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The Age of Gifted

The Citadel

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a part of The Age of Gifted, by Miss Echo.

The pinnacle of Erubesco glory, don't let the medieval inspiration distract you from the technological marvels it hides

ianna_334 holds sovereignty over The Citadel, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

449 readers have been here.

Setting

A prominent towering structure that ascends to the skies and descends far underground, the seemingly medieval castle hides some of the world's most advanced technology in its walls. Sprawling and twisting tunnels run through this base, which is dominated by research labs, archives, and experiment storage. New acolytes finds themselves scrambling to navigate for years on end.
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The Citadel

The pinnacle of Erubesco glory, don't let the medieval inspiration distract you from the technological marvels it hides

Minimap

The Citadel is a part of The Age of Gifted.

15 Characters Here

Lulu Botrelle [19] "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, but the Devil's in the details"
Kora Norrevinter [18] I know one thing that does not die, the judgement of a dead man's life.
Drake Coleman [12] "You can kill me, but I'll just keep coming back."
Edgar Gormly [11] "One man's trash is another man's life."
Rosette Eschelia Crimson [7] "The name is Ruby, thank you, not Rosette."
Piper Kolert [7] The one in the chair.
Id Gormly [5] "It's the thought that counts."
Lindsey Nightingale [5] Naive, playful blonde with a side-shave
Nicola Varren [4] "MY ORDER!"

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nicola Varren
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The same sun waking up the wastelands also illuminated the proud castle of Erubesco's Citadel, and the surrounding city around it. The scene here wasn't so desolate as the wastes outsides. The early risers were up and about, whether by necessity or personal choice. Robotic cleaners and their minders finished polishing the streets to perfection and slid out of sight. The civilians, rich and poor alike, began to fill the winding streets with motion and colour, and the Citadel rose above them all, a sunlit goliath watching proudly over its children.

Inside the Citadel, only a few of the halls received any sort of natural light. The fluorescence of the overhead bulbs was already flaring to full brightness as tired night shift workers stumbled to their beds. The refreshed day shift flooded in in much larger droves, spreading through the offices and the labs to continue Erubesco's never ending work. In the holding labs, experiments woke as well, those who had a mind wondering if this would be the day they'd be pulled from these holding cells. Because it was early, the prisoners slept. There was nothing to do in their rooms anyway, regardless of whether it was morning or night.

Mostly unheard except by supersensory gifts, a soft music began to play through the speakers integrated in both Citadel and city. It was nothing special, just the same notes played on a loop, no vocals or anything remarkable. However, it grew steadily louder over the next hour, until anyone could hear it in a quiet moment. And then, abruptly, it tapered off, only to be replaced by a voice.

Good morning, citizens of Erubesco. This is Viceroy Varren, starting a city-wide broadcast.

The workers in the radio towers scattered in the city took their cues to begin recording the broadcast to send out to the other cities and strongholds once there was time.

As many of you are aware, not long ago, Erubesco was subjected to a devastating terrorist attack on our beloved Citadel. Many were injured and the structure was damaged, but we have rebuilt and we have healed and now, we honour the fallen. A moment of silence, please.

The quiet minute implied the speaker had his head bowed, expecting others listening to do the same.

However, through the darkness of death and war, shine the light of Erubesco's heroes, our Knights who prove their valour and worth most in times like these. Today, significantly, we honour Knight Commander Derrick Avalon, who was instrumental in the defense of the Citadel. Without him, the threat would not have been neutralized as quickly or as effectively. Therefore, it is Erubesco's joy to award Knight Commander Derrick Avalon with a promotion to the rank of Chancellor. As is tradition, a ball will be held to celebrate his achievement, and all of Erubesco is welcome to celebrate with us. Glory to Erubesco! Long live the King!

Inside his office, Nicola turned off the microphone and removed the headset, still scowling despite expertly masking the growl in his voice. In his opinion, Derrick Avalon did not deserve to be honoured by the King. He'd left the base immediately after the attack and had yet to return, which was why no date has officially been given. He sighed, rubbing his temples, and turned back towards his desk.

Well, at least, if the Coleman boy accepted his Lordship, he wouldn't have to offer the Knight Commander another house.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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Commander Botrelle had been engaged in a calm, if not uneventful walk to her office when the Viceroy’s announcement rang out over the speakers. She paused in her stride, as did the others in the Citadel walkway, and hung her head in remembrance for the fallen. When the Viceroy announced the news about Avalon’s promotion, however, it was all that Commander Botrelle could do to keep her face from contorting into a scowl.



Not that she thought he had been slacking in his duties, of course. She knew very well how hard Avalon had worked to “earn” his new post.



Lulu joined the other workers in their applauding and chipper utterances of “Long Live the King” as they passed one another on their way to their morning duties. There was no need for bitterness. 



She did, however, take a swift turn down a west-bound corridor as quickly as possible, tapping something rapidly on her tablet as she rearranged her schedule to accommodate an almost clean slate for the day. Her heels clipped against the polished hardwood flooring as she headed into and elevator and traveled back up toward the base’s housing district. 



At the 27th floor from the top, all five feet and four inches of Lulu Botrelle (for she was wearing her tall heels,) strode out of the elevator and down the hall with the determination of a wildfire through dry grass. She took a left turn, paused to read a room number, and then tapped against the door with the back of her knuckle.



“Norrevinter?” 

She paused a moment, then tapped again.

“I know you’re in there. Open up.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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The Commander raised one impeccably groomed brow as Kora appeared in the doorway, looking up and down the entirety of her form. Her old friend was a mess, and if the Knight’s bloodied bandages and filthy hair weren’t enough cause for concern, the soreness that plagued her body was: Before Kora even came to the door, Lulu could feel that the berserker’s nerves were raw, pulsing with stiff aches and exhaustion.



On top of a pitiful hangover.

“Hey,” she said quietly, deciding not to mention that Kora looked as if she had crawled out of Hell through the sex worker’s service door.

Norrevinter already knew that.

As Kora brought up Nicola’s announcement, Lulu’s lips pursed into a grimace. “I heard the good news,” she responded in a dry, chipper tone, folding her tablet and placing it in her pocket, “If he’s getting a ball, you can probably be promoted again in a matter of days. I hear Skylar’s giving bonus points, too, if you throw me through a wall.”

She put one hand on the doorknob, and pulled it open a crack more than Kora had. Her expression softened as she looked at her friend, not sure what more to say about the situation at hand that could improve it even marginally.



“Have you been eating?” 



Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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"Well in a matter of days I should be offer to the front...on what I guess amounts to an indefinite tour of duty...if you hadn't heard already. And I'm not sure I have it in me to out-bastard Derrick at this point in time.." she responded n a slightly feeble attempt at a joke.

Kora stepped back, in order to allow the commander inside as she was edging on the door a little. She wanted to demonstrate on some level that she hadn't just spent the time since the mission doing nothing at all. She had managed to clear nearly all the stuff that was in there. Kora had never been the most orderly person, and had had an enthusiasm for impulsive purchases, so it had not been easy to get rid of the items. Self loathing helped.

"Uh..not really been hungry." she mumbled in response to the question. She could have lied about the fact that she'd not really eaten in days, but the red-head was not a brilliant liar at the best of times...and they'd been friends long enough that she knew it would not hold up.

She really didn't feel hungry. She also hadn't been certain how well it would have gone initially after all the gunshots she'd taken to her abdomen. Her interest in anything had waned rather a lot.

The berserkr reached up, awkwardly rubbing the grubby hair on the back of her head. Kora was really not accustomed to apologies.
"Hey uh.. Lu..I'm..I'm really sorry. For what happened. For me not helping out.. it wasn't right. I was so obsessed with going after... I should have helped you after that. And I didn't...and if you're pissed at me I won't hold it against you."

She spoke quickly, as if trying to force the words out as soon as possible, before returning her gaze to the floor.
"So yeah...just though I'd get that out there so you didn't think I was okay with it. I would've punched Avalon in the face if I'd seen him but he took off pretty quick."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson
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As Ruby got to the ground floors of the Citadel, she narrowed her eyes due to the sun shining at her through the windows. She truly must have been underground for quite some time, she mused, but then again, it didn't seem all that long. Not that that said anything, as her sense of time had been rather skewed to begin with, but it was the sentiment that mattered.

Or something?

She wasn't quite sure of her of her thoughts at the moment, the time spend in near-isolation still weighing heavy on her mind. Aside from the scientists she hadn't seen many people, and she had had much time to ponder about things. It had caused her thought processes to be somewhat jumbled and her mind to make jumps she wasn't entirely sure could be followed by most people.

Nevertheless, she headed towards her home, a small apartment near the citadel. As she held up her keycard the lock sprang open. Getting inside was a bit harder than that though, as it seemed the hinges were rather rusted. 'I'll need to oil those', she thought absentmined, while making her way through the dusty, cobwebbed rooms.

She decided to open a few windows to let fresh air in, once again wondering how much time she had spend down there, as it looked like the apartment had been deserted for quite a few years. She shrugged it off. A few years were still nothing to her. Thankfully her pay was good, and it had continued to accumulate throughout her times in the lab. She could easily afford a cleaner.

Once she reached the kitchen she grimaced, some moron seemed to have closed the fridge. Lovely.

"Definitely that cleaner", she muttered, as she wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole.

Adjusting her initial plan to order some groceries and have them delivered, she decided to just go eat elsewhere during the next few days.

"I hope that Italian Restaurant is still in business..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson
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  1. Whoops, I had assumed the most recent post before this was in the Citadel instead of the Wastelands. Sorry for the double post.

    by ElusiveAuthor

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The Italian restaurant was still in business indeed. Maria, the young waitress she had befriended before her stint in the labs, had taken over the place from her father a couple of years ago, and her children were now on the serving staff. While the woman was a bit shocked to see her again, not having aged at all, Ruby assured her that her youth was due to her Gift. And indeed, in this current society that answered all the questions the woman might have had.

After catching up, learning the current date and ordering her Spaghetti Bolognese, she mused she would have to have a few words with her superiors. Yes. She had agreed to examinations in the lab once in a while. And yes, she knew those could be for longer periods of time. 23 years was ridiculous though.

Still, that was neither here nor there, as the savoury food was placed in front of her. Ah, it seemed she had lost track of time again. Not that it mattered, it merely meant that she wouldn't have the boring wait to go. She dug in with gusto. Oh how she had missed this. The food in the labs was filled with nutrients, sure, but the taste often left something to be desired.

It was only when Maria asked her if she was going to the rumored Ball that she learned of it. Would she go? Probably... She might as well go see if there were any familiar faces left in one swoop. She grimaced at her next thought. She wouldn't get to wear her armour.

But at least there would be good food and company...

She decided to head back to the Citadel after paying for her meal. She might as well go weasel some more information out of someone. When she got there she was heading towards the offices acquaintances of hers had previously worked in. Most of them seemed to have been replaced though.

After not finding anyone she knew, she absentmindedly began to wander the hallways, too lost in her thoughts to notice she didn't have set goal in mind. She came across various people she didn't know along the way, but their existences blurred together after a while, as she moved past all of them.

It took her a while to snap out of her melancholy, and by that time she had reached one of the newer sections of the Citadel, the location of which she didn't recognize.

Goddamnit, she was lost.

It seemed to be a residential area, judging by the numbers and name plaques next to the door. Huh. That was new too. She wondered if it was wise to have all the Erebuscians of note gathered in one place. One terrorist attack, and most of them would be dead. Nevertheless, she did see a few advantages, namely that the travel time would be less, and everyone could be readily called to duty at any time of the day.

That realization didn't help one thing though.

In the end she decided to just ring one of the door bells, a bit lost as to what else to do in this situation.

Maybe the person who opened -while probably cranky at being awoken this early- could give her directions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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Lulu entered the room with a careful tread, stepping lightly so that the signature click of her heels was all but absent. “There’s nothing to be sorry for,” she replied to the apology, though she had been waiting for some time to hear it. She shut the door softly behind her, and headed promptly toward Kora’s kitchen to check for groceries.

The cleanly emptiness of the apartment was unsettling— Lulu was used to sidestepping piles of things when she dared to visit Kora, and the bare floor only served as a reminder that this would not be the berserker’s home for much longer. 

It was far easier to focus on finding Kora a meal, and ignore the rest of it.



“You had family matters to attend to. I understand that. And, really, my situation was nobody’s fault but my own— I wasn’t well to work, and I mistakenly thought I was. You can’t blame Derrick, either. He was just doing his—“ Her voice caught, and she swallowed whatever word she had planned to end that sentence with.



“Well, you know.” 



After another moment of fruitless searching, Lulu pulled out her tablet and began looking up the menu of a delivery service. “Go get yourself cleaned, Norrevinter. I’m ordering you food, and while we wait on it, I’m fixing your sloppy bandaging.

“You stink.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson Character Portrait: Eugene Melberg Character Portrait: Drake Coleman
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Anyone who had served as a Citadel guard knew why the latest patrol was called “the graveyard shift:” After shuffling back to the apartment around four AM, Mel had collapsed onto the couch, still in his uniform, falling as still as a corpse upon impact.



On nights like these, even his nightmares kept themselves at bay.

The early rustlings of Coleman, his temporary houseguest, did nothing to stir him. As the Citadel announcement music sounded over the loudspeaker, he rolled over for a moment, mumbling something about “two more minutes.” Mel tugged a pillow over his head as the full speech was given, and there it stayed as he fell back asleep despite the noise. 



‘Ten o’clock,’ he thought to himself as he drifted off again, ‘I’ll get up and get on with the day by ten.’

Then the doorbell.

There was a groan, (as well as a scarcely intelligible string of obscenities,) from the pile of blankets on the couch, and then a thump as Mel rolled out and onto the floor. “Coming!” he called, though he really wished he were not. He glanced back toward the bed and found Coleman not in it, but rather at the far end of the room by the window. 

Mel offered a nod and a vague grumbling that may have been supposed to come out as “Good morning, Drake,” and then pulled himself to standing by the arm of a chair.

He paused by the mirror next to the door, running a hand though his hair, fixing where it had been crushed flat on one side while asleep, and then rubbing his eyes. 

He did not bother checking the peep hole- the Citadel was a security masterpiece.

So, when the tired, slouching Acolyte in his crinkled uniform swung open his front door, he was more than a bit surprised to see a tall ginger in full armor standing in front of him. He stared at her with a bleary, dazed look for a moment, and blinked hard. 


“Um.”



His brow knitted together.



“Good morning?” he asked, fairly certain he had never seen this person in his life, “Is um… I’m sorry, but can I help you?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson Character Portrait: Eugene Melberg Character Portrait: Drake Coleman
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Ruby momentarily observed the man, taking in his disheveled appearance, before sheepishly rubbing the back of her neck, smiling awkwardly at the equally awkward question of the tired-looking man. She decided to be blunt.

"I apologize for waking you at this godforsaken hour, but I find myself lost in this maze that is the Citadel. Could you be kind enough to give me directions to the main entrance?"

She shifted a little, and added with an apologetic look, "I haven't been back here for a while you see, and a lot seems to have changed in my absence..."

Like the adding of residential areas... stair columns that had practically disappeared while she was in the labs, and elevators that only seemed to reach a few floors out of many. The first she was ambivalent over, the second she thought unwise, although like the third, she could see some tactical value in it.

But while it made it harder to navigate for potential intruders, Knights returning from a long stint elsewhere would evidently experience the same fate.

Ruby sure as hell hoped she didn't come over as too suspicious. While the upper echelons would probably be able to clear her in case of an incarceration by a grumpy-looking acolyte, she wasn't to sure about that, still slightly bitter over the fact that her 'few months' in the labs had been extended to '23 years' without so much as a by your leave. They might even have forgotten about her altogether, what with most of the people that knew her being either dead or happily retired.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson Character Portrait: Eugene Melberg Character Portrait: Drake Coleman
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#, as written by Hyro
Drake heard the ringing of the door and glanced at it hesitantly. While he certainly COULD answer it, there was a very, very unlikely chance that whoever was at the door was for him. Luckily, the stirring of his new room mate assured him rather quicking that he would not have to bother with answering it after all. Which was good, because he certainly didn’t want to.

Mel had offered a disgruntled good morning, in which the only thing Drake could think to respond with at the moment was a simple nod. He still wasn’t used to the social interaction or even being in the same housing as someone who wasn’t family.

He had no idea how to interact with this guy.

As the door was answered and the person in question was greeted with some amount of confusion, Drake’s curiosity got the best of him. He swung his leg back to the floor and stood, silently moving over so that he could peer at the person through the door without getting too close to be deemed intrusive.

It was a female, apparently. She appeared to be some sort of knight, or at least, that was his best guess when taking into account the armor getup. She had bright red hair, too, which was… Well, uncommon, to say the least.

Then again, so were silver eyes.

Listening in on the conversation, he discovered pretty quickly why she was there and why Mel didn’t recognize her. The girl was lost. It was something he could relate with, at the very least. The Citadel was huge, after all, and he knew little to nothing about what all it held in store.

The winged boy didn’t feel any reason to say anything at the moment, so instead lingered and watched with mild interest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson Character Portrait: Eugene Melberg Character Portrait: Drake Coleman
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Mel blinked hard. He looked at the woman while she spoke. He blinked again.



“Ah- um. Yeah, yeah,” he mumbled, and took in a deep breath in the hopes that oxygen could bring his mind to wakefulness, “I can um, it’s tangled in here, yeah.” 

The woman’s full armor, as well as her confidence in knocking upon a random door spoke of confidence in her position.

She was likely a Knight, or possibly a Commander, as far as Mel could guess, and likely not someone he had the right to turn down if he had wanted to. 

Not that Mel had any plans of turning her down— Being lost on base was frustrating, and he had hated being in her shoes less than a week ago. Transfer troops frequently misplaced themselves on base, as did those returning from long deployments.



“Gimme a minute to get my boots on, yeah?” he said, offering a tired smile. He stepped back and held the door open with one foot and reached toward the shoe rack beside the entry and pulled on his left boot, and then switched feet to the other, all the whole trying to will himself awake. “And uh, I’m Mel. Well. Accolyte Melberg. But basically Mel. And um,” he pushed the door open further, “This’s Coleman, my roommate. So.”



With his shoes laced, he grabbed his keycard off of the hook by the door and nodded toward the hall, “I can help you find a datapoint, f’you want. We’ve got a few on the floor, to help people around, what with all the new construction and stuff. The resident halls got really jacked up after the fires, and stuff. So, nothing to be sorry about.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rosette Eschelia Crimson Character Portrait: Eugene Melberg Character Portrait: Drake Coleman
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#, as written by Hyro
“Drake,” the boy corrected rather swiftly and, perhaps, a bit sternly, “None of that last name non-sense. Drake is fine.” Oh, how he hated being reminded of the kind of people he was related to. Not that he would bring it up. He was still considering the whole Lordship inheritance, after all, and he really didn’t feel the need to bring up how much he loathed the ones he was taking it from.

He gave a nod to the female in greeting, eyeing her outfit with analytical eyes. A knight, most likely, judging from the armor. “You’re clearly not new here,” he concluded. It was a short and rhetorical comment, perhaps even a bit rude if perceived in such a way, considering the implication it held.

"How the hell did she get lost?" was, of course, what he was really thinking.

His eyes trailed over to Mel who seemed hardly awake. Drake knew how late Mel had come home, having heard the man walk in while he was trying and failing to fall asleep. The winged boy also knew how little sleep his roommate had actually gotten as a result.

“Are you sure you’ve slept enough to function properly?” he mused, his tone making it seem more like a wisecrack than an actual concern. Despite the fact that he was aiming for being concerned.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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Of the few things able to force Kora's long numb sense of motivation into some kind of action, it was a fair amount of shame. Whilst she'd long given up on doing anything purely for her own self-respect, criticism still stirred enough of a sick feeling in her stomach that Kora was compelled to acquiesce to Lulu's demands, and fairly promptly dragged herself into the shower.

Feelings of shame having won over feelings of futility, the Knight pulled off the bloodstained clothes and old gauze, and snapped the shower on, standing there for a few minutes as she watched the water drain away as unpleasant brownish-red.

Most people might hve been more concerned about the risk of infection for leaving fairly significant injuries largely untended to. Normally, even Kora would have...but things had dulled in their priority ltely. All things had.

She washed the worst of the blood and dirt off of her skin and rubbed some shampoo into her hair, getting it clean enough that the water ran through it clean once again, and generally made a perfunctory attempt at tidying herself up before stepped out of the bathroom one again. There was a towel wrapped around her body and her hair was dripping and several shades darker with moisture.
If her demeanour had not improved much, her hygiene at least had. The lack of bandages made the half-healed wounds on her shoulders more obvious, though she'd covered up enough to hide the worst of it.

"Derrick left me some stuff when he left. A uh, basket of candy. Guess he must have been feeling bad though I don't know why it was aimed at me." Kora explained as she tried to find some clean...or at least cleaner clothes amid the boxes she had.

"Well...it was here. Ended up giving it away. Sent it over to Acolyte Piper as an apology...don;t think I ever heard anything back."
The knight stopped for a moment, silent, before she shrugged her shoulders.

"Oh well.Upside of getting sent out is you don't have to worry about folk not liking you, right? I mean, why should I care what they think. It's not like I'm going to be here much longer...not like...not like I'm ever coming back..." Kora trailed off, letting her hands drop while still loosely gripping a couple of items of clothing.

"I mean. I'm sure I'll be fine. Nothing I can't handle. Like Varren said. It's what I'm suited for. Yup. That's what I'm good at."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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Lulu did not feel good about guilting Kora into personal hygiene, per se, but it beat the alternatives of ordering or fighting her into the shower.



While the Knight headed into the bathroom, Lulu set about typing in an order to a breakfast service. She requested a pot of coffee, considerable helpings of eggs, bacon, and potatoes, and a massive side of toast, butter on the side, in case Kora was unable to keep anything else down.

Adding on a pitcher of mimosa crossed her mind, but she decided that it would be in poor taste.

Upon hearing the water stop, Lulu set down her tablet and picked up the first-aid kit before making her way over to the couch. “Sit,” she said, opening the box in her lap and pulling out a bottle of sanitizer to make sure her hands were clean. 

Though the wounds were not any worse than Lulu had imagined them to be, seeing them uncovered added an extra element of unpleasantness to the whole thing.

She went silent while Kora spoke, and pursed her lips as she struggled to string together a consolation. “Avalon’s… He cares," she offered, "Or cared? Whatever he does, anyhow. And Piper...” She sighed in defeat, and unwrapped an alcohol wipe to clean the angry redness around the worst of Kora’s shoulder injuries. Her gift worked as she cleaned, sending a cool numbness over the wounds to replace whatever sting would come from having them muddled with. 



“You have to keep your chin up, Kora,” she mumbled, “It— It doesn’t seem like it now, but you’re going to be okay. This is going to be fine. And… And you are a strong fighter. But you’re good at other things, too. You can read a battle from every angle. And people do like you. You’re just…”



Lulu shook her head, too focused on her work to look Kora in the eye. “…You’re having a rough go of it, and it’s from things you can’t control. They didn’t give you a fair shot. You can’t put that on yourself.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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Kora obediently took a seat on the couch and let Lulu start working. While the wounds had not bothered her enough to go seek any help, it was rather a relief as the numbness conveyed by the woman's power spread across her shoulders. She sat with her hands in her lap, arms holding the towel in place, with her gaze on the floor.

For her friend's assurances that it was not her fault, she did not feel that way.

"I might as well. The people who have the say over what happens to me have already made their minds up...and it's them that people listen to...and I' not arguing with higher ranks again. This was what got me into this in the first place. I picked a fight with Balthazar so he made me a Commander just to watch me make a fool of myself....pretty sure the fight I picked wasn't even worth it." she remarked, just a bit bitterly upon looking back at what had taken place. It was only a few weeks, but it seemed so long ago. A lot had happened.

In many ways her actions before then felt more distant from having had such a strong sense of purpose. She'd been so sure then.

"I figure I just have to go along with it. Tone Varren had was one of those things that he wanted me to know he was letting me off easy and that if I made a fuss it was going to get way worse. It could have gone worse. I had Piper calling me a traitor for backing out. If that was what they'd fixed on...."
She gazed at the scarred backs of her hands.

"Probably the best way this could have turned out... knights are dead because I couldn't keep it together. They trusted me to lead them and I.. ...I just feel so guilty."

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Character Portrait: Cadriel
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It was morning in the The Citadel, and whilst a good number of the inhabitants were just getting up to start the day, at least one had already been up for hours.

Cadriel, the janitor, sunk her mop into the murky water of the metal bucket, listlessly withdrew the thing, and let it flop down onto the scuffed and boot-printed floor before starting to mop it up. If she was lucky she might be able to get it all cleaned up before a bunch of knights thundered through and ruined it again.

That was how things generally turned out.

Caddie hunched over the cleaning apparatus, her bandages hands often struggling a little for purchase on the thing, and the bandages in her feet soaking in water in a way that looked most uncomfortable.

Well, most of the experiment looked most uncomfortable. From where she stood under the florescent lights she looked like a kind of grisly, poorly assembled jigsaw, with parts not quite fitting. All the badly applied sutures, and the jagged scars, there was something distinctly horror-like about the janitor. Of course, people had long had plenty of time to become accustomed to the sight of experimentation. To the point that for the most part people barely noticed her presence...until something was wrong of course. When the bin by the coffee maker had not been emptied then getting called 'Bride of Chucky' was completely fair game.

The announcement that rattled out over the whole citadel elicited little more than some weary eye-roll from Cadriel, followed by some muttered curse on the name that arose.
Avalon.

Balls meant nothing to her in any meaningful way. Caddie was way way too low down the pecking order to have anything to do with them. She wasn't even presentable enough to staff for the most part.

Who it was for though, did. Avalon. The man who had, not long ago, shot her four times and left her in a trash bag. The fact tht that sadist was being promoted said for all that she'd come to feel about Erubesco. That the floors were not the only thing that was dirty.

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Character Portrait: Edgar Gormly Character Portrait: Id Gormly Character Portrait: Cadriel
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#, as written by Zalgo
The alarm rang. Ed woke up in his bunk down in the barracks where they kept the serfs. Serfs had to stay within the citadel limits for security reasons. Given their station few people trusted them and even fewer liked them. He wouldn't disagree on that though quite frankly he didn't really care what others thought about him. Better they hate him than like him, at least that's how he felt.

He got out of bed and made his way over to the changing rooms. Inside one of the lockers was his new uniform: a janitors outfit. Ever since they had arrived at the citadel they were delegated the least desirable tasks which they were to perform during their stay. In little more than a few weeks he and the rest of the crew he was assigned to were to be sent out to the front lines as ground troops aka cannon fodder. For now however their work was to carry unimportant things like furniture and clean the floors.


Their wing of the barrack's speakers sputtered to life, relaying commands to them from their task master.
"Bunks A to J proceed down to loading bays three through seven. Bunks K to Z proceed over to third floor, west wing. You all know your duties now go."

Just the same as yesterday. With all that he needed Ed began on his way out of the barracks and into the main body of the citadel itself along with everyone else in his bunk aisle. As they arrived in front of the storage there waited the chief janitor. They lined up as they were handed their mobs, buckets and miscellaneous supplies before being told their destination. They already knew the general list of tasks set for janitorial service. Ed received his gear and was sent off to the region of the citadel he was assigned to.


So there he was, mopping the floor down the hallway. Scrubbing the boot stains and other debris was a nuisance but it still beat rotting in jail. Quite frankly as most people who passed paid him little heed there was not a lot he could complain about. This work offered him time alone which he treasured like the nobles treasured their gold. Being alone meant that there were less opportunities for her to seize. Id was always watching, looking to set up his downfall so she could watch him stumble.

As he was minding his business he turned a corner and noticed another janitor was already working his area. Now this was confusing. He was about to ask as to why she was working where he was assigned but upon getting a good look at her he was caught a bit off guard. Not only had he never seen this janitor before but her appearance was most unusual for anyone outside of a hospital. Bandages from neck to toe stained with medical fluids and stitches running down along her face all sold the image of someone who was clumsily reassembled. Ed had seen some wounds back when he was still part of the infantry and she seemed to encompass all of them plus some.


If she was looking at him back she would of caught him just standing there staring with the one eye he still had. He really couldn't throw stones given the fact his left eye was sewn shut so people would stop staring into the empty socket all the time. Still, her appearance greatly contrasted with the types of people that frequented the citadel. An entire facility full of vain aristocrats and muscular warriors all preening themselves in a constant struggle to appeal to each other in some strange vain social ritual. The ugly were the exception here.

It could also be said that Ed hadn't spent much too long in the citadel itself. Most of his career was spent out at other forts, even during training. Catching himself staring he turned his eye down, looking away before he made this run in even more awkward than it already was. She was pretty much in the middle of the route he was assigned to take care of so something needed to be said.

"Um... Are you working this stretch?"

He didn't want to be rude just in case she had wondered in from the medical ward. Last thing he'd need is to piss off her doctor given his caste.

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Character Portrait: Edgar Gormly Character Portrait: Cadriel
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Whilst Cadriel mopped, she considered the events of recent days. Shot, saved, memory resorted, finding herself helping one of the Commanders she resented ore than just about anyone else, and agreeing to potential....well at this point she was not even sure what she'd agreed to. Perhaps Botrelle had gotten over whatever she'd been writing that night, or perhaps not. She'd not had a lot of contact recently. She also thought back to her talk with Acolyte Kolert, who had been wholly unconvinced about the nature f how Caddie had some to her position. Whilst she felt a bit bitter about it, the experiment guessed that she could not really blame Piper. Would her previous incarnation have ever believed that Erubesco would screw over one of their own in such a way? Probably not. Factions did tend to instil in you a sense of trust in authority. Despite everything she did rather miss that trust. Missed feeling safe within the walls of the Citadel. Still, false security was no security at all. Least now she was ready for the horrible stuff that ight happen and the unpleasantness came as less of a shock.

The cleaner was pulled out of her reverie by the sight of someone standing watching her, custodial staff most certainly. She didn't exactly like how long her was taking to look her over. Being most unnoticed did at least have the perk that Caddie felt like less of a freak. He was questioning what she was doing there, and, in the less than stellar mood she was already in, prompted a weary reply.

"No I'm taking my pet mop for a walk." Caddie responded with the deadpan sarcasm of somebody who really had no interest in whatever the disagreement was.
"I've been responsible for the offices, teleportation port, and the research block for six months. "

In order to demonstrate the experiment reached a bandaged hand under the neck of her top and withdrew a lanyard with her newly-replaced ID tag, marked with 'CLEARANCE LEVEL 8' in bright red script, something that allowed her down to the darkest depths of the research levels.

"And I've already been working through that for the best part of two hours now, so if you think you're supposed to be here, you're either mistaken or misdirected. My schedule has not changed in six months and I could draw these corridors while blindfolded at this point."

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Character Portrait: Edgar Gormly Character Portrait: Id Gormly Character Portrait: Cadriel
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#, as written by Zalgo
Al heard her retort out. He smirked a little at her sarcastic quip but unfortunately as much as he'd prefer to trade witticisms with the patchwork woman he was sure to hear of it if he didn't get finished. Before he could move past her she produced her ID tag. He leaned forward to get a better look on the lettering of the card.

"Hmm... Cadriel... Clearance level eight."

So, Cadriel was her name then. She had a far higher clearance than his measly clearance level three that much was made certain. An already interesting figure made all the more enigmatic the more he knew. Who on earth does she report to despite being a janitor just like him? What possible level of injury must she of sustained to warrant those bandages? Those questions and more were being asked in his head. Not that he expected a reply to any one of them, they were just thoughts after all.
The only person looking in on those right now would never be so kind as to inform him in any beneficial way.


He was stirred from his slight bout of introspection as Cadriel continued, dismissing him as either mistaken or mislead.
"Fine. A simple yes would of sufficed." He didn't sound particularly happy but then again he never did. Turning around he started on his way back. Of course Id wasn't going to let it be that easy. She'd been pretty bored these last few weeks and at this point was willing to pull a petty prank just to get a cheap chuckle at her brother's expense. It was nothing quite as lovely as some of her previous plans but she had some hope it would tide her over until a truly juicy opportunity presented itself.

As Ed was walking he was no longer aware of what his right hand was doing. The bucket of water he was carrying started to tip until it was pouring water as he walked. All the work he had done was undone by his own hand. He eventually noticed something was off when he reached the entrance to the elevator when he noticed his bucket was significantly lighter. As he looked down, curious as to what was different, he noticed what he had done. His expression turned to one of surprise before settling into a frown of depression as he realized he'd have to clean the entire stretch of the hall again. Putting a palm to his face he groaned, slowly but definitely getting back onto the task he just did.

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Character Portrait: Skip III
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Skip III received the news through the mail tube in the corner of his lead-lined apartment-lab. The first thing he spotted was a shiny plastic access badge on a black lanyard. He had been confined to the labs since his return to Erubesco, so the sight of the access badge made Skip's hummingbird heart, well, skip a beat. Along with the badge came a notice. He sat on the edge of his high cot to read, swinging his yellow Chuck Taylors with nervous energy.

Citadel Floor Access Restoration

Project Serine Kryptonine Isoleucine Phenylalanine Marque 3 to be granted access to all floors with clearance codes 1-4, in addition to all relevant research levels. Retinal and all other digital identification clearance restored accordingly. Further clearance restoration to be considered at a later date (not exceeding standard access of a Knight Acolyte in accordance with Experiment Subject Control Order 19).


Skip's face lit up (both literally and figuratively) as he popped to his feet. He forced himself to notice the bottom of the page, where he saw a signature.

Authorized by Commander Lulu Botrelle.

This gave him pause. Skip knew exactly what she was trying to do: butter him up to increase his willingness to aide her in her traitorous plans. Those tantalizing traitorous plans of breaking, then fixing and remolding the faction that had broken him, then remolded him and fixed him into an all-loyal tool. And.
Well.
It was probably working.

Reward-oriented reinforcement had always worked best on this installment of the SKIP project.

His sober moment of contemplation regarding Lulu Botrelle couldn't hold up long to his bounding eagerness. He could find his friends. He hadn't seen Kora or Lindsey except for once, and he hadn't seen Caddie at all. Then there was even Azrael, Nathan--and the usual, new faces to meet. Who knew? Maybe some of them would even let him come close enough to speak to them without shouting.

Converse off. Clothes off and down the hazard chute. Decontamination shower. Trying not to let excitement cause gamma flares. Shock of upswept hair, shaken dry. New clothes. Converse back on. Still trying not to let excitement cause gamma flares. Then the badge was flung around his neck and tucked under his lemon scarf with inhuman speed, and, after looking up at the sensor to let the automatic door take a scan of his dayglo chartreuse eyes, Skip was grinning his way into the hallway, saying goodbye to his pet bird Dan where he sat in his cage on the service desk, and dashing toward the elevator without an escort for the first time in days.

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Character Portrait: Nathan Chandler
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  1. It's been a slow day, so I'll do each intro individually throughout the day. Sorry about this...

    by wolfsong4640
  2. Hey, I don't think you saw, but I just wanted to let you know that Knights aren't invited to the ball by rule of thumb. Only Knight Commanders and up- all the lower ranks need invitations from higher ranks. :)

    by Miss Echo

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The soft music coming from the speakers, as well as the sound of Viceroy Varren's voice, was fairly muffled when Nathan had his head buried deep in the pillow. It didn't prevent him from hearing the announcement of another ball, though. The 21 year-old emitted a small groan in response to the event and to waking up in general. These announcements brought little excitement to him.

Sitting up, Nathan rolled his shoulders and stretched, his spine cracking in protest to his movements. Wincing, he smoothed out a crick in his neck and set his feet on the floor. A huge, elite ball for a promotion...what a surprise. He was going to dread hearing all the talk about it. Thankfully he wouldn't get dragged off to it, considering it was for Commanders and above. Although, a little champagne and some nice music would ease the stress that had been building up from recent events.

He shot down that perk as he undressed and showered, and he frowned as he dried off afterwards. This party was for Derrick Avalon. He rarely spoke to the man, and he clearly remembered what had happened with Commander Botrelle. It wasn't his place to say she did no wrong, but Avalon's actions unnerved him quite a bit. The man had been absent from the Citadel for a while now, though. Perhaps he wouldn't even be there. The idea of the Avalon not showing up for his own celebration slightly amused Nathan. It sounded like something he would do. He could already imagine all the guests waiting for someone who wouldn't even arrive.

Sighing, he brushed off the sarcastic thoughts and changed into a new set of clothes. He probably didn't need to criticize the celebrations too much. They were none of his business, so he dropped the mental musings about it. After slipping on his shoes, he left the room and headed out to see what he needed to do.

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Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle
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“You can’t talk like that,” Lulu said, dabbing healing ointment onto the large shoulder wound, which she then layered over with gauze pads, “You’re a good Commander, Kora. A good person. You care— You wouldn’t feel like this if you didn’t.”



Kora’s mention of Balthazar, and specifically how the Viceroy had set the woman up for failure, set Lulu’s rosy lips turning down into a pursed scowl. It certainly was not the first time the man had lined up a situation he suspected would break someone— and not even the second, now that she paused to mull over it. 



“Balthazar set you up, Kora, and you know it. You did as well as anyone would have done in your shoes. But he knew you’d break.” After placing a final stretch of medical tape of Kora’s shoulder, Lulu moved back so that she could look her friend in the eye. “If you want to put the blood on anyone’s hands, put it on his. He orchestrated this, Kora.”


She broke her gaze with before going on, thick lashes shielding her emerald gaze as she looked through the rest of the first-aid box. Her voice was softer and more steeled when she spoke again, holding a muzzle over harsher words than she would allow herself. “He assigned me to terminate S.K.I.P. because he knew I was in no state to manage the task. Then he demoted me without trial. Then he assigned Derrick to… Well, you know. And Avalon left. So the last Commander available to handle a field operation from the Citadel was you. Cue the base in chaos, just as Varren comes back from a mental health Sabbatical… and it’s all a bit too convenient, isn’t it? And then the bad intel on the Memoli girl—”

The Commander’s train of thought was broken as the doorbell rang. “I don’t trust him, is all,” she concluded as she stood and crossed to the door. There was a moment of quiet as she signed off on a tip and took the bag of food from the delivery Serf, but her frown returned as soon as the door was shut.

“Don’t be so quick to take all of the blame, is all I’m suggesting, Norrevinter. I think there’s more here than what we’re seeing. And can you hold down food?” She carried the bag over to the coffee table and set it down, promptly pulling out the carry container of eggs and bacon and setting it open.

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Character Portrait: Lindsey Nightingale
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  1. Sorry, this post kinda sucked...

    by wolfsong4640

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Lindsey woke up to the sensation of the blood rushing to her head. She opened her eyes blearily and found herself hanging halfway off the bed. It didn't really surprise her, though. At least she wasn't sprawled across the floor entirely this time. She never really understood how she could move so much in her sleep and not wake up when she fell out of the bed. Yawning tiredly, she placed her hands firmly on the ground and pulled lower body onto the floor. She sat up and stretched for a moment, rolling the knots out of her shoulders and her neck.

She wondered what she needed to do today. Before she could continue pondering, the soft music grew louder and the announcement of Avalon's promotion and the ball being held in celebration of it sounded out over the speakers throughout the faction. She blinked and got up. "Another fancy event, huh?" She mumbled. There would probably be a good amount of chatter about it today, which she looked forward to. She had been eager to get back into the swing of things ever since the attack on the Wanderers in Helton, specifically going back to her social self.

Getting dressed, Lindsey wondered if Nathan was up and training. Perhaps she could talk to him. After brushing her hair out, she left the room and went to look for something to do or someone to talk to.

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Character Portrait: Edgar Gormly Character Portrait: Id Gormly Character Portrait: Cadriel Character Portrait: Skip III
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#, as written by Zalgo
Ed was busy toiling away on the sodden floors which he was directly responsible for as far as he and pretty everyone else knew, so busy in fact that he did not have the opportunity to notice the man speeding out from the elevator towards him. He hadn't raised his head to see some lanky guy quickly slipping and sliding towards him until the man was nearly in his face.

Just as the stranger caught himself in time to not crash in to him Ed backed up a step, looking rather cross due to this guy coming well within his comfort zone. Ed's comfort zone was pretty large as talking to pretty much anyone made him uncomfortable but in this case his discomfort was compounded with the proximity of this new guy.


"Hey, watch it." He warned just before the man started to ramble on about something. It started as something about helping then he moved on to something about a Creepsy, whatever that was, that was telekinetic or maybe a bad or good something or whatever. All Ed could really discern was that this guy was asking about somebody. He just looked at him with an expression of confusion as he tried to make sense of what this guy was going on about.

"So you want to find a who? I mean what? I-err, what do you mean? Telekinetic? What?"

He struggled to make sense of what he meant until the man started describing the person he was talking about with better details than 'Bad-creepsy' and 'Nice-creepsy'. He still wasn't very clear but at least he could make a little sense of what this guy wanted.

"Alright I'm just going to take a shot in the dark and assume you mean... Cadriel?"


It wasn't much of an answer but it was the best assumption he could make given the terrible description. He gave a short shrug, looking down the hall where he had come back from.

"She's still working this floor. Don't know if she's supposed to be on this floor for the next few weeks but her clearance is higher than mine so I'm not fighting it. I don't think she's left if you're looking for her."

His answer wasn't exactly precise but then again it's hard to be when people have a habit of not always staying in the same place. After all, he barely understood where he was supposed to be let alone where she was. Since the guy brought it up she came back into mind. She did have a lot of stitches like she was pieced together after being torn apart but she didn't really look much too bad for it. Perhaps rather it was Ed who thought it didn't look so bad. Then again he knew he was a sucker for the macabre. Conventional beauty had it's place but it was a place he was not welcome. It wasn't a place he would be happy in even if he was welcome. Things that made people happy weren't for him.

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Character Portrait: Kora Norrevinter Character Portrait: Lulu Botrelle Character Portrait: Larke Sterling Character Portrait: Commander Green
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The berserker sat listening, momentarily silenced by the whole of the story she'd only seen bits of.
Lulu had been punished for not terminating Skip? Skip had been set for terminating? This was a bit of a revelation...and really only served to make her feel more wretched from not people more helpful than she had. Still it told her a lot. It had not just been her that Balthazar had been out to destroy.

When Commander Botrelle went to answer the door, Kora took the opportunity to slip out of the way and pull on some of her cleaner clothing. Still aching all over, she did at least feel a little less pathetic. She was wrapping some adhesive bandages around the burned palms of her hands when Lulu returned.

"Oh...uh...yeah...probably." she responded to the question asking if she could keep food down. What that actually meant was that she hadn't really ingested anything other than painkillers, soda and alcohol in days, but that she'd not been vomiting blood since the day before, so guessed that it was okay.

The Knight set down at the coffee table as she tied the bandages off at her elbow, at least allowing her to get hold of things without the sharp stinging of untreated burns.

"You're right, he did set me up to fail.. but what can I do? Varren wants me out. Thinks I'll be better off at the front. How very magnanimous of him." she muttered, a little bitterly.

It was far from lost on her that Lulu had been re-instated in her post while she was getting unceremoniously booted out of the citadel. She could hardly feel resentment when she knew some of the unpleasantness thar had happened in the interim, but Kora could hazard a guess as to why it was.

"I don't exactly play the popularity game very well and it's not as if I've got too many friends in high places. Considering the things Piper had to say about me I think it's probably only having a foot of height on most Knights that's stopped be getting smacked in the face in the corridors."

Kora sighed, flexing her handss they rested on her lap.
"What am I gonna do, Lu? I think I'm really screwed this time.


----

Much of the Citadel that morning was cheifly concerned with the coming of the big ball. Commander Green was, of course, invited by default. His rank invited it. However that morning the research head was concerned with rather more pressing matters. Business did not simply end when there was some party on the horizon.

And certain researchers did not stop being captives of groups of fanatical terrorists either.

As the base began to stir, Green was stood within the fortified chamber of the teleportation zone, with its Knights stood guard on the exists and numerous signs bidding for ID and clearance cards.

His rather distinct presence was enough to allow him to enter with a short salute from the guard contingent. Tall, slender, his silvery-white hair shining beneath the halogen bar lights, he was hard not to recognize, even with out the bright, carnivorous eyes like radioactive malachite. The presence of the green-eyed figure also to allowd the man with him to pass without questioning.

That was helpful, as there had already been a fair amount of red tape and hoop-jumping involved to get Larke Sterling cleared to leave the Citadel when he was, by all accounts, supposed to be a prisoner held by Erubescan authority on a fairly long sentence. And year there Commander Green stood, ready to release him out into the Wasteland unaccompanied.

Some might say that that was madness.

Then again, some might also say that what the prisoner was planning to do was madness too, with Green expecting him to face off against a militant cell that had already claimed the lives of many far better prepared troops, let alone steal two people awat from them.

Of course, if Green felt that way about either of these matters, not a single hint of it could be seen in his face as he meticulously outlined the kit he would be sent with....standard field gear as well as an... 'enhanced' tracker in the unlikely event that he were to wander away.

"Now remember." the researcher stated.
"The group in question are not only violent, but very persuasive. If you are not attacked immediately they will most certainly try and manipulate you. I suspect that they will have similarly manipulated Helena, and encouraged her to fear us. Do not let this throw your judgement. Both her life, and the life of Miss Kovalenko depend on your success. I do hope, Mr Sterling, that you feel prepared for the risks of the mission?"

Green could be almost certain that he was not prepared, when so many had been utterly flattened by this persistent little invasive creeper of a group, spreading through the cracks of the Helton rubble. There was a very good chance he was sending this man straight into the fire, though there was no real remorse or concern in the mind of the Commander.

Worst came to worst, it would at least mean they were likely to panic and kill Oren before she gave away too much data.
You used all your options, even if the outcomes weren't always the ideal resolutions.

Green had taken to playing the longer games.

Kovaleko and Sterling were useful to have around, but ultimately disposable.

And he would take Helena eventually. One way or another.