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 Female x Male  Action / Adventure  Science Fiction It's Dark Out Here [CursieKitti/C^3]

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by CaliforniaCombatCony, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    [​IMG]

    Dark. The word had become a term for an entire way of life. Spacers lived in the dark. Everyone thought traveling through space meant you were surrounded by starlight, passing distant suns, seeing strange and wonderful worlds. No. It was mostly just dark. Deep, all encompassing dark. Being in space for a long time sometimes made you go a little crazy. Then there were those who were comforted by the solitude, by the adventure of trying to exist in an environment that was completely hostile to any conventional life.

    The Dark was where Beretta felt most at home. Crowded space ports and colony worlds were dirty and loud and full of... people. But out here it was just her.

    White teeth gritted behind grey lips as her comms crackled, startling her out of her meditation as she stared out her cabin porthole. "Approaching the target, captain," came the subdued voice of her first mate, Hadden. Ok, so she wasn't completely alone. There was the crew. They were a small outfit but they'd had their fair share of reputation making successes.

    "On my way," she replied, levering herself up from her cross legged position on the floor in front of the porthole. She wore a brown and grey one piece, an armored sleeve on one arm, the other bare. Her skin was grey.

    Long time spacers sometimes got pretty pale, almost albino if it had been years since they'd set foot on a planet without sun-shielding. But Beretta was different. Every company had their own Gray Division, children enhanced with gene therapy and cybernetics to be vicious and hardy soldiers. The array of micro-filaments under her skin, carbon mesh over her bones, actuator servos in her joints and muscle tensors throughout her body made her strong and durable, so much so that it took military grade ammo or a thermal cutter to seriously wound her unless she was shot in the eye or something.

    Grays were big during the corporate wars ten years ago. Her family had been colony farmers but they'd fallen into debts they couldn't pay. The company needed soldiers so they offered up their eldest daughter. She'd only just turned fifteen when she was put on the front lines, worked her way up to command her own squad before a botched mission got her demoted again. She'd served out her time then put in for a discharge. It had been almost twenty years since she'd last seen her family and after leaving the corporate military, she'd never bothered to find them. As far as Beretta was concerned, those people stopped being her parents as soon as they'd given her up.

    The door to her quarters opened with a hiss as she slung a rifle lanyard over her torso, clipping her snub-nosed Hex-Corp SMG to it and letting it hang there as she buckled on her hip holster. She made her way through the cramp corridors of the Charon's Crossing, a sleek blockade runner that she'd re-purposed into a raider rig. The dim lighting glinted off the black steel insignia on her shoulder, reminiscent of the blue ones worn by Corporate Police. The same symbol was emblazoned on the hull, a sign that she was a licensed corporate privateer and mercenary.

    "Talk," she said calmly to Hadden as she entered the small bridge. Unlike a corporate cruiser with its spacious compartments and surgically white finish, it was compact, dimly lit, surfaces of black steel and blue holo-displays. Hadden sat in the captain's chair near the rear of the bridge, standing as she approached. She easily slid into the chair, reclining as she looked at the main view screen.

    Hadden was almost too tall to stand upright in the low-cielinged bridge. He was broad shouldered with a face like a potato, bald, with that pale, spacer's complexion. He'd been a military man a lifetime ago but had killed a commanding officer during a disagreement, labeled a fugitive. He'd been on the run for years when she'd recruited him, securing him a corporate pardon. He'd been devoted to her ever since. She didn't return his feelings and he'd channeled them into being the best first mate he could be.

    The display showed quite a bit of data but she was most interested in the far away speck that was their target. It was getting larger slowly but she pressed a key on the holo-UI of her chair to zoom in on the pleasure cruiser, the one she'd been contracted by its owners to clandestinely board and kidnap a high value target.

    "We're several minutes out. Would you like to lead the boarding party?" Hadden had learned long ago not to try to keep his captain on the ship. She liked getting her hands dirty. It was a vestigial habit from her days as a corporate grunt.

    "Yes. Move in close for us to dock, engines quiet, then punch out, keep them distracted while we secure the target, then pick us up in the main hangar," she said as she keyed a few more commands, bringing up a schematic of the ship they were preparing to board, rotating the 3D model before her. There was a docking port on the starboard side near the underbelly that would make for a good approach. They had the codes to the ship's sensor array so they could slip in undetected. The main hangar was near the top at the bow of the ship, a trough leading down into the belly for approaching small craft. That would be their exit.

    "Don't break my ship, Hadden," she said gruffly as she closed the display and stood, walking toward the door as she keyed her comms, calling on the small band of fighters aboard to meet her near the airlock in breach gear.

    This was not a mission to build her rep. A scan of the ship would turn up a false registry, one she rotated on a weekly basis and she'd given instructions to wear identity concealment tech for this op. She pressed a command on her wrist-link, a watch-like device that could interface with multiple systems. This one was linked to a small implant behind her ear that emitted a distortion field, breaking up her facial features using refracted light. It fooled scanners and the naked eye and any cameras would get an ion burst as soon as she came into view. Most of her compatriots wore either masks or a similar device.

    Her team was not the uniform-clad ranks of grays she'd once commanded. But they were good fighters and they specialized in surgical breaches of larger ships.

    "Bragg," she said to a burly man with dreadlocks as she pulled her own into a ponytail, "you'll be responsible for the package. Use it as a shield if you have to but I order you not to let yourself or it get damaged."

    The other three consisted of a square jawed woman who looked like she could barely lift the heavy concussion rifle she was toting given that she barely broke four feet, Amaya, Tess, her mechanic and gunner who happened to be good with computers, and Zed. He was the real enigma. He never took off his helmet. He barely spoke. But he was good with a blade, the only other gray she'd ever been able to recruit. He'd been black ops once. Real ninja, loner type.

    She heard the engines cycling down as they began to drift, impulse thrusters directing them under the belly of the corporate pleasure craft transporting the HVT. "No mistakes, kids. Any of you die and you're fired."

    There was a clunk and a hiss as they made contact, the airlock outer ring sealing onto the other access hatch. The light turned green, the doors opened and pirate's boots thundered on surgically white floors.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018 at 5:59 AM
  2. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    System booting . . . Loading . . . Please wait.

    The prompts were always so polite; it was almost alarming. The last three upgrades to the Deltech Corporations operating system had emphasized on what could only be described as "live-giving." Long gone were the days that machines were just machines. Each OS had its own personality, its own voice and mannerisms. They had even been assigned names to each individual core processor that delivered different services to thousands upon millions of humanoids in the seven colonies. The screen blackened, as if blinking, then warmed with a pastel green glow.

    Good afternoon, Selby.

    Selby smiled, just a little though he hadn't thought he had the energy. He had overslept, no doubt due to the restless night he had spent tossing and turning due to the travel sickness he had thought he'd outgrown. "Good afternoon, AIKA," he said, his voice barely above a murmur. "I was just checking the time."

    The monitor went blank as more words began to scroll as a soft, almost lyrical voice narrated. You seem to be 3 hours and 12 minutes behind schedule today. Shall I re-calibrate my alarm function?

    "There's no need. I turned it off." Selby chuckled. "Do you mind if I get ready myself today? I don't want them knowing that I'm up just yet." The screen was blank for a spell longer, as if mulling over the suggestion. But there was no way for his request to be denied. It wasn't in AIKA's programming.

    As you wish, Selby. Please know that I am always here for you.

    Yes, he was very well aware. It was one of the many pitfalls of being the heir to the Deltech Empire. From the time that his first heartbeat was measured and logged, he had been under constant close surveillance. As he grew older, he began testing the limits of this watchfulness, checking every new room he was given, taking note of where the cameras and mics were placed, and how many. As he became of age, he was able to have most of them removed, but the one he relied on most and was required to have with him, he was unfortunately also the most fond of. But he knew that AIKA's primary function was the same for him as it was for all of the citizens of Terion-3: to watch him. They were always watching. Even here, in the middle of galactic nowhere on a luxury business cruiser and far, far away from the OS's core processor.

    But with AIKA on standby, he was able to see himself in her reflective mint display. There were circles under his light eyes, which stood out more since he couldn't remember the last time he had even seen the sun through the window. He had always been kept indoors as a child, and the Deltech Campus was almost its own city in its rite-- he could spend hours walking in its tunnels and never step foot beyond its property lines or see the same doorway twice. But his porcelain complexion paired with the pale eyes that led to many uncomfortable conversations, questioning how well he could see, the darkness of exhaustion made him look hollow. It was even worse now that they were in the midst of space travel, heading to another colony to unveil a new round of updates. His features were slender and shaped in a such a way that even his bloodlines had come into question in the tabloids. Was he actually human, or something more otherworldly? He scoffed at the implications, but now he was actually beginning to look the part.

    Perhaps he would blend in with the people of Alamac. They were primarily night dwellers-- fair skinned and featured. Perhaps he could get away with a midnight stroll without being gawked at. But even the thought of another late night made Selby yawn.

    You are tired. Shall I turn off the lights?

    Irritation struck him so suddenly and his delicate features hardened at once, thin lips pulling into an tight line. "Shut down, AIKA."

    I only have your best interests at heart, Selby. Her voice was apologetic, but despite her attempt to appeal the screen went black.

    Selby sighed and turned away, scrubbing a hand through his fine lilac hair. It was an interesting color choice, and impulsive one. Anything to add a bit of color to himself and everything around him. Save for AIKA's monitor and the yellow flowers he had picked from the greenhouse before he boarded the Cruiser, everything (himself included) was sterile. The therapist he spoke to had posed the idea that it was contributing to the unending sense of "sameness" that had been plaguing him. He was bored, and he knew she was right, so he had rushed out and dyed his hair. It had faded so badly, however, he was going to have to make another change. His uncle hated it, of course. All the more reason to do it again. He had to remember to make an appointment with the salon once they reached their destination. Perhaps a facial, too; to get his appearance back in line... Surely Alamac had those?

    He washed and dressed quickly in his private bathroom, slipping into the the white trousers, white shirt and jacket that he left unbuttoned (just to trouble his uncle, should he run across him today) and white shoes. He pulled his hair up from its mid back length up into a messy bun and stepped out into the hall. No one was milling about the living quarters-- which was to be expected since everyone was already at work. He had slept right through his time that he would have used to eat breakfast in the kitchen with the chefs and taken a walk to watch the stars blur past. He had a meeting to attend with the designers-- something about a new logo for the next update to the one of applications that organized something... something... Not that it mattered. The decisions were not his to make yet. He was just sitting in, watching everything be presented to his Uncle in his Father's absence. His father's return was long since overdue.

    The walk to the board room was quiet, unusually so; but he was glad for it. Such a lack of sleep had given him a terrible headache. And this room in particular was closest to the elevator. He would be able to get to the infirmary on the ground level, take a few energy tablets and be back on track. He could also use his tablet to have AIKA schedule those appointments for him and--

    Selby paused in the doorway. The room was entirely empty. He blinked, cocked his head, and backpedaled out of the room to check the holo-display outside. "Design Alignment, 14:15" still read as clear as day. The meeting was supposed to be here, otherwise the monitor would have had directions on where to go or if it had been cancelled altogether. Strange.

    Still he sat in his chair and prepared himself to wait. Perhaps he could use this opportunity to be smug and lecture his uncle about how poor punctuality made for a terrible mogul. He leaned back in his chair and looked up to watch the clock. It was very odd for them all to be late. Even stranger, for a moment he swore he felt the cruiser shudder and for a moment, the lights around him flickered.

    "Turbulence..." he told himself, turning away from the screen. That's all it could have been. After all, the ship was still in midflight, wasn't it?
     
    CaliforniaCombatCony likes this.
  3. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    "Hard to port!" Hadden barked from the command chair. They'd disengaged from the airlock, the ship pulling away and dropping its stealth screen. They'd drawn the attention of the on-board defenses and begun maneuvers that would make them seem aggressive but without doing any real damage. The trick was to avoid getting blown out of the sky entirely. Beretta had warned Hadden not to break her ship but they had to take a few minor hits to sell that they were a crew of stupid, amateur pirates biting off more than they could chew. They'd also re-modulated the hull to hide the freelancer insignia as well. They didn't want the cruiser contacting HQ to ask why one of their own privateering vessels was attacking them.

    The helmsman, Miko, a tiny Roghata male, a ratlike sapient species skilled at piloting, obeyed, chirping some bird-like sounds in response as the craft shifted, banking away from a ballistic charge deployed by one of the many weapons pods dotting the outside of the craft. "ANIKA," Hadden called to the ship's AI, "I want a vertical spread of ion blasts on my mark. Draw up a firing solution and send it to Miko's feed."

    Yes commander. Calculating optimum impact points for maximum damage. The feminine voice was stern and businesslike, a tactical version of the more widely produced, friendly UI so many citizens of the consortium were buying from Deltech these days.

    "No ANIKA. Activate 'Rogue Protocols'. We want to taunt, not destroy," Hadden commanded, fingers blurring over the holo-display on the command chair.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "ANIKA," Beretta, shouted over the repetitive gunfire as they traded lead with the company grunts.

    Yes, Captain? The AI was utterly calm, quite a contrast to the situation.

    "Brute force your way into this ship's on-board systems. Locate my target." Her wrist-link chirped, scrolling data as ANIKA did as commanded. The Captain was hunkered behind a bulkhead, leaning out to fire. Security had scrambled, trying to ready themselves for a boarding once the Charon's Crossing had showed up on scans. They didn't know that pirates were already on board but they learned quick.

    Location confirmed, Captain. Coordinates sent to your wrist-link. Beretta checked the holo display on her wrist-link then barked commands to her boarding team. Beretta, Bragg and Tess took off down an adjacent hall while Amaya and Zed hung back to cover them. Zed's carbine whirred as he dropped several security officers. Lethal force had been authorized to make this all look authentic, after all. Amaya's repeating concussion rifle was nasty, blasting apart whatever cover the officers hid behind, causing them to retreat before the two pirates moved to catch up with their captain.

    Security was mobilizing to defend key locations like the weapons systems, engines, life support, and, most importantly, the vault. There were smaller teams sweeping the ship as well and all the while, the Charon's Crossing hammered the hull outside, keeping everyone in a state of panic. But while they defended the targets most pirates would attempt to capture or destroy, Beretta and her team were heading for the relatively undefended offices aboard the star-liner.

    At some point, the security teams had realized the corporation's prodigal son was not in his quarters and were actively searching for him. Beretta found several such officers nearing the location where ANIKA indicated their target was, likely unaware of what was happening. Zed decapitated one of them while Beretta kicked the other in the chest, sending him sailing through some frosted glass encircling a conference room, the location ANIKA had indicated. The man was floundering, trying to get up or crawl away when Beretta delivered a three round burst to his head, turning it into a pulpy mess on the carpet before rounding on the young man who had been lounging in one of the chairs. "Bragg. Secure the package," the captain commanded.
     
  4. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    The rooms had been padded with a patented technology to keep outside noise out. It was an innovation of one of the more solitary minds at Deltech many years ago, and had been improved upon again and again until every room was its own echo chamber. Once the door slid closed, the only sounds to accompany the inhabitants were the gentle hums of the living machines, constantly busy at work-- supplying oxygen, keeping the lights a steady glow. It was maddening. Selby was going to have a field day with this one. How dare they keep him waiting? He had much better things to do and much more interesting company to keep than the stuffed shirts that were going to decide what color and font this stupid logo was going to be.

    "AIKA," Selby called out, rolling his eyes a little. Though his own personal assistant AI had been shut off, AIKA's servos were the lifeblood of everything automated on the ship. She would spring to life at any given moment, if called upon.

    At least, she should have. There was no answer. Selby's brows knit together as he sat up straighter, cleared his throat and tried again. "AIKA." But he was answered with only the incessant, barely audible hum. Something about it chilled him to his very core, freezing his blood and sending a sick and terrible feeling down his spine. They couldn't be having malfunctions here. They were nowhere. This had never happened before.

    There were far too many firsts for him-- in a life that was constantly monitored and controlled, surprises were not met with excitement, but with fear. Selby sprang to his feet, propelling himself towards the door when it shattered before his very eyes. Every joint in his body locked and suddenly, the world around him had burst with color. Red soaked into the carpet that he stood on, ran through the grooves of the immaculate tile like data being transferred. But nothing in Selby was processing. He was slack jawed, struggling to take in another breath.

    He had never seen blood before. He had never seen the inside of a man's crushed skull before.

    The room was darkening at the corners. Fear had numbed him from head to toe, but he still managed to turn to look at the Gray that seemed to fill every inch of the conference room. Shit. His heart was his in throat and he took a clumsy step backwards. Then another. Then another. And his legs had taken on a mind of their own. He fled to the other side of the room, throwing the hovering chairs in the path behind him, gasps for air sawing from his lungs.

    "AIKA!" He screamed out. "Security breach! AIKA, do something! AIKA!" He had nowhere to go but under one of the desks, and he dove for it, hitting the ground hard enough to knock the wind from his lungs, but he scrambled beneath it anyway as quickly as he could manage.
     
  5. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    Local Time:
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    "ANIKA, find us a route to extraction and send the location to Hadden," Beretta said calmly into her wrist-link while Bragg went after the fleeing target. He was a waif of a thing, thin and pale and frightened, calling for ANIKA's more home friendly counterpart for help.

    I have an extraction point for you, Captain. Hadden has confirmed. He is en-route with the Charon's Crossing. Shall I instruct him to have the medical bay ready?

    "I don't want to jinx us but you might want to, yeah," replied Beretta as Bragg was forced to stoop under the table to pull the young man out by his ankle. The dreadlocked pirate snarled as he got the boy in a choke hold and Amaya approached with some cuffs, placing them on Selby's wrists. They locked closed with a chirp.

    "No running," instructed Amaya to the frightened young man in a thick accent. "Cuffs will fry you." They were linked to a transponder on Bragg's belt. Get too far away and he'd be a crisp.

    Beretta turned as Zed tapped her on the shoulder with a gloved hand, his blank mask unreadable. He pointed down the hall to indicate the arrival of security forces. "Pack it up Bragg! We gotta go now!" Beretta shouted as she led the way down the hall past the wreckage of the conference room in the direction of their extraction. The wump wump wump of Amaya's concussion rifle echoed after them, reducing the surrounding offices to rubble, desks and cabinets shredded and flung about, the officers forced to take cover. Bragg hefted the kid over his shoulder, charging after Beretta.

    The extraction point was in the main hangar. It was a weak point in the ship's defenses and the security officers had taken precautions, sending several squads to defend it. However, the Charon's Crossing had reinitialized its stealth screen and with the use of the corporate starliner's sensor codes, they were able to disappear entirely until they blasted their way through the large loading doors, the oval shaped pirate vessel's armored hull carving deep furrows in the bulkheads as it made a quick and dirty entry. The explosive decompression killed quite a few security officers before the energy shields kicked in. Tess was able to bypass the hangar's lock-down so they could get inside just as the Charon's Crossing set down on the scorched and scarred landing deck.

    The boarding ramp lowered and the boarding party charged up the gangway into the ship just as more security forces entered the hangar. Several of them were carrying parts of a heavy turret which they quickly began assembling, obviously intending on disabling the Charon's crossing. But Miko, the reckless driver he was, spun the ship with the landing gear still down, the struts scraping the ground and turning the security squad into pulp before bugging out, passing through the shields. Hadden disengaged ANIKA's rogue protocols, switching her to destroyer mode. The AI quickly calculated a firing solution on the main sub-light drive, a MAC round punching through the hull to obliterate the drive. The ship was disabled and the Charon's Crossing engaged its own sub-light drive, disappearing in a blink of light, leaving the starliner listing to the side, smoke trailing from the gaping holes in its hull.
     
  6. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    As quickly as things were moving around him, it felt as if Selby's body was being held underwater and everything was caught in its resistance. Every part of him felt frozen-- he had gone stiff and silent as he had been yanked from his hiding spot and hoisted over the shoulder of a terrible stranger. As he was being taken away, he could see the carnage left in the wake of his captors-- the men and women he had been personally introduced to upon boarding, who would never see their families again. And they kept falling. More and more of them were collapsing on top of the already dead guards. He wanted to tell them not to chase him. He was already lost-- there was no need for them to be mowed down. They should have just gone the other way. Tears sprang to his eyes as he realized that this could very easily fall on his shoulders. He had known that there were men willing to die for him, as was included in their contracts. He never expected them to actually have to; nothing ever happened to him. Nothing ever happened back home.

    Why now?

    Shock stole his vision, and when he was able to come to, he could see the hangar of an unfamiliar ship closing. There were charred marks and red smears on the ground where men once stood, and for one breadth of a moment, he could see more of them trying to get away. Selby had been so sure, if only for a moment, that he was going to die. But if that were the case, it would have already been done. He would have been one of the growing numbers of fatalities. No, they were actually after him. His heart seized and he finally found the will to struggle against his captor's shoulder. "No!" He jerked and squirmed and reached his cuffed hands towards the last remaining bit of light.

    But it was useless; with the loading bay closed, the ship gave the telltale lurch of disembarking and they were gone. Selby's chest was heaving as he went still again as the realization fell over him. "No..." The word spilled from him as if the rest of him had broken.

    There was a cackle that filled the area, such a hateful sound banging against the drum of his ear. "That was too close for me. I could hear those turrets churning before we took off. Imagine all the work I would've had to do." A figure peeled from the shadows as if it had been one itself. He jolted as the form came close too close to his face and cowered. The shadow hummed, sounding disappointed. "You didn't hurt it, did you? Is that why you called me?"

    With vessel closed up and the airlocks secured, the lights long the walls flickered to life. But the skin of the woman that had come to inspect Selby and Bragg remained just as dark. White marking speckled across the bridge of her nose, down her thin arms in intricate shapes, and disappeared into the tattered medical scrubs that she wore. Her hair was tied up into a shock of white hair. Even from his nearly upside down vantage, she was the oddest thing Selby had ever laid eyes on.

    Cassia grinned, displaying her fanged teeth that went back at least three rows. "He looks fine to me, Captain. Just a little pale." The Silh cackled again. Despite her manner, she was one of the brilliant minds at the Institute of Medicine that had been taken over by Deltech in the galaxy that was referred to as the Nethers. There sun was so far from the collection of planets and stars, night seemed to be ever lasting. Like most species there, the Silh adapted. They were a cryptic people, but people none the less. Cassia had been a signing bonus along with the position offered to Beretta.

    "Ach, I brought a stretcher and everything..." Cassia went on, decidedly disappointed, as she slipped over to her Captain, circling her as she often did when inspecting the crew. "I take it everything went well?"
     
  7. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    Local Time:
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    Adrenaline burned hot in their veins in the quiet thrum of the loading bay as the engines propelled them into sub-light speeds. All of them felt the cooling jitters in the aftermath of a life threatening experience. Beretta tried to ignore the way Bragg was looking at Amaya. They liked to burn off the residual adrenaline after an op together in one of their bunks. Zed would probably meditate and Tess would go tinker with the engines. They always ran at peak efficiency in the days after an op when Tess was amped up from the excitement.

    Cassia emerged from the shadows as the running lights came on and the boarding team began to disperse. Bragg shifted Selby off his shoulders, standing the young man in front of him, a firm grip on both his upper arms as their medic took a look at him.

    "I wanted you on call just in case," Beretta explained, wiping sweat off her brow and safety-ing her rifle. She disengaged her identity concealment, her face coming into focus, its stern features focused on Selby. He didn't look like much. A lot of trouble for this kid. "Check him over and shoot him up with a tranc if he starts freaking out."

    She turned away, keying her comms. "Hadden, status. My ship ok?"

    "Yes, Captain. Minor carbon scoring to the aft and port sections. We'll need a new paint job but nothing was seriously damaged as far as I can tell. Miko's a hell of a pilot. I'll have ANIKA and Tess go over everything just to be sure though." Replied her first mate. "Were we successful, Captain?"

    "It was a little messy. A few too many casualties on their side but it will fit the story that pirates kidnapped this kid. As far as I'm concerned, this was a win. Set a course to Alpirion Station for refuel and refit. I want to be sure our stealth screen's in perfect working condition."
     
  8. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    Cassia clicked her tongue and chirped, but the sound was decidedly disapproving. But still, she replied with a demure: "Yes, my Captain," before she swatted at Bragg's arm lightly. "Give me the keys. Those cuffs misfire all the time, you know."

    A cold stab of panic struck through Selby and his knees locked-- it was suddenly so much harder to stand, and it was not because of the speed they were tearing through space. His inside churned, and it felt as if suddenly, they ruptured and bubbled over, catching in his throat. The bile burned his throat at all sides, and he gagged, lurched and wretched. The smell only made it worse, and his balance weakened as he was sick again.

    A groan reverberated through the hangar. "Goddamnit... Kid acts like its his first time sub-light..." One of the crewmen hissed, his oil covered hands tucked under his arm pits. "I ain't cleanin' that up."

    "Yes, you are." Cassia snuffed, cocking her head like a bird. "That is the only job you have." A thought crossed her mind quite suddenly and glided after the Captain, her feet seeming to barely touch the ground as she went. "Captain, my Captain-- it seems that the boy is ill. Though he may need a few days to adjust, what shall I have him do once he has?"

    But her words were not lost on Selby. His pulse must have been in his head with the way that it was pounding. How long did they intend to keep him? His eyes watered as his insides gave a sharp twist. The cuffs may have been explosives strapped to him-- and maybe it would have been better to set them off now, end his misery. But no, there had to be a reason that he had been spared and absconded.

    Though it made his spine feel like it had dissolved, he found some strength to turn himself to the back of the Gray that was leading them. "Wh-what is it you want?!" His voice crackled, hoarse from illness and fear. "Is it money, is that it? Y-you could have just..." The words died as he realized eyes were starting to turn towards him, and his lungs constricted in his chest.
     
  9. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    2:36 PM
    Cassia was a good medic but that didn't mean she didn't give Beretta the creeps sometimes. She had a very predatory air about her, something dangerous lurking under her well mannered countenance. She watched as Bragg handed over the keys and Cassia removed Selby's cuffs. She would have preferred they stay on but the kid wasn't actually a hostage. Technically, they'd rescued him from... something. She didn't really ask questions. Her corporate contact had paid her kidnap him. She technically couldn't act against her parent company's interests but she really didn't care if it was for his own good or not. She wanted to get paid and if she could claim it to be a corporate sanctioned operation, all the better.

    Beretta was listening to her in-ear comm-link, Hadden communicating something private to her while Cassia followed her with Selby in toe. She ignored the kid's sickness. It wasn't the first time the loading bay had gotten spewed with someone's lunch. She'd done it herself before. Granted, she'd had a concussion at the time... She signed off with Hadden before turning to Cassia. She was about to tell her to figure it out for herself but paused as Selby spoke. He was frightened and confused. She could understand that. She would have liked to gag him. But explaining the situation would probably make him more easy to handle.

    "Yeah. It's money we want. We're already getting it." She opened a pouch on her thigh, removing a patch which she secured to her shoulder, the Velcro holding it in place. She tapped the black corporate logo, the Deltech logo. "I work for you, kid. We all do. We were sent to extract you. Don't ask me why. One of my handlers said it was for your own good. I'm just supposed to deliver you to them and not ask questions. So behave and you get guest quarters. Piss me off and you go in the brig."
     
  10. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    It would have been easier to handle if the Captain had taken out a pistol and held it between his eyes. In a bewildered moment, Selby might have dared her to shoot-- perhaps even pleaded her to. It would have been better than the alternative, which he had already perceived to be the worst things he could imagine and further. There were stories of pirates like these that came along with the trade business that his family undoubtedly dominated. Entire cruisers, held up and left floating in dead space once they had been robbed of their goods. Murderers that would toss bodies from the airlocks to be swallowed by the stars. He had been prepared to be beaten, to be humiliated and have his picture posted across all of Terion-3, demanding a ransom for his release.

    But there was nothing in this galaxy or the next to have prepared him for the familiar lettering upon the badge she produced. The world around him spun, took a sharp turn to the left, and disappeared only a mere few moments after it had registered.

    Selby dropped far too quickly for Cassia to even think of trying to catch him. She gave a sigh and looked back to her Captain with something of a frown. "Gentle, Captain. The little flower has been freshly plucked from his garden. He knows nothing of your world." She went back to bend down next to Selby, rolling him onto his back and checking his pulse. "I suppose it is good fortune that his heart hadn't burst. I'm not sure we'll be getting paid much if we were to deliver a corpse to the drop off." She clicked her tongue again and stroked long, thin fingers against his cheek. "He's a very pretty thing, isn't he, Captain?" Her voice had gone soft, her lashes lowered and she grinned, displaying all her rows of teeth.

    "We won't be getting a dime if you eat him, Cass," spoke another crewman. A cabin boy, nothing more. The Charon's Crossing was no luxury cruiser, but she still needed to be maintained. Thaddeus was of the mindful sort, diligent in his tasks and desperate to prove that he was earning his keep. He admired Beretta openly and did what he could to seem useful in the eyes of the what should have been the impossible. A Deltech privateer-- a Gray? Unheard of, and yet here she was. The rumors truly did not do her any justice, and the human had been in awe since he was assigned to her keep. He, like the rest of her men, would follow her to the ends of the universe.

    Cassia scoffed and pulled away. "Has he earned a room, Captain?" She craned her head to look for Beretta through the dim lights. "I will tend to him wherever you shall send us."
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  11. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    Beretta watched the kid faint with one raised eyebrow. It was almost comical. How sheltered a life did this kid lead? Did he not know anything about how his own company operated? No corporate nation could function without disposable assets to manipulate their own dealings. With the competition each had to deal with, privateers were an excellent way to disrupt their corporate rivals and carry out necessary operations that couldn't be sanctioned by the corporate councils but were still entirely necessary. The nations of old Earth had their own versions of the same setup. Deniable assets did dirty, terrible things every day. It was what kept all the shiny, happy people shiny and happy. They didn't know half the shit their own governments did to make sure they had basic amenities. And apparently their prodigal son had no idea either.

    "I don't have time to babysit. That's your job, Cassia, as of now. He's your responsibility. Call on Bragg if he gets violent but otherwise, take care of him." She didn't respond when Cassia commented on the kid's appearance. She had to act tough, authoritative. One would imagine a woman like her enjoyed it a bit rough but when it came to the pleasures of the flesh, she preferred a gentle touch. A musclebound alpha male like Bragg was not her type. She hated that this silly corporate runt was.

    "Yeah put him in one of the passenger quarters but keep the door locked. Don't want him wandering around. At least not until I've had the chance to talk to him."
     
  12. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    Cassia eyed her Captain, as she often did after being given a command. It was as if she was weighing her options, calculating the risk of choosing to obey Beretta's orders or not. But as always, she smiled and gave a flourishing bow at her thin waist, surely teasing but always steadfast in her loyalty. "Yes, my Captain," she purred with her strange lilt before turning to go and collect Selby from the floor. Gathering him into her arms with little difficulty, she deposited him onto the stretcher she had wheeled down and whisked him away.

    Selby was hardly conscious as he was being taken to God-knows-where. His eyelids flickered as the lights that lined the hall whizzed past him and blurred. His body, his mind-- every part of him was overwhelmed and exhausted. Though part of him had been trying to fight it moments after he had collapsed, he gave in, and was out cold for a few hours. It was a cold, dreamless state that he struggled with, and every now and again an arm or a leg would fidget, trying to claw his way back to sentience.

    At last, he broke through, and shot up from his place on the-- cot? Selby looked around, attempting to reorient himself and gain his barrings. The room was like nothing he had ever seen; industrial looking with archaic pipework crisscrossing over head. The walls were of exposed metals, with nothing on the but bolts to secure them and the color of rust to show their age. Selby's chest was heaving as he began to pat at himself; the numbness that went down to his feet was no indication of whether or not he was harmed. His head was pounding, and he realized right away that his right arm had been caught in another cuff which was chain to the bed.

    For a few frantic moments, he tugged at the thin restraint, but he didn't have the energy to spare. What was more, he knew that even if he managed to free himself, there was nowhere for him to go. Everything that had happened was on a incessant loop behind his eyes. He could still smell the seared flesh and spilled entrails of the men and women who had died on the Deltech Cruiser. He could feel the wetness of their blood across his face and chest. He could taste it--

    His stomach lurched again and he resolved to lay back down, curling with his knees to his chest. "AIKA...?" he whispered, tears misting his vision. But the comm-link he wore on his wrist had been taken. Even if it hadn't, AIKA hadn't answered him before. As often as he had wished that he could really turn her off, to be without the AI entirely gave him a sense of isolation that he had never experienced. It was an ache he had not been prepared for and in the privacy of the guest quarters, Selby wept for the life that was already thousands of miles behind him.

    Heavy footsteps passed the door minutes later, and Selby sat up, wiping his face. He couldn't just lie here. He had too many questions, and if this really wasn't a kidnapping, someone had to have answers for him. "Hey!" he called out. "Is... Is someone out there? I want to speak to someone. Hello?"
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  13. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    Beretta left Selby in Cassia's care. She knew that even if the kid did get violent, Cassia was more than capable of handling him even without Bragg who, if his usual pattern was followed, would be in bed with Amaya right now. It was her own fault. She hadn't given him any orders so he'd taken the first chance he could to get some pussy. Bragg was good muscle but Amaya was a distraction for him. She didn't discourage her crew from blowing off steam but Bragg and Amaya had started looking at one another in a way that suggested both thought of the other as more than just someone to... blow off steam with. The truth was, Beretta was jealous. It had been quite a long time since she'd gotten the chance to blow off steam with someone and she couldn't do that with any of her crew. That had been her mistake during the corporate wars. She'd gotten too close with her squad.

    The captain made her way to the bridge to go over Hadden's damage assessment before taking a circuit of the ship itself to personally inspect it. Hadden had been right. There was little to be worried about. The hull was intact and all primary systems were functioning normally. She made sure Tess was working on a system's checkup anyway, then went to go visit their new passenger.

    She ran into Zed, who was meditating on the ceiling in the hallway leading past the guest quarters. He was facing the door, the hum of his suit's mag plating keeping him in place. She didn't know how he'd gotten up there though. Zed had worked in an experimental program. His service had been top secret, his vocal chords seared so that he was incapable of divulging what he new. The program had involved the field testing of experimental tech, one such piece being the prototype exo-suit he wore. It was sleek and streamlined and made him practically indestructible against small arms. The suit was more than a means of protection though. He'd used it to retreat into himself once he'd escaped from corporate control. He was still technically a fugitive, and the suit he was wearing was worth a tidy price on the black market. But she'd never met anyone more steadfast and loyal despite whatever had traumatized him in his past. Zed was damaged in a way she couldn't understand but she could guess from the way he was staring at the door in front of him through that mask of his that he was not happy about having any kind of corporate royalty on board. And not just because it made them a target. She would have to watch him around the new passenger.

    "Guarding the door, big guy?" she asked, smiling up at him. Zed was one of the few people on the ship she ever felt comfortable around. He understood her in a way the others couldn't and his mute-ness made him a good sounding board.

    The mag plates disengaged with a touch of a button on his gauntlet and he gracefully flipped, landing on the floor. She noted he was carrying an extendable blade on his hip. Their new passenger was really bothering him then. He hated corporate types.

    "I'll take it from here, Zed. No one will know your status, I promise. They'll never find you." She reassured the other gray, patting his armored shoulder. He nodded and turned, walking away as she keyed open the door just as Selby began to call out.

    "Chill, kid," she said as she crossed the room, whistling to cause the lights to turn on as she keyed a command on her wrist-link, causing the cuff on his wrist to release. "Sit up if you want but don't try to leave, not until we've talked."

    She pulled a chair away from the small desk in the corner, turning it around and sitting on it so that the chairback was in front of her, resting her arms on it. "You've got questions, most of which I don't feel like answering. I'm not here to put you at ease. Just to state facts. Until we make port and hand you off, you belong to me. You try to escape, enter any restricted areas, even think about making or stealing a weapon, I will lock you in restraints and toss you in the brig where there is no light and no bed and nothing but protein packs to eat. Zero tolerance. Behave, and you have the run of the guest quarters and the galley. That clear?"
     
  14. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    As Zed lumbered from the door, the shadows that cast the opposite side of the hall into darkness moved, just a bit. Thin slivers of near white appeared, as if suspended in open air before the white patterns that decorated Cassia's skin revealed themselves and the Silh slipped from hiding. She had been tasked to take care of the Terion boy, but there was nothing entertaining about watching him. She knew very little about why he was there to begin with, and frankly had no interest in asking. Her entire existence had been woven into the direct needs of those on this ship. Anything else was beyond her reach and held little matter to her.

    But there was something about Zed. He was just as motionless as their captive "Prince" as he seemed to be meditating, but somehow much more entertaining to watch. He was shrouded in mystery that she had not yet been able to dissipate, and Cassia stubbornly spent much of her free time attempting to fill in the blanks herself. She knew everything about everyone on the Charon's Crossing-- it was her business to do so. But she had not been able to give the Gray even a basic medical exam. Her records of him remained blank and bothersome. Even when trying to navigate ANIKA's link ups, she could find only the bare minimum. Zed. Species, Gray. Gender, Male. Nothing more. He held some sort of rapport with the Captain, but she was a vault of information Cassia did not dare attempt to crack. She was the Captain, after all.

    Cassia's foot falls fell in time with Zed's much heavier gait as he made his way through the corridor. She kept her distance, her hands behind her back, and her eyes trained on his enormous frame. A predator stalking her prey. Her behavior was not so unusual-- with much of the rest of the crew occupied and with her charge now in the Captain's sights, she was able to to partake in her favorite pastime: trying to decode Zed.


    The door opened so suddenly that Selby found himself startled, and though his spine felt as though it had turned to liquid, he did well to shrink back, only a little. The Captain seemed to fill the doorway as she stepped in, and immediately his eyes fell to his lap. Perhaps it had been a mistake to beckon for someone. But the cuffs soon fell opened in his lap and he was able to rub his wrist. He had been pulling hard enough to cut into his skin, and the place it had been locked was now an angry looking band of red.

    He glanced at the Gray, brows furrowed but moved to sit on the edge of the bed, squaring his shoulders instead of hunching over like a coward. There had to be some measure of understanding between them, even if he was at her mercy. The fact remained that his company's logo was on her badge. Maybe he had never experienced something like this, and he was surely terrified-- but it was the one familiar thing that he had to cling to.

    "No." Selby's fingers clenched against his thighs, and he finally found himself able to meet her placid gaze. "Nothing is clear. Who are you, for starters? Surely you can at least tell me who I'm supposed to be answering to..." Maybe her name had come up in a ledger he had seen? Selby knew he was grasping at straws, but what else did he have to go on? "I'm... I'm not going to do anything, but you can't expect me to cooperate without at least a little information."
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  15. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    The gray walked the halls like a cat prowling in the night, making sure its territory was secure. Zed was not so good with the mechanical side of ship's duties, spending much of his time preparing for whatever fight came next. He was also quite solitary, preferring to work out in his quarters. He never removed his suit or his mask outside of them. Only Beretta knew what he actually looked like.

    Zed was used to Cassia's curiosity. She was somewhat of an outsider to the crew, just like him. He didn't try to dissuade her from following him but he was acutely aware of her. The gray eventually ended up in the cargo bay. It was practically empty at the moment but this was where they stored contraband or seized goods until they could be sold at a port or turned in to Deltech if they were proprietary.

    Zed moved to the back, directly under a metal strut that ran across the ceiling. He keyed something on his gauntlet and thin whisps of blue light began emanating from the ablative plating of his suit. He pushed off from the ground, flipping mid air, the antigrav function in his suit propelling him upward until he caught the beam, turning upside down and sitting cross legged on the underside of the beam, mag plates humming as they secured him to the metal. His face turned down, watching Cassia from behind his blank mask as if daring her to join him. He knew of her acrobatic capabilities.


    Beretta's expression was inscrutable as he asked her name, suggesting this whole conversation was somewhat of a minor annoyance. She much preferred transporting things that were either inanimate or dead. "To your company, I'm known as service number 28345-7E, privateer and deniable asset. I prefer Beretta. You won't have heard of me. "Asset" is a fancy way of saying expendable black ops operative. Higher ups don't bother knowing our names or the details of what we do." She sighed, keying a command on her wrist-link which brought up a hologram of the ship. "You're on my ship, the Charon's Crossing. We're headed to Archeon Station where you will be handed off to a company operative. Apparently some internal conflict made it unsafe for you to stay where you were and needed to be extracted. It needed to look like a kidnapping so they called me. Lethal force was authorized by your people." She closed the hologram. "Your company's got a lot of skeletons, kid."
     
  16. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    Cassia stopped under the framework that lead to the storage unit, leaning against the metal with a tip of her head. She had yet to understand the appeal the he found in the wider, higher up spaces on the ship. She would almost always find him among the rafters if he wasn't sequestered away in his quarters, doing who knew what. She had wondered aloud at the idea of buying the video monitoring system upgrade for ANIKA, and had been met with discontented groans from her surrounding crew members. It was such a shame-- the things she could learn from being able to watch over them when they weren't expecting it. It was so much easier to do her job if she was given access to the full truth.

    But though the open area of the cargo bay made her chest feel tight for reasons she was not willing to explore, Cassia took comfort in a sensible perch. She was able to observe without easy detection, and with the minimal lighting that was kept to the more populated halls and walk ways, she was able to melt into the darkness. As such, when Zed magnetized himself to one of the beams and turned toward her with what she could only assume was an invitation, she smiled. With her arms folded loosely across her chest, she slipped into the room and disappeared into one of the darker corners.

    Moments later, she was laying on her stomach on that same beam beside him, her chin cradled in her palm, and every teeth in the first row displayed. "You answer questions don't you?" she all but purred. "Just a nod or a head shake will do." She beamed at her reflection in the mask that didn't betray even a facial feature. "This... magnetic meditation. Is it good for you? Promotes circulation, maybe-- making you more well-adjusted for traversing the stars?"


    Selby's brows knitted with a note of concentration as the hologram appeared before him with a muted blip. The technology was signature to Deltech, 100% adjustable for scale up to the size of each room inside the ship. He climbed off the cot, found his shaky balance and made his way over to the image as he listened to her speak, but before he could even get close to studying the perimeters, it disappeared before his fingertips. He was visibly startled and snatched his hand back, but he turned his attention back to her.

    He couldn't help it-- his nose wrinkled just a little as he studied her in turn. It was a slight gesture that came from a pull at the corner of right corner of his mouth, not of disgust or even disdain, but purely of curiosity. She was nothing like anyone he had ever seen employed by the company. In truth, he had never seen anyone her size, let alone of her manner. He had only heard of Grays and maybe glimpsed one in passing as he was being hustled from the port bay on one of his first expeditions away from Terion-3 when he turned 21.

    But he shook his head, mostly realign himself with the attempt at processing everything he was being told. "Forgive me if I'm not inclined to believe any of that..." He tangled his fingers into his hair as he turned away to begin pacing. "You killed-- Gods knows how many people that were employed by Deltech. To think, even for a moment that they would find at least a dozen lives less valuable than mine..." He gave an incredulous scoff as his panic began to mount again. "I don't know what body you snatched that certification from-- maybe the same person whose dead fingers you pried from the helm of this ship... But to call yourself a privateer...?" He shied away from the idea of outright insulting her again and let loose a shaky breath. "And even if any of the things you are saying are true.... I don't mean to sound ungrateful, Captain, but there had to have been another way. Any other way. If you were just after me, no one else had to die and it still could have looked like a kidnapping. Hell, if I'm offline for more than an hour, they send search teams after me."

    Selby's fingers clenched around his sleeve and and his eyes stung. "I'd imagine you aren't going to tell me who gave you these orders?" he asked. "I'm not in any position to ask, I suppose..."
     
  17. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    Zed's mask tracked Cassia even through the shadows as she made her way to perch above him, looking down at him from the top of the beam. He didn't really understand her interest in him. Was it simply a curious nature coming up against an enigma that kept her interested? Perhaps. He didn't mind the attention. He enjoyed solitude, quiet, detachment. Beretta was his only close friend. The others praised him for his prowess in battle but that was more an indication of what he could do for them rather than their actual admiration for him as a person.

    The blank mask stared back at her as she spoke, intent on asking him questions. Normally she just followed him around. He wasn't used to actually having a dialog. A yes or no didn't really work when answering her question though. He was silent because of damage to his vocal chords but sometimes he thought of it as him not speaking because all the demons in his head were screaming so loud all the time. The meditation quieted them somewhat and being upside down helped even more, the blood-flow to his brain making it easier to detach.

    He didn't respond for a moment, raising his gauntlet and tapping a few commands on the obsidian interface. He looked back up at her, the surface of his mask lighting up. Three words appeared in red vertically: "Makes. Demons. Quiet." It was better than nodding.


    Anger darkened the captain's face as he expressed his doubts. She didn't really blame him for questioning everything right now but he was implying that the Charon wasn't hers, that she was no more than a thug and murderer.

    "I bought this ship. I earned this ship. I earned it fighting for Deltech in the corporate wars, taking orders from suits who didn't care how many people were killed to increase the numbers on their spread sheets. I made this ship my home so that I would only be taking the jobs I wanted, the orders I felt like following. You're in my world now, rich boy. It's dark and bloody and people die. And a lot of them die because of your company. All you upper level corporate execs think the rest of the galaxy is just as comfortable and moral as you. But we look up at your ivory towers and custom star-liners and we don't see a benevolent force for good. We see what you are: a boot on the throats of anyone who's bank balance doesn't have a shit load of zeroes in it. So yeah, I act outside the system because I won't be one of the little people and I refuse to be a grunt working for the higher ups. I take the jobs I want and, yeah, I kill people. But at least I don't pretend the galaxy makes sense. It doesn't." She stood, kicking the chair away. It clattered across the floor.

    She advanced, a strong gloved hand taking hold of the front of his shirt and yanking him toward her. "I don't care about the security officers that were killed trying to save your worthless ass. You saw my crew. They're who I care about. Food, fuel, power cells. Those are what keep us alive out here in the dark. So I took a job. It had to be messy. It had to grab the attention of anyone with an ear to the ground. They had to know you were taken. I don't ask why. I just do the job so I can get paid and keep my family alive. I'm a killer and a pirate but I am not a liar." She released him, shoving him away none too gently.

    "As to the person who hired me," she said as she took a breath, reigning in her temper, "he's a silhouette on a holo-screen. He had the right codes so he's legit but I don't know who he is or what he looks like." She hooked her thumbs into her belt. "And that's the truth. Like I said, I'm not a liar."
     
  18. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    The glow from Zed's screen could not hold a candle to the delight that lit up Cassia's expression. She had not realized that the could communicate with anyone; she had never considered that he would even try. And here she thought that she was going to have to decipher cryptic "yes or no" answers, and decide then if he was lying just to amuse her and keep his secrets to himself. She grinned wider, the curl of her lips seeming much too wide for her slender face.

    "My, my. Quite a trick you have there... I thought for a while that the Captain was telepathic. But I do not think even those big corporations can force something like that." Cassia stretched out, letting an arm dangle over the side and brushed a fingertip over the surface of Zed's boot. "I've never studied a Gray... Not even the Captain, you know? But I would hate to see such a pretty face cry..." She chuckled a little. "I don't think that she would, but I know how you both were made. I'd hate to run the risk."

    She then slid to let herself dangle from the rafters beside him, upside down with her legs hooked onto the beam to keep her balance. She inspected her own reflection in his mask, then cocked her head. "Is that why you never take the mask off? Because it's the only way you can speak?" She couldn't help her curiosity-- she had to know more. Anything he was willing to tell her, she would gladly take.


    Regret was not something that came easily to Selby. Despite his upbringing, he was headstrong; stubborn in ways that made his mother and father despair when they thought he was out of earshot. But he knew that he had done wrong by doubting her. As she shoved him away and he found himself on the floor, he realized that even then she could have snapped his neck if she felt so inclined. As easily as she and her crew had taken those lives, which he now felt responsible for, she could have just as easily taken his. There would be no other reason for her mercy. She had to be telling the truth. He wasn't sure which part of that bothered him more.

    He stayed on the floor but sat up straighter, able to find some support from the cot behind him and he rubbed a hand over his face and pushed his fingers through his hair, shoving it back. "I'm sorry... You're right. The galaxy doesn't make sense." Not anymore, at least... The thought lingered in Selby's mind as he was forced, in that moment to reconsider everything that he knew. Everything he thought he was sure of, he couldn't be anymore. "I knew my view of it was small, but I had no idea how small it really was. I..." Selby inhaled and his fingers clenched in his hair. "I couldn't have known any of this. It isn't right. Deltech is supposed to be the model corporation modern companies strive for. If the entire galaxy is this this...?"

    Then he would have ended up no better than whoever had orchestrated this entire set up. What would they have done if he had chosen to rebel, once he knew the truth? They had been training him to take over hadn't they? What might have happened if he didn't react the way they wanted? But his family headed the corporation. It had been for generations. How could he have not had any indication of it?

    Selby felt sick. "I'm sorry, Beretta," was all he could manage for a moment. He understood his role in this at least. It must have been hard enough to lead the life that she did. The way she spoke of her crew-- her family, it was clear that there was more to her than what he saw. If anything else, he could understand empathy. He was aware of the kind of life that he led: ignorant, and while he would often find himself longing for something different, he would have never wanted to trade places with anyone. "I won't give you any trouble. I... th--" He fumbled his words, finding them difficult to speak, but he managed to say: "Thank you. For your service." She was a privateer. Not conventional by any means, but she had been given a job to do. Were she wearing the Corporal Reds, like any other soldier he had ever come in contact with, she would have garnered respect and had just as much blood on her hands, if not more. She was, for all intents and purposes, no different.
     
  19. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Alliteration Personified Member

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    Zed cocked his head as she mused about studying a Gray. From what he knew of her, he wouldn't put it past her to be talking about some form of dissection. It reminded him a little too much of his time in the labs as a child, being pulled apart and put back together. He was glad he'd been unconscious for most of it. But later, when they'd begun training him for special operations, they'd done things to him to increase his pain threshold. He remembered that quite well.

    She dangled from the beam before him and he had to admire her athleticism. Quite an interesting medic. He had to admit, some of her more alien qualities were a bit unnerving but otherwise, he quite liked her exotic look. Not that he could really express it.

    She asked whether he kept the mask on so he could talk. He shook his head no vehemently. If he wasn't comfortable with her, he wouldn't bother talking at all. It was simply convenient that he'd added a holo display to his mask in the event he felt like it. Normally, though, he would simply nod or shake his head. Or point and gesture.

    He typed some more keys on the command pad on his wrist, then looked up to her again. "Keeps. Me. Alive." Scrolled across the face plate. His departure from service had not been peaceful. The aftermath had left him almost dead. Beretta had gotten him to a black market surgeon. He'd done his best but Zed was left disfigured and the mask kept him breathing. "You. Scared. If. Remove." Were the next words. He wasn't pretty under the mask. Not anymore.


    Beretta regarded him with a stony expression as he made his apologies and admitted his small world view. He had a lot to learn. Her brow crinkled when he thanked her for her "service" though. Service. She wasn't doing this for him or the company. It was for her. "If I thought you had any idea how offensive it sounds for you to thank me for my service, I'd beat you to death. But you sound sincere so I'll let it slide. Like I said, privateer or not, I'm looking out for me and mine. Service has nothing to do with it. Now come on. There's food in the galley."
     
  20. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Active Member Member

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    Local Time:
    5:36 PM
    Cassia's brow furrowed as she studied the words. Her expression was unreadable for a moment before stuck out her tongue-- it was purple, like the rest of the inside of her mouth. She rubbed her tongue on it, wetting it enough to reach over and wipe away a smudge that she had noticed. Her expression softened, just a little. "I am not easily frightened. There are things I have seen..." She shook her head. "You needn't worry about me."

    She folded her arms against her chest, tipping her head as she gave his suit another once over. "I am not one for most machines, but I understand bodies. If there is something broken in your body, I should know. I am your doctor as much as anyone else on this vessel." Her fingers itched to touch him, to explore his frame and find what it was that ailed him. He was a puzzle she was confident she could solve. The word brilliant had been offered a few too many times for her ego. But she kept her distance; after all this was their first real conversation since they had embarked all that time ago. She wanted to savor it, at least for now.

    "I want to fix you," she purred, nose crinkling a bit as she smiled. "You would feel better, if only a little. If you are curious, perhaps you should hunt for me for a change?" And with that she sat back up on the beam, climbed to her feet and walked the length of the beam from where she had seemed to appear. "My head feels different now. Maybe you are on to something after all." And in an instant she had disappeared into the darkness again, but if Zed were looking, he could catch a glimpse of her walking out the cargo bay a moment later.


    Selby's face colored a deep, shamed rose that tinged his skin across his nose, his cheeks and up to his ears. Even when trying to offer some sort of courtesy, it seemed that he was not able to get that quite right either. Nothing was right anymore, after all. He wasn't sure why he had been caught so off guard by that either. But all of this new information was more than enough for him to chew, and he found himself without an appetite.

    "No thank you... Captain." He tacked on her title a bit curtly, not enjoying the very real threat she had carelessly flung his way. "I'll stay here. I'm sure that would make your job much easier without me wandering around." And though some part of him wanted to take a look at this ship, just to learn more about what he could be dealing with, he was beyond exhausted and had far too much to consider. He was careful as he climbed to his feet again and went to get the chair that had been punted across the room. He righted it at the desk and sat, rubbing his hands over his face. He needed to think.


    A hundred meters away, the Charon's Crossing's trajectory triggered the motion sensor that alerted the pilot who had been dozing at the helm of a smaller, sleeker fighter cruiser. Object detected. Scanning... The hollow voice rang through the small cabin, loud enough to startle him to full awareness-- or as full as it was going to get, given the two empty bottles of malt liquor on the floor of the ship.

    With a yawn and a belch, the pilot tapped a few buttons and pulled up the display images captured in the millisecond that the ship had passed by. A gnarled smile split his lips. "Well it's about fucking time," he cackled as he began to key in the codes on his HUB. "ARGO, shields up. We got a boat to catch."

    The cabin lit up and the displays for data on the the shield, the boosters, and ammunition capacity blinked to life. The bandit disengaged the hover function on the combat ship and punched the thrusters forward. If he played his cards right, and the speed he had clocked Charon's Crossing at were stable, it would be within firing range in about 10 minutes. As he navigated after the target, he loaded his guns, readying them for an attack.

    This was going to get messy. He was going to enjoy every moment of it.
     

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