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ON, VSV Astarte Shuttle Bay
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
15:46, Commonwealth Standard Time
Mu'Tasim sighed glumly as Anik seemed to persist on the subject. Yes, he had defeated the unknown Frame on his own, and the infantry squad that came to relieve them were full of themselves. However, the Temple Guard had his reasons for not wanting people to know he had done such a thing. Honestly, he had hoped that by keeping her safe, she would neglect to pursue such things any further.
"Vadranno, I am a man of counsel, and a symbol of order and stability on this ship." explained Mu'Tasim, keeping a square face as he seemed a little observant of their surroundings. "It is difficult to maintain such a facade when people know you possess the ability to kill in such a fashion."
As they walked they happened upon one of the elevators which was used to travel between the different decks of the Astarte. Judging by the red lights flashing within the open lift, it seemed that it had been locked-down when the frame blew a hole through the Storage Room's ceiling. There they'd find Zus and Szemis, apparently stuck, and unable to find help as they had been asked before. Closer to the broken elevator, was Agni, speaking to another two people that Mu'Tasim himself didn't recognize. One was a dark, heavily-dressed Sund Wakir, and the other, a rather attractive and young Eyr Ranr. Near them was another pair Mu'Tasim could see, Akjit and Firuz, the two of them also halted by the out-of-order machine.
"Hmm, well this is a problem." Mu'Tasim said gruffly, staring and the gathering of the different characters and the elevator itself.
"Ah, damn it." cursed Agni, looking up and down at his broken mode of transport. He had planned to take both the new arrivals up to the bridge, but with the large shudder of the deck, their elevator abruptly stopped on the level they were now. It left the usually smooth Eyr Ranr with a soured face, but he tried not to let the setback get to him.
As they approached, they would hear Zus and Szemis arguing over whether it was a better idea to try and fix the elevator or find another one. Szemis was adamant that he could repair the broken structure, despite having no tools and having never worked on an elevator before. Zus was adamant that he was full of herdtitan dung and that they should have tried harder to find another way to get help, but so far it had only produced a lot of steam and a stream of Eyr Ranr curses as the siblings squared off agaianst one another verbally.
Akjit stood there in the elevator, slightly confused at the elevator's refusal to continue on it's journey. His finger pushed the button a few times before he realized that the doors were open. "Oh, sorry. Are you guys trying to get on or something?" The Ivuori asked. He stared at their faces for a moment; even a newb such as himself could tell something was wrong. "Um, did something happen?"
Mannat looked around, somewhat concerned. "Your ship usually jump around like that?"
"Only when we have NVR frames going rogue in the storage bay." Anik was somewhat ascerbic after facing death, only to have someone else kill it for her, but tried to hold her tongue in the presence of someone with the same amount of clout as her. It would be bad form to slip in any insults just because she was a little pissant.
"Luckily for us... we had a bunch of troopers show up and put the thing down before it tore a hole through the Astarte."
Mu'Tasim smiled thankfully at Anik, assuredly letting her know that he was grateful for her to play along. Though, he tried not to make it too obvious by making the gesture short, and then stepping forward. After the elevator and the large assortment of people, the growing arguement between Szemis and Zus was something that held a high point on the Guard's attention. While he knew the woman wouldn't lash out on purpose, he knew that Zus, when not in check, could act recklessly. So he stepped over to them and placed a hand on both their shoulders.
"I believe we've settled the matter, so no need for any more arguing." resolved Mu'Tasim, a warm smile on his face, but a suspicious eye on the Eyr Ranr that had been arguing with Zus. He didnt' recognize him, in fact, he didn't recognize the heavily-clothed fellow either. This bothered him slightly, as he had seen at least most everyone on the ship at least one, it was something that came with being a steward. At any rate, he'd have to make an effort to acquaint himself with what appeared to be new arrivals.
After a few minutes of travelling along the elevator, Mu'Tasim would notice a small ping coming from his Datarod, indicating that he had a message waiting. The voice that came on was yet again that of the familiar missions operator, who seemed to be somewhat less calm than her usual composed self. A trained ear like that of the Temple Guard might even notice that she was less controlled than her tone during the chaos of the battle over Mazerin days before.
"Vaytulri Farouk. The technical staff investigated the unit... but there was no pilot in the cockpit and no automated combat subroutines in the NI core. Initial reports are hazy, but the Master Mechanist Kharam says the unit might have been fitted with a Quantum Link device that is registering commands from a controller somewhere on this ship."
"You're saying we have an infiltrator?" asked Mu'Tasim responding to the call, not mind how audible he was to the others.
"It's suspected." The voice seemed to have calmed down a bit after hearing his reply, and continued briskly. "The XO is asking that you gather a team of people you can trust, and meet him in the wardroom on Deck 22. There is a specialist who may be of some use in this scenario, who he will identify for you and your team."
"Hm." was what Mu'Tasim summed that up with. There were already three people in front of him that he didn't seem to know all that well. Though, he figured, if they were the ones who had been using the control device, one of the people that he trusted would've known. At any rate he pointed at male-looking counterpart of Zus, then at the heavily-dressed fellow, then at the Eyr Ranr woman standing with him.
"The three of you, if I may ask, what are your names?" asked the Temple Guard.
Mannat was still contemplating Anik's statement about a frame blowing things up onboard a military vessel, somewhat wondering if she was kidding. Mu'Tasim's question was another little mystery for him, one which was almost solved by a little telepathic digging, but the other Sund Wakir's question brought him back into the present. "Lanbalri Mannat Saad. Something about an intruder, sera?"
"Vayshirin Stoya Alyona. Greetings." Stoya snapped a salute, much more formal then she had been since Agni had taken them off and about, getting much more businesslike it seemed as she saw a much higher ranking and obviously more formal man come towards them and ask their names. Again she fell back to silence, making sure to speak only when spoken too.
By now Akjit had stepped out of the elevator to listen in on Mu'Tasim's Data Rod. It felt like a small rock had settled into his stomach when the details were given out, overwhelming the good feelings from earlier. 'We had an enemy frame on board? Saints...that's insane, even by cartoon standards.' He briefly tried to figure out just who could have been the one controlling it by this 'Quantum Link' device. Then again, he was relatively new, so any guess he had probably was far out the mark. He thought back to Savitri. Savitri Talya, the prisoner, for a faint moment. 'Nah, it can't be her.' He listened to one of the newcomers introduce herself.
He waved hello when she finished despite her serious tone and formal posture. "Hello."
Szemis looked at the white-haired man with a bit of disdain, but, seeing as the man outranked him, the young Eyr Ranr answered. "My name is Szemis Storhan, sir."
Zus tried to reamin composed, but the closest she could manage was to put and hand on her face to keep her annoyance in check. She'd really hoped to not see Szemis, and now, here he was, with an equally annoying mix of fawning over her and acting as if he were superior since he had made it through training and gotten a position in the Astral Vanguard. "Mu'Tasim, Meet my brother." she muttered, through clenched teeth, sounding a bit exasperated.
"B-brother?" Mu'Tasim stared between Zus and her blood relative. He blinked a few times, before shaking his head.
Anik clasped her hands together and smiled dreamily, letting out a small chuckle. "Oh wow! You're both so cute when you're all matched up"
"Argh, that's enough from you, Vadranno." quipped the Temple Guard, his focus returning to the situation.
"Ehehe... alright, sorry Vaytulri." The infantrywoman took a step back, rather embrassed by her outburst but still too stunned to calm down entirely. Eyr Ranr siblings serving together on a ship, looking like they could be twins or lovers... in one of those awkward Cholpon Caspar romance novels. She wiped a small tear from the corner of her eye. "Siblings, haha." She chuckled under her breath.
Mu'Tasim stared at Anik for a moment tilting his head, not exactly seeing the out-of-ordinary until doing a double-take on the twins. Szemis, a little more broad shouldered than his sister, could easily have been mistaken for a woman. This thought sent chills down the Guard's spine.
"At any rate." recovered the Vaytulri, "Our presence has requested on Crew Deck 22, all of you are to come with me."
"Even m--?' started Agni.
"No, Lantulri Dev." interupted the Guard.
"I don't trust you." said Mu'Tasim firmly, and with that, the Quartermaster gave a shrug and then a wink to Stoya before walking off and rounding the corner. Mu'Tasim held in his next words until he was sure Agni was around the corner. "Let's move out."
"Oh, buck up Lantulri. I'm sure you'll get another shot at impressing our 'ever charming' XO." Anik said with a glib smile, giving the crippled Eyr Ranr a playful jab in the back as she passed him by. She was rather reticent to deal with him in person herself, but figured that it was the least she could do for Mu'Tasim after he'd saved her life before.
As Akjit followed the group, he couldn't help but have his curiosity rise as they talked. "Guys? What do you mean our 'ever charming' XO exactly?" He asked. Apparently, he'd been stuck under a rock for too long.
"The Marranr Nejem, Chirimar." Mu'Tasim clarified as he took note of the elevator that had once before been locked-down had now reactivated for use. "He's a very stoic character, in crowds and in person. Now, let's all move along, these orders came from command, I do not feel like giving them a reason to berate us."
Mannat began to follow his superior. "Can you give us some specifics on what we're doing, sera?"
"Basically, we have an infiltrator. That's all is speculated. Nothing else is for sure except the frame I dis-..." Mu'Tasim coughed, "The frame our relief squad disabled had a remote control system on it. So, with that, we can only assume there is someone on this ship that is not one of us."
Anik gave Mu'Tasim a small jab in the back, passing him back to take the lead. "Wardroom's in this hallway, up ahead. I've done security shifts on this level."
Stoya listened in to the others as she followed the others, simply holding her comments to herself. Watching the others she made sure to take in everything around her and what the others were doing themselves.
"I wouldn't say Cute-" Szemis began before finding his sister's open palm jamming his mouth shut, the unhappiness apparent on her face. Already it seemed that the moron had forgotten their argument, and Zus was getting really close to just yelling at him to go away. Instead she moved Closer to Mu'Tasim, whispering to him "Hey, do you think you could do something about him? Like lock him in a closet or something?"
But then Szemis appeared again, looking over Mu'tasim and wondering what Zus was doing so close to him. He somewhat heard what Zus had said, but misunderstood and then said what he had thought she had "So you think the intruder's in the closets? Should we look there?"
"Yes" Zus answered, drearily "Go search all the closets, Szemis."
After collecting the data on the lifeforms, Mridula and Ishtar had convinced the sensors operator to leave them intact and unharmed, refusing to harm another species on principle. The operator had grudgingly accepted their judgement, unwilling to place himself in the line of fire over a morally questionable gesture. The air was tense, and his gaze did not lift from the scans of the xenosophonts even after many moments.
It took many seconds, but he finally glanced back to the other two. "So what do we call them?"
Ishtar looked helplessly down at her own feet then. "I don't know. I've never named anything before."
"Oh c'mon. What's the point of keeping them alive if you're not going to give them a legitimate name?" The operator said in an indistinctly sarcastic tone, gently rubbing the nape of his neck with his sleeve. "I have to share a name with that weird engineer-composer-auteur from Ghoroun, and it's tough enough to get by like that."
"Ugh. Fine." Mridula leaned back in her chair, propping her feet up on the shuttlecraft's console as she thought. "...how about... Madhinars?"
Looking somewhat frazzled by having to think of a name, Ishtar began rubbing the sides of her head vigourously in frustration. The NI had never named anything before beyond designating targets and the like. By now she was hunched forward and grunted as something finally came to mind.
"What about Kazi Adnan? It's ancient Saali that translates to: 'To Judge Settlers'. Does this work? Or do I have to think more? From how they are acting it seems as if they are watching us just as we are them."
"Hah. For a second I was pretty sure you were referring to... something else." The operator said with a small grin.
Mridula shot a glare over to the operator. "Pervert."
"What?! I was talking about how judgemental you two were b-" The man piped down and seemed somewhat off-put. "Guh. Nevermind."
Ishtar looked over the side of Mridula's chair and right at her from her seat on the floor. "Why did you call him a pervert? Was he saying something inappropriate?"
"I just figured he was thinking about you in that linksuit, Ishtar." Mridula leaned over, hooking her legs around her chair to keep on it, and gave the small NI's hair a ruffle.
"Is there something wrong with me in this linksuit?" Ishtar asked, closing her eyes as her hair was ruffled and despite herself she blushed slightly at both the contact and what was said.
"No, but there isn't anything okay with... ugh. Nevermind." The sensors operator was clearly somewhat distracted as he restarted the MASC drive and prepped to make a jump back towards the Astarte. There was a small rattle coming from the MASC core, a slightly stronger ripple in the distortion fields as space funneled itself around the ship to propel it in the proper direction.
"So what are we going to say when we get back? 'Oh, we found the signals, they were being made by baby space whales and you'll just have to take our word for it'? I mean, I have those pictures, but... those would have taken me about five minutes in Veyshop."
"I have audio/visual recordings including more detailed sensor readings." Ishtar piped up from where she was. "The Vaygraiv may take our word for it if I were to show him the data I collected myself as well as what you two have as well." she stood then and stretched slightly having gotten a cramp from sitting the way she had, the deck hadn't exactly been soft. "Since I have no reason to falsify data."
"Mmmn." She leaned back in her seat, folding her arms behind her head and closing her eyes.
"Really, the data itself is pretty worthwhile. It's still less than a tenth of what a tissue sample or a live specimen would have been worth in terms of research value, but..." The sensor operator said with a nod, glancing back at the overhead display. He likely would have said more if he didn't care to offend, but cut himself short. "The MASC drive's up and running, so we'll be back at the Astarte after about twelve seconds of FTL. Just give the word."
"The word. ...wait, what word are we giving?" One glowing eye cracked open, fixing on the hapless sensors operator.
"To make us go." Ishtar interjected..
"Alright, alright! Don't get your shorts in a bunch." The operator interjected with a small smirk.
Space again seemed to ripple around the vessel, distorting the slightly blue afterglow of the white sun emanating from behind them, and seemingly warping seared proto-planets into ribbons of color and light. The slight hum kicked in again, full force, and entire worlds flew past the shuttle in a matter of seconds. As he had announced, the operator had brought them back to the Astarte in no more than twelve seconds. The sun was little more than a tiny dot of white in the distant reaches of space, surrounded by specs of red and brown even less perceptible.
"Astarte, this is Svitri Kalbyan coming in to dock. We're flying smooth and steady, but a little hot with radiation. Set the bay shield to decontaminate us down to nominal rads."
Ishtar just prodded the man while looking on to the fast approaching vessel. "You could have just asked me. I've already started doing that as we dropped out of FTL. I am also uploading our findings to my secondary databanks on board the ship for review."
"Old habits. I'm not used to having our fleet intelligence as my co-pilot." He replied in surprise, grunting a little as he pulled himself from the seat controls and allowed the shuttle to enter autopilot.
"I do not know if the Vaygraiv will let me go off ship again unless we are within Commonwealth space. He seemed wary of my going off on this excursion. So this maybe my first and last time unless I can convince him otherwise. So you may not have to worry about it again." Ishtar replied with a little frown.
"Could be worse. You can do your job without being hooked up to a terminal all day thanks to that artificial body of yours. I have to stay cooped up in a pod for eight hour shifts. Kalbyan said with a shrug, leaning against the entrance of the shuttle. There was a small 'thud' as the shuttle made ground and landed back in the bay, followed by a slightly hissing. After a few moments, the airlock doors opened up.
The operator gave a small nod to the two women. "I'll catch up on the bridge. There was an abnormality in the MASC drive a bit earlier that I need to talk to the chief about."
Mridula nodded and stood from her chair, stripping her linksuit off and hanging it up where it belonged in the shuttle before she dressed herself in her uniform again.
Ishtar soon did the same, hopping on one foot as she pulled on her last boot before finally getting it on. "Do we go to the bridge now or are we free to go elsewhere?"
ON, VSV Astarte Shuttle Bay
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
16:00, Commonwealth Standard Time
As Mu'Tasim and the others entered the wardroom, they would immediately notice the slightly dimmed light and quiet atmosphere inside. Perhaps owing to the XO's preference, the room was vacant, with only the light sound of Ivuori opera and the dim glow of orange sunglasses in the far end standing out. He sat at the end of a long meeting table, resting his jaw over steepled fingers.
"Good." His acknowledgment of their arrival was short and somewhat terse.
Mu'Tasim snapped a firm salute in the presence of the XO.
"I have brought along a small group, as requested, Marranr." said the Temple Guard, keeping a stiff stance. He looked to the rest of those with him, as if expecting similar respect to the official.
"As you likely suspect already, there is an infiltrator aboard this ship. Salvage crews discovered a receiver inside of the unit's vacant cockpit, that indicated that the unit was somehow being controlled remotely by its pilot." Serhan explained, his voice calm and relaxed. He leaned into his hands, gently rubbing his mouth onto his gloves hands side to side, as if in deep thought for a moment. "The device utilized quantum link communications similar to the control system of Soono, but the controlling platform is not artificial."
"There is a man on this ship, a transfer from the VIA. He is one of a small percentage of people capable of utilizing quantum brainwaves... a telepath, if you please. They will be able to feel the prescence of another user, and track them down."
Mannat smiled lightly and saluted. "Sir. Mannat Saad. I'm your telepath. Where should we start looking?"
"I was surprised as well." Serhan's demeanor ran contrary to his words, but a perked eyebrow seemed to be the best indication of any genuine surprise. "The quantum brainwave user is likely somewhere in lower decks, lacking any identification. For the instant, assume your target has limited movement abilities on this ship."
By now, Akjit had worked himself out of his food obsessed stupor; she'd have to wait. This was far more important. The young man's mind had finally accepted the seriousness of the situation, and just what might happen next; the opera music playing in the background was one of this young Ivuori's favorites as well, and helped him to focus. Still, there wasn't anything for him to say, and he stood there quietly a little behind Mu'Tasim, plus company.
"He is armed and likely quite dangerous. He's succeeded in evading security teams and the internal sensors."
"Understood, sir. I take it that the Vaytulri here will be the search coordinator?" Mannat responded, already considering how to sweep the lower decks.
"I will lead our group, yes, but..." Mu'Tasim scratched his beard, looking up at the ceiling in thought. "Why didn't you just call me yourself? Relay the orders and information on-site, so that we wouldn't have to gather, and then move." For a few seconds, the Vayturli waited for a response before realizing exactly what he had done, he raised up his hands quickly in a condoning fashion. "N-not that I'm questioning your direction, sir!"
Alia raises a hand. "Excuse me, but what is my role in this?" She asked, finally deciding to pipe in.
Mannat narrowed his eyes and appraised Mu'Tasim and Alia. Not the most professional crew around here the telepath thought to himself. He thought back to Agni and shuddered somewhat.
Akjit swallowed once as Mu'Tasim finished speaking, the Ivuori's blood spiking, and briefly racing. He didn't know much about Serhan, but was he the type to, to...punish people over small little things? Akjit briefly thought back to his drill instructor, and visibly shivered.
Serhan raised his hand as if to dismiss the notion he had taken offense, and turned to respond to Alia. "The ship's ANIOS has been reporting subsystem tampering and sabotage all along the lower decks. Automated repairs are slowing the damage and the infiltrator lacks access to critical systems, but you may be of use in pointing out areas where the ship has been tampered with."
"Unless you would willingly pass up your Knight Vaytulri's recommendation?"
"Wait... What?" shambled Mu'Tasim, slightly thrown off by what he heard. "I... Marranr, sir. I believe you are mistaken, don't you mean Acolyte-Vaytulri?"
Alia turned to watch Mu'Tasm's reaction, then returns her gaze to Serhan. "So, you want me to act like a Dirhoun to find this person?" She asked, crossing her arms.
The XO perked an eyebrow and brushed his nose a little. "Oh, of course. I'll have to redress this error soon."
"O-oh..." responded Mu'tasim, looking down at the floor with what appeared to be disappointment, before quickly resuming his professional demeanor.
Stoya watched the exchange between Mu'Tasim and his superior with marked interest, her eyes switching back and forth between the two as they spoke respectively. She made sure to not get in the way, but regardless it was evident that she was listening closely.
Mannat sighed slightly. "Sirs, if we could, I would like to get moving. We don't know where the saboteur is or what he's packing." Saad reached into his jacket and removed his Laiz Pistol, and made sure it was ready to go hunting.
"In any case, you are dismissed." Recognizing the VIA operative's appropriate desire to resolve the issue quickly, Serhan stood up and gestured to the door. "I'm giving all of you temporary access to the armories on all decks of the ship, in case you need to arm yourselves further."
"Hrm, Vadranno." Mu'Tasim looked over at the bright-skinned infantrywoman, a hand nestled in his white beard. "Where is the nearest armory on this deck?"
As they filed out, Akjit gave out a sigh of relief. Through errors and tidbits that would have made his old drill instructor have a heart attack and return as a vengeful zombie, they were all in good shape. The Ivuori rubbed his chin and thought of what would be best to handle the situation, eyeing the Laiz pistol Mannat held. "U-um, I. I got dibs on the Laiz Carbine." Akjit tentatively spoke.
"Thank you, sera," Mannat responded, saluting once more. "Where's the nearest armory?"
"This is one of the armory decks, so there should be one near the center of the ship, towards the bow." Anik replied to Mu'Tasim, looking back at him with a slightly curious look. "Since you're in charge of this little op, how do you plan on getting the guy?"
"Hrm... Well, I've never worked with a telepath before." Mu'Tasim looked over at Mannat with a curious expression, before turning back to Vadranno, "If he can truly sense our target, then we have no choice but to sweep the lower decks until he detects this intruder."
"Is there any weapons in specific you wish for us to bring along sir?" Stoya asked of Mu'Tasim. She was all work, respectful of him as she followed along with him.
"I'd stick to Carbines and keep your sidearms handy. The Rifles are too long for ship-based CQC, even if they're that much better at punching holes into people." Anik said with a small nod, clearly knowing her stuff. "Faelraigs might be useful too, but I doubt our guy would want to have a sword duel with anyone if he sees a Temple Guard leading the pack."
"Alright! Let's gather our weapons and locate this intruder." ordered Mu'Tasim, "Vadranno, you'll lead us to the armory since you're familiar with it's location. From there, we will take the lifts down to the lower decks and allow Lanbalri Saad to guide us until he detects our target. Now, let's move out."
As Akjit followed behind them, he couldn't help but think one thing, and finally voice it out loud. "Guys? Umm...this might sound silly, but why have we never attached Faelraigs to our Rifles and Carbines? Or have we?"
"Temple Guard deploy Fael-Raig mounted carbines in body-guard situations. We use them, when deactivated, to disable enemies, and, when activated, a painful lesson." informed Mu'Tasim.
"And they got 'em really fancy particle beam spears when they're feeling really saucy." Anik said with a somewhat coy grin, nudging Mu'Tasim in the back as she passed him by and entered the armory. The suite was rather small for a cruiser's bay, and likely a downscaled secondary room for that area of the ship's usage. Rifles, Carbines and spare capacitor packs were lined up and docked into charging stations, while suits of bio-armor were stashed into the walls.
The young Ivuori's eyes lit up with passion and desire as the two spoke. "Thats...that's. Awesome." There just wasn't much else he could say to express how he felt. It was as simple as that.
Stoya grinned a little at the idea of a Fael-Raig attached to a rifle, but she made sure to keep her comments to herself as she made her way into the armory and picked out a carbine for herself. "Are we allowed to take Fael-Raigs?" Stoya asked of the higher ups, not wanting to get ahead of herself by grabbing one on her own.
"Particle Spears are reserved for the Knight and Master Guardians. To be assigned your own..." Mu'Tasim looked wistful for a moment, as if day-dreaming, "... that, is a great honor." He shook his head, and grabbed himself a Carbine, stowing it away under his robe. Strangely, he seemed to do it in such a fashion that made it appear he wasn't even carrying a weapon at all. He looked over at Stoya, arching his brow at the woman.
"Are you trained in the usage of a Fael-Raig in close-quarters?" asked the Vaytulri.
Mannat simply grabbed a couple more capacitors for his pistol, forgoing heavier equipment. He also removed a mid-sized combat knife from the recesses of his clothing, making sure it was battle-ready.
"I wish I could hide things like that Mu'Tasim, sir." Akjit stated. In truth, he would hide so many other things. Food, maybe little video games to keep him occupied. Maybe a bit of Salcra too. But wait, then wouldn't the robe get heavier? The best bet was food then. The Ivuori's mouth watered a little as he grabbed a Laiz Carbine from it's locker, simultaneously thinking of a warm box of kebabs. A five pocket bandoleer full of capacitors was tied around his waist like a belt as various sweet candies and treats came to mind. 'Hang in there. I promised I'd bring you something, didn't I? the Ivuori thought to himself.
"While not as well trained as Temple Guardians sir..." It was Stoya's turn to get a bit wistful, smiling a rather warm and sweet smile before she continued, "I am trained yes sir. After the mission though, I am more then open and willing to learn anything I can from someone like you though." Stoya was kind of stepping out on a limb as she made her comment to Mu'Tasim, but maybe he would teach her...?
"Weapons training? Well..." Mu'Tasim seemed to think on such a notion for a moment, before finally awarding an answer, "Let us discuss something like this after our duties are finished, my free-time is minor at best, but I'm sure we could work something out." The Temple Guard looked out towards the corridor, "Are we ready?"
"Awwwright. Let's hope you airborne ladies can keep up with two ground-poundin' vets." Anik said with a bright grin, grabbing a hold of a Carbine and strapping a few capacitors onto her leg holsters. "Just play it smart and we'll bag our guy easier than two Dirhoun raiding a pisciculture basin."
Stoya was all smiles, seemingly taking his answer as a yes as she nodded and snapped a quick salute again. "I can keep up with anyone I need too." Her grin grew even more as she went to grab a few more capacitors, stuffing them into any spare pockets she had that was open and free before waiting to move out.
Mannat laughed to himself as he put his weapons away once again. "I can assure you I won't have any trouble keeping up. Now, if you lot are ready, where are the elevators?"
"Wait. I thought they were broken or something?" Akjit asked, a hint of worry in his voice. He recalled being stuck inside them, putting his face close up to the console and pushing the buttons to no avail. The close confined space. And company. Firuz was a good guy, but the air started to feel stale fast. He shivered. "D-d-did they fix them now?" he stuttered.
"The lift was in emergency lockdown due to the damage to the internal structure of the ship. Likely, function has been restored to them, and if we head back down the corridor we came, we can pile into it and make our way down." Mu'Tasim gave a comforting smile to the fearful-sounding Akjit, before regarding the rest of them. Already, he took the lead making a quick pace to down the corridor to their destination. Of course, as the leader, he expected his allies to keep up. "When we confront our target, I want no-one shooting until Vadranno or I call for it. These weapons, hopefully, will serve for show and discourage our target. Though, if he is violent, no one fires until we do."
"You got him. Let's head out." Anik said with a rough shake of her head, starting for the doorway.
"I just hope it's not an NVR officer. Savitri said they're hardcore, unlike herself, and really want us all dead." Akjit spoke, recalling what the prisoner of war said to him. He firmly griped his Laiz Carbine, but was sure to keep his trigger finger out of the trigger guard as he went along. Recalling what the XO said about what the intruder was doing though, sabotaging the ship and evading capture for this long...odds were likely this one wouldn't give up so easliy. The Ivuori gripped his carbine more firmly and checked it's ammunition counter.
Arriving at the elevator and dropping down to the lower decks, the team were greeted by a security team in light body armor and two large quadrupedal figures of clearly biomechanical origins, Haidan VAADW. Their bodies composed of glistening white plates interspersed with rubbery terra cotta-colored musculature, they seemed to have an oddly docile air about them despite clearly being somewhat monstrous in appearance.
"Alright. You guys can go through." One of the security crew said to the team, having clearly expected their arrival. His manner was brisk, but respectful. "We've already sweeped the bottom deck and secured most of this one. I'd check out some of the rooms before coming back to the elevator."
Alia blinked at the VAADW, something new for her to research. The design was simple and elegant.
Stoya nodded and followed the others, making sure to take care and watch for her target and wait for her order to fire rather then fire to quickly. She took up towards the back of the group, wanting to cover their flanks and get a better overall view of where they were going.
Mannat had rested his back against the elevator wall. He looked at the group he was with, and the security officials. He concentrated on the one speaking, and let himself into the other man's mind.
There was very little particular feedback from the man, perhaps because he was physically tired or simply concentrating on his job, although there were a few flickering thoughts of sweaters and turtlenecks. To anyone who could watch his eyes, it would be rather obvious that he was sizing up the women in the party... and then diverted his attention to the men, with similar intentions. Mannat rolled his eyes. What the hell is with these people? The telepath pushed himself off the wall, and then looked to Anik. She had been right next to the frame, and had survived remarkably well, so he went spelunking again.
Anik was actually rather on the ball, and her thoughts were rather rigidly set on the task at hand. She was concerned with impressing people with her abilities, and seemed to be somewhat uncomfortable... down there, for a reason that didn't quite translate into tangible thoughts for Mannat, who decided that maybe he'd stick to scanning people he hadn't met yet.
Akjit nervously shifted as they all stood still for some reason. What was the hold up? Was the person near by? He gently rolled his shoulders to try and release some of his tension, eyes darting from one person to another. 'It could be anybody, right? Maybe even one of them? No, that can't happen. The guards know each other, don't they?' He looked to Mannat and Mu'Tasim for guidance.
Alia looked around some, her interest in the VAADW's overwith, "So, where's the nearest terminal? If Serhan wants me to do my job here, I need to know where to do it." She muttered, rolling a shoulder.
Stoya followed out behind Alia, her carbine hefted up and in her hands as she surveyed the area, waiting to move out or be told what to do by the ranking officers.
"There are a few maintenance terminals around this deck, but we think they've been sabotaged already. Senbalri Kitan kept on getting false positives on particle leakages when the terminals one deck above are working just fine." The security crewman said with a slight shrug, pointing around the corner of the wallway.
"Well, that's why I'm here." Alia said. "Point them out and I'll get to work."
"Haha... hey." The security crewman gave a bitter chuckle, and patted the back of his neck. "I can't exactly leave my posting right now, but how 'bout you take a walk and look on both sides? You'll see the damned things."
Mannat stepped out of the elevator and into the hall. "Vaytulri, how are we going to do this?"
"We sweep these decks back and forth until we find our suspect. Since we have little more in the way of information, we will just have to check for anyone without an I.D. an have you see if you can reveal their intention and fealty." answered Mu'Tasim, gazing around the corridors, unsure exactly how he'd pick out such a person. Likely he'd have to ask the N.I. for such an endevour, but was a ship N.I. capable of detecting any un-I.D.'d individuals?
The Temple Guard's train of thought was cut somewhat short by the rattling sound of a blast further down the hall. Smoke leaked from the hallways to the right, and a number of figures emerged from them, hurrying to escape whatever had caused the explosion. One of the figures, a slender girl in Mechanist work clothes saluted Mu'Tasim as the others stood around her impatiently.
"There's been an explosion near the access stairs leading down to the armory one deck bellow. Some of us stayed behind to put out the fire while the others got into hazmat suits in case there's been a charged particle leakage." She seemed to be distressed and explaining herself in earnest. "Vaytulri, could you-"
"We will investigate, yes." interrupted the Vaytulri, "My team has been tasked to get to the bottom of these disturbances. So, continue as you will, and no have no worries." The Vaytulri smiled at the mechanist warmly, "We will root this out soon enough."
Stoya's gun trained down on the explosion and those fleeing, though after a moment of seeing the personnel, she relented her weapon and lowered it to the ground. "Sir, should we be checking these people? Not to be rude but would it not be ideal to escape in confusion?"
Akjit jumped, startled at the sudden commotion, and remembering why he was down there, brought the carbine up and aimed at the people from the hip. Obviously, he wasn't meant for something like this. By the time he realized, with some embarrassment, that he was supposed to shoulder the weapon and had done so, the Ivuori had to put it back down. It was already over. "S-should I go after them then?" he asked.
"Hrm, we shall hold a moment." Mu'Tasim looked at the mechanist in front of him, eying her in a concerning fashion. Then, after what seemed to be a passing thought, he smiled again and asked, "Excuse me, but can we see your and your fellow mechanist's identification?"
As Mu'Tasim spoke, Mannat concentrated on the group who had just spilled into the hall, starting with the machinist.
The thoughts of the newly arrived people were rather normal, generally somewhat worried about the explosion and anxious to suit up and return to the site to make sure nothing bad had happened. The Mechanist that had spoken almost noticed his probing, but was distracted enough by Mu'Tasim's request for identification that she missed his intrusion into her surface thoughts entirely. One by one, the arrivals showed proper identification, and were allowed to enter the elevator to retrieve their equipment.
Mannat nodded as he watched them load into the elevator. "They're all clean."
Stoya had watched each one, ready to train her carbine on whichever one showed any signs or that Mannat gave a nod or whatever sign he would give... But it was a soft audible sigh that escaped from her as Mannat gave the all clear call.
Mannat focused for a moment, as he walked down the hall, searching for anyone who might be hiding, or at least, their mental signature.
Akjit was simply standing there, watching the relative silence pass by. When Mannat spoke though, Akjit felt like berating himself. 'Saints damn me! I should have realized he was doing his. Um. Thing. I should have been getting ready to point at them at least.' Akjit rolled his shoulders again and prepped himself for something, anything, to come their way.
Stoya again took up position near the back end of the group, making sure to keep a sharp eye out for anything out of the ordinary or wrong.
"Mmm, let's carry our search to the lower deck, investigate the armory and move from there. The Marranr advised us that our target lacks the advantage of mobility, so they can't have gone too far. If we don't find anything near there, I suggest moving to the next armor, as this seemed almost a strategic strike." surmised Mu'Tasim, walking into the stairwell, and leading the way down to the Armory...
As they passed into one of the numerous hallways in the ship's lower decks, Ishtar received a small ping from the ship's internal communications network, informing her to return to the bridge with her findings. In her absence, more anomalous readings had been discovered, and the senior officer on deck wanted to cross-reference the information before the Captain returned from his off-shift.
Having changed and disembarked from the shuttle, Ishtar had kept close to the Solanii Liaison having remembered the man who ran the shuttlebay. The NI had been keeping a constant vigil so as to avoid him when a ping caused her to cock her head a little to the side and frown slightly. So... they wanted her on the bridge? Well. So much for any sort of time to roam the ship, explore and have fun. In that instant the NI realized this is how it must feel for most people with jobs, especially critical ones.
"Uhm..." she began still wearing the frown. "They want me on the bridge. Since we've been gone they have performed more scans and require the information I recorded to cross-reference with their records."
"Uh... alrighty then." The liaison had been fidgeting since she changed out of the linksuit - it still felt like she was covered in the unpleasantly clingy material, even in her familiar, comfortable outfit. "Do you need me along with you?" She was also keeping a space-eagle eye out for the dockmaster, and had a kick in the crotch all ready just in case.
Ishtar's face flushed only slightly at the question. She nodded not soon after though and proceeded to grab one of Mridula's hands. "Yes... the man from before was... weird. And I don't think I would like to be alone right now with him around."
"Hey, hey, don't worry, I've got your back." Mridula's hand squeezed companionably at the NI's, and she swung the linked limbs together idly as they made their way towards the bridge. "Any news on exactly what he wants?"
Heading over to the elevator only took a few moments, but something wasn't quite right. There was a security team with Laiz Rifles guarding the entrance, and a pair of Haidan VAADW behind them braced to the walls. A momentary query over the ship's data network revealed that there was some worry about an infiltrator aboard, and that access to the lower decks was being temporarily restricted.
"Halt, Vaytulri, Ishtar. Access to this elevator is restricted, and we can't allow you to pass without first confirming your identities. It's just a formality while we resolve a security issue that cropped up while you were away."
"...what in nightmare is going on down there? And if there's an infiltrator who wanted to get in there, and one who's apparently capable of shapeshifting, don't you think it'd have the brains to knock one of us out and take our identification?" Mridula's eyes narrowed at the team, unfazed by the heavy weaponry. "How do we know one of you isn't the infiltrator?"
Ishtar looked momentarily confused by the guards and guns. Not to mention deployment of VAADW. The NI looked up at Mridula as she spoke and then back to the guards.
"It's standard VAADW deployment protocol that only high-ranking personnel have access to their deployment programs. If they're paired like this. I assume each security guard had to validate their identities with the onboard ANIE of each VAADW which inturn would loop back to ANIOS and finally me." she gave a brief explanation before smiling.
"If you want proof I can take control of the VAADW. Or give them my ident data."
"Just stand between the VAADW." The armored soldier gestured to the space between the units. "They're fitted with biometric scanners that will confirm you're who you are based on your blood vessel and brainwave patterns."
The biologist stepped forward, grumbling all the way, and stood between the VAADW with her arms crossed. Her eyes flicked in between each of them. "Well? Am I myself, or do you have to throw me out the airlock?"
"You're just fine, ma'am. Besides, spacing is what pirates with tiny munitions budgets do. We would just let the VAADW rip you to pieces, or broken out fresh capacitor packs and lit you up if you were a phony." The soldier made an off-color crack, patting the woman on the back as she went through. "Just head on and try to stay away from this sector until the problem is resolved."
"Yeah, and remember who makes your guns," the leggy woman muttered as she was ushered through the door. She stood on the other side, waiting for Ishtar with her arms crossed.
"Hyah, well... I don't have to report to that kind of higher power, sera." The soldier said with a curt nod, his likely grinning face obscured behind a non-transparent faceplate. "The NI can go right ahead. There's only one Lavans body on this ship, anyway."
Ishtar had watched with mild curiosity as the whole fiasco came to a close, only nodding when the guard said she could go through. Though she took a moment to stop and pat a VAADW on the head anyways before stopping in front of Mridula. The VAADW responded by cooing softly and nuzzling Ishtar's back as she passed it.
As they stepped into the elevator and punched in their target deck, the two would notice something slightly strange. Although the conventional Solanii elevator was just a tube of composite and plastics, some of the panels has been removed and some off-color pieces of machinery had been installed. Although it might pass for Solan technology to the untrained eye, there was clearly something off to the more experienced eyes of the corporate liaison and Solan-manufactured NI core.
"...wait a minute, what is that?" Mridula stepped closer to the modified wall. "Do you see what I see, Ishtar? ...did you feel any kind of intrusion?"
Ishtar merely squinted and began to check her records on this series of elevator, right down to the paintjob and compared it to the one they stepped into it. "I've looked up this model of elevator and have been comparing it the moment I noticed you said something. I do not recall seeing this on my schematics."
The elevator wasn't particularly impeded by the additions, and was able to make a stop without so much as a whine or a flash of light from the foreign components. The doors opened smoothly and without any incident. The person waiting at the entrance was actually one of the junior bridge crew, one Firuz Jaralei.
For a time Firuz had been waiting to use the elevator to leave to his quarters. He had gone and gotten the food for the prisoner at the brig with Akjit and then had come back to check on the bridge, before finally calling it a day to go to his sleeping quarters. When the doors finally opened, he saw Ishtar and Mridula. A bit surprised by their presence, he casually greeted, then asked. "Hey... aren't you two supposed to be on the bridge?"
Ishtar was still staring at the odd additions to the elevator not even looking at Firuz. "We were on our way. But I do not know if we should continue on this elevator."
"This looks bad," the liaison noted. "..and aren't you supposed to be on the bridge? You're the pilot. Are we going to crash into a planet or something?"
"I'm on my break. 'sides, I'm not really the pilot. I'm just a Vayshirin, after all..." He peeked into the elevator, trying to look at what Ishtar was staring at. "What is it?" He had somewhat forgotten he was talking to the ships NI. Even knowing she was the ships NI in a body was somewhat alien to him. It would take some getting used to knowing the ship had a body, and it walked around inside itself.
Ishtar simply began to back out of the elevator slowly as she spoke. "The ship is either on automatic pilot or a relief navigator has taken his seat until he returns." she looked up at Mridula as she hopped backwards and out. "I think we should report this to the chief of security and the Vaygraiv. And travel a different route."
"Shouldn't we just tear it out or something?" The liaison prodded at one of the protruding parts.
Ishtar waved her hands up and down clearly alarmed at Mridula's tampering of the foreign machinery. "No! Don't mess with i-" Ishtar was cut off just as there was a screeching noise from the touched components. The lights cut out suddenly and the elevator came to a quiet stop, as if the system had been forcibly shut down. Luckily for them, safeties inside of the elevator immediately clamped down, holding it in place and preventing them from plumetting over a hundred meters into the sub-structure.
"...oops. I broke it." She winced, rubbing her forehead with one hand.
Firuz had been thinking about what a drag it would be to walk to another elevator to get to the crew quarters, when suddenly Ishtar went hysterical and then the thing blipped and the whole elevator shut down on them and slipped down three feet before it stopped, short of hitting Firuz on the head. "... you broke it? Great..." Eyebrows basically sunk onto his eyes, lips tightening into a straight line from side to side of his face. "Well, now I have to use another elevator." He looked down at Mridula.
There was an audible beeping coming from the machinery now, and a slightly rattling. Ishtar's access to the Astarte's sensors would allow her to notice that an implanted subroutine was forcing the safety clamps to give out prematurely, and that they were already loosening up. Mridula was still inside, and the elevator had dropped enough with the initial shutdown that she would need assistance to be pulled out of it.
"...uh... help?" Mridula's face was glowingly panicked, her eyes staring up at the doors which seemed to be creeping further away with every moment. "Don't let it kill me!"
"Huh?! It's still-- ugh!" Firuz got bumped on his horns as the elevator sunk further slowly. That wasn't supposed to happen! These things were supposed to have a fail safe if they shut down! "Damn! C'mon! Grab my hand!" Firuz stretched out his arm and crouched down to reach for Mridula. He hoped she didn't weight too much. He wasn't exactly that strong either... he wasn't made for heavy weight lifting.
Ishtar was panicking in the background, alerting security teams on the deck to the situation. And even went as far as to contact the medical bay of possible injured. Though when she noticed the subroutine she was loath to try to hack it as a mere poke had brought this bad luck upon them.
Mridula reached up and grabbed Firuz' hand, her own just able to meet his.
His hand wrapped in a vice grip around Mridula's hand and he used the strength of his legs, arm and back to pull upwards as fast and as hard as he could, hoping Mridula would do everything in her power to help along the way. "Urrrggh!"
"Gyargh!" Mridula's feet scrabbled at the wall of the elevator, and she grabbed at the bottom lip of the door, trying to haul herself up with the aid of the starship operator and of her own muscles.
The rattling worsened, and the elevator pod immediately moved to drop. Mridula had been pulled out just in the nick of time, missing it closely enough that the tips of her feet had been smashed by the elevator doorway. She was lucky to escape that without any injury, thanks to the composite plate inserted into her uniform boots, but the shock left her ankles feeling rather numb and tender.
A few seconds later, the elevator hit the bottom deck, making an audible crash with a slightly 'wet' edge to it.
"...a-argh." The biologist sprawled on the floor , wincing and curling up slightly, the pain in her feet radiating up her legs. "I... guh. What was that squishy noise?"
Ishtar who had been panicking in a circle stopped as she saw Mridula on the deck, safe it seemed. The NI let out a little cry of joy at seeing this and immediately ran towards the woman before landing on top of her and giving her a hug.
Panting a little, Firuz looked down the shaft. There was only darkness down there, even after the crash. He turned to look at Mridula. "Are you okay?! SAINTS damn it, WHAT WAS THAT!?" The young Corhonl shook his arm a couple of times, trying to shake off some of the strain of lifting another person so fast and using so much strength in a single bound. "Someone's trying to kill us! INSIDE our OWN SHIP!"
Security teams arrived a few moments after the elevator finally fell. These crewmen were not in armor, and were only armed with their sidearms, so it was likely they had just been pulled from break to investigate. One of the officers, a somewhat pallid Mazerinii man with intricate cuneiform script etched into his horns stepped forward to address them, while two of his subordinates attended to Mridula. "Saints be damned. Were you three the only ones in the elevator?"
"Oh saints, am I going to die? Did it infect me with... with... elevator disease?" Mridula rolled over onto her knees and clutched at the hand she'd pried at the machinery with.
"It was originally only me and Vaytulri Osei in the elevator. The Vayshirin was standing outside the door about to enter as we stopped and the doors opened. But... But there was odd machinery within the elevator I had no record of on my databases or that corresponded with the make and model of this elevator series. I suspect it was sabotage." Ishtar hadn't let go of Mridula since she went to give her the hug, even now she was clutched to the woman in an odd sort of hug from her side.
One of the soldiers, a Sund Wakir man, elevated Mridula's head while the other, a woman of a similar stature and skin tone, attempted to ascertain her condition. She seemed to have considered removing her boots first, but instead decided to address her first. "How do your ankles feel? Can you move them? I might need to pull these off to make sure you haven't broken anything."
Mridula gave the NI an awkward look, then carefully put an arm around her, reassuring even though she was utterly terrified herself "...they hurt. They feel all... soft, and I think they... almost got cut off by the elevator. Go ahead and take my shoes off..."
"So, hold on, guys! Ishtar, if it is sabotage, who could've done it and why? How come you didn't pick them up in your sensors?" Firuz was trying to get his bearings. This was all too sudden to take in. Why would they put that thing in the elevator? Who did they expect would touch it? Was it Mridula's fiddling with it that had caused the elevator to fall down, or had it been staged to seem that way? There were too many questions in Firuz' mind and not enough answers... again.
Ishtar's cheeks reddend and puffed outward slightly. She usually took pride in her ability to track anything that went on within the ship. And being reminded of this foul up was like a pinprick that hurt. "One of four probable causes," she began, giving Firuz a level stare.
"One:I was off the ship with Vaytulri Osei investigating anomalous readings and my connection to the ship was minimal at best. So I was not able to track the whereabouts of any possible saboteur. Two: They could possibly possess a stealth technology I am unaware of or cannot detect and compensate. Three: They have assumed the identity of one of the crew and while our security was lax took the initiative and installed a number of foreign devices on board to sabotage the ship before security protocol was enacted. Four: Any combination of the three above."
"Alright. Brace yourself." The man holding her head up gave Mridula a pat on her head, just as his partner rather violently removed her boots. The gesture was actually quite innocuous and careful if seen by anybody else, but the Solanii liaison would likely be in too much pain to consider suddenly being in twice as much pain for a few seconds to be 'gentle'. Her ankles had turned bright red with smaller patches of burgundy when her socks were pulled off, which darkened a little as her feet flexed back.
The woman gave her a sheepish smile and attempted to act position. "Well. Nothing's broken, but you'll have to be carried to the Infirmary, or given a localized shot of Prajna to keep the swelling down."
Mridula let out an ear-rending scream, her nails digging into Ishtar's flesh as her hand convulsed with pain. The other fist pounded into the floor of the ship. The shriek only lasted for a moment, and then she slumped backward tearfully. "...s-saints damn it, just cut them off."
"Nightmares and death! What is up with that!? So is it possible there's a saboteur still inside the ship? How'd they'd get in the ship? Don't we have people..." Firuz sighed, looking at Ishtar's face. "...sorry. I'm just kinda pissed I almost died along with Vaytulri Osei here... and I'm probably cranky cuz I haven't had rest. And then there's the stuff the P.O.W. said..." The last sentence he said to himself. All of these unprecedented issues were starting to get to him. He was starting to think that the Commonwealth had double-agents within it. Maybe they weren't meant to go out in this expedition. Maybe all these fringe worlds were supposed to stay hidden from the public eye. Firuz hated hidden political agendas.
"Hey hey, relax. I don't want to send two people to the infirmary." The man grabbed Mridula's hand and attempted to pull it away from Ishtar, while his partner considered the options for treatment. She glanced back at Mridula and gave her ankles another look. "There's not much that we can do here, though. Do you mind if one of us carries you over there, or would you prefer that we just hold you up while you walk?"
"...normally I'd say... let me walk, but..." The liaison winced in pain. "...just don't pat my ass or anything. I swear I'll tear you in half."
|Epic Legendary Role-Player
ON, VSV Astarte Medical Bay
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
16:25, Commonwealth Standard Time
With the unexpected, and albeit painful of events from earlier the small group of three had split off. Firuz had stayed to give his brief take on what had transpired while the injured Liaison and NI had been escorted to the medical bay. The doctor on duty, Amari Al-Sumed had taken over immediately after she'd been placed on a medical bed. Thankfully it seemed nothing life-threatening had occurred beyond both her ankles being sprained along with bruising and swelling. Though the NI had been so worried Amari had to drag her away momentarily to settle down.
"Nothing is overtly wrong with you." Amari began as she was now fitting what looked like two semi-opaque casts on Mridula's feet that crept up to her calves. "Just two sprains and bruising. The swelling is natural." the doctor had her usual calm air about her while fitting the first cast on.
"And don't worry. This is just a little something new from Altjira for localized injuries in the limbs." she tapped the one she'd managed to get on for emphasis. "I'll be circulating Prajna through it in a more concentrated dose then a tank."
Mridula squirmed and complained the entire time Amari was putting the casts on. "How long will this prajna pumping take? Will I be able to walk soon?" She eyed the doctor suspiciously. "Am I going to have to use crutches?" She respected the woman and knew she did good work, but she had never reacted well to personal injury and was a bit antsy about the prospect of not being able to walk.
"Oh, nothing more then several hours of bed rest and these casts won't cure. By then you should be fine." Amari replied with a motherly smile as she fitted the other device on. "I notice you don't seem to be in too much pain anymore. I suppose that means the painkiller I gave you as you came in is working. You should be numb from the knee down anytime now."
"Nightmares. I hate doctors." She scowled as she loosely kicked her legs; she thought she could already feel them getting numb. "Have we figured out what that was in the elevator, yet?"
Amari looked over to Mridula, rather clueless of what she was saying. Though she let the comment about doctors slide. "I... don't know what you're talking about. The security officer only told me of you being in an accident involving an elevator yes. But nothing beyond that." at that time she looked behind her having heard sounds from behind a series of curtains.
The doctor then looked back to her patient. "Was something wrong with the elevator?"
"There was some kind of weird machinery in there. I touched it and the elevator started falling down the shaft. I'm only here because the new pilot pulled me out of there."
Amari grimaced both at what she was hearing from the woman and possible implications. "Do you suspect it was foul play? In the past some rebels had managed to infiltrate Vanguard vessels during the Third Conflict. But it hasn't been heard of since."
"There was a security cordon by the elevator, and they said that there was some kind of infiltrator. They made me do a biometric scan to make sure I'm myself." She shrugged. "Ishtar passed because she's the only Lavans on board."
The doctor nodded as the seal on the casts formed and she proceeded to fill each with Prajna. "Of course she is. I was the one who helped install her to the body along with a few Solan engineers to finalize the process." Amari frowned at the readings, adjusting them. "Alright... pressure is fine, and the miniature BHS is active. So you should just feel the prajna moving around the affected areas."
"Oh, how'd that go? Did she do all the dramatic finger-wiggling like you see in the movies?" As the pump turned on, she looked down at the casts partially covering her legs. "...huh. Feels like I'm back in my tank at home. It's kind of nice."
Amari nodded at analogy. In truth the casts were just mini-tanks with pressure applied to the areas to increase prajna absorption.
"No. She tried to get up and walk around. One of the engineers was so embarrassed because of her appearance and the lack of clothing he went from pale to red rather quickly." she tapped her chin at recalling the day's events. "Didn't help she stumbled into him."
As the doctor spoke, the subject of their conversation came out wearing a sleeveless turtleneck with the standard uniform pants. The NI held a too large labcoat in one hand and tried to put it on only to find the sleeves were simply too long. Foregoing that she tossed it aside as she made her way over with a worried look on her face.
"I-Is she going to be ok?" Ishtar asked, looking at the casts and then to each woman in turn before her golden eyes went wide. "Is she going to need to have them cut off like she said?"
"Yes," the biologist said glumly, her eyes twinkling a bit. "They'll need to sever them and replace them with herdtitan feet." Her lips quirked into a smile. "You look cute."
Ishtar suddenly had a horrified expression on her face, mouth agape and soon covered by a hand. "B-But that's impossible! Isn't it?!" she croaked out looking to Amari. The doctor just rolled her eyes at the Solanii Liaison.
"We have the medical expertise to pull off such a feat." she put vaguely, only to add to the NI's horror.
Mridula cackled softly. "No, they're not really going to cut off my feet. I just have to stay off them for a couple of hours while these special casts heal them with prajna, see?" She kicked her legs at the NI; they flopped limply, numb.
Ishtar seemed to calm down some though she looked a little annoyed by the joke. "Good! Because I like you the way you are." blurting out what was on her mind made her go red faced near instantly before she quickly added in a stutter. "B-B-Because Herdtitan feet are too big and you couldn't walk then..."
"I'd crush the ship," the liaison agreed, smiling. "...come here, you. You're too cute." She held open her arms.
Ishtar still flush faced shuffled her feet while obediently making her way over to the outstretched arms. She was tense both out of embarrassment and worry but she obeyed the request all the same.
Mridula happily embraced the NI, pulling her up onto the table. "Hey, I feel better already."
Ishtar's blush deepened to the extent she may have went purple any second, her feelings a convoluted knot of unknowns. Worry, guilt, feet, happiness, excitement all at the same time and something she had not had time to experience beforehand. She didn't squirm or move instead just allowing herself to be brought up on the bed much to Amari's amusement.
"Well. From the look of things I would have to agree. Though your friend seems to be blushing to the point of popping."
"She's cute like that, isn't she?" Mridula grinned, still holding Ishtar in a loose embrace. "So are my legs fixed yet? I want to go investigate what all this business about a saboteur is about."
Amari shook her head. "Not yet. If you tried you'd topple over like Ishtar on her first attempt at walking." the doctor poked the NI's back softly before patting her on the back of the head. Ishtar in response tried to bury herself into Mridula in an attempt to hide from them both.
"Another hour or two and you should be up and about. Though I advise you take it easy on your feet until the pain medication. Walking with numb legs isn't exactly a good idea."
"...ugh." The dark-skinned woman's face turned to a scowl. "Fine. I'll sit around here and waste time!"
Amari threw her hands up helplessly. "Well. I did not create prajna. I can only try to find a means to improve its efficiency at healing. These casts do so by at least fifteen percent. It is the best that can be had right now. And overdosing you would make you sick to your stomach."
The doctor also pointed out. "At least you have excellent company." she nodded to the NI. "From the looks of things. You're rather attached to her. "
"Well, yeah. We're good friends, I'd say, right, Ishtar?" She offered the girl a warm smile. "...and I can take the nausea, come on, let's speed it up, Amari!"
Ishtar just burrowed her head into Mridula's side in response while the doctor sighed. She wasn't in the habit of making her patients ill intentionally.
"Alright. But, I'm ordering you not to do anything too strenuous until the nauseating effect wears off and the numbness as well. You'd be liable to be back here." she fished out a injector and inserted a vial of prajna from her pocket. "In a tank this time. " Amari turned Mridula's head to the side, placing the cold side of the injector to her neck. A hiss of the injector and tightness of the neck later and she'd been properly dosed.
"Try not to sickup while sitting up when I take them off. But now. I believe it'll only take twenty minutes or so. Ghaliya help me if I see you in here again today."
"Thanks, Amari." Despite the woman's grumpy words, Mridula gave her a cheery smile. "I hate having to take a break from work."
Amari merely pointed to Ishtar. "With her here. You could have worked the entire time. Minus nausea."
"Not anymore then using a terminal or asking questions. You could have asked her for an update on the situation and coordinated with ship security over your communication device." The doctor offered.
Mridula rolled her eyes. "Nothing we can do now. You can't take the extra dose out of me... and besides, I like to check out the situation with my own eyes sometimes."
"Well. Then just sit back and rest until I say you can go in twenty." Amari said while she placed the injector back into her pocket. "Hopefully nothing is amiss. But that maybe just wishful thinking on my part. Anyways. Enjoy your company while you wait."
Last edited by Soresu on September 6th, 2010, 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ON, VSV Astarte Shuttle Bay
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
16:20, Commonwealth Standard Time
Passing into the lower decks showed the extent of the blast. The air smelled faintly of burnt plastics and ash, but had been swiftly cleared of smoke, and the fire was effectively sequestrated by the time they arrived. What little damage had been made was superficial, although one of the minor conduits carrying charged particles between the reactor and the fabrication bay had had a rupture that left a slightly electric and acidic taste in the air.
Nearby was the armory door, which had been open at the time of the blast and was shut shortly after. In all likelihood, the explosives were not used to open the door, but were instead used as a distraction.
Anik shook her head. "It's a bit of a mess, but I'm surprised a dozen people scrambled out to contain a small leak like this." She raked her tongue across her teeth, trying to work the acidic tasted out of her mouth.
"It shows that our crew is disciplined. Even a minor mark on the ship should be carefully rubbed away to preserve it's life. It is a concept somewhat foreign to us infantry." Mu'Tasim smiled at Anik before scouring the area again, looking specifically at the origin of the blast. "We tend have the ideal of preserving our time for the right moment and important things. To an engineer or a mechanist, every thing is important, or so I'm lead to believe."
The Temple Guard took a deep whiff of the lifeless air in the room before looking at the damaged door. "Considering that the cleaning crew came from the level at the top of the stair well, it means that our culprit most likely escaped into this level and is likely trying to contain themselves." He raked his fingers through his beard for a moment. "Do we possess the authority to put this level on lock-down?"
'Breath in, breath out. Breath in, breath out. Keep the Carbine up to the shoulder. Elbows nice and tight. Finger outside the trigger guard. Ok. Now I go round that corner. I HAVE TO CHECK CORNERS!' Akjit jumped back in a slight panic when he forgot to check his corners. Though he had technically killed people, it still wasn't quite as personal as walking along in person. To make matters worse, this was practically a frost goose hunt; no telling when or where the suspect may appear.
Would the suspect simply give up, or put up a fight? The person already was giving them this much trouble...why wouldn't he or she go all the way? The Ivuori recalled Savitri's words about her superiors. He just hoped this was a grunt. "So. What happens if we can't get the lockdown? Are we going to do this all by ourselves, or is there help with this coming down soon?"
Zus followed along behind Mu'Tasim, watching as Szemis ranged ahead slightly, probably trying to show off. The two sported identical carbines (Szemis making his choice based on his sisters') and remained mostly silent. Zus did, however, speak up "You know, guys, talking generally alerts people to one's presence." She smirked, and continued to look around, occasionally checking behind them to be sure nobody had slipped past them.
A squelching noise came from Akjit's throat as he nervously silenced himself at Zus' prompting. He gulped.
Mannat stared at the door. "Can we get this open? I think putting the rest of the level on lockdown is a good idea, but we might find something in here. Certainly the first place I would go."
Anik tapped Alia on the shoulder and gestured over to the door. "I'm pretty sure you've clearance to get in... or you could patch your way past the lockdown, right?"
"In theory, for both." Alia said, shrugging. "I'll do my best on both accounts but don't hold onto any high expectations." She said as she walked past everyone to look at the obstruction. For her first trick, Alia tried using her Head Mechanic level access code on the door. And if that failed at all, she'll break the panel open and ply her trade.
Although she had to spend several minutes trying to confirm with a bridge subroutine that the immediate threat was over, she managed to repeal the lockdown on the armory and get the door open quickly enough. The interior of the room was rather spacious, somewhat larger than the other armory they had visited on the upper decks. The lights were up, exposing most of the immediate chamber and making what had transpired here somewhat obvious.
A trio of rifles towards the center of the main rack had been removed, their clearance markers disabled. Someone had managed to pry some off without having any proper identification.
"And there we go." Alia said with a flourish.
Mannat drew his pistol and quickly entered the room, sweeping it with his eyes, and of course his gun. He actually noticed that alongside some of the rifles, a spare uniform had been removed from one of the shelves and the capacitor chargers were in dissarray, with half-charged packs strewn across the floor and several more missing. Perhaps the most worrisome fact, however, was that there was a missing string of grenade rods at the ordnance station.
"Damn. Hey, specialist," Mannat said, addressing Alia. "When'd this room get locked down. We're missing a lot of equipment. I'm thinking we have possibly three saboteurs. Three laiz rifles got taken, and they have explosives."
Mu'Tasim stared around the room, gathering the facts. "No. There is only one. Only a single uniform was taken, there was only one frame present." He raked this fingers through is beard again. "If he or she has taken more than one weapon, then it is reasonable to assume he or she intends to pass said weapon off to someone."
The Temple Guard tightened his grip on the ends of his white beard, "Or likely, a prisoner."
Mannat nodded. The Temple Guard knew his stuff. "We have NVR prisoners, right? Then we need to get the brig on high alert. Bastard's definitely packing."
"Um, I'm not sure about. Well, prisoners 'plural'. I only know about one prisoner, and she was really nice when we talked. She...she's the one that Malik brought in. Me and Firuz talked to her for a while, and based off what she said, I'm more worried that this one might try to kill her to keep her silent." Akijt looked at all the eyes boring down on him. He licked his lips. "Eh, yeah..."
"Nice or not, your prisoner's an enemy combatant. I wouldn't count out a jailbreak," Mannat replied. He glared at Akjit, wondering what would possess him to think that he should be defending an enemy soldier.
After a few minutes of looking around and tossing banter around, Mu'Tasim and Anik received a message from the bridge. After the lockdown had been terminated, operators on the bridge had apprently faced difficulties reestablishing communications with that deck, and raised significant alarms. "Vaytulri, Senbalri. Command has been in the dark for ten minutes. What's going on in that Deck 30 armory?"
"We're on the trail of our uninvited guest here. It seems he or she has detonated an explosive charge as a means of looting our weapons and ammo stores. Reported stolen items so far are a standard uniform, three Laiz Rifles, and several ammo batteries." Mu'Tasim replied solidly, as he counted the items around the room that had been scattered in dissarray. "Whoever has caused this damage is likely walking around in an unfitted uniform and packing more weaponry than is authorized for even standard ship security."
"Copy that, Vaytulri Farouk. Keep on his trail if you can. We'll send you information as it comes in."
Anik headed for the door and tapped the side of her leg with her rifle. "Man, what a guy to be following. He's either really Saint's damned stupid, or really clever." She nodded sagely and cracked her neck. "I guess this means you guys are dealing with a whole lotta trouble."
"One person is only difficult to find, not to deal with." said Mu'Tasim, stepping out of the armory for a moment, "We simply need to find this sneaking Sandrat, before he finds spare hands for the weapons he has taken."
"Well, I'm at a loss. What does our Telepath think we should be doing?" Anik seemed to be rather distraught by the concept of having to chase someone across even more decks and compartments. As a front line soldier, she was more in her element when she had clear orders and could just gun down the enemy plainly, rather than act like some big-time CCIS or VIA investigator.
As things slowly got worse, Akjit stood by and waited for his orders like a good little boy. Still, he had his own personal doubts and beliefs; everyone was entitled to them, weren't they? "Savitri said she was a conscript. I hope she's not lying." he spoke bitterly. Deep down inside, he would rather have her shot dead by the intruder than have to hunt and kill her himself. Akjit would never admit this to himself, but it was true. Either turn out might be too much for him to bear.
"Conscript or not, she may think her chances are better with this intruder. We've little idea of what the NVR are like, and I am sure they have the same clouded perceptions. At any rate, whatever happens, the security of this ship is priority." stated Mu'Tasim in a somewhat cold clarity, a slight frown on his face as he regarded Akjit. Though, he did not linger on the man, and eventually turned to face his telepathic comrade, "Lanbalri Saad, I understand your strengths are investigation, I trust your direction for our next move."
Mannat glared at Akjit for a moment longer. They should really cut down on the amount of fraternization these grunts get in to, he thought to himself. He snapped his attention back to Mu'Tasim when addressed, however. "I suggest we get to the prison, as quickly as possible. If they're cut off from the bridge, Saints know what's happening. Keep in mind whoever we're going up against knows what they're doing, and they'll probably know you're coming before you can even see him. He's heavily armed, and may be able to attack you psychically, so be careful."
"Or, we could just shoot him." Zus offered, brandishing her gun for a moment. "That tends to kill people, and I believe we're allowed to kill them if they're shooting at us." the Eyr Ranr finished. She continued to keep her vigil at Mu'Tasim's side, looking for anything else that might be odd.
Szemis smiled, impressed by his sister's supposed resolve. Bolstered by her words, he ranged even farther forward. "I'm going to check out ahead if you guys don't mind. I know how to deal with thugs." This was, in fact, a boldfaced lie, but, Szemis was never one to be outdone by his sister, despite how he hero-worshiped her.
Mannat smirked at the two siblings. He sent both of them a short, but slightly haunting telepathic message: "Don't get cocky. We think it's funny when you do that."
"Hee hee, yeah." Anik smiled at the brother and sister and bit her lower lip. "We do."
As the others talked, Akjit sulked, alone. He stood in his own clould of gloom for a while, but when the two siblings put up their acts, Akjit smiled a little. As the others started to chime in, he couldn't help but feel somehow relieved, drawn out of his little corner. "I guess I'll shoot her if I have to." he quietly spoke to himself, whispering. Akjit checked over his carbine one more time. He knew a part of him would die if he had to kill Savitri, but, that's what he signed up for. Wasn't it?
Security teams eventually took relief of the armory, and the regular quartermaster staff returned to duty when the lockdown was ended. Heading out after his trail, Mu'Tasim and his group followed after the saboteur's trail, left with only a string of disjointed footage from low-surveillance areas and the vague outline of a man in ill-fitting Vanguard clothes.
Sweet, sweet softness.
A good two hours of his break had already gone by and Firuz now felt like he could use a nap. His brain was restless, but his body was in need of rest. He got to his quarters and dumped himself onto the bed without hesitation, not even bothering to take off his clothes.
As he rested against the bed, face staring at the wall, his mind began racing across the things he had learned today. Other star systems existed where other Iromakuanhe lived, outside of the Commonwealth. They did not know of the existence of the Commonwealth, yet some bastard out there is currently massing them up to either destroy it or enslave it just as he has Saints only know how many other Iromakuanhe planets and systems.
All of this made him wonder about the history of the Iromakuanhe, and the history of the Commonwealth. How long ago did we get to know how to travel the stars? Is Maekardan really our home planet? How many other planets are there?
"Ugh... stop asking questions!!! I need to sleep!" He told himself remaining motionless on his bed.
...how did that saboteur get in?
"Saints damn it!" Firuz turned over onto his back and sat up on the edge of the bed. The vayshirin decided the best way to get relaxed was to take off at least the most uncomfortable parts of his clothing. His boots went off, followed by the long coat and the shirt, then the undershirt, leaving himself only in pants and socks. Lifting himself onto the bed, he got a bit more comfortable, then closed his eyes.
...furthermore, who is that saboteur? Maybe he's a splinter cell operator within the Commonwealth who... Ugh... just... shut up. I'll think about my conspiracy theories when I wake up.
And so went on his break, full of doubts, trying to sleep. Not much more to say about it.
ON, VSV Astarte Deck 30
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
16:50, Commonwealth Standard Time
After a few minutes of following security footage of a man assumed to be the saboteur, the trail running behind the man was beginning to cool. Either he had slipped into a sector with fewer cameras, such as the biomass capillaries, or was somehow entirely avoiding notice. It was obvious that he was still headed towards the brig, likely with the intent of freeing the other prisoner or for some unknown purpose.
"Vaytulri, status report." Mu'Tasim heard the familiar voice of the mission operator ring off from his Datarod.
"I'm taking the team to the brig." reported Mu'Tasim to control, keeping a brisk pace as he lead the group down the corridor. "We're going to be using our telepath to scan for anything the prisoner was not telling us, along with settling our only leads on the situation. The intruder is still on the move, but I think we are coming to the end of this investigation." With his message sent, he tilted the communicator to the side and looked towards Mannat. "Lantulri Saad, are you at liberty to reveal the extent of your telepathic abilities?"
Mannat looked to his superior. "I wasn't briefed on whether or not I should, so I'll assume no. Don't worry about detection, I'll know where they are with plenty of warning. Either way, we should get to the brig as soon as possible. It certainly won't hurt if we beat him there."
Akjit still followed closely behind them, waiting for that moment where everything broke loose. He knew that at this rate, it was likely going to have a bad ending. Still, he had his duties. He was a Frame Runner of the Astral Vanguard, wasn't he? The Ivuori took a breath to ease himself. "So...what do we do when we get there, and this guy hasn't arrived yet? Or, if he beat us to the brig?"
Anik tapped her boot with the end of her Laiz Carbine and let out a small chuckle. "Then I guess we hope he's too busy with the guards to notice us sneaking up on him. He's smart, but he doesn't have eyes in the back of his head... I think."
Taking the lift up to the brig deck only took a few moments, and a party of well-armed crewmen being led by a Temple Guard didn't receive any more scrutiny than what was necessary. The security crew at the elevator had already seen them, so it was just a matter of seconds before the authorization was punched in and they were allowed to head up into it. The seconds after the doors opened, however, were somewhat more eventful.
The instant Mu'Tasim set a foot outside, he heard a large blast go off in the wallway to his left, and laser fire streaked both ways in front of exit. There was screaming from his right, and the sound of bodies hitting the floor with a nebulous 'pat' sound, but nothing similar from the left. When the shooting died down, there was only a slightly mechanical whirring or... squeaking, faint enough that a pin dropping might have muffled the noise.
Mannat drew his pistol immediately, and quickly began a mental scan of the hallway outside, worried about what had just killed what sounded to be a substantial number of people.
Mu'Tasim stayed quiet for a moment, and made hand signals that ordered the squad to take cover at the edges of the door that led to the hallway. He followed the motion's command by nestling up against the side of the wall. His SMG rose out from his robe, and shouldered the weapon, steadying his breath and keeping aim.
Interestingly, Mannat didn't actually sense anything from the left. The men on the right were quite alive, although most had gone into unconciousness or were barely holding on to it while trying to fight back excruciating pain. Something was definetly there, though. When the corner of Mu's robe fluttered around the corner, it was near-instantly pierced with a searing beam of blue light, burned through so suddenly that it didn't not even catch fire. The remaining bit of singed cloth in that corner simply dropped to the ground, cut right off by the burst.
He could hear his heart beating. Literally feel blood pulsing in his veins. This was very, very different from fighting in a Frame. Akjit wasn't surrounded by layers of armor, sensor systems that told him where the enemy was at, and even more, he didn't have that voice in his head that hated and helped him. Even as he stood there silently with the others, he felt alone.
'Not even Nightmare here with me. I can't believe I'm wanting Nightmare around...wait. Thinking of the NI had Akjit piece something together. What if the foe was somehow artificial? That noise earlier, plus that accuracy would explain it. Even if that were true, there was no way to pass this asumption along. The young Ivuori looked to the robe's damaged corner, and Mu'Tasim's guidance.
Mu'Tasim sighed, seeing the edges of his garment damaged by the fire, but also by how it gave them away. No... he thought, It has to know we're here. The soldier turned priest set aside his SMG and pulled off his mantle, his robe flowing off as he did. His flak shirt was now revealed, along with some of his arms. Most people never saw the Temple Guard's bodily frame under the robe, but this situation made the ceremonial garment a hinderance. He looked at all those with them, and noticed a twinge of doubt coming from Akjit's direction.
He looked at the usually meek pilot, and gave a confident smile with a slight nod. With that, he raised his hand and signaled the group to edge away from the door, not wanting anyone sticking something out to get shot as he had done. After grabbing his SMG and shouldering it once more, he made a wave towards Mannat, and then tapped his temple with a questioning look on his face.
Mannat shook his head. He sent a telepathic message to the other soldiers in the lift. Nothing out there I can sense. I think it's synthetic.
The sudden message in his head startled Akjit, freezing him solid. Though he thawed a moment afterwards, the Ivuori wasn't going to get used to that anytime soon. It confirmed his suspicion; it would be almost funny to him, how Nightmare had helped in a sense, if it were not for the situation. Akjit tried to get Mannat's attention, and gestured with his left hand, clenching it into a fist, and bursting it open like an explosion. 'Got Nades?
In the back of his mind, he was still thinking of Savitri.
Mannat stared at Akjit, and did a quick scan of his thoughts, picking up the query about grenades. He shook his head. The telepath had only picked up more ammunition for his side-arm earlier. He sent a quick telepathic inquiry to Mu'Tasim and Anik asking the same. The scared kid is asking about grenades.
"Did either of us p-" Anik said aloud, cutting herself short when she realized she was probably being a little loud. She resumed at a dull whisper, rubbing the bridge of her nose with her free hand. "Didn't anyone remember to bring some?"
"Shh..." went Mu'Tasim, holding a finger to his lips, before the finger peeled back, along with the rest of his hand. In a span of two seconds, his arm melted away into a mounted cannon, and the Temple Guard took to grabbing one of his anti-armor rounds for his LLS rifle. He made another hand motion for everyone to keep a low profile until the enemy revealed itself.
By virtue of being careful enough, Mu'Tasim managed to avoid drawing the shootists attention, and managed to gain a good view of it just before it swung its barrel at him. The object in question was some sort of turret module, with a Laiz Rifle jury rigged onto a pivoting based and low-end sensor suite, likely preassembled and only requiring the addition of a weapon.
Not giving the aperture much time, Mu'Tasim cracked open the bore and loaded the anti-armor round, and then unloaded an anti-armor around into the center of the machine. All the while, he was silent, every movement flowing in a stealthy motion.
Mannat's face betrayed moderate surprise at the appearance of the large-caliber weapon on Mu'Tasim's arm. He raised his pistol into firing position, ready to move. I take it you'll move out first, sir? he beamed into his superior's mind.
The round burst out from the barrel formed by the Temple Guard's hand with tremendous force, leaving a small trail of blue behind it. The ad-hoc turret was smashed to pieces by the impact, grazing the walls and ceiling above Mu'Tasim before it collapsed into a smoking heap on the floor.
Mu'Tasim nodded to Mannat, before loading another anti-armor round into the chamber of his arm-mounted weapon. The Temple Guard shouldered his SMG and used a recess on the top of his gun arm's barrel as a stabilizer as he strafed out into the corridor moving for the nearest plot of cover. His eyes scanned the hallway as he moved, and he kept his upper body stiff while his legs carried him across.
There was a distinct smell of ash and cooked flesh in the air, likely leftovers from the crossfire earlier, but for all their suspicions, the hallway leading to the brig was mostly silent. Mu'Tasim and his subordinates could hear the pitter patter of quiet footsteps, but there was no distinct hum of beam weapons or any of the grunts and screams typical of a gunfight.
Though he was scared, Mu'Tasim's...arm cannon shook him back to reality. The man had a cannon in his arm! Akjit followed off to the Temple Guard's left with his carbine shouldered. The silence was deafening. "Her cell. I mean, the POW's cell. Its close by." He spoke, gesturing in it's general direction. 'Please be alright.' He knew he was ill suited for whatever was going to happen next, but by the Saints, he was going to give it his best shot. Literally or not.
Mannat did another quick mental scan of the surrounding area as he stepped out of the elevator, and looked towards the downed security personnel. They had been alive a minute or two ago, but they had been up against quite a bit of fire.
"Alright, let's move it to the brig, double time!" said Mu'Tasim, charging down the hallway, his SMG holding steady as he lead the way.
The young Ivuori steeled himself for what had to be trouble waiting for them, and despite his better judgment, charged with the Temple Guard, drawing closer and closer to the cells.
Just as Mu'Tasim veered the corner and bolted into the room, he came face to face with a stranger clad in an ill-fitting Astral Vanguard uniform that rippled and stretched over a massive and hardened body, with deep tanned skin and oily, unkempt hair that seemed to be slightly clumped and knotted from prajna soaking. In his hands were a pair of Laiz Rifles, one pointed at them, and the other at a prisonner that Akjit recognized as being Savitri, the girl he had spoken with earlier.
Before they could so much as react, he pulled the trigger of both, sending one laser burst through the girl's stomach, and another straight at the approaching Temple Guard.
Mannat quickly pushed himself against the wall of the corridor when he saw the massive enemy soldier and fired several shots from his laz pistol, aiming at the legs of his target.
Of course. thought Mu'Tasim as the scene unfolded in front of him, and upon him. Whatever rumors Akjit had heard of the NVR's soldiers seemed to prove more true than fancy as Mu'Tasim narrowly evaded the shot from striking into his chest. Instead, the Laiz Rifle's shot went through the forearm of Mu'Tasim's cannon arm, evaporating his elbow and causing the biological weapon to fall to the floor. In response, he quickly adapted, recovering his stance and firing his own SMG in a one-handed fashion, elbow tucked tightly into the hip, with a focused spray.
Time slowed for Akjit as the bursts of fire singed the air. What was the name of that feeling that sunk in? That one feeling that everyone experienced in their life? It was much like something was pressing against, weighing his heart, that classic phrase 'A heavy heart' wasn't too far from what he felt. In fact, Akjit felt as though his entire heart couldn't even beat anymore because of the weight. Except, it wasn't even a heartbeat's time yet. Was it? As Mu'Tasim and Mannat fired, something finally snapped in the thin, weak young man's head.
Akjit charged at the larger man, carbine blazing, and did his best to smash the infiltrator's face in with the weapon in his hands.
The man had turned away when he saw he was outnumbered, returning fire to keep them off guard as he attempted to slip away. He wasn't so lucky, with Akjit managing to score a few nasty hits on his shoulders and back. Mu'Tasim and Mannat's combined fire managed to blow through one of his legs and cleaved his right arm off, causing the limb to burst away in a rush of steam and blood. He continued to push forward, getting himself to cover.
At this point, what happened next could be attributed to a combination of poor luck and bad decision making. Akjit was caught in the chest and shoulders with a quick burst of fire from the laser rifle, causing him to be stunned and launched onto his back. He retained consciousness throughout the entire ordeal, but open wounds still sizzled and he could not muster the energy to get up.
Mu'Tasim finished up the clip in his SMG, and upon noticing the lack of ammo, cast the weapon aside. He had little time to cringe or feel something of shooting his comrade in the cross-fire, as he leaned forward and dashed towards the man, quickly trying to clear the distance between the two of them. As he did so, his remaining hand went for his Fael Raig. Instead of grabbing the pommel, he grabbed the blades switch, twisting and then pulling it down to activate it. Now almost upon the intruder, he slashed upward through the Fael Raig's sheath and up, diagonally, into the monstrous individual.
The Faelraig swung up, a glint of blue slicing through plastic and flesh. Both the gun and the arm that held it were split in two and rendered useless, and as the components of the Laiz Rifle tumbled to the floor, so did the mangled remnants of the infiltrator's arm loosen and droop in some gruesome parody of an arm. Disarmed and unable defend himself, the man seemed to grind something in the back of his jaw, before making a slightly bitter grin.
"You are too late."
Mannat figured what was happening the minute the man with very little reason to smile broke out in a grin. He quickly began to scan the man's thoughts. "Son of a bitch thought ahead," he spat with a grimace. He hoped he would be able to read enough before the saboteur died.
As Akjit fell, he never let go of the trigger of his carbine. It's munitions counter went from 110, and kept on dwindling, even as he lay there on the floor. When the Temple Guardian entered his periperal vision, the maimed Ivuori let go of his carbine, rolling over onto his belly. He didn't even see Mu'Tasim cleave through the man. Akjit was too busy dragging himself to Savitri's cell, a bloody trail left behind in his wake. His vision started to blur, and everything sounded distant to him as he neared her. 'There's still so much that I want to ask you...' he thought.
The man, who had clearly poisoned himself, was torn to ribbons as he collapsed into a pile, his mouth foaming with red and white. He hit the floor and slumped into a pile, dead and drenched in his own blood.
Mu'Tasim knelt down to the dead man, balancing himself with his Fael Raig.
"She is not quite dead yet." mentioned the Temple Guard quietly, as if speaking to the intruder's spirit, he sounded amost spiteful "Take that with you when Ruh judges you for what you've done today."
Savitri was breathing in shallow panting breaths, almost too quiet to be heard and too small to be seen by a wounded and panicked Akjit, her stomach and lower body covered in red. She was alive, if just barely, and holding on with all her will."...hey. You were supposed to keep feeding... me. Can't happen if I'm..."
"Don't go yet. Please." Akjit's own breathing was labored; numerous gaps in his chest were letting blood rush into his lungs. Every word he spoke brought up more of his lifeblood and onto the hem of Savitri's clothing. "I-I promised to bring you--" The Ivuori paused to vomit blood, clearing his airway so he could speak just a few more worrds. "Lots. Of tasty. Things." His breathing went on, a slight wheeze coming from one of the holes in his chest as air rushed in and out of it.
Mu'Tasim growled, looking around at the desperate and depressed situation. He dropped his Fael Raig, and reached for his Data Rod. He activated the small communications device, and opened a link to command, "Control, respond."
"This is control. Vaytulri, Vadranno reported some wounded outside the brig. What's your situation?"
"In nee-- Er..." Mu'Tasim grunted, his adrenaline effects wearing off, and the full effect of his arm's pain setting in. He looked at the nub for a moment, grimaced and then looked back at his device. "In need of a medical evac team, immediately. One of my men has been wounded severely along with a high-priority prisoner. The situation is now secure. I'll..." The Temple Guard hissed again, his pain stinging again, "I'll file a full-report after we clean up."
"O-okay..." Savitri curled up into a ball after hearing Akjit's words, attempting to fight back at the pain swelling in her chest and stomach. She was clearly trying to stay awake, neatly aware of the risks if she allowed herself to fall unconcious.
Mu'Tasim stepped over to Savitri squatting down next to her cell bars.
"Give me your han--..." Mu'Tasim looked at the communicator in the only hand he had left. "One moment." The Temple Guard brought his datarod close, "Control, we need that team 'now', injuries are critical and time is of the essence." With the message sent, he set down his datarod, still active, and extended his hand through the bars to Savitri, if he was close enough, he'd just get a hand onto her to settle her and relieve some of the pain.
Something blurred at the edge of the young Ivuori's vision. A hand, reaching out to comfort Savitri. Akjit turned his head, slowly, as pain flashed and lanced at his slight motion. In his eyes, he saw Mu'Tasim, the Temple Guard looming over them both, a benevolent presence radiating from the man. "S-orry sir. I let 'im get the best of me." he whispered, the sucking wound in his chest whistling as he spoke.
"There is no need, Chirimar." responded Mu'Tasim, focusing hard on the wounded woman. "This is a lesson you've learned yourself." The Temple Guard looked back at him, giving a good few of the elbowless arm. A strained and pained smile spread on his face. "Ruh is a harsh teacher, but not merciless."
It took a moment but a response came over the radio to Mu'Tasim's request. "Vaytulri Farouk, a small detail and physician are on their way to your position. They should be there within a few minutes."
"Copy, control! I'm doing what I can to ease the strain, but I've nothing to stabilize them." Mu'Tasim called down to his datarod, glad for the speakerphone option.
"I'll tr... try..." Savitri shuffled around and tended her arm through the bars, groaning painfully as she did so. She looked rather pale, her tanned and flush cheecks devoid of any red, and seemed to have be losing strength as the seconds went on. By the time her hand reached the bars, she was almost crawling it across the floor with her fingers, just struggling to hang on to conciousness.
"I d-don't want to die..." she stuttered painfully, attempting to put on her best grin for the occasion.
Akjit's train of thought continued to slow, becoming more and more disorganized and fuzzy. He could barely make out Savitri's words, but, a smile was a smile. His left hand reached the rest of the way to her, and gently wrapped fingers together. There was little left the young man could do now other than wait, and hope.
He quietly smiled at her in return.
The sound of elevator doors opening echoed down the hall, then the sounds of armored feet plodding along at a trot. It seemed that they had finally arrived and were now hurrying down the hall towards the injured group.
The Medical team was flanked by a pair of blonde Eyr Ranr, one holding a Laiz carbine ready in case someone attacked, the other lugging a large robe, which belonged to Mu'tasim. However, when the one holding the robe noticed its owner, she dropped the garment and rushed forward, worried for the Sund Wakir. "Mu'Tasim! What happened? Are you alright?" Zus asked, looking scared, but knowing it was his fake arm and probably not that bad of an injury despite the fact that it seemed his arm was missing.
"Well enough." Mu'Tasim offered a pleasant smile as he loosened the grasp on Savitri. "It hurts like a regular arm, but I've been through worse." The Temple Guard looked at her and then back at the rest of the medical entourage. "Who has clearance to open these cells?"
The sole physician raised her hand. "I have permission from the Vaygraiv to open the cell." the voice, familiar as she side-stepped Zus to kneel between Mu'Tasim and Akjit. That was when a large shoulder slung medical case made a thud on the ground attesting to how heavy it must be.
"Saint Jafar protect you, Mu'Tasim," she chided." For everytime I see you, you're injured." Amari opened the large case up now looking back and forth from Akjit and to the case as she pulled vials, tools, and other things out.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think getting injured in the first place would have had something to do with you." mumbled the Temple Guard aside, quiet enough to be barely audible.
The doctor had heard, but ignored his words as she quickly brought an injector up to his arm; releasing the liquid inside into his bloodstream. "Someone open the cell please while I work on the boy here, please? And tell me the nature of the prisoner's injury."
"The prisoner sustained a Laiz Rifle wound to the stomach." said Mu'Tasim, who then looked over to Zus, "Zus, can you get the cell?"
"Of course." Zus replied, giving Szemis a swift punch in the stomach as he tried to move ahead of her. The shorter, younger Storhan took it as a sign and hung back, turning around to watch the door instead. Zus, for her part, opened the door to Savitri's cell, Amari's permissions having unlocked it, and began to check over the wounded prisoner.
"She appears to have sustained a stomach wound. It looks life-threatening, but not quite as much as Akjit over there." the Eyr Ranr summarized, not quite exactly certain of what to do in this situation, as she only really knew how to treat minor cuts and bruises. "What do I do with her, Amari?" she asked, deferring to the older medic.
The doctor had been in the process of shaking a small yet wide vial with one hand while checking Akjit's injuries with the other while Zus gave her a brief rundown. Putting it into the same injector used upon the Guard, Amari tossed it at Zus. "Side of the neck, here" illustrating where with a painted finger. Right where the jugular was. "Low dose of painkillers, stimulants, and a concentrated dose of prajna."
Just as quickly as she'd spoke a small grenade-like container was in hand along with a pair of tweezers in the other. Setting the container aside, Amari picked at a few stray pieces of burnt cloth in Akjit's wounds before opening the tattered shirt with a pair of scissors.
"Chirimar." Mu'Tasim stepped over to Akjit, able to focus more readily with a bit of painkiller in his system. "How do you feel?"
The Ivuori coughed upon hearing his name. His eyelids, heavy, slowly opened to the painful lights. The question floated in his mind for a while, indistinct and blurry before coming together. "Like when I got this on my face but worse...Sir." Akjit's voice was ragged, but he was starting to come around. "Been better." His head tried to turn side to side, looking for something or someone. "Whah...what about. Her?"
Mu'Tasim looked over at Savitri, and then over at Amari. He bounced his eyebrows in a nod to her.
"I gave Storhan a vial of medicine that should stabilize her until I am done administering treatment to you." Amari cupped a cheek, then patted it softly. Picking up the grenade-like container again she opened it to reveal thousands of small silky worms wriggling around inside. She began picking them out one by one with the tweezers; placing them on the wounds. "These will seal the wounds, make sure they are clean and will deliver some mild pain medication into your system." the doctor wore a look of sympathy on her face as she watched the 'worm's begin to melt and bind into a semi-opaque film over the wounds.
Relief slowly came to Akjit. It wasn't much, but it was something, enough to keep him awake, alert. Now, it was his job to just sit still and make Amari's job easy so she could quickly move on to the next, and the next after that, and the next after that. Just how many of the security guards survived anways? Did any of them make it? "Thank you." He replied.
Zus quickly got to injecting the serum into Savitri's neck, waiting for the somewhat thick liquid to slowly make its way into the prisoner's veins, to hopefully prolong her life long enough that Amari could fix her up. Finished, the Eyr Ranr sat the vial down on the ground and did what she could to comfort the girl. She would rather be comforting the Injured Mu'Tasim, but she knew he was not in any real danger.
"Wow... they r-really do have a lot of cute boys in the Vanguard..." Savitri said with a hazy smile, reaching up to touch Zus' face. She was clearly beginning to slip, although the fact that she was able to bring her arm up that high was somewhat impressive.
"I..." Mu'Tasim stepped over to Savitri, kneeling next to her, and placing his hand in hers. "I believe your vision is... mired in pain." The Temple Guard tried to channel as much pain away as possible. "Zus is a woman."
Inwardly, Akjit recoiled. She wouldn't visit terror on someone so badly wounded....would she? The Ivuori knew she once broke someone's horn, but this had to be off limits. Was it? He audiably gulped.
Zus simply chuckled, knowing that injuries can play tricks with a person's mind, and if Savitri wasn't injured, then Zus didn't know what was. "Yes, I am a woman. though, when you're better, I do have a brother you could take off my hands." she joked.
"I heard that!" Szemis muttered, turning around, looking a bit cross. he turned back around, trying to prove himself more by watching ever more diligently.
Amari looked up for a moment, not at them but up at hearing the prisoner. She only shook her head before going back to work on Akjit. With the wounds sealed, she administered a dose of prajna and stimulants to increase production of blood cells. With a wipe of her forehead she was done with him.
"Mu'Tasim, watch him, please?" the doctor asked while packing her kit up, though she left her weapon outside by the temple guard then entered the cell to work on the prisoner now. Once again the doctor knelt on the cold deck to examine the next patient.
"Of course, Al-Sumed." said Mu'Tasim, letting go of Savitri and moving over to Akjit, and placing his hand on the man's shoulder. "How are you holding Chirimar?"
"Better than before." He carefully took a breath. "Worse than I hoped. Grateful though." Akjit pursed and licked his lips for a moment so he could go on. "More worried that I'd say something silly." His eyes glanced at Mu'Tasim's arm. Worry welled in his stomach. "What about you sir? Your arm..."
"Oh don't worry about me, Chirimar." dismissed Mu'Tasim, smiling as he swatted his hand as if to swat away the man's worries. "There is a bit of a burn, but I will be fine. If anything, the only thing I need to worry about is how long it will take to get a new arm."
Akjit nodded in reply. "Good to hear someone's doing better." He chuckled. The sound blended into a small groan of pain. He couldn't say much more.
The doctor began the same proceedure as with Akjit, though she took longer to clean the wound in Savitri's stomach. Amari worked meticulously to pick any stray foreign matter from the wound and cleaned it. With the injection she'd finished one portion of treatment before even getting there. Amari was putting more of the Buoslik worms on the wound in an almost perfect imitation of before.
The swarm of little silvery worms bound themselves to the ruined flesh of the girl's stomach, padding it out to a smooth surface that masked the wound. Savitri's wound was more or less sealed, although her internal injuries were still likely somewhat severe and would require further attention. The bleeding had definetly subsided by this point, although she was definetly unconcious at this point, with only the shot of stimulants and prajna keeping her from slipping into a severe state of shock.
As a finishing touch Amari gave the prisoner a similar injection to Akjit something to stimulate blood production until they could get her into a tank. Which, she wanted to do as soon as possible.
"Storhan?" looking up to the tall Eyr Ranr girl. "Can you have your brother run to get stretchers for these two and another person to help?"
Zus perked up upon hearing her last name, and then responded to the doctor's request. "Of course, Ma'am." With that, she gently shifted the unconscious prisoner from her own lap to Amari's, and then got up and punched her brother in the back of the head. "Oi, Al-Sumed wants you to go get us a coupleof stretchers and some more people to help carry them. Go be the hero or whatever, I suppose." She didn't have to ask him twice, after his swift 'ow' from the punch, and a short rub, the younger Eyr Ranr ran off, always ready to be a hero.
"Alright," Amari sighed. "All I can do now is wait for him to return. Then I can put both of them into Prajna tanks. Thankfully it seems neither require surgery so it should be a straightforward process."
After a few moments of waiting, several Physicians arrived on the scene to retrieve the wounded. Akjit was carefully lifted onto a stretcher and restrained to prevent his wounds from worsening, while Savitri was simply laid onto the carrier due her less intensive wounds. After a minute or two, the two were lifted and carted off to the Medbay. Several technicians later arrived to retrieve the infiltrator's body and whisked it off through the door.
ON, VSV Astarte
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
16:50, Commonwealth Standard Time
With Mridula's sprains fully healed, and a healthy injection of nausea medication in her, the doctor had cleared her to leave. Ishtar followed the Liaison faithfully along on as they exited the bay and towards the bridge. The NI had made sure that whatever elevators they would be using was tamper free as much as she could with her sensors. She stayed close, one of her hands in one of Mridula's as they continued onward.
"Do your legs feel better now? Vaytulri Al-Sumed told me to keep an eye on you just in case." the NI piped up in a bid to break the silence in the corridor.
Mridula's head swung around as they walked, keeping an eye on a myriad of different things - the hall in front of them, Ishtar, and the walls - in case there were signs of more tampering with the ship. She occasionally gave the small NI's hand a squeeze. "I feel better, yeah." She did seem to be improved, though she still walked with a slight limp, undoubtedly psychological.
"Don't worry," Ishtar began a pink tinge to her creamy cheeks. "I plotted a route to the bridge that should prove safer with minimal interaction with elevators. And have even scanned the elevators to ensure they had not been tampered with...as best as I could." the last she added begrudgingly as she hadn't known about the last one and felt it as an offense on her pride in the NI's ability to collect any and all intelligence on the ship no matter how miniscule or mundane it may be.
"Forget interaction with elevators, do you have any information on who in bad dreams is on our ship?" The biologist stopped walking, crossing her free arm over her chest as she stared down at Ishtar, her lips twisted in slight anxiety.
Ishtar looked up at Mridula nodding slowly. "I have no direct information on the intruder's identity. However... " she paused biting her bottomlip before continuing. "I have been in the process of corrdinating with the ship's NI to eliminate a subroutine the intruder dropped into the ship's network. It is rewriting and deleting security footage within the ship likely in a bid to cover their tracks and elude security personnel."
"So basically we don't know who it is or where they are because they're smarter than we are?"
Ishtar puffed her cheeks out indignantly at Mridula. "No. It was a preemptive attack on the system while you and I were on the shuttle. My networking capabilities were very limited with the Astarte due to interference from the Garden." she then tamped a foot on the ground. "Had I been here I would have pinpointed the intrusion and gotten the location within several seconds of backtracking."
"...so it's my fault." Mridula frowned deeply, detaching her hand from Ishtar's before she continued to walk. "Alright, then. I'll try and fix it."
Ishtar sent her pink hair flailing wildly as she shook her head. "No it is my fault for misjudging the limited range and stability of connection I would have with the Astarte, and my excitement at seeing the phenomena first hand with you."
"No, I'll take the blame. You're more important than I am anyway, you're the damn ship, for Saints' sake. Just come on and let's see if we can get to the bridge before it blows up."
Ishtar pouted slightly. She wasn't necessairly the ship, she was the fleet. The NI just took her position at Mridula's side again. "The ship will not blow up... I have isolated the critical systems from outside intrusions and am monitoring them constantly." she really didn't know what else to say since she'd never comforted a real person before.
"I was teasing, Ishtar." The taller woman offered her companion a small, still-nervous smile, catching her hand again and twining their fingers together comfortingly. "Where are your bodyguards, anyway? Why didn't they come with us?"
At the mention of teasing, a concept still new to her, Ishtar attempted to bury her head in Mridula's side in embarrassment at the ruse. With it not working, she just leaned against the woman as they walked instead.
"All of my guards are on their way now."
Mridula's hand wandered down so she could put her arm around Ishtar's shoulders. "Why didn't they come with us on the shuttle, again?"
Ishtar looked up at Mridula. "They stand close to seven feet tall and are quite big. So they would take up a lot of space. Plus, I had put them to sle-" she paused as they rounded the corner only to see the form of three giants standing there on their intended route. One even seemed to have caught someone who looked to be in the process of trying to reason with them.
"..." Ishtar's expression went flat at the sight, automatically knowing just who and what those things were. "You three..." she began, seeing one of them turn its head towards her, emitting a soft cooing sound at seeing its master.
ON, VSV Astarte
Garden of Mu'Klamal
Bukor 12, 936
16:52, Commonwealth Standard Time
Meanwhile, as the other members of the crew continued their search for the ever elusive saboutuer Zalus Ka'salm was left to wonder as to just what the situation was. Security forces had been scrambled and rendered the hall devoid of life due to security checkpoints. Even now as he saw the empty hall he could hear footsteps approaching his position from behind. Judging from the sounds however it was several sets, so maybe, just maybe the frame runner could get an idea and sense of the situation.
Zalus steped off to the side of the hallway as the foot steps got closer. He didn't care for conventional combat but he rested his hand on his holster as he wait from the creators of the foot steps to come into few. He wasn't sure what was going on but he knew it was probably not good.
Zalus' paranoia would soon be rewarded as three hulking figures strode around the corner close to his position. Each wore a long hooded cloak of a seemingly organic material that wriethed slightly as they walked. Within the cowls all that could be made out from the faint illumination of the three points of dim light were gaunt features, shadowed by a trick of the low light and covering. Each continued their slow steady march forward, their bodies could not be seen save for brief glimpses through the front which showed nothing no hints at if they carried anything concealed.
Zalus sang further back into the shadows of hallway and slowly drew his pistol. He moved slowly and tried his best to remain calm as the three spectres stalked down the hall omniously. He tried to recontruct the length of hallway he was curently in by memory, trying to find any exits or armouries nearby that he may be able to use. He had no intention of alerting the three to his presence untill he was certian that he had the upper-hand. So I wonder how long it will take them to kill me as soon as they realize i'm here... Zalus thought as the first shimmers of dread leaked into his mind that he was trying to keep clear and calm.
The sound of plodding feet and sight silhouettes seemed to pass him by, unaware of his presense.
Zalus slowly and gently leaned out of his hiding place and peaked down the hallway in the direction of where the foot steps were going with his weapon raised and ready. He was trying to decide weither pursuit was his best plan of action or if seeking help was the more prudent choice. The thoughts raced threw his mind as his head started to peak around the corner.
As Zalus peaked around the corner he was suddenly greeted with six glowing orbs staring right back at him on his level. This near he could just make out the facial features. Black tile-like plates that rotated, moved and set into place. The pair just faced him, and the weapon down while their fellow had taken an ambush position on the otherside. While two of them had walked past this one had stayed behind, waiting for the young frame runner to peak out of his rabbit hole, only now to regret doing so as a massive hand closed around his arms and torso effectively pinning him midair.
The other two rose from their hunchbacked stances, easily towering over him while the sickening sound of cracking bones and flesh seemed to eminate from the two each shaking their heads in turn like great beasts ready to charge. In truth they were setting their armored plates into place underneath the cloaks readying for confrontation.
Zalus yelped as he was lifted into the air. "I knew I should have stayed in bed this morning." Zalus summoned what was left of his courage and strenght to keep from screaming in terror at the clearly doomed position he currently found himself in. He squirmed in his captor's grip uncomfortably as his arms dug into his sides. Zalus stared into the faces of the other two demons and tilted his head. "Well guys you caught me! And here I thought I was doing a good job sneaking..." Zalus wheezed slightly for breath because he was having a harder time breathing with his elbows in his ribs. "I guess there would be no chance that you might let me loose is there?"
One of them took its eyes off of Zalus for the moment and begun to emit a soft cooing sound much like that of a beloved pet greeting its master. At this, all three turned around, Zalus being jerked in one's grip as he too was swung around to see two women standing there.
Mridula took her arm from Ishtar's shoulder and crossed it along with the other over her chest, rolling her eyes as she watched the scene in front of them. One of her feet tapped on the floor. "Again? Really? When are the idiot ground-pounders going to learn not to mess with your entourage, honey?"
Zalus grunted as he was jerked around. When he caught sight of the two ladies he gave pause. "Why hello ladies... uhhhh... could you please have your... Pets? lets me go, They may have just broke one of my ribs." Zalus weezed. "I promise not to shoot you..."
"Hrm." The chilled voice of the ship's XO rang throughout the hallway, his guffaw of dissaproval ringing more clearly than the thunderous yell of an irate warrant officer.
Serhan wasn't exactly impressed with this sort of thing going on on his ship, especially for a second time in a short day... and from another member of his Wing on Mazerin, no less, but there was no point in letting the sadistic Altjiran machines step on his crew. He adjusted his glasses and let out a quiet sigh, shooting a dissaproving glance at the beligerents. "You will stop this. Now." His voice was crisp and somber, and rather... cold.
Ishtar was about to speak to the man within the vice-like grip of one of her guards when she heard the cold guffaw only to go slack jawed. She'd had a finger raised to give a stern rebuke to her 'pets' as Zalus had called them only to watch her hand fall limply to her side. She let out a terrified little squeak at the tone of voice and just who it was speaking to them now only to try and hide behind Mridula.
At seeing their master cower behind the older woman, two of the three Nohman turned swiftly about, facing Serhan down; unmoved by the tone nor words. They didn't really answer to him and right now this seemed to be the reason why Ishtar was distressed. Instead they just stood there and continued to stare at the XO while the other went to present their captured prize to its owner.
"P-P-Put him d-down." she stammered and watched as it obeyed, releasing Zalus to his own two legs.
Zalus fell to the deck and rolled onto his back holding sides and coughing. "Thanks Sir, I'm glad you show up when you did. I didn't really have an exit plan..." Zalus rolled back and forth slightly as he caught his breath and worked some life back into his arms. These things were a materialized terror but in his current state it was only a slight comfort to know they were on his side in the loosest sense.
"You are in many ways, also an idiot." Serhan said with a cool expression. He didn't seemed to approve of his subordinate's choice of action nor care to hear much more of it.
"Marranr," Mridula said, nodding to the man standing behind the Nohman. "Seems like it's been a while. How've you been?" She gave the NI behind her a gentle smile, trying to push her back towards the front.
Mridula would feel the soft shivering of Ishtar as she succeeded in part, only to see the small NI a look of terror on her face at what was happening. Why couldn't she just hide behind Mridula until the bad XO just went away?
Zalus turned over and pushed himself off the deck and nodded to what the XO had said. He didn't say anything feeling the tension in the air and he stooped over to pick up his pistol and check it for damage. It looks like mommy and daddy and fighting... at least the mommy is nice on the eyes. Zalus thought as he backed away from the beasts that had caught him.
"I am good. Thank you for asking." The XO gave a peaceful nod, attempting to soften the impression he had likely just given. Even if she was well into her fourties, there was something unforgivable about terrifying a little girl like that.
The liaison knelt on the comfortingly metallic floor of the ship and put her arms around the little NI, resting her chin on her shoulder. The situation seemed to be handling itself without her, and her little friend looked scared enough to need a hug. That was one thing she could definitely supply. "That's good, sera."
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