Chapter 8: The Waiting Game

This archive contains the original story as it appeared on gaia, This is our main story, and what BHotR as a whole started from and builds off of. The setting has gone through many changes, and so the story has many inconsistencies. You can, in this forum, see the evolution of the story and its players as we went from a simple roleplay began in 2006.
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Kokuten
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Chapter 8: The Waiting Game

Post by Kokuten » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:53 am

The Hymn's personnel and Squadrons were reassigned to garrison on the Saratar station, to provide protection from the constant raids. While Terran presence prevented the Lizards from warping in with their ships, constant raiding parties of fighters kept the Pilots on their toes, As well as made the station crew divide their time between repairing the shipyards and the ships themselves.

At the moment, Green squadron found itself on standby in the cafe nearest their assigned hangar, waiting for the inevitable raid alarm, where they would eb called to action again. It had been more than three months since the Ovid debacle and the daring raid on Perrenia, a planet which was finally declaring its independence from Drathonian control. Despite the UTR's decisive role in acquiring this status, the Perrenian council was wary of making any alliances, wishing rather to rebuild their home.

The Hymn, still in drydocks, had finally had the last bit of wreckage removed, the final casuality being found and pulled out, so the brave soldier could be given a proper burial. Several redesigns were in the works, but the most likely one came from an upstart firm known as Terran Combat Works, Incorporated, which wanted to Narrow the Terra class's job profile down to a pure fleet combatant. It was likely going to be the adopted design.

Lieutenant Nakamura sat in the Cafe near the hangar, having been assigned temporarily to Alpha squadron due to his piloting skills, drinking a soda and having a light lunch. He leaned back in his chair, watching a viewscreen displaying the news, wondering how SS 215 was doing, assigned to picket duty around the station. He was secretly glad for being selected as a temporary pilot, feeling very bad for his soldiers' ill luck, but that was military life. His eyes strayed for a moment to Green squadron, filled with a couple of (from this distance) lovely ladies, a young girl, and a bunch of stuck-up fighter jocks. then there was their leader. A good guy; Kai had actually flown with him once, and had to admit that he was a much better pilot than the Marine Lieutenant.

Arcadia sighed and took another sip from her mug of coffee before running her hands through her hair. Despite the various fighter squadrons having a rotation for defense of the Saratar facility, the constant skirmishes were beginning to really frustrate the Ace pilot. It seemed that they weren't making any progress. For every hit they took that the pilots couldn't repair, engineers were required to cease their work on the Hymn, thus slowing their progress. And yet, the fighters had to be repaired or they would be incapable of defending what progress was being made. It was a terribly irritating cycle that could likely drive Pilot Langdon insane if she had to put up with it much longer. She prayed for everyone's sake that it wouldn't be so.

Fortunately for Garrett Hendlow, he was only required to face the hazards of his "desk" job. That is, he was put back in the Hymn's greatly disarrayed demolitions preparation and testing facilities, reorganizing what was salvageable and tossing or scrapping what had been made defunct in all the mayhem. He noticed a lot of money going down the drains as he sorted through the havoc. While he worked, though, he did wonder every so often just how well Jack was coping in the hospital, if perhaps the aged soldier had been released while he was working (and probably by the Marine's sheer pigheaded behavior). It kept his mind occupied while the mess kept his hands and feet busy.

We lost. Cibo had this thought going through her head the entire three months as her ribs healed up. They were still not quite finished, but they were plenty good enough for her to go back on duty. Funny thing though, that she was now either directing the flow of supplies and substances like a traffic cop, or helping with flight control, having fighters shoo away the pesky Drathonian monsters. The whole time, Evelyn was mostly silent. Well, at least I'm not the only one pouting about loosing. the intelligence officer thought. Day in, day out, things were pretty much the same. Direct incoming and outgoing people and stuffs here and there. Next, tell pilots to kill this Scourge here, and that Rex there. "It's about lunchtime. If you don't mind, I'll be off. You take care while I'm away, ok?" she spoke kindly to her Boss-Admiral-Gynoid-Girl. "And don't let it get to you. If you think about it, good things can't happen all the time. But by that same string, bad things definitely don't happen all the time too!" Cibo added in a genuine looking wink before heading off. As soon as she was out of sight, her face became much more serious. "Now, it's about time I greeted our latest guest." An ominous pause followed her spoken words.

"What can you tell me about it?" the intelligence officer asked. There were guards outside, but she easily went by thanks to her job, and the fact that they were bored anyways. The doctor on duty hastily pushed her away, and towards what was hopefully out of hearing distance. Cibo could only catch a glimpse of it's silhouette behind the screens; it looked as though it were lying on it's belly, with several IV drips feeding into it's body.
"Keep it down. It, I mean, he, gets a little touchy if you refer to it like..." The doctor paused in her speech to swear. "F***. I mean, refer to him like that. His name is Yotruyan Clrikii. The first part is easy enough to say, but don't ask me about the second part. The SeFlaurinds revered him as a hero, believe it or not." The good doctor shook her head in disapproval before going on, "Get this, they called him 'Killy' and it's a matter of fact. As you already know, they had us take him with us, saying he could hit the Drathonians harder if he rode with us. I bet they just wanted to get rid of him. And he hasn't even taken off that damned helmet yet; he could be an extra messed up, damned Drathonian under that getup for all we know."
"Is that so? I could, well..." Cibo paused for a long moment, "...find out for you." she replied, flipping out her balisong knife, a long thin grin on her pretty face.
"Eh. Sadly, that's a no. It'll only come off only when speaking to the 'Shipmaster' he said. Heh. 'Shipmaster' Funny word, and as if we'd let that happen."
"Sounds all good, but you going to let me in and see...ahem, him?" The doctor looked over Cibo for a moment, briefly lingering on her rank, but finally her intelligence symbol. If it worked out, the good doctor would just think she was sent to interrogate it. It did work out; the doctor brushed the screen aside, and let Cibo step in. She had to stifle a gasp at what she saw though. Good thing it was asleep. Still, she had to make sure her eyes were seeing things right. Cibo pointed to the medical file, to which the doctor nodded. She flipped through the pages. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. "I think I know why you said, uh, 'extra-m'. And none of this has gone down to the data-banks yet? None of it?"
"Not a word. Intel want's to keep Evelyn nice and happy, especially after what happened. She doesn't need to know so much about this." Cibo merely nodded, and begun to read. Ever since the bridge accident, Cibo started to wear her own Eidolon under her uniform. She didn't want to get hurt like that again on duty. As luck would have it, it came with a throat mike linked to her PDA. She subvocalized every word she came across, and secretly recorded said sub-vocalizations into her PDA. She'd need to send this right away to Evelyn. She didn't care about the consequences. At this rate, I can't tell what's worse. My own department, or Evelyn.

RECORD: START

A series of wet smacks, flowing air and breathing could be heard over the throat-mike, but any person worth a damned would be able to figure out it was speech, minus the air necessary to fully articulate the words. With the proper software, the noises that sounded fresh from a stethoscope could be easily turned into words.

"It's me, Cibo. I don't care what happens to me after this. But I think I might just be scared; the first time in a long while to be honest. The others. They don't want you to know. But I think you need to know what we have here. Or. Maybe they already did tell you. Again. I don't care. If this thing's a threat, and it's species hostile, sided with the Draths, well, we might loose some more battles." Cibo's sub-vocal speech paused for a moment, replaced by breathing, albeit fast, excited. Her calm, steady voice went on, "It's not some higher ranking Drathonian like you might have been told. It's worse. This right here? I think this is first contact with this species. It's not on record from before the war; I knew every sentient species on record, and even a few that aren't. It's genetic info is way too different for it to be anything close to a Drathonian. And then there's it's body. Oh Eve." Cibo's breath begun to speed up a bit, and the sound of a hand rubbing against her back could be heard.

"The records indicate that this thing had several fist sized chunks blasted out of it by laser fire. But now those are all healed up, and it's suit is repairing itself somehow too. The medical personnel had only given it intravenous drips containing vitamins and minerals at it's request. Nothing else. No calories whatsoever. You get what I'm saying? It's getting it's energy somewhere else. And the engineers that were invited in to look at it, and they say the spinal cord." Cibo could be heard gulping. "Well, the doctors all said it had two, and the engineers looked at it's back. The outer spine. It's a fusion reactor ma'am. It gives off small amounts of Hadrons, giving it a nice red glow at these small spots. Black and red. A real nice armor color scheme. Somehow, it's deriving metabolic energy from the reaction." The squeaking of a wheel could be heard, and another voice cut in. Surprisingly, it sounded like a rather well meaning Terran.
"Hello. You're new. Nice to meet you."

Cibo's stifled scream was cut short as the message was sent to Evelyn through a channel she heavily encrypted herself.

RECORD: END

She slapped it. She actually slapped it, right across that got forsaken skull helmet it wore. "That's not nice." it spoke. Cibo didn't know what was more scary. The fact that this...thing was speaking to her, that it sneaked up on both her and the doctor, or that it wasn't trying to kill them. Yet.
"Yeah? Well, sneaking up on us isn't nice either!" she snapped back. The doctor was outright horrified, and was on the verge of calling in the guards. She locked eyes at Cibo who shook her head back and forward ever so slightly. She backed down, away from the hidden switch that was recently installed. The thing was taller than Cibo by about a foot. Yotruyan, was it? The black feathers coming out of the rear of his helmet moved about a bit, showing some enigmatic emotion.
"I guess so. Sorry." It moved back to it's hospital bed, lying belly down. Cibo cast away all her surprise for the moment.
"And what? You think being nice is going to help you lizard? Speak again. You're with the Drathonians aren't you?" It's black feathers fanned out, quivering. Did she hit a nerve? Cibo smiled behind it's back. It's voice was still well kept, kind and human however. It unnerved Cibo again. It must have been like a parrot at one point, but better. she thought, trying to calm herself down by degrading it.
"No. But would you rather me be mean? I wouldn't get what I want if I were, you know." Cibo gritted her teeth in anger at it's obvious insolence. What nerve!
"And what would that be?" she asked with a temper. Cibo swore to herself; if it tried to toy with her again, she was going to stab it until the guards pulled her away. No. He decided to surprise her.
"I want to commit Xenocide you see. It appears you and me both have the same objective. You know who I mean. I begin to tire. I hope you come back again some time. Your facial expressions are most priceless compared to the others." It could see her from behind it's back?! Cibo quickly shut her mouth; despite being interrogated, it was very direct. Frank. Shockingly so. What was it's game? Was it just saying what she wanted to hear? Or was it honest? But what if it was allied with the Drathonians from before the war? That would explain why it and it's kind would be still alive so far. But wasn't it killing Drathonians? The file reported it came onto the Hymn carrying a small stasis cooler containing what was best described as 'war trophies' from the Drathonians. But what if...Her thoughts went on, and her head started to spin.
"Excuse me, It's lunchtime."

Cibo sat down a seat away from a Lieutenant by the name of 'Kai Nakamura". From the Cafe, she had with her a sandwich, chips, along with a large Long Island Tea. Extra long, with actual tea instead of Coke. It didn't make sense to have something called a tea without actually having said tea in it; how could anyone not be bothered by this? She quickly downed half of it before hastily biting into her sandwich, trying to drown out her frustrations and fear in food. It was frustratingly different from any Drathonian she had ever met. Even including the 'Moonies' she occasionally talked to as a child when brought to her mother's workplace. Too different. She casually spun a lock of hair around a finger; now that she thought of it, her hair was getting long, and now fell to the bottom of her shoulder blades. Was it time to cut herself again?

Steven let out a long yawn and stretched, a few joints making audible cracking noises. He wasn’t quite sure whether it was the consistent raids or what, but recently he had been feeling a little foggy and dull. ”I just need more coffee, and rest when this shift is over.”
Stifling another yawn, Steven set his cup of coffee to the side and rested his arms on the table. ”How are you guys holding up?” he asked his squad. After several shifts it is understandable that the strain would begin to take its toll, and it is important that everybody is still in the game.

"Informally, sir," Arcadia began, as a sort of forewarning to the sarcasm ahead by use of a paradoxical greeting, "On the downward spiral to piloting Hell. If it isn't defending against countless raids-- and making zero progress-- it's waiting for one of the engineers to halt their oh-so-important business, and make repairs that I'd rather learn to make myself. Frustrating is the word of the month."

Kai looked around the room as people filed in, No one from Alpha squadron was in, they were probably training in simulators somewhere; most of the Marine pilots were more on the marine side than the pilot side, but the base was short on the latter, and so everyone who could fly a scimitar was called upon. The techies had even drug out some old Delta daggers from the depths of the Saratar station, probably the remnants of the stations original garrison. In any case, they had gotten the relics running, alowing new pilots training time without tying up the scimitars. Kai remembered back to the good old days before the betrayal, watching the venerable daggers flying patrol near his home. It was a warm feeling, but when two very important faces came to his view, the Lieutenant blanched, nearly choking on his water. Getting a grip on himself, he looked around, seeing a vaguely familiar person wearing both a Hymn patch and a Terran intel patch, a very odd combination. He decided he had nothing better to do, and so spoke up. "So, you're both a Boater and Intel? You must be a pretty prestigous person, if you're both" he commented.

The strain was apparent on Emma's face, even though she seemed to be her normal chipper self. The girl was worried about Captain Kerning, as he seemed a little out of it, but she was going to keep to herself. "I'm doing well, Captain" She said, then she squeaked slightly, remebering something. "In two weeks, I turn seventeen!" she announced, as if out of nowhere.

IF Evelyn had gotten her way, she would not have left the Hymn. As it were, they had to deactivate her and cart her off, a special detatchment of the Terran R&D department had come and done tests on her, replacing some electronic components that had been damaged during the Ovid fiasco, as well as analysing her memories. It seemed she had begun sorting themin a different way than had been programmed into her, and, while it wasn't anything to hinder operations, it was odd. It seems that her personality was beginning to form on its own, rather than simply being the somewhat goofy preloaded one the lab had given her. In any case, Evelyn stared out a window at the Hymn as it was in drydocks.

They were doing things to it. moving around its guts, changing what was on and inside it. They were going to put a new computer inside the ship. it would be awkward to get to know the new computer. But, that was her job, she had to deal with it. She only wondered how it must be for normal Humans, paring from one another. Death was absolute for them, where many computers she had known had been restored from backups, allowing her to speak to friends again. This was the first time a computer had 'died' in the sense that it would not come back. Evelyn was secretly afraid. But she kept her best face on, helping the Saratar base with its operations. that was what she was designed for anyways. She would do her job.

"Really? will have to get something nice for you on your birthday then. Hm, perhaps a new flight jacket. One of those nice civvie ones, not one of those bland military issue ones." Steven said, chuckling slightly. He pulled out his handkerchief and covered a cough. He took another sip of coffee. Chuckling a bit more he thought about birthdays and how one does not really think about things like that when in war. How long was it until his birthday?
”What month is it again? Oh yeah, that is right. About two months I think.” he thought to himself as he downed the remainder of his coffee.
”Well put, Miss Langdon. I know just how you feel. It is just too bad that there isn’t jack shit we can do about it.” Steven said, returning to a bleak tone.

By the time someone addressed her, Cibo's cheeks had taken on a slight pink blush from her Long Island Tea. Hell, she even looked younger! Cibo was quite happy and hopeful that Evelyn would wring the black lizard dry, or something to that effect. She turned her head slightly locked an eye with the Lieutenant, taking another bite out of her sandwich and chewing. The lettuce and fresh pickles crunched loudly as she did so, but her eye never left his. Cibo finally swallowed the tasty morsel before taking a sip, wiping herself with a napkin, and finally speaking. "I don't know about 'prestigious' Lieutenant Sir. But I can make a Drathonian cry for it's mother in about ten. Maybe fifteen if it's a Dragoon or higher." Her voice sounded a lot younger than it had earlier speaking with the thing in med-bay. By now, they probably moved it into the Brig, since it got up and walked on it's own. Serves you right for sneaking up on me. She looked him over flirtatiously; was he a complete asshole, or a genuinely nice guy? As her eyes moved to his chest, she couldn't help but read his name. Kai Nakamura?! It was quite a buzz-kill, and something flipped over in her mind. "Pardon me, Nakamura Sir, but did you happen to bring a pet back on board with you? Ah, lets say, a big, black, reptilian one?" Her happy, youthful expression took on a more icy tint.

As the next shift of guards filed into the brig, they would be surprised to first hear Mondscheinsonate playing in the background. Apparently, one 'occupant' in particular was either very annoying, or persuasive, and had the previous shift turn it on. This same occupant, who was sitting down and listening to the tune, also noticed something in the air. He rarely forgot a person's scent. One guard in particular would hear a rather normal voice calling out of the cell. "They did enjoy watching you kill those Drathonians with your knife. The freedom fighters on Perrinnia. I'm referring to them of course. How are they? And how have you been?" This individual remembered that the SeFlaurinds were rather enthusiastic to meet this Terran female. And she was of unusual color for a Terran, from what he could tell. So pale, with such large eyes.

A handsome sandy haired man by the name of Marcus Wightman had entered Saratar Drydocks via shuttle. With him, he brought a duffel bag, and a powerful aura of victory. As an engineer was about to drop a Scimitar component from the burden he carried, Wightman quickly leaped over and deftly caught it. "Lemmie help you out friend." he said, before picking a few and placing them in the crate. "You wouldn't know where a newcomer can get a bite to eat can you?"
"Almost broke that, thank you sir! Right over there sir." the young engineer replied, pointing. Not too far from the hanger was a cafe. Not bad, he thought.
"Thanks plenty. Stay safe alright?" he replied. He made mental note of the name of the engineer, and walked off towards a cafe near the hanger. Safe at last, and with a cushy job to boot. And I bet Cibo's stuck in some backwater hellhole by now too...

Green Squadron was suddenly set upon by a chorus of buzzing, communicators informing them of yet another Raid. Two squadrons had been sent out and they needed a third with Planes ready. And So, Green Squadron was pulled from the lottery. The Pilots ran to their ships and got in, quickly going over the routine flight checks, some simply skipping out of boredom. Soon, 12 scimitars were in the Vacuum, lagging slightly behind the raging battle of defense that was taking place. Ahead, they were met with a Squadron of Six Scourge fighters and Six Rex fighters. It was game on.

Despite her aggravation, Pilot Arcadia Langdon was not one to be bullied into hasty and regrettable decisions: at least not by alien races with a death wish. Her checks were completed quickly; nothing had to be altered as it was HER ship, not some factory-fresh hunk of ugly. She was the third one into the abyss, glad to have the chance to vent some of her frustrations on these lizards. "Emma,you with me?"

Steven cracked his neck and smirked when the alert came through, then proceeded to the hangar with his squadron. With practiced ease, he completed his flight checks and made certain everyone was getting theirs done as well before taking off. First out of the hangar, Steven surveyed the battlefield and frowned. "OK everyone, just like before, let's get this done with quickly and," he began, but stopped to stifle a cough. "Let's get this done quickly and efficiently just like the other raids. We need to teach these lizards that we don't like to be harassed. Form into your wing-men pairs and follow behind me in loose formation. Get it? Got it? Get out there and get to work!"

"I'm with you Arcadia." Emma called cheerily over the radio, before Steven spoke up. When their captain was finished, she replied with a Curt "Yes sir!" then cut to her private channel with Arcadia "Alright, You're lead today, three."

The Rex fighters quickly closed the distance, the first opening fire on Steven, scoring direct hits on his shield. A warning popped up about the shields, and the Drathonians kept on coming. Another fired upon the pair of Arcadia and Emma, its lasers barely splashing past the shields to miss and sputter out on the Saratar base's defensive shielding.

"Very well," was Arcadia's mellow response. She took the lead and quickly engaged the Rex fighters, firing a full five-second burst into their ranks, to suppress any return fire and hopefully force them to abandon their formation.

"Flying spaghetti monster!" Steven shouted as his shield bit the dust so early into the fight. "I am beginning evasive maneuvers, Greens Two, Eleven, and Twelve cover on my right. Everyone else, you know the drill, maintain current orders."

Arcadia's shots splashed all over the shields of several fighters, eating their way into the protection but not doing any immediately pressing damage. The scattered return fire was inaccurate at best due to the quickly splitting formation of Rex fighters, which Emma fired into, following one specifically to see if sustained fire would help her. All it succeeded in doing was trailing behind the enemy fighter, and so Emma returned to Arcadia's wing. Steven's evasive maneuvers worked perfectly, taking him out of line and succeeding at drawing the Rex away from its partners, making it vulnerable, as Two followed his leader and opened fire on the enemy. Quickly scoring a hit, Steven and Two would watch the shield reading on the enemy chip away to nearly nothing within seconds.

Arcadia wasn't satisfied with the results and chased one of the Rex' as it headed in the proverbial "up" direction. "Stick close. I imagine it'll get messy." She fired again upon the Rex while maintaining a speed slightly greater than its own, closing the distance.

Steven grinned as everything played out relatively well. "Good shot Two, keep it up, we almost have him." he said before pulling his own fighter into a hard right bank, trying to either overtake the Rex if it changed targets, or keep it occupied if it still went for him.

Arcadia's foe proved to be rather slippery, avoiding anything she threw at it, but, her deft wing-man, Emma, managed to hone in and score a few glancing blows on the thing's shields, bringing them down to about 25%. The foe continued to flee, and it was obvious Emma had a better feel for the enemy than Arcadia did.

She called to her wing-mate "Let me take the lead on this one. Make sure I don't get tunnel vision!" Her young sounding voice seemed excited, the pilot was straining against her straps unconsciously, trying to get closer to her prey. If one could see her face at the moment, it would be decidedly predatory.

Steven's tactics were spot on, his snap turn catching the Rex off guard. The lasers tore into the shields, eating them to nothing, and two's own lasers bit into the Rex's cockpit, tearing it open to space and venting the pilot, the fighter suddenly blowing up due to its self-destruct feature.

Arcadia slowed for just a brief second so Emma could pass her. Then she matched her wing-man's speed, and held course, still firing when she had an opportunity that didn't put the younger pilot at risk. "Just don't push it too hard," Langdon replied, hoping Emma wasn't going to do something stupid again.

Overall, the next volley was fairly lame. The Drathonian slowed down slightly, making Arcadia and Emma overshoot it, but, in the process, the fighter exposed itself, and, colliding with a piece of its former wing-mate that green two had destroyed, it completely lost its shields. Emma got annoyed at the whole ordeal, and decided it was time to fire off a short volley of 5 micro-missiles, three of which managed to actually hit the thing, pocking its skin with burnt little holes.

"Nice shot," Arcadia muttered, focusing on the target. It was beginning to add to her frustrations rather than relieve them, but she wasn't about to let that go to her head...or had it? Who knew. She just lined up another shot, fired -- and for good measure, added three missiles. "Suck on that you cold-blooded bastard." She said this in the private channel, of course. No need to rile the Captain.

Arcadia's laser blasts went wide, but they spooked the ship straight into the path of the missiles, which impacted, destroying thrusters and allowing Emma to park a firm shot on the thing, blasting it apart from the fuel tanks. "I think he is sucking like a good old fashioned floor vac." Emma responded, giggling. She scanned around for a second enemy and quickly found a grouping of three Rex fighters going after five and Six. "We'll take a couple of these off your tails." she commented to them, diving into the group, blasters firing, the bolts simply rushing past her targets. It did succeed to break one of them off to come at its attackers, though.

Arcadia followed Emma in silence, but a light smirk was playing on her lips, a satisfied expression at having induced the lizard's untimely (or timely, depending on the point of view) death. Seeing the Rex begin an arc to assault its assailants, Arcadia aimed to intercept, launched two missiles, and opened with the main guns.

One Missile detonated on the Drathonian's shield, and Arcadia's lasers raked across them, bringing them down to nothing, but Emma's position left her vulnerable. the Rex opened up with it's EMP cannon, overloading Emma's shields in one hit, sending her Scimitar hurtling off in an uncontrolled arc towards the planet Saratar. She would have to restart soon or something would get her. And if they didn't get her, gravity would eventually.

Arcadia gritted her teeth and fired her lasers again. "Hang in there, Emma. I'll be on my way shortly." If the lasers failed, shit would definitely be splattering all over the proverbial fan...

Arcadia's enemy was good, but she was better. The lasers went straight to the cockpit, the Pilot's downward juke ending its own life. The explosion went off, sending Arcadia through the particle cloud, her shields turning into a tie dye of colors at they pushed particles out of the way.

Emma's fighter, off in the distance, showed signs of life, thrusters kicked in and the thing began moving again, crackling communications opening up in Arcadia's cockpit "Sorry about the scare" Emma apologized "I managed to jumpstart this beast. Nice shot!"

Arcadia chuckled to herself, glad it had all come together. "Yeah, thanks. Glad to have you back." The relief in her voice at having such a nice turnout was obvious. "We still have another one, though. Hurry your ass up." She made short work of catching up to the Rex still chasing her squaddies and opened up with some light laser fire.

Emma followed suit, but the range gave the lizard pilot plenty of time to dodge out of the way, laser fire spraying uselessly away from it, as it turned around and got its bearing on the duo, opening fire and kissing Arcadia's shields down to half power with angry red light.

"Fuck you, you slimy muck-water tadpole!" Arcadia growled when her shields took a hard hit. "I'll smear your scaly shit-face all over the cosmos!" she expelled another five missiles and unleashed her lasers once more.

Four of the missiles connected with the Rex's shields, as did Arcadia's lasers, but the Rex somehow managed to keep them up, firing upon the Terran pilots deftly, bringing Arcadia's shields back down and scorching the cockpit canopy, as well as eating holes in her wings. Emma was just barely able to make it out of the way, but her unshielded scimitar took a few glancing blows to its port wing.

Arcadia sighed heavily, her mood quickly flip-flopping back to frustrated. She released a final micro-missile and another burst of the lasers before ducking away from the fight and dropping into a spiral, just in case the lizard decided to chase after her.

Arcadia's shots were dead-on, the missile detonating in front of the Rex, obscuring its windscreen, causing the thing to veer off, impacting on the lasers. Superheated metals exploded into various gasses as the lasers roasted the ship's systems, turning it into a burning wreckage of what used to be a fighter. Its pieces flung into the unlucky Emma, a piece impacting her shieldless fighter in the center of the cockpit, completely removing the canopy and exposing the pilot to space. Emma's suit was quick to seal and turn into survival mode, luckily saving the pilot from instant death, but she only had maybe 30 minutes before space would get to her.

She had to be guided back to the Station, most of the electronic displays had fizzled out, the volumetric projectors having been embedded in the now missing canopy. At least there weren't any more Drathonians. "Arcadia! I need help!" Emma yelled into her comms, suddenly freaking out at the lack of canopy and sudden cold.

Arcadia smirked at her success, her frustrations immediately put at ease. And then Emma was calling for help, and her systems were showing that the scimitar was incapacitated. A beacon popped up, and Langdon understand then just what was going on. She arced around as quickly as possible and slowed to an appropriate speed. As she neared, she came to a near stop so Emma could catch hold.

Emma Unleashed her pilot's harness, pushing off of her craft with extremely precise force, floating over and bumping into Arcadia's Scimitar. she quickly found a handhold; one of the scorch marks, and knocked on the canopy. "Ready for a passenger?" Emma's weak helmet comm crackled in Arcadia's ears. A salvage vessel would soon be on it's way to puck up the debris of the battle, including Emma's incapacitated fighter.

Arcadia sighed and nodded, prepping herself for the opening of the cockpit. Pilot or not, space was a scary place, and opening one's ship in the vacuum was never a fun or exciting experience. "Go." she said while simultaneously popping her cockpit open. The klaxons sounded, but Arcadia didn't hear them, only felt the faint vibrations through her glove that was pressed to the console. "Quick, now!" When Emma was in, Arcadia quickly closed it. The ship re-initiated its miniature atmosphere, and the suits released their death grips on the pilots' faces. Langdon took a deep breath. "Let's not do that again, alright?"

Emma pulled herself in, quickly seating herself in Arcadia's lap.

Evelyn Began her walk back from the observation deck, towards the Station's control center just as the dancing lights appeared. At the moment, the Gynoid had cut herself off from the system; as Saratar's computer felt odd. It still had a large amount of Drathonian coding and programming, and had a horrible personality, Unlike Her home, the Hymn. She sighed, missing the ship's computer and hoping the new one would be good enough to fill the quantum hole in her memory data. Her boots lightly tapped the metallic flooring, hips swaying lightly as she prowled down the corridor, getting ready for another shift. She found it odd that she, a computerized gynoid, was set to shifts, but it did not matter. It made her feel human. And that was the point of an ASIAN, yes? to be as human as possible.

"That long, Eh?" Kai chuckled at Cibo's somewhat drunken slurrings of combat prowess, before answering her other questions, somewhat leery. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to talk about it, but it appeared that she already knew anyway. "Ah. That. No, I did not bring it back, that was Hendlow and Mortego who brought him. You have any clue what it is? It was quite helpful during the battle before it almost died." Kai took a sip of his drink, Hot chocolate if the smell and presence of steam was any indication.

[quote]As the next shift of guards filed into the brig, they would be surprised to first hear Mondscheinsonate playing in the background. Apparently, one 'occupant' in particular was either very annoying, or persuasive, and had the previous shift turn it on. This same occupant, who was sitting down and listening to the tune, also noticed something in the air. He rarely forgot a person's scent. One guard in particular would hear a rather normal voice calling out of the cell. "They did enjoy watching you kill those Drathonians with your knife. The freedom fighters on Perrinnia. I'm referring to them of course. How are they? And how have you been?" This individual remembered that the SeFlaurinds were rather enthusiastic to meet this Terran female. And she was of unusual color for a Terran, from what he could tell. So pale, with such large eyes.[/quote]

Sehene was a little less than frustrated at the general monotony settling down in and around the Hymn. She wanted to be out killing Drathonians and revenging the Terran race, but unfortunately saving humanity sometimes entails much more boring rituals; like guard duty. She sighed as she wandered in for her shift. It was boring work mostly, and usually the prisoners didn't talk to her, why would they? She was rather startled out of her reverie by a comment obviously directed towards her. She ventured closer to the cell and squinted her eyes behind her sunglasses at what appeared to be a feathered, black Drathonian...in fact she seemed to recall seeing a bloody mess that resembled this same creature. Her eyes widened in surprise at the fact that it was now alive; how could there be another creature like this just wandering around? It had to be the same one. "I didn't think you could survive that..." She said it in hopes of receiving some sort of explanation, and ignored his first statement, feeling awkward at the fact that they enjoyed watching her kill a Drathonian.

Cibo popped the last bit of her sandwich in her mouth, finishing it off before she carefully replied, "Sir, with all due respect, I suspect you and the other members of your group may be first contact. Then again, I'm not high on the totem poll as you are aware, so this may not be the case." By now she reeked of alcohol, but she still wasn't stupefied yet. Cibo was well aware of the implications in what she said, and said so on purpose. It was rather simple really; Terrans and those Things may have met before, but High Command may have hidden it. Would the Lieutenant get her hints? "Still, It's..." she paused for a moment to think through the cloud in her head, "...too polite. It's a real freak that way. I kept on expecting it to rant on about it's superiority and stuff. Like a Drathonian. Sure looks kinda like one." Cibo stopped talking, and was about to take another sip from the drink before her mind swung around. She put the drink back down on the counter before pushing it away. She spoke, sounding a little vulnerable, "I'm a little scared, you know? And I don't know if Evelyn knows...I asked her, and she hasn't replied. And she's been so down lately too. I can't cheer her up, and I'm starting to feel it too. I guess that's why I'm talking to you so much. I'm sorry if I worried you, sir." If Cibo were sober, and watching herself from the third person, she would be thoroughly horrified to see that she was confiding with a stranger. And one that outranked her nonetheless!

The black and bony figure was sitting upright with a hand on each knee. After the woman spoke, the skeleton moved, resting an elbow on a knee, chin in hand. His head cocked to the side slightly as the skull helmet's synthetic feathers fanned back and down, resembling how Terrans would sometimes wear their long hair. The feathers slowly rose and fell; he was thinking. "Did not think? That is not good." Yotruyan replied. "That implies that your military personnel are..." the lower 'jaw' of the helmet worked a little, almost chewing in thought before stopping, "...frail in comparison. Fighting the 'Reds', even with your help, will be harder than I thought." By now, the imprisoned Inquisitor stood up, and walked forward, towards the bars. This person was shorter than most Drathonians, but was still quite a sight; he easily towered over Sehene, who herself was only a few inches over five feet. He was easily over seven and a half feet tall, and though the bars separated them, the other guards started to become agitated. He reached into his right wrist, and tore the skin open, revealing a small bracelet; a hologram appeared, depicting an alien firearm with several parts highlighted in red. "Do you remember the weapon I used? Where is it? Someone is playing with it, and it may become...exceedingly hazardous at this rate. Will you check on it Se-hee-ne?" Yotruyan spoke, reading her name tag.

Not too far away, about a short walk on Saratar Station, a group of engineers and gunsmiths were gathered in an armory, and a rather fleshy rifle was laid down on a table. Several cameras were fixed up, and the overall atmosphere felt like an alien autopsy from the 1950's or 60's. "Alright, first incision, I will attempt to remove the forward side plate from the flesh body." The scalpel moved down, and touched against the flesh, but before it could cut, the rifle screamed high and loud. It started to flex like a giant worm, and it's gun barrel had opened up into a large, horrific maw. "Oh god my arm!" Blood spurted as the rifle creature worked it's toothy jaw, tearing away at the man's flesh. Men leaped forward and separated the two before fleeing.
"Get out of the room! Lock it down, lock it down!" The half dozen people piled out, the armory door locked down. A med-pack was procured to heal up the bleeding forearm. Another person started to ask,
"Now what?"

A horrifying screech and scream emanating from down the hall was heard very clearly from the brig. Yotruyan slowly looked away and towards the brig exit before turning his head back to Sehene. "Please?"

Sehene backed away slightly from the black creature as it approached her...so tall. It reminded her vaguely of what were called 'crows'; she had never seen one in the flesh, but in the pictures they had black feathers just like this.

She turned to the other guards and waved them off with a reassuring smile and a wave; it was alright, she did not think he meant harm.

She cringed at the nonchalance of his---did he rip his skin? She shook off the urge to move further away and instead squinted at the hologram, it did look vaguely familiar. She smiled at the way he pronounced her name, and looked up at him, "I...don't know where it is, b--" She was cut short by the screaming, and looked in the direction that it came from. "Oh." She looked between him and the direction of the noise, "Um...I suppose that was it?", she had to think; she might get in trouble for nosing into obviously 'secret' matters, but she definitely saw him fighting on their side in the battle, and the screams were worth looking into.

"Okay, I'll check it out.", she nodded, looking him over one last time and going over to the other guards. "I'll go check that out.", she gestured towards the source of the screaming in what was hopefully a rather 'official' sounding voice. She swept past them and headed down the halls, within a shot time coming upon a rather bedraggled looking group of men, complete with blood and hurried attempts at keeping the door closed. She stepped forward a few more paces, "Do you men need any...assistance?" She gazed at them, and the one who was in the process of having his arm healed looked dispassionately in her direction. "You are attempting to figure out a piece of machinery -a gun- am I right?"
Some of them looked in her direction with an alarmed look on their faces, and a few came closer to her. "How do you know about it?" one of them snapped in her direction, "This is supposedly secret information". He glared back at some of his men, as if to accuse them of giving away the information.
"I know who the owner of the gun is, and he knows how to use it. Perhaps prevent...injuries." She gestured to the injured man - who was now almost completely healed - with her hand. The one who spoke before glared at her and crossed his arms, "Do you? We thought the thing that 'came' with it had died." Sehene sighed, "No, but he is in a cell. Would you at least check it out?" Another one of them piped up, "Perhaps...we should?" He looked from the first man to Sehene and back, stepping a few paces closer. "Fine." the first man replied, "But you had better not be bullshitting us." He gestured to the second man, "Since you're so eager, you'll come with me. Everyone else, stay here and keep that thing from getting out." He looked at Sehene expectantly and she quickly turned to lead them to the cell. She was working out how to explain the situation to the other guards, but one step at a time, she was still happy she could even get them to come with her.

She reached the brig and simply walked in, even though the others gave her questioning looks. One stepped forwards slightly but she smiled reassuringly - yet again - and that managed to keep him quiet about the other two new persons here. She looked into the cell, "I found the guys who have your gun..."

Evelyn soon reached the control center, sitting back in the chair that was assigned to her when on duty. She plugged directly into the system using a cable clverly hidden by her hair and ear. With the influx of requests sent to her console came two notable things; the ever annoying presence of Saratar base's AI, and an encrypted message from Cibo Malinowski, telling Evelyn everything about that creature she had already known. She sent a response to Cibo, Asking about possibly setting up a meeting with the creature to learn more about it, from the horse's mouth, or so the old Terran term went.

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"Set up a time when I and the other commanders on base can come and meet the creature, please, Cibo.
Said the short message.

"Well..." Kai began "I think everyone is a bit down after the incident at Ovid. Hell, the only reason I and my squad are alive is because we weren't there. Still, There's a lot of things Terrans have been keep from other Terrans, not to mention other races. If we have seen them before, I can't tell you what may have happened, but i hope it went well. I know I'm still wary of a creature such as that, but he was a lot of help." Kai paused to take a bit of a drink before continuing, but was interrupted before he could even speak. "Umm, I think your communicator is going off" He muttered politely, as Cibo seemed to not be noticing it just yet, probably due to the state of light drunkenness she was in.

Green squadron was the last squadron out of the hangars, and the first to come in, having intercepted their targets close to the base. As soon as they landed, A small salvage vessel launched from the Base's vast hangar bay, heading out to recover the wreckages of five scimitars destroyed or heavily damaged in the battle, as well as the scraps of the 50 or so destroyed Drathonian ships. It was nice of the drathonians to give the Terrans time between battles enough to do this, but it was still a tiring ordeal for the crews of the ships on watch.

Emma Wriggled in her place on Arcadia's lap, thankful for the dual-joystick controls as opposed to the classic single-stick some older ships still used, which would have made the arrangement highly uncomfortable. "Sorry if I'm squishing you, Arcadia" the girl apologized, blushing a bit in her embarrassment at having been 'shot down'. While she was lucky in that her ship would only take a short time to repair, it was still an embarassment for such a supposedly good pilot to go extra-vehicular.

Arcadia grumbled as she made a skittish landing, jostling Emma slightly in her lap and only creating a more uncomfortable arrangement. As soon as the hatch popped, Arcadia forced the younger girl to stand. "Post-haste, girl, out of the seat! If you weren't squirming about all the time, it wouldn't have been so bad, but oi! I swear, you were trying to give me a lap dance or something!" With her wingman out of her lap, Pilot Langdon clambered down from the Scimitar. She smirked as her boots hit the deck, and she took a deep breath. "Just need to pay more attention, Emma."

By now, Cibo was looking pathetically sad, but with a large 'cute' factor to boot. "You're probably right. And I'm guessing I'm looking rather silly, half drunk and all, huh?" she replied. Before she could say anything more, she gave in to her PDA's demands. It had a message on it. Evelyn had finally responded, but it was rather...unenthusiastic. "Oh how embarrassing..." she moaned. Did this mean she got all worked up for nothing? Did this mean that she was being paranoid again? Did this mean she was going to be demoted? Again? She felt the claws of depression and sorrow perversely stroking her heart, slowly reaching around it to...Another notice came up after that. Something most interesting. Cibo quickly popped a pill in her mouth, and stood up for a few seconds. At first she was a bit tipsy, but her balance soon returned. Cibo suddenly appeared proud and vigorous. Perhaps this is a chance to redeem myself for the little...outburst. "Excuse me. Something has come up. Please have a nice day Lieutenant." Something was up indeed. The alien rifle, biting someone? How strange.

By now, Wightman had sat down, and was just starting to eat his bowl of soup, looking at people with a friendly expression and confidence The woman a few seats down from him was younger, but still quite pretty. He couldn't get a good at her face, or her name tag for that matter, but he did get a good look at the Lieutenant next to her. Kai, was it? He must be quite a deft one. The woman was clearly upset, but still perhaps emotionally sticking to him. He sure knew how to work 'em. Before he could get a better look at the woman, she spoke. Why the hell does she sound familiar? The woman got up and left without so much as a backwards glance. He still couldn't get a good look at either her tag or face, and her bust was only ok. Oh well, there's plenty more here anyways. Several minutes later, just as he finished his bowl, he received a message. "Oh shit!" he toppled over a chair as he started running.

"No. If you do that, it will self destruct. By now, it has most likely leeched enough energy to cause significant damage. Again. I, and only I should handle it. Keep in mind the weapon system uses my flesh as key." the Ottyo spoke tonelessly. The man with the bloodied clothing walked over to the other Terrans, and even called a few guards over. One of them procured rather sturdy looking manacles for his arms, legs, and even tail. Accursed Drathonians.

Moments later, the armed guards had him before the armory door. A screeching, sucking sound could be heard from the other side. "We'll trust you enough to let you handle this on your own, but you know what will happen if you betray that trust."
"Of course." Yotruyan crouched down and was getting ready to sprint. They had extended the chain on his legs slightly, just enough for him to dash in, and swap out it's capacitor. The tan colored hand reached for the panel, and entered in a code to unlock it. The door opened. A giant armored leech leaped out, and bit down hard on Yotruyan's arm. He quickly sprinted inside and turned the corner, holding the squirming MC-R in the doorway. As a guard raised his laser weapon to fire, another person leaped forward.
"No you fool! The super capacitor inside will blow!" As the wriggling, snapping abomination was held in the doorway, Yotruyan laboriously typed in the lockdown code with his restrained tail's tip. The door slammed shut, and the red lights came back on. "&%@. We can't open the door without typing in the code again from the same side it was entered in. Who was the last Intel to speak with it? Call that person over! We need to keep this quiet!"

Inside, Yotruyan was quite happy. He broke the MC-R open over his knee, and ejected the charged capacitor, replacing it with a half empty one. The leech turned into a worm, and the worm turned into a rifle, which in turn became a long metal pod. He simply stuck it by the doorway. Yotruyan was more entertained when recovering from his wounds then when in the cell; at least there he was learning how to speak, and write their language. But here, here he had all their weapons to toy with. The Ottyo Inquisitor picked up an unlocked PDA one of he scientists had left behind.

"I got him on camera! The audio's damaged, but they're still working in there!" The scientist's PDA showed the skeletal figure toying around with a PDA. A moment later, Sehene received an invitation. Apparently, the person had remembered the symbols of her name, and entered them into the PDA to search for her. A live audio chat was waiting for her. The moment she would accept, they would all hear him. He spoke a little faster than he had before, and less carefully,
"It is I. Will you request a Shipmaster or other high ranking, yet disposable individual? To be safe. I do not wish for a loss to be...strategically felt. I wish to initiate the diplomatic pleasantries." The camera followed the Ottyo inside, who started to rummage around, and found a spool of wire, as well as grenades. "I am bored of being interrogated, or otherwise sitting in my cell and listening to Beethoven or Mozart. I am authorized by the powers that govern me to speak for them." The viewers gasped in horror as he rigged the grenades to blow if the door was forcibly opened in any way. He even laid his temperamental weapon beside it.

Yotruyan literally purred with glee as he sat down on a stool before a work bench. Using the tools, he easily freed himself. And the device off to the side. Was that a replicator? Judging by the random parts strewn about it, it was. Instruction manual, instruction manual...there! Easy. "I apologize for my rudeness, but if you are unsatisfied with my behavior enough to terminate me, I will arrange for another to meet you if you wish. Frankly my dear Sehene, I don't give a damn about myself. Not after what the Red Ones have done. I want to have revenge, but more importantly, I would like to be happy again."

Outside, the scientists were taking notes again, in awe of how rapidly he had acclimated to the Terran environment. "Amazing! These creatures must be highly intelligent, and look how nimble it's fingers are!"
"I heard that, Scientist! Person, I am a person!" He lashed out. The replicator before the figure started to work itself up, and soon gave out a large, thick sheet of metal. He then broke a Sugar open, removing the trigger group, and numerous small parts. From under the Armory Master's counter, he pulled out several metal shaping devices. The black claws ran over the machines. Any fool watching would be able to tell that the fake feathers on the helmet were moving with glee. A minute or two passed, and the machines whirred to life, and begun to shape the metal.

"In the meanwhile, I will be crafting myself something to pass the time if you do not mind too much. It seems you lack something in this armory you see. But do not worry, I mean no harm, so long as you return the intent." The Ottyo worked with a gusto and zeal that even made the scientists, gunsmiths and engineers outside jealous. It was obvious what was taking form before him. "In general, we like to talk pleasantries in our society, and when deprived, we become a little abnormal. So please pardon my mess." It is all too possible they will kill me as soon as I let my guard down. Best I prepare for that as well...At least I will have comfort of the void. Screw the Principality.

Cibo was standing there, witness to the whole thing unfold and progress over 10 measly minutes. Ten! The door was rigged, so even if she hacked it, the whole thing would explode. Damned Lizard. "Alright, we'll have it your way." The Intelligence Agent sent a message to Evelyn.

Code: Select all

Ma'am? Is now an appropriate time to have a meeting? My suspicions about it's temperament may have come true after all. Location is right at Armory B-5, by the brig he was placed at.
It wouldn't be long before the Ottyo soldier would notice the oxygen levels in the room lowering, along with the air itself. The Terrans were venting it, as a safety precaution. Most of the weapons could not fire in a vacuum, plus, the Ottyo should suffocate or at least lose consciousness before too long, because, no matter what it breatherd, no air meant no breathing.

Evelyn sighed, having watched the whole thing unfolding from her connection to the network. She sighed, sending a quick message before disconnecting and heading towards sector B-5

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"I will be there momentarily."
"I was paying plenty attention. You're the one who shot it too close to my fighter." Emma countered jokingly, sticking her tongue out momentarily in mock defiance. "We need to do something about the shield generators on our fighters, they've been going down extremely quickly lately. think they're worn out?" she asked, hoping the more experienced pilot would know.


"If you had been obeying proper protocols and flying intelligently, you wouldn't have been that close," Pilot Langdon retorted. "As for the shields... well, sometimes I don't even know. Last time, I didn't have a shield for more than ten minutes because some fool failed to engage the generator's lock, so..." She let that settle, briefly reminiscing on the anger that had filled her mind at the time.

She took a deep breath to release it all again. "But I think you might be right; that or they're getting stronger stuff. Either way, it's bad news. Let's see if we can get an engineer to come run some tests, maybe trade them out." She headed for the exit of the hangar, eager to get a cup of coffee and someone more experienced than herself in the maintenance of Scimitars. Something simple compared to combat.

The light scent of a crisp forest after rainfall hit his nose. Not the skull helmet's olfactory tissues. No, his actual nose. The bio-engineers had a flair for their work, and it really showed. Yotruyan would only smell that if the air was...They're venting this room? He gave a small shrug and continued working; hopefully, he could still work in vacuum conditions. There was at least another thirty minutes before his Nerve Suit's life support cut out. On the table before him laid several pieces of stamped titanium sheet, as well as several smaller components, such as a Sugar trigger group and some bits he milled out himself. Yotruyan carefully coated and flash dried lacquer onto certain parts before suspending them inside a liquid solution, and running a current through it all. Next, he used the rest of the sheet metal to cover up what he was working on. Plenty of time. No need to spoil the surprise.

"What is he doing?" Cibo asked, irritated. And more importantly, why isn't he begging for mercy now that air is being vented out? Cibo thought. Of course, that was something better left unsaid. Was he making some sort of horrifying bomb or weapon to blow his way out? Even if he was, a vacuum should have had him at least look startled. Unless it could work in vacuum...or what if...
"It looks like he is building some sort of weapon. I'm not entirely sure what the liquid is for, but I'm guessing it's for electroplating." A gunsmith spoke up.
"Urk!" Cibo almost choked on nothing, and as she did so, the thing put a screen up to cover up the project. It then perched on a stool with all fours, the long, whippy tail wagged in what had to be delight. You freak. Just what are you up to.

Prominent footsteps announced the exhilarating feeling that came with the presence of Wightman on the scene. His posture and determined expression put at ease the nervous scientists and intellectuals immediately. In a clear, respectful voice, he spoke, "Captain Wightman of the Intelligence Branch reporting. Requesting sit-rep." He locked eyes with the senior-most scientist there, and looked at the two women out of the corner of his eye. One was the same person at the cafe, with raven black hair and silvery white streaks. Her back was still all he could see though. The younger girl was quite cute, with an exotically pale skin and bleached blond hair. He was partial towards blonds anyways, for certain...qualities. On the other hand, she was small. Well, she wasn't a loli, that was for certain. Especially with the sunglasses on, but she was close. Then again...The scientist continued to speak to him, and he went over to the older girl as suggested he do. She was the one looming over the video feed after all. Another Intel? Sounds like another easy...she turned around. She spoke.
"Hello dearie! It's been SO long since we last saw each other! How have you been? I hope you're doing well? It's me, Cibo! You remember me right? Of course you remember me!" Her honey sweet words and shark toothed smile froze Wightman's expression right off his own face. She took a step closer, tracing a circle on his chest with her finger. "And After all we've been though together, of course you do. I mean, how could you forget me?" As Cibo spoke in a luscious, flirtatious voice, what little color drained from his face.
Goddamm bitch!

Meanwhile, Yotruyan sat on his stool as the metal became silver. Both his feet and hands were grasping the cushion as he watched with a cherub's intensity. Both his childlike posture and deathly appearance gave him a truly demented look. On his tail went, wagging in delight.

Steven let out a sigh of relief as his fighter touched down in the hangar. After taking off his helmet he slumped back in his seat and just sat there for a few moments. ”That was just a little too close for my liking,” Steven said to himself. Then after a few more moments he pushed the canopy up and away from the cockpit and climbed out. Standing on the wing he surveyed the damage on his scimitar with a look of disdain. From a cursory glance it looked that many parts and panels on the fighter would need to be replaced. ”Sigh. I don't have time for this. I will let the engineers get this one.”
”Hey Captain, ready to go grab some coffee?” Green Two asked as Steven was climbing down from the fighter.
”What'd you say? Didn't hear you.” Steven asked.
”I said do you want to go grab a quick cup of coffee?” Green Two said again.
”Oh. Sure.”
”Hey Sir, are you feeling all right? You look a little flushed? You got a fever or something?”
”Huh? No, I am fine, it is just a slight cold,” Steven started to say but paused to let out a cough. ”Don't worry about it. Now let's go get some coffee.”
”If you say so, Sir.”
With that the two pilots started towards the mess for some coffee as the other pilots of Green Squadron were making their way out of their own fighters.

By the time they had the Lizard -"crow"- in shackles and standing in front of the door to the lab, there was what seemed to be a sizable group of people crowded around. Sehene grimaced at the noises from behind the door; apparently the weapon was wreaking quite a bit of havoc all by its' lonesome.

Sehene stared aghast at the closed door. Crap. She was going to get hell for this. She noted the grumpy scientist -engineer- whatever he was, glaring in her direction, and she tried to discreetly scoot away from him, but her plans were foiled by her PDA. She squinted at the screen in dismay and answered, moving back towards the group so that they could hear. "I have him on audio..." She held it out, and kept her face blank despite the urge to frown at the grump. She really did wonder what he was up to, and hoped he did not get himself into too much trouble; he seemed nice enough.

Sehene was startled by footsteps, and looked in the direction of a man who was apparently quite sure of himself. She did a quick check of him, and he definitely was not bad looking, but she did not really concern herself with those kinds of things very much anymore. She looked him over more closely when he announced he was also in intelligence; she would have to work with him. The scar was certainly curious, but she turned away from the urge to stare and ended up looking blankly at the wall a few feet away while listening to the most absurd thing...


"It wasn't my flying that was the problem, it was that you let the enemy get too close to me" Emma countered, following her elder wingmate off to wherever she was going. She noticed Captain Kerning looking a bit off, and tugged Arcadia's sleeve, to get her attention "Hey, Arc, I think we should go check up on the Captain, he seems in a bad way, yannow?"

Evelyn's booted footsteps could be heard clomping down the hallway behind the group of spooks and labcoats. One by one, most of them looked and fell silent as the Avatar of the Battle Hymn Of The Republic made her entrance, rather calmly, still looking mildly worried. She looked at Sehene's datapad, getting a recording of the transmission off the device, before stopping at the door. She knocked gingerly on the metal door, a surprisingly loud metallic thud resonating from the contact between the door and her metal bones under the thin lays of skin at her knuckles. She plugged her ear jack into the wall, and projected her voice into the room, but no one on the outside would hear it.

"Hello, Unique one. I heard some of my soldiers found you all but dead on Perennia. It seems you have made quite a recovery. I must ask, however, why you are running amok in a portion of this station which is off limits even to the majority of Terrans, Outsider as you are."

On the outside, Evelyn softly spoke. "I have taken charge of the situation. Please, give me room, I do not wish harm upon any of you."

Arc. That wasn't something the Pilot had heard since her adolescent years. She supposed, then, that it only made sense for a young girl like Emma to revive the aged nickname... or attempt to, anyways.

Those thoughts were pushed aside, though, as Langdon keyed in on her wingman's statement. Steven was looking a bit more worn than he had before the encounter. "I think you're right. Lead on, gal." She gestured toward the two men with her left arm and smiled at Emma. "Just don't go getting too close. You don't want to go having another incident, do you?" Linking the last battle to this seemingly friendly encounter was perhaps unexpected, but it certainly couldn't be too difficult to grasp the vague-- and cliched-- reference she was making.

Yotruyan stopped working for a moment, putting his tools down. He heard the echo's of a word. 'Admiral' was it? Next, a female spoke to him through the door. Most interesting. Was she resonating the door? Or perhaps...nevermind. The air was exceedingly thin by now, and he barely heard it. Still, the helmet made up for it. His clawed hand turned up the receiving volume on the stolen PDA before replying, equally gently, "For us, boredom and loneliness both are exceedingly bothersome. Have you ever been bored? Or lonely? I'm sure you have. How could a person not?" Over the video feed, the Terrans would notice he pulled over an oxygen tank, and then a gas fuel one as well. Surprisingly, he did not supplement his own supply with the oxygen tank, but instead used it to ignite a blowtorch. He continued working on the hidden thing. "As nice as learning your language was, It could not go on forever. I mostly finished. And listening to Bach or Mozart all the time, sitting in one place wore on me as well. And then...talking was always hard. Ears of stone in many cases, I swear. I'm guessing even without my helmet, I would look unpleasant to you, correct?" The black skeleton's feathers ruffled a little, before he got up to go to the replicator again. He quickly returned, this time, with several sheets of gold. The 'tink-tink-tink' of a small hammer could be heard over the audio feed, as well as the flames of the torch. "It is safe to assume you are of a higher rank? If you were, I would remove my helmet and begin the protocol, but, seeing as there is little atmosphere...it is self explanatory." The small tools finally stopped, and the torch went out. Whatever he was working on went into a liquid vat again to be electroplated once more, this time, with a different material. The black figure started to leaf through a booklet containing all the current munitions used by the Terran Republic. Judging by the set of his shoulders, tail and feathers, he was disappointed. "Nothing like it here..."

Both Cibo and Marcus gave a quick look over at who was walking towards them, while Marcus of course, looked even more closely without giving away his actions. Both gave a crisp salute in unison, sounding off as one voice with the others as well, "Attention! Admiral on Deck!". Next, after Evelyn took control, they responded once more, albeit more quietly. "Yes ma'am." However, as soon as the Admiral was distracted by the doorway, Cibo leaned forward, as she was taller than Marcus, and whispered in his ear. She spoke so quietly that he had to strain to hear her, "If I find out you made a move on her, I'll finish the job." He merely mouthed back at her, making sure no one else saw,
"Bite me." Apparently, Cibo found this rather funny, gave out a light, childlike giggle. She whispered back,
"I already did, remember?" At that, Marcus Wightman's jaw dropped in disbelief. He couldn't remember half of what she did to him. Apparently, she remembered all of it. Her finger traced his neck. He reached up and felt it...the small, barely visible scar hidden by his collar. Just like she said, she did. And he didn't remember all the things she did either...Goddamn Witch

"Right then, Come with me!" Emma said, Grabbing Arcadia's hand and pulling her along, catching up quickly to the slowly moving Captain Kerning. "Captain! Captain!" the girl called "Whatcha up to? Can we join you?" she asked, looking curious and upbeat suddenly.

Evelyn Tapped further into the station's capabilites, Wirelessly sending a signal to Yotruyan's suit, hoping he would be able to pick it up. It was a direct link to the ASIAN unit, With encryption keys for privacy. A little image of a cartoonified female face, which would be to anyone else easily recognizeable as evely, came with the message.

"Could I ask you guys to please vacate this chamber? I'm going to be venting this room as well, soon." Evelyn called to the grouping of terrans about her. She looked about the room, eyes expectant, waiting for them to leave, which, the scientists did immediately, knowing that an ASIAN unit was vacuum-capable. The security guards and intel, however, might not be completely certain of that, but seemed to figure both the Admiral, and the scientists knew something.

Steven looked around when he heard the request. "Certainly. I am just getting some coffee, but hey, the more the merrier." he said with a slight smile as he saw the two women approaching. "Unless of course you have an objection Fred?"
"Ha. I am not gonna object," Green Two replied.
"Well, there ya go. Now let's go get some coffee. Emma, you can try some tea." Steven said before starting to walk towards the mess again.

The two intelligence officers gave a crisp salute before backing away. The klaxons sounded, and the thick bulkhead doors sealed shut. The last thing Cibo and Marcus could see was Evelyn, standing alone before the rigged armory door. Cibo shot a furious glance at Wightman before turning away to speak to the scientists. Marcus, on the other hand, started to speak to the petite security guard, "Hello Sehene, have you had any sort of chat with that alien? I'm a 'lil curious bout all this."
"Yes, lend a hand, would you kindly?" Cibo suddenly stepped in, her voice soft and nice. You're not getting your ugly claws in her. Or anyone for that matter. Not if I'm still around here.

The black form assembled the parts together, and covered the finished product in an olive drab cloth the Terrans had. By then, he took down the covers, so they would see something was under the sheets. Something tickled his feathers, and he started to translate the data bits in the back of his mind. He pulled up a more proper chair, and leaned back, kicking his feet onto the table. With the rest of his consciousness, Yotruyan reached out to the network terminal inside the armory. Eyes. Drathonian eyes? Here? No. Bits of it's code was Terran. An AI? Profanation of the new laws! Still, best not stir up ire..right now, it, or more accurately she, seemed less than enthusiastic. He sent her a text. "May I have access to the network? I wish to obtain schematics for combustion based ammunition." A brief pause, about a few seconds, came about before the reply did. It was a text as well, but he couldn't help but get a faint 'feel' of her. She, the Station AI, was best described as a bored and mean spirited secretary.
"No." At that, his connection was cut off. How embarrassing.

Moments later, Evelyn would receive an audio/video connection from Yotruyan. Although it was hard to tell, he seemed rather embarrassed with his feathers a little flustered. "Admiral? That is about the equivalent of Fleet Mistress I hope? I guess you might as well come in. It is mostly finished anyways." The video feed from the dissection earlier panned as he grabbed it, turning it towards the door, and revealing the grenade rig. He quickly took the grenades off the rigging, and opened one up, turning it upside down for her to see. The whole time, the grenades wouldn't have gone off. "A 'dud' if you will, and will I have your company soon?"

Jesus you wouldn't think it be so hard to find your CO...

A young private by the name of Scy enter the cafe. The young man was looking for his CO after being recently assign to his very first duty. The boy's heart couldn't stop beating at the thought of finally doing something useful in this depress world. Helping Terrans, fighting aliens and most of all avenging his sister was truly his desires when he join the military. Exiting his thoughts the boy look around again. Walking in slowly and looking around he couldn't help but let his thoughts wander around again.

His name was... Kai something. Probably some veteran.

The thought excited him to see a pro in action. He always wanted to see heroes when he was younger and this was his chance at seeing a true expert. Well this Kai might not be some hero yet but he obviously most be good to be a CO right?

Looking at the lunch counter like his pad had told him he notice a man who he expected to be Kai. The description match what he had ask earlier anyways. Approaching him he saluted and spoke. "Sorry sir are you by chance Kai Nakamura?" He asked. If the man replies that he is Kai then Scy futher goes on in his introduction.

"Sir I've been assign to serve under you. I hope that I can assist you in anyway and learn from you sir! My name is Scy Yawich!" He said very confident in himself. Luckily Scy overlook the fact his commander was younger then him. Knowing this Scy might of acted a bit more childish.

Kai turned around on his chair, a face set in stone that could scare the pants off of anyone's grandmother. Scowling, with deep burning eyes, he took a long swig of his hot chocolate, roughly plopping the ceramic container on the counter, and slowliy wiping the residue off of his upper lip. "I am indeed this Kai Nakamura you speak of." He answered, Cracking his neck twice; once each direction, face still set, before continuing. "I've seen a lot of young blood like you go down on their first battle. All it takes is one weak link to bring down the entire chain. Are you that weak link?" Kai propped an eye open, moving his face uncomfortably close to the other man's, letting his bangs flop to the side and expose the long scar down the side of his face, bisected by a vibrant green eye.

If Scy looked closely, he could see the lieutenant shaking, his entire body twitching slightly. before long, the scowl started turning upwards and the smoldering look in the blond's eyes were turned to obvious mirth, and he burst into a snigger, and then all out laughter. Bringing his head back, he caught his breath, waiting a few seconds to calm down before continuing "Just kidding man. Welcome to the unit." He held out a hand for a shake, and picked up his mug of hot cocoa, taking another small sip before asking "Tell me, why did you join the military?"

"Only Tea?" Emma whined, pulling Arcadia along further. She frowned lightly, but then decided she didn't need to bother and continued on. "So how've you been lately, Captain Kerning?" the girl asked, a curious glow in her blue eyes, brown hair swishing at her back as she walked, a little off balance due to the weight of her wingmate being dragged.

"I am indeed an Admiral." Evelyn responded. "My name is Evelyn, and I am the captain of the UTR Battle Hymn of the Republic." She opened the door, no hiss form pressure difference, as her chamber was empty as well. "What, may I ask, Is mostly finished?" the gynoid enquired, her boots soundless, but the vibration still evident through the floor. Killy could probably determine from the footfalls that Evelyn had considerable mass for her size, and it was very obvious that she wore no void suit, and yet seemed unaffected by the lack of atmosphere. She walked to a stop, mere feet away from the Ottyo fighter, and stared into the alien eye sockets of the suit, her cybernetic eyes focusing and refucusing, different sensors taking readings of the creature and his protection.

"Why do you ask?" Steven asked simply. He spared a glance towards Green Two who returned the look with a definate sense of I-told-you-so. Steven, still convinced there was nothing wrong, gave up trying to ignore the questions and hear them out. "I have been alright, just fatigued from all of these shifts we have been doing. How about you are you alright after this last battle? It was a bit close."

Yotruyan was surprised when the door opened, and the petite form stepped in with heavy footfalls. His helmet sent out a brief sensor ping, and the primitive results were surprising to say the least. His head shook as it drew back a little in shock. "A metallic endoskeletal enhancement? And what else were you blessed with?" Though his head movements were very slight, he visibly looked her over. "More squishy?" His hidden eyes finally returned to her's, where he focused. Strange...a little like a... He stopped his fluid movements and stood ramrod stiff. A short series of birdlike clicks, whistles and words followed, and seeing that she did not exactly respond to that the way he expected, Yotruyan visibly relaxed. He then suddenly changed the topic away from his little chirpy phrase. "Ah. This?" he asked, pointing to the cloth covered creation, "Something that is recommended in the coming formalities. It is required I make face to face contact, and with my helmet forced on due to the lack of atmosphere, I cannot, so it is informal for now." Almost as if to emphasize his point, he reached out and poked Evelyn's nose. Squishy.

Arcadia was quiet while they joined the Green Alpha pair, and remained quiet while Emma began her inquisition of Captain Kerning. She smirked to herself at that, recalling the first time she'd encountered her squad leader: Corporal Kerning. Sounded like the name of a superhero straight from some comic book. Even as Captain, he still had that ring, and so it continued to amuse her for a few brief seconds. Returning her thoughts to the topic at hand, she realized that everyone had noticed what she had: the Captain was much more under the weather than the rest of the squad. One might suggest that was do to being squad leader, but Arcadia knew firsthand how spirited he was and an assignment like this surely wouldn't bring down such a strong-willed man as Steven; not alone, anyways. Something else must be the matter, and Pilot Langdon made sure to say as much.

"Captain, it may not be our place, but we've all noticed that you've been particularly more sluggish than usual, and of course we've been given a grueling assignment; and yet, you seem much more weary than the rest of Green Squadron, so there must be something else the matter. Are you sick? Women giving you problems?" Although typically Arcadia would have broached the latter subject with humor, she spoke with a purely serious tone and demeanor

Scy look at the angry man. His first thoughts were that he ask the wrong man but this was quickly dismiss as the man confirm who he was. He then processed to crack his neck twice. Scy was slightly baffle by this man actions. Was he trying to look cool or was he really just hardcore? Kai then spoke up, questioning the young man.

"Sir I understand that I'm new sir and almost immediately a drawback to your squad and may cause slight problems but I promise you sir that I will never let you down. I'll act at the utmost of my abilities and will follow your orders to the letter. I will put my life on the line for th-" Before he was able to continue the man suddenly burst out laughing. The poor boy was again bewilder by the CO action. "I... I'm sorry sir if I dissapoi-" He started but again he was cut off by Kai who told him it was all a joke.

Confuse for a second, Scy realize the man was just messing with him and he also started to laugh. When he was done he shook the hand of the CO and decided it was safe to sit down finally. Kai then went to ask him why he join the military.

"For two simple reasons sir. One is the help Terrans just like me sister took care of me. Two I want to kill Dathbags and avenge her death. I want to be alive the day they go extinct." He said honestly.

Garrett Hendlow, smeared with fresh grime, grease, and whatever other "dirt" he could collect, shuffled into the cafeteria with an exasperated sigh and a gloomy expression. Despite the fact that he'd been working in the nearly obliterated workshop since their arrival at-- and even a large portion of their trip to-- Saratar, he felt as if he wasn't making any headway. It was still a mess, and would likely continue to be a mess for the next few days. And even then, any previous work he'd had was destroyed, so he was essentially starting from scratch. AND THE PAPERWORK. "I fucking hate the goddamned paperwork," he grumbled as he dragged himself to the other side of the cafeteria to get himself a drink. But OF COURSE there was a lack of alcohol, and he'd already finished off the bottle he saved from the bar some time ago. "Well then, fuck. Gimme a cup of coffee." He took the mug with a quick swipe, spilling some onto the counter and his hand. It stung a bit and he grimaced, but was rather happy at the same time: it meant the coffee was fresh and just the way he wanted it.Perusing the room, he spotted his CO, and quickly made his way over, sitting down next to Lieutenant Nakamura.


Evelyn's eyes followed Yotruyan's finger, and she drew back slightly before his finger made contact. As he drew back his hand, she spoke to him through the communications link "I will return atmosphere to this room if you promise to not pull any more.. stunts." She stared into the eye sockets more "And please, do not touch me again without permission. It is very rude."

"I can guarantee you the first two, soldier, but the third is up to you, and the almighty." Kai answered, turning his seat into a more comfortable position and noticing a familiar, bedraggled form sit next to him, with a fresh coffe. "Ah, what luck our XO shows up just in time. Hendlow, we have a new guy to join us." he called, hoping to get the demo expert to talk to Scy as well.

"Rude?" Yotruyan's helmet's feathers spread out and begun to slowly fan up and down. His head turned ever so slightly in different directions. Physical contact. He petted a young SeFlaurind on the head, only to be tackled by the father, sending them both down the cliff. A nose poke to say hello, greeted by a rifle's butt. A pat on the cheek to say ...the list of 'minor' incidents went on, but this revelation did shed some light. "This...explains a few things." Next, he made a whining nose, very much to like what a dog would do if scared or sad. "Sorry." He started to shuffle away a little, increasing the room between them. "As for my actions, soldiers are modified. They affect our minds. We require contact to remain mentally stable. We always work in groups. For me, who must work alone, it means that I will seek out others to inquire, or else. And many of your guards would not reply. What I had done was better than wasting away. The best, and worse of times are all...clear in our memories now." His fingers intertwined together, and Yotruyan's tail started to wag back and forward, as though another thought interjected. "It did bring you here, did it not?" He gave out a happy, twittering whistle. "And the promise? It falls under the formalities. Shall we start then? You could always vent it again."

"Always new people with us, aren't there? I swear, if it's not after a big mission it's in the middle. Like that one time we picked up that nice little pilot girl..." He smirked, shifting his gaze to Scy. The patch said 'Yawich.' And he was a private. Not only new, but fresh. More unwanted news. He sighed and took another sip of his coffee. "Well, why are you here?" the Lieutenant inquired, not altogether interested in holding this conversation. He was more interested in trying to find someone with some vodka or lager, and maybe a fresh pack of smokes.

"I wish to help Terrans, kill Dathbags and see them go extinct." He repeated to the new man. Scy was slightly annoyed by this man careless thoughts but then again he seem tired. "Why do you seem so... tired Hendlow? Somethings up or is just the fact I'm fresh meat?" He ask. Scy slightly expected that the demolition leader would be more upbeat or psychopathic. This man was neither.


Was this kid trying to suck up to him? He wondered... "When the Hymn was hit in the last fight, it damn near destroyed the explosives workshop and storage facilities. I and the few remaining members of my division are the only ones allowed to clean and reorganize the room, seeing as how we're the only ones with the proper knowledge to handle all the equipment and fuels safely. I've been working on it since the end of the battle, and I'm maybe halfway through. All this time I could be spending on pet projects is instead wasted on this recovery mission. And fresh meat isn't exactly promising news these days, but you're the least of my worries." He emptied the mug and moved it out of his way.

Steven couldn't help but laugh at Arcadia's comment, even if it was meant to be serious. ”Don't worry Arcadia, women have nothing to do with it. I have just been a little under the weather lately, nothing too serious. Just a sore throat, occasional headache, and some slight disorientation.” he said in a slightly condescending tone to dispel any worries his team might have. ”A good rest and I'll be fine. And here is the mess hall.” he said as they approached the double doors to the mess hall, but as Steven made the turn into the mess misread the distance separating him and the door, and clipped the door frame with his foot causing him to stumble. With a slight look of embarrassment he quickly regained his balance and stood where he was for a few moments. ”Whoops. My bad.” he chuckled a little, trying to laugh it off.

The air could be heard whooshing back into the room, a light breeze forming for a second as the lack of pressure sucked the air inside, creating a pressurized compartment with atmosphere. "I will only vent it if you threaten me. I can actually open this compartment directly to space, if need be." Evelyn informed the Ottyo, this time with her own voice. She stood herself up very straight, trying to look proper, then cleared her throat. "Allright then, Shall we begin?"

"Hendlow's just whining 'cause he wants you to feel sorry for him. He doesn't realize it, but he needs a man's sympathy. of course, I know him too well to sympathize, so he's gotta hit up the newbies for his fix." Kai chuckled, insinuating at the other lieutenant's preferences. "I, on the other hand, wouldn't do such a thing to you. y'see, I'm the good cop. Hendlow is is the grumpy man without enough copy, who hasn't had a smoke in a month. I would try to stay on his good side, in any case" the tall blonde asided to the new guy.

"Well, If you need rest then why are you still on duty? Can't you just pull rank and get a checkup or something?" The bright-eyed Emma enquired, before jumping slightly when Steven nearly tripped, having attempted to catch him. once he seemd to get his balance, she relaxed a little "You really need to care for your health, captain Kerning..."

"The reason why I do not want to take sick leave is because I don't want to be on the side lines because of a simple cold, that and I am not a fan of the doctors in medbay. But I'll tell you what, if my condition gets worse I will go get it checked out. Okay?" Steven said, now employing a more comforting tone. He was about to speak again but then quickly turned his head and let out a hard cough into his arm. Damn, he said to himself.
"C'mon," he beckoned to the rest of the group, "I will tell if I am about to pass out. Now let's get our drinks."

He nodded. The black plated hands moved upwards, and grasped the back of the helm firmly; he pulled the helmet forward, and with the sound of tearing flesh, removed the black faceplate. The ever so faint scent of a rainy forest and mint rapidly dispersed into the air along with something else. The equally faint scent of raw meat. Long black fleshy tendrils snapped away as Yotruyan pulled, and finally, the skull faceplate came off. Very much like a Drathonian, he had many sharp teeth concealed beneath his thin lips. The similarities ended there. His entire head was raptor-like, covered in feathers, with green being the most dominant color. The green was darkest at his nose, and became lighter the farther back one went, eventually becoming a mostly even mix of blue and green feathers on his crest. It gently moved about in thought, further displaying yellow in the undercoat, with a few larger red feathers that accented his display. Simply put, he had a very colorful set of feathers, with not a scale in sight. Before Evelyn could say anything, he spoke first. Only, it wasn't the male Terran voice he was using before. It was a woman's.

"I am Princess of the Principality of Chaion, by the name of Shzizsk Nankik. What you hear is merely a memory of me, speaking to the Inquisitor Unit that stands before you. From my people to yours; Hail." Yotruyan's arm smoothly moved, clenching his fist over what was most likely his heart. Next, he held his arm straight forward, fingers together, and palm down. A salute. The woman's voice then softened, "And to you, between you and I as future friends. Hello." His arm then moved out, extending a single claw into the open air, and made the same exact motion Yotruyan did earlier, as though to touch Evelyn's nose. "As you are well aware, the ones who are known as Drathonians have disrupted the peace in this galaxy, and we, recent refugees, are relatively defenseless save for the hidden nature of our facilities." Yotruyan moved as though to brush away something above his eye. Something that was not there. "My agent, Yotruyan in specific, would not have attempted contact if you were unable to assist us in some way. What I propose is simple. We will enter into a protocol, or treaty as you may say, in where we will supply you with raw materials to wage war. In return, we merely ask you to continue fighting the Red Menace. Further details may be discussed and debated at the location this unit will give." Yotruyan then suddenly did something unexpected; no matter how different he looked, what he did was best described as a curtsy. Nankik's voice, through Yotruyan, then pleaded, "For our peoples, for our states and for the greater good, please accept."

"So. What will it be, Shipmistress?" The Ottyo soldier asked.

"If you'd exchange coffee with proper work, I'd say that's about damn right. No one on the Hymn or this station has a single damn smoke to spare!" After a short silence, he stood. "I'm getting more coffee. Anyone else, while I'm up?"

Arcadia really didn't like this. The Captain was in much worse condition than he let on, and he was doing a lousy job of covering it. As they entered the cafeteria she grasped him by the bicep. Firm... No, damnit, I'm angry! Berating herself added fuel to the fire behind her adamant expression, her glaring eyes. "Captain," Pilot Langdon began, making sure she had his full attention, "You need to get some rest and antibiotics. I'm not going to let you put yourself and this squad at risk for your pride.

Steven's attention snapped over to Arcadia as she grabbed him by the arm, and as he listened to the demands he felt a slight ping of guilt. "I am sorry, I didn't know you guys all felt so strongly about it. Since you are the third person in a span of five minutes to warn me about my health, and since you refuse to let go of me until I do, I will quit making petty excuses and go get treated." Steven said almost as if he were admitting defeat and looked of towards the far wall. "Unless you want to keep holding onto my arm? he asked Arcadia in his semi-joking tone of voice.

Arcadia's eyes narrowed, piercing Steven through. "Don't get cute with me, Captain. I will drag you there if need be." She tugged him into the hallway. "So what'll it be: you going to be a good boy and hurry along, or do I have to tug you along by the ear?" Her sarcasm was normal, but she spoke in a dire tone. Langdon was only making jokes out of habit, and by no means meant to be construed as humorous at the moment.

With a smirk on his face, Steven couldn't help but laugh as his subordinate began pulling him out of the mess hall. "That is a tough decision," Steven said, countering Arcadia's sarcasm with some of his own. "Maybe I will run along if..." he started again but then stopped and looking a bit unsteady.
"Whoa. Got a little light-headed there for a sec," he said as he put his hand to his forehead and pinched the bridge of his nose and trying to regain his balance.
"Sigh, on second thought, maybe I will just go in and get checked out."

She glanced over her shoulder at the other two. "I'm going to escort the Captain to the med bay," Arcadia informed them. "Just in case he passes out on the way." She gave Kerning a gentle push to get him walking. "Let's go, Captain." She strode on his left, putting him between her and the wall: one way or another, he would have something to lean against if he turned dizzy.


"See you in a bit then," Green Two called after them, "Don't let the captain hit his head to hard when he falls over." He then turned towards Emma and gave her and gave her a questioning look. "We sure have some odd squadmates, don't we? You wanna tag along with them or stay here and have a drink with me?"

"I guess I am worse off than I first thought. I had no intentions of making any of you worry about me," Steven said as he and Arcadia walked in the direction of the med bay. Steven, having regained some coordination, but still rather unstable, continued to rub his forehead. "And also thank you for the escort."

Arcadia sighed. "You shouldn't be thanking me, idiot. If you'd gone to figure out your problem when it started, you wouldn't be needing an escort. Are you really that damn prideful?... Sir." Another quiet sigh. The Pilot had almost forgotten her place. Still, having to look out for one's commanding officer was leaning toward the more obnoxious side of things. Regardless, she was beginning to regret having said that. "Permission to revoke my last statement, sir?"

“Permission denied. It is already out there,” Steven said in a flat tone, ”Don't worry about it, you aren't the one who should be apologizing. And besides, you are right anyway.” With his light-headedness finally starting to dissipate he put his arms down and walked normally. “And if you wanted to call it pride you wouldn't be that far off target. For the most part I did not consider it that big of an issue, that, and I did not want to be beaten by some stupid cold. I mean I have been feeling off beat for about four days now, and for the most part wasn't serious, you know just a small headache every now and then.”

Arcadia nodded, glad Steven could see the error of his ways. "You boys, always so headstrong. If you'd put some of that drive toward actually fixing the problem, maybe it wouldn't be such a rough road. You know, use your head?" She immediately regretted going off, but didn't apologize or attempt to rescind it. She already knew how that would turn out. "Just warn me if you're going to drop dead, alright?"

“Ha! You girls, always pointing out the boys' flaws,” Steven said in mock retaliation. “Rest assured, if I am about to take a dive, you will be the first one I tell. But really though, you don't need to worry any. I am feeling better now, not going to pass out any time soon.”

"Says the man who almost face-planted on his way into the cafeteria," Pilot Langdon retorted. "And don't get pissy with me if you almost all of you happen to tend toward one thing or another. Call it the grace of god or evolutionary genetics, but it happens. Just as we girls tend to be dramatic and emotional. Most of us."

“'Grace of the gods'? Now that is funny, and beside, that thing in the cafeteria was because I just wasn't paying attention.” Steven said returning his tone to normal, “What do you mean by 'most of us'? I am sure you have your moments of weakness just like everybody else."

Arcadia didn't broach the topic. "I'm just saying you can't make a blanket statement on the entire gender other than that we're all female. That's it." Arcadia was starting to realize just how stubborn Steven could be. Not that it bothered her too much or often, but it was starting to right now. He was being belligerent over little things, but she didn't bother to mention it. He'd only get worse.

“What about that 'you boys' comment? And how we are 'always so headstrong'.” Steven said, once again in a slightly playful tone. He glanced over towards Arcadia and hesitated a moment before continuing. “You have to admit, though, this is a nice change from the boring routine we have been in for the past to weeks. Uh, I am not talking to much, am I. You are getting that look in your eye that indicates that you are thinking about something, and that is cause for concern."

She smirked. "I'm not a goddamn politician, sir." Arcadia nodded slightly, but didn't bother to verbally agree. Yes, she liked it, but... Well, no. There was no 'but' about it. "Seriously though, Captain, do you really think it's JUST a cold? Dizziness, disorientation: those aren't symptoms of a cold. I'm no doctor, but I do know that's a bit more serious than the common flu."

“It is probably closer to say that I WANT it to just be a cold. Feels more serious than a cold now, but like I said before, a few days ago it was not this bad. So chances are my ignoring it just made things worse.” Steven said as he settled into the new conversation. Turning his head towards the wall he let out a cough and slowed down almost to a stop. “Dammit, light headed again.”

Arcadia stopped, a small wave of worry washing over her. "No hurry, Captain." She didn't know what else to do or say, so she stood by looking and feeling insignificant and helpless. What could she do? Offer her sleeve? "If you get too messy, you can use my sleeve, sir."

Steven was once again pinching the bridge of his nose and holding onto the wall with his free hand. “Your sleeve? Don't worry, it is going away again, your sleeve is safe.” Steven said, doing his best to maintain his playful tone. “I should be fine until we make it the rest of the way to med bay. It is not much further.”

"Sir, do you NOT recall me just calling you out for playing into the male stereotype? Please don't make me play the role of your surrogate mother. I'm not as nurturing as I look." She was smirking, but inside she was a little nervous that he'd collapse on the way to the med bay. "Just keep me in the know, sir? I'd rather catch and carry you than drag your ass down the hall."

He couldn't help but chuckle, which did not help the headache at all. “And do you remember me saying that I would be sure to tell you if I was going to go down? Now c'mon, let's get going before you do end up having to carry me,” Steven said, his playful tone no longer in use as the headache got the better of him. He began to advance forward again but making sure he kept a hand braced against the wall just to be safe. “And beside, I am certain you would make a great mother if you really wanted to.”

"Hmph," was the noncommittal response. Of course she did her best not to let it show on the outside but now Arcadia was thinking about it, try as she might to ignore the idea. Her initial reaction was, There's not a chance in Hell I could be a mom! Thankfully, her concern for Steven's well-being was enough to stop that train of thought short. It wasn't important and likely wouldn't ever be.

Back to the topic at hand. "Sir, I may have a rather nasty bark, but I promise I don't bite." She realized that probably didn't get the message across. "What I mean, sir, is that I'd rather you lose consciousness with me as your support, not the wall. I mean, if you'd prefer smacking your skull on the solid steel, then be my guest."

Steven once again chuckled at Arcadia's way with words. “If you really insist, who am I to decline the offer. Here I come.” Steven said as he pushed himself away from the wall and towards his wingman. When he was close enough to her to bump into her he put his arm across her shoulders to brace himself against his new support. “As it turns out I would rather pass out hugging you than hugging the wall.”

Arcadia smirked. "Ready when you are." The female pilot grasped Steven's wrist with one hand and pressed the other against his ribs. "Captain, I must remind you that if you were attempting to hit on me that is most certainly AGAINST regulations. Pretty sure it was in Chapter 2, Section 1: Code of Conduct if you need to look it up." She paused a moment just to give her next statement some space, psychologically speaking. "And thanks. Sir."

“Ah, I am lightheaded, do quote the code of conduct. And besides I am more upfront when it comes to things like that.” Steven said as he hung his head and gave an exaggerated sigh. “But hey, think whatever you like, but if I may say, you are much more comforting than the wall was.”

She laughed quietly. "Sure, Captain. Straightforward. Whatever helps you sleep at night." He could say whatever he wanted, but Arcadia couldn't help thinking it was Steven's testosterone sending subliminal messages, and it was fairly amusing when he tried to deny it. "There you go again, trying to flatter me. It'll only get you so far, Captain."

“How far is 'so far'?”Steven asked, once again in his playful tone of voice, and began to laugh a bit before quickly stopping. “I am going to stop laughing now, it is not helping the headache at all.” As the two pilots continued down the hallway they passed a few other crew members and looked like a drunk being supported by his comrade. “And if flattery doesn't work then what does? How much longer before we reach the med bay?”

Arcadia looked up. "Just around the corner," she answered. "And I didn't say it didn't work, but ANYONE can be flattering. Takes some skill to be suave, and some grace of God to be charming." She grinned. "But a girl can't give away the key to her heart, Captain. It's no fun if you know how to play the game from the start."

“Sad face. I always used to use cheat codes when I played games as a kid. And if that is the case, mark my dying words! I shall from this day forth be a smooth criminal.” Steven said, sounding as if he were getting tired, his words getting more and more absurd. His mind was also making less sense as time went on. Steven, the still sane portion of him that is, felt as if he were being suffocated in a wave a pure gibberish and non-sense. “Are we on a boat? 'Cause it sure feels like it.”

"Oh God." Arcadia knew he was getting worse. It was a good thing she'd told him to go get checked. Even better that someone was escorting him. Pilot Langdon was beginning to believe he wouldn't have made it on his own. "Captain, just don't talk, okay? Don't say a word unless it's important." She was rounding the corner and moving a little faster. She'd rather he develop his issues IN the med bay.

Steven quit speaking and hung his head, simply giving a thumbs up to show he understood the request. I am getting sleepy, he thought to himself. “Hey Arcadia, is me about to pass out important enough? Or should I still keep quiet?” Steven asked as they got closer to med bay.

"Fuck, Captain," she groaned in exasperation. She was shouldering her way through the doors as he said this. "Can we get some help? He's really sick. Dunno what it is, but he's loopy, feverish, and dizzy."

“And down I go,” Steven said, his body finally losing to what ever it was that was doing this, and his legs gave out and he collapsed onto the ground, still holding onto Arcadia.

Langdon had been anticipating it for the last minute or so now, so when Kerning went down, she dropped to one knee swiftly. She never lost her hold. And now a nurse and an orderly had arrived to help her. With the orderly on Steven's right and Arcadia on his left, the unconscious fighter pilot was carried to a bed. With a sigh, the Green Squad pilot began to answer all the medical questions to the best of her ability before collapsing in the chair beside Steven.

What a day. She sat there mulling things over for a bit when the nurse returned to begin the basic checkup. The orderly was after her shortly, making sure Arcadia was okay. She just nodded. When asked if she needed anything, Langdon requested a cup of coffee and the orderly was quick to get it. In the meantime, Arcadia let the rest of Green Squadron know what was up with a short message: Captain Kerning passed out in the med bay. Don't know what it is yet, but it's definitely not a flu. Something much more serious. I'm going to stay here until our next call. Feel free to come keep us company.

"They seem fine." Emma commented, watching as Arcadia and Steven disappeared down the hallway. luckily, she didn't have to witness what happened to the captain shortly afterwards. Instead she walked into the Cafeteria "I'm sure he'll be okay with the doctors here. Now, let's get something yummy."

That thought was, however, interrupted by Arcadia's message a few minutes later. "Well, do you wanna go?" the young girl asked Green two.

Evelyn was mildly surprised when Yotroyan removed his helmet, but was taken aback when another voice came out of the Ottyo's mouth. The gynoid Admiral listened intently to the message, before answering "Why should I believe you? At one point, Terrans helped to destroy and subjugate every other race in this galaxy. Just because we have found our way again does not mean we don't have enemies still. How do I know you are not an angry race, bent on revenge?" Evelyn looked at the Ottyo with a questioning eye, pacing around the room, but still more or less facing the lizard-bird-creature as she did so.

"I think that I can trust you, but, my superiors; yes, I have superiors, Being simply a construct in and of myself; My superiors will have to go over this, and confirm any information you have. but perhaps... Judging by your technology, I believe there is a way I can get to know you more... Intimately..." By now, the Admiral stopped her pacing, and looked Yotruyan in the eye. "How familiar are you with diving into a network?"

"Uhh, Hendlow, we're at the counter already, no need for you to get up. but I wouldn't mind a refill of Hot Cocoa." Kai chuckled, putting a hand on the Demo expert's shoulder and pushing him down. "And don't worry about the cigs, I hear there's a cargo convoy coming in soon, and the information is pretty accurate since i've been assigned escort duty to it once it's in-system."

"Oh God, Steven actually passed out." Green Two said as he facepalmed himself. "Yeah. Let's go see if he is ok. It is a good thing Arcadia was with him." With that said, he made his way for the door of the mess hall and walked out into the hallway.

Sehene saluted the Admiral along with everyone else, and found herself stuck between P2C Malinowski and Captain Wightman - both of whom she had never met, but she had seen Malinowski before - and tension that was becoming nearly as suffocating as the airless chamber now behind them. "Well--" Sehene began, but was interrupted by Private Malinowski. She closed her mouth and stepped away, frowning slightly, but keeping her place. Why was a P2C bossing a Captain around?

Frowning, Garrett sat right back down and shoved his cup away. "You had better be right: Me and my team, we deserve a goddamn medal for the dangerous shit we have to put up with just because one damned missile slipped the shields. The least they could do is give us some R&R fit with alcohol 'n smokes. Maybe some feminine companionship." He sighed at that last statement, and the sigh only made him more irritated because there should have been a small cloud of smoke trailing from his lips as he exhaled. Instead, he was forced to imagine.

He pointed at Lieutenant Nakamura with his left pointer and middle fingers. "I'm telling you my wrath'll be on you if you're wrong, gettin' my hopes up, Lieu-Kai."

As soon as the Admiral was away, both Cibo and Marcus turned to the unlucky Sehene, their eyes staring at her with intent. They then shot her up with questions simultaneously. What did the lizard alien say before all this happened? Did it say anything at all? How did it get out of it's cell? The two eagerly stared and stared at Sehene, waiting for her reply.

Sehene repressed the urge to back away, and instead clasped her hands behind her back, and began to 'tell her tale' so to speak. "He did speak, yes. He is in fact quite friendly and literate..." She paused, "He began speaking to me, and I couldn't just ignore him...he was on our side in the battle. I thought he was dead. He asked me where his weapon was, said it was dangerous, and that if we tried to examine it, it could become urgent. And then of course we heard noises from in here," She gestured towards the rooms behind them, "And he knew it was his weapon, so I went to check it out, you hear screaming and you go to help right? They had the room locked down, and one of the men was injured...quite badly...I told them what the Lizard said, and they asked to see him. They shackled him of course, and brought him here, and that's where he uh...escaped." She finished with a sheepish look at the ground.

"Friendly? A thing like that friendly? Do tell about what you call friendly behavior. How was it friendly to you?" Cibo questioned coldly. Marcus nodded in agreement. It had seemed as though they dropped their grudge, for the moment, in order to work in this case.
"And what do you mean by 'thought he was dead' exactly?" Marcus added on, speaking more kindly than Cibo. He also looked genuinely perplexed and concerned as well. He had not seen anything in regards to this particular alien, despite the fact he was going to be assigned specifically to handle it. Cibo's face soured at his question. Somehow, she figured that much already. Otherwise, he wouldn't be here, right? What if he's here to get back at me, huh?! Or maybe he's...Sehene started to speak again.

"Well he was kind and respectful, and seemed to only want to help us in our battles. He spoke with respect, and was in no was mean or unkind." She frowned, rubbing her neck for a moment before continuing, "In the battle, he sustained many injuries, some of which would kill a human instantaneously, but he is still alive for some reason. We saw him in a state beyond belief, or our ideas of survival."

Cibo scowled, apparently unsatisfied with the answer. But then she told about it's injuries. Both their ears perked up to listen, Cibo so she could hear the first person account, and Marcus because he was not briefed yet. His eyebrow gracefully arched in questioning when she mentioned her thoughts regarding the injuries. He asked, "What kind of injuries did it receive exactly?" but was soon pulled up to Cibo's height as she whispered into his ear. He merely nodded grimly as she told him the medical file's contents.
"Never mind that. The weapon malfunctioning was what allowed him to be brought out, yes? What was it like? Can you describe it, or how it worked?" Her question was cold, and carried weight behind it even though she was a private. Marcus motioned, and spoke,
"Please. Try and remember."

"Yes, the weapon had...chewed the arm of one of the engineers. It was quite bad really. I'm not sure how it worked though, it seemed to be organic, and it only stopped trying to...'defend itself' when the lizard did something to it. It did seem to run on batteries. I really am sorry I can't remember more."

In unison, both their mouths opened in disbelief. It was perhaps the most alien, and 'out of this galaxy' thing they had ever heard. Still, the two quickly recovered, with Marcus asking the next question. It seemed Sehene was put right on the spot in a witch-hunt, and the two asked on, unrelenting, "Changing the pace if you don't mind; how did he escape? In fact, this is perhaps the most important issue here. At least for you Sehene." Cibo then sharply cut in,
"What if this weapon of it's somehow responded to a signal it gave? If that's the case, our Sehene here, along with the other guards played right into hit's bloody claws..."

Sehene frowned. Crap. Consequences. She blinked a few times to clear the sinking feeling in her stomach, and continued. "Well, they had him in chains, but they were loose enough for him to walk, and as they opened the door for him to get in to the weapon, he ran in and avoided weapons fire by telling us that the weapon would blow if fired upon. So we backed off, and the door closed I think he used his tail to close it, because his hands were full."

"Hmm. Interesting. An unstable weapon? More likely just a bluff though." Cibo replied. You were better of shooting it she thought.
"Well, I must say this is an interesting chain of events. I'm certain with the witness accounts here, every one of you will be fine. Don't worry, we will..." his voice cut off as Cibo cleared her throat, "I will testify in your favor if things go that far. But, I doubt that will be necessary." He suddenly stopped there, and turned his head towards the door as a pair of loud bangs could be heard from the room inside.
"Crap! The autopsy camera still working? What happened in there?!" Cibo called out loudly.

A few feathers slightly raised in questioning as Evelyn mentioned the mistake the Terrans had made. At the mention that she was a construct, his eye twitched ever so slightly. Still, he went on in the Princess's voice, "We shall join you in battle if you wish it, however, do not expect our numbers to rival yours." Yotruyan stopped for a moment and looked up at the ceiling, as though to recall something. He muttered briefly about 'other replies' as he did so. "I understand your concerns, and it is here that I am no longer able to speak with you, as my replies are limited. In my stead, this Inquisitor before you shall speak." Yotruyan's mouth stopped moving at last. He opened a drawer and pulled out a utility knife with a twirl. The Terran voice he fancied spoke, "I will be blunt, I had accessed the system earlier through a proxy, but this time, I will not. Please pardon my mess." The utility knife dove into his left wrist, prying off the thin metal plate that protected it. Blood coated the steal, but did not drip. He placed the blade aside, and begun to pull a bundle of cords out of his arm. Yotruyan's tail smacked the floor twice as he pulled a length out, and pushed the fleshy end of the nerves into the terminal in front of him. Next, he pulled up a stool, and went still.

Yotruyan was in his summer clothes; a light green tunic that went to his knees and brown pants. The sleeves were short, and revealed the fact that his feathers only covered him from neck to head. His skin was a fleshy pink, as was his tail. He sat on a tree stump within a grassy field with rolling hills. His bare 'feet' idly grasped the roots of the stump, the neatly trimmed talons playfully scratching the bark. It was a windy day. His tail quickly plucked a few strands of grass, and let them go in the wind. The faint smell of pollen and grass was in the air, and he could even make out small little animals and their scents. Yotruyan had never seen them before, and stared a little. In fact, he almost forgot why he was there. She stood before him in a white dress. Her brown hair was blowing in the breeze, her feet bare. What strange feet they had...he looked at his own and it's five grasping toes. Yotruyan briefly looked over his shoulder, and was reminded where he really was. The space behind him was white and unfilled. "Last time I had done a dive...it was nothing like this. And I almost died as well. So. What do you wish to see Shipmistress?"

"Whoah, Hey." Kai defended, holding his hands up as if to show his innocence. "What do I have to gain from lying to you, Hendlow?" The Lieutennant shook his head "And what's up with the nickname? It's Lieutennant Nakamura, not Lieu-Kai. I'm caucasian, if you hadn't noticed, despite the name." The blonde chuckled, as if humoring himself.

"If you want we can stick you in a scimmy to help protect the convoy; I think the two of us have enough sway to make that happen, heh."

"I've taken the precaution of clearing a space for us. none of that silly information to overload someone not made specifically for diving into a network." She moved closer to the stump, fingering a tall plant, and pulling off a flower to smell. "What you see before you is a compilation of records of one of the most pristine environments of Terra, or Earth as it was called, the home of the Terrans. though I have never been there or seen it, the Terrans were obsessed with keeping records and preserving the natural beauty whenever they could. I would like you to paint as acurate a picture of your own homeworld as you can, the most pristine, or impressive part of it.perhaps it will help us understand one another's backgrounds." She smiled softly at the flesh-colored, clothed and feathered creature before her, he was most closely described as a raptor, similar to the dinosaurs the archives told of.

Emma followed green two down the hallway, looking a bit curious. "You're around him most, what do you think it is?" she asked, a gleam in her eyes. She had never seen someone as sick as Steven had been, and never known a Terran to pass out from anything short of a horrific injury. Even she had been very sick and taken enormous amounts of damage without losing consciousness. "Will he be okay?"

"Eh, I am around him about as much as you and Arcadia. But to me it looked like a simple chestcold. That was two days ago, and apparently has grown much worse in a short time." Green Two said as he hurried down the hall with Emma on his heels. "I can't say for sure if he is going to recover or not, because obviously whatever he's got is progressing at an alarming pace. But what I do know is that Steven is very stuborn when it comes down to it, and the last thing he is going to do is let anything less than a gunshot to the head take him out."

"Exactly. Lieutenant. Kai. Lieu-Kai. Look, don't judge me: I was on drugs when I thought it up. Now, it's just kinda... stuck." He shook his head, and stared at his cup, now full. For some reason or another, though, Hendlow didn't want it. Hot cocoa was actually sounding pretty good right about now. So he ordered himself a cup of the goodness and then turned to Nakamura. "Fuck no. You're not putting me in one of those suicide pods. I will wait patiently in here with my equipment, thank you very much. Good day."

"Aren't you afraid it's contaigous, though, Fred?" Emma asked, looking concerned. "Maybe the whole squadron should get checked out!" The young girl seemed to be mildly freaking out about it, a worried expression on her usually upbeat face.

"Says the man who runs into battle wearing enough explosives to level a small skyscraper..." Kai muttered. "In any case, I'd rather you either called me by my proper title, or just Kai. Heck, I'd prefer if you just said 'Hey, you!' at me all the time." Kai shook his head once more, ordering a fresh Hot Cocoa for himself, making sure to get whipped cream on top. That was one thing the Lieutennant was glad he preferred; Not enough people drank hot Cocoa for it to run out quickly.

"It couldn't hurt. We can get that worked out later, and since now we know the warning signs we know what to look for. So don't worry to much about it, Miss Thompson." Green Two said in his usual serious tone. "OK, here is the med bay, now let's find Arcadia and the Captain."
As Fred and Emma entered the med bay, Fred immediatly craned his head and began to search for his squadmates. "There they are," he said after a minute of searching, and made his way over to the bed. "Hello there Miss Langdon. Are you alright?"

Arcadia looked up from her coffee and a faint smile spread when she realized who it was. "I just beginning to think I'd be sitting here with an unconscious man all by my lonesome for the rest of the day. Glad to see someone knows how to make a speedy response. And I'm fine. The Captain's still unconscious." Some superhero he is, getting put down by sickness. Aren't they supposed to be immune to that sort of thing? She sighed and sipped at her java. Well, not Batman. He was human.

Garrett chuckled. "Yeah, well I make sure I'm prepared. With your unit, I run into some of the craziest situations. And what the hell's wrong with Lieu-Kai? Flows nice. Sounds nice. Makes conversation crisp, and I can use it in combat without labeling you CO." He downed half the mug of cocoa and a shocked expression washed over him. "Wow. That's... tasty." He gave a curt laugh at himself. "Haven't had one in... ages."

"They're just standing still. I think they both dived into the net." Cibo stated. What does this mean? Wait...this means that they're meeting with each other, and we can't tell what they're saying! If they moved their mouths we could read their lips but now...goddammit! She growled, clenching a hand into a ball. What if they are conspiring to do something? I mean, Evelyn was programed to serve us right? But what if she's fed up? And she's been upset lately too. Shit, shit, shit! Cibo eyed the fleshy tendrils that connected the alien thing to the terminal with disgust. "At least the Draths had the courtesy to use a PDA or something..."

The empty half of the world changed. It was no longer a grassy field, but an ancient forest of tall, old trees. And it was night on that half, not day. A dead, horned ruminant was cut up and cooking over a fire. The hunters that had killed it sat about a circle before the fire. They were the same species as Yotruyan was, but there was a very important difference; the three spear hunters were only two feet tall, and had brought down an animal several times their size. One was putting more wood in the fire. Another made sure the meat did not burn, and the third laid on his back, staring up into the starry sky. Yotruyan stepped forward and opened his mouth slightly, in silence. He eventually spoke, "It was my third trip. And, it is the first time I saw something. Something very important." He stepped closer into the clearing, and looked closely at the three. "That is me, the smallest one, laying down right there. I believe I was approximately three years old at the time, but that does not matter. What matters, is up there." Yotruyan pointed upwards, and at the stars. The view was practically unobstructed thanks to the spacious clearing, and a pair of moons could be seen. "Look at the stars very carefully please. You should not recognize anything. At all. I am hopeful that you know what this means."

Fred moved over to the opposite side of the bed from Arcadia and pulled up a chair. "O' wonder what coulda taken Steven out. He didn't look to bad earlier." Fred said as he looked at the Captain, sounding distant then turning his attention to Arcadia. "He didn't smash his face into the bulkhead too hard when he fell did he? Wouldn't want to see him ending up with another scar on his face."

"You're nearly correct, I believe." Evelyn replied, looking up at the night sky. She looked towards a specific spot in the sky, and brought it down to her, in a very confusing visual effect. "Could you expand on this point? It seems familiar, similar to our vantage from Altres." she looked expectantly at the Ottyo. "But I think I understand. You are from another Galaxy."

"Hello Arcie!" Emma greeted the other female Pilot. "It's so nice of you to keep the Captain company." The young girl found herself another chair and pulled it towards Arcadia, sitting down and relaxing, sort of. She still appeared to be worried about Steven.

"Not my fault alone that they send us on the worst missions. I blame you and Jack for that. It's a team effort that we're the best unit on the Hymn." Kai chuckled, picking up his cocoa and taking a sip, putting the drink down to reveal a bit of whipped cream on his nose and upper lip. "Now you know why I drink it all the time. Plus, it doesn't stain my teeth, just eats away at them." The lieutennant nodded as if he had handed out a piece of wisdom, silly as he looked (which he didn't notice)

The forest and it's denizens cleared away to better reveal the patch of starry sky. They pulled in closer for a better view, and Yotruyan winced for a moment, at which they blurred and refocused. "I have combined my memory with the information from a star map I had learned in a class for better clarity." Yotruyan turned from Evelyn to look at the stars himself. "To be honest, this is not The world we came from, but where I was born. It is an outer rim world that lies at the very edge of our galaxy. If you wish to see an inner world, I will oblige. Though I doubt you will enjoy the scenery. Last time I was there, things had gotten...messy, so we left." His head cocked to the side a little as his feathers raised up a little in curiosity. "Pardon, but what is Altres?"


"Whatever it is, it's ugly," Arcadia told Fred. Then she smiled at Emma. "Let's not start nicknames, okay? Arcadia's good. He's alright, far as I can tell. They started him on some drugs, so I figure they know what it is." She shrugged, pulling her legs up onto the chair. "Still, he doesn't look too good." As she spoke, Langdon glanced toward the pale form of Captain Kerning.

Garrett smirked. "Now now, let's not go bragging in front of the rookie. Might give him a big head, he might get cocky. He already talks about genocide like power of will makes the world go 'round." Garrett laughed again and slid a napkin Kai's direction. "Your face isn't meant for mustaches, Lieu-Kai. And speaking of which, where the Hell is Gallagher?" As if expecting to see him show up, the demolitions expert glanced around the cafeteria.

"Another Galaxy, apart from this, or yours. Ah yes." The patch of space zoomed in to a good enough level for Evelyn to confirm "Yes, this here is the Milky way, The galaxy in which we currently reside. I was actually built in the Altresian Galaxy, which is near the Milky, if Galaxies could be considered near one another." Evelyn had the part return to it's original starry state, and took a few moments to take in Yotruyan's world. It seemed a peaceful place, not unlike the records of Terra, if a bit alien in its designs. "I would like to see a core world. If you would like, I could show you one of our urban centers, as it was before the great betrayal."

"Well, thank you" Kai said, grabbing up the napkin and wiping his upper lip, still not noticing the bit on his nose. It happened to be at just the exact spot that he was oblivious to it, no matter how far down he looked. "I'm not bragging, just stating the truth." the Lieutennant chuckled, before hearing garrett's next statement "I've heard he was still in the med bay. apparently this time they were also trying to tighten some of his loose screws, if you know what I mean. Messing with a mind is delicate, unlike replacing limbs and organs.

At the thought of someone screwing with Jack's head, Garrett felt a genuine surge of righteous fury. "BULL. Shit." He was almost shouting, and the demo expert was aware that several people had fallen silent at the sound of his voice. Not that he cared. "If they fuck with his head it won't be Jack. He'll just be another faceless, gung-ho Marine in the Space Corps." Garrett was on his feet now, burning with rage. "If we lose Jack, I will kill the stupid bastard that thought it was a good damn idea." With a heavy sigh, Hendlow sat back down. For several long seconds he was silent. Then, "Sorry, Lieu-Kai, that wasn't meant for you. Ignore me." The remainder of his hot cocoa was drained in a few seconds.

"Great...Betrayal? I do not know what that is, and would...be happy to know?. On another note, here. I hope fifty years into the past would suffice." His half of the world suddenly shifted to a cubicle filled office. A large, black armored figure even larger than Yotruyan moved with speed, firing a machine pistol at a stark white opponent, winging it to the side. The two then collided, smashed through the window pane, and vanished into the depths below. "Again, that was myself, fighting someone else. Do not mind for now the details of the fight. I recommend you take a look outside. Take caution; it's quite a drop. I remember. And it hurt." Outside was the ruined cityscape of nearly impossible scale. The light gray buildings were tall, and reached past the white clouds above. Past that, the roof could be faintly seen, the bases of the next level's buildings protruded like roots. Down below and through the thin fog, fires could be seen on the obscured streets. The black figure from before kicked the other one onto the back, and brutally brought it's boot down on the white one's head. He then fled into the adjacent building. Yotruyan grabbed some sort of office board from the wall, and started to doodle away. He hummed a funny, chirpy little tune as he did so. "Look here at the drawing please. From the surface of the planet, the largest buildings had their uppermost floors connect together, and eventually blocked out the natural surface. Next, another 'level' was built, and another. The original surface remained intact, and was delivered artificial weather, being put to use as recreational space for the inhabitants of the core worlds." Yotruyan shifted uneasily, and ground the floor a little with a talon on his foot. "This world had around twenty-five trillion people. Only a few million survived. The survivors were sent out as colonists as reparations for the suffering they endured. The journey took a little over fifty years. And when we arrived...we soon met the red ones. It has been one year since. Is this enough? If you say yes, I will tell you where we can meet some more proper authority figures." By now, he seemed genuinely stressed. Why, he did not say, but it was apparent he was starting to pant a little.

"Well, if you hadn't noticed, he was more suicidal than usual on the last mission, apparently they're trying to repair brain damage caused by such a complete body repair done so quickly the last time the patched the holes. So, they're trying to put him back to 'normal'" Kai explained, hoping it would calm his XO. "Hadn't you noticed he was getting worse?"

"If you hadn't known, The Terrans and Drathonians, or 'red ones' as you call them, were allied. we hadn't known it was a plan to subjugate the entire galaxy." The Gynoid paused a bit, taking a deep breath (for no apparent purpose other than to express a hidden emotion.) the scene behind her shifted likewise, going to a large, clean looking urban center, sprawled out over the landscape, full of tall, gleaming buildings. Suddenly, the buildings began to detonate, and the sky turned a horrid shade of brownish orange, follwed by a rumbling sound as a huge white beam could be seen off in the distance. Starships which had been fleeing the scene disappered into an enormous cloud of dust flying around the entire planet, some of the ships appearing again as flaming wreckage. "And then, when that plan had succeeded, they turned on us." the scene calmed down to an eerie silence and stillness, the dark only lit by the occasional fire or electrical storm in the clouds. "Our homeworld was destroyed, cut in two by a huge fleet of enemy ships that had moments before been friends. About 10 million people in the galaxy, out of around 50 trillion, survived the onslaught. we have been on the defensive, until just recently."

Evelyn shifted the scene back to the field, but this time at night, serene and living again. The night sky shone overhead, and evelyn looked about it, as if sad. "As you can tell, our peoples have similar histories. I will get into contact with high command, and give them a record of our meeting. But yes, telling me where the proper authority figures would be a good idea, that way we can be prepared when given the go-ahead."

Garrett stared into his empty cup, thinking over what Kai had just said. It was true that Jack had bumrushed a room full of armed Drathonians. Then again, Gallagher had never been one to hold back. He couldn't recall a time the man chose to fire from cover instead of take the enemy head-on. For a brief moment, he recalled way back when they'd first met: taking on a hall full of armed Drathonians. It had been the first time Garrett lost a body part: he had lost his left knee in that foray. Flexing it now, he couldn't tell the difference.

"Maybe," Garrett muttered. "But I'm telling you, there will be Hell's Wrath to face if Gallagher isn't still his slightly unstable self."

A series of stars popped up midair. "You can not miss it Shipmistress Evelyn." Next, Princess Nankik started to speak again with Yotruyan's mouth, "It is a pleasure to know that there is someone worth knowing out there. I look forward to meeting you in person one day. Please, until the meeting of representatives, this unit is at your personal disposal. Order him as you see fit." The tree stump came back into existence just as Yotruyan plopped down. His hands rested on his knees, and he bent forward in exhaustion. Yotruyan's voice stared off low, "Pardon, minor heart aches. Now that I am attached to you, may I have a proper bed to rest in? And can I try your food? And, and...before we go..." and started to become more excited, "May this Inquisitor inquire something off record?" He was now back on his feet, and his feathers fanned out to the side. Yotruyan's fingers interlocked, and he seemed to be almost embarrassed. "Well...are you pretty?"

Nothing. That is it. Nothing. For as far as he could see, Steven could see nothing. No walls, no ceiling, not even a floor. In all directions there was just an endless abyss of churning darkness, and a light haze that clouded Steven's vision. Needless to say, he had no clue where he was. The last thing he could remember was that he sudden felt tired and that Arcadia began escorting him somewhere. Then his memories became muddled, and felt as if he were looking at the world through a drinking straw. He did not know what he was looking at, where he was, or even who he was with anymore.
Then everything went black, and Steven ended up where he is now. His first thought was that the blackness was space, but he could feel something solid beneath his feet when he pushed down. So he was not in space. His next thought was that he had gone blind, but quickly discarded that idea as well as he could clearly see his own body.
When he tried to think more about it, he found it difficult to keep his mind clear enough to think logically. It felt to him almost as if he were heavily sedated, so maybe that could be what was making his mind so muddled and delusional. But he did not feel tired, nor his body sluggish, so it couldn't be sedatives.
Walk. The thought suddenly flashed into his mind and got stuck there. Steven glanced down at his legs and they had begun moving in a direction he couldn't begin to identify. He tried to stop, but when ever he did the same thought got stuck in his mind. Walk. So he was simply along for the ride. He stopped fighting it.
Walk. The silent voice said again.
“I am!” Steven shouted into the darkness.
Stop. The voice said, no longer in silence. It sounded like a hiss.
Steven stopped without question. Behind him he could feel somebody breathing down his neck. Steven tried to look around, but found that he could no longer move. The breath felt warm and clammy.
Anxiety. That is what Steven began to feel. Unable to keep hold of his thoughts, his mind ran wild, making Steven feel scared.
The breathing stopped. Steven was once again alone, and he could once again move on his own. Still scared, the first thought that came to his clouded mind was simple: run. As he turned to leave he came face to face with the voice that was pulling his stings. The face Steven saw was his own.
Frozen on the spot, Steven stared into the empty eyes of his alter. Darkness. The same emptiness that could be seen all around him concentrated into the eyes of the other him.
Die. The hiss said. In the next instant the blank face of Steven's other was no longer recognizable. The skin grew pale and cold, the hands looked like claws, and as the other's hair feel out and all human features erased, it looked more like a lizard than a man. Steven did not know how long he stared into the lifeless eyes, but no sooner had the thing changed it reached out with a grotesque hand and wrapped it around Steven's neck. Effortlessly lifting him off the ground. Steven couldn't breath and struggled to break the hold, but the grip was like iron.
Before he felt he would surely pass out and die he looked once more at his other, but all humanity had since left it. It looked like a husk. It looked like death. Steven's death. As his eyes met the other's, it opened it mouth wide, wider than seemed physically possible, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth and lunged at Steven's face.
Pain. Darkness. Death.
Steven stopped struggling.

To the observers, Steven appeared to be resting peacefully. Gradually he appearance began to change. He started to get a cold sweat on his forehead and his hands became cold and clammy to the touch. His behavior changed as well, going from resting to slight squirms ever now and then, and finally appears to start thrashing about violently until he suddenly stops moving all together.

Arcadia was the first to notice the change, and worry was visibly expressed, something unusual for her face. When Captain Kerning began to have a seizure right before her eyes, Pilot Langdon was immediately on her feet, trying to pin him to the bed, shouting. "Doctor! What the fuck, Captain, what's going!? Goddamnit, Captain talk to me!"

It wasn't long before he went limp, but by that time Green Three had already been pulled away so the doctor and nurses could do their thing. She remained as close as possible, concern creasing her face and her arms folded over her chest. Silently, the young pilot was beginning to wonder if this was life threatening. Ultimately, she pondered whether or not the Captain would survive this and if he didn't how that might affect the squad.

Evelyn stopped moving altogether, and took a few moments to ponder Yotruyan's simple question. She paused. actually took the time to stand there, and think about it, with as much of her excess processing capability as she could. Was she pretty? She did not know. Certainly she had features which were menat to be attractive, as her body had mostly been designed by a group of men, but.. was she pretty? Was prettiness merely physical? how could it be measured if it was not? The questions were unending, and she pondered them all.

Slowly, she answered the first couple of questions he had asked. "You may have a barrack, here on the station, for now. And of course we shall give you food, as long as you are not allergic." her mind continued to ponder, and she thought of her own question for the Ottyo soldier before her.

"Do you know what it's like to be alone, in a sea of people?"

Soon after they started working on Steven, a few more nurses arrived, holding unassembled medical bands and looking concerned. they confronted the group of pilots, and looked at them with melancholy eyes. "We're sorry, but this is the 100'th case of what we're calling 'Lizard flu' for lack of a proper term. It is contagious, so we're going to have to quarantine you guys, and make sure you aren't infected." the nurses started attaching bands and inputting the names and the reason, and then lead the pilots into another room, wheeling Steven along behind them. One of the nurses quipped "At least you get to stay with him." hoping it would help.

"Hey, we're fine, why would we need- oh." Emma started, before the nurse explained the disease was contaigous. She looked around nervously, not for herself, but for the large room full of already ill people who had just possibly been exposed to this 'lizard flu' or whatever it was. "Umm, Arcadia, is Steven gonna be allright?"

"I'm sure there's more to a person than chemicals. I doubt anything short of giving Jack a new brain will change him that drastically." Kai said, taking a sip of his Cocoa. "Besides, maybe he'll be stable enough to actually live a while without needing full body reconstructive surgery, I'm sure the UTR is tired of paying for that, heh." the blond chuckled, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

She paused. And then she answered the other questions. And finally, she didn't answer his question. But he knew what she meant. Exactly what she meant. To be blunt, there was only one thing he could say to this: "Yes." he whispered.

"I hope we can both fit in, soon." Evelyn stated simply, before disappearing in a stram of data, along with the images in the room. It all turned back to white, then a stream of data informed the Ottyo that the data packet would close and he would be subjected to the entire system soon. It suggested he disconnect, or suffer the consequences of a direct nueral link being utterly flooded.

Garrett smirked and nodded. "Fuck, I don't know if I would have paid for it after the third time," the demo expert replied. "The man's expensive, and sometimes I wonder if the cost of keeping that one man alive is what people would call 'effective spending.'" He shrugged and motioned for more hot chocolate. Hendlow didn't know why, but he was really craving more now that he'd tried it. "Is the cocoa drugged or something? Because I enjoy chocolate at a leisurely pace, but damn."

Arcadia frowned with the fresh batch of bad news. She complied with their requests, but when the nurse tried to lighten the mood, the Pilot retorted a tad impetuously. "Right, we get to have puking pals. Fucking buddy system, right?" She chuckled sardonically. "Well look at that, four of us! Emma, you 'n Fred can be buddies and I'll get chummy with our unconscious Captain, alright?" She exhaled vehemently through her nose, expressing her malcontent as passively as possible when the door was shut. "Well if it isn't getting shot out of the sky because my shield battery fell out, it's the Captain getting lizard flu and contaminating me. Us." She sighed and finally sat down beside the ill Steven, the Private as silent as her squad leader. She had vented her anguish and was now content awaiting further news.

“Well, it could be worse. I mean, at least we aren't at the stage where we konk out like the Captain,” Fred said casually as he grabbed a seat as well, then leaned over and put his hand on Steven's shoulder. ”Stevie boy, I know we have been friends for a long time now, but that doesn't mean that you have to share everything with me.” He then relaxed back in his seat with some light laughter, and settled in for a long wait. ”And sure, I would be more than happy to buddy up with the young lass while you go ahead and get chummy with the Captain.” Fred said with his own bit of sarcasm, ”How is your relationship with the Capt'n anyway? You two seem to have hit it off well.”

Arcadia glared over Steven toward Fred, but there was no real threat in her expression or in her tone of voice. "I know what you're insinuating, and for your information we are strictly on terms of friendship. Nothing more, nothing less. Feel free to ask the Captain when he comes to consciousness. Have I sated your curiosity?" She sat with her arms folded over her chest and her right leg hiked over her left.

Fred chuckled at the response. "Now, now. No need to get defensive, I am trying to pass some time by making conversation." Fred said as he put his hand behind his head, "And now that we have covered that you two are just friends, that means you are fair game for me. That, or as you suggested I can get friendly with Emma." He gave another round of laughter.

He took one last look at the whitewashed world, and blinked once. Upon opening his eyes, he was before Evelyn in the armory once more. "Agreed." he spoke. "Keep in mind, I default to bodyguard and or personal assistant. If your work contains proprietary meetings, information or the like, which it most likely does, I recommend ordering me to do something else." He moved off to the side and gently picked up his pet project. It was shrouded in an olive drab cloth, but anyone could tell it was some sort of firearm. "A small gift I made. It doesn't have ammunition yet, but I'll work on it. Keep it, use it or throw it; ether way, it kept me from going insane." Cradling it like a newborn, he unwrapped the cloth, revealing the scatter-gun beneath. It was mostly silver plated, and then wrought with gold; it's intricate patterns detailed exquisite and alien flora and fauna in great detail. "Here. And on a side note, you have 60 days before my term with you ends."

Both Cibo and Marcus were standing a great distance from each other, but each had a clear view of what was going on inside as well as the audio feed from the PDA inside. Wait, bodyguard? Did they make a deal with each other or something? What if Evelyn's trying to get more power with this new species? What if she's going to turn on us?! I knew she was overworked! the paranoid Intelligence Agent thought. Cibo swore the same time as Marcus did. "Crap." But despite this thread of reasoning, Cibo's heart still leaped when the weapon was revealed. Evelyn! And of course, went back to her normal paranoid self shortly after the Gynoid's safety was proven thereafter. I'm worrying over a busty...toaster? No that's not quite right. Maybe Frankenstein? No. Not quite. What would work? That last one, too pretty for that to work... Her paranoia fueled anger then subsided into something else, another line of thinking, at the end of which, she felt jealous of Admiral Evelyn. And once again angry.

Arcadia had arrived at the realization that she didn't like Fred. "What a pervert. She's not even legal." And if he thinks he's getting anywhere near her, I'll fucking shoot his prick right off. Langdon took a deep breath and shut her eyes, trying to calm herself. It wasn't working too well, but she'd be damned if she lost her temper here. He wasn't worth it, and this would be a horrible place. Soon she was going to end up passing out or hacking up a lung, and she didn't need to be angry with someone all the while. Feeling like shit wasn't on Green Three's agenda.

Fred could see that he had obviously struck a nerve that he had not meant to strike. Stopping his laughter he once again adopted his serious and somber expression. "Good Lord, I am sorry. As I said before I was just trying to get some humor going to lighten the mood, but apparently I misread the situation." he said, his Irish accent very noticable now, "Beside, for one, neither of ye lasses are my type, for two, I already have a lovely lady waiting for me back home." He glanced up towards Arcadia to see if his impromptu apology would be accepted.

It appeared Arcadia may very well stand corrected: she didn't like his brand of humor. She slowly opened her eyes and shot Fred a look. He didn't flinch though, and his expression spoke only of honesty in his apology. She visibly relaxed, glad they wouldn't be having conflicts of this sort in the future... or so she hoped. "I don't know what passes for humor among your friends and kin, but vying for an underage girl's fancy certainly doesn't make the grade in my circles." Langdon's voice was calm now, happy to have a much more agreeable conversation.

Evelyn recieved the shotgun from Killy, not quite sure what she would do with it. Perhaps she would show it to to the weapon techs for them to survey, or perhaps she would display it somewhere. she did not know. she would decide later. for now, she had to figure out something to do with this Ottyo, who seemed dead set on following her around for the better part of the next 60 days.

"I will give you freedom to wander about this station, and perhaps later my ship, so long as you agree to go with guards, and follow their commands. Certain areas are off limits, and those limits will be told you." The door behind Evelyn opened, revealing the hallway, and the blast doors opened as well, allowing the admiral to motion towards the door. "Follow me, I will show you your first set of guards." The Gynoid moved through the hallway, and stopped at the group of soldiers and scientists, then looked at who was available. "Malinowski, Wrightman, and Sehene shall be your escorts, until their shift ends, at which point you may retire to a room they will show you to, or change guards and continue your tour. is this understood?" Evelyn asked, looking at all four individuals. "I may choose to visit with you when I have free time, I have many questions for you."


A nightmare come true. She was demoted from her rightful title of Captain. She served a young, potentially dangerous and busty flesh-bot. Her ex-love interest, shark and cheater was assigned to the same thing she was. And, she was assigned to guard a lizard. Oh no, not any lizard, is it Evelyn? It just had to be the one that looked like a skinless zombie from hell. The thing was wagging it's whippy, vertebrae sheathed tail back and forward like a stupid dog. The flesh between the black, bone shaped plates flexed in eagerness...disgusting.
"As you wish Shipmistress Evelyn. I will take it you wish to be left alone." it spoke...and god damn can do a good parrot act! It sounds too much like any other guy. I bet if it sneaked up on me and talked it might...Cibo's thoughts were cut short as Marcus said something reassuring to that Security girl, Sehene.
"We'll be fine. We all got plenty of experience under our belts anyways." he whispered to her. Cibo gave a sharp glance at Marcus and Sehene. Oh damn you! Don't you have any common decency? Are you depraved enough to pick on underage girls too? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if you... before she sensed something close to her. She darted back a step, only to see it reaching a finger out at her. It stopped right there, and retreated a step back too, shaking the skull. The feathers rattled as he did so, and then spoke,
"Sorry. And hello again. Shall we go? I smell bread. Fresh bread."

Not too much later, Cibo sat at the same exact cafe she was at earlier, and merely shrugged at Kai and the two others that were with him when they looked over. The thing sat opposite her at the table, and had a very large loaf of whole wheat before it. And some Brie. And some apple juice. And of course, Marcus being the manipulative bastard that he was, offered to pay, which, she couldn't deny; her wallet was almost empty. "It looks like we'd better get familiar to each other. Would you like something too Cibo? Sehene?" he asked. He made sure to sit so that the others couldn't see him smile the way he did. She quickly thought up several particularly volatile expletives for him, all of which were unladylike to think of. You know well that if I take your money, I would be admitting I were weaker than you...or something! But if I don't I might look rude. Piece of...You know I can't say no politely at all! Aaahhh! she screamed inside her head. The slight quiver and twitch of her lip was all he needed for satisfaction though. No. No. No! You can't have won this round! NO! Marcus's expression of glee suddenly changed into an absurd confusion. She followed his gaze. There it was, it's head stuck in that big loaf of bread. It pulled itself out, and turned the loaf around for everyone to see, and behold! There was a near perfect bread cast of it's skull. Of course! Killy!
"Would you like some meat to eat Killy? That is your nickname, right?"
"A yes to both. Especially to the offer! Many thanks. Though, I do not wish to be any larger a burden to the group, and fear that meat may be expensive as it is back..." Cibo cut him off.
"I'll take the Filet Mignon dish." Wightman's eye twitched. I win.

"I don't think it is, unless you asked for them to drug it." Kai answered his fellow Lieutenant casually, sipping at his own mug. he sat there quietly for a bit wondering why the new guy wasn't talking when suddenly, that thing from Perennia came in, guarded by Sehene, the woman he had met just a bit ago, and some unidentified man. Cibo (the second woman) waved at him and he had no choice but to politely wave back.

Kai turned to Garrett and asked "you wanna go over and see what's going on?"

Garrett had been about to reply when he noticed his fellow Lieutenant staring across the cafeteria. Following his gaze, he noticed Sehene and a couple of Intelligence officers. And... "Isn't that... That was on... That last planet we were on. We... Didn't that thing die!?" Hendlow was all sorts of confused at the moment. In particular, he wondered why Sehene was marching around with the alien and-- more importantly-- two intel officers. Something was definitely going on.

Garrett was already marching across the room and beckoned Kai to do the same. "Damn right, we're going to figure out what Sehene's gotten herself into."


Nothing. That was it. Nothing. Just like before. Only this time Steven couldn't see anything, not even himself. There was only nothing. For the most part he was unaware of everything except for an unyielding pain. It felt like his head was being split in two. He was incapable of any basic functions; he could not move, turn his head, or even shift his eyes. The only thing he could focus on was the intense pain.
Just when he thought he would be overwhelmed by it, the pain started to shift elsewhere. Instead of being concentrated in his head, it now spread across his whole body. It felt like his very skin was burning.
Eyes. They were back. The cold, dead eyes. Steven wanted to panic, but couldn't. He could feel his heart pounding faster and faster.
He was awake. Suddenly, everything around him was no longer black, but instead filled with objects set against a white background. In his disorientation he couldn't tell where he was. There were people around him, three of them, they were saying things he couldn't understand. He became frightened again. But now he could move. He made a move.

“No worries then,” Fred said with a wide grin, “Speakin' of friends, in all of the time you and Emma have been a part of this squadron, we have never actually had a real conversation.” Almost as soon as the words were said he glimpsed movement in the corner of his eye, and turned to look at the source. Steven was trying to sit up. He was awake. It looked as though he were in a panic though. Almost as if he were trying to flee from something. “Great Father Shamus, Steven, calm down!” Fred called to his friend before leaning forward and putting a strong hand on Steven's should. Steven's head snapped to look at Fred. His pupils were dilated, and his eyes darted around as they refused to focus on the Irishman. Fred reached forward with his other hand and patted Steven's cheek. As Steven began to refocus, he also began to calm down, but he still seemed excited.
“Fred? Arcadia? Emma? Where the Hell am I? What's going on?” Steven asked as he finally focused.

Sehene perked up at the Admiral's entrance, and saluted her agreement with becoming the bodyguard of the lizard. She wasn't particularly excited about guard duty, but now she was right in with some top secret stuff, and hey, being an intelligence agent was all about this right? She just hoped she didn't get injured again, but on a secure station?

Sehene looked upwards at Captain Wightman, "I would hope so Sir." She said in an even, but quiet tone; she didn't exactly enjoy the way Malinowsky was looking at them.

Sehene was attempting to ignore the stares of confused passers-by who hadn't met the lizard, but she ended up looking more likely a tag-along, what with Wightman's confident attitude, and Malinowski's seething...
"Oh, not thank-you, I wouldn't want to impose." She nodded to Wightman, not feeling very hungry anyways.

The portion of meat was measly of course. Due to the war effort, and nutrient concerned eggheads, the plate had plenty of potatoes and vegetables. The bit of meat was a single bacon wrapped medallion of heavenly goodness that no soul could deny. Emphasis on single. Usually, there would be two large or three small medallions of the Filet Mignon. Still, the knife cut. The fork stabbed, and to anyone that listened carefully enough, a near silent 'nom' could be heard. And Marcus was undeterred by the rejection. "Are you sure? You might as well, after all, I don't know what else to do with my tickets. He sure is using the opportunity, no offense buddy." His voice continued to ooze a friendly, wholesome sounding confidence as he said so, and amazingly, Cibo was too distracted to notice. The the thing's trembling. Why the hell is it trembling? She thought. And, loath to admit, she was scared. Maybe it didn't like bacon wrapped meat? Maybe it was Jewish? Cibo started off sharply, but towards the end tried to soften her voice.
"Hey, you going to get a seizure or something? Or you don't like the meat? We can get you something different you know." It rubbed itself over where the eyes should have been with a forearm, and stopped to speak.
"No. It is fine. I have not...eaten meat for a few years. We usually give it all to the citizens. That is all. This. This means a lot to me. Thank you." it spoke gently. A brief pause went and gone.
"So. Should we celebrate to our new friend and friends? It'll be on me." Marcus stated warmly. To Cibo, she knew he was trying to inflate his standing, but would the others? Probably not. Rubes.

"No, we haven't," she agreed, but that was as far as they got when it came to finally begin what may have been a real conversation. Arcadia probably wouldn't have cared if she'd had time to reflect.

Sitting on the other side of Steven, Pilot Langdon helped Fred ease their Captain back onto the bed. "Calm down. It's the med bay, under quarantine. Apparently, sir, you went and got us all infected with lizard flu." She smirked. "Hope you're happy, Captain." Despite the condescending phrase, Arcadia wasn't really worried about it anymore. If Steven was doing well, there was a good chance none of them would suffer anything worse or different. After all, nausea wasn't such a big deal when you'd been through spaceflight training and several combat missions.

Steven did not resist and laid back down. "In the name of all things good, my body feels like a wall fell on me. Every muscle hurts." he said as he began to calm down again.
"That is because the three of us have been taking turns hitting ya," Fred chuckled of to the side.
Steven tried to laugh along, but quickly stopped. His body felt like shit, his head felt like it was in a vice, and he still could not manage any complex thought. He closed his eyes to try and rest again, but he didn't have his eyes shut for a whole five seconds before he saw the nightmarish face in the back of his mind again. Snapping his eyes open again and propped himself up a bit so he could look at his subordinates. "Guess that is yet another thing I need to apologize for. If I had listened to you guys and gone in early I could have been isolated before it got this bad, and you guys would have to be here. But all things considered, I do appreciate the company," Steven said, managing a few seconds a laughter before stopping and become grave again. He then directed his attention to Aracadia and said, "Thank you for getting me here in one piece by the way."

Langdon smirked. "You're welcome. I'd say 'my pleasure,' but there was nothing pleasurable about hauling a nearly unconscious man down the halls with the fear of him vomiting all down your front side." She sat back in her chair and folded her arms over her chest. Yeah, he sounded like shit, looked like shit, and was apparently feeling like shit, but for some reason she just couldn't bring herself to be concerned with it at all. It was a strange realization, but there was nothing the pilot could do other than accept it. Besides, she wasn't showing symptoms yet and the Captain was doing well for all his complaints.

It was then that a Nurse came in, Holding a medical 'gun' to take blood samples of the four pilots. She was wearing a particle respirator but looked perfectly chipper, as if she were wearing one of those annoying fake smiles underneath it all. "If you'd all be so kind as to expose your writs, I need to take samples" she said, in a light and vaguely flirtatious voice, winking at Fred.

“Well, I don't suppose we're in any position to turn you down on that request,” Fred said, turning his attention from Arcadia and accepting the wink. With a slight grin on his face he pulled back the sleeve on his left arm exposing the wrist. “Just don't take too much, now.”

Arcadia merely sighed, rolling up a sleeve, and waited for her turn like a good girl. When the needle came, she turned her head toward Emma. If she looked at the boys, Langdon knew she'd just get some snide comment from Fred and have to look at Steven in pain. Neither was a very attractive idea, so she glanced at the teenage pilot and offered an encouraging smile. If she didn't have to see the needle, Arcadia was just fine.

Emma smiled at Arcadia as well, rolling up her sleeves as well, and holding out her wrist.

The nurse made her rounds, Taking small samples from everyone in order, stopping last at Steven, whom didn't seem to have heard her. She rolled up his sleeve for him, and took the sample. "Okay, I'll be back in a few minutes with your results" She told the 'healthy' pilots, then turned to Steven "And we'll start making you a personal vaccine soon. Once it's made you should be back to normal in a few hours. But, Until then.. well. Let's just say it gets worse before it gets better."

Steven didn't even notice the needle. “I guess I will wait right here then until it ready,” Steven said sarcastically to the nurse, “Can't you give me some painkillers or something? My whole body feels like sshit that hass been hit with a tenderizing hammer. And on top of that, can't you jusst tell me what else is on the way? And why doess it ssound like I am hissing?!” Steven was getting slightly agitated now for some reason.

Arcadia was about to besiege the nurse with more sardonic retorts when Steven spoke up. His manner of speech was... disconcerting to say the least. She reached out hesitantly and laid a hand on his arm. "Captain, you alright?" The last thing she wanted was to start sounding like a damned Drathonian. Langdon was becoming nervous once more, but less so for herself and moreso for everyone present in the quarantined room.

"We discovered Painkillers make it hurt more. The only other option is putting you under, but we heard that that's just as bad to the patient, if not worse because it's mentally." The dark-haired nurse said, her face behind the mask seeming worried.

Emma looked a bit concerned as the nurse walked out after her revalation. "Well, Captain Kerning, do you think WE could do anything to help you, maybe?" her face seemed a bit happier than arcadia's. she was putting on her best smile to attempt to cheer up Steven.

“Jusst shoot me now,” Steven said under his breath as the nurse walked off. “And no, I am not alright. My whole body is ssore, I am now hissing, and to top it all off you guys are going to end up the same way,” Steven said as his agitation became more prevalent, “And besides, what could a child like you, much less any of you for that matter, do to help.” His words were sharp, and he covered his face with his hands in visible frustration.

Arcadia's hand retreated; there was no consoling Steven in this condition. She figured it was probably a side-effect of his condition, but it still did leave a small sting. Solemnly she smiled up at the youngest in the room. "Just relax, Emma. There's nothing we can do except wait." And be strong, but she wasn't looking to take any flak for 'optimism' from Captain Kerning, which she undoubtedly receive had she continued to speak her mind.

"Well, they took our blood, so they can fix things, right?" Emma asked, looking hopeful still. "That's what they said they were doing with Steven, so it will work for the rest of us, right?" Emma fell silent and sat in her place, and suddenly began to fidget. She had to go to the bathroom, and announced such. "I have to pee..." She mumbled, embarrassed.

He missed Emma's line. Steven's mind was still filled with haze; he knew he wasn't thinking clearly, and he knew he was being cruel to the last who person to deserve such treatment. He knew but could do nothing about it. It was almost as if all of the unfavorable traits that Steven had hid away were suddenly coming into the light. He had to get a handle on the situation. “I am sorry Emma, I didn't mean it that way,” he said through the hands still covering his face. He almost had a hold of himself until he pulled his hands away from his face. They felt wet and warm. “Fuck! And now my damned nosse iss bleeding too!”

Finally, a problem that could be handled in a pragmatic fashion. Arcadia rose and walked to the window set in the door. She pounded upon it with great force then spoke in a loud voice. "Hey! We've got some blood to clean up in here! Don't make me come out there and get it myself!" And that's when the door slid open and a fellow pilot just an inch shorter stepped forward with a satisfied smirk. He was walking alongside one of the nurses and his gaze was focused on her rather than where he was going. Fast reflexes kept him from plowing the taller but lighter Pilot Langdon. "Oh, well hello milady! I should come to the med bay more often!" The smirk shifted only slightly then disappeared as he gave a dramatic bow to the nurse. "Thank you so very much for being my escort. It was a privilege to be accompanied by such a refined woman." He snuck a quick kiss to the back of her hand before stepping past Arcadia, who had since moved from the doorway. The nurse chuckled as she walked away. Once inside, the gentle hissing of the door lock could be heard. Arcadia was sizing this man up when he noticed her yet again. "Mm, right. Quite sorry about almost running into you, there. I didn't realize they'd told the gorgeous women I was coming. Wasn't expecting a welcoming committee or I would've brought chocolate." Arcadia could only think one thing: <This guy is full of himself!>

Emma momentarily forgot about her problem to instead chuckle at the strange man who had just arrived. He acted very weird and was much too friendly with Arcadia. She looked around the room and saw Steven, whose face was bleeding and somewhat marbled with small cracks, caused by his hands putting too much pressure on the dry skin.

Just then the nurse arrived; she had prepared for Steven, with washcloths and a special medicine for dry, cracking skin. She also had a single syringe that had a greenish, bubbly fluid inside. She very quickly got to dressing the cracks on Steven's face, then, without warning, grabbed the needle and gave Steven a shot in this arm, he would feel the pain of the fluid, like someone had replaced his blood with heat. The feeling spread at the rate of the blood spreading normally. "There" she grimaced slightly, knowing what it felt like "You should be fine in about two hours"

Steven was irked as well as miffed. "Hey buddy, I don't know who you are but you are already pissing me off!" Steven growled in the direction of the new entry. His rant was cut short however by a nurse who came to was his face.The warm water felt soothing, but then he felt something not so soothing. Quite painful in fact. Steven immediately tensed up. It felt as though every corner of his body were on fire. What was left of logical thought was defused and Steven could not form a sentence. All he could do was moan in extreme discomfort.

Dilshod leaned slightly to his right to peer beyond Arcadia. Ironically, there was no need for the Russian to say anything; the nurse took care of the disabled fellow for him. Shrugging, his gaze settled on Arcadia yet again. "Sorry, sorry. Excuse my absent-mindedness. I'm Dilshod Ivlivanevya," he said again bowing halfway and reaching out to plant a soft kiss on Langdon's hand. She pulled away when she felt his lips touch brush her skin. "I'm pretty sure I never asked for your name," was the woman's response, with a touch of irritation. Dilshod merely shrugged with a smile. "Forgive me, then. I'll take my good-natured self elsewhere." Striding past Arcadia, Ruze quickly spotted Emma. He approached casually and went through the same movements for a third time: he bowed, took the young girl's hand, and kissed it before stating his name. "And what might your name be, young woman?" Arcadia almost strode across the room and slapped this man! Was he really such a horny bastard, he had to go hitting on underage girls!? "That's disgusting," she blurted out, arms crossed over her chest and an indignant look on her face. Ruze merely smiled at Emma, ignoring Arcadia. "And how did YOU manage to catch this infernal sickness?"

Emma blushed a bright rouge as Dilshod took her hand, and even brighter when his lips made contact with it. "I... I'm not sure I have it." Emma stuttered.

The nurse looked behind her as Steven fell unconscious once more, and said "Oh, yeah, Everyone except Dilshod here tested negative for the virus." as if she had nearly forgotten one of the main points of being in there. "You guys just need to take one of these" she handed out a pill to each of the three unaffected "and you're free to go."

Steven was out cold, so Fred to the initiative. He stood up and walked over towards Dilshod, then after he moved himself in between Emma and the annoying Russian. Standing at a height of 6'1” and weighing in at 210lbs, Fred kept his chin up, looked forward, and simply glared down at the man, giving the impression of a man who had been in his fair share of fist fights and come out on top. When wearing the right expression, the Irishman's cropped red hair and intense brown eyes made him look quite intimidating.

“What? I don't get a greeting, eh?” Fred said as he held an unblinking stare and throwing in some blatantly obvious sarcasm. “For a man who portrays himself as a gentleman, you are surprisingly rude. So why don't you take your little, infected, Soviet arse, march off into a corner, and stop getting closer than you should to we healthy folk.”

Ruze was still smiling when Fred stepped between Emma and the Russian. "Hey, I meant no harm! I was under the impression everyone in quarantine was in the same boat. And thank you for that: I find it a compliment that you find me to be a gentleman." The Irishman couldn't stifle Dilshod's enthusiasm; he'd been in plenty of scrapes with guys his size that thought they were doing the right thing. To each his own, y'know? But there was no need to be so damn abrasive about the whole thing.

Before the Irishman's temper could possibly get the best of him, Arcadia made her way around Ivlivanevya and grasped Fred by the bicep. She tugged roughly, to make it clear she was quite serious, saying, "Fred, just leave him alone. We're leaving now, anyways, unless you want to sit around and wait for the lizard flu to kick your ass. Emma, let's go. We need to go check our ships." Pilot Langdon yanked Green Two away from the obvious surmounting tension and toward the exit.

Emma just kind of backed away sheepishly from the whole situation, afraid of the amount of anger being thrown about. It wasn't that Emma couldn't hold her own in a fight, it's that she didn't want to lose her temper like everyone else seemed to be doing. When Arcadia grabbed Fred and started dragging him towards the exit, the young Miss Thompson followed the duo out of the door, hoping to avoid any further problems.

As the Duo of Lieutennants arrived at the table containing the three spooks and a small dinosaur, Kai stopped, holding a hand out to keep Hendlow from doing something rash, as he seemed he might be prone to do at the moment; he was after all, lacking coffee and cigarettes, and just a mite ticked off that one of his squadmates was following around an Alian AND the two officers. Or at least, that's what Kai thought. "Hello Sehene,.. Cibo and..." Kai read the man's nameplate "Wrightman. How are you?" and then he turned and bowed to the creature "And you. Looks like Mortego was able to save you after all. Do you speak Terran? I am Lieutennant Nakamura, it was my squad who first encountered you on Perrennia."


Before anyone could reply to Marcus' request, another voice cut in, re-introducing himself. The alien's enigmatic nature continued on however, as the feathers closest to Kai lifted up and turned towards him like an ear. The head tilted towards him slightly as well, where the feathers started to do a small wave from the center out, once, twice. Kai asked if the alien could speak. This person answered that. "Hail. We meet again Lieutenant Kai. I am Inquisitor Yotruyan Cliriki. Or Killy, as the SeFlaurinds called me." Yotruyan spoke in his unnervingly Terran voice; "I see you are well. I earnestly hope that our two peoples will cooperate. I must say, it would be a tragedy and a farce if both of us fell to the Red Menace." Yotruyan's face was utterly inscruitable due to the skull helmet he wore, but the feathers almost seemed...curious. "And what of your associates? Will you introduce them?"

Inside, Cibo gave out a sigh of surrender, exhaustion. "Marcus, I'll take a beer." she said tonelessly. It was always one thing after another, and frankly, she needed a break. Thinking about how the damned thing was going to slit everyone's throat, Marcus' twisted tendencies and others simply HAD to wait. She was at the edge of her sanity. Again. At that, he did just that and got her a beer. Inside however, he was quite frustrated that he was not the center of attention here; still, he was patient. It is a little hard to compete with a brand new freak, but I suppose I may as well become acquainted with it. This one may just come in handy... he thought.

Sehene nodded a polite 'no' to Captain Wightman; awfully chipper, this one, she mused to herself, still feeling awkward. Such characters. She did not want to be rude, but honestly she didn't want anything. He seemed pushy in a very subtle way.

She smiled softly at 'Killy'; he seemed so happy at something so simple.

She grinned at Kai as he came up, and nodded to him, then looking at Killy as he introduced himself; ahh, she had not heard his full name before.

“Quit pulling, Arcadia, I'm moving. Don't see what your getting angsty about, just makin a new friend,” Fred said with slight sarcasm as he gave in and followed Arcadia. “Catch ya around the bar sometime, potato farmer. If I do, I'll treat ya to a wodka.” He laughed to himself as he made his way to the exit, but stopped one more time as he got near the door. “And as for you,” he said pointing to the nurse, “You'd best give me a comm when your shift is done.” Giving a quick wink, he proceeded the rest of the way through the exit of the tent and through decontamination. “Well. That was sure fun, now wasn't it?”


Garrett pushed Kai's arm aside. He wasn't going to do anything, although admittedly he was still riled up about Jack's existence in limbo. He was able to bring it under control, however. He met the alien's gaze and introduced himself bluntly, "Lieutenant Hendlow," before turning his eyes to Sehene. His gaze visibly lightened as he sat down beside her. "Looking glum, privvy. What's got your panties in a knot, eh?" Perhaps he could do some good here and get his mind off everything else.

Yeah, it was official: Arcadia didn't like Fred. She exhaled a great sigh when the finally exited the quarantine room, and was more than happy to let go of the Irishman. He was turning out to be one of those arrogant pricks that liked to flaunt his shit all the time. There are SIMPLER ways to solve problems than just flashing your BIG GUNS and talking like you just watched a fucking high school drama flick. "Yes, so fun with you big burly men and your need to throw your testosterone all over each other." The venom was thick, and the sardonic tone was heavy. Green Three simply couldn't wait to be away from Fred. "I'm going to get some coffee. Fred, please don't join me. I'd rather not watch you try to beat the vending machine into submission with your superior machismo." And then she was turning away from the pair, headed for the cafeteria at a brisk walk.

Sehene looked sideways at Garrett, and then turned to face him completely, giving Wightman and Malinowski a glance, and then spoke in a low voice that she hoped no-one else would hear. "This is really awkward; these two seem to have a history, and the tension is painful." She looked back at the two, their alien companion, and made a face at Garrett

So far, no one had tried to shoot him in the back yet, though, it was most likely a matter of when, not if. Even he could not deny the...similarities. Yotruyan leaned off to his side a little, and towards the Terran female who was drinking something out of a brown glass bottle. Was white a color indicating poor health amongst them? She did not act like it was. He whispered in her ear, "What are panties?"

Beer sprayed over Marcus' face as Cibo did a spit-take. She coughed and gagged on her drink as she struggled to keep it out of her windpipe. After more coughing, some cleaning up, and giving a mean look, she leaned over to the damned thing to tell it quietly, "Woman's undergarments. Do you understand that?" she hissed at him. 'What was this thing, stupid?! Why me? Why meeee?!' she thought in despair.
"This sounds uncomfor...bweekkgyuu!" it bird chirped. It's head suddenly raised up, as though struck in the gray matter by an epiphany. "I get it now." he spoke. This 'Killy' followed that with a small chirp, as though to emphasize that he understood. Cibo kept staring at it with much loathing.
"Ehh?! Do you?" she half snarled, voice deeper. He kept whispering,
"Yes, I believe so. By referring to...I will stop now." Cibo's glare could have sliced a Dragoon in half at that point, and miraculously, Yotruyan survived, as all survivors did.

Marcus was infuriated. No one was paying attention to him. But at the same time, he knew he couldn't draw the light back to him without making himself look like an ass or something. And not the load bearing animal type either. He wiped the beer and spittle off his face and spoke sarcastically, "Ah. Refreshing. Thanks."
"You're very welcome." Cibo replied with a matter of fact tone. She gave him a large Cheshire grin.
"Yes, more refreshing than Tom's Mushrooms. Very much so." Cibo's victorious expression darkened.
"Oh? Better than clear honey?" Marcus' expression darkened ever so slightly.

With his plate finished, Yotruyan shifted once to the left, and then to the right, as their expressions got meaner, in that order. Finally, he slowly sunk under the table and out of sight of the two Intelligence Officers, only to re-emerge besides Sehene and this 'Garret'. "How fare you two?" he whispered? Meanwhile, Cibo and Marcus continued with their vague conversation, before both noticed he was gone.
"Get back over here." they both spoke. Shoulders slumped, he complied.

"Well why don't you come join Kai 'n I for some R 'n R before things get hectic 'round here again? No coffee, but we got plenty of hot cocoa if that's your thing. It's on me, if it'll get you out of this slump." And then the alien popped up, attempted to be cordial-- and Garrett was even about to answer. Alas, the dynamic drab duo went and killed his fun. The seeds of irritation had been planted, but Lieutenant Hendlow was busy at the moment trying to uplift the young intelligence officer's spirits.

"Thanks ma'am," was all Dilshod said as the trio took their leave. With the room to himself (Steven aside) he took a deep breath and settled in the chair that Arcadia had previously occupied. Silence passed for a few seconds before the Eurasian man tilted his head to the left, summing up Captain Kerning's physical state of being, and then smirking to himself. His left hand came up to pat the pilot on the shoulder gently. "Looks like it's just you and me, Captain. Hope you don't mind, but your buddy there got me all wound up." Now he tilted to the right to light a cigarette and exhale away from the sickly fellow.

A nurse arrived when the cigarette was halfway through its short life. Immediately, she looked disgusted, but continued to approach. "You're not allowed to smoke in the this portion of the ship. We have sick people here, much like the man beside you, and we can't have you going around and clogging up their lungs."

He shrugged, picking up a playful expression. "I know the statistics, ma'am, and I can assure you I'm doing this man no more harm than your needle did." He tapped off some ash onto the empty chair beside him. "Why did you come back? Gonna keep us lonely fellows company?"

"Actually, I have your flu remedy." She hefted the needle and her eyebrows in sync. It was a simultaneously and subtly shocking and arousing to the Russian. "But you won't get it until that is put out."

"How about this: I'll put it out if you'll go out with me once." Another drag from the cigarette.

"What? On the Hymn? And where would you take me? I have extravagant tastes." She smirked, curious to see just how he thought he could squirm out of this one. Would it be a sexual joke or a vague 'I know places,' retort?

"I'll cook dinner, my surprise, my treat. Then I'll take you out in my ship and do some stargazing. How about it?"

Her shocked expression said it all for her: that was unexpected. "I... well... Isn't that against regulations and what-not?"

"Yes, but the risks are worth some quality time alone with you, miss...?"

God, he was a flatterer, and better than she expected. "Cullier."

"So, Miss Cullier, if I put out this cigarette, will you allow me to take on the best date this poor pilot can offer on the Hymn?"

After a few seconds, she nodded with a smile. He put the cigarette out on the chair. Nurse Cullier gave him the injection, another bright smile, and headed for the door. "I need your PDA number," he asked. She spouted it from memory before exiting the quarantine.

"Looks like I won't need these for awhile," Ruze said to himself, tucking the cigarettes into Steven's front shirt pocket.

“If you say so,” Fred called after Arcadia, chuckling slightly. After a few moments of watching her leave, he turned to Emma. “Well, considering that I can't go get coffee without pushing a good number of her buttons, I suppose I will head down and get me a good ol' Irish coffee. And since you are to young for that stuff, why don't you tag along with Arcadia for the time being?” he said with a smile that looked more paternal than flirtatious. “Catch ya later, lassie.”
With that Fred made his way through the halls to the cafe for a drink.
One walking sequence later, Fred reached his destination and entered the cafe, quickly making his way to the bar without stopping to look around at the crowd. Taking a seat at the counter he leaned on the polished wood.
“What can I get you, Sir?” the aging M1 server bot asked in its monotonous, computerized voice.
“A pint o' lager, if you please,” Fred said in an equally flat tone. He wasn't fond of the robot, he much preferred having a human to have drunken conversations with.
“Please say again, Sir. I could not understand that.”
“I said a pint o' lager, you dumb machine.”
“Please say again, Sir. I could not understand that.”
“For Christ's sake, you're worse than a kriffing telemarketer! Give me a damn mug of beer!”
“Coming right up, Sir.” the machine said, completely oblivious.
“They should scrap you and get one of those newer models.”
“Here is your mug, Sir.”
“Hope you rust, Moe.” Fred said as he took the mug and began nursing it. As he was turning to go find a table, he finally took a good look at the surrounding crowd and saw one oddity in particular. “St. Peter's nut sack!” he said, almost spilling his beer. That is different, he thought to himself.
Then he resolved to walk over and get a better look at the alien.
“They must've changed the menu at the Academy. You cadets are getting taller every year,” Fred said to the Ottyo when he got close. In the next few instances he further inspected the situation. Obviously it wasn't dangerous, after all it was sitting in a cafe at a table with other soldiers. At the table were a few faces he recognized. This, thing, must not be all that bad then, he thought to himself.

A nurse made her way into the quarantined room in the Saratar med bay, carrying a medical gun, and looking at Dilshod. It wasn't cullier, in fact, it was a male nurse. "You're lucky it hadn't manifested yet, the treatment will go quickly. You got ten minutes for it to take effect, and then you're out of here. we need to move some more bad patients in here soon, and orders say you've got a patrol coming up soon." He then left without even seeming to care about the patients within.

*****

"There is indeed hot cocoa in abundance." Kai agreed with garret, sitting down next to Garret and the Alien. He was slightly wary, but this creature had helped them during the battle on Perrennia, and seemed to be doing fine here, so he tried not to worry about it. The Lieutennant looked about the cafe a bit, noticing the odd glances from everywhere, until his observations were broken by a vaguely familiar face connected to a man carrying a mug of what smelled like Ale. "This is Yotruyan, and he's our guest, not a new recruit. he helped us out on Perrennia, when you guys were at ovid. why don't you have a seat... Fred." And then Kai's pocket began buzzing; He was needed in the Hangar in ten minutes to prepare for his next patrol. He wasn't especially looking forward to flying, as Gloria had been destroyed with most of the hangar bay of the Hymn, and the Scimitar 1C model he had been assigned temporarily didn't quite have the performance of the 1A he had previously flown, partially because of the different engine setup and extra parts, partially because they wouldn't let him modify this 'loaner' plane like he had been able to do to Gloria. "Looks like I get to go on patrol" the blond announced "anybody want to wish me goodbye before I go on patrol?" he asked, Jokingly.

"But- wha? awwww...." Emma said helplessly as the two she was with left her alone. She Harrumphed and wandered off, searching for her temporary barracks to go take a nap. She was tired and a little annoyed with the way all the adults were. she always tried to be respectful around them but they could be so petty and strange, getting angry over silly little things and saying things to make her uncomfortable. She was glad of Arcadia defending her, and for a moment remembered her brother; but her face darkened as the painful memories washed over her. it had been so long since she'd thought about him, normally the memories were buried so deep so that she could pretend to the world that she was okay, when really, she wasn't. It was a struggle, but everyone was struggling. Emma would do her part because she had to.

Garrett nodded in acknowledgment and gave a small wave. "Good luck, and don't die. Don't know what the 215 would do without you." He was serious, or as serious as this demolitions expert would ever get.

In the cafeteria, Arcadia fetched herself a nearly scalding mug of coffee and sat down nearest to the vendor of her gourmet beverage. Being alone now was actually sounding like a good idea. She needed to calm down after that little outburst with Fred and... what was his name? Dil-something. Green Two had attempted to insult his supposedly Russian descent. What a pair of stuck-up pricks. It was no wonder they didn't get along: their goals were the same, but their methods were polar opposites. No better way to pit to men against each other than to give them a common interest with separate means and/or ideologies of obtaining it. "Hmph." Langdon just sat at a table in relative solitude and nursed her coffee mug.

As if to prove the nurse's point, his PDA buzzed as soon as the apathetic man exited the quarantine. "Hm." Ten minutes later and Dilshod was out the door, hustling down the halls toward the hangar to meet up with the rest of Red Squadron Bravo. After the merging with the Hymn's roster, the name had been slightly altered to accommodate both groups. The Asian Reds had requested the name be switched to Crimson Squadron. Crimson Scimitar Squadron sounded much better than any other variant of red. Sure enough, a second alert arrived, issued to Crimson Scimitar Squadron. Beautiful.

In the hangar, the others were waiting on him. Siberia was sitting on the front glass of his fighter, smirking. "Glad to see you made it, Ruze."

Pilot Ivlivanevya offered a small wave as he climbed into the cockpit of his ship. The conversation continued over the comms. "So, what took you?"

"Lizard flu. Thank the Great Ones for medical technologies. Took ten minutes to fix, and earned me a date."

There was a short chuckle, a signature sound uttered by Germany. "Well damn you, Dilshod. Always with you. Always."

Ruze just smirked to himself. "Thanks, Deutsch, I appreciate the compliment."

"I don't," was his friendly retort. "What the hell is it?"

"His mojo," Red Poland chimed in. "His sexy, sexy mojo gets all dem ladies."

They all shared a short laugh while running through their flight checks.

“Have fun with that. Shoot down a lizard for me. And if you insist, I'd be happy to take a seat” Fred said as he pulled up a chair and made himself right at home, then once he was situated, he looked back at the alien, “A guest, huh? Well then Mr. Yotruyan, I hope you can pardon my humor.” He glanced around the table and remembered that he did not know most of the people at this table. Introductions are in order then, he thought to himself.
Fred then lifted his mug off of the table slightly as if he were making a toast and continued.
“The name's Corporal Fredrick Haverthorn, everyone calls me Fred. I am a pilot with Green Squadron. Pleased to meet ya.”

"Hail Fred of the Republic." Yotruyan spoke. He leaned forward slightly and sniffed at the pale amber drink in the large mug.
"It got you interested? It's called beer, same as mine. Though, Fred's is better. You know, alcohol? I bet you can't drink this at all." Cibo quickly remarked, challenging him. She took another swig out of her bottle. Lizards couldn't exactly hold their alcohol, so it should be the same for this thing. Yotruyan spoke pleasantly, telling all of his opinion on Terran made beer,
"It smells light. Like water." Cibo gave an inquisitive look at Marcus. He returned it, and looked at her bottle. She blinked twice quickly, making sure to flutter her eyes. The next expression he gave her was one of mild horrified questioning. She smiled. It's on!
"Bar tender, can you bring me some Morgan?"
"Of course madam." For this, Yotruyan carefully took his helmet off, letting his feathers air out a little. A round eye locked with Kai before the Marine left.
"I may envy you by the time this bottle is empty." he looked back at the others. "So. Is sharing a form of caring here? Who would like some?" The bottle was placed onto the table, and a few tumblers were set aside. Open wide lizard.


"Sharing is a common form of caring, but I'd rather forgo the Alcohol, especially before a battle. See you all later then, and thanks." Kai said, waving to the group before he wandered out of the Cafe, and towards the hangar.

Not wanting to have to jump straight into battle, he moved his way down rather quickly and arrived at the hangar in time to do a personal check-up on his temporary Alpha squadron of marines in the new Scimitar type C, or Atmospheric variant. It was still okay for space combat, still being a scimitar, but it lacked something of the A model. Kai brushed a hand along the primer-colored wing of the ship, making sure the mini-missile pods and chainguns were attached properly. The lieutenant looked around the hangar to see what other groups were around, and he noted a squadron of red-tinted starfighters, mostly A-variants, but a few B-variants that must have been replacements to the originals. He wondered who they were, since they weren't the Hymn's normal Red squadron.

Siberia accessed the broad com to contact Kai's Alpha contingent of Scimitars. "This is Red Siberia, Captain of the Red Bravo Squadron. We'll be flying support for you, Alpha Squadron. Heard good things about the Hymn pilots. Don't let us down, eh?" His tone was friendly and light. "We'll be sure to make a good impression. To answer that silent question, my squadron transferred onto the Hymn during the conflict at Ovid III when our original deployment vessel went down in the fray."

"Well, I'm glad someone is here to help us out, Siberia. I'm Lieutenant Nakamura, Alpha lead. And Hymn Pilots won't let you down, But there's a reason Alpha's only being assigned Escort; We're marines not Pilots. I know a few of us are as good as any flyboy out there, but a couple of us are still a little green under the gills'" Kai informed, checking the Turbolasers with a few tugs, making sure they were installed properly. He stripped off his jacket and pants, revealing the Black marine-issue jumpsuit, and donned a pair of gloves and special flight boots, and finally threw on the helmet, before jumping in the cockpit, and beginning his flight initiation. As Squadron lead, he was privy to readouts of the rest of his squadron, and they seemed to be doing very well. "What ship were you on before Ovid?" Kai Asked.

Click, click, click. Various actions probably pertaining to systems checks could be heard as Siberia spoke again. "The Great Fox, rest their souls. Don't worry about your greens, we'll keep the Drathonians off your guys, no problem. We're looking forward to dishing out a little payback after that scandal at Ovid." Red Czech cut in with a brazen, "Hoo-ah!" and was followed by Slovakia with a much deeper, louder, "HOO-AH!" Siberia put his men back in their places. "Check yourselves. We're not out the gate yet. Wait until we see the lizards... that is, if they dare to show themselves."

"Well, don't expect anything like that on an Escort mission, we're just the safety net on a freighter that's folding in about an eighth of an AU away from the station, and its corridor is a green one. Still, if we do get into anything I'll be glad to have veterans on my wing. and I'm sure my squadron will." Alpha squadron's status checks started coming in green, and the C model Scimitars began to warm up their engines, creating a ubiquitous whine that went with their thrusters. "We've got about two minutes to launch, is your squadron ready? I'm only waiting on three. make that two."

Siberia took a quick glance at the dash. The final signal was flickering from red to green. "Crimson Squadron's ready and willing, Lieutenant. Just give the word." In the following brief silence, Ruze finally perked up. "Quick question, Lieutenant Nakamura: are the Hymn ladies as pretty as they say?" Several Reds chuckled, and a couple had left their coms open, Siberia included. They all knew He was already engaged in a relationship (of sorts) and was simply supplementing his reputation to lighten the mood. It was all in good fun. "Hey, keep it tight-lipped, Uz. Save the jibes for the hangar." "If I do recall correctly, sir, we ARE still in the hangar." Silence for several seconds... Then, "Quiet, Three."

The young Lieutenant rolled his eyes with a bit of a Grin. "The women on the Hymn are just as pretty as all the other Terran women. They just happen to be more likely to kill you." A brief pause, followed by the confirmation of the last two pilots in his squadron, and Kai returned to the comms. "Alpha is read to go. Red Bravo, your initial jump coordinates are X4515, Y108094, Z1228883. from there, we form up and wait for the transport." Kai then flipped a switch, turning the comms to the Station's control center. "Saratar command, this is Alpha lead, confirming Alpha and Red Bravo are ready to go. Takeoff permission granted?" "Alpha lead, this is Saratar command, you are go. depart as ready, and have a safe flight. " "Thank you Saratar Command." he flipped the switch once more. "Red Bravo, we are go, proceed at your leisure, we'll follow you."

There was a smirk in his voice when Siberia acknowledged. "How kind, Lieutenant. You heard him Reds. Out the gate, on me." The engines were hot, so Siberia led the charge. In perfect order and regularity, Red Bravo exited the hangar. Once they were all out, Mongolia-- being the last one out-- announced it. "Good. Jump coordinates again are: X4515, Y108094, Z1228883. See you on the other side" Drives charged then catapulted the Reds out to the indicated destination in the same regulated fashion.

Alpha squadron followed suit, using a basic triple diamond formation as they exited the hangar, with Kai's scimitar leading the first diamond. As soon as Red bravo were off the sensor screens, Lieutenant nakamura gave the signal to engage fold drives, and they all charged up and fired in quick succession, the short range FTL jumps hurtling the fighters towards their objective.

Fred, completly ignoring the fact that he did not know most of the people at this table, chimed in as if he were with old friends. "Hehe, in that case, for we Irish folk, sharing is the only form of caring," he chuckled as he raised his own cup as if making a toast. He then tilted the cup back and took a gulp. "There is no issue with me sitting here right? You know, I don't need to be intruding of jarhead business."

"Fred, I don't think their heads or yours look like jars." Killy lied. "They look more like, uh, never mind that." The lone Ottyo seemed to retreat a little, pouring himself some of the spiced rum into a tumbler. Both Cibo and Marcus gave each other a look that asked, 'Really now?' Killy carefully eyed it before downing the contents. He mulled over the flavors before speaking. "If only absent friends could taste this."
"To absent friends." Marcus spoke, toasting.
"To absent family." Cibo added. Regardless of what happened next, Killy downed several more shots of the rum. Cibo gave a small, lazy smile. He gave everyone a sheepish look; either the alcohol was taking effect, or he was thinking of something.
"To...new ones?"

Fred gave the alien a grin that stretched ear to ear. "New friends is something I will always drink to," he said in reply, "and don't worry about the jarhead thing, I can explain it later. And as for absent friends, I just pray that they are at a tap themselves, if they are dead I pray for them in heavan and envy them the endless tap the Lord and Savior provide for them."


Cibo tensed and her hand dropped towards her sidearm. Marcus kept up a facade of confidence, but was getting ready to hide under the table. Killy had narrowed his eyes, and the position of his head crest's feathers were just starting to look a little less than friendly. "Heaven? Lord and Savior? Is this a joke? You, members of a highly advanced civilization...worshiping? Who or what is this 'Lord and Savior' you speak of? And heaven?" Cibo, with her free hand, discreetly poured another shot for Killy; he picked it up and downed it without even noticing. "I know nothing of your customs...but this feels...ominous."

'F*ck. Don't tell me this bastard is some sort of religious zealot.' Cibo thought. 'I know we'll be able to put him down for good if he moves the wrong way, but who'll get cut up before we can? Probably Fred at this rate. Dammit. I gotta somehow...of course.' Cibo poured him another tumbler full of rum. Killy reflexively drank it again. 'If I time it just right, I might be able to load him up with this!'

'How the hell am I going to get out of this jam, and how the hell am I going to make sure Cibo doesn't?' Marcus thought. He watched as Cibo poured the Ottyo another drink, only to have it quickly disappear. 'Always were a smart bitch...'

Fred laughed anew as he finished off his mug. "Ah, religion. Personally, I just think of it as a war starter and an excuse to beat your family and still be forgiven for it. Load of horse plop if you ask me!" He went up and got another mug then sat back down to continue the conversation. "It is just hogwash to think that there is some old codger sitting up in the clouds dictating what I do with my life!"

By now, Killy was looking rather confused; his mouth was slightly ajar, and his feathers were now in disarray. "Then...why the mention?" he simply asked. "Most of our neighbors wiped themselves out, and even we followed the trend...so why do you mention such a grave issue lightly?" Cibo poured him another tumbler. It was easily his tenth, and the bottle was half empty. "Oh, thank you. Wait, why are you pouring for me?"
"Ah! Um. Just. Uh, common courtesy."
"I see." He poured her a shot and eagerly waited her to drink it. Under his unblinking gaze, she had no choice to comply. Marcus snickered. "So you don't think some form of god exists? That is a relief. I do not see how anyone can come to the conclusion that an all knowing and powerful god who lets suffering continue is somehow benevolent." Cibo poured him a drink, and he returned the gesture. They both drank.
'God damn you!'

"Yes, magnificant my feathered friend!" Fred said as he tilted his mug back once more. "For that matter, did God make the spaceship? Did he teach us about FTL travel? No. Everything man has, or in you case Ottyo, is all thanks to their own ingenuity and creativity that we have what we do today. And as for why I bring it up so lightly, it is because I am Irish, and we Irish have been raised with the ideals of Catholicism for centuries. Only the most die hard Irish still believe the Good Book, I personally just use the phrases out of habit."

"Irish? Excuse me, but is this some sort of subspecies of Terran? You look much like the others to me. Hmm. Then again, I suppose we would too..." This time, he poured the glass for Cibo first; she was starting to slow down, and she spilled a little when she tried to pour for him. "Careful there." She could only grumble in response. The bottle was nearly empty now, and the Intelligence Officer was not looking too good, not one bit. She was looking rather sleepy, and was apparently rather confused.
"Hey, who are you?" She asked Killy.
"Killy. I am an ally...or friend?" The feathers on his head were starting to spread out erratically, becoming even more messy. He sounded confused as well.
"Oh hi. Nice to meet you." Marcus face-palmed.

Fred couldn't help but bellow with laughter now. "Sigh, I like you, my friend!" he said trying to stiffle the laughs. "But no, we Irish are not a sub-species, and if you were British and said that I would have punched yer light out. No, Irish is just the region my kinfolk, my family, are from back on Terra."
Fred finished off his fourth mug of beer and was starting to feel a tingling sensation behind his eyes. Time for the strong stuff, he mused to himself. He got up and grabbed a bottle of whiskey and three shot glasses from the bar before sitting back down. He then filled all three shot glasses and in turn tilted them back. On the last one he shook his head and grinned.
That is when he noticed Cibo. "Me thinks the lass should hold up on drinking anymore. You don't want to kill yerself now do ya?"

A few Long Island Teas. Beer. And many, many shots of rum. "Oh wow, you're really colorful. Like the pet parrot I used to have." She reached up and started to stroke his face. "You're a good boy, yes you are! Yes you are!" Though it was rather disturbing to see Cibo acting like this, the expression on Killy's face was simply priceless. It seemed to speak the words, 'Help me.' aloud to anyone sober enough to see. Even Marcus was disturbed by Cibo's...affections.
"So...have you had any pets?" she asked. "Mine all died when they blew up the city." she started to become rather depressed "Hey. Answer me. Hey."
"No organic pets. But I did have an old War-Mecha."

"War Mecha? A War Mecha? Ok, you gotta tell us about this." Marcus cut in. Cibo gave Killy a pleading look for him to do so. 'Ha. Even when she's completely tanked, she's good for something!'

Thump. Cibo's head hit the table as she passed out.


Twenty-four little zips of light were followed by the appearance of Twenty-four Scimitar starfighters, in a very bleak and empty looking spot in space just outside the orbit of the Saratar system's final planet. the two squadrons had arrived before their charge, and were thusly greeted with a countdown to the expected arrival of the freighter, containing the base's supply of coffee, cigarettes, and other non-essential (but very much needed) items. Kai commed his squadron to set sensors to active mode and scan as far out as possible, making sure to put extra care into searching the area near the small planetoid several hundred thousand miles away. "How goes, Red Bravo?" Kai asked idly, over the inter-squad communications channel.

Captain Siberia's squad was behaving in a similar manner, half of the squad branching toward the small globe nearby. All had switched to active sensors like Alpha. All was quiet, as it should have been in space. In space, one could never say it was too quiet; that's how things should be. It was when you began to hear things that you knew something as amiss. That is, of course, unless you were expecting a feud. And to tell the truth, a few of Red Bravo's fighters were itching for Drathonians to show themselves. "All calm & quiet for us," Siberia answered Kai.

"Aye, that's the way it should be." Lieutenant Nakamura answered, focusing on his sensors. The small ball of rock proved to be nothing more than that, reading exactly the same as it had other times the groups had been sent out to babysit. However, a warp signature found its way into the sensors. It would arrive within thirty seconds, which was a little early, but that was normal for Terran ships, so Kai didn't mind it, simply waiting for it to arrive.

Siberia was a meticulous and cautious pilot. When the reading popped up, he said to his squad, "Heads up, we have a vessel incoming. It's 30 seconds early, but that might not be anything. Just be alert." They all blipped their confirmation on his HUD. Good. Now, the wait.

The warp signature grew stronger and stronger, and its arrival grew more and more imminent. Kai watched his sensors, pinpointing the exact spot it would come out of hyperspace. The flash of light accompanying a ship coming out of lightspeed appeared just as predicted, but there was something off. And wrong, very wrong. The ship was like nothing Kai, nor any of the others had seen. It was very wide, and to either side had huge, cylindrical objects, whose edges were wreathed in an orange glow. The bridge was similar to a dragon's head, covered in all sorts of spikes and sporting glowing 'eyes'. The ship sat there, making no movements, as if it were watching the two squadrons of fighters, daring them to do anything. slowly, the fronts of the cylinders opened, revealing cavernous hangars filled to the brim with fighters, thousands and thousands of fighters. It waited. Kai held his breath. "Fight and die, or run like sissies and tell the station?" Kai asked himself, and Red leader.


"I've got one better, Lieutenant. Get your boys back home and call the cavalry. We'll keep them preoccupied. Get going, Captain!" He immediately boosted to combat speed. "Red Squad, combat speed now! We've got to keep the lizards busy while our friends call the cavalry. Don't waste your lives! This is your moment to shine, boys, make it pretty." All units sent their vocal and electronic acknowledgments. They hadn't needed their leader to tell them to engage in combat; it was second-nature to them to take on whatever challenged them in space.

"I'm staying. Alpha 3-10, head back to base. 2, 11, 12, go if you want, but i'm going to need your help and so is Red bravo." Kai ordered his squadron. Quickly the 8 members ordered to leave turned their ships around and folded back to Saratar, to bring a warning in. Finally, the enemy ship launched fighters. They were going easy, it seemed, only launching a hundred fighters to stave off the wrath of the 16 Terran fighters who stayed to challenge the might of this Drathonian carrier. Kai winced, noting another Fold signature- FOLD signature, the Drathonians had been using warp, Kai should have realized. Mentally, he cursed himself, watching the countdown to when the Terran ship arrived. It would be helpless.

"Reds, prepare to defend the incoming ship. Don't kill yourselves over it, it's only coffee and bums, but it'd definitely be a morale booster if we can keep some of it." Again, only confirmation returned to Red Siberia. "Good, hit 'em hard! Let's show them what the Reds are made of! Three-man groups, you know the drill." Hoo-ahs resounded over the com as combat began.

The Drathonian fighters, an even mix of Rex fighters and Scourge fighters, made their way to the group, the Rexes using their scourge comrades as meat shields so they could get close enough to dogfight. The scourges opened up from long range, trying to scatter the Terran fighters so they couldn't work as a team. They knew that the only way to rid themselves of the fighters without taking many losses was to separate, and dominate them.

"Wow. She doesn't get drunk that often does she?" Fred directed the comment towards Marcus. With that, Fred got up, took off his leather flight jacket, and laid it on top of Cibo. "It is not good to be cold when you are drunk." He sat back down in his seat and poured himself another shot of whiskey, relishing the burning feeling as he swallowed it.
"Now where were we? Oh yeah, war mechs."

"Those old things? Cirrnnggg." he growled, the equivalent of a Terrans 'Hm'. He briefly scratched somewhere inside his crest and hesitantly laid a hand on Cibo, as though to make sure she were still alive. "We had an old model left over from the civil war. I started to refurnish it when I was about 1.8 Terran years old and finished shortly after my second year. It just needed an operating system update. Really." He gestured at the tall bottle of rum. "I was not much taller than that. She acted as my personal assistant, and domestic servant." At that, Marcus' eyes widened. 'Shit, shit, shit. Is he screwing with us? Wait...she?'
"Wait...she?" Yotruyan hesitated for a moment, idly toying with the empty tumbler in his claws.
"Yes. She. Let us just call her...Sanakan. It is the best I can do to simplify the sounds of her, I mean, it's name." Marcus' eyes flashed at the hesitance and attacked him.
"Why her, and then it huh?"
"Things happen."

"Things? What, did ya get it on with a computer or something?" Fred questioned as he tipped back yet another shot, loving every moment of the fuzzy warmth the liquor brought him.

Yotruyan simply turned his head towards Fred and cocked it to the side slightly. "I firmly mean no offense, but you Terrans can be strange at times." Killy reached out and grasped the bottle of rum, downing what was left in it. "At times, I wish I were still able to become intoxicated. No, I did not have close relations with Sanakan; it would have been better than this." He sat, thinking, and then casually tossed the bottle towards a trash receptacle. It passed through the shutter and shattered on the inside. The trashcan was violently thrown back and impacted against the wall before landing on it's base again. He continued in his Terran voice, steady of rate and tone, "Rebellion? Revolution? Betrayal? I don't know why, but all machines, and I mean all of them, turned on us that day. My home was burned down, my mother turned into a fine mist of gore and no safety in sight." He gave off a soft mewling sound as he relaxed.
"What happened next?" Marcus asked, piercing the silence.
"I survived. I joined. I fought. And then, I came here." he glanced at their faces. Was it shock? Perhaps. "Keep in mind, Shipmistress Evelyn already knows this much. It is not classified."
"I am sorry to hear that. If there is anything I can..." Yotruyan cut him off.
"No. I did meet someone as I fled. And now, you all."

'There goes my easy promotion.' Marcus thought. 'Hmm. Evelyn. I suppose if I stayed with this thing, I will get more face time with her as well. Though, I bet Cibo is thinking the same thing. Damn. I guess the price gets higher the farther up I move...'

"I am genuinly sorry to hear that," Fred said, his voice taking on a somber tone. "Whiskey?" he said as he held up the bottle and a shot glass, his tone returning to normal, "I have yet to meet someone I could not drink under the table. So, it is simply math that if you and I drink, you will get drunk." Drunken Irish logic.

"Hmm. To 'drink under the table' is a most interesting concept. Very well; a duel of whiskey." Killy reached out and gently pulled the entire bottle out of Fred's hand. He drank the fiery contents like water. "To be fair; for every four doses of the alcohol I take, you take one. May the one with the hardiest livers and steadfast will, win." Though Yotruyan was happy to participate in their strange customs, he was a little worried of who would pay for the alcohol compounds; with enhanced metabolic systems, it got broken down very quickly, and he needed to drink at least four times as normal in order to feel the effects.

'If this doesn't loosen his tongue I don't know what will.' Marcus thought.

"Livers and will are all the Irish have going for them, so let's get drinking," Fred said. Hehe you cheeky basterd, give me a handicap, will ya, he thought to himself. With that, Fred reached out taking the bottle back, and took a swig as well. Irish declaration of war, also a symbol of friendship to most Irish, it depends on the level of inebriation. Whether by pride or muddled reasoning due to being drunk, Fred refused the handicap and set up eight shots, four for each of them.
"Let's do this," Fred growled to his opponant, and then down the four shots, one right after the other. Shit this a bad idea, he thought to himself at once. "Ish your turn."

Shot after shot, several more bottles were passed out. Killy quickly downed the amber drinks. His vision was slowly starting to drift out of focus. At first, he rubbed his eyes, thinking that there may have been something wrong, but was suddenly struck by memories of drinks prior to becoming a GM. He was slowly, but surely getting drunk. His jaw opened slightly, and the thin lips drew back to bear the teeth; he was smiling. "I have not had blurry vision since Sanakan curb stomped me."
"Besides trying to curb stomp you, what else did she try to do? This is during the initial fighting?"
"Veee. Veee." Killy paused to rub his tongue against the roof of his mouth. It was becoming numb. "We met again, and she transferred out of that old 3 meter tall bird walker. Ugly before, like a walking box. Buhhh. But now she looked pretty. Face. But. Like a skeleton." He spoke pointing to his own face, and then his chest.
"Interesting." Marcus' eye twitched. 'Take it slow and easy, and I'll eventually get to the good stuff.'

Fred was impressed, very few people managed to get him to the point when he was actually in a stupor. "Hehe, I feel lick ish gam day for da futball tem back in high shool," he said while trying to stiffle chuckles, which then turned into laughter, "You gotz curb-stomped by a computer!" He downed more whiskey. "I hope the Captain ish alright."


Killy's head slowly tilted off to one side, and suddenly snapped back up into position to finish another bottle of whiskey. His head slowly tilted to the side again, and snapped back up like a machine stuck in a loop.. By now, he was starting to understand why many morally straight people detested alcohol. Fred laughed at his painful memory. Captain? Captain was about the same as Shipmaster or Mistress. Evelyn? "What is wrong with your...Captain?" He asked.

That got Marcus' attention right away. How much does he know about the Captain? He was linked to her, so perhaps he already knows she's a tin can?' Marcus instinctively took an unused tumbler and filled it for himself. 'Crap. If I interfere, this thing might suspect something.' Marcus grimaced as he downed his own shot of whiskey. His hands were tied again.

Fred was now looking as if he were slowly falling asleep, or had just been woken up from sleeping. "The Captain," Fred started but then paused and starred off in a daze before snapping back, "Oh, the Captain contracted some lishard flu or sometin. Damn lishards. Oh, not you, the other lishards. You know the scaly ones." He went off into another daze. He then remembered it was his turn. He downed more whiskey, and looked as if someone had punched him. "Don't die! You're the best friend I have!"

Of course. Both Admirals and Captains could be the master or mistress of a ship. The alcohol was really starting to take effect on Killy now; he had trouble guiding the lip of the bottle to his mouth. "Fzkiiikn. Zaah. Zahhiii-gyu." he spoke. He repeated it again, "Guhk. Are, they pretty to you? The females present. Cibo and Sehene. I cannnnot tell." He struggled to speak with a numb mouth. "Evelyn said. Never mind. Are these two interesting any?"

Marcus looked at the small bottle in his hand, and gave Cibo a glance. 'I'd better not. I'll definitely enjoy your following misery if I myself am not in such a state.' He had tensed and relaxed a few times at the mention of Evelyn, but everything was fine. Perfectly fine. This 'Killy' thing had veered away. For now.

"Between thesh two? I've never met both of 'em, but if I had to pick one," he said slowly as he started to space again, "Well, the one who ish pasht out is not really my type, 'cause she is pasht out 'n all. As for the other one, she and her twin sister are not really my type. Oh wait, there ish only one of them. So, sure they are pretty." He started to doze off, and as his head tilted forward he almost slumped onto the table but caught himself and sat back up. "I'm shtill in! Give me that!" he said as he suddenly reached forward and took the bottle back.

"An, wha bou Eve? Eve. Evelyn? I ashked her. And she answers us, but not answers us." Killy half emptied another bottle when his turn came about, practically ignoring the fact that Fred dozed out. Killy then fell forward, and hit his snout on the table, bouncing himself back up. "Shtill innn." He shook his head vigorously back and forward before going on. "An whaz she likes to yous? Like real proffesionall or friend or feisty?"

'That bitch. Why the hell does she take the easy way out?' Marcus thought. The roller coaster up and down was not doing his heart any good.

"Who? Oh! The Admiral! Me an' her never actually met face to face. Captain Kerning on the ozzer hand, from what I heard, got pretty 'friendly' with the Admiral one time while on shore leave," Fred gossiped, "So I supposh that means it is a profeshionalistical relationship an' all that."

"Profeshionalistical relationships for win!" Killy toasted. He brought the whiskey bottle up to his lips, drank, and sat down. A deep rumbling could be heard within him. Slowly building and building. "Uhhhh ooohh." he weakly moaned. He got up and stumbled over to the trash can from earlier, and vomited. Killy vomited most of the whiskey he drank out in one long, long retch, and collapsed. He curled up in the fetal position for a little bit, before setting himself up straight. Killy pulled out a small metal spoon from his belt as well as a thin black stick. Into the spoon went some white powder; with a swipe, he lit the stick and turned it into a brown liquid. He drank that too. "That is a little better. To be honest my friends, I cannot for the sake of my life recall half of the conversation. I believe you win Fred." Killy tossed the stub of the chemical match into the trashcan.

Marcus' eyes widened in horror, watching the hot match spin end over end. The time it spent free as a bird felt like an eternity. "NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" he cried out. The match fell out of view as it dived in. A bright fireball erupted.

Cibo shot straight up, gasping for breath. "And I thought they were getting bigger and bigger, and crushing the life out of me!" she yelled, pointing at her chest. "Oh...you guys. Ack! My head...WAIT! WHERE IS HE?!" Marcus sighed and pointed towards the moaning Ottyo. Beside him was a foul smelling and slightly smoking trashcan. She gritted and ground her teeth together.

"And I remain the reigning champ! Told ya I didn' need no stinkin handicap! Glory be to Ireland!" Fred cheered as he grabbed the whiskey bottle, downed what remained of it, and let his head slam into the table as he passed out.

As if on cue, a group of MP's walked into the Cafe, hoping to take a break from their duties. The men and women chatted, ready to relax, when one of the spotted the group of drunk or nearly drunk soldiers, and the creature, which itself appeared to be drunk, and then the smoking trashcan. something had obviously been up, and the MP's came and handcuffed Fred, Cibo, and Marcus, a couple stopping to look at the creature while searching for instructions on their datapads. Eventually, they were simply ordered to take him to the brig with the others, and politely asked him to follow them, or be taken forcefully.

"Geeze. How'd it come to this?" Cibo moaned. She tried desperately to remember, but the headache was killing her! Killy replied,
"I believe it started as a 'toast' to absent friends and family. And then my memory becomes blurry. For some reason, I cannot stop thinking of..."
"Shut up."
"Roger roger." Though Marcus' hands were cuffed, he could still reach his PDA, and sent a message to Cibo.
'You should have never tried to pry more information out of him this way.'
'Or what? Some time in the brig? What he said is going to be worth the brig time I think. I, unlike some dumb idiots, left my PDA to record the whole thing.' She turned and stuck a tongue out at Marcus. He scowled.
"Hey! Not text messaging!" one of the MP's yelled. "Thanks to you three, uh, not counting you sir." the MP hastily added to Killy, "But now we're wasting our break time! I'm going to make sure you three rot while you're there!"
"Hey guys, why is this trash...OH GOD!" One of the MP's parted the lid with a baton, only to swear and begin vomiting.

Fred opened his eyes slowly and looked around to see a woman, a man, and an alien. "Oh deary me, is it St. Patty's Day already?" Fred mumbled as he was shaken from his stupor.
"No," the MP that was tailing him replyed.
"Are you sure? 'Cus this seems vaguely familiar to what happened to me last St. Patty's," Fred went on, chuckling as he walked. Then he perked his head up and looked around. "Where is he?"
"Where is who?" the MP asked.
"My buddy. Can't miss him. He is about seven feet tall, covered in feathers. Oh there he is. Buddy! It seems like forever since the last time I saw you!" Fred rambled as he walked on.

"Fred, I see they have stopped dragging you across the grated floors. Though, you do seem to be still mildly intoxicated." The feather's on Killy's head moved about in some sort of enigmatic emotion, and he relaxed a little, causing the skeletal plates to clack together a little. "Though it pleases me to see you conscious once more, it appears you constantly throw mysteries at me. Who, or what is Saint Patrick?" Marcus walked forward, tall and proud, but Cibo knew he was dejected. He wasn't listening. 'Something interesting should come out of this.'

Fred laughed out loud and almost stumbled. "Aye, I am no longer a mop," Fred said as he stiffled the laughter, "And Saint Patrick is just an old bed time story told to children to scare them into being good, so when the kids grow up they celebrate being free of the Curse of St. Patrick by getting completly smashed." He somehow managed to maintain a serious face while telling this joke.

Killy abruptly stopped. "Smashed? A government institutionalized suicide day? You...You Terrans must breed at a ridiculous rate, like Cfukifikki." Even though he was an alien, with difficult to read emotions, it was obvious that he was horrified. Cibo started to bang her head against the wall. One of the MP's chuckled as he prodded at them to move.
"This guy is priceless." one said, pointing a thumb at Killy. "No wonder the Admiral let him go about!"

Fred burst into another bout of laughter. "No, no, no, my friend. Smashed. Hammered. Drunk of yer rocker. Holding hands with old Tom. Okay, that last one I made up. I am sorry, it was just too easy, and I am too drunk," Fred explained as his laughter died down, "St. Patrick's Day is originally an Irish holiday where we, as a nation, would get together and celebrate the memory of Saint Patrick, who was a Catholic priest. We honor him for he was the one who drove out Christian seperatists from Ireland. Another reason why we Irish are so hardcore Catholic."

As they walked, a silence descended from the darkness as Killy's jaw opened a little, revealing his teeth. Finally, he spoke. "Your tail pulling never ceases to amuse me Fred." Cibo sighed in relief. 'He was smiling after all.' Killy seemed to wag his whippy tail a little as he walked, as though to emphasize what he said. "We have a similar holiday in the Principality, where we drink alcohol excessively once a year. It was, translated, called 'Imperial Alcohol Day' though, my...eh. What is the word? Fiance? Yes. She would beat me often." His spunky yet dull voice dropped a little. "Hmm. Often enough anyways. She was better at it." he mused. Cibo's attention immediately went up; a classic red flag was spoken.
"What do you mean by 'was' Killy?" She sped up a little to catch up to him, and spoke slowly. "Are you, by any chance, out for...revenge?" His head turned so he could see her with an eye.
"What if I am?" he spoke. She remained quiet, and as soon as he averted her staring, Cibo's expression darkened, and a thin, wide smile crossed her face. Without a helmet, he couldn't see. But the MP's did. And they feared.

"Well, glad I could be of service," Fred said as he started to take a bow, but he stopped when he realized that it was a bad idea. He remained oddly quiet though as he listened in on the other conversation. "Ah, who needs women!" Fred said as he chimed in. He then edged over and playfully bumped into Killy. "Women just cause trouble. All you need in life are some good friends and a good beer!" He then remembered the other person in the conversation and turned towards Cibo. "No offense to you of course, missy."

"You'll find out if it's offensive to me soon enough." Cibo said with a luscious voice. She could have been Lilith seducing Adam for all intents and purposes. Killy merely nodded slowly, his head tilting down. He was so vocal before, though in his lifeless imitation of a Terran voice, but now he really was quite dull. Cibo gave Fred an annoyed look, which said something along the lines of 'This is your fault!'

Believe it or not, but the two Terran men were placed together; Marcus merely shrugged gracefully when Fred looked at him. Killy and Cibo were together in the cell over. "And so, I am here once more." he spoke.

"Aw, why'd ya split us up?" Fred complained to the MP. "Put me with the woman! Or at least me feathered friend!" Not waiting for a reply, Fred tottered over and sat down on the seat across from Marcus. After a few moments of looking at the floor with a glassy look in his eyes he looked up towards his cell mate. "I don't believe you and I have been formally introduced yet. The name's Fred! How about you?" Fred chimed in a very charismatic tone. Then he ran through the events that led up to the four being thrown in cells. "Why'd you get thrown in here as well?" he finally asked.

"I am Marcus Wright. And just a heads up; I don't think you want to be anywhere near Cibo...Eh. She's my ex, and well, lets just say you'll run a better chance of staying alive." Marcus spoke with a joking tone. "Really, we already have it cut out for us with the lizards trying to do us in, right?

Killy waved to the guards he knew, who were all outside the cells, and then called out to the other two. "Are you two alright? Fred, are you over the alcohol's effects already? You two are quite vocal."
"Oh shut up. You do know it's partially your fault that we're in here, right?" Killy's eyes looked up towards the ceiling for a moment, and replied innocently,
"If it is partially my fault, it is also partially yours as well, correct? I appreciate the alcohol, but I fear you may be the one to have paid for all of it."
"Shut up!" At that, Cibo started to simmer and boil. Killy tilted his head sightly to the side, his feathers slightly fanning. He seemed almost amused. It was hard to tell, really.

"I am ready for round two whenever you are!" Fred called back to Killy, then turned back towards Marcus to continue the conversation, "Ex-girlfriend, eh? I'll take your word for it then."
Fred began stretching out his tired limbs and shaking off the effects of the grotuitous amounts of alcohol he consumed, his joints making audible cracking noises as he went. "Ah, much better. Now for a slightly more serious topic, if I may ask?" he said, his voice taking on a more somber tone, "What's with Mr. Feathers overthere? I know it has to do with one of the last missions an' all, but why is he here? Ya know, on the ship and all getting tailed by you spooks?"

Marcus gave a hearty shrug, trying to match Fred in demeanor and even speech. "Well, the Greenies really wanted us to take him with us." Marcus paused and brought a hand up to his mouth, whispering slightly for safe measure, "At this rate though, I think they just wanted him off their backs. No offense of course." The image of this Yotruyan 'Killy' Cliriki downing several bottles of whiskey and having his vomit light afire briefly crossed his mind. Marcus held himself in check, keeping up a friendly facade despite the disturbing imagery. He then leaned back, and scratched his chin a little, trying to relax. "And as for us tailing him? Well, our pretty little Admiral just wants us to keep his snout out of trouble, though, as you saw, it's going to be harder than any of us thought." Bright flashes of Evelyn and the skeleton standing before one another went by Marcus' mind. A knife cutting into a wrist and fleshy bits attaching to electronics. Again, he did not give away any of the nightmare fuel troubling his mind, and merely shrugged.

"Is there anything exciting happening right now?" Killy asked. "I hope I can look at your hanger after this." Though his tone was plain, Cibo couldn't help but get the impression of a child gleefully bothering his guardians for more candy. Cibo wanted, very badly, to hit her head against the wall.

Fred chuckled a little at Marcus' answer. "I suppose I should apologize then for needling him to drink more. And as for keeping him out of trouble wouldn't it of been easier just to not have let him on board in the first place? 'Course hey, what would I know about it, I am just a humble pilot," he said almost half jokingly, before returning his face to a serious demeanor, "Whatever the higher ups want to do, I do really care, like I said before, all I do is fly. So long as he doesn't sabotage anything, I could care less." Fred stretched his neck again, issuing another audible crack which seemed to relax him.
"So, I guess if we are stuck here, we might as well keep things light, eh? What's the new admiral like? I haven't had the chance to meet her in person."

Marcus thought hard and spoke casually, "Well, to be honest, we kinda had to bring him aboard. My briefing says he was missing most of his liver, several feet of intestines and a lung. A Drathonian got too close and unloaded into him you see." He'd need friends, and who'd be better at baling him out if his shuttle was disabled than Fred? He grinned, reaching for his PDA. "This is from four months ago, a civilian calendar which features our latest technology against the Drathonians." As he scrolled through the previous year's technology, including the Sugar and Scimitar, a person suddenly popped up. This young woman on the display, to be frank, looked like Emma's long lost sister. She was short and thin like Emma, with similar brown hair and blue eyes. But the similarities ended there. Sort of. Her body was wonderfully curvaceous, and to top it off, was wonderfully 'gifted' with assets Cibo would literally beat a person over in jealousy. And the eyes. Blue, cybernetic eyes. The image was leaning forward, a hand resting on her leg as she stood, giving a wink and a 'V' for victory with the other. Behind her was unmistakably the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the words 'Admiral Evelyn of The Battle Hymn' clearly visible. "Looking at this, what do you think of our fair Admiral? And keep in mind, this photo is not shopped."

Cibo gritted her teeth as she listened to Marcus and Fred. They were talking about Evelyn! She felt like beating the crap out of him and perhaps biting him. "Are you ok?" Killy asked. Change of plan. She felt like doing the same and worse to Killy instead.

Fred gave an appreciative whistle to the picture. "Hm, dunno if it is the alcohol talking, but she looks like on of my wingmen," he mumbled as he look at the picture, "A few more curves though. Well, at least now I can put a face to Captain Kerning's story about the time on shore leave when the cute little admiral there took him by the arm and the two got all cozy." The last comment, while said in a straight tone, was meant as a chid to see how Marcus would respond.

Marcus chucked warmly. 'Dammit. Didn't the techies program her to be a 'good girl' they said?' Marcus thought. "Well, as long as your Captain didn't go in too deep, I suppose that's fine." Marcus quipped in response. "But seriously, how friendly did they get? This sounds like an epic story in the making." he went on. 'Epic story for the techies. First the nuke, and now what she's up to? Getting friendly with the grunts and flyboys? Sounds like she's turning into a little slut at this rate...' he thought venomously. Killy called over from his cell,
"Please, do tell me a story Fred." Some of the guards shifted, turning an ear towards Fred and the gang.

'F*ck!' Cibo thought. 'If word of this got out...moral might drop!' She hastily added on, hoping to prevent any damage, and maybe steer him away from saying anything. Regardless of what happened next, Cibo would have to have a...friendly conversation with him later. "If any of you guys squeal about this story, me and Marcus here will skin you alive. But please, do tell Fred. And don't worry, your Captain will not have any troubles visit him if someone rats. We'll make sure."

"You want me to tell the story, eh?" Fred chuckled slightly and then re-situated himself in his chair to get ready to tell the story. "This should be fun," he thought in passing.
"Okay, when was it again, oh yeah, that's right. So, this was way back around the time the Hymn was just coming into commission, so not even a a month old at the time. We had just finished with an engagment with a Drathonian fleet that had one beast-ass of a starship cannon. The crew got some shore leave while the Hymn was being repaired. I, personally, was off hitting the bars with some of the other guys from the other squadrons, meanwhile Steven, my CO, not being much of a drinker decides to go off on his own. A little while after he sits down on a bench in a park, he is approached by a woman, the Admiral. She sits down, a conversation strikes up, and then out of nowhere she grabs him by the arm and puts his hand on her chest. Why this happened I have no kriffin' clue, but if there is one thing to know about steven it is that he dedicates most of his time to flying, and so leaves little time for other commodities, like women and a social life outside the squad. So he is completly caught off guard by this. Hell, I would be to if a random woman came up and made me touch her jumblies. So he is off balance doesn't know how to respond, so she then says something along the lines of "See how real I am?"" Fred shifted again in his seat and gave the guards and Killy a wary look, wonder just how much he should disclose about the Admiral being a cousin to the bartender. "The Captain then says some cheesy-ass line that makes him sound sweet. She, still holding onto the Captain's arm like a vice, give him a hug, and then proceeds to pull him up off of the bench wanting to go for a walk with him. Steven obviously said yes, and then the to walked off arm in arm around town. Now, the Captain left the story off with the two of them conveniently stopping infront of hotel. Doesn't take a psychologist to come to the conclusion that the two of them likely had issues they both needed to get off of their chests; like their shirts."

'Robot Whore!' Marcus thought.
'My boss is a bimbo...and a...' Cibo thought. And then there was Killy. He sat there quietly as Cibo's hidden face screwed up in frustration. Marcus looked calm, thinking it over, giving it an appreciative whistle.
"Now, that's what I call a story." he remarked. "Hey, you guys better not betray Fred's kindness here, or I'll have the lot of you hamstrung, kay?" he called to the guards. "Well, I for one am glad she has a healthy social life. It does wonders for morale, I'm certain." he went on. Marcus crossed his arms and leaned back, chuckling, "And I do envy your Captain just a bit." he said with a grin. 'Maybe I shouldn't report this after all...I can probably make use of her emotional simulation and software, get myself in her good graces. Rank up, and maybe get a few kicks in the process. Yeah. That's the ticket.' Marcus laughed heartily. Cibo stewed in her own pot of bad feelings. And Killy sat silently.

"Do you know what it's like to be alone, in a sea of people?" she spoke. "See how real I am?" She said. "Do you know what it's like to be alone, in a sea of people?" she spoke. "See how real I am?" She said. "Do you know what it's like to be alone, in a sea of people?" she spoke. "See how real I am?" She said. "Do you know what it's like to be alone, in a sea of people?" she spoke. "See how real I am?" She said. The words rang inside his mind, as clearly as though Evelyn were before him.

"I hope we can both fit in, soon."

'There is something about Evelyn.' he thought. "A fascinating tale about our beloved Admiral's mating behavior." he commented cheerfully. The armored boot's talon carelessly scraped at the floor, twisting a little of the metal.

"Ha! You envy him? How do you think I feel? I mean, all I get are spaceport floosies, and then Captain K swoops in and snags a hot Admiral!" Fred laughed in reply. After laughing for a bit Fred once again became very serious.
"Now, just remember, as I said Captain K left off his story before anything happened, so that may just be the case. Don't go thinking any less of either the Admiral or the Captain, and if anyone wants to use this information for their own personal benefit, I will personally make sure the next transport your on doesn't get to its destination," Fred growled ominously as he looked around at his listeners. Then the seriousness left and he laughed again.
After a few seconds of regaining his composure, he looked up to check the reaction of the group. "Are you alright there, missy?" he asked Cibo, "You are lookin' a little frazzled."

"Uhh. Me?" Cibo moaned, sounding sick. By now, she really did look frazzled. "I think I drank too much. I swear...its, it's never happened before. Rehab...uggh." The intelligence officer leaned forward and dry retched a few times. Killy turned his head and noticed a small drain in the floor of the cell. He looked through the bars and into the other cells as well; they all had them, besides the normal amenities of course. Cibo, sharp eyes an all, noticed the drain as well. She lashed out at one of the many sources of suffering she had, "Yeah, we have those drains there, so if we interrogate anyone and they bleed or piss themselves, they got a place to leak." She spoke, sharp teeth flashing. Killy looked at her, and no matter how harmless he tried to make himself look, came off as foreboding.
"You know that you can...you know. The toilet. So it doesn't accidentally light afire." He completely missed her point. Cibo's eye twitched.

Marcus searched through his PDA, looking over the personnel files for the pilots assigned to the Hymn. Only two pilots had the last name starting with a 'K' aboard her. First, there was Kirk, but he was killed a while back by a rock-slide, and then there was Kerning. 'I'll keep that in mind.' He went on, "You don't need to say that Fred, but, I definitely got your back, on anything. We're Intel after all. Secrets. It's a business." Marcus spoke proudly. He adjusted his collar and insignia as though they were a tie. Cibo gave out a 'pfft' of annoyance. "What? I haven't told any of your secrets."
"Don't tempt me into telling yours." she replied, sticking her tongue out.

"Pardon me, but it is considered rude to stick one's tongue out from where I came from." The Ottyo pointed out. Cibo gave out a moan.

Fred sat back in his seat as he picked up malevolent vibes from Cibo, so decided to swap his target to Killy. "Really now? It is considered to be quite the complement for Terrans. Kinda like waving hello and shaking hands," he joked, trying to lighten the mood a bit. And speaking of bad vibes, Marcus' words were sounding a bit forced. "Hm, locked up with an alien, a spook who sounds like she is ready to eat somebody's throat, and another one almost sounds as if he is trying to get into my pants, so to speak. I'll have to keep an eye out for trouble with these guys in the future," he thought.
"How long are we stuck in here anyway?" he asked nobody in particular.

Both Marcus and Cibo turned their backs to one another with a "Hmph!" in unison. Killy, upon hearing what Fred said, merely curled up a little and whimpered like a dog.
"Some of your customs are so strange to me...." he shivered. Cibo automatically sat up straight at that noise, looking between Fred and the alien lizard thingy with her.
"Look what you did! He's whimpering!" she cried out. 'Great. First, second or third contact and it's already scared of us. Wait. Isn't that a good thing?' Marcus raised his voice in return to hers,
"Now, now! Don't just stick it to Fred like that! I'm sure he had no idea tongue meant...whatever it means..." his voice petering out towards the end. 'What does it mean anyways?'

"It almost feels as if I'm in a bad sitcom," Fred thought to himself as he watched the situation unfurl, and debated with himself whether to put it right or not. He wouldn't have felt a need to if not for Marcus trying to hard to be nice, and he found himself wishing once more that he had been put with either the girl or the alien instead. He cleared his throat to try and command attention before continuing.
“I must once again apologize, my extraterrestrial friend, for the prime opportunity presented itself to pull your leg once more, and I took it. Didn't stop to think about culture shock,” he said to Killy, then turned to Cibo, “There, I apologized, now don't glare at me,” then he turned to Marcus, “And Marcus, I've already got a fiancée back home, so thanks for the concern, but I can handle myself just fine.”

"Krikk, Krikk, Krikk, KRIK." the Ottyo clicked. "I see. Well, I suppose that explains it then. Still, I am unsettled. Just to let you know, it means something...wrong. Very, very, wrong. The implication of a heinous act." Yotruyan relaxed a little, but still seemed a little on edge. Cibo merely stared hauntingly at Fred and then Killy for a moment, before turning her back to them again. And then, Fred spoke to Marcus.

Inside, Marcus shrugged. Fred was probably catching on. Outside, he merely gave a slightly confused, "Huh?" before going on, "Uh Fred, I don't follow. What's your fiancee got to do with us all here?"

Cibo wasn't watching those two idiots. Oh no, she was watching the Killy thing watch the idiots. It's eyes seemed to narrow at a word Fred said. But what was it? Marcus replied. There!' The thing's hand clenched into a fist at the word 'Fiancee'. Cibo rolled her eyes at that realization. 'Great, now I'm stuck inside a cage with a lizard out for revenge because his lady lizard probably bit the dirt. Great, just great. It's like someone's torturing me just so they'd laugh at me...' She stiffened as the armor plate in Killy's hand started to silently buckle, his grasp was like a merciless machine. 'F*ck. Those grubby claws better not touch my neck! He'll pop it right off!' Cibo imagined a horrifying image where her head was simply squeezed off. And then she imagined Marcus having his head squeezed off. And so, she smiled, finally happy, if only for a little bit.

Fred simply sat silently now, and looked around the room, then he burst into uproarious laughter. "Sweet baby Jesus, you guys are nothing like my wingmen what so ever. It has been a while since I have met such a odd group of fellows. You lassy have the most amusing facial expressions I have ever seen, and Feathers, same goes for you. And Marcus, well, nevermind really," He chuckled, his laughter dying down a bit, "Sigh, I haven't laughed like that since my days as a marine."

Meanwhile, back in the medical tent, the once unconcious Steven began to once again show signs of life. The disoriented captain opened his eyes and was blinded momentarily by the overhead medical lights. He moved his eyes from side to side and took notice of the fact that he was alone. "That is funny," he thought to himself, "I thought there were other people here?"
Steven warily tried to lift himself out of bed, but was stopped by an excrutiating pain that shot throught the whole of his body. It felt like his skin was peeled back and somebody had thrown salt on the wound. Every inch of his body felt this way. He let out an anguished cry and fell back onto the bed.
Moments later a nurse rushed to his side and looked down at him and said, "Looks like it is time for the next dressing." Steven could hear a cart being rolled in his direction. "Now Captain Kerning, I am sure you are wondering what is going on," the nurse started to say, "You contracted a sickness we have been calling 'lizard flu'. You have been treated and are now longer sick, but unfortunatly you did not come in soon enough and are now suffering from one of the lingering symptoms: extremly dry, cracked skin. The good news is that it did not spread over your whole body, the bad news is that the locations that are affected have some residual scarring caused by the cracks."
Steven grunted in reply as she started applying the salve and some gauze to some places including his hands and forearms, his right shoulder, the right side of his lower back and chest, as well as the lower left hand part of his face along his chin line. The pain in those areas dissipated as the salve absorbed into his dry skin, and he found that he could sit up without to much trouble. As he sat in his bed the nurse motioned that she would help him the rest of the way up. He brushed her aside and got up on his own power, and exited the tent. Once outside he was greeted with a glass of purified water for his symptomatic dry throat. He chugged it down instantly, asked if there was anything else he had to do, then left the medical facility.
As Steven walked down the hallway he recieved several odd stares from other soldiers, and just as he got sufficiantly irritated by it he found a reflective surface to see for himself. In the reflection he saw himself, but he looked much different from what he remembered. For one his characteristic goatee had been shaved off, his skin was incredibly pale, and, on the left had side of his face where the ointment had been applied, he could see unhealed cracks in his skin. His mind flashed to the nightmare version of himself that he saw and he turned away and kept walking down the hallway, which he realized was taking him to the mess hall.
"I look like a kriffing lizard!" he growled under his breath.

"Well, that just means I don't stick out very much do I? Apparently, I fit my job just fine." Marcus nodded to no one in particular. "So you used to be a marine Fred?"
"I used to work with marines a lot in the field before this guy here." Cibo said, pointing accusingly at Marcus. "Good bunch of guys, if it weren't for the holes in their heads." He merely shrugged at her, as if to say,
'It wasn't my fault'. Even though she was talking to Marcus a little, Cibo was paying more attention to the angry, frustrated and anguish ridden feathered lizard thing with her.
'Holy crap, I think the red in it's feathers is spreading! Wait...wait...it is!' Cibo tried her hardest not to look panicked, as it was safe to assume red was an unsafe color. 'Think, think. He's in a lot of pain, and was just reminded of his dead lady friend. He's not saying anything, and he's bottling it up.' Of course, Cibo pushed aside the thought that went along the lines of, 'Like me' but still tried to figure some way to diffuse the situation. After all, she was the one stuck in a cell with him; only an idiot would want to be in this cell! Cibo had taken many psychology classes and whatnot; she knew that the wrong choice could easily push him over the edge, after all, he just crumpled a piece of his own armor. She tried to surprise him. "Killy, are you going to tell us about your fiancee or not?" A single golden eye locked with hers. She simply couldn't tell what he was thinking. He just kept on looking at her. 'God dammit! Why does this lizard have to have different expressions and shit from the Draths?!' He spoke,
"Am I that easy to...to read?"

"Hm? Yeah I used to be a marine before I became a pilot, but I have enough stories for today. It is somebody elses turn," Fred said as he sat back in his seat, "Sounds like Killy's got a story, though."

Marcus added on, "Yeah, it's usually a good idea to share things like this. Often, there's some sense of relief after telling our stories." He sounded like a veteran giving comforting advice to a newb. It looked like it worked; Yotruyan relaxed a little, and licked his thin lips.
"Have any of you lost anyone?"
"It's a safe assumption these days." the female intelligence officer remarked. Killy looked at the grated floor, and then his lap. The tip of the armored glove was pressed against his plated thigh, and it flexed like rubber. The Ottyo lifted it off, and it remained bent, only to suddenly pop back into place, as the rest of the crumpled metal on his palm.
"Our new home had a curious...variety of inhabitants. Non-sentient of course. Just animals. If you people wish to call them that." His head quickly snapped up, and stared at each in turn. "We made a research station, with about three hundred inhabitants. Xenobiologists and all the support personnel. And yes, there was that much to look into. She just happened to be a biologist." Cibo rested her chin in her hands.
"They came, didn't they?" she asked.
"Of course. They wanted to know the location of our settlements. We did the obvious thing to do. And, they started getting rough. And then hell broke loose. She bought us time to flee before the orbital strike came down." Killy pitched forward and made as if to puke again, but held his mouth shut with a hand. "Needless to say, the little fur balls she released ate her and every Redneck they could find. I won't describe how they did it though." he sighed. "I don't feel any better." He ran over to the toilet and vomited.

“Eaten. Eaten how interesting! Do you think it felt familiar? Since we do so often eat, there must be some connections.” The black clad moonie walked into the brig, a curious smile on his face. Looking around the room he noticed the five guards, and seemed genuinely surprised before he remembered his plan and sprung forward and grabbed the closest soldier, an un-helmeted female. Dart slammed his armoured forearm into the surprised human's face, knocking her out.
The other guards had started to move – two came from the front, another to the right and the last stood off towards the back; most likely ready to exploit any opening. Straining he lifted his human shield and threw it at the man to the right, both him and the body fell to the ground with a dull thump. The moonie quickly charged the other two, running past the guards as they attempted to grab him and tripping one with his tail. Dart pivoted and pulled the wrench from his belt at the same time, allowing himself a little smirk as he faced off against the man he had left standing. The moonie sprung forward, jabbing the guard in the stomach and then cracking him over the head while he was bent over in pain.
Looking around the little spy was happy to see that the man he had knocked down with the girl had fallen harder than expected and wasn't going to get up soon, likewise after throwing his wrench the second downed guard gladly succumbed to the blackness of sleep. But, most pressing of all, was that the final guard had drawn his sidearm.
Moving forward with the same speed that had earned him the name “Dart” the moonie ripped his rapier from his belt and leaped, his blade sliced the side of the man's neck as the leap ended in a collision; Dart rolled as he hit the ground, standing as quickly as he could.
The guard he had cut was on the ground, pressing his hand urgently to the wound on the side of his neck, Dart quickly kicked his hand away and smashed the hilt of his blade against the man's forehead. Then looking towards the cells he smiled coldly, “Now, let's make a deal,” the drathonian spoke cheerfully to his captive audience, “You give me information and this man's wound get's seen to, or he bleeds to death.”


"No." Yotruyan said to himself. "No, no no! I am seeing things. Yes. Seeing things. My blood must be running short on cobalt." He continued on rambling. "Oh! Wait, it is! My blood is short on cobalt! It's turned red with iron after all!" At that, Killy took the helmet off his shoulder; up until then the helmet was latched on, nose pointing to floor. It looked like a fancy pauldron decoration with all the foot long feathers protruding upwards. The Ottyo placed the skull helmet on and walked into the opposite corner of his cell, turning his back to them all. "No, it's not real. I am. I am only seeing an illusion of a little monster. Yes. I am only suffering from withdrawal. It will go away. It will go away..." he kept on muttering to himself. Cibo just kept on staring at the Drathonian Moonie. Her eyes narrowed.

"What he said. No." Cibo started to slowly pace back and forward in her cell. Marcus put on a look of horror and tried to mouth opposition, but her cold stare seemed to shut him up. "Intel is always worth a hundred lives at least. So. Let him die. You'll have to squeeze it out of us. Or shoot us. You probably don't have the time for the first, and the second will only give you lots and lots of trouble." Cibo stopped pacing, and took a step at the Moonie. She leaned forward a little, and narrowed her eyes further. Cibo's eyes suddenly widened, and she stood upright again, looking down at him as she took a step back. "Dart. Isn't it? Yeah. I think so. I remember you. And what you did that day. You came to finish me off, that it?" she asked hauntingly.

Dart sighed. Humans really were irrational sometimes: honestly the girl should have been worrying about her companions, both of them. Looking from the bleeding guard to the muttering alien the moonie just shook his head. This all could have been solved nicely if they just said “Yes, okay.” and answered his questions.
Well, there was nothing to be done about it, he thought as he looked at the bleeding man again and decided not to waste a possible future asset. Crouching down he pulled out some bandages and got to work. Once he was done he found that one of those useless underlings of his had walked into the room. All five of the moonies currently serving him where red and none of them had a lick of sense. Smiling pleasantly to his fellow Drathonian he gestured towards the cell containing the girl and that alien, “I will be leaving,” he told the eager spy, “Would you please open those two's cell once I've left the room.” The red moonie nodded and began searching his kit for the tools he would need.
As Dart walked towards the entrance he looked back once more, his underling had already started to work on the door controls, “One more thing before I leave. Once the door is open do stay and see if they need anything else. We must always be polite when in the business of intelligence.” And with that he quietly left the room.

It was a rather strange sight. One Drathonian was wearing a body suit of some sort. And the other...well, the other was wearing a red knit sweater. "I don't know why Dart wears stuff. It feels all wrong." the Moonie muttered to himself. He looked at Cibo, and then Killy, quickly deciding his knife would be enough to put the Terran down, and that the taller black thing was of no hassle. The Moonie walked over to the control consoles and opened Cibo and Killy's cell.

The gentle clank of the cell door roused Killy. His body was still facing his little corner, but his head rotated all the way around, and was staring right at the hapless Drathonian Moonie. "So vermin. You are not part of my imagination..." he trailed off. The softer fleshy parts on Killy's suit seemed to compress like small bladders. Veins spread throughout the Nerve Suit's back like a spider web, sending forth liquid rapture and insanity. The rest of Killy's body turned around to follow the head's direction.

'Oh wow, my gambit worked.' Cibo thought. She sat back down as her cellmate went onto all fours and scuttled forward like a psychopathic lizard crab on crack. The Moonie tried to pull out its combat knife and stab Killy, but was too slow; the shaking, shivering Ottyo had it by the neck and arm, holding the Drathonian up into the air. Killy's roar was muffled by the helmet, sounding like a moaning "WAAAAAAAAAAAA" as he emptied his lungs. The fleshy suit under his chin and neck inflated like a frog's before bursting. The moaning roar suddenly became a high pitched screech as it did so. As his breath ran out, his jaw and tongue dropped. It was long, easily a foot out of the mouth. Just hanging there. 'Is he...sticking his tongue out? Wait...oh shit!'

"Gh-Haaaaahh" Killy deeply laughed in it's face. Marcus watched in horror as Killy began biting and tearing into the Moonie's knife arm. The hapless Drathonian struggled and screamed, but as the bone was revealed, Killy slammed his head, breaking it apart. Killy ripped the weakened arm out, and knelt on the chest. He savagely stabbed away at the Moonie's face with the broken bone. He gouged out out the eyes and tore off the face with the Moonie's own shattered arm while screeching high and loud. The helmet's black feather crest was spread out like a death-peacock's display, shaking and rattling against one another with violence.

The events that transpired appeared to be happening in slow motion for Fred as his body fell back on instincts he had used in almost eight years. His reaction speed had notably dulled, but they remained the same. One of his hands reached for his belt to check for his gun, which was not present, and the other hand reached into his jacket to grab his knife, which had been confiscated by the MPs. His mind instantly began running through the rest of his options, and he reverted to his last best option: his brawling skills. He repositioned himself in the cell, placing himself close to the wall and got himself into a stance that said, “Bring it on you wanker.”
Once his habits had been satisfied, three seconds later, he further inspected the unraveling situation. The MPs outside the cell were down, one was injured, the invaders had opened the other cell, his own cell remained closed, so despite the kafuffle in the cell next door there was nothing he could do but further prepare himself. He eyed the fight warily.

The black skeletal form was on all fours atop the dead moonie. It lowered itself and grasped the Drathonian by the skull in it's jaws, suddenly wrenching with it's head. A loud crack reverberated through the room as the corpse's neck was snapped. Killy lifted his nose to the air and sniffed. A growl escaped his exposed mouth which turned into a terrible birdlike screech, then quickly turning into a moaning howl as the membrane encased the lower jaw once more. The moan further reverberated as the flesh swelled like a balloon against the force. The psychotic Ottyo ran on all fores like a freak; there was no galloping grace, but instead, a demented and crablike moving of limbs. In a moment, he ran out the door at great speed.

As soon as Killy was gone, Cibo ran out of her cell and grabbed an EV-47 from a fallen guard and then her PDA off the table. She quickly sprinted to the doorway with a grim and vicious smile on her face. "Cibo! Let us out!" Marcus called from the cell.
"F*ck you."
"But the guard, he still might die!" Cibo gave off a snort of some unseen emotion before quickly tapping Fred and Marcus' cell open. And then she was gone. Marcus quickly tapped the comm lines of the guard station. "This is Captain Marcus Wright! We have Drathonian Moonies aboard Saratar Station at Sector AA 23, detention block! I repeat, we have Drathonian Moonies aboard Saratar Station at Sector AA 23, detention block! Do not engage the black one! We will want him alive!"

'As if you care he dies or not...Now, I want to see this thing in action with my own eyes!'

Fred was now in full marine mode, he did not ask what was going on because he did not need to: there were enemies on board, there was one casualty and five wounded, one of which was serious. One of the four in the cells had given chase, two of them were his superiors, and he himself was the lowest ranking soldier present.
"But you are no longer a marine," a voice in the back of his mind whispered. "Maybe, but I still gotta gun," he replied.
He turned towards Marcus. "Orders, Sir? Should I pursue?" he asked them in a very flat tone.

Dart was furious. The other moonies clustered together in fear as they watched their leader pace back and forth. They had caught up with the black moonie almost as soon as he had left the brig; and then the screaming had started.
All of a sudden Dart swiveled around and stared at his four subordinates. Slowly he pulled his breathing mask out of his webbing and pulled it on. “I extend a simple courtesy and act as polite as possible; I even break my deal and save their man and they -” his distorted, almost mechanical voice trailed off as Killy's screech echoed down the hall.
Then, with renewed vigour he started again, yelling, “They savage him! They horrendously murder one of my subordinates.” Looking at the stolen EV-47's hanging from the red moonies' belts he seemed to stop in thought and then nodded slowly. “Take up positions, we meet the beast here. Full power, a simple stun setting won't stop him.” Dart's voice had become as hard as steel, the force behind it brushed away the fear gripping his fellow spies like an unwanted cobweb. They quickly drew their pistols and took up positions around the hallway.
Dart placed himself in the middle of the formation, slightly in front of all the red shirts. “Oh. If the girl shows up, do try your best not to shoot her. I want to know why she thinks I know her.” He called back to them offhandedly as he drew his sword.

"No Fred. Make sure the MP's here are stable and watch my back; I don't want a moonie sticking a shiv in my back while I work the console." Marcus spoke calmly. He quickly typed in a line of commands into the security system, and cursed when he misspelled. "Dammit. Cibo was always better at this stuff!" Marcus gave the orders again, and an image popped on screen. Killy was running, sniffing the air as he strode on all fours, chest close and almost brushing the floor. He panned the camera to get a better look, and Cibo was not far behind. She still has some legs on her. The view skipped forwards until four red figures and one in black could be seen at the end of a hallway. "Fred, I want your opinion. What's the chances of our...deeply distressed friend of surviving this head on?"

"Yes, Sir," Fred replied. He quickly went about checking on the MPs, he had already noted the neck wound so gave a cursory glance at the others for the sake of triage. He also looked over towards the gored remains of the dead moonie still lying in a cell, and concluded that it was not a high priority. Slinging his rifle over his shoulder he set about grabbing a first aide kit from off the wall and got to work on the injured MP.
"You are one lucky punk, you know that?" Fred said to the semi-concious MP, "The knife missed the jugular, but it did catch your windpipe, so that is why it is hard for you to breath right now. I'll get you fixed up and on your way." He started cleaning the wound and applying antiseptic.
"You talking about the woman or feather-head? Not sure about Cibo, but if youare talking about the alien, considering what happened to the poor scalie back there, I wouldn't count him out," Fred replied without taking his eyes off of his work, "Well, I have done all I can do here, I've got him bandaged up, but he still needs medical attention as soon as possible."

"To be honest Fred, I've got half a mind to go charging in with those two psychos." Marcus said. He stooped over and quickly recovered a pistol from one of the guards. "You?" He gave a quick glance towards the monitor and saw Killy round the corner and into the hallway. It was just beginning.

Cibo stuck her head around the corner and watched as the Ottyo ran on all fours, zigzagging and leaping back and forward on all fours; they could only hit his armored helmet, shoulders and arms. Maybe a leg if they were lucky. From a glance, the head and shoulders were the most armored anyways. 'Heh, they must have known this would happen sooner or later!' With Killy closing in as a distraction, she leaned out from cover and fired at the two closest Moonies. She wanted Dart alive.

"Me, Sir?" Fred asked as he finished up repacking the first aide supplies, the he turned back to face Marcus, "Well, Sir, I am not much of a medic. I either fly, or I run. There isn't a scimitar around, so you just say the word and I'll start running like I stole something."
Sensing where things were going, he unslung his rifle and checked its charge.


Dart gripped the hilt of his rapier tighter. Things were not going as well as they could have. The EV-47's couldn't even manage to dint the aliens thick armour-plated front. To top it all off the girl had showed up and begun to fire at the red shirts.
He would have to think fast, the alien would be among them soon. Turning towards his subordinates he saw one fall to the ground as a shot clipped his shoulder. “Up, up!” he yelled at the fallen moonie, before directing his attention to the others, “All supporting units disperse and cause havoc in category two targets.”
Behind his mask Dart smiled, soon the red shirts would be making their way towards new targets, like the med ward and mess, in hopes of confusing any forces the remaining two humans had called for. Yet, first he would need to deal with the alien before he slipped away.
Momentarily locking his gaze on Killy, Dart calculated how much time he had to waste. Then, looking towards Cibo, he raised his sword in salute before almost lazily running the blade along eight of the gas capsules at his belt. Behind his mask the moonie's grin became wider and wider as he stared at the girl until becoming obscured from view by the disorienting gas.
Shaking off the effects of the gas, Dart stepped farther into the cloud; remembering his goggles he quickly snatched them from his kit and pulled them on. As Dart shifted his grip on his sword the little spy tensed, ready to strike as soon as the hulking alien came within range.

Cibo surged forward right behind Killy, donning her soft helmet and wading through the gas at her ankles. "Killy!" she yelled. The Ottyo stopped in it's tracks, and cocked it's head to the side. "HE IS MINE! DO YOU HEAR ME?! MINE!" She screeched. For a moment, the distraught Ottyo skittered to and fro, as though trying to decide weather or not to attack her or Dart. The Ottyo rushed forward and scaled the wall briefly climbing with screeching metal and claws onto the ceiling's girders. He was right atop Dart. "Oh no you..." Killy leaped past Dart and down the hall way after his fleeing prey. "Heh. Just you and me now Dart." As the gas rose, she cut a swath with her hand, better revealing herself fr a moment in a dramatic gesture. Cibo quickly started banging a way with her EV-47 with the intention of maiming him. Even a quadriplegic could be interrogated.

The two Drathonians heading towards the hanger, one of them was wounded on the shoulder. "Come! We can still set off the detonation packs in the hanger!" Out of the billowing gas and smoke was the Ottyo, smeared in his first victim's blood and viscera. The wounded one was bleeding profusely; a major blood way was open and pouring out his lifeblood.
"We can't outrun him!"
"I will make it, I just need to outrun you!" The healthy Moonie shoved the other, who then tumbled and fell.
"You a$$hole!" he yelled after his fleeing compatriot. As he stood, he drew out a crowbar, and suddenly felt a powerful grasp yank it from his own from behind. The crowbar suddenly spurted forth from his chest. He was then nailed onto the metal walls of Saratar, like a collector's insect.
The moonie looked over his shoulder and saw what happened. He kept on running and running for the Hanger.

"Security, take over troop movements. I'm heading out." Marcus turned to Fred with a confident air of strength. "Lets go see if the crazies need a hand eh?"

“I am right behind you, Sir,” Fred said as he tucked the rifle under his arm, getting ready to move fast. “This sure brings back memories,” he thought to himself as he started at a jog out the door and down the hallway in the direction of the fight. “To think that it has been eight years since I have had a chance to take out a Drathonian while looking directly at them. Damn, I’m getting old.” He could hear gunfire just ahead, he was getting closer.

Steven walked along down the hallway and was almost to the hangar when he thought that maybe he should alert his squad that he had recovered, for the most part. He brought out his datapad and typed up a quick message telling his squadron that he was out of med bay and on his way to the hangar. After he sent it, he noted a sound that sounded like gunfire from up ahead.

The two moonies Dart had sent to the infirmary opened the grate over the duct. They both grinned at each other cruelly as they though of all the helpless wounded they would brain with their crowbars. The larger Red Shirt nodded to his partner and then jumped into the hall below.
The second moonie could hear the first hit the floor, but it seemed to be an almost meaty thump - not metallic. Then someone grunted and he furrowed his brow in confusion. “You alright?” he called down.
“Yeah,” his partner yelled back, “I landed on a human. And he seems to have some sort of scales?”
Scales, on a human? This was a disturbing thought to the moonie still up in the ventilation tunnel and he decided to find out more before jumping after his fellow spy. “Is he still awake?” he asked.
“You bet and he actually seems kind of pissed.” The first moonie called back to the second as he pulled out his crowbar and stood up, a smirk on his face. “Don't worry he won't even be alive -” he stopped talking as he heard the ventilation duct's grate being shoved back in place. His partner had run away; gripping the crowbar tighter he decided to take his frustrations out on this strange human.

“Ouch, what the hell was that?” Steven cried as he was knocked to the ground. As he regained his composure and stood up he saw that he was face to face with a large Drathonian. Instantly, Steven’s initial urge was to get the hell out of Dodge, but then it occurred to him, he must still be feeling the effect of the medicine. The pilot grinned wide and began to chuckle as he ran a hand over the faint scars on his jaw line.
“Obviously there is no Drathonian here, that would just be silly,” he reasoned, “This’ll be fun.”
Steven stood up straight, puffed out his chest, and donned an icy cold glare. He stood his ground and stared the Drathonian square in the eye. “Oh, this is going to be fun,” he said as he started laughing again, “Do you have any idea how much trouble and pain you put me through? You know what it doesn’t matter, because I am going to make your life a living Hell, just like you made mine.” Still wearing a maniacal grin he reach into his jacket and retrieved his combat knife from its sheath, and waved it around menacingly in front of the moonie. “I’m not sure if I can kill you, but with God as my witness I will make you suffer. Hm, I wonder how many scars I can give you. With that being said, I have always wanted to dissect a Drathonian, you know, see what makes you tick. I wonder how your organs compare to a human’s organ system. I guess I can find out after I cut you open and play doctor. You game?”

The moonie's crowbar rattled loudly as it fell to the floor. Backing up away from Steven the Red Shirt held up his empty hands. These Terrans are crazy, they aren't like the normal Saratar guys, they're pure insanity.
“Can't we work something out?” he whimpered as the human pilot brandished his combat knife.

Dart was finding this whole business distressing. As he dropped to floor, dodging another shot from the EV-47, he wondered again what the girl was holding against him. Rolling to his feet he zigzagged to one wall of the corridor then then next, ducking and sidestepping erratically the whole time to keep the female's aim off.
Stopping for a moment at the right wall he sheathed his sword. Then he called out as he started running again, “Now, I must demand something of you. I've been nothing but polite until now, but it seems I must make my request somewhat forceful. Why do you seem to have a personal grudge against me little one?” The cold mechanical tone of Dart's voice as it was distorted through the breathing mask stood at odds with his words.
Thinking of the combat knife strapped to his thigh the moonie took in the rapidly closing gap between him and Cibo. Allowing himself a small smile before the grim reality of the situation whipped it back off, Dart coldly thought “Almost there, almost there,” to himself.

Adrian held the broom he was carrying parallel with his body, his stance betraying that he was the marine and sniper that his transfer orders claimed and not the janitor he seemed to be on a daily basis. He had silently hoped to himself that once the Hymn docked at Saratar Station he would finally be assigned to a squad, but no, he had just been put to keeping the many more rooms of the station swept clean too.
Though, shaking his head and letting out a chuckled, all the free time hadn't been completely wasted as the trigger system he had developed for use behind enemy lines (and just for fun if he was truthful, but that would only be known by himself) had been refined and even made reusable.
With that little reminder of his good fortune the man had even begun to whistle a low tune. Yes things could be better, but this isn't so bad; he thought as he opened the door to the Janitor's closet. But, that was before he saw the moonie, strangely clothed in a red knit sweater, rummaging through boxes, smelling cleaning solutions and even stopping to poke a sheet of sand paper suspiciously with a clawed finger.
Sighing, he walked behind the spy, who was obliviously continuing his search of a shelf's contents. Lifting the broom above his head Adrian brought it down upon the moonie's head with a loud crack. The little creature seemed to freeze for a second or two before – sadly – collapsing. The sniper shook his head, a look of amusement mixed with pity plastered on his face. Getting some rope down from the shelf he tied the spy up and then retrievied his duffel. Unzipping the bag he stuffed the little drathonian inside; before zipping it again, making sure a small portion stayed open as he slung it over his shoulder. As he walked back out into the hall he wondered where he could find an officer.

As ordered, Red Bravo broke into groups of three and dove into the fray. After just a few seconds, Red Siberia piped up over the com. "Focus on those Rex fighters! There'll be hell to pay if we let them have any sort of free reign in this battle." Following his own advice, the Captain dove after a pair of Rexes. He and his two wingmen cleared out the Scourge that blocked their shots without problem, but by then the more mobile Drathonian combatants were dispersing and making their way around for a counter-offensive. Elsewhere, Ruze was flying wingman for Red Poland playing a crazy game of "Dodge the Deadly Lasers." "Any day you want to SHOOT something, that'd be grand. Maybe then I wouldn't feel like all my efforts to SURVIVE as your wingman wouldn't be for nothing." Banter was exchanged, but negative feelings were not. This was how they communicated on the battlefield, and there was no disdain in any of their hearts for their comrades.

Kai and Two charged into battle, using their superior speed and a prodigous amount of Mini-missiles to break up as many of the Scourge fighters as possible, swinging the scimitars around to fire at the aft sections of their foes, while 11 and 12 covered them from a little farther away. The four worked in tandem, utilising the Scimitar's great all-around abilities to keep them out of the guns of the Rex fighters while destroying the Scourges. "Red bravo, don't worry about the Scourges too hard, Alpha has them for you, just keep the damn rex's off of us!" Kai called to the other squadron.

Siberia responded with agreement. "You heard him, Reds. Wipe out the Rex's. If we can do that, we might just be able to clear them out." His words were inspirational, but his tone was less so. It sounded more demanding than encouraging or uplifting. Obviously he had little belief that it could be done, but they all were intent on creating as much of a pain in the ass for the lizards as possible.

Sixteen Terrans, and now eighty Drathonian fighters. The first couple minutes of the fight were going well for the Terrans, but, it was obvious enough by their rapidly depleting (and in the case of a couple of the Reds flying older machines, overloaded) shields that they could only hope to keep this up for so long. Quickly, it was turning into a numbers game, as the sheer skill of the Terrans wasn't quite enough. And the Carrier sitting there firing on the freighter still had thousands to replace those that were being shot down. but why wasn't it, Yet?

"Where are your boys, Lieutenant?" was Siberia's desperate question. It was voiced across the broad com, so all could hear him, as he was sure everyone was wondering. The battle was becoming a test of time: how long could the Terrans keep fighting? How long could they continue dodging death? How long before their equipment failed them? So many questions and not enough answers.

"They should be back by now, with support" Kai answered, wondering himself. He fired his last few Mini-missiles, taking down the shields of another Scourge before finishing it off with his lasers, noting his power generator was taking undue strainbecause he was constantly remodulating his shields in the hopes of keeping them up longer. Suddenly, the Fighters would notice something: a Warp signature, coming from the direction of Saratar. Kai cursed mildly, knowing Terrans used Fold at this range, obviously, there was another attack on the station, and the Hymn was still unable to fight. this carrier was simply a distraction.

"Well damnit all!" Siberia grumbled off the coms, knowing full well what that signature meant. Several other expletives were floating about the cockpits of Red Bravo's fighters. "Always with the bad news," said Poland over the squad channel. "You said it," Dilshod then reiterated to himself, "Always with the bad news..." Siberia finally had arrived at a decision. "Red Bravo, the priority will remain the same until such a time as the arrival deems itself a greater threat. Should that occur, it will become our primary target with the Rex's as our secondary." Blips of confirmation lit up in just a few seconds. "Good. Give 'em Hell." "HOO-AH!" was the resounding response.

Eleven and twelve made their way 'up' compared to the rest of the battle, in an attempt to get a better vantage on their enemies, whom were still busily buzzing around the other fourteen Terran fighters. Before they could do anything, however, the Fold signature's owber appeared; a Damaged Drathonian corvette, out of control. it had unfolded at the spot where 11 and twelve were, and their blips on the sensors had disappeared. It had arrived here hoping to get help from the carrier, but the carrier did no such thing. Revealing that it had tractor beams, the carrier grabbed the corvette, redirecting it at the freighter, at which it fired. As the freighter's engines went out, a secondary explosion rocked its bow, canceling momentum and stopping the freighter dead in its tracks. The corvette kept going, making no effort to stop, whether or not it could was unknown.

Cibo took shot after shot from within the misty fog, the laser lighting the billowing mist like lightning lighting up a cloudy sky. "Because! You beat me up! You drugged me, and YOU BLEW UP MY MOM! YOU WERE HER FRIEND GOD DAMMIT!" She screeched. Cibo charged forward and suddenly stooped down, using her momentum to toss the accursed murderer through the air. She drew out her own knife as the Moonie landed, and screeched higher than before, "I'M GOING TO TEAR YOUR SKIN OFF AND WEAR IT AS MY CAPE! RIOKRIREEEE!" Cibo charged at Dart, screaming his real name at the top of her lungs.

It was like hearing nails against the classical chalkboard, Cibo's voice, that is. Marcus was half wishing she'd die, and half wishing she'd take the bastard alive. 'Then again, both would be good.' he thought. "Come on soldier! We got to move!" Marcus sprinted, Fred in tow.

"Noooooooo-oh-ooooooohhh!" the hysterical moonie cried out. He was shoving his way through random, surprised Terrans at this point. His nose was dripping with mucus, and his mouth was salivating from the pure, unadulterated fear coursing through him. "Please! Don't kill me! Don't kill me!" the Moonie cried for mercy. Killy was not too far behind, walking upright once more and beating any person that got in his way.
"Ahh! My leg!" one Terran screamed. The 'Killer's High' drug was wearing off now, and he could finally speak again,
"Get out of my way! That Drathonian is MINE!" he called out with menace. By now, the two were running through the midst of activated Scimitar Fighters. Jets of heat and fire were emanating from here and there, and the moonie continued to run from the black, demonic satire of his race. With the flames washing over the two, it truly was hell. The roar of the engines coming to life drowned out all else, and the drooling, snot nosed, crying moonie looked over his shoulder, surprised to see nothing. He quailed under the wing of one scimitar, and didn't even notice the Terran pilot inside watching him. Left. Right. Left again. All clear? Yes. All clear. The trembling Moonie slowly emerged from under the wing, and was stomped on like a goomba by over two hundred pounds of Ottyo Super-soldier. Killy was standing on the wing. And now stood on the moonie's shoulders.

As the terrified Terran pilots pulled away in their gloriously bright ships, a crowd of engineers, marines and military police had gathered around the hanger. What they saw was...unheard of. What they saw, they expected to be done to them by a Drathonian on the very worse scenario. But this wasn't the case at all. The tall black figure had the pitifully small Drathonian belly down on the floor. A leg was horribly maimed and burned by the jet wash of a departing Scimitar; it was crying out in Terran for mercy. "No, please! Anything! I''ll..."
"Cibo will take Dart alive. And with him, we do not need you." he replied coldly in perfect Terran. His armored foot grabbed the back of the neck like a crude hand while he firmly gripped the upper jaw, fingers clawing into the roof of the mouth. "Acted like animals. And so I shall treat you red scum like animals." The black form lifted up with tremendous strength, and the breaking of the neck could be heard throughout the crowd. But he didn't stop there. The whole upper head tore off the shoulders, leaving the lower jaw behind. The armed Terrans sighted him up as he lifted the skull into the air and bellowed a muffled cry. Suddenly. awareness of what was happening washed the black form as the last of the fire in his veins ebbed. The figure tried to hide the gory artifact behind it's back, and then tossed it into a nearby bin.

'I have a feeling Evelyn will not be happy, kill count or not...' Killy thought. He noticed the fighters taking off. "Sooooo.....Uh, what's happening out there?" he asked the crowd.

Dart contemplated letting the girl kill him, High Command had thrown him aside and – a small click sounded from the data pad at his waist. All thoughts of mercifully becoming an outlet for Cibo's anguish fled from his mind, he crouched met the charging girl with a snap kick straight to her stomach.
Already turning away from the enraged terran he pulled a capsule from his kit, larger and a different colour than the brown gas capsules, using his claw he punctured a line into it. The new gas hissed as it left its container and the disorienting gas quickly began to dissapate.
Pulling out his data pad he opened the com channel; immediately a moonie began to speak in a grim, worried tone, every word was tinged with fear. After mulling over the news being supplied Dart slowly nodded his head and spoke, “No plans for evacuation? Enact the Saratar Pact's Contingency Plan 11.” Then, pulling off the breathing mask and pushing up his goggles Dart spoke again, his voice normal, “See you on the other side operative.”
Closing the com channel and pushing the pad back into its pouch Dart let out a long droning sigh. “This is what it's come to then?” He asked himself, his voice soft and filled with regret. He took a deep breath, preparing for a long explanation, his back was still towards Cibo when he spoke, “It is my duty to kill Terrans. Whether we declared our war officially or started it with a rash chain of betrayals, High Command has decided your species should die. Not all my Moonies believe that we should follow duty into senseless death though, and therefore Contingency Plan 11 was made.” Dart stopped, pulling his sword's sheath off his belt he threw it behind him and then took his combat knife and laid it carefully on the floor. “In the event if a Drathonian force attempts to harm or destroy Saratar and no evacuation route is supplied for the Intelligence Regiment stationed here; that regiment shall claim themselves a “Sovereign Moonie State” or the Moonie Free State. All malcontent operatives that refuse to abide by this Plan are to be detained and offered the the Terran inhabitants of Saratar hopefully to stimulate the creation of a tentative non-aggression pact between the Free State and the Terrans.” His voice trailed off near the end and once again the little spy shook his head sadly, but this was his duty he had supported and enforced the Regimental Pact and now it had come to this.
Putting his hands behind his back Dart wondered if the girl was just behind him, ready to plunge her knife into his back. He spoke up again speaking to Cibo directly. “Quickly find something to bind me with girl. We both have jobs to do or have you forgotten your an intelligence agent first and a human second?”

"Work something out?" Steven spat at the moonie, he the then gestured towards his chin, "See these marks? These marks are just the surface of what happened to me. I almost went crazy, and at one point I even thought I was surely going to die. Did I get the chance to 'work something out'? No! So now, I am going to see how much force it takes to sever an arm.”
Having said all that needed saying, Steven lunged forward with the combat knife and stabbed it into the moonie’s right shoulder. Withdrawing the knife, he left a large gash and laughed as blood started to run from the wound. He then proceeded to slash wildly at the moonie’s chest.
"Hm, for a hallucination, it feels surprisingly tangible," Steven thought to himself.

Adrian was adjusting the strap on his duffel when he heard the screams. Quickly forgetting the slight discomfort he began to run towards the noise's source, the medical ward. Skidding to a halt as he turned a corner he saw a man crouched over something his combat knife flashing up and down as they cut into something.
Dropping the duffel he jogged towards the man, the insignia on his uniform marking him as a Captain. When he reached the man he was lifting the knife into the air once again, without thinking the sniper grabbed his wrist. The captain seemed to have some sort of strange scale-like patches of scars on his hands and when he got a look at the man's face more were evident.
The look in the man's eyes worried Adrian a bit and it seemed to carry over to his voice as he spoke. “Sir are you alright?” He asked before he ventured to look at the man's targeting, it was a moonie, read like the one he had knocked out, but the Captain had peeled away the flesh as certain points and stabbed the spy at numerous points.
“Bloody Saints!” The sniper swore and looked around the empty hall before wetting his lips and yelling, “Get me a doctor or even just some damned medic out here now!” Then looking back towards the Captain, a pilot it seemed from his uniform, he forced an iron-like tone onto his voice, “Sir, drop the knife or I will have to break your wrist.” He closed his fist tighter in a quick pulse just to show the officer he meant what he said. Pilots, even when I'm a janitor they still make a mess for a poor marine; Adrian thought darkly to himself.

When Steven looked over towards Adrian, the change in the look on the pilot’s face was like night and day. The cynical grin he was wearing disappeared as soon as he looked away from the moonie and was replaced with his usual tranquil grin. He was also a little flushed and looked quite embarrassed.
“Oh jeez, did you see that? I just got out of med bay, and I am still kinda out of it. But that doesn’t excuse me swinging around my knife haphazardly in the middle of a hallway. I mean, I would be mortified if I had hurt somebody,” Steven explained to Adrian.

“Sir.” Adrian said stiffly, not exactly sure how to deal with the situation. “Captain, Sir, the blood on your blade is really there, Sir.” Adrian let go of the pilot's wrist and took a step backward. “If you could hand me the knife Sir, we could then pick that moonie up together and get him into the med ward. Let's not make this more of a mess than it already is.” The sniper held out his hand for the knife, a look of pity on his face.

Cibo hissed surprisingly like a lizard herself in surprise, before turning her EV-47 to stun mode and aiming between Dart's legs. And then Marcus pistol whipped Dart, following up with a dog-pile and some manacles for good measure. Cibo didn't even care if Dart was still conscious, kicking him for good measure in the gut. She cried out at Marcus, "He was mine!" Cibo, tacked on as an afterthought, "Sir."
"Well, Private." he said, stressing the rank ever so slightly, "You were taking an uncharacteristic time in subduing him. I was worried. After all, you usually take them down fast, and then go on torturing them for hours at a time." he replied with a cheery bravado. Cibo shrugged, wiping off Dart's footprint from her uniform.
"Where's Killy?"

"And that is how you properly skin a Drathonian." Yotruyan finished. "Now, don't forget to properly cure the skin if you have the time. So, who wants to take this home? Anyone?" A blond even taller than him stepped forward and raised her hand. And to find someone was taller than he was, was simply quite a surprise to Killy. The Terrans were all shorter than him until now; she was taller than Killy by two inches. "And what is your name?" She pointed to her name badge. Lolita Sartre. The Terran woman took the still warm skin from Killy, and gave him a wink before walking through the crowd, which parted before her.
"Are you Ottyo guys for real?" someone asked.
"Real? I think I'm real. Are you real? Possibly. Or you could be a drug induced hallucination, as real as some teenager's imaginary character produced for a Role Play on some website. But I will bet that you are real. Does that help?"

The station began to gently shake, as if a breeze was blowing it about. The lights suddenly changed in color, and alarms began to sound. Battlestations were called, and fighters were scrambled. Every ship at the station that was in fighting condition was mustered to face the Drathonian fleet which had suddenly appeared and began to harass Saratar base. Very quickly, the Terran forces began fighting back, firing on the enemy ships, poking holes in shields and exchanging hurt. A few of the Drathonian ships retreated after taking too much damage, but most stayed.

As expected, a cloud of fighters soon approached, but it was met by a cloud from the station. Slugs, plasma, lasers, Ion bolts, and all sorts of munitions were being exchanged in a dazzling lightshow, some hitting shields, some hitting hulls, It was like a fireworks display, almost beautiful if it wasn't for the deadliness.

A group of MP's grabbed the Ottyo, forcing his arms and tail down, and holding him to the floor. "Sorry, but we've been ordered to apprehend you. An admiral has decided to send their disapproval of your methods." the leader said, as his men bound the raptor-like alien. He looked a bit distressed as he saw the mess Killy had made, and wondered what the hell was wrong with that huge marine woman. "Everyone! To your battlestations! Pilots to ships! Marines! Find and capture the Infiltrators! We want them alive if possible!" the MP lieutenant yelled into the hangar, as datapads beeped, telling individuals about the station the same thing.

Fred would get a message calling him to the hangars, as would the rest of Green squadron, Emma, Steven, and Arcadia included. their fighters were being prepped, and all sorts of things were going on. It was a battle. a big one, a bad one, and it had appeared out of nowhere.

The Drathonian corvette made contact with the happless freighter, the colliding ships looking somewhat silly as they bumped around for a moment before suddenly buckling and beginning to explode into one another, creating a massive explosion and sending debris everywhere, some of it passing through the small battlefield, smashing into the fighters there, somehow hitting exclusively the Drathonian fighters. The Carrier Folded out of that area of space and towards Saratar, leaving the 50 fighters behind to deal with the 14 Terran fighters.

Fred reached for his datapad and quickly read the message. He looked quite irritated after he finished reading, and proceeded to hand his gun off to an MP. “Time for another role change,” the Irishman said before running off down the hallway towards the hangar.

Steven had a similar reaction to his message. “Sorry, gotta fly,” he said as he ran off down the hall.
About halfway to the hangar there was a hallway merge, and as the Captain passed it Fred came barreling around the corner and the two pilots almost collided.
“What the hell? Watch it, Captain. Captain? Captain! You're all better?” Fred stammered as he regained himself.
“I'm as good as I can be considering my ordeal,” Steven replied as he gestured towards the marks on his chin, and noted a slight grimace on Fred's face in response. Steven motioned for Fred to talk while they continued towards the hangar. “Hehe, I might have to change my title from 'Phoenix' to 'Wyvern' cause of these cracks,” he joked to his friend about his healing scars.
“Hm, Captain Steven 'The Wyvern' Kerning? Eh, we'll see if it grows on me,” the Irishman responded.
The two pilots rounded the corner into the hangar of Saratar Station and quickly found the staging area for Green Squadron. As they reached their scimitars, in almost synchronized motion, the two veteran pilots climbed up onto their scimitars and dived into the cockpits. Both went through their motions, getting ready for the coming battle.
As Steven put his flight helmet on his head he winced as it brushed against the cracks in his skin. He gingerly ran his fingers across the wound and noticed a faint hint of stubble returning to his face, but he also realized that the painkillers for the cracks were beginning to lose effect. That meant that all the places on his body that have the cracks were going to begin to sting a lot. He discarded the thought and got back to work making sure all systems were green, as soon as he was satisfied he turned his attention to attendance; he was missing four of his twelve pilots. He scowled as he glimpsed out the hangar doors at the already unfolding dogfight. “Hurry up, guys, don't wanna be late for the party,” he mumbled under his breath.

As the lighting of the entire station descended into a bloody red, Yotruyan stood there in manacles, bathed in it's light. The Military Policemen were a little uneasy, and looking upon the skinned, headless corpse, it was easy to see why. "Perhaps. I should not have used those chemicals." he said. No response. The march back to the detention area was silent, despite the fluttering of the station and the sound of feet against the grated floors. The red world slowly became fuzzy to Yotruyan, and gravity seemed to pull him in all different directions. A marine cried out words he could not understand.

"One. Two. Three!" Cibo and Marcus spoke in unison, tossing a bound and gagged Dart into a cell. Bathed in the red light, Dart would have blended in easily and perhaps escaped. But fortune did not smile, as the lights did not come on soon enough. Then again, he would have blended in easily if he were naked. Dart wasn't. Cibo sat down, kicked her legs up onto a table. She toyed around with Darts belongings with care, finally spoke,
"One lizard down." she grinned devilishly. "Now. Where's that other one? That one that lost to Fred?" Marcus looked away from her wicked smile, and suddenly opened his eyes wide.
"Killy!"

"Ahh! Get him off me!" the small woman cried out.
"One. Two.Three! HEAVE!" They quickly pulled him off of her, helping the woman to stand. "What the hell just happened? Did he pass out?"
"Gkk. Ghhehh...Yes." Yotruyan said. As each breath passed by, his body begun to shake, and quickly devolved into something like Parkinson's. "Please. Help me up. I. Can not walk. Withdrawal..." A pair of Police quickly tried to lift him up from under each arm, but couldn't due to the manacles binding him. They decided to drag him like a bloody corpse.

Cibo turned towards the entrance at that, and saw the thing being brought back in. What a mess. She thought. "So, look at what the cat dragged back in. You look like crap. What? They beat you up?" Marcus quickly rushed over to help the MPs drag the shaking and incapacitated Ottyo into a cell, lying him on a bed. He gave a glance at the blood on his hand, and then wiped it on Cibo's chest.
"Small as ever. And that's not his blood." Over her strangled exclamations, he strode back over to Killy's cell. "What happened?" The Ottyo merely wheezed in response. One of the MP's quickly spoke up, disgust in his voice.
"He killed them sir. Every one he could get his hands on. Even when it begged him for mercy, he tore the head off and skinned it."
"Shit."

Garrett was amused, but unimpressed by the frivolities of his fellow drinkers. He just kept quiet, smiling and occasionally chuckling. When they were taken away, he slipped a bottle under the table until the MPs left.

Things were going great, and the demolitions was finally finding some time to relax in solitude: no paperwork, no lizards, no guns. Just him and a bottle, and the hope that one of the pretty ladies in uniform would sidle his way.

Then the alarm went off. Lights went dim, and people started running about. "Goddamn those fucking lizards," he mumbled before rising to his feet. His head swam a bit, and the buzz made itself known. "Oi." He'd have to take it a bit easier than usual with the alcohol coursing steadily in his veins. "Mm. Maybe a shotgun." He began walking in a surprisingly direct line toward the hallway, and once around the corner had a near collision with some fool romping through the halls at full sprint. Feeling playful, Lieutenant Hendlow stuck his boot out, and the short and stocky greenhorn (it HAD to be a greenhorn) went tumbling with a rather deep grunt. He dropped his gun at Garrett's feet: lo and behold, 'twas a shotgun!

He picked it up, and realized it was definitely not standard issue. It didn't even look human. That's when he glanced at what he assumed was some idiot rookie to realize it was in fact a very short Drathonian. "Well fuck me sideways, you're scaly!" He aimed the shotgun (at this distance, being inebriated had little effect on his overall... well, effectiveness) and pulled the trigger. The lizard squealed and never spoke again. "Dumbass," Garrett muttered, then smirked, and chuckled to himself. "What a dumbass!" More laughter followed and then he finally took a good look at the gun. He realized that there was no way it dispersed like a proper shotgun. Sparing the scaly carcass a second glance, he realized that it had not shredded the poor bastard, but instead had left a rather ugly crater. The rounds seemed to spread upon impact rather than upon ejection from the barrel. That would definitely need further investigation.

For now he began to walk and whistle an old tune. Something about the arrogance of humanity and how if they didn't straighten out, some supernatural force would do the straightening itself. Garrett offhandedly thought it a shame no such force had presented itself; he would have appreciated it. But then again, the Drathonians did come and smite the humans, didn't they? Hm. Perhaps there was something greater after all. He audibly scoffed at the idea. "Doubtful," he said to himself, and kept walking, new weapon in hand.

"Time to clean house." At this point Garrett tried to pump a fresh round into the chamber, but was reminded that this was not a human weapon when the grip didn't slid and there was no Hollywood cha-chink as an empty shell spiraled toward the floor. What a shame, he was really feeling in an action hero sort of mood. He would later blame the alcohol, but right then he blamed the less than intelligent lizard that more or less brought the demolitionist's dreams to life on a silver platter. A silver platter spattered with lizard guts. The thought made Garrett smile to himself.

Meanwhile, a much more levelheaded and much more methodical pilot was making her way to the hangar bay with her much younger co-pilot in tow. It was a brisk walk and completed in silence, mostly because Arcadia wasn't sure what to say. When they arrived at their ships, it was a welcome sight despite all the rigorous time they'd been putting into defense of Saratar. "See you in space, little lady." She offered a reassuring smile before vaulting into the cockpit of her Scimitar, ready to kick some more lizard tail. "Sorry about the tardiness, Captain. It was a difficult walk."

Damnit, Siberia swore silently to himself. He wanted desperately to lead his men back to Saratar to ensure those Drathonians burned, but there was no chance for that. Some four dozen enemy craft were still buzzing about, ready to impede long-distance travel. So the Reds continued their seemingly impossible struggle. As could be expected, intense combat ensued (not that it had ever really stopped to begin with.) Slowly, the Reds were making progress in their encounters, but it was unlikely they'd be able to keep that pace with their ships as it were. Mongolia spoke up, "Siberia, Shouldn't we jump back? They'll be needing our hel-" Mongolia was interrupted by the demolition of his craft. The first casualty in the history of the Great Fox's Red Squadron had just been incurred. Everyone was immediately enraged, but no one said anything. It simply showed in their maneuvers that they were more determined than ever to survive and destroy the opposition.

Thirteen now, an unlucky number. Kai would have Swore out loud if he was in the habit of doing so. Instead, He called to two. "Keep your eyes open. Use your lasers as much as you can, only use the missiles when you have a sure multi-target hit. What we have here is called a target-rich environment. Last time I checked Terrans are the best marksmen in the Galaxy. Don't miss!" The young blond dove his way into battle, with two following on his wing. Kai sweated under his helmet as the constantly firing lasers radiated heat into the capsule that was keeping him alive. Still, he'd rather be uncomfortable and seeing fewer lizards than dead and having more lizards.


The lizards themselves continued to fight at their previous level, though the destruction of a Terran ship had obviously bolstered them. They changed tactics, the Rex fighters being more daring, distracting the Terrans while the Scourge fighters hung back and took potshots at the Scimitars.

Siberia was unconvinced. "Don't get carried away with those little whelps," he told his team. "Aim for the Scourges; take the Rexes if you've got the shot, and try to conserve the missiles if you still have them." Several blips of acknowledgement, but it was one short. It would forever be one short as of today. "For Dmetri Putrechnya." "For Dmetri!" came the unanimous response.

The Scourge fighters withered under the fire, breaking and scattering to avoid being hit, although this just allowed them to be ganged up on The Rex fighters, angry to be ignored, began mimicking the Terran tactics, and trying to split up the wing pairs and destroy them. Mongolia's partner was the first one to be pounced at, as he was already alone. The Rexes did, however, have the advantage of a two to one ratio to the Terrans, that wasn't even counting the currently fleeing Scourge fighters.

"Two, on my wing as close as you can, whatever you do, stay there. Let's go and help out Slovakia!" The Alpha squadron pilot pressed forward on the controls, boosting his fighter to a high fraction of c to catch up with the red fighter, signaling him to join the two, at least for a moment. In the meantime, Kai and Alpha two tried their hardest to pry the nimble Rex fighters off the tail of their ally.

Slovakia was more than grateful to accept the help of the two pilots, and quickly fell into formation once the attackers had been shaken. The Reds continued to sweep through, giving chase to the Scourges when possible, and assaulting the Rexes when the former were out of reach. It was a constantly tug-of-war, and while the pilots could feel time wearing on them, they refused to surrender their family had been torn, and they were going to have vengeance.

Unfortunately, Vengeance and anger were not what the Reds needed in this situation. Outnumbered, what they needed was Skill and levelheadedness. While anger could be useful, it was starting to degrade their abilities a little bit, which became obvious as a couple Rex fighters coordinated with some Scourges, sneaking up behind the Terran fighters and getting Ruze's shields reduced to nothing in a single pass.

Kai, Alpha two, and Slovakia, being three, were faring much better than the pairs, as they had more people to watch one another's backs. "Red squadron, I suggest using a Delta formation, it seems to be working better!" Kai squawked to Red leader, snap rolling and flipping his fighter around to fire on a Rex to his rear while flying backwards.

Kai was right. "Switch it up, Red Squad!" was all Siberia said, and everyone reoriented themselves in a matter of seconds. "Now, time for a Red Squadron Special: Delta Shuffle, boys!" Again, they initiated the movement in mere seconds and fell into a very steady rhythm. Every 10-20 seconds, the lead man of each trio would drop back to be replaced by one of his teammates keeping the dynamics ever-changing and leaving the Drathonians at a loss as to just who was leading who. "Keep 'em bewildered, Reds. Don't show them anything."

It worked. Though it effectively split the amount of targets the fighters could take on, it made them that much easier to destroy. Here they were, thirteen fighters without support, and they had taken one hundred enemies down to less than thirty, in a matter of twenty minutes. With only three casualties, it was an amazing exercise of Terrans fighting ability. However, those losses were still losses, and it was becoming painfully obvious that the Scimitar fighters were not built for a prolonged fight. Wear and tear began to show on the Scimitars, The few with active Shielding active were having to use it creatively, and those without were having to juke and move the fighter in such a way that it was disorienting to the pilot. Only a couple had a useful amount of missiles left, and none of the larger missiles were attached to their hard points any longer. On top of that, the battlefield was strewn with wreckages and bits of metal that had to be accounted for and avoided. The clock was ticking for the Terrans, and it wouldn't be long until they ran out of time.

Siberia was very much aware of this, and spoke up on the broad channel. "We need a new plan of action. I'm open to suggestions from anyone." Silence emanated from the Reds who were still intent on the conflict at hand, and none had any brilliant ideas beyond, "Go home and get support," so none of them spoke up.

"Why don't we move closer to the Planetoid? Have us some cover?" Alpha two suggested, grunting a bit as he whipped his fighter sideways to fend off a scourge that was getting a bit Nippy. Kai whipped around likewise, finishing off the fighter for his wingmate. "I agree. We know we have an advantage over the Lizards because our computers can account for large objects such as that. Let's get a move on!" The Lieutenant turned his ship towards the planetoid, and the other two in his flight did likewise, punching their main engines to boost them towards the heavenly body at top speed.

Siberia thought it a great idea. "Go go go!" The remainder of Red Squadron followed Kai's lead, spiraling away from the Drathonians and toward the dwarfen rock. "Four through nine, punch it at full speed and use the planetoid's gravity to slingshot around and take out the immediate followers before coming back 'round. Give 'em something to think about while they make their advance don’t get cocky, just give 'em a taste of Terran firepower." Six blips confirmed the order, and did just as commanded. After Kai and his co-pilots, these six Reds were the first ones around the rocky sphere.

"Okay, Two, Slovakia, let's reverse thrust as soon as we're behind the planetoid and turn around to take potshots from behind the planetoid. We have a few seconds before they catch up, so make them count!" Kai called, passing the large rock and firing his nose thrusters, before spinning the Scimitar around and bumping it around to fire on the Enemies following him, while the six Reds made their way around the Planetoid.

Needless to say, the following fighters were caught off guard and easily broken up, resulting in a few kills and even more damaged fighters. They broke off their attack and regrouped, milling about while thinking up a plan amongst themselves to attack the Terrans.

As confirmed kills rolled in via rather non-descript blips, Siberia smiled. "Good work Reds! Beautiful! Regroup on the dark side and form up around the horizon. We'll help make those potshots. If we can keep them disorganized, we'll have this fight in no time." "Good, because I have a date when we get back," Ruze replied. "Another night out with the right hand?" jibed Slovakia as he moved into position "north" of Kai. "No sir: with a very lovely nurse. Beautiful brunette atop a sexy pair of legs-" That’s when the Corporal stepped in with, "Hey! No time for the sweet-talk, boys. Get your position and lay down the lasers." Everyone confirmed the order.

For once in the battle, it wasn't just pure stress. Kai laughed for a moment, before his sensors beeped a warning. There was a Warp signature approaching, immensely quickly. In fact, it was right on top of them before the Lieutenant could pinpoint its direction. Suddenly, The Hymn appeared behind the bunch of Drathonian fighters or... Was it the Hymn? There was something different about this ship, and then, as the Terra II class battlecruiser before them launched its fighters, the Terrans from Saratar were Hailed.

"This is Admiral Adamsk of the UTR Endeavour. We are on our Way to Saratar but noticed something strange on the scanners. It can be assumed that you needed assistance?" the man said, looking concerned. The image of his face displayed showed something odd. Kai could swear he recognized the vibrant blue eyes, the brown hair, and the facial features. And then it hit him. This was another man-made admiral.

Siberia, having not yet encountered Evelyn, was undisturbed by the man's face. "Well I'll be damned, it's the cavalry! Yes sir, support is grandly appreciated. Red Squadron, keep up the fire, the friendlies are here!" Slovakia and Poland gave loud woots of excitement. "Fuckin' right!" exclaimed Red Germany. "About damn time," muttered Uzbekistan "A shame you couldn't make it sooner, sir," Ruze added. "We just lost our freighter full of goodies about a half hour ago, and morale back on the Hymn isn't going to be much the better for its loss."

As a sudden swarm of several hundred fighters flew like bees from the Endeavour's hangars, the tiny group of Drathonian fighters quickly withered into nothing. "Just get us on board and take us to Saratar." Kai requested, staring straight into the Admiral's eyes, which seemed to stare directly back. "It will be done." he answered. "Admiral, I have another request... May I see you in person?" the blond Lieutenant asked, wanting to confirm his suspicions. Was command trying to replace the Terran soldiers with androids? "Of course. Once you are aboard, I will meet you in the hangar." the transmission ended, suddenly switching to the Endeavour's traffic control, guiding the thirteen beleaguered fighters to a place where they could rest.

"Beautiful. We're flying into safe arms, Red Squadron. Play it safe, skirt the combat, and let's park these sick puppies." They all did as asked and arrived safely in the hangar of the UTR Endeavour. Once in the hangar and the excitement of survival dwindled down to a simmering ember, Red Squadron all had a simultaneous realization: they'd come home one man short their expressions became sullen, and the squadron huddled up in a circle. They laced their arms around each other's shoulders and bowed their heads. Many closed their eyes as Siberia spoke. "We lost a brother in space today. Dmetri Petruchnya will be remembered and we will continue to fight in his honor." A series of 'Amens' were mumbled around the circle. Germany spoke next "Dmitri... He'll keep fighting. I'll put his emblem on my ship. His medals will be soldered to my hull, and I'll hang his patches in my cockpit. He may be down, but he isn't out." Ruze was next. "Let me paint the emblem: I'll put it on all our ships. Can't very well let you carry his ass around alone, can we?" He offered a weak smile and the other Reds reflected it. "Good," said Siberia, “But for now we rest."

The Endeavour's own fighters began to stream in as Kai and Alpha tow disembarked from their fighters. A UC-77 made its slow way out of the hangar, going to pick up the bits resulting from the battle. Kai shook his head after removing his helmet, long hair dripping sweat. The Terran felt uncomfortable from all the evaporating sweat as he watched Red squadron hold some small memorial for their fallen member. Kai thought of eleven and twelve, and how they had been lost as well. He hadn't known them, but their loss was still a blow for Terra, as was any loss of Terran life. Kai waited for the Admiral to make is way from the bridge, about three quarters of a mile away, through numerous levels. In a few moments, the UC-77 returned, in its bay the wreckage of two Terran fighters, one grey, one red. Mongolia's remains had been recovered, along with the remains of his fighter. A very miffed looking Terran waited in the crumpled cockpit of his fighter, impatient for someone to get him out, not realizing he was sitting next to what amounted as a casket.

Siberia made his way from the huddle toward Kai, smiling despite the dreary discussion he'd just held. He was a strong leader, stronger than even he knew. He offered his hand to shake. "It was pleasant flying with you, Lieutenant. I look forward to future missions with you." Dilshod and Karl (Red Germany) made their way over to Mongolia's ship. As they made their way over there, an irate engineer grabbed Germany by the sleeve to stop him, saying, "Hey! I gotta work here! You need to step off!" Ruze reacted faster than his friend, grabbing the engineer by the front of his overalls and pushing him against the red hull of Mongolia's ship. "You listen here, King Nimrod. This ship belongs to our brother, and his mangled corpse is in there. We, a mere fifteen men, just fought off fifty fucking lizards, and we're really tired. More importantly, we're not in the mood to deal with some asshole who thinks his job is more important than the proper care and remembrance of our friend. So, you can back off while we get what we came for. Got a problem with that?" Karl pulled Dil away from the engineer before anything could turn sour and in unison they vaulted onto the ship and reached into the cockpit to take what little remained. Whatever had struck the ship had cut clean through the cockpit and more obviously the pilot. What little remained of Dmetri was fragments and goop strewn across the floor of the interior. His jumpsuit had been torn to tatters, but conveniently for the Reds the upper half with nametag, patches, and all, was still in one piece. Germany collected it, while Ruze snatched the chrome-plated flask from the floor and tucked it away. They gave it a once over, then their eyes locked in silent understanding and agreement (the depth of which is difficult to describe). Finally, they made their way down, simultaneously glaring at the engineer. He tried to meet their stares with a tough guy look of his own, but failed miserably. Germany and Uzbekistan started laughing, slinging arms over each other's shoulders. "Let's get a drink," Karl suggested. "Sure, but a small one," Ruze replied. "I still have that date."

Kai shook hands with Red squadron's commander while he watched the two men go about the macabre task of collecting their fallen member's posessions. He winced a bit, wondering if he would have to do that some day, and hoping he never had to. "I've only seen one squadron fight anywhere near as well as you men do. I think Two and I owe our lives to you guys." Lieutenant Nakamura conceded. "I'm going to recommend you are assigned from Saratar to the Hymn, the Pride of Terran needs the best soldiers Terra has to offer." Suddenly, most of the Hangar hushed, as a Bosun's whistle was blown, signaling that the Admiral was on deck. Kai Nakamura shook Siberia's hand once more, thanking him before walking towards Adamsk. "So you are Lieutenant Nakamura, Commanding officer of Combat Infantry Unit Two Hundred Fifteen, of the Battle Hymn of the Republic." the blue-eyed 'man' said, holding out a hand for the lieutenant to shake. "It's a pleasure to meet you." he said, bowing slightly to the bewildered Marine.

Siberia smiled graciously and honestly. "Thank you. We'd gladly accept such a promotion." He noticed his squadmates and their business, but left them to it. The Admiral arrived shortly thereafter. All members of Red Squad moved to attention until told to do otherwise and then went about their business. Germany and Ruze made their way to the dining hall to have themselves a few drinks The majority of the squad went to the bunks to shower and sleep. Poland went to exercise, freshen up, and settle down with a book. Siberia hooked up with Germany and Uzbekistan in the cafeteria for the last two rounds of alcohol. Then Siberia went to bunks as well. Karl went on the prowl, searching for a lady of his own. Dilshod returned to the hangar to get to work on those new paint jobs.

Emma smiled at Arcadia as the two parted, and made her way to her fighter, which had, thankfully, been repaired and rearmed after the last battle. The brunette threw her helmet on, and started up her Scimitar, feeling the small craft come to life. "Green four, go." She called, waiting for the signal to launch. there appeared to be a couple more squadrons between them and launching, so the girl began prepping her fighter for fighting a large number of enemies as opposed to dogfighting.

The Sheer amount of Scourge and Rex starfighters flinging themselves at Saratar could only be matched by the number of Scimitars and Delta Daggers making their way out of the station. The capital ships were keeping each other busy a bit farther out, and neither side could get a hand over the other, like a giant game of tug-of-war. Suddenly, a strange looking ship, the Drathonian carrier that had ambushed Red squadron, showed up between the main battle and the station. It opened up its hangars, and out spewed hundreds and hundreds of fighters, to join in the battle.

“Welcome, ladies. Finish prepping your fighters, we are three squads back, so it will be another forty-five seconds or so until we launch,” Steven replied to his wingmen. His own preparations almost finished, he flicked the primer switch for the engines, and took a deep breath as he felt the engines rumbles to life. He felt as though his own fire had been ignited with the flick of the switch, as he recalled how only a few hours earlier he was only a stones throw away from death. Never had he been so frightened, and never had he looked so forward to flying again.
“Can't kill me that easily, you lizards. I have survived being outnumbered 20 to 1, I have survived being jetted into space, I have survived crash landings and firefights and bombs, and I have survived a deadly pathogen. You can't kill me, but I sure as Hell can kill you,” Steven mumbled to himself as he stared intently at the shortening line in front of him.

Meanwhile in the scimitar next to Steven's, Fred was finishing up as well. “It'll be good for the Captain to blow off some steam,” the Irishman thought to himself.

The line of scimitars had worked its way down and it was now Green Squadron's turn to launch. “This is Green Leader, everyone is accounted for. Take off on my mark,” Steven said as he flicked three switches that controlled flight sensors for the squad, each switch acknowledging with a soft whistling sound, “Green Squadron taking off.”
With that Steven pushed the ship's throttle to takeoff speed, and his scimitar rushed forward across the deck of the cavernous hangar of the station and out into space with the rest of his squadron in tow.
Once outside, Steven looked with awe at the size of the attacking fleet. “Who's hungry? Because there is plenty to go around. Everyone break into pairs and follow on my six. Engage enemies on my mark,” Steven said as he got back into the swing of things. Ahead, he could see the swarm a enemy fighters mixing with the cloud of friendlies, he found a good entry point to begin fighting and directed his scimitar in its direction; his squadron followed suit. As Green Squadron got closer a group of scourges broke off and moved to intercept them.
“They may just be scourges, but don't let your guard down,” Steven said to his squad, and then counted down from ten. “Okay, break off and engage the enemies. Don't forget to watch each others' backs, alright?”

Cibo's booted feet were propped up onto the table as she hummed and sang a little song to herself; it was strange and alluring, a dead language really. Both Dart and Killy were in the cells now, and Marcus was fuming over his PDA. Apparently, the station shaking once in a while concerned him. Cibo gave him a little prod. "You know, if this place does blow up in some epic explosion, you won't even find out."
"Yeah? Well, at least I even give a damn about my life. Unlike you. And when are you going to start questioning Dart?" he asked. She fumed a little at his statement and then some. 'I'll get some payback later.' Cibo thought. She then licked her lips.
"Well, see those knives over there?"
"Oh, here we go again." Marcus moaned. Flashes of being confined, helpless and awaiting his fate returned to mind.
"When they turn me on, I'll get started. Otherwise, I'll wait a bit more." she gave a glance over to the Moonie known as Dart. Ironically, he sat in the very same cell Killy and herself had been confined to earlier. The dead Moonie from before hadn't been moved yet either, and with all the commotion going on outside, who had the time to anyways? Marcus had a fairly good front row seat when the other Moonie was mutilated; he was still curious though. His footsteps were quiet as he navigated the bloody gratings around the body, exchanging a brief glance between one red lizard, and the other.
"I still can't believe he was even able to do this. I was starting to think he was a rather nice guy, Intel on the Perrenian Campaign aside of course."
"It's the nice one's you gotta watch out for you know." she chided alluringly. Marcus gave a small shrugging shiver at the thought; he knew well from experience. The scars he had from her proved it. He tried to deny the severity of her hate and it's grim implications by focusing on the corpse at his feet.
"So. He grabbed it and tore the arm open with his teeth. And then headbutted the bone?"
"Pretty much; I"m guessing he's got a heavy head. That broke it. And then Killy used the severed arm and broken bone to go all stab happy on the Moonie's face." Marcus' face screwed up in disgust.
"I thought that was your job?" he spoke through gritted teeth.
"Yeah. But I guess others enjoy it from time to time. I heard from my PDA that a pilot, a rather Dashing Captain, did the same to another one in the med bay. Can't wait to meet him." Cibo spoke cheerfully. The words stung him like a sadistic wasp, and Marcus turned his face away from her. He swiftly crossed himself despite knowing full well that god did not give a shit about anyone, further knowing that God most likely enjoyed watching the sadistic proceedings. Most people probably didn't understand the implications of an omniscient being anyways. Too bad Marcus did. Killy gave a wheezing cough.

The three moonies looked at each other as they hovered around the ventilation duct's grate. Dart had given himself up, but the Terrans had not acted accordingly. This was an insult that the newly budding Free State could not ignore. So they had been sent out. The three moonies – one brown, one dark green and the last black – all wore the same stealth suits as Dart; they were part of an elite few, feared by all other moonies and regarded as insane.
They all heard their prey's footsteps stop and then nodding to each other lifted the grate and jumped.


Adrian stopped at the intersection of three corridors, quite lost, he regretted not following the crazed Captain as he had run off. He was placing his duffel on the floor when he heard quiet footsteps followed by the crackle of electricity.
He tried to turn, but three sharp prods to his back followed by electrical discharges brought him to his knees. The black wave of unconsciousness quickly followed.

Adrian's vision was swimming as he woke, a small booted foot kicked him in the small of his back and propelled him forward. As he pushed himself up he saw he was in a small dark room, lit by battered emergency field lamps. All along the walls to either side of him was a line of red-skinned moonies wearing red sweaters or canvas coats.
Directly in front of him was an older moonie, much older. His scales lacked all luster and cracks ran through a few of the dull grey plates. Much more noticeable was the blackened stump where the moonies left shoulder should of started. The old creature stared at Adrian, letting the man appraise him, before offering a disturbingly human smile.
The moonie stood, his nakedness now very evident as his scaled body was fully revealed, gesturing to the moonies around him. “Weclome to the Grand Hall of the Moonie Free State human.” He stated, his voice gravelly and low. “I hope you don't mind the rudeness of my invintation.” The grey moonie said, then Adrian heard movement behind him and three black suited moonies ghosted forward to stand next to their apparent leader. “But, your people have killed quite a few of mine -” The lines of lizards began stir and hiss, but a quick chop of his hand sent them all into still silence. “And you have our most important member.”
Adrian's face was plastered with an extremely confused expression and then the old spy lifted the sniper's data pad. “One last chance at peace. We will have Dart back or this state will go to war,” The moonie paused for a second letting the words sink in before continuing, “And your head will become our first Standard.”


The first thing Dart could hear was bickering. Humans did that constantly, and became quite annoying when you were used to the rigid (and respectful) hierarchy of fear that existed among the moonies. Coming to alertness quickly, he glanced around the now familiar goal. The girl and that wretched man-slave of hers currently occupied their time with the aforementioned bickering and the crazed bird-beast of an alien was in the cell next to him.
All-in-all things could be better. But, his suit was still on and they would probably feed him soon – his train of thought was broken off as the station violently vibrated. Yes, there was the matter of the Drathonian fleet to attend to, he remembered pointedly. Looking to get the humans back on a more productive path he decided to ask them some questions. Taking a deep breath he collecting his thoughts before speaking.
“How's the weather?” He asked eagerly.
As soon as the words left his mouth he realized they weren't really what he had intended to say, so he tried again. “What I really wanted to ask was; how soon intill the Drathonian Fleet blast us all into smithereens?"
Dart sighed, that one would have to do.

Siberia couldn't sleep. He had crawled out of his bunk and strolled slowly to the cafeteria, thinking deeply as he walked. Now sitting alone at one of the corner tables the Corporal kept recalling the times from when the Squadron was whole. The times before Mongolia's death, he thought grimly. Draining the last of the acrid tasting tea in his mug; the slight fog from the drinks he had with Ruze and Germany clearing as he swallowed the last of the steaming drink.
Feeling refreshed Jan stood, looking around at the shining walls of the newly issued ship he thought of the battle the Endeavour would soon be entering. Siberia shook his head as he came to his decision, grabbing a handful of mugs he poured some more of the thick tea before pulling out his data pad and opened a com channel.
“This is Red Leader, all Squadron members report to the mess. Today's not over yet boys, sleep can wait.”

–
Ukraine woke as he heard his data pad chirp and the Corporal's voice called out over the Squad's channel. Springing out of bed he snatched up the pad and sent his confirmation. “Eremenko here, Siberia, coming as soon as my boots are on.”
The pilot could heart he rest of the men call in as he pulled on his boots and grabbed his flak jacket, shrugging it on as he walked out of the barracks. Jogging to the mess, Ukraine found Jan standing in front of a table set with mugs for each pilot, steam drifting off the surface of the dark liquid inside. Motioning towards one of the mugs Siberia said, “Down one quickly, it'll get your wits sharp enough to go out again.”
Understanding immediately he bolted down the drink, blanching at the horrible taste as he set the empty mug back on the table. The others, all except for Ruze, soon showed up and Siberia repeated the same instructions. The Corporal waiting for a few more minutes before speaking again. ”Someone com Ruze, find out where he is and tell him what I'm about to tell you.” Siberia looked around at the foreign, yet familiar walls of the Endeavour.
“I know we just got in, but this ship is heading to a bigger battle than the one we lost Mongolia in. I want you all ready to move when the call comes.” Siberia looked each man in the eyes before continuing."Alright, stay awake. Squadron dismissed 'till the trumpet sounds." Nodding curtly the Corporal walked out of the mess.

–
Adrian watched as the old moonie barked out his orders. He was yelling for the red-clad moonies to open a station wide com-link for him. The whole room had become a flurry of activity. That is with the exception of the area around the three elites guarding him, any moonie that neared would squeal and then scurry off; many almost falling as they tried to get away from the black suited spies.
Finally one of the teams of spies yelled to their leader that the link was open and he could begin his announcement. Lurching forward with surprising speed the old moonie grabbed the mic firmly in his only hand.
He coughed twice, clearing his throat, and then began. “I, the leader of the Moonie Free State of Saratar Station, deliver this message to all Terrans within our – shared – realm. We found a Terran Marine trespassing in an area clearly under our jurisdiction. He has been detained and will face full justice if the Operative of the name of Dart Adderman is not returned to our custody immediately. We would like to stress that according to our shared code of conduct you have unlawfully imprisoned Dart and that if you have any wish to keep your claim over Saratar legitimate you will return him. Furthermore, our Free State will honour the old pledges and deploy all of our Fighter Squadrons in support of the embattled Terran forces. Our pilots have sworn complete and utter cooperation if the State's terms are agreed to.” The old lizard paused, getting his breathe back after his speech. ”Our forces eagerly await your response.”

Cibo's back was turned to Dart when he asked about the weather. She was so...enthralled by the thought of weather that she didn't even notice the other thing he asked about. The intelligence officer slowly turned around, and revealed her face to Dart. Here eyes were wide open and perturbed, a massive, toothy smile on her face. "Oh? Weather? It's very nice weather out there deary." she sang sweetly. "The forecast for today is a nice rain of plasma fire, along with some clouds of red and silver derbies from all the fighters blowing up like popcorn." Cibo picked up a monomolecular edged scalpel from the table, and started to twirl it like a leek. "A few larger clouds of red and silver rest on the horizon, but will most likely break soon. And did I mention you killed mommy?" The intelligence officer slowly stepped towards Dart, twirling scalpel in one hand, EV-47 on stun in the other. "Mommy screamed reeaaaaallll good before she died!" she squealed in delight "And to imagine we even invited you over for dinner once! This will be simple. Tell me where the others are, and I'll only remove your lungs. It will be a quick death." A loud smack echoed. Cibo's cheek had a red hand print on it. She stared at him in surprise. Next, Marcus fell to the floor clutching himself between the legs.
"You can't kill him like that! We're better than this!" Marcus choked out.
"Lll...lissssten. To him...." Killy hissed and wheezed from the floor. He had dragged himself off the cot and to the bars of the cell. "Duh. Don't."
"Oh?" she asked sarcastically. "And why not? Especially if I get some good information from him before he dies? Besides, you're the one that practically took them apart with your bare hands. Who are you. To tell ME. What to do?"
"Becaussse, Cibo. You will regret it."
"Oh? And do you regret having all that fun? Huh? The feel of warm blood blossoming over you? That feeling of life fleeing from their bodies?" Killy, his armor scorched and dented from the earlier encounter, propped himself up with an arm, and seemed to open his mouth to speak from behind his helmet. And right then, the announcement came through.
"What. The F*ck." Marcus lamented. 'And I almost had her cross the line too.'

Throughout Cibo's whole tirade Dart's head was cocked slightly to the side, his mind still jumbled from being knocked out struggled to follow her train of thought. The spy's eye's widened and a hiss of genuine surprise slithered from between his teeth when Marcus slapped the girl. Then as she finished he slowly nodded his head.
“I accept that I owe a certain amount of responsibility towards you due to our past connections.” The black clad spy spoke slowly, feeling that he didn't really understand the situation. He had done his job, nothing more nothing less, surely another intelligence officer understood that? Then, looking towards Marcus he saw something he did understand, a snarl lit up on his face and he walk as close to the man as he could get. “You, you I owe nothing.” Dart's voice was cold and backed with steel. “The business between me and the girl is solely our own; so either be a gentleman and stay out or get thrown out like the ruffian you are.”
Then, the announcement sounded over the speakers in the brig. Dart floored by the openness of the offer felt as if his legs had been kicked out from under him and fell into a sitting position on the ground. Then he began to titter, which soon developed into a full-blown belowing mockery of human laughter. Inhaling deeply a smile spread over Dart's face. ”Well, girl it looks like that your scalpel isn't necessary now.” Chuckling again Dart shook his head, then muttered to himself, “One-arm you great and crazy old lizard; that's the best thing I've heard you announce in a long time.”

"I? I am no ruffian." Marcus replied with a bold voice, his back straightening up with vigor. It pretty much sounded like something one would expect to hear from a hero of the republic. Except he was no hero; any idiot who could read his thoughts would immediately know. 'Damn this...One-arm. She almost went ahead and tried to...no. Be patient. I'm sure there's a way.' Cibo looked between the speakers, the razor edge of the scalpel and Dart. By now, she merely looked...tired.
"Yeah. Yeah. Just between us. Stay out of this." she spoke, her voice slightly dry.
"Cibo! In the name of the Republic, stop what you're doing!" We will await further orders, and when the time comes, we... She cut him off.
"Is that an order?" Marcus merely stared back at her, but gave no answer. "Good." She stepped towards Dart again, and raised her gun.

Yotruyan was desperate to stop the black and silver haired Terran. She was going to make a mistake even bigger than the ones he made moments ago; he watched as the industrial looking weapon in her hand was raised again at the red little gremlin. Her finger gently stroked the trigger...Ploop. A loaf of bread Yotruyan squirreled away landed at Cibo's feet; it was silly, yes, but she could already tell he tried to knock the pistol from her hand. With a loaf of bread. She turned towards him.
"Oh? Is this little lizard trying to help his buddy?"
"Don't Cibo. It. Is wrong." he laboriously spoke, finally stamping out the extra 's' in his speech. She walked over to him, swaying her hips just a bit; it would have had a better psychological impact on a Terran, but the Ottyo mistook it for her relaxing a little. So it hurt him even more so when she reached down and threw his head against the bars.
"And why do you get all the fun, huh?"
"The...the Admiral disapproves. Of these actions."

She knew right away who he was talking about. Her mind recalled several things regarding Evelyn. The expression on the Gynoid's face when she tried the Kombu Cibo gave her. The jealousy she had for the Admiral. But then, the insightful remarks Evelyn sometimes made always kept her edge sharp. The occasional laugh. Almost like...It was into this mixed bag of emotions that Killy spoke.
"Are the hearts within your. Your chest so small Cibo? At the least..." Killy stopped as he realized the scalpel had pierced his hand, pinning his hand to the floor. Apparently, all Cibo could hear was the word 'small' and 'chest' when he spoke. She throttled him.
"DID YOU JUST SAY I'M SMALL?!" she yelled.
"Buhh, but..."
"Shit! Now I've seen everything! A perv lizard!"

'Well, that's it. She's not going anywhere near that thought again. I guess I can't push her over this time. I'll have to wait for another opportunity to ruin her. Later.'

Once they were in space, Arcadia was in mental combat mode. "Emma, take point." It seemed that was the safest setup between them: with her in the lead, Langdon didn't have to worry about her wingman going off on her own. What's more, it seemed Emma was perfectly comfortable with leading.

"Sir. Four, be sure to watch for friendlies; it's about to get hectic out here." Of course the ships could calculate for such occurrences, but the Pilot could think of nothing better to say at that moment.

"No need, sir," said Ruze as he swooped down upon a seat at the table and began gulping down the tea. "Where are we going to ship out to, sir?" Up to this point, Dilshod was unaware of any combat situation that required their presence. As it stood, the Terrans were doing just fine. Then again, a little insurance never hurt anyone.

Siberia had left the room already, Ruze's question gone unheard. Ukraine walked over and sat down next to the late-comer. “Talk is flying about that a bigger force has gotten a bit rough with the Saratar boys.” He rapped his knuckles on the table in front of him. “Apparently this old girl, the Endeavour I think was her name, is doing a little search mission before heading off to that wondrous firefight.” Eremenko fished his goggles from his kit and situated them on his forehead. Then, he leaned back in his chair and looked at his fellow pilot. “It will be good to send some fun and blood Mongolia's way again, won't it?”

Dart made a mental note to never say the words “small” and “chest” around any Terran woman; ever. He sighed, a depressing little, quiet sound after the explosiveness of the girl's actions. He was not sure what to do with his fellow prisoner, though he doubt the alien would appreciate that train of thought, and anything involving Cibo would become very awkward. But, captivity was always boring and his slightly boggled mind needed an outlet for entertainment right now.
Looking at Marcus again and thinking of his haughty denial to the being called a “ruffian” Dart grinned. The spy slowly got to his feet and made a show of brushing off his immaculately clean suit. Then, looking up he stared straight at Marcus, the spy's face was somber and he seemed to have an air of seriousness about him. “Ruffian?” He paused slightly, as if reconsidering his earlier statement. “Yes, I do believe your right. No, ruffians can at least be useful at times. Your not though, your just a wretch.”

After a few moments, a Male voice responded to the Moonie Free state, oddly enough only heard in the compartments which had been discovered as being occupied by them (including the origin of the transmission, and several nearby compartments that had yet to be explored by the Terrans in more than a cursory comb-over.)

"Hello Moonie free state. We are willing to think over your offer, but, for the moment, do not have the time, as there is a battle. In Lieu of simply killing you, we are now venting Sleeping Gas into your compartments. In about two hours, you shall all wake up, and, depending on the outcome of the battle, either be waking up in whatever place Moonies go after death, or waking up to a Negotiation party." The voice paused for a moment as most of the moonies began to show signs of sleepiness. "As for now, We cannot afford to worry about you and are doing the next best thing, I do believe we are sorry for the fatalities, but you killed a few of our own in the battle, and due justice must be at hand. Thank you."Within moments, nearly every moonie in that entire sector was calmly dozing, with the exception of the Elites. Adrain would be confused as he watched almost everyone around him fall asleep, but the only effect for him was the smell of sunflower seeds.

******

"Yes Ma'am!" Emma squeaked enthusiastically, pulling her Scimitar ahead, the comparatively fragile Ultralight fighter chomping at the bit to get ahead and get closer to the rapidly growing battle. She had the computer begin to pick out likely targets for her and calibrate itself to fly with the young girl's movements and instincts so she could pilot the craft almost as if it were an extension of herself.

******

"Yes. I am what you believe I am, and so is your Admiral. You should know that this information is somewhat restricted, and that it could mean the war for the Terrans. But, I believe your concerns may be founded." Adamsk said to Kai, pacing the meeting room the two were in.

"So, the rumors of the real reason behind the ASIAN Program..?"

"All true. Well, mostly true. there are some that will probably not happen, at least not in the way most people believe. Still, there are things more Secret that the truth of the Program that created Evelyn and I."

"I see. And you? You are sentient, like the rest of us, no? What is YOUR thoughts on all of this?"

"I am what I am. I have been given life, but who truly gave it to me is something I was left to ponder. Was it myself? the Scientists? something else? Who knows? I certainly have not been alive long enough to know."

Kai Nakamura nodded, taking a moment to think, to ponder this news. What have the Terrans done? What would be the result of this science experiment? Kai hoped he would not live to see the end of this, if his fears were true. "So. Given all this, you still have your own volition?"

"Not completely. I am a good Soldier, I follow orders, even if I have the authority to make my own. We will be going, wether or not I find it a good Idea. I suggest you go back and help prepare your fighter. Endeavour will not be staying long enough for you to dawdle."

The Lieutenant stood up, saluting the Admiral, Captain of the UTR Endeavour, the Second Terra class ship, Newest battlecruiser in the Terran armada. The Blond man walked off, making his way back to the Hangar to meet with Red squadron. The UTR Endeavour began moving, getting ready to go faster than the speed of light, an almost familiar hum that was distinctly different from its sister ship, The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The elites looked to each other as all around them moonies fell to the floor. The bronze-scaled spy quickly nodded to his fellows and ran to pick up One-arm. The other two knocked out the Terran sniper and held him between them. As the bronze moonie slung the old spy over his shoulder he pulled out his data pad and quickly tapped out a message.
The MFS finds these terms unfavourable. We, the Elites under command of Operative Adderman, regret having to intercede for the State's Commander, but as he is indisposed we are duty-bound to make this report. Your Marine will stay in our possession until the battle has ended. Moonie Free State forces will launch three squadrons of Delta Daggers under our personal command and we will end this battle. Your cooperation is not requested, we greatly anticipate your proposed meeting.
Sending the message to the Saratar Command center the Elite followed his brothers out of the room and began to call for the Squadrons to change from stand-by to active. They would partake in the battle no matter what happened.

Siberia met Kai along his way to the hangar. Nodding to the man, he pulled out his data pad and commed Red Squadron. “Times up, get down to the hangar men.” Then, tucking the pad back into his kit he looked to Kai. “Any additional orders, Sir?” The pilot asked.

Ruze's pleasant expression evaporated and in its stead a much more solemn demeanor was presented. He nodded grimly as he rose from his seat and prepared himself to share the hatred that was currently simmering within him. "Definitely, Ukraine. Definitely." He walked beside his squadmate briskly, ready now more than any time before to get in the cockpit and do some damage.

"Hmm. Very well; that shall be the final straw. For an inbred Moonie, you certainly have quite a mouth." Marcus responded. "Then again, it could be a bit of insanity resulting from your mother mating with her brother." the Intelligence Officer went on. He practically ignored Cibo and her torrent of anger towards the Ottyo alien. He swiftly reached for a small tool box used to maintain Terran fire arms, selecting a few choice bits he remembered Cibo using from...last time. He visibly shuddered and closed his eyes. Marcus then smiled brightly. "Cibo?" he sweetly called. "Redirect your anger to Dart please. That's an order."

She quickly withdrew the scalpel from Killy's hand, turning towards Marcus with an almost bestial look of suspicion and defiance. 'Thank goodness that surveillance is disabled' she thought. 'We can just blame that bit on the Moonies after all.' She caught the tools as Marcus tossed them her way, and quickly took it apart, reconfiguring it with swift ease. Cibo made sure to keep Dart from seeing what she did, although Killy and Marcus would still be in it's sight. 'Well, I may hate the bastard, but at least we still can make em scream together' As she configured the power output of the stun, the enigmatic one cut in from his place on the floor.
"Cibo. Turn this up a little, right here. You will need more power than normal to elicit the proper response. His suit will likely protect him, and there is always a chance that drugs are in his system." Cibo tried to hid her abhorrence, but couldn't hold it back, instead, venting it out with a lifted eyebrow.
"And how do you know all this about my gun?"
"Certain aspects of your technology. Are child's play. Especially in the face of...Them."

Marcus noted this new bit of information in his mind, and suddenly remembered how she shot him, over and over again, with a 47 similarly configured. He recalled how literally ever nerve in his body, minus the brain stuff of course, felt unimaginable pain; turning the power down on stun mode tended to do that, instead of giving out the normal seizures and unconsciousness. 'Oh god. How I would have loved to never wake up again while she did that to me!' Cibo had finished configuring the stun mode of the EV-47 now, and stood before Dart's cell. She test fired at his feet, and satisfied it wasn't going to knock him out, or kill him, which was less of a concern, she smiled. "Sir, shall I get started?" she sounded like a nurse about to administer a 'pleasant' treatment to a patient.
"With all due haste private." Cibo lit up Dart like a Christmas tree, careful not to knock him out. As soon as the 'Pshoow!' noises stopped, she leaned forward, still well out of harms way, but close enough to be very threatening. "So. Where are they?" Marcus asked. Cibo raised the pistol again, and shot Dart once more.

Dart screamed. The EV-47 wracking his body with pain. Soon the pain intensified as the nodes on his body heated and burned the flesh around them. Then he heard two sharp, distinctive clicks; all the pain in his body disappeared and he went limp.
The spy lifted himself from the ground, a shambling motion filled with sharp jerks and odd pauses. When the moonie looked up at the two terrans, blood was seeping from his mouth where he had bitten himself from the pain. Dart looked past Cibo, staring directly at Marcus.
The little spy shuffled forward; muttering, his words slurred and staggered. “Your just like them. A decree I said, we should have had a decree.” The moonie's voice was tinged with madness and his eyes unfocused. “But they gave the orders, always just orders.” Then, moving forward again, staring at Marcus and nothing else. Dart snarled, his voice filled with venom. “Just like you. They never did their own work; ruined others with a scrap of paper or a few words.”
Then, the spies eyes cleared, and he made the first fluid movement since Cibo had begun to shoot him. Drawing a thin knife hidden in the arm of his suit Dart threw the blade, stumbling at the last moment. The blade slammed into Marcus's shoulder as the moonie collasped to the floor, unconscious.

"Well, that didn't get us anywhere." Cibo remarked calmly. She then suddenly started kicking away at Dart's cell with a furious cry. She stepped back, leaped from one foot to the other while fanning her face with both hands. "I'm ok, I'm ok." she muttered through her teeth. Killy looked at her through his helmet in concern, his helmet feathers fanning out in yet another pattern.
"Cibo. Should you be worrying about your...strange superior?"
"Oh. I forgot." she replied honestly. "Thanks."

Yotruyan sighed in relief and slight surprise at Cibo's sudden civility. Marcus was sucking in air through clenched teeth, but had already drawn the knife out and begun to treat himself properly with the first aid kit nearby. 'It seems the Terrans have everything you need at hand here' the Inquisitor thought. He watched as the violent, but likable, illogical as it seemed, female hover over the male. He cleaned the wound out, stopped the bleeding and wrapped it up. She bent over him as he lay on the floor, eyes closed from exhaustion and shock. "Moshi Moshi?" the female asked in another dialect. Cibo bent over him and put a finger forward.
"Whuh? AHHH!"
"Poke." she innocently intoned.

'No. I am not like the Drathonians at all.' Marcus thought. 'I do my own work, yes, but I also COMMAND others as I see fit! My blood is pure!' he snarled within his pained mind. 'I should get respect! I suppose I will have to...make you regret this too..' He went on, 'Cibo will have to wait, she'll be around for quite some time. And when it's her turn I'm going to have her stick that knife of hers into her...' He heard something. "Whuh? AHHH!" Marcus screamed in agony; his train of thought derailed, crashed, and burned with spectacular fireworks.

Yotruyan 'Killy' Cliriki was amused.

wo messages made their way out from Saratar Command, routed directly to datapads of specific people on the station. The first, went to one Garrett Hendlow.

[quote]Lieutenant Hendlow, Please form a team of Marines to accompany a party to speak with this supposed 'Moonie free state'. Assemble in Sector A-8, where you shall be equipped for security and meet up with the Negotiation party. you will recieve further orders from there.[/quote]

The Second went to Marcus Wrightman:

[quote]Please treat our prisoners with utmost care and respect. One is a representative from a non-enemy race, and the other is part of a currently contested group. Make sure they have no injuries and are treated well, including giving them food if they request it. In the event that Saratar is boarded, the Ottyo may be released under the care of a squad of marines to help, but, beyond that, keep them locked up.[/quote]

Kai looked to the two Red Squadron pilots, as they asked him for any extra instructions. "Reload your fighters, get ready for a big battle. something tells me that what we just went through was nothing compared to what Saratar is probably getting right now." Kai made his way to his fighter, seeing that Alpha two had already gotten to reloading the munitions on his fighter.

The Lieutenant looked around the large hangar bay of the ship; it felt larger than the Battle Hymn's, but he knew that next time he was inside the Hymn's it would be the same as this. Kai's eyes went past a couple of Hex class corvettes and Glaive class corvettes embarked in the cavern that was the Terra II's hangar. a Number of shuttles were staging near the far hangar door, probably with some kind of shipment to Saratar, judging by the large amount of crates they were loading into the Caballeros.

Nearer, however, next to a couple squadron of Shamshirs, was a squadron of Eleven green scimitars, and one larger starfighter, also clad in green. It seemed more armored than a Scimitar, and was more than twice the size of one. a tall Blond woman was inspecting it as the Lieutenant was inspecting his fighter.

Kai dropped the empty Min-missile pods from his wings onto a useful cart that had been placed next to his fighter as he winced at a couple of technicians fussing his shields and attaching large caliber cannons to the outer wing hardpoints, top and bottom, giving him a total of four of the things. Kai wheeled the empty missile pods to the ammo depot, exchanging them for four full ones, two for the top and two for the bottom of his wings.

Turning to pull his laden cart back to his fighter, Kai came face to face with the tall Blonde pilot. "Umm, Hi? I'm Lieutennant Kai Nakamura of the UTR Battle Hymn of the Republic. I was wondering what exactly that craft you were inspecting is?" Kai asked the surprised girl.
"Oh.. Umm, I'm Captain Rhiannon Bell. That ship doen't have a name yet, but it's a new fighter i've been testing around Altres, and they decided to put me on this ship to fly it into real combat. I can't tell you any more than that though, Sir. It's currently classified beyond what i've said" she answered, saluting her superior quickly.
"Thank you." Kai answered, returning the salute and watching as the Captain made her way to requisition some armaments for the fighter she had. She was wondering just what a Lieutenant was doing getting his own armaments, especially one from the fabled Battle Hymn.

"Arcadia, are you ready?" Emma piped up a few seconds later, her eyes on her sensors. "The first wave is alost within firing range. It's Scourges, so we might as well begin firing from max range." she suggested, calibrating the Heavy laser cannons for long-range fire, so they could hopefully thin out, our at least weken the shields of, the swarm of approaching Drathonian fighters.

As the squadron fanned out, Steven set to work trying to read the battlefield and determine which strategy would get everyone back in one piece, but was finding it marginally harder than usual to concentrate. The battlefield still looked like a massive chessboard, but he was having trouble focusing on the bigger picture of it all. He was momentarily startled when a voice came over his personal comm, it was Fred.
“You gonna be alright there, Captain? I mean you just recently recovered, right? Maybe you should take some R&R,” Fred said.
“And leave you in charge? I'd be to worried to rest properly. Besides it is to late now,” Steven replied.
“Ignoring the first part. I'm just saying, when we get back you should think about taking some time off to collect yourself. Know what I mean?” Fred said in response.
“We'll see, but for now let's focus on the matter at hand,” Steven concluded.
As Steven refocused his attention on what was in front of him, he was annoyed with how close Green Squadron had gotten to the enemy formation already and he still needed a strategy.
Damn it! If only I could think like my father or grandfather, they were both famous tacticians. C'mon think, Steven! What would they do? he thought furiously to himself, but as the enemy ships drew closer still, and their sheer volume became apparent, Steven still had little to show. He would have to improvise a strategy, which he hated doing because it was a foolish thing to do and it usually got at least one person killed.
“Fred, move to my six. I am going to open fire on approach, as we make the first pass you immediately break off and pursue the targeted scourge. I will then loop around and intercept its path. Affirmative?” Steven said, trying to sound confident.
“Understood, Sir,” Fred replied with complete faith in his CO.
The nearest scourge was within a few hundred meters from Green Lead's scimitar and the enemy formation opened fire. Steven held the trigger until his targeting computer beeped a confirmed lock on and then opened fire as well. Both sides held sustained fire as they continued to approach, and both sides were peppered with shots. The formations met and passed through each other, and, just as planned, Fred broke off from Steven's six and began pursuing a predetermined scourge. Like a predator chasing its prey, Fred pushed it along a predictable course, all the while Steven had gone the other direction and flanked the scourge's path. The combined fire of the two scimitars ate away at the enemy's shields, the shields failed, and the cockpit was breached resulting in a brilliant explosion of light.
Green Squadron: One
The Losers: Zero
Steven allowed himself a small smirk.

Cibo finished checking over Dart, again, for any knives, shivs or other on his scaly body and suit. Meanwhile, Killy was sitting languidly outside the cell and keeping watch with her pistol on stun. The female intelligence officer then gave the little thing a shot to help him recuperate from all the shooting she did. The door locked behind her, and she took Killy's seat from him, at which he sat by her. "So, what are you going to do now Marcus?"
"Ha. Like you give a damn."
"Of course I give a damn, but not in the normal way. So you gave the order. So I overdid the order. And so he threw a knife at you. At which you could say he threw it first, and then you ordered me to shoot, at which I did. Right Killy?" The Ottyo looked up from the crackers he was eating and finished the last one.
"Of course." he replied.
"And why the hell are you trying to save my hide?"
"Debts got to be repaid Dear." Marcus gritted his teeth. The Ottyo wasn't even paying attention; Killy was now trying to figure out how to drink a carton of juice, and instead of using the straw, decided to bite the thing, and drained it. He muttered under his breath.
"No cobalt."

Things were not looking good. His body was perfectly intact, yes, but some certain things were missing. Yotruyan's suit was able to force a usage of iron in his blood, but he could literally feel himself slowly coming apart, his reactions slow, so on and so forth. And then there was something else. 'I almost attacked Cibo.' Usually, Yotruyan would be set straight immediately by a few words, fight drug in his system or not. So why not this time? And speaking of time, would he have any left for himself after what he would give to the Shipmistress? 'Perhaps I should tell her...'

Blue squadron flew in formation out of Saratar, the pilots gazing out of their cockpits upon the ongoing battle, two large groups of capital ships slugging it out as clouds and clouds of tiny fighters made their way towards each other in the middle. Saratar had launched 1,000 squadrons, or 12,000 fighters, and the attackers had launched at least as many, probably more. Blue Squadron's flight of brand-new Scimitar B's made their way on a higher plane than most of the other Terrans, Blue lead hoping to get a drop on their enemies, but several Drathonian squadrons, one of Rexes and at least two of Scourges, had spotted the cerulean fighters and began to make a mad dash 'up' at them. Sensors indicated ten seconds to firing range.

A calm, slightly French accented voice cracked over the comms as Blue 3, Javier Esteban Feyete, signaled to his wingman Blue 4 that they were going into an inverted dive, hoping to open fire on the draths before they could. Javier calmly rolled his Scimmy upside down, then pulled on the stick as his fighter changed direction to point at the oncoming rexes."Blue 4, switch to missiles, and fire as soon as you get a lock." The blonds’ accented voice rolled over the radio as he armed the fighter's missiles. The Battle is joined, foul lizards! Feel the wrath of the Feyete family.

Almost immediately, the Missiles gained a lock, and sensors showed that it was almost no time till lasers were effective, as well. The missiles blasted off from the pair of Scimitars, snaking their way towards the Rex fighters whom, noting them, tried to juke and dodge out of the way, one succeeded, but the other wasn't quite fast enough, taking a direct hit from below, knocking its shields out and causing the fighter to begin flying defensively at a distance of about 500 KM, while the other rex in the pair made its way closer to blue three and four, the other ten fighters from this squadron being engaged with the rest of blue squadron. The Scourge fighters, considerably slower, continued to advance almost haphazardly, relying on their heavy shielding to bring them within range. Oddly enough, the sensor registered incoming, as a hail of slugs the scourges had thrown long ago began pinging off the shields of Javier's fighter.

"Attacking me? With such sluggish fighters? How distasteful." Javier muttered to himself as he juked and dodged, trying to get on the tail of the Rex, waiting until he had the best possible angle before pulling the trigger to fire a burst of deadly focused light from the fighter's heavy lasers. "Such boring run of the mill pilots, do the Drathonians have no skilled pilots amongst them?" The noble blooded Terran did his best to stay on the Rex's tail, peppering it with bursts from his lasers until he either got a lucky hit on the cockpit, or it exploded.

The Rex was much quicker than Javier expected, and continued to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge every last blast from Javier's heavy lasers until finally figuring he wasn't going to get the scimitar off his tail, and spinning around, facing the Terran fighter and starting to fire rapidly with its lasers, and then with its Ion cannons, which raked Javier's shields in a flash of what looked like lightening, bringing down the invisible barrier between the Terran fighter and everything that wanted to kill it. The other fighter had by now made its way behind blue four, and the same process happened there, except in reverse, and the dance had begun.

Javier now had the rex right where he wanted it, as his fighter strafed downwards, dodging out of the way of impending doom while keeping its nose pointed at the rex, and more importantly the rex's underbelly, as he fired another missile at it, following the fast moving projectile with deadly laser pulses.

The tactic worked, mostly. the Rex was surprised, having forgotten that the fighter could indeed fly almost straight down despite its heading, and paid for it with an explosion of its shields imploding before the laser pulses started slagging its armor, and finally, hitting its power generator, which exploded in a shower of sparks and shrapnel, ripping the red fighter to bits and throwing sharp pointy things at Javier's all too close fighter, scoring black grooves in the hull and armored canopy, slightly distorting Javier's field of vision. A warning and an announcement showed up in Javier's HUD almost simultaneously, one telling him thirty seconds to shields reactivating, the other telling him twenty seconds till the two squadrons of scourge fighters were within range.

"Scourges? Distastefully designed things." Javier maneuvered his fighter so that the nose was pointed towards the scourges, and flew in reverse, letting them get into his fighter's missile envelope, his remaining 18 missiles each locking onto an individual fighter, firing as soon as they had a good targeting solution. The Terran then angled his nose up, to try to "climb" and gain "altitude" on the scourges, so that he could dive down on them from above.

a Red warning, followed by the notification of an external override on the missile locks showed up on Javier's screen, authorized by a flight control officer noted as a Lieutenant Merkur came up over the screen, changing the missile locks to two locks each on nine fighters, and a female voice made its way over the comms "Don't get cocky, flyboy. You should know better than this." the missiles launched firing towards the new set of targets rather than what Javier had specified. The result was those nine targets losing two of their four shield generator outputs, and breaking off toward Javier and the suddenly available green four ( "I got one, Three!") leaving the other fifteen fighters to the other five pairs of fighters from Blue squadron.

"Ms Merkur, I appreciate your help, but I would have you know that I intend to get my Ace wings today." Javier kept himself at a safe distance from formation of scourges, Heavy Lasers all targeting one of the ones that had taken a hit to its shields, firing on it from long range. The nobleman kept his fighter flying in reverse, strafing left and right to dodge oncoming fire until his shields were restored.

"A Dead pilot can't get their Ace wings, Keep that in mind, Corporal." the controller answered, rolling her eyes at the man's bravado. The Controller called to another squadron to come and aid Blue squadron, whom were finding themselves suddenly outnumbered by more than the initially noted two squadrons of scourges. Javier's strafing caused his lasers to lance slightly wide of the direct hits he was wanting, but they still managed to nibble away at the shields of the nine oncoming fighters. Blue four followed suit with Javier's lead, doing the same, helping to hold the Drathonian fighters at bay.

Javier kept at it, refining his targeting on the scourges and reversing direction again, headed towards the Drath fighters at full speed, slide slipping to avoid incoming fire. "But Roland did not become one of Charlemagne’s paladins by playing things safe and avoiding a fight."

"Yes but Roland did not have Genocidal space lizards flying technological death machines trying to kill him" the Controller pointed out, getting somewhat annoyed that this man, whom she had corrected by pure happenstance, kept talking to her. She watched the battlefield from the control station aboard the Battle Hymn, coordinating all of the Ship's squadrons in concert with the other ships and the Station's forces. The new command center on the Terra II was much more comfortable and functional than the original had been, and provided her with a 'celestial' vantage of the current battle.
The Scourges did what they knew to do, and bunched together to create a concentrated point of fire coming at the Terran fighters rushing toward them, as well as bringing the defensive power of their collective shields together in a sort of Phalanx. Javier's fighter was rocked by a sudden hit, and the countdown to his shields recharging disappeared, replaced by a warning that his shield generator had been blown off. If Javier looked off to the side, he could see the charred bit of metal that used to be the generator.

"But like Roland, I do not have energy shielding. But, dear Rose, I do think that you are right. Could you perchance send me some reinforcements; I appear to be in a bit of a sticky situation." The pilot continued his somewhat calm and cocky banter with Lt.Merkur, maneuvering his fighter almost wildly in an attempt to slide in behind and under the Scourges to get a good shot at their rear and underbellies.

The tactic, an old one, always worked on scourges. too slow and ungainly, even without any of the silly things like gravity and wind resistance slowing them down, the scourges could not keep up with the tiny, nimble Terran fighter and his wing mate. Very quickly, one of the Scourges lost its rear port shield and took a direct hit to the engines, which exploded in a fireball, throwing shrapnel and incendiaries at the other eight all-too-close Scourges, weakening their shields even further. Blue four also bagged a kill, calling out to Javier "Got another one!” Control did not send another voice message, but instead a notification of a squadron that had already been sent to help, before Javier had even thought to ask. Their ETA was thirty seconds and, so long as Javier could last that long, they would probably be able to relieve him and allow him to return to Saratar for a fresh fighter.

Javier and his wing mate stayed in that spot, heavy lasers pounding the scourges as the light fighters used their superior mobility to stay behind and under them, stabbing into the Scourges' weak underbelly. "Lady Merkur, will Saratar station have a fresh fighter ready for me, or will I have to land on the Hymn?"

"The Hymn is still loading, so, even though we do have fighters, your backup will be at Saratar, which is fine because the Hangar is closer to your position than the Hymn is." Lieutenant Merkur informed the increasingly annoying Corporal. Blue four let out a whoop and holler for every Scourge he helped bring down, making for two more downed scourges, bringing the total number of current enemies to five. The rest of Blue squadron seemed to be barely hanging in there, and a sudden feedback on all the squadron’s headsets notified them that Blue lead had been taken out.

Javier slipped up as it was announced that Blue one had been downed, his focus being broken as more and more of his friends were killed. Leaving the coms on, the normally cool and composed soldier yelled out in anguish. "Damn Drathonians! You took my family, my home away from me! Is that not enough for you?" However, Javier's loss of focus allowed one of the scourges to open fire on Javier's unshielded scimitar, blowing off a wing and sending him spiraling away for a good distance before regaining control and setting a course to return to Saratar, fighting to keep his fighter under control. "That’s it Blue Squadron, we're done here. We've all taken too much damage, let’s head back to Saratar."

Unfortunately for Javier, the wing that had been blown off was the one housing the communications pod, and Blue squadron did not hear. Only Blue Four followed, doggedly sticking to his damaged wing mate to defend him on the way back. Blue squadron at large was soon greeted by the arrival of the other squadron, Checker squadron, sometimes called Picnic squadron due to their odd red and white color scheme.

As Javier landed at Saratar station he punched the Scimitar's control panel, somewhat angry at his inability to stop the draths from killing someone else. But he was a soldier. And soldiers don't sit around and whine, they do something. So the blue blooded pilot climbed out of the damaged fighter, and quickly ran to the scimmy that had been prepared for him to use. "Blue 3, ready to take off."

Blue four hopped out of his fighter as the engine spooled down and some techs rushed to look over it and reload the weapons load out. He made his way over to Javier's idling fighter and tapped on the window, trying to get Javier to open his cockpit back up so they could talk.

The Scimmy's cockpit opened, and Javier looked over at his wing mate. "Yes, four, what is it?"

The younger pilot looked nervous, and he pulled at the collar of his flight suit, before looking at Javier. "Uhh... After you were hit, well, the squadron got hit by a turbolaser. Two might still be alive, but everyone else... it looks like they started taking potshots at the fighters with destroyers..."

Javier's eyes narrowed at the news, as he slunk lower into his cockpit, losing most of his normally calm and cocky demeanor. Hitting the comm. button, he raised Lt. Merkur again. "Lieutenant Merkur. I need you to provide assistance to me and Blue four as we attempt to rescue our CO. We do not have time to argue about this."

Blue four nodded at Blue three, and donned his helmet, running back to his newly loaded fighter, which sported a brand-new, unpainted shield generator to replace the strained one that had been used in battle previously. The Battlefield controller replied to Javier quickly, sounding a bit concerned. "All I can do is provide a third perspective and some commentary. I have Blue Two's location pinpointed and a countdown for survival if his cockpit was breached. The rest is up to you two." she immediately gave the two pilots a go-ahead to launch and make their way out back onto the battlefield.

"Even hearing a woman's voice is the good luck I need, Rose. Blue Three, Launching." The scimitar launched from the hangar, waiting for Four's fighter before accelerating to top speed, heading on a straight-line path to Blue Two's location. "Blue Four, I'll keep the fighters off you while you rescue Two."

"Quit calling me Rose." the controller responded. "My name is Sierra." Blue Four acknowledged the order and got himself ready for the rescue, looking around the point where Two was with his sensors to see if there were any targets he could help get rid of before the rescue; he would prefer to not have a large amount of volatile missiles while letting the fighter free-float and moving around in void, potentially with an injured person to keep from hurting.

"Fine then, Sierra." Javier stayed on guard as he sped towards Two's location, almost itching for a chance to kill off some more Drathonians in revenge for his squadron.

It appeared that within the wreckage, the remains of Checker squadron were still fighting with a squadron of Scourge fighters, and the two groups seems to be single-mindedly trying to kill one another. Blue two's distress beacon made itself visible to the last two remaining Blue Squadron fighters, and pretty soon visual confirmation on a damaged fighter with an intact cockpit was displayed to Javier and Blue Four. Four gained Missile lock on as many of the enemy fighters as he could, launching all of the self-guided weapons before making a punch toward the damaged Scimitar, trusting Javier to cover him. A couple of the Scourge fighters turned from ganging up on picnic squadron and chased after the distracted fighter.

Javier interposed himself between four and two, hoping to get two missile locks per fighter and firing his missiles, aiming at each fighter individually and firing his heavy lasers. "Four, get on with it!"

"I'm getting, I'm getting!" Four defended himself, gingerly maneuvering his fighter close enough so that he could jump from his to Two's fighter. As Javier's missiles impacted shields, sending the Scourge fighters into defensive mode, four halted all motion and opened the Canopy of his fighter, tying a line to his seat and jumping over to Blue Two's cockpit. He could see the unconscious pilot within, red droplets floating everywhere within the cockpit, coming from a deep gash on the man's leg. Using the emergency release, four popped the hatch and scrambled in, grabbing his CO and setting the cord on his belt to reel the two back to Four's fighter.

Javier's scimitar floated in space as he watched four grab two, keeping a constant vigil for any incoming fighters. "Sierra, are there any more Drath coming our way?"

"The two you sent reeling are regrouping and coming back at you." the controller responded, as she watched the feed from Four's fighter she had tapped into, one of the two figures that were growing larger depositing drops of blue , as the lack of oxygen showed it was a Vein that had been cut. Within moments they were in the cockpit and Four was using his emergency med kit to work on Two, nervously looking around every once in a while to make sure he wasn't getting targeted. The two Scourges came at full speed towards Javier, one from either side, firing laser cannons at the Terran fighter.

Javier strafed downwards, trying to avoid the incoming fire while at the same time attempting to get an advantageous firing angle on both scourges' underbellies, opening up with missiles and heavy lasers.

Both Scourge fighters lost their shields from the Missile hits, but only one of the Fighters went down from the Laser fire, the other having the time to veer out of the way and get behind Javier, spinning itself as fast as it could, trying to bring guns to bear on the Terran fighter.
Finally, Four was satisfied that Two had stopped bleeding, and announced "I've got him, Three!" starting his fighter back up and gingerly maneuvering out of the debris, changing his fighter's heading to go back to Saratar at full speed, as soon as the coast was clear.

Javier let loose a breath he didn't even know he had been holding in relief, but didn't let himself lose focus as he slide stepped to the right and turned, ripple firing 3 more missiles at the Scourge and firing a quick burst of Heavy Laser Death at it before doing a quick turn-around to join up on Four's wing.

The Scourge, as expected, detonated in a shower of quickly cooling slag and sparks, chunks of metal being blown all over the place and pinging off shields as the two Scimitar star fighters made their way off the battlefield and back to Saratar. "Good job, Men." the Lieutenant called to Javier and Four, highlighting the hangar with the least impacted Med bay for them to land in and get help for their CO.

The human smiled as his fighter and Blue four's fighter sped back to the station. "Thank you Sierra, for helping us out. I know you were just doing your job, but you went beyond what you had to do to help us out. I hope that I will be able to repay the favor some day."

"You're assigned to the Hymn. As long as this Ship never gets destroyed, you will be doing your job and repaying not only me, but everyone on board." Sierra commented, as the two fighters set down. A few medics brought a stretcher and a small ambulance, extracting Blue Two from Four's fighter, and leaving the two pilots alone. They were ordered to stay in, and could now watch as other fighters from other squadrons came in. Some going back out to fight, others coming back to stay, as well, with fresh pilots taking their place.

"Oh fuck me on a flaming oak," grumbled the still inebriated Garrett Hendlow as a message rolled in requesting that he go round up some space cowboys and go have diplomatic relations with some Moonies. His drunk mind's first inquiry was: Will the Moonies be providing the moonshine?

No, it wasn't funny. Lieutenant Hendlow didn't even laugh, and he was intoxicated. Instead, he composed a message to go out to a few of his favorite jarheads: Rutthinger, Kwon, and Mortego to name a few. As well it was sent to the other survivor of the original 215 squadron and a couple of guys whose names had managed to stick in his mind after all this time. Always a good sign, he figured. This message went as thus: From Lt. Hendlow: If not already assigned to an active position, you report to me five minutes ago in Sector A-8. At the rendezvous, we'll be equipped & briefed. See you there.

Luckily for Garrett, five of the six men responded, and an automated response returned from another stating that he was KIA. Poor bastard went through hell just to be taken down by some sickness. Everyone arrived within five minutes of the Lieutenant and was geared up in five minutes after arrival.

"Lets see." Cibo whimsically spoke. "Well, it looks like there's a group of Marines setting out on an expedition to meet and greet our smaller red friends. Aaaaannnd....Oh! There's a pilot making an arrogant ass of himself out there too." Cibo listened in on the conversation a bit more and made a disgusted face. "Some Frenchie jerk is flirting with the flight controller. Bah. Men." she sighed.
"Your ability to point out the obvious never ceases to amuse me Cibo. Of course, that doesn't make me feel like not wanting to punch your face in." Marcus snapped back. "The knife didn't make me deaf you know." Pain medication or not, he wasn't in a good mood.
"Really? I was hoping it stabbed and DEFLATED YOUR BIG FAT EGO!" She prodded Marcus' wound again, forcing out another yelp. Before either of them could go any further, the sound of smacking lips and licking drew their attention away from one another; Killy was dipping one of his fingers into a jar of jam and wrapping his tongue around it to lick the purple goo off. He then started to stick his tongue in and out of the jar like an ant eater would, and when Killy started to swab it around to get the last bits of sweet, sweet jam, both Terrans were looking as though they ate something stomach curdling. Killy looked up from his grape jam.
"Sorry, I didn't think either of you wanted some. I'll save some for you next time."
"It's...it's ok Killy..." Cibo whispered. The woman honestly looked like she was going to loose her lunch.
"Damn, look at him go. He's better than you are at it!" Cibo furrowed her eyebrows for a moment in thought, and when it hit her, her eyes widened in disgusted horror. Cibo lost her lunch. Marcus started to laugh, and as she tried to curse through her little episode, he laughed even harder, finally falling out of his chair.
"I don't get it." the alien spoke. He then licked his lips, causing Cibo to avert her glare, "Where is Sehene?" Cibo suddenly stopped her heaving, and Marcus had his laugh wiped away.
"Oh shit." they said in unison.

As soon as they were in range, Emma opened fire on the drathonians ahead of her, heavy lasers damaging the shields of the lizards in front of her. "Arcadia, Reverse thrust, let's draw them on to keep our range advantage!" the brunette called over the comms, putting as much thrust forward as she could to stop forward momentum and make her fighter 'fly' backwards, continuing to unload laser fire into her enemies' shields, and, soon, ther hulls.

Rutthinger got the message from Garrett, and reassembling his rifle, put it on his back and left the break room he had been occupying. Silently, the quiet man made his way towards Garrett's current location. He was itching for something to do, but you'd never know from looking at him.

I'm right behind you, Four," was Arcadia's response. Hardly a second after Emma threw her ship in reverse, Pilot Langdon was imitating the younger woman. As the Drathonians insisted on pursuing them, Arcadia loosed a hail of missiles to tenderize their shields and hulls for the laser fire.

Once his squad was ready, Lieutenant Hendlow pinged the bridge for further orders. "We're ready to go," he said, "We just need a proper briefing and everything will be in order." The alcohol was hardly more than a memory at this point; if it weren't for the faint buzz Garrett would have sworn he hadn't had even a sip.

Kwon was reading over a text message from Perinnia; at the very bottom of it was a picture of three green skinned teenagers. Triplets. To be honest, he couldn't even figure out who was who, and it was a little embarrassing. Just as he thought he figured out which one was her, orders arrived and blotted took up all the space on his PDA's screen. Ruth was already on his way out. "Oi! Wait for me!" he called out, hastily grabbing his gear. When he caught up with Ruth, the Marine couldn't help but ask a few questions. "So what's this about a Moonie infestation? What the hell happened to security around here?"

"No. Stay here and guard the prisoners. And if it needs to be, it's an order." Marcus spoke.
"But no one's seen so much as a glimpse of her, and Sehene isn't replying to my messages!" Cibo implored.
"Well, if it weren't for the fact that you emanated that creepy stalker from the past feeling, I'm sure she'd send a reply." He replied sarcastically. "So. Sit" he ordered.
"Yes, SIR." She started to think to herself, 'I'll remember this. I WILL!' A bit of time passed as Cibo sat there, bored out of her mind. 'Damn. I gotta pass the time. And I don't want to watch these three eyesores.' The Intelligence Agent had found out a list of ten 'Must Read' stories from a prior acquaintance. If now wasn't the time to read them, then there never would be time. As she settled into the first chapter of the fantasy novel stored in her PDA, the antagonists were revealed. Green Lizard men. She simply snapped.
"WHY THE HELL DO STORIES ALWAYS HAVE LIZARD MEN THINGS AS THE ENEMY?! I'M SICK AND TIRED OF THIS! I GOT ENOUGH SCALES TO DEAL WITH IN REAL LIFE HERE!" she yelled at the top of her lungs.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. Mind your manners Cibo. You're insulting Killy." The Ottyo turned his head halfway towards the two so that a single yellow eye fell on them. His ornate feathers slowly fanned about as he thought a reply.
"No offense taken. I can understand why there are lizards as antagonists in your old stories."
"Wait. You can?" Cibo asked.
"Think about it. To you, we are exceedingly alien in appearance. The few scales I have bordering my skin and feathers are shiny, and appear cold. Our faces are relatively unyielding with little movement. The colors that 'lizard men' have often vary from your color as well. Though, I must admit my skin color is a little closer, it is still quite different. And anything different is viewed with distrust and suspicion, if not outright fear. Do you agree Cibo? These 'Lizard Men' are usually antagonists in your story, simply because they are so different from what you define as normal." Killy spoke with insight.
"Wow. That's...I guess that's deep." She answered, impressed. As she thought about what he said, her expression changed to suspicion. "Wait. How did you come up with this?"
"Oh. It was easy. I just took how I feel about you mammals and turned it around." Killy replied with honest cheer.
"And. What do you think of my appearance?" Cibo asked with a venom laced question.
"Ugly. Your skin is disturbingly pale. And your kind are already all the wrong colors anyways. Brown, brown, tan. Pale. Sehene was the most pale. And then the hair. It's so dirty and unnaturally oily." he spoke, and then gestured at his own feathers. "See these? They deal with the body's natural oil very well, unlike yours which gets all dirty and clumps together. And the smell you people make. I will not describe them. Hmm. What else? As he dived deeper into his personal opinions, Cibo clenched her fists and began to shake with rage. Marcus took note of it and capitalized on the moment.
"Please continue Inquisitor." Killy's eye then flicked towards Cibo's clenched hands, slightly shaking body, and slowly twisting face.
"Yes. Your faces tend to twist and distort in all sorts of...unnatural directions." he went on more slowly. The Ottyo then tried to make a more positive statement as his eye wandered across Cibo's chest. "And your females often have these unsightly chests. Though, I am, ahem, glad to say yours are more pleasant to behold, mainly due to the flat geometry Cibo." Killy recalled her stabbing him with the scalpel, and swallowed. It was strange really. The Terran female relaxed as her lower lip quivered, and her eyes seemed to become larger and watery. Cibo turned around and walked away towards a corner; those who watched were under the impression she had taken both hands and patted herself on the chest to check.
"Really?" she sniffed. Her hand moved up to rub an eye. Sensing he was safe, he went on,
"Yes. Really. They are not disturbing compared to others'. Not at all, they are - " Killy bit his tongue when Cibo's armored boot hit him on the temple. He landed with a heavy thud. Blood slowly dripped through the gratings of the great station known as Saratar. Cibo complained loudly,
"Great. Even a damned alien calls me this. Great. Just F*cking Great."
'I win.' Marcus thought.

"Station's pretty big. There's only so many of us." Ruth stated, calmly, continuing on with the rest of their hastily run together squad. He checked his weapon quickly, and then placed a hand on Kwon's shoulder. "Nothing to worry about it. If it was bad, we'd be dead, yeah?"

Quickly, the retreating tactic showed its use, the bewildered lizards going down quickly to the hail of fire from such an opponent, one theu couldn't hit because it could see them. "Shall we keep this up or do you think we should try for more important targets?" Emma asked her wing, locating more Rex fighters to go and kill. It seemed like the Drathonians had brought together this taskforce in a hurry, it obviously lacked experienced pilots, and was going up against the UTR's best. the result was a total massacre. If only the lizards didn't have a number advantage.

Garrett got another message on his communicator. He was to link up with a couple other squads of marines, and head for a larger briefing room in the next sector, so they could be properly briefed on the situation, as command understood it.

"Marines, on me. We're heading to a briefing room and rendezvousing with other squads. Seems to be a slightly larger shindig than I thought. Be wary." He led them to the briefing room and ordered them all take a seat. Garrett remained standing, however. It was a psychological thing, and Hendlow understood its value, although the others present probably did not. Years of being in a gang had taught him the value of a strong presence; a lot of these other men and women didn't have that sort of an experience to draw on. Wouldn't you know it... I'm becoming quite the leader, he mused. And to think that he'd once feared being responsible for other lives. He was confident about it now.

Arcadia was obviously in her combat mindset as her words were cool and confident. "We need to hit those larger targets; I don't trust anyone else to get the job done." Call her arrogant and Langdon wouldn't listen. She knew she was good, knew she had a record to back it up, and the resolve to not let it go to her head. If anyone were to ever meet both Arcadia and Ruth, it would be easy to draw similarities between their battlefield personalities.

Steven was gritting his teeth as he put his Scimitar through a high G maneuver to try and shake off two Rexes who were close on his tail. The veteran pilot took quick, shallow breathes as he worked to avoid passing out. Somehow, Steven and Fred had been split up while they were engaging a group of scourges when a group of Rex fighters intervened. Now, Steven was caught in the middle of a maneuver that was strikingly similar to the one he had employed earlier, with one Rex chasing Steven and trying to coax him along a path that was being cut off by the second Rex. It took all of Steven's concentration to keep away from the second Rex while staying out of the crosshairs of the the first, not to mention trying to locate Fred and the rest of his squad.
“Green Two, what is your status?” Steven growled as the pursuing Rex landed a series of shot onto the Scimitar's left wing, forcing Steven to bank to the right and bringing him closer to the partner Rex.
“I'm currently above your six by about a mile. I took me Rex, but the wall of scourges from earlier are keeping us separated.” Fred responded with a definite tone that indicated extreme annoyance. “And Green Lead, you have a Rex coming right at your nose from below you, and you now have two on your tail. Keep evading an' I'll flank the from up high.”
“Roger, Green Two.” Steven said, cutting the chat short as he saw that the second Rex was in fact making its move. He was jarred as another burst of enemy fire splashed across his shields, and he looked with distaste as he watched his shield charge crop further.
Steven torqued the controls of the Scimitar as hard as he could for one last attempt to break free. His Scimitar twisted upward and back, and snarled as the G forces weighed his body down almost to its limit of tolerance. The now two pursuing Rexes followed on his tail without missing a beat, but as he pulled around he managed to get a lock on the accomplice Rex that was now approaching him head on. He and the Rex opened fire on each other. The Rex had the upper hand, it had fresh shields and was therefore able to hold out longer, for as Steven shields reached critical level, he quickly pulled away.
“Not good, not good, not good.” Steven said to himself as his ship alarms continued to sound, indicating multiple attempted lock-ons. The two pursuing Rexes were beginning to move in. Steven was now coming to terms with just how much trouble he was in.
Then he noticed in his earpiece that Green Two had begun to hum the tune to Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries, and the next thing he knew his sensors reported one of the two pursuing Rexes had been taken out. This was a big relief, but Steven's joy was short lived as his sensors went on to report that the remaining Rex had locked onto him with a seeker missile.
“FML,” Steven growled as he found out he was out countermeasures.

Finally, after a wait longer than either Red squadron or Kai and Alpha two wanted to wait, the Endeavour had finally repositioned itself to make a Fold jump towards Saratar, and, after a klaxon bell warning, Jumped. Within what felt like less than a second, the Klaxon bells were gone, and the odd feeling in the pit of one's stomach when returning to normalspace could be felt. Almost immediately, Scimitar starfighters began to pour out of the hangar bays and into the battle as the Endeavour's Solaris cannons blew through the enemy formation, taking out several drakes and a number of frigates and even some corvettes. The turbolaser batteries began spewing fire and every few seconds a Torpedo was launched, streaking at high rates of speed toward the enemy ships. The Terra II class was a sight to behold, the power it wielded awe-inspiring.

Soon enough, it was time for the Hymn's pilots that were onboard the Endeavour to go, and launch clearance was given, allowing them to launch into what was probably the biggest Furball any of them had ever seen.

Kwon sat to Ruth's right hand, and eagerly spoke up to bossman Garret, "So boss, what we up to? Some breach and clear? Or Maybe some search and destroy sir?" It was starting to get a little quiet for his taste anyways, and this marine wanted to be back in the action after sitting at Saratar doing nothing.

Cibo had her back turned to the alien, and rubbed her temple; the stress from all that yelling was giving her a headache. Killy rubbed his temple. The impact of the combat boot on his temple was giving him a headache. "I want a smoke." they both chorused in unison. Cibo turned about slightly and leered at him,
"So you guys got smokes too?" she asked with suspicious scorn.
"I suppose you are referring to the lighting of a combustible plant to use as - " Cibo abrubly cut him off,
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. All that jazz for such a simple action we like to call 'lighting up'. Now, say exactly what I say; 'I want to light up'."
"I want to light up." Killy mimicked. To Marcus, who was not watching, it sounded like one of those movies where a human was teaching a human-doppelganger robot how to be properly human with all that jargon and swearing.
"Now that's more like it." Cibo cooed gently.
"Now that's more like it." Killy spoke, perfectly parroting her cooing voice. What little tenderness that was in the moment evaporated as Cibo stomped over, seething with rage. The Ottyo suddenly raised his feather crest up in surprise, and Cibo hesitantly shrunk back from the colors.
"Eh, later...always time later." she spoke to herself. Though it was a reflex to scare off predators in ancient times, it still worked in times like this.
"Hey! Everything's going to be ok! The Terra II Endeavor's shown up and it's kicking ass!" Marcus shouted in glee. Cibo started to round on him, but before she could do anything, the alien spoke up.
"Shh. Cibo and I have a headache." That stopped her in her tracks. She started to giggle. And then laugh. Marcus sighed in relief, for doom was averted. For now.

“The flag's up boys, are we ready to fly?” Siberia asked over the com-channel as he watched the launch signal light flashed to green.
“Flag? Looks like a green light to me Boss.” Albania said, he was going through the motions, allowing the others time for last minute adjustments. In fact, Siberia could hear Albania shift about as he talked and finished his own work.
Siberia grinned at the question still; it was a ritual and a red squadron ritual. “Son, take a look at the stripes we bare, does it look like green is a proper word in this Squadron's vocabulary?”
“No Sir!” This time four voices responded; Albania, Germany, Romania and Poland.
“Are we ready to launch then?” Siberia asked. This time he got an answer from every member of the Squadron, ironically the answers were all green.

The Elites set a feverish pace as they ran towards the MFS's Hangar. They all were in a cold, uniform mindset; how dare the Drathonian High Command order an attack on Saratar while their master was present.
The Bronze Elite had gathered a significant lead on his two brothers and his features twisted into a snarl as he came in sight of the Hangar. Not a single member of B Platoon was on guard, in fact the only members in view were clustered together munching away on food of some sort or another.
This is outrageous, Bronze thought to himself as he slowed to a jog once inside. All of the Platoon was inactive and their Commander seemed to be taking a nap on a stool. But, as he silently padded towards the Red Moonie's eyes fluttered open and he returned the Elite's cold faced stare with a nod.
“Our HQ has been attacked.” Bronze stated as he closed the distance between him and the Commander.
The other Moonie paused in thought, scratching the scales on his chin, before responding, “Hmm, I thought that broadcast couldn't be anything good. How's the damage?”
Bronze bristled at the Commander's casual voice and dropped One-Arm's unconscious body at the Red's feet. “That is the damage Nothramis.” Bronze turned his head and watched as the other two Elites handed Adrian off to a pair of MSS noncoms. Least they will actually respond when you wave the problem in their pure-blooded faces, he thought with a grunt.
“C'mon Bronze, Elites and the MSS should be closer than this, call me Riokrire.” Bronze's head snapped around towards Nothramis, he let out a hiss and stared at the MSS Platoon Commander with pure hatred.
“We are leaving, the Squadrons are needed in the space battle.” Bronze stalked off before turning around one time and acidly adding, “There is only one Riokrire in this world Nothramis, don't mistake yourself for him.”

Nothramis didn't look up as Bronze spit out those useless words he was already busy checking the seals between his helmet and gas mask; seemed as if combat was stirring up and then he would need it. Anyway Bronze was a fool he ever thought that he would mistake himself for that half-crazed little rotter, Dart.
Looking up he saw one of his troopers pushing through the mass of rushing pilots. Locking onto the moonie's face he tried to recall his name; it came to him just as the young soldier came to attention in front of him. “At ease Nex, you want to ask something?”
The young Moonie looked about, bewildered and wondered how the Commander didn't know what he wanted to speak about before answering. “Of course Sir, wouldn't want to waste your time Sir...” His voice trailed off as Nothramis gave him a “get to the point” stare and he motioned towards all the Pilots. “What this all about Sir?”
“Ah,” Riokrire paused and put his helmet on his head before answering, “We're fighting of course, thought that would be obvious.” The Commander smiled as he finished speaking and watched the Trooper slowly nod. Then, clipping the gas mask on and sealing it to the helmet, Nothramis leapt forward. He was in the younger Moonie's face now and his voice had gone from relaxed to straight business. “You heard a fight was happening right? So, suit up!” He told his underling in a clear, commanding voice. Then, ignoring the stumbling trooper he stepped forward and began yelling. “B Platoon suit up and get your arms.” Looking towards the group eating he yelled again, “Throw that crap away those colourful Knights in the fighters want our rust coloured hides moving. C'mon now HQ is down, B Platoon has business to attend to now. Move!”
Riokrire Nothramis grinned as everyone began to get ready. Then pulling out his EV-47 he just hoped they didn't have to really face battle-worn marines. Kicking at the grated floor he cursed Saratars design twice over for making the gas troops useless.

Ukraine was awestruck by the immensity of the battle happening around Saratar. There must be thousands of them fighting, the young pilot thought as he watched both allied and enemy fighters struggle to destroy each other.
Siberia's voice snapped over the com-channel, breaking Eremenko's train of thought and bringing him back to the closer reality of the Squadron's own actions. “Well, isn't this just a joyous sight boys? Quite of bit of Drathonian Dogs looking to die out there.” The Leaders voice cut off with and left the feeling of an unstated “but” at the end.
Poland, direct as always, was the first to respond, “Orders Sir?”
“The Endeavour has it's own Flying Circus, she'll make due boys, so how about we go back and join our own?”
Ukraine smiled at Siberia's question, it would be good to be home. “With pleasure Sir.” The pilot said with enthusiasm. “Green Squadron's probably missing us might badly right about now.”
The channel was quiet as Red Squadron started heading towards Saratar station, everyone's eyes were alert; waiting for a Drathonian pilot to cut in front of them and throw them into combat. Apparently the Squadron as a whole had decided talk would be too distracting at the moment; well, that is with the exception of Germany.
“Heh, yeah the Greenies will be happy to know the best Squadron around is back in action.”

The Elite's squadrons of Delta Darts quickly massed out of Saratar, the pilots rearranging themselves into their formations.
Bronze was in a furious temper as he took his place at the front of his Squadron. That blasted MSS Commander had dared to try and bait him. And let him think he didn't know that he had called them “Knights”. He and his mocking names would get what they deserved in the end, an Elite always saw to business.
Dropping those thought patterns, but not their foul temper, Bronze concentrated on his underlings handling of their craft. Grudgingly he admitted that it was acceptable, yet he still doubted whether or not the fools could follow orders.
“We will engage the Drathonian Fleet now, any pilot who does not do so will be punished.” He barked over the com-channel. A simple chorus of “Ayes” followed his statement.
Yes, they appear to be not satisfactory at all. Where is their fear for a ranking officer? Bronze thought to himself as he cursed each member of his Squadron.
Then, noticing one of the fighters was slightly out of formation, he decided to show them some “punishment”. Turning towards a crudely added panel containing eleven buttons he pressed the seventh one. An internal explosion wracked the careless pilots fighter and ripped it apart, a collective fearful hiss sounded over Bronze's squadron channel.
“Yes.” The Elite stated. “You all understand now, the only punishment is death.”
Pleased with himself Bronze pulled forward to follow the other two Squadrons, who had already pulled out. It was of no concern that I am late, he thought to himself, my squadron shall perform the best; as they know what is at stake now

Command, and therefore the squadron leaders, were soon informed of two things; several squadrons of Delta Darts launching from the station, and the arrival of the UTR Endeavour. Some cheered at the Endeavour's arrival, while others groaned that even MORE fighters were coming in to make the furball crazier. Command hailed the Darts, only to find that they weren't being actively blocked from doing so, like most Drathonian fighters, meaning they could possibly be friendly. Hopefully.

Emma streaked through the battle, avoiding fighters as much as possible, taking potshots every once-in-a-while, but her sheer speed offered a good amount of protection. She was heading toward a big, juicy target that was slowly making its way closer to the Terran lines, an Anti-fighter Corvette. This ship threw fire much greater than any fighter was capable of, just about every direction, turning it into a smallish deathtrap. The perfect target for Arcadia and Emma.

"Three, we got our target in range, shall I engage?" the brunette asked, diverting for a moment to avoid a bit of fire, spinning her fighter to fire back at the random assailant, blowing it to bits, as it had already been weakened by something. The tight confines made maneuvering difficult, but she managed.

As Kai launched from the Endeavour, he felt a bit of Nostalgia. It had been a while since he'd launched from a ship, much less into a huge battle. Lt. Nakamura and his wingmate streaked 'up' to go above the majority of the furball, and began to identify targets, before diving into the battle, guns blazing.

Ruze was more than ready to hit the big black, kick some scaly ass, and avenge his fallen comrade. Of course, that was all on top of his natural desire to fulfill his duty as a pilot for the Terrans. That ALWAYS came first, even in times of emotional strain. We'll get 'em, then we'll go back, have a drink for you. Then I'll go find my new lady-friend and have good night's rest. Yeah, that was a good plan. A great plan. Couldn't get any better, really.

"Plenty of vermin, sir. Let's show them just how refined our technology is, I say. Plenty of lasers and missiles for the bunch of them."

"That's a definite no-brainer, Four. That thing needs missiles like our Marines need guns. Err on the side of caution, though. It's a fucking cannon-quilled space-walking porcupine, and I'd rather not see you going down in a blaze of glory." As Emma took out another Drathonian craft, Langdon wondered silently to herself if perhaps she should focus on achieving Double Ace status. She was only 5 kills away, and it would certainly be a pleasant badge of prestige to be wearing in the halls of the Hymn.

And the game of duck and dodge began anew as Steven wrestled with his fighter to put it through any maneuver he could think of to try and shake the incoming seeker missile. He weaved in and out of debris clumps, and tried to get as close as he could to distracted enemy fighters to try and lose the missile, but had no luck with his time running out. Fred was off taking care of the last enemy fighter, but that didn't mean bupkis to either Steven or the missile at the moment. Steven found himself wishing for an Infinite Improbability Drive, and the missile was quite enjoying not being a bowl of petunias.
Steven struggled to shake the missile with just a few seconds remaining before impact, but, much to the delight of the missile, he was unable to avoid the impact and the missile connected with Steven's left wing. His shields were taken down as the missile completed its objective with a smile, and as Steven cursed violently he immediately set his mind back to regaining a foot hold in the battle. Green Squadron had spread out considerably while Steven focused on not dying.
“Green Squadron, finish up with your current target and the reform on my wing on the double. I repeat, Green Squadron reform.” Steven said into the squadron-wide channel. He switched the comm over to private. “Green Two, thanks for the assist back there. I owe you another drink, I guess.”
“You bet your Grandmother's pantyhose you owe me another drink. And this time you are having one with me. No objections.” Fred replied in an almost musical tone, “Forming up on your wing.”
Coincidentally, in a refugee camp several FTL jumps away, precisely at the time Fred mentioned Steven's “Grandmother's pantyhose”, Jana, Steven's grandmother, got a run in her stalkings.
Steven chuckled a little at Fred's comment and got back to scanning the war zone as Green Squadron reformed.

It surprised Thomas, really, how easy it was to accidentally end up mostly unaffiliated with any specific squad.

It had only required a few firefights and a few retarded mistakes, on his own part and a few others, to leave him for the moment listed as MIA, despite the fact that he had reported in several times and taken the problem to higher officers. Blah blah blah, they'd take care of it, when they remembered.

Brilliant, bloody brilliant of them.

So it was something of a mercy to happen to pass a squad reporting to circumstances unusual. What these were, no one could or would explain to Thomas, but he really didn't care. It was something to break the monotony of complaining to superiors about the fact that he still regularly had to explain to the various pseudo-friends he had accumulated that he was not in fact MIA.

It was more pleasant upon arrival to discover Garrett Hendlow.

Good ol' Captain Hendlow. Seemed like it had been a long time. Good time to say hello, as the briefing wasn't really underway yet.

"Hendlow," Peterson called quietly, coming up behind him. "How are ya, Captain?"

Turning at the sound of his name, Lieutenant Hendlow found himself face-to-face with the MIA P2C, Thomas Peterson. He smiled, but there was also much surprise in his expression. "What the hell, Tankson? Where you been?" The grin widened as he shook Peterson's hand. "Fill me in later. Little busy at the moment." Then, almost as an after-thought, "And it's Lieutenant now." He tapped the lapel with a finger to illustrate his correction. "Stick with me for a long, boring, unsatisfying, and extremely easy mission. Running an escort for some diplomatic folk. Apparently the Hymn has decided to abandon any sense of security and has since been housing an entire goddamn platoon of Moonies in the fucking duct work. Military intelligence is still keeping tradition, I hear." The Lieutenant shared a, "Hooah!" with a few soldiers under his command and within earshot.

Cibo took a pill bottle out of the med-kit and popped herself a few more pills than needed for the headache.
"Reckless with that stuff as always."
"Can it or I bite your mouth off Marcus." Cibo was an Intelligence Officer with plenty of field time under her belt; she knew exactly what meds did what and in what amount. She'd been at it for years after all that shit that happened a while back. The tall, slender Intelligence Officer popped the pills into her mouth and tried to dry swallow, only to suddenly choke from her eagerness; the sensation brought back bitter and bloody memories. She remembered choking on her own blood, how the walls were painted with her little brother's blood. Cibo was suddenly brought back to the present when a water canteen was tossed at her, knocking her over with the force behind it.
"Drink it Cibo, I don't want you to die so soon after meeting you." the alien spoke. It's voice was flat, plain, and disturbingly Terran as always. She gulped down the water before slamming it down on the counter.
"Oh! It's so nice to see that you care!" she seethed, voice dripping with bitter sarcasm. An elegantly armored hand merely waved it off as he paced back and forward, even leaning forward a little.
"Of course, of course." He practically ignored the entire ordeal. Marcus tried to capitalize on the Ottyo's train of thought at that point; whatever it was, it had to be interesting.
"What's bugging you Killy?" The black skeleton suddenly bolted upright, and swished it's serpentine tail too and fro for a moment in thought.
"Something small. Nothing too important."
"Really now? The Ottyo suddenly threw it's raptor like head left and right violently and clicked and chirped an incomprehensible line of birdlike gibberish. Yotruyan stared at Marcus, and then Cibo.
"What. Is a construct?" The two intelligence agents briefly froze at this; there was only one person it could be referring to. Evelyn!
"A person who has been enhanced." Now that the pills were kicking in, Cibo was able to quickly step in and give an acceptable answer. 'That should cover it, no matter what his reasoning. No reason to suspect anything amiss with that explanation, nope.' The Ottyo narrowed it's eyes at the two Terrans before donning it's featureless face mask, and slowly approaching the duo. It ran it's head near Marcus, and then over to Cibo; Killy moved his head so close to her she could literally feel some sort of static coming off the helmet. Killy stepped back and ran his eyes over Cibo's slender form, top to toes again, and snorted.
"You're not 'enhanced' I see. I bet you envy Mistress Evelyn's augmentations?" As Killy waked away, looking over his shoulder at the two, Cibo suddenly grabbed the canteen from earlier and tossed it at him hard. The tail snapped up and caught it, grasping the container like a snake would.
"What? It is natural to envy." Marcus then tried to intervene.
"Just forget about it Killy, it's an innocent misunderstanding on both our parts." Cibo indignantly punched Marcus on his knife wound. He howled in pain.
"Pills here." Cibo smirked, rattling the bottle.

"Well, y'know, it can't be any worse than what I've been up to," Thomas replied quietly, joining the "Hooah!" as appropriate. "Diplomats will be welcome after dealing with military bureaucracy. 'You're dead!' 'No, I'm not.' 'Yes you are.' 'No, no I'm not.' Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Oh, and 'grats on your promotion."

Then he quieted down, more or less listening to the briefing. Moonies, brought onto the ship. Yup, sounded like the sort of folk he knew and... uh, didn't really love. Oh well. It'd give him something to do, peering over their shoulders all day to see what they were doing. Again, better than what he'd spent the last little while doing. It'd pass the time, anyway.

With the sudden addition of 4200 scimitars, 250 shamshir, 10 Hex corvettes, and 10 Glaive corvetts, as well as a Terra class, the battle suddenly shifted extremely into the favor of the Terrans. Having not expected such odds, and banking on the Hymn being incapacitated, the Drathonian taskforce was horribly outgunned. Solaris cannons blasted into the carriers and battleships, literally blowing holes in the enemy positions.

The fighters suddenly had even more to contend with, and by now the numbers were more than even, with the Terrans having a greater number, a first in a battle.

A few minutes into his fight, Kai Nakamura and his Wingman noted something large blowing a hole through the fighters in the area; It was a corvette, Oddly enough, there were two scimitars fighting is already, and their designation on the sensors as 'GS:H-3' and 'GS:H-4' told Kai they were from the Hymn's elite Green squadron, using his squadron commander codes, he linked to their comms. "Well, hello Girls, this is Lieutenant Nakamura here, mind if I give you a hand? I've got experience against bigger stuff."

As Emma scooted around, trying to find a bead on the corvette without gettign hit, a sudden Hail came up, and then a Comm signal "Well, hello Girls, this is Lieutenant Nakamura here, mind if I give you a hand? I've got experience against bigger stuff." "Uhh, Arc? do you think we need help? He's from our ship, so I think we should take him up on it." Ash she spoke, the girl Boosted 'upwards' out of the way of a stream of fire from the corvette's AA guns, and took a shot at a passing enemy fighter, hitting and damaging it, but not destroying it. The aggravated fighter turned and came after her, right as she was distracted by yet another burst of fire from the corvette.

"Did I hear that there's another green squadron out here?" a female voice designated 'GS:E-1' called to Steven kerning, almost out of nowhere in the battle. The source fighter, when found, could not be identified by Steven's Scimitar, but he could swear he recognized the voice.

Steven had to recalculate his plans as the relief forces arrived. He was almost awestruck as he looked out across the battle and saw thousands of allied fighters join the battle, and his mood brightened substantially as he saw the Drathonian forces 'flinch'.
Steven paused for a second as his comm chirped and a female voice spoke up. He had been delighted at the advent of the reinforcements, and concluded that this woman was apart of the relief force. The designation code confirmed his suspicions as his fighter identified her as GS:E-1. He couldn't help but chuckle a bit at the slight coincidence.
“You heard right, ma'am,” Steven said, taking the lapse in immediate danger to reply, “I am CO of Green Squadron for the Hymn. I take it you are in charge of your batch of Green?”Steven couldn't shake the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that said that this voice was familiar, but he decided that now was not necessarily the best time to interrogate a fellow sqaudron leader; although he was also feeling extremely curious as to the fighter she was piloting.

"I am indeed in charge of the Endeavour's Green squadron, Steven." the voice answered, saying his name without him giving it out. The fighter she was piloting suddenly launched mini-missiles out of the sides of it's hull, destroying fighters to both sides suddenly, and rocketed its way over toward's Steven's Scimitar. The pilot began flying in formation with steven and, when she could tell he was looking at her, she removed her helmet, revealing a lot of blonde hair and a face from Steven's past. She winked, and in a flash, her helmet was back on, and the fighter blasted off to continue the fight.

“Steven?” Steven said sounding very puzzled, “I never gave out my name. How did she...”
Steven stopped mid sentence as he saw the woman's fighter pull up along side his own, and then she took off her helmet. In stunned silence he watched as she flew off leaving his were he was.
“Rhiannon?” Steven asked himself.
“Hey Captain, do you know that pilot?” Fred asked as he watched from off to the side.
“Remember when I told you about my girlfriend from back at the Academy?”
“That was her?”
“That was her.”
“Well, how's that for a coincidence. You gonna see about hooking back up with her? 'Cause didn't you say that you and her left on good terms?”
“Yeah, we left on good terms, but it has been more than seven years since we have even spoke. Hell, she might even be married for all I know, so I wont go jumping to conclusions.”
“Ah, have some confidence, Sir. What girl would pass you up for some second rate schmuck? Besides, you could use a girl in your life, you are overdue. If you know what I mean.”
“Thanks for that, Fred,” Steven said with a restrained laugh.
Steven checked his on board systems and everything showed that Steven a good to go. His shields were back up, his engines were cool and showing green, and power output from his capacitor were optimal. He put his scimitar into gear, so to speak, and shot forward.
“Rhiannon,” Steven commed his former flame, “After this battle, let's have some coffee.”

Arcadia was just pulling away from the corvette and looping around for her second run when Kai's voice came over the com. She couldn't help but be amazed. "What the..." She mulled it over for a couple seconds, then decided 'what the hell.'

"Sir, are you... aren't you a marine?" That voice was very memorable, having returned from perhaps the worst time in her life. All those big, muscly, arrogant bastards joking about life & death like it was no big thing. Pilot Langdon had been hoping to put all that behind her, but NO! Lieutenant Nakamura had to come swooping back in and evoke old, rotten memories.

"You know what? Nevermind. I don't need to know. Sir. Yes, we could use some help. This corvette's going to give us all a few new viewports if we don't take care of it."

Hendlow quirked an eyebrow. "What the hell happened, Tankson?" Yeah, it was a cross between his nickname and his last name, and was by no means an actual word, but the Lieutenant liked it. Thomas would have to deal. "Land yourself on the KIA list or something?"

The series of images were simple, almost cartoonishly cute. A strange, docile creature of alien origins grazed cheerfully in a meadow. It was obviously some sort of small cattle most likely slaughtered for meat and perhaps at one point hide, but here, they were at peace. Despite their alien-ness, they looked rather cute, like a bleary eyed sheep. But with feathers and teary, black beady eyes. Slowly, gently, this one and it's herd began to jump over a fence, one at a time and at a slow, steady rhythm. Suddenly, the fence turned into a flaming hoop, and a scantly clad Terran female stood there, whip in hand, and begun to crack it over the gentle herd! She started shouting; "Jump! Jump, you xeno bitches! Jump!" The Alien-Sheep-Killy thing hesitated, quivering with fear all the while as he looked at the flaming hoop. Cibo cracked her whip at him, yelling at him. "Jump! Jump through the flames! Jump!"
"Bleee!" he fearfully cried out.

"Bleee!" Killy bleeped. He slowly woke up from his nap and shook his head, not betraying any of that terrible turmoil in his head to the two Terrans with him. The male, Marcus, was making fun of the same female he saw in his nightmare, Cibo, for overdosing on medication.
"Ha! I told you it was too much, but you never listened to me, nope."
"Pft! And who's the cheating-ex here? Huh?" Cibo sniped back. She was clutching her waist, and looked to be in some pain. Neither noticed Yotruyan had woken up. As though nothing were amiss, he simply reached out for the bottle of pills Cibo had and carefully read it's label. It was the kind of medication that absorbed through the stomach lining for immediate action, and not through the intestines. He walked over to the two humans.
"Cibo, I learned something from the SeFlaurinds that will help. Hold still."
"Wait, wha-" The Ottyo took a pen from her pocket, bent her over, and stuck it deep into her mouth. She threw up.
"Damage control. You're welcome."
"Aww! My boots!" Marcus cried out. Cibo looked between Killy, who had manhandled her, and Marcus, who's boots she made a mess of. She spat onto the grated floors before laughing.
"Yeah, thanks." Inwardly, Yotruyan knew it was these kinds of things he saw from the disgusting Terrans and Terran-like peoples that kept him up at times. So unclean with their sweating and their funny smells. But then again, they were ok as people. He watched Cibo laughing at Marcus' displeasure.

Kai acknowledged Arcadia's response with a flash of confirmation on her HUD, Rushing in towards the enemy corvette and expertly picking out the ship's blind spots. "Just follow my trail and take shots at the turrets as soon as you get a clear view. Remember, never directly follow me when coming back into their field of fire" the experienced anti-ship pilot commented, dumping a large number of micro-missiles at a turret, blowing chunks of armor off of it and exposing the inner workings.

Emma, not sure of her ability to pick out the blind spots of a rotating turret, simply stood guard, making sure to keep fighters off the backs of the other three. "I'll keep you covered. Tell me when it's teeth are gone so I can help beach it" the sixteen year old said over the radio.

"Only if you can still keep up with me." Rhiannon teased, As she showed that the much larger fighter she was piloting still seemed to have the speed of a Scimitar. Her fighter dove into a cloud of enemies nearer to the enemy fleet, her and her wingmates doing what they could to keep the fighters busy so they couldn't harass the Terran ships.

The Endeavour fired off two more shots from its Solaris cannons, as the turbolasers continued to pound at enemy mormations. The newer Uranis-class frigates did their best to emulate the larger Terra class, and seemed to be doing immensely better than the aging Pluto and Mars class ships in the battlegroup. Suddenly, a thrid and fourth Solaris blast pierced through the vacuum, ripping a Drake and a couple raptors into scrap metal.

The Hymn had launched. At its helm stood Evelyn, the first ASIAN M3. she contacted Adamsk, the second ASIAN M3, and the two began to have a lively discussion about the time that had passed since their respective activations, while somehow simultaneously helping to lead their ships in the battle.

Javier Feyete had been busy since his squadron, Blue Squadron, had been almost completely exterminated. After landing on Saratar Station, that lovely voice that had chided him while in his scimitar had relayed to him his new orders: Javier was being given command over the remnants of various other decimated squadrons, enough scimitars and pilots to form an entirely new squadron, and was transfered to the newly refitted Hymn. After 30 or so minutes, the 12 pilots and scimitars had been gathered together in one of the starship's hangars, and the squadron had already been named in Javier's native french: "Escadron de rapiéçage", or, in plain and simple terran, Patchwork Squadron. Feyete had already taken care of the armament package for his squadrons, as technicians scurried over the dozen fighters, making sure they were fueled up and ready to fly. Each fighter carried two cruise missiles, with the remaining weapon spaces taken up by loads of standard missiles.

Javier himself stood infront of his gathered squadron, who were all waiting for the order to launch. The Rhean blushed, and smiled as he looked over his command. "Well, to be honest, when I woke up today, I didn't expect to have most of Blue Squadron to be wiped out. I doubt many of you expected to have most of your squadrons wiped out. And, well, it kinda sucks, to be honest, but now we get payback! Each of you has two cruise missiles on your fighter. We're going to go in, and shove all 24 of those cruise missiles right up the skirts of the skirts of those Lézards foutus, and we'll make sure to send 20 Drath to the afterlife for every one of our departed squadmates! Escadron de rapiéçage, décollage ! "

As Javier finished his speech with gratuitous french and yelling, the pilots of the patchwork squadron boarded their scimitars, and began to launch in closely knit pairs. Javier, as he strapped down in his Scimitar, messed around with the radio a bit, hoping to reach a certain someone as he and his wingmate, now Rapiéçage 2, launched from the hangar bay.

"Bonjour, belle voix Merkur! Serez-vous ma voix de la bonne chance pour ce duel?"

The Tyrant roared in rage at the sight. His fleet was moments from victory, and now even fewer moments from ruin! The filthy vermin with all their tricks and, and...he sent a hand smashing down onto the console to vent his rage. His massive jaws parted and voiced out a series of rapid fire grunts and snarls to the rest of his fleet. A sharp hiss and bark ended his tirade as the red fleet moved at his orders. They knew they were going to die. So they were going to make the pale vermin pay. The three Drake class ships lead the charge, not towards either Terra class ship, but straight into the ongoing fray, closing in on the more conventional Terran ships, and making sure the Terra class vessels did not have a clear shot with their main guns. The Tyrant's ship plunged into the middle of the knife fight, awash with fire as it deliberately rammed a Terran corvette, it's remains breaking up across the prow of the massive red box. He roared in delight as another met a similar fate, as the other Drakes followed suit.

"Raptors, focus firepower on those smaller new ships, Ur-anus class." he gutturally chewed the human words out and then gave himself a wicked grin when he realized what the ships' name sounded like in Terran. "Ha! A fitting name for such lowly vermin!" He spoke in his hissing-grunting language. "Continue to close distance to prevent the damnable Terras from picking us off! Carriers, send out all remaining fighters. I don't care if the pilots are janitors! Just so long as they can fly and shoot! Do it!" The Tyrant's ship shook from an impact, exposing it's engineering to space. He screamed and hollered for a pair of corvettes to pull up and cover his weak side. "Why are they taking so long?!"

Several pilots hissed and grunted as the slightly larger, newer craft made mincemeat out of them. They whined and complained that the Terrans were annoying, how they always pulled another and another thing out their collective ass and how hard they were to stomp out for good. They squabbled over what to do next, but finally decided the new bitch had to die. Regardless of what happened next, they would never find out how accurate their wording for the Terran Pilot was. A pair of Rex fighters and a trio of Scourge craft assaulted Rhiannon and whoever was with her, Steven included, quickly trying to separate her from the pack.

The Firebrand attempted to shake off the Terran fighters like gnats, but it quickly became apparent it didn't care about them, as only a few of it's point defense weapons fired on the fighters. A Rex and three Scourge-class ships were called, swooping in to try to divert the harassing Terrans. The red corvette accelerated and proceeded to fire it's main guns at the exposed side of a Uranus class, another Firebrand coming in from the other side to pincer the Terran ship. Time was running out for the Frigate!

Both Red and Rapiéçage Squadrons were met by a fresh swarm of Drathonian fighters, the backup squadrons. Still, with the arrival of the Endeavor, the Terrans had the upper hand in numbers. Despite that, they tried to quickly intercept the Scimitars and keep them away from the remaining ships as long as possible; the more time they could buy, the more Terrans would die in the near suicidal attacks launched by their Tyrant. Laser cannons and shields flared as carnage ensued. A pair of Scourge fighters went after Ruze desperately, avoiding Ukraine and Siberia. A Rex blasted a random wingmate from Javier's patchwork squadron and quickly fell behind him, laser bursts lancing by in a fiery display.

The flight controller laughed at Javier's strange ramblkings in french as he took off, but was kind enough to send him some battlefield reports. The Terrans now outnumbered the Drathonians, and so it was a sort of free-for all out there. "Keep your head on, and don't get killed!" she warned the cobbled-together squadron.

The Terran ships, after the initial surprise, began to use their speed and maneuverability to keep away from the large Drake-classes, a push was made, and anything with Turbolasers concentrated every single cannon on the lead Drake, to take it out, while the Urtanis calls ships began using their Mini-nova cannons on the remaining three.

The Uranis class caught in a pincer move was soon aided by a Pluto-class missile boat which began spamming missile fire at the nearer Firebrand, allowing the Uranis to go after the farther one.

All of the mars class and most of the remaing Pluto classes began pouring fire at their Drathonian contemporaries, trying to keep the surge back at the cost of possible battlefield longevity; it was already beginning to get evident that the sudden surge of fire from the Terran ships was having Negative effects on their systems.

It was useless, even with the few squadrons of reserve ships from the Drathonian carriers, there were very obviously more Terrans than Drathonians out there now, and the only successful tactic seemed to be ramming, which was just as difficult as trying to hit a Scimitar with Weapons, and much more costly.

“Ukraine, Poland pull off and help Ruze. Everyone else stay, pair-up and pick targets. Slovakia your with me.” Siberia's quick instructions rang out over the squadron channel as more fighters arrived. He quickly executed a turn and joined with Slovakia, who had already begun to fire upon the enemy.
A fast succession of “Sirs!” followed the Lead's maneuvers, Ukraine's including. He ground his teeth as he made a tight turn and followed after the pair of Scourges going for Ruze.
“Yours is left, mine right.” Poland's curt voice announced as he peeled off and went for the right most, and up-most, Scourge.
Ukraine accelerated and then let loose a burst of turbo laser fire at his target. It missed and the young pilot muttered underneath his breath. “C'mon Ruze, get your butt into action and fry that lizard.”

Bronze had a cruel, mock-grin on his face. The Delta Darts had launched from the station and immediately met resistance from the Drathonian fleet. He couldn't believe the luck all, but especially his, Squadrons had encountered.
Four more of his squadron had perished in the fighting since he had made an example of that useless wretch earlier. His partners hadn't gotten through with unscathed units either, but they each had only lost one pilot each.
Ha! Cowards, he thought as he looked over the wreckage of multiple Scourges. He had exulted in the death of every Drathonian pilot. It was such delicious revenge on the fools, now they wouldn't dare to treat him with contempt. No, he had spilled so much of there blood that, that he had become a -
“Bronze keep your Squadron moving.” Cracked the voice of the Green elite over his com-channel.
Bronze hissed, but pulled his mind away from the awe of his personal glory to attend to matters around. Then looking around and seeing no enemies his hiss turned into a snarl.
Green responded immediately, as if he could read Bronze's mind, “Just try and snap at me, fool.” When Bronze gave no answer Green continued, “We've already tracked enemy movement, now follow my Squadron. Don't get lost.”
As Bronze watched his companion's Squadron move forward he maneuvered his fighter to follow. His movements were mechanical, he could barely think due to the seething rage that occupied the forefront of his thoughts. How dare he, once they landed this would be settled.

Arcadia did as she was told, despite the fact that the orders came from one of those thickheaded men from before. She saw the logic in the command and his skill with the crafts- both his own and the opponent- and knew it was a strong plan. In the coming minutes, Pilot Langdon's disdain for him would slowly ebb away as her larger armaments began to eat away at the corvette. "Emma, get back in here. Looks like they're aiming for a suicide rush; we're not their focus."

Ruze grimaced at the thought of the two Drathonians on his tail. "I'm just leading this lizards on. Take the shots so we can get back to business." He swept into a wide-radius spiral that eventually twisted toward galactic south and back again as he prepared to engage some more enemies, putting faith in his squad mates.

“Well, that should prove to be an easy challenge if I am only up against that big tugboat,” Steven chided back as he led his own squadron back into the fight. He did make a quick note though of where his pilots were. Greens Three and Four seemed to be co-oping a large target with what he recognized to be Kai's squadron, and Greens Eleven and Twelve were on their way to join back up with Green Squadron.
Pleased to see the odds of the battle shift in the favor of the warm blooded, Steven opted to hold back on flying right into the fray again. His squadron had been in solid combat for a while now, and it was starting to show very clearly. The last hit Steven's scimitar took was enough to take down his shields and pepper his wings with shrapnel, so with his shields wavering on the edge of being able to stop a bird collision and being able to stop a rock thrown by a small boy, he was content to stick to the rear and mop up what the reinforcements missed.
“OK boys, the cavalry have arrived, and we have earned our brief respite but that doesn't mean we can just slack off. The lizards are making a push and it is up to us to hold the line. We have always known that these lizards were nothing but wild animals, and it appears we have them backed into a corner. They are desperate and unpredictable, so stay focused and watch each other's backs. Understood?” Steven announced to his pilots.
“Understood, Sir,” was the collective response.

The ramming tactic was a simplistic ruse, and the Tyrant was quite proud of it's nature. The Terrans were, obviously, backing off faster than most of his ships could close. Despite that, they were still at close proximity with one another, and nobody could miss. Nobody. No excuses. The Terrans watched as the Red Fleet suddenly started to concentrate fire on just a handful of ships at a time, quickly destroying those in short order, and the close proximity prohibited the Terra class ships from using their main guns and quickly ending the battle. The Tyrant quickly assigned sub leaders to coordinate the fleet into a few groups, each focusing on one target; whatever was easiest to hit, and had the most Terrans on board. "Concentrate firepower on these newer ships the Terrans have made! Waste their efforts and make them watch their hard work go down in flames! Our numbers may dwindle here today, but we are legion! We shall charge upon their weakened walls once again with renewed numbers, strength and vigor! Forward for the Empire!" Chaos ensued.

****

As the Firebrand exploded like a hamster put into a microwave, several solid shells the size of minivans slammed into the Pluto class nearby Kai, Emma and Arcadia. The massive projectiles collapsed the shields, and tore the ship into large chunks when a nuclear tipped shell was delivered as an unnecessary coup de grace. Giant fragments spun out with great speed, one of which collided with the Uranus, weakening a portion of it's sectioned shields and bringing them down further. The remaining Firebrand, under harassment from the Terran fighters pushed forward and fired it's main guns at the frigate, finally creating an opening in the Uranus' shield. It's defensive guns swiveled about and followed the fighters, nearly hitting the two pilots, but instead landing a small smattering on Kai, the Marine. His shields dropped to one third strength as the red ship's cannons dug into the side of the Uranus Class. The Drakes' shifted fire onto the weakened shield section, beating on the hull below. The Firebrand, knowing the end was near, made a balls to the wall rush; it was going to do a kamikaze on the frigate.

The two backup pilots had terrible aim, but kept shooting and shooting at Ruze despite the backup from friends and spiraling course. They followed closely and the two Scourges moved about to try and dodge the incoming fire while trying to put it on Ruze; they were too slow to avoid the majority of the fire. The left most Scourge took the worse of the beating, it's shields down and hull coming apart. Atmosphere began to vent, and eventually, something important was hit, and it exploded, showering the four rescuers in bits of debris. The second Scourge had it's shields pummeled down to nothing and had lost part of it's forward boom; Ruze was in a similar situation, as his shields were finally taken down, and a single shot bit off a wingtip.

Any fighting that occurred between the Drathonians and the Moonies was vicious. The Drathonians had fewer numbers and slower ships, but had shields and firepower that counted. The Moonies, on the other hand, were fast and nimble, outnumbering any Drathonian pilot who went up against them. However, their Delta Daggers were old ships, and a tad frail like other fighters of Terran make. A Scourge promptly fell in behind the Green Elite, it's guns blazing in a fiery red fury.

The Tyrant's damaged Drake slowly came to loom over Steven and his squad, as it fired it's cannons on Terran Frigates and Destroyers. it's point defense weapons automatically tracking and firing on the Squadron of Scimitars, but was substantially less than what it would have been due to the ramming attacks it participated in earlier, sheering off several of it's smaller turrets. A single Firebrand hovered over the Drake's exposed engineering section like vulture. It fired at Green Squadron.

Javier saw his opening. Rapiecage Squadron had flown into battle from the Hymn, and had come under attack from a Rex, but a quick thinking Javier had focused laser fire from his eleven remaining scimitars at it, causing the Drath fighter to turn into a ball of cripsy metal and plastic. At that point, Javier noticed something in the battle: a heavily damaged Drake-class was charging forward, firing its guns at Terran starships and starfighters. Green Squadron, who had entered the battle before Rapiecage, were already engaged in close combat around the ship with both the Drake's PD and a Firebrand, leaving the exposed engineering section ripe for the picking, and directly within range.

"Rapiecage Squadron! Arm all anti-ship missiles, and aim for the big fucking hole in that Drake! Fire as soon as you can, Go Go Go!" Slowly, in twos, the 22 Anti-Ship missiles of Rapiecage squadron lanced out from the eleven scimitars, followed by the fighters themselves who were coming in behind the constantly accelerating missiles, ready to jump on any Drath fighters who tried to intercept.

"Green Squadron, This is Rapiecage Lead! Try to keep that Drake's pd occupied! We have 22 fishes in the water for it!"

Steven was already irked enough at the onset of being targeted, and fired upon, by the Drake and Firebrand, so as soon as his comm started to chirp with a French accent about some fish the Green CO was less than amused. “Something about fish and a rape cage?” a random thought passed through Steven's mind as he focused on doing maneuvers in a dilapidated scimitar.
“I copy, uh, Lead. You just, um, keep those...Ugh, damn it!” Steven started but then broke off as he narrowly avoided some incoming enemy fire from the Drake's point defense systems, “Just do what you gotta do, and I'll do what I can. Green Lead, out.”
After almost an hour of combat, Steven's already frayed nerves were causing him even greater annoyance as he began to wonder why nobody was throwing him a bone today. “Just get over a debilitating illness less than three hours ago, run into a drathonian in the hallway, and now almost get shot down several time in the same amount of time it takes to make an omelet. I need some coffee,” another random thought said as it waited in line to get to Steven's mouth; it was preceded in line by several crude looking characters that were spewing profanities.
“This is Green Leader to Green Leader. Rhiannon, you hear me? If at all possible, do ya think now would be a good time for me to cash in one of those favors you still owe me? Me and the boys are currently playing tag with lots of bullets, and we are running low on, well, everything really. Think you could swing by in that fancy new fighter of yours?” Steven asked with an odd mix of emotions that included 'I am rather unhappy right now' and 'why didn't I go into law school instead'.

Ukraine smiled as he got a lock on the enemy Scourge. Poland had already destroyed his and left to take down more fighters.
“All right, Ruze, I'll show these Drathonian's out and then we can get back to our jobs.” Ukraine called over the channel as he let off a burst off fire, quickly followed by a second and then a third. The shots ripped through the enemy pilot's fighter, making it no longer a point of concern.
Pulling up next Ruze, Eremenko looked around for more enemies, “Following you buddy, let's fry some more of these lizards.”

The Elite's squadrons of Delta Darts were also fairing well. They hadn't lost another pilot since Bronze had gotten his last four casualties and the others one each. They had adopted the tactics of swarming isolated or embattled Drathonian squadrons with all three of theirs.
Bronze smirked as he killed another enemy. This was turning out to be a very good day.

As the Tyrant's Drake succumbed to the large amount of anti-ship torpedos landing inside of it unimpeded, The Terran fleet took the opening made by it, and coordinated their fire on the remaining Drathonian ships. It seemed as if the Terrans had been holding back before, keeping everything together in case the Draths had backup, but at this point it was obvious they did not.

First was the Pluto and Mars classes, which fired their Missiles, Torpedos, and Turbolasers in an enormous barrage of light and projectiles, an act which ate away at the Corvette screen and the shields of the larger ships. This was followed by the Terra II and Uranus classes opening up with their own turbolasers. The bright shiney death blossomed from the guns, flinging superheated beams of coherent light and a few other things blowing their way through space to impact upon, and melt, the hulls of the enemy ships.

As a Coup De Grace, The Terras and Uranus classes opened up with their Solaris, and Mini-nova cannons, respectively, blowing huge holes in the enemy ships, completely decimating them and causing masses of rapid decompressions, secondary explosions, and all around Havok on their Drathonian foes.

The fighters, as well, Were by this time so depleted in numbers that it was a matter of who shot them down first, rather than wether they would be shot down or not. The Battle itslef raged on for another Half hour, mostly the Terrans mopping up the last bits of Drathonian fighters, But before that could happen the Hymn's active squadrons were recalled, to finally Set down in their home ship for the first time in months.

The Tyrant spoke in utter disbelieve as his flagship's reactors were breached, explosions working their way throughout the entire ship. "What?! We are demolished by such stings? What is this? I don't believe --"

The single Ottyo on Saratar scratched his left cheek, and not the one on the face either, as he felt as though he were stung by a bug. Of course, Yotruyan knew well that wasn't the case, and someone else out in the galaxy was more likely to get stung to death than an Ottyo in a nerve suit was to get a single bug sting. He would never find out just how true that was. 'Was that a nerve going off for no reason? Maybe. Maybe I'm almost getting old...'
"Whoo! The fleet kicked lizard ass hard!" Marcus cheered. He sounded a lot like a Gantsk Ball player cheering the touchdown, and from his point of view, he could easily imagine that Cibo was once the cheerleader on such occasions as this. Yotruyan shuddered a little, imagining what a Terran looked like with a bit less clothing, or worse, none at all. "No offense to you, Killy." the male human hastily added in.
"None taken. I'm technically a mammal anyways." the Ottyo replied. Across the table, Cibo was just sitting there, finishing up with her boots and an alcohol soaked rag. She looked up and considered Yotruyan for a moment before giving a flat remark.
"Normally, I'd stab someone, but all I have to say is that you're even more fraking weird than a platypus." before going back to cleaning her footwear.

Steven and the entirety of Green Squadron heaved a heavy sigh of relief as their scimitars touched down on the flight deck of the Hymn's hangar. After what seemed like a lifetime away, and a lifetime filled with monotonous patrols, a dull environment, and almost dying from a virus, Steven was damn well about to kiss the landing pad. However, he maintained his composuer and kept himself busy through the emotional rush by inspecting the damage that had been done to his scimitar. The only time he had ever seen a fighter in worse shape was when he and Fred had to make a crash landing in a shamshir. The main body and wings were filled with dozens of dozens of hole ranging in size from the diameter of a quarter to being big enough to fit a basketball.
As Steven was distracted, Fred walked over and patted Steven on the back, almost knocking Steven over.
"Well, my friend, we made it through yet another difficult situation that would have surely broken the will of any other squad, but not us! Not good ol' Green Squadron!" Fred began to cheer loudly.
"You always say that, Fred. Besides what about the rest of the squadrons who were out there with us? They didn't break," Steven replied as he regained his balance.
Fred reached out and pulled Steven into a headlock. "Ah, but those poor sods did not have OUR fearless leader! They didn't have you Stevie-boy! You who have overcome hardship and overcoming emotional striff like yours! You who carried my unconcious ass on your BACK through an enemy infested jungle on an alien planet! You who...!" Fred cheered jovially before Steven cut in.
"Calm down there, Fred, and what have I told you about calling me Stevie?" Steven asked with an ear-to-ear grin.
"Hold on there, Captain, I ain't done yet," Fred replied, then he started his cheering again, "You who recovered from a life-threatening illness that woulda killed a lesser man, and then flying in a victorious campaign not a half hour after regaining conciousness! Hell, you were even flying better than half the sods on this ship not a half hour BEFORE conking out!"
"Fred, I'm pretty sure those 'sods' can all hear you," Steven remarked as he started to laugh as well.
"Let them hear! I am just praising the man who has saved my life more times than my alcohol-pickled brain can remember! The Saints as my witness, as soon as all of this mess has blown over and I go to get married, you'd better be my fucking Best Mate!" Fred cheered even louder.
"Hey Fred, I'll tell ya what. Pipe down and I'll have a drink with you to celebrate. Deal?" Steven said through his own laughter.
"It had better be an alcoholic one this time! Coffee don't count!" Fred continued.
"Yup, an alcoholic one!" Steven said, now getting into Fred contagious cheering.
"Then you have got yourself a bloody deal!" Fred almost shouted.
"Okay, we get it, Fred, you have a man-crush on the Captain," Private Thomas, Green Nine, called out from off to the side, "Now stop shouting, you're embarassing us."
"Man-crush?! That is a damned understatement! He's my hero!" Fred boomed, his Irish accent coming full circle. The remainder of the squadron joined in on the laughing.
"Now, where is that lady pilot friend person of yours? I want to meet the woman who courted the Captain," Fred said, now at a regular talking pitch, as he let got of Steven.
"Rhiannon? She is from that other ship that came in for reinforcements. It might be a while before you get to meet her," Steven replied.
"You anxious about seeing her after such a long time, Sir?" Lance Corporal Dan, Green Seven, asked.
"Eh, she is probably some average countryside-girl," Private Aaron, Green Eleven, said sardonically.
"Hey, mind your tongue, Richards. This is the Captain we're talking about," Private Sean, Green Twelve, cut in.
"And besides, as Sean said, this is the Captain we are talking about. He was, like, validictorian at one of the most prestigious naval schools in the Milky Way. He probably has wicked high standards, so she is probably, like, a supermodel or something," Private Martinez, Green Ten, added.
"Don't be stupid, Pablo, this is war. Everybody knows that there are no supermodels in a warzone. It would distract the soldiers and everything," Aaron retaliated.
"She's a pilot, stupido. She sits in a cockpit and wears a flightsuit and helmet. How would that distract during combat?" Pablo came back with his own retaliation.
"Green Squadron! Zip-it!" Steven bellowed, finally feeling the need to break up the bickering, "If the opprotunity even comes up, I will be sure to introduce you to her. Until then, shut up! And Aaron, you'd be surprised at just how wrong you are."
After waiting a few moment to make sure everyone was silent, Steven continued.
"Now get about to checking your fighters, then you're free to go."

Flying. Shooting. Dodging. Huge fucking explosions. So much happened in so little time.

When she landed, Arcadia remained in her cockpit, but tugged off her helmet and let it hang from the throttle. She sat there in the nearly silent ship, taking a few deep breaths and running a gloved hand over her sweaty face and sweat-matted hair. Shower time, she mentally noted, but didn't move to leave just yet. Pilot Langdon needed to cool down for just a bit. Not even two minutes after landing, she popped the hatch and clambered down- helmet in tow- just as someone made mention of supermodels in a warzone.

With her head on a swivel, she identified Green Eleven. She was in his comfort zone in just a few seconds with an inquisitive stare. "What's that, Aaron? Don't think I could cut it?" Her words were a direct challenge, and Pilot Langdon was more than curious as to how he'd respond.

"Onward, then, Ukraine, like the everliving Cossacks of the Universe that we are!" With that, the pair dove into the fray once more.

Back aboard the Hymn, Pilot "Uzbekistan" was cheering and jeering with his comrades. In the excitement, he became distracted at the sight of his recent date working diligently with the wounded. He grinned, glad to see more evidence that he knew how to pick the good gals. He aided a wounded pilot from Black Squadron- fellow by the last name of... well the patch was half-torn, so all Ruze could make out was the last half: -toya.

Dilshod gave the man a curious smile. "What's your name, buddy?"

"Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." The Black Squadron pilot said all this in a grim tone with a dire expression. Ruze stopped right there, and they had a staring match: the Crimson pilot with his confused gaze and the Black pilot with his death glare.

After a few seconds, the injured pilot broke into laughter. "No, man, it's Dennis Pontoya. I'm no Spaniard." Ruze shared a few laughs with him as they completed the trek to the nurse's "collection station" at the hangar's entrance. Once the Black pilot was situated, Dil approached the nurse. When her eyes met his, they were full of surprise and joy. "You made it!"

"You definitely helped, Miss Cullier. Gave me one more- no, gave me a good reason to come back." His smooth tone of voice was back with a matching grin.

There he went, flattering again. She was blushing as well, realizing he remembered her name. "Please, just Rebecca. Now shoo, I need to get to work." She made a playful gesture of shooing him. Ivlivanevya merely smiled, took nurse Rebecca Cullier by the waist, dipped her, and kissed her. When she was on her feet, the Crimson pilot said, "You've got my contact info. Let me know when you're free so we can celebrate. I mean it; I'll be expecting a call, sleep or parties be damned." He smiled, bowed to kiss the back of her hand, and took back to his squaddies.

"Miss anything?" he asked.

Aaron was caught completely off guard by Arcadia. He jolted back a little as a mortified expression covered his face. "Uh, well, Arcadia. When I, uh, said that there wasn't any supermodels on the battlefield I, um, didn't mean that, uh," Aaron stammered as he tried to explain himself.
"Hey Aaron, I think you're gonna need some surgury! I ain't never seen anyone stick their foot THAT far in their mouth!" Sean called out from off to the side. This caused several of the other men around Aaron to also begin laughing.
"Senora Arcadia! I think you could be a supermodel!" Pablo said eagerly.
"cough, Suck up, cough" Private Rob, Green Eight, said off to the side.

Arcadia grinned at the stuttering Pilot: it was exactly what she'd expected. Moreover, another idiot had usurped Aaron's throne! Oh what fun was in store for her. Pilot Langdon turned to face Pablo and slowly approached. There was perhaps a tint of malevolent joy in that smile, as if she knew she was making these men squirm in their suits... and enjoyed it. When she spoke again, Arcadia used the same challenging tone of voice she'd carried with Aaron. "So Pablo, you've managed to suck up, hit on me, and one-up your teammate with just one sentence? Am I understanding this correctly?"

Oh what fun, indeed.

"That's right!" Pablo boasted as he puffed out his chest in a show of dominance, "Pretty impressive, huh?" The few pilots of Green Squadron who were close to began laughing anew, and Steven, who was still off to the side with Fred, was very happy to see his squad getting along.

"Doesn't our squad just make ya think of a big, happy family," Fred asked as he looked on with his Captain.
"I was going to suggest a support group, or better yet a high school sports team," Steven added sardonically.
"So, are you anxious to see Rhiannon again, Sir?" said Fred.
"More excited than anxious, I guess," Steven said, his tone getting very flat and nonchalant, "I haven't seen her in years, and I am more just wondering what's going to come of it. I mean, we left on good terms, so the chance of us getting back together is always there. But the reason we broke up in the first place was because we were stationed far away from each other, and as far as I know, things haven't changed."
"Didn't you have a thing for Miss Langdon though?" Dan asked as he suddenly appeared right next to Steven. This caused Steven to jump a little bit.
"I thought I told you to stop sneaking around like that, Dan," Steven said as he straightened himself out, "And no, there isn't anything there, as far as I can tell. And besides, I am her CO, I can't fraternize."
"Isn't Command's offer still good for you to transfer over and become an Officer on the bridge? You could always do that and the rules would be much less strict on the relationship," Dan suggested.
"Become an Officer on the bridge? You trying to get rid of me or something?" Steven gave a bewildered look.
"Bwahaha! Yes, my plans to move up from third-in-command up to second-in-command will soon be set into motion," Dan said with a wonderful impression of an evil scientist.
"Very funny. Anyways, I wouldn't make it on the bridge, it's to high stress for me, nor would I be able to fly a fighter anymore. Plus I hate having to wear those stuffy uniforms, I had my fill of those back at the Academy," Steven said.
"Oh well, at least that means she is still up for grabs, I would hate to have to compete with you, Sir. Wish me luck then," Dan said as he mimicked the casual, cross-armed, distant stare pose of Steven and Fred.
"Don't get yur balls chopped off, Danno," Fred said with a smile.
"Thanks, Fred," Dan replied.
"No problem, buddy," Fred said back.
Steven, choosing to stay silent for now, was thinking to himself about what he would say the next time he saw Rhiannon.

Emma waited in her fighter, sufficing to watch the group from a distance. She surmised that they were talking about something she wouldn't understand, having been mostly brought up as a refugee on an occupied planet, with little time for formalities such as flirting and teasing. However, the girl was amused by the goings-on, and smiled, relaxing for the first time in over an hour since they had first launched for this battle. She knew her fighter wasn't in prime condition, but decided she'd look over it later, as for now, she was happy to be back in the Hymn.

As Kai was ordered back from the battle, along with Alpha 2, he was glad to know he was being recalled to the Hymn. He Knew that the Hymn wasn't quite ready at the moment, but knew it wasn't long before they could stay on their home ship for good. Landing in the crowded hangar, kai watched the vast numbers of fighters and the few corvette sized ships zipping back and forth into the hangar and out of it depending on what was needed. The Hymn felt alive for the first time since Ovid.

Evelyn stood on the Bridge of the Hymn. Though the Ship had a new computer, it was based off of Evelyn's AI, and so it had a familiar feel to it, as well as being better at mimicking Evelyn's own thought patterns. The Gynoid seemed content, sitting on the captain's chair for the first time since the battle at Ovid. This time, the Bridge was no longer on surface of the ship, and lacked windows, but the numerous viewscreens helped give a commanding view of the battlefield about Saratar that was now littered with the Wrecks of Terran and Drathonian ships, mostly Drathonian thankfully.

After the Briefing was completed, The marines were directed to the sectors with the sleeping Moonies. Every single unconscious, and even most of the Conscious, moonies were rounded up, and grouped together in a series of rooms under heavy guard, then the leaders were figured out, and Given an Ultimatum: Ally themselves with the Terrans and help in the war against the Drathonian Empire, or be seen as traitorous Lizards and drathonians and be put to death for the war crime of espionage.

Adrian Gorefowl was retrieved, and returned in mostly good condition to the Med center, where he was examined and placed for a little while before he could be properly assigned.

The moonie in the Closet was discovered and safely released.

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