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Diamonds to Ashes

The Milky Way

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a part of Diamonds to Ashes, by TemplarWarden.

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TemplarWarden holds sovereignty over The Milky Way, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

321 readers have been here.

Setting

Our galaxy, filled with untold numbers of stars. Teeming with all types of life.
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The Milky Way is a part of Diamonds to Ashes.

12 Characters Here

Issac "Chem" McLyle [0] "Ha! Now THAT' "
Edward Kurek [0] "It's out there."
Kent Lockwood [0] Yeah, sure, you can out run me, but I can turn the grav projectors off.
Helios " James" Armata [0] "Peace wasn't an option."- "Outlaw Star"
[0]
Dr. Clyde Marsh [0] "For the Greater Good of Humanity."
Lyda Ritsin [0] "I don't know who I am or even what I am, all I know is that people are looking for me....people I belong with."
Trent Keller [0] "The miracle of intellegent life is highly overrated."

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The Atremis slipped through space, her sleek, organic shape glinting the blue rays of the aging star Sercu. The blue giant flared a spat its liquid flame at the circling planets. The blue glow turning the olive of the frigate's hull darker. She drifted above the swirling blue eddies of a ancient gas giant, a embryonic star itself. Her finned shape slicing though the shifting clouds of nebula dust that filled the solar system. Sercu made its home in the midst of the horse-head nebula, formed from a condensation of flammable gases. Now as it approached the late periods of its life it has begun to expand, gaining a blue hue and loosing the density that dragged much of the nebula clouds into its ravenous maw. It was a pitiful death, the star would continue to grow to a cooler red shine before whipped apart by the vicious nebula winds, letting the core expand and return its material into the gaseous structure from which it was formed. For most races of the galaxy, this process did not concern them. The system formed around the star had little valuable resources and harvesting operations would soon have utilised them all. One of these mining operations had leeched itself to a moon of Sercu's only planet, Trascerm. One of its moons, Trathis, was large enough and distant enough to be stable and metallic structures of a mining operation covered its surface like mold. Small mining craft sourced from the station to another satellite. This moon was cracked, honeycombed and contained build ups of volatile gases. A dangerous globe without the heavy gravity of its host attempting to rip it apart. Yet the profits keep the pitiful miners chipping away at the valuable deposits of minerals worked through it.

Trathis was the Atremis's destination and the vessel glided forward, casting a shadow over the mining vehicles travelling to and fro. It was unusual that an independent ship would come out of its way to visit the backwards system in the middle of the horse head nebula, even with the spectacular view of the light flitting through the giant orange gases. Usually there were only large charted freighters bringing in workers and resources and returning with the raw mined metals. Several of the miners swept off their path to circle the Tysai vessel. The frigate silently ignored them, gliding slowly and gracefully into dock with the ugly metallic towers that jutted from the complex. It slid still and locked to the slowly rotating moon.

Soon after the frigate settled into its dock its lone passenger disembarked. A thin figure pushed himself lightly down the small passage way, the low gravity allowing almost completely free flight. The dock was just as unattractive on the inside as the outside. Except the patchwork of mismatched decking plates lacked the offsetting beautiful solarscape. It took Kane several minutes to travel down the length of the shaft. Touching down lightly in a larger loading area, what little gravity the moon exerted holding him to the metal plating. The cargo bay was empty of living beings scattered with detritus and abandoned machines waiting for the next freighter to arrive. Silence prevailed as the sound of Kane's landing echoed around. With a small push the man thrust his way towards the exit hatch on one side of the room. Pulling the sealed door open he pushed his slim body through into another corridor. Unlike the emptiness of the loading bay the corridor thronged with people, most of them alien although there were some human faces here and there. Kane sighed, locating one man in the boiling cauldron of life was going to be difficult and even more so considering that people probably wouldn't take well to questions. However, he had come to find Grant Lyson and set off towards the interior of the structure, grasping rungs anchored on the wall to propel himself along into a larger room, once again filled with a multitude coming and going. Kane found a hold on the wall and grasped onto it. Eyes flickering through the crowd, trying to find a human who didn't look particularly moody or in too much of a hurry. He got lucky, spotting a aging man slowly making his way around the exterior of the room. Kane intercepted him asking politely
"Excuse me sir, do you know a man called Grant Lyson." The old-timer paused, looking oddly at Kane for a moment, coming to the conclusion that the man wasn't a resident. He nodded, responding, slightly hoarse.
"Yes, I do son. The best darn worker on this here station." His voice hosted a slight taint of an accent that would've been classed as southern american if Kane had any concept of american accents. Dropping into a whisper he continued "Not that any other these aliens would pay any care. The bastards all hate our guts." He returned to the topic, dropping his confidential tone "Grant should be on break at the moment, try the mess." He indicated one of the entrances "Through there, they have signs."
"Thank you" Kane replied, pushing away from the wall and driving towards the aperture.

It took him a little while to find and follow the poorly constructed and placed signs but eventually Kane found the mess. As he moved into the room he shot his legs out quickly, feeling the stomach wrenching shift from natural to artificial gravity. It had surprised him, although he chastised himself. It would've been sensible to assume that they would localised gravity projectors where food was involved. The food hall lived up to its name enough without loose, floating food. Gunk covered table tops, floor, walls and the ceiling and a horrid smell permeated the room. Kane fought down the urge to retch and began to walk amongst the tables once again looking for a human he could ask for directions. He happened across a couple with a small child and asked them if they knew a Grant Lyson. The father grunted, pointing to a large, heavy set man sitting on his own. The wife looked at Kane with narrowed, piercing eyes inviting him to leave. He thanked them and turned away as the baby offered a small gargle. He made his away the intervening tables and approached the man. "Excuse me." He began "Are you Grant Lyson? My name is Kane Ryasi, may I have a word?"

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The station was in a hurry. Everyone, everywhere, had been working overtime for the last 3 cycles. The moon had finally shifted in it's pitiful orbit out of the path of the latest storm caused by the nebula. Systems were back up and running and manpower was called for to breathe some life back into the machinery. It was a tough life out here, the company was more of a means to an end than anything else. It operated at short notice when time was of the essence and mostly in unstable environments that would compromise automated machinery. As result, a surprising amount of work was performed by the sweat of the common worker's brow and every now and then fuelled by blood. Low gravity manual mining was hazardous work and Grant Lyson had seen his fair share of brutality; limbs lost, lives cut short and, worst of all, jobs lost because of it. Just finishing his long shift, Grant was heading to the mess hall to grab some food before he turned in for the night. Different cycles of day and night didn't affect him anymore, day could pass into night and back to day again and he would remain unaffected. But it had been a long one. And setting everything up again was just about the toughest thing he'd had to do since coming here but it was becoming more and more of a frequent task. Everyone knew that the station wasn't going to be able to last much longer out here but no one said it.

The large man didn't walk through the hallways, he simply grabbed the handholds set into the rock walls around him and pulled himself through the faint gravity that held down so little here, some workers clearing out of his way, others bumping into him. It wasn't in Grant's nature to take this to heart; he knew only too well what his species was to most others. A pest. A last resort. They were to other species what this wretched company was to the mining industry: A means to and end. But there wasn't a living being on base that would work harder than him and that earned what little merit was reserved for humans.

Moving now through the cafeteria, which was in his opinion a little overenthusiastic with the naming, at a swift pace, he reached the counter and started helping himself to the gruel that passed as a meal out here, his other hand idly scratching his backside through his worn, dirty, grey work overalls. He often thought it was a bad life out here but then he reminded himself that he was getting paid a fitting wage and got back to worrying about his next shift. He rarely planned ahead, but he took precautions each and every day. After taking a seat, giving a quick slap to the back of the head of a short, hairy humanoid that got in his way, his grizzled features began to work in tandem, eyes and brow furrowed further than usual in thought and mishapen jaw chomping away at a particularly tough lump of who knew what in his slops. The dirt and grime that was plastered across his face was like a mask; thick and obscuring, and his hair, short though it was, glimmered with specks of ore that caught the light. Barely a minute later his thoughts were interrupted by a slim fellow who looked instantly out of place amongst the trundling, filthy workforce that he was almost proud to be a part of.

"Excuse me.Are you Grant Lyson? My name is Kane Ryasi, may I have a word?"

Grant seemed to mull this over for a few seconds. He didn't know the man, never seen him before in his life and was damned sure of that. What he could possibly want was beyond him. He clearly wasn't management, they wouldn't talk to him directly because he was just a grunt. So his natural conclusion was that he was a visitor, a visitor for him. For Grant Lyson? A stranger? He was instantly wary and fixed the man with a steely gaze. Nonetheless, he kicked out a chair on the other side of the table and gestured with his fork. "Sure" was his simple reply in a low, gruff voice. Through a mouthful of 'food' an accent was impossible to place.

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Kane took the seat kicked out to him, pulling it closer to the table. He was glad he found Grant easily enough, he didn't want to stay too long in the mining colony. There were enough dirty looks thrown his way from humans and aliens alike. He also feared for the security of Artemis. He glanced around, no aliens were obviously in earshot. Although he doubted that any attention would be paid to his conversation he didn't want to risk endangering the future of mankind. He looked back at the unattractive face of Grant who seemed to be more preoccupied with eating then listen. Despite this the man set of into monologue.
"Grant," he began, hoping a first name address would remove any tension that the burly man didn't seem to feel. "I'm pretty sure you know how humanity is treated in the general scheme of things. We're trash to most races, expendable and worthless. To be honest, in less then one lifetime I'm fed up with it. We used to have a world to call our own, we used to have a potential. Then..." His voice dipped, knowing the word he was about to speak would draw some attention. "Legion arrived, burning Earth and leaving us as space refugees. Now, I've always wondered why they choose to attack when they did. The more I looked into it I realised they were acting preemptively, striking us before we could grow into a threat. They were afraid, afraid of what we could become. Afraid of some project called Armageddon." He paused, watching carefully to see if the name cause a response before continuing. "Now I have done some research, I traced genealogies of scientists who had been reported of speaking about some secret project. Our grandfathers, or more specifically, your grandfather. As far as I know he worked on this mysterious 'Armageddon' project and possibly he passed some of knowledge on."

Kane stopped, giving Grant a moment to think on what he had just explained. He spoke again when he thought the man had processed everything. "With your knowledge and that of of others I believe that it is a real possibility that we could rediscover Armageddon. This would give humankind a symbol, something to gather behind. As we are, spread over the galaxy, we are weak slowly dying out. With your help we would become strong and wouldn't need to scrounge around for a living in places like this." Kane indicated the disgusting interior of the cafeteria. "I've heard that you're one of the hardest workers in this place, yet you look like you've been tossed about as an expendable. Is that how you want every human to end their life as because its going that way?" Finalising his speech Kane lent back waiting patiently for the man's reply.

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Grant continued chewing his ... Ah hell, he wasn't even going to call it food anymore, he continued chewing his sludge as he listened, taking in every word while keeping an uninterested facade. Yes, of course he knew that humans were dying out, who didn't? For all it seemed like an inevitability, for some it couldn't happen quickly enough. At the mention of the Armageddon project he couldn't keep an eyebrow from raising. He'd never heard anyone else speak those words other than his Father. So he hadn't been lying, who'd have thought? Still, it was a dead project, it died with the Earth as far as he was concerned and there was nothing that was going to bring it back. He felt like saying this aloud but he kept his composure, humouring the stranger who had burst in here during his dinner and lectured him about giving hope to humans.

When the man, Kane his name was, had finished speaking and leant back as if awaiting a reply Grant took it upon himself to offer one. So he opened his mouth and belched loudly to clear his throat before starting a speech of his own.
"OK sonny, you listen to me now." He leant forward across the table, leaning on his elbows, to look the man in the eye. His accent, had the region been known to these humans, would not be much unlike a South English common farmer's drawl in a gruff, haggard voice that could just as easily have belonged to a piece of the machinery he worked with. "I work here because I got to, un'erstand? I don't wanna die scrounging around being treated like crap all day but there ain't nothing else out there. And if you think some Granddaddy's story is gonna stop every human trying to earn a livin' then you're a fool. I hardly know a darned thing about the Armageddon Project and I'm guessing you don't either otherwise you wouldn't be pesterin' a slob like me." He leant back and used one stubby fingernail to scrape a chunk of meat from between two teeth with his mouth hanging wide open, continuing to speak as he did so.
"Buh... Wha' li'l ah ooh owh..." He closed his mouth, examining the chuck as he carried on. "...Could be o' use to you an' maybe I'll tell yer." He pushed away his tray with a look of disgust at it and set his hefty boots upon the table in it's place, a small plume of dust billowing up with the thud. "But no one gets nowt for free y' know." Grant had no idea what the man might have to offer him but he had to try. He certainly wasn't going to go through this and come out empty handed. This was valuable information to the man, clearly, and Grant had a family to take care of.

He flicked away the meat as he imitated the lean back to await a response from Kane.

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Kane had to struggle not to sigh, the man hadn't quite grasped his point yet. Rysai wasn't put off by the miner's coarse behaviour, he had experienced more then enough. Determined he soldiered forward, obviously appealing to the man's patriotism wasn't going to work. He began to make a mental list of his monetary assets as he spoke.
"I'm offering a chance to restore our race, give us some value in the eyes of the galaxy. A chance for you to earn some respect for what you do. I was a miner like you, I was treated like trash until I managed to prove myself. This is your chance to prove yourself and actually be noticed for once." He looked at the uncouth man, hoping to see some reflection of understanding before resorting to payment. "But, since I'm guessing you want something more fiscal I can offer you and anyone you want to bring along free flight off this rock. I know several mining stations that aren't as crappy as this heap, where you might get valued, less dangerous as well. I can drop you off there or wherever you want. I have a little money to throw in if thats not enough." He looked the man in the eye, unafraid of the hulking, muscle bound brute. "So what do you say, give humanity a chance and improve your life or sit here in a hell hole waiting for the a pitiful death?"

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Grant heard out the man. He'd clearly given this a lot of thought on his way here and made some very good points. Seemed he had a few tactics as well as wasn't going to give up without a fight. Appealing to his good nature was purely a joke. Now, speaking in fiscal terms was a far better way to get through to the miner. He let his legs fall from the table and leant his elbows in their place, unmindful of the dust that stuck like static to his already filthy elbows. Looking Kane in the eye to look for telltale signs of lies, he weighed up the options. Yes, a free ride was absurdly difficult to come by for an undesirable individual like himself, especially to another mine site. However, there was never any guarantee that he'd find a job once there. But if this guy could tide him over financially until he did find himself somewhere else than it would certainly be a win-win situation. And it would give him a much needed break from work, something he hadn't had in years. Perhaps it was that last point that swayed him, coupled with the tiredness he felt already from pulling such a long shift. Whatever it was, saying no to being paid to take a ride to another station seemed pretty damn stupid, even to him. Even so, this man was a total stranger and to trust a stranger was a pretty dumb thing to do. But somehow it made sense. Grant Lyson had been tracked down by this Kane fellow, who had travelled to this hole of a place to find him, so what reason would he have for doubting his motives?

And so, after almost a minute of silence between the two he reached his massive, calloused hands palm down on the table and grinned a crooked grin. "You got yerself a ship-mate." He pushed himself to his feet and stretched his beefy arms out above his head, yawning and pulling a face like a silent banshee. He was going to enjoy this he decided. The man needed him, so he was going to milk the freedom for all it was worth. Had he not valued his reputation as a worker so highly he probably would have caused some kind of trouble on his way out. Maybe start a riot if he could. But a second thought made him reconsider quickly. Better to slip off quietly without anyone knowing he'd gone. They'd figure it out eventually.

For the good of humanity? Damn humanity, this was for his own good.

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Kane was hopeful in the following silence that passed between them, although it was hardly silent with the numerous miscellaneous sounds from the other patrons filling the feeding area. It meant that Grant was pondering his offer. There was a chance the man was actually finding a reason to say no but Kane ignored that fact. If that was Grant's response then he would have to find a solution when it happened. Hope won out in the end as the hulk's broken face split into a grin and he accepted Kane's offer with the simple statement "You got yerself a ship-mate." He stood, towering over the still sitting Kane. Perhaps it was an act of intimidation, trying to emphasise his physical superiority over the younger man. Kane ignored it; On board his ship, he was in charge. He stood remarking "Wonderful." A grin crossed his face "Thank you Grant." He offered his hand as a method of sealing the deal. "I'll give you some time to finalise your affairs while I prep the Artemis. Docking bay two, I'm sure you know this rotting station better then me. Glad to have you in the crew, however temporarily." With that he dropped his hand and walked away. Threading his way back to the entrance he passed through earlier. This time he was prepared for the sudden loss of gravity and pushed off smoothly. He took his journey back to docking bay two calmly, a smile on his face. His first recruit was found, the research and years paid off.

Kane drifted entered into docking bay two and found a very different atmosphere to how he left it. Machinery were active, grinding and whirring. The sounds of station workers organising the transportation of large crates of raw minerals. Kane paused at the entrance taking in the sudden arrival of life. A moment later he pushed off, drifting towards a alien that seemed to be controlling the whole operation. The human arrested his progress and shouted over the thrum of working machinery. "Hey!" He called, causing the multi-limbed black crustacean to turn its attention his way in its alien equivalent of a frown. Kane continued pointing up at the small passenger access tunnel "I'm the owner, is everything here." There was a flash of disbelief in the alien's eyes. Few humans owned ships and obviously the crab agreed with that state. However, laziness overruled its dislike of humans and it responded, hoping to get the job over and done with quickly. "Yes we're just loading the last few tramps." It clicked in its accent of Galactic Standard referring to the tug craft designed to transfer cargoes from loading bay to loading bay. Kane nodded his acceptance but signalling the alien pass the small crystalline datapad it grasped. It did so, grudgingly. The human quickly looked over the manifest, assuring that the numbers were right before handing it back. "I'll open her up" he told the foreman and thrust his way over to the access tunnel and to the Atremis's airlock. Inside the frigate was style very much like its exterior. Tubular, curving olive green organic shapes ran through its spacious corridors and rooms. Although at present the artificial gravity was disabled there was a clear up and down in the design of the interior. Kane proceeded to drift his way down the slender, heavily armored neck to the bridge. Settling himself at the control panel he tapped in the access and activation codes. The idle generator kicked into life, flooding the ship's circuits with energy, activating all the non-essential systems. White lights flickered on in tandem with the life-definition holographic screens that revealed individual images from external cameras. With the press of a button the heavy splash plating concealing the view port slid away, letting the blue and orange glow from the nebula flow over Kane. It was certainly worth it having a actual view rather then a montage of camera images that most ships had.

After the Artemis sparked into life Kane settled into one of the self-installed human scale chairs, watching the screens and waiting for Grant's arrival. He reviewed his plans, after Grant his next stop was another needle in a haystack. There was a woman, Nora Joule, he had to locate on the recently founded outskirt colony of Rystik. Hopefully she wouldn't require payment, Grant would probably neutralise any profit Kane would get from his current haul, meaning that another refit was even further away then Kane had aimed for. Still, such was the price of restoring humanity and Kane bore it without a second thought. Turning back to the observation screens the pilot watched as tramps emerged from the loading bay airlocks, dragging their cargo through the emptiness between frigate and mining base. With the touch of a few buttons he opened the cargo bay and personnel airlock. Standing and leaving his almost omniscient position on the bridge to journey down the neck of the sleek alien craft to wait for Grant at the airlock.

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Grant brought his arms down and blinked away the creeping tiredness in his eyes, one hand slapping against Kane's palm in a quick grasp. He felt at that moment that he must have finally cracked under the pressure of work. He was about to walk out of a steady job, regardless of how little time may be left on it, and go galavanting through space with a total stranger who was under the illusion that humankind could take a place in the sprawl of civilisation. Too late now, he'd given his hand as his word and he never went aback on that. It was surprising how quick he had allowed himself to be conscripted but then again Kane seemed to have a way with words, something that Grant himself lacked.
"You'd better know what you're doing," he said loudly after his new companion as he walked away through the canteen, though he was speaking just as much to himself. A few seconds later he followed suit, far from dismayed to be seeing the back of this place.

The switch from artificial gravity was taken as gracefully as a man his size could take it; a smooth fall forward across the threshold leading into a series of pulls forward with his muscular arms that he may as well have been swimming through the recycled air. His destination was the worker's quarters in the opposite direction of the docking bays. Once there he made his way to his own cramped living space and gathered what little belongings he had into two seperate pieces of carrying equipment. One was a drawstring bag he threw over his shoulder, the other a heavy toolbox, worn from use, faded and dented. It contained a few vital peices of mining equipment that no labourer was to be without and was pretty much the only set of belongings he had besides the few clothes thrown into his bag. He then changed into an outfit he had not packed - A baggy, white shirt marked with years of grime and stains, grey worker's trousers and a short leather jacket that didn't quite reach his waist. It was jet black and easily the most valuable thing he owned. Won through gambling on a particularly slow period of work elsewhere in the galaxy, it was the hide of a pest that cropped up on few asteroids and caused all manner of trouble. They'd been exterminated for the most part, making them rare and this particular item of clothing worth more than the paycheque he wouldn't be recieving at the end of this month. It wasn't the value that attracted him to it, it was the feel of the garment. The smooth texture had an almost fluid dynamic to it while retaining a serious amount of resilience which also made it a practical piece of clothing.

Suitably dressed and with luggage in tow, Grant attracted a few confused stares as he set off for the docking bays. There were no 'affairs' to be put in order, no goodbyes to be said. He was a loner really, he didn't feel the need to interact as much as other humans and that suited his boss just fine. The only words he uttered on the way were to the same elderly man who Kane had encountered on his way through earlier. A simple "Take it easy old fella" was all he said under his breath as he passed, never to set foot on this rock again. He didn't take long to reach Docking Bay 2 and when he arrived he was surprised to see that it wasn't a small, personal craft that Kane had accumulated along the way but a sizeable, if not slightly dated, ship. And there was the man himself, waiting at the airlock. With a curt nod of the head, Grant scooped his arm forward and his bag started slowly spinning it's way toward the waiting Captain so he had a hand free to pull his weight along.

"The shit I get meself in ter..." was his greeting when he was in earshot of Kane.

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Shortly after Kane had begun his wait by he airlock the jacked figure of Grant appeared drifting through. Most of the crates containing the pilot's purchase had been ferried out, but enough remained to suggest that his craft wasn't miniature. He caught the bag that was flung towards him with one hand as he finished his new passenger's remark.
"...is all taken care of." He said, smiling. "Come on." He becokoned Grant to follow him up the boarding tube and into the Artemis. He touched down gently as the ship's artificial gravity took a hold. He turned around to wait for Grant to arrive before walking him through the ship's interior. Speaking as he went "Welcome to the Artemis Grant, the Hunter." He turned back to see if the other man was following, confident that he was Kane continued on his way. "Shes a 15 year old Tysai Frigate. You've probably heard rumors of the the Tysai, they design for beauty first and utility later. Despite her looks on the outside this model is a swift devil, able to outmaneuver most equally sized craft. She had been stripped out when I got her so a lot of components don't blend too well. Here we go." He indicated an open cabin, placing the bag by the door. "This will be your accommodation for the next few days. Make yourself comfortable and feel free to explore the ship, just don't break anything." He chuckled. "I'll be on the bridge if you need me. Give a shout if you need anything." Kane meant the last comment quite literally, everything on board could be overseen and overheard from the command station.

He left Grant in his new lodgings and picked his way through the convoluted corridors to the bridge. A quick glance at the multitude of screens assured him that his cargo was loaded and all the tramps were away. He stood at the view port, tall and strong as his pianist fingers flitted over the controls. The drive core charged, compressing into a super dense mass susceptible to manipulation. A holographic display flickered into light. The drive chamber was rendered a a translucent green sphere with a small glowing point at its center. There was vibration that shook the ship and figures scrolled across a display to Kane's right reporting that the docking tube had been unattached. Grinning he dipped his right forefinger into the green hologram and gently touched against the glow. He felt the thrill of commanding the Artemis run through him. He could've set in the appropriate co-ordinates into the computer and let the ship guide its own way out. However Kane was a pilot and enjoyed the hands on approach. He slid the small ball of light adheared to his fingertip horizontally sideways inside the hologram. Responding to the impetus the sleek body of the frigate shifted sideways smoothly, pulling away from the mining station. His free hand worked independently tapping and bringing up a range of smaller spheres. Kane splayed his left hand and touched his three fingers to the glistening dot in the center of each, all the while directing the bulk of the Atremis through space. Delicately he orientated the craft, shifting all three left fingers slightly, so that the prow followed the ship's trajectory towards Trascerm. He piloted the Artemis expertly, skimming just beyond the critical range of the heaving planet's gravity well. He pushed the charged particles inside the drive further, increasing the acceleration until the blue planet dropped away behind the ship. Her prow cut smoothly into the nebula clouds and pushed her way out system. Stray charged particles making their home in the constantly shifting gases sparked across the shielding.

With a single push of his left thumb Kane deactivated the interface of the orientation spheres that linked to small ion chambers scattered around the ship and used his now free left hand to deactivate the primary hologram. The craft stayed its heading as Kane accessed the galactic map to locate the obscured Rysik station. the database was recent enough that the trading colony was registered and Kane set the computer the task of calculating the rift parameters. He sat back in his chair waiting for the computer to run through the complicated algorithms and equations that would make the transfer safe. Despite the Artemis's continuing travel though the the glinting orange clouds of the Horse Head nebula Kane felt no external forces acting on him. One of the beauties of piloting in space was the lack of the dangerous g-forces. The computer beeped, alerting Kane to the finalisation of its calculations. He rose from his position and accessed the ship's announcement comm system. "Grant, prep yourself. We'll be rifting in 5...4...3..." his fingers danced over more keys, typing in the authorisation code for the computer to overcharge the ion drive. "2...1." He pressed his finger down on a small button and reality as he knew it ripped away from the Artemis as she was flung into the aether. The removal wasn't nauseating, any organic rifted would simply feel as if their entire body had been separated from their consciousness for a moment before the were replaced elsewhere in the cosmos.

The Artemis, along with her grand crew of two, appeared in a much less extravagant system to the nebula they had left behind. It was a simple system hiding in the midst of black, star speckled void. A young, yellow sun warmed a scattering of mostly barren, freshly formed worlds, one of them still showed the tell tale red of a molten surface. Circling the life giving star along with the globes was a small twisted metallic structure. Although in the distance Rysik station looked much more appealing then the mining operation Kane had left behind. He stood in the bridge of the elegant spacecraft looking out at the simple yet charming view as he waited for the ion drive to reset and recharge.

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The view from the port was amazing, it was one thing the young colony had going for it. A nice view of the fairly bland open space but that’s certainly not why Izzy was there, she was there for the boxes that were sitting near the viewing area. They’d been left, mid transport before they were either moved onto a ship or into the colony but she poked in the boxes with the same curiosity and jerky movements of a rodent. She was looking for parts mostly, spares are what she was always sniffing for and Nora was sitting nearby as her, well what better way to put it than her babysitter. “Hm, not much here today. Not much at all dear Nora.” She tossed the top of a box aside without a thought, holding a metal can to her tightly as though it were a security blanket, a sidearm hanging from the belt on her jeans. As she hummed a tune to herself, her eyes traveled to look out at the empty space and she froze, catching sight of the Artemis as it came closer. Her paranoid mind began clicking away, her eyes widened and she tackled Nora from her perch. “Attackers! Legion! Get down!” This drew the attention of those around the area; they began shuffling away in confusion. Rysik was a small colony and most knew that Izzy wasn’t in her right mind so when she went off in a fit the general drill was to clear the area. “Ah! We must fortify ourselves!” Hugging the can closer to herself, she then put it down at her statement, yanking the gun from her belt, flipping a few switches to power it up. At this movement the guards who had been attracted by the attention started to hurry over.

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Nora listened carefully for any sounds of trouble from the cargo hold security or her main concern at the moment; her slightly insane friend, Izzy. It wasn’t much trouble keeping an eye on her, and it was always fun to sneak into places to help the sanity-challenged girl to find new parts; but being inside a space colony usually lead others to not be to appreciative of her friend’s fascination with things that go ‘boom’.

Head hanging upside down off the side of a cargo box as she lay sprawled on top of it, Nora stared at the view the dank room provided. With the lights dimmed and the silent shuffle of merchandise waiting to be loaded or shipped off to the market; it was a pleasant place to nap and enjoy the young stars and ships outside the metal shell of a colony. It had to be admitted though, that Rysik was starting to grow since the new routes came through. Even the outskirts of the colony had artificial gravity now, though a tad weaker than the main districts; but back in Nora’s childhood, she could remember days when only the higher class areas were allowed to have the convenience of things staying on the ground, and humans were left on the outskirts of civilization. Nora always found it fun as a child to be able to reach any self she chose, or never fall off the bed in her sleep; but a few years of new ships and a spreading population eventually bought all of Rysik the upgrade to gravity installments.

“Maybe we should try again tomorrow then? You may get lucky-IZZY!” Eyes wide as she was tackled from her spot, Nora laid on the ground with Izzy frantically crawling off her and clutching what looked like a metal can. “It’s just a ship! You’re going to get us caught!” Nora hissed out the words as she tried to lunge at the other girl, but quickly found herself face planting the floor as the room spun from the sudden head rush of blood after her previous perch. “Dang gravity. We need to get out of here. Before… Hello officer!” A shadow looming over the two, Nora smiled brightly as she glanced at the creature behind her; not needing to know whatever language it spoke to know they were in trouble. Then as if the day couldn’t get worse, she heard the all too familiar whir of a gun charging.

Whipping her head back around, she spotted her friend aiming her gun then did the only thing that would stop her. So with a quick dart forward, Nora grabbed the end of Izzy’s braid and took off running; dodging human and alien alike as she tore through the halls with the guard close behind. “Why is it always easier to get in unnoticed but impossible to leave!” she called back frantically before bumping into a rather large blue specimen who barked out a familiar sound, causing Nora to laugh despite them being on the run. She remembered that sound well, she had mimicked it once to her parents and was grounded for a week when her grandfather translated it; to this day she didn’t know what it meant, but she learned to not repeat any type of word or sound she didn’t know. A turn later quickly wiped the smile off her face as she slammed into a new resident to the colony that already had his –she believed it was a his- roof with a new a hole in it thanks to Izzy’s last project. “Sorry. Lovely day for a run wouldn’t you say... or a crawl… exactly how DO you move quickly? Do you jump?” Voice rapid and face bright as she backed away from the legless alien, Nora glanced around frantically looking for a place to hide; only to have her heart drop to her stomach. The guard had found a few friends, and they were now surrounded. “Um… So where’s the party?”

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Grant followed Kane onboard with all the enthusiasm of someone waiting for severe dental surgery, listening and nodding along to this words without response until they were inside. He took a look around and found the guy was right, whoever had maed the ship certainly had an eye for style. Perhaps it was just him but anything that wasn't solid rock and coloured with any hue anything other than filthy soot looked good. He pouted his approval as he was led to what would be his room. It was far from granduer but it was still luxury to the poor miner and the bed looked about as comfortable as any other he'd seen.
"Arr, cheers Cap't, you'll be likely hearin' me holler soon enough," he replied offhand as he snatched up his bag and stepped into his room to assess the situation. It wasn't bad. Wasn't bad at all. There was a bed, which would have done him well enough on it's own, and a wardrobe and other 'essentials' that weren't needed. One of which was a mirror, giving him a full view of his grimy face. The closest he'd got to viewing his reflection, and hence grooming, in the past however long he'd been on that rock was glimpses of his distorted features in semi-processed ore. "Guess I could do wi' a shower..." he muttered to himself before slinging his oily, dirt-ridden toolbox up onto a small table, instantly smearing filth across it's surface, so he could inspect the contents again. He wasn't worried about leaving anything behind. When it came to his equipment there was no second best about organisation, he was surprisingly anal about it. Clearly this didn't show in his general appearance but as a worker it was all he had. So he set about once more checking items off against his mental checklist until a voice came over the announcement system.

"Grant, prep yourself. We'll be rifting in 5...4...3..."

He paid no attention. Space travel was a frequent part of his work, even if it was only between work and a single dock, and he knew what to expect.

"2...1."

The bodily 'flash', which was the only way he could describe it, was slightly different to others he had undergone and the delay in returning to a normal state was enough to make him drop a mechanical clamp which clanged inside the metal carry-case. He blinked the sensation away, it wasn't particularly pleasant in his opinion but he could deal with it. He picked up the clamp and looked it over. No damage. As though there could have been. Most of his gear was as hardy as he was, he made sure of it. Looking around, quick stock count now done, he caught sight of himself in the mirror again. If he wasn't going to be mining for the next few days then he may as well spruce up a little.

"Hey Cap'n, could do with a wash 'n' a drink," he called out while he packed his things away. "Where'd I go fer that?"

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Soon the drive core of the Artemis had been charged to sufficient mass. Kane swiftly reactivated the guidance holograms, touching his fingers to the glowing representation of the frigate's motion control system. She responded to his touch precisely, gliding through the system that was only registered as a bundle of letters and numbers. It left behind a little trail of orange gases glinting marvelously in the light of the sun. Station Rysik grew in size as the craft darted towards it. The station was a modular design. A single large core at the middle with gleaming metallic branches. It was considerable larger then a small moon. It rotated through space, the circular motion offering assistance to the artificial gravity generators on board. As the sleek organically shaped ship approached the station it was hailed. The station control cautioned that defense turrets would open fire unless the Artemis could identify itself and her intention. Kane was quick to reply
"This is the Artemis V11234R. Privately owned. I'm here to pick up a passenger and deliver raw minerals." There was an pause before the Rysik responded, directing the craft to a specific docking bay. Kane obliged as Grant's voice was projected into the bridge. A quick tap of a few keys opened up another holographic display of the internal structure of the Tysai craft, with two red dots showing Kane and Grant. Another few taps and he accessed the area specific comm.
"There is a shared bathroom just to your left, down the hall. If you take another left when you reach it there is a small galley, help yourself. Just go easy on the water, the recyclers aren't very efficient and I don't want to drain the tanks." As he spoke Kane was still guiding the shift to the other side of the space dominating station. "We'll be docking in a moment. I'm just going to pick up someone. You're welcome stay aboard. If you're coming I'll meet you at the airlock soon." With the final word he quickly removed the holographic frigate and reaccessed the fine controls to rotate the Artemis. With a small slip of his right hand he nudged the craft sideways to link up to the magnetic clamp. There was a small jolt as the vessel joined into the station's rotation and began to feel the effects of the gravity projectors.

Taking one last glance through the view screen at the quaint yellow sun Kane locked down the bridge. The heavy plates slid across to cover the view port and the lighting of most of the panels died away into darkness. The basic systems were still engaged, if Grant was going to be convinced to join the venture fully, Kane had to make sure he made the prospect as attractive as possible. He made his way down to the air lock and into the station. With a glance he noted Grant's absence, the miner was probably still refreshing himself, and continued down the expanse of the docking tube into Rysik station. Instead of the patchwork empty cargo bay of the Trathis mining station he encountered a small chamber with a single guard in attendance. The alien was a large, grey mass generally following the ape format. Although it seemed intelligent enough as it sent Kane through the scanner. Confident that the human wasn't carrying heavy weaponry or contraband he was allowed through. The interior didn't differ much from the exterior as Kane wandered the corridors, feet solidly planted thanks to the artificial gravity projectors. He was searching for some sort of government office or law keeping agency that would hopefully have records. Upon the journey he almost collided with a small convoy of slightly bored looking security guards of varying races. They seemed to be escorting a pair of human woman to some place. They captives were certainly curious individuals. They both seemed almost as energetic as young children; The tall, lanky one seemed to constantly moving while the other had the most extreme hairstyle he had seen. He stood aside to let the group pass before grasping the chance and calling to the large bulbous gas creature drifting at the head of the formation.
"Excuse me." He asked, politely. With no idea of how humans were treated in this corner of space he wasn't about to take any chances. "I'm looking for a human, a Nora Joule." He tossed the name out in the hope that it might be recognised. "Could you direct me to any place I could find her?" He waited patiently for the answer, trying to look at the pair of woman. He couldn't help them and felt it might be better not to offer any hope by acknowledging them.

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They had been surrounded by the enemy and if it wasn’t for Nora causing her to drop her weapon they could still be armed! Now they were defenseless against the masses that closed in on them. Izzy growled and snatched Nora’s hand trying to run but in return a large hand grabbed her. Captured! They were prisoners of war! She fought the large aliens until Nora told her to settle down. Nora always knew what she was talking about so she would listen, she would listen for now.

They were paraded through the streets, the convoy stopping when a human male came up asking for her dear Nora. He was skinny, pale and freckled, no one she knew but then again she didn’t know anyone else around here. “Nora? You want Nora? Why do you want dear Nora?!” She asked, her voice rising in a threatening tone as the guard pulled her back roughly to try and hush her.

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Nora held her breathe as she counted off the seconds. 3…2…1… And there it was, Izzy growled at the pair being surrounded and grabbed for her hand, only to earn both of them an iron grip from security. Watching her friend fight off the pair trying to calm her down, Nora was bouncing on her heels with nerves. “Izzy, just settle down. It’s alright!” A quick shared glance with one of the guards got Nora to finally stop bouncing, obvious annoyance written on its features.

Stuck in the middle of the group of security escorting them to cargo security building…again… Nora looked around at their bored expressions; leaning every which away to see all of them. “You guys really need to just start carrying our papers with you. It would save all of us a lot of trouble you know. Or you could let us go! That would be even greater. We didn’t take anything; the main ships must not have come in yet. The selections of parts ya’ll are getting stinks this go around. Do you get pay deducted for bad cargo? That wouldn’t make sense would it?” Hardly taking a breathe between words, Nora halted in her rambling as the others simply kept walking as always; but her attention quickly turned to a young man who approached and addressed one of the oh-so-lucky escorts. From his slim build he looked like the few other humans she met who spent most of their time in space; but unlike the groups who only came here to restock on emergencies, this one seemed to carry himself much better in his stance and voice.

Hearing her name, and that he was in fact looking for her; Nora cocked her head to the side only to have her eyes widen at Izzy’s reaction. “Izzy! It’s alright. He can’t tell you want you want if you kill him. Then we’ll never know and forever be in suspense at the curiosity! And easy on the friend please.” Thank goodness her friend lost her weapon sometime during their attempted escape! Glaring at the guard that pulled her crazy friend back, Nora stepped to the side and poked her head around one of the slimmer species in order to get a better look at the stranger. “If she’s in trouble, I’ve never heard of Nora Joule. If not, then she’s me.” Smiling brightly with her head to the side a bit as she leaned around the escorts; she soon found herself being pushed back into the middle of the group. Another glare earned to a different guard, Nora gave a huff of air to blow the fallen strands of hair out of her face. If this stranger wanted to talk to her, then she couldn’t very well do it from here. Unknowing to her, one escourt behind her rubbed one of his tentacle like arms over his eyes; a look on it’s face showing he hoped someone, or anyone, would get these humans far away from it.

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Kane was surprised when instead of receiving a response from the guard, one of the captives spoke up. It was the woman missing an eye, her voice followed her demeanor, slightly erratic and certainly unusual. She seemed riled, as she grew louder as she spoke. Kane slightly doubted her mental state but it was clear she knew Nora. He was about to break into her rant when the other woman intervened, silencing Izzy. From the way she talked to her tall woman it was obvious the brunette was slightly eccentric in her own way. She seemed energised and unaware of the seriousness of her situation. Indeed, to emphasise this point she lent out of the cordon to get a look at Kane with a smile breaking her face. Kane was even more surprised when she introduced herself as Nora Joule. Again he had gotten lucky, although now he had the difficult of separating from the guards so he could convince her to join him.

She was quickly pulled back within the posse although it seemed to Kane that guards did so half heartedly, as if they actually felt irritated by the odd pair. He wasn't sure how to get Nora out, he could attempt a bluff or a bribe. It was a difficult situation. He attempted to make it easier to solve by asking "May I ask where and why you are escorting Miss Joule?" He keep himself polite, he didn't want to show any weakness. The extraction had to go off without a hitch. He was already plotting down the line, if the offence was minor there was a chance he could simply offer to remove Nora from the station, or pay whatever fine she would be charged. If it was more serious he considered attempting providing a alibi or bluffing. He hoped it wasn't serious that he would have to make a break for it.

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While Kane was out finding whatever it was he'd gone to look for, Grant had taken to the bathroom with a mutter. "I wuz thinkin' summa a li'l stronger than water..." But he kept his voice low, somewhat eager to clean up and, for the first time in he didn't know how long, stay that way for more than a few hours. He cleaned quickly and stood in front of a mirror, looking around for a razor. He found one soon enough and got to work ridding himself of the bush that had grown on his face, yet again questioning why he had accepted this offer in the first place. The break couldn't have been it he thought now. Not half an hour since he was last working and here he was bored out of his mind. He was a workaholic at heart, never to be seen standing idle and he knew that would creep up on him while he was onboard.

Reasonably smooth-cheeked and once more dressed, he made his way to the kitchen and poured himself a large glass of water which he took through to his room. The door he left open as there was no one around to disturb him and he got to work. He pulled an old rag from his toolbox and a small jar of oil. With the precision and speed that can only be gained from regular practice, one by one his tools started to be disassembled and cleaned. It was dull, repetitive work but it did the trick. He kept his mind on the task and tried to shut out the idea that he had made a truly terrific mistake by coming here. As he worked he started to hum, then whistle. Finally, he broke out into a gruff but quiet rendition of a worker's shanty often sung across mining colonies. It seemed that no matter where in the galaxy you went, everyone knew it. Unfortunately, it was in a language he couldn't speak and as such didn't have a clue what the lyrics meant. And he'd never bothered to ask because, when it came down to it, the words weren't really important.

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The tall, tentacled alien looked down at Kane, huffing a snort out before he spoke. “Miss Joule is being escorted back to our security headquarters. She’s accused of breaking and entering, while her friend here is accused of assaulting an officer, theft, arson, destruction of private property, breaking and entering, battery.” As the officer listed out her offenses, Izzy’s face took on a more progressively sour look. “Never assaulted an officer. Only pointed my gun at you.” She glared at the alien as he stopped mid speech and looked at her glaring right back. “I thought I made it clear that I didn’t want you to talk anymore.” A split second later, Izzy had bitten down into the guard’s tentacle, he wanted to be assaulted then she would assault him. He screeched in pain then let out a winded grunt as she elbowed him in the gut then yanked the gun from his belt, quickly powering it up. Her movements were quick, firing the weapon erratically at the others as she all but shoved Nora forward and ran past Kane.

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Nora was surprised by the stranger’s inquiry about her, and only slightly surprised by the report of their record. Apparently they figured out who started that little fire last week in the abandoned factory. A small smirk crossing her face at her friend’s version of the assault, it quickly turned to one of wide eyed horror as she watched Izzy bite the officer and start shooting with his gun. Being shoved forward, Nora quickly grabbed the strange man’s hand and pulled him along with her; not wanting to risk him staying behind and being shot accidentally or arrested out of a misunderstanding.

Glancing back only a few times to make sure her trigger happy friend was still following, Nora led the way to their home and quickly ushered everyone in and slammed the door shut. “Izzy…. Why did you do that?! You do realize they know where we live! We could’ve been out in a day at the most! I can’t believe this.” Out of breath from the run and panic, she simply flopped face down onto the nearest couch and let out a frustrated scream into the overly fluffed pillow. She had tried so hard to keep them safe; but with her parents gone it was much harder than she suspected, and she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her friend. If they came for Izzy, then they might as well be ready to add a longer list of offenses to her record as well.

Frustration relieved for the moment, Nora sat back up on the couch and let her chin rest in her hand as her elbow rested on her knees. “So…” she directed at Kane, “if there’s anything you were wishing to share with us, you might want to do so while you still have the chance. May I ask how you know my name, or at least knew OF my name?”

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Kane listened to the officer's report of the offences the pair had committed. He was relieved when he heard that Nora's offence was minor, breaking and entering hardly called for capital punishment. However he was shocked as the alien listed Izzy's crimes. He hoped that Nora wouldn't insist on bringing her tall friend. It would make it all but impossible to get the pair off the station. However this quandary was removed when Izzy, supporting his assumption about her mental stability, proceeded to attack one of the guards. The action was as unexpected by the man as it was by the guardians. Kane was quick and managed to dodge aside as a stray shot hissed past him. The heat draw a sweat to one side of his face as it dissipated against the inter splash plating. In a darting run the erratic woman was past him, quickly followed by her friend. Nora was surprised when Nora griped him and dragged him along. He shot off with her, he figured it was the only way to ensure that she wouldn't drop off the scope and destroy his best laid plans. He kept pace with her, although the run winded him slightly.

Finally in the relative safety of the couple's quarters he lent back against the frame of the door. Breathing the station's recycled air to refill his blood with oxygen. He listened in to Nora's rebuke, judging that she probably wouldn't leave her troublesome friend. He realised that now it wouldn't matter particularly, since they were all wanted. Unless the woman decided to shoot up the interior of the Artemis. He shivered, it didn't bear thinking about. He waited quietly for Nora to vent her frustrations against the cushion before she questioned him. He knew he had to cut the story short and was pretty sure that getting them along would be easy enough once they heard he had a ship.

He pushed himself away from the wall and began to speak his abridged version.
"I traced your genealogy from your grandparents, who I discovered had worked on the Armageddon project." He was unsure if the woman recognised the name, although most humans did. "Armageddon obviously had something to do with why Earth was destroyed. I've always wondered why. I have recently come to believe that Legion attacked us because they were afraid of this Armageddon. I believe that it is something so powerful it could restore human kind's place in the galaxy." He watched Nora carefully, trying to gauge her reaction. His voice was filled with enthusiasm, although it certainly didn't reach the level of energy that the ladies portrayed. "If you know anything that your grandparents mentioned about Armageddon. You would be doing humankind a great service." He paused, letting her take it in before he played his trump. "I also have my own ship to get you out of this place now that you're fugitives."

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The moment they hit the doorway Izzy was scampering to her work station in the small home, which was more a desk cluttered with spare parts. She seemed to ignore Nora’s venting as she shuffled through the parts, grabbing the completed weapons and tossing them into a bag along with tools to repair them. “Self-defense Nora, self-defense.” She muttered under her breath as she zipped from here to there only to pause when Kane began speaking. Cocking her head in interest at what he was saying, her eyes widened at the mention of Legion though and she once more began shoving items into her bag at a quickened pace. “Get away ship sounds good Nora, very good. Only other option is to stay and fight which I am also up for.” She emphasized the last statement by powering up a rather large gun as she stood at the doorway, large pack slung over her back ready to move. “Chances are better if we leave though. Even if it is with a stranger. Will have my eye on you by the way.” Tossing a glare towards Kane, she then looked towards Nora, shifting from foot to foot anxious for her answer.

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Nora listened closely to Kane’s words, vaguely keeping an eye on Izzy as she packed her mini armory into her bag. At the mention of Legion though, her eyes widened followed by a face palm. “You just had to say the ‘L’ word in front of her…” shaking her head then looking back up, Nora nodded her head in understanding with seriousness for once passing over her face. “My grandparents called it their ‘Secret project’, but I’ve overheard my parents calling whatever they did ‘Armageddon’. I don’t know if I can tell you anything useful, they never got the chance to explain what it all meant; but I remember what they said nonetheless.” Not entirely sure if she could trust any random stranger with her family’s secrets, her mind was pretty much made up for her at the mention of a ship and way off the colony.

Standing up from the couch and approaching Kane, Nora stood toe to toe with him and looked into his eyes. Her grandmother always said you could tell a lot about a person that way; and right now, she believed he was serious about what he told her. “Ok.” Smile breaking out once again, Nora jumped up and threw her arms around Kane in an excited hug. “Thank you so much!” Just as quickly un-attaching herself, Nora ran off and grabbed her bag to pack. There was nothing much to take along, just a few clothes and a jewelry box from her mother; but on a bookshelf in her parents old room she found her main prize for her trip. Her grandparent’s and parent’s notes. She could never figure out what they were talking about in them, she was suppose to be taught what everything meant when she was a bit older; but perhaps when she was absolutely sure she could trust whoever was on this adventure, she would see if they could find anything useful. So tucking the worn leather covers among her belongings, Nora swung the bag over her shoulders and bounded out of her room; only taking a moment to look around at her home. It wasn’t going to be easy to leave, but the more she thought about it the more likely she would be to back out.

This was her chance though. Her chance to continue the Joule tradition of helping others, and the chance to keep her friend safe. With a reassuring breath and a quick spin towards the door, Nora bounced into place beside Izzy and tried to plaster a smile back onto her face. “All ready and set to go! Just lead the way!”

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Although Kane was successful in getting Nora to accompany him we was still apprehensive. He couldn't be sure about the stability of the two women. Izzy was clearly unhinged however at the mention of the famed 'L word' as Nora put it, she shifted into a sort of intense sanity that was just as disturbing as her previous condition. Nora, it seemed, had adapted her friend's strange tendicies and Kane worried that she would exhibit the strange, swinging behavior. His worry worsened when Nora walked up to him, staring intently up at him as if challenging him and then suddenly surprising him with a hug. He was uncertain of what to do with these two loose cannons. He needed Nora's knowledge and so he had to fulfill his promise to get her off the station. He wouldn't be able to get her anywhere with her friend it seemed so he was pretty much stuck in a single path of action. He decided to focus on getting all three of them to the Artemis and then getting away from the station.

As he waited for them to prepare there belongings he stood like a guardian next to the door and surveyed their quarters. They didn't seem particularly bad off, they had several bedrooms and their own bathroom. Although their junk littered all three rooms, pushed up against walls and piled on desks, they did not look far below comfortable middle class. It was curious that they ended up as felons, nothing about their situation seemed to drive for desperate measures. He resolved to put it to Nora when they had removed themselves from their current problem. He waited patiently as they sorted themselves, not knowing what they packed when they arrived ready to go. Izzy's odd comment cause Kane to worry, seeing as she wasn't averse to using force apparently. Nora confused him, she awaited his direction even though she undoubtedly knew the station better then him. The man wasn't ashamed when he reflected the task back "I don't know my way around this place." He told her "you'll probably do better getting us out of here. Docking bay 5B."

Nora took the lead and guided Kane through the twisting passages that made up her home. They brushed through smaller, more lonely passages. Any aliens they encountered showed no signs of hostility and not one guard showed up to accost them. The situation changed however when the reached docking bay 5B. Kane pulled the women to one side and cautioned them. "Okay," he explained " When I disembarked there was a guard inside. I'm betting that there'll be one inside now and he probably won't let you board easily." He shot a warning glance at Izzy "and we want to avoid any conflict." He turned to Nora for help "Is there any way to get to the umbilical without going through that chamber?"

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Grant sat in his room admiring his tools, now all perfectly oiled, polished and ready for.... For what, exactly? He didn't know. But they were ready. He let out a deep breath that wasn't quite a sigh and got to his feet to start exploring the ship. He carried the glass of water with his fingertips wrapped around the rim, letting it swing by his side as he strolled through the confines of the ship. "He's been a while" he muttered as he inspected the cockpit briefly. He'd never even tried learning to fly, someone of his class could only really dream of owning a ship of any significance but if it came to operating a drill, a compressor, a mass filter system or any giant piece of machinery then he was the man. He was also, surprisingly to many, incredibly adept with computers. Most automated systems needed setting up and programming before they could be put to use and he just happened to be in the right place at the right time when someone was needed to replace the last programmer (Who met an unfortunate end in a hydraulic piston). He took to the systems easily and found himself getting from file to another without even thinking about it. He was banned eventually when management caught him looking up their confidential information one day when he was supposed to be setting a route for the next drilling expedition. But it didn't stop him, he got onto the job again on the next station. And the next. The only station thereafter that he didn't use any such equipment was the one he'd just come from. Mostly because they had no such equipment. A means to an end he thought. Just like me. Was it a depressing thought to him? Not a chance.

He wondered what kind of programmes were running on the ship he now stood inside and wondered further if he'd be allowed to take a glance, maybe play around a little. Nothing major, just a fiddle. He was bored and had become that way quickly. He needed something to do and it didn't seem like there was much on offer. Either that or he just couldn't see what was there. So, for the third time, he returned to his tools, pulling a 7 inch straight-edged blade from his toolbox and walking through to the kitchen to sit down and start sharpening it.

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Nora stared at the floor for a moment as she tried to remember what all connected to Docking bay 5B, then yet a way that had few occupants wandering around it. “Yeah, I think there’s one that should do. It’s this way.” Careful to keep an eye on the two following her, Nora wove through the different halls until the walls started to take a more worn look and the sound of machinery could faintly be heard.

“This is the bay’s engineering room, mostly it’s full of grumpy workers making sure all the docks are working and the engines keeping the doors shut tight are always up and going. We would need a pass card to get in, but you can unlock it from the inside scotch free. If you can watch Izzy I’ll get on the other side to let you two in.” Unscrewing a vent the whole time she talked, Nora quietly lifted the covering loose to reveal the ventilation just big enough for her to fit through. “Now you two behave, and Izzy, no killing or fighting please.” A wink and a smile later, the brunette pulled out her gloves from the back belt of her vest before disappearing from sight.

Careful not to make any sudden moves or thumps to draw attention, Nora twisted through several turns before finally hearing the loud mechanical buzz she was waiting for. Waiting until one of the closer machines roared to life, and barely turning around to get into position, Nora kicked the vent lose from the rusty screws and quickly slipped back out. Inside the room was what looked like endless mazes of catwalks from floor to ceiling of the vast room, workers running back and forth or casually lazing around their designated monitors. Not wanting to leave Kane and Izzy to be sitting ducks for too long in the hall, Nora quickly found the door dividing them and punched in the open command to unlock and open the metal divider. “Missed me? All we need to do is go two levels up then take the fourth exit on the left. It should lead us straight to 5B without any security or obstacles to hinder workers… or us luckily.”