Cybernetic Rebellion [Vash & DemonTongue]

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    SETTING (open)

    Acre (open)
    This is the planet on which the story takes place. To us Earth creatures it's called KOI3284.01... how very boring. The settlers were content to call it by that name until later in their history when it was becoming apparent that the planet was yielding little in the way of resources and when the plague first started to hit. It was then that the name Acheron (see Dante's Inferno and Greek Mythology) became spitefully popular among the educated denizens and passed around to survivors and descendants in texts and stories. Thousands of years later the name for the planet among this certain continent has been shortened to Acre. Only the old, the well-read and those on the front of scientific discovery still use the proper pronunciation of Acheron. Though many know of the word it's use is uncommon and seen as archaic or only used when someone wants to look smart.

    The environment is over all a bit colder and dryer than that of earth leaving the planet covered in vast, rocky deserts at the equator and massive ice sheets at the poles. Crops are still grown in areas in between with enough water to support farms and irrigation such as coastal regions, mountain valleys with glacial runoff, and river deltas. Sturdy forms of native plant life still thrive in suitable places including places where it is too difficult to grow earth-like crops. In the past century moisture harvesting and hydroponics have become more common in dry areas. Much of the harsh desert lands, tundras, ice fields, oceans and forests are unexplored.

    Ancient History (open)
    Please keep in mind this is only to give us writers a place to cement ourselves and understand why all this happened in the first place. Except for Alexander, ancient databases and some very special machines, pretty much nobody should know about this stuff and if they do, they only know about it speculatively from research and archaeological findings. Even Alexander wouldn't be privy to all knowledge of the Expansionist era and have access to only a tiny amount of pre-Expansion history.

    Scientific breakthroughs on earth (with the help of stolen alien technology and a bit of a mysterious spat with them) lead to crafts with the ability to warp short galactic distances and massive gates that could "jump" ships over long distances between gates. Humans worked on this technology and honed it for over a century before stretching beyond our solar system. They set up mining colonies on Mars, Titon and several other solar bodies nearby. With many warp capable ships in production and now available to civilians with the means to procure them, a new age of exploration began. People spread out over the new frontier in search of resources and riches, stations and jump gates were built across the near galaxy, the government began setting up research funds dedicated to planetary expansion, terraforming and colonies, pirates flourished and built or commandeered backwater stations and accumulated fortunes.

    KOI3284.01 was one of the planets that was colonized by Earthling scientists and miners. Their mission was to set up one of thousands of homes away from home, to put governing bodies into place, set up communications with the galaxy, maintain their jump gate, breed and introduce earth life to boost the tiny ecosystem, become self sufficient, survey the planet for resources and new life forms and begin extracting them. This was the same basic mission as every other newly settled exoplanet. For a very long time things went smoothly. The atmosphere was thin and cold so massive terraforming nodes were constructed across the surface of the planet to raise the amount of greenhouse gases and create a more suitable environment for plants, animals and people. These nodes can still be seen today, taking the appearance of massive, blackened, rusted and ruined alien towers that loom, lifeless, over their lands.

    After several centuries of nothing but success the easily accessible ores had been mined out. The population spread and expeditions to the frozen north in order to find new mines began. However, while taking samples of the permafrost a prehistoric viral strain that had been dormant for millions of years was uncovered. Once the scientists realized what they had pulled out of the ground it was too late. The virus had multiplied and spread like wildfire through the citizens. It was highly contagious, air-borne and killed quickly. Again and again it would thwart efforts to find a cure or vaccine. When they reached out to the galactic powers for help the jump gate was shut down and the planet quarantined until the plague could be reversed. Despite quarantines, medical experiments and hundreds of attempted remedies, the virus soon struck at the heart of KOI3284.01's governmental structure. Along with civilians, top scientists, military leads and government officials were killed. No help came from the outside. Soon it became clear that the planet and it's people had been abandoned. With hundreds of other planets to care for, several wars to fight and rebellions to disperse their own people would not risk it all for one little, far-away world. Collapse was imminent. Research facilities, political houses, farms and mines were abandoned with nobody to run them. Ships fled the surface in vain to escape the horrific deaths brought on by the plague. But with no jump gate to any sort of safe haven, their fates were sealed. The population dissolved, structures were left to ruin, machines were left to run and continue their protocols in deep solace, communications silenced. The newly christened Acheron was dead. Or so it seemed...

    History (open)
    Most people alive now will know a thing or two about this stuff, but probably not every bit of it. A few speculations about this era of history and the ancient history section are being tossed around among the more intellectual groups although most of it is quite wrong.

    A few humans had survived their brush with the virus and come out of it with a new immunity, or had managed to escape it's clutches entirely by sinking deep into the wilderness. They lived in small groups like animals, hunting and gathering to make due. Very slowly, they began to re-build. Their efforts took hundreds upon hundreds of years as isolated villages sprang up and grew into towns or faded away. Stories, languages, scraps of scientific knowledge and trickles of history were passed down through the generations, but so much more was lost to time. New discoveries, customs, leaderships and ways of life evolved in the emptiness. After nearly a thousand years the glorious age before the plague had been completely forgotten. Little clues hidden in the tools, buildings, words and bodies of this new breed of humans and the mysterious structures that clung to their world were all that remained to hint at what had come before.

    City States were soon established and trade between them gave way to new eras of thinking, science and communication. Exploration and a new found interest instead of fear of ancient artifacts ushered in an era of technological breakthroughs and mass education. Electricity was re-discovered en mass. Hydroelectric plants lined the rivers and allowed cities to grow larger and more comfortable. Invention and manufacturing became a staple of everyday life. New mines were dug, ancient ones were re-opened. New towns sprang up deeper into the Wild as riches and knowledge were uncovered. Institutes, governments, laws, factories, militias and public transportation grew in the cities on the east coast of the continent. Massive electromagnetic trains and tracks for them to run on were built to transport equipment and supplies west and south into the wild then bring resources and food back from the mines and farms. Industrial and even a handful of personal vehicles became available running with the same technology that had been used on the trains. Magnetic repulsion was researched to make such vehicles even more efficient and the information was used to develop new kinds of weapons to defend against outlaws, strange horrors and wild animals that were coming out of the unexplored lands.

    Current Events (open)
    Popular fiction and recounted tales of adventure and fortune drive more people out of the safety of the city states, many only find death, but some find treasures that continue to aid progress. Many private organizations, including the Neola Institute of Sciences (NIS) have even offered rewards to any substantial findings brought to their attention. It is a time of glory and wonder, but also a time of danger, death and suffering.
    In the Wild there is lawlessness and anarchy. Outlaws run the show and abuse innocent homesteaders, prospectors, hunters and villages who have weak or no militia available to protect them. Larger sites, such as company owned mines or farms have trained men and many weapons to keep bandits at bay. The people working in these places are more lucky than some but in no way are they totally safe. Day by day gangs grow stronger and more equipped than ever before.
    However there are those that are willing to combat them and do more than the militias and private armies can be bothered with. Small bands of enforcers with their own moral code have popped up to help their fellow man. The largest of these groups, known as The Rangers, command a huge amount of territory and run patrols between towns and homesteads.
    Not only bandits threaten those who would venture out. Many people who leave home are never seen again and strange human-like creatures have been seen wandering the wastelands with hungry empty eyes.
    Wild animals have changed in the millenniums since they were introduced. Most are tougher, bigger and more ferocious than ever before having adapted to a more harsh climate after the terraforming nodes went down. Coyotes, lions, bears, venomous lizards and gargantuan snakes are the biggest threats. These predators are mostly nocturnal, but have been known to strike during the day when disturbed.
    Mechanical beings have also been found to the north, situating themselves around inhospitable compounds built into the ice.

    Technology (open)
    Much of it is reverse engineered from artifacts, runs off of electricity and batteries, or is fairly primitive. Weapons are occasionally ballistic, but electric, magnetic and repulsive systems are far more popular. Ballistics are seen as ceremonial or antiques or fashion statements under the far more powerful rail gun. Vehicles of all shapes and size ranging from trains, personal vehicles, haulers, hover crafts and wheeled tankers can be found in this world, most have electromagnetic propulsion and power systems.

    FACTIONS (open)

    Rangers (open)
    Though the Rangers are ruthless in their methods, their intentions are good and they want to make a safe place for the settlers, miners, farmers, etc... They solve crimes against humanity, track bandit groups and outlaws, enforce their own laws on the people and enact justice and those who cross them. Their existence is highly controversial as some of their actions are seen as brutal or unethical. Even so many people who call the Wilds home consider them a blessing and stay in their good graces.

    The Union (open)
    These guys are the closest thing to a functioning nation this continent has. A conglomeration of allied City States and militias.

    The Lost (open)
    Horrible, evil beings. They attack on sight and any specimens that have been killed and examined closely are indeed human but grotesquely mutated. They feed on the flesh of other humans and rumor has it they consume every part of the victim, even the soul. Nobody knows how they come to be this way, but their numbers are growing and more of the adventurous are becoming Lost in the Wild. They attack on sight and any specimens that have been killed and examined closely are indeed human but grotesquely mutated.

    The Machines (open)
    Ancient relics and automated beings of varied shape, size, and function who live in the far north. They posses old and valuable knowledge, but they are uninterested and often incapable of sharing it and they hide themselves well. Those who research the sprawling structures the machines seem to be birthed from almost always report findings of strange heat emanating from the core of the devices which power them and soon fall ill and die with strange afflictions that eat at the flesh, cause nails and hair to fall out and bring the victims into madness. As a result the machines are largely shunned and left alone. Currently scientists are trying to solve the riddles of these places without further casualty. The beings themselves tend to be relatively harmless, wandering the land, taking samples, recovering resources and dysfunctional brethren and minding their own business. However some have retaliated against explorers, killing people who get to close or hunting them down. These incidents, along with the stigma and supposed curse of their structures and cold lands has lead to widespread hatred and fear of them.

    The Vascar (open)
    The Vascar race is a nomad race, split into 30 different clans that travel the galaxy, having no true home other than their ships, they are hardy, but are often considered to be scoundrels and bloodthirsty villains. They live a bloody life from birth to death, having their lower arms lasered off until they earn a proper rank within their floating colonies. They are very loyal to one another to a fault, and are famous for their rapid regeneration, even able to regenerate limbs over the cours of a few weeks. They are especially fertile, able to breed at a very fast rate. The females are often placed into protected states, rarely being placed into armed forces unless they are very strong or have proved themselves willing to kill. Many take up lives as providers of arms, armor, food, clothing, and all manner of goods at home. Regardless of their servant like lifestyle, very few are actually servants. Many are even diplomats and leaders of the colonies. Many would say that the soldiers are the will of the women. (Women dominated race)

    The women are often thinly built with two arms, commonly standing at 7 feet tall, though it is not unheard of to have many be 5 feet or 9. Many have very long hair and enjoy plenty of jewelry and exotic garments, all hand made. Most are, by human standards, "Curvy", with "c cup" and two birthing canals. The men are the soldiers and the pirates, ranging from thin, lanky, to large and muscular. Almost always with four arms. They are easily able to take on stealthy careers as assassins and thieves, but are just as likely to take on careers as front line soldiers in heavy armor. Able to take control of massive vehicles and ships with ease, they are the blood of the colonies.

    They stand very tall, most at 9 feet and can end up at 11 foot. Those below 8.6 foot are disallowed from the military and are either killed or outcast from the colonies. They, like their female counterparts, have double genetalia so as to bolster their ranks. At birth, they have their lower arms cut off monthly until they pass the military initiation, graduating from a common "dreg" rank to "Dominus", where then they are allowed to fully regrow their arms and spend the rest of their lives as a fully equipped trooper of war. While many utilize rifles, many more prefer wielding electrified swords, cutlasses, and knives to close in and attack their enemies up close and personal.

    LOCATIONS (open)

    Neola City (open)
    A major city state and perhaps the largest in the Union. It is home to many factories, hydro-electric plants, train stations, the largest militia barracks and training ground on the continent, an institute for higher learning and a central court house.

    The Ranger Compound (open)
    The compound is located some distance out in the wilds where new lands and riches are being claimed and settled by decent folk. Most of the compound is underground as it was constructed out of an abandoned mine and refinery. There are many watchtowers that stretch along the mountain ridges it is built into and many miles of tunnels under the ground. The Rangers, both the commanding family and hired guns, live here and conduct their operations from here. They have developed sophisticated communications that surpass those of the City States. Out in the wild they have access to ancient and forgotten places and they have the guts and guns to investigate them. Several archaeologists have cast their lot in with them for a chance at a more knowledgeable and adventurous life... that or they have done it out of spite for the larger institutions back east.

    Circle Canyon and The Barrier (open)
    A mining town in the south Wild owned by the Hanzheng Steel Company. It is home to the largest and deepest iron mine in operation to date. The town is located in a sort of canyon oasis below a reservoir that ends a very long system of rivers stemming from the northern glaciers. The rivers have carved out a jagged and incredible series of canyon lands, cliffs and rock spires though the continent. These canyon lands form a Barrier to the west. A few treacherous paths through the cliffs as well as a couple of natural land bridges and steel behemoths designed to hold up train engines are the only ways across without circumnavigating the barrier to the north or south. Circle Canyon is known as a trading hub and a place for explorers and wanderers to stop for supplies and rest on their way in and out of the wild. The town never sleeps and is home to honest people and ruffians alike. Hanzheng also boasts one of the largest private armies in existence and thanks to them Circle Canyon remains a fairly safe haven where trouble is not tolerated.

    The Wild (open)
    Unexplored areas of the continent mostly to the west and north. These areas are harsh, cold, dry and largely inhospitable. The wild is home to fierce animals, terrible monsters, deadly machines and other mysterious beings still unknown to the population. People tougher than most conduct expeditions into the wild on occasion in the name of discovery and profit. A select few even call it home, such as Rangers, outlaws, miners and homesteaders. The wild stretches on for what seems an eternity and the west coast of the continent has never been found.

    The North (open)
    Frozen wastelands of tundra, rock and ice. Very few dare to tread into this hellish land. The temperatures can kill quickly, there is no food and no shelter other than what one can bring in. In the winter there is constant darkness. The only life up here is a minute selection of tough animals and extremophiles as well as the Machines. Structures of seemingly mindless twisted metal spring up through the ice and rock and bore through the ground for hundreds of miles.

    The Void Waters (open)
    An ocean to the east which stretches farther than the eye can see and farther north and south than any known person has traveled. Several expeditions have been mounted to explore the entire coastline of the continent but they have yet to complete the task. Technology has brought about fishing methods, boats, piers and heavy ships. Despite this, attempts to journey across the ocean have all failed, with the explorers never returning again. There are horrifying creatures, native to the planet, living in these waters. They are hideous, massive and extremely deadly, keeping humans hugging the shore-line much of the time. While many smaller native species have been captured and studied, only one or two of the larger creatures have been killed. However, there are advances being made in naval technology, armored ships, ballistic harpoons and other weapons capable of taking down such monsters and many businessmen are eager to see if they can be put to use.

    CHARACTERS (open)

    Alexander Callahan (open)

    - Face

    - Face 2

    - Body

    - Body back

    -Lunar Burn


    "Just what the fuck do you think you're doing here? Pretending to be a hero? A Bandit? Some kind of superman? Here's reality you little twat. You were nothing before and now, you're pointing a .32 caliber handgun at me and you are STILL nothing. You pathetic little bastard. Go ahead. Shoot me. You will do nothing."

    Ducking down behind cover, bullets whizzed overhead. The snow was coming down hard, but it nary slowed down his reloading. He popped back up and fired his revolver blindly several times, not aiming but hitting home as he heard a gurgle from on the other side of the firing line. He reloaded again and dived out to another brick building. He looked up and saw several bricks popped out along with several protrusions. He grabbed a foothold and scrambled up the wall, rolling into a window as the bottom was surrounded by bandits.

    He slipped his rifle off of his back and slid up to a window, popping out and aiming at the faint glint of metal on the street below, firing just above it and seeing the splash of crimson explode into the air as the head of the bandit below was eviserated by the .50 caliber bullet. He ducked back down as fire started to shread the window and he ran for a door.

    Bursting through it he ducked as a knife swiped at his head. He dropped his rifle and yanked out his knife from his boot and blocked a second swipe from his attacker, deflecting it to the side and blocking the third swipe with his hand before plunging his own knife into the attacker's neck. He picked the knife off of the body and threw it by the blade behind him, the knife plunging into the chest of a new entrant. He yanked his pistol out of his holster and fired several times, dropping a second bandit whom had stormed through the door. He clicked a button on the side and electricity arched through the weapon. He held down the trigger and pointed it at the window, waiting. Sounds of footsteps above alerting him to bandits repelling in. The first one into the window exploded into a mess of gore as a gauss powered railgun round penetrated the very being of the poor bastard that had chosen that window. There was nothing left.

    "Stupid move, kid." The kid below him, lying in the dust, his knees shattered, his gun dismantled, sobbing. "Told you to shoot me and you were stupid enough to do it. Now, you will be just another clump of dust in the wind...." He turned away, his bag full of high-bounty-bandit-head at his side, and started to walk on the trail he had been traveling before. "Should have gone home."

    Praxis - Kell of the house of Eclipse (open)
    "My name...Is Praxis." Standing before a ruined snow-covered battlefield, mired in the aftermath of war upon his flagship "The Sword of Eclipse" stood it's captain, robes whipping about him from the intense wind slashing through the landscape. Steel in armor color with nearly white glowing eyes. His cloak was tattered from the age and abuse. " a Vascar of...simple pleasures, simple needs...simple desires..." Standing before the final survivor of the battle, a human ranger whom was trespassing on Eclipse land. The captain reached to his back and unsheathed a Brutal Cutlass and planted it on the poor man's knee. As he cried out in pain, the captain bent over and back handed him, sending his precious "cowpoke hat" into the wind and used his upper left hand to grab the ranger by the jaw, lifting him up, pulling his cutlass out of the man's knee at the same time. The captain brought the trespasser close to His armored head Inspecting him. "I revel in glory...honor myself and my house by crushing those whom oppose me...bathe in their blood, their sacrifice...." The captain laughed, yelling "Ja ta koo, krawn!" in his own tongue before starting to squeeze the ranger's skull in hand. The human tried to flail and escape, but the captain was far stronger, and his head collapsed into blood and graymatter before the might of the captain. " the Kell of the Vascar House of Everlasting Eclipse. In your..."language" that would mean leader, ruler, king, sultan, warlord..I am all of them." Riding upon the barrel of one of the Eclipse sand-hovercraft fleets many artillery guns, the Kell screamed to the sky of the mid-day desert sun! "Ko Wan Fon JAWK!" The cries of the hundreds below him spurred him to raise his Shatter Rifle Into the air, firing it as the fleet of one hundred thirty seven hovering vehicles race towards the city of Littlestone on the fringes of the desert regions. (Each word is a separate link) "The Krawn? Rangers in your tongue...we have an...agreement with them. They do not hunt us for your pathetic "money..." Standing upon a tower in the dead of night, the Kell takes the electricity laced wire-sniper-rifle and takes aim across the expanse of snow before him, aiming at a lone figure upon a hill in the distance, the silver medallion on his "cowpoke hat" shining brilliantly in the moonlight. With a loud bang, the head of the figure disappears in a show of gore seen only by the captain and his scope.... "We do not hunt them for sport...."

    Anna Toland (open)
    Standing alone in the courtyard of the Ranger compound, her rifle on her back and her Decimater in it's barely-fitting holster. watching the new "recruit" be brutalized by the trainers. She laughed and shook her head, recalling to just the previous day, convincing the leaders to let him in based on the stories she had read about his kind, the Exo, machines built for war that they were unable to participate in, left to rot until something woke them up. He had already proven himself by taking down Conway the indomitable, the only man on the bounty board to be listed as "public enemy number one" with multiple rewards from both the Rangers themselves and benefactors in the land that totaled well over two billion Tabs. The most wanted man in the land, dead by Alexander's hands and looking like he didn't even exert any real effort. She couldn't help but notice just how nice he looked in the tight training clothing.... Her oogling was disrupted by a particular annoyance, a man she had grown to hate to nearly infinite ends: Tony Tessaro...and his bodyguard that she is good friends with, Gabe Kinsley. Tony...she hated his attitude, his look, his fucking hair. She was tempted to put a bullet in her throat whenever he was even around, and now he had stopped next to her and put his damn body against the wall, leaning like a jackass wanting to plow something. She glared death into his eyes as he spoke. "Hey there..." He said, trying his best to sound sexy and alluring. She cringed and immediately reacted on instinct, her fist slamming right into his miniscule dick and making him lurch over in pain, falling to the ground and writing in agony. She spoke, anger and venom in her voice. "If I have told you once, Tony, I have told you a thousand times: Do not associate with me you perverted needle dicked fuck." She spit at him, the saliva hitting the side of his face. Meanwhile, right behind hm, Gabe was choking up something awful, trying to hide his laughter. Anna stepped over him and pulled him into a hug. "Always good to see you, Gabriel. Are we still on for lunch tomorrow evening?" Biting his lip and holding back the tears as Tony groaned in pain, gripping his groin in pain. He nodded and she kissed him on the cheek. "Have a good day, Gabe!" She walked way, satisfied.

    Tony "Horseshoes" Tessaro (open)
    Inside the lodge barroom it was mostly quiet. Only soft music and the voices of tired railmen, mercenaries, farmers, couriers and working ladies bubbled through the smoky atmosphere. The occasional bout of laughter, shout or greeting broke the monotony but it was a good place, a warm place away from the dark cold. In the corner a figure with his face mostly covered by the brim of a hat and his shoulders shrouded in a thick woolen overcoat sat with his food and drink and wrote in a thick, leather bound journal. Or at least he had been writing in it. Now he slumped with his feet up on a chair under the table, his charcoal pen steadily falling out of his hand, asleep. The man who sat down next to him didn't stir him in the slightest.

    "Hey," The man shoved his shoulder.

    He woke with a sharp inhale. His hand immediately went to one of the pistols hidden under his coat, but he stopped short and sized up the person who disturbed him. With a yawn, he took his boots off the chair and straightened up.

    "Somethin' I can help you with, mister?" he asked.

    The other man was filthy, his clothes covered in dust and stains foul and unmentionable. It had to have been months since he had a shave or a bath... and perhaps a lifetime since he had cleaned his teeth. And yet the dirty clothes were adorned with small momentos, trophies, expensive leathers, pressed coins and rare gems. His hat was fine fur, not felt. One of his rotting teeth was made of gold and gaudy rings adorned his fingers. It all must have cost a fortune. All the red flags flying up and the smell made his head spin, but he stopped from recoiling so as not to cause offense.

    "You one o' dem Ranger folk, yeah?" the grizzly man smirked and thumped the steel insignia that pinned up the side of his hat. The winged symbol of a Ranger Scout, "Damn, they sendin' em out young now. How old 're you, boy? Fifteen? Sixteen?"

    "Too, young to be a Ranger, sir," he stretched casually, pulled the brim of the hat further over his eyes and started to close the journal, "Even those bastards don't put kids in the field. My old man pulled this off of some wanderer he shot on our land. Snazy, wouldn't ya say so?"

    The rude man slammed his hand down on the journal. There was an uncomfortable silence spreading through the barroom. He slid the journal over to himself and looked at the newest page. A couple texts from papers, a sketched portrait and a crumpled map with a couple of markers were pinned to it and the page before it. Now the Ranger could see a handful of other men, eerily similar in fashion to the one bothering him, looking this way from several tables. He wasn't alone. His fingers wrapped around the butt of a pistol.

    "Samuel Belanger..." the man snorted, "Belanger. Now there be a name that makes men shy away and mothers hide their children. You ain't lookin' for 'im are ya, boy?"

    "No, Sir. I'm not the type that goes lookin' for trouble. I just like takin' notes on the news I hear from other travelin' folk," he smiled and dared to look the man in the eye, "Ma says I'm strange like that."

    The foul man chuckled, deep and husky and shook his head, "Well, that's an interesting hobby, ya got there," he closed the journal and pushed it back, "It's a damn shame, though. Ya know. You bein' out here. Not lookin' for him an' all."

    A few of the men who were watching stood from their chairs one by one. Some stayed and came closer, one or two went outside. A few of the lodge patrons started to make their way to their rooms, whispering in hushed voices. The Ranger took up his journal, stowed in his pack and slung the strap over his shoulder. Oh, this was not good.

    The man tapped his knuckles on the table, watching the Ranger's every move, "Because ya' fuckin' found him."

    The Ranger closed his eyes tightly as if in pain, pressed his lips together and let out a deep sigh through his nose, "Yay," he grumbled.

    Without another word, without another split second of hesitation the Ranger bolted under the table and threw the far side upward. It came up between himself and the shouting men, slamming Samuel in the face. He drew a pistol out of the shroud on his shoulders and fired an electrified pulse at the window. The glass splintered with wild white fingers, becoming like a hundred spider's webs. The Ranger threw himself through the weakened glass as the gun fire started. He landed hard and rolled along the cold ground outside with the shards raining down, breaking and finding their way into his clothes. He ran for it. The men who had gone out first were waiting. The pulses and arcs from their guns lit up the night and exploded around the young Ranger as he raced for cover. Pistol still in hand he shot back, hoping to get lucky. One of the bandits was struck in the arm by his short barrage of fire. The limb burned and smoked and he screamed in agony. The Ranger ducked behind the break in between buildings. His shoulders rose and sank as he let out a sharp breath and calmed himself. A dangerously determined look came into his eyes. How much was old Samuel worth these days? Had to be a couple million at the least. Oh, what the Rangers could do with a cold hard million. More guns, more ammo, more vehicles. They might even get one of them newfangled soda water machines that were so popular in the city states. He'd only had one of the sweet drinks once and was convinced it was a substance that had fallen to Acre from the heavens themselves. He smirked. More firepower.

    Out from under his coat he dropped a heavy caliber shotgun that had been slung over his shoulder under the rest of his gear, nice and safe. Not so safe any longer... At least not for the bandits. He could hear them coming. The Ranger snapped a long, tube-shaped grenade from his belt, pulled the charge and rolled it to the opening of the alley and backed away quickly. Closer. Closer. The voices were right on top of the trap. Boom. Dust and debris flew over his head and around the cellar housing he had hidden behind. Screaming replaced the yelling. He stepped out from his shelter, the shotgun secured against his shoulder and already aimed down the alley. A few of the men chasing him were still alive. With a only a light squeeze of the trigger the gun kicked hard, expelling hot discharge from the vents and letting loose a smashing electric howl that would surely wake up the whole town if they weren't up already. The spew of charges lit up the barrel before exploding in a bandit's chest, tearing him in half. He acted quickly in shooting the others and left the buildings and ground there covered in burning carnage. Time to go. The Ranger put a set of fresh charges in his teeth, popped out the fried ones and reloaded the gun as he ran for his ATV. It was just outside the main street. He could see it there as the end of the row of buildings came up on him. If he could get to it the bandits would give chase and he could pick them off one by--

    Gore ripped out of his left thigh and splattered the ground before he fell on his face. Only after did his ears register the rifle shot... and then he felt the pain.

    Cursing loudly, and groaning the Ranger grabbed his hat, struggled to stand and tried to hobble forward, but the leg wouldn't hold weight.

    "MOVE AND YOU DIE!" someone yelled from behind him.

    He froze, standing on one foot and panting, his vehicle only a few yards away. There were slow, heavy boots crunching up on him.

    "Drop the gun," Samuel growled.

    The Ranger obeyed, letting the shotgun fall.

    "Show me your hands," he demanded. The Ranger could feel the hard muzzle on his back. He slipped his arms out of the overcoat and held them out.

    Without warning a heavy hand grabbed his coat and threw him into the wall. He hit hard and found himself on the ground again. When he looked up Samuel and three of his men were standing over him. Sam handed his rifle to one of them. He cracked his knuckles.

    "It's a damn shame, indeed," The big man hissed and pulled the Ranger up by his collar, "You got such a pretty face too. Bet the girls just love it."

    The Ranger scowled, "You think I'm pretty? Aw shucks. I'm blushing," then he spit in Samuel's face before digging for one of the hidden pistols again.

    But it was all to quick. The blow to the left side of his face was brutal. He felt the flesh tear under all the rings and his skull whipped back striking the wall. He had the gun but couldn't focus. Reality was only a blur. The men all laughed in an uproar and cheered on their boss. Another blow came on top of the first ripping upward across his face again. It was followed by another and another and another crushing him until all was dark. He lashed out trying to get a blind strike of his own to land, feeling it slam into the bridge of a nose. A pained grunt preceded series of viscous hits to his ribs and a loud crack. He couldn't breathe. He struggled with the gun that had been finally freed of it's holster. The next jagged punch ripped through his ear and over his scalp. He felt the gun press up against something solid and instinctively pulled the trigger. Acre pulled him down into her clutches once more. Samuel staggered back. He could only see him out of one eye, holding his guts in. His face, neck and fist splattered with blood, skin hanging off the rings. The man stumbled forward and braced himself on the wall. His men held him, yelling words of warning and concern. A small blade clicked out of the toe of his boot before he delivered a bone crushing kick into the Ranger's stomach. Another kick found it's mark as he screamed, "Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!"

    The men pulled their dying boss away, aside from one who remained to finish the job. He put his rifle against the Ranger's forehead.

    "Ya wou'dn' shoo' a sick kid wit a limp, wou'd ya?" the Ranger sputtered out of broken jaw and a shredded smile. He was going to die here... He was going to die... He knew it had to happen someday. And he had promised on that day he wouldn't go out in fear. Even if it was as messy and unheroic as this he had to be smiling.

    The man was distracted by yelling that had broken out once more. The Ranger was fading in and out. What now? The pain was taking over and breathing was too much of a struggle. He felt like he was suffocating. Just get it over with. The man ran away, and left him lying there. He could hear fighting. Gun shots. Breaking bones. Silence. He rolled over and tried to see. A towering figure, bigger than Samuel by far, long legs, old coat, black hat, strode toward him. He said nothing. He only pulled the Ranger up and supported him on a shoulder.

    "Don't bother," the Ranger spewed blood and spit with every word. It dribbled out of the gash in his cheek and down his neck with certain words, "If you wanna help there's a journal... I got a journal with coordinates inside the cover... Just... Just go and tell em what happened. Take the body and the hat... not my body. Take... Belanger's body. My hat... take 'em, tell 'em Tony sent ya... and they'll know what to... You'll get money."

    The man holding him recoiled and turned his head away from the mess, "For fuck's sake kid, shut up. Damn it all that's disgusting."

    "But... Take the body... We're gonna get... soda machine..."

    Gabe Kinsley (open)
    The kid had tried to pass out on him several times, but a quick nudge had him up and talking nonsense again. He really wished he wouldn't. He could see his teeth through his cheek and the bottom lip on the left side had been torn and hung loose. Not to mention the way his jaw sat offset. The side of his face might as well have been put through a wood chipper. Luckily there had been so much blood he couldn't really make out what was what. Finally, he found someone who could stop the bleeding and stabilize him. However the local doctor wouldn't do any more work for free. Not for strangers who had caused so much trouble.

    Out in the Wild tiny sparks of light glittered to life across the deep blue sky. It was quiet. The wind was cold and clean and refreshed his lungs with the calming scents of rust and sage. But there would be no sleep tonight. There had been no sleep in the nights before either. He could not remember the last time he had shut his eyes for more than a few minutes, nor his last meal. Stopping was too risky in this territory, he had little money and the kid didn't have much time.

    The large, beat up truck hummed along, its tires bouncing over ruts and bushes and rocks and other obstacles on the desert floor. Bottles, hand-rolled cigarette butts, tools, chains, bullet casings and other miscellaneous items rattled around on the floor and and jostled the kid's unconscious body. Every so often he would make sure he was secure and still had a pulse. The iron armor panels snapped against the chassis with every hit the suspension couldn't take. The cracks in the windscreen squeaked and popped as they readjusted, but still held up under further abuse. He didn't seem to mind. Dust rushed into the air and floated along in soft clouds in the machine's wake.

    Even with the absence of a road, leaving only landmarks and stars to guide him to the coordinates he had found in the journal, the man sat in a dreamlike silence as he drove. Calm, nearly bored, as if he had been in this situation countless times over. Only when the ground took a turn upward into the hills did he snap out of it and jam the shifter into a lower gear and engage the rear wheels. The truck's engine groaned and sped up with a growl. The drive train thumped the chassis hard as it came to life. The rugged tires dug hard into the dirt and it climbed as if nothing had changed. The man relaxed once more, lit up a fresh smoke and concentrated on the new challenges of the terrain.

    This wasn't smart. Smart would have been leaving the kid to the towns people, taking the outlaw's corpse to the authorities and disappearing again with full pockets. The truck was breaking, he had been wearing the same tattered clothes for years, the pain of never ending hunger and aimlessness nagged at him. The life of an animated corpse. If the kid had been honest there was money in this endeavor and he could also feel like a person again if he made it alive. At least for a little while. Besides... He had nothing better to do. He never had anything better to do other than wait. Damn wasteland.

    Soon the hills gave way into a basin guarded by jagged mountain peaks and cliffs, like a set of black teeth biting into the sky. The land was still rough and pockmarked with ravines, ruts, cracks, shallow rises and sudden drops. His teeth clapped together and he found himself clenching his jaw and sitting bolt upright, trying to control the huge unruly vehicle over this barren shit-hole. They were coming up on the coordinates, but there was nothing here. He scratched the short beard that grew on his face and kept his eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. The foothills of the mountain range rose up in his way. The coordinates had to be just beyond them. He picked his path carefully through the brush and the short, bushy trees. This truck had been good to him and could make it through most rough spots, but it was no miracle worker and could become stuck easily in the mountains if he weren't careful. The engine whined at him over steep sections and he watched the battery gage closely. The truck cleared a ridge and came down into a deep ravine. At the bottom there was a road. They were here.

    The road took him deeper into the canyon where the light from the moons no longer reached. But, up ahead he could make out a tall black tower rising just above the rock. Several others like it stood together further up the mountain. Then there came the fence. He slowed the truck before reaching the gate, growing nervous. He remembered the old rifle that hung on the rack behind the seat. There was no telling what--

    A spot light flared and blinded him followed by a siren. He slammed on the brakes and saw an armed man standing guard in the middle of the road. Several others dressed in black, with heavy guns were already upon the truck. They shouted and ordered him out.

    "GET ON YOUR KNEES. ON THE GROUND NOW!" One of them forced him down after he got out of the vehicle. He obeyed immediately, not meaning any trouble.

    "HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD!" he complied and his wrists were immediately bound with wire.

    "Check the truck. Search him," he heard the man in the middle of the road order. These men all wore similar clothes, all of them bearing metal insignia pins somewhere on their bodies, all of them with their faces covered. Another light was shined in his face as they searched his clothes and padded him down. More men with weapons were coming out of the tall gate. Orders and shouting filled the air. He heard the passenger door open.

    "Shit! Got 'im." "Uhg, look at that. Is he--?" "Still alive!" "Wait, ain't that one of the Boss' kids?" "Damn... Get a medic out here! Now!"

    "We've got a body!" shouted a man who was searching the back of the truck, where his supplies and the corpse of an outlaw stuffed into a sack were stored. He remained silent and calm. His heart sped up but he breathed easily and stared at the ground with a frown. The commotion seemed to die down a little and a set of black boots stopped in his line of sight.

    "Look at me," they ordered.

    He looked up with a glare but otherwise kept still in the chaos. The Ranger before him bore a gold, not steel, insignia on his chest, he had a very clean cut beard, broad shoulders and a long black trench coat. A pipe hung in his mouth.

    "Start talking. I hear something I don't like and we leave your headless body to the vultures."

    #1 DemonTongue, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2015
    [BCOLOR=#000000]---FR CODE CC19---[/BCOLOR]

    Waking from a dead sleep, the black military uniformed exo dropped out of a cryogenics pod, landing on his hands and feet as he shook off the frost. Standing quickly, he quickly assessed the metal insides of the UNN Thunder-born. Bright red lights cycled as alarms blared, voices of screaming and guns firing echoed through the halls, and in front of him, a black-manned parapalegic woman lay before him, barely hanging onto a console that was connected to his cryopod, her wheelchair nowhere to be found. He recognized her and leaped to her aid.

    "Katherine!" Alex yelled and helped her up. "Alex...test subject seven...escaped...started to infect the ship...caused a catastrophic failure in the..." She coughed up blood onto Alex's uniform and leaned against him, winded. Alex looked around, trying to find an exit. "Don't worry, Katherine. We'll get out of here." He hefted her into his arms and ran down the hall, getting against the wall and sliding as he came up to a corner. He peered around to find bodies and blood everywhere. Even though blood coated it, he saw directions on the wall pointing to the escape pods. He rounded the corner and sprinted down the halls a way before a lurch in the ship caused him to stop cold and activate his mag boots to keep from falling over with Katherine in his arms. His heads up eye display activated.


    He disabled the mag boots and started to run again, but several explosions rocked the ship and the wall he was next to exploded into shrapnel and gore as he and Katherine were flung into a nearby wall. He lost grip of her as the gravity started to fail and another explosion slammed him into a second wall. "ALEEEX!" She yelled as she disappeared into the fire. He screamed as he flung in the opposite direction. "KATHERINE!" As he flew down the hall at an extreme speed, his caught a girder that had fallen through the ceiling and he was out cold.

    ---PLEASE STAND BY...---
    ---PLEASE STAND BY...---

    He came to staring into the bulk of the ship on top of him. He shook his head and pushed against the metal as hard as he could but it would not budge. He felt around for an edge to grab and found one, yanking on it and pulling himself through the debris and pushing on various bits of the ship before finding a loose point and pushing his way out of the wreckage. His clothing was in tatters, barely a shred of clothing on him. He had awoken just after the UNN Thunder-born had crashed, fire and melting hull scattered everywhere in the crater. He yelled at the top of his mettalic lungs "KATHERIIIIIIINE!" he started to rip through the wreckage, trying to find something, some faint hope that she yet lived. He searched for what seemed like forever before finding a charred skeleton gripping something, a medallion, protected in a small energy field. Silver in material with a wolf's head on it. He knelt down to the skeleton and gripped the hand. It was hers.

    ---CORE MELT DOWN IN 20...19...18...---

    Alex took the medallion and started to sprint through the wreckage, bounding over all sorts of metal and debris, but there was no chance of him being anywhere near fast enough. He fell forward and smashed into the ground, creating a skid in the dirt and metal as he slid to a stop, a blue field erupted from the center of the wreckage, reaching out from the crater and into the wastes around. Alex couldn't move.

    ---WA..ING: PRI.ARY POWER DEP.....---
    ---MEM... WIPE COM....E---
    ---Goodnight, Alex.---


    "A dreamless sleep...darkness. shadow. There was nothing in the hibernation for the exo. Even for you, Alex..." Katherine looked down to him on the bed that was struggling to support his weight. She sat in a wheelchair before him, a white labcoat covering all but her pale hands. Black slacks and black loafers with a black sweater. She had steel gray eyes and black hair that reached down to her back. She smiled. "We have state of the art technology, cloaking technology that outmatches anything in the universe, darkmatter engines, and a reactor who's only equal is that of a seven thousand megaton electronically enhanced nuclear warhead, yet we can't give the Exo dreams." Alex chuckled. "And can't give you legs, apparently." "I KNOW RIGHT?!" She huffed then sighed. "Hibernation is your body's last resort. If you're hit by something that would drain you entirely, you'll be able to recharge using the darkmatter in your heart...but I don't know when you'll get up. It's unpredictable..." "Then I'll have to make sure to karate chop anybody that could make something so powerful, right, Katherine?" She chuckled and smiled. "You're a good man, Alex."


    ---...Initiating Katherine.EXE---
    ---reviving memories...scanning...ERROR: LARGE CORRUPTION---
    ---Your code name is: Shadowprice. No matter how the shadow cloaks your steps and silences your enemies, there is a price we must all pay.---
    ---Your designated name at birth is: Alexander Callahan. Alex for short. Try not to forget, dummy.---
    ---I planted this in you just in case the Hibernation kicked in. The world around you will be completely different. The dust that my bones will become will have long since faded from history by the time you awake. Chances are that the disease would have wiped out the humans on Acheron, or has been wiped out by the humans. Either way, survive, Alex. That's all you can do. Survive. I love you. Love: Ka-----CORRUPTED---

    Snapping awake in what seemed to be a metal chamber, Alex looked around. "Where am I...?" He wondered aloud. "Why...why can't I remember anything? Damn..." He placed a hand on his forehead and ran it over his metal scalp and to the back of his head. He heard noises from outside the room and instinct kicked in as he dashed to a wall. Sliding along it, he found a door handle and jiggled it. Voices outside commented on the door. "Da fuck was that? That room is sealed from within, Sam..." "Fuck yeah it is...uh...should we tell the boss?" Their question would not be answered as Alex opened the door to see two men in relatively nice winter clothing. "Give me your clothing." He said to them. "Oh Fuck! A metal man! Shoot it!" They both held up rifles and started to shoot Alex, but the projectiles just bounced off. "Not a smart move...."

    Stepping out of the bandit base, wearing only the nicest clothing he could find, a nice high collared coat, Alex walked into the snow, intending to explore this world and do as the mysterious message in his head commanded.



    Several decades later....


    "Relax, relax gentlemen..." Alex stood at the gate of the ranger compound, a bloody sack on the ground next to him. Rifle lasers from all directions painted him a bright red. "I simply have a friend I wish to properly introduce to your boss...."
  3. In a small room with nothing but two chairs and a bright light sat a lone prisoner bound in chains. It was near half an hour before anybody else entered. The man who joined him was tall and thick with a large chest and broad shoulders. He had clean cut black hair, a well trimmed beard hiding the bottom half of his face, cold green eyes and smoked a pipe as he looked over a small handful of paper work. He didn't look at the prisoner. He didn't say anything. He sat down with a straight back and both feet planted firmly on the floor.

    "You didn't bring Conway to us because you're in it for the money. Every freelancing bounty hunter out there knows we take a cut of the profits for ourselves. So what do you want?" the man asked, now finally looking up at the prisoner.

    "His head is a peace offering, a request from me to join you." He said, his head still down.

    The man sitting across from him relaxed in the chair and crossed his arms. "A 'peace offering?'" he snorted, "Interesting. Just why would you want to join us? Hm?"

    "Figured that it would be better to join the rangers, take up a worthy cause to adhere to and to fall among comrades in a worthy battle than to wander alone and fall in the dust when my time comes." He raised his head, his snow white eyes piercing the darkness.

    "When your time comes," he shifted forward to put his elbows on his knees and meet the Exo's gaze, "You'll fall in the dust whether you're alone or not. Most Rangers die like dogs. Some die like cowards."

    There was a long silence between the two of them as he studied the prisoner and smoked his pipe. A stillness that almost seemed to sink out of the flow of time. The whine of the single light turned from barely noticeable to deafening.

    "You're correct, though. Better to live a short life fighting back than a long one doing nothing. A few of us..." he swallowed and his eyes hardened, "A few of us die like heroes. Maybe you'll be one of them. You got a name?"

    "Alex Callahan."

    "That would be short for Alexander I assume?" The man got to his feet and rapped on the door with his knuckles. Another man, smaller and in black clothing entered and circled behind the Exo to remove his chains. "Vincenze Tessaro. I run the show around here. So -if- you survive initiation, you'll be answering to me. That clear?"

    "I shall accept orders from you, but my respect shall be reserved for when you prove it." He stood, standing a bit taller than Tessaro, but thinner. "I would like my rifle and pistol back as well."

    Vincenze glared at Alex, but could not stop a sly smirk from twisting his lips, "Don't much care if you respect me or not. I don't much care if you drink beer or horse piss either. As long as you do what I tell you, when I tell you there won't be any problems. Funny you mention your things... Bet you'll really be missing them soon. Walk with me." He strode out of the room.


    The inner workings of the compound were labyrinthine. The facilities had been constructed from a mine long abandoned at a time no man had any recollection of. Vincenze and a few men lead Alexander out of the prison block and far deeper underground. At one point they entered a lift. The steel deathtrap rattled loudly as it descended at a gut churning speed into the darkness below. Nobody spoke, but Vincenze wore a rather knowing smile as he flipped through a few papers in the dim lamplight.

    At last the lift screeched to a stop at a level where many electric lights lined the walls of a stone cavern. It had not been finished like many of the other tunnels and the bare rock, wires and vents had been left exposed. It almost looked the same as it must have when the mine was in operation. They exited when the gates opened and made their way down the hallways. Other residents of the compound passed by them. Most of them were rather grizzled looking men, but some weathered women, teens and a few more mundane looking characters were mixed in. Many talked and sniggered among themselves especially at the sight of an Exo, but many walked in silence, solemn, afraid, disgusted. Soon they turned off the wide cavern and entered a series of smaller tunnels packed with guards and gossiping Rangers. Massive cells with their iron bars lined the walls, bloody tables, weapon racks, gun lockers, workbenches and water jugs seemed to be thrown in whatever space they would fit. Most of the cells and corners of this place were dark, but things, large things, strange things could be seen lurking within. Among the rather casual noise of this space, wailing, begging and a few disturbing yells could be heard.

    At a gun safe that was gathered in a more formal place with several others, Vincenze stopped. Here he had one of his men unlock the door and then he reached into it and pulled out a large bundle wrapped in burlap. He pulled the rough fabric back to reveal the butt of a rifle and the glistening engraved silver of a beautiful pistol barrel. He showed Alexander. Removing only a long k-bar from the miscellaneous things, he bundled up the weapons and put them back in the safe.

    "Wouldn't want you to have too much fun out there," he said when handing Alexander the blade, "If you make it out, you get your guns back and you get your badge. Simple. I have high hopes you'll impress. It'll be nice having someone... like you around." Vincenze nodded his goodbye and left them.

    It wasn't long before the Exo was forced behind a large gate looking up a tunnel with a light at the end. Several other men, unwashed, scarred, combat hardened or absolutely green stood with him. Like him they were barely armed. A couple seemed too eager to be here. Then the gate groaned and shuddered upward to let them move forward.

    After they entered the light everything became obvious. The mine expanded into an immense theater. An arena two stories high and a hundred yards or more in length and width sprawled before them. Other gates like the one they had just come from lined the lower edge of the arena walls. Dozens of people had gathered on the second story and the chatter was echoing off the stone walls. Looking around half starved men in rags were being lead into the arena as well. They were not armed and they were not fit to stand let alone fight. Captive criminals no doubt. All of the participants staggered around or stood still. Waiting.

    In the center of the arena a large man, standing at least 6' 6" with a heavy build stood alone with a beefy shotgun on his back and a pair of pistols on his hips. He wore only black boots, black slacks, an old but stylish gentleman's vest with pockets for supplies and rounds sewn into it and a white button down shirt underneath it with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. He had unkempt long blond hair in a tie down his back and grew a light beard. He stared at them all with folded arms.

    After a few tense moments he shifted his weight and sighed. One hand on his hip the other pulled three shiny objects off his belt. Ranger badges.

    "Listen," he snapped, "This is your target. Prisoners. You get one of these, you live. Initiates. You get one of these, you pass," he sighed and now tied the badges on a thick string around his neck sounding absolutely bored, "Before ya'll start askin' questions and having a coronary, yeah, there's only three of 'em and a lot more of you. That's the point. We don't rightly care how you get 'em... Hear me? No rules."

    As soon as he finished speaking, he pulled the shotgun forward and chambered what had to be a heavy plasma round. Then the other gates opened. Out of them crawled monsters from the depths. Scorpions in a myriad of colors, at least seven of them, all at least eight feet from ground to the height of their arching tails and who knows how long from mouth to long jagged stinger. Massive heavy claws were held out before them. They looked at the gladiators with hungry eyes.
  4. "Hmph. A challenge." He pulled his Kabar out of it's sheath and toyed with it in his hands for a moment, rolling it across the back of his hand and flipping it casually, surveying the battle before him. The world seemed to slow for him as he looked around. He saw the large man before him, the three prisoners, the two rangers, the scorpions...he considered every option, every way to work this fight. Every fact.

    The ranger on his left was a skinny man, light in weight, no more than 60 kilograms at most, there was a dark blue hue'd scorpion with red speckles on it that was particularly more docile than the others, sticking to the back of the group and withdrawing from the fight. The man before him, he recognized him from the gate. A high ranking soldier. The prisoner were cannon fodder and one was already dead from a scorpion.

    He already knew where to go.

    He gripped his knife and plunged it deeply into the right initiate's jugular, forcing blood to pour out of the man's neck as he scratched and clawed at the wound in a vain attempt to breathe. Alex yanked the knife out and let the man drop and moved to the other initiate, repeating the motion but slipping his free arm under the back of the man's shirt and using it as a handle to lift the dying man into the air and use him as a pseudo shield to protect himself from the soldier's weapons. He started to move to the scorpions, intending to keep an eye on them and use them for cover.

    The Ranger was on the move as soon as first blood was drawn. That hadn't taken long. The only thing he had managed to hit with that first shot was a body. Of course he wanted to take down the machine first, but he sure wasn't making it easy. His own movement would attract the creatures in time, but many were drawn to the fresh meat some distance away from him. Picking one that was making a point to move away from his location he followed around on it's flank putting the giant insect between himself and the remaining prisoners. Only one more initiate already.

    Alex moved closer, keeping the carcass close. He slipped underneath a scorpion that was preoccupied with the prisoners and sliced it open with his knife, the guts spilling onto the floor and attracting the others nearby. He kept his gaze on the soldier not too far away and made his move towards a Scorpion dining on one of the first prisoners to fall. He was relatively close to the soldier now. The Ranger slammed the butt of his shotgun into the face of a gutsy prisoner who got too close and the kicked him in the guts to make sure he would get on the ground and stay there. The scorpion he was using as a barricade turned on him, snapping its claws and hissing. He ducked in instead of away standing between it's grotesque face and deadly pincers. There he put a boot between its eyes and pushed himself up onto its back. Taking a knee to keep balance he took aim at the Exo and fired. The flaring plasma screamed toward him. The Scorpion moved, revealing just the body of the initiate lying in a pool of his own blood while Alexander sprinted into close range, leaping on top of the scorpion and being right on top of the soldier, knife in hand.

    "Shit" the blond man spat and scrambled off his free ride. He hit the dust and rolled away coming up into a shooting position. The machine had only just ripped past his line of sight. Speedy son-of-a-bitch. Rushed and startled he blindly fired off another round. Alexander wasn't even a step behind the soldier, staying close and weaving out of way of the blind fire. He threw a gut punch at the soldier to get him off balance and intended to follow up with a slice to the necklace. A quick hiss as soon as he saw the Exo on top of him kept him from getting winded. Immediately he dropped the shotgun and grabbed for the arm slammed into his stomach and side stepped away. The knife caught him deeply in the side of the face ripping his cheek wide open and spraying blood into the dust. He held his ground, not moving with the soldier as he tried to pull his arm. He reversed it and went for the medals again, slashing at them while the soldier was off balance.

    It was never life that flashed. It was always just more like a cloudy muddle of thought before a flash of light and the dread which followed. One of the Ranger's hands flew to his neck in an effort to hold the tendons, cartilage and pipes in place. The blood came through his fingers in wild spurts and he kicked the ground hard, trying to roll away. His other hand went for a pistol. The blood soaked medals on their severed cord tangled through his fingers. Alex planted a foot on the hand going for the pistol and the other on the Soldier's back, reaching for the medallions to wrench them out of the soldier's grasp. He poised his knife to slice off the soldier's fingers should he not let the medallions go. He let go. His jugular let loose a torrent as he snapped his grasp to the Exo's knife wrist cutting them on the blade's edge while doing so. With all his remaining strength he tried to slam the knife upward into the machine's body. Alexander reversed it without a second thought, plunging the knife into the Soldier and standing triaumphant with the medallions in hand. Holding them high as the crowd cheered. He stepped off of the soldier and reclaimed his knife, walking away afterwards.

    The Ranger's entire body tensed as he was stabbed, a gurggled, sputtering noise coming through his teeth in a silent scream. Only moments later he stilled, the blood loss finally taking him. Near the gate where they had entered a couple of prisoners pressed against the wall remaining silent while the single living scorpion helped itself to a feast. They eyed Alexander and his prize. He looked at them and stuffed the medallions into his pocket, not planning to give any pity to those that did not deserve it. He wiped the blood of the soldier onto the flesh of a scorpion carcass before placing it back into the sheath. "Easy enough..." He said to himself. He felt indifferent about the battle, the high ranking soldier was not much of a fight, unfortunately. But it was a better one than he was used to.
    #4 Vash, Jan 14, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2015
  5. A quiet groan hissed out of his lungs. Bright lights from the cavern ceiling shined into his eyes and he found he was unable to focus enough to make out any other part of his surroundings. He sat up slowly. His neck and spine and ribs popping and snapping painfully back into place. He winced and rolled over in the dust. It was crusty with a sticky rust colored substance. He could smell the iron. Blood. He spit the dust out of his mouth and tried to wipe it off the front of his clothes... which were completely stiff with dried blood. Absolutely ruined. For fuck's sake. He squinted around and found his suspicions were true. He was still in the arena. The battle ground was cleared of all the bodies and carnage of the fight. Cleared of every trace of gore. Except for him that is. A sneer spread across his face and he grumbled. Slowly he picked himself up and stomped toward the gate. Before he could reach it there a slender, well dressed young man with black hair, green eyes and a face half covered in deep scars stepped out of the tunnel into the arena.

    "Well look who decided to wake up," Tony smirked.

    "You didn't move me!?" Gabe spat.

    "No. I told them to leave you there. I figured you liked laying around in your own blood for everybody to see! At least that's what it looked like after your abysmal performance," Tony frowned.

    Gabe raised an eyebrow, "Wh--?"

    "Man, that sucked!" Tony interrupted and threw his hands out, "YOU sucked! That was beyond the single worst thing I have ever seen! What was your deal!? Did you just roll out of bed and go, 'Duhr huhr I forgot how to use a gun and throw a punch. Guess I'll just mosey on down to get MY ASS FUCKED BY A STUPID CAN-OPENER!!' Gabe! Come on!"

    If Gabe's eyes could glare daggers Vincenze Tessaro would be missing another son. He shoved past Tony into the underworks of the arena already unbuttoning the disgusting ruined vest.

    "Last week I watched you crush a guy's skull with one punch! One punch! People joke about that shit and you actually do it! Now you pull this crap?" Tony followed him and kept talking, "I mean, foul spirits, we can't just be letting every washed up desert rat wander in here and start wearing a badge!"

    Gabe found his shot gun one of the weapon racks and slung it over his shoulder. He rolled his head to the side, popped his neck and cleared his throat before spitting a blood clot on the floor. Then he moved on into the main tunnel. Damn it all he needed a shower.

    "People show up to these initiations for a good show. You know how long that lasted? About nintey seconds... Sure people cheered and all that when you went down like a sack of bricks, but nobody was really rooting for the machine. If they were it's just because he's a freak and they want a better look at him later. That kind of creature doesn't belong here."

    The large man only looked over his shoulder at his friend with a frown. He swallowed his pang of offense to that comment.

    "I mean... Those things are dangerous. Really dangerous. There's no telling who he's feeding information or if he's planning to actually work with us or try and destroy us. I don't trust him."

    "Hm," Gabe scratched his stubble and stepped into the lift.

    "What?" Tony asked stepping in after him.

    "You're afraid," he answered.

    "Ah, don't do this man. I hate it when you do this!" Tony rubbed his temple.

    "You feel inferior and vulnerable."

    "Shut up."

    Gabe shrugged, "He got the target. If you ask me he earned the badge fair as you can get. Complaining ain't gonna change it... And it makes you look like an ass."

    "Anybody ever teach you what 'shut up' means?"

    "Nope. Don't s'pose anybody ever taught you either."


    At least an hour later Gabe walked through the main compound, washed up, trimmed and changed into clean clothes. He entered the mess hall and bar looking for his partner but found he was elsewhere. Not particularly ready to deal with him just yet he went to the bar and ordered a light dinner. Other residents and Rangers there watched him out of the corners of their eyes. It was always like that either at home or in the field. He never quite got used to it, but he tolerated it. They would never really be comfortable with him and he could forgive them for that.

    "What are you drinkin' with that?" the barkeep asked.

    "Just water," he gave the same answer as always.

    "Heard you got your ass kicked, boy," the old man chuckled.

    Gabe just shrugged and managed a smirk before taking his order.

    A quick survey of the rather quiet dining room left him taking long strides to a rickety small table occupied by a pale woman in a duster.

    "Miss Anna," he nodded at her politely, "Mind if I join ya' this evening?"

    "Of course, Gabriel." She smiled and shifted her position so he could sit next to her. She shoveled a bit of mashed potatoes into her mouth as she waited.

    He took his seat just across from her, "Not to be rude, Ma'am, but It's just 'Gabe' these days. Pretty sure I mentioned that before."

    "I know. But I prefer calling you Gabriel. It suits you a lot more." She smiled.

    He sighed and took a drink, clearing his throat despite himself, "If you insist. How's things? Haven't had the pleasure of your company for some time."

    "I've been about the same. Not much ever" She was distracted as Alexander walked into the room dressed in his normal attire, his rifle on his back and pistol in it's holster. He found a quiet table on the edge of the crowd and practiced being human with a quart of oil.

    He perked up at the change in her voice then followed her gaze across the room. He nodded to himself before turning back to pushing food around with his fork. "It's not becomin' of a lady to stare with her mouth open, Ma'am," he spoke quietly.

    "What? He's good looking. I'm allowed to stare if I want." She lightly glared at him.

    He gave her a more gentle look in return and sat back with his arms folded and brow raised.

    "Hey. In my eyes, everybody's helps to be colour blind." She looked at him. "Don't tell me you wouldn't stare at a girl who kicked an immortal's ass. You totally would."

    "Think I'd be more interested in putting some distance between a woman like that and myself, to be perfectly honest with ya'." He finally took a bite of food and chewed it thoughtfully then tapped the tines of his fork against his lip, "I wonder..."


    "If he's 'packing,'" Gabe looked up at Anna with barely a hint of a smile.

    "Oh I'm sure he's 'packing'...Oh, you mean his guns. Yeah. So what? He's probably attatched to his guns."

    "Ain't talkin' about guns," he shook his head and snorted.

    "I'm not sure if his creators would have included that in his "packaging"." She laughed. "Know what. I'm going to ask."

    She got up and called out. "Alex! Alex!" He looked up from his pretend meal and saw her waiving. At first he was surprised, then relieved before getting up and coming over and joining them. "Yes?"

    "I'll be upfront. Gabriel wants your body and needs to know if you're 'packing da heat'"

    Gabe shook his head again and struggled to keep his composure and not show his smile. Once he was back under control he laced his fingers together and looked up at the Exo, "Not only that, but ah... we had a proposition for you. Y'see Anna here has a bit of an 'infatuation' with the practice of 'masculine pairing' and would like to 'partake' in what more civilized folks call a 'ménage à trois.' Understand?"

    He looked between the two back and forth several times as they talked. He reached into his pocket and placed the ranger's medallion on the table and got up, preparing to walk out.

    Gabe watched him closely and sighed, "That was a good fight."

    Alex stopped and came back. "Immortal, I'm guessing?"

    He rose to his feet as well, "I don't have a taste for the word, though I don't rightly know another," he offered a hand to the Exo, "Gabe Kinsely."

    He shook his hand, only somewhat trying to crush gabe's hand. "Alexander Callahan." He sat down and continued his meal. "I met another immortal one time. Old man that threw himself into explosions for a living."

    Any trace of happiness that Gabe wore was dissolved entirely by the time he returned to his seat. He looked at Alexander in a silence that lasted a few seconds too long for any polite conversation. His eyes were focused, wide and icy. Abruptly he turned away and took a drink.

    "That's unfortunate."

    "How so? He loved it. He was born without pain receptors."

    "So. Wait. He can't feel pain?" Anna said, finally breaking the silence. "Yeah. Was born without the ability to feel pain. He turned into a demolitions expert some time before I met him. Was not very good at his job."

    Gabe pretended to eat, left Alexander's question hanging and seemed to be ignoring the both of them. Quick footfalls suddenly entering the dining room attracted his attention. He growled in his chest.

    "You!" Tony was making a b-line for them and he seemed shaken up, "Gabe. Get up. We have to go. Now!"

    "No," he answered.

    "I out-rank you! And this is serious!" Tony hissed and crouched next to him shaking his shoulder, "Really. There's a... um... I have a mission for us!"

    "No you don't."

    "Yes. I. Do," Tony spoke through his teeth.

    "No. You. Don't," Gabe slapped his hand away, "We just got back. You would be pissed and procrastinate."

    "What, did you forget to put on your kotex, Tony?" She glared at him.

    "AH HA HA HA HEEHH. Hillarious," Tony snapped at her, "Man, please. Please, I am begging you."

    "Details first," Gabe chewed a piece of steak.

    "Agreed." Alex said.

    "Stop being such a pansy and tell us already." Anna chimed in.

    "With all due respect," Tony stood up tall, straightened his suit coat and gave them a wide smile showing off three silver teeth, "this is none of your damn business."

    "Rangers hold no secrets, Tony." Alex said, biting into a bagel. "That was in the substantially miniscule code of conduct, if I read it correctly. Let the man enjoy his lunch with friends or piss off."

    The young man's eyes narrowed and he fumed, "I know the code of conduct. I was born under it. A little advice, rookie, don't go around asking the wrong questions."

    "Is that supposed to be a threat?" He bit into another piece of his bagel. "I am allowed to ask what questions I desire to ask. "

    Tony ignored him, "Gabe, I'm serious. I really need you to come with me."

    Gabe glanced up at him for a second or two then sighed before rising to his feet.

    Alex sat in silence, barely tolerating the miniscule ant before him that walked in a cloud of ego and false masculinity granted by a high position. He had already heard about tony's presigious position as the Ranger Commander's son. "I enjoyed speaking with you, Gabriel. I hope this business with your pet rat is more enjoyable than he makes it sound."

    The large Ranger looked down on Alexander with a frown, "Enjoyment has nothing to do with respect." He was about to leave when yet another intruder came upon them. Gabe snapped to attention.

    Tony put his palm over his face, "Shiiiiit," he moaned.

    The Boss walked in gracefully and silently and stood before them, "You took too long." He frowned at his son.

    Tony didn't answer.

    "You four," Vincenze's unimpressed expression turned to one of cheer and politeness, "Please, I'd like for you all to talk with me in my office."


    The Boss sat in an old chair lined with cracked leather behind a well worn desk. The door had been locked behind them. Tony stood behind him staring at the floor.

    "As you all know, we have a new recruit," Vincenze smiled, "Congratulations, Alexander. I'm very impressed. You'll be an asset to us. Now then, while I'm more than sure Alexander here is capable of handling himself against almost anything I would like to introduce him to how we do things in the field and of course assign him his partner. That is where the other three of you come in. We have received news of a farming settlement some distance to the southwest inside our territory. The locals have told our Scouts of massive creatures, brutal deaths, ransoms, threats, thievery, slaughtered livestock, rape, you name it. We've already lost two Rangers out that way. That being said," he reclined in his chair and folded his hands together, "I believe this is one of the Houses. Not Eclipse. They wouldn't dare. One of the smaller ones. Regardless, we need a bit more... muscle, on this job. I need to know which House this is, what they want and how we can destroy or otherwise be rid of them. The four of you are some of the best I've got at my disposal. You have six hours to gather what you need and be on your way. Dismissed."

    Tony and Gabe left with a near simultaneous, "Yes, Sir."

    Vincenze stopped Anna and Alexander before they could leave. "One moment," he spoke solemnly, "Anna. You've been with out a partner for several weeks now. I understand loosing Septimus was traumatic and I'm sorry. I dislike pushing new partners on my soldiers so soon after a loss, but I'm no longer asking. I'm telling. It's mandatory after all. So you and Alexander will be partners until I say otherwise. Watch each other's backs, respect each other, work together and should one of you fall in the field, return with the fallen or don't return at all."
  6. She kept her cool, relaxed and made sure her steps were not out of check and that she maintained her composure. Once she was behind closed doors however, Anna let out a silent scream of glee at being paired with Alexander. She had to admit, she had a bit of a crush. Silent, murder everything that stands in his way type. Kind when not murdering, already hates Tony. Unique robot bits. It just all excited her to wanting to squeal whenever he walked in the door. She shook her head and retrieved her pistol from her locker and geared up, getting her armor and underpadding ready. She would look a little bit bulkier after she was fully armored. She grabbed a rifle as well. This house would be a doosy and she knew it. Big creatures were never fun. She should know, she was raised on a farm and had to tame the bastards for most of her life. She found a mirror in the changing rooms and trimmed herself up a bit, cleaning off the dirt and dust that had accumulated on her coat. She huffed, satisfied, and went out to find her partner. She shivered at the thought.


    -Can You come to the stadium and Be There with us in the playoffs?

    -Yes. I believe I will be able to attend. Should I Bring Fireworks for the Afterparty? I have a few new launchers that is sure to blow socks off!

    -Yes please! We might get overwhelmed by the party goers and your lightshow will not disappoint.

    -Done and done, friend.


    Alexander closed the communications device that had connected him to a contact of his. Standing up and heading out of the barracks, he made his way through the halls, trying to find his way to the hanger and vehicle depot to see what the Rangers had at their disposal. He was getting evil glares and averted gazes from every ranger he passed by. Not a single one wanted him anywhere near the rangers. To them, he was a freak, a monster. Not deserving of the pin on his uniform, yet refusing to accost him. They were all either following orders or were afraid. It made him resent the people around him, hate them that much more. "Why am I even here?" he wondered as he stepped into the depot. He had asked this question numerous times and has yet to find an answer. His partner stepped up awkwardly close to him, smiling. "Hi, Alex." She spoke, overly eager. He just jerked his head upward slightly and half smiled. "Come on, our rides are just over here." He was lead across the depot main floor to a pair of dingy motorcycles. "What in the hell...." He whispered to himself as they approached. They were both in horrible condition, his own assigned one being a pathetic excuse for a vehicle, the only thing holding it together was the dirt and heavy-duty tape that wrapped around several pieces. The tires were worn, a handlebar was missing, and the seat had a syringe poking out of it. "Absolutely unacceptable." "These are all the rangers could give us, unfortunately." "Creature cages. Show me where they are." "...what?" She looked at him. "...why? What does that have to do-" "Just show me, please, ma'am."

    She was heavily confused, but she did as he asked and lead him through several more rude-gaze filled halls to an area near where the arena was from earlier. Inside was a large man behind a desk, his feet propped up as he leaned back reading a book. The room was small, little more than a simple office with a set of heavy-duty bars protecting it from the creature cages inside. The man looked up from his book to them and raised an eyebrow. "Can I help you...Anna?" He avoided acknowledging Alex for a few moments more before he approached him. "I need to get inside, see a creature that tried to kill me." "Yeah, no." He put down his book.

    The man was small, coming in at about five foot and was athletic, a short military look about his face with squared jaw, blonde hair and blue eyes. He was a very average looking man. "Only authorized-" "Three-K tabs says that I can tame a Scorpion." Alex looked at him, his glowing eyes piercing the man's soul from beyond the desk. "While that is a tempting offer, it could get me in a lot of trouble if I let you in. Only handlers are allow-" "Sixteen-k." "WELP. FINE." He stood up with a slam. "I guess I get to earn my way to the big city and a high rise apartment!" He grabbed a set of keys off of his belt and went to the door, opening it after a small bit of waiting and letting Anna and Alex inside.

    Once inside the Scorpion pens, Alex was quick to point out the one from the fight. A uniquely pigmented one, a genetic mutation causing it's carapace to appear as a dark blue with red streaks in parts. It wasn't the largest of the bunch of Scorpions, but it was mostly docile, waiting and watching Alex as he came somewhat close, staying out of striking distance of it's tail. "What's his name?" Alex spoke to the guard, whom stood quite a ways back with Anna. "Scorpion five. That's about it." "What do you feed them? He looks starved..." "That's because he is. We keep the Scorpions hungry so that the recruits have an even more difficult time getting into the Rangers. We're not chumps here. We're the best for a-" Alex just wouldn't let the man have in a word edge-wise as again he spoke. "Fucking selfish bastards. Anna. Please fetch me a ration of meat from the Cafeteria. The fresher the better." She nodded and ran out of the room. Alex kept close to the beast, walking back and forth, watching it's black, formless eyes. Several of it's righter-most eyes were white, blinded by those it had fought in the past. Scars decorated its Carapace, hidden by the dark blue coloring. The upper tip of its right pincer was broken off and not regrown and its tail was missing a small chunk near the base. "You've lived a long life, haven't you?" He got a little closer to the beast and it perked up, its pincers clacking every second. He backed down quickly as Anna returned with the meat. "Had to lie to the cook, but here it is. Fresh game, only just been prepared a half hour ago." She got close to Alexander and let down the bucket and backed up. He hefted the rather large bucket of meat and made it visible to the Scoprion. He obviously saw the meat in Alex's hand and sat back down on the ground, calming slightly. Its pincers still clacked defensively.

    Alex moved in closer, taking a chunk of the meat in hand and showing it to the Scorpion. He moved slowly, knowing that the slightest false move would result in him getting split in half. He came within distance for the Scorpion to be able to strike at him with it's pincers with ease and he tossed the meat forward, landing in front of the Scorpion's face. Keeping eyes on Alexander, it lowered it rolled slightly and nibbled on the meat before devouring it whole. Alex still held the bucket in hand as the beast looked back up at him, silencing its clacking and allowing Alex to move close enough to place a hand next to the Scorpion's eyes, placing down the bucket in front of him and dumping out the contents for the Scorpion to gorge on. Accepting the gift, it ate with glee, finally getting properly fed for the first time in a month. Alex worked a hand between the Scorpion's plating and found a soft spot and began scratching hard. He perked up as Alex found the spot and immediately relaxed as it was given proper care and appreciation. "There we go. Like that, don't you, buddy?" It almost seemed as if it was purring as Alex hefted himself onto the Scoprion's back, working his hand into the plate quickly to keep the Scoprion from overreacting, but it did not help much as he immediately tried to reject it's rider by throwing him off. It took a few minutes of Alex coaxing the beast down with repeated scratches and speaking, but it finally tired out and settled down, accepting Alexander as his rider.

    He patted the creature beneath him and smiled. "Think I'll call you Dahak."
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