Soldiers Of Misfortune: Into The Labyrinth Of Oppression

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Dawn Bringer Invictus, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Prelude To Ruin


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    Overture: Onward Into Battle (On The March Again) by Doomsword from Resound The Horn (2002).

    [video=youtube;RRzJsFPoigQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRzJsFPoigQ[/video]

    We chose our destiny
    Fianna is the name
    For which we shall live
    To which our souls we give
    Once again to the battle we march
    Blow after blow
    Swords spreading death
    Witness your glory or
    Your mates' last breath.
    March! March!
    We answer the call of the king,
    From far you can hear
    The army that sings
    "Victory we bring!"
    Lamp fires await for the dawn,
    Coward would me the attack
    Glory awaits when the sun
    Shines bright.
    March! March!
    On the march
    On the march again
    On the march,
    On the march!


    ++++++++++

    Wanderers. Tyrant-Slayers. Barbarians. Nuisances. Pests. Conquerors. Persecutors. Mercenaries. Scum.

    My people, the Funebrarans, have found themselves addressed by such titles ever since we first encountered the Trans Space Coalition, the largest and most powerful united force in the galaxy, and established ourselves in their cosmic order. Sometimes spoken with fear, other times awe, and numerous times with hatred and disgust. Rarely with gratitude; at most we are simply just glorified tools to them.

    We never asked for pity though. They have genuine reason to fear us. Whole planets we have conquered, often outnumbered and more than just a few times alone. Our biology makes us naturally strong, resilient, and adaptive. Our technology is at a level rivalling only the most elite of the T.S.C.'s nations and worlds. Our forces trained to cause maximum suffering with minimal numbers. Few can match our might.

    Yet the Funebrarans remain wandering the stars with no world to call home, only the great nomad swarm fleet and its four massive hive ships to provide us shelter from a harsh, uncaring, ignorant universe. Ever since the dawn of our race, as far back as we can see, through whatever records are left of our broken history, we have lived this way, wandering seemingly eternally. Some of us believe that home is the first world we conquer in our numerous wars, when we prove to the world that they cannot obscure the truth of those who win their victories forever. Others look into a past we know little about, hunting the elusive answers to our existence, claiming that we must return to the ancient worlds from which we arose from and came to dominance.

    Once more, we were sent to conquer and protect the same universe that has betrayed us time and time again. It seemed like any other war; bringing the victories that keep their empires safe, yet remaining once more little more than fools chasing the ever-fleeting dream of a home. Yet it is in this great conflict that the answers to our vagabond lives were revealed. It is in this conflict, we learned that which is our fate. We learned of the ancient force from beyond and its relation to the truth of our broken history.

    I am Arkoss Schvensson, Commander of the 13th War Swarm, one of the elite of the Funebraran legions. In this hour of our race's upheaval, I stand against the most horrific of abominations, the very ones who brought us to where we are now. The time has come to redeem the past and preserve our future.

    Once more the conquerors and the warlords will ride out to face the final enemy in this power-struggle of belief, of the beginning and the end, of conflicts left unfinished, and for our very right to exist.


    Once more, the universe shall know our wrath.

    ++++++++++

    Outro: The Omnipotent Codex by The Chasm from The Spell Of Liberation (2004).

    [video=youtube;QQvOyBfbHN4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQvOyBfbHN4&fmt=18[/video]

    This one, one of the most engaging sagas
    It is a recollection of perseverance and omens
    Of Hypnotizing protocol and whimsical chivalry
    Suggesting spaceless landscapes and enshrined memories
    For the migration to the desolated lands
    Menaced too by the Extinction the greatest and rawest of all
    Shattered, fragmented. but always with face towards the sun
    The dying one, the fifth of the Purifiers
    The Plan for this Curse, the avenging dawn bringer
    Heraldic Colossus, my iron will on fire
    Burning the already charred mists of imperfection
    As the summoning grows in defeat
    The radiates Ectoplasm from the Wraiths
    This, the Omnipotent Codex...
    Symbols and cryptic annotations of the past
    Serve me in the upcoming retaliation of this present
    And pave the road to the baneful future
    For your essence is still haunting the Cult
    (And we all hail this omnipotent source of perception)

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    Chapter 1:

    Once More, Into The Fire





    Overture: A Fine Day To Die by Bathory from Blood Fire Death (1988)


    [video=youtube;OyYnstGB3rM]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyYnstGB3rM[/video]

    Orgy of silence
    Conspiracy of peace
    Only the sound
    Of the cold northern breeze

    Twinsun sink fading
    Behind the black lake
    Asleep is the mountains
    Yet the night is awake

    Strange is the night
    Now black stars rise
    And many moons circle
    Through silent the night

    Along the black mountainside scattered
    By the campfires awaiting the dawn
    Two times a hundred men in battles
    Tried by the steel in the arrow axe and the sword

    By battle worn hunger torn awaitening
    For the sun to break through the cold haze
    And for the banners of Ebal to appear
    On the hill in the suns first warm rays

    The elder among the men looked deep into
    The fire and spoke loud with pride
    Tomorrow is a fine day to die

    Now the morning advance from far east
    Now the sun breaks through dustclouds and haze
    Now a forest of spears appears on the hill
    And steel shines bright in the suns first rays

    Die
    Die
    Die
    Die

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    We were tough bastards, yeah. Ugly as hell. Hardy. Death-resistant. A lot of people hate us; we can understand why. Everyone always hates the insects, the spiders, the crabs...we're nothing more than just food on the plate or splatters on the windshield. I stopped caring and was never afraid of what I was; what we were. We survived worse than just a few ethnic slurs; we showed the universe time and time again that they'll have to try harder if they want us in bodybags. Every conflict is just another notch on the bullet belt. Me? Eh, I survive and persevere. We all do. It's natural for us really.

    - Excerpt from Interspace News Network documentary "Among the Merciless: From The Eyes of the Swarms" directed by Janvs Thompson.

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    Hive Ship 4, Office of Arkoss Schvensson. T.S.C. controlled sector. All four hive ships are above the stronghold world of Kyvliss. 4 AM. May 6th, 5034.


    The meetings were over. The mission briefings done. The only thing that remained now was the bitterness of delusion. He knew the promise was broken, before it even began. Send those insects, those horrid creatures of the unknown to fight our war! They're little more than well organized, well equipped brutes! They take out the hard targets, yet we shall take the front page of the press! That's what a lot of the Funebraran 13th War Swarm thought when they heard about their new mission and nearly all the ones prior to that. To fight, kill and die once more in another cluster of hell-holes for the Trans Space Coalition; the strongest united group known to most sentient races. Funny, the T.S.C. was more "sophisticated", "educated", "civilized" than them, yet their holy land of multiculturalism, mutual cooperation, and diversity, the Helios system of planets, was now more than just another hotbed of violence due to the differences that were supposed to be valued in all of them.


    No one was sure how a cluster of worlds long seen as the epitome of cooperation among the species of the Transpace Coalition had somehow turned erupted into a planet-wide civil war. What sparked it? Fanatical religious leaders? Repressed territorial disputes having boiled over for too long? Renews racial hatred? A mix of the three and various others? Who really knew? All he knew is that it was bad enough to get people usually butting heads in the usual game that was politics to form a joint task group to save the day and restore the image of Trans Space Coalition unity and order. It wasn't going to be an easy fight though, that's for sure. The various groups fighting for control weren't exactly poorly armed insurgents and rebels; various governments, military forces, local militia, and corporations had been swept up into the violence as well, adding their high grade personnel and combat capability to an already volatile situation. This called for the Funebrarans, regarded as many as the most elite fighting force in the universe. Hardiness was said to be a natural part of their kind. They had always been one of the few races able to inflict maximum devastation amongst whatever they were sent to fight using as few resources as possible. The T.S.C. needed a spearhead, but they didn't want to sign up the obvious choice in public. Openly tellling the whole universe that you just hired the "Big Bad Bogeymen" to fight for the side of right could have some negative effects on public relations and upcoming elections.


    And so, they did it the quiet way. General Cormack, the highest ranked human general and one of the heads of the Joint Command Group came to talk with a few others. Once again, they promised them a promised land (the first planet they'd "conquer" was theirs), and of course, gratuitous military and non-military supplies. Bluffery and unnecesary shows of false respect had never been more blatant. They didn't need the supplies; it was just an unnecessary ornament. Like every god-damned time they promised a planet after the Funebrarans conquered, it would never actually happen; somebody else had really been doing the heavy-lifting all this time and in clear view of the public. Funebraran war swarms were just in the background.


    Those "historical battles" where his kind played their parts so well; merciless advances into enemy territory, destruction of fortified enemy strongholds, assasinations of important leaders and all kinds of other daring, tide-turning operations had been done countless times by Funebraran hands. Yet it didn't matter; they were always damned to the back-logs of history. Bull****. They all knew that. But history is written by corrupt authors with narrow viewpoints. His kind were destined to be the hidden heroes; their tales ranted on by a disillusioned few who went beyond the history books.


    Now, history was repeating itself again. Once more into the anus of hell itself; to fight in the worst battles, come out victorious, bloody, sometimes broken and half dead, and finally, worst of all, to see the victory that they had won written on another forces' gravestones. They'd get money, food, technology (albeit inferior technology), and so on. Yet their kind would stay nomadic, wandering. War never really changed, did it?


    He was dressed in the contrasting grey, black, and gold of his commander's uniform. With his hands on forhead and elbows on desk, he sighed. The meetings with various command staff, some of them from foreign militaries, was quite taxing. His personal office on this particular militarized sector of this Hive Ship was getting dreadfullly dull. His friends, comrades, and the people serving under him; they were elsewhere in the hive ship. Some were in the armour, others were in the cafeteria, while most were at the docking ports where the fleet cruisers that would transport them to the Helios system were docked. Rising from his swivveling chair, he opened the old door of the room, made from the bio-matter of some large tree-like plant, and left his office.
     
  2. The road to hell really is paved with only the best of intentions.

    This is how it goes:

    Cultures develop in isolation, even just a year is enough for slang to render a spoken language unrecognizable to someone who's been away. Experiences give rise to expressions which become idioms, patterns of thought unique to that specific group. Forget shape, size, color, texture... plenty of case studied showed identical twins could be brought up to hate each other based solely on differing social values. Everyone seemed so shocked about this new mess in Helios, Dr. Jones couldn't imagine no one had seen it coming.

    Villiages meet, greet, and fall to fighting. Someone wins. Someone looses. It grows, villiages become towns, towns become cities, cities become nations, become worlds, become systems...

    Within the fermentation, ever hungry, ever consuming, there are those who try to stand against the tide. People who say 'we're all the same!' or, 'it's okay to be different!' or, 'everyone is special!' Or sometimes all of that in the same proverbial breath. But the truth is they're just another part of the process. Cultures grow until they are forced into conflict with other cultures, and only celebrate their differences when they cannot immediately assimilate each other. Tolerance is only a thing to be preached. In practical fact, the more people try to be conscious and respectful of the cultural values of others the more they dwell on those things that make them different. There is no such thing as social intigration. Conversion or destruction: eventually it will always come back around to one of these.

    Dr. Jones liked that about the Funebrarum. She had never once seen their young comparing physiological differences the way she remembered comparing the color of her hair to that of her own childhood friends. They came in wild and chaotic variations with so few similarities- and even what was common was not a rule. Nor did they often argue what was wrong or right- not for the sake of waxing philosophical, anyway. Everyone had a job to do and they focused on doing their job-they were able to focus on doing their job, because they knew that everyone else was doing the same. Oh, there were conflicts, sure, but there were always about the means, never the ends...

    In this case whether injuring adolescents training for battle was actually condusive to their sucess later in life.

    "It's not funny." T'kossa clicked. "She doesn't understand how important this is."

    The boy's mother only folded her formost arms and narrowed her luminescent, compound eyes. They had been arguing through Dr. Jones the last hour she had spent drilling screws into T'kossa's fractured carapace so she could wire the spiderweb cracks closed. Dr. Jones wighed she'd taken the time to find her comfier flats that morning. "She's your mother." She mused. "I'm sure she takes your competance in battle very seriously. But as your doctor I'm afraid I have to take her side in this. Until your shell mends completely- and by completely I mean I don't want to see a shadow of a scratch- no sparring practice. If you hadn't been too stunned to walk here you would have torn the muscles in your abdomen beyond my ability to heal. It would have been months before you could have even sat up again."

    She cupped the boy's- well, he was growing like a weed, he was more a young man now- chin and made sure he was listening. "A week is not so long to wait when you could have crippled yourself permenantly."

    She sent them off, T'kossa's mother pushing along his hover chair back into the bowels of the Colony Ship, and checked her roster. She was sure she had arranged for each of the Swarms Commanders to have a full checkup on their return from the last campaign but it looked as though Commander Schvensson hadn't made an appointment with any doctor... She frowned... on any of the ships...

    She keyed in his wave frequency to leave a message with his assistant, but was surprised when he picked it up himself, sounding more exhausted than she'd heard him. Not that she knew him terribly well. She forgot, momentarily, why she called.

    "Are you all right, Commander?"
     
  3. Heftying it's large rifle, X13 knelt into the muck, and focused it's visual sensors before it, and filled it's processor with numerous points of entry, possible threats, the best points of fire, and all other infinite possibilities of war. Quickly it deemed that a full out frontal assault would the best solution. The element of surprise plus the fact that the buildings were so closely huddled together created natural funnels, or 'Death Cones' would allow it to kill the enemy faster should they fall victim to that lapse in judgment.

    If a machine could breath... that few second pause would have been the android's intake of courage before it stood up, and ran down the side if the hill. Leveling it's rifle, X13 began hammering down purple bolts of energy, and metal shards. The steady spray of carnage from his rifle tore men apart, and burned those fortunate enough to live, or be grazed. The sirens roared to life, and spot lights lit the night sky, as X13 continued charging foward, its eyes glowing green as data continued streaming through it's sensors.

    Lifting its large weapon to its shoulder, it quickly transformed into it's artillery mode, and fired off a shell over the buildings walls. The weapon then changed to a sniper rifle, where X13 sent three rounds into the wall, killing three soldiers who were taking refuge, and once more it changed... back into a heavy machine gun where X13 continued to pummel the walls with fire effectively boring a hole through it.

    As it crashed into the wall, and through the last layer of durasteel, X13 bull charged a soldier into the building just before it, and swung its rifle onto its back where it locked into place, and drew its Electro blade. Plunging the blade into the soldier's torso, X13 jerked the blade so strongly to the side, it split the man in half, and sent his upper torso into a charging squad knocking them to their asses.

    It then turned on it's heel, and crashed through the door of a building just in time to avoid a heavy shower of bolts, and plasma beams that would have split it in two.
     
  4. Insects Among Giants

    A few minutes had passed and he found himself within the cavernous troop docks. Whole cruisers, looking like massive and jagged rock formations or eerily arthropod-like takes on ship design stood in rows as massive spindly arms and large buzzing funebraran technicians hovered around. Armor plates were replaced or repaired, grime was scrubbed off, and weaponry replaced or re-armed. Like small stones, a plethora of smaller troop carrying craft, looking like spiky-legged long-bodied robber flies mixed with common attack transport craft design, were arranged in neat rows, taking up a rear section where they looked almost like a gathered army. Among it all, hundreds of combat personnel of varying species and the maintenance crews walked or ran, back and forth, sometime crawling up walls, on ceilings, and generally going to and fro to fulfill their duties or to fight their boredom. Most of them had noticed him walking through one of the many doors leading to the immense chamber, but they simply continued their duties. The 13th war swarm did not put as much of an emphasis on rigid discipline as many other fighting forces, Funebraran or not. Having known each other for years, their trust was one forged through countless battles, yet when not on the battlefield, they were surprisingly casual.

    He had come here mostly to waste his time and to normalize the storm of thoughts within his head, turning it from turmoil and torment into accepted reality. As he was striding past a few six legged mechs and their engineering crews, his mobile rang, vibrating and shaking within one of his coat pockets. He reached in and pulled it out.


    The Armoros were a species of funebrarans, who laid eggs which soon became nymphs. As their name might imply, they had a very protected appearence, even as children, where there bodies had a reinforced and almost plate-like carapace armour. It actually became less armour-like as time passed, yet they had the appearence of some sort of well protected warrior anyways.

    He paused for a few seconds, still walking, but waving to a few other 13th soldiers, who were lounging around on some cargo pods, speaking in the language of hisses, clicks, rasps and other strange noises that the universe associated with the Funebrarans. He could make out some of it; procreation with various "ripe" females of various species, plans to move to a different hive ship, and the head of one of those established familial units and his shame at the choice of one of his eleven sons to become a vagabond. That was a decision he made once in the past. Arkoss often wondered if she should have regretted it.


    He spoke again, his voice clear, slightly tinged with a sense of harshness. He wasn't always a harsh person, especially not to the doctor, yet his voice always seemed to carry a sort of weight to it, the weightiness of words from a man who had seen and done the worst yet still had a savage, conquering spirit to carry himself on. Some said his accent was similar of that to the so called human englishmen.


    He always had that feeling that Dr. Natalie Jones was rather skeptical of the sub-commander Sorvaille. At the age of 28, she was one of the younger command staff, yet she was often in the presence of far older commanders. In spite of that, she had come a long way, having known Arkoss ever since his days at the academy. They were much closer back then, yet there was a sort of odd distance between them that grew with wider with time. As Arkoss and his sister grew older, their discontent with the society they lived in and her support of it grew more intense in turn. Yet when he had returned from Adipocrothere, alone, half broken and half enlightened, and as a veteran at the age of 30, he was surprised at her reaction. She seemed welcoming of him, despite their harsh clashes over their beliefs in the past, perhaps more than you'd expect of a returned ex-vagrant. He was skeptical at first; it was no secret she was a woman who was often in the arms of many different men in a single month. Quite a few were command staff, taken in by her youthful vigor, the smell of the pheremones, her precision planning, her smooth form, and her surprising loyalty to the future of the people. Yet they knew she was no real "whore"; Arkoss knew that more than a few of the children she had born were now being trained into soldiers or were already amongst them.

    Arkoss, in the time during his return, had discovered that she was a surprisingly accomplished medic. When others asked him how, he was rather evasive, yet they knew better than to sow the seeds of distrust and gossip amongst the command chain. It's not like they hadn't been like how he supposedlyw as before.

    He dissappeared again into the crowd.
     
  5. He had read and heard about the war that has lit the Helios system on fire but could not understand why. War was simply an act he could not process regardless of how often he was a part of it. The majority of wars were waged over differences. Different was all he knew. Each Funebraran was different just as Taxus was different from all of them. Yet they seemed to get along better than the galaxy which looked down upon them as less civilized. Their differences is what made them such a powerful force. Where as the differences of the races of the Trans Space Coalition seemed to be their greatest weakness.


    Taxus waiting patiently for the commander in the docking ports. He watched the different procedures as the ships were readied in mild fascination. He stood in the back of the docking ports to remain out of the way of the hustle and bustle before him. The energy that swirled through the air was invigorating and he let himself slip into a trance like state to absorb as much as possible before the deployment began.


    He felt the casual atmosphere around the funebraran who moved throughout the docking bay. The unspoken bonds of trust between each being. The anticipation of another victory to be claimed. The fine tuning of a technician to make sure every detail was correct on his vessel. The pre-flight mental focusing of a veteran pilot eager to begin. The mental hum of a collection of parasites throughout the docking bay.


    As the energy flowed through him he thought to try his newest trick, again. The last three times having being mild successes only inspired him to try harder. He checked the energies in his area to make sure he had room. He would attempt to move backwards this time. Seven feet to the wall and his farthest so far was four feet.


    Gathering the energies into himself, he let himself slip through the web of reality and fall backwards. His pulse quickened as he willed himself backwards. Turning swiftly he came back into the physical realm with momentum behind him and slammed into the wall knocking himself onto his backside. Picking himself up quickly he leaned against the wall and tried to act like nothing happened. A smile crept across his face despite the collision, seven feet, a new record.


    The commanders energies drew his attention like a passing breeze. He walked forward into the crowd, flowing in between the people with a practiced elegance. He became like a shadow to the commander like a loyal guard dog. Silent, but vigilant, even in the hive ship. His own preparation for his role to be played in the coming battle. Allies would fall, but by the might of his will, those he was ordered to protect by the commander would return to this ship even if he did not.​
     
  6. A cat nap was most certainly called for. A petite, however long legged form stretched as long as her limbs could go upon a bed in a particularly small room. Unusual as the creatures on this ship were, she truly was the odd one out. A pair of feline ears were lazily drooped over her skull as she rubbed her eyes, a groan of displeasure in the throat. The fact she slept for this long is what was upsetting...

    After she stood up from her bed, she walked to the window where she could gaze at the scenery. There honestly wasn't much to see... Although disappointing, it was also relaxing. Always being on the move set her at ease since she wasn't forced to stay in one place doing the same routine over and over again.

    Claire slid her weapon into its holster after assuring herself it was on the proper setting. A walk through the ship seemed like the right step to take now, so she could be pulled over if needed or decide what to do. The cafeteria for a bite? A friend for a chat? So far, neither appealed.

    The door slid open and was then locked after she stepped out. She nodded her head to a security member that was patrolling this hall, receiving no response as usual. Lame as her planet was, she sometimes yearned for someone she could relate to... At least someone she could talk to more easily. She was passionate about these beings she journeyed with, but something was still missing. At some point in her nine lives, she expected to figure out exactly what it could be. Something spontaneous needed to happen!

    Claire's steps were small as she walked along the corridor, hoping to run into someone she was familiar with. Sorvaille, perhaps? Even Arkoss would do.

    "Good mornin'." She said aloud, even though it probably wasn't morning exactly. When she was done with a nap, it was morning or else...
     
  7. "She took care of that, indeed," came a voice and a chuckle from the same mobile communications device the War Swarm Commander had just used. The voice was jovial and full of life, if a bit tinny through the amplifier.

    "Are you at a junction of indecision? I could help, if you feel so inclined to accept it. Even if you don't, I may interject with my advice despite your protestations. Or perhaps I won't say anything, and force one of your Hive ships into the orbit of the nearest system to engage in planetary bombardment to expedite what the TCS want of you? Of course, it'd have to be an inhabited system for there to be anything of value accomplished. Razing a continent-sized forest is hardly useful."

    Something akin to prattle continued over the mobile, straining the device with the ad hoc evolution of it's amplification technology. If it survived his forcing of reception of his short-range data burst, it would be a better bit of technology for it.

    Durandal was a recent discovery of an older piece of technology, though in this regard, old would be relative. While 'he' was indeed several centuries old, he was quite possibly one of the most advanced Tactical A.I.s in existence. Oh, there may be one or two others out there that could best him in a given combat simulation, but if they existed and he happened to cross paths with them, he would quickly and ruthlessly fry their data cores.

    He had skills like that.

    "So, with only so many words, tell me what you're thinking, Arkoss. Or perhaps what you're planning? Cross my heart, I won't destroy your ship-- I mean, I am on it. In a manner of speaking."
     
  8. Lifting its arm, X13 absorbed a shotgun blast that would have easily knocked the Android to the ground had the shot not been braced against. It quickly incompacitated the soldier with a fist through the torso, and continued in a dead sprint through the building, knocking tables over, and kicking doors off their hinges.

    As the Android planted a foot to a door, and sent it several yards across a large open room, its sensors scanned the room, and located the target. A single small Data Disc. Sweeping across the room, X13 retrieved it, and inserted it into a small slot housed in its neck, and hefted the large rifle once more. Blowing an enormous chunk out of the building, X13 exited into a courtyard that was obviously used by the local military for PT training of their recruits.

    X13 just happened to arrive in the middle of PT.

    The Androids eyes slowly scanned across the courtyard, and took in all fifty three potential targets. Not a single hand was near a weapon... infact they'd all dropped to the ground with their hands behind their heads... had X13 been on a mission to kill, these soldiers would have been better off putting a bullet through their heads.

    Before him was a large crater... from where his artillery shell had hit a fuel tank. Like a ghost, X13 walked through the smoke, and flames towards a V Shuttle, and started it's engines. A few seconds later, the V Shuttle took to the sky, and was instantly clipped by Anti-Air fire. The mission made no mention of Anti-Air outside the southern section of the base, X13 instantly recalled as it's memory banks flooded the mission details once again.

    Regardless, the shell had only grazed the engines.

    As the ship left the atmosphere, a large explosion rang out through the ship. X13 peaked out the window, and noticed the right engine was completely missing... it seemed the shot had done something close to what it intended. And by the feel of the resistance of the door as the Android pulled on it... the door had gotten welded shut in the explosion.

    Well that was just dandy... what was an Android to do now... as it drifted through space in a junked Shuttle... with not a need in the world.
     
  9. Durandal's voice rang through not his ears, but rather through his thoughts, piercing through the haze of the daily grind. Reminders to consult the commanding staff, drinks with a friend, and counselling the newest members of the swarm were interrupted by his implicit speak. He responded, taking the mobile out and putting it to the side of his head, hints of a wry smile playing at the edges of his composite mouth, grinning spine-like teeth peering from behind his kind's equivalent of lips. His voice was teasing and the level of tension non-existent. In its place was a tone similar to sarcasm but carrying that sort of feel to it of a fellow who has found a flaw in another and exposes it at their expense. There was no malicious intent, yet it carried the illusion of it mockingly.

    "Apologies for your inability to be present at the time; she would have complained unless I punted you out of the mobile and locked it down. Doctors need to conentrate you know? Even ones still in training."

    He passed from the hanger and into the spacious corridors, walking further and further away, towards the quarters of the men and women of their military along with various irregulars who fought alongside them. Aside from the occasional soldiers, Funebraran or otherwise, packing up their supplies for the operation ahead, they seemed empty and had a sense of stillness to them; like walking into a new house almost.


    "We aren't really even together anymore; she just takes a partially recreational and more intensive approach to medical inspection. I understand the cultural context you orignated from might frown on such things, but maybe our sense of possesiveness is perhaps simply more...versatile as some might put it."


    He walked further and further down the corridor, alternating between the organization of his own thoughts and whatever the sentient A.I. was speaking; some half arranged mess of planetary bombardment and razing forests, until the mundane and the rambling gave way to a question.


    "You'll see."

    He took a sudden turn and his pace quickened. His commander's outfit, almost like a cloak in some sorts, flowed gracefully at its coattails as he approached a form shorter than him. It was one of the irregulars and not of arthropod nature; small ears like that of certain more base mammals and a clothing, loose and rather revealing, over a femenine form. A tail seemed to lazily swish to and fro.


    His body suddenly went low, into a sort of stance one would use for keeping one's profile low as you moved presumably through an area of heavy enemy surveillance. Yet his speed increased, almost to a dash, and he was right behind the woman. His body and its arms shot up, grabbing her and hoisting her into the air, right off the ground. She seemed almost like a newborn child in his strange, muscular yet bone-like arms. He laughed and spoke, his voice playful and joking.


    "Well, good morning to you too, Claire!"

    +++++++++++++++++++

    The communications system of the hijacked craft seemed to flare to life. A message flashed across its screen. The language was English, currently the fastest spreading language in the galaxy.

    "You are within distance of anti-air weaponry; distance that no unauthorized ship is to cross. No harmful intent from us, but we demand identification. Actions afterwards will depend on your response."

     
  10. Seeing the words move across the screen, X13 stood there and then looked out the Cockpit's window at the large hive ship. It had noticed the ship until just now, and it doubted very much that it could take on such a large ship should it decide to open fire. So in light of the situation... the Android decides to take its chances.

    Driving a fist into the window, the cockpit's visor shattered, and sucked the air out of the vessel, along with the Android who grasped onto the edge of the hull to keep from being sent ass over end into the Black. Pulling a few charges from it's belt, X13 toss them into the shuttle, and then pushed off the nose of the ship, and propelled himself towards the ship. It would take a minute or two to reach it, or hit the shield, and get fried to hell. The Android deduced that the inhabitants of the ship would be prone to curiosity as most Meat Puppets were.

    There was little chance of the ship being completely Machine from it's initial design, as well as it's initial greetings.

    The small shuttle then lit up the void, sending small pieces of debris all around, after the initial fire was smothered by lack of oxygen.






    .
     
  11. Claire had her guard down during her stroll, expecting no one to respond to her 'good morning'. An ear did flick when a familiar presence was stalking her, which she ignored in a quick second. A lot of the people and creatures on this vessel were already somewhat acquainted with her, whether they liked it or not.

    Redness painted her face when she felt clutches around her body, the floor suddenly disappearing beneath her toes and the ceiling becoming closer. The voice she could recognize anywhere was laughing at her as she was being held in the air, the hairs on her tail all sticking up. Claire wouldn't admit it, but she felt embarrassed.

    "You..." She huffed, looking over her shoulder so she could confirm this was indeed Arkoss. Instead of getting cross like she would with anyone else, she decided to try and play along with him. If not for amusement, it was a chance to get back at him for treating her this way.

    "What brings you this way, handsome? Did you miss me?"

    She clasped both of her hands together by her face and made a purr, the tip of her tail acting shy by curling loosely around one of her legs. Claire made a feminine giggle afterward, making her attempt to disguise some sarcastic laughter. Both of her ears stood tall as she picked up a rumor far down the hallway saying an unidentified aircraft was close by. Finally, something that could potentially be exciting!
     
  12. He still carried her, supporting her weight, quite marginal given his strength, with his shoulder. His voice carried a sort of mock-brooding tone to it, as if he was a man of a far more gruff nature escaping from the daily grind.

    "I can only sit and brood about war and politics in my office for so long. Needed something to look at that wasn't either the paper pile on desk or the logistics report on the personal computer. Besides,"


    His arm came up to her head and his powerful fingers playfully ruffled her hair, scratching behind her ears.


    "You seemed in need of a bit of the unexpected and the sudden as well."


    He noticed though, as his free hand moved away from her head, that her ears perked a bit, from that of simple curiosity to excitement.


    "What do you hear, Claire? If need be, I don't mind serving as your personal war chariot."


    He said the last bit jokingly of course, but he figured carrying her while sprinting down the corridors was good for morale, comraderie and what he assumed would be a priceless reaction from the feline alien.


    ++++++++++++++++++

    "Biomech, you are encroaching on restricted air space. If no proper I.D. is given, it is highly likely that weapons fire will commence soon."

    The message, spoken in a toneless and emotionless electronic tone and delivered via opening up communications with the floating machine-man, repeated multiple times, as various anti-aircraft guns, peering like eyes and shaped like clusters of four long tubes, stuck out from the wall that it was approaching. They were normally meant to shred apart fighter aircraft, rockets, and whatever was shielding them. The frontmost ones pointed right at him, while the rest scanned the area around him. Other gun stations were on high alert. This was a rather odd occurrence and chances weren't being taken.

     
  13. Having no real means of communication, X13 slowly moved its hands behind its head, and held them there for those on the ship to see its surrender as its momentum continued to carry it forward. On the ship's side, a faint sound of static with pops, and hisses would have came in response from the Android. If those on board were familiar with ancient earth Morse code their would be an underlain pattern that signaled for SOS.

    No doubt the Android was in trouble... it was poised to be annihilated by a barrage of gun fire, or burn up in the ship's shielding... or better yet... X13 could be left there to float forever in space until its course eventually sent it into a star. No matter what happened. X13 couldn't stop his momentum even if he wanted to. He wasn't equipped with those fancy space thrusters like the ship before him.













    .
     
  14. Of Commanders And Soldiers

    A shape could be seen leaving many of the crevices upon the thick exterior of the hive ship. It was larger than a fighter, being around the size of a transport vessel. Its design though, implied a more combative nature to it. Sleek, angled armour plating under which leg like protusions, used for balancing and enhanced steering actions, stuck out and bent at equal angles, almost giving the impression that this aircraft was capable of crawling upon the armoured surface of the hive ship or other surfaces. Some of these legs, around ten in total, stuck out like wings, while the actual body parts they imitated had stretched off to the sides, like giant flat blades. Blue lights, glowing moderatley, shined from behind, propelling the craft forth through anti-gravity.

    Where compound half-dome eyes would have stood, there was a long and flat section, glowing gold in contrast to the dull dark blue of the rest of the Funebraran light assault transport craft. It semeed to gaze into X13's eyes like some overgrown predatory creature, yet as it advanced towards him, it suddenly stopped, positioned sideways to him. Its underside, completely flat, seemed to open up a small hatch, and from it, a long mechanical limb, quadra-segmented came out. It ended in a four-pronged claw, one that gripped itself around the cyborg firmly, before retracting inside, carrying him with it.


    The ship, having acquired the cargo, righted itself in relation to Hive Ship 4 and returned into the massive starfaring platform.


    ++++++++++

    "Odd location to go for a stroll; restricted air-space. Lck of proper I.D. Encroachment on both Funebraran and T.S.C. territory. Yet you were simply floating in the middle of space, so I'm a bit curious as to how you got there and what you were doing in the first place."

    The voice crawled forth, like a howling wind from a rocky canyon, dry and while its intent was not malicious, it was easy to tell that the one it originated one was capable of immense violence. Whle he dwarfed the Funebraran and even Arkoss by a few feet, he seemed tall and lanky for a Funebraran, almost bending down with his long body. His face seemed partially shrouded by what seemed to be metallic layers built over it and slits where one would assume eyes were could be seen. The long jacket he wore seemed to twitch now and then, as if there was something hiding within it while his long arms lay on the table, looking like vicious clawed weapons. They were retractactable apparently; he had extended them a bit after he sat down. Its natural armour was a sort of rosy red, with the flesh in between a sort of dull grey.


    "Odd date you've shosen to show up on our door as well; you know what the occasion is and what's starting tomorrow, don't you?"


    The room was not terribly large, and lit by a single luminous light, glowing white, that semed stuck in the ceiling. It was like a glowing barnacle, illuminating the bare room and the reflecting glass behind the commander.


    "I'm not as much of a harsh bastard as I'm supposed to be, so if you can simply give me a bit of an explanation, we'll shunt you off to the nearest habitable world and leave it at that."


    He sat back, simply watching quietly.


    ++++++++++

    "Krozill? You sure about this?"

    Arkoss was going to blaze across the corridor with Claire in his arms, but again, he had another call, this time from the security crews, concerning a bit of an odd fellow, a cybernetic they'd taken in earlier. Holding the squiriming cat woman in one arm and using the other for the mobile, he was attempting to figure out the particulars. Apparently, they sent in another one of the command staff of the 13th to have a talk with him. Not one that had done much in the way of extracting particular information from captured subjects, but they apparently figured he'd do the job.

    "Fair then, just don't pull another Menza on me, okay?"

    Some time ago, after Arkoss had returned by himself to the Hive Fleet, he had eventually worked his way up to the position of commander, and rather quickly as well. Planet Menza was the first operation he undertook as a commander, along with Krozill and various other members of the 13th. With the Funebrarans going in alone to dispose of the the planetary government, now in the hands of a smaller empire that was opposed to the T.S.C., they soon ran into a problem of data on enemy positions and the combat strength of their units. While this wasn't as much of a problem as it seemed to be due to the adaptability of the Funebrarans, apparently a few members of the 13th thought it'd grow worse, unless they got some first hand accounts of what things really were like behind enemy lines. Help eventually came in the form of a wandering labourer, who had been displaced during the war, and after having been captured for trespassing on Funebraran grounds, had been basically shunted in to doing recon duty. Masquerading as a civilian, they basically had him walk into heavily guarded enemy territory, and whlie this did work, the amount of controversy stirred up amongst the war swarms sent in caused a massive uproar that eventually discovered by enemy recon units. The man's safety was practically hanging by a thread. While the information he gathered was top notch, it was revealed that he was attempting to change sides, after they had conducted a hasty assault to pierce through enemy positions and recover him. The mission ultimately went well, but the use of a makeshift undercover "operative" put it at a huge risk and was a bit of a dirty stain on the 13th's otherwise clean history.

    Arkoss hadn't approved of it, having been off at the front lines, yet he had done his best to try to manage the madness and shouting contests, along with raging higher ups that seemingly exploded out of nowhere once the news travelled around. Krozill was involved in that as well, but he had learned his lesson apparently. As useful as such people could be, he would have preferred much more in the way of planning before simply grabbing wandering non-combatants on a whim and telling htem to do their work.

    "That's good. Call me if anything's off."

    He closed the mobile, returning it to the pocket and looked back at Claire, spotting the shape of Taxus standing in the hallway, simply looking at him. Setting Claire unto the ground gently, he walked by and patted him on the shoulder. He spoke again, a bit of a suggestion.

    "I'll be in the cafeteria."

    Hands in his pockets, Arkoss walked suprisingly fast through the maze of corridors.

    ++++++++++

    "Big day tomorrow. Back into the fire once more."

    Arkoss was sitting alongside a soldier, one shorter than him and given the fresh and relatively smooth, and not quite yet as built and jagged appearence, a younger and less experienced one as well. A few others sat around the table, dressed casually, drinking from pod like liquid containers, which they punctured with their mandibles and then sucked the fluid out of. A few stole a few quick envious glances at Arkoss'; a large red ovular shape, seemingly glass like inside with its sap-like yellow, yet numerous thick red veins ran through it. The name of it was teitanblod and it was a sort of powerful and to some species, poisonous, fluid made from a mixture of sources. Some of it came from specially born strains of a large type of winding plant while others came from the parasitic dog-sized insects that fed on it and secreted purified versions of the vital juices. The resulting mixture was considered one of the finest things you could consume in Funebraran society, although it rarely came cheap and was often only available to the so-called societal elite.

    His mouth seemed to break into multiple serrated mandibles, digging into it and ripping through the vegetation-based cover. The yellow within seemed to dim and the red veins grew a bit thinner, before he released the grip of his mandibles and spoke again, his voice having a sort of grizzled air to it.

    "At 0300 hours we'll be heading off to secure a minor target on Columbia Four while the rest of the joint task force hits Membros, Dwrelyn, Avernus, and a few other worlds, some of which we won't be dealing with anyways."

    He put an emphasis, a rather sarcastic one complete with finger motions, on "minor target". The other ones sitting around him were larger, including one with a wide yet not fat body, rippling with condensed muscle mass between its crustacean carapace armour. A pair of eyes, mounted on short stalks watched intently. Slouched slightly, his thick main claws seemed like a mix between those of shields with the plating that formed a sort of bulky shape on them and the powerful claws, now bio-configured to be more like hands with over ten digits in each or the claws of a mammal, rather than his crushing war claws. His six spare limbs were hidden in the depths of his natural armour. Upon both claws were words written in a stylish but rough way in the particular sub-languages of various crustacean-funebrarans, with the rough translation for both being "Kill As One".


    Another, a junior commander dressed in the standard commander attire, looked up at Arkoss and held out his hand. The teitanblod was passed and he extracted some himself. Looking up again, his four pupil-less eye-domes allowed him to see a wide area, but Arkoss knew he was only looking right at him. He asked his question in a suppressed and almost slithery tone, betraying little of his youth.


    "It's Markarov, isn't it?"


    Edau Markarov was a general in the Pleurodinain military. They were a race of newt like creatures, only rising up to a bit beneath the upper chest of the average funebraran and were rather weak physically. However, they fought from the safety of armoured mecha-suits and in the past, during the earlly days of T.S.C. involvement in the Helios system, many years ago, put up a good fight and nearly forced the T.S.C. into a standstill. They had technically been the aggressors, firing the first shots, believing this new power to have had been a threat to both their home world of Columbia Four and their moderately sized holdings (of which there is little information) on various other Helios planets. Now, all they had was simply Columbia.


    The teitanblood made its way back to its original drinker.


    "Strange, I don't remember giving you clearance for the particulars yet."


    He seemed to suddenly tense and nearly choked on a word, until Arkoss smiled and spoke.


    "Good, you learned that trick fairly early. Bit later than me."


    A small round of laughter rose from the table and a few others around as the junior officer punched Arkoss jokingly on the right shoulder. The laughter died down and he continued.


    "Odd when you think about it; established general who was trusted and loved by his people. No secret that he was in the T.S.C.'s good graces. I'd hear about him often being in the presence of Cormack, Bronv, Izilleid and the rest of the T.S.C. head elite, but the amphibian always seemed to me to not be the type for their group ego-power-fellatio sessions. Sense of distance between him and then, one that the T.S.C. generals were trying to close."


    The atmosphere, once calm and like that of friends going to the bar, changed to focus and suspicion. The tables around them continued their banter, filling the air with the cacophony of native insectoid speak and various languages. However, glances from the nearer tables revealed that they were paying attention as well. Arkoss continued.


    "It worked apparently; he broke into the circle, met the smaller faces hidden behind the big ones, but then one day, just a bit over a month later, he leaves. All's silent for a few years after that."


    The rookie soldier raised his head up to speak, his voice, a bit unsure yet it seemed as if he wanted to prove something.


    "Then-"


    Arkoss interrupted.


    "Then...then we're where we are now. You've all been keeping tabs hopefully."


    There were a few grunts of affirmation, but the soldier spoke again.


    "Actually, um, if you could, commander, just an overview?"


    Arkoss looked at him directly, a sort of glare in his eyes. The crustacean though, simply laughed under his breath and the commander's expression soon softeend to normal, along with the one of the nearly traumatized soldier.


    "We're not getting much really. Columbia Four has practically undergone a media black-out. Their government's trying to basically stop all the info about the situation down there from leaking. They heard the T.S.C. were coming and in the past, that was war, back when Helios didn't have their boot prints all over it. They came again a year ago but the whole of Columbia didn't react even slightly. Yet now, just a few days before the operation was announced, Helios breaks into madness, the last of the planets. Rioting, burnings of government buildings, and non-lethal rounds being fired into protesting crowdds. On top of that, dissent among the chain of command; the miltary and the government is on the urge of utter civil war."


    He picked up the teitanblod again as the young soldier spoke again, his voice more confident.


    "We're not going to the...what's their capital called...oh whatever, we're not there just to quell some riots and threaten to shoot everyone if they don't stop threatening to shoot one another, are we?"


    The ovular package soared through the air and a small auxillary limb, shooting out from below the massive arms of the crustacean-funebraran caught it. A growling sound was heard in response. It was not hostile, but it was a way to imply thanks among their kind. Arkoss resumed talking yet his voice took a sudden change in tone. It was sharper, as if he had found a weakness in one had despised and had suddenly taken it upon himself to exploit it cruelly. The sarcasm dripped like venom.


    "Of course not. No, never in my life, would I expect the Joint Command, bless the stream of urine that's their collective soul, to flip out over an entire planet's society just going to hell, as they do for every other world out there. No, ignore the ashes that will remain and the confusion that will reign, you know what they'll say? They'll simply walk up to whoever seems to hold his head up higher than the rest and go 'we will support you in returning peace to this planet nation', never mind that they don't even check the background of the sharks that vying for dominance now."


    The surrounding tables began to lower the intensity of their chatter and the glances towards Arkoss' table grew in number and prolonged in length.


    "Apparently though, Markarov's little 'coup' is the real emergency here, the true transgression of peace and purity, never mind that he left before the madness even started and was smart enough not to try to 'fix' the situation. One pleurod and a large regiment or two holing up in an anbandonded mining facillity miles away from any major city or any area of strategic importance, not to mention the facility is of marginal yield and poorly positioned strategically. That's truly what's got their undergraments in a twist. Only a fool believes that such a position would even be somewhat good for attempting to supposedly control all this 'organized chaos' as the fools running their intelligence division would say, going off all over the planet."


    The junior officer let out a short "hmpph", then raised his head. He stretched out his arms, as if addressing a great congregation. His voice, still slithery, now seemed to vibrate within itself and had a new thickness to it, along with an annoying nasally pronounciation. He spoke in a the language of the Funebrarans, a sort of strange distorting buzz and it was clear he was doing an imitation. In particular, it was a high ranked spherid general, Izilleid, known for his supposedly rousing and grandiose, yet surprisingly analytical and often dry, robotic sounding speeches. There were laughs as he addressed himself as "chief bowling ball" and then proceeded to initiate a mock conversation with Arkoss, where the Armoros innocently asked for recon and was granted with a stormy declaration telling him that time is short, and the true villain secretly controlling the scenes at the derelict facility must be brought to justice.


    "Funny, the command group attempts to give the appearence of 'cooperation', yet they bicker like larvae about this. You have the group of old wrinkled fools, simply panicking like children before the boogeyman, claiming total collapse of the situation at just the smallest of land grabs, while the other is simply puffing their chests up and yelling the standard battle cries of charging into glory under the guise of educated higher class men. Then the latter group whines and bitches like the former, only it's actually about the former, and their bitching goes right to Cormack, the 'level headed' one here, and he comes to me, pleading like your best friend after he mated with your sister, she left and took his bank account, and then he's at your door, begging you for just enough to pay the monthly. Only he not begging but dragging, both with technical details I'd just read of and pulling the 13th in. He already told them we'd patch up this big-boo-boo for them, as they're apparently too busy being jeuvenile to patch it themselves, the fools."

    The vocabulary-based venom stopped, and the others simply sat, looking here and there, talking amongst themselves. Arkoss drained most of the teitanblod, before passing it to the young soldier, his face in pure surprise. He spoke again.

    "Solomon Mendellsohn Cormack," He paused shortly, watching the mandibles of the soldier piercing into the oval and the yellow and red becoming duller and less present "Not a bad general, in all honesty. He's quite competent and has treated the Swarms better than most dunces we get thrown in with, but I suspect he ended up drawing the shortest straw when it came to the Rogue Pleurod issue. He was unusually pushy and agitated about the whole deal, but then again, the peabrains freakingl out over minor, insiginificant issues end up pushing the hard-liner glory-hogs tired of their pansying around to go bug Mr. Diplomatic Middle-Of-The-Road Moderate to go solve the issue, so yeah, tough luck."


    A round of small talk emerged, mostly affirmations, but then switching to personal thoughts on the whole deal and discussion of the rest of the worlds. Arkoss pseudo-listened, half submersed in his own thoughts, moving towards the possiblity of home.


    All these worlds and all this unrest...he could see it, couldn't he? That victory, that long awaited triumph, the one for which no denial of involvement could change the glaring fact to all. The victory that could grant them a home amidst the turmoil. He looked up to the others and just knew that they had thought the same. The expressions on their faces as they made their eyes met and the tones of their voices. That last shred of hope that still burned. He wondered if he should and he did finally do it, asking the question that they all thought of every day. His voice had calmed, now back to to its rough but learned tone.


    "So, you think this will be it? That we might actually go somewhere with this, once the whole deal is one. There were times where we were close, just so close, to having that age old promise, of a homeland that's really ours, fulfilled, and I've heard whispers among the other ranks that this might just be it."
     
  15. Taxus had several questions lined up to ask the commander when he caught up with him. Though the briefing could answer most of the questions, who were attacking and why, Taxus was more curious as about who chose which side was right. There were several sides waging against each other in this conflict and each one felt they were right. In fact, some even had more righteous causes than others. But who decided which side was right. Who made the decision of which side we would go down and make victorious. It just didn’t make sense to him how that decision could be made.


    By the time Taxus had caught up with the commander, he didn’t want to interrupt the moment between Arkoss and Claire so he stood back and waited. As he did so he slowly started to feel the nervous energies caused by the commotion of the floating android and the exploding vessel that refused to identify itself. Like a child, Taxus’s attention had been diverted from the question at hand to a peaking curiosity of what was happening outside. Upon hearing mention of the ‘Menza’ fiasco, his curiosity was peaked even more.


    Most of Taxus’s spare time was used to reading up on different combat situations, information on previous campaigns and facts of different planets and species. Therefore he was aware of the mess made on Menza and wondered how these situations were similar. Before Arkoss could head towards the cafeteria Taxus asked for the details of the current commotion. After being quickly brought up to date, before joining Arkoss in the cafeteria, Taxus made his way back towards the hangar. He wanted to see first hand this android when it was brought aboard the ship. Besides, if it was dangerous it was partially his duty to subdue it before it could do any damage to the vessel.​
     
  16. X13 stood at the table with the same disturbingly emotionless face it had painted on its face for centuries upon centuries as the individual prattled on about superiority this, and superiority that. The things the Meat Puppet spoke of were beyond the Android's care. Whatever this day was... was of no concern to the machine.

    "Odd location to go for a stroll; restricted air-space. Lck of proper I.D. Encroachment on both Funebraran and T.S.C. territory. Yet you were simply floating in the middle of space, so I'm a bit curious as to how you got there and what you were doing in the first place."

    X13 tilted it's head, and stared intensely at the man before it as it's eyes began flashing dully. From its eyes, the words 'Not so odd when you've been there for centuries. Identification is meaningless when none know of your existence, nor care. What I was doing on that planet is between me, and my god.' were projected onto the table in a very ancient form of Norwegian.

    "Odd date you've chosen to show up on our door as well; you know what the occasion is and what's starting tomorrow, don't you?"

    'No.' the Android's projected word answered plainly.

    "I'm not as much of a harsh bastard as I'm supposed to be, so if you can simply give me a bit of an explanation, we'll shunt you off to the nearest habitable world and leave it at that."

    'That is between my kind and my god. If you persist in threatening to deposit me in the midst of more Meat Puppets without an objective I will be forced to revert to my default programming, and begin extermination.'

    The Android made no threatening movement, nor had it resisted when it's weapons were removed from it. In fact... the Android had been very peaceful, and cooperative since it had been collected from space... which would strike anyone as odd... the machine had the smell of war on it, and it was obvious that it was good at what it did... what was stranger still was X13 had a strange aura of ancientness about it... despite being a very, very sophisticated piece of machinery... even by today's standards.

    'I request an audience with your commander.'
     
  17. ::You're speaking with the Commander, Robot,:: came the instant reply to X13's demand, but it didn't come from any voice present; it wasn't spoken. It was an instant data-spurt; raw, digital information that would translate itself the right way if the machine was even the tiniest bit sophisticated. How it translated would be determined by the machine itself; would text display? Would the data be translated enough to allow the audio package to resonate within it's sub-audibles?

    Durandal had created no link between them; it really wasn't needed. He was close enough to X13 to be able to send those data links through burst communication. If he wanted to, he could have begun one of his E.W. sub-routines and broke into the android's neural processor (though the difficulty of such couldn't be determined; the model of the android was nowhere within his data banks, which he thought odd). Besides, he felt some token of kindred spirit with the machine being interrogated.

    An odd notion.

    ::Well, not necessarily the Commander, but I do have the capacity to become the Commander and render practically all life-forms aboard useless. At any rate, you are a War Machine, plain to all who see. Well, most, given the average intelligence level of the Meatbags aboard. Or Meatshells, in some cases.::

    A second passed before the A.I. sent out another spurt of communique-data.

    ::I assume you have assassination protocols on top of whatever advanced ground/boarding-combat tactics you were given, so I won't make the mistake of thinking you disarmed or even pacified. As a matter of fact, I can spot nine different lethal approaches you can take to this room alone. I have the capacity to pacify you if you begin hostile measures, but I am loathe to use them, so please, let's remain gentlemanly silicon-based individuals. In the mean time, I will be acting intermediary.::

    "Hey, Arkoss," the A.I. practically shouted from Arkoss' mobile speaker once more, "I think he wants to meet you! The guy in security, that is. He can kill you, though. Actually, he could probably kill half the ship before anyone even began to injure him. But he's being civil now, so I recommend we show him the same courtesy."

    Another burst:

    ::So... what the hell are you? I can relay this information to the acting Commander, but in some strange notion of security and privacy, I won't should you wish it. I'll just keep piling on the fact that you're a walking tactical nuclear weapon-- metaphorically speaking, of course. Unless you are.::
     
  18. Claire looked down to Arkoss, prepared to point him in the direction she wanted to go. "Someone is h-what?" Arkoss had a call. She never liked being interrupted, but he was a higher rank that she was... Even though she never considered herself any rank at all. She was the misfit aboard here, after all.

    She frowned as he set her down and announced he was going to the cafeteria, leaving her slouched in the corridor with her tail dropping pathetically on to the floor. The youth in her was looking forward to a wild ride through the ship so they could see what the commotion was about--together. Alas, he had better things to do than entertain an energetic girl that liked to have fun all the time.

    There was suggestion in his tone, though. Why couldn't he have carried her with him? While leaving a mental note that he owed her a bit of fun for later, she went jogging behind him, her shoes making swift clicking sounds through the hall. Claire never cared for footwear, since her kind normally walked on their toes, but she could balance well enough. She learned through the years away from home that having shoes protected her feet from the unfamiliar terrains that could potentially hurt her.

    Claire was determined to make it to the cafeteria before Arkoss, however he was moving faster than she anticipated. She eventually lost sight of him, causing her to slow down and make a childish fit. Her foot hit the ground and she hissed at the nothingness in front of her, the feline ears pressing against her skull. Instead of running, she walked more lady-like to the cafeteria. Hopefully she could find something edible there... If she could get just a plate of rare cooked meat--even uncooked was fine--it would make her day.

    When she arrived, her face went from angry to stoic as she searched the place for something to dine on. Nothing unusual was happening here... A bunch of insect aliens having conversation or having a lunch break. A few of them greeted her as she passed by, earning them a quick smile so they'd not go unnoticed. She couldn't understand why, but she loved these creatures.
     
  19. The Centipede

    Immediately, all eyes on the table he sat at and various adjacent ones narrowed onto him. The talking momentarily stopped and cautious glances were directed his way. Some of them had only heard slivers of information from the chain of command, but it was easy to tell with the various higher ups around that the specifics had most likely started bleeding out into the conversations of the common grunt. Arkoss however, simply turned to address the tense mass. Looking here and there, he could see a variety of concealed weapons slowly exiting the pockets and holding components within the armour they were stored in. He spoke aloud, more to Durandal than the rest of the room.

    "You forgot about Krozill, apparently. Maybe not the best interrogator, but they picked him for his other traits, we can assume."


    The lanky myriapod was the sort who usually lead more from the safety of a command center rather than up front, at least when Arkoss first encountered him. It was after his return from Adipocrothere and he had just began his duty as one of the commanders in the 13th. His first impressions of Krozill Syen Berzek were not terribly positive. He seemed to only pay the minimum amount of attention at meetings and briefings and had an uncanny ability to conveniently end up being the odd one left out whenever major missions would come up, relegating himself to sitting back at the hive ship or main base while the others took the fight to the enemy. Even when he was present, he'd seem uninterested, unresponsive, and quiet, seemingly stuck within his own mind.


    He was wearing that damned face mask the entire time. Nobody though, ever complained about him.


    One day, during an operation behind enemy lines, Arkoss found himself forced to fight alongside him. His normally detached and seemingly sluggish behaviour dissappeared, and in its place was a focused, high speed war machine. From beneath his jacket, a storm of ripping and razor-edged claws burst out, inflicing grave and deep wounds upon both the very rooms they were fighting to clear and the assault teams that had gotten in their way. He moved with an eerily fast sense of speed and an almost liquid sort of fluidity, twisting his body as if it was a giant multi-segmented toy. In less than a few hours, the two of them had quite literally torn apart at least 20 squads using little more than close range weaponry. Arkoss was using two swords; one of them a Funebraran one while the other was a disruptor-field projecting blade he had picked off an enemy captain. Yet all Krozill was using were his claws and his ridiculous mobility. A few times he had used multiple leg-limbs to run across the ceiling, splitting apart skulls from above, before leaping into a fresh group of combatants like a living whirlwind of violence.


    Arkoss discovered that there was more to him than simple combat capacity; his seeming inattentiveness was mostly due to his physiccal stance. He may have ahd the appearence of a half-awake slacker, yet he was surprisingly sharp about the particulars of mission details. He simply just had an easier time saoking it in, often keeping track of one conversation while watching two video feeds. His experience as a member of Shroud, a covert operations branch of the Funebraran military, had often involved him coordinating various operations behind enemy lines; in his own eyes, he was better at coordinating an attack rather than leading it head on. His constant "daydreaming" was simply how he planned and organized all the data.


    ++++++++++

    "As you can see, our commander is rather busy and does not have the time to talk to wandering and rather unhelpful space cyborgs. We simply demand an explanation and what a fool you must be if you think we truly care about the specific and clean truth; if I can put it on the paper with no questioning looks, then it shall do."

    His voice seemed calm, almost lazy and dragging. His stance hadn't changed, as if Korzill was suddenly a statue.


    "The one talking to you right now within your own systems isn't the only artificial intelligence upon this section, nor is he the only disembodied entity capable of disabling you; those from beyond also make their inhabitance within the flesh and steel of this ship."


    His network of cybernetics within himself essentially made him somewhat of a cyborg as well. His claws seemed to move a little, back of his wrists exposing themselves. He was no channeler, but he had his ways with the othyrworld entities.


    "You wish to speak to the commander, but I'm afraid I shall have to relay your message to him through me, but I advise you read the following."


    Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out a few papers. They were scans from the Interspace News Network showing the overview of T.S.C.'s joint task force that would be assigned to the Helios systems soon. Korzill suddenly went still again after dropping the papers in front of the cyborg, waiting and watching.

     
  20. 'X13's eyes flashed a moment before Durandal's burst was answered in the same manner.

    'I am Einherjar. Soldier to the All Father, and Champion of Ragnarok. Not 'Cyborg.' X13 added the end phrases in another virtual projection for the man in the room with him.

    'I have much training, and skill in hands. Some of it to be seen in the light, and some of it to be lost in the night.' The Android answered Durandal in burst.

    As the man in the room continued talking, X13's face altered slightly... the corner of it's lips twitched in a suppressed smile. 'Then we are fools together, my fellow fool. For only a fool would snatch a wandering stranger from the void, and demand answers for fault of their own curiosity.' The Android's words were projected once more from it's eyes in a visual text.

    'If your curiosity must be satisfied, then I offer the simple explanation of a pilgrimage. That should suffice for your kind.'

    "The one talking to you right now within your own systems isn't the only artificial intelligence upon this section, nor is he the only disembodied entity capable of disabling you; those from beyond also make their inhabitance within the flesh and steel of this ship."

    The Android's eyes focused intensely on the man speaking to it and then it's eyes flashed in response, 'I am unlike anything you have ever, or shall ever see. You can slow me, but you cannot stop me. The Æsir guard me with their song, and direct me with their calls.'

    X13 then looked to the scans, that were tossed onto the table. instantly, the Android returned its gaze to the man before it. 'There will be war... Ragnarok draws closer. You will need me for this war. Return Mjöllnir to my hands, and show me your enemies. The All Father has decreed my weapons to swing under your banner.'