The lout was knocked off his chair as explosions rocked the city, Tara just instinctively took cover until the table and hoped that the knocks the oaf took wouldn't make his trigger-finger slip. She had never liked guns, just another way for one person to kill another and it wasn't just that. It was so easy just to pull the trigger, just to end lives without a second thought. It made killing so trivial, unlike imitate close quarters combat or the lengthy ritual of casting a spell. As if there wasn't enough explosions, another one eruped, this time the drunks decided the best course of action was to start a brawl. She sighed, seeing how well those people banded together in crisis; hopefully the hullabaloo wouldn't interrupted her plans, hopefully it wasn't the Scorchers' fault. Hopefully, it was a terrorist group and not the war machine of the Republic ready to devour another Empire.
Zavier, now near the exit, turned to Tara, interrupting her thoughts, "We should go."
She nodded and quickly slid out with lithe movements - moving in and out of cover had been drilled into her at training - Tara moved through the crowd to the exit where Zavier was waiting. Magic was in the air, most likely aided by the dreaded black powder. Apart from Uleth, this must be the shortest Six Days of the Gods she had ever attended. Tara wasted no time exiting the inn, waiting for Zavier lest he feel like teaming up. A murder-for-hire would definitely on the wanted list and she was technically a fugitive, probably listed as a co-conspirator of the Republic, if the authorites knew about her, that is. Panic was in the streets, whoever planned this attack knew the perfect time to hit and had the guts to attack in a time reserved for celebration and worship. Smells like the Republic's work. She turned to Zavier.
"Evac is the priority." She said and turned her head in the direction of the airdocks.
Marcus couldn't hear a thing. It was as if two great mosquitoes were attached to his ears, buzzing their wings and drowning out all other noise. His eyes opened and he blinked a few times in an attempt to banish the disorientation. Slowly but surly, Marcus regained his senses just in time to realize that he was laying on his back. He felt a pressure on his chest, and looked up to see a slab of stone resting on top of him. It's a wonder I wasn't crushed. he though. Marcus took a moment to take in his surroundings. All around him the city was ablaze. Rubble, flame, and bodies were all that remained of the square. To his right, he could hear distant voices. Deciding that he didn't want to meet the owners of the voices, Marcus lifted the stone up and off of him. He tried to stand, but he felt a jolt of pain leap through is body when he put pressure on his left leg. Lifting his trouser leg revealed a grisly gash just below his knee. Marcus heard the voices again, this time louder and closer. There would be no time to treat the wound. He grabbed a stick and used it to heaved himself up. He jammed the stick into his armpit, like a crutch, and moved into the ally ways, out of sight.
Once safely hidden by a ruined fruit stand, Marcus took the time to bind his injury, lest it leave a trail of blood behind. He had no water or alcohol with which to clean it though; he would have to take care of that as soon as possible. Once he had wrapped the cut with a torn off sleeve, he rested his head back to try and make sense of the situation and plan his next move. Judging from the gun shots and clangs of metal in the distance, he was in the heart of some kind of battle. If he was going to survive this, he would need a weapon. Problem was, his guns and dagger were in his hotel room. Getting there would have to be his first priority. With this in mind, Marcus took is makeshift crutch and set out in the direction that he assumed was the way to the hotel.
Zavier took a moment to break down what exactly was going on. The crowds that, moments before, were drunk and cheerful, were suddenly whipped into a state of panic and terror, and for good reason. He couldn't see the full extent of the damage the large explosion had had, but if the smoke in the air was any indication then something at the eastern part of the city had been blown clean away. In the distance, he heard other, lower rumbles, a bit like thunder. He recognized them immediately as secondary explosions. Zavier reasoned that either charges in other parts of the city were being set to take out specific targets, or handheld bombs were being used by whatever was attacking the city. And I thought Hipereon would be a bit further away from the war.
He needed to get out. Damn the contract, damn his arrangements, he wan't prepared to engage a full scale battle in the city, not if he could help it. Tara came up to him, he was instantly glad of her presence, she seemed like good help right now. "Evac is priority." She said and turned her head toward the air docks.
"Right." Zavier replied, "The Firebolt is probably our best bet to get out of here. It's fast and doesn't look like it needs a lot of a crew to pilot."
Tostundir, it seemed, had struck a nerve. The expression of the woman in front of him clearly was not one of joy. As she approached him, her rage exploded - no, wait, that was an actual explosion. A very large one indeed, he saw in his peripheral vision. Suddenly, time slowed down. He looked over to his side at the magnificent and destructive sight. He gazed at the fiery depths of the explosion, and he stared at the masonry and debris that it had kicked up like pebbles. He also noticed that it was hurtling in his general direction. He began to panic, and was about to throw himself backwards to take cover behind the crates, when a large object took him down heavily from his front. That's strange, he thought as the ground came up to meet him.
As far as he could tell, he had blacked out for a second. The large object that had struck him turned out to be the woman with whom he had been talking (until they were rudely interrupted), evidently to get them both behind the crates. Perhaps he had misjudged her character. "Thank you," he said sincerely, looking her in the eye as he said it. A few years ago when he was in the army, he would have had no problem avoiding the explosion, but the way he'd settled down recently was making him lazy. He was lucky she was there, and he knew it, allowing it to come across in his voice.
He looked around, dazed, and saw that debris littered the ground around him. Hastily extricating himself from underneath the woman while letting out a dusty cough, he took stock of his situation. It wasn't too difficult to find his hat: it had been thrown across the yard a few metres. Dusting it off (and in this case, the pieces of dust were rather large: around the size of a fist) and donning it, he tried to lower the monocular he had attached to the hat some time ago. It failed to materialise. After a bit of searching, he found it among the rubble and used it manually, quickly looking over to where the explosion had appeared from. He allowed the scent of destruction to fill his nostrils - yes, that was certainly a cleverly designed mixture - very precise. He could tell this wasn't an accident, and certainly not an amateur job. Also - something else hung in the air - but he couldn't quite place it. It infuriated him, but, realising that more important things were at stake, he put it out of his mind. "Curses. I can't see anything of the blast site through all this dratted smoke." He put his monoscope in one of his coat pockets, checking another for his wrist-mounted ballista. It was fortunately intact. He suspected that he might need to use it later, if this attack heralded anything more than widespread terror. For now, though, it remained in his coat. Finally, he picked up Opal, his cane, twisting the handle and checking that the 10cm blade shot out the end as usual. Cleaning a little dust off it to smoothen its use, he then retracted it again in case no violence was to ensue.
After a brief respite and a failed attempt to sit on a now decimated crate, he heard the sound of crunching as merciless - or perhaps the merciful - people moved into the city. Eventually deciding that it would be worth mounting his ballista, he pulled it out and strapped it to his leather bracer. As he did this, he voiced his thoughts. "I propose that our first move is to go deeper into the city. It sounds like there are terrorists" - or rebels, he thought to himself - "moving into the city. If we can get to my house, we might be able to see the situation better from the balcony, and, importantly, see if we need to get out of the city. I have some... trinkets... there that might help, too." He thought of the reassuring warmth of his leather vest. He had the horrible feeling that he would need it before the day came to an end - and time was getting on. Already he could see the sun sinking very low in the sky.
He earnestly inquired, "Are you hurt at all?"
"If you can hear me from the bottom of that bottle Ivan, feel free to join us."
"Aye, Aye. Captain! "
In the mists of chaos a pair of boots came to rest on either side of Ivan's ears. As Ivan looked to see the owner of said boots gun a woman grieving over a bloody stump where a foot use to be. Ivan placed a pistol up against the endowed invader's crotch and pulled the trigger. Blood poured onto Ivan as he spun on the ground like a turtle trying to get up. When upright he drew his sword and ran to the duke in the chaotic mists.
" Whats cooking, Duke?" He cackled.
Zeke looked on in sick awe as he watched the line of men scramble and screech as the flames overtook them. I'm never going to get used to that.He turned to see the end product of Ivan's antics as the mad drunk ran off to join the captain.
"What's cooking, Duke?" He cackled.
Well there's a match made in heaven. He thought to himself. Zeke lowered his flight goggles in order to get a better view through the smoke and dust. He could see the carnage far more clearly... and wished he couldn't. Running against the flow of the manic crowd he followed the sound of manic laughter until he found Duke and Ivan.
You two got this covered?!" he cried over the din as he drew one of his flintlocks. "We need a game plan, Duke. We need to find the others and get back to the ship, regroup." He stopped talking to level his pistol at a rifleman as they stepped out a nearby door. They were looking for another victim by the looks of it. Zeke didn't give him the chance and shot him in the ribs. One shot down.
"Do you know where any of the others are? Kaelly? Marc? Where did they say they were going?"
Marc had become numb to the sights and sound of war long ago. Racing through the streets sabre and pistol in hand, he made his way towards the source of the blast. God be good I hope Duke wasn't caught in that. He thought, looking at the large column of smoke that rose over the buildings.
Rounding a corner he saw a group of four soldiers in unfamiliar kit moving down the street away from him. Marc was about to pull back when he heard the distinctive roar of Duke's flamethrower, followed by the screams of some poor bastards who got in her way. The four ahead of him, not realizing they were being followed, broke into a run towards the noise, and Marc followed. Well they don't look happy...and they're not going to like this.
The four rounded another corner, with Marc still unnoticed, close behind. As the group stopped and formed a firing line he could see Duke, Zeke, and some other fellow just past a group of burning soldiers. Even at a run the sound of Marc's feet were lost in the noise of the chaos; the four didn't realize he was there until he was about ten feet away when he let out an old Ulethi war cry.
"Ride to ruin, and the world's ending!"
As he ran he fired his pistol, the shot hitting one man squarely in the base of his neck. The others, caught so off guard, were still trying to figure out what was happening when Marc got among them. The second man died moments later as Marc ran him through with his sabre. Flipping the pistol around to use the grip as a bludgeon he incapacitated the third man, who was trying to bring his musket around, by smashing him in the face. As that man went down, Marc turned his attention to the final man standing. While he had managed to get his gun around, in his haste he fired without really aiming and only managed to hole Marc's coat.
To the man's credit, when Marc attacked, he was able to hold off for a few moments blocking and parrying various strikes with the body of his gun...right up until Marc smashed the fingers on his hand with the butt of his pistol. A savage slash from Marc caught his opponent in the throat, nearly decapitating the man. Breathing heavily, Marc stuck his pistol back in his belt and went to check on the third man he'd hit. Finding him still alive, he remedied that quickly with his sword, before making his way to the others.
"Hey all." He said between breaths. "Does anybody know what in the sweet fucking hell is going on?"
Evangeline pushed herself to her feet a little shakily; perhaps the blast had unnerved her. She had noted Tostundir stick-sword and wondered if it was some rich-boy toy that he was trying out, but on the other hand he seemed rather comfortable with it.
"I'mmm fine." She said with a touch of a slur. But then the world seemed to spin around her and she spilled all over the hard floor, falling flat on her face. Evangeline pushed herself up to her hands and knees as her vision swam into focus again. Evangeline probed the back of her head at a previously unnoticed stinging, and when her hand came away from her scalp it was sticky with red blood. That was bad.
Evangeline considered for a moment what Tostundir had said about terrorists. Who, except the republic, might want to bomb the city? Hmmm... Bomb the city... sounds like wrong kidney, another thing you wouldn't want. Heh, like ol' times.
This was really bad.
"I'm fine." Evangeline said again despite all evidence to the contrary. This time she pushed herself to her feet and stayed on them though she swayed just a touch. Suddenly she had a very important thought. "Rez. I have to get to Rez." She said calmly and clearly; it was not a sugestion, just a simple fact.
"Right." Zavier replied, "The Firebolt is probably our best bet to get out of here. It's fast and doesn't look like it needs a lot of a crew to pilot."
Zavier had the same idea she had. It was a fast ship that was built to house only a small crew and was armed to the teeth as well. Pity the actual crew would probably be on the same brainwave as the pair. They would have to hurry, quickly work out how the airship worked, cut the rope that secured it to the airdock and then take evasive action ASAP. It was a gamble, but it was the best way out of there.
"The Scorchers will be there soon." She said, already running towards the airship, "Hurry."
Then she suddenly stopped. Why not let the Sky Pirates pilot for them? She sighed, they would have to stow away in the vast cargo hold, it seemed easy enough to stay there without being noticed by the crew who would probably be more occupied with thoughts of escape and panic at the moment.
She turned to Zavier, "I hear stowaways get the best seats..."
Zavier ran close on Tara's heels as they dashed back toward the dock. He was constantly scanning over his shoulders, trying to pick out and avoid anyone who looked like they wouldn't have any problems with firing wildly into a crowd of civilians and avoiding them. The lower rumbles were dying down, being replaced with a sporadic collection of sharp, rapid bursting sounds. Gunfire. He wondered briefly how an entire army could sneak up on the city in the midst of a war. At the far ends of the dock, it seemed that some of the military personnel were attempting to get some of the bombers in the air. It never boded well when the defenders of a city were considering bombing large sections of said city.
While considering the hopelessness of the situation in the city, Zavier almost ran smack into Tara who, for whatever reason, had stopped dead in her tracks. She turned to Zavier, "I hear stowaways get the best seats..." It didn't mean anything to Zavier, until he rewound the conversation a moment beforehand, he almost wasn't listening. The Scorchers would be there soon? Of course, they were pirates, not soldiers. They'd leave at the first sign of trouble, and leave quickly. It was probably safer to let them steer the airship out of the war zone rather than risk hijacking it, and fighting the pirates as they returned to keep it.
The sounds of fighting grew steadily louder, so too did the sounds of panic and terror amongst the civilians. Zavier wasn't in a position to be particularly picky about how he escaped the city. He nodded to Tara, "Won't be the first time I've escaped a city this way." He said, and began running again.
"Won't be the first time I've escaped a city this way." He said, and began running again.
With confirmation from Zavier, she ran, jumped out and dived into the airship, with a proficiency that wasn't expected of someone who was rather lacking in depth perception, and immediately set about opening the hatch to the cargo hold on the airship. It was filled with hefty supplies of dried food and munitions, not to mention some dangerous-looking weapons, the very same weapons that gave the Scorchers their name. Reasoning that the food and ammunition would be used up first, she created a little corner where the other miscellaneous supplies were kept, like fabrics and the like. Hopefully the little den would appear just to be just another pile of junk and deter investigation.
"Hurry." Tara said, she didn't want to be standing there holding the door for all to see for long.
So this is what it is like to see an Empire fall... she mused. Tara was battling in the outskirts when Uleth fell. For once, she was glad that she wasn't in her homeland at that time, seeing Uleth crumble would have filled her heart with dismay. The brawlers were still knocking each other to bits as warcries filled the air, some were Ulethi, some from other Empires, some from pirates, and there was the fair share of Republican ones as well. At least Tara would escape this mess, even the defenders knew this fight was a lost cause. The Republic would devour yet another Empire...
"Hurry." Tara said, holding the door open for Zavier. He followed her and jumped up, clambering into the hold. He took one last moment to look at the city. In the distance, fires were being lit, burning up large chunks of the city, tinting the sky in a sinister orange glow. Regardless of the battle's outcome, he knew that Hipereon had fallen. Zavier pulled himself into the airship. It wasn't his problem.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the hold. Tara seemed to be setting up a little nest to hide in until the situation was less dangerous. Zavier followed in suit, adjusting supplies and junk to set up a small space for himself, camouflaging it as just another pile of garbage in the hold. It should work. At times like these, Zavier was glad that he traveled light. In his mind, he ran through his checklist of all his important belongings. Blades? Check. Gun and ammunition? Check. Spell tome? Check. Money and satchel? Check. Everything he'd need to get by wherever he was.
He settled down. Now all he had to do was wait for the ship to dock...
Of course, thought Tostundir. Of course this would happen. He had been getting ahead of himself (or, rather more accurately, his companion). His plan was sensible, given the current information, and it would have worked perfectly if the woman had agreed to it and had been able to move. He was anticipating the former to be a problem, but sadly it was the latter, in which she seemed incapable of coherent thought. Or perhaps he was just lacking context. He sincerely hoped it was the latter. "Rez. I have to get to Rez."
Hopefully this "Rez" character was a medic, as it was clear that she would be needing one, given the state of her head. He took a glance and did his very best not to look dismayed. He was ok with gore in general: he had his years in the armed forces to thank for that. However, when it adversely affected him, he felt he had a right to be slightly upset by it. After all, this woman had probably saved his life, so he felt responsible for her. He also knew that he needed to get his equipment from his house. It sounded like the attackers were in the other direction, so he thought that he might be able to leave her and get it, then return to her and escort her to the docks. As she was most likely a Sky Pirate, her ship was probably there. Perhaps that "Rez" person was even a member of her crew.
He could see her swaying as she stood up: after a few seconds of worrying that she was going to fall over again, he grabbed her shoulders and spoke earnestly to her, "Look, things appear to be pretty bad. For the city and for you. That wound on your head? I'm afraid that it isn't going away any time soon. You're going to need medical attention, and the hospitals will probably be overrun with other invalids by this point. I suggest that you wait here while I go to my house and get some things. I'll meet you back here and then I'll help you get to this 'Rez'. If you have any remaining cognitive funtion, surely you must realise that you're in no fit state to move by yourself, especially with those violent sorts approaching. What say you?"
Evangeline knew something was wrong, after all what the educated guy was saying made way too much sense. The smell of burnt gunpowder wafted along filling the air; a hated smell. And yet... there was something almost comforting in the way that Tostundir supported Evangeline.
She blinked and shook her head, though not too much, before she responded. "It's a shock attack." She said almost on automatic, it was something she knew about quite cleanly as a type of shochtrooper herself. "Attack a large defense area in a small spot. Fast for maximum disruption of defenses, concentrated to take as much advantage as possible." She paused for a moment. "You're right. We'll get to your house now," she had realized that even if she got to Rez she couldn't do much to help in this condition. "but I'll go with you. Staying still right now is a death sentence and traveling alone would be even worse.
Evangeline's eyes and voice both grew clearer as she spoke. "Let's go. I promise I won't slow you down. I've never slowed anyone down."
Tostundir smiled in relief. The situation was not as dire as he had thought, and now that she was coming to her senses, the woman had some interesting input indeed. "It's a shock attack", she said. "Attack a large defense area in a small spot. Fast for maximum disruption of defenses, concentrated to take as much advantage as possible." This was an interesting development. But they had time to deal with it later. For now, they had to get to his house, and in spite of her condition, he felt that she was at least getting a better grip on reality, and there didn't appear to be any permanent damage, which he was relieved about.
She spoke up again, with more clarity this time. "Let's go. I promise I won't slow you down. I've never slowed anyone down."
"I've no doubt of that," Tostundir replied. She seemed like a very capable woman. He wouldn't be surprised if she was the captain of her ship. "Right, let's go".
After a short jog, they ended up at Tostundir's house. He opened the door and held it open for her, after peering in to check that there was no damage to the structure or his belongings. His bookcases on the left wall were fine; the balcony appeared to be intact; the drawings of various ideas were stuck across the right wall just as he had left them; his telescope on the balcony was exactly as he had left it: looking at the airship in the docks. The sketch of the airship was still sitting next to it, too, held down by a paperweight in the shape of an eagle. The stairs on the left side, leading up to his bedroom and bathroom were fine too, so once they had both entered, he made a beeline for the stairs, as all of his equipment was located in his bedroom.
It was everything Olivia had been dreading and expecting. She'd been walking through that square not 10 minutes before and the blast had resulted in her being thrown into a wall by the debris propelled from the square.
Taking a moment to catch her breath, she managed to force her way from the wreckage of some market stalls that had comprised most of the debris. Nothing appeared to be broken, which was a relief. Plenty of things ached, though that should pass in time. Or at least that's what she told herself.
Wiping some blood from a small cut on her face and slipping into a sidestreet, she scowled at the with outright disgust. And then she turned, trying to make her way towards the upper city via the sidestreets, hoping she'd be able to meet up with the rest of the military and mount a defense...although, she had an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach that it might be too late for that. Nonetheless, she continued to make her way as fast as she could manage towards where the invaders seemed to be pushing through the sidestreets.
Zavier finished with his little nest, Tara could spot a small wooden toy entangled into it, which she found quite quaint. Both of them lay in wait for the band of pirates to board the vessel and escape. In contrast to the racket outside, the loudest thing here was the silence. She guessed the pirates would stay to enjoy the 'special festivities' that were tearing the city apart. She spent some time rearranging her cubby-hole for maximum comfort and concealment then got into position. She hated waiting, every second that passed felt wasted because of her inactivity. She turned to Zavier.
"A little too quick for the Republic?" She said in her quietest speaking voice. It was odd, normally the Republican troops could be approaching their destination like a tide of doom. Either somebody could hide a whole military fleet in the city, or it was another faction. She doubted the Hipereon authorities could be that incompetent...
Hopefully the more than capable pirate airship would be able to slip through into the chaos into the free, open skies. Well, that was the romantic image of Sky Pirates anyway, just to buy a well-armed airship somewhere and escape from the wars, the hardships and the troubles. Simply escapism. Pity people didn't know that wherever you went, you run into new troubles and new wars. Not to mention that annoying habit of the past always catching up with you. Tara was technically a fugitive, and she wondered how long it would take for hers to catch up with her.
Zavier sat in silence after he finished his hideout. It wasn't much, but it was enough, hopefully, until the ship next docked. Considering how dark the hold already was, he doubted that anyone could see the far wall without light, let alone two stowaways. He kept himself occupied by listening to the battle outside, idly counting the explosions as they went off. What was taking the pirates so long? They should be running for their ship to escape like their lives depended on it. Which they did. He considered that they might be dead. That would probably the worst outcome. It meant that they were wasting time waiting for people to show up who couldn't. He certainly didn't want to be found in a pirates' airship when whoever won the battle took the docks.
"A little too quick for the Republic?" Tara said in her quietest speaking voice.
Zavier considered her statement. Tara was right, things were a bit off for a Republican offensive. They usually didn't bother with surprise or subterfuge, clever tactics were simply there to play with, they didn't need them. When you have overwhelming technical superiority, you don't need to bother with out-thinking your opponent. A lightning attack on the city would be pointless unless they could hold it, and Zavier had to admit that even with the Republic's superior weaponry, Hipereon was in a good enough position to keep Glornist from reinforcing the city by air. It could be a psychological attack, he considered, but that just wasn't their style. That begged the question, if not the Republic, then who?
"Something isn't right, but we have other things to worry about." He replied in a low voice. He checked his watch. They couldn't wait for the pirates forever...
Rez was burning and hacking his way through the invasion force when he rounded a corner and found himself facing a firing squad of the city guard.
He saw Zeke following him, but held out a hand to stop him before he came into the line of fire as well.
"Don't shoot," Rez said, laying his weapon on the ground. "I'm on your side."
"Prove it!" on of the Hyperions shouted.
"I'm going to reach into my vest to show you the proof, so don't shoot."
The pirate reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a piece of parchment with the Hyperion government seal on it.
"This is a contract from your government agreeing to pay me and my crew for aiding you in the war effort."
One of the soldiers came forward and took the note, skiming it quickly.
"He is telling the truth sir!"
Rez let out his held breath and motioned for Zeke to join him.
"I'm the leader of the Scorcher pirates, Rez Tereth, and this is one of my crew."
The superior officer of the group came forward with a solemn look on his face. He was aware that this contract had been made, which meant he knew Hyperion was desperate enough to hire pirates and mercenaries.
"The invaders are destroying everything. Two blocks behind us on Main Street is a major choke point that we are trying to drive them into, will you help?"
Rez looked at Zeke casually.
"What do you think we should do?"
"What do you think we should do?"
Zeke gave am exasperated sigh. "You and Marc could help 'em sure, even Eva could lend a hand but I'm at my most useful in the air." His mind started to wander onto thoughts of the others, Kalley, Eva. "And then there's the facr that we're still seperated from the rest of the crew. Gods know what they're up to."
Zeke lifted his goggles, most of the dust had settled and he could see clearly now. All he hell that had broken loose a few minutes ago had apparently gotten bored and moved on to somewhere else. But not before leaving a huge mess in its wake first. Zeke had no idea what was going on. Bombs were going off left right and centre and their attackers weren't wearing any uniforms e recognised. How does an invading army just spring up in the middle of a capital city? No, something's not right here.
"You, Marc and Ivan the terribly wasted over there want to play at mercenaries then go nuts, more power to you. One of us needs to find the others and make sure there okay, seeing a I'm the least desirable person to have in a bottle neck that person might as well be me. I can find the others and get them back to the Firebolt and make sure no one tries to make off with our ride." Then an idea sprang to Zeke's mind. "I can get her in the air, give you guys some air support or an escape route, whichever you need more. Still, you're the captain. If you want me to pick up a rifle and fight I'll do it. No promises I won't accidentally shoot Ivan in the foot though."
He cracked a smile at that last part. Just to make sure they knew he was joking.
"All right, you make for the ship and I'll keep these idiots busy." Rez said, picking up his flame-thrower and heading down the street towards the choke point behind the soldiers.
"So," one of the soldiers began, "Are you really the Rez Tereth?"
Rez rolled his eyes behind his goggles. "Yes."
"What are you doing back here?" the guard said, but then he was quiet, remembering the contract.
"So what's the situation?" Rez asked the officer.
"We don't know how many they have, but at least they only have one point of entry. Hopefully your air support can stop the flow by firing on them."
"I like it." Marc replied, as he reloaded his pistol. "Plus it'll mean if the shit really starts to get bad, you can drop a line for us and we can get the fuck outta here." Gun at the ready, Marc turned his attention back to Rez. "So boss, what's the plan?"
Before departing with Zeke; Ivan pointed to his foot saying " Ivan 9 toes. Sounds better then Crazy Ivan."
"So boss, what's the plan?"
Ivan was indeed interested in what they'd be doing. Or, at least what they'd be doing after the current fighting. He cleaned the gore off his blade as he looked towards Rez for answers. All the while hoped he would have a spot on the ship so he could rain down fire on Republic scum.
Normally Evangeline could have easily dashed passed Tostundir, but in her state she could barely keep up with him; she even stumbled two or three times, but she didn't think he saw so that was fine enough. The pair reached the house just as Evangeline was beginning to feel another dizzy spell coming on and she was quite glad to get inside.
Once inside Evangeline was surprised by the moderate size and humbly efficient furnishings. It wasn't anything like what she had expected a well to do person to have, perhaps she had been wrong about Tostundir after all.
However Evangeline had other things to worry about as Tostundir disappeared along some stairs. She quickly scavenged around the room finding a pair of mirrors that she used to get a better look at her head. Fortunately the wound didn't look too bad, though her hair was even more ruined then normal by the blood that continued to trickle out.
It didn't take Evangeline long to spy a set of clean white curtains along a window, they looked rather nice to Evangeline but would have to do. Taking a letter opener from nearby she immediately set about cutting the curtains into strips for bandages and wrapped them around her wound though first she used a short strip to clench her teeth on so she wouldn't cry out in pain.
Having finished her rough first aid with practiced efficient motions she was already feeling noticeably better. "Sorry," she muttered half to herself, "I'll pay you back later."
It was then that she spotted the telescope on the balcony. With such a perfect position it would surely have a great view of the city. She quickly made her way over to the spyglass. With it she could surely try and locate some of the others. However, she was stopped as she spied what was unmistakeably a sketch of the Firebolt. Evangeline glanced back at the stairs suddenly filled with a touch of paranoia but the man still hadn't reappeared yet.
"What?" She whispered to herself. "Tostundir... Just what are you after?" This was way too much coincidence for Evangeline's mind. Just when she thought she had something of an idea of who Tostundir was something changed. She snagged the sketch and quickly crumpled it and stuffed it in her pocket. She could deal with that later, she just had to make sure there was a later for everyone.
Moving back to the task at hand she looked down the telescope quickly plying it over the city. She started near the blast area (she might have been a little addled, but she knew the scorchers) and it wasn't long before she spotted a characteristic plume of black caustic smoke and not too much further before she focused in on a group of figures in familiar colors. Evangeline felt a moment of elation as she recognized some of the distant figures; Rez, Zeke, Mark; they were O.K.
Evangeline pulled away and spent a few moments memorizing a rout to where they were and doing a few final adjustments on her impromptu bandage.
After a few minutes, Tostundir descended the stairs again. Now with his leather chestpiece under his waistcoat, he felt much more secure, even if it would only mitigate a bullet head-on. He'd also loaded up with all six bolts for his miniature wrist-mounted ballista (which he had now carefully attached), and he had re-attached the monocular to his hat. Furthermore, he had now fastened his hydraulic arm assistor to his left arm. In spite of its lack of precision and reliability, it was still useful in a pinch as a last resort, especially for making attacks with Opal, his bladed cane, more effective. In order to protect his left hand while using the arm assistor, he wore a leather glove on it with steel protectors around the knuckles. He also now carried a pair of flintlock pistols, each with a pouch of ammo and powder, one of which was holstered, the other of which he offered (along with a dagger he kept spare in case Opal broke) to the woman he had let into his house. As a rule, he usually didn't let people into his house if he didn't know their names, but he felt that these were exceptional circumstances, especilly given her apparent ability to administer first aid.
"That's a very good field dressing you've done there," he said, indicating the makeshift bandage on her head. He wondered where she got the material from: he supposed she carried some around with-
He spotted his curtains, hanging in tatters.
Perhaps he looked at them a little too mournfully. They were only curtains, after all...
Exceptional circumstances, he told himself as he tore his eyes from the curtains. Perhaps his entire house might not survive until tomorrow if they didn't get moving.
A little flustered, he muttered, "right, right..." Looking around him for a moment or two, his eyes settled on the telescope, and he made for it immediately. Focusing the lens on the blast site, he had a quick look for survivors. He didn't see any - but then, he didn't look very hard. He had other things to be worrying about. He quickly checked the docks for any ships that could provide a method of escape - he would prefer to stand by his home, but if it came to it, he would prefer to flee to fight another day when his death might mean something. Or if it meant he was more likely to live in the long-run. After a little while of scanning, he found the ship that he'd noticed earlier. He reached for the sketch he'd taken earlier, to check that it was the same one...
It wasn't there.
He took his eyes off the ship and looked around. He was sure he'd put it there, on the balcony. It was even under a paperweight.
Perhaps he'd misremembered. "Have you seen a... a sketch of, this, this airship... strange design... quite remarkable..." He trailed off. She probably didn't even hear him. He spoke half to himself, anyway.
Regardless, before she had a chance to respond, he folornly mumbled, "Oh well. I don't suppose it matters very much now anyway."
He returned to the telescope's aperture and checked the city in general. There seemed to be a veritable horde sweeping through, killing and maiming in the wake of the explosion. He spotted some soldiers at a choke point in the streets, too, aided by a motley crew, to which he paid little attention.
He strolled over to the door and opened it for her.
"Ready?" He inquired.
"Now that I've let you into my house and given you a firearm, perhaps you'll tell me your name." He felt it was a reasonable request.
Marcus had finally made it to the hotel. He had been dodging hostile patrols for the last half hour, which slowed down his already retarded speed considerably, but the sudden alertness helped him find the street. Speaking of the street, it was totally deserted now. The population had all fled to their home or simply left the city and the fighting had yet to reach this block. Marcus considered himself lucky for this; panicked people would only get in the way right now. He opened the wooden double doors into the modest lobby. Lamp light streamed through the window, illuminating the couch and coffee table to his right. Marcus heard no noise, so he banged his crutch against the door. "Is anyone home?" he said, projecting his voice as best he could. His only answer was the scurrying of rats behind the check-in counter. Satisfied, Marcus progressed towards the stairs. He hadn't put but one foot on the first step before he heard movement behind him. He spun around to face an old man pointing a blunderbuss at him from behind the counter. "Can I help you, sir?" Marcus said nonchalantly.
"You can hand over your weapons and leave my hotel, 'less you want a fist full of lead in your belly." the old man barked at Marcus.
"Sir, I assure you I mean no harm." Marcus said in a sympathetic tone. "I've just come to retrieve my things. I've been staying here for the past few weeks, remember?"
The man squinted at Marcus. "Come closer, boy." he demanded. When Marcus complied, the old man smiled and lowered the gun. "Indeed you have been. You have to understand, I must take the precaution."
"Certainly, my good man." Marcus said. He couldn't blame the hotel owner for trying to defend himself. Hell, if it had been him behind that counter, he would have shot anyone who came through, no questions asked. "Now I must retrieve my own weapons. If you'll excuse me." With that, Marcus hobbled up the stairs to his room.
Once on the second floor, Marcus made his way to his room and opened the door. It was exactly the way he had left it: horribly messy. Ignoring the clothes and food crumbs that littered the floor, Marcus walked to the chest that lay on the other side of the room. He crouched down before it and undid the lock. Opening it revealed his pistol, dagger,and his beloved sniper rifle. Beneath the cushion they sat on rested his armor and camouflage. With some difficulty, Marcus managed to get the steel breast plate on. Next came the leather sleeves and leggings along with his steel helmet. Once they were secure, Marcus draped the camouflage suit over himself. The custom made fabric fit the armor perfectly, clinging to the metal and leather naturally. Halfway through loading his weapons, Marcus heard the front door slam open. He guessed the owner had left until he heard the new voices. From the sounds of it, they were threatening the old man. Marcus hurried to finish loading his gun. Once it was ready to shot, he grabbed the satchel that held his pre-made shots and crept down the stairs.
The floor boards creaked, but the hostiles were to busy bullying the old man to notice. Marcus peaked around the corner to see three young men pushing the old man around. One of them, the leader it seemed, pushed the owned to the ground and put a knife to his throat. He started to make a request, but was cut off by a loud bang and a piece of lead driving itself through his brain. The two others looked towards the stairs in disbelief to see Marcus standing at the landing with a smoking pistol in his hand. One of the grunts yelled and charged at Marcus with his sword. It was the last mistake he ever made. Marcus dropped his pistol and raised the rifle. A pull of the trigger sent the mini ball loaded in the gun into the bastard's face, sending bits of flesh and bone every which way as his skull imploded. The last brute was not so foolish. He turned heel and ran out of the hotel. Marcus couldn't stop him; by the time he loaded another round, his quarry would be in some back ally way far from the hotel.
Instead, he helped the old man to his feet. "You ok?"
"Yes, I'll be fine." he responded, brushing himself off. "You should get a move on, they'll be on top of this place in a few minutes."
Marcus murmured an agreement before realizing exactly what the old man had said. "Wait, aren't you leaving to?"
"No, I'd only slow you down." the man said solemnly. "I'll find a way out, but I wouldn't be going with you."
"Very well." Marcus said. He didn't like it, but he needed to respect the man's wishes. "Good luck." he said, and extended his hand.
The old man gripped the hand and shook it firmly. "And you as well." With that, Marcus turned away and left the hotel. He slipped back into the shadows, now armed and and ready to give these rebels a run for their money.
It seemed no one else had stuck around after the explosion. Bodies were here and there, but the half ruined tavern was for the 'most part' empty. She must of been knocked unconscious for a good while. Calia cleared out of there for the relatively safer street. She looked about, most of the buildings were in rough to worse shape. An explosion she remembered. She took off down the street, needing to get to someone who knows what's going on. Wincing from nicks and cuts she pressed on.
It only took a short while for her to come up to a point of defense held by Hyperion soldiers, and a mercenary of sorts from the look of it.
"General Rose approaching don't fire"!
They may have not had any intention of firing upon her but a rooftop gunman had the idea to shoot at them. The shot came high and slightly to the back, striking Rez's storage tank in the lower mid section. Flames burst out from the impact point, how the pack didn't explode was for the gods to say. But the dancing flame and some panic wasn't helping the situation.
Calia ran forward to the position, hopefully this merc could get the pack off before he was a burnt steak.
With a flipped switch the last gate closed, gears churning as it did. "There, the palace is fully secure now. No one gets in or out without high commands permission". With this doorway sealed everything in the palace was indeed secure, including the airdocks.
Ivan jumped back like a scared rat, yelling "Holy shit! Snipers! Shoot em ya assholes!"
He then pounced at Rez trying to put out the deathtrap strapped to his back. The dancing flames roared and bit at Ivan's hands. His eyes squinted as a tidal wave of flash backs instantly played the destruction of the Deadstar ship. But, the past couldn't hinder him and he strove forth assisting (hopefully) his new Captain.
"All right, you make for the ship and I'll keep these idiots busy." Rez said, picking up his flame-thrower and heading down the street towards the choke point behind the soldiers.
"Aye sir!" Zeke roared over the commotion and giving a quick salute. Remembering his empty pistol he crouched down among the dead bodies. He had only brought two pistols with enough ammo for one shot from each. He had already fired one for all the good it had done and he didn't want to risk heading back to the air docks with only one shot left. After a short spot of foraging among the fallen he managed to scavenge a brace worth of pistols. Rigging up a makeshift harness with a pair of dead men's belts he strapped up a trio of extra pistols. Three across his torso and two at his waist (including his empty one, after all it was his). He would have cut quite an intimidating figure if he weren't so skinny... and wearing a waistcoat. No one looks intimidating in a waistcoat. With that taken care of he headed off towards the docks.
"Ivan 9 toes. Sounds better then Crazy Ivan."
"You don't want to lose a toe Ivan, it's way more hassle than it's worth. You can always just poke a hole in your boot and tell people I shot you." Being new is always tough Zeke laughed to himself.
He made his way around a corner, keeping an eye out for any trouble. The streets seemed completely dead. He let out a cautious stage whisper of a call. "Eva... Eva. Kay? Anyone? Is anybody there?"
When Tostundir reentered the room it was clear as day that he was already missing the curtains that Evangeline had destroyed. "I assure you I can pay for them." She interjected, and it was true; Evangeline had quite a secret stash of money back on the Firebolt though that obviously meant she didn't have it here now.
Evangeline also noticed Tostundir's new armed look and also accepted the weapons from him, stashing the pistol in one of her large pockets and testing the dagger's balance for a moment. For heavy foot fighting like this she might have preferred a short sword or even a long length of pipe, but she wasn't going to whine when this was all that was available.
Then there was the question of the sketch. True, Tostundir had even just handed her a weapon, but she still couldn't be quite sure just how complex his plans were. She would much rather confront him over that later, sometime when she held the advantage. First she had to make sure there would be a later.
"Nope." She lied easily about the sketch. "but if you left it out there it might have blown away." Normally Evangeline was very confident in her ability to lie, but for a moment she wondered if this unusually observant person would know or not.
With that Evangeline followed Tostundir over to the door. She nodded when he asked if she was ready, but was genuinely surprised when he again asked for her name. This man seemed to have a very strange set of priorities, though it might be a touch more explainable if he actually did have some premeditated intention for the scorchers.
Still, he seemed both reliable and somewhat trustworthy. Evangeline did feel like he had earned something at least. "Fair enough Tostundir. My name is Evangeline." She felt a touch of mecheviousness run through her. "And you can know the rest once we make it through this." She gave a flash of a smile before turning a touch more serious. "I need to go rejoin my people," It was pretty obvious that Tostundir had figured out she was a sky pirate, but she still didn't feel like admitting it out loud for some reason, "but what about you? Do you have any plans?" Evangeline hated to admit it, but she would feel bad if something happened to Tostundir though she couldn't quite put her finger on why.
"Fair enough Tostundir. My name is Evangeline. And you can know the rest once we make it through this."
Tostundir returned Evangeline's smile. "Very well then, Evangeline".
"I need to go rejoin my people, but what about you? Do you have any plans?"
He considered this question for a moment. "... Survive?" He felt that that summed up his plans pretty well. At least I'm better equipped than most other people in the city, he thought to himself as they began heading into the streets. "As far as I can tell, the best thing would be to head to the airdocks. The... er... pillagers, for lack of a better word, will probably also be heading there as the most valuable property is going to be there. Also, it'll cut off the escape from the city for most people, unless they have access to private docks", he remarked as he stared studiously at the ground in front of him.
"Either way, it would be best to head there as that is where we will be able to make the largest impact of the enemy's forces." He slammed his fist into his hand for effect. "And of course, if there are any difficulties, then we can make good on our escape from there more easily than anywhere else." He continued, "And another thing: like minded individuals are likely to converge there for those selfsame reasons." At this, he looked up and grinned, moving his left arm to flex the strength assistor he'd mounted. It gave out a satisfying burst of steam as he did this.
He abruptly turned back to the street in front. "So what about you? Do you have any idea where your ... 'people' ... will be at this stage? I should think that they will be heading for the airdocks as well. That is, if they have any sense of self-preservation." He added the last part as he had heard of pirates that didn't. Furthermore, he was under the impression that those who did were in the minority. That said, the emergence of this Evangeline lady did alter his preconceptions. It seemed that today was a good day to learn something new. He hoped that the knowledge would not be wasted in his death, as the sounds of conflict drew nearer and nearer.
Evangeline raised a questioning eyebrow when Tostundir mentioned 'like minded individuals', it made her wonder if he could really be that idealistic. Evangeline figured most of the response would be from the military and guards, while most normal folk would just do what they could to keep their heads down.
When he talked about self-preservation she couldn't help but give an exasperated snort and roll her eyes. She should be so lucky. "Unfortunately I do. Saw them in your spyglass." She motioned in the direction of the balcony. "They're right in the thick of it as I guessed." She considered for a moment, she did feel like she owed this Tostundir something. "But if you want me to take you to the airdocks first, I'll do that. Try not to take too long in deciding though." She clearly was speaking of the approaching noise though she could tell it was still a ways off.
Zavier heard the sounds of fighting outside. They were getting progressively louder. He didn't like that. Time was ticking down slowly, and he was increasingly certain that the pirates weren't returning, or would return too late to do anything. He had hoped they would come back to the ship, they would certainly make escaping easier, however, he also knew that they weren't strictly necessary, just convenient. With the sounds of battle slowly creeping toward them, convenience was being rapidly outweighed by necessity.
"We can't wait much longer." He said to Tara. "We need to leave soon. Scorchers or no. This is getting too risky." He quietly began creeping around the hold, slowly making his way to the door. He could reasonably steer the ship, he considered, hopefully Tara would be all the crew he'd need to get airborne and away from the capital. The airways would be watched, but he'd take his chances steering the ship in the air than waiting in a box on the ground any day.
Tara was snug as a bug into a rug, except the sounds of fighting was getting louder and time was ticking on. The Scorchers looked to the too busy enjoying the chaos. Sky Pirates were always short on thoughts of self-preservation, in contrast to Tara, who had crept on the line between life and death, only saved by the services she gave to the Republic, and didn't want to be in that place ever again. The city was being torn apart, it was time to get out of here, bugger the pirates. They could always rape and pillage their way to another airship, an option Tara wouldn't even think of. Getting to her homeland and getting Uleth free of Republican occupation was the priority, not the lives of pirate scum.
"We can't wait much longer." He said to Tara. "We need to leave soon. Scorchers or no. This is getting too risky."
Tara was glad that he shared the same sentiment. She almost too eagerly replied with, "Well, you never got to say your questions."
She pounced out of the den, with all the chaos she wondered why Zavier crept slowly to the door in an attempt at stealth. Assassins' habits, she concluded as she followed him out of the hold.
"Ha!" Tostundir was surprised by the way Evangeline had phrased her words. The way she'd said "if you want me to take you to the airdocks first, I'll do that" made him sound like a child. Of course, his sudden outburst was not meant as an insult to her combat abilities: in fact, as a Sky Pirate, hers were probably quite effective, and her reactions had already been proven - it was just that, here he was, kitted out with personally designed weaponry, and she was talking about taking him to the airdocks, like a boy to his friend's birthday party.
"No, no, it won't be necessary for you to take me there, Gods no, it's just that... well, I thought you might have some personal effects - weaponry, exra armour, perhaps some ammunition - stored there that you might want to retrieve before you enter the fray. And besides, some of your... ahem, companions, may already be there who could, sort of, fill you in, as it were, on the situation. In summary, I think it would make an excellent first port of call, if you'll forgive the pun". Of course, there was the whole safety in numbers thing, but he didn't want to let on about that. She'd probably be just as glad of the company as he was.
In the not-too-far distance, he thought he heard someone calling out...