"I prefer to go by both." Lime was a little surprised with the question then again I guess when someone was demi-sexual they were more inclined to ask. Not that Lime had any trouble with it.
"Nice to meet you and no need for the drowned rooms, I'm wet enough for now.
You think humans will ever figure out that one something tried to eat you you should just eat it back." Crelm joke Anderson probably wouldn't have found it funny.
"So how long have you known each other?"
Kalade offered her hand, it was pretty normal just a little scaly.
Looking around she checked no one else was in the vicinity.
"So have you told anyone you're not human?"
Gabriel was slightly in shock that someone had discovered that he wasn't human, but decided to test the Lallow's knowledge. He first gave a courteous smile, and then spoke in a rather calm manner.
"What proof do you have, that I am not human?" Gabriel then sat down at a near by table, gesturing Kalade to sit down with him.
"Well there are a few reasons.
For one you smell totally wrong, it's pretty obvious you aren't producing pheromones beyond ones that are obviously fake. Enough to fool durras who haven't got much experience or humans but not me.
Also I'm sensitive to electromagnetic impulses your muscles and brain waves are totally off.
Also I'm an Ai doctor, your behaviour is text book.
I mean you're advanced sure, fascinating even. I'd really be grateful for a chance to study you, I might even be too distracted to tell anyone what you are.
"Have you met Lisa?"
Gabriel smirked, impressed with the Lallow reasons. "Fair enough. The reasons good, I should probably get those looked at, could probably do with a tune up. I'm, surprised you didn't point out that I don't look like a usual human, what with the tanned skin, golden eyes, and white hair and all that." He remarked, taking a brief moment as his right arm. His focus soon returned to Kalade.
"Whilst I haven't met Lisa, I certainly have interacted with her. Remember when she was taking those Norg orbital weapons offline? Well, you could say I-" He then leaned over to whisper something to Kalade. "-helped her out with them. Don't tell her that though." Gabriel then went back to his original seating position, and clasped his hands.
"Your right, I am advanced; but also one of a kind. My 'parents' as it were, are no longer part of the equation that makes up the universe, at least in a living sense. He then chuckled slightly, with a slight hint of sadness as the end, showing sorrow for what had happened all those years ago. Gabriel then looked at her boldly.
"So, what do you wish to know? Be warned, whatever I speak, must remain between us; think of it as the price for such knowledge. The others will know in time, as long as a certain A.I doesn't inform them beforehand." Gabriel then said in a rather cold demeanour, referring to Lisa at the end.
James and several other engineers walked through the New Terra's sub-surface laughing. They were on their way to a bar which was, according to Rivers, of the highest quality. The pilot had made a full recovery from his head injury on Earth, and was in fact the jolliest among the group, both taking and giving jokes with a wide smile. James guessed that he was just happy to be alive after Earth. Honestly, none of us have any right to be alive. James though, his mind wandering to the incident a few days ago on the water-world. He still was against taking the colonists aboard, as he hadn't thought that the quarantine would hold. But it had, and James considered himself and his crew mates fortunate. He still distrusted the assassin they had picked up, but the Captain didn't seem to worry about it, and James had tried to follow his example. But despite himself, James still felt that something was off about the man.
James heard the communicator on his belt go off, and snapped himself out of his thoughts. A glance at the display revealed that Lisa was the one calling him. I'm on shore leave. What could it possibly need? he thought as he keyed the devise. "What is it?" he said into it.
"James, Captain Murray of the Pious King would like to see you at the local Space Naval office." Lisa's voice chimed from the communicator for all hear. "He said it was urgent."
James tried to remember what kind of ship the Pious King was. He believed it was one of the SU's new humanitarian aid vessels, designed to help people suffering from any kind of catastrophe. "What does he want me for?" he asked Lisa.
"He did not say. Only that it was very important."
James signed. He never liked to be left out of the big picture. "Alright, thank you." he said, and turned off the communicator. He turned to his comrades. "I'll meet up with you guys later. Hughs, make sure this fool doesn't smack his head against anything." he said with a point to Rivers and a smile. With that, James turned away while the others burst into laughter.
A shadowy figure walks out of a hospital bedazzled by such a view as he takes in and begins to comprehend the sight witnessed before him. This, here. A new planet. He's made it.
Although still drowsy from the recovery after being found by the SU, suspended in space encased within a small pod.
The figure begins to explore looking high and low at what he finds fascinating, with some people giving him a strange eye as he carelessly investigates. A sudden gleam catches his eye.
With a rapid turn of the head to check the new find, the sharp ray of light reveals half of his face, a mask. Making out two charcoal black engraved dashes representing the eyes upon the dark grey template along with the light catching part of another longer dash symbolising a mouth.
Without much hesitation the figure darts across the land to unveil the spectacle from which the light reflects.
There before him settled a grounded ship of simply class design, seeming fairly modern with cutting edge aesthetics. For a few seconds the figure gazed, stunned by the sight. Is this what he was looking for?
With quick, enthusiastic analysation of the surroundings which held this wonder the figure looks for a sign. Then realising that the ship shared similar features with the one which found him bound in space.
Eager anticipation causes him to pace towards and then around the ship as he inspects the fine detail. Some time passes as he continues to study the fine craftmanship.
"Oh, I've known Tom for about five, maybe six years now. Used to do field work before I decided my career could do without the threat of death. I stuck with the Corps, but I'm on the office end of things now. I remember the first time we met. What was the name of the place? Tenegra?"
Tom turned away. "Oh not this story again. Yes, it was Tenegra."
"Oh good. So anyways, Tom and I are put in the same shuttle on the way down. It's his first mission, and he's a little nervous. So you see, Tenegra has a rather rough atmosphere, loads of storms that cover the planet and only filter down bit of sunlight. And we had to go right through it. So, you couple one nervous human with the choppiest shuttle drop you could imagine, and you get one sick Tom."
"Yes, and what a day that turned out to be." said Tom irritably. "I vomited all over the representative from Tenegra the moment we got out of the Shuttle. Rithim would tell you that it got me thrown in a prison complex. It was more like a rehabilitation center. The Tenegrans just have a very... well, primitive I guess is the word, idea of what rehab actually means. I think I was a few inches narrower afterwords."
Rithim laughed. "A few? You looked like you hadn't eaten in weeks."
Tom cocked his head to one side. "Well, I'm glad that my torture for the sake of planetary goodwill is so amusing to you, Rithim. Now Lime, you came here to ask me something? Has the tribunal been set up yet? I haven't heard."
Vance threw back another glass, laughing. "I'd forgotten how strong this stuff was. Remind me to sip next time, I'd rather keep my brain functioning."
Til smiled, and set the bottle on the waiting rack away from Vance's hands. The cafe was buzzing with conversations of all kinds. Even from the veranda where they sat, the sound of cheers and loud shouts from angry betting clubs inside were inescapable. She looked over the railing, staring across the artificial landscape of New Frekisberg, stretching out for miles in every direction.
"So, Til, what do you think of my former home?" said Vance. "Well, the clean part, at least. Still too hive like for you?"
"I;ll admit it's starting to grow on me." she said.
"Hah, that's just the algae from the drowned sections. It washes right off." he winked slyly at her.
"Very funny." Til said. "I know you'd rather not talk about work, but, as the ship counselor, I feel concerned. If it doesn't bother you."
"Til, please. Speak your mind. What's bothering you?"
Til looked down at her plate. "It's Mae. His condition is getting worse. Doctor Harris took him to the Alanis Medical Complex, but even they haven't been able to find the cause."
Vance frowned. "It isn't the Gyrale virus, is it? Could it have had an unknown effect on Maskerades?"
Til shook her head. "No Vance, it isn't. They don't know what is causing it, and Mae is dying. Nate said he wouldn't last long. If the Alanis doctors cannot help him, nobody can. I think it would be best if we checked in on him, let him know that he isn't alone."
The captain said nothing, swilling his drink with a finger. "You mean be with him as he goes." he said quietly.
"Yes. He is a good crewmember. At least someone should go. I wanted to know if you would come with me. We can speak for the rest of the crew as well. I just didn't want to do this alone."
Neither said anything for several minutes, passing the time staring at their food. Finally, Vance spoke. "Okay, I'll go with you, if it makes this easier."
Til smiled faintly. "It won't make it easier, but I'm glad to have the company."
James stepped into the reception room of the Naval office. He still wore a T-shirt and jeans; not the best outfit for meeting a Captain, but Lisa had said that it was urgent. On the benches lining the walls sat several officers awaiting their meetings. James approached the desk. "Hello. I'm here to see Captain Murray." he said to the man seated behind the desk.
The man, no older than 22, looked up from his computer. "Captain Murray?" he mumbled to himself, and clicked several times on the mouse. "Oh." he exclaimed, looking back at James. "You must be Chief Petty Officer Bergmann. Please come with me." The man got up and opened a door to the side of his desk that lead to the offices. James walked through the door and into a hallway lined with more doors and pictures of past battles and war heroes. "Right this way, sir." the man said as he slipped past James and proceeded down the hall. James followed him to a door labeled "ADM. Roy" where the man turned to James. "He's right in here, sir." he said, and went back to his desk.
Upon opening the door, James was greeted by the sight of several ferns and flowers. Siting at the desk at the other end of the room was a man of around 50 or 60, with deep wrinkles and graying hair. "You must be James." the old man said, smiling. "Please, take a seat."
James sat himself down in one of the leather chairs in front of the desk. "I am, sir. You must be Captain Murray?"
"Indeed I am." the man said. "You certainly took your time getting here." The Captain's body language expressed that he was not displeased with James tardiness, but only joking about.
"My apologies, sir. I was in the level below when I got the message and came as fast as I could." James glanced back at the door, then back at the Captain. "If you don't mind me asking, sir, why does the door say 'Admiral Roy'?"
Murray seemed to find a bit of amusement in James' confusion. "Well, Admiral Roy is currently out and about on important business that no one will tell me about, and so is not using his office. Because I needed a place to meet with you and a few others, I decided to temporarily move in." The Captain leaned back in his chair and scanned the room. "And I must say, I love his choice in decorations. There's nothing quite like the smell of lavender in the air."
"Certainly, sir." James agreed. It was nice to smell something organic after being on a starship for a week and a half. "So, why did you need to see me?"
The Captain's eyes snapped back to James. "Ah yes, the reason you're here." He laced his fingers together in the desk and adopted a more serious tone. "As I'm sure you know, The SU has been trying to gain a foothold on the frontier for quite some time now." A smile spread across his lips. "Well now we have one."
James raised an eyebrow of confusion. "What do you mean, sir."
"What I mean, Bergmann, is that the SU has recently annexed a system in the frontier, Tellus. Now, we're sending our best doctors and engineers to the system as a show of good faith. The plan is to convince other systems in the frontier that they should join the SU."
"That's great, sir, but what does it have to do with me?" James asked, dreading the answer.
"Well, James, you're one of those engineers." the Captain said.
James was shocked. "I'm honored, sir, but I can't leave my current mission. It's very important."
The Captain's face dropped and he looked disappointed, as if he had expected James the answer in such a way. "It wasn't an offer, son."
Now James was shocked. He had expected to have a say in the matter. "Sir, I don't think you can just pluck me off the Star Brigade." he said, hoping for an excuse to stay with the ship.
"Oh, but I can." the Captain responded. "The President himself gave me a list of people to recruit, and your name was on it. I've already sent a message to Captain Vance telling him that you're leaving." James' shoulders slumped, and Murray noticed. "I know you don't want to leave your companions on the Star Brigade, but trust me when I say that You'll like it aboard the King."
James striated up. He was disappointed. but that didn't mean he had to show it. "I'm sure I will, sir. I look forward to it."
The Captain seemed pleased. "Very well. We don't leave until tomorrow, so you have plenty of time to pack and say your farewells. I expect you on the Pious King at noon tomorrow, is that understood?" James answered in the affirmative, and Captain Murray ushered him out. Walking back to where the Star Brigade was docked, James let his mind wander to the crew mates he would be leaving behind. At least I can say goodbye.
"No, no, no! This one goes here, that one goes there! Honestly, am I the only competent person on this work crew? Oh right, I am! Now, you either follow my instructions, or I throw you out the airlock, got it?"
The team installing the Star Brigade's new guns grumbled in acknowledgment, but Demexin just huffed and walked away. He wiped the sweat from his face. It was boiling work. The ship's reactor and FTL drive were both clean running Astrid tech, but these particle cannons worked up an obscene amount of heat. It was no wonder SU naval warfare was based around anticipating heat dumps with the way these energy guzzlers were running. They'd melt themselves without constant coolants being applied. Ant that meant that his new job was rerouting a new coolant line through the ship in a way that didn't suddenly evaporate their entire water supply.
Demexin leaned back, thumping the bulkhead as he slumped to the ground, exhausted. They'd been at this all day. At the rate they were going, by tomorrow, the ship would probably outgun the Alsvior. His head bobbed and lolled to the side. "Lisa, when is Bergmann getting back? If I have to put up with these morons any longer.... everyone gets shore leave but me. I can't let the ship out of my eye or these goons will dismantle her behind my back!"
"Officer Bergmann is currently in the New Frekisberg Solanic Naval Office, five levels below the docking port. Shall I contact him?"
"No, no, that won't be necessary. I'll grab him, but I want you to watch the ship while I'm gone, alright? Anyone touching anything other than the gun emplacements, and you let me know, Lisa."
"Of course, Chief."
Demexin shook his head. Leaving the ship in the hands of a computer that ran on snark. He really couldn't rely on anyone these days, could he? He headed ashore, in search of James.
"Don't worry she won't.
Now what say we step outside? Been a while since I've been on the new terra so it'll be nice to see the sights." Her voice hopefully not giving away her other motivations
"Now where shall we go?"
Getting lost later...
"Now this is an interesting place."
It was probably best described as a park. Kalade was sitting on some grass in the shade of one of the many trees, a little plague on it read
"This was originally from earth, it is one of the only surviving trees from those originally taken to mars, it is estimated to have provided enough oxygen in its life time to fuel a capital ship for 10 standard galactic years."
It was currently raining, the totems being used were some of the latest and best quality, you could tell because you could taste the vitamins they'd added to the rain.
"So Sebastian. Have you been here before?"
"Not that I'm aware of, and no this isn't official business. I just wanted to congratulate and thank you on what you did during the mission. You didn't incite a single revolution and I'm pretty sure the only people that ended up trying to kill you would have done the same to anyone else.
Anyway, would you and your..."
Friend? Possible, clearly go back.
Partner? Also possible, they do seem especially close; then again serving together often did that to people.
"...You and Rithim be interested in getting a drink or something."
Did Anderson even drink?
"There a fairly good place I know near here, its Ferrax food mostly so it's not exactly the best but they sure know how to make alcohol dense."
Gabriel left the observation room behind Kalade, making sure that he was loaded up with all his weapons, whilst the people on board were friendly, he didn't fully trust them yet to safely handle his gear. Besides, the recoil from the sniper rifle could shatter someone's arm. After traversing many of New Terra's levels, they finally arrived at what could be described as a park. They sat under one of the many trees, which had a commerative plaque, stating that the tree originated from Earth, and one of the few that survived from Mars. After reading it, Kalade has asked him something.
"So Sebastian, have you been here before?" Gabriel then sat down.
"First off, the name is Gabriel. Second, whilst I haven't been to this place specifically, I have been to New Terra before. It was eight years ago, a year after I had 'left' the Elysium. When I was just starting out my freelance career."
James was just entering the Star Brigade's docking berth, lost in thought, when he literally ran into Demexin. James fell to the ground, stunned by the impact with the Chief's crystalline body, while Demexin only took a step back. "Bergmann." the Astrid said, extending a hand to help him up. "Watch where you're going, boy. Now, I need to you to help install the new weapons. I'm surprised the grunts the SU sent us can tie their own shoes, let alone stick a pair of particle cannons on the hull of a ship."
James took the offered hand and got up. "I'm afraid I can't, sir." he said timidly, unsure how the Chief or Engineering would take the news. "I-"
"You what?" Demexin said angrily, cutting James off. "What the hell is so much more important than your duties aboard this ship? Didn't they teach you anything in the military?"
Jesus! James thought. If he's this cross now, how's he going to react to the rest? There was only one way to find out, of course. "Well that's just it, sir." James said, nervous to incur Demexin's wrath any further. "I've been transferred to another ship and I have to start packing."
Demexin stared dumbfounded at James for a moment before speaking up again. "What?!" he shouted. "On who's orders?!"
"Ap-apparently the president's, sir." James stammered, startled by Demexin's rage.
"So the president himself gave you a direct order, is that it?"
"No, um, no sir. Captain Murray-"
"Who?" Demexin said, cutting James off again.
"The king, I mean captain of the Pious King." James could feel sweat starting to form in his armpits. "Anyway, he's got orders to take me aboard."
"Is that so?" said the Chief, who by this point was glowing scarlet red. "Well then come with me. We're going to have a talk with Captain Asshole."
Too afraid to object, James lead his superior to the Naval Office. Upon entrance, Demexin stomped up to the front desk and slammed his hands down, snapping the officer at the desk out of his game of solitaire. "Where's Captain Murray!?" Demexin roared.
The officer stammered some gibberish and pointed at the door, but that was enough for the Astrid. He threw the door open and walked so fast down the corridor that James had to jog to keep up. "He's in Admiral Roy's room." James explained.
"You mean this one?" Demexin said, stopping before the office that James had exited only a few minutes before. James answered in the affirmative. "Alright, you stay out here. I want to talk to him myself." With that, Demexin burst into the office and slammed the door behind him.
James' watch said he only sat outside that door for 20 minutes, but it felt like an hour. During those 20 minutes, James could clearly hear Demexin's every angry word, despite the layers of insulation that lay between them. James even heard something smash against the wall at one point. Eventually Demexin came back out, even more enraged that when he had entered. "Come on." he said to James in a low but harsh tone. James followed obediently, half out of respect for the man, and half out of fear. They walked through the streets outside for a bit in silence, Demexin slowly calming down. At some point they passed a diner, which the pair silently entered and were seated. The waitress who came to order their drinks was very happy and peppy; it annoyed James beyond measure. When their drinks arrived; an iced tea for James and a tall glass of ice water for Demexin; they just sat in silence, James stirring his drink while Demexin starred out the window. After a few minutes, James just couldn't take it anymore and decided to break the silence. "So, did you break something in there?"
"Not my fault." the Astrid responded, not taking his eyes away from the window. "They should make chairs more durable."
"Right. So I'm guessing you couldn't change his mind?"
"Can never change the mind of a bureaucrat." Demexin said, saying the last word like it tasted bad in his mouth. "We never had to deal with this kind of bullshit where I grew up."
"I'm sorry, sir." James said. He wasn't really sure what he was apologizing for, but it seemed like the right thing to say.
"Bah, don't be." The elder man said with a wave of his hand. He had finally taken his eyes off the window and they were now focused on James. "It's not your fault." He took a single sip of his water before standing up. "Come on, we got stuff to do back at the ship." James stood up and the pair left, leaving behind two mostly untouched drinks and the money to pay for them.
They didn't talk again until they reentered the ship. James was all too aware that it may be the last time he ever did so. "So, Tellus, aye?" Demexin finally said. "You do known, boy, that by the end of this month I expect that system to be legendary for it's infrastructure and industry, understand?"
"Of course, sir." James said, and the engineers shared a chuckle. For the first time since joining the Star Brigade, James realized that he would miss Demexin. Despite the yelling and constant bad mood, he was a wise man a good mentor, and James would miss those qualities just as much as would miss any other crew member.
They arrived at a three way intersection between the halls. James would go right, towards his dorm to pack, and Demexin would go left, towards engineering. They stopped in the middle of the intersection and faced each other. "I guess this is goodbye, isn't it." the Chief said.
"Ya." James said. "I guess so."
Demexin came closer and put a hand on James' shoulder. "You make me proud out their, James, alright?"
"I will, sir."
For the first time, James saw Demexin smile. "I know you will." he said, and walked off to engineering. James went his own way, fighting back tears. He had heard something in Demexin's voice that had never expected to hear. He had heard respect.
"Sorry I forgot you name, I get a bit distracted sometimes.
So 8 years ago. How old are you?"
There was a buzz somewhere on Kalade's person.
"Sorry just a minute."
Kalade pulled out a radio.
"Lisa what is it?"
"I'm detecting someone near the ship, sensors indicate they are masquerade could be a possible security issue."
"But I'm not a security office why are you telling me?"
"You told me to inform you of any alerts going out. Also right now most of the guards are on shore leave."
"Ok well I think I can make my way back there're fast enough."
She looked up to Gabriel.
"Sorry to cut it short, you want to come investigate the masquerade?"
"This body is about fifteen years of age." Gabriel remarked solemnly, he was about to continue, when Kalade was interrupted by the ship's A.I, Lisa. According to her, a Masquerade was detected near the ship, and could be a potential security risk. Kalade then looked up at him.
"Sorry to cut it short, you want to come investigate the Masquerade?"
"Of course, if I'm going to be serving on board the Star Brigade, I may as well make myself useful." He replied with a slight chuckle.
The shadowy figure, a Maskerade, sees two figures approach him from a slight distance. Keen on seeing these two go towards the direction of him and the vessel that stood behind, he eagerly runs to approach them, wanting to inquire about the ship and what it does.
As the Maskerade comes to an abrupt halt in front of them, he begins his inquisition in his mother tongue,
"Hello, do you know anything about that ship? Where does it go? Who are the members in its crew? Do you know them perhaps? Oh, where are my manners, who might you two be? Forgive my thirsty questioning."
Dejected, James wandered through the streets of New Frekisberg. There wasn't much he could do, so he was going to do as little as possible until someone found a use for him. Planetary services could be interesting, of course, but it wasn't the same as working on a ship. He'd asked specifically to be transferred to the Star Brigade. Working alongside Demexin had been a dream come true, even if he was an abrasive jerk at times. Now, he felt lost.
Transfers were nothing new, but the sheer suddenness of his departure shocked even him. Why hadn't Murray told Vance about the change? Why hadn't he received a message earlier? The day before a hearing, and he gets a message telling him he ships out tomorrow? Something didn't add up.
New Frekisberg was teeming with people. Swarms of Crelm travled along the transparent aqua tubes, while the hulking Ferrax and countless humans mingled along the wide promenades. The subsurface layers of New Terra were honeycombed with various alcoves, side streets and endless towers. New Frekisberg was near the top, a military station for the Solanic Union's Naval forces, and the home base for the DC. In theory, it was one of the safer places across New Terra. In practice, trouble just had to work harder to find you.
No sooner had this thought crossed James' mind that he felt a sudden shock in his leg, following a loud bang. Before he could even gasp in pain, he had struck the ground, hard. The crowds screamed and scattered. The pain was so great that all James could do was pant. He tried to look down at his right leg. All he saw was a mess of blood and bone. The sight seemed to jog his senses into high gear, and the pain flooded in all at once.
He screamed, louder than he ever had before. Losing part of your leg tended to do that. More loud bangs shot out, the concrete surface around him exploding with each impact. He struggled to get away from the shots, holding onto his leg to keep it from falling apart. He had to get away, get behind a wall, get help fast before he bled out.....
...there were people all around him, running, screaming....the shooter couldn't get a clear shot.... wait, someone was shooting at him, why?.....he started to black out.....
"Come on, come on, wake up! James! James, can you hear me? You've got to wake up!"
James lolled his head. He noticed the trail of blood behind him. Someone must have dragged him away from the shooter. But, how did they know his name? What was going on? Whoever it was, they just stabbed something into his shattered leg. It spasmed, and he gasped in pain. Some clarity started seeping back. It was a medical syringe. The medi-foam was clogging the wound, and flushing him with stims to keep him conscious. He looked up to see Demexin standing over him.
"De-Demexin? What the hell are you doing here?" he mumbled.
"What the hell are you doing getting shot?" Demexin said. "Stay down, I've already called for a medivac. We'll get you out of here. Did you see what happened?"
"I was just walking, and then someone took a shot at me! But you still didn't answer my question: what the hell are you doing here?"
Demexin hugged the wall, trying to peer around it. "I was worried about you. Something didn't seem right about your transfer when I was "discussing" it with Murray. I thought I'd follow you. Turns out my hunch was right. Anything you've been a part of that you aren't telling me?"
"Dex, I haven't hidden anything from you, and now I've got a fucking hole in my leg! I haven't a clue what's going on! Why, is there some sort of conspiracy you've uncovered?"
"Maybe, maybe not. Damn, this bastard is unprofessional. He's still here, taking potshots at anyone still on the streets. Sonic Caster by the looks of it. That did your leg in until we can get you to a hospital. Those things are illegal. Something tells me he doesn't really care though." Demexin peeked around the corner once more, and was met with another shot. "Gotcha you prick. Wait here."
"Can't really do much else, can I?"
Demexin made a break for it, and performed an act few ever lived to witness: a phase shift. Astrid posess a rare ability to shift through physical planes, resulting in a transfer of matter with a massive burst of kinetic energy. A short range teleport with the physical characteristics of a battering ram. Demexin was gone in a flash, suddenly appearing on the overlook where he had spotted the sniper. Things got messy.
The kinetic transfer hit the assailant's body head on, launching the man into the air and crashing into the wall in a mass of ruptured organs and broken bones. Demexin stalked over to the man, grabbing him roughly and pulling him to eye level. "Talk. You destroyed my co-worker's leg. I just destroyed your body, and you won't get any help before you tell me who you are."
The man grinned, spitting out teeth and blood into Dex's face. "Go fuck yourself, you Solanic whore. The sooner you fuckwits collapse over yourselves, the sooner things can change..." His head drooped, the man unconscious.
Scowling, Demexin threw the man roughly to the ground. "Medivac, make room for another, and bring a security team. There's been an incident."
"Well, Lime, I'd like that." said Tom. "Water under the bridge, you know? We could put some things behind us?"
They took the transport tubes to the market district, arriving in the middle of a scene of frantic chaos. Gunshots were ringing out, people were fleeing, and someone was down on the ground, clutching his leg. An Astrid grabbed the man and dragged him behind a building, away from the shooter's line of sight.
Tom, Lime and Rithim watched from an overturned stand. Tom flipped the lens zoom built into his glasses. The Astrid looked familiar. Zooming in, it was unmistakable, the burnt skin and black streaks across his face.
"Lime,that's Demexin! What's he doing?"
As if to answer Tom's question, Demexin sprinted out into the street, and was gone in a flash. A loud crash echoed through the streets, and then silence. Tom changed his focus to the victim of the shooting. His face drained of color. "Lime, it's James. Come on! Rithim, take my comm, talk to Dex for me." Tom broke off at a sprint towards James.
Rithim glanced sideways at Lime, and stuck the comm into his membrane. "Demexin? This is Diplomatic Corps operative Rithim. I'm an associate with Tom Anderson, you colleague. Do you need assistance? Anderson and Lime are with me."
"I don't care who you are, you just need to keep James stable until the medics get here. Tom can watch him, but you or Lime need to help me with moving this waste of flesh."
Ok things were getting hot in here.
"Don't worry I'm moving in."
Camouflaging quickly Lime became one with the scenery.
After the short walk heandshe is there.
It was a pretty serious but then again saying that wasn't helping.
"Ok I'm going to apply pressure, this is going to hurt but it could save you."
Lime wrapped the leg in tentacles.
"Don't worry I've seen people survive much worse."
So many questions.
"Just a minute, why do you think you get to ask us questions? You triggered our ships security. Now tell us who you are before me."
Her tail swung behind her, a pretty big threat considering."
Gabriel could only but chuckle after seeing Kalade's tail swing about, but he soon returned to a more serious tone, crossing his arms and looking directly at the Masquerade. After a brief moment of silence, Gabriel decided to speak.
"If you wish to stay alive, or at least not ending up in the brig, I'd advise you answer the lady's question; I hear that a strike from a Lallow's thagomizer can be rather painful, and to a Masquerade like yourself, it could possibly be lethal." Gabriel remarked, sounding threatening as he spoke.
Muo was rudely awakened by the irritatingly persistednt alarm. Something was happening, and it didn't seem to be something that was going to resolve itself while he slept. He rolled out of bed, grabbing his jacket and pistol as he went. His armor and weapon were probably in the armory somewhere, but that could wait, this was urgent.
He thundered down the hallway, brushing past crewmembers as he rushed to get to the scene of the incident. From what he had heard, Bergmann had been shot, and there was at least one attacker, possibly more.
Never a dull moment in the DC, he climbed aboard one of the passing emergency vehicles, and no one thought to argue, they had their own things to be concerned with. Once settled, all he had to do was wait for the vehicle to arrive at the scene of the unfolding catastrophe.
Tom rushed over to James's side. It looked like Demexin had already stopped the bleeding and shot him a few doses of painkillers. Lime's tentacle was applying pressure just to be safe. "James, we're gonna get you out of here, just hold on. Lime, do you think you can lift him without losing pressure on the wound?"
Demexin grabbed the assailant and jumped down from the ledge. He moved quickly, in case he had any friends waiting for them. "You better have some damn good information, buddy." he muttered.
The wall ahead of Demexin exploded. He skidded to a halt and ducked. More shots flew overhead, tearing large chunks out of the out of the wall. Demexin eyed friendlies below. "Muo, I'm pinned down up here. Think you could deal with one of these guys? The shooter looks to be about.... fifty meters from you, and two levels up. Can you get him?"
"Well there's my entire other arm."
Keeping the first 8 tentacles around the wound the next arm and eight was moved round the back of the hisandher charge. The tentacles created a sort of cradle or webbing, the lift was a little rocky but proved fairly effective.
"And with pressure maintained."
Most times being wrapped in crelm tentacles was the worst place you could possibly be because it meant you were lunch or a mate neither of which ended well.
"Might be good to get more people on this. I'll radio in the new person, time we gave him a real test.
Gabriel, this is commander Lime, requesting you get to these coordinates fast. Drop whatever you doing, this is probably more important."
Whilst Gabriel awaited a response from the Masquerade, he received a communication from Lime on an emergency frequency.
*Gabriel, this is commander Lime, requesting you get to these coordinates fast. Drop whatever you doing, this is probably more important.*
"Of course, only investigating a minor disturbance over by the docks; people already stationed here should be able to handle it. I'm on my way, update me about the situation whilst I'm on route. Should be there soon. Over." Gabriel replied, briefly turning to face Kalade.
"Looks like you'll handle this guy on your own, major development over in New Frekisberg. Commander Lime has just requested assistance from me. Got to go." Gabriel said, relaying the order to Kalade, and reading off the coordinates. He then turned round and began running towards his destination.
Tom and Lime hurried away from the fight. More shooters had appeared, and Muo, Rithim and Demexin were exchanging shots with their attackers. Ahead of them, a street taxi pulled up. Gabriel rushed out of the cab, assembling his sniper rifle as he walked towards them.
Tom rushed up to Gabriel. "Snipers on the upper levels," he panted, pointing back to the firefight. "Demexin's got a hostage, Muo and Rithim are drawing their fire. Lime and I have to get James to a med lab. Help the other as long as you can. Dex told me he informed the authorities, so maybe we can get a few more of these guys captured. Got it? Good, we need your taxi."
Gabriel nodded, but before he could respond, Tom had already run to open the taxi hatch, and he helped Lime ease James into the back seat. Tom hopped in the front and rolled the window down. "Good luck Gabe. We've got to go, though, time is short if James wants to keep his leg."
The taxi took off, kicking up street refuse as the engines kicked in. James was lucid from the painkillers, but Tom stayed with him, keeping him focused so he wouldn't pass out.
Alanis Medical Complex
Vance and Til sat in the emergency ward's visitor center. Mae had succumbed to his disease an hour earlier, passing away in a coughing fit. Vance found it amazing how much empathy he felt for what could be considered a robed, masked centipede. Nobody should have to die so horribly. Better to let them go in their sleep than risk more pain. Neither Vance or Til had spoken since he died, rather, sitting in silence.
That silence was broken every so often when an emergency grav-trolley rushed past the window overlooking the hospital's loading complex. Mae was just one of thousands of daily patients. Vance and Til watched each roll past, and they found themselves wondering if they might have felt the same for those poor souls as they had for Mae Rutan.
Another grav-trolley rushed in below them. However, this time, Vance noticed something. Namely, two familiar figures nipping at the heels of the doctors. It was Lime and Tom. Vance paled. Something must have happened. He gave a sideways glance to Til, who nodded. The two ran off down the corridors towards the loading bay. Lime and Tom were trying to get past a pair of insistent Crelm doctors blocking the door the trolley had just gone through.
"Listen jellyfish -no offense Lime-, let us through, or I'll have to let Lime here make you move!"
Vance marched towards the squabble. "Officer, report!" he barked. Lime and Tom turned to face him. "What's happened? Who did you bring in?"
Tom started babbling. "Captain, Lime and I were visiting a friend when we decided to go out for drinks, only for us to find that James ha-"
Vance cut him off. "Anderson, shut up. I was speaking to Commander Lime. Lime, what happened to James? Has anyone else been hurt?"
Gabriel watched as the taxi carrying Lime, Tom, and the critically injured James rushed off to the nearest medical complex, Alanis if memory served correct. He had been there once or twice before to get patched up after some contracts stationed here on New Terra. Without warning, a sniper round rushed passed him, impacting with a nearby wall. Gabriel merely turned his body to avoid the shot.
So, that is how your going to play it then. He remarked to himself, as Gabriel took to cover behind a wall.
Best way to take these in alive, would be to disarm them. A shot through the hand, or the gun itself should suffice He then thought, thinking over a strategy. It was then that Gabriel started shooting. The first round pierced the gun body of an opposing sniper.
Demexin switched to a private channel. "Gabriel, there's three above and to the right of the street. Muo, you've got the ground covered. I'll make the move and then you start shooting. I'm the bait. Watch for their shots and then take them out. Cripple, but don't kill. Rithim, you're the spotter."
"Got it, sir." said the Crelm.
"Roger that, Chief." grunted Muoxilaxes. The hulking Ferrax gripped his gun tighter, while his larger forearms pounded on the street surface. "Alright, show yourselves, weaklings! Face a Ferrax in combat!"
"Oh, much obliged, young one." came a voice. A massive Bull Ferrax rounded the corner. The elder male was nearly twice Muo's size, and clad in heavy Pride Armour, built for melee. "Tell your sniper friend to back down before he gets hurt. He can play with the others, but I want you to fight me."
Demexin watched the beast lumber forward. He whispered into the comm, "Gabriel, do as he says. Keeps those two busy while you and I clear out the others."
"Thank you, Chief." said Muo. "I won't let you down."
Demexin peered out from his cover. The snipers were still waiting. He saw their positions, but Gabriel wouldn't have a clear shot until he moved. "On the count of three, Gabe. One. Two. THREE!"
Demexin broke from cover, dashing along the railing. Below, the bull roared and Muo answered, charging into a brawl.
"James was attacked sir." said Lime, all professional. "We arrived at his location by sheer chance. Demexin and several Corps members are holding down the location until help can arrive. We rushed James here as quickly as possible."
"Have you any idea who is behind the attack? Any leads we can follow up on?" demanded Vance. Til had received permission to comfort James at his reconstructive surgery, leaving Vance with Tom and Lime.
"No sir." said Tom. "Like he said, we had just arrived there. Demexin and Gabriel were aiming to capture prisoners for questioning, but until then, I don't know what to tell you."
"What about James? Was he involved in anything that might have led to this incident? Hmmm.... give me a second." Vance tried to contact Lisa. He received no response. Strange. He shrugged, they must have deactivated the system when they were installing the guns to keep her safe in case of a faulty installation. Time to try something different. Vance approached the Crelm working the reception desk.
"Excuse me, can I please use your terminal? It is a security priority." Vance flashed a security card at the Crelm. "This gives me legal right to appropriate any material for the duration of Diplomatic Corps assignments. I'm employing that right. Hand it over before I get a little more forceful."
The Crelm obliged. Vance keyed in the New Frekisberg security and surveillance codes. "Computer, search for all footage received today regarding Diplomatic Corps member James Bergmann, crewman of the SNV Star Brigade."
Most of the footage was of James and a few other crewmen wandering the streets. Nothing major, until it reached a point where James received a call from one Captain Murray. Vance forwarded to the meeting time with Murray, only to find the footage stuck behind a privacy firewall. Frowning, Vance tried to breach the cover, to no avail. He fast forwarded to immediately after. James had met with Demexin near the ship. The dialogue intrigued Vance.
"I'm afraid I can't, sir. I-"
"You what? What the hell is so much more important than your duties aboard this ship? Didn't they teach you anything in the military?"
"Well that's just it, sir. I've been transferred to another ship and I have to start packing."
"What?! On who's orders?!"
"Ap-apparently the president's, sir."
"So the president himself gave you a direct order, is that it?"
"No, um, no sir. Captain Murray-"
"The king, I mean captain of the Pious King. Anyway, he's got orders to take me aboard."
"Is that so? Well then come with me. We're going to have a talk with Captain Asshole."
Vance closed the file, fuming. Whoever this Murray was, he had gone over his head, and that didn't sit well with him. At all. And then James just so happened to be attacked an hour later? Captain Asshole indeed, he thought. Vance searched for Captain Murray, and managed to get his contact code. "Hello, Captain Murray? This is Captain Thomas Vance. Get your ass over to the Alanis Medical Center in the next ten minutes or I have the New Terra Police Department throw you into confinement for attempted murder."
The two Ferrax's tusks locked as they butted heads. Pounding away with his forearms while shooting point blank into the bull's chest, Muo was struggling to hold his ground against the elder. The massive brute's spiked armor dug into Muo's tough skin, drawing purple blood. He roared, ignoring the injuries, and brought his forehead crest upwards with a hard strike.
The pair broke apart, the bull stumbling backwards from the blow, and Muo rearing up to charge in again. He tossed his gun aside, and rushed the recoiling male. They collided in a crush of bones and flesh, grappling with each other, trying to pin their opponent before goring them with their tusks. Muo kicked the bull off, scrambling upright and leaping towards the foe.
He was tough, Muo had to give him that. But he hadn't seen the stuff Muo had. He hadn't gone toe to toe with psychotic Durras, or any number of bizarre, deadly creatures like Muo had. He was probably just some dissatisfied Pride leader, trying to feel relevant by throwing himself in with a bunch of terrorists.
Rithim watched from the sidelines in between scanning for more snipers. This Demexin didn't seem that good with counting, since for every sniper Gabriel seemed to tag, another just showed up. He seemed to be doing fine on his own. The man was like a machine, never missing, never flinching. Rithim decided to make up his time watching the streetside wrestling match instead.
The bull had scored another hit on Muo, but for every blow the younger Ferrax took, he kept returning the favor tenfold to the Elder. He might've been smaller, but he was a lot faster. Relatively speaking of course. A "fast" Ferrax was about as likely as a three armed human, or a solid Crelm. Still, Muo was wearing him down, slowly but surely.
Despite his unflinching accuracy and reflexes with the sniper, every time Gabriel dispatched one of the snipers, another took their place; and from the way things were going, the authorities weren't going to be here for a while. He decided that the problem needed to be nipped in the bud right then and there, and tackle the gunmen head on, a tactic they would unlikely expect.
All I have to do, is wait for the perfect moment to flank them. Hmm, it seems that after every ten rounds, they have to reload. When they all have to at once, that will be the moment to strike. He thought to himself, planning out his strategy. It was then, that the moment came.
When he could sense them reloading their guns, Gabriel made off to the sides of the fire zone, out of sight of the gunmen, switching his sniper rifle out for his pistols in the process, and began to flank the agressors. As he got within range, Gabriel let loose precision shots, each one either impacting on a targets shoulder, or their hand; causing them to lose grip on their guns and collapse on the floor.
"What the? How the hell did he sneak past us?" One of the attackers questioned, before he was sent to the ground with a well placed punch. A few had tried to engage Gabriel in melee, but that was to no avail. One by one they fell, until they were all either down on the floor in pain, or had fallen unconscious. When no more came, he signalled to Rithim on his comm link.
"Rithim, this Gabriel, snipers are down. I repeat, snipers are down."
Lime had seen the tapes.
"So now we wait for the captain.
Do you think he'll comply? Because if not I can be out there soon to track him down. I'm pretty good at sticking to a target."
Lime drew hisandher pressure ram checking things over while they waited.
"Are you ready for this? Have you met this man at all Captain?"
"Copy that, Gabriel," said Rithim. "Demexin, hostiles are down, repeat, hostiles down. Apart from that Bull of course."
"Have Gabe keep his sights on that thing if Muo can't handle it. Otherwise, steer clear, and help me gather up these guys for questioning."
"Got it, Dex." said Rithim.
Down the street, the bull threw Muo into a store window, shattering the glass. Muo groaned, reeling in the sharp slivers. The bull was tough, but he was slowing down. Muo had taken a toll on the elder Ferrax. He was covered in scars and gouged holes where tusk pierced flesh. Muo spat a mouthful of blood, and the sides of his mouth curled into a bloody grin.
"I'm bored, old man. Let's finish this. My friends are waiting." Muo didn't even bother to wait for a response. He lunged at the bull, slipping under his guard and bringing his jaw up with a sharp crack. Muoxilaxes tusks struck the bull's soft neckline, splashing blood over his face. The bull gargled and spasmed, forcing the tusks deeper into his neck. The body went limp, and Muo tossed the carcass aside.
"So, anyone else alive? Let's bring them in." said Muo. He shook off the blood and lumbered over to where Demexin, Gabriel and the Crelm were holding the prisoners.
"Oh, he'll come alright." growled Vance. "You can hold him to the chair if you really want to though."
Tom spoke up. "You seem really calm about this, Captain."
"Oh, Tom, I'm fine. Just apart from being absolutely furious, today was a decent day. I got to watch one of my crewmembers die coughing up blood, and then another one gets his leg blasted off. Today is just fine. Ah, there's the bastard now."
Captain Murray entered through the double doors. Vance walked towards him and promptly punched him in the face. He grabbed Murray by his jacket and hauled him up face to face. "Do you mind telling me why one of my engineers is currently undergoing reconstructive surgery right now? Not informing me of a "transfer" is bad enough, but then murder? Murray, you better have a good alibi, or I'm going to give the hospital another patient."
A glance from Tom and Lime sent the visitors center scurrying towards the doors. This was official business.
"I did send you a message, Vance." said Murray. "It was sent to your ship this morning! What happened to mister Bergmann? Is he alright?"
"Bullshit you sent me the message, Murray." said Vance, shaking the other captain. "I received nothing this morning, and I was on the bloody ship! How does that explain James? What were you going to do with him?"
"I...it was just a routine order from the President! You know how the frontier is lawless, Vance. The Union wanted us to help ease some of the independents into accepting us. We were just gathering candidates for a colony project. I have the orders from Commander Cerise herself! I had nothing to do with the attack on James. Why would I sabotage my own project?"
"I can think of a number of reasons. Give me a minute and I'll find one suitable for you."
Murray sighed. "Look, if it means you'll put me down and stop punching me, I can give you my proof! Is that fair? Thank you. Now, I have the order right here. You can see it on my pad, and cross reference it. It's not a forgery, and I'm not trying to trick you. I legitimately do not know why James was attacked."
Vance took the pad. Murray was right, everything checked up. He passed it to Lime. "Make of that what you will, Commander. Murray, I apologize. However, this just raises some more questions. If you're not behind this, then who is? I received no message this morning, and then James is attacked in the afternoon. That's as obvious a link as I can think of at the moment."
Murray slumped into one of the chairs. "Honestly, I don't know who would have done it. It isn't like you have any enemies, is it Vance? Your ship just launched two weeks ago. That doesn't exactly give a lot of time for someone to plan something like this."
Vance paced back and forth, "Well, apart from one incident back at Earth, nothing has really happened. And that was dealt with swiftly. We'll have to wait, it seems. My Chief of engineering and some fellow associates were cleaning up the site where James was struck. They should have more information for us."
Til stared through the tank at James, suspended in a layer of medical gel. The synth constructor was swiftly knitting new biometal joints into James's shattered leg. He would walk again, quite easily. It was the psychological trauma that concerned Til Wing. Physical scars healed, mental ones not as often.
Til placed a hand on the tank, flushing a soft pink color. James stared dazedly at her, and gave a weak smile. She smiled back. He would be okay, but she would have to keep an eye on him.
Demexin hauled one of Gabe's victims to his feet, and slammed him against the side of the police trailer. It figured that they would only show up after the problem had been dealt with. The bull Ferrax was being lifted away for forensic studies, leaving the living prisoners to "talk".
Demexin leaned towards the first prisoner. "Alright, I'm no good at interrogating, so I'll make this quick and to the point. Either you tell me and my friends who you work for, and why you decided to attack my employee, or my friend Muoxilaxes over here turns you into a bloody paste. Make sense?"
The terrified man nodded frantically. Dex gave a dark smile. "Good. Now, answer the question. You have thirty seconds."
The others stared expectantly at their colleague, shaking their heads and mouthing "no" to him, but the man snapped.
"It was just a job!" he cried. "We were just told to shadow this guy as he left the docks, take him out and make it look like a gang shooting. You were supposed to be next."
"Huh," said Dex. "So, you're not a gang, for starters, and you were going to pull the same trick on me too? You are informative, aren't you." Demexin looked down the line of prisoners. At least one of them looked ready to eat the poor sod giving away their secrets. "I'm sure your friends over here will be happy that you're selling them out, eh? I think the one at the end looks like he's gonna kill you. Keep talking, maybe he'll settle down."
"It was all supposed to be a distraction. Keep you busy, and all in one spot!" the prisoner continued. "Then, while you were all away, we'd blame Captain Murray! Make it look like an inside job while the others got away!"
"So, Murray wasn't behind this, and you wanted to get away? How? Answer me!"
One of the others down the line started laughing. "Go ahead and tell them Mottai, it isn't like it'll do them any good now. Sure, we're caught, but the others are probably away by now."
"What are you talking about? What did you do?" demanded Demexin. The man just smiled and spat in his face.
"Jaden screwed up the first time, so we decided to do things right. Say goodbye to your ship, you Union assholes."
Najeed stretched his arms, and headed for the mess hall. The Corps hadn't found a place for them on New Terra yet, so captain Vance had been kind enough to let Najeed and Ruth stay in the crew quarters on the Star Brigade. The other colonists had been rushed to the hospital, so it was just him and Ruth left on board from the colony. He found the pilot, Thor, sitting at one of the tables. Najeed took a deep breath. Now was as good a time to try as ever.
"Hey, umm, uh, excuse me,,,sir?" he stammered.
Thor turned to face the boy. The cybernetics fused into his head intimidated Najeed, and he'd been mustering up the courage to do this for a while. "Yes, what is it lad? Something you wanted to ask?"
"Yes, I mean, no, sir."
"Please, just Thor. You're not a crewman and I'm off duty. We can talk casual for now, alright?"
"I see, er I mean, I wanted to say thank you, si- I mean, Thor. For what you did. If you hadn't been there, we wouldn't have survived. It means a lot to me and Ruth. So, thanks, again."
Thor smiled. "Nice to hear a compliment. So, Najeed was it? What are you doing up right now?"
Najeed shrugged. "I was just hungry, thought I'd get a late night snack. What about you?"
"Well, now's about the only time I have off. I've been up all day with the work crews installing the new gear. Those idiots don't have a clue what they're doing, I swear. And with Demexin out, Lisa decided I was the next best person to annoy. we finally figured just to shut her off so she wouldn't hurt herself if these hooligans busted the installation."
"Okay. Makes sense, I guess. Where's everyone else?"
"Probably out drinking, enjoying shore leave while they can get it."
The doors to the mess hall opened, and a quartet of crewmen entered. Thor glanced over for a moment. They were construction workers, those same morons again. They sat down at the table with Najeed and Thor while one of them went to get some food. "Hard day's work, huh, pilot?"
Thor snorted. "Yeah, hard. I thought you spent most of it looking at a notepad."
"Yeah, it would seem that way wouldn't it?" the man suddenly pulled a gun and aimed it at Najeed. "Shame too, I like getting my hands dirty. Still, infiltration takes you out of your comfort zone. Stand up."
Thor felt the cold tip of a muzzle pressed against his neck. He looked over and saw they'd done the same to Najeed. Raising his hands, Thor stood up slowly. The gunman kept his weapon trained on Najeed as he rose. "Good. Now, to the cockpit flyboy. We're leaving." he motioned with his gun to the exit. Thor put his hands behind his back and complied.
"YOU DID WHAT?" shouted Demexin. The prisoner just looked away, grinning. "You son of a bitch, where are they going?"
"Why would they tell me? They just wanted us to keep you busy while they made off with your precious little ship. Even if I told you, it wouldn't make a difference. You'll never find them, and for all your docking authorities know, Captain Vance just requested permission to leave. And it was granted."
Demexin flared red. "Well, you are going to tell me where they went. Right. Now."
"Heh, it's easy to get lost in the colonies. That will tell you enough. You're never going to get your ship back. And, between you and me glass boy, that FTL system will look great when we use your template. Astrid are always so giving with their technology."
Demexin tossed the man to the ground. "Rithim, Muo, Gabe, let's go. Officer, these guys are all yours, have the information sent to the Diplomatic Corps headquarters as soon as you're done processing them. Find out where they're from. Corps members, we have a new mission."
Lime was inspecting the notes.
"Your right I don't recognise any of the common forgery marks even. Even the ones humans wouldn't notice." Lime didn't like to admit it but heandshe'd had plenty of time to get to know the old tricks. "So we're dealing with someone against the S.U or more specifically our diplomatic mission.
Out here it's not going to be followers since I'd doubt they'd even be able to establish a foot hold, but it could be solantics. What we need to contact with the local authorities, who's the police chief around here?"
On the ship
Kalade had already taken the stranger on bored. Lisa had been shut down for some reason but she hadn't thought much of it so, but then things got complicated. She heard noises and started dispatching flyers, just in case there was something she needed to do.
The Pious King, New Terra Orbit
Commander Cerise paced in front of the assembled senior staff of the Star Brigade. Captain Murray had been kind enough to offer his own ship for their upcoming mission. It wouldn't be an easy one, that was for sure. But, Diplomatic Corps protocol had to be performed, even if it was on short notice.
"I know this is on short notice, but as you know, we have something of an emergency on our hands." said Cerise. "The Star Brigade is currently in the hands of a known terrorist organization: the Colonial Opposition League. More importantly, her technology is in their hands. The Artificial Intelligence known as L.I.S.A, and the prototype Faster Than Light Drive are both extremely valuable and dangerous pieces of equipment. With access to our security codes and the ability to circumvent Jump Gates, the Star Brigade could be used to perform hit and run attacks on our colonies.
"Furthermore, several crewmembers and civilian noncombatants were aboard the ship when it was taken, creating a hostage situation. I don't need to tell you how serious this is for both the Diplomatic Corps and the Solanic Union as a whole. So, we are going on the offensive. This technically falls outside our methods of operation, but the Union wishes to keep this matter private, lest civilians cause a panic.
"To this end, Captain Murray has offered the Pious King to serve as your base of operations for this mission. This is his vessel, and his word is absolute, but you have been granted special privileges regarding ship protocol given the delicate circumstance. Our interrogation of the perpetrators responsible for mister Bergmann's injuries have provided us with minimal information. However, we do have a lead. The ship was heading for the Devrost Sector. Xenat is under control, while the Scalrey System is more lawless. It is their most likely destination.
"However, even before we can undertake this mission, we must complete the report for your previous assignment. We might discern some unknown information that could help with future investigations."
Captain Vance rose from his seat. "Alright, like the Commander said, we're on a tight schedule, so this will have to be quick. James is still recovering, and Demexin has already filed his report. So, we will start with Lime. Lime, you were in command of the ground forces. We have the after action reports regarding your actions. However, these questions are with regards to why you did what you did, and how you personally felt the mission could be improved. These reports help us better prepare away teams for future assignments. Tell us how you felt about the last mission, what you found questionable, and what you felt was satisfactory. Once Lime has answered, Gabriel shall follow, then Muoxilaxes, and then Anderson. I'd ask Thor and James, but one is kidnapped, and the other has another day of therapy before he can walk again. So, Lime, start talking."
"Over all the mission was probably handled as well as it could have been.
The team held together under pressure, which in my experience is rare especially when dealing with gryale. Decisions were made quickly and effectively, while I'd have preferred a hieratical system with clear command structure the democratic approach did seem to have good effects moral and they made what I think was the right choice.
The team also worked well with the durras troops, integrating with the new team without much trouble.
As for my motivations, I aimed for the minimum casualties as I always do. As such we worked closely with the canopy troops already stationed there; after all it was their colony for the most part so they deserved to take charge.
Originally when the norg announced their attack we tried proposing a trade, information on the gryale for leaving the colony standing.
When they rejected the offer the goal became to get everyone we could out alive, regardless of species. We choose to take the infected with us as we assumed they're chances would be best either on the New Terra or Jome.
I took an uninfected gryale with us because I realised we could use the usual gryale meat to counteract the infection from the altered meat. They were civilians and they'd not signed up for anything. As soldiers it was our duty to risk infection to help save them.
Any further questions?"
"That will be all Commander. As I said, we're just skimming over this. You can submit a full report in writing if you want, but I won't be reading it. Moving on. Gabriel, you are not technically a member of the Diplomatic Corps. However, given your role during the crisis, we feel it is prudent to treat you as one. What were you doing at the colony in the first place? What was your relationship with the colonists? Were there any dissenting opinions amongst the team members once you integrated? Just tell us anything that you feel could have been important. We still don't quite understand why the colony was attacked. Perhaps you could shed some light on this situation for us."
In order to enter the meeting room, Gabriel had to relinquish his weaponry to the guards, being reassured that they would be returned once business had been dealt with. He sat patiently in his chair, calmly noting down the reactions to people statements in his head. Soon, it was his turn to take to the stand.
"Commander Cerise, the reason for me being there, is that I am a mercenary, who was hired to act as protection reconnaissance for the colony. I was also put in charge of training the larger internal security force, whilst the could deal with small groups, no offence to them, but the state they was in upon my arrival; they couldn't of handle the weight of both Durras Cultists that attacked the camp, and the Norg that had came to cleanse the planet."
"My overall relationship status with the colonists was good, I have become close friends with a woman by the name of Ruth. When it came to dissent, I suppose it was the disagreement between James and Tom as to what we should do with the infected colonists, which was in no way my doing. What contribution I gave to that debate was rather null and void, since a majority had apparently already been reached; although I have this feeling that Tom's decision, will have consequences in the near future."
"We are already looking into the matter of the Gyrale plague, mister Gabriel. Rest assured it will be studied with the utmost care. You needn't worry with such things for the moment." said Cerise.
"She's right Gabriel, the Gyrale incident is out of our hands. But overall, do you appear to agree that the mission was a success? Apart from a conflict of interest, would you say jobs were performed adequately?"
"How can I say no. The infected colonists were safely evacuated from the site, and all the official members of the Diplomatic Corps performed their tasks reasonably well enough with the skills that they themselves possessed. If we're talking about teamwork, it was sufficient enough that the objectives were completed quickly." said Gabriel, after which he turned to Captain Vance.
"Captain Vance, although I wasn't an official member of your ship or of the Diplomatic Corps itself, and therefore didn't know your crew well; I give my condolences to those that were lost." He said in a sympathetic tone.