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Jayden Ryder

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0 · 1,083 views · located in Terra

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by Script

Groups

An organization of Terran citizens who have been endowed with legal authority by the Terran National Government to protect and maintain the health and well-being of the Terran community at large.
A relatively large nation within the Aurora, Isiria spans several star systems. Isiria is an Aschen member-state.
The Aschen Empire, a massive collection of semi-sovereign provinces that reigns over a great portion of the Milky Way Galaxy, paranoid, arrogant, and cruel, a once prosperous nation spirals into poverty, and self-destruction.

Description

...

So begins...

Jayden Ryder's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jayden Ryder
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#, as written by Script
The brightly lit hangar rattled with the sound of debris from the sandstorm outside hitting the steel of the outer walls. The wide open space, normally empty, was filled with scattered groups and individuals - each stood by a sleek and nimble looking spacecraft. The starting point for the Peak Asteroid Rally was far from glamorous, but what could you expect from an underground racing ring?

The planet upon which the racers and their teams now stood was called Veldspar, a largely uninhabited desert planet where the weather forecast usually consisted of sandstorms followed by - you guessed it - more sandstorms. The race wasn't to be held on the planet itself, however, it merely served as a starting point. The majority of the course was instead based around the asteroid veil that surrounded it, hundreds of rocks suspended in orbit around Veldspar that formed a very dangerous obstacle to any small to moderately sized ship.

And, of course, the objective of the race? To weave through the field at as fast a speed as you dared. There was a reason these races were underground. High stakes, and high casualty rates.

Jayden stood by his own ship, the brightly painted blue and white hull standing out amongst the silvers and blacks of the other ships. The Blue Eclipse was Jay's pride and joy - as race vehicles tended to be. Customised from the ground up from a Viper CXV 'acquired' from the military by his black-market trader family, the Eclipse was built around one objective - agility. Even speed was secondary to the ship's ability to dart around the dangerous courses that the races were set on, though of course it was still a priority, as it would be the ability of the ship to make sharp turns and loops that would spell the difference between a gold medal, and a gravestone.

The youth certainly looked the type for a racer - a slim build, styled spiked-up hair and a jacket to match his ship's colours, not to mention the sleek blue visor-goggles he held at his side.

Where many of the other craft had entire teams around them making last minute fixes, Jay stood on his own. He'd never been interested in getting a manager, and he was a good enough engineer that he could make sure that the Eclipse was in ship-shape before setting out himself.

An announcement by megaphone from a scaffolding tower near the middle of the hangar indicated that take-off was in ten minutes. Jay slid his visor on and adjusted his headset enough that Eclipse's VI would be clearly audible even over the roar of the engines.

Then with a swing upwards, he took his seat in the cockpit. He was ready to race.




Off the planet's surface and around the actual racecourse, an array of specially designed space-stations hovered, filled with spectators brimming with anticipation. The crowds lined purpose-built observation decks, and drug-dealers and snack-vendors alike hawked their wares loudly.

Large holo-displays at the top of the rooms displayed a video-link to the startline, and later would display satellite tracking of the competing ships. There were a dozen teams in total, varying in notoriety - Jayden Ryder's name, however, was one that almost all the enthusiasts there knew. And many of their pockets were depending on him.

A loud cheer came up from the crowd, and all eyes went to the screen, as a loud beeping sound proclaimed the start of the countdown.

5...

4...

3...

2...

1...





Go!

A dozen engines roared into life as almost in unison, the racers shot into motion. Jay's screen was almost immediately blacked out entirely as the Eclipse entered the furious sandstorm, but almost as swiftly, the VI was constructing a holographic map of the terrain for him in his visor. Unimpeded by the sand, he shot forwards, quickly overtaking some of the less advanced vessels whose systems - whatever they were using to navigate blind - clearly weren't as fast.

Off the bat, he quickly secured himself second place, though the difference between the front five places was miniscule. They were quickly reaching their first 'obstacle', however - a mountain range.

The ships tore into the range, shooting into a valley and dipping beneath a natural archway. Jay quickly lost two of the tailing ships in the rapid maneuvers necessary to navigate the winding gorge, leaving only the front three positions contested.

The races were always like this. The first thirty seconds separated the different classes of racer - the leagues of skill and quality of ship, but once those classes were set, it was fair game. Jay knew one of the racers he was up against, the one in first place - the VI having tagged the model of the ship. Swift Wind, her ship was christened, and the racer herself was a young woman by the name of Jenna 'Swift' Maerin. She was one of Jay's foremost rivals.

He had no idea who the individual tailing him was - the VI had their ship tagged as 'unknown', so clearly he'd never raced against them before. It would be interesting to see what the newcomer could pull, since this was normally a two horse race.

Swiftly the mountain range came to an end, and Jay pulled the Eclipse into a rapid vertical ascent. The clouds passed by in a blur, and they rose out into the main section of the course - the asteroid field.

The three ships shot into the cloud of rocks and debris seemingly without fear, snaking and darting their way through the shortest pathways, with the watching crowds cheering from their viewing stations.

Jay swerved past an asteroid, so close he might have reached out and touched it, passing between a pair of would-be mountains on its surface. His focus was so intently on the race that when the shriek of a weapon discharge sounded over the engines, it took him a few moments to realise what was happening.

A ray of energy tore past his ship, hitting the asteroid behind him in an explosive burst and jolting him off course. His eyes widened, VI scanning the area frantically to finally identify the source of the blast - a fourth ship, and not one of the racers.

There was little time to waste trying to figure out the whos, whats and whys of the situation, as the large craft was already powering up another attack. In the viewing stations cries of outrage and shock were filling the crowds, but at the same time, so were cheers -- after all, a thrill was a thrill, wasn't it? This had just turned the race into an even better spectator sport.

The three racers continued darting through the asteroid field, but now as well as dodging the rocks themselves, they were dodging enemy fire. Or at least two of them were. It didn't escape Jay's notice that his mysterious trailer was escaping the attention of the attacking craft almost entirely. There was little he could do about it, though.

Then, however, the ships swerved onto the outer edges of the course - behind the majority of the asteroid field. They were entirely out of sight of the viewing stations for a good minute of flight time. It looked like this was the opportunity the unknown racer had been waiting for.

The abrupt registry of an energy spike in the ship was the only warning Jay got, and quick reflexes to sharply swerve to the side were the only things that got him out of the path of a deadly ion cannon just in time -- or perhaps, he realised, he hadn't even been the target.

The particle beam tore into the wing of the Swift Wind, searing it off in a burst of flames, and Jenna's craft began to bank dangerously to one side. Smoke poured from the wounded craft as it went into a crash landing on the surface of an asteroid, skidding along the rock before coming to a halt at the base of a crater.

Jay narrowed his eyes. There was foul play in many of these races, but this was a step over the line. He tightened his grip on the controls of the Eclipse, and waited. Sure enough, moments later the energy build up began again, but ready this time, he was well out of its path before it discharged. The course snaked over the top of an asteroid here, skimming its surface, and in an instant Jay decided how this was going to play out.

He had the lead on the attacker he needed, and so when the course shot off past the asteroid, Jay instead continued to orbit it, swerving sharply as soon as he was out of sight beneath the course and shooting straight back up again. By this point, the sabotaging racer had passed the asteroid entirely, and now Jay had a clear shot at his underbelly.

His fingers compressed the triggers, and the twin Starcannons fired, a spray of superheated plasma bolts slicing through the air and peppering the bottom of the craft. As Jay shot past the crippled vessel, out of the corner of his eye he saw an orange burst as it detonated. There wouldn't be any more trouble from that particular saboteur.

With a final pensive glance back at where Jenna had crashed, Jay swung the Eclipse back around and returned to the race. Not that it could really be called that, now, with him being the only person with much of a chance at winning it.




"That's bullshit!" Jay yelled, "You saw that other ship, it was shooting right at me!"

The stern eyes of the race official met Jay's without batting an eyelid. "I'm sorry, but you went out of sight with two opponents, then returned alone with your weaponry hot. What other conclusion are we supposed to draw?"

Jay groaned, running his hand through his hair, "Don't just go and announce it before you have the full story! Jenna's still out there, she'll confirm what I'm saying! Just wait, I don't need you telling the world I'm some maniac who shoots down anyone who starts doing better than me!"

The official shook his head, "We'll see what Miss Maerin has to say when she is recovered, until then, I have no choice but to inform the spectators that the winner has yet to be determined due to the involvement of sabotage. I am by no means telling them you shot your opponents down, but neither am I going to proclaim your innocence when you are surrounded by such incriminating evidence."

Muttering in frustration, Jay threw his hands in the air and turned on his heels. "God damn it..." he growled, "Hurry up, Jenna..."




"What do you mean she doesn't remember?!"

For the second time in the space of an hour, Jay found himself staring at the unrelenting glare of the race official, who was, unsurprisingly, unrelating in his glare. "I'm sorry, but Miss Maerin has suffered notable head trauma in her crash. She at the very least has a concussion."

Jay shook his head, "You can't think that I'd do that! I've been racing in this area for years! Why would I shoot my opponents down now?!"

The official was unmoved. "I'm sorry. Although Miss Maerin suggested that your relationship was friendly, due to her lack of explicit memory of the incident, your victory is revoked and you are barred from all further racing in this sectory pending a full investigation. This decision is final - it's time for you to leave, Mr. Ryder."




With the announcement of Jay's disqualification fresh on the display screens, it was no surprise to him that the clusters of people scattered around the hangar bay in the main viewing station where the racers were now docked were staring at him and whispering to themselves.

He wondered how many rumours would be spawned from today? Would they think he had called in that other ship too? He still had no idea who that racer had been, and the rogue ship had cleared out as soon as he and Jenna had gotten out of range inside the asteroid field that it was too large to enter. Jay sat dejectedly on a crate beside the Eclipse, staring mournfully at the metallic floor.

What in the name of anything was he going to do now?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jayden Ryder Character Portrait: Vincent May-Rose Character Portrait: Vanora Rees Character Portrait: Vanora Skybrook
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#, as written by Tiko
(Post written by NotAFlyingToy, Script and Tiko)

Through the din of the spectators milling about the hanger, the sound of determined boots on the metallic floor rang out, belonging to a man who's stride revealed a beeline route towards the youthful racer. The man that belonged to the boots was tall, slim, and defined; angular cheeks and bronzed skin dominated the rest of his features, coupled with intelligent, hard eyes and a faint pink scar. Around his neck were his two defining features; a red bandana and goggles, both of them grimy with sand and the remains of sweat.

When he was in speaking range, he called out to the youth. "Impressive as always, Jayden. It's no wonder why you're always dodging me when I ask for you at the Rabbit's helm. You have a way with these things."

When Vincent May-Rose, Captain of the Rabbit stopped in front of the racer, he folded his arms, grinning down at Jayden with eerily white teeth. As he glanced around the cluster of people, his smile lessened slightly. "Tough break, the disqualification. What happened?"

Jay looked up sharply at the sound of a purposeful approach, eyes narrowing - though they softened to a more neutral expression when he identified Vincent. He shook his head as the man spoke, "One of the other racers attacked me and Jenna, the other front-runner. I outflew him and took his ship down, but he picked an attack point out of sight of everyone. As far as the officials are concerned, I could've just taken them both down without provocation."

Sighing, Jay shrugged his shoulders, "Nothing I can do about it now. Jenna lost her memory because she took some head damage in the crash, so until they bother with a salvage mission to fully determine who shot her ship? I'm grounded, or at least, barred from racing."

Vincent raised an eyebrow, hiding the full smile that threatened to bloom onto his face. This couldn't have happened at a better time. "Damn shame. I can't picture you not racing, Jayden. What are you planning to do now?"

Glancing from Vince to the Eclipse, Jay gave the man a knowing stare. "I figure I know where you're going with this, Vince," he said, folding his arms, "And I don't know. I'm still not sure a pirate's life's for me, if you know what I'm saying. I'm not big on shooting people."

"We're not-"

But the protest was cut off.

"Vince!" Vanora's voice cut through the din of noise and activity about the hanger. "We've got government vessels converging. They've got a blockade setting up. If we don't skip out, we'll be landlocked."

The result was immediate as the warning spread through the room like wildfire. The hanger suitably descended into chaos as pilots and mechanics alike began to rush about in a frenzy of activity to get cleared out and their ships prepared for takeoff.

"Shit," the captain mumbled, surveying the situation, watching the panic. He turned back to the young pilot.

"Listen, Jayden, we don't have much time. In orbit there's an Aschen Reverance S, and it's got mine and my sister's names on it. We're looking for a pilot - a good one, and there doesn't get any better than you. You'll never have to lift a gun if you don't want - you'll just have to fly some hardcore military hardware. Tell me who can offer you the same."

And then he was in motion, moving out of the hangar, towards his shuttle. "We don't have much time; you coming, or not?"

Jayden glanced from Vince to the announcement of his disqualification on the overhead display, and sighed. "Fine, but the Eclipse is coming with me. I'm sure you have room for it on a ship that big."

Standing, Jay replaced his visor over his eyes, "Just tell me where you've got this puppy hiding and I'll meet you there."

The setting changes from The Kreios System to The Haven

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Whisper (Jacquelyn Rose) Character Portrait: Jayden Ryder Character Portrait: Vincent May-Rose Character Portrait: Vanora Rees Character Portrait: Vanora Skybrook
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#, as written by Tiko
(Post written by NotAFlyingToy, Script and Tiko)

As the trio of Vincent, Vanora and Jay filtered into the CIC, there appeared to be only one other woman on board the ship. A frail looking girl with silvery white locks of hair and a ghastly pale complexion. For Vincent's claim of siblings, it certainly took a far stretch of the imagination to see the resemblance.

“Here we go,” Whisper said as she worked over the controls, and with a sinking whirling sensation, the ship simply vanished from its place in the sky, jumping to a nearby span of space and well away from Veldspar.

“I don't think it was us they were interested in. Probably just a tip off about the racing,” Whisper remarked. With a glance to Jayden she added. “Most of those ships are going to be picked up before they even make it off planet. You're lucky. I'm Whisper by the way.”

Jay was so caught up in feasting his eyes on the inside of the Reverance that it took him a moment to realise that the girl was talking to him, and he hastily snapped to attention. "I suppose so," he replied, "I'm Jay, though I guess you already know that."

The young pilot gave Vince a suspicious glance, "I meant to ask this before but we didn't have time. How .. exactly did you get your hands on a Reverance whatever it was? By the looks of things it's a military vessel, and should have costed more than I imagine you've seen in a lifetime."

Vincent grinned. "It's true. I'm not even going to try and bluff you into thinking how vast my resources are. And it's not just any military vessel, my friend. It's the military vessel. A full blown Aschen Reverance, Stealth Class. Or so said one of the manuals. I hadn't even seen this ship before we got our hands on it."

He hopped up onto a highback chair, settled into the middle of the CIC. He put a foot down on the seat, settling his rear on the back of it, looking at all the instruments. "But does it really matter how I got it? The real question, is can you fly it." His eyes darted to his sister, quickly and discreetly. If they were going to reveal how the ship came to them, the ball was in her court.

"Pffff..." Jay cracked his knuckles, "Can I fly it? Can I fly it? Give me five minutes in the driver's seat and I'll fly whatever you can throw at me." The youth grinned, "I'm sure Avita and I can figure it out with enough time. And it looks like at least someone here knows how it works, otherwise we wouldn't have moved."

“Well, it's meant to be run by an AI. So manually piloting it is going to be a bit of a task and not so much a sit and steer task as you might be used to. Especially until we get an AI back on line to handle most of the major systems. Come have a look if you want,” Whisper replied, with a wave to the consoles that seemed made up of a wide assortment of screens and panels, rather than a more traditional cockpit setup. “The ship is meant to be run by a crew of forty. We're limping as it stands. Once we get the corrupted AI purged and the systems back online, we should be able to have you piloting it alone though.”

Jay raised an eyebrow, making his way over to the assortment of glowing panels, "I figured it wouldn't be as simple as a joystick and a go button, I've messed about with bigger vessels before -- but that is quite a lot of buttons. Not sure I have enough fingers, though I imagine with a little computer magic I'd be able to manage," The youth folded his arms, "But hold up, Whisper here seems to know everything that I'm going to need to - why'd you come all the way out here to fetch me when you already have a capable pilot? I'm not exactly going to be doing any flying like I would in the Eclipse in a vessel this complex."

“Because I'm not staying on board. As you may have surmised, the ship is a military vessel, and stolen – necessity I assure you. But it's not the ship they'll be coming after. It'll be me. So the sooner I get off ship, the sooner you guys can do whatever it is you guys do. But we need to get the ship in order and get its systems purged before we can get me back to Terra, or we'll be identified before we even set down.” Whisper sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “We can get some modifications done. I don't trust these AI systems, but if we can get a proper cockpit installed, I think with an AI to handle most of the major systems, we can get you flying this thing a bit smoother.”

Vincent's face, once bright, darkened at the prospect of Whisper leaving. He looked at the two, rubbing his chin with a bare hand. "In short, there's a lot of work to do. It's a big ship, meant for large crews, so we're going to need to get a few more bodies to fill up the CIC, at least. A skilled mechanic, some muscle, maybe someone who knows the ship a little better when Jacquelyn goes off to finish her whirwind of fabulous adventures." He shot the girl a smile.

"I can find some backwater contact to do the modifications if you tell me what I need to have done. As soon as we get rolling, I'm sure we can pay off any debts we incur."

Whisper shook her head as she pulled up a map of the surrounding galaxy on a large display screen. “We should head here,” she replied, pointing out a distant solar system. “The Hundred Lions Confederacy. There will be a good market there for some of the weapons on board and they have no allegiance to the Aschen. That should more than fund the modifications and repairs while staying off the Aschen radar.”

Vincent nodded, rubbing his itchy nose with a thumb. "So sell the weapons, buy the mods. Pretty simple. By then we should know where we're at, in the sense of wanting new parts."

"The question I have for you now, Jayden, is are you willing to endure a bunch of danger, shootouts, dogfights, and being chased by the law while making a decent coin out of it all." He shrugged with a single shoulder. "It seems like a good deal to me."

Jayden looked around the ship, biting his lip, "Well I'm not gonna have much else to do for a while. So long as I'm safely tucked away in a cockpit for most of the firefights, you have yourself a pilot."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Whisper (Jacquelyn Rose) Character Portrait: Jayden Ryder Character Portrait: Vincent May-Rose Character Portrait: Vanora Rees Character Portrait: Vanora Skybrook Character Portrait: Malena
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#, as written by Tiko
(Post written by NotAFlyingToy, Tiko, Script and Vyral)

Standing fast in front of his assembled crew (was three people really a crew?), Vincent May-Rose felt that much more like a captain. They had a pilot now - someone who could actually fly this bucket - and with a few more additions to the crew, they might be able to have a skeleton crew and turn a few profits. While having all of this super technology was a grand thing indeed, they needed to find a place to offload the weapons on the ship, pick up a few stragglers that would be willing to fly with them, and maybe some kind of tech expert. Or six.

He sure as shit didn't know how to fix it.

"Okay, here's where we are." Vincent said, propping a boot up onto a command console of the CIC. "Ptoro's a rough planet, so Vanora and I will be headed planetside, looking for a buyer or three. While we're out there, Jayden, Whisper, you guys will be doing interviews. Nab anyone you think looks their way around a ship this size and fish for interest. Discreetly, mind. I doubt the people that are looking for us are way the hell out here, but it's best to not rock the boat."

He turned to Vanora, cocking his head. "I'm giving Vanora and I a day. If we don't return by nightfall, something's gone wrong. If I don't check in periodically, something's gone wrong. If something happens, track us using the Tracers." He pointed to a flat disc attached to his gunbelt, a purchase he'd made when he began smuggling.

"Right. Any questions before we head out?"



1 hour later...

“We're going to have to purge the old AI entirely. The system is thoroughly corrupted, and even with repairs there's no telling that it will ever be stable enough. This will be better anyways. With a new AI we can better design the systems to run with a human pilot,” Whisper explained to Jayden.

It had been nearly an hour since Vincent and Vanora had departed and the pair had found their way to the hanger bay while they awaited the arrival of a prospective technician. The woman in question had come with an impressive array of references, as well as two years of experience on a Reverence S class vessel.

"Make sure you get one of those AIs that don't talk too much, I always feel uncomfortable having to have an extended conversation with a computer." Jayden replied from where he was perched on the wing of the Eclipse, his own ship - a single-person fighter designed for racing. The hangar of the Reverence was larger than most planetside buildings that he was used to, but largely empty. The vibrant blue-and-red Eclipse seemed dwarfed in the empty space.

The young pilot had his visor lowered and was tinkering with the back of the ship, schematics and blueprints flashing across his vision. "Who's this person we're hiring, again? I may or may not have been not listening when you told me the first time. As I recall it, I was making sure I didn't accidentally spill plasma on my legs at the time."



Beneath her heavy coat Malena was sweating. Being swathed in thick layers of clothing offered little advantage on Ptoro. The dusty platau on which the port was built was bathed in sunlight for most of the day and the ground beneath her feet radiated heat so vibrantly that her face, turned down to protect it from the rolling waves of sand and dirt, felt roasted. A group of similar folk were clustered around her, all wearing dirty but serviceable clothing and scanning the bulletins board with beedy eyes. Talk of a Revererence landing in such a backwater port spread fast, and everything from hopeful amatures to grizzled veterans had turned out hoping for a spot on the ship. Malena slipped into this catagory nicely.

Various messages flashed on the screens. The grime smeared across the glass made some difficult to read but there was an audible buzz when the words 'REVERENCE S' flashed p on the moniters. No-one had missed that, it seemed. Malena scanned the information quickly and squinted her eyes at another incoming swirl of sand. She couldn't believe her luck. Of all the things to find, the crew of the Reverence needed a techie. She flashed a reseme. Eager to get to the hanger way ahead of any competition she tugged her scarf up to protect her mouth and nose and set a steady pace.

She arrived at the designated hanger twenty minutes later. A gaggle of other potentials had gathered around the hangers bay doors and were staring in with a mixture of amazement and fear. For a lot of Ptoro's residents, this would be one of the largests ships they had seen. And likely, they would never see another Reverence cruiser in their lifetimes. At least, not if the peace held. Malena sifted through the crowd and spotted two people, a woman and a young man, crouched by the side of the Reverence's hanger. She made her way over to them, tugging her scarf down from her face and shaking out her hair. It needed a wash, badly, but the coating of grit managed to stay the otherwise greased-up look it had.

She asked, "Are either of you part of the crew?"

“Malena?” Whisper asked as she approached the woman, a hand offered in greeting. “I'm Whisper, and that's our pilot, Jayden,” she offered in introduction. There was a cleanliness to Whisper that contrasted sharply with Malena, and it left her looking rather out of place on Ptoro.

Jayden sat up straight, sliding his visor up and off with a relieved sigh, placing them down on the Eclipse's wing next to him. The surprisingly young man smiled down at Malena with a small wave of an oil-dirtied hand, "Howdy!" he said, swinging his legs over the edge of the wing to face the new arrival.

"That's me." She stuck out her hand and shook whispers firmly. By contrast to the prim and proper look of the ships woman, Malena felt grimey and more than a little repulsive. Wandering around Ptoro she blended in, but against the backdrop of a shiny new Reverence and its pristine crew she stuck out like a sore thumb. She dropped her hand to her side and shot the pilot a polite smile. He couldn't be more than a child. She turned her gaze back to Whisper. "So, what exactly are you paying me to do?"

Whisper's eyes studied Malena carefully as they grasped hands, and she maintained the contact for perhaps a moment longer than would be normal before she finally withdrew her hand. “The ship's AI was damaged and most of the systems are down. We've been limping on auto-control but we need to get the systems purged and a new AI installed. We're looking to get some hardware modifications done as well. I don't really trust these new AI systems, but as you know, these vessels are designed to be run exclusively off an AI. We can review the blue prints, but the plan is to get a proper cockpit installed, where a single human pilot can manage most of the ships systems with the assistance of an AI, rather than the other way around.”

Jayden nodded his head at Whisper's final sentence, "That's me. I'm good, but I can't sit at forty chairs at once. I'm not that good."

"How long have I got?" the technition asked.

“As long as you need, and as many hands as you need,” Whisper replied.

"Good." She glanced at the ship again. "This won't be a quick fix." She turned back to Whisper. "Does my board come out of my payment?"

“We're prepared to stay in port for however long is necessary. Come, I'll show you to the CIC.” At the inquiry into board though, Whisper pursed her lips. It would be harder to keep Malena from snooping around the ship if she were staying here, but on the flip side, that would be difficult to prevent with her working on it, and at least this way, they could keep an eye on her. “If you require room and board for the duration, I'm sure my brother can arrange that. We have space.”

"Alright then. Show me the way."

Jayden glanced down at his hands, "I shouldn't wander around the upper decks in this state, so I guess I'll finish up here then catch up if you're still around." he said, lifting his hand in a casual salute before going back to his visor and ship.

The setting changes from The Haven to Wing City

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jayden Ryder
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#, as written by Script
The supermarket seemed like a pretty weird place for any job interview, let alone one for a government-run militia organisation, but hey, maybe that was how they did things in this neck of the woods. Things were certainly very different around here to what he was used to. There were things from stories back home, and things that the stories had never had the imagination to come up with. It was a bizarre but enjoyable experience.

But nonetheless, Jayden was bored. After living the danger-fraught life of a space racer for several years, life planetside was really lacking in the sort of adrenaline he was used to. He'd kept himself busy with some personal projects, of course, the Bolt was evidence of that, and the Hellion was starting to come into shape. As much as he enjoyed his tinkering and mechanics though, he needed something to get his blood rushing.

He'd skipped ship from the pirates thinking he wouldn't be interested in getting himself into combat, but he had reconsidered. A firefight wasn't that much more dangerous than your average illegal space-race considering the courses and the amount of foul play that took place, after all. The main concern had been the difficulty of getting back into his former circles if he became known widely as a pirate. Even the less law-abiding racers looked down on professional pirates, as a rule.

And so he found himself here, having applied for a place in a law-enforcement organisation of all things. It wasn't exactly the police, but it wasn't exactly the army either. It was flexible, though, and that's what Jayden needed.

Jayden sauntered through the video section of the supermarket, eyes passing over all the various screens and devices arrayed for purchase. Sure, they were pretty, but he bet half of them didn't even work with VIs like Avita. He spotted the person he was looking for: a young man wearing the militia logo, and walked over.

"Hey," he began, "Jayden Ryder. I'm here about an interview?"

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"Twenty two, actually," Jayden replied with a raised eyebrow. He'd thought he'd be meeting some suit here, all sunglasses and brisqueness. That was what he'd always imagined government organisations to be like, or at least the people who did interviews for them.

"But I get the 'younger' thing a lot. I think it's the shortness, personally, or my eyes. A visor adds five years, I swear." he continued, smirking.

"So uh .. what now? Are you the interviewer, or are you taking me to him, orrr..?" Jayden trailed off, waiting for the kid to say 'just this way' and escort him off to some government-owned back room with a formal agent in, who had a briefcase of notes on him. He could already hear the 'I hear you're quite well known for some ... under the radar racing circuits' in a stony, level voice. He raced halfway across the galaxy, but he didn't want to ignore the fact that they might have done their research better than he'd hoped.

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"Empath, huh. Neat." Jayden said thoughtfully, "No, that's fine. I don't think I have anything to ask, other than 'what's the catch?', but that's kind of cliche and I'd rather not be that predictable."

The ex-racer leaned back on his arms against one of the displays, grinning. "Hit me."

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"I suppose technically not," Jayden said, "I have a flat here though, a little one in a block off Sol Avenue. Eastwell Road is the name, and inventively, Eastwell Apartments is the building." The flat had been one of the places Jayden had finally started to spend some of the money from his race-winnings that weren't inconsiderable, stockpiled in his bank account. Living largely out of his ship for the last few years had been cheap, even taking into account the occasional big spend for an upgrade. He had well priced sources.

"For a living? I don't really have a job, at the moment. I do some mechanic work, but not as a business. Living off of old money as it stands."

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"I've always liked danger," Jayden said, "Sorta. I find it hard to sit tight and do normal things, like normal people. I've never really lived an average life since I left home, and even then I was stir-crazy." Whilst the danger he went through wasn't for the sake of the danger, he doubted racing would have drawn him as much if it weren't for the element of risk. A bit of a show off, he liked proving he was good enough to fly in the face of danger -- literally.

"I've got a set of skills that's not well suited for just making my way in the world like most people. I figure channelling that into doing some good... why not? If I'm not worried about putting myself on the line just for thrills, what's stopping me doing that for lives as well?"

Jayden might not have had 'helping people' as his primary motivation when he started looking for things to do here, but when the opportunity to showcase all his new toys and do that at the same time presented itself, it seemed like a good deal. He'd always fancied himself as the hero type -- or at least, as something romantically idealistic like that. Pirating hadn't been all it'd been made out to be, heroing seemed a safer bet.

"The money's no issue. I have a pretty fair amount to keep me going, and I can find work in some sort of gadgeteer or mechanic's business easy enough if I need to."

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"I'll admit," Jayden said, "My first loyalty isn't to Terra. But people are people, right? My loyalties are to the people close to me, not to soil or to nationality. I'm not from here, but I'm no more loyal to where I am from than I am to here or anywhere else. I don't buy into that."

Jayden shrugged, "Call it the result of being a spacer. I've never lived planetside before, it's all new to me, this concept of loyalty to a 'place'. Till now it's always been family and friends -- not countries, not planets, not ships. People. And I won't lie and say that I've spent most of my life so far living like some virtuous priest, but a guy's gotta start somewhere, right?"

He laughed, "I'm a good guy, honest. I see someone in trouble I can help, I help them. That's just being human, 'far as I'm concerned. So long as I don't have to give up fun to be an 'example', I think we're good on that front. I'm steering clear of anything on the wrong side of the law since I got here."

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Jayden raised an eyebrow, "That sounds like it'd be a useful thing to have on a date, or in a poker game. Remind me never to play poker with you." The spacer grinned, leaning back with his bag of chips, "Alright, then. I'm an open book, go ahead."

What Ethan would be able to read from Jayden was a personality buzzing with energy. There was a lot of youthful passion still in the young man, but it was unfocused. On a level he was regretful and frustrated that he'd been forced to take a break from his racing career, but at the same time he was excited about his prospects here on Terra, including the projects he'd already completed here.

Regarding the militia, there was some apprehension. He wasn't a hardened veteran of combat, though he'd been in his fair share of aerial battles and even a couple of shootouts. It wasn't in his nature to confront danger head-on, preferring to avoid it entirely, but he had no shortage of bravery for when it was required that he not back down. His desire to join was fuelled more by the thrillseeker in him than the white knight, but at the same time his desire to help people was genuine. It was just a convenient package of being in the spotlight, dancing with danger, and at the same time making something good of it.

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Jayden scowled, "Oh come on!" he exclaimed, "You never said anything about messing with my fucking head like that! You said you were looking, not touching!" Kicking the leg of the table in the artificially induced anger, he glared at Ethan, "Fuck! If I didn't know this was fake anger ..."

Jayden's mind whirred, memories flying past. Anger at various people flashed through: anger at his father for leaving when he was a teen without a word, anger at various childhood rivals that had gotten on his nerves. Then there was anger against the people behind the races he competed in for kicking him out for a sabotage he didn't even commit; anger against the true offender and whoever had been helping him in the larger ship that day...

Gripping the armrests of his seat, Jayden gritted his teeth and waited.


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"Eh, that's alright... I was just angry, obviously," Jayden took a deep breath as the anger faded, shaking his head to clear it. Before he had any time to let his emotions settle, however, Ethan moved on. Jayden grinned, "You're right, this isn't that bad. 'course, I coulda handled whatever. I can keep fake emotions under control, no problem."

This particular emotion was one that Jayden didn't lack in the slightest. The pride of victory surged forth first - winning races, the cheers of the crowd. He adored being adored as the cool, smooth racer boy who'd come out of nowhere to take the racing circuit by storm. His pride in his ship and his flying skill was brimming, and in the rest of his vehicle projects. Thinking of his mother's pride in how well he'd taken to flying always made him proud himself - she was a pilot herself, and she'd taught him to begin with.

Aside from those things, Jayden's pride largely extended to a healthy confidence in his ability to talk to people. He considered himself something of a smooth-talker, and making people like him was something he found a breeze.

Deep set in him was the need to impress other people - to show off, to be known, to have good things said of him. Driving that was the exact opposite of what even he thought - that he needed to reinforce his own self-esteem with the opinions of others. That even though he knew he was talented, he wasn't satisfied that what he could do, and what he did, was worthwhile.

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Taking a deep breath, Jayden braced himself for whatever was next. He soon relaxed though, expression widening into a grin. "This is the weirdest experience," he commented, laughing, "It's like being pumped full of laughing gas or tickled, but ... yeah, you get what I mean."

As the young man glowed, within Ethan would be finding what caused that glow. There was his mother, again, this time framed in a small kitchen-like space. A childhood memory of some sort, swiftly passing on towards the present. The feeling of flying, just being in the air made Jayden happy. Speed, excitement, all the adrenaline of speeding along in whichever vehicle he happened to be driving or piloting.

He was a social person, and the faces of friends from all times of his life faded in and out of his thoughts. Elements of what had surfaced in his pride showed themselves again - victory, public adoration, the spotlight. As well as bolstering his confidence those things also genuinely made him happy. Whether that was for winning a race or for saving an orphanage, though for it to be personal was even more elating.

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"Aheh," Jayden responded with a bashful half-grin, "Yeah, I figured you'd pick up on that. I'm told I've let success go to my head a bit." Though in his opinion, most of his ego was warranted. It wasn't like he was stupid about it -- he knew his limits. Mostly. Sorta. He certainly wasn't lacking in humility on how good he was in a fight that wasn't on the move, at least.

Reaching out, Jayden took the badge up and looked at it for a few moments, "So that's it? I'm in? Awesome! Thanks a bunch - I'll be sure to keep my big head in check. I'm not particularly used to regular combat, so you can be sure I'll be being careful enough there."

The setting changes from Wing City to Gambit's Bar

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The door of the bar swung inwards as Jayden poked his head in, red-brown hair falling messily over the visor on his forehead. Making his way inside, he scanned the room, "Am I the only one who..?" he began to ask, before he caught up with the current conversation.

Glancing down at the militia badge on his jacket, the young pilot shook his head. "Right, guess not. Everyone okay? Nobody... I dunno, fall of their chair and crack their head open in the shock?"

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As the Aschen ship blocked out the sun, what was relatively-speaking a housefly of a spacecraft jetted into view towards the bar. Setting itself down a short distance away, its pilot hopped out to look up with a sigh at the Reverence.

"Not heard anything but bad things about the people who drive those..." Jayden muttered, "Here's hoping they're more reasonable than I've heard and everyone's just biased after the invasion a while back..."

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"Avita, can you try and patch me through to the Reverence's comms?"

'Initialising communication. Attempting connection... Requesting permission to broadcast...'

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"Hi!" Jayden said, about as formal as a teenage girl calling her bff. "I mean, ah, this is Jayden Ryder, member of the Terran Militia. Can I tentatively inquire as to your intent? Just for peace of mind, you understand."

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"Wow, you're friendly," Jayden commented, "You sure you don't want to see a doctor about that stick up your ass?"

Nobody ever said Jayden was the most diplomatic individual. By that point, however, it was apparent he was talking to an AI. "Yeah yeah, yada yada," the pilot rolled his eyes, "I spend enough of my day talking to a computer, you can suck it."

With that, he cut the communications. "No offence, of course, Avita."

Being, unlike the Aschen computer, simply a VI with no self-awareness, Avita didn't respond. "Keep me posted on anything the ship does that you can detect."

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Jayden stared up at the massive ships that now filled the sky, shaking his head. "We're little fish in a small pond, ol' Blue," he murmured, glancing back at his prized fighter-ship. "Avita, fly the Eclipse somewhere safe. Stay low, don't wanna give anyone any reason to shoot her down."

For some reason, Jayden wasn't entirely reassured that there wasn't about to be another war.

The setting changes from Gambit's Bar to Wing City Business District

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The roar of a high-powered engine blasted into hearing range as a blue dart shot down the road towards the site of the conflict. With a screech of tyres, what now was apparent as a motorcycle that looked more like the batcycle than a racing bike for the amount of weaponry and armour it was kitted out with, came to a halt a short distance away.

From his perch, Jayden took in the scene with shock. "Avita, get me some info on what's happening here, asap!"

The VI in his visor went to work, scanning the area and identifying lifeforms. 'Activity appears to be centred around a powerful being in the rubble, or potentially more. Scans are inconclusive as to their nature. There are innocents trapped in the rubble, but many beings of undetermined intent converging.'

"Well shit, and I thought the bullcrap was done for today!"

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"That the guy you were talking about, Avita?" Jayden queried as Lochlyn spoke. 'Affirmative' the VI confirmed. Uneasily, Jayden glanced around, "How strong are we talking?"

'Uncertain. Scans indicate resistance to physical harm, but the extent of this is unknown.'

The man's words - oh-so-confident despite his nudity - sent a chill down Jayden's spine. But thankfully, Jayden was a cocky bastard. "Might as well give it a shot, eh Vita? He won't catch us if he turns out to be too tough. Nobody outpaces me. I just hope the Bolt's as good as I designed her... not tested her much yet."

Jayden took a deep breath, trying to focus on not worrying as he adjusted his visor, readying the aim of the Bolt's starcannons. "Eat plasma!" he yelled, before opening fire.

The salvo of superhot plasma shot through the air violently towards Lochlyn, the air rippling with the heat of the shots.

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"Shiiiit..." Jayden flinched as the bullets flew, hitting the shields of his bike. "Is he dead Avita?"

'Negative. Enemy rapidly recovering to full health.'

"Well shit," Jayden grimaced, "This isn't good." The young pilot wasn't sure where to go from here, but decided that it wasn't sitting around doing nothing useful. He might not be able to harm the main bad guy, but the police were in a firefight. He had a job to do.

Thumbing his militia badge, he flicked a switch on the Bolt. With a roar of the engine he was off, soaring into the air on jets as the road-bike swiftly became a jetbike. Plasma-cannon and minigun firing, he rained down fire on the ... mercenaries? Mobsters? Whoever the police were fighting.

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"We're gonna need a bigger gun, Vita," Jayden decided, jetting away into the city. He'd be back, though. With a bigger gun.