wrong. We did give some of our excess to the moonbase and the aerial forces on Forseti itself. But we’re not phasing them out completely until we get all of our shipments of new craft in, and an interior shipyard up and running.”

Anja groaned. “So we’re going to be compensating for crappy fighters for over a month? Dammit, that sucks…”

“They won’t be entirely out of date if we can get the ENSI system up and running on all of our craft,” Phoebe contested.

“You say that, but it takes the aerospace engineers six hours to outfit one damn craft,” Anja complained. “They’ve only got flight leaders outfitted with those, so you don’t get to talk.” Phoebe simply smiled and shrugged at that. Anja sighed and looked back at Addington. “Tell them to work harder… I want to pilot my craft with my brain too, you know.”

“I would have you pegged as someone who enjoys consoles and joysticks,” Addington said incredulously.

“Not when I can’t score any damn kills compared to fancy newfangled systems,” was the German’s reply.

“Fair enough.” Addington replied, before the PA system came online with a mechanical whirr and ding.

“Proximity alert triggered,” EBIS intoned in an even tone. “Enemy capital ships have been detected: orange alert initiated. All command staff, please report to the bridge. Gunners to battle stations; pilots to corresponding hangars.”

Addington’s eyes widened, and he quickly got up from his chair. “Shit! Battleships?”

“That sounds like more than just a raid…” Phoebe said with a worried tone. “You’d better head up to the bridge,” she reiterated, before grabbing Anja and running off towards the hangar containing the Seraphs.


Addington exited the elevator, quickly running up to the command console where the Commander was. “How bad is it?” he asked breathlessly.

“Two size 1 battleships, and a size 2, escorted by six carriers,” Frederick replied grimly. “And that was just the initial proximity alarm. The Jupiter detected another size one with a pair of carriers coming from a different direction, and has been dispatched with Beatbox Squadron and Heater Squadron - as well as their own - to deal with the threat. It’s up to the Einherjar and just about everything she has to hold off the rest.”

“...we need orbital defenses…” Addington deadpanned.

“Believe me, I wish we had the resources to have something significant like that built,” Frederick agreed. “But for now, I suggest you take charge of the Einherjar’s compliment. I’ll monitor the overall battle… and ensure the Central Officer prepares a boarding team.”

“Planning on trying to gangplank one of the enemy battleships, sir?”

Frederick nodded. “Take the known enemy out of the equation. The other size 1 and the size 2 aren’t familiar, but we have an idea of the layout of the Slipstream battleship. We’ll send a boarding crew there to take it out of commission quickly.”

“How do you plan on getting past the defensive batteries and shields, though…” Addington trained off, smirking. “You plan on having the Shifters use those, don’t you?”

“They’re already armed. We just need to allow them to get within range without the enemy suspecting they’re coming for them,” Frederick explained.

“Understood. I’ll go ahead and deploy the fighters preemptively then.” Addington sat down at his command chair, bringing up his overview. He confirmed that all the pilots had reached their ships after a waiting time of 49 seconds, and then gave his orders. “Hanger A, Hanger B, open. Phoenix Squadron, Penguin Squadron, deploy.” The Firestorms and Seraphs left their nesting grounds, and took up formation above the Einherjar. “Hanger C, Hanger D, Hangar E, open. Pelican Squadron, Mantid Squadron, deploy.” The Einherjar’s 16 stingrays and 2 Novahawks exited and took up formation below the Einherjar.

“Finally, Hangar G, open and deploy the Automated Electric Rays,” Addington concluded, the K’mitra-piloted craft taking up a position below the Einherjar’s bow. And now we wait…

The Einherjar and her crew didn’t have to stay in suspense long. A Size 2 Battleship looking like an elongated, rectangular monolith with blocky triangular wings bristling with defensive batteries exited warp escorted by a pair of sleek red-and-gray carriers. Below it and to the left was another unfamiliar battleship, this one jet black and seeming like a modified human design. And above and to the right of the Size 2 came the second Size 1 Battleship, a Slipstream Hijacker craft. Both of the Size Ones, as expected, were escorted by a pair of carriers, bringing the amount of capital ships up to nine.

The Einherjar stood alone against a roughly equal-sized ship, two smaller battleships, and half a dozen carriers. Addington sucked in a breath, steeling himself for what was to come. “Phoenix, you’ll be responsible for combating the best of the enemy’s fighter craft. Penguin, I need you to do your best to take out the unknown S1 and its carrier escort. Novahawks and Pelican will be supporting Pacific Wing, and I highly advise the Stingrays stay in that posture. You won’t be able to take the beating that the Firestorms, Novahawks, and Einherjar can.”

Addington closed his eyes for a moment. “The Electric Rays will be defending the Einherjar if the enemy come directly for us. As for the four Mantid Stingrays… you join up with the Shifters in harassing the Slipstream battleship… which should be having a hard time just about now.”

The Slipstream Battleship suddenly detected a group of four Shifters coming out of warp around it. Three of them unleashed their large missile sets onto the ship, staggered after two missiles were fired from the fourth and destroyed by flak batteries. Five of the silver missiles impacted with the shields of the enemy battleship, and with blue-white pulses collapsed the shields and caused half of the battleships systems to go dark.

Expensive, but at least we got a good use out of those EMP missiles we’d been working on… Addington thought to himself. “There’s our opening! Pacific Wing and attaches, go now! There’s no time to waste!” The Fleet Coordinator urged, the fighters accelerating after their designated targets, while the four Mantid Stingrays followed a pair of Vanguard Dropships as they headed for the temporarily defanged Slipstream command ship.