Echoes of a Forgotten Past

This is a space for in-character events that do not occur within the line of duty and/or did not fit into the "Daily Life" section as it played out. Threads herein are meant to supplement character development and flesh out the setting elements, but are not necessary to understanding the plot or characters involved. These events are to be considered canon unless otherwise noted.
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Kai
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Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Kai » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:36 pm

Unlike last year, I wanted our Fall thread to be cannon, part of the storyline of the Hymn itself, and not just the Hymn's universe. So, we have SS215 on a special mission, escorting our Admiral and Liason on one of the worlds devastated by the Drathonians. Unlike other worlds, however, this one was attacked with a Biological agent, That Infected 9/10 terrans, and killed 5/9 of the infected. Those who survived were cut off via attacks on all methods of transport off the planet, and left to fend for themselves, or die, though something unexpected happened. However, as nobody was able to check on the planet up until now, nobody knew what had become of it. Our theme music is such: Nine Inch Nails:Ghosts I

On this planet, two Caballero shuttles land in the wreckage of what used to be a spaceport at the capital city of the planet. Beyond the rubble, however, lies a gleaming, perfect city. Not a speck of dust on a window, not a blade of grass out of place. Cars that were not legally parked have been removed, and all trash has been swept. Practically a perfect utopia. But nobody is there. Nothing, no people to populate the city, no birds to sing, the only remaining animals are small and quiet, hiding in their burrows in fear at the slightest noise.

This, a pristine, preserved example of Terran Splendour, the maintenance droids set to keep the city perfect, the power supplies still active and maintained, everything that needs to be there for the city to run, Is.

It stands as a testament to what the Terrans are capable of, as a memorial to all those who were lost. as a graveyard to the ones taken by the plague... and as a cage, for those unlucky few who did not die from it.

Outside the Caballero shuttles, Kai Nakamura stretched in the bright sunlight of the day. It was still, and quiet, not too hot, and easy to see. Really, a beautiful day, about 4:00 in the afternoon local time. He was thinking, getting ready to pick who was in the Away team and who was guarding the Shuttles. Obviously, the two pilots were staying, as they had no real combat training; not like they expected to see anyone, this place had been abandoned, even by the Drathonians.

"Rutthinger, Kwon, Guttemeier. You three stay here with the pilots and guard the shuttles. If things get bad, you can just lift off and come find us, allright? though I doubt that will happen." the Lieutenant ordered, Signalling to everyone else; his Marines, the Intel agent, the Bird-alien, and the Admiral; that they were ready to go.

They had all been given the explanation about this planet, and Kai fully expected it to be an easy job. Just walk around, point out what happened, try to find the central computer for any datalogs, and get out. It should be easy, right?

Garrett gave a quiet sigh stepping down from the Caballero, which set off memories of Gallagher, and their bickering about being old. No, being in their thirties really wasn't that old, but old enough- especially considering their company. He was carrying a Whisper this time, seeing as they'd allowed him a choice. The shotgun attachment was also present and fully loaded, even if everyone doubted it would see use.

Looking toward the city, his eyes softened. The city gave off a... lifeless aura. He knew it well from his teenage years. The idea of venturing into some place that was reminiscent of home struck a tender wound the explosives expert must have overlooked between Earth and Surandan because it hurt now. Memories backed up a mile-long in his mind, waiting patiently for their turn to grace his mind's eye. He had to break it up.

"Admiral Evelyn," he called, moving toward her. For once, his eyes never wandered from her face, a sign that he was clearly not all there- clear only to him, of course. "What's the plan?" Because I need to get the Hell out of Dodge before the dead start to rise.

Cibo stood next to Evelyn and Killy, accompanying the Admiral and Ottyo Ambassador as they descended out of the shuttle. Evelyn seemed to be doing fine, as was the Ottyo. In fact, he seemed to be a little more energetic since looking into the bag he was given by his kin. In all honesty, Cibo felt that Killy was the only one perhaps killing the solemn mood. He was sniffing the air. "What is it?" she asked him in a quiet voice.

"This city. It looks dead, though, if filled with your people, would still look dead to me. And it smells funny. In all honesty, I think all Terrans smell funny. I will get used to it...eventually." At that, Cibo raised an eyebrow at the Ottyo. If she was lucky, he might just reveal a few details of his own civilization and get her that much closer to being promoted. His people were so damned secretive.

"Why? What's so different about your cities?" She asked, keeping her voice down to respect the dead, and be neutral. Cibo briefly eyed the armored mask he wore before looking at his yellow slit eyes proper; at the moment, it was set on his right shoulder, acting as an extra pauldron.

"Very little plant and animal life here. Plus, I do not think I can walk up the walls." Cibo made as though to loudly protest, stating that it was impossible to casually walk up walls. However, a single glance at the city, and Garrett, kept her silent.

'Respect. That's something the dead deserve. Right?'

Kwon began to complain as guard duty was assigned to him, but Ruth put his hand on the more exciteable man's shoulder, which seemed to do the trick of calming him down. "Awright, we'll wait here for you guys, then." he said instead, looking up at Rutthinger in a very displeased manner.

Evelyn, for her part, looked to Lieutenant helndlow and answered him "The plan is as Kai said, we look at the results of the attack, and find the city's mainframe computer." She pulled at one of the hems on her uniform- Unlike everyone else she was not wearing any combat dress, not even the stripped-down Saviors the Marines had or an Eidelon like Cibo. She even lacked the open-face helmet that some of them had worn.

Kai flipped down the short visor from his helmet, allowing him to see a miniaturized HUD, and Waved his Sugar around, using the weapon as a sort of sensor system. "Well, as far as I can tell, the main power generators are buried underground, on the other side of the city. I think the plans we have say the mainframe computer is near there, but we have to travel through underground accessways to get there." the Lieutenant explained, not seeming to pleased about accessways. "I'll bet you if anything's here, it's in those tunnels." He muttered, casually.

Mortego, standing next to the alien who's life had had saved upon their first meeting, spoke up. "There's usually more plants and animals in Terran cities. Something's weird about this one, and that's why we're investigating it." he explained to the Ottyo, plainly.


"Of course something's strange. Biological weapons ruin everything. The ecosystem is out of whack. People, livestock, hell even the skin-dwelling fungi were roasted- figuratively speaking." That was good- Lieutenant Hendlow needed a distraction and this was certainly working.

"Are we sure it's gone cold? I'd hate to be strutting 'round if it's still lively."

The Ottyo rotated his head left-right-left-right like a lion shaking his mane. "I believed that we were hoping for 'lively' subjects, such as citizens of your Republic, Garret-Lieutenant?" Yotruyan asked. Meanwhile, Cibo growled to herself and moved a little closer to Evelyn, both out of annoyance towards the Ottyo's phrasing, and for concern towards the Gynoid. Still, she couldn't help but pick on the Marine.

"Hmph. For once I might agree with you Killy. Garrett, didn't you ask for more action back at Pattel's Pub?"

Garrett grunted a sort of abrupt laugh at that. The Lieutenant then very 'cordially' answered Cibo Malinowsky with, "Are you assuming my traditional line of work is in any way similar to coming down with boils that ooze puss to kill your white blood cell count, a fever that can leave you dead in less than 24 hours, or chronically lethal diarrhea?" He smirked. "Don't misconstrue action with humiliatingly murderous diseases and viruses. I was only asking if the strain was still contagious. If so, we shouldn't be here. If it isn't, let's get moving."

Mortego would speak up to Garrett's question "No. Far as I can tell, this strain has been isolated and cured by now, we should be immune, but just in case I do have heavy Antibiotics in case one of us catches something." The medic pointed to his satchel, which held the ubiquitous red cross on a white background, a symbol of a medic for millennia.

"Well, then, let's just get moving. there's probably just nothing here. Maybe the Agri-bots ran out of fertilizer or something." kai commented, waving the team forward. the would walk for a while on the tarmac before passing by the somewhat eerie ruins of the spaceport, and then make their way into the city proper. it was that serene oddness still, everything was perfect, too perfect.

Cibo made an angry "MMMM." noise at Garrett. "Not what I meant. I mean, every plague, engineered or not, has got to have survivors. They might even shoot at us out of sheer surprise and fear. It's happened before at some of the places I got sent to. We're wearing armor for a reason you know." Cibo briefly glanced at Evelyn again, looking at the smaller yet larger admiral from head to toe. It bugged the intelligence agent that the Admiral wasn't at least wearing just the Eidolon chest. Cibo briefly reached a hand up from her BR-0 and tugged at her collar. 'Then again, maybe Evelyn finds it tight...'

Meanwhile, the Ottyo walked along beside her. Whenever they stopped, he held still with a stillness that annoyed her. Why couldn't she or some snipers hold that still? It pissed her off. And then there was how Yotruyan snapped his head to one thing and another like a bird. She whispered to him, "Killy, would you stop that?"

"Stop what?" the Ottyo asked. His head sharply turned to her direction so that he could watch her with both eyes.

"That! Stop turning your head like that, you'll break your neck or something." She hissed at him. The Ottyo replied to her with a matter of fact tone,

"No I will not Cibo. Anyone can do it without hurting themselves. Why don't you do it? You are slow turning your head."

"Because we can't and it's unnatural. Look, see, I can't d- gah! My neck!" Cibo was now holding onto the left side of her neck in pain as a muscle cramped up from the unusual exertion. The Ottyo deftly reached up to his own muzzle and kept it shut with his hand.

Adrian had spent a long time as he walked behind the rest of the group just enjoying being in plain old atmosphere again. He had his half-helmet with him, but it had been clipped to his belt since they had landed. Of course, their was one other thing taking up his attention.
The new terran Repeating Gauss Sniper Rifle, or the Regressor as the marines had already dubbed it was a 'beaut. Though, after looking around at pristine but abandoned world they had landed in, he didn't feel as if he would have much of a chance to test it out. Still, every time he looked at it the old marine found a new feature or just some aesthetically pleasing little patch that made him smile.
Cibo and Killy's conversation turned more heads than just the intelligence officer's though. Adrian looked up from his new weapon and cracked a smile as the girl complained and the alien just levelly stated his facts.
“Ottyo!” Adrian yelled over to the pair, a mischievous grin on the older man's face. “You gotta learn a bit more about our species' womenfolk if you gonna have one looking out for you. A bet they tend to be a little more ridiculous than your used to – worry about every little thing all, eh? When they get like that you just need to say something along the lines of...” The sniper paused as he tried to remember some phrases he could give to the alien as advice. “Ah! Here we go, something along the lines of 'Yes, of course your right dear.' then you can go ahead and keep doing whatever and she won't bring up for a few hours – now the second confrontation is a bit hard, lemme think here for a bit.” As he stopped, he looked at Cibo and grinned, Adrian certainly seemed to have recovered quite well from his wounds from the battle on the unnamed planemo.

"Your theories are breathtaking, Agent Malinowsky," was Garrett's simple and acidic reply. Mortego had said all he needed to hear, and so the explosives expert was on the move again. To Lieutenant Nakamura's proposal, he answered, "Unlikely."

Because I know what the dead and dying look like in those early hours. As soon as the thought completed itself, he tugged a cigarette from one of his front pockets and lit it. Hopefully it'd help get his mind out of the dreary dank past.


They continued, realizing that this city was immense, and they had landed on the edge of it. With public transport nowhere in sight, and the Caballeros not nimble enough to take them directly where they needed to go, they were making their way hoofing it, which was not fun, even with the rather nice weather.

Evelyn stayed near the middle of the group, taking in the scenery with wonder. Honestly, it was all impressive, the tall, gleaming structures, the perfectly kept plant life (what little was left anyway) the clean, flat streets, the storefronts, everything seemed so nice, yet so eerily empty and lost. there weren't even computers that she could access from here, leaving her practically as powerless as every other person in the group. Worst of all, for the Gynoid that had been designed to need socialization, was the lack of people, of living things here.

Garrett fell back a few steps from Kai to sidle up by the Admiral. She was looking rather down. There was little he could offer other than his own company, or perhaps...

"Could I offer you a cigarette? Looking pretty glum, ma'am." He presented the small package with a lone stick protruding from the top. Yeah, she wasn't human. So what? That probably meant it was even safer for her than his purely organic self. Besides, there were plenty of safe procedures to overcome that sort of thing. Not that he'd ever needed one.


"Yotruyan. I am Yotruyan. Or Killy. Some people seem fond of that." The Ottyo replied, casting a glance at the Marine. As Cibo loudly cracked her neck, he winced. "Please do not do that Cibo."

"What Killy? This?" The intelligence officer cracked her neck again, this time louder, followed up by her knuckles. Despite wincing each time, Yotruyan seemed to ignore that to the best of his abilities and replied to Adrian instead.

"Personally, I believe the second round would consist of more yelling, and perhaps the female blocking view of the entertainment system with her body." speaking with a deadpan voice.

Cibo gave both Adrian and Yotruyan a crass hand gesture hidden from Evelyn's view with a casual brush of her hair.

The sound of a shuttle breaking the fifteen years of dust and echos was what one could call a strange experience. Of course, any reasonable Surandanian would investigate such noise for their own safety. Such a rare sound could mean anything, pirates, looters from other parts of the planet, Drathonians, or maybe even a clueless group of explorers. So when Asher caught ear of the sound of spaceborn engines shearing against the stillness of the sunny afternoon, he felt the undying urge to see what it really was.

Like always, he stuck to the sidewalks, running low and fast against the walls of the city's buildings. He tried to keep as low of a visual profile possible, hoping to avoid being spotted by the dangers of the planet. Every minute or so, he'd stop in his tracks, crouching lowing and scanning around for the source of some strange sound echoing off the quiet buildings. In fact, the closer he got to the space port, the more obvious and louder the sound became.

Upon arriving near the Space Port, Asher spotted figures advancing outside of the hub. From the street corner he was watching from, he finally discerned what the strange sound was.

Words, people talking! It was something he hadn't heard in a while, so it sounded foreign when he heard them.

"Shit..." thought Asher when he saw the group advancing in his direction, and quickly made himself scarce by hopping into one of the deserted buildings. He made a quick sweep of the room as he entered, drawing his knife and laser pistol. Once again, as luck would have it, nothing was there. So, with curiosity still weaving it's influence on the Suradanian, he turned, and from the hidden cover of a window, watched the group advance through the city.

He followed them, unnoticed, through damaged interior sections between interconnected buildings, and crossing streets quickly when he needed to. Though, as he followed he could only discern how much of target they were painting on themselves. While Asher didn't know these people well enough to want to help them, he didn't want to squander the opportunity of meeting people for the first time in a long time.

They didn't look so bad, in Asher's opinion, two of them had breasts, so that was a plus. Another looked like a bird, so none of them looked like any Drathonian that he'd ever been told about. The rest looked reasonably Terran as well, and that meant that the only suspicions lied in their motives.

Still, they were going to get hurt if they continued like they did. Asher checked around for something to get their attention without giving them an easy target to shoot at. Luckily enough, he was in the Mallhark store his dad used to go to on the 'short-notice' anniversaries. Around him were several handicrafts, paper, and a dusty pen on a desk. So he grabbed a piece of paper, a wrote a note with his scribbly handwriting:
SHUT THE HELL FUCK UP, TALKING TOO MUCH LOUD IS HOW THEY FIND YOU. STANDING OUT IN THE OPEN AIN'T A GOO SMART EITHER.
With that, he stuffed the note in a glass handicraft, and then opened the door of the Mallhark store, throwing the item out into the street, right in their path. His deed done from the cover of the tinted windows, Asher ducked back inside and watched for the groups reaction.

Kai perked up at the sound of shattering glass ahead of him. He looked around, suspicious of what it might be, but uncertain. After a few mments of looking, the Lieutenant noticed the out of place bit- a shattered glass vessel with a wadded up piece of paper that had probably been stuffed in it. To the Lieutenant, it was very suspicious, but, then again, the only thing that would have done that had to be something intelligent. Looking for help, he turned and implored of the Gynoid Admiral "Notice anything about that?"

******

"No thank you, Lieutenant." Evelyn answered to the Demolitions expert's offer.

Suddenly, she perked up as well, her enhanced eyes picking up motion and her sharp ears taking in the noises all around. One of the noises matched a light padding she had hear along with the echoes of the squad's boots, confirming that it was something else. When asked by the CO of the squad, she looked back through her memory recordings and answered " Sounds Identified as matching a slight noise that had been following us for a while. it was assumed to be an echo, but a visual search indicated that there is a person in the building up ahead. Readings of power useage in the area also suggest that the sliding doors were activated as the glass vessel was in motion."

Evelyn was eerily precise in her observations, and she now focused more on the door in question. "I do not believe the contact to be hostile. I suggest sending a volunteer or two to investigate."

******

"You just doomed them, you know that, right?" a voice chuckled, filling the room behind Asher. It was familiar, belonging to a third person with 'breasts' as the Surandanian categorized them. A Woman known as Destiny Briggs, Asher's biggest rival and fiercesest competition for survival in this hell of a world. She had taken advantage of the man's focus on the group of newcomers in order to sneak up on him, but she didn't seem to mean him any harm, rather, she was pleasantly amused by him. A Bulging rucksack on her thigh indicated at least her day's hunt for supplies had been fairly successful.

The male Surandanian let small sigh go when he heard a very familiar voice. It could've been someone else, but anyone else that sounded like her was dead, and only Destiny would bother trying to sneak up on him like this. In fact, she was probably the only thing that could.

"They were gunna' call in tha' shit anyway if they kept talkin' like they did." whispered Asher, still watching the Terrans from his position. He drew his shoulder-sheathed knife while Kai ordered someone read his note, and finally looked at her. "Listen Briggs, I been followin' these guys for a while, so I ain't picked up nothin'. If y'here t'shake me down, all y'gunna get is my knife in y'throat. N'ya know I'm stronga' than you so don't fuckin' tempt me." spat the man, before looking back out to the street.

As the glass shattered, both Killy and Cibo tried dart in front of Evelyn and place themselves between the source of the sound and her. Instead, they somehow ended up knocking head and snout together. The two quietly glanced at each other and each flanked Evelyn instead as Kai talked. She felt angry, yes, but this wasn't the time. Despite Garrett dismissing her ideas, she was dead on the mark; there were survivors. But, were they hostile? She made a hand gesture to the Lieutenants. 'I'm moving up.' Cibo sealed the balaclava styled camouflage helm onto the suit, and nearly vanished from sight.

Of course. She wasn't completely invisible. That would be costly, and, she admitted grudgingly, unfair for whoever's ass she was going to kick. The chameleon pattern that replaced her slowly turned into a pixelated image as she moved; it was like watching a spot on the scenery reduce itself in resolution. The Intelligence Agent scanned the area where the piece of paper came from with her weapon, heart beating in anticipation. The closer she got, the slower she moved. 'If it's a hostile, they'd have lined up a shot and are waiting for someone to pick it up. Dangerous enough already. I gotta be careful.' With one hand keeping the gun aimed at the store, she leaned out slowly, carefully and suddenly snatched the paper and silently ran at a crouch back to the group.

As she handed the note to the Admiral, Cibo glanced up at Killy, who was rubbing his previously bumped nose. She had the faint impression that he was looking down on her and thinking something along the lines of 'What took so long?'

Adrian responded quickly to the sound and brought his rifle up to his shoulder. As nothing happened immediately the sniper reached down and unclipped his helmet and slapped it down upon his head. Geared up the Marine watched the approach from behind the group, as the front had more then enough people taking care of it.
“Orders, Sir?” Adrian called out to Kai.


Garrett answered them first. "Relax!" His voice was loud and direly authoritative- and probably bolstered by the fact that he was already mentally on-edge.

"Don't forget this is home turf, and these are civilians. Proceed with caution and cooperation in mind, not hostility. That's how mistakes are made." He looked from his squad mates toward the source.

"Whoever you are, please come out. We're Terran Marines, and we'd like to ask some questions." Perhaps contrary to his prior spiel, Lieutenant Hendlow popped the safety off and chambered around, the metallic chink echoing menacingly down the vacant street.


As Cibo handed the note to Evelyn, She handed it to Kai, quietly telling the Inteligence Agent "Down here, He's in charge. Remember that, Malinowski. I trust his and Hendlow's experience on the ground. All I can act as is an extra sensor."

******

Kai read the scribbled note after having it handed to him, and chuckled at its messiness and the crossed out words. "It seems we have a living Terran. Everyone, Safeties off, but keep your weapons down, if they have the option, but them to stun. Oh, and don't talk too loud. Hand signals if possible."

With that, the Lieutenant began to walk forward, accompanied by a hand signal, toward the building he had been told the glass trinket had flown from. Asher would soon see him, and probably the rest of the group, appear clearly within his view from their position further down the street.

******

"Well, at least they seem to be well equipped" Destiny Quipped, moving closer, seemingly amused. The Blonde leaned forward to rest herself on Asher as if they weren't rivals in this hostile world. "It seems they want to meet you. Go ahead, Mister Lone wolf, be the Hero today. The rest of the survivors will likely laud you as such if this encounter ends with us being taken off this rock."

"I ain't no fuckin hero, Briggs. Not f'tha' people, not f'society, n'especially not f'you." replied Asher, with a massive amount of strain in his voice as Destiny pressed herself on his back. He wanted to turn and give her a reason to keep her distance, the only problem was that he was too busy enjoying the contact to be fully angry. Though, it was in that repressed anger that came a cruel idea, one he did not intend to live up to, but one that would give Destiny something to think about. He turned enough to have her slide off. "Y'know what? I will go, but I'm leavin' you and your little Circle of Friends here. Eh heh heh heh."

With that, Asher turned, and went to the door, opening it a slight to stick his hand out and wave, testing the air. Then, he stepped out, sheathing his knife, and holding up his hands to show that he wasn't holding anything dangerous. As he moved out to be seen, he kept his senses up, listening for far off footsteps past the Marine's, and trying to make sure that something would not try to sneak up on him.

As Evelyn handed the paper to Kai, she was still, and became invisible again. However, with Cibo's mistake pointed out, an arm became more visible along with the helmet it silently smacked. She did her best not to make any noise, and move forward of everyone, stealthily flanking the store and using Garret's voice as a distraction. Even though the beraggled man was already out in the clear, she wanted to have a good angle and able to take him down fast. 'Damn. What the hell as this civvie been up to anyways?' Cibo took out a fiber optic snake probe and used it like a periscope so she could see him from across the store.

****

The Ottyo was still kneeling with his Sugar up and ready, one eye aiming downrange, and the other following the note that was passed about. The eye then shifted to Garret briefly, next, both eyes forward. He sniffed. Waited. Sniffed. Waited again.

"Terran. Obviously. But I can't tell if if there's more than one, but I can tell it's a smell that doesn't belong to our group. It fits in with the general sweat and smell of Terran." Killy paused. "And this city. It doesn't smell right to me. Nn-" He cut himself off there.

Adrian didn't turn around as the native started to walk towards the group. Instead he kept up his watch on their back trail, alternating between looking through his scope and using his eyes, but so far he hadn't caught any sign of movement.
Keeping his voice low he called out to Kai, “Nothing behind us so far Sir, if you need a quick shot up front make sure to let me know.”

Garrett flicked the safety back on when the man presented himself, and strode forward to establish good relations. "You can put your hands down. You're not a hostage, we just want your help and a few questions answered." He offered his own right hand to shake. "Lieutenant Hendlow. The blond man behind me is Lieutenant Nakamura."

"Yeah yeah, thass' cool, real cool." said Asher in a low voice, giving a blank stare to Garrett's offered hand. The ragged looking survivor arched a brow, before slapping away Garrett's hand lightly, refusing the polite gesture. Despite being the shortest individual within planet's northern hemisphere, Asher never truly adapted to being short. What never helped was that whenever one of his old buddies would hold out their hands, it was to lift him off the ground to make him aware of how small he was. Never once, was he ever really offered a normal handshake, and because of that he saw such expressions as insult to his height. Thus, despite the generous intention, Garret had managed to make an insulting gesture on the team's first contact.

"Hendlow, yeah? Listen buddy, first thing's first. You need to stay out of tha' streets, y'attractin' a lot of attention, stompin' around n'shit. Hell, I heard you guys talkin' about ten blocks away. Iss' hard 'nuff t'fuckin' live out here wit'out a huge fuckin' horde siren blarin' left'n'right." spat Asher, his voice carrying a bit of frustration from the previous insult. He thumbed towards the Mallhark store he had walked out of.

"You wanna' talk n'shit? Then do it in there, I ain't gunna stand out in tha' open like this." and with that, Asher turned and started off back into the store.

Garrett, while slightly irked by both Asher's intonation and verbiage- and above all, his refusal to shake- stood silently with both hands on his weapon while the man explained. Fortunately Garrett was one that could ignore his opinion for the facts, and the facts still stood: the Marines didn't know what was going on, and Asher did.

He motioned everyone to go silent and follow. After squashing his cigarette, Hendlow led by example, trailing close by Asher.

Destiny was Amused when Asher moved outside- Probably against his better judgement, if he could be accused of having one. She chuckled at his faux-pas with the greeting, having actually expected worse, but just let him roll with it.
******

Kai followed behind Asher and Hendlow, a bit amused. "You know, you never did tell us your name, mister." the blonde pointed out as he made his way into the building- followed by Evelyn and hopefully the others.

******

As more people began to come in, Desiny made sure she was as out in the open as possible, and as unthreatening as possible- she was honestly surprised Asher hadn't been shot yet, but that wasn't for her to decide in any case- she carried no guns.

"Good afternoon sirs." She greeted as the two lieutenants made their way in first. Kai stayed silent on this account, as Garrett had seemed to have volunteered to be the Squad greeter for the day.

The Ottyo kept on the alert, his movements fast and darting with a stillness in between that was impossible for a human. As the group neared the survivors though, Cibo could see the alien's movement's become more fluid and smooth. She never noticed that before. 'What the? What's he supposed to be normally like? All lizard-ish and jerky or real smooth?'

As she silently entered the store last and watched from afar, Cibo had to ponder about him. Was he moving smoothly for their benefit, trying to look like them? Or was that how he tended to be when nervous or tense? As the intelligence agent contemplated the possible explanations, she heard Killy quietly speak after sniffing the air again.

"Ah. This explains your funny smell. It's like you two were pressing close moments ago, and since it's still fresh, all the more confusing."

Cibo wanted to shout at him, but forced herself to settle down. At the least, she gave the damned alien credit for keeping his voice down. It was at that point that he looked straight at her, active camouflage or not.

'Oh, please no! Not another word!!!'

"Pfft, if you want my name, you can ask the cheerleader here. It don't really matta'." said Asher, sneaking a sexist spank on Destiny's bottom before spinning around and leaning up against the wall behind her. He looked up at everyone that had gathered and tilted his head even further back, as if he was trying to look down on them. "What matta's, is what do you spacer's want, n'why should I or anyone care for that matta'."

Garrett sighed and held up a hand. "Let's stop right there. Ma'am, what's your name?" Upon her answer, he nodded, especially grateful that she'd also revealed Asher's name. "Thank you. Now Asher, this may come as a bit of a shock, but it's clear that you're a fucking idiot." He gave that a second to sink in, knowing full well he now had their utmost attention. "We're Marines. That means we solve problems that more often than not require violence. And now we're here. Can you not see the basic string of logic there?" He gave another sigh; believe it or not, this was him behaving.

"Let me lay it out for you. This planet has a problem, one that clearly affects its inhabitants' lives for the worse. So you can help us solve the problem that's plaguing everyone so you can all get to work on recovery or I can shoot you and get back to business helping the people that actually want to live their lives. Now, can you drop the macho bullshit and talk to us as a mature adult?" During his speech, the safety had been freed by a simple flick of the thumb, concealed by the gun itself as it was held in that casual stance most folks adopted out of a firefight.

"Pfft, well I'm glad one of you has some balls. Maybe a shit brain for figuring things out, but some balls at least." Asher chuckled giving a rather bored look at the gun the man was wielding, and eying the rest of the fellow's armor. The shorter man spat to the side, trying to figure his odds of whether or not he could find a comfortable soft spot in that armor. He decided not to risk it.

"Normally, I don't give a shit about the other people on this planet. Anyone that matters to me died long ago." With that, he threw a momentary glance at Destiny, "So y'gotta unda'stand that I don't see tha' point to tha' whole savin' tha' world idea, especially since it took you guys fifteen years t'show up." as difficult as it was to believe, to those that remotely knew he, he was behaving rather well. "But enough about how useless people are. You're here to do something on this shithole. N'f'some reason, you're askin' me instead of blonde and sociable there. So, whaddya want?"

"For both of you to start chirping like birds and tell us everything you know." Cibo started quietly. The intelligence agent stopped leaning against the wall and stood proper; the shifting, the imperfect image of what was behind the agent slowly walked closer and closer to the two survivors, hips swaying ever so slightly to add to the surreality of her appearance. Cibo spoke calmly, quietly to them.

"The sooner either of you tell us everything or anything you know about what's going on here, the sooner we can pull your sorry asses out of the fire." She directly assaulted them with words, a departure from all the beating around the bush crap usually done with the damned alien.

'Finally, someone who has a wrist I can twist.' she thought. Even if it didn't work out, Cibo was happier than she had been in a while. Lucky her face was obscured behind the helmet.

Meanwhile, Yotruyan watched with an enigmatic expression on facial feathers. A hand briefly reached up to scratch the tip if his snout before he spoke. "Cibo, why are you so forward with your search today? You're usually...what was the phrase? Beat around the bush when trying to learn about my faction. Are you feeling oh-kay?"

"Because you kept on hanging clues in the air like it was a game." she hissed, eyes still fixed firmly on the rumpled duo.

"Oh. Well. I thought we were playing a game and I was winning. You never just asked you know." the Ottyo replied.

Cibo's knuckles cracked menacingly. "Killy..."

"Eh?" went Asher, the short man tilting his head at Cibo's entrance into the conversation. The Surandanian seemed to wear a confused expression for a moment before responded. "Thass' cool n'all, flat chest, but what exactly do you want me t'tell ya? I could run y'fuckin' ear off about how me n'Destiny here have been survivin' for fifteen years, but I got a feelin' thass' not the case. You wanna' hear about my claw collection? I gotta' whole set a'mutant claws, big'n'small, back at my safehouse. Oh! What about Briggs panties? From what I can tell, she wears a thong from time t'time."

Cibo gave a brief glance over to this 'Briggs' woman and then to Asher again. She sighed, the crass man reminding her of an unpleasant memory. At the least, he gave her something useful. Yes. She wanted to put things into his eye and then some, but, he was a victim, not a perpetrator. Cibo had to remind herself that. No matter how much she wanted to hurt him in untold ways because he called her flat. "Claws. From mutants? What exactly? And why do you have so many?" she asked the man. "And you, Briggs." Cibo spoke. "No way in hell you two are Adam and Eve. Where's the rest? How many mouths do we have to feed?" She asked, making sure to add on the last part to maintain an image of well meaning.

Even if the Ottyo had a point, she was loath to admit it. For now, she had her job to do, prompted to do so or not. As Cibo looked at Briggs though, the hardened intelligence agent couldn't help but feel a slight chill going down her spine. She had the feeling she would forever associate that woman with that.

Destiny rolled her eyes at the scene Asher was making, annoyed at the panties comment- she did not actually own a thing anymore- the last one she had wore out years ago, and since they didn't make any more on this planet.. she did with what she could find.

In any case, she answered Cibo's question as to how many people were left. "Here in Surdan city, there are Thirty-eight, including Asher and myself. Other cities, we've heard as much as a hundred to as little as five, though none of these accounts have been confirmed. My guess would be the total population of this planet is maybe 3,000 people, and that's an optimistic guess."

******

Evelyn Observed from the rear of the group, making sure to keep an ear out for anything important. At the mention of mutants, however, she was intrigued. Did this plague mutate its victims? The only reported cases that she could access showed of people who had been cured very quickly or killed because they were too far gone, but never to the point of mutation.

And then she heard it. Senses far beyond a Terran's, combined with greater hearing and even lifesign sensors organically included in her body, She picked up signs of something living- sort of. The Admiral knew that the Ottyo would prbably be aware of it soon, his sense of smell so vast. Something was coming, and it wasn't human- at least not anymore.

"We may want to move to a more secure location." The blue-eyed Gynoid announced, suddenly.

******

Kai was content watching Garrett and Cibo hack it out with the crass man, as the other survivor seemed to be annoyed by him, but proved ultimately helpful- However, Evelyn spoke up and, while she was not very thorough in her explanation, Kai took it as a sign to listen. "So, Mister Asher, Miss Destiny, might you two know somewhere we can be safe?"

Soon after, he activated his comms and called the Shuttle "I suggest you guys may want to load up and take off- hover around, find a building to alnd on or something, the Admiral senses some kind of trouble."

"Well, ol'circle a'friends here," Asher thumbed to Destiny. "probably has a safer hideout than mine, since she's got people to help her. Mine ain't far, though, 'bout three or so blocks up the road. Juss' got done renovatin', as a matta' a'fact." Even though Asher didn't have superhuman senses, he could understand when things were about to get risky. So, he stepped off the wall and walked over to the glass door of the store.

"I usually ain't one for makin' a B-line to my place, but since I might be gettin' off this planet soon, I'll make an exception." said the Surandanian, opening the glass door to check down the street. He drew out his shoulder-mounted knife, drumming his fingers on the grip, in case something were to jump at him. "The sunlight discourages'm, so as long as we get there before the sun kicks the bucket for the night, we shouldn't have no trouble."

He looked back at the group inside the Mallhark. "Hey, Briggs. Your place? Or mine? Heh heh heh."

For no discernible reason, the Ottyo slammed on his helmet before a muffled explosion could be heard. And another one. And another. Cibo turned and stared at the alien as it did so, suddenly pitching forward each time. And then it clicked together in her mind. He was sneezing. The intelligence agent's face looked completely dumbfounded behind her armored balaclava as she found herself incapable of fully comprehending what just happened. "K-Killy? Did you just - "

"No offense, but Terrans smell bad. Drathonians smell even worse. But this...it's like a Terran bathed in blood and entrails, then shat and pissed itself and repeated every so often." Yotruayn spoke in a deadpan voice passable for a human.

"And forgot to take showers." he added, now fully mimicking a Terran voice seething with scorn.

"Thass'... about... exactly what they smell like." remarked Asher in disbelief. He wasn't exactly sure what the odd thing was, but it was rather eloquent(to Asher.) "That... means we need t'get a fuckin' move on."

Destiny looked at the odd creature and how Asher seemed to rather enjoy its manner of speaking. She thought for a moment, then answered Asher's question. "Yours would probably be best. the safehouse is too far from here, and attracting attention to it with a large group isn't very smart." Having decided, the redhead began to move toward the door, to look out and see if the coast was clear and they could begin their little jaunt accross the streets to Asher's hide-away.

Finally on the move. "Killy, maintain a rear guard. Evelyn, center-most." Lieutenant Hendlow kept pace with Destiny and Asher, Whisper at the ready, eyes scanning everything.

"Alright, keep close, and move quick." said Asher as he ducked out of the of Mallhark, keeping low to the ground(as he was especially good at doing). Constantly, the Surandanian drummed his fingers over his knife as he advanced up the street. "Iss' ova' here on Couga' Boulevard. If we can get to tha' elevata', we're good. I spent about a week reinforcing tha' access tunnels so tha' little clawed shits couldn't damage anything on the way up or down."

Between trying to take in how fast things were going, and what the native man was actually saying Adrian didn't have much time to think things through. Instead, maintaining his position in the rear, the sniper kept an eye on their surroundings, his rifle sitting ready in his hands.
For all his looking, he couldn't see any movement. The combined stillness of the city and the talk of claws and a planet wide population reduced to a mere three thousands souls was sobering though. When the group decided to move out, Adrian help his position, assuming he would help Killy guard the group's backs.

The intelligence agent donned her mask and nearly vanished from view again, this time, staying close to Evelyn. Even though she had the highest likelihood of evasion, the Admiral was by far to valuable to leave. But why? That question, why? Normally, she would use this method when protecting any other individual; it was more efficient to stay further away from the group unnoticed and make a move when it mattered the most. Cibo slowly talked to herself, justifying using this tactic and splitting away despite the risks. Just as she was about to move, she felt a tug on her shoulder.

"I can hear them. And I believe they are coming closer." Killy whispered to the group. She turned to look at him, and saw that he was hyperventilating. And was he growing a tidbit larger?

Cibo had that sinking feeling, and checked her gun.

They weren't fast enough. As they left the building, they could see, in the shadows between other buildings, glints of light as what little made it into the shadows reflected off of eyes, or other reflective surfaces on some of the creatures. they appeared to be approaching quickly but cautiously, obviously wary of the light- it likely hurt their eyes to be in direct sunlight.


"So... are these what you two were talking about?" Kai asked, looking around as they moved down the boulevard after Asher. "Mind picking up the pace?"

******

"Yes, those are them, and no, picking up the pace is not advisable if we're in the open. the faster we move the more attractive we seem." Destiny answered, fingering one of the large knives on her belt, and flicking open a pouch that contained a number of throwing knives.
******

Evelyn listened to Hendlow, figuring he knew better than she at this point, and followed along where she was, all the while collecting data on the beings lurking in the shadows. "Lieutenants, they are not all exactly humanoid. Are some of these aliens? What little records we have of this plague show nothing like this, only mild changes to the metabolism and psyche.."

******

Almost immediately after Evelyn made that observation, a few farther back grew the nerve to break into the sunlight, and that seemed to open the floodgates. Suddenly, beginning from behind them, all of the nearby alleyways exploded with numbers of the creatures, ranging from zombie-like humans to eldrich abominations bearing large spikes and teeth to tentacles, and a few even seemed to have grown wings, though they did not use them.

******

"So.... Do we run, Fight, or both?" Kai asked, slightly rhetorically

"Whaddya think, dipshit? Both. Y'got guns, use'm!" barked Asher as he pulled out the lengthy blade mounted on the back of his waist. He pointed the long blade towards a building down the way. The tall structure was marked The Parish Suites by large neon sign. "We go as a group! Tighten up and move, the last thing we want is to let'em box us in. We get stuck, they'll keep comin' til nightfall, and trust me, you want t'get tha' fuck outta' here when the sun goes down."

Asher raised his blade to any approaching beasts, wanting to sink his blade into the first mutant lucky enough to get near him.

As has been stated before, Garrett never wanted a position of leadership, but is more than aware he is qualified for the job. He reacts coolly under pressure, and thinks quick on his feet. The sudden surge of movement seemed to flip that switch in him.

"Destiny, Asher, just keep pushing. Kai, front-right, I've got your six. Malinowsky, Killy, either side of Evelyn. Gorefowl, cover the rear. Tight. With these numbers, we can't save anyone that drops!" His voice was clear, commanding, and dire.

With the safety off and a round already chambered, it was go-time. The gun was on semi-auto, and the masterkey was ready to go if anything got too close. For now it was quick shots to the head. Slow and steady wins the race, they say, but quick and steady saves lives.

Adrian immediately moved towards a small wall of concrete and began to set up his sniper rifle. “Tripod down, weapon braced Sir, I'll be starting to cut a few of them down for yah!”
Making sure the magazine and the batteries where secure one last time Adrian placed the weapon against his shoulder and picked out one of the countless horrors from among the crowd.
Let's see what you can do then yah little devil. The sniper squeezed the trigger.
The regressor bucked incredibly hard against his shoulder, making Adrian grunt. The rifle round itself had gone through the head of his target, and all the mutants behind it and had then proceeded to break through the wall of one of the far buildings.
The marine chuckled and pat the side of his new weapon fondly before bracing it for another shot. “Tell me when it's safe for me to run Sir!” Adrian yelled as he lined up another shot. “Firing!”

"Not again." Cibo heard from the alien. The next thing that happened was vaguely amusing to her; the Ottyo briefly broke formation and reached down, scooping up Adrian, gun and all before slinging him over the shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The tail came up and rapped the marine on the helmet in annoyance. "Are you listening? We are moving now." he spoke flatly. The Ottyo sprinted back and kept up the pace with the rest of the group. From his position over Yotruyan's shoulder, Adrian could still shoot the monstrosities as they came up from behind.

"Wait, what? What do you mean by 'Not Again' Killy?" Cibo yelled the question out over the burp of the SMG in her hands.

"Now is not good time Cibo Agent!" He replied, urgency dripping into the plain voice, grammar breaking up. The Sugar in the Ottyo's skeletal hands chattered away, adding punctuation to the sentence. "Is was shotting first before they charge-ed-ed bad idea?"

It didn't take a genius to know that something was wrong with him. Then again, there always was something.

Along with Everyone else, Kai continued to run, stopping every dozen yards or so to fire a number of shots at the rushing creatures. While the Marines seemed to be faster in general, every time they turned around to fire there were at least a few of the monstrosities charging ahead of the mass and gaining on them.

While the powerful fire from Adrian's RGSR did some impressive damage, the thing did not seem to phase the creatures. In fact, no matter how many bullets or Plasma pulses they fired at the enemy, they did not seem to stop coming.

And then they reached a point where they could see Asher's 'hideout'... And Kai had to halt. "Hey, Asher, I thought this was a safehouse, why's there a mob of these things there, too?" the Lieutenant asked, as they found themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place.

That's when Evelyn spoke up. "Lieutenants, It appears that we are moving away from our objective in any case, and the number behind us is smaller than that in front of us. However, there may be another way if you check the layouts of the nearby buildings."

Kai took a moment to do so, firing somewhat blindly at the creatures in order to try and keep them back. After he had completely exhausted one battery and most of a second, He had found a solution.

"The building on our left. Two storeys up there's a skyway that leads through many of the buildings towards the center of town, where we need to be." the blond shouted, giving the hand signals to everyone to head into the building. When the doors didn't automatically open, Kai simply shot them open, the glass shattering as it superheated from the plasma. An alarm went off, but no one would ever respond to it.

******

As they changed directions again, Destiny spoke up. "Had I known you needed to get to the center of town, I would have suggested we go there- My group's safehouse is there, and so is the safety of numbers and a few sets of doors I know they cannot penetrate."

******

Kai's and Garret's headsets suddenly chattered to life, the somewhat loud chattering of Kwon could be heard, along with the distinct sound of a Sugar being fired near its limit. The hum of engines accompanied it as well. "Well, Sirs!" Kwon began, before a second burst of sugar fire was added to the din "It appears to be like, crazy-ass F***ing zombie-land here. What the hell did you get us into?" the asian accused, before continuing. "Anyway, we've launched like you said, but none of the buildings inside town have big enough roofs, and the ones that do are covered in monsters!"

It appeared that the Shuttle and group of marines had excited the hordes of mutants created by the Drathonian plague.

Thank god, someone listened or Adrian would have been the appetizer for tonight's whine 'n dine. While Lieutenant Nakamura played architect, Garrett fired sporadically with one hand, the other groping for a remote explosive. As the squad plus two civilians came through the doorway, he dropped it at their feet. "Away from the door! Ten seconds, and I'm sending 'em to Hell!" Lieutenant Hendlow had already begun the mental countdown whilst making sure he was hot on Kai's trail.

"Kwon, remain airborne unless you find a LZ! If you don't, get the Hell outta Dodge! You can always come back later!" He was shouting over the commotion.

Asher growled as he saw the path to his safehouse had been blocked. He cursed audibly before eying one of the clawed mutants making a dash for him. The mutant made a swipe at him, when it closed the distance, only for the minute man to duck and slash his blade upward, severing the clawed arm. With this, the Mutant responded with a horrid growl, and tried to swipe with it's left, but found itself blocked again as Surandanian used it's severed arm to claw into the attacking one. With the zombie detered, Asher raised his blade and sunk it into the beast's head. He cracked the hole open more by twisting the blade and slashing it out, effectively 'killing' his opponent.
"Hey, Asher, I thought this was a safehouse, why's there a mob of these things there, too?"
"I tend to run t'tha safehouse when these things show up. N'from what I gatha', I piss'm off more n'more wit' everytime I get away from tha' gaggily' bastards. I think they're learnin', adaptin' t'my tactics." said Asher as he started follow the group into the building. He looked back towards the door that would soon be sealed. "I think... they knew we was gunna' go t'my safe house."

Adrian, quickly adapting to his situation after a brief bout of curses and just a tiny bit of leg flailing, was currently determined to be the deadliest bag of potatoes possible. Seeing as they had now enter a building and he was a long range sniper he also realized that window was closing and might stay shut for a while.
When Garrett dropped his explosives, Adrian began to count. 1. 2. “Slow it down a bit buddy, I'm gonna get off some real good shots here!” The sniper yelled at Killy, despite being on his shoulder. 3. 4. Not waiting for an answer, Adrian fired the regressor at the long line of mutants shuffling towards the door way. The bullet ripped through dozens before it was out of sight, but as more moaning wails echoed out from the mob it was clear that the bullet had continued its deadly path. 5. 6. 7. Reload, pull back the bolt, let the rifle rest a bit. 9. Fire.
As Adrian's final shot zipped out the doorway the explosion began

Garrett's explosive had been timed just perfectly, almost. A few of the enemy had managed to get through the doorway, but the group of marines and survivors were just out of the danger zone, though Asher and Destiny would notice their ears ringing oddly for several minutes.

As spurts of flame and waves of extreme pressure concussed from the explosive, it dismantled a number of mutants, as well as the door frame and part of the ceiling, which managed to collapse, killing a few more that tried to get through despite their own damage from the blast. Only one Mutant had made it inside before the whole entrance hall crumpled in on itself, leaving the marines with just enough space to breathe and get out of there.
******



As the countdown went to zero, Cibo placed herself in between it and Evelyn. She felt the shock through the suit, and whirled to bear her submachine gun on any figures that cleared the dust, but was immediately blocked off by the Ottyo liaison and it's sack of man-meat slung over the shoulder. She had to forcefully hold her fire, the lizard-like silhouette tempting enough as it was. The two fell slightly behind since the first had tried setting up a tripod, while the second had picked up the first and tossed the second over the shoulder. Cibo's eyes went wide as a third form emerged from the dust, miscellaneous claws and limbs reaching out to the two. She screamed. "Get out of the w-"

The Ottyo turned halfway around, one clawed hand pulling Adrian off it's shoulder, while the other aimed the laser rifle from the hip. A single flash, and the head was gone. "I am suspect Terran marksmanship svkkak...good. But just that." it spoke, voice well mimicking a grim Terran's tone. Cibo growled at the Ottyo in an instant as the marine was placed onto solid ground.

"Killy, Adrian, stop showing off! You'll both get someone killed you dumbshits!" she shouted. As her heart pounded in her chest, she couldn't help but notice the rapid pumping of air.

Yotruyan was hyperventilating.

The Surandanian man stuck his picky in his ear, as if trying to dig the ringing sound out. He was hearing surprisingly well, even with the sound of a high-powered drill going off in his head.

"Flat chest's gotta' point, dumbshits." piped Asher, copying Cibo's word. He chuckled as he sheathed both his long-blade and combat knife at the same time. The building itself had a familiar smell, and the lighting and structure struck similar to a place in his memory. He looked around at the inside of the building, staring up at the ceiling. "Tha' lasta' my clan died 'cause they wasn't careful enough... In fact, they died in a place somewhat like this."

Asher stroked his chin-spike for a moment. "Ey, Briggs. Ain't this where we met for tha' first time? My boss'n the otha' last two died right 'fore I metcha' here." The surviving Surandanian shook his head, and sighed, "Ain't that nostalgic."

At that, Cibo practically wheeled on him and started yelling what sounded like nonsense, the first part sounding smooth, the second quite coarse. The words poured out of her mouth, unbidden, the flow crude yet natural despite the clashes between what was obviously two different languages. Chances were, nobody that stood there, save for Evelyn, knew that Cibo just swore at the Surandanian in Japanese first, and then Russian, which was quite colorful when it came to profanity.

Just as she took in a breath for round two to yell even more incomprehensible insults at him, Yotruyan's breathing became respirator assisted, just faintly audible over the brief silence.

Destiny shook her head to try and get rid of the ringing, but it was quickly obvious that she would have to let it go away on its own time. however, she could still hear enough to make out the conversation going on. After Cibo finished her tirade of cursing in several languages, she answrred Asher. "I don't think it was this building, but you're right, it was one very much like it..."
******

Kai surveyed the damage for a few moments before Yelling "Allright everyone, let's get a move on, we have to head toward the center of town now. hopefully those things won't figure out where we're going exactly yet. Follow me, we need to hurry!" With that, the Lieutenant charged off toward a stairwell not too far from where they had stopped, it seemed that this had once been a grand entryway, and the wide, sweeping steps led up to the third floor and its skyway, with a small landing in the middle setting off int the second storey.

******

Evelyn looked at Cibo as she placed herself between the explosion and the Gynoid, trying to understand why the woman was doing that. She was deliberately putting herself in harm's way, despite her more fragile body and very light armor. "Cibo, you do not need to protect me." the Admiral said, smiling softly at the angry woman. "I am a bit less fragile than you are, trust me. Take refuge behind me or one of the men next time." she suggested, still smiling as she followed Kai up the stairs.

******

On the streets below, the mutated creatures that had once been human were now tearing at the pile of rubble, trying to get through. a throng of the things had arrived, and, as the sun was getting nearer to setting, more were beginning to come out as deep shadows began to fill the valleys between buildings. However, some of the thrall were not simply mindless creatures, but had become cunning hunters, and decided to track instead, their mutated senses telling them that their quarry was on the move.

They followed.

Lieutenant Hendlow was no linguistics expert, but he had taken Russian in high school and was friends with more than a few individuals that were privy to the some colorful verbiage. He was moving again, keeping pace with the group, but now he was bringing up the rear since it was clear none of his subordinates could be trusted to do so. "Adrian, keep with Evelyn. I'm covering our backs." Then, to Evelyn. "Ma'am, I don't care what you say, you are vital to not only this mission, but all those henceforth. You make sure there's someone between you and the mutants at all times. That's an order."

Next he rounded on the intelligence officer. "And Malinowsky! If I hear one more outburst from you, I will personally see to it that you are stripped of all meaningful rank! Now shut the fuck up, and focus on the goddamn mission! This is no time to get sensitive." Never mind that this all took place in front of Evelyn; the threat still stood.

If this poor soldiering kept up, certain individuals could expect to receive a boot or bullet to set them straight. He heaved a sigh, his mind briefly wondering how Gorefowl hadn't already been brutally murdered with ears poor as his or how Cibo had managed to earn and maintain position as an intelligence officer with her flimsy self-control. Garrett didn't afford his mind enough time to answer these, though; unlike some others, he was able to maintain concentration.

Where the fuck were soldiers like Jack Gallagher when you needed them?

The slim figure's head looked in Garret's general direction, before a terse "Yes Sir." could be heard. Cibo checked over her battery level, and took her place beside Cibo again. Inwardly, she cursed Red Squadron. 'It had to be their fault that Garrett knew Russian! It had to be!' A more reasonable part of her pointed something else out. 'On the other hand, maybe I should just accept the truth and move on?' Cibo mulled over it for a little. 'NEVER!' her mind defiantly echoed. As she stood upright again and looked across the group, Garrett registered in her mind again. 'Ok. Maybe just around him...damn! There's no happy-fun-times to be had! Where's the good old days when it was my job to get locked into a room with a Drathonian, knives, live electrical wires and a plate of asparagus?!' Cibo thought, silently sulking.

Meanwhile, Yotruyan had recovered, and stood with the rifle across the chest with the sling. His arms were crossed, and had watched the entire ordeal. Anyone looking at him could tell he wasn't angry, disappointed, depressed or uncomfortable anymore. In fact, he might have been smiling. Or, to be more politically correct, their equivalent of such. One couldn't tell with the skull helmet on.

Adrian was completely unaware of the fact that his actions in front of the building had placed a dunce cap onto his head; as any good soldier would believe he simply thought that when he was told to cover the rear he was supposed to pop a few bastards and with a gun like the regressor you couldn't do that with out setting up.
Well, you couldn't do it alone without setting up. The sniper thought as he looked towards Killy.
While unaware of what mistake he had made, the sniper was quite aware of the slight amount of hostility coming from Lieutenant Hendlow. So, as he passed the officer to reach Evelyn, the Adrian gave a respectful nod in Hendlow's direction but paired it with one of those not quite insubordinate, but just at the edge smiles that the rank-and-file know how to sling about.
That done with, the sniper walked up to Evelyn and saluted. “I can't say I'm disappointed that I've been demoted from the deadly sack of potatoes to simply a guard with a big gun ma'am.” Looking over Evelyn for the first time since landing and noticing how she was both unarmoured and unarmed Adrian let out a low – and somewhat disapproving – whistle. “Ma'am I would offer you my helmet,” the marine tapped his half helm as he spoke, “but, if we ever really do need a quick miracle shot in this rat's warren it will help me aim.”
Pausing to think for a moment, Adrian's face almost lit up as he reached down to the webbing near one of his thighs and pulled out his L/P 50. Tossing it in the air and catching it muzzle first as it spun the marine offered the weapon grip first to Evelyn. “You mind settling on a compromise to keep us both happy, with a horde like that out there I reckon things will get a bit tangled at times and this little piece would make both of our jobs a bit easier.”

"Alright, boss-man! But I gotta' question ya! What tha' hell we gainin' by goin' up?" yelled Asher after Kai as the ringing drove the volume of his voice up. The Surandanian kept close behind the one leading the group, as a way of keeping at the forefront of the movement and the possible action to follow. He was one to want to hit the enemy first before anyone else, whether it be for fun, fury, or just plain fucking around.

As he hustled up the stairwell he looked back at Garret. "Hey, Hindlow, you always have this much trouble wit' y'soldia's, or are things always this fun?"

Well that's just what the Lieutenant needed: a smart-mouthed man questioning his rank and file. "No, it's just the one," he answered, and immediately regretted those words which had spawned from his anger in the heat of the moment. In hopes to save what morale was left, he continued. "But mostly because they're new to my squad; they don't know how we run this ship." It was weak, that much was evident, but if ever questioned Garrett would always chalk it up to the stress of the moment. Besides, he'd never wanted to be a leader in the first place.

That said, the two in question seemed intent on shaping up. For the moment, that would have to do.

"How about we all stop blabbering and get a move on?" Kai suggested, looking as frustrated as the other lieutenant sounded. Under the half-helmet, Kai wore a grim expression, which remained as he clambered up the last stair, followed close by Destiny, Adrian, and Evelyn, before turning off through what appeared to be bart of a business office, toward a sign marked 'Skyway' in glistening letters, which lead out to the bridge between this building and the next. "This bridge goes on for four blocks, through buildings the whole way, and the last building empties into the town center if my map is correct." Kai explained, huffing slightly as he ran along its lenght, looking out the glass at the horde below that had begun to follow them. "We need to hurry if we're to keep ahead of them..." he observed, still looking grim.

Destiny brightened up at the mention of the center of the City. "Hey, that square is where the entrance to our safehouse is. If we do get there fast enough, we'll be safe for sure, nothing's gotten past our gate yet, in fifteen years of this hell."

"Y'kiddin', right? They're already floodin' tha' streets." mentioned Asher to Destiny, keeping up with the taller people with a quicker pace. He kept his eyes open for signs of any sort of 'habitation' made by the mutants. There were times when the mutants took shelter in places like the one they were. The monsters were sometimes locked in rooms or buildings at years at time, only to be released like some horrible fart that fermented under the covers. Then they rolled out from their angry sleep, suffocating anything they could get near. At least, that's what Asher thought.

"Iffin' y'wantin' t'get there wit'out attractin' this horde, we're goin' t'have t'be smart 'bout how we move. If we gatha' too much 'ttenion, then we're juss' gunna' bring ova' tha' whole fuckin' city. And Doofus," He pointed at Adrian, and then continued down the line in quick succession.

"Dumbus," he then pointed at Killy.

"Hindlow," now pointing at Hendlow.

"Flat Chest," he then twirled his finger at Cibo

Lastly, he skipped over Evelynn and pointed to Kai. "And Boss-Dumb of tha' Dumb-Crew here, ain't the subtlest bunch we eva' met."

Politeness and the normally stoic just keep marching attitude Adrian usually adopted just wasn't working out too well as things had been going. His offer of a gun had been completely ignored, his ability as a soldier and specialist had been called into question, and he was now facing a mostly unknown enemy with a weapon that was rendered almost useless by the close quarters of urban warfare.
But, seeing as they were still in quite a large amount of danger the sniper just decided to shut up and walk.
That was the plan, at least it was until Asher opened his mouth again. Before the marine could even really comprehend quite wait the native was saying he heard a meaty thump as he spun his L/P 50 into his hand, the barrel aimed at the stunted little survivor's head.
Riding on a wave of anger and lingering amounts of adrenaline Adrian spoke up, “Maybe its your mouth that should learn some subtility boy.”

Asher looked back at Adrian, arching a brow at the man who had seemingly taken offense to his words. This was met with what seemed to be a scoffing snerk, despite the aim of a high-powered weapon put on him. This was something that the Malifarian lived for, and a grin was widening on his face to show for it.

"Y'wanna' fight, beanstalk? I haven't dusted my knuckles on somethin' otha' than these pussy mutants in a while. Or..." the snide short-man chuckled, his blood-red eyes taking on unnatural stare at Adrian "... is that rifle juss' compensatin' f'somethin'? 'Cause I used t'beat tha' shit outta' longrifle heavin' cocks like you f'fun."

Adrian fired the L/P 50, the high powered laser bolt streaking by Asher's head and impacting the wall to the side of him. The shot had been close enough for the smaller man to feel a little flash of heat as it passed but far enough away not to cause any burns.
The wall was not so lucky, the area around the impact having gotten a little melty.
The sniper let his arm fall and the L/P 50 clatter to the ground. Adrian snarled as he clenched and unclenched his fists – half disgusted with himself and half still wanting to strangle Asher.
The marine took a deep breath. “Private Second Class Adrian Gorefowl requesting to return to duty as a guard for the Admiral.” Then, as he waited for a response from one of the officers and in a much lower, but still terse, voice Adrian spoke directly to Asher. “I'll kick your firebrand of an ass later – and do it unarmed. For right now though, this isn't the time or the place.”

Asher's eyes shot off square ahead in surprise for a moment as the blaring shell flew past his ears. Harming him with only a light warmth. The wild-man's grin was gone, replaced with a bit of disbelief. Then, his mouth quickly spread back into a laughing smile, somewhat crazy, as if been given the one and only thing he ever desired.

"Ha hah! You're pretty cool, beanstalk. I look forward t'beatin' y'ass lata'. Figuratively." chuckled Asher, now in even higher spirits than before. He continued forth, slapping Destiny on the bottom as he caught up, saying to her, "Maybe these guys ain't so bad."

Kai stopped the group outright as Adrian fired a warning shot at Asher. "What the HELL was that about, Private?" He asked, having not really noticed the conversation going on. He moved over between the two and glared at Gorefowl, and looked inquisitively at the unperturbed Asher, before picking up the L/P 50 and stashing it in a pocket. "If you don't want it, then I'll take it. we may need it later at this rate." He said, huffing slightly. "Oh, and permission granted, get your ass in line."

He moved the group on once more, and they continued walking.

Evelyn spoke up to Adrian next, and apologized "Sorry for not taking your offer, but, we are in somewhat of a hurry, and I am quite capable of holding my own without a sidearm." She smiled at the sniper, and patted his armored shoulder, then turned and moved on.

Destiny perked up a little at the spank, and glared at Asher, not daring to perform any of her usual retaliations given the situation. "Whatch yourself." she muttered, in a very cold tone, furrowing her brows as she moved along with the group, jogging a bit to keep up with the Lieutenant.

Cibo simmered away as rage began to build up. He called he flat, again. Forget if it was true or not! But to add on top of that, almost all the men were behaving like children. At times like these, she just wanted to whip out her knife and - Killy was the one who broke first.

*****

"Here I am, an Inquisitor who once regularly destroyed Drathonian bases personally, now stand before petty people with petty squabbles." he spat, the human voice cracking slightly, giving way to a faint snarl in the background. "And you Garrett Lieutenant, when you mocked me on that black ball of a world, you mocked my squad who also chose to be left behind and died for it. I have held it to myself only, but will not do so any more, do you hear me?" he broke into a yell, the rancor drawing sick and twisted cheers from down below.

"It is my job to be left behind with You and Your people in order to learn and promote peace, but if you insult my loved ones again. I. Will. End you." His voice sunk back to a normal tone, but went on, becoming quieter and quieter.

"At first I was amused by your looseness in combat. But now I am...displeased." he whispered, emphasizing the last. The noise of his feathers rattling together like a snake's tail was almost louder than his words.

*****

"I'm sorry." she meekly spoke. A glance and the rattling stopped, tense shoulders slumped, carrying on without so much as a nod.

It was a good thing Adrian had been able to draw faster than he; if the Lieutenant had brought his gun to bear first, there would have been one more dead Surandanian. Instead, things seemed to turn out for the better. Adrian, having withheld the full might of his fury, had also regain Garrett's trust.

That said, it seemed everyone and their mother was having a motherfucking breakdown. "Everyone just needs to SHUT. THE FUCK. UP. AND MOVE! This isn't fucking social hour, and sure as hell isn't a therapy session. Keep your problems to yourself at least until we're back on the Hymn. Then I'll be more than happy to have you all yell at me for as long as you like! God DAMN!"

This is why I shouldn't be leading people, he grumbled silently, but immediately pushed it aside. No time to think about that.

Adrian rounded on the Inquisitor, his eyes cold despite and his mind unphased by the aliens loud show of displeasure. With respect for Lieutenant Hendlow's orders in mind the sniper kept pace with the rest of the group and his voice low as he spoke to Killy.
“I always though we could remain civil as you're a rather likeable person for an Inquisitor – much unlike those of the same name that Earth spawned. Now, as you listen to what I say – and in the name of “promoting peace” I sure hope you do listen – I want you to think about your little breakdown back there concerning your squadmates' sacrifice.” As he jogged Adrian gestured to the building around them with his free hand. “This whole city – this whole world is a graveyard for our people. Just now outside I personally killed probably a good two-three dozen of what used to be Terran men and women. And, hell, that explosion that the Lieutenant got off at the end killed god knows how many more. Now I just want you to think about your squadmates again and then the fact that me and the rest of the squad's mission has changed from investigating this planet into a damned execution of an entire world of our own people just so we can get out alive.” Adrian shook his head sadly and looked back at Killy again. “Now, maybe with that in mind, you might have be able to reason out what is making us all so tense.”
The marine began to pull ahead and get closer to Evelyn so he could return to his primary duty. Half way through though he seemed to stop for a bit and he turned his head again giving Cibo a glare that said “That was your job right there girl and - while I like the alien - once we hit the hordes again we'll all be too busy to be doing anything but our own duties. Now, your a soldier, don't just sit there guiltily hanging your head and slumping your shoulders; get the job done.”

This time, It was Cibo's heart that was racing. So far, her charge had never, ever gotten angry at Terrans. This was wrong, all wrong, wrong, wrong! She absolutely loved to poke prod and annoy others, but Killy and Garret were the exceptions; the alien always managed to get back at her in some weird, creepy way but she still tried anyways because even those answers told her something, anything, about his species. And she hated to admit it, but it was even fun. But this was getting out of hand. What the hell was going on? The sudden change made her feel sick, but she needed answers. "Sorry Lieutenants, but this needs airing before they put the pressure on us again. the Intelligence Agent notified the Officers. Listen Killy, I know I suck as a person but please tell me what's really bothering you. No matter what, you've never gotten angry at us like this, and we won't have time to talk when we start fighting again." A series of clicking, chirping and soft cooing from him brought to mind memories of visiting pet shops as a child, and wandering across the parakeets and other birds. It was the kind of chatter they only reserved for amongst themselves but always stopped when one went by.

"Let me try again." he spoke. "I am starting to doubt you. All of you. This is only one matter out of many. Talk and talk and talk during a mission. Only elite units have that right. Are you Elites? You don't look like it. And yet you do. So what's it matter if I talk and whine and add to the noise?" he spoke, the helmet's feather crest was fanned out horizontally. That meant he was tense, she remembered. His entire head jerked at Adrian's direction to point him out. "Elite my feathered ass." Yotruyan growled and let it sit for a moment as they ran. "Or perhaps I am looking at you all wrong."

"I'd give. You a longer. Answer. But we're running. Feel better?" Cibo asked between pants. He churred in response.

Adrian just grunted upon overhearing the alien's comment of that he, as a marine, was “elite [Killy's] feathered ass.”. He had tried talking to the bird-thing as they had done in the last mission, but that was obviously not working. The sniper just shrugged, keeping pace with the rest of the group, he had gotten so involved with Asher because they needed the dwarf-like native fighter to get off this planet alive – the Inquisitor wasn't so helpful towards that goal except as another gun.
I guess we don't really need him to like us to work together to get off this rock alive. Adrian thought. Still, each time he thought back on Killy's words the marine got the urge to go cut down a couple hundred of the damn mutants outside to prove his sweet, little feathered head wrong.

At first, the arguing was kind of funny. It also gave Asher a little insight on his new stomping buddies. Yet, after a little while, it was apparent that the excessive talking was getting a little old.

"Hey, dumbshits!" Asher waved his hand to the rest of the group, seemingly enjoying the word Cibo had taught him; he offered a snarky looking grin. His hand had his combat knife tucked under his fingers, apparently he was re-readying himself for combat. "I unda'stand y'got y'personal problems, but I've been livin' on this shit-hole for... Huh... All m'life? N'if I know anythin' 'bout somethin'. Nothin' gives these mutie's a bigga' hard-on t'rape y'little whiny assholes than bitchin'."

Asher coughed into a fist, and proceeded to adopt a rather pomp posture as he moved. "Excuse me while I reiterate through translation." He then took a deep breath, "Bitch, bitch-bitch, yak-yak-bitch, moan-groan-bitch. Bitch. Whine. Bitch. Thass' mutie f''Come and get me, my ass iss' ripe f'munchin'.'

The shortest one in the group, Asher of course, sighed and shook his head as he hustled on forth. Then, he snerked, suddenly remembering a rather funny detail about Destiny.

"Hey, if you guys wanna' hear some real bitchin', y'oughta' listen t'Briggs when I," Asher made a quoting motion with his hands, making a mocking tone, "do somethin' wrong."

Destiny Harrumphed at Asher as he continued to flap his stupid, goatee'd jaw, his voice even louder than the clomping of all the boots. She placed a palm on ger forehead for a moment while running, obviously trying to master herself- it was easy to see that Asher grated on her, especially at a point such as now when stress was high anyway. However, she managed to keep quiet, shaking it off by physically shaking her head, the red hair swishing about angrily behind her as she ran.
******

Kai continued running, huffing a bit, before they exited the building they were in, and arrived on another skyway- but this one was a dit different. It was very obvious that the service droids in this building had been deactivated, as the floor was scrached, scuffed, and gouged the windows were cracking and several were missing, and a large section of the floor appeared to be cracked going accross. He halted the group, not wanting to just run into it, as it didn't seem right, obviously.

The Lieutenant moved forward cautiosly, making sure the bridge was stable, and, finding it was stable enough, signalled for the group to continue. As they crossed the hundred yard stretch, however, it became more and more evident that they probably did not want to be in the building at the other end of it for very long, but they couldn't really worry about that.

Several splatting thunks were heard on the glass covering the skyway, and they were soon discovered to be what appeared to be projectile vomit- but the fact that it was sizzling and bubbling also showed that it was highly acidic. "Well, Shit." Kai said, not wanting to be down there- which was wheen the glint of eyes from ahead appeared- out from the dim building, a group of the mutants that had not been chasing them initially had now noticed them, and were advancing, while, from outside, splatting thunks continued to be heard, and some loud crashes behind made it evident that they had broken into the entrance of the building they had just left.


"Contact!" Kai roared, dropping to his knees in an instinctual reaction to decrease his profile, he began firing his Sugar rifle, which proved to have a surprising less-than effective power against these enemies- they were exuding some kind of gasseous cloud that was causing the plasma bursts to bloom before they made contact, what little remaining plasma not doing much at all to the mutants coming forth.

"Projectiles! Anyone with a Whisper, forward, Adrian, I need you now!" the Lieutenant ordered, pulling back to take Adrian's place protecting the admiral, and watching as Mortego, Hendlow, and Adrian moved forward.

All at once, the acid had started eating all the way through the glass, and, almost in sequence, the glass behind them began shattering and falling to the floor, one or two panes at a time heading toward them until there was only a few yards between them and the end of their protection from the Mutant's only known projectile weapon so far.

The Bridge began to shudder.

******

Evelyn continued to monitor the situation. She did not like this at all, but the Marines seemed to have things under some form of control, even through all the arguing. Arguing, she surmised that was brought forth from the stress caused by the strange turn of events and injected by the strange attitude of the small local man they had met. Evelyn might have to do something drastic soon, but she was told she should only do so if it were necessary- and it was not quite yet necessary.

******

Destiny moved forward as well, though she lacked a gun, however, her throwing knives proved just as effective, even at the 25 yard range she was currently throwing them at- the small, sharp objects had been perfectly balanced by a practiced hand, and thrown true by the same hand- often getting face-hits and upper chest hits, she managed to slow down or even kill a couple in a few short throws, but as there were 30 or forty, and they were apparently quite resilient to damage, she could only help so much.

"Pyooka's? I ain't seen those in a while..." said Asher rather non-chalantly, staring at he melting glass above. The minute man squinted his eyes up at the acidic trails. The barfing aliens were always a pain to deal with. He still had burns on his arms from just shielding his face from the just the vapors a few weeks ago. He looked on ahead and spotted the gleaming eyes ahead. "Okay, we're cool, we juss' gotta' double-back, do some tra--"

He then heard the crashing noise come from behind as the mutants broke through the door they had sealed moments ago. The Surandanian turned on a heel and looked behind him. He knew that they were trapped, and for the first time since he had lived on the worthless rock of a planet, he didn't have a clever way of getting out. The survivor had gotten careless, traveling with other people.

At his sides where his fists clenched tightly around his blades, and the grip only got tighter. The Surandanian ran his long-blade over the edge of his combat-knife, creating an unusually pristine whine. His heart-beat began to race, and his grin kept creeping ever wider up his cheeks. For some reason, he couldn't seem to contain himself.

"Hey!" went the over-jovial looking Asher, a somewhat childish tone to his words, "Anyone else gettin' off on this shit? I'm gettin' excited!"

Garrett was done, fed up. Even Killy was behaving unprofessionally, something that had been thus far unthinkable for Lieutenant Hendlow. Now someone was going to get the boot: it was decided! That is, until the whole place started coming down. Garrett had been quickly approaching Killy to give him a full taste of street-grit off his ground-pounders when everything started crumbling- literally.

His first thought was to spread around the goods. "Asher!" He didn't know why- it was probably recognition of skill- but the Lieutenant chose the Surandanian to receive his pistol which also used good old-fashioned lead.

Then Hendlow cut far right, giving him an angle past his teammates. After delivering a few rounds on semiautomatic, he dropped another remote explosive at the back end of the bridge and kept close to the team while covering their forward-retreat.

However, the discipline was not forgotten, merely waylaid.

Asher's eyes locked on the offered pistol as he sheathed both of his blades in one fluid motion. The short man swiped the pistol and spun it on his finger once, before holding it both hands and adopting the proper stance. The grip, the weight, the utter sheen of the pistol's metal against the light. Holding a real gun like this for the first time in what seemed like years was almost as good as sinking a blade in something, to Asher. He took aim at one of the mutants, and squeezed off a round.

BLAM! went the gun, and SKLERTCH went a corner of the mutants face, sending mutated green gray matter over the wall.

"Ha ha! Holy fuck that felt good! I haven't shot one'a these in ages!" yelled Asher, squeezing off more rounds, erasing the glows of mutant eyes ahead of them.

Cibo's emotions had flip-flopped from sad and guilty to caring and...wait what?! No, that wasn't right either. Forget about the damned alien! 'No. No. No-no-no-no!' she thought as the arguing died down somewhat. Her feet pitter-pattered across the skyway's damaged structure. And all hell broke loose. That, in comparison to everyone's deteriorating state, as well as her own mental and emotional difficulties, was rather easy. In fact, it was like hitting a reset button. Reset! "Can we risk a nade? The blasts will clear them and the gas!" she yelled; they were in a bad way, being trapped on the skyway by the gas ones to the front, horde catching up from behind and Pukers from below, but at least they weren't coming down from above. A flicker of motion up above. The sound of air hitting fleshy membranes. Screeches. Cibo mentally swore, jaded and tired. 'Oh just tie me down and screw me...'

What looked like a gargoyle with an atrophied arm and muscled leg came swooping down from above, the leg's claws outstretched and reaching for the softest, squishiest target. "Evelyn!" she cried out. A black blur moved with a single long stride between the Admiral and the flying creature. It exploded in a red blossom as the Sugar fired through the glass until overheat, completely turning the flying mutant into a cooked mass of meat. Momentum carried the body forward, smashing it through the glass.

A second came down, more deformed than the last yet still flying, trying to enter through this open route. Cibo raised her Bro up to fire, but Yotryan stepped forward again and into her line of fire. He flipped his rifle, grabbing it by the barrel and swung it like a baseball bat in stride. The weapon's electronics spewed forth into the wet maw of the creature, and in a blink, was fried as the damaged weapon dumped energy into the conductive form. Fear spiked in her blood, and she dove between the Admiral and the fight, wrapping the smaller woman in her arms and covering her with her body as arcs of energy leaped about.

Cibo's gun hand swung around to aim at the fray, just as a third came in. The smoking Ottyo crouched down and simply pounced at it, the two meeting in mid air and falling. Others joined in, and the mid-air melee floated away into the distance, red occasionally blossoming, the rare glimpse of a black limb from within.

The fray rounded the edge of a building, and then was gone.

Through the flurries of flapping and screeching from the mutated creatures abducting the Ottyo alien, Nobody seemed to notice that the skyway bridge's structure had finally given way. With a loud groan of concrete and reinforcing steel bending and breaking, along with the glass and its framework shattering and falling on the heads of the squad, the bridge lurched sideways, and detached itself from the buildings it had been connecting. It fell, slowly, grinding against the sides of the buildings, before it suddenly stopped. Those who would look would notice some strange distortions in the air around them, and the fact that the bridge seemed to have become completely isolated from the outside world. Evelyn was standing, stock still, gritting her teeth, with a look on immense concentration, and soon, the bridge began to lift itself, before floating to the side, out over the street. Just ahead, they could see the large square- still with a bit of sunlight, and contiderably clearer of mutated monsters.

Kai was taken aback. just what the hell was happening? how were they suddenly flying? "Whatever the hell you're doing, Admiral, just keep it up." He said. He quickly recieved a text response on his HUD from her in reply

Code: Select all

"I can only hold this for ten more seconds. Once we reach the ground, you must grab me and make a run for it. We will have to rescue the Ottyo later." 
At that, the bridge descended again, smashing into the ground considerably more gently than it should have, before the distorted bubble surrounding them disappeared in an enormous flash of light and a wave of pressure, flattening all the Mutants around tham and destroying not a few windows.

The Admiral began to fall, but Kai quickly grabbed her, and signalled to Mortego to help him- she wasn't exactly a feather. They pressed on "Move, move, move!" Kai called, him and the Medic negotiating the rather rough terrain of destroyed bridge, while carrying their charge.

A bewildered Destiny finally snapped out of some kind of trance she had been in, completely lost in what had just happened, and remembered where they were "Just blow us a path to the barricaded building directly ahead! Don't worry about taking everything you see out, we just need to get inside!"

As the squad moved, they could see the mutants getting up again- it was a good 500 yards to the building, but they could probably make it.

"Go go-- shiiiit!" Garrett's third 'go' came out in a far more explicit fashioning, a symptom of the bridge's sudden collapse. The glass came down in a buzzing torrent, but thankfully they were in armor- most of them, that is. He didn't have any time to try and aid those that weren't, either. The Lieutenant could only hope all was well. And, it seemed, all was well for now.

"You heard the woman! Straight ahead!" He moved alongside Destiny then, gun and eyes on the swivel, concerned only with clearing a path and repelling those that approached the group's front.

"...Did tha' bridges always float?" asked Asher to no one in particular as he looked over the land below them as their falling structure became a falling feather. He holstered the pistol under a strap in his armor as he tried to balance himself in their descent. Once at the bottom he jogged off the bridge and looked back up where they came from. "Heh heh heh, less' see tha' maintenance bots clean this up."

With that quip, Asher blazed on forth with the others to Destiny's safehouse.

One moment, Cibo's mental state was running around in circles. The next, it just stopped trying to make up it's mind as the Intelligence Agent merely gawked. As the bridge slowly came down, so did all her hopes about the gynoid. She knew Evelyn technically wasn't a Terran. She knew the Admiral was literally manufactured in a lab on some supercomputer somewhere, but despite that, honestly hoped that she was normal. Or, at least, normal enough. Over time, as Cibo spent more and more time with Evelyn, she thought of the AI in a girl's body as less machine and more flesh. She watched as the Admiral was happy, sad, and pouting angry! All these were normal, weren't they? So, Evelyn had to be normal. Or, normal enough, right? No.

As she kept up with the rest of the group, her old paranoia and prejudices towards the gynoid came back. What if she could turn people into orange goop with a single mean glare? Deflect blaster fire with a wave of a finger? And, what if she got angry? Really, really angry? An AI capable of ripping troops to shreds with it's mind or something, backed by the most powerful ship in the entire fleet...How would the Terrans deal with an abomination like this?

Cibo was an Intelligence Officer. She wasn't good at working with others, but Cibo was damned well good at playing solo. 'I can't keep It from noticing that I'm shaken up by this, but I can misdirect it! I'll have to report this upchain. Do they even know it could do this? Of course they do, but I'll mention it anyways...'

Her feet continued to silently fall and rise to and from the ground as Cibo ran.

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Kai
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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Kai » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:17 pm

As the two orbiting shuttles descended into Surandan's atmosphere, they created two bright streaks of light. the craft shuddered slightly as the compressed air in front of them superheated and became unstable, fighting against the pilots' control, but they had been designed well enough that it did no harm. Soon, the two Caballero were well within the atmosphere, slowed down and on a stable heading. Their sensors showed them much more than before- the passive scans of the surfacefrom before had turned up very little in the way of life, but now, the city they were barreling toward, Surdan, lit up the life scanners like a christmas tree. Their two compatriot shuttles could be seen swooping low over the city, searching for something, probably the marines they had dropped off.

It was surreal, what was going on, the streets below them were chocked full of thousands of bodies, much more than there should have been given this was a dead planet, yet here they were, optical sensors showing distorted, disfigured humanoids, the life scanners showing anything BUT humans- except for two small clumps that read back positive as humans, one heading straight toward the other. The moving clump also had other signatures coming off of them, those were consistent with Terran weapons.

The one clump of lifesigns stopped, stalled by more distorted signatures, fighting continued, but with no discernable counterattacks from the mutants, before suddenly part of a building collapsed, and began to fall. That's when they registered a major localized spatial distortion- almost that of an FTL drive. the bridge it was centered around began to float, before moving to the middle of the road. The lifesigns began moving again.

"What... The.... F***" Nicholson spoke, disbelieving.

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Straken
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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Straken » Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:57 am

“Sweet Mary of Magdalene, what in the name of all things good is going on down ther’” Fred said under his breath as he looked at the scans.
“Narked if I know,” Will replied in an equally bewildered tone. “Maybe you will have a chance to brush up on your CQC marine training.”
“Heh, maybe, but I never have had to deal with bridges with identity problems,” Fred said calmly as he focused on the re-entry.
“Huh?” Will said, still sounding bewildered.
“Huh, what?” Fred asked.
“That ‘bridge with identity problems’ line, what was that?” Will questioned.
“Why does it matter?”
“I don’t know, just sounded like a botched joke, or something along those lines.”
“Pardon me for not providing humor and wit that is to your liking, but I am a little preoccupied, Simon Pegg. Now, if ya don’ mind, bite the back of my bollox.”
With that the Brit just sat back and went back to watching the monitors. Fred enjoyed the silence and began to mentally psyching himself in the event that he did end up in direct combat.

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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:27 pm

"What the fuck is fuckin' right, Nicholson," agreed the veteran pilot. He'd seen countless sorts of wild and crazy things, so much so that he almost never let his eyes off what needed watching- but that was just plain crazy, and the Pilot found himself gawking for all of three seconds. "No, focus. We need to get in and make the pick-up. Keep searching for a proper LZ." To encourage this, he jerked the controls a bit harder than was necessary to swing the Caballero around SS 215's current destination.

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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Kai » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:05 pm

The Squad thundered across the square, sporadic firing behind them to cover. Ahead, they could see the barricaded building growing closer- and there was another surprise for them, though this was a good one- a group of survivors, larger even than their squad, had come up from behind the barricades and were providing covering fire with a mixture of old chemical projectiles and lasers, keeping back the largest amounts of enemies.

After a minute or two of furious running, they made it to the barricaded building, a door opening to greet them, and the barreled through, followed closely by the building's defenders. As soon as all were inside, the doors were shut, locked, latched, barricaded from the inside, and then barred shut, finally, a couple of large heavy items that appeared to be the remains of maintenance bots were shoved in front, keeping them closed. Screeches, roars, and other blood-chilling calls could be heard from outside, along with an ineffectual banging and smashing on the adequately secured lower story to the building.

Turning inside, they found what appeared to be a staging area. all the flooring had been removed, revealing bare concrete, and all around, were a number of lockers and storage areas made from found items, holding numerous objects, from knives to guns to brooms and clothing, large stockpiles of non-food items could be found here, and, with faded letters on the wall, they could read that this had once been the city hall. The Squad was greeted by about 40 people, of various ages from 14 to 50.

"Destiny, who the hell are these, and why'd you bring him?" the oldest one asked, referring to Asher with disdain.

"These are marines from the Terran republic. They've finally come to investigate the place, 14 years late." Destiny answered, she was trying to keep the bitterness out of her voice now that she was safe and comfortable, she was finding it harder to be a gracious host to the soldiers.

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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:57 pm

Once inside, Garrett heaved a sigh of relief. Hearing the reactions- and especially Destiny's answer- however, put a sour note to things. "Look, the military fucked up, I got that, but that was none our fault- my squad, I mean. We're here to help as best we can, so let's not make a fuss. You can do that once you're out of here, and actually find someone that had something to do with that decision." Hopefully that would keep things clear and in perspective, something which happened far less often than it ought to in a high-pressure situation such as this.

Better yet, he needed to keep things moving. "We've got two dropships above and ready to make an extraction soon as we can find them a secure landing zone. If you have any place like that, please speak up." Afterward he went back to slowing his breathing, which was still faster than average what with all the sprinting and danger and adrenaline.

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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by CadetNewb » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:48 am

Cibo was a mess. Technically, she already was a bit of a mess, but more so this time around since she was both tired, and mentally unbalanced by all the things that had just happened. When Destiny replied to the other survivors, Cibo would have said something, but the fact that she didn't simply spoke for itself, considering her usual behavior when not around the Admiral.

When not around the Admiral. Cibo swore in front of the Death Machine dressed up as the Moe Admiral '@#%$. I broke that rule too.' she thought, now even more distraught than before. She glanced at the survivors and eyeballed what was on their bodies and in their hands; even she was forced to admit they were of the 'badass' variety of survivors, not the normal kind. They simply had to be in order to scrape by, let alone do as well as...well, this. Cibo peeled the sealed balaclava off her head, and ran her fingers through her moist hair. 'Think Cibo, think.'

Everyone had just snapped. Why? The logical reason was simple; they were in a bad mood. 'Bad mood' of course translated to 'low morale' in this business. But why was morale low? Cibo instinctively held herself, and brushed her fingers against the thin plates covering her ribs. The memory of the chaos on the bridge that battle was still quite raw. The Hymn had a massive hole blown in itself, and even though it had been refitted stronger than ever, it hasn't quite made up for that prior loss yet, even with the progress they made. Damaged morale was damaged, and it was very hard to fix. As an Intelligence Agent, she was particularly privy to that; it took a much larger success to overshadow a failure.

'Great. So we're all being babies and are still buttsore over that...great. Makes sense.' But that didn't account for Killy getting angry, oh no. It did seem a little funny to her though. Terrans were apparently 'as advertised' to the Ottyo. It wasn't as if Terrans were xenocidal imperialists or anything. A corner of her mouth lifted in a smirk, but quickly turned into a frown of concentration as Cibo thought about it. 'Oh shit.' She didn't want to think about it, and instead looked at Garrett for a brief moment with a tired but curious expression on her face. 'Did it really hit him that hard? What the Lieutenant said when high?' Cibo thought about that for a little while, and then it hit her.

"He didn't know Garrett was high." she quietly spoke to herself in sudden realization. Cibo rushed a hand to her mouth and covered it, risking a glance at the Lieutenant. She prayed he didn't hear her.

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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Kokuten » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:57 pm

"Oh? Him? Tch." Asher chuckled darkly, giving the person who had approached them a just-as-dark stare, his red eyes gleaming under the shadows of his brow. "Damn, Dusty. Looks like you're tha' only one who eva' wanted t'invite me inta' ya squirmy lil' club." The Surandanian Hermit popped his neck loudly, eying the rest of the people in the room. He could feel their stares, a similar disdain of which Destiny and everyone else on the planet had of him. Dislike, avoidance, hatred, and unwant. Those were things he had come to expect of the other people of the planet, those people who didn't leave him alone. Such negativity didn't bother him, he was used to it ever since he declared his independence from society so long ago. Still, there were so many eyes switching between the newer people, and him, it was hard not to be uncomfortable. Curious glances at the strangers, and sneers at Asher.

He adjusted one of his armored shoulder-plates, and looked back at the door. "Y'know, iss' not like I wanna' be 'ere. Yeah?" The glance he turned back with was as dark as the one he gave the first person to talk to them. "So, look at somethin' fuckin' else 'fore I knock y'eyeballs out." He looked over at Hendlow, wondering if they'd give him a better reception, or if they were just jerks in the first place. Then, he looked at Cibo strangely, wondering what exactly she was babbling about.

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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Gwathdraug » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:04 pm

Getting surrounded, having bridges collapse and then decide physics could go out with the trash, and now this – Adrian found that command's little memorial mission was certainly turning out to be quite memorable.
Especially when 'this' was a group of half-starved, haggard, hunch backed, no tooth wastrels who had seemed to have achieved little else than having stockpiled boxes and boxes of silverware, pop-guns, cleaning supplies, and potato sacks. All-in-all it was a pitiful scene and the fact that the older man in command of the group was even more peeved than Asher had been at the prospects of receiving help was almost laughable.
At least, it would have been if Asher wasn't currently mouthing off to the part of the group that had found things a bit more deadly than pop-guns to lug around.
Going to one knee, Adrian reloaded his RGSR, then standing back up and chamber the gauss rifle's first round the sniper cradled his weapon in his arms while leaning casually against one of the walls near the entrance.
“Sir,” the marine addressed Kai, “Requesting permission to remove the barricade from the door way if our hosts can't come to terms with the fact that we are here to cooperate with them. It is my personal belief that the current situation does not have a lax enough... time table for a few rounds of new-guy-old-guy politics.” While ineffective, the banging from the mutants outside the main entrance had increased and was loud enough the Adrian had had to yell for his voice to be heard clearly. The sniper hoped that the natives weren't either too overconfident or so desensitized that they would happily work in tandem with the squad so they could all get out of this alive.
Of course, he was also hoping his little threat would help grease the wheels a little.

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Re: Echoes of a Forgotten Past

Post by Kai » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:48 am

Kai just stepped in front of the two groups, putting his hands out as some of the survivors started muttering and sounding a bit angry at the tone of the marines. "Just hold up a minute everyone!" he began, before Adrian asked for permission to remove the barricade. he pulled his half-helmet off and glared at the private. "Permission denied private." the blonde responded, smoothing back his hair to reveal the scar over his left eye, before looking back at the survivors.

"Look. It's been a while. I don't know what took so long, hell, I was only Five at the time, so there wasn't shit I could have done. Most of my soldiers were young as hell, as was most of the entire marine corps. You want to know what happened? Everyone got F***ing slaughtered. Terrans are an endangered species now. We have nowhere near enough manpower to come and pluck some survivors off of every planet, because we would have died in the process. It's only been a year since we've been able to do Shit against the backstabbing drathonians, and, I'm sorry for what happened here, even if I don't know what it was exactly. hell, that's the reason why we're here, to find out just what the hell happened."

"So if my MARNIES would stop F***ing bitching, and you survivors would help us out, we can get what we need and get the shit off this cursed rock all the more quickly." Kai Took a deep breath to calm himself, he was now glaring at his own men- the Survivors had a good reason to complain. His Marines, however, did not.

The Survivors had calmed down quickly, some almost chuckling at the fact that this Young lieutenant had to treat his own soldiers like misbehaving children. The old man stepped forward and held out a Hand. "Aye. We'll help Ye." he answered, grinning at the Lieutenant before releasing his hand. "What is it that you need?"

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