Star Army

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RP [Die Screaming] Glass Jaw Pt-II: Good Men Must Die.

"It is!" Franciss' voice cracked in acknowledgment to Carinas' statement about her name, hands tying up with the street-urchins in sisterly understanding and comradery as the new arrival invaded her personal space. Oddly enough she smelled strongly like oranges...

"I changed it after the war." she admitted, though not eluding to which war. With the length, some of these people had been frozen and the near constant conflicts in Nepleslia's history Francis could very well be as old if not older than Carinas' grandparents. "It just sounds so much better than-"

One eye twitched and she squeezed Carinas' hands hard enough that several of her knuckles popped as Tobias spoke up, interrupting her. Wrenching her hands-free and exiting Carinas personal space with a viscious scowl and face flushed enough she had to be fuming she out shrieked in abject and palpable hatred at the man for interrupting her.
"Shutthefuckupshutthefuckupshutthefuckup!" She drowned out most of his sentence in a sudden and extreme tirade. "Don't care, Didn't ask, Don't Ever fucking speak to me unless spoken to first, meat."

And YOU!" A shaking, exacerbated finger shoved in Lupins direction, the man unable to see as her other hand grasped at the grip of her sidearm just short of pulling it from its holster with a white-knuckled grip as she practically started frothing at the mouth. "Who said you could speak?! Anddontfuckinglookatmeeither!"

She reminded them that while eccentric as some of the team may be, they were all genuinely innocent to their manufactured crimes while most everyone else around them was convicted of heinous acts, and many, like Francis Euphoria, had unstable mental faculties to have committed or deserved their crimes and sentences. Just about every sound either Lupin or Tobias made and their every perceived action elicited some verbal abuse from the pre-DIoN commissar as she forced an oppressive and silent dressing regime until both men were dressed while she fussed over helping Quilly, Carina, and Molotra.

"To answer a question," She glared at Lupins offending back with narrowed eyes just daring him to speak up. "Easy wandered in a day before we found you all. She was pretty banged up but kept taking teams out to look for you for some reason after she said you got separated. Always asking if other teams found you first, or checking her jockey for your signals. Wanted to find you before your heads popped is my guess; She's rehabilitated like I'm gonna be and after this tour, she gets to cut loose back into the sector so guessing she didn't want her good record smirched by having her team pop before it was over is all. She'll be waiting for you at the briefing after we get you kitted back out"

Bipolar switch activated once again she turned to Molotra as her frown was replaced with a knowing grin.

"See, you get it! Their fucking useless and only think with their loins. Useless meat-heads who think they're so important that the world would stop turning if not for their outdated chivalric ideals. Literally nothing they add to society as a whole! Even procreation-" She cringed at some inner thought on the matter, "Back in my day things just get muddied up with all these men cause; They cant do anything for us a good toy cant and the batteries last longer and don't complain half as much- And unlike all the Super-Y in the genepool we can just clone more women and not have us as minorities to just be plucked off the street and sold around like goddamn commodities to-"

Her rant went on only to be cut off when the ground shook again and dislodged enough dust to incite a coughing fit from Francis who broke off long enough to break her train of thought.

"Riiight~" she remembered her purpose in the room with one fist plopping into the palm of her other hand in the iconic eureka gesture. "Come on, we don't want to be late. You two!" She growled at Lupin and Tobias. "Walk in front, I dont want you staring at our asses and getting any wrong ideas, move it."

Pecking order clear Francis urged them on into a windowless hall with the occasional battery-powered lamp crammed into hand-dug cubbies in asymmetrical spots along its legth. The lack of windows, the muffled sensations from above, and the occasional tremor gave the feeling of being at least somewhere a level underground which was confirmed when they passed by a half-collapsed section that let in light from an upper level before moving on. Where they were, Francis explained to the three women while the men could at least eavesdrop, was in an underground structure the unit was using to store their gear and treat their wounded while some fighting was still going on above ground.

At least a light brigades worth had managed to regroup; At least half of the original landing force. And were holding a large semi-intact factory complex above ground. Of that brigade roughly three companies worth; Roughly three thousand men, were still able and on their feet while the rest were in triage or too wounded to do much else than hold ground. They passed many a room that was exposed with many in cots like they had been, moaning or silent as the grave while others had unsanitary and stained surgical centers while unqualified medics or the occasional now uncertified NepMed doctor plied their trade over open casualties.

Not too long after they left they managed to start steering upwards; The squids having no need for stairs, ramps and ladders had been erected until after two levels above where they started the holes above them showed genuine sunlight. The large room they had exited into was mostly empty of people but full of everything else. Bags and crates and haphazardly stacked piles of equipment and weapons were strewn about while a few clerk-algined personnell tried futiliy to organize or categorize in slightly more organized piles. Stacks of grenades and miscellaneous explosives were next to a tower of worn socks while every rifle from Styrling bolt actions and M2 rifles to modern M43 Nova rifles and M3 assault rifles, Unsheathed knives and axes and sharpened shovels were piled with random techtrash from just about every device in Nepleslia's history and even some xenotech while canteens were thrown in with random semi-intact armor next to packaged MRE meals most seemed to flock to.

An entire supply depot was strewn about in a barely 500-square-foot room with just about everything imaginable was assembled to gear themselves out with and even more as some more savvy and imaginative sorts took to trying to play at dismantling and reassembling into more useful abominations with strewn about tools like one man trying to build a literal bomb while another with Kuznyetski tattoos was trying to hook batteries up to an NMX weapon to make it useable again.

"Nobodies using it anymore, and once we're done it will just get left behind so take what you want because after today you wont get to play again until they thaw you again." Francis urged mostly to the three women as she bent to examine Molotras once gun-arm. The spacer could easily recreate her once-weapon, a new power source, or more like something to aid in her cyer-search while Quilly had enough explosives about to cripple a starship, Lupin enough long weapons to assassinate a premier, Tobias enough tech to do almost anything, and Carina...

Well a girl had to have options~
Lupin didn't much like the idea of putting his back to the unstable, pint-sized measure of red mercury that was the boyish commissar. But it wasn't like he had much say in the matter, so the tallest member of those remaining did his best to listen in attentively without making eye-contact with Francis. Easy being alive and well was a surprise considering the state they'd left her in, and supposedly there were no hard feelings over it, though he wasn't fully believing that last part yet.

The sniper decided to focus on the now, and right now he needed a decent kit, so without any further pleasantries (like Francis would let him get anything out) he stalked towards the pile of m3aws in the room. Lupin took a knee near the apparent-Kuznyetski and wasted little time cherry-picking parts he liked, taking some kind of discontinued prototype LMG variant and stripping the long-ass barrel out of the thick-walled reciever, replacing it with a carbine-length battel and bolt assembly.

There were many reasons he liked the m3 as a service weapon, and modularity was one of them, he didn't need some hydraulic press to swap out barrels.

Lupin began reaching for a triangle side-folder stock when something shiny at the bottom of the pile of black and green caught his attention. A little rummaging later and Lupin had to disguise a chuckle of disbelief as a tickle in his throat, sliding the objects of interest out of the pile and then out of site beneath one scuffed boot. His head rose and turned to Carina, clearing his throat to try and beckon the medic over

"I doubt it's luck that keeps putting these within our reach," the speculative prince murmured without making direct eye-contact, moving his boot enough for the silver sheen of a familiar balisong to grace the medic's sight, alongside the sheathed knife Lupin had almost beheaded a neko with.

"I'm not as clued in as you three, but I need to know, is anyone still looking out for us?" Lupin asked, busying himself by decking his carbine out with some fairly standard-looking furniture.
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Carina decided gawping at the 'Commisar' was out of the question. Instead, she kept her face schooled to something friendly. Approachable. "Ah, don' worry'bout'em none." the Los Apagos native said after a few moments. Going so far as to bump her hip against Francis' to take her attention from Tobias and Lupin. "I remembah when tha'clonin' started 'cause of all tha' Super Y floatin' around. Were almost all men. Was also a lotta Neko hookers in Funky City too to dip their fuckin' worms in." her head bobbed. Of course, she'd been little more than a child back then. Hell. Even her father had a watered-down bit of the gene. "'an yeah. Nothin' a toy can't handle." agreeing, then waggling her fingers. "Or these, yeah?" the Medic chuckled to herself before shoving off to the pile.

"Careful of that one. Bi-polar doesn't cut it. Misandry to the maximum. If you have questions, let Molotra or I deal with it if we got to go through her." her tapping her chin at the scent of oranges was covered by eyeing the pile of munitions and rations. Was it ketoacidosis? "And how did the slut survive? Thought you ended her? Someone grab her 'spider you reckon? She can't have had another backed up somewhere." speaking over their little three-way private network.

The medic appeared aloof as she wandered over toward Lupin, the glint of familiar steel causing her to stoop down and snatch the weapon up quick as you please. If he'd handed her the damn thing that self-styled Commisar may have gone total batshit since he'd essentially be proposing to her by way of old Nepleslian custom.

"Met a Commisar once. First Generation IPG-type. Fat bastard." she fed Tobias and Molotra the memory. It was from her point of view of course. Judging from eye-level she'd been a child. Surrounded by old-style Nepleslian Star Empire uniform-clad Marines. The memory began to bob up and down, the girl had been hopping up to try and get a look. Only to be lifted onto a (then) huge shoulder attached to a brown-haired man in his late twenties, long-haired, beard, and goatee wearing a red scarf.

Things became clearer. It had indeed been one of the early IPG types. Long black trenchcoat with red piping and hat. The man had been obese, the memory and accompanying thought of him as 'Commisar Fat Bastard' while giving a speech. Beside him had been a Lieutenant, raven-haired of moderate height the nametag of 'Vel-Steyr' on the left breast. The little show ended then and that little slice into Carina's past came to a close.

Carina moved away from Lupin not saying a word. A slight sneer curled her lips as she did so in case 'Franny' was watching. While he went about his business, she did as well. Rummaging in the pile.
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Tobias stayed within a relatively close proximity to the rest of the group, pushing the limits ever so slightly, perhaps, of Francis' patience with men, but still not quite close enough to be considered close contact. He set about taking his pick of equipment. A hard-plate vest was the first thing he grabbed, slipping it on over his ill-fitting fatigues. This was followed shortly after by an errant Tech-pack that he spotted, with several extra scavenged shield drones stuck inside. While it was hardly nessecary for him to use one to control drones and other electronics, it came with a few useful pieces of kit and was an easy enough way to explain how he did what he did without giving away too much.

Further, the antimatter battery inside could be used to recharge his own internal reserves, or his planned weapon. Spotting what he was looking for as he paced around the facility, the operator picked up an M43 and several batteries. No ZARCNAM, and Tobias knew he'd miss the integrated plasma-thrower, but it would do and its rechargeable batteries would be useful if the group got stuck on another long march.

As the man set about looking for the final necessary pieces of kit, he responded to Carina's messages. <<Someone must have come looking for her, or stumbled across the camp. I can't imagine a brainspider getting all that far, but we... I got sloppy. Should have made sure to confirm it was destroyed.>> The other people on the net could get a sense of anger leaking through the link. Deuce wouldn't have made that mistake, neither would Locust. Sloppy work, amateurish. He ought to have known better, after all he'd been working with them for... how long? The young man still wasn't sure.

As Tobias found what he was looking for, he had to chase off a few people cannibalizing a pair of Courier robots for parts with a quick "Get off of that! You're going to fry yourself!" The robots were in good enough condition, discounting now-ruined paint and he was able to activate them with a few performant taps at their control panels bringing the robots up to their feet. The computers expert was relieved to find that both were armed for the task at hand, dealing with NMX, with old-fashioned reliable HPAR rifles. Normally used on powered armors, he suspected they'd been left attached simply because there was no one able to handle the rifles present. One even had a missile pod, though it was loaded with DART and TRACER rounds, both non-lethal... at least to power armor.

He then set about ladening down the robots with everything he could imagine the others might need in the field, explosives and grenade launchers for Quilly, the largest sniper rifle he could find and extra ammunition for Lupin, and a load of guns and ammunition for Carina and Molotra. <<The sooner we find some kind of answers about what exactly is going on on this planet, the better.>>
<It's possible our own forces are jamming us, or not providing us with the key codes to circumvent the encryption.> Molotra's voice came through with a surprising clarity after so long spent silent, other than her own constant jumbled access attempts across their tiny three-person network. The logic was pretty straight forward; Her mind's eye couldn't see a damn thing in this environment, which made Zelegar's potential brain spider situation... Well, incredibly suspicious. How would their uncaring masters have found it, in order to recover it? <From this point, logic would suggest... Malware uploaded into defeated opponents, every detectable device on their person...>

It might have sounded like a recovery, but Molotra's real world expression was still empty, trundling forwards on half-deconstructed treads like someone on the verge of catatonia.

Carina's far-off memories didn't really help much. The Nepleslian reds were like the instigator of all of the Freespacer's woes, nothing more than puppets to Yamatai's rotten ambitions, in her eyes... or, at least, that's how she had felt a long time ago. A moral comfort zone... These days, everything was blended together into one giant hodge-podge of secrets and hidden wrongs, making her feel like none of the factions actually existed in the first place. That went for the Viridian Array, too...

"...There are no... civilian vehicles." A hazy observation, slowly looking around. Nowhere to steal high-induction grav motors from. Not much in the way of NAM power armour parts, either...

First things first; The empty container for the Golem version of Na-TK17 toolkit served as a replacement backpack, since their old ammo box backpack had gone missing. A hard ballistics vest was next. A replacement power source came in the form of an obscure Britva Infantry Armor Suit generator, found by itself- Maybe discarded because the buckypaper reactor housing was cracked? Molotra didn't care. They were basically acting like an organic junker at this point, not bothering to think ten minutes into the future.

Turned out that the real treasures were the salvaged NMX things Nepleslians either didn't understand, or superstitiously feared to mess around with. An NMX Emergency Air Mask, Type 33, that was useful... And the right arm of that defective Daisy knockoff, the Reaper, rather more so...

Once they had the oversized claw of a right arm attached, productivity rapidly increased, turning the small tank into a malformed durandium golem of mottled green panels. The Impaler rifle's limited ammo supply would be an issue, so they attached the rear halves of two Type 31 sidearms where the hilt should be instead, creating an abominable laser rifle that was meshed to their right armpit via a mess of dangling tubes and wires.

The integrated fire extinguisher bottle of their backpack was now this thing's coolant tank. It needed it.
Tunnels and Rats

As off-putting as the erratic Francis was, Quilly had determined that she was, probably, genuine. In how much she hated men. And hopefully also Squids. Fuck.

The tunnels were cramped for the little Quail, who kept her brown speckled wings against herself to not constantly end up bumping into the dust-strewn FOB. She did some math in her head as they walked, considering the situation. Three thousand, fighting probably a hundred times that in squids. And that's being luckily low...

Better get packing for being really, really outnumbered.

Equipment Pile
Surprising nobody, Quilly packed up enough grenades into a backpack to level a city block. Also surprising nobody, she knew how to neatly sort them out so said city block-sized shockwave would NOT happen directly on top of the only "safe" place this lightforsaken planet had right now. To round out her kit, a Gjallerhorn was sourced to ensure she had something with more effective range than her "twiggy bird arms" as some shitter snickered before ducking in response to the frizzy redheaded misandrist's glare. She also debated on fashioning some form of sling... then remembered the last time she used one had torn up her left wing for a month, back when she was a kid. Shit.

The blue-eyed lass was rather preoccupied setting her volatile little children together, so wasn't much for conversation - then again, someone trying to converse with an explosives handler in the midst of her craft is asking to lose a limb or three. That being said, at a brief comment by Tobias about the Elysian's lack of conventional weaponry, Quilly picked up a scratched-up Xaser pistol, the NovaCorp logo buffed out from what was probably a decade of re-use by... God knows how many marines. A bit specialized, but the energy-based power cells were less likely to interact with the grenades.
Lupin was in the process of populating a plate carrier with magazine pouches for his stubby little m3 when Tobias' gift dropped in his lap, and the young man paused, jaw all but hitting the floor as he realized exactly what had been handed over...

It was, unmistakeably, the gun he'd spent weeks working on the designs of. There were clearly some alterations but for all intensive purposes it was the same 12.7mm High-Power Infantry Rifle from those rough sketches and prototypes. As much as he wanted to know who exactly had finished the work he'd started Lupin also realised he wasn't pulling off a very good poker face, and so swallowed deeply to try and play it off as he looked the meaty rifle over.

The secret prince felt like Tobias had a decent idea what he'd just dropped into Lupin's lap~

After some more fussing over his kit Lupin finally looked up, only to be greeted with the vaguely-familliar shape of Molotra beneath IFV levels of armour.

"Molotra, that's quite the setup you've got going on there... it's impressive," the young man admitted, slipping an unbuckled helmet over his fluffy mop of blonde-streaked hair as he continued to look over the up-armouring job in all its glory. What he said was the truth, backed up by his slight gawking from behind that injection-moulded visor, it was very impressive.
"...There are no... civilian vehicles."
Francis nodded to molotra in agreement.

"Whole cities weird." She walked about the errant piles of kit, not actually scrounging anything herself. Other than her fatigues, a scavenged brown long coat of some kind and her holstered sidearm she was the odd one out even for the randoms in the storage space not a part of their group all throwing on all that they could carry and more.

"I read the package we got; Know what they look like and all. But this whole city is built for those giant floating squids with those poor girls as chattel and all that. But nobody I've spoken to has even seen one of them more than just the neko soldiers. And I know what those parasites can do, and what not but - Just those girls fighting us without not even a dead squid being found."

"Colonels' spoken to a few of the ones we caught too"
She snapped her fingers remembering something. "Catching some in the deeper tunnels lead to some kind of assembly line system for growing them he thinks not that It was in use. None of the ones who actually spoke back to him even think there are any left here; The colonel thinks maybe they killed them all off or just maybe there are so few of them left and without that terrifying power armor they use they won't take the field, not that it will be our problem when the cavalry lands; There problem than to dig them out."

She seemed to ponder it in silence for some time before somebody eventually got too close to her trying to scrounge from a nearby pile of techtrash before she turned away from them to lay verbal abuse of the poor man easily a hundred plus pounds heavier and a good foot taller who wilted immediately at the sudden and extreme auditory assault, leaving the group gracefully alone.

Roughly around the time they were finishing kitting up, stowing their gear on their persons, and even attacking some of the undesirable rations and metal-tinged water canteens there was a sound.

Distant at first, almost too easy to miss until it got louder. A heavy thud, followed by another, and another. Too light to be whatever was shaking things earlier, but loud enough to distinctly make out a consistent pattern. It sounded much like the heavy footfalls of Tobias' courier drones but also differnt, And it was coming down the hall just around the corner from them.

For some like Carina the hairs stood up on the back of her neck, and for Tobias he knew the sound well enough from working on Duece' team to identify it evne before she did.

In the barely lit hall a large inhuman silhouette took form and slowly stomped towards them and into the open light as none other than Locust in all her still gray-skinned glory strode into the room. Her inability to walk after being cloned again and getting her legs back had been rectified by what looked exactly like her old, massive, reverse-jointed cybernetic legs that connected at the upper thigh around still healing and lighter-colored scar tissue up to a pair of olive-drab short-shorts unbuttoned and held only together fro slipping down by a belt, and on her upper body some webbing over a cropped T-shirt with no bra underneath if the straps of her webbing enunciating her assets without rubbing the wrong way off to the side of her chest were to be believed.

Her face still had a small mess of scar tissue around the damaged socket of her lost eye that was at least covered up by a strapless eyepatch of some kind held up by some kind of likely magnetic studs in the socket and an ominous circle of red glowing hardlight made of three interconnected triangles slowly circled like a pupil that moved around to match her good eye. If she was trying to imitate Easy in her dress it was matched with her raven-black hair being way too grown out compared to what it was and made into delicate curls much like Erin Zelegars had been.

She was, at best, a 4/10 attempt at cosplaying Erin Zelegar. As the mixed emotions were raging about her emotionless deadpan did not even try to recreate Easy's grin as she inflected with a dead monotone and not at all with the right accent.

"Thought your tight fuckable asses lost me back there?" Every word was slow and drawn out, almost embarrassingly out of character in her inflection like she was reading off a barely rehearsed line off a sheet of paper for the first time.

And yet it got a muffled giggle from Francis who greeted Loc-easy with a first bump like they were old comrades.

"I told them you made it back." She turned to the group, seeing their confusion and clear concern and coming to the wrong conclusions.

"Erin lost her legs after you guys got separated." Francis began, as Locust intoned dryly "I lost my legs."

"I wasn't there but Erin said she found one of the dropships and it had all kinds of our med supplies and some cybernetics like those legs!"

"Real lucky."
Locust nodded.

"She managed to stop the bleeding and use some dead neko with some of that magic-healing-blood of theres in a bottle of something to fix the wounds and even managed to install the cybernetics!" Francis half panted as she continued some over the top story of Erin Zelegars sob story of learning to walk all over again after losing her legs and the clear trials she faced making it to the city somehow ahead of them and how the hemosynthetic she used somehow poisoned her and turned her skin gray only for her to fight it off with sheer force of will and survive against all odds.

If it wasnt for the dry and dull commentary Locust added occasionally it would have made for a good pitch to a movie."So the fever and that stuff kind of messed with her brain a bit and her speech but she's still the Easy you should know. And all that can be fixed before we get back to the swamp!" Francis finally finished, reciting Locusts clear barely legible excuses. The whole time the psychotic murder with a list of crimes beyond any redemption was staring unblinking into Carinas' eyes making contact while the mask of her face never gave so much as a hint to her inner machinations.

Locust nodded and placed a reassuring hand on the much-much shorter Francis shoulder, some like Tobias noting just how easily it rested on the base of her neck as the former maybe-IPG hellions old killing habits were so easily abandoned as she could have broken Francis's neck before the other woman could have even felt it.
"Give us the room, Euphoria?" Not-Easy asked as Francis hesitated before relating with an excuse of something she had to do and that she would meet up with them at the briefing.

Before leaving Francis also kicked up a storm at the few who lingered to make themselves scarce regardless of being done or not and before long it was just Locust and her past and likely future victims as the dots began to line up on the murders of their former squad and only witnesses to the fate and real corpse of Eric Zelegar.

Before anyone had any time to speak Locust lowered herself slightly on her suspension to a more reasonable height.

"Good job reading the mark on Zelegar." She nodded to them and then began to turn towards the way she came.
"Let's go, we still have work to do" She moved to start towards the exit and then paused when she wasn't immediately followed. She stared at them blankly before wondering aloud "What is the issue?"

As a few puzzle pieces connected now even more were still a mystery to the greater picture and for once, against all odds and by not even unspoken agreement all of their consciousness' decided that this is enough. To be dragged around and thrown into these situations one after another without any time to process or understand the straw had finally broke the SOL's back and answers must be had be it to strange visions in dreams or possibly simulations, what was going on, their place in it anything.

Before she could ask again everyone started blurting or shouting or acting out all at the same time over one another.

Locust's arrival had only been a matter of time, Tobias knew. He'd seen that she was present in the moments before they'd all been knocked unconscious back in the ruins of the city. Still, he hadn't been expecting for her to be behind the reappearance of the faux-Easy, and to what end he didn't know. Everything about this mission, if one could even call it that anymore, had become so exceedingly strange that it pushed even his IPG-conditioned mind beyond its limits.

Answers, he had to have them, to know at least something about what they were doing here, what it was all for. Were the men they were losing, even if they were criminals, worth whatever objective they were to achieve? Why was Zeigler a target, and why was she replaced by a puppet on Locust's strings? These were the questions he set out to voice, words beginning to spill out from the normally composed IPG agent's mouth as if from a now broken dam.

"Hold on, Locust. I think I speak for all of us when we say we want answers. We've played along so far, doing our best to figure out exactly what our job here was in the first place, hell we even put up with Easy until it was safe to get rid of her. But I think we at least deserve to know what we're working towards on this godforsaken hellhole, and what exactly getting rid of one higher-ranking prisoner has to do with getting rid of the squids on this rock."

The IPG hacker stopped and took a moment to compose himself, better befitting of an agent, before speaking again. "And I'd certainly like to know just how we all ended up in the Swamp in the first place. We saw quite a few things before waking up, and I'm not sure any of us know what it meant. I certainly don't, what with that photo of you, Deuce, and I together in one place, a place I've got no memory of."

"Just who are you? And, for that matter, who am I?"
That final question was one that Tobias had been struggling with since they all woke up in the Swamp. Everyone else seemed to be quite sure of who they were; some, like lupin, received answers from their time in that dream state before waking up. But all he'd gotten were more questions, and instinct drove him to search for the answers.
Lupin wanted that approaching thudding to just be someone trundling around in power armour, he really wanted it to be that, but deep down he knew the sound was too familiar. It took all of the lad's willpower to just grit his jaw and stay quiet as nu-easy showed herself, and Francis was eating up the act like it was nothing, Francis acted like Easy was some old friend... but Lupin hadn't even known the now-dead woman for long and it was fairly apparent this grey revenant was a different beast entirely.

Lupin held his tongue a little longer, though the sight of Locust made his blood boil he knew demanding answers while the pint-sized commissar was around would only end poorly for him, given the blonde's disposition for hating any and all men. So instead he waited, fingers impatiently tapping against the side of his carbine's receiver in sync with Francis' footsteps as she trotted away.

The sniper waited until the room's large doors had shut before a very irked huff left his chapped lips, turning to steam in the warehouse's cold air.

He was initially silent as all the yelling and demanding of answers started, but even someone as outwardly chill as Lupin had a breaking point, quite frankly he was done with this constant stream of lies and surprises. Those heartthrob facial features curled into an ugly snarl of rage as Lupin kicked an unoccupied chair clean across the room, carbine falling to his chest as the bastard prince stomped towards a table covered in gear. With a feat of strength impressive even for someone at his level of athleticism, Lupin tipped the metal table on its side and sent pieces of gear that were laid out on it's surface flying, flinging the table into a nearby support beam hard enough for some of its legs to bend and buckle.

"FUCK!" was the only explanation he gave, kicking over an ammo can and spilling loose rifle rounds across the floor before any attempt to calm himself was given, muscles visibly straining against his previously ill-fitting uniform as Lupin's chest rose and fell with deep breaths.

"You," Lupin growled as he pointed an accusatory finger towards nu-Easy, voice a little calmer though still dripping with disgust as those sparkly eyes tried their best to burn holes through Locust's skull.

"What's the point of any of this? the simulations, the false imprisonment, the~ the~ the fucking radioactive isotopes that've been marking shit? Maybe I'm just blind to the bigger picture, but between you and that chameleon fucker simply letting shit happen I'm not sure how much longer I want to feign ignorance and stay compliant as a piece in whatever sick fucking game this is," Lupin barked, some spittle flying off his fangs as the young man began getting himself worked up.

"So please, enlighten us while we have a moment, and if your skin isn't grey from some suitless void-walk rendezvous with friendlies to get us the fuck off this dying rock then just know that there's a good chance I'll try to finish what I attempted on that Kuvvie ship," he advised the chicken-legged spook, punctuating his intent by raising his carbine's barrel towards Locust just a little bit, apparently at some point he'd flicked it over to full auto~

He had room on her, they outnumbered the grey-skinned woman, he felt confident enough in their ability to put her down if needed.

If anything it might even be a mercy killing, though it would make getting out of these halls a hell of a lot harder.
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Hanyan Standoff.

A slow, almost sigh of exhalation of near boredom escaped Locusts mouth as the two of them both, in unison, began to rant and rave. She paid little enough heed to Lupins implied threat either, as, with a deadpan expression she just chewed on a piece of dry skin on her lip as the more important task until the two at least had to catch their breath.

"Im... Gray?" Was the first thing she said as she casually studied the back of one of her hands with actual seeming curiocity.

"Cant see colors anymore." Was her followup, a tone of resignation to something lost hinted. "Makes sense, in context."

The context was never supplied, however.

Seeing another bout of whining brewing she held a hand up to silence them before pausing for a long moment herself.

" ███ ████ ██ ██████" She said, the clear implication that she had indeed said something, but it was as if it was just out of earshot or that they had just missed it. Seeing looks of confusion, Locust nodded.

"Your mind. Our minds are trained to ignore it when we hear it. You forget it nearly as soon as you forget it. But its a name."

Slowly, she pulled out a small notepad and graphite pencil tucked in it and began to write ever so carefully. Despite the almost minute it took to do so she wrote out four simple words on four separate lines with clear and elaborate strokes before turning the pad around.

It was hard to focus on. As if the attention demanded to be anywhere but. But with it right in their faces it eventually could be read when the mind simply could no longer make excuses to avoid it.


The writing was oddly intricate in a cursive font that seemed alien to the woman as she eventually tore up the paper into little pieces and scattered it before tucking the pad back into a pocket of her too-tight shorts.

"The Kiss of Spring." This time when she said it, it was clear as day. With some kind of mental lock broken, the normally taciturn murderer slowly began to weave a tale to them that demanded their full attention.

The Kiss of Spring.
Abbigail Kilgee was a name nobody ever wanted to hear that knew her name, and who even fewer ever wanted to meet in person in the Nepleslian Star Empire. The terminal spymaster before the dissolution of the empire into the DIoN Abigail was just one of many in a sector-spanning empire but was widely considered first amongst equals. It was said that while there were many who had Emperor Blackmans ear, it was Abigail who had his attention as she was cold, ruthless, cunning, morally flexible, and above all else calculating.

Locust did not get into the full history of the woman but centered on one paticular point in the latter stages of the Star Empire that Kilgee ran.

Her agents were raised, not recruited. An orphanage only in apperence the residents were sometimes abducted, sometimes cloned, sometimes just orphans. It was a psychological experiment on mental conditioning; Implanted false memories, machine learning, and brutal regimes. There were many children she could remember but only a few names.
With names like Alpha; Apples from the kill team. Beta, Delta; The image of Duece and occasionally referred to as such.

Lima; Locusts aparent real/assigned name.

Sigma; Dreamy steve, still floating dead in a voice.

Mu; Your mother, your lover, your sister, your comrade, your friend. The name triggering a memory of someone who desired to be protected in all of their minds but never a face; Someone to keep the others in line even if Locust was unsure if she ever really existed.

Theta; She looked at Tobias only perceptably.

Zeta; She hung on the name too long to be a coincidence, the picture containing a much younger if still older than the others Locust looking red eyed and flushed holding hands with a younger boy with a defiant and unbroken expression.

Locust was almost manic when she described those couple years of freedom she had after the Empire dissolved and DIoN formed and the Burgeoning IPG dismantled the old guard like Kilgee and threw them in the same hole as Blackman to rot their brains for all eternity. The broken look on her face as she went on too long about the things she got to experience a decade too late from her formative years and the clear image of how it broke a young girl on the streets into a life of depravity could have pulled at the heart strings if not for having seen what Locust truly was at heart and her never-ending list of atrocities.

She had been a touch-starved child who found a magnifying glass and an anthill for the first time and stretched her catharsis for half a decade until she had finally run afoul of the wrong people and had...

It was easy to tune out the details of a lunatic describing with clinical detachment the process of turning her into a paraplegic. The important part was that was when Mu; Your childhood crush, the girl next door, your cute little sister, your soulmate. When she had been employed amongst the others who hadn't fallen through the cracks to still be under the care and supervision of a somehow not dead or detail and now Rear Admiral Kilgee of the IPG.

Simulations upon simulations upon simulations! She was put through along with the others still there until she could run the scenarios in her head just to be woken up after a thousand iterations in some kind of digital space over the course of months and sent to perform the exact task she had just run through in her head a half million times to the exact same outcomes and interactions. It was like the hospital they had all been in and the previous iterations Carina could recall. She had been paired with Duece and kept on a short leash for the better part of a decade before New Bernese with the much younger operator keeping her tame and her urges sated.

More than a few of the crimes made sense in context even if she had not gone into detail about the things she did to them for being so pure.

She was self aware enough to admit she was sick, and wrong, and more than a douzen times had managed to slip her leash and turn herself in for some kind of help only to be retrieved again before the ink on the paperwork on her was even dry.

There were a lot of dead young men and women practically fed to her depravity and sadistic torturing went unsaid as she fixated on the topic and got off topic as the longer she began to speak the more actual emotion seemed to fill her but in all the wrong ways as a lucid mania began to overtake her.

"And you were so pure, Sanroma. I just knew when I saw that look on your face when I... When I..."

She recreated the kick on a couple young reds in place, the talons of one foot extending to puncture and grasp at an imagined target as she began to practically mollest her own face, unsure what to do with her hands as she ran them up and down her own body.

And then there was a change. Right when the mental switch was leaning towards just shooting the lunatic and betting their chances on toughing it out with hardened criminal she stiffened and straightened out to almost normal. Her posture was lower and her returned deadpan expression was even more unnerving as before like she was about to pounce but luckily didnt.

"Thats right... Why... You want to know why? Zelegar was an obstacle and as our handler was the closest authority to copy once removed. I need to be her now because Its what she wanted me to be."

"The Colonel? The warden? Once we kill him it lures out the real target. And once we kill him we can go to sleep again and we can sit infront of Kilgees brain; Hooked up to some computer in a dark hole while they turn her into a macro-AI to predict the future with machine intelligence as she uses us as the pawns to prove her simulations over and over and over and over and over and over-"

She began to creep closer to them all, moving surprisingly quiet and graceful on such massive cybernetics that it seemed she was just gliding until she was almost an arms length away.

"And you can ask her anything and she will answer you. And you can try to figure out what the lies are you thought you knew and what's real and not a dream anymore!"

"But it doesn't matter what you try. Even now. Even now we're doing exactly as she predicted we would. So choose what to do and find out its exactly what she wanted you to do all along! So join me and kill him and learn a truth or die with the rest of them and further her ambitions all the same."

As she withdrew and turned her back to them and began to stride back the way she came there was an echo in Tobias' memories towards the last two things Stevens; Sigmas' had ever said as he found his own way to escape.

"When you meet her, Don't fight her, don't rebel against her. She won't hurt you, not in a way that matters at least, she'll need you now that the algorithm has changed..."

"I desire nothing more than deep and restful sleep when sometimes I can't help but feel this is nothing more than a frightening dream. Good luck, Kid."

Locust was gone. Few questions were answered if anything even made sense, and even more had sprung up.

When she was gone, a voice broke the silence of their stupor.

"This is not at all what I expected." Rungo stepped away from the wall he was blended against.

"So what will you do now?"
Tensions were high and Lupin's hand was still wrapped around his M3's pistol grip as he heard what Locust had to say, as expected, it didn't help with the current predicament. For the little information that had been gleaned, truthful or not, so many more shadows were cast. It was infuriating, after all this jerking around he was more or less back at first base.

With a tired sigh Lupin flicked his carbine over to it's safety notch and scratched at the base of his skull, scratching at the invisible scar of his brainspider was becoming something of a tell for the young man, questions about its presence and any potential tampering constantly echoing through his mind during the few quiet moments the team had been afforded here and there.

Rungo's presence was almost expected and came off as less of a shock, the sniper's eyes slowly tracking across to the mutant, reflecting his mutant-chameleon likeness back at into the sneaky bastard's asynchronous vision.

"Play along long enough to find a way out of whatever equation I've been reduced to being a part of... not entirely sure how I'm going to go about that just yet," Lupin admitted with a frown, eyes rolling back towards the various bits of gear strewn around the room, he honestly found it impressive how Rungo had managed to avoid stepping on any of the loose rounds that littered the area.

"...but right now I'm going to try and find something I can smoke, plus a lighter is always handy~" he finished before silently padding over to one of the less-rummaged crates, popping a squat to try and quickly go through its contents. One thing at a time, looking at the bigger picture too often was going to make it harder and harder to find a reason to keep going other than the base desire to stay alive just a little longer.
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Variables in Algebra

Quilly, despite generally sharing some of the team's displeasure of Locust's existence, seemed to be a little more willing to listen - perhaps it was an effect of her extra-lapsed memories, or some bird empathic bullshit, or maybe this pyromaniac quail from the southern hemisphere was just plain naïve. Even she couldn't pin it down as Quilly was one of the few perceived people in the room who hadn't drawn their weapon to put some fresh holes in not-Easy.

On second thought, maybe it's because she'd rather use explosives, which is a bad idea in any ammo dump, and was smart enough to hold back.

"So you're sayin' that we're the chess pieces of some supercomputer bitch from the ole days, still put in use because that's what I'd do with something that powerful - well, a couple other things, but on a smaller scale - and being sent off like some special task force to make certain things go a certain way, to then get chucked into a freezer for another decade or three to do it all again?"

Quilly scoffed. At this point, her whole life might not even had existed - and she was going to deny that part however she could. More likely, in her mind, that life was half a century ago or more. Maybe she can still find her home. Maybe.... Wait a second.

"Okay let's say this is true. What, pray tell, makes you so special that you managed to crack the code on this Kiss of Spring thing? You already knew that it would get fried by our brains until you brute forced it, and it seems like a bad time to reveal it all if you were the simulation's management-Momma anyways so, who broke you out?" Quilly hadn't even acknowledged Ringo, until one of her wings fluttered in frustration and bumped against the mutant with enough force to be moderately inconvenient. The errant limb was quickly retreated as its owner whirled and looked the chameleon dead-on for a moment.

"Ah, there you are. Figured you'd follow given you were watchin' us as we slept."
Molotra already knew there was something watching them all this time, but this revelation rather brought a feeling of... Well, disappointment, down upon them...

So this AI was really just another government tool, with short-sighted, worldly little ambitions in mind? Just another tactical computer built for strategic wargames? Is that all these capitalists could think of building?

And about Locust's shifting demeanour, her twisted explanation- Not to mention their mention of psychological alterations that had been implanted into Molotra and the rest of the squad, too...

"This is why I hate organics. This is why I hate being organic." They were mildly glaring at Rungo and his grasp of Quilly, though they were basically just talking to themselves to relieve the same kind of agitation that Lupin had expressed. "You can alter the software, but there is no way of scanning it for aberrations. Yet everyone acts like this precious 'soul' thing exists, just because you can't look under the hood..."

The tank didn't want emotions. She felt dead months ago. Or whatever counted as months in this purgatory. If Locust wanted to be useful, she should have given them network addresses, transmission formats, hardware specifications!

Tracks clinked. Molotra followed the enraged prince and came to a stop at his side, with a typically blank expression on her pale round face. Though he could have sworn there was an element of the macabre in there too.

"Wolf boy. Do you know what a Savtech Jane CPU unit looks like? Or an ACE Combat Executive AI?..." She spoke softly, cradling her helmet under the left armpit. "I need your help digging out... well, any and all that you can find... I want to make an AI virus breeder."

No point in keeping it secret. If she kept it in cold storage, and bred something lethal enough to kill even her, then anybody back seating her brainwaves still wouldn't have an advantage in developing an anti-virus.

Kinda-sorta an idea she was stealing from her gene-sister Lycosidae. But the idea would take time. Nurturing. And no shortage of personal risk.
Carina had her balisong in hand the moment she heard Locust’s voice pitch up. No tricks, just the quick flick of the blade being out and ready. A look the woman… thing… cyborg was all too familiar with from their fun time simulation hell. The threat of death, torture, and god knew what else. Except now she wondered what they had done to her. If she could rip the grey-skinned thing apart bare-handed. Or the legs off. Unmoving while the creepy thing spoke, eyes unblinking, she was a statue, one ready to spring forward and into motion without a moment’s hesitation.

This… person was crazed, broken into pieces that could never mend. Speaking of questions and answers from some AI as if she were getting a hit of some pleasure-inducing drug that only brought on a sense of mania in her. And thinking she was pure? If that loon knew even half of what her life was like… Even so, hearing about being on the streets caused a derisive snort.

Then she was gone. But Carina didn’t relax, even as Rungo slithered into view. The lizard’s voice came from somewhere behind. If the medic had been so inclined, he’d have likely died the moment he’d shown himself. So often her and her ‘playmate’ had played hide and go kill each other. Sudden appearances and disappearances flipped a killswitch in her. Every time. To which she had to consciously control in the extreme.

She gave Quilly a pat on the head, avoiding the soul stealer’s wings, walking past to stand by Molotra. Leaning over the little tank’s shoulder, whispering, “What’cha talkin’ bout?” her advance having been as silent as the dead. Carina heard nothing about SAVtechs, or ACEs. But she had a Jane in her head. Granted, if someone asked her for it, chances would’ve been high they’d have found their throats cut and bodies magically disappeared. She was attached to her SAVtech in ways only the first generation of Nepleslian Star Empire marines of old would understand. It also served a function, helping maintain herself. And it protected her. Even going so far as to nearly killing Locust via her Burner unit if the thing hadn’t been faulty and only pulped part of her brain.
"...Wolf boy?" Lupin pondered, offering Molotra a raised eyebrow before dismissing the name with a little shake of his head as Carina approached, there were more important things to be asking about.

"Molo is asking about AI cores, maybe we luck out and find a sealed hardcase somewhere? I've read a bit more about Janes than Aces... I'm just not sure how likely it is for us to find either in these piles of detritus," the young prince whispered as he kept rummaging through a heavy duty container, stuffing a small arc lighter into his vest with a sigh, his thumb quietly tapping against the container's metal surface as he thought.

"I've seen a few drones and datajockeys around the place in various states of disrepair, I know it's unlikely but maybe one of them has something haunting its circuits? they seem to have undergone some pretty non-standard modifications and that's just from looking at the outside," Lupin quietly hinted, handing both women a sheathed m3 bayonet each, making it look like they were divvying up gear moreso than plotting revenge. They were at the mercy of an ancient AI, who knew, maybe the code in one of these devices had grown sick and tired of being locked away.

Enemy of my enemy and all that, but he was aware something kept in the dark for so long was just as likely to have grown feral. His eyes widened and the nickname made a bit more sense suddenly, his canines had grown out a little more, and he had used them to rip out that poor girl's throat... what gave him any authority to make the distinction between some dumbed down combat ai being feral or having remained domesticated?
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Not even Justice, I just want Truth

As Locust left the room, Tobias was left floored by the revelation, even if it was in part already suspected. He'd suspected that at least his own memories were altered, the photograph they'd been shown by Abigail... he was now sure that Abigail was the woman they'd met in that simulation... was proof enough of that. But the rest of the group? How many other people sleeping within the cold embrace of The Swamp were part of her games too?

He doubted that he, Locust, Deuce, or any of the other people who had ended up in her orphanages were in any way meaningful to Abigail, and he doubted that she'd merely stopped at twenty six operatives when there were millions of orphans on Nepleslia's streets across its planets, nor hesitated to replace one if they died. Was he the first Theta, or merely the latest? Was there more than one? There were only going to be two ways of getting these kinds of answers, from Abigail herself, what little of her remained within the machine, or by tearing the answers out of her digital corpse.

For either of these possibilities to be realized, Tobias knew he'd need the entire team's skillset, and every sliver of advantage they could claw their way. "If it's a Jane you're looking for, this backpack has one." he said, placing his pack on the ground in front of Molotra, with no elaboration on how he'd heard her quiet speech earlier, giving a gesture of "Have at it." <<Won't be needing it anyhow, not between the three of us. Make sure to leave the rest of the pack intact.>>

He then directed one of the Courier robots over to Quilly and left his pack by Molotra and Lupin. Approaching the short, brown-haired Elysian, Tobias indicated to the robot before speaking. "Might want to load up on whatever supplies it is you need, it looks like we're going to be doing a lot more fighting from here on in."
The A-Team (Que Themesong) Molotra, Carina, Tobius, Quilly, Lupin

With Locust gone and having ignored Quillys protests Rungo carefully examined those few who remained. Molotra had her hands on the JANEs chip in less than a minute with the minor AI retrieved from its datavault in the techpack and was already fiddling away with it more remotely than physically as outdated SMDIoN encryption was tested against a spacer with one too many bad days behind her to care about the backlash.

There was a noticeable detachment amongst them, he noted. Everything they heard, everything they seemed to go through these people seemed to just dissasociate an d go along with whatever happened.

There was some kind of clear mental conditioning. They accepted things as they were too easily, with even their outburst wading into trivial acceptance. It was possible that there was other, more dangerous, conditioning he would need to be wary of.

He knew, however, regardless of the plans they might come up with it was unlikely they would stray from this Locust-womans path even with their clear antagonism towards her.

There was a need for a push in the right direction before they got him killed or before he could see the climax to this play.

"This Locust and the entity she belongs to wish to eliminate the commander; This Warden to lure out some kind of more important target then? Am I to assume that if this entity can truly predict the future as she says and wishes it to be so then you will capitulate and follow Erin Zelegar and kill him?"

"There is no point to do otherwise if there is no opposing force to counteract its agents from eliminating him otherwise."

The B-Team (Sad Trombone Noise) Caffran, Vai, Clayton

Ukk. If the name of the world was to be believed was its name. A dry but also somehow suprisingly humid and dour world of brown rocks, brown oceans, borwn skies, and brown buildings of which few still stood in the city.

For almost three days the Penitent Damned as the unit was called; So disposable it was redundant to give it an actual unit designation was made of SMDIoN personnel locked away in its prisons and especially on the prison world of Poison and its swampy-supermax imaginatively named The Swamp where criminals were frozen away to serve extended sentences.

Marines, Navy, Central, the IPG; Any military folk were locked away in its deepest depths and occasionally unfrozen to perform the hazardous duty to reduce their sentences. Ukk was one such duty. Fodder to clear away some of the most hardened and dangerous Neko in the sector with barely any equipment, little rations, and against their will the PD was thrown against the wall on UKK until of ten thousand men only half that remained and only a chunk of even those still combat worthy.

It was here one small group found themselves sequestered away. The fighting had been hard, brutal even, and if the rumors were to be true the colonel; The Warden was preparing one last suicide charge against some hard target before the marines in orbit decided it was safe enough to land and relieve anyone who may have survived!

There was an alternative, however.

Before the breifing. Before whatever great monologuing and melodramatic speech about duty and honor and the cause, there was another safer path. Six men and one woman sat in the dimly lit room; Large by nepleslian standards and no doubt built as the chambers of some squid or another, and awaited the eighth.

The PD was made up of criminals. But not all of them were justly prosecuted in a society like Nepleslia. And each of them perhaps except the misogynistic Francis Euphoria who seemed a genuine loon off her meds was undeserving of their crimes in one way or another.

Caffran Canterbury was a marine with a promissing future ahead of him. A veteran of the battle of Glimmergold and various other operations he had every door open to him until they were all slammed suddenly closed. When the wardens came for him the charges shouldnt have struck; Three dead on an independent world in the UX-3 system with obvious and sloppy signs of an amateur it was someone looking to target his cousin but got the wrong Canterbury should have been an open and shut trial with him walking free the next day.

He was frozen in a tube instead and even if he never knew the SAW rep who represented him was being paid by the kuvies and was already ghosted by the IPG he had fallen through the cracks and if the date was to be believed was barely a month into a ten-year sentence before they none-too-casually thawed him and told him it was time to earn his due.

Vaishnavi Pai was a rising star with a good attitude and the skills to back it up. Despite being a private she had the makings for command and should have been on a promotion board when one stickler lieutenant wanted to teach her a lesson.

It was never supposed to end the way it did. A few bloody noses any other time might not have settled the matter but cowards often hate to lose; And a drunk and arrogant officer at point blank range with a pistol is a disaster in the making. Witness testimony was thrown under the bus for the Lieutenants word over just one hot headed private and a mans death was blamed on her even with him even being caught red-handed with the literal smoking gun he missed her with and killed a bystander. Three months in a cryotube of her intended nine years and it was likely at this rate she wouldnt last another day.

Clayton Tillery never suspected a thing until the Wardens knocked on his billet door. When a fellow squaddie was racketeering he used Claytons name as a scapegoat to keep suspicion off of him; So when the investigation started and they came to him he was quick to sell out his good friend the corrupt and violent Clayton as the sole perpetrator.

A few items with Claytons fingerprints on them in the right places, a payoff of a few other sqaddies for testimony, and all the blame fell in an innocent mans lap with an open-shut case. Even so it would have been an open-shut case and at best a year and change with probation if his once-friend didnt have an in with the military prosecutor. He was to be held pending further evidence for an unstated and likely long time. The charges and more went through when he was already frozen.

These were just three of many stories of innocent and framed men serving crimes they did not commit.

And the fighting had been harsh.
But then, the day before at the Rendevous each of them had been sought out by one of the veteran sergeants of the unit and reassured that she knew the truth and would see them done right. It might have been bullshit had she not somehow been able to deactivate the bombs under their brainspiders and pulled from frontline duty. So despite her appearance with her gray skin, daur-expressionless face, and intimidating cybernetic legs that Erin Zelegar; 'Easy' as Francis called her audibly stomped into the room.

"We're on our own for this one, kids." She intoned in her depressing monotone. She had earlier gotten them all the gear including better weapons as she could, even a hot meal and some fresh and blissfully nonradioactive water went a long way and had gone so far as to put herself out there to defend their innocence she implied. She had left to collect others but had come back empty-handed.

"I told you!" Francis barked, the little commissar clearly agitated surrounded by so many men as the overly misogynistic remnant of the nepleslian star empire spent most of their time griping and snapping at them. "Couple of them seemed right but them other two clearly intimidatin 'em into follo'in suite!"

Easy just nodded sadly and lowered herself down to kneel on her massive cybernetic legs and join them, her SPAID hanging by its sling.

"I didn't want it to come to this," Easy began, her dull tone inflecting some kind of city accent if barely. "But there's only one man who can clear your names and getting him down here from orbit won't be easy."

"That admiral guy, right? The bigshot?"
Francis queried at her, sneering at their savior's gender like an immature child.

Easy just nodded and frowned. The next words out of her mouth clearly strained and heavy with their meaning.

"The warden is just going to keep paying the wardens off to keep this meatgrinder going with kids like you all. He'll try to stop us, and it's his word against all of ours. You dont have to help me do this but the warden has to be stopped and with him gone the deadman-protocol will activate and Calloway will send the full landing force to relieve us and should come in person; I can get us to him and plead your cases but we have to stop the warden first."

"To save all these people's lives from being pointlessly wasted here. To clear your names. To set the record straight and stop that murderer we just need to kill one man. I'll do everything, none of you have to get your hands dirty just back me up is all and keep his goons away from me. If you help me no more good men need to die today."
The B Team, somewhere

Caffran remained silent as Easy laid the situation out for him and the other two Marines. Indeed, he had hardly said a word since coming out of cryo. He had a cloth spread out in front of him on a rickety table and had all his weapons disassembled in front of him. He was cleaning them and checking the integrity of the parts. Caffran like tinkering with his weapons. It allowed his mind to process all that had happened.

Caffran didn't bother trying to figure out how he got here. Bogus charges. He knew his family would be working on getting him released and cleared, but that would take time. He couldn't wait on them. So he had to look at this as if he would be here for awhile. That left him with a couple of options. Option 1. Go along with what they told you. Caff shook his head at that option while filing some build up on the end of the M3 receiver. He had had just a taste of the front line meat grinder and wasn't anxious to go back to that. It wasn't that he was afraid. But he didn't like the idea of being ordered to charge an enemy head on when he was a stealth expert. It would have been a waist of a good life. His.

Option 2. Stealth. Caffran finished cleaning and oiling the M3 and quickly and expertly put it back together. It was a sight better than the old bolt action they had handed to him the first day. It might even shoot straight now that he had given it a tune up. He moved on to the next weapons, two shotguns. One was a pump action, the other was a sawed off double barrel. Stealth. Caffran's specialty. He could simply disappear and find a way off this planet. He'd done it before. It would be tough and would probably take him at least a month of hiding and watching, looking for weakness and patterns. The shotguns didn't take as long to clean. They had less moving parts than the M3. Caffran moved on to the side arms he had taken. A heavy 50 cal. revolver and a 10mm semi.

Option 3. Caffran glanced up at Easy again, still trying to get the measure of the woman. Though it seemed straight forward enough, Caffran had a nagging feeling that he was being set up again. But he just couldn't see how. Personally Caffran didn't put much stock in this woman being able to convince an Admiral that they were innocent, unless this woman had a lot more influence and power than she was letting on. The woman screamed IPG agent. Still... The revolver was good to go. The thing just lacked wheels to be considered a piece of artillery. The 10mm was in surpassingly good shape. He had even found a silencer for it.

Now that all the weapons were cleaned, Caffran began loading then starting with the pistols. As he loaded each on he slid them into their respected holsters. The sawed off shotgun he hung from a hook around his shoulders so that the butt stuck out just over top of his right shoulder. The other shotgun he left on the table while he loaded the M3, laying it onto the table beside the shotgun. He eyed Easy again, as if he'd learn something new if he starred at her long enough, before rolling up the sleeve around his cybernetic arm.

Carefully, he slid back the hidden compartment and removed the two items hidden there. Two items he couldn't live without. He had had to bribe and bribe big the tech who scanned his bionics when they had came for him. But no one seemed to do a second scan so he still had his emergency stash. One was a cube of cloth about the size about the size of a fist. It was an emergency camo-cloak. Much thinner than his regular one, but just as effective at stealth. He shook it out to it's full size. It would soon lose the creases from being folded and packed up in his arm. The second item was much more special to him. Along with the Dragon tattoo, ever Canterbury had his Straight Silver knife. As soon as you were old enough to pick it up without dropping it you carried your Straight Silver blade wherever you went. This particular blade however was extra special to Caffran. He had traded his with a beautiful Star Army Ranger. They had become quite close in a short amount of time and had swapped blades. Caff looked at lighting bolt engraving on the blade and smiled. It was as if as long as he had this blade he was going to be ok, come what may.

Finally kited out, Caffran studied Easy one last time. He didn't trust her. But her plan seemed simple enough. Once this crooked Warden was removed from the picture and reinforcements landed Caffran would just disappear. He'd blend in with the relief force and get a ticket off this planet. Once off, he could contact his clan and get the charges dropped that way, rather than rely on some woman trying to convince some Admiral. "So what is your plan?" He asked simply.
Sitting in one of the foldout Chairs, Clayton sat content with the warm meal and water settling in his belly as he listened to the proposition from the person who pulled them out of the hell of combat for a whole new Type of adventure. "It's not like we really have a choice, help end this bloodshed or go back to the front and get killed either way more blood is going to be spilt to end this conflict." Clayton interjected as he took in the idea.

He would admit he didn't like the false charges pressed against him by the jack-bootery that is the nep military, but he struggles with the idea that killing a warden in return to be a free nep. "Were talking about killing the Warden here. Discarding the fact that this wont be a easy task but how do we know that this wont lead to harsher sentencing or worse as backlash?"

when Caffran had finished kitting up and asked for what the plan was Clayton shook his head and started to do a shell count on his m3 and grenades. Stealth was never claytons strong suit and with something like this happening or being talked about happening the Nepleslian marine just buttoned up and made sure his kit was in order for whatever hell they would be getting into.