Saturday, April 30, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 10.

"We're on final approach," came a voice from the cockpit. "Touchdown in ten, better strap in, might get bumpy." Lost in thought Wade barely registered the recommendation before the first wave of turbulent atmosphere gripped the ship. What in the world had happened down there, he wondered. Querent was one of the most promising graduates of the academy, a shining gem of the Federated Union. How could a fresh squad led by her have gone silent on a simple deployment for maneuvers? 

Calling up his mini-comm's neural link he directly called up all the information he could to re-brief himself. A four-member squad had been deployed here consisting of Querent, Jeffers, Farrow, and Everett. All decent enough pilots, according to the records. Jeffers file showed a some low marks, but had been personally attested by his instructors as having the heart needed to be the core of a squad with some experience he should prove to be a valuable soldier.

Farrow's own record marked his somewhat reckless use of excessive force and lack of self control. However it also hailed him for an impressive knack for manually coordinating attacks against multiple targets.. And then there was Everett, a bit withdrawn and callous but his final review showed evidence of his own leadership potential. With some experience and a little guidance he should of been more than capable of growing into an excellent second in command. Perhaps even coming into a command of his own.

Her first command, Querent had only just been assigned the squad shortly before shipped out. Every score, every evaluation exemplary, the only thing unusual in her file was the mecha she had selected. It was a quadruped unit, designed for mobility, favored by scouts and often modified by artillery and support teams for it's improved capacity for mounting weapons not normally found on chassis of it's size. However it didn't possess any manipulator arms, and only could of relied on structurally mounted hard points. Something about that puzzled Wade, it wasn't anything most graduates of the academy would of been familiar with piloting. But from Querent's records she wasn't an average pilot, and yet that unit was rated for multiple operators. As the squad's leader and it's tactical officer, it made sense for her to consider a mobile mecha for her combat role, even one with weapons to allow her to supplement her squad's firepower. But how could even she manage to pilot a mecha like that at full efficiency?

 Deployed along with the squad was a second ship with a full compliment of combat drones. Automated with pre-landing mission parameters they should have activated and engaged the squad in a series of practice skirmishes. For some reason though, their beacons activated and then cutoff. The last detected transmissions were from the drones' ship's log marking a command authorized altering to their parameters. No other transmissions, not even the squad's beacons were active. So now, ordered to go down with the pickup team, Wade was reroute. With eyes closed all he could do was wonder, what waited for him down there, and who would come for him if a similar fate awaited him.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Agent of Faith - Part 4.

Cloaked in silence, Corinthia Grael's somber steps carried her forward to a knot of palatable tension. Confusion plainly written on their faces, they stared at her as they  fought to grasp at some measure of understanding. What could this tiny figure clad in chrome and bearing nothing more than some blade really think she could accomplish? Surely the New Republic did not think they could placate them with some little girl.

Politely, Grael spoke in soft, hushed tones as if addressing a frightened child. "Excuse me," she whispered, and without thought the tight ring of men parted slightly to allow her access to a gruff and stern figure standing in their midst. In his hands was a makeshift bomb, his brow dripping with sweat. Eyes dark as coal bored into her, and she welcomed them with her own. Nervously his gaze darted away to scan about as he shifted his stance. Something about his behavior tugged at the back of Corinthia's mind. Desperate and misguided this man might be, but he bore all the hallmarks of someone terrified.

Maintaining her veiled demeanor, Grael began to calculate what she could from the man before her. He was willing to threaten soldiers of the New Republic, even willing to hold a bomb. But was he willing to sacrifice his own life, or that of innocent civilians all around him? Unknown to the troops in the distance, Grael made careful note of the man's finger- it wasn't even resting on the trigger. That lead Agent Grael to only one conclusion; this man was afraid to die, and therefore afraid of the very thing he wielded as leverage.

Standing in the midst of the tightly clustered group of dissident colonists, Grael flushed a deep rose-purple. Their guard lowered, it took several breaths before understanding caught up with what they were seeing. Her voice rang out loud and echoing; "The New Republic always keeps a promise. And this one I am here to deliver; For loss of faith and defiance your lives are forfeit!" With a deep roar Grael drew forth her chain-blade and swung it across in an arc to cleanly sever the bomb from the hands that held it. Letting the momentum carry her she pulled her blade into a spin and ripped into those that surrounded her. Violently men fell in bloody heaps as soldiers watched on, many standing in shock and lost as to what action to take. Those who had yet to feel the bite of her blade tried to bring their own guns and weapons to bear against her, but without the threat of the bomb their morale faltered before the brutal and savage display that had so suddenly gripped them.

As reality slammed back home, soldiers opened fire, sending the rest of the rebellious forces to their ends. Whimpering at her feet, a crumpled figure sat without hands to look up at her beseechingly. "We only sought to regain the support the New Republic used to provide. Please, we never meant for this."

"And yet you would deny others your own support? Your greed has corrupted you. Behold the cost of your actions." As teary eyes took in one last view of carnage that surrounded him, the final sound he heard was a humming buzz. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Agent of Faith - Part 3.

Fury-filled, Corinthia Grael exhausted her drop pack's fuel supply as she let her own determination to drive her. The situation awaiting her was a simple one; a small bad of locals had manage to get an explosive device near a New Republic drop ship. Their threat was simple; do as they said or they would detonate their bomb. And if they did that, Grael was sure the drop ships munitions, not to mention itself would also detonate. Or worse, if they managed to get control of the ship and the supplemental arms it carried they could escalate this riot into a full blown conflict. No, she had to end this, and fast.

As he approached the scene, she released the spent drop pack from her back and took a moment to survey the situation. A small band of locals were tightly grouped together near the drop ships open rear hatch. Laying at their feet were the bloody remains of what appeared to be the ship's pilot, a clear answer to why the drop ship hadn't taken off to avoid just this situation. Spaced out behind cover a handful of New Republic soldiers had taken up position, their weapons trained on the rebellious colonists.

"Let's talk about this," an officer pleaded. "We're prepared to negotiate and try to resolve this, but you have to deactivate that bomb first." A voice rang out from the little clump of colonists, angry and coarse. "The New Republic has never kept it's word, we cannot trust you, or them!"

Careful to keep her composure, Grael stepped forward and tried her most demure demeanor she could manage. "As an official Agent of the New Republic I am authorized and can assure you that that statement is incorrect." Her tone, quiet and clear as she risked a short step forward. "If I may, I would like to speak with you in hopes of resolving any grievance you ma have."

Nodding their consent, Grael moved forward slowly. To their eyes a single lady with only a chain-blade seemed little risk. They could always use her as additional leverage. Calling for her to pause a soldier touched her shoulder and whispered; "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Her answer was automatic, like a trained reflex; "Have faith."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Agent of Faith - Part 2.

On the ground, New Republic troops were scattered about in small clusters, pinned down by armed rioters. Most of them, troops without experience, dispatched to handle what was believed to be a minor band of rioting miners. Instead they found armed locals, who proved willing to use deadly force. As a result, several had died, and the rest looked on, helplessly trapped by gunfire they couldn't locate. While they watched a local thug screaming insults at a wounded soldier and punctuated them with brutal blows from a pipe.

Blood streaming down the side of his face from an open wound, his vision blurred, Cadeel looked up from the ground at his attacker and knew his end was near. In the sky, a vague shimmering form descended, reminding him of childhood tales he had heard of warrior angels. Closing his eyes, Cadeel was certain this had to be what death held for him.

Landing behind the injured soldier, Grael could feel all eyes turn to watch her sudden arrival. Twisting her grip on the chain-blade she felt it spring to life, it's chain edge spinning with a deadly buzz. Cadeel's eyes ripped open to see a face, as it's color intensified to a burning deep rose hue. "Behold," her voice rang out firm and resolute. "The consequence for all those who would betray the New Republic!" In one fluid slash her blade ripped into the rioter's flesh and chewed across his back from hip to shoulder, splattering gore.

Shaken by the sudden and violent attack, rioters hesitantly opened fire only to find their shots ill aimed or ineffective against the gleaming hardsuit's advanced armor. Standing over the wounded Cadeel, Grael held her blade aloft and roared aloud. "Attend brave defenders of the glorious New Republic, look upon the might of faith and uphold your duty! Let us deal with these cowards," triggering her drop pack Grael raced forward with a burst of speed to fly at another armed rioter. "Attack!" She ordered as her lightning fast charge found her target thrown off guard as she severed his arm from his body. His weapon still firing briefly as it left him before falling silent.

Bolstered by Grael's actions, the scattered New Republic troops sprang to action, unleashing cover fire and seizing the rioters own moment of panic. Regrouping, they covered Cadeel and a medic rushed to his side to tend his wounds. Burning like a beacon in the chaos, Corinthia Grael darted about striking out with both claw and blade. A wave of terror spread among the rioters of Bernal II, as Grael directed troops and continually appeared to devastate even those who tried to hide.

As the steady sound of gunfire slowly surrendered itself to silence, Grael found herself looking on the New Republic troops as they managed to apprehend the few survivors.  They didn't seem the same soldiers, her presence had lifted their morale and inspired them with her own faith. Filled with satisfaction, she silently thanked the New Republic for allowing her to act as it's agent. 

Interrupting her reverie, an alert chirped from her hardsuit, and immediately displayed itself over her field of vision. Apparently, there were others here on Bernal II that had lost their faith in the New Republic. They would soon regret that, Corinthia assured herself.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Agent of Faith - Part 1.

The small colony world of Bernal II had known nothing but hardship since it's settlement. It's inhabitants, hard working miners and terraformers that struggled desperately to forge it into a habitable world and earn from it it's rich mineral resources.  But when recent delivers of supplies and much needed government support ended, the people of Bernal II rose up in revolt and used the only leverage they had; their minerals and their meager taxes. Even now, rioters fought New Republic troops in the streets, while a armored drop ship hovered over head.

Surveying the scene below was the slight form touched with a feline grace of Corinthia Grael, altain agent of the New Republic. She stood half leaning out the open rear hatch, her keen pale eyes of pink quartz taking in every detail. Gleaming chrome encased her every curve like a second skin, a high tech hardsuit that she had managed to acquire through use of her standard political favors. A complex currency all it’s own, but the results always proved to be beneficial to Grael.

Hefting up from beside her she checked a vicious looking blade, it’s edge made up of a series of chain that came to life at the handle’s command to chew through near anything. A favorite weapon of hers’, she adored her chain-blade, to the point she shunned almost any other weapon. Instead she preferred the thrill of close combat, even deemed the use of firearms cowardly to her. After completing her checks, she felt satisfied and allowed herself to be interrupted from her thoughts.

“Excuse me, Ma’m, but I really don’t see what you aim to accomplish here. I mean what can you do here that the troops on the ground cannot?” Looking up, Grael locked eyes with a young officer, concern clearly etched into his brow. Calm, her tone reserved as if her very words were a recital of scripture, Grael spoke. Her eyes almost alight with an intensity. “Do you not have faith in guiding light of our New Republic?” She asked him, pausing to let a moment of silence emphasis her point.

“But, your just one person, Ma’m,” his rebuttal quivered slightly as his own voice faltered slightly. The conflict below showed in him as it gripped at his young mind. “If you have not faith in a single agent of our great New Republic,” she began. “Then have faith in the glory it has created, and the righteousness of our cause. These misguided souls have strayed from the path. They seek to cast themselves from our number and if left to do so will surely fall. It is up to us to return them to the truth, to show them they’re error. I may be but one, but I am the spear of faith, the guiding wisdom to light our troop.”

Her ashen gray-white skin started to glow, slowly turning to a muted rose as she keyed on a drop pack and set it to standby. “Believe,” she whispered in a hushed tone full of emotion. And then, with chain-blade in hand she leaped from the open hatch to be carried down into battle, slowed by the roar of the drop pack as it cushioned her decent. Pure dedication burning inside her, blazing with the resolve of unwavering faith.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Primer - Gadgets

"Where does he get all those wonderful toys?"

The answer for a technician is simple; they make it. One of the key features of the technician class is their ability to hobble together rough devices out of parts on hand for short term use. As a testament to my own belief that anything magical can become sci-fi through a simple spin on it's description, I thought I might share a selection of possible gadgets technicians can make based on arcane spells from the d20 SRD. Let me know what you think, and if you have some ideas(or challenges) don't hesitate to let me know.

*Note - Virtually any arcane(or any kind of) spell can be converted into a device in some way through flavor. If you don't see an adequate gadget listed feel free to look up a spell and it can then be quickly converted into service.

0 Level
Illumination Emitter; This simple little gadget is an easily rigged and useful device among Technicians. Once crafted it'll run for about 10 minutes per Technician level on it's power source. It sheds light outwards in a 20 foot radius and dim light outwards in an additional 20 foot radius.

Minor Anti Gravity Projector; A simple rod capable of projecting a short and low powered anti-gravity tractor beam this device allows a Technician to grasp a light weight object(up to 5 pounds) and move it. It's maximum range is 25 feet + 5 feet per every 2 Technician levels. The projector will only function so long as the Technician actively maintains it's use. Once disengaged it ceases function, requiring a constant operation in order to maintain it's power sources recycle rate.

Power Scanner; A small and easy to assemble meter this device can detect other Tech objects based on their power source and allows analysis of the power sources strength and some other qualities. It has an effective range of 60 feet and can operate for up to 1 minute per level but requires a Technician to focus on it's use.

Acidic Derringer; A simple one shot firearm this close range(25 feet + 5 feet per every 2 levels)weapon delivers a small dosage of improvised acid in a condensed ball. It deals 1d3 points of damage.

Code Analyzer; Technicians focusing on security penetration and generalized security both make great use of code analyzers. With these gadgets a Technician can analyze large segments of code rushing through a device, terminal or piece of software. A Technician may analyze and understand up to 250 words per minute even if the code language isn't known to them. Furthermore a Code Analyzer can detect trip commands with a DC 13 Knowledge(Technology) check, a greater trip command with a DC 16, or any other command with a DC 10 + Implanters level. An analyzer will only function for up to 10 minutes per level.

1st Level
Door Jam; A Technician learns over time to utilize simple makeshift devices in order to affect more complex devices like door remote systems. At a distance of 100 feet + 10 feet per level the Technician can close and temporarily override the doors open command. A door so jammed will remain so for 1 minute per level and will have it's DC's to open increased by 5. A Technician can only jam a door of up to 20 square feet per level.

Holo Projector(Fear); This little gem will generate a horrific holo-projection capable of frightening anyone who approaches within 25 feet plus 5 feet per every 2 Technician levels. The quality of the projection though will only affect creatures of 5 HD or lower and only for up to 1d4 rounds. Targets may make a will save to disregard the hologram. Creatures affected become frightened. If they make their Will save they are shaken for 1 round. The device will generally only function until it is interrupted by someone passing over it(i.e. making their will save and continuing on).

Universal Translator; A marvel among marvels this device can translate spoken or written text from any language into an understandable one and vice versa. The translator can only function for up to 10 minutes per level and only affects the Technician or person wielding it. Text can be translated at approximately 250 words per minute. Code or images cannot be translated.

Cart; A Technician can even build a simple make-shift cart to transport him or her around for short times. It will function for up to 2 hours per level and can carry the Technician and up to one other person or small amount of gear and will move at a speed of approximately 60 feet.

Micro Shield Generator: This device projects a riot shield size disk of force in front of you. It negates force blasts directed at you as well as providing you with a +4 shield bonus to AC. The Micro Shield Generator will function for one minute per technician level.

Inferno gloves; A single use gadget this little gem sprays a burst of flame 15 feet from the wielders hand. This causes 1d4 damage per every 2 Technician levels to a max of 5d4. A reflex save may be made to reduce the damage in half. Combustible materials will ignite if they are in the area and any character may attempt to extinguish themselves or objects as a full round action.

2nd Level -
Acid Blaster; The acid blaster is a compressed improvised acid launcher capable of launching a condensed burst of acid 400 +40 feet per level. The acid itself deals 2d4 points of damage and no splash damage. For every three technician levels (to a maximum of 18th), the acid, unless somehow neutralized, lasts for another round, dealing another 2d4 points of damage in that round.

Illumination Negator; This object radiates shadowy illumination out to 20 feet that absorbs all light, granting all creatures within this area a 20% miss chance do to concealment. No device of lower level is capable of penetrating this devices anti-illumination effects, not even common porta-lamps etc. The Illumination Negator will function for up to 10 minutes per Technician level and can only be penetrated by gadgets of higher level.

Endless lamp; This lifesaving little gadget has been a staple among many travelers, colonists and miners. It generates light as the Illumination Projector, and produces no heat. This gadget never ceases to function. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 9.

The sun began to set upon the horizon, leaving a lingering shadow cast from the two opposed mecha. "I have you now," Everett declared with venom. Determined not to repeat the mistakes of his former squad-mates, Everett set his weapons on burst fire, hoping to help control his ammo consumption. He wasn't about to blindly leap into this, Querent had already proven to be a cunning foe, she could be up to something. No, it would be best to be wary, Everett thought to himself.

"If your prepared for me," Everett mused as he took aim to the side of Querent's mecha. "Then  let's try this." A quick buzz of gunfire erupted from his rifle and shoulder mounted guns to strike at Querent as he anticipated her attempt to dodge it. Certain he would catch her by leading the target, Everett's mind swam instantly as he tried to rationalize what was happening.

His mind struggled to play-back what happened, fighting to understand. As he had reached for his controls, locked in his target and pulled the trigger, the target had already reacted. "There is no way!" Everett screamed with fury. Squeezing the trigger again; the same thing. "Impossible!" Every time he fired, his target had already dodged. No pilot has that kind of reaction speed he thought to himself. Even with leading his target he had missed.

"It's true, you are some kind of freak. There is no natural way to possess reflexes like that." His ego torn asunder, all calm sucked into the vortex of realizing his own true skill in comparison. Bernard Everett, all aspirations of promotion or pay now gone, commits himself to a single strategy. Charging headlong and enraged he races forward trying to match Querent's moves.

In the slow motion dance, she now found herself in, Querent flitted about, while her adversary fought his own frustration. Every click of his controls a crude echo of her own natural and impulsive responses. With fluid form she pranced about as his own mecha crudely stomped about in pursuit. She pitied in her own way Everett's limited controls, his own mecha was simply responding to him as best as it could. Perhaps if she merely crippled him, maybe then he could come to understand.

Taking aim with her ARM Lancer's, Querent readied herself to perform a surgical strike to disable her opponent. Unfortunately for the last of her former squad, a mad cackle sprang from his lips as his mind shattered completely. Every weapon system roared to life, and every weapon fired in random different arcs before him. The sudden explosion of heat immediately triggered the Imp VI mines attached, devastating both him and the landscape.

Confusion gripped Querent like a rampant plague. In the heat of battle she had never had any trouble reacting or applying strategic theory. But now, in the aftermath of her entire squads' destruction by her own hand she was left adrift. She wasn't even fully aware what this myriad of emotions were, much less how to deal with them. There would be answers to be made, explanations to be given. And yet, standing here, lost in her mecha-form, feeling the faint breeze play about it's exterior, she herself was at a loss for any answers. Could they really have hated her so much, only because of her heritage? How can anyone believe so... 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 8.

As Everett approached, Querent assessed the situation. He was now isolated and alone, with zero support. Now he was reduced to reacting to the situations she had dictated, when he should of been trying to maintain the advantage and maximizing the combined assets of the squad. Perhaps she hadn't been wrong to avoid personal relationships, if every other soldier was like Everett here, well more squads would decimate themselves instead of acting like a team.

Silently she set a trap, like a spider she patiently placed a web of Imp VI mines along the ground and backed up. The mines themselves were equipped with magnetic locks to adhere to a unit that passed within range, and came with a wide array of trigger conditions. As an automatic rifleman Everett would generate plenty of heat once he opened fire, and the added weight of his ammo would slow him. The obvious option was to set it for a thermal trigger and let Everett blow himself up.

Topping the hill, Everett's mecha brought itself into full view, and immediately looked for cover. Carefully, Querent roused her systems and slowly began to reposition herself. Her mecha-body almost tiptoeing as she directed it to the edge of what she was sure was Everett's effective range. Evelyn was certain if she used herself as bait to tempt him, he wouldn't hesitate.

Digitally immersed in her mecha, Querent could feel every ounce of silicon tingling as transistors stood ready to charge or discharge at the command of her reflexes. The controls before her sat dead, hollow and meaningless for her. For what seemed to her mind like an eternity she waited and watched her prey, while for him barely seconds passed. Using his moment free from drone fire he quickly sat himself to checking his screens, desperately hoping to have lost the drones in the confusion.

And then, like catching sight of a branch rustling in the wind he caught sight of something on a peripheral screen.  Perched in the distance was a quadruped mecha, hidden by a small expanse of brush. Checking his sensors he grinned with delight as a surge of a sadistic glee danced about inside him. He had stumbled into the hiding spot of his foolish lieutenant. All he had to do now was take aim. And soon, he would put an end to her and place himself on his way upward.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 7.

"Let's fall back, we can take up a defensive position there." Everett, made sure to ooze every ounce of confidence he was already brimming with. "Besides, she will have to make it back for our pick up." Farrow couldn't argue with that logic, it made sense. "As long as I see her coming," Farrow boasted, "I can guarantee she will regret it." Bolstered by their own morale, the pair directed their mecha in a slow and cautious pace back towards their drop point.

As if their own inner fire just met a bucket of water, all mirth soon left both Farrow and Everett as a series of laser fire was unleashed at them. Alerts lit their screen highlighting newly detected threats; drones had taken up position between them and their landing craft. And it looked like two more groups were approaching from their sides. Somehow they were setting in the beginnings of being boxed in.

"What is she up to..." Everett pondered aloud. "Scared, that girl is," answered Farrow. "But don't you worry, ol' Farrow here will make short work of this lot." Chuckling, Farrow locked in on a large cluster of the approaching drones and started unleashing volley after volley. His assault devastated entire swaths of landscape, and actually managed to wipe out a respectable amount of enemy forces.

Everett quickly followed suit and laid down cover fire against another grouping of drones. While his automatic fire barked to life he called to Farrow, "I'll try to keep these pinned, you try and lock in on what you can and take them out." Farrow roar, gung-ho as always and fueled with adrenaline as he set himself to lock onto more targets. But once he had confirmed locks, confusion and panic sat in. No matter how much he squeezed on the trigger, his weapon systems just clicked at him, registering empty. Without the measured guidance and pacing of someone in command to guide him, Farrow had let excitement seize his own judgment. And now he found himself forced to rely on his rifle and fall back armaments. Nothing that would allow him to fill his role, leaving Everett hanging.

Still in shock, all Farrow could mutter repeatedly was; "I'm out... empty... just, empty..." Facing the slow approach of drones, Everett knew he couldn't hold the ground on his own, and with Farrow's brash emptying of his full payload, he wasn't going to be much help. Calculating, Everett could only think of one avenue left to him. And in that moment, turned to drop a single demolition charge at his squad-mates feet while he made a break for the hills. The explosion rocked the ground, sending a blast wave in every direction. It barely missed Everett but as he had anticipated had managed to thwart the attacking drones from following him.

All he had to do now was find the lieutenant and finish her off. Then he was sure this 'horrible catastrophe' would result in at least one promotion and some awards, if not two. His only problem, was waiting patiently for him. Querent wasn't about to make him hunt for her, not any longer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 6.

"Well, Jeffers, you failed your lesson with amazing incompetence." Querent was honestly surprised, as rifleman, she had counted on Jeffers having at least the sense to have covered his squad-mates and at the first sign acted/ Even if that meant drawing fire to allow his peers to suppress and bring their artillery to bear. "Pay attention class," she began, "we will now move on to our next lesson." Engaging her command protocols, Evelyn reached out to manually activate the drones that had been meant for their maneuvers and issue a new battle plan for them.

"You first chose to engage an enemy blind, without considering strength first. A grave error that cost you your rifleman. Now you are calculating the strength you think you know, but what will you do when that proves false as well? Will you adapt your strategies, or have you hopelessly locked yourself into a singular tactic?" Calming her mind, Querent centered herself and relaxed, her mecha responded as well by crouching down and lowering it's power output. In such a state she was certain her thermal signature would be greatly reduced helping ensure she remained hidden in a cloak of brush and rocky stone. Her adversaries own units would never have been able to easily traverse such train, a merit to her own flexible choice of chassis as the squads tactical officer.

Patiently she waited from her vantage point as smoke cleared to reveal her two remaining wary foes. They might have closed their comm channels that linked her to them but at this range they neglected caution and forgot how easily their own channels can be intercepted. Especially when it is a superior officer with all the proper codes to do so. Querent listened in as she checked on her automated allies approach, immediately catching the surviving squad members chatter.

“This was supposed to be easy, Everett, now we have to explain Jeffers as well,” Farrow pleaded. “How we going to explain this along with the untimely demise of our renowned lieutenant?” Already trapped by the deeds already done, Farrow knew he was committed. It still didn’t stop his nerved from getting frayed as worry set in about what might befall him if things continued to diverge from their plan.

“Relax,” Everett’s voiced was cool purring whisper. “No plan lasts first contact with he enemy, right? Jeffers never was the best soldier anyways, we’ll just call it a accident. Maybe the poor fool misplaced himself into a friendly field of fire and became an unfortunate casualty. A sad error in the heat of battle, nothing more. We can heroically mourn his loss, and be acclaimed when we return. Besides, Farrow, we can always sell his scrap for salvage and split the coin. At least in death he can be a credit to our pockets and we’ll go down as the brave soldiers who survived. Might even spin it off as a victim of a freak bioid that we had to stop.”

Social interaction had always eluded Querent, she just never could quite understand how people felt or what was expected of her when they interacted. But combat roles in squad she had come to grasp, and she could identify dissension easy enough.  Marking that the drones had managed to get into position, a Cheshire grin lit her face.

She was still grinning as she gave the drones the command to commence their new orders.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 5.

Finding a small thick growth of trees, Evelyn paused to consider her handiwork. That blast had certainly caught her foes off guard, just as it would most inexperienced mecha pilots for the simple fact all too often they considered a bipedal mecha. Perceived superiority of a familiar form and manipulators capable of wielding a variety of weapons had clouded many a soldier's view. Just as many beings had come to think of themselves as superior combatants to many beasts, when the simple truth is it is the pilot who must maximize what is at hand. Their own ignorance had allowed Querent to out maneuver and escape, and she would have to instruct them in the cost of tactical ignorance. 

Her mined honed now with the edge of adrenaline fueled combat, she let her senses sweep out and direct her sensors. Even without their beacons active, the three pilots burned in her vision, their increased thermal discharge highlighting their advance. Evelyn could hear the words of one of her instructors ringing in her ears; "Even when facing a numerically inferior opponent, it is often wise to gauge that forces strength and capability before engaging." It was obvious to her that these three hadn't been paying attention, either that, or they considered themselves to have far too much advantage to consider such a simple caveat. Either way, Querent was certain; class was about to begin.

The most standard position in any squad is the rifleman, an all to often overlooked asset. Farrow may be able to try to pin her down with area covering barrages, and Everett suppress her with automatic fire. But the truth was every squad relied on it's rifleman, and without it, that squad would be handicapped. "Pop quiz, Jeffers," Querent whispered aloud as she reached out with her mind and took aim.

Measuring their approach she waited, letting them get just close enough to feel confident as they hunted for her. As if she was exhaling a held her breath her mecha erupted with a violent volley of rockets. The swarming salvo struck all around her attackers exploding in a wave of concussive force and sending a thick fog of dust to cloud the air around them. Blinded, they were completely defenseless as she charged by, and belly mounted auto-cannons roared to life chewing through Jeffers before he could even register what hit him.

As the smoke cleared, Farrow spun around unleashing his own deadly waves of gunfire randomly, only to find their prey once more vanished. "Hold your fire," Everett ordered, trying to assess what had just happened." "She got Jeffers, that coward," Farrow yelled with fury. "No real loss," Everett remarked, "she should of aimed for one of us. Perhaps her reputation has been overly hyped."

Once more safely hidden, Evelyn watched and decided that her class was in terrible danger of failing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 4.

Galloping along Evelyn scouted, her eyes keen on her sensors for any sign of where the drones must of landed. Not seeing any signs she figured they must not of activated yet. With a sigh she relaxed herself, let her mind go blank and free. Setting in the seat handling the controls never had felt right to her, or natural. Evelyn let her heritage flow through her, she let her mind expand and slip into the mecha frame. Like changing clothes her consciousness bonded into the mecha's systems and at once she could feel it's armored hull as if it were her own skin. Reflex reached out from the back of her mind to test itself, gripping at the weapon systems, rotating and tracking with the back mounted turret and testing the other weapons.

Lieutenant Querent could feel the alarm her systems registered; she had lost the transiting location beacons of her squad. Focusing she scanned through her various systems only to find everything working properly. Somehow she had lost her squad's location as well as communication with them. Something had to be up, as the commanding officer it was her duty to determine what had happened and ensure her men's safety. Flexing her limbs she could feel actuators and servos powering the units legs into the ground, driving her back towards the landing craft. Evelyn could feel the increasingly rushing wind glide across her frame.

Her mind saw every detail the sensors and vid feeds provided, and as she races back shock gripped at her core. Taking up a position of overlapping fields of fire, her squad stood, taking aim, and fired. Jeffers first greeted her with his own poorly aimed shots, her momentum and speed clearly too much for his training. He simply hadn't any training against such a maneuverable foe. It was Farrow's own barrage of artillery that littered the ground around her as she dodged about to avoid his slower rate of fire. Everett however, he held his fire, Querent was certain his was ensuring his own shot before he opened up his own automatic rifle.

What to do, Evelyn's mind raced, she stumbled at processing what could cause her squad to attack her like this. A hail of gunfire and explosions decided for her, instinct kicked in, roaring like some wild beast she bit into the hard ground and shifted her course. Their tracking thrown off, her attackers tried their best to adjust only to find their quarry moved like a fox, zigzagging her way into the distance. The last sight of Lieutenant Querent that her ex-squad managed was her disappearing into the distance, punctuated by a handful of pops.

Jeffers was the first to scream in terror as the superheated mass delivered courtesy of the lieutenant's ARM Lancer's ripped through his mecha's plating like tissue paper. "Calm yourself," Everett calmly quipped. "It's panic fire, nothing more. She is on the run. Besides, she barely hit you, your unit is still functioning." Farrow himself chimed in as well; "How in the heart of a black hole is she geared with ARM Lancer's? I can't even mount them, let alone fire on the run?"

"Clearly, this prey has claws," Everett remarked. His own mind begging to calculate just how much more her chassis might bring on the black market. Surely even as scrap it would hold more value with ARM Lancer's.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 3.

The first to speak once they were relatively certain the lieutenant was out of range, was the youngest member; Alva Jeffers. Jeffers had never shown any real merit at the academy, and truth be told had barely graduated. He had been fortunate to even have been assigned to a squad as a rifleman. But he had never quite seen it that way, in his eyes it was another slap in his face. And being placed under the command of a woman drove him lit a fire inside him. It was when he had heard the rumors that she was a bioid that ignited his will into a wildfire of hate. Something had to be done, and he was only to happy to agree with his squad-mates.

"Anyone catch the nerve on that freak?" Jeffers, already eager broke the silence as he checked his rifle. "It is going to be a pleasure removing that unnatural - thing, from existence. I don't know how she managed to fool everyone, or what plots she has been using, but we'll teach her a lesson." Already Jeffers gritted his teeth as his pulse began to race in excitement. He truly was enjoying this. "Let's kill this abomination already," he said aloud, only to find his mind finishing the thought; 'so I don't have to live in her shadow any longer.' Jeffers knew his only chance to shine would be with Querent out of the way and even then he lacked the skill to advance. No, his only ticket would be if he went down as a hero, purging a freak bioid.

The next to speak his mind was the squad's heavy weapons specialist; Charles Farrow. "I'll just be happy to be off some silly girl's leash. Don't see why she ever joined up to begin with, but all I know is no squad can function with some girl restraining anyone like me. I mean really, she already cut my requisitioned ammo in half and completely removed some of the weapons I ordered outfitted on my unit. Labeled them as excessive, unnecessary, and strategically inferior choices. If we had been lucky enough to draw a worthwhile male lieutenant, I can guarantee I would of been commended on my choices. Not having a permanent mark on my file for excessive waste of resources or clear disregard for collateral damage. Who cares about civilians anyways, they should either enlist or get out of the way."

 Last to speak his piece was the teams suppressive fire expert, a young graduate who had a reputation at the academy as both cold and ruthless; Bernard Everett. "She will clearly be at a disadvantage, that unit is rated for at least two operators to be effective. No doubt she plans to use her reputation to keep us in line but the truth is she may be more mobile than us but she is considering going up against drones. She made a mistake selecting that unit." Without mentioning it, Everett had also already done some checking on salvage value on a mecha of that type. It's worth would easily supplement his pay for a good long while, and if he managed to get promoted after this, well then it would be icing on his new pay scale cake. He was sure neither Jeffers or Farrow would mind his being placed in command of the squad, what did he care if she was a bioid or not. "Check your gear boys," Everett said as he brought his own guns online. "Let's go erase nature's mistake."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 2.

Isolated within the safe confines of her mecha's armored core, Evelyn breathed a sigh of relief; she was home once more. She lived for the time when she was in the pilot's seat, her mecha felt more like a trusted and dear friend than a complex machine. So much so that in truth she preferred it's company to that of other people, something that quickly labeled her as a distant and unusual pilot. Many just chalked it up to another quirk pertaining to her skill and left it alone. Her superiors never cared, she always got high marks on all her exams and no matter how she behaved, they was sure she would deliver them results whenever she was deployed.

Programmed routine directed her fingers in a rhythmic dance along her controls. Methodically  she entered her mecha's command code and let it purr to life, it's humming engine all at once comforting, like a lover's heartbeat. She double and triple checked all her systems until she was completely certain everything was powered up and reading perfectly within specifications.

Two minutes still remained before they would be landing, and yet Evelyn noted two of her three squad members were only just now climbing into their units. The third was already onboard his, but had only just begun to activate his systems for a pre-launch check. She was really going to have to put these three through their paces she was sure. Watching as they made their preparations, Evelyn couldn't help but wonder how these three would handle their own mecha - stark contrasts to her own. Each of them were using the more common bipedal units, equipped with arms complete with manipulators allowing to handle various hand-held weapons. Unlike her own quadruped unit, that espoused arms in favor of mobility and enhanced stability. Yet another thing that distanced her from the others.

Marking their coordinates as they touched down, Evelyn was already ready for the launch doors to open. "Alright, gentlemen, I'll proceed ahead to scout and establish the enemy position. You three will set up a perimeter and cover the ship. Await my command and then we will link up to engage them." Evelyn left no room for debate or commentary, and launched herself into motion once the doors opened. Her mecha charging forward like some primal beast ready for the hunt.

Behind her three squad-mates exited the landing craft slowly, not even bothering to keep weapons raised and ready. Their comm units linked in a closed channel as all three double checked their own modified mission objectives. Objectives that listed one lieutenant Evelyn Quarrent, a confirmed bioid, as the primary target.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Digital Immersion - Part 1.

Evelyn Querent sat apart from her fellow squad members, she always hated making planet fall. Something about the change in gravity always bothered her. They said you couldn't notice the subtle change with the landing craft's internal generated gravity as it compensated. But she always did. She never let it show though, Evelyn never had been good with emotions. It helped her as the commanding officer of the squad to remain aloof.

Fresh from the Academy, Evelyn had been the poster child of an ace pilot. She had climbed the ranks with ease to become a Lieutenant and be granted her own squad. And yet, still she wore her uniform as if she was the image from the cadet manual. Even her short cropped midnight-hued hair was within the kept regulation, never wavering even a millimeter.

Always guarded, she let her vibrant purple gaze scan her squad-mates for any sign of nervousness, trying to measure them against their records she had already memorized. Carefully she watched, wondering if any of them saw weakness in her, or if any knew her secret. For Evelyn Querent lived in constant terror, always scared people would discover the very thing that helped her excel as a mecha pilot; she was a Bioid. An artificially created synthetic biological being, not born, but the general consensus was they had a soul, even though it was still hotly debated.

Maneuvers, those were the orders Evelyn had been given. Take out the fresh squad, drill them on an isolated empty world against drones, and forge them into a cohesive unit. The only problem, Evelyn riddled, was how was she to do that? Would they even listen to her? Surely they had heard of her reputation, that had to help her maintain authority, right?

Checking a holo-display along the wall, Evelyn noted their E.T.A. They should be dirt-side within a few minutes. Rising she turned to face her three fellow squad members, summoning all the tone of authority she could recall having heard. "Touchdown in five. Prep yourselves, all mecha will deploy in six." Reminding herself not to show weakness, Evelyn turned and set herself to making sure her own mecha was ready.

Starring up at her massive mecha, all reservations fled from the young lieutenant. As long as she had her mecha, she felt complete. Hopefully her squad-mates felt the same way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Primer - Gideon Coromaur & His Outpost.

Gideon Coromaur has always been an enigma, little has ever truly been known about the mighty Machiavellian merchant. It is rumored that he got his start years ago as a freelance shipping and trade merchant who excelled at logistics. Finding a run down space port on the verge of bankruptcy, Coromaur purchased it and set about turning it into a central hub for surrounding systems.

While the New Republic remained in power, however, Coromaur saw little business. Mainly that of pirates, freelance merchants and mercenaries. Quickly he managed to master dealings with his clientele and earning his burgeoning reputation as a shark among sharks. Once the New Republic fell from power, Coromaur found himself in a unique and prized position. He alone stood centered among several systems, without political ties to any faction and able to neutrally handle goods and services. He was now a hot commodity, and he knew it.

It has even been rumored that Gideon Coromaur has displayed signs of mutation in the form of prismatic eyes, pale skin and silver hair. His own impressive method of carrying himself is only enhanced by these unnatural traits, and to further his own reputation, stories abound of Coromaur displaying abilities that diffused or absorbed some forms energy directed at him. Weather or not these are true or enhancements to his image is unclear, but the effect is unmistakable. When stories are told to newcomers of Coromaur's Outpost's legendary owner that he has been seen to absorb blasts or diffuse attacks, you make certain to be wary of the canny conniver.

The Outpost itself is well known to be self-governing with little to know outside police activity. In fact, often when A.D.U. officials visit the outpost, they are treated with equal courtesy openly but often find a slight imperceptible difficulty while engaging in bartering, diplomacy, gathering information, searching or even practicing a profession. For members of the Rogue Alliance, though, it is often the opposite.

Many items, even rare or unusual can be found aboard the Outpost, and not only that, often slightly lower than the common cost. However, this comes with a caveat; you never know for sure weather or not it is legally obtained or comes with it's own history. As such, buyers should often purchase with caution, lest they run into legal ramifications once away from the Outpost. 

Most people find their way to Coromaur's Outpost out of necessity; seeking work, ship repair, refueling, etc. Just as easily many find reasons for leaving such as amassing dangerous debts, fear of locals, and other factors. Coromaur's Outpost has become a valuable and needed location, but one not visited by the unwary or the meek. It can be a den of sharks, so travelers are warned.

A few pieces of advice for those who do visit the Outpost; Never deal with Coromaur, avoid bar fights, don't always bring coin, keep yourself armed and on your guard.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 13.

Viper watched with a growing numb-like tingle along his left side as another shell took flight for the mecha foe. Exploding into a brilliant blossom of blue crackling psionic fire it poured over the mechanized vehicle burning at electronic systems as it fought to cripple them. Like a dying spider it faltered, it's legs unable to hold it's central body aloft. Servos and actuators failed, like a cascading chain reaction driving the monstrous  beast into the dirt, it's guns silent.

With a slow strutting gait, Viper marched up to the helpless vehicle and jerked open the hatch. Flailing around the pilot's head tried to pan around, still blindly trying to comprehend what was happening. Shoving his arm in, viper let two quick pop's from his namesake silence the handicapped adversary.

Anger filled the lone lobain as he walked back to Ghost-Face. "May he join the lost tribes," Viper yelled to the empty air. How was he going to get out of this one, already he had to deal with an assassin and a mecha. What would come for him next? No he needed an insurance policy and he had to bet on Coromaur's clout. Only one option presented itself to him.

Crudely Viper set himself to repairing his Comm system, and as expected, once he was done a familiar face greeted him once more. "You want this, right?" Viper growled. This time, it was Viper who dominated the conversation and launched into an ultimatum before Coromaur could respond. "Then come and get it." With the fever of suicide bomber, Viper slammed a data jack from a neural port into the box, linking it to his brain. Instantly the world vanished, his limp body falling to the floor.

Calling up another vid-screen, Coromaur dispatched another transmission. "Ashkar, would you be so kind as to retrieve something for me, along with someone who also belongs to me. I'll arrange for transportation and the services of a Tracer to aid you. I want both intact. A debt must be repaid." Grinning, Coromaur purred inside like a contented cat. Much like a casino, he always won in the end.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 12.

A dull ache began to grow behind Viper's eyes, the growing pain was all at once familiar to him. The gleaming slug shot out to fly at it's target, and as it left the barrel Viper felt himself once more pay it's price. And knew immediately what shell he had loaded in his haste; a flare round. With the realization of what he had just shot he immediately cursed his own mindless rush, and decided to keep his eyes closed tight. He recalled very well the last time he had used a flare round, all to well, along with the painful blindness and headache it inflicted on him. No, this time he'd keep his eyes closed.

Unfortunately the mecha's pilot however was focused on looking for his prey, and did not have the valuable experience or reflexes to avoid witnessing the impressive explosion of white-bright psionic light. It burned his eyes with it's flash, the world instantly extinguished from his sight. Pain sparked a furious blaze in his mind as he went into sensory overload. Panicked and confused he fought to comprehend what could have just attacked him, let alone what it had done to him. Chaotically he reached for familiar controls, engaging weapon systems to try and retaliate. But without his sight he couldn't direct his targeting controls, or be certain of what he was firing. Not to mention if he was firing at anything at all. Fear gripped him as a single thought struck him, he might as well be fighting ghosts now.

Viper gulped, his eyes still firmly clamped closed, he was still apprehensive about the flare's duration. Cautiously he cracked an eye to check if it still burned, only to be answered by a roaring assault of random fire. 30mm Vulcan's launched barrages of slugs in front of the mecha like a hail of deadly rain that only left found dirt and stone. Spinning, it's turret unleashed it's own impressive delivery with a pair of light Mag-rails that successfully pulverized a good section of stone outcroppings.  Clearly misfortune wasn't just smitten with him, Viper thought.

Safe from the torrent of blind-fire from the mecha, Viper stayed tucked against rock. It was only a matter of time though, he was sure before the pilot's vision returned or Ghost-Face managed to become collateral damage. He had to take out that mecha, and quick. But how, he wondered, as he scanned his remaining shells. One shell immediately caught his eye, and lit his face with a grin. "Let's see if your systems are shielded against an EMP," Viper declared as he loaded the round.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 11.

"That little moon will do," Viper selected the nearest option at hand and powered Ghost-Face straight at it. No time for pleasant landings, or procedures really, he shot straight down for a crash landing. Passing through the asteroids had only managed to buy him a few minutes, Viper only had a short lead. Whining Ghost-Face's inertial dampeners fought to compensate for the violent impact forces, but it was a loosing battle that Viper's rear was the casualty.

Red-orange fine dust shot up around the jumper as it formed a fresh crater. "I'm going to have more to fix," Viper groaned as he tried to hurry to clear his craft. Cursing as he went at fresh scratched on his already worn cyberarm. "Just started mending that, too..." Scanning the landscape, Viper selected a nearby rock formation and sprinted to try and hide himself amidst it's cover, hoping it would give him the much needed opportunity to ambush his stalker.

Alert his ears stood straight up, relaying news of an incoming new sound. Directing his gaze upward he gripped his Mark VIII and prepared himself to confront another attacker. But as he watched his stomach lurched with the realization at what he was witnessing. For it was not a ship that was making planet-fall for a landing, but instead he watched in growing surge of fear as something else was rapidly approaching. He could make out four points tucked beneath it that slowly betrayed themselves to be mechanized legs. Shacking his mind reeled as he slammed another shell into his gun, not even aware at what he loaded. Shocked, Viper began to mutter to himself. "A scout unit... They sent down mecha to take out one courier. What is this thing?"

In a near deafening boom, the mecha struck the ground, cushioned by a crackle from it's on-board Reliant system. That single use shield had absorbed the brunt of it's impact, and Viper thanked the tribes for the singular blessing. Now he had to contend with the unit's armor, and not a powerful force shield as well. At least, he hoped it only had the one Reliant.

As it rose to stand it's four spider-like legs dug into the ground, raising it's central chassis between them. Mounted atop it's body a small turret swiveled, tracking for it's prey, while a forward mounted pair of 30mm Vulcan's sat ready to chew up anything caught in it's path. Viper took one look at his Mark VIII and then back at the menacing mecha. "If I make it out of this," he mused. "I need a bigger gun, bigger bullets, and one of those."

Taking aim, he pointed his weapon, closed his eyes, and squeezed the trigger.

Monday, April 11, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 10.

"I hope your not having second thoughts," Coromaur's calm theatrical tone declared, unbidden from Ghost-Face's onboard communication system. "Not entertaining any ideas on double-crossing me are you?" Too busy focusing on navigating clear of the transport, Viper had no time for pleasant conversation. How had he overridden his ship's communications anyway, and more importantly did he know what was happening right now? "Kind of busy right now boss, I'll have to call you back," Viper interrupted as he detected several different incoming vessels.

"I am aware of your present difficulties," continued Coromaur. "Let me remind you, a job was agreed upon and there is a debt to be paid. Deliver the package, kill anyone who so much as approaches you, and under no circumstances do you or anyone tamper with or indulge your curiosity as to it's contents. Am I clear?" Frantic, Viper set coordinates and maxed his throttle, he had to get clear before any of these new arrivals decided to take interest and pursue. "Yeah boss," with a quick jerk Viper pulled loose his comm's wiring.

He was instructed to deliver this thing to some remote facility somewhere, and then his job would be over. But to do that he needed to stay alive, and considering the swarm of ships flooding around the transport behind him, that was looking to be a difficult challenge. Desperately, he needed to buy some time to think. But as he watched one of the ships break away and move to follow him, Viper knew there was little chance for that.

Ghost-Face was just a jumper, a one man ship designed for short to medium range travel. It didn't have any weapons on-board, but if they wanted his cargo, they couldn't destroy his ship. They'd have to cripple it and then manage to recover it from him intact. His only hope, he knew, was if he could land somewhere and take them out on foot before they could reach him. Changing course, Viper plunged towards a cluster of asteroids, and prayed it would buy him enough time to reach somewhere he could land. By the tribes, he prayed this was going to work.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 9.

Apprehensive, Viper arrived at the rendezvous point and saw only empty space.  Was he perhaps early, he wondered? That last checkpoint and gruff interrogation still weighed on him as well, but after some thought on the way he decided that there probably really wasn't much to it. Besides, no way a guy like Coromaur could be involved in a massive surge in criminal activity like that officer had hinted at. No, it was best, Viper figured, to await whoever and then be on his way.

 Fortunately, little patience was required. Right on cue, at the scheduled time, a large unmarked transport cut it's engines and drifted up to position itself near Ghost-Face. It's massive bulk dwarfed the tiny jumper, that now set in it's shadow. Immediately, Viper knew there was no way anyone was going to be able to bring enough force to bear to cripple a ship that size.

Dutifully, Viper followed his instructions and began transmitting the encrypted authorization sequence provided. Immediately it was confirmed, his display directing him towards a docking bay to board for transfer of cargo. "So far, so good," Viper muttered to himself. Adjusting his exhaust to a narrow trickle, he sputtered Ghost-Face into position to dock.

A series of groans and clanks proclaimed the docking procedures were nearly complete as Viper made sure he had a copy of his courier authorization and all appropriate documentation. Without thought, old habit took over for Viper as he buckled his Mark VIII onto his hip. It's heavy presence reassuring as it rested on his side. A strange itch grew behind his ear, irritating it grew in the back of his mind until he surrendered to it. Drawing his trusty side-arm he flicked open the breach and drew a shell, placing it into it's new home and closing it with a single jerk of his wrist. Viper couldn't put his finger on it, but like a wary wolf he moved with every ounce of caution he could as he opened his hatch.

Fresh air circulated, smelling clean and clear. And leveled straight at Viper's head was half a dozen rifles held by New Republic Marines. "Hold men," a firm voice called out from behind them. "Everything is in order." Stepping forward a young Terran in uniform  gestured for the marines to lower there weapons.  "Apologies, we had to double check. It seems a more inconspicuous courier is in order considering the attention this thing is attracting." From behind a young lady approached, dressed in the white button front smock, that marked her as a science officer. Held in her hands was a small black poly-carbon rectangular cube. Placing it into his hands, she looked Viper dead in the eyes, sincerity burning like a conflagration. "I don't have to tell you to guard this with your life. But please, see it to it's destination. No matter what."

In the moment her hands left the mysterious package, now resting within Viper's hands, explosions rocked through the ship. Viper had to fight to maintain his balance as he slid his new cargo into a pocket and drew his Mark VIII. Chaos reigned around him, a charge had detonated in the midst of the marines and it looked like multiple others had set fire and destroyed much of the docking bay.

"How quaint," a cold and raspy voice caught Viper's attention as his gun tracked around for a target. "Tell me does that old thing even still work?" Melding out of shadow and flames a slight figure rose, a stinger pistol in hand. "Hand it over and you and your piece of ancient history can go back to telling war stories. Otherwise, I fill you with bolts and I leave here very wealthy, and you very dead."

Viper cursed himself. Why did I load a standard shell, he thought as he pulled the trigger. Thunder roared as the Mark VIII sent a thick projectile slug flying towards it's mark. Rolling to the side, the shadowy rogue tried to return fire, only to stare in surprise as Viper's namesake had popped out. Triggering both barrels, a pair of beams of furious force barked to life and sped towards their target. Again, he kept moving, only narrowly avoiding the blast. Seizing the moment, viper flicked open his sidearm and loaded a frag shell. "Well, what do you know. Still works." Viper spat, oozing sarcasm as he fired again. This time, he felt the familiar tug at his stomach as the round powered itself using his own life-force as the source. Grinning, his foe once more thought he had avoided the assault as he took aim to return fire. Only this time the slug detonated into a thousand splinters of psionic fragments and ripped through everything around it. Including the would be assassin. Not one to waste any time, Viper turned and leaped back through his hatch and hit the emergency release. He had to get clear from here as fast as he could. Common sense screamed that he was now a target, and one that was in imminent danger. And common sense was right.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 8.

Viper's senses struggled against the overwhelming onslaught of information, his mind reeled at being ripped from slumber. Disoriented, he shook his head trying to clear it, and grabbed at the console. "What is happening," he grumbled, trying to clear his vision enough to read the displays. "And just what is that racket," Viper asked of the empty air, only to be answered by a flashing screen.  On it, was the stern young face of an A.D.U. officer, and he did not look particularly friendly. Terror slammed into Viper's gut and accelerated his race to consciousness.

Nervous, Viper ear's drooped a little as he opened the comm channel and was immediately enveloped by rapid fire orders. "State your name and your business, now.," barked the officer. "What is you destination and point of origin," he continued without pause.  "Transmit your vessel's registration, and  flight records, now. If you attempt to flee or engage in any suspicious activity you will be fired upon, you are warned." Viper knew better than to question anyone in the A.D.U., especially if they already had guns on you.

Dutifully he set himself to transmitting all requested data as fast as he could, all the while desperately praying old gaps in his records remained lost. And yet, curiosity tugged at him. Why had he just ran smack into an A.D.U. checkpoint, out here in the middle of nowhere. Contemplation, however, would have to wait. "Confirm," the officer began, disbelief clear in his tone. "You are one, Jonathan "Viper" Andrews, are you not?"

"Yeah, that's right," Viper agreed. Best to nod and smile he reminded himself. "Last known port; Coromaur's Outpost, is this correct?" Viper nodded in agreement and waited for it to continue. "What is the nature of your business?" Here we go, Viper thought, they want to see if I'll say matches my paperwork. No reason to hide anything, he figured. "Just a charted courier run. I'm on route to pick up some cargo and deliver it, that's it."

"Alright, you can go about your way," the officer sighed. "Your clearly not our concern at present, no way your involved. Just be warned; there is increased criminal activity in this area. I suggest you take your scrap-heap and get your job done and haul out of here as fast as you can. We cannot guarantee your safety."

Managing his best grateful wave, Viper closed the comm channel and set himself to resuming his course. It did tickle at the back of his brain though, did this have anything to do with his courier run. And if so, what had he gotten himself into?

Friday, April 8, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 7.

A mixture of triumph and relief filled Viper as he climbed back into his cramped little jumper. Ghost-Face was now refueled and at least partially on it's way to a full repair. Things seem to be on the upswing, Viper thought as he primed the ships' systems. His arm was like new, which he kept checking to make sure it wasn't something he imagined. Not to mention four fresh new additions already added with his others on his belt. Hopefully he wouldn't need any psicraft shells on a simple courier run, but it always made him feel better, just in case. The only regret left to Viper was the limited coin he had left from his pay, it had taken most of it to get everything squared away. What remained would have to see him through until the job's completion.

Keying his mini-comm on, Viper called up the coordinates he had been provided for his scheduled rendezvous. It wasn't any named facility or planet he was familiar with, then again he was just the delivery boy. Stubbornly the ship's navcom refused Viper's attempts to input his desired coordinates. Once jarred by his fist however, it decided to cooperate.

Eager, Viper disembarked from Coromaur's Outpost, his tiny jumper a small form amidst several others both arriving and leaving. With his course set, he powered up his reaction mass drive and set off. It felt good to be back among the twilight, free to roam. Yawning, he considered the 10 hour travel time ahead of him, and decided to lean back in his seat. Surely, he could catch a quick nap on the way.

Dreams haunted Viper, old memories that refused to release him. Cold sweat dampened his fur as he relived brutal and savage torment, old scars burned with fresh pain as if they were being added to his flesh for the first time. The cabin echoed with the sound of bestial growls and snarls as Viper fought with feverish determination against nightmares. And then the alarm, all at once familiar, it grabbed at Viper and directed his attention. With a jerk he awoke, his mind still clouded and confused as he half remained dreaming.

Only then did he realize the alarm, was real.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 6.

Fur fluffed and nerves on edge, Viper had managed to cut a path into an even heavily trafficked section of Coromaur's Outpost. Desperately he sought to calm himself, it wouldn't due to allow rash impulses to affect his behavior here. The merchants that did their business here were well known to deal in illicit goods and services, which meant caution could be the deciding factor between life and death. It also meant that anyone looking for black market goods and services would make this a must see spot, which was just about anyone who came to Coromaur's Outpost.

According to an old rumor that had circulated GhostNet, there was a vendor that operated a stall here known to deal in all manner of oddities and curiosities, going by the name Dallas. Considered by most to be antiques, psicraft shells were generally only sought after by collectors. The shells themselves were little more than projectiles that had been imprinted with a single use psionic power that required both a specialized firearm to use them and drew on the very life force of the user to power them. Because of this they fell out of use over the years, since they could render the user unconscious as easy as deliver an effective attack.

"This has to be the places," Viper groaned silently to himself. Before him set what looked like an alleyway or small corridor that had grown into an assorted collection of junk. To the naked eye it didn't even seem to adhere to any form of organization, even items on makeshift shelves followed no pattern or design. Setting amidst the collected chaos a slim young man with a strange yellow woven hat was perched atop a wooden beam with triangular legs at either end. Viper was willing to bet that that had to be Dallas, and the confusion was an easy security measure. Without him no one would manage to locate anything they sought.

As Viper approached the woven hat was pushed back and a warm pair of brown eyes looked up to greet him. "What can I do ya for," the youth said with a smile, a drawl clearly present in his accent. "Looking for anythin' particular, mutt? Er, sorry, don't get too many Lobain passin' through." Offering his hand he added, "name's Dallas."

"Well, Dallas," Viper returned the handshake and decided to get straight to business. "Maybe you can help me out." Gingerly he produced a small metal case and flicked it open to reveal a handful of thick blank cylinders. "Ever seen anything like this? See I am a collector, and always looking to pick up new additions. Just a curiosity really, wondered if you might have had any pass through your selection of merchandise." Viper tried his best to remain as nonchalant as he could, knowing that if Dallas did have any psicraft shells it could be beneficial if he wasn't aware of their value. Unfortunately, Dallas's face became a clear sign that it wasn't working.

"Mister, you must be a sore hand at cards, cause you can't bluff worth spit. You and me both know those are psicraft shells, and judging by the Mark VIII on your hip and the fact you came here looking for shells means you are user, not a collector. Now, for argument's sake, let's say I might still have some on hand from my last acquisition. Now, were that the case, and you were interested let's cut though the waste and just lay it all on the table." Dallas slapped an oil-cloth wrapped package on the table and fixed his eyes on Viper. "Hard coin only friend."

Reaching down, making sure he moved slow, Viper unwrapped the package. It's semi-sweet oily smell immediately his nose, and revealed four large cylinders. "Looks like a pair of concussions, maybe a mind dart, and what this other one here, a nova maybe?" Viper scratched at his muzzle, four was better than none and the nova alone would be a handy addition if he ever dared try to use it. Wishing Dallas had more on hand he looked up and immediately knew the merchant was aware he had him on the hook.

"Well, well now, looks like we got us a shopper over here!" Dallas cooed as her slapped at his knee. "I'd let the whole lot go for the low price of, let's say an even 800, now mind, that's cause your such a friendly and honest fellow. So what'll it be, friend, you a buyer or a walker?" Viper swallowed hard, that would cut dangerously into his remaining funds. But on the other hand, the additions to his arsenal might prove a valuable resource should he land into a tight spot. If the job went well, he could always find more work with Coromaur, right?

After a moment's hesitation, Viper produced the stack of coins and claimed the purchased package. So with Dallas counting a pile of fresh coin in his lap, Viper slipped back into the crowd to make for his jumper. Ghost-Face should be ready by now and he needed to be getting on with his job. Looking up with a satisfied grin, Dallas shook his head at the disappearing back of his recent patron. "Best of luck friend, something tells me your gonna need it."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 5.

"Alright, so," Viper muttered to himself as he stepped out of the flow of the bustling crowd. "Checklist," with the simple command a list was brought up and displayed in the corner of his vision. As he reviewed his rough agenda he tried to estimate both remaining time and funds left to him. "Ship's being refueled and they should have the regulator changed out in about an hour." Not able to help himself, Viper absent-mindedly began ticking things of with his fingers. "That leaves a good 3-4 hour margin to try and manage a visit to the cyberdoc's and to check on that lead on psicraft shells. Hmmm... "

Double-checking his bearings, Viper referenced the Outpost's layout again and tried to navigate his way back through the commotion of commerce. This was part of his visit he could do without, he hated the herd-like feel of so many others in such close proximity. Viper couldn't wait to get back to the safe solitary comfort of Ghost-Face.

Quickly Viper found himself irritated by the stressful business of navigating around so many strangers. One more innocent bump and he was sure he might snap. Distracted so he almost walked right past half-lit sign that hung over an open door way proclaiming it to be 'Doc Henson's', his destination. Glad to get out of the corridor Viper jumped at the chance and entered . No receptionist greeted the new arrival, and more shockingly, no sign of bodyguard was present. Stepping out from a sheet of plastic covered in traces of gore and old oil hung like a curtain came a tall and lean old man. Wiping his hands on his shirt he then turned to adjust a pair of glasses set atop his nose and began to study Viper.

Glasses, Viper halted, his mind reeling in shock as if he had just waltzed into some terrible joke. This guy was going to be handling his 'ware, and he didn't even have a simple pair of cyber-eyes if his vision had degraded enough to require glasses. No one he could think of ever having met had wore glasses, it was just absurd. How could he trust this guy much less consider his services anything at all serious or professional? Considering his pressingly short supply of time, Viper swallowed what little pride he had and decided not to try and seek out another cyberdoc. Besides, it wasn't like he was looking for prototype implants or anything exotic.

"Hey, old-timer, you Doc Henson?" Viper decided to forgo hiding his disdain, and go with his normal blunt approach. "I need to have some work done on this ol' arm of mine and I'm short on time. It's got some bugs and a slight mod, but hasn't seen routine maintenance in a good while." A hawk like gaze was still trained on Viper, he could almost feel himself being analyzed in such detail he was certain would of put scanners to shame. This had to be the doc, he'd of been willing to bet on it. "So you going to fetch the doc or ply your trade, I got pressing business. "

"Right," said the old man quietly to himself as he approached Viper, making sure to push his glasses back up his nose. As he gripped the cybernetic limb he spoke, mostly it seemed to himself. "This arm needs more than a quick mend. You have blown at least two motors and a few limit switches, at least." Looking up he brought the weight of his gaze right into Viper's eyes, like a disappointed grandfather it made a growing ember of shame ignite within Viper. "That is why you no-doubt get a whine and a tick every time you extend arm and judging by the hack job here this 'mod' you refer to can't keep that overly obvious pistol mount powered." Doc Henson's stare never wavered, "don't run your mouth boy if you don't know what's under the hood. There is more to skill than a few simple tricks stuffed up your sleeve, especially those that only work half the time." Doc motioned over to an old chair behind the curtain; "If you want this mess straightened out and done proper, then have a seat. It'll be 200 Regals hard coin, I don't take credits."

Swallowing what remained of his wounded pride, Viper took a moment to gulp, accepted the seat and offered up the coin. Doc Henson truly knew his trade, in a matter of minutes he had already replaced worn out components and was setting about to calibrate everything. By the time he was done not only was the limb mended but also moving smoother than Viper ever recalled it doing before. Once he got to the implanted weapon mount he couldn't hide a chuckle though. "Just who is responsible for this mess? And is this an old Viper sidearm?" Reluctantly, Viper acknowledged his own handiwork, not to mention the irony in it's choice. "It was all I had handy at the time," he cited as explanation.

Whistling Doc set himself to re-wiring the tangled nest, "See here's your problem." Tapping with his probe he pointed at some worn wires. "You keep shorting out the power feed from your arm's direct line. Let's see, if we rewire in this micro-gen unit, that should do you for awhile. Won't give you unlimited use, but if you manage to stop back in when you have more time I can maybe do more." Cleaning his hands on an old rag, Doc turned back around to give one last look over his handiwork. "You ever think about upgrading to a newer model?"

"Thanks, Doc, but you could say there's some sentimental attachment here. I must say your an artist of your craft." Rising Viper added, "Need to be on my way, and I'd like to apologize for before." With a nod the Doc waived him off as Viper turned to regard his mended arm while he walked back out the door.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 4.

Viper awoke with start, a glow lamp dangling by a few wires flickered above his head, threatening to extinguish itself at any moment. "That last shell must of takin' more out of me than I thought." Half-standing he stretched as best he could, remembering for once to keep his head ducked. The last thing he needed right now was a concussion to add to his throbbing head. Sniffing, he reminded himself that a quick clean up might be in order.

Reaching for a hand-held nozzle he pressed the button to activate what served him as his on-board hygiene facilities, only to be reminded that it too was in desperate need of repair. "Guess it can wait," he mumbled as he reached for a fresh shirt. His little jumper had weathered through it's fair share, and like Viper both were in desperate need of an overhaul. Perhaps this job would be a change in luck, maybe he could find his way into good graces with Coromaur and manage steady work for a change.

Grumbling Viper's stomach protested it's lack of attention, demanding his focus. Now, with fresh coin in hand it seemed odd to be able to just simply go buy himself a meal. Not only that, but the realization that once he had had his fill that he could also repeat the process soon was entirely comforting. "Alright," he told his hungry belly, "I'll see to you and then we'll get to work." Wouldn't do to waste too much time, not when Coromaur had been so gracious and forgiving. Five minutes or not, they had done a serious number on the pub, not to mention it's clientele. To still have his fur intact was a blessing from the all the tribes.

From the docks the pub was a short walk, and the only place in the whole of the outpost he already knew how to get to. Grunting, Viper stepped out of Ghost-Face's makeshift hatch and mimed entering a security code on it's exterior panel, one he knew had never really worked. But nobody else would know that, and assumed security is better than nothing. Not that anyone would see much worth in his small little scrap-pile jumper.

The outposts' pub was just like he remembered it, same smells and all. Viper couldn't imagine how the got rid of all the blood and scorch marks, but somehow they had. New bartender though, shame what had happened to the previous one too. He had probably screamed more than anyone Viper had ever seen before, even in his time in the penal colonies. For the life of him though he couldn't recall who it was who had actually killed the poor portly guy.

Shrugging, Viper found an empty seat and ordered himself a bowl of hot nutra-noodles, determined to both put it out of mind as well as appease his gut's grip on him. Wolfishly he caved to his hunger and devoured the generous portion he had requested.  Wagering himself satisfied enough to wrest dominion away from his appetite Viper placed an oblong plastic rectangle on the table and waved his hand over it. The little mini-comm's holo-vid display sprang to life, awaiting his commands. Mindful of eavesdroppers Viper called up his optical overlay to ensure his business remained for his own.  Repeatedly he reviewed the data Coromaur had supplied him, and repeatedly all he could determine was this had to be just like he had said; nothing more than a courier run. Undoubtedly it was illegal or stolen goods, but something that small couldn't hold any weapon or dangerous item he could think of. It'd have to be some curiosity or valuable knick-knack, Coromaur seemed the type to collect unusual trinkets and the like.

According to the information, Viper had to rendezvous with a transport vessel about 10 hours out and present them with documentation Coromaur had provided that validated him as the next courier and deliver the cargo to a designated location. Before he could do that he needed to refuel and get a new deuterium regulator. If he hurried he could might be able to manage it with some time to spare, there were a few personal things he needed to see to if possible. For one his cyberarm was in bad shape, it's dull tetrasteel frame had seen better days and was in sore need of maintenance.  It had proven a useful replacement for his mangled original arm, but he hadn't been able to afford it's upkeep in a long while. And if he wasn't mistaken, he recalled a rumor about a vendor on Coromaur's Outpost that was known to deal in psicraft shells. His supply for his Mark VIII was dwindling and anytime he could locate some of the increasingly rare ammo became a priority.

"Best get to work," Viper remarked to the empty air. With a gesture he pulled up a public layout of the Outpost. "Highlight cybernetic maintenance,  ship repair, and reference local merchants known to deal in antique weapons or psicraft shells." Mentally he tried to memorize rough directions to the marked sites as his overlaid vision cut in and out. The curse of cheap implants he noted and prepared to get to work.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 3.

Conscious gradually crawled it's way back to the luckless Lobain only to provide him with a puzzling situation. He was setting in a non-descript steel chair, his hands and feet completely immobile, bound tightly with plasteel bands. As his vision cleared he tried to make sense of his surrounding, but the only thing in the room he now occupied was the chair, himself, and a mounted vid-screen on the wall. Was he even still on the outpost, or had he been turned over to an A.D.U. transport? At least he was alive, by the tribes, that alone was a blessing. Especially considering the penalties he had witnessed in some systems for being engaged in a bar fight.

Chirping the vid-screen came to life, displaying the face of Gideon Coromaur. Pale, with no distinguishable sign of age Coromaur's visage was unknown to his captive. But his regal posture and prismatic gaze froze the Lobain in place as he began to speak. "Greetings, my young friend. Jonathan is the name is it not?" With only the subtlest pause, Coromaur continued his eloquent  monologue. "It appears you now find yourself at my mercy. That was quite the rampage you took part in back there, you managed to shut my pub down for an entire 5 minutes. As a man of business I must now seek means to recoup that lost revenue, and as a perfectly sensible fellow, I am sure you can agree."

Seizing the opportunity, the Lobain jumped at the chance to interrupt. "Whoa, pal, first off; nobody calls me Jonathan. I don't know how you managed to root up my name, but folk's call me Viper. Secondly, I didn't start that fight, those other two did. So why aren't they in here playing chatty-cathy with you instead?" Viper was sure he was dangling on a hook here, but he didn't have to like it. If this might lead to him getting out of trouble, he was going to take it, there was no way he was going back to a outer rim penal colony. 

The faintest half grin started to form on Coromaur's face before being brushed aside to return his mask-like features. "Well, Viper," he spat the word with a just enough contempt to still seem the hospitable host. "You would do well to give those two a wide-berth should you ever cross paths again. While you managed to shut down my pub for a mere five minutes, those two have managed to not only shut it down for days. Once, they even managed to shut the entire outpost down for a week for repairs. They happen to be regulars here, but I digress. My revenue has been disrupted, and that must be rectified. I cannot allow a single moments loss in profits or quickly the whole machine will fall apart."

"You however, are here enjoying this pleasant conversation, because I have an idea as to how we may square your debt and be mutually beneficial. Believe me, I always find a way to balance the books, so if there aren't any further interruptions, I would like to proceed with my offer. I do have a schedule to keep, there are pressing and delicate transaction I must see to, this outpost won't run itself you know. That is, of course, if you don't mind?" Coromaur paused, strategically to maintain his image of the hospitable host. Viper nodded, trying to ingratiate himself as best he could.

"Uh, sure thing, but what do you need the likes of me for? I mean, I doubt you have a Bioid toyslave or Type II replicant you need me to deliver or something. It's your place though, right? So, shoot, I'm all ears."

A singular image replaced Coromaur's face on the screen; a rotating black box. "This unremarkable package measures 3 inches by 6 inches by 1 inch, and bears no distinguishing characteristics save that of a single jack port. I have arranged for you to intercept it's transportation in order to re-route it to a subsidiary of mine. A simple courier job, nothing dangerous, and you will be provided with all the appropriate documentation. In exchange I offer to excuse your debt to me for lost revenue and compensate you to the sum of, shall we say, a thousand Regals. Or do you prefer New Republic credits?"

Unable to hide the hunger in his eyes, Viper did his best to seem above such simple jobs. "Well, I suppose I could take something on for you, to repay your generous hospitality. But, I couldn't possibly take anything on for less than 1200, plus operating expenses that might arise. And I would need that in hard coin, don't insult us both by even offering credits. Neither one of us want our finances public record for anybody to query whenever they got curious."

In a theatrical gesture Coromaur clapped his hands together, emphasizing his agreement. "Done. I must warn you though, this cargo, while innocuous, comes with a single caveat that must not be broken. Under no circumstances is the item to be analyzed, examined, tampered with or inspected in any way. It must arrive to my associates untouched and intact. If anything were to happen to it, well let us say I have other retainers that I can call in to trace you down. Ones that would make your previous acquaintances pale in comparison."

The haunting memory of the Pathenian's sneer and the Altain's glare sprang back to the forefront of Viper's mind. If there was anyone who could eclipse them, he did not want to meet them. Gulping he lowered his head and nodded agreement. "Good, pleasure doing business with you my new young associate. The information will be provided you shortly, in the mean time, prepare yourself. This task must be completed with the utmost urgency."

Something about how Coromaur said 'newest young associate' bothered Viper. Somehow it ruffled his fur, hopefully this would be just an easy courier run. As the plasteel restraints fell off him, he wasn't quite sure what he was getting himself into. But he desperately needed those funds, and a debt is a debt.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 2.

Casually Coromaur reached within a tailored silk vest, a garment whose value alone potentially eclipsed his outpost, and withdrew a stylized mini-comm. Calling up the security feeds he studied the scene now taking place inside the pub. The damage alone was impressive, but nothing that could cause him any major setbacks. He did keep an ample stockpile of bar stools for just such events, and freight-loaders were easily promoted into bartenders. By the look of things he would need both, his patrons though were another matter. Those without sense enough to have escaped the carnage had discovered the meaning of collateral damage. The bulk of the dead could be dealt with easily enough, their ships and possessions easily liquidated, and the few wounded he could see tended to for a compassionate reputation. One that no doubt he could leverage into new ventures and opportunities for later use. At least the holo-panel out front still functioned proclaiming the place a pub.

Circling each other a trio of grim figures dominated the center of the room, each one awaiting some trigger to ignite further conflict. A graceful, well-toned Pathenian stood tall and aloof, his ears pricked up full over his head. Gripped tightly by elongated fingers was a ceremonially etched flare blade, it's edges a crimson glow like a magnesium flare. By his side, keeping pace with him swayed a curvaceous Altain of the Krynean tribes, her jaw set firm. She kept a Gauss rifle trained with a steady aim that betrayed a professional and intimate familiarity with the weapon.

Set across from the vicious pair was set a stoic figure, a solitary Lobain, lean and dirty. His canine ears were back and an obvious cyberarm held an antique large-bore breach loading heavy pistol aimed at the pair of assailants. It's barrel covered in a unusual series of archaic runes.  "I meant no disrespect," the weary wolf barked, tension clear in his tone. He had to find some way out of this stalemate. "All I did was offer the lady a drink!"

"How dare you insult our intelligence and worth with such a pitiful debacle," purred the Pathenian. "You may have offered to purchase her a drink, but you slighted her slighted her by choosing an unfitting beverage!" With a snarl the Altain snapped, "You offered slag! Let me kill him." Removing the safety her agitation became clear enough to be felt, like a rising temperature from a sudden blaze as her hue shifted to deeper ember-orange. "Some fruity pink number no doubt that fizzes." She spat as her eyes narrowed, already her trigger finger a hair from firing. With a roar she declared, "I only drink Vernian Brew!"

Seeing the rapid escalation, Coromaur decided to apply his own brand of delicate and calming touch to the situation. Pressing the appropriate command sequence hidden mounts in the ceiling deployed turret mounted cannons that immediately trained on the three combatants. Immediately he recalled what the very same cannons had done to a rioting mob of Purgist Party members when they attempted to halt a group of Type II's trying to flee Praxis VIII. Marked by his own unmistakable grin of satisfaction, Coromaur activated his hidden features and watched as to his surprise all threw remained standing after the initial blast. A quick order issued had a full security detail charging into the pub only moments after a second barrage violently shook the pub.

Shaken and disoriented all three remained standing as the wave of peace-keepers poured in to detain them. A whirl of motion, the Pathenian moved like an acrobatic dancer, dropping nearly half a dozen unlucky foes before he himself was overran by sheer numbers. His Altain companion proved her deadly and accurate aim, as well as capable claws as she felled no less than close to eight misfortune individuals before herself being the victim of overwhelming numbers.

Oddly the Lobain himself proved to be his own worst enemy. As several security officers rushed him he fired his archaic side-arm. In a blinding ball of white energy five attackers vanished, vaporized by a sudden explosion of psionic power. The cost of which, however had managed to drain some measure of vitality from it's weapon's wielder, knocking him out cold.

An readable mask instantly found it's way onto Coromaur's face as satisfaction secretly fluttered about inside him. "I want this pub back up and operation within 5 minutes," he ordered with an unquestionable resolve. It would be done, he was sure. His orders always were. "Restrain and detain this one," his masterfully crafted boot prodded at the unconscious Lobain at his feet. "He has business with me." Among the commotion several members of the security detail gulped fully aware at the statements hidden implications.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Coromaur's Debt - Part 1.

Gideon Coromaur glided across the dull gray-paneled walkways of his outpost, his light footsteps barely betraying him with a whispered clink. Long unbound hair of silver hung loose draping his back like a cape that drifted ever so slightly on the simulated breezes the scrubbers produced. A gentle hum of machinery and subtle business played about him like his own personal symphony.  And yet, as capricious as the autumn breeze his mind was elsewhere, lost in recollection of bygone days and older times.

It had been, what, a good 20 years since the New Republic had begin it's shattering and fall from former glory. And now, after all this time, he had found a measure of peace. Coromaur, hidden away within his outpost, could breath easy. For in this conflicted political climate, and out here in an isolated section of the rim, he could get away with anything. It had taken time of course, time to cultivate and invest himself, but the end result had become Coromaur's outpost. A central hub for several system's commerce and transportation needs. And one that held no law, none but Coromaur's himself.

Prismatic eyes flashed from violet to iridescent silver as his memory returned to what had spurred this trip down memory lane. The package. A single package, unworthy of scrutiny or curiosity, hand delivered by one Coromaur's more trusted delivery specialists. It's contents held well paid for data on a new device, currently in transit, that could potentially blow an even bigger hole in the New Republic's already damaged reputation.

Every political faction there was would be after this, like sharks after wounded prey. That would guarantee both the items value and undoubtedly it's risk in obtaining. Gideon would have to move, and move fast. There would be no time to organize any of his regulars, and in a situation like this it would prove wise to have a disposable asset available. Perhaps someone in his debt, someone he could bend to his will.

As if on cue a steel bar stool sailed through the air out of a local pub to come to a violent end of it's journey against the wall before Coromaur. With a sly grin and light chuckle Gideon mused aloud to himself. "Ah, here is a volunteer now." Already meticulous plans began their weaving within the Machiavellian mind of Gideon Coromaur.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Primer - Kor-Teh.


Since time immemorial the Vel-Teh have been a race of wandering explorers, with an insatiable curiosity, and driven by an inquisitive mind. However, long ago a small off shoot developed that decided to follow a different path. Instead they chose to isolate themselves away to brood and contemplate over the nature of themselves and their unique symbiotic relationship.

Over time reflection led to impatience. Left to dwell in thought and study on their symbiont the small group of Vel-Teh grew arrogant and callous. They set themselves to the task of bending their symbionts to their will, forcing them to accelerate their transformations. The faster they changed, the more aggressive they became, and the more strained the techno-organic symbiont.

No longer in balance, their bodies became rapidly decaying compositions of pale unhealthy flesh and crude roughly formed cybernetics. Seeing only weakness in flesh, these errant Vel-Teh gave themselves completely over, becoming heretics now known as the Kor-Teh. Forever distancing themselves from all former ties to the race from which they came.

In solitude the Kor-Teh became gripped with violence and hatred. Discovering their enhanced rate of cybernetic adaptations were unstable, only one possible solution existed to the Kor-Teh. They would seek out their wayward former relations, and take from them all they had amassed. Once dominant, they would have all the technology and knowledge they could ever need to keep their bodies in full repair. Not to mention erasing those who had wasted their birthright.