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The Chronicles of Kizara

Kizara

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a part of The Chronicles of Kizara, by XianEvermor.

The denizens of Kizara have a much bigger role to play within the universe than any of them realize. The events that began here, are to be like the butterfly who flapped its wings and caused a tsunami far, far away.

XianEvermor holds sovereignty over Kizara, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

235 readers have been here.

Setting

The adventure plays itself out here. Any post relating to Kizara Prime, the Kizaran Territories, or any place in the surrounding known space should be put here.
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Kizara

The denizens of Kizara have a much bigger role to play within the universe than any of them realize. The events that began here, are to be like the butterfly who flapped its wings and caused a tsunami far, far away.

Minimap

Kizara is a part of The Chronicles of Kizara.

5 Characters Here

Lord Commander Gaberiel Crozius Blade [1] Commander of the War Barge "Parador", and leader of the Aerodainian Seperatists
Raikor [0] A quiet man who can appear cold and uncaring
Rhea Pendrake [0] A nomad with a burdensome mission. The weight hangs heavily upon her but failure is not an option.
Alden of House Ravenwing [0] Foster a raven and it will peck out your eyes.
Azile Drake [0] A space bounty hunter, travels from place to place.

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"I'm giving you a sedative to keep your body still during the scan... if what you suspect is correct it will need to be very accurate," Astaroth said. The glowing red eyes of his helmet were almost hovering over Sable, and she could already feel the effects of the drug... his last few words almost seemed to echo and moments later she drifted off into an inky darkness.

"I've been all over the territories and through a few places I'd care not to mention aloud lest the things living there hear me speak the name of their home," Sable complained, shuddering. She leaned against the wall of the lounge and ripped a chunk of fruity flesh from a peach as though it had deeply wronged her in the past. "Everyone else at least got a hint... All the oracle told me was 'you'll find him in the place you least expect it.' Fucking Orions and their riddles," she grumbled, tearing the pit out and spitting it into the garbage. Scarlett's musical laughter lilted from the other side of the room.

"It's a pilgrimage, did you expect that it would be easy? That you would find him sunning on a beach at a resort on Arastor?" she teased.

"Yes? No? That would have been fucking nice... I did check there by the way. You found yours quickly enough," she seethed, spearing Astaroth with her emerald eyes as he came through the door. He stopped mid-stride, threw his hands up in surrender as he turned around and left the way he came. Scarlett just laughed.

"Yes I did, but it wasn't easy and what I did to get him here was quite dangerous. Most of the other pairs will tell you the same. Don't worry, Sable, they're not going to reassign you. Astaroth and I will help you."

"Ruh," Sable grunted and pushed away from the wall, wiping the juice from her mouth gruffly. "I'm going to the training room to punch somebody, then maybe me and 'Rothy can go over some star charts... maybe find something I missed."

"I want to be there when he finally hears you call him that," Scarlett snickered. "He gets all cute and flustered when I make up pet names for him."

"No fair," Sable sulked, but couldn't help the grin twisting her lips. "You're not allowed to spoil my sour mood like that! I just need to blow off some steam... but... thank you, Scarlett," she said as she moved into the hallway. Sable took a deep breath and blew out a sigh, trying to muster up some of that bitterness and resentment Scarlett's silver tongue had just brushed away. She really did feel like punching someone would make her feel lots better.

Sable ended up wandering the halls for a long time before she found herself near the entrance of the Claymore facility. She stopped to gaze out the window at the clouds for a long time before she realized she was standing in something wet. At first she was frustrated, her day just kept getting worse... who left a puddle in the middle of the hallway? She was lucky not to have slipped in it and broken her neck... but something urged her to take a closer look. She bent down and touched the puddle. It was cold! A quick glance over a few yards revealed a small, slightly crushed dirty white substance... she picked it up and it began to melt in her hands.

"Snow? ... But it's the middle of summer..." Intrigued and confused, she followed the trail a ways through corridors and in and out of rooms until it was just wet footprints. Whoever left this trail was searching for something.

"Look man I don't know what all the fuss is about, I just want a fucking ice cream cone! There's supposed to be an ice cream shop right here!"

"Sir, there is no ice cream shop! You must have an ID to be in here! Who let this idiot inside?!"

"That's mister idiot to you, don't shove! Look right here! What does that say?"

"Mrs. T's Ice Cream and Slushie Parlor..."

"Look, look at the address!"

"That's the address to this building but there is not an ice cream shop here!" The guard snatched the paper from the stranger roughly. "This brochure is five hundred years old!"

Sable cautiously rounded the corner to find two marines arguing with a man who looked quite out of place. His hair was as black as a raven's feathers and hung down past his shoulders, and over one shoulder hung a braid with what looked like tribal threading in it. A white feather hung from the tie. A rugged looking leather coat draped across his shoulders, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, exposing a myriad of intricate tattoos on his forearms but... they were glowing. Sable realized that her right eye was burning. It had inadvertently shifted and her all-seeing eye had pushed itself to the surface. She couldn't help but stare, as her crimson eye interposed its vision on top of the physical. The air around him almost seemed to pulse, and the tattoos on his skin, which she guessed ran course all over his body smoldered like freshly stoked coals.

"Ember," she whispered as if in a trance.

The argument was coming to a head: the marines had clearly had enough and grabbed the man roughly by his arms and spun him around. At that moment they made eye contact... her crimson eye locked with his ruby eye... and his sapphire eye locked with her emerald eye. She was transfixed, and for a moment there was nothing else.

"He's with me," she heard herself saying slowly. The man cocked a surprised eyebrow at her.

"Uh... ice cream?" He leveled a fanged grin at her.

"Yes... let's go."

Aboard the Parador Scarlett listened to Gabriel and considered his words carefully. She walked in silence with him for a long while before she decided to respond. When she spoke, however, it was clear that she had chosen her words carefully.

"Yes well..." Scarlett began as they walked, seeming hesitant to elaborate on the subject. "Astaroth has had a troubled past and doesn't care to talk much about it. I'll tell you a little about our organization though," she said as they walked. When Gabriel would stop she would stop to let him describe the area and then rap her staff sharply on the ground while turning her head. "It sounds very beautiful," she would comment with a smile, and then continue their conversation.

"Claymore as an organization is divided into teams. Each team has a territory, and each team is further divided into pairs: an agent, and a guardian. The agent and guardian are supposed to compliment one another, making up for each other's deficits so that an individual is not bogged down by a single weakness. Astaroth is my guardian, he is my eyes and in many instances my hands as well. He pilots and maintains our ship, runs the medical suite, does a number of mundane things that are extremely difficult for me, and is very handy when things go... how does he put it? 'Pear shaped?' Very quaint," she explained with a bit of a giggle.

"Anyway I simply cannot do the things I do without him. Ember was for Sable what Astaroth is to me. Don't be mistaken, Sable is a warrior of unparalleled skill, Ember just does things she simply cannot do; the world is a different place from his point of view. Where Sable sees a challenge to be defeated, Ember would see an obstacle to be sidestepped," she continued.

"We trust our guardians implicitly, and that Sable came through a meta-planar portal with such a dire wound bothers me... I have no doubt the weapon that inflicted it was wielded by Ember but I can't yet fathom why..." she trailed off for a moment, but brought her attention back to the conversation at hand. "Part of the initiation for becoming an agent of Claymore is going on a journey to find your guardian... sometimes it takes hundreds of years. Others never find their pair. Ember was a strange case: he sort of found us and decided we were worth keeping. I told you all of that to tell you this: when I found Astaroth he was dying. Half the wounds he had received would have killed a lesser man. They were the kind of wounds that could only have been inflicted by someone he trusted," She paused for a long moment to let the meaning of her words sink in.

"It was grim, we were in the middle of nowhere and he wasn't going to survive travel so... I did something in hindsight was probably very stupid and dangerous. Something he'd lose his mind over if I tried again," she paused to clear her throat. The subject was obviously uncomfortable for her.

"Some Kizarans can enter a trance which... ah... encourages their body to regenerate. It's not pleasant, and sometimes the shock from the process is more dangerous than the wounds it can heal. I'm not sure I know exactly how to explain it, but we merged minds and souls... for a short while we were one person, and it got him through the worst of it... there have been some interesting side effects. I always know where he is, usually what he is doing, and if I focus I can tell what he's thinking. I can tell when he's in danger, and I feel it when he's hurt. He's never said anything about it, but I'm sure it's the same for him," she said, taking a deep breath.

"I forgave him his past, whatever it was that day. Who he was before he became my Astaroth never mattered to me. There is a saying among the Claymore agents: 'The person you were is irrelevant. It is the person you are right now that matters.' I don't know who you expect to find underneath that mask of his, but I think you are treading down the path of disappointment if you expect to find someone you lost long ago," she finished somberly as they sat down at the table.

It wasn't long after that a small group of human engineers came bearing Leo. They were laughing as they set him down at the table. Leo slumped forward, supporting his weight with an elbow on the table, and a big grin plastered across his face. His cheeks were quite red, and his eyes were almost glassy. Mau leaped up to the back of his chair with an amused expression.

"No isst h'okay. I ssaid I cu'd handle it," he said with an awful slur. "I was misssstaken," he finished, laughing.

"Don't worry about him," Mau chimed in. "They fed him some kind of swill when he was socializing with the flight crew. I told him it was toxic but he didn't listen."

"They gave me the... the ten kred tour... but I don' think I'm gonna remember it."

Mau rolled his eyes a little, and Scarlett hid her laughter behind her hand. A few minutes later Astaroth joined them alone, stopping behind Scarlett's chair. He placed his large armored hands tenderly on her shoulders and allowed her to lean into him a little. The glowing red eyes of his helmet scanned the gathering at the table and he shifted uncomfortably for a few moments before anything else happened.

"Sable will not be joining us," he informed. "She is recovering from a minor surgery. Nothing to be alarmed about. Mi'lady what do you make of this?" he asked, producing a very small sliver of black rock, which was precisely rectangular. He placed it in her outstretched palm and she shivered when it touched her skin. She promptly dropped it on the table, as though it had burned her.

"Store it securely... business later though," she smiled. Astaroth picked up the stone and placed it delicately into a shielded compartment on his armor. When he turned to leave, however, Scarlett caught his hand. For a long moment he just stood there.

"Won't you stay?"

"If you wish it," he replied after a noticeable pause, and lowered himself into the seat next to her.

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#, as written by Kirinak
Parador Forge Decks

The ringing hammer blow hung in the silence, promethium, sweat and the Forge master's venom dripped to the floor sizzling as the droplets struck.

Done.

Unbelievably it was done. When Barrinoth thought about it now it was not so far fetched, it was tiny compared to the Lord Commander's armor. He circled the mark five set, practiced eyes searching for imperfections. Finding that his eye did not go wanting he activated the plasma pack, bringing the suit's systems online, which triggered the base firmware load outs to activate. As the suit loaded in Raikor's biometrics the Forge Master smiled, he even managed to give the runt a jump pack without compromising the balance and weight of the suit. Now to present it at the Grand dining hall......


Parador Grand Dining Hall

Gabriel smiled at the antic's Leo presented. "Nor basecoh, nahm-bay uth, lehi-oh" he laughed as he passed his hand over the drunken pilots face. The soul energy that he transferred to him took the worst of the drunk away but left him a little buzzed. "Next time my docking crew offers you a tour, you provide the alcohol, Mister Phoenix," Laughed the Commander.

When Astaroth made his appearance Gabriel allowed him a deep nod of respect, then very poignantly scratched the scar on his face. After thinking for a moment he hefted the weight of his nexus hammer to the table. the veins of jade softly glowed as it was placed on the timeworn surface. As his Gaze turned to Scarlett he took her by the hand and said, "M'lady, pertaining to our earlier conversation, I feel it necessary to let Thundermaw tell you a story. He placed her hand on the psychic focal point of the hammer head and removed his gauntlet, placing his own hand on the channeling vein inlaid in the haft of the weapon. "Don't be alarmed, you will see things as I do, for a time it will be as though you are watching from behind me with eyes that are not your own, but you will still retain your perceptions. We will begin......"



Aerodaenah: Razor Spine Mountains, Blades Deep Fortress, Fifth age:

High General Gabriel Blade strode through the halls of his fortress. His wings rustled softly over his bare back, and his revolvers slapped quietly on his jeans as he walked. He spotted a much smaller but familiar for stepping from a room normally reserved for Draconin lieutenants. "Luther Loken!," he cried causing the human to snap around with unnerving speed.
"Gabriel, you started me," replied Luther, who started towards his closest friend, "I have news, an Insurgent cell has been spotted near the foot hills, your lieutenants are concerned that there will be an attack." he added as he drew near.
The great limestone hall was deserted, but nevertheless caution was always the best idea when discussing an imminent attack.
Gabriel smiled, "And what do your finely tuned senses detect old friend?" he asked, tapping gently on Luther's amplifier circlet.
Luther did not smile in return, "We need to prepare." he said simply as a dark look passed over his features.
Gabriel frowned and placed his hand on the smaller man's shoulder, "Something troubles you?" he asked
"Things will go..... askew," said Luther, who then promptly turned and strode away. He paused and called over his shoulder "Prepare yourself old friend..." then disappeared around the corner.
'Damn astropaths, no matter who they are or how long you know them they are always cryptic' thought Gabriel.

Six Hours Later

Artillery shells pounded against the weakened walls of the fortress, fires bellowed from windows within the keep and a thick black smoke drifted across the battle field. Standing tall on the parapet stood the High General hurling bolts of fire, electricity, and litanies of hatred into the insurgent forces below. His smoking revolvers rested in their holsters, spent of ammunition.
A hulking black shape emerged from the smoke, "Brother! The walls are taken! We must fall back into the city!" Cried Barrinoth, taking Gabriel by the shoulder and pulling him down from the edge of the wall.
Gabriel whirled on his brother, drawing his gigantic broad sword and raising it above his head. Before he could begin to swing his weapon Barrinoth struck him across his face. "Snap out of it neen-rha-doh we have to fall back," The General was nearly lost to bloodlust andthe slap brought him back to his senses.
"Find Loken, tell him to take my wife through the caverns to the other side of the mountain," he paused and placed his hands on his brother's face and said "Aerien must make it out safely, she carries my son within her. Loken is the only man that can keep her completely safe other than you, and I need you here."
Barrinoth nodded and turned on his heel to carry out his orders.
Gabriel activated the vox net to communicate to all available units. "This is High General Blade fall back and rally in the central plaza. To me my soldiers! We Stand!"
Gabriel began to sing the verses of Gobinu to strengthen his warriors as he made his way down and into the city...

Else ware in Blade City

"We'll be there soon Aerien, you'll be safe till the battle is over." said Luther
The sapphire dragoness followed her human protector closely, "Is Gabriel going to be alright?" she asked in a wavering tone.
Luther shot a grin over his shoulder at her, "If you give your man enough time he could kill every one of these cowards without so much as sustaining a scrape."
She shook her head and continued to run, her concern remaining firmly in place. They wound their way into the lower city and then through the caverns. After nearly an hour of hard travel Loken and Aerien burst through the exit into the sunlight of the pass on the other side of the mountain. The pair collapsed near the base of a large razor leaf tree, trying to catch their breath.
'Everything looks clear' thought Loken, 'somethings just not quite right here'
Then it hit him. Animal sounds, bird song, all was silent.
"We have to move." he said standing from his position
No sooner than the words left his mouth, concealed insurgents burst from cover on their left and right, boxing them in and driving them into the canyon wall on the north side of the pass. Luther's sword danced and glittered claiming limbs and heads with every strike. A white glow shown from his eyes and eldrich lightning danced from his fingertips of his free hand, evaporating men when the stood, but still they came.
"Luther, what do we do?" Asked Aerien, fear strangling her normally clear and beautiful voice.
"Stand back." said Luther.
Loken sheathed his sword and began an ancient and forbidden incantation as the insurgents closed in around them. The sky darkened and and lightning began to lick between newly formed clouds. The enemy forces were undeterred until they noticed the rising shriek in the air. This was the Eldrich Storm the most powerful and forbidden technique of the astropaths. The shriek sharply rose in volume and multiplied with every strike of the psychic lightning. In a matter of moments where once there were a hundred men there were a hundred piles of smouldering ash. Something was wrong, the storm had consumed too many souls it was too powerful for Loken to control. He turned to Aerien with a look of horror engraved on his features, "Gods forgive me Aerien! I can't control it! I'm Sorry!" he cried. The full brunt of what was happening then struck Aerien at that moment. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she said, "Luther you tried your best to save us, Tell my husband that his family loves him, and we will see him on the far side of the shade." Her voice was calm and of normal volume, but Luther heard every word. She placed her hand on the swell of her stomach and closed her eyes as the howling maelstrom consumed her. When the storm took in the souls of Aerien and her unborn son, the purity of the child's soul overwhelmed the cataclysm, and with a great pulse of white light and a concussion wave the storm collapsed in on itself. The souls consumed in the storm swirled about Luther and were absorbed by his mind, further empowering him, but the voice of Aerien and a shild's laugh carried on the breeze even after the souls were gone.


Tell him we love him, and we will see him again.........

Blades Deep fortress Ramparts

Gabriel had heard the concussion and saw the white pulsar behind the mountain amidst the battle. but only now that it was over did he have time to put two and two together.
"Aerien," he whispered. He was about to gather a team to rush to the rendezvous point when Luther shuffled into view. His head was cast low and he wept as he neared the War Giant, "Shes gone Gabriel, shes gone and it's my fault." said Luther quietly.
Gabriel knelt in front of him and narrowed his eyes, "Tell me exactly what happened Loken,"
Luther recounted the ordeal with precision detail, and as he did so Gabriel's expression moved from one of compassion to one of cold heartless rage. All he held dear and sacred was gone because of one man's miscalculation. By the time Luther's tale had ended Gabriel was quaking with barely suppressed violence. He stood and turned his back to Luther, unfurling his wings and drawing his broadsword from his back as he did so.
"You are to blame for the loss of my family, for this I shall taste your blood!" cried Gabriel, executing a spinning downward slash that took Loken across the chest and lower torso, leaving behind a nasty wound. The startled psyker threw himself back and drew his own blade, only narrowly blocking a blow that would have taken his head. He lashed out with a kick that threw the dragonkin momentarily off balance and took the opportunity to clamor to his feet and back away as fast as he could. in his recovery from the loss of balance, Gabriel drew his freshly reloaded revolver from his left hip. His first two Uranium slugs went wide, the third struck Luther squarely in the left shoulder and the next three struck in a tight triangle pattern in the right pectoral area. Luther collapsed he was losing strength fast but he was still back pedaling away until his back struck the low wall of the fortress parapet.
"I'm sorry Gabriel, I never meant for this to happen, I loved her nearly as much as you did! Don't do this!" he yelled.
"The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions Luther," said Gabriel as he raised his blade for the final blow.
"And the Allfather forgives those who are deserving," said Luther, finishing the prayer.
Before Gabriel's blade could begin its deadly descent Luther tapped into his last reserve of strength and lashed out with his blade, nearly taking Gabriel's eye and leaving a deep wound in his cheek.
The painful distraction was enough, Luther threw himself from the parapet, landing on the pile of enemy bodies at the base of the wall. He was sure that he had broken bones with that stunt but right now he had to get away.....

The images fade From Scarlett's mind but in the darkness Gabriel's voice rings clear.

"I unjustly wronged the only man who ever stood by me that day. I betrayed a friendship out of blind rage. Centuries passed since and still everyday i think about the day that all of that happened. Your Astaroth may not be the Luther that I once knew, but even if he was once that man, I would kneel before him here and now and beg his forgiveness......

As Gabriel opened his eyes a single tear slid down his right cheek, tracing the canyon of the scar. Now there were three who knew the secret behind the scar and why the weight of the galaxy was just a little heavier to him.

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Gunshot...


Why couldn't she remember? That sound... it wasn't the whirring snap of charging capacitors and slugs breaking the sound barrier that rail guns made. It was a shattering boom that had left her shaken and her ears ringing. The smell of burning accelerant had scorched her nostrils, riding a great plume of smoke.

A powder weapon...


Her suit's barrier should have been more than enough to stop a slug from a powder weapon. Why was this bothering her so much? It was something he'd said right before he pulled the trigger.

Words of power...


Sable remembered the language sounding ancient, and Embers words had resonated with power. The power of his voice had split the sky with great peals of thunder and resonated through the earth. The bullet had carried the weight of his words straight through her. Rune bullet. It wasn't so much what had happened that was bothering her right now as what he had said. The words... they felt so important, but why? Why couldn't she remember the words?

Words.


She was curled up on Embers bed, drifting in and out of consciousness. In a half dream state partially induced by fatigue... partially induced by the drugs Astaroth had given her for the surgery. Laying there, bathed in his scent, she could almost feel him grinning at her. He was always grinning, even when the situation was fucked up beyond all recognition... The grin of supreme confidence that in spite all odds they would succeed. The grin of a psychopath just daring death to try and take him. The grin of a madman who stares into the eyes of mortal danger... and laughs.

Hurt me. Make me bleed.


"Make me bleed," she murmured as she once again drifted into unconsciousness.

In the feasting hall Scarlett looked shaken, most likely from sensory overload. Her mind had trouble processing the visual input. She dreamed in images, sure but having been born blind, the things she dreamed were always distorted by the sounds they made. Even the things she "saw" through pulse-calling were slightly distorted by her preconceptions. The laser-clarity of the vision Gabriel had shown her had just left her in shock. A tear slid down her cheek and hung at the bottom of her chin. She made no move to wipe it clear. Her hands were trembling, but her expression wasn't of sadness. Was it... fright?

Astaroth, who until that moment had been clutching his chest stood up abruptly, sending his chair clattering to the floor. The air about him was nearly aflame with power. A thunderous crack and the smell of ozone followed as he angrily hurled a crimson bolt of lightning from his fingertips and struck the nexus hammer. Gabriel's weapon flew from the table and embedded itself in the wall across the feasting hall. The warp crackled dangerously around Astaroth's clutched fist for a long moment as he seethed, his anger palpable on the air. Scarlett dare not move... she felt his wrath tenfold through their link. She'd only felt this kind of enmity from him once before, when she had been struck down in front of him.

"Astaroth?" Her voice was shaky, and she reached for him but he was instantly cold, all that energy pulsing from him gone. Once again contained he turned from them and began walking towards the hangars. He paused after he had taken a handful of steps but did not turn around.

"Things are askew, Gabriel," he said. The sound of his boots clacked loudly in the silence behind him as he began to walk again.

Scarlett took Gabriel's hand and shook her head to warn him away from doing anything foolish, like running after Astaroth or saying anything. Leo and Mau just kind of watched in stunned silence, and after a moment he just brought his drink to his lips and pretended not to notice anything. They both looked like they felt very awkward. Scarlett waited for Astaroth to clear the feasting hall before she said anything.

"There was one other time he was like this. He thought I'd died... and he did not show the same restraint. I know I can't stop you from pursuing him, but do give him a few minutes to calm down. I imagine he'll be waiting for you someplace familiar where he can gaze out into the void."

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#, as written by Kirinak
The lightning struck Thundermaw with monstrous force. Gabriel's hand remained on the pommel for a split second before it spun away and embedded itself in the far bulkhead. In that split second he felt the raw emotion contained in Astaroth's rage. Anger. Pain. Fear. Sorrow.

"Astaroth?" said Scarlett

"Things are askew, Gabriel," rumbled Astaroth, then strode purposefully from the hall.

"There was one other time he was like this. He thought I'd died... and he did not show the same restraint. I know I can't stop you from pursuing him, but do give him a few minutes to calm down. I imagine he'll be waiting for you someplace familiar where he can gaze out into the void."
said Scarlett softly.

Gabriel nodded simply, then thumbed a small rune on the edge of his data slate. The ships AI chimed over the PA, "All hands report to the Grand Feasting Hall." Gabriel thought for a moment and turned to her. "There is something I must retrieve from my quarters, something that once held great value to him," he said. "Luther was one of the engineers responsible for this ship's initial design, and there is one room that he designed specifically for reflection. That is where he will be."
He took her hand and squeezed gently, "I will return, if he chooses to return with me, we will have come to an understanding. If not, then time has not healed him like it has me." he said.

He brokered no room for argument and rose. A server came to him and he issued the order to serve everyone immediately and that he would return. He strode the the bulkhead, wrenched his hammer free, hung it on his belt, and marched from the hall, turning in the opposite direction that Astaroth had gone and made his way to his chambers. Upon entering he walked straight for a leaden bookshelf and paused, searching for the correct title. After a moment of scanning he found the title Codex Astronomica. He removed the book from its space, activating a retinal scanner hidden in the shelf frame. It was programmed to activate for only himself and Luther.
"Identity confirmed, welcome Gabriel." chimed the scanner as it deactivated.
The shelf retracted into the wall and slid aside revealing a room built of resplendent white marble shot through with veins of gold. There in the center of the room was a glass case trimmed in gold, and inside on a satin pillow laid two ancient weapons. On the left laid Gartgatuloth, Gabriel's massive broadsword. On the right laid Golgotha, which was the sleek and beautiful tulwar that gave Gabriel the scar on his face. Just below the tulwar was a small signet ring bearing the ancient crest of the Blade clan. Gabriel took up the weapons and the ring and bound them in a sheet of white silk and left the room, the wall sliding closed behind him. He paused only to stow the codex in his chest plate then left his room and headed in the direction of the hangars. The journey was not a long one, he stopped several hundred yards short of reaching the hangars, in front of a door with a bio scanner. When his bio cleared he breathed an inward sigh of relief. He knew full well that Astaroth could lock him out if he had wanted to. He took the open elevator and rode it to the topmost deck of the ship. When it opened he stepped out into an armament room. He took a moment and removed his armor piece by piece, until finally he was once again in his fatigue pants and boots. The intricate tattoos on his torso seemed to catch the light of the stars as it shone through the permaglass roof of the observation deck. He retrieved the Codex and the bound items and walked silently through the sandstone hall until he came to a set of dark iron double doors. They made no noise as they swung open to reveal the interior of the room. Engraved on the floor was the training spiral that he and Luther had trained upon when they were both much younger men. And there standing in front of the observation window at parade rest stood Astaroth. The door swung closed silently and Gabriel moved silently to the center of the spiral. There he knelt and unbound the blades and ring, laying them out on the silk and placing the codex next to them. He remained there in quiet prayer for a moment before taking up his broadsword and fastening the sheath to his belt.

"You are correct Luther," he sighed, "Things are askew." As he spoke he moved to his starting position on the spiral opposite of Astaroth.
"There are elements of our lives that remain undone," he drew his blade, activating the power field, "Questions unanswered," he tested the blade, drawing a dervish in the air, "And wrongs left to fester like old wounds."
Gabriel then drove the blade deep into the sandstone, the power field discharging in a brilliant flash. "The spiral brings us together again, and I stand before you not for conflict, but instead to beg your forgiveness. Our paths have divided and come together again. For the future to be whole we must mend the wounds of the past," he said as he stood with his hand on the grip of his weapon. "What say you old friend? Will you bury the hatchet in the ground or will you bury it in my heart? I give you now the opportunity to do either, the choice is yours."

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"All hands report to the Grand Feasting Hall." Raikor looked up, alert. He cursed under his breath as he quickened his pace. The corridors seemed endless, and he was sure that he had become lost within the ship. The second skin felt strange as it clung to him, moulding itself around his near perfect physical form. The young man wondered if he would ever get used to the extra small, yet noticeable weight that constricted him. He had yet to visit the tailor and already he had been called to the feasting hall. Time couldn't possibly have moved so quickly, it felt as though he had been with the smithy a mere ten minutes ago. He moved through the corridors, eyes searching desperately for any sign of the feasting hall - he was adamant on being on time for the feast. With a heavy sigh, Raikor stopped in the middle of the corridor. He was overwhelmed by the sheer size and length of the corridors that twisted and turned throughout the ship - he didn't even know where he was supposed to sleep at night. Giving up, he stepped back and leaned his body against the ship walls, hoping someone might find him before the feast was over. He knew that if he didn't show it would look bad on him, but he was utterly lost.

Raikor sniffed the air. He could smell cooking. He wasn't entirely sure what it was, perhaps some sort of meat product, but it smelled heavenly. Sniffing again, he caught the direction of the scent and began to follow it, abandoning his position against the wall. He followed the weaving corridors, intent on finding the source of the delicious aroma that had filled the air. He thought it may be the smell of food being served in the feasting hall, and at that thought his heart filled with dread for he did not wish to walk in whilst everyone was eating - it would be the greatest humiliation and insult to his commander and host. With every step he took the smell grew stronger until he finally reached a grand entrance. He opened the door a crack, peering around it to see where it led him. He felt sick and embarrassed when he realized that he had not only found the feasting hall, but that everyone was seated and food was being served. He scanned the room for Gabriel, but was unable to find the armoured giant. Feeling nervous and unsure as to what he should do and where he should sit, Raikor backed away from the entrance and made himself comfortable on the floor next to it, hoping someone might tell him what to do next. It hadn't even been a full day of service and he had messed up already.

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Astaroth flinched a little when the door to the observation deck opened. They were silent, of course, but he felt the minute change in air pressure against his skin, and try as he might, Gabriel could not walk without causing a slight tremor in the deck. With the access codes unchanged he'd considered spitefully locking the Draconin out, an idea that had passed shortly after he realized Gabriel would know exactly where to find him. There was a deck identical to this one on the Lunar Soul but with it docked inside the Parador he would have just been staring at the inside of the massive ship's hull. When he searched his link with Scarlett and found her glib amusement he did spitefully close her out. Little witch... She was far too crafty for her own good.

"My access codes still work," he rumbled, his natural voice disturbingly similar to the mechanical growl the vox in his armor made. "Improper security protocol. Still as lax as ever, I see."

He stared off into the void for a long time in silence while he listened to Gabriel talk, mentally connecting lines to the constellations that had become so familiar to him. Staring into the void, wondering which one of those tiny specs of light was home was something he did often. He knew that Kizara and Aerodinaeh were galaxies apart, but it didn't stop him from wondering... pretending that one of those stars was his. When Gabriel stopped talking, obviously awaiting a response, Astaroth continued to gaze at the void for some time before he did anything. Eventually his attention was drawn to his own reflection in the glass.

"I often wondered what I would say to do if I ever saw you again. I wondered if I would be angry, or if I would try to kill you, or allow you to kill me. Recently I'd banished the thought as merely preposterous: what are the chances two people from Aerodinaeh would end up so far from home, let alone a ship full of thousands of other people I know... and yet here you are."

Astaroth turned from the glass to face Gabriel, brushing a stray lock of white hair out of his face. His crimson-violet eyes churned with the warp for a moment as he locked gazes with the Draconin. Outside of his armor, he was quite pale, a sign that he spent most of his time inside it, or on board his ship. It was a change from the rich copper his skin used to be, making him appear almost ghostly. He wasn't wearing the standard human fatigues of the Parador but instead a snug fitting black T-shirt with the Claymore organization emblem on the front, dark fatigue pants printed in a tight digital pattern and a pair of standard combat boots.

"I had more in common with a typical murderer that day than I did any soldier, fighting only for my own survival. I should have let you end me... but I wouldn't have been found by Scarlett. She stood upright under her own power on our world, Gabriel. The Kizarans are an amazing people, sometimes their technology seems so advanced compared to ours... and in other areas so crude. Sometimes they are young and impetuous, other times wiser than any sage. 'I can save you... if you come with me,' is what she said to me. At any other time, I may have dismissed her as a lunatic.

"So here we are again... in a strange new place, this time it is you begging for forgiveness from me. Fate has a cruel sense of humor," he finished.

The tulwar leaped from the cloth to Astaroth's hand and flared with energy. The stark hum of the force blade was the only thing that punctured the thick silence between them for a long time before he twirled the blade along his fingers with practiced familiarity and flung it like a dagger into the sandstone next to Gabriel's broadsword. It quivered there for a long time before Astaroth lowered his hand and stooped to pick up a worn, dust covered bottle and a pair of glasses. The glass that he tossed to Gabriel would have been a full sized tankard to anyone else.

"I've been saving this for a special occasion... although Scarlett dipped into it a few times. I had to get her a bottle of her own. Let me tell you... the draconic merchants here hold no quarter on intergalactic trade," a bit of a smile twisted his lips.

"The hatchet has been buried for a long time, Gabriel. If anything I should thank you. Destiny is a funny thing... I think I've always belonged to Scarlett. I'm just sorry things had to turn out the way they did for me to meet her. I can't promise you that anything will ever be the same between us: I stopped being 'Luther' a long time ago, but... perhaps we can start again from the beginning."

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#, as written by Kirinak
Parador: High Observation Deck

Gabriel plucked the glass from the air and twirled it in his had in a long practiced motion. A smile passed over his features as Astaroth poured him a measure of the Aerodainian liquor.
"There were reports of someone seen in the market wearing armor of unknown origin, but no one got a name because their coin was good. I never would have thought it was you," he took a slow sip and paused to enjoy the flavor. "Fate indeed has a cruel sense of humor. You no doubt know the circumstance of my exile, and if that isn't cruel humor I just don't know what is. It is good to know that there is no ill will between us. I believe we can start from the beginning and things will work themselves out when the warp swallows us all."
Gabriel raised his glass and inclined his head and said, "To new beginnings and continued existance my new old friend," then drained his glass. He stood and handed his glass back to Astaroth, then slid his broad sword from the the stone. "There is a grand feast awaiting us brother, my new prodigy should be nearly done with his errands, shall we return to the festivities?"



Parador: Connection Corridors


Barrinoth stalked the halls with the armoring droids in tow. The flames on his head burned stronger than normal, he did not feel at ease on these upper decks. "I gotta find this runt and get back to my forge." he muttered out loud. He made a direct line for the Grand Hall, and sure enough there sat Raikor looking dispirited and crest fallen. Barrinoth never broke his stride as he passed the smaller human.
"Follow me, don't speak, the fitting of armor is a sacred occasion and you need not disturb that, you are to be armored in front of the Legion," said Barrinoth, he brokered no argument and offered no negotiation as he led Raikor into the antechamber on the starboard side of the feasting hall. He seated Raikor in the middle of the room and stood in front of him.
"The armor that I have brought you is like no other, it is without peer for it's size, and it rivals the Lord Commander's in design. If you take care of it, it will take care of you. Like Gabriel's armor it has a slot for an on board AI construct, unlike Gabriel's you have your own AI not linked to the ship's systems. She will help you with targeting, data acquisition, navigation, piloting, reflexes, and if you wish she will become a closer friend than any other, because she will never betray you. Like most constructs, she will work with you to choose a name for herself. Your weaponry is specially tailored to you and will be an extension of yourself. There is also something extra that I have given you and you will see it soon. The important thing to remember is to Remain motionless and relaxed while the droids and I fit you for the final time. When the power pack is fitted, that will come last, you will stand, raise your weapon, and let loose your fiercest battle cry, for it will be the same cry on your lips every time battle is joined by you. Do you understand?"

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Astaroth allowed himself a smile as he tilted his glass back and let the liquor burn down his throat. After fearing Gabriel's response for so long, it was actually nice to have the weight lifted off his shoulders. He hooked his finger through the loop in the bottle and nodded. Indeed, it was time to return to the festivities. He felt slightly vulnerable without his armor on: with all of the Lunar Soul's systems tied into his HEV's AI, he practically lived inside it. Were he wearing it now he could command the ship to start up and launch, even fly it into combat remotely. He finished the liquor in his glass and took a few strides towards the exit, already feeling better when something caught his eye. He paused to gaze off into the void intently, which on its own wasn't unusual for him.

"Lights," he commanded, sending the room into pitch darkness as he approached the glass. He squinted at something off in the distance, suddenly wishing for the enhanced optics of his HEV. For an eternity nothing happened, and then one of the thousands of stars in view winked out. A few moments later it came back into existence and Astaroth took a deep breath but waited. Several minutes later a second star directly adjacent to the first vanished.

"Blackship!" he hissed, commanding the lights back on and jogging to retrieve his weapon from the spiral. "Aerienn, bring all shields to full NOW!! Gabriel, send fire teams to the engineering deck and make to get us to warp as soon as possible. A Blackship is an Exile stealth boat; advanced recon: they prepare the field for larger fleets to launch ambushes," he explained as he rushed out of the observation deck. "They're particularly nasty because they can remain hidden for long periods of time by sinking their emissions and staying out of active sensor range. The Parador's auspex system should still be able to get a lock with Aerienn's assistance," he explained hastily as he slid to a halt at an intersection as if he couldn't remember or decide where to go.

"Pinging them with active sensors sometimes makes them bug out or," he paused to look at Gabriel and grin widely. "Or this could get fun. We need weapons: if they make a move it'll be to disable and capture the ship," he finished, and then sprinted towards the nearest armory.

The Lunar Soul...


Sable awoke feeling groggy, though by all rights she should have still been knocked out by the drugs she was administered. She slid her legs off of the med table and groped to silence the medical alarms warning her not to move. Head swimming, she shambled into her quarters and stripped out of the smock she had been dressed in and pulled on a long shirt with loose sleeves to ward away the ambient chill.

"'Rothy?" she croaked, flicking wild locks out of her face and searching around the ship. "Lights, dim please." A chime from the AI signified voice recognition and the overhead lights flickered on to dimly illuminate the interior of the deserted ship.

"Scan for life signatures."

*Bong.* One. Residential deck. Biosign recognized as Claymore operative codename: Sable.


"Comm. Scarlett," she instructed, pressing her palms into her eyes and wandering into the armory on impulse. The charging stations were full. Astaroth's HEV hung in its cell, the red eyes of the helmet glowing dimly in standby mode. Hers and Scarlett's suits were on either side, and a fourth adjacent to hers with a fine layer of dust on it... the one Ember refused to wear. Odd... Astaroth never left the ship without his armor. Hell, sometimes he slept in it.

*Sable? You should be resting.*

"I know, I have no idea how I woke up or why. Where is everyone? 'Rothy's armor is charging, but the ship is empty."

*I'm in the Parador's feasting hall and Astaroth went to settle a... personal matter. What's the matter, hun?*

"I don't know... but something is... askew," she answered, almost as though dreaming.

*I'm coming.*

"No... no, it's probably just the sedatives, keep doing your social thing," she grumbled and ended the call with an irritated flick as she passed the communications console and shuffled onto the bridge. She grabbed one of the earpieces off the charger as she looked out the port onto the flight deck. Deserted.

Disconcerted and beginning to feel alert, she trotted back to the armory, lifting her sword from its resting place, fitting several daggers into the hidden sheath inside her sleeve and pulling a machine pistol off of the shelf before heading towards the airlock. As expected, it was left open, and her bare feet padded against the ramp softly as she made her way down to the Parador's deck. For a while she just stood there in eerie silence feeling like a tumbleweed should roll past in the background. That's when she noticed it in the corner of her eye: a distortion, almost like a rippling pool of water hovering in the air. Her eyes widened, turning her head and raising her gun almost felt like slow motion as two figures emerged, pulling tendrils of crackling energy with them before the portal snapped shut. They paused, and one of them looked directly at her, brushing a lock of white hair out of his face and locking crimson eyes with hers.

"You..." he said with recognition.

"You!!" she echoed.

"Inconvenient," he said with a neutral tone, then touched his earpiece. "Initiate. Tsuki... take care of this garbage."

The man turned and began walking towards one of the lifts without giving her a second glance. Sable squeezed the trigger, feeling the weapon rock back into the crook between her thumb and forefinger again and again, and though her reflexes were heightened and everything was moving in 1/16th speed, the man's figure was instantly obscured and the hail of slugs slapped harmlessly aside by a barrier. Her opponent was instantly charging her, a red tinged blade in each hand. Sable tried to walk her fire past to hit the man once, but Tsuki intercepted the fire.

Sable thumbed the release on her sword's scabbard and flung it like an arrow strait at Tsuki's head. She knocked the scabbard aside effortlessly and moments later they were face to face... however, what should have been a brilliant clash of metal was dead silence. Sable was slowly being pushed back towards the ramp and she struggled against Tsuki, but was slowly being overpowered. Sleek, featureless black plates hugged Tsuki's figure, and a pair of scarlet eyes burned from the cat-like facade of her helmet. Sable knew that the suit should be hissing as it vented excess heat from the powered assist, and that as long as she was outside her HEV she was at a serious strength disadvantage. She screamed at the man as he stepped onto the lift, but the sound was whisked away before it even left her lips. And as the doors closed in front of him, he just smiled at her.

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#, as written by Kirinak
"Blackship!" he hissed, commanding the lights back on and jogging to retrieve his weapon from the spiral. "Aerienn, bring all shields to full NOW!! Gabriel, send fire teams to the engineering deck and make to get us to warp as soon as possible. A Blackship is an Exile stealth boat; advanced recon: they prepare the field for larger fleets to launch ambushes," he explained as he rushed out of the observation deck. "They're particularly nasty because they can remain hidden for long periods of time by sinking their emissions and staying out of active sensor range. The Parador's auspex system should still be able to get a lock with Aerienn's assistance," he explained hastily as he slid to a halt at an intersection as if he couldn't remember or decide where to go.

"Pinging them with active sensors sometimes makes them bug out or," he paused to look at Gabriel and grin widely. "Or this could get fun. We need weapons: if they make a move it'll be to disable and capture the ship," he finished, and then sprinted towards the nearest armory.


Gabriel shook his head in agitation, "These nug humpers are making me miss my dinner," he said snatching up his broadsword and sprinting down the hall to re-armor. His gear was back in place in record speed and he was flooded with instrument data from all decks. There was a lift on the move from the tertiary embarkation deck, hangar bravo, where the Lunar Soul was parked and there were three life signatures in the hangar, but only one on the lift. Gabriel tossed a comm bead to Astaroth and moved with all speed to the bridge, not waiting to see if his old friend was following. He activated ship wide comm and made the announcement, mentally relaying commands to Aerien through his armor at the same time. "Attention all hands this is the Lord Commander, Red Alert I repeat Red Alert, Five man Fire teams with plasma weapons and powerblades move to hangar lift connection corridors, five man fire teams secure all corridors elseware, heavy bolter cannons with melta compliment. Fifty man detail to engines, shield generators, and navigation. Press gangs man the defense turrets. We have intruders moving from hangar Bravo, nature of the enemy unknown, eliminate with extreme prejudice. Be advised all auto defense online, make no mistake ladies and gentlemen we're goin hot, this is not a drill."
Gabriel thundered onto the bridge as he finished his announcement, he slammed himself into the command throne, startling Quiet off the arm with a surprised yowl, and began to bring the full fury of the Parador to bear in the direction of the exile boat. "Full active scanning, all auspex fire at maximum range! All shields to full power, preheat lance batteries and set nova cannon to active target acquisition." The bridge crew scrambled to carry out the orders and as the scanners fired and overlay came across the view port, the blackship was highlighted in stark green contrast to the black space beyond. Gabriel smiled and fired the Parador's engines to turn the bladed prow into an interception path on the exile boat. "Gotcha ya little black bastard, no one sets foot on my boat without permission." he thumbed the com rune to the pilot barracks and spoke into the mic, "Attention pilots scramble Aquilla's and Falcore's in defense net, we are powering for warp and we don't and any surprises."
The forward lance batteries flashed green for preheat, ready to fire and the nova cannon had acquired target lock, Gabriel's face cracked into a predatory smile and he said, "Check, your move"

Meanwhile on the Catwalks above hangar Bravo

Gunfire thundered out below the catwalk that Jericho was sleeping on. Servo motors whispered as he pushed himself upright with his mechanical arms. Before he could right himself completely he heard the lift doors open and close beneath him. He looked down and there fifteen feet below him was the crazy lady that Scarlett brought along and someone he knew didn't belong here in black armor. The two humans were locked in a struggle with swords crossed, and the head case was losing ground. 'Time to do my good deed for the day," thought Jericho as he climbed the catwalk railing. He extended his adamantium claws from his cybernetics and leaped from the railing, roaring as he fell. The woman's assailant snapped around looking for a new threat, but never thought to look up until all seven hundred pounds of angry bear landed squarely on top of him. On impact her blade spun away from her hand and she was knocked into semi consciousness for a moment. Capitalizing on the momentary daze Jericho lifted her from the floor and wrapped his massive metal arms around the intruder's arms and midsection. He felt around for a moment and carefully slid his claws through the armor joints on the ribs and into the intercostal spaces between, effectively nailing his hands to the exile's body. Vents began to hiss and bellow hot steam as his prisoner came around to full awareness. Jericho grimaced and spoke through gritted teeth, "If you got any ideas of what to do with this ass hole, I'm all ears honey, I can't hold him forever."

Grand Feasting Hall Antechamber

The red alert came across the comm and Barinoth growled in distaste, with one motion of his hand the droids righted Raikor and began to rapidly fit him for combat. "There is no time for ceremony you will be fitted with armor and weaponry and you will report straight to the bridge," said The Forge Master. He laid the storm shield, blade and pistols next to Raikor on the bench and nodded to the human, "Good luck, take care of the armor, I must return to defend my forges, there is too much there that cannot be lost," he said as he turned and left the room. Raikor was left alone in the room while the droids quickly placed him in his new skin...

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Was this her fate? To be struck down in silence by an unknown enemy? Sable braced her blade with her forearm as she was pushed down onto one knee, struggling to push Tsuki away. Why was this happening now? Why? No, she must survive... Sable's muscles burned with the strain and she felt her grip loosening as the strength in her arms slowly ebbed away. It would be over soon.

A roar gave Tsuki pause, echoing from all around them and Sable could feel her gaze shifting this way and that to locate the source of the noise. Sable knew the floor was empty and just looked up, catching sight of a large furry mass hurtling towards them from the catwalks above. Sable was unable to pull herself away in time and when Jericho impacted them, she was sent flying. The clattering of her sword on the deck rang loudly in her ears, her arms ached and throbbed as blood rushed back into them and her head swam for a moment. Sable picked herself up and her breath caught in her lungs for a scant moment... Jericho had pinned Tsuki to his body and they were locked in a deadly contest of strength. Sable could tell he was saying something, but no sound made it through to her.

"Jericho... I... didn't think you liked me," she grumbled, feeling silly and sentimental all of a sudden. She took the moment of reprieve to catch her breath, watching Tsuki shake and struggle in the bear's grip. Wait... she wasn't shaking... she was laughing. "Ah, Jericho! I don't know if you can hear me in there but hold her still for one more moment!"

Sable closed her eyes for a moment, snapping them open and pushing her All Seeing Eye to the surface. Her right eye became a molten ruby color with a slitted pupil. Wavelengths of energy slid into her vision and for a moment the pair was obscured by something. A bubble? She could see sound waves originating, dissolving as they were absorbed into the bubble and converted into energy and then passed into Tsuki. Something else was happening: She could see Jericho's power slipping out of his body and into Tsuki.

"Jericho let her go!! She's draining you!"

Tsuki became still, though her strength against his did not ebb. She leaned her head forward and touched the mask of her armor to Jericho's forehead.

Yes... Hurt me! Make me bleed!


Sable's sword sang a crystal tone as she got up, then flew to her hand as she charged towards them intent to take Tsuki's head while she was still pinned. Just before she closed to striking distance, Tsuki forced Jericho's arms apart. His claws tore armor plating from her sides as they went and drops of blood spattered the deck. She curled up like a snake and planted her feet forcefully into Jericho's chest, sending herself into a graceful somersault and hurtling Jericho away from her.

Sable slid to a halt between them, her sword singing as she swung and slapped a shrieking bolt of pure energy with the flat of her blade. The bolt slammed into the deck a few yards away, knocking a foot deep crater into the deck. The plating at the point of impact sizzled and glowed red with heat.

This is going nowhere... should I use it? It could destroy me... maybe... maybe if I just... Sable hesitated with indecision and was snapped back into the present when Tsuki's blades flew past her head and into the hands of her enemy. Tsuki dashed to the wall with Sable rushing to stay between her and Jericho while he recovered: a blow with enough impact to send him flying like that may have seriously injured him! She tried to close the gap as she watched energy gather onto Tsuki's blades and cut effortlessly through the wall. Lights flickered wildly: she must have hit a power conduit! Tsuki turned, pulling power out of the broken conduit and first into her body. Sable wasn't fast enough and grunted as some kind of force struck her in the chest, sending her tumbling.

She coughed as the wind was knocked out of her and struggled to her feet wiping a spatter of blood she'd coughed up from her lips. How? Was it so fast that she couldn't see it? Even with her heightened reflexes? I'll use it. Resolve flashed through Sable's eyes and all at once she took every ounce of power in her body and compressed it into her core until she thought she could hold it no longer. A gale wind burst forth from her, and hot pulses of energy like the heartbeat of some giant fiery beast echoed in the hangar. Her skin was nearly aglow with power, and she could feel it rushing euphorically through every extremity; it was burning inside her. Lights and screens which were once off on the Lunar Soul began to glow through the bridge window and Sable's sword howled like a raging animal.

Tsuki tore power from the conduits, blacking out the hangar for a moment and Sable raised her blade purposefully. It felt like an eternity before anything happened, even though it was really less than a second. Sable brought her blade down as though to slice Tsuki in half and the deck in a straight line between them was sundered. An invisible force clashed brilliantly against Tsuki, throwing her into the bulkhead roughly. It looked as though someone had taken a laser cutter and carved a line in the deck and up the wall nearly to the ceiling.

Sable didn't allow her foe any time to recuperate, closing the distance between them in the blink of an eye, her fist pulled back. She slammed it into Tsuki's gut, the force creating a shockwave which blew the debris from the broken wall far into the hangar away from them. The force traveled up her arm, and her skin broke out into blotchy black patches all the way to her shoulder, spattering the sleeve of her white shirt with blood. Her sword came up to deliver the fatal blow, and as it came down, Tsuki stopped it with her forearm, knocking Sable's blade out of her hand. An arc of power flashed brilliantly and Sable landed in a heap next to Jericho unconscious. Sable's left arm was lame, obviously shattered, and a plume of smoke spindled into the air from the scorched slash across her torso. Blood dribbled from the corners of her mouth and the pulses of uncontrollable excess power she had been sending crashing through the hangar were gone.

Tsuki rose slowly to her feet, obviously wounded or shaken. The plating on her stomach was shattered and sparking, also cracked and falling apart along her spine. A line appeared in the helmet and it fell to the floor in halves, letting her raven hair spill out and tumble down her back. Perfect ruby lips twisted into a grin, and her gaze pierced Jericho... Right eye crimson; as red as freshly spilled blood. Left eye as blue as a sunny day on the beach. The expression on her face was clear: Victory.

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Raikor looked up as Barrinoth approached. He opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the tall, flaming man's order for him to remain silent and follow him. The young man felt that perhaps the blacksmith was irritated by the fact that he had not entered the feasting hall, but pushed that thought aside once he realized that that was where they were going. Ah.He thought.There really is no escape from the embarrassment of being incredibly late.He wondered if Gabriel would be angry with him, perhaps the Draconian was in fact a ruthless leader as opposed the the gentle being Raikor had thought him to be. He frowned at his thoughts. He would likely be in trouble, but he didn't feel Gabriel would do anything cruel. He hated being late. He was taken from his thoughts when Barrinoth led him into the antechamber. He could hear the guests behind the doors in the feasting hall talking carelessly. The familiar sound of metal hitting plates slid through the doors, the smell of meat and freshly cooked foods surrounding him seductively. The smells and sounds distracted him momentarily as he began to feel normal after days of hurrying around, moving ships and getting caught up in things he would rather not have. His eyes caught Barrinoth's as the smithy began to speak.

"The armor that I have brought you is like no other, it is without peer for it's size, and it rivals the Lord Commander's in design. If you take care of it, it will take care of you. Like Gabriel's armor it has a slot for an on board AI construct, unlike Gabriel's you have your own AI not linked to the ship's systems. She will help you with targeting, data acquisition, navigation, piloting, reflexes, and if you wish she will become a closer friend than any other, because she will never betray you. Like most constructs, she will work with you to choose a name for herself. Your weaponry is specially tailored to you and will be an extension of yourself. There is also something extra that I have given you and you will see it soon. The important thing to remember is to Remain motionless and relaxed while the droids and I fit you for the final time. When the power pack is fitted, that will come last, you will stand, raise your weapon, and let loose your fiercest battle cry, for it will be the same cry on your lips every time battle is joined by you. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir." Raikor replied, feeling both nervous and excited about what was to occur. He'd never had much love for droids, but the armour he was about to be presented with filled him with a joy he had not felt for many years. Despite feeling nervous about how Gabriel might react to his being late, Raikor knew that being on this ship would be a change for the better. As Raikor relaxed himself for the droids and thought about what the extra item could be the red alert sounded. It surprised him, made him jump a little and he instantly wondered what could be happening to cause such a commotion. He watched Barrinoth's face as the droids set to work suiting him up.

"There is no time for ceremony you will be fitted with armor and weaponry and you will report straight to the bridge," The smithy said. He laid the storm shield, blade and pistols next to Raikor on the bench and nodded to him, "Good luck, take care of the armor, I must return to defend my forges, there is too much there that cannot be lost," he said as he turned and left the room. Raikor was left alone in the room while the droids quickly placed him in his new skin.

Once the droids were done, Raikor was quick to take up his shield and weapons, feeling strangely at home in his new armour, as though a part of him had been missing for a long time and was finally returned to him. He remembered that the smithy had told him to report to the bridge. He wasn't entirely sure where that was, but he was going to get there and protect the ship on which he now worked. He was determined to help and so set off, racing through the halls and towards the bridge...

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"Wake up you lazy ass fur ball! you got fightin to do!" echoed the words in Jericho's addled brains.
"Don't wanna, chest hurts..." he complained.
"Get! UP!" screamed the odd voice, however this time it was enough to get the old bear to open his eyes. It wasn't a pretty sight.

About a foot away from him lay Sable, her breathing was weak but she was still alive. There closing the the gap a few yards away, was the female intruder. Her abdomen armor was cracked and sparking and her helmet was gone, but she wore a victorious smile. "She doesn't know you awake... capitalize" whispered the voice. He shifted his weight silently as she approached, the grinding pain in his chest told him that several of his ribs were broken, and the mild pop between his pectorals told him that his sternum was cracked and he was in a serious bind. The pain was immense as he focused on breathing, he could taste his own blood as Tsuki closed in....

blood...5 paces
Blood...3 paces
Blood..1step
Blood! In range


The taste pf his own blood had driven him into what the the Ursalore referred to as The Blood Fog. It was a raging battle madness that was said to occur when one of the All Father's favored warriors was near death and he chose to extend to them a divine strength. Jericho felt no pain as his right paw lashed out, snatching the small female by the ankle. He rose to his full height dangling her surprised ad struggling form before him. "Make you bleed? I"ll bleed you dry," he growled, all vestiges of his normal self were gone, only the blood thirsty beast remained.

With a mighty heave he slung her in an arc above his head with a roar, slamming her unprotected head into the deck plating with a sickening thud. However much to Jericho's surprise when he set loose her leg she quickly righted herself with a sadistic grin. "Bring the pain big boy, I can take it all!" she cried lashing out with a previously hidden blade. Jericho roared in rage and pain as all at once pain flared over the left side of his face. he swung wildly with outstretched claws, slicing nothing but air. His depth perception was off. As he lowered his head to charge her like a bull, he saw why, there on the deck was his left eyeball, cloven neatly in half. A single word cut through the blood rage in his mind.

Irony...

With another mighty roar he lunged forward, again striking nothing but empty air. His efforts were rewarded with a burning lance of pain in his back. The short blade that had taken his eye had left a long, deep gash from his right shoulder to his left kidney, exposing his spine to the open air. On reflex he closed one paw into a massive fist and spun on his heel. His knuckles connected with her cheekbone, pulverizing it with the force of its impact. She tumbled sideways through the air, somehow managing to land on her feet. The bone shattering blow however had taken its toll and she sank to one knee. Jericho wasted no time, he stalked forward, growling as he did so, and smashed a heavy boot into the bridge of her nose. The force of the blow sent her sprawling backwards on the edge of consciousness. Jericho stood over her and stared into her eyes, his blood mingling with hers as it ran in rivulets from his now vacant eye socket. He bared his claws and with a powerful downward double swipe, he severed her arms near completely from her shoulders, only a scant few tendons saved them from being cast aside as blood began to pool beneath her. As the fog began to clear from his mind the pain wracked Jericho's body. Unbelievably as he gazed down at Tsuki her body began to shudder with laughter. "Make me bleed!" she rasped, just before slipping into unconsciousness. Jericho gasped in another painful breath and looked up as the lift doors opened to disgorge a draconin fire team.

"The intruder..... has been..... disarmed..." he gasped, He barely managed a weak smile before the weakness of blood loss overcame him and he collapsed in a furry bleeding heap.

"Get them all to medical to be stabilized on the double, put the intruder under a supermax cage after they get her stable. Notify the Lord commander, hes the only one that can save Jericho, patch his wounds and throw him in cryo. The rest of you sweep this hangar clean, move out!" ordered the sergeant in charge. He knelt next to Jericho and patted him gently on the back of his head, "You did well big man."

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Tsuki's mismatched eyes glazed as her head tilted towards the ceiling, her vision blurring in and out. Her breath surprised and shallow, like she she were trying to breathe in a low oxygen environment. Her body was still even though pain crashed through every nerve as it was metabolized into energy. She looked like she was trying to focus on something far above her for a long time, and when she finally brought her head down to gaze at Jericho her body began to shudder with laughter.

Make me bleed...


Her head dipped forward, and she finally collapsed to the floor. When the fire team spilled out of the lift they found her and Jericho there drenched in blood. In the deck all about them were etched bloodstained slashes and dots in a peculiar circle pattern with a pentagram at its center. The marks almost seemed melted into the deck and glowed faintly with residual power. For as much blood as there seemed to have been shed, there was an odd lack of it about their two bodies, something the medic found odd, but didn't mention due to being busy with Jericho's wounds. Once he was patched and stabilized for transport to Cryo, he moved on to Sable.

"What the fff," he trailed off when he began to examine her. "Her arm looks like a fucking jigsaw... to shatter a bone like this she'd have had to be subjected to a tremendous amount of force but it's not a crush wound. It's almost as though it exploded from the inside. I hope Aerienn caught a recording of this, the Lord Commander is going to want to know who wrecked his hangar..." He shuddered a bit. Someone would get a dressing down for sure, and he was glad it wasn't going to be him. Sable was stabilized after a few moments and loaded onto a cart which was rushed towards the lift.

"I just can't believe this little thing is responsible for inflicting such a serious wound to Jericho. Shouldn't be a problem anymore, I think it's dead," he mused absentmindedly and began to mutter a quick prayer over the body. Seemed like the right thing to do. When he'd finished and was about to pack up, Tsuki's body flinched as though an electric shock had run through her. Her body went into startling fits as she coughed up heaps of sickly looking, half coagulated black blood. When her lungs seemed clear, she took a gasping breath and began to breathe normally again.

"Fuck!" The medic nearly jumped out of his armor. He took a quick look around to make sure the other marines were too busy sweeping the hangar to notice him startled by such a petite looking girl. "Crap it's still alive," he sighed with resignation and pulled his sidearm, checking the chamber. He was going to put two in it's head (always double tap zombies) without a second thought and then throw it out the airlock just to be sure. He paused, obviously having a conversation with someone in his helmet. "What do you mean keep it alive? Are you mad? Didn't you see what it did to Jericho? My opinion? It was dead, it should stay that way this is fucking unnatural, sir... Yes, we should kill it again I've seen this movie before, I know how it ends. What? No? Ugh fine, stabilized it is. When it bites someone, you're the one who gets to ask Barrinoth for wooden stakes," he complained, and beckoned the last cart over after shoving his sidearm back into its holster.

"You heard the man, take her to supermax... and ward that shit because the next person that wanders around the corner looking sickly mentioning anything RESEMBLING the word brains! is getting shot."

Meanwhile, in the grand feasting hall people scattered to posts as the red alert went out. Scarlett nimbly flipped out of her chair and kicked her sandals off her feet. A knife flashed out of her sleeve and she ruthlessly cut her kimono from hem to hip on both sides before her staff flew into her hand from the table and she dashed through one of the exits with impossible speed. The grand feasting hall was all but empty, leaving Leo in his seat, gnawing on some kind of tasty meat while he stared absently into the corridor Scarlett had left through.

"WOW, that was hot! You got a recording of that, right Mau?"

"Shouldn't we be getting to our station... and yes I did."

"Pff," Leo scoffed as he tilted back his goblet to savor a sip of something (nonalcoholic, he learned his lesson the first time). "What to repel intruders? Whatever got inside caused enough of a ruckus for a Red alert. That means my sidearm, which hasn't been fired in almost a decade, would probably be worthless even if it did work. No," he paused graze at some of the finger foods. "I'm waiting for the other alert."

"What other alert?" Mau asked with a puzzled expression.

"Attention pilots scramble Aquilla's and Falcore's in defense net, we are powering for warp and we don't and any surprises," Leo said, in perfect unison with Gabriel's voice as it came over the PA. He pushed his seat out slowly and stretched, allowing Mau to climb up to his shoulder and shoving his hands in his pockets. He started to walk towards the lift that would take him towards the hangars, thought better of it, and went in the opposite direction.

"Where are you going? The hangar is the other way."

"Yeah but... if we go that way we'll get caught up in Scarlett's battle... let's take the scenic route," he said, then whistled pleasantly as he walked, with a grin on his face.

"You keep doing that and someone is going to find out," Mau warned.

"The Imperial Navy are the only people who care about that, Mau. I'm under a contract with Gabriel... and somehow I don't think he'll give a fuck even if he does figure it out..."

Scarlett raced down the corridors, a chill energy preceding her, and a turbulent wind in her wake as she twisted power through her body. She whipped around corners and shot past surprised marines towards some objective only she could sense. She could feel it in her chest as she approached, slowed by her accelerated reflexes. The acrid smell of burning propellant and hot brass, the discordant ringing of metal on the deck, and the rhythmic pound of sustained gunfire. She clenched her free hand into a fist, pulling power into it as she ran. It cascaded against the walls, and she left a brilliant streak of light in the hallway as she passed others. She snapped to a halt in an intersection, thrusting her palm forward. To her, the delay was tangible between the time it took for the familiar presence in front of her to dive out of the way, and the gathered power to explode forth. The force shoved her back several feet, but she planted her feet and regained her balance, pushing forward against it.

She felt it impact something farther down. Instantly the corridor was frigid, and Scarlett let herself be pulled out of the way as a lance bolt shrieked past. She inhaled the familiar scent, and let herself be pressed into someone's huge chest. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of blood, but relaxed into him. The corridor was filled with jagged floes of ice, and at the end of a long run was a rough edged pyramid shape with something pinned against an intersection wall.

"So," a voice echoed through the oppressive silence. "This is why they call you 'Iceheart.'"

"Seiryn," Scarlett's eyes narrowed.

"...You ruined your kimono," Astaroth's voice grumbled with a note of disapproval.

"Are you injured?"

"This... is why we can't have nice things." She thumped him in the chest with a look of annoyance, which just served to make him grin.

"You're bleeding I can smell it."

"It's just a scrape. Serves me right for not stopping to borrow some armor."

"I can't leave you alone at all can I?" She sighed. "Go get your things, I'll entertain our guest," she instructed, reaching up to pat him on the head like a mother would to a child preparing for his first day of school.

She strode purposefully back out into the intersection, and Astaroth jogged back down the hall towards the forges. She sniffed the air, wrinkling her nose. She was greeted with the ionic smell of superheated air and the hiss of steam as ice was slowly being vaporized. Scarlett planted herself firmly in the center of the intersection, resting her cane on its tip in front of her and placing both her hands on top of it patiently. Whatever Seiryn had planned, he was not going any further.

"... Inconvenient," he muttered quietly. "Initiate phase two please... You have an opportunity, Iceheart why don't you kill me here while I'm trapped?"

"Don't call me that," she scowled, tapping her cane on the deck with an air of irritation.

"Why not? Is Iceheart not a title suited to your character then?" he probed. The block of ice imprisoning him began to slick with water, and steam hissed from every exposed crack and crevice. She felt it moisten her face as it slowly filled the room. Scarlett's eyes narrowed as she resisted the urge to give in to his provocation. "No? Tell me then... how long can you sustain an assault of this strength before the crystals in your cane are depleted?"

Her eyes narrowed further: she could hear the smirk in his voice. Scarlett took a deep breath and blew frost from her lips to calm herself. The bastard was correct, though: a sustained battle was not in her favor. Even on a vessel with a crew as large as the Parador's, there was not enough Tide for her to swing her powers around recklessly. There was a significant reserve of power stored in the crystals, but once depleted it would take days for them to replenish themselves. They hadn't yet fully recovered from her fight with Sable on the Grudge Bearer... an all out attack to eliminate him was the most rational strategy, but if she swung with everything and failed to kill him she'd be left defenseless. No, she would hold him here as long as her strength would allow and then retreat. The ice was beginning to splinter, and she could hear the crystal shards tinkle to the ground before melting... it would only be a few more moments before he was free...

On the bridge there was calm... an eerie silence before the storm as the Exile Blackship made no evasive maneuvers, allowing the Parador to boresight it. Quiet's ears twitched with anticipation: was it really going to be this easy? Surely they could see the titan lining up for the attack. Why weren't they moving? She pushed her consciousness through the Parador's systems and let it ride the currents until she was linked into the Auspex. Her yellow eyes closed, tail twitching as she felt along the sensor waves... something wasn't right.

"There!" Quiet's eyes snapped open, flickering wildly as masses of information were exchanged and hundreds of calculations done on the spot. "Gabriel, it's a trap! Evasive maneuvers!!" she shouted.

All screens were blotted with information, quickly sorting out and highlighting a probable area directly in front of the Parador. A huge distortion split space, twisting and writhing like a disturbed pool of water a split second before a sleek black shape began to emerge. Tendrils of lightning danced across the dome shaped front of a ship easily as large as the Parador as it blew through the distortion at combat tilt. It was an Exile titan equipped with a ramming prow on a collision course with the Parador's bridge. The drive glow of hundreds of fighters flying in the wake of the prow surrounded it with an eerie halo of light.

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Character Portrait: Lord Commander Gaberiel Crozius Blade
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"Hard To Port! Full Burn! Bring me into broadside range! NOW!" Screamed Gabriel. Instantly the thrusters responded powering them away from the smaller vessel, and brought the destructive forces of the Parador's armaments within range. Active pinging painted the opposing titan in stark green relief against the void on the bridge viewport. Critical systems began to highlight in red as the scans rand deeper into the enemy vessel.
"Fire at will!" cried Gabriel, in response red beams of energy raced from the lance batteries, and green pulse salvos from the turbo lasers split the void, slamming into the enemy shields. "Get my fighters off the deck NOW! We have an enemy titan in close proximity!" Gabriel shouted, transmitting the signal ship wide. The enemy ship began to return fire and impacts blossomed across the shielding.
"Report!"
"Shields 95% and holding commander!"
"Weapons firing at maximum capacity!"
Just then the decking beneath Gabriel's feet trembled, something was very very wrong. The vox crackled to life and over the screams and gunfire a desperate cry could be heard. "Commander! They've taken the engine sanctum, we managed to bring the shields up over the warp drive, but the main drives only have their armor and residual shields! We need reinforcements there are only ten of us left against god knows how many of them!"
"Support is inbound soldier hold true and do not relent." replied Gabriel.
The commander activated a private channel to his elites, Lieutenant Titus, Take your platoon of Terminators and Gather 50 of the Ursalore's shock troops and make haste to the engine sanctum, rendezvous with Lieutenant Commander Astaroth and get me back my engine room."
"As your will commands my lord."
A thought changed the channel again, "Horus, Gather your Cybers and aid the defense in the shield Cathedral, if we lose the shields we lose the battle."
"En Route Commander"
Another channel
"Barrinoth, activate your army of war droids for the forge defense, then make your way to fire control I need you to get me everything you can out of our weapons without compromising the power grid. Take some of your droids with you just in case there is any unpleasantness that befalls you."
"Momentarily, brother, I'm taking care of our old friend at this time," replied the forge master.
"Astaroth? Fit him well brother, then tell him to meet Lieutenant Titus and his troops at the engine sanctum, it has fallen to the intruders and we can ill afford them to hobble us," said Gabriel.
"Understood."


Forge Decks

"It's been an age Luther, it warms my cold heart to see you again," said the Forge master with his first honest smile in decades. He hit a rune on his bracer and a compartment slid out from the wall. "I took the liberty of keeping your toys up with the newest tech, she should still handle the same but you'll be faster, stronger and meaner than ever," he continued, opening the compartment to reveal a suit of finely crafted power armor covered in glowing runes and scrawling arcane designs. on the shoulder guards there were mounted missile pods loaded with cyclone missiles. Along side the suit hung all of Astaroth's oldest friends, his melee and ranged weaponry from an age past, all upgraded and in perfect condition.

"Barrinoth, activate your army of war droids for the forge defense, then make your way to fire control I need you to get me everything you can out of our weapons without compromising the power grid. Take some of your droids with you just in case there is any unpleasantness that befalls you."
"Momentarily, brother, I'm taking care of our old friend at this time," replied the forge master.
"Astaroth? Fit him well brother, then tell him to meet Lieutenant Titus and his troops at the engine sanctum, it has fallen to the intruders and we can ill afford them to hobble us," said Gabriel.
"Understood."


"Gabriel is having us part ways old friend, he asks that you link up with Lieutenant Titus at the engines, they have fallen to the enemy, May the All father smile on the battle to come, brother." said Barrinoth snapping a salute to Astaroth.
He turned on his heel and clattered away at the keys of the deck terminal. Row upon row of war robots began to drop from the cavernous ceilings above. Several hundred of them activated at once and moved to defensive position. The apprentices took command of individual squadrons as the Elite guard slammed into the deck. Standing head and shoulders above the standard war bots, which already looked like something out of George Lucas's worst nightmare, these bots were truly automated death incarnate. Barrinoth took command of them and moved with all speed to the fire control chambers.

The stage was set, Let the show begin.

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His original plan had been to go to the bridge, but something inside him was urging him towards the engine room - the most vital part of the ship. He had been summoned to the bridge by the alarm, it was a direct order and not one to be disobeyed, and yet the horrific feeling of fear he had for the engine room was consuming him, filling him with hopelessness and regret for events that had not yet occurred. Cursing under his breath he changed direction, heading instead for the engine room, wondering if anyone else was there - he did not want a repeat of the last time he had taken the engine room alone. Whispering silent prayers to gods he hardly knew he ran as fast as his slender legs could carry him and hoped that the engine room was untouched.

It was on his way to the engine room that he came across the bridge. It turned out he had been running in the wrong direction anyway. Making a quick decision he decided it would be best to consult Gabriel before rushing towards the engine room - after all, the Commander may already have a perfectly good plan. After taking a moment to catch his breath, Raikor approached the massive Draconian, still in awe of his great size. "Commander, where am I needed?" He asked, his voice strong and confident. A great battle was occurring and the ground shook violently under their feet, enemy fire attempting to destroy them, Raikor remained calm despite the situation. Gabriel turned to him and the two shared a brief yet vital conversation. As a shifter, Raikor was required to repair the hull during battle - a Herculean task, but one that could surely be done. It was up to him to ensure the ship didn't fall to pieces, to make sure that everyone was safe. It was a task he had not been given for some years, but one he was ready to accept. After receiving a vox bead for his helmet from Gabriel and words of encouragement and strength, Raikor saluted and continued on his way to the engine room, his speed faster than before as adrenaline pumped through his body, urging his forward.

The engine room was gigantic, at least fifty stories high and taking up most of the rear of the ship. It had to be one of the largest engine rooms the young warrior had ever seen in his life. He spent several moments gaping at the shear size of it, wondering how on earth he was supposed to protect it from the enemy when there was so much ground to cover. Taking a deep, almost nervous breath he stepped into the engine room, ready for whatever was waiting for him.

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Everything ached. Every muscle began to spasm with the effort of remaining crouched in this darkened, stinking hole and it was taking Ella Orion everything she had no to cry out in agony. But she could not...No she would not reveal her position. Not yet. Timing was crucial. If she were to reveal herself then it had to be to the right person at the right time. She had to make it to Elias and to do that she didn't need some thug to find her. Because she had a plan right down to the finest detail. It was her intention to get Elias to turn this hunk of metal around and assist the Parador. He probably wouldn't agree to such a thing, but Ella had a few tricks up her sleeves. She had become involved in this mess and she intended to see it through to the end. The events that had happened had brought her to this point, stowing away on a ship that was travelling at beyond light speed. She had been sent away, Elias believing that she had left the ship. She'd never even set one foot outside of the ship. Ella had hidden herself on this vessel and now she was going to help the others.

Stretching out one of her legs, Ella shifted position slightly. Leaning her head back, she rested it against the cold smooth metal. Strands of amber hair fell over her purple eyes. She'd lost track of the days she'd been sat in this hole. It was small storage hold with little room to move around. It had seemed perfect at the time. However now she was starting to regret her choice of hiding place. Frowning, Ella glanced down at her fingertips suddenly, flexing them. They had started to tingle, like pins and needles. Gulping, Ella scooted futher away from the hatch above her. She was about to have a vision. She needed to get out of the way in case someone peered in and spotted her. She'd be defenseless mid-vision. As she moved, she felt a whoosh in her stomach and blackness consumed her.

Ella opened her eyes, her eyelashes fluttering slightly. Well this was a familar feeling. She was in the mind of someone else, but she had no control over them nor would they ever be aware that she had entered their mind. But Ella would feel everything they did, as though she were the one in the situation. Atop a cliff is where she found herself this time, one that looked vaguely familar. Beyond the cliff was the vast expanse of ocean. All around her the wind battered at her frame, causing her hair to billow into her face. Below she could hear the thunderous waves crashing against the rocks.

A feeling of dread filled Ella's chest. A feeling that she couldn't shake as her eyes raked the scenery. Someone stood behind her. Taking a deep breath, she turned slowly to be see a man with his back to her. Upon his back is a shredded leather jacket and his raven shoulder length hair flutters with the wind. But not only that, his whole body seems to glow like he has been set alight. A power surrounds him like no other and his arms are painted with glowing tattoos that are likely to span the majority of his body.

Closing her right eye, Ella continues to study his figure. The power seems to vanish, as well as the markings. Above the wind she could hear his voice. He was speaking to her, though the words meant nothing. It was guttural, like the growls made by a wild animal. A movement caught Ella's attention and her head turned slightly. At the bottom of the cliff darkened figures moved, their piercing yellows eyes seeming to bore into Ella's soul. If they had half the chance, she believed they would have come for her by now. Something held them back.

"You need to go."

"No, I won't leave without you." Ella found the words leaving her lips. There was a determination like steel in her voice, which the man seemed to recognise. His body physcially sagged as he listened to her words.

"Then, I'm sorry."

Ella barely heard the whisper above the wind. Opening her mouth to answer him, the words caught in her throat. He had turned to her and in his hand rested a gun pointing directly at her heart. She could tell that the bullet inside of the gun held significant power, that it had been changed with a spell. In her chest Ella could feel her heart pounding desperately, almost so loud that he too could undoubtedly hear it. Seconds seemed to stretch out endlessly before her. Looking up from the gun, Ella looked the man directly in the eyes. His left eyes was a bright crimson, as red as blood, but his right was azure like the sky of a beautiful day. No smirk befell his lips, not even a grin. But that didn't make Ella feel any more confident, in fact her confidence had all but disappeared.

After what seemed like a lifetime, he pulled the trigger.

In that moment Ella realised that there was nothing she could do to prevent this. Although she watched the bullet move towards her in agonising slow motion, there was nothing that she could do. Her thoughts were filled with what it would feel like when it hit her, as it burst through her barrier.

Closing her eyes, Ella prepared herself for the impact. Seconds passed, but no pain tore across her body, no bullet touched her. Opening her eyes, a gasp caught in her throat. At her feet lay Sable, her skin paled and streams of blood trickling from the corners of her mouth, down her cheeks and slowly pooling on the floor. Glancing up, Ella could see others around her, bodies littering the floor in every direction she looked. Some were adorned with armour that she simply did not recognise. Something crept across her skin and she turned her head to meet those mis-matched eyes. He now stood on the other side of the light, watching Ella carefully. She could barely see his form any longer.

"Will it be for nothing?" He asked in a soft voice.


Gasping Ella fell forwards. She was back in the storage hold, her body shaking from head to toe. She felt sick, her stomach churning. Her vision had been one of the most vivid she had ever experienced. But she had never laid eyes on any of those people before. Nor could she tell when these events would take place. She was as much in the dark as those who would be involved. But if she could warn them then she would. Of course it was unlikely that they could actually change their Fate....

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"It has been an age, Barrinoth," Astaroth rumbled with a bit of a grin as he jogged into the Forge. He raised an eyebrow when a compartment slid out with his old armor in it. It actually made him laugh. "I can't believe you kept this heap all this time... I don't know what to say... these years have weighed heavily upon me and after all that happened I didn't think I would be welcomed like this. Thank you," he said sincerely as he hastily stripped his shirt off , revealing an angry gash travelling diagonally up his chest and tapering off at his left shoulder.

He fished a small canister with a red cross and the Raven corp. emblem painted on it, then sprayed gel into the wound while grimacing. He let it foam up for a moment before he rummaged around in the shop for something to use as a bandage. After wrapping himself in some rags that looked clean enough (one could never tell in Barrinoth's shop) he muttered a prayer over his armor before donning it.

"Activate please," he muttered, feeling the power pack spin up out of standby mode and fill his armor with a familiar gentle hum. Astaroth took a deep breath as the screen in his helmet went through its boot up process and the sheer weight of the armor gradually vanished as the powered assist servos activated. He braced himself... the computer booted and immediately screamed angry noises at him while flashing an angry face in his view.

*What the FUCK!*

"Ashe, I-"

*Do you know how long I've been stuck in this closet?*

"Uh..."

*I thought you were dead! How DARE you abandon me! And now you just want me to boot up like nothing has changed?*

"Well it's not like I've been philandering with another AI, Ashe."

*Oh, Ashe is broken just leave her to be found by strangers out in the middle of the wilderness, or to be shelter to animals. Am I just a tool to you, Luther?*

"Well..."

*You know what don't answer that.*

"Can this wait, Ashe? There's killing to be done,* he bit his lip while the AI processed. Even if she did lay off, he'd be in for a serious lecture later.

*Fine,* she huffed in that tone that suggested her arms were folded. He could feel her little electronic eyes burning into his forehead... something that was always a little disconcerting. *But this isn't over.*

"Women," he blew a sigh and rolled his eyes.

*What was that?!*

"Uh, nothing. Ashe, prepare yourself for a hard transfer... I have a new body for you, and as beautiful as you are in this one, it is a little ostentatious... it'll do wonders for your figure though," he grinned. She just grumbled a response and he could tell that she was biting her tongue.

Astaroth gathered his weapons, attaching them to all their familiar weapon mounts. His force sword slid into a scabbard behind his waist, a plasma pistol into a holster on his hip, an assortment of grenades, knives, and other dangly bits and of course his trusty storm bolter. He took a deep breath: it actually felt good to be using his old equipment even though he'd developed a preference for the lighter HEV and hard hitting rail guns. Astaroth tromped down the corridors towards the engineering deck, wondering quietly if Ashe would criticize him for carrying too many weapons like she used to and what she would say when she saw his HEV.

In the engine room it was deathly quiet, but quite warm. The temperature gauge in Raikor's helmet notified him that it was more than 100 degrees outside his suit. It was quite dark, and lights flickered eerily, and the aftermath of the recent battle lurked in all the shadows. Now and then a flickering light would reveal a giant armored boot or a splash of blood across the deck or bulkhead. As he stepped farther in, Raikor might notice that the ship's drive core was actually on fire... rather the device itself was not burning, but white flames roiled over the surface of the shields which protected the components, slowly eating away at them... probably also the source of the unusual heat. A presence flitted through the shadows from somewhere in the room, passing behind Raikor and vanishing among the shadows. The air hardly stirred, but it was undeniably there.

"Stop," a voice whispered from everywhere and nowhere. "Come no further. If you come inside, I will be forced to fight you... Too much blood has already been spilled this day, do not add your name to the ones I must mourn."

A figure emerged about 100 yards in front of Raikor, almost seeming to detach from the shadows and move with unearthly grace. It was a woman, though she was quite tall for a girl: probably six feet or more. She had piercing amber eyes with black slitted pupils and a mop of long black hair that tumbled unbound nearly to her waist. She was beautiful, almost as though she had stepped out of a fairy tail with her rich copper toned skin and ruby lips. Her face and arms were still mottled with blood spatters, although it was obvious she'd taken the time to wash most of it away. A sleeveless black dress hugged her svelte curves, and if her hair were not covering it, it would be plain that the back of the dress was an open cut all the way down to the top of her hips. It was buckled about her waist with a plain leather belt upon which a Lance pistol and several daggers were hung. It was slit all the way to her full hips on either side, and hung loosely about her legs, nearly sweeping the floor. She was barefoot, and when she moved, her footfalls made nary a sound. She reached up to flip a stray lock of hair out of her face and over her shoulder, causing the light to strike her nails just so and glint brilliantly for a moment. She had strange tattoos running down the length of her arms from her shoulders, presumably spanning the length of her back as well. If he knew anything about old magic he would recognize the script as ancient draconic, and as a whole the tattoos formed an array which was most likely used in a binding ritual.

"The smell of blood," she mused in a somber voice. "No matter how many times I wash my hands I can't scrub it away," she said, pausing for a moment to gaze at her hands before spearing him with that gaze of hers. Even through his helmet it froze him. While their gazes were locked Raikor was unable to move. "Begone," she commanded. "This room is mine," she informed with authority as she stepped into another shadow and melted away, releasing Raikor from the spell and leaving him with a strong compulsion to leave in a hurry.

The bridge wasn't much better. Quiet yowled and scampered for cover underneath Gabriel's throne as the Exile titan came literal inches from colliding with them, but it wasn't gun impacts that shuddered through the deck plating: the titan wasn't firing. It was the hundreds of fighters screaming past on the very verge of the Parador's shields launching black obelisks from their underside. Each one would fly in an arc, attracted by the ship's gravity until it speared a section of the hull. For a moment it would be still, then start to shudder as it slowly sank, drilling farther inside to disgorge its payload of soldiers. The blackship had vanished in the confusion, obviously content not to be caught in the slugfest between the two giants. After a moment Quiet emerged wide eyed and bushy-tailed and did her best to pretend that little display never happened.

"More fighters!" She warned, and painted several which had swung around on an intercept with the bridge. "Boarding torpedoes inbound, bridge intrusion imminent!" she pointed insistently with a paw at the main view and for a moment looked like she would bolt again.

Just as the torpedoes were about to breach the shields a crimson beam lanced across the view, blotting out the stars for a moment as the flare compensation kicked in and slicing the obelisks neatly in half. Less than a second later the Sabre screamed past, scattering the fighter formation. The Sabre cut and banked up into a roll, sharply twisting back around in a high-G maneuver a gunship shouldn't rightly be able to perform and its array of rail cannons lit up twice rapidly, splashing one of the fighters before he streaked back out of view. The fighter formation swerved wildly to give chase, angrily spewing plasma bolts after him.

*The tally is running, Gabriel. We charge on a 'per item' basis at very friendly rates,* Leo informed in a serious voice.

*He's joking,* Mau corrected.

*Shush! He doesn't need to know that! Uh... is this thing still on? Oh! Well would you look at the time and just look at how busy we are, no time to chat, too much overlapping fire! Oh no we're being jammed!* He trailed off, filling the channel with a static noise which was obviously fake before cutting his transmission.

Elsewhere, on the Grudge Bearer Elle emerged from her vision surrounded by med-techs, and her sudden movement sent one of the ship's cats leaping in fright. The techs started, but seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Immediately there was someone there shooing the other techs away like one does a herd of cats.

"Easy, easy thar lass... m'name is Gray," he informed in a thick border-world accent. He was a short fellow with short gray hair that looked as though he had just rolled out of bed moments ago. His hands were weathered and steady and he locked his blue eyes with hers. A small violet-eyed, pure white cat climbed up on his shoulder, which he seemed to take no notice of. He flashed a pen light briefly into each of her eyes and observed the result.

"Do ya know where y'are, lass? Do ya know th' date? Folla' me finger wit' yer eyes," he instructed, holding up his index finger and moving it about from one side to the other. "Yewer comatose fer nearly an 'our, lass. Lucky one-a th' kitties found ya."

"For the last time, I'm a KASUMI class med-assistant, not a 'kitty,'" the cat on his shoulder glared.

"O' wat's th' difference eh? Yer furry, ya go 'mew mew' an' ya got'cherself four itty-bitty paws, like. Yer a 'kitty' iff'n I damn well say ya are. Alla' this new-fangled tech may as well be a whole lotta hocus-pocus t'me. But don'cha worry yer pretty little head, missy: I'mma surgeon wit' a laser scalpel," he said proudly and grinned. The cat just rolled its eyes.

"Nae why don'cha tell me wha' happened here and we'll get'cha sorted, like. Pay no mind t'this, I may've jumped th'gun a little," he chuckled, and merrily untwisted a morgue tag from her big toe.

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Raikor has started running. He was overcome with fear and terror as he legged it out of the engine room. The woman had been terrifying with her cat-like eyes and strange markings along her arms - she reminded him of the witches found in the stories of his youth. Despite her beauty he could tell that she was evil and wanted nothing more than to be as far away from her as possible. His spine tingled with fear. He was afraid.

"You have to be one of the most fearless soldiers here." Hask laughed, a pint of what was known as the finest ale in the galaxy rested in his powerful hand. "I mean, you just walk into any situation and get them berserker style." The tall man laughed, the alcohol slowly tugging at his senses. Raikor shook his head in response, his ale already finished, the last suds trickling down the inside of the glass.
"I'm not that brave." He stated honestly. His words were met by a strange spitting noise from his friend.
"That's a lie, and you know it. Why, on our last mission you ran back into the ship so that you could save the unconscious co-pilot." Hask stood up dramatically, hitting the bar with his glass, ale running down the sides and onto the already sticky surface. "You are Raikor, saver of lives and defender of all people!" He spoke loudly, attracting the attention of several other customers who were far less drunk than the giant-like man. He raised his arms triumphantly as Raikor lowered his head,hoping to be disassociated with Hask. "You're the bravest man I know and most certainly the bravest guy on the team." He stated proudly, clapping his closest friend on the shoulder with a head-crushing hand.
"Thanks, Hask." Raikor muttered, sipping his drink discreetly as he continued to pretend the man who had now jumped on the bar, a new pint in his hand.


Raikor clenched his jaw, suddenly angry with himself - he was supposed to be the bravest man on the team. What would Hask say if he could see him now? He would be ashamed and disgusted by his actions. Raikor stopped, the entrance to the engine room still in sight as he turned to face it once more. Images of burned and dying people filled his mind as he stood and faced the burning room, he could see the flames in his mind just as clearly as those that burned so many years ago. He couldn't let that happen again, he couldn't be responsible for everyone dying. Not again. He raised his hands, placing them on the metal walls of the ship. The metal began to twist violently as Raikor forged two great one-handed swords from the ships wall. He wasn't going to fail, not this time. The swords hung in his hands, dragging against the ground, screaming for blood and vengeance. Raikor's eyes burned with rage and passion, the air around him turned dark and menacing as he entered the engine room once more. He was prepared, and even if she had magic on her side he was no going to lose. "Come out of hiding you worthless creature!" He yelled, his voice grating and painful, like skin being grated from the arm. "I do not fear you. My blades will taste your blood before the day is through." His voice was deep and threatening as he walked further into the engine room. He would kill her even if it killed him.

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"Easy.....lass....Gray."

Ella's head felt fuzzy. More than fuzzy actually. It was like she was looking at everything through water and could only hear choice words or see things through obscured vision. Blinking to try and clear it, she focused on the man in front of her and to her great relief the more she concentrated on him, the better her vision became again and also her hearing. Holding his blue eyes, she gulped knowing that this was not how she wanted to be found. In fact, the vision had left her in great danger. She feared that if she opened her mouth to respond she'd be sick. But she nodded in silence, not taking her eyes from Gray's. A white cat pounced onto his shoulder and she briefly tore her eyes away to stare that. When Gray started to question her, she looked back to him, her eyes widening in surprise.

"Of course....I'm on the Grudge Bearer. An hour you say?!" She exclaimed, shaking her head in disbelief. Never before had she been out so long. No wonder her head ached unbelievably and she felt vulnerable and sick. The vision must have really taken it out of her. Biting her bottom lip, she looked away from Gray, bowing her head slightly. A curtain of amber hair fell across her face, shielding it from view. She had to get out of here, she had to see Elias. But she doubted they would take her to the Captain with such ease.

"For the last time, I'm a KASUMI class med-assistant, not a 'kitty.'"

Ella couldn't help but chuckle at this from the white cat, however when Gray opened his mouth again the chuckle died in her throat. Now she would have to start speaking and she wasn't sure she could face that.

"O' wat's th' difference eh? Yer furry, ya go 'mew mew' an' ya got'cherself four itty-bitty paws, like. Yer a 'kitty' iff'n I damn well say ya are. Alla' this new-fangled tech may as well be a whole lotta hocus-pocus t'me. But don'cha worry yer pretty little head, missy: I'mma surgeon wit' a laser scalpel."

"No, no! I don't need any surgery!" Ella began to protest, raising her hands and shaking her head desperately. Oh no, mad man with a scalpel. Gulping, she preferred to defend hersef. Perhaps he wasn't a medic after all. She clenched her fists slightly, but there really was no need.

"Nae why don'cha tell me wha' happened here and we'll get'cha sorted, like. Pay no mind t'this, I may've jumped th'gun a little."

"I..." The words faltered in her mouth as he removed the morgue tag from her foot. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth as she met his gaze full on once again and relaxed her hands. She liked him. He was down to earth and easily likable, even if he had frightened her slightly. But that didn't mean he could be trusted, not with what had just happened. But if she didn't tell him then she'd be hauled off somewhere and she'd be even further from Elias than she had been before. Searching the blue eyes, she debated whether or not she could trust him. It was now or never. Quickly, she made a decision.

"I'm Ella of Orion," She whispered, her gaze never wavering. "If you know enough about the Orions then I think she can deduce what just happened to me. But right now I need no medical attention. What I need is to get to the Elias. Please, I really need to see him." She grabbed Gray's hands in her own. Her own hands were fairly tiny and smooth in comparison, almost like a child. Giving him a pleading look, she sat forwards slightly.

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#, as written by Kirinak
Gabriel smiled at Leo's banter and keyed back, "If you keep any more of those torpedoes for hitting my ship I'll plate Mao in gold for you," he replied, then turned his attentions back to the battle at hand.
"Aerien, ascertain feasibility of counter-boarding action," barked the commander.
"Counter-boarding is out of the question commander, we haven't the manpower." she replied.
"Fire control, give me steady lance, and metered torpedo fire. beat their shields away then grind them into dust." he growled

Klaxons began blaring, announcing unwelcome guests.
"Sir, warp distortions materializing on multiple decks. Daemons are breaching the event horizon!" cried Aerien in alarm.
"Warp spawn we can handle," grinned Gabriel, "and they may just prove useful. Attention all friendly forces do not engage daemon-kin unless shown direct aggression first, these bastards will help mop up the boarding parties, then we can mop them up."
Acknowledgement runes flashed across the board as units adjusted fire to focus aggression on the boarders as the daemons fell upon them.

As his well laid plan began to some together in his mind his aegis circuits sizzled fresh scars into his flesh. The coppery tang on the air told him all he needed to know.

The powerfield on his broadsword flared to life and his hammer hummed with psychic energy and he whispered a single word, charged with mental energy. "Bloodthirster...." The charge from his mind ensured that the whisper would reach Scarlett and Astaroth, he prayed they would know what to do.