✧˖° A Soul's Weight ✧˖°

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Mars Walker

Not all who wander are lost, but I sure am.
Original poster
Invitation Status
  1. Look for groups
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. One post per day
  3. Multiple posts per week
  4. 1-3 posts per week
  5. One post per week
Online Availability
Available as all hell, but intensely paralyzed by ADHD
Writing Levels
  1. Intermediate
  2. Adept
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. Primarily Prefer Female
High Fantasy, Modern/Urban Fantasy, Sci-fi, Historical
Moon, O Moon

Look upon me with thine light,

Rid me of my blight, the eternal Day.

Set me free

Stargazer-001 sang what she had retained of the old lullaby, broadcasting the short tune over a radio frequency she hadn't tried in a while. She laid on her back in a field of grass on a remote planet. Each blade of grass was a different pastel shade, some pink, others blue, a few greens and yellows here and there. It was soft to the touch, and flowed like seagrass in a gentle current, though the atmosphere was in no way liquid. Around her lay debris from a massive warship that had crashed, now overgrown with blue vines that sprouted large yellow flowers.

Today was what Stargazer-001 had dubbed as the Last Call, because it had been years since the crash, maybe decades. She hadn't counted, not in a long while. But today, she had decided, today was to be the last she would attempt to call for rescue. There had actually been *several* Last Calls, but for some unearthly reason Stargazer-001 just hadn't been ready to quit, and maybe today would just be another Last Call. Maybe tomorrow would come, and the next day, and the days following after that, until the next Last Call.

Stargazer lifted her arm, the palm of her hand facing the sky, forming an 'L' to measure the stars. It was an old trick she had learned from General Plexa, before the crash. At this point, she just did it to pass the time, measuring rough distances from star to star, planet to planet, all with just her hand.

The cyborg, watching the skies curiously while her hope swelled in her chest cavity for one last hurrah, opened her mouth to speak. She had settled on the same radio frequency she'd just sung to, but this time she would give a simple S.O.S call.

"Stargazer-001, of Imperial Earth Fleet 66, requesting for someone— anyone—" She began to stammer, her programming overriding her human instincts, "T-T-This is a f-f-f-formal request for as-s-sistance. Thi-i-is is Stargazer-001, Imp-p-p-perrrial Earth Fleet 66, Located On An Unkown Remote Planet in Arch Gamma Quadrant 4 of the O-O-O-Outer Rift. Co-ordinates Un-Un-Unknown—" Her voice glitched, and she fought for control, winning it back with a quick shake of her head, "Sorry— but please, if you're out there...I'm here. I'm waiting."

She waited for a very long minute, as if expecting a response. She so badly wanted one, though she was sure there wouldn't ever be one.

"There's no rush." She spoke the words quickly after the long and expected radio silence.

She planned to wait a while longer, for a response, just as she had for the other Last Calls.
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And up there, below the spilt milk of the stars, one silver splinter— parenthesis at the close of a long sentence, new crescent, beside it, red asterisk of Mars.
— Eleanor Wilner
Ismeria Da foe
mechanic | metapsychic [ temporal manip ] | 26

"These power cells ain't gunna hold up forever, ya' know."

"Isn't that what I pay you for?"

Ismeria scoffed her way to full attention, peeling her eyes away from the warbling mass of fuselage connections to stare incredulously. She held up a plasma pen welder like a gun, aiming it at Ferelith's heart. Her captain still wore her old fatigues, even though their resistance had been beaten into the ground nearly ten years past. For some reason, it fueled her indignation even more. "For one, Captain, I ain't been paid in nearly three moons."

She flipped right-side up and straddled the support beam she'd been dangling from as she welded connections shut.

"For two, slowing temporal degradation isn't a cure-all. You know that. I made it clear ages ago. Eventually— the parts just break down, no matter how much love we pump into 'em, Captain."

There was a long, knowing silence before the captain grunted, shook her head, and turned on her heel.

"Just work your magic for a bit longer, Izzy. We'll find some work soon and get 'er up and flyin' in tip top shape."

Iz groaned. "We'll needa find a pilot before that happens. Yer shoddy take offs are abysmal, Captain, I've had to fix the landing hydraulics system like five times already."

Ferelith pegged her with a stare that eventually had them both devolving into laughter, Izzy almost losing her balance on the support beam she was working off of.

"Get the fuselages done and then come eat dinner."

"Aye, aye. Thank the stars you can cook better than you can fly."

"Fuck off."

There were two pealing reams of laughter before both women settled in to finish their chores.

Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

"You ever think," Fere said with a smirk, spork halfway to her mouth with her last bite of dehydrated beef stroganoff. "That you don't get paid half as often because it costs an arm and a leg to feed you?"

There was an accusatory gasp from the mechanic across the table, followed by a full bellied laugh and a groan.

"Oh, don't make me laugh. It hurts. I think I ate too much."

"You think?" Ferelith said with a laugh, grabbing their few dishes and tossing them into the sink to be cleaned.

"You know my powers require calories! The more I use 'em, the more I need to eat. But hey, at least it ain't as bad as before, ya' know?"

Fere stared straight ahead, forced a smile on her face and a desperate chuckle out of her mouth. "Yeah, for sure."

"You could eat an entire flank of beef and still pass out from hunger after three hours."

"Still could,"Iz admitted with a giggle, standing to help clean, rushing out as soon as was proper to lay down and nap. Fere chuckled under her breath, wiping down the table in the mess hall and cleaning out the sensors in the sink's self-cleaning port. After a while, once everything was in place and the room shone with that lonely sense of home, Ferelith made her way back to the helm, stroganoff drunk and still needing to chart the night's star guide.

The stars stretched across the helm like a patchwork quilt. It was mesmerizing. As always. Fere curled into her wing chair, wool throw tucked around her legs. She rolled the stargazer function back and forth across the constellations, noting the different type of stitches that held them together, as if the cosmos were sewn together.

Moon, O Moon

Look upon me with thine light,

Rid me of my blight, the eternal Day.

Set me free

Ferelith jumped out of her seat, gooseflesh tickling her arms. She forced her hand way from the gun holstered at her hip, instinctually knowing what had frightened her wasn't in this room. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, Fere tweaked the broadcast settings, getting but static until finally— finally, the haunting melody replayed itself.

Didn't her mother used to sing her something similar?

Fere shoved the thought away and immediately started the search on the original trace, attempting to backtrack to its source. Once she found it, she plotted the stars and waited, hands sleepy but slick on the yoke.

It took a while, but eventually Ferelith's comm blinked red. Thrice before humming with green while the sleepy sound of Ismeria's voice came through the intercom."Yer makin' me sick. Why are you flyin' manual right now? What I said earlier was just a joke, I didn't—"

Fere cut her off. "I felt someone."

There was silence.

When Izzy sounded through the intercom once more, the rustling sound of clothes was unmistakable. "Fere… we're in the Outer Rift." Hesitation. She could feel it. "There's no one out here."

Expecting that, Fere replayed a snippet of the mysterious broadcast she managed to record.

"Sounds like a droid's programmed recording, Fere. It's just glitchin' out." Ismeria said promptly, barely missing a beat. Unfortunately, the familiar sounding lullaby wasn't a part of it.

"Like you, I know my power. I know I felt someone. We're on route."

An audible groan.

Too late to change my mind, I'm finally in range.

"Stargazer-001, this is Captain Ferelith Monrue, please respond with clarification. The Imperial Armada was founded almost a century ago."

Hopefully she'd get a response.

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Stargazer-001 / Amalthea Plexa
Commander/Pilot | Cyborg Enhancements | 109yrs

Stargazer sat upright fast, frozen for a few heartbeats.

The Imperial Armada was founded almost a century ago.

Had she just received a response, or had she finally lost her organic mind and hallucinated it out of desperation? She had heard of stories where marooned soldiers watched their comrades lose all semblance of control to insanity, and had reported hearing phantom responses from rescuers that never came. That had to be what this was. At long last, despite her still being young for an Asterifosian, maybe insanity would take over in such a way that she'd forget the severity of the situation she'd been in. Forget how goddamn lonely it was. How hungry she was, and how sick she was of eating blueroot. At least the water on this planet was good, subtly sweet and incredibly refreshing.

Stargazer stood up slowly, fighting her malfunctioning cyborg body as her stiff joints refused to unbend for a moment. Desperate, she casted out another message on that same frequency. Just incase.

"I hear you Cap-Cap-Captain, This is-" She cursed loudly as her messaging system malfunctioned for a brief but terrifying moment before coming back up, "Apologies, Hard-hard-hardware malfun-fun-function. Again, this is Commander Stargazer-001, Amalthea Plexa of Asterifos' Imperial Earth Fleet 66, requesting emer-em-em-emergency r-r-r-r-escue. Exact location is unknown, my starmaps are innacurate. The planet I'm marooned on is frozen, but has organic flora and some fauna that are able to w-w-w-withstand the harsh environment."

Stargazer had been lucky she had equipment on her ship that was warm enough to prevent her from being uncomfortable outside. And surprisingly, her ship could still run some basic basic functions, like heating.

She waited for another response, but decided to run back to where her ship was, covered in those annoyingly invasive but edible blue vines. The flowers made decent tea. Stargazer's legs jerked up and stiffened as she ran, causing her to fall disgracefully. She grunted as she pushed herself up to her feet again with one hand. She only had one hand. The other one had been lost a few months ago when she'd fallen off a shelf of ice. It hadn't hurt, since it was part of her cyborg enhancements, but it still left her irritatingly disabled.

She made it to what was left of her ship, a sleek stealth cruiser with a reflective black exterior. It was extremely hard to detect with the naked eye in the inky blackness of outer space, but here on a frozen planet, it stood out sorely.

Stargazer ripped the door open, cursing when it fell off the frozen hinges, but ignored it in favor of searching for a signal flare. She found one in the hidden dashboard of the control room, and ran back outside with it, sending out another broadcast.

"Hoping you're real and not a figment of my imagination because I'm going to use my last signal flare. It's old and likely doesn't have a great distance to it, but it's worth a try. Once I set it off, it should h-h-h-have a two hour batt-batt-battr-batter-r-ry life." She fumbled with the flare in her hand. It was a silver cylinder-shaped electronic, and when used correctly, would throw out a burst of energy that most ships were able to sense and see.

But the button wouldn't activate as Stargazer pressed and pressed and pressed it. It was supposed to glow green as confirmation that it had done its job.

"Shit. Shit, come on! Work! Work!!!" She shouted, off-broadcast.

Finally, the signal flare worked.
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Ismeria Da foe
mechanic | metapsychic [ temporal manip ] | 26

"There!" Ismeria shouted, locking onto the signal with the stargazer function. She rang out the coordinates for the captain to punch in, quickly returning the ship to auto-pilot now that the planet was in range and its trajectory plotted. It was bliss. Not that Ferelith was a terrible pilot; smaller crafts and vessels didn't give her near as much trouble, they were easy to overwhelm and shut down. Easier swayed than a ship with thousands upon thousands of tiny little parts, all vibrating at a frequency only the captain could hear— could feel. Her own power, even with its boons and banes, wasn't nearly as cumbersome. For the most part though, Captain Fere did well, it was only when she held the Arcadia's yoke between her grasp did the buzz get to her.

Better her than me though, Iz thought to herself honestly, ruing her own special buzz— the shift and sway of temporal kismet.

"Ugh— that's heavy." Izzy grunted under the weight of Fere's wool throw. "Thanks though."

"It gets cold up here."

"Aye, it does. You got another blanket-"

The captain shook her head, though her eyes never left the helm. She seemed fixated, watching the speck-sized planet grow closer by the minute. "M'power makes me hot."

Ismeria nodded, noticing her glistening brow. "Your range gotten bigger lately?"

"Yours has too, hasn't it?" Captain Ferelith asked pointedly.

"Well— Uh. Hm." Izzy scratched her head, yawning in the process. She hugged her knees to her chest, fully enveloped by the wool throw. "Could be the quadrant. Could be accelerating our latent talent to new heights. Or we could just be getting older."

Or this could be some kind of trap, Ismeria thought to herself as she dozed off to sleep.

Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

Her Illuminated Majesty

Ferelith noticed a little too late that the SOS signal flare had been accompanied by another response by the Stargazer Commander. Or perhaps that signal was too weak and Arcadia's systems had only just received the transmission, now that they were in orbit. Circling, finding the best location for atmospheric entry. Well, she was anyways. Ismeria snored beside her, as was usual as of late. Unnervingly so.

"I h-h-he-hear y-o-ou Cap-Captain, This is-" Fere twiddled with the frequencey settings, attempting to override the latent static coming through the transmission. "Apologies— Hard-hard-hardware malfun-fun-function— th-th-is is Commander Stargazer-001, Amalthea Plexa of-of-of Asterifos— perial E-Earth 66 —emer-em-emergency r-r-rescue— location un-unknown— starmaps in-inaccurate— planet m-marooned on is frozen, but organic flora— fauna a-ar-are w-withstand the harsh environment. Hope-hope-hope you're real— not a figment. It's old b-but it's worth a tr-try. T-two hour battr-batter-r-ry."

"Hum," Ferelith said aloud, training the stargazer function on the ice planet ahead, trying to find the best point of entry.

"Commander Stargazer-001, this is Captain Ferelith, if you can hear me, just know your comm system is comin' through like absolute space gruel." Izzy woke up with a small jump, her hands moving to the command deck beside her in confused fright. Fere laughed at her off broadcast. "Asterifos, though, huh? Fun. Better get packin', I'm coming down ina shuttle once I've inputted the best route."
Stargazer-001 / Amalthea Plexa
Commander/Pilot | Cyborg Enhancements | 109yrs

She waited. And waited.
And waited.
She wondered how long it'd been since she'd crashed...And so she started doing the math.

Captain Ferelith claimed the Imperial Armada was founded a century ago. Give or take, probably. And when it had been founded...Stargazer pressed her cold metal fingertips to her temples in thought.

She had been forty years old when the Armada was formed, and then she'd been fifty-five when she became a commander— A child by Asterifos standards, her kind only maturing into adulthood at the age of seventy. But she'd been good at what they'd trained her to do. Dangerously good.

She'd had to be, for her own sake and her father's reputation.

Stargazer sat shakily on her ship's boarding plank steps, the joints in her robotic knees so close to giving out with age and disrepair. She had to think about how old she was now, but most of the things she had with the function to track the date and time were busted, or just not working right, and so she found that she really wasn't sure. If Captain Ferelith were telling the truth, though, Stargazer figured she'd be around...she was too cold and to excited to think about her age, or how many birthdays she'd missed. She suddenly remembered that it had been her eightieth birthday when she crashed, and laughed to herself.

What a shitty birthday present, She thought.

Her laugh caught in her throat when she received another reply from the Captain, and panic rose in her chest, though it felt like a heavy ball. What if these people weren't good? Or what if they were enemies of the Armada? Questions and worries and nerves were firing around loudly in her skull, and so she mumbled a curse as she stood up to grab a bag and place some belongings.

Into the bag, Stargazer threw a set of old clothes, a broken compass of Asterifosian make, and a set of photos taken with an Earthen camera. She slung the pack over her shoulders, securing it around her chest as well, and grabbed a belt. Stargazer hooked two CRP-10's to the belt— her favorite guns, and they still worked.

She looked around at the remains of the broken ship that she'd called home on this abandoned planet. It was all that was left of the warship. Her mind started spinning on questions she was deathly afraid of, and she casted them form her mind, just like she'd been doing for the past however long it had been since the crash.

Stargazer stepped outside, leaving the ship for the last time, and she walked out into the odd field in the middle of the frozen wasteland.

"I hate this planet!" She shouted into the air, raising her fists in spite, "And I'm never going to co-co-come back!" She shouted again, louder. As if she expected the planet itself to respond. She scanned the horizon, observed the weird grass and the blue vines. No sentient movement.

"I suppose if you were one of those weird sentient planets, I wouldn't be so desperate to be rescued, still." She huffed, kicking stiffly at the flowing grass, before looking up at the sky again as she waited for Captain Ferelith, sending out another broadcast.

"S-S-Stargazer-001 to Captain F-F-Fereli-li-lith— I'm packed and ready to get the fuck off of this wasteland of a planet. I'm go-go-gonna need plenty of maintenance, so I hope you've got a cyborg mechanic aboard, if you aren't one y-y-y-yourself!"
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Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

"Aye, I hear ya'," Fere replied soothingly, her emotional grid vibrating erratically. "I'm about twenty out. Gunna have to do a decontamination cleanse. Ain't pleasant and it'll leave ya' cold as hell, but there's a delicate balance in our hydrofields on Arcadia, and I don't wanna chance our fresh goods. Don't worry though, once we get you onboard, there's a hot shower and some Izzy Glizzy Mechaniclizzy waitin' for ya."

Seventeen minutes and thirty two imperial seconds. That's how long it took Captain Ferelith and the shuttle to land in front of Stargazer-001 on this god forsaken planet. With a migraine from hell, Fere set the shuttle into auto-pilot, the planet's gravity allowing the auto-landing mechanisms to function as intended. Ismeria would be grateful. She would be too, if the planet itself wasn't buzzing with emotional energy that seemed to be bombarding her at every spare interval.

Ferelith shut her eyes. Shut off her connection to the outside world and yet it still persisted. Behind closed eyes she could see, the outline of the planet, the energy within above and around. Every flower, blade of grass, and vine. Even Stargazer herself, as she made way towards the opening shuttle doors. She tried to keep the pain out of her voice as she welcomed her aboard.

"It's a Firefly model. Only a few years old, but Izzy retrofitted our HIMSC cruiser to fit it. She's a breeze to fly and roomy too. Welcome aboard. And apologies for the flash freeze, it's just protocol."

She flipped the decontamination switch, essentially flash-freezing the cargo bay. Izzy calibrated it long ago to ensure humanoid survival, but it still left one feeling like they'd just taken an ice bath. Ferelith entered the flight path back to the ship before making her way towards the central bay, where a common room of sorts laid. She boiled some water with a few quick buttons and readied a hot cocoa with shitty dehydrated marshmallows and chocolate. She also grabbed a handful of blankets from the storage cabinet, knowing just how thankful this newcomer will be for their warmth. For good measure, she also grabbed a few robe warmers and some grippy socks.

The decontamination cleanse really, really sucked.
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Stargazer-001 / Amalthea Plexa
Commander/Pilot | Cyborg Enhancements | 109yrs

Stargazer was overwhelmingly relieved every time Ferelith replied to her. Every time she hear the Captain's voice, it was assurance that she was real, and that she wasn't finally losing her mind.

As the Firefly landed, Stargazer observed it closely. It was a sturdy-looking ship, clearly built to withstand the rough and often violent terrain of deep space. The wings of the ship were unique in shape, however, and not something Stargazer had ever seen except in concept blueprints. But here they were, functioning...and so cool. The firefly's wings were what she assumed were the source of its name, four of them attached to the ship's apparatus and engineered for quick retraction or expansion for speedy flight patterns. She flashed a quick, beaming smile, but quickly stifled it out of habit.

The firefly was impressive, especially for a small ship.

The very moment Stargazer was into the cargo unit, she was quarantined and flash-frozen, a horrible prickly-cold sensation twisting and biting across her synthetic and organic skin, leeching into her bones and mechanical parts to clean out any pathogens, viruses, or other unwanted microscopic passengers. It was only for a few seconds, but it was a few seconds too long in Stargazer's opinion. As a Commander of the Imperial Armada, Stargazer was comfortably familiar with decontamination- and the process could vary depending on what planet or quadrant of the galaxy you found yourself in, but the Astrifosian process was only a second long, less invasive-feeling, and covered all bases. It was quick, and to the point, because no one really liked suffering through it.

With a huff, she glanced around the room with the knowledge that every cargo bay would have cameras, but unsure of where they were located.

"I'm f-famil-mil-miliar with protocol, and I don't intend to insu-sult anyone here, but the decontamination process ne-ne-needs fine-tuning!" She shuddered, clutching her bag to her side with mild irritation. She thought for a moment that it was now made obvious that her glitching voice was not a comms-error. It was an issue with her own wiring.

Be nice. You're on a stranger's ship, and they may or may not be enemies of the Armada. You're likely outnumbered, and in disrepair, so you wouldn't even have a fighting chance of winning a battle if it came down to it.

Stargazer looked down at herself, realizing just how bad she actually looked. Her right hand was missing missing, wires and metal twisted and mangled at the end of her wrist. She was a perfect mix of organic and machine, but her synthetic skin was ripped in some places, no longer merging seamlessly with her organic skin. Mechanical insides visible and sparking in some places with degraded wiring, and the beginning stages of rust visible. Her mechanical parts were all made with coveted Asterifos metal, the fact that rust existed anywhere on her body was a telltale sign of an unsatisfactory environment and just how long she'd been stranded without proper maintenance. Stargazer was covered in blue dirt, vines had curled their way into the frame of her legs, contributing to the struggle she had when walking. Her suit was hardly functional, and it was a miracle her comms had even worked this long.

And right on the left breast-pocket of her suit was the Imperial Armada crest.

Shit she cursed herself mentally. She should've ripped it off before coming aboard a strange ship. She'd just been so excited that she'd forgotten about it. But the more she thought about it, the less she worried, because the odds would be against her with or without the armada crest, for the fact that she was just very obviously an Asterifosian. Her hair was a dark dusty blue, the color of Asterifos' moon, Galasir, her ears long with rounded points and a thin layer of dusty-blue hair on the backs of them, and her eyes a striking glimmery Asterifosi gold, a sign of being highborn within her culture.

Stargazer ran a hand through her messy, choppy hair, deciding that whatever was going to happen next, would simply happen. There was nothing she could really do about it. All she could be was grateful that she was either going to be saved or rightfully slaughtered.

"Thank you," She mumbled, then spoke louder after clearing her throat, "Thank you. For coming to me. I owe you- and if you can get me home, I'd be able to do something nice for you in return for your help."

It was all Stargazer could offer, and so she hoped for the best.
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Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

The paranoia rolling off Commander Stargazer was like an ache upon her heart. A dagger plunging in and out and in and out. Fere didn't really care what was causing it, causing the emotions to roll off her like a cosmic wave— she just wanted them to stop. She let go of her powers, dampening the effect, but still they lingered, bouncing around the ship and her heart like a flight cruiser missing a wing. Ferelith punched open the door between the commons and cargo bay, the mechanisms within groaning after the flash-freeze. She'd learned long ago how to drop the emotions from her face and only weirdos like Izzy who stayed by her side long enough were able to point out the minute details and expressions that exposed her true feelings.

So when Commander Stargazer walked through the doors, the Imperial Armada splayed proudly against her chest, there's was nothing for her to latch on to, nothing but the slightly pained smile on Ferelith's face.

"Sorry 'bout the mess," Ferelith said with a wave of her arm, "We don't use the Firefly all that often, but it's got the quickest flight propulsion. Figured you'd appreciate gettin' up and off this planet as quick as we could."

Fere threw the blankets atop one of the built-in couches and retrieved the hot mug of cocoa for Stargazer, noticing more than she really wanted to. She seemed to be highborn, those golden eyes ones she'd seen in her dreams for a decade now and though it annoyed her, there wasn't much she could do about it. No, the rebellion was squashed forever and a day ago. No point in dredging up old feuds, especially with a promise like that.

She made herself a cup of cocoa as well as she told the Firefly to reengage the autopilot and head back towards the main ship. Ferelith sat across from Stargazer, wondering.

"We need some new parts, ones that are a little out of our price range, seein' as we ain't had a job in months. Izzy does a good job in keepin' em going, but they won't last forever. Think you could swing a couple our way once we drop you off?"
Stargazer-001 / Amalthea Plexa
Commander/Pilot | Cyborg Enhancements | 109yrs

"I could swing a lot your way after drop-off," Stargazer observed Ferelith for a long moment, "I have important friends in high places. If they're even still alive."

Her brows knitted together, her gaze becoming a thousand-yard stare. In her mind, the events of the crash played out in perfect images. The ship had been a warship, more specifically a special ops stealth cruiser, but a warship nonetheless. It had been so perfectly equipped to handle the mission assigned, and Stargazer still didn't understand how the situation had gotten away from her and spun so horribly out of control. It had been perfect, until it wasn't. A deep part of Stargazer felt that it had to've been planned. She'd never failed so spectacularly, and never would've, if it were up to her.

Stargazer's expression tensed up considerably, her jaw clenching, and her golden eyes hardening in denial.

There was no way anyone on that ship would've betrayed her.

Absolutely not. The Armada does not betray it's own.

We fight for our rightful place in the universe, at the top of the hierarchy. The alpha species. We have no reason to turn on one another, because we are all perfect.

A memory struck her suddenly— Blood, debris, Reylii landing next to her but violently hitting a shelf of hard ice instead of soft snow. Cold. The feeling of being suddenly, terribly, cruelly left alone. The cries of agony coming from her comrades that stopped before she could even get to them to try and preform field medicine. Complete, disastrous failure. It all rested squarely on her shoulders, because she was the Commander.

Stargazer physically reacted to the memory, sitting up straight as a rigid statue, her pulse quickening, her breaths rapid. But she snapped herself out of it as quickly as she could.

Asterifosians do not turn on one another. We are perfect.

She let her gaze wander around the ship, finding no evidence or references to the Armada. But she did find evidence that gave her an idea of just how long she'd been stranded. A calendar.

She rested her elbows on her knees, and her head in her one hand, coming to terms with the time she'd spent trying to survive, and convincing herself that she wasn't hallucinating right now.

"I think," She began slowly, rubbing her face, turning her head to look at Ferelith, "I think I was stranded for twenty years on that stupid chunk of ice. What are you two even doing out here? Last time I checked the star maps of this system, none of the civilizations existing in the area are more advanced than Earthen humans. If you even want to call that civilization— " Stargazer closed her mouth, something inside her not agreeing with that statement. But something else clicked, her expression twitched, and the disagreement with herself was pushed aside, "Even Earthen humans have more resources and technological advancements than the primitives out here. So," She looked between Izzy and Ferelith, "Why are you cruising out this far?"
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Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

Captain Ferelith Monrue stayed quiet for a long while, wrestling with the emotional blowback from saving Commander Stargazer. No, not the fact that she saved an enemy, she'd done that so many times now that it lost its sickening edge, no... simply allowing her onto the ship. It was overwhelming; the denial, the shock, the metallic twang in her emotional grid that came out of nowhere. Was it some kind of Asterifosian quirk? To throw out ones emotions like live grenades, like explosives made for the vacuum of space? She did her best to keep the pain off her face and with a quick, subtle glance into the mirror behind the sink, realized she was doing alright.

Her nose crinkled visibly at the word primitives, but she at least tried to get the disgust off her face.

"Had a job that went bad a few months back. I like the quiet of the black. It... settles my nerves." Ferelith said softly, taking a seat across from Star as the autopilot engaged and they began take off. This planet's atmosphere was weak, at least compared to others in the quadrant, and buckling up hadn't been necessary on entry.

"And why were you out here, all them years ago? Surely the imperial Asterifosians have much more important business to handle than the primitives out on this side of the 'verse."
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Stargazer paused at her question, moving her eyes away from the Captain.

Is there any harm in telling her what we'd been out there looking for?

As far as Stargazer knew, life as she'd known it was no longer how how it currently worked. She didn't know if her superiors, or even if her own father, were alive. It'd only been about twenty years, meaning that there was a good chance that they were, so long as they hadn't been killed in battle. There were too many scenarios that came to mind about what she'd find when they got to her home planet, and Stargazer nervously rubbed the back of her neck with the her hand. It was probably best to keep the details of her mission under wraps. Just in case...though it would help her saviors trust her a bit more if she told the truth.

Composing herself, laying her hand in her lap, and looking at Ferelith once again, Stargazer told her part of the truth.

"My team and I were told to s-scout the are-area. My fa-" Stargazer corrected herself, "The Supreme Commander was concerned that there might be rebels hiding in this corner of the Rift. We were to locate them and return home."

Stargazer left out the part of the Supreme Commander's order to kill everyone they came into contact with. Regardless of wether or not they sided with the rebels. The life forms here had been deemed Primitive, and therefore not useful to the Asterifosian cause.

"Instead of casually scouting the area, we came across an aggressive species, and-" Stargazer's breath caught in her chest, "We failed."

I failed.

"My entire team were casualties of the battle that took place."

I'm the reason they were killed.

"The ship went down, and I suppose the fuckers assumed us all dead. Unfortunately, I survived." She huffed, as if irritated.

I buried every single one of my girls there. They're frozen corpses, never having had a proper funeral service, some of them not whole, and laying in fucking pieces-

Stargazer's hand clenched in her lap, and she looked to were her other hand would be, were it not missing. She changed the subject.

"So, one of you is good with tech, right? Or both?" She held her handless arm aloft, "I think there's some foliage that got tangle up in some of my mechanical parts- my legs and arms, mainly. My communicator is mostly busted, and honestly..." Stargazer was growing more and more frustrated with her body, "Most everything needs to be cleaned and tuned. I can do it myself, if you'd lend me the tools." She offered, realizing how rude some might find it to demand being fixed so urgently. But she'd waited twenty years to get off that desolate ice planet, and all she wanted was for her body to work properly, especially if they were going to be headed for Asterifos.

She'd need to appear unharmed and strong if she was going to get anywhere with her people- there was no room for ragged looks since she'd be coming home to report the gnarly details of her failure.
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Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

If god existed, surely he existed to inflict pain upon Ferelith Monrue.

"We came across an aggressive species, and— We failed."

A knife, right to the chest.

"My entire team were casualties of the battle that took place."

A pistol graze against the cheekbone was nothing to the emotional barrage that sat before her.

"Unfortunately, I survived."

A shotgun slug to the kneecap— blat —would have been a kinder fate than this.

Ferelith, by sheer force of will, remained calm and focused, the expression on her face was one of trained composure. Hours and hours and hours spent in front of the mirror to ensure the emotions, her emotions, were the only ones that showed and only when she allowed them to. Still, between the story relayed and the emotional munitions that Stargazer flung about, Ferelith was struggling.

Their stories were similar. Too similar. How often has this happened across the universe?

Stargazer had lost her entire team.

Ferelith had lost her entire company, save for the seven that were under her direct command. Everyone else was burned alive with Asterifosian Fire, raindrops of everflame that their ships released into the lower atmosphere around enemy locations. Nearby towns and villages were not spared, though they were given an advance warning thirty minutes before to get away as fast as possible. Many of them refused the ominous warning or simply didn't have the tech needed to receive the transmission.

The only reason the eight of them survived was because Ferelith channeled all of the pain and suffering from that battlefield and converted the raw emotional energy into a power source that Izzy could use to create a makeshift shield array. It protected them for the next seven days, wherein Ferelith and Izzy stayed awake, channeling their powers with all their might, to protect each other, to survive.

Fere hesitated, realizing she'd been lost in a memory. One of the worst ones.

"Sorry." Ferelith said genuinely, "'Bout your team. 'Bout you bein' stranded out here for so long. Glad me and Izzy can help though.

"That's who'll be patchin' ya up though. Me? My expertise is elsewhere. I know enough to get machines on and movin', but Izzy's got a touch with 'em. Even outside of her... hrm, gift?"

Usually Fere was more tight lipped about their metahuman natures, but she'd be finding out relatively quick, as they were mere minutes from reuniting with Arcadia. Might as well get all the weird awkward bits out of the way now.

"Don't worry though, she'll get ya' patched up 200% better than whatch' got goin' on now."
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Stargazer-001 / Amalthea Plexa
Commander/Pilot | Cyborg Enhancements | 109yrs

Stargazer watched Ferelith closely, feeling like she was finally looking at the woman. And while holding her gaze there upon Ferelith, Stargazer recognized something in her— contained horror. Strangled memories. Muted Terror. It didn't matter too much how hard one tried to keep their body language under control, from one soldier to another, the signs of witnessing death in the way that Stargazer had— the way it seemed Ferelith had— were hard to miss.

She fell into a mental rabbit hole. How much destruction across the ever-expanding mass of the universe was directly her own fault? Stargazer knew she'd done a lot of killing. All at the order of her superiors, of course, but—

I still killed. I could've said no. Right?

Stargazer rubbed the back of her neck, the stinging sensation that seemed to blanket her mind for a moment every time she started feeling the pressure of her bad decisions.

With a quick shudder of disgust, Stargazer buried her issues.

"Gift?" She asked.

Now that was something she was interested in hearing about. She felt a surge of excitement that she tried, and partially failed to contain, sweep through her body. Stargazer leaned forward, metal creaking, and grains of rust falling with every movement. She winced slightly, too, as some of her mechanic parts had begun to pinch her organic skin, leaving some inflammation.

"I've met a few humans with gifts," Star began, leaving out the part where she'd slaughtered them for being rebels, "But I've never had a real chance to speak with any. What is her gift, exactly? Do you have one as well?"
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Cpt. Ferelith Monrue
soldier | metapsychic [ emotional grid ] | 31

Ferelith was getting better. Quicker. She shored up her emotional grid as soon as she was done speaking, the little blips of emotions were nothing compared to the biohazards Stargazer threw about as she thought through and minced her words. "Sure," Fere replied with a shrug of her shoulders, torn between her emotional reaction and terrified at it at the same time. "But it's nothing compared to Izzy's."

The captain smiled, genuinely, the love for her friend and mechanic obvious upon her face. "Tell me, Commander Stargazer, what do you know of temporal phenomena? I'm sure the Asterifosian's have archives that run much deeper than the human codex we've compiled since our time in the cosmos. We don't understand it fully, the push and pull of time, of time itself. Even the greatest of our intellectual minds still struggle with the breadth of its reaches, despite the fact we've managed to rewire ancient tech and give ourself FTL capabilities to match your own... and others in the galaxies."

Fere shrugged, cracked her neck and then grabbed the arm of the seat as the shuttle began its initializing process to rejoin Arcadia.

"What Izzy does is special. Temporal manipulation. She can prevent temporal degradation, reverse it, enact it." Fere shrugged. "She fuckin' eats me out of house and home, is what she does."
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