OPEN SIGNUPS The Phoenix Nebula

Quake

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[01000101 01010010 01000001 01000100 00100000 01001001 00101101 00110110]

“We have reached our destination,” I-6's monotone voice came across the shuttle's internal loudspeaker as the ship touched down. The robot’s massive frame had somehow managed to cram it’s way into the pilot’s seat and was now finishing the last steps needed to secure the ship to the landing dock. “Entry to Dresden’s Orchard is successful. Please wait one moment. Accessing local Camilla security communications.” A quiet pause ensued over the airwaves as I-6 scanned for any signs their entry had been flagged as anything other than ordinary.

Nothing.

“We may begin.”

Powering down the shuttle, the I-6 drone unlocked the ship’s doors which opened with a low hiss. As the cabin's pressurization system released, the storage blocks in the back of the ship clicked open as well, allowing access to any additonal gear that the team might have stored on the ride over. Having not needed to bring anything apart from what it already possessed, the ERAD instead spent it's time securing and preparing the craft for while the team would be away. The last thing they needed was for their ship to be hijacked or inoperable upon return.

Having completed it's rounds, the I-6 drone stepped off the ship and approached Elazar and Velshia. Opening it’s right hand, a small blue holograph of Camilla City flickered up into existence, slowly rotating as select locations on the map began to pulse a faint yellow color. “I have cross referenced the images provided in the Captain's mission brief with the latest accessible layout of Camilla. These locations match or possess strong resemblances to those seen in the provided intel. Please be aware. A margin of error has been applied to the algorithm due to factors involving limited cityscape scans and other indiscernible factors. The results before you have all been filtered through to an 85 percent accuracy rating. If you would like, we may start here.” I-6 paused for a moment, allowing his teammates to view the information he had generated. After all, they were the ones who would decide what paths the mission would take. I-6 was there to simply provide assistance and support wherever he could.

“Alternatively, a second option. One moment.”The drone's gaze shifted away as it accessed the mission's intel once more.

[Accessing Jackrabbit Files.]
[Accessing footage.]
[Cross Referencing Camilla Seaside View with City Layout.]
[Generating possible matching locations...]
[Precise Location Undetermined. Provided Information Inconclusive.]
[Filtering...]
[Generating widespread area.]

I-6 shifted it's attention back to the team. “I apologize. I had attempted to extrapolate the exact location the video provided in the brief was taken. However, I am unable to do so with the intel we currently possess. For accuracy, a general area has been chosen instead based on the angle and height of the view seen in the provided footage.” In the machine's palm, a two-square-mile section of Camilla City lit up green. It wasn't pinpoint, but wherever the video had been taken was definitely somewhere within that highlighted block on the map. Fortunately for Drop-Bear, buildings didn't just get up and move, no matter how much a city changed over time.

"That is all I have for you at this moment. How would you like to proceed?”
 

Verran

Illogical
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The Good Doctor

"It's close enough and no, whether you keep being respectful or decide to start swearing up a hurricane, you don't get to use the fresher. What if you've got a lung punctured, eh? And the fact that your bone is sticking in it that's keeping you from bleeding out. Ever considered that? Or maybe whatever stress you placed your body under that made you vomit ruptured a blood vessel in your brain. Filling up with blood and just waiting for the pressure to knock you down for good. Think of that?"

The cot came rolling up with a pair of EMTs. The doctor gestured Perseus onto it. His face making it perfectly clear that there would be no disagreement. After he got on, the team shot off to the nearby medical station as they hooked O2​ into Perseus's suit. Standard protocols from time out of mind dictated that a full surgeon suite be attached to every drydock across the galaxy. Who knew how many systems skimped on such safety measures, but that was certainly not the case here.

As they made their way through the building, doctors and nurses jumping out of their way, Reginald ordered, "get an exam room prepped. Lustrian atmosphere," then asked Perseus, "so what happened. Remember how you got these injuries? Full details."
 
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muffinphobia

dancing witch
elAzAr : weApons mAster
Elazar gazed out the window at Dresden’s Orchard as it slowly grew larger below. There had been minimal interaction between himself, Velshia, and I-6 on the way down, which was just fine with him. He had no patience for small talk and likely wouldn’t have responded to questions anyway. As they descended to the surface and approached the city, he couldn’t help but think that it looked rather…ordinary. A perfect cover for someone like the Jackrabbit, he supposed, with its hustle and bustle, but the man must be confident that no violence would break out - or he was extremely arrogant.

There was a slight bump as they landed, accompanied by I-6’s announcement of arrival. He stood and collected his bag from where he’d stowed it prior to takeoff. Better to hide weapons out of sight than to mosey down the street with them and attract unwanted attention. So far, at least, it seemed that their presence had gone largely unnoticed, as the owner of this shuttle bay had clearly been paid off. It would stay that way as long as he had anything to say about it. As he descended the ramp, his eyes swept the cityscape that stretched out beyond the dock for a moment before he returned his attention to I-6 and the map being projected from I-6’s palm.

As the section of the map they needed lit up green, Elazar’s eyes swept over it. Two square miles…it was a lot of ground to cover on foot. The answer was fairly obvious to him. He took out his datapad and tapped in a few commands until the same map appeared. Using his finger, he split the area up into neat thirds. After a brief moment of studying the map further, he then highlighted a purple line that squiggled back and forth in a seemingly random pattern down the middle. To the best of his estimation, it followed the urban sprawl of the neighborhood, the ill-defined line between the nicer buildings and the shanties where shadier business no doubt took place. The perfect place for men like Lang: close enough to handle business dealings and any other…desires he had, but far enough above it all to live in the lap of luxury. The level of inequity was sickening. He looked at the other two. ”I’ll check southside,” he said, his voice low and distorted by the mask he wore. He turned and headed to the exit of the loading dock without waiting for a response, his comm already linked with theirs.
 
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Pigiron

Shipcutter
Original poster
Da janela vê-se o Corcovado // O Redentor que lindo

Perseus, even in his exhausted state, couldn't help but take in the spartan nature of human (Zharian?) Architecture. There was no artifice in it. Humans seemed perfectly happy with living in giant cubes and pillars. Every window he passed he stared out of, rubbernecking like a tourist, keeping pace with the doctor only so he wouldn't be told he was knackering again, whatever that meant.
He knew he looked like a bright-eyed youngster on their first trip away from home, but he couldn't help it. Aliens! An alien planet! An alien doctor about to do unspeakable things to his chest cavity!
Even the cheapest habitation tower on Lustre was a brass-gilded double helix of stepped cubic living spaces, great windows granting vistas of the golden sky and shining cities and oceans. Lustrian oath-bound architects swore on their souls that they would build nothing that sullied the beauty of the Lustrian cityscape. Every tower was a work of art, designed specifically to add a note to the chorus that was the city's song. Each meant to fit thematically with its neighbours. To be yet another testament to the craft.
Humans? Humans just seemed happy to impose rights angles on nature and call it a day.
It was... Inspiring, to say the least.

Perseus wondered just how much the good doctor knew about Lustrian biology. He paused, looking around, as they had walked the surroundings definitely were more... Sterile. A good sign. Eventually, they reached the waiting room for an emergency operating theatre of some sort. Bright, cold lights gleaming beyond frosted glass. The doctor was offered a mask to prevent the argon in the air pooling in his human lungs. For Perseus, bivalve tissues would take the argon and fix it, allowing it to be used in various critical metabolic processes.

Haltingly, Perseus entered through a door and a simple air circulator, basically a wall of wind, faster to pass than a full airlock, but a little leakier. Good for keeping two different atmos of about the same density separate.
The exhaustion was really piling up now. Thoughts were coming in shorter and lazier sentences. He looked at his HUD. Good atmo. Finally.
He reached up, muscle memory performing the complex series of clicks and twists necessary to break the seal on his helmet. A hiss. Fresh air, finally. Well, not quite. Recycled. But at least it didn't stink of vomit.
Steadily, with slow fingers, Perseus unhooked the different segments of his suit. Stripped it all off, down to his underclothing. Brown woven trousers over a pair of grey undershorts, dull grey socks and, of course, in a slightly flexible form-fitted metal tube around his left forearm, a computer that housed his biobank iterant as well as his PC and comms.
Stealthily, Perseus inserted the data card from his helmet into the wrist comm. Better to keep it on him at all times.

His spacesuit now lay in a smelly pile on the dull flecked-green floor, shortly after, Perseus' sweaty white shirt joined it. While he had been undressing, avoiding bending his chest as best he could, being helped by an insistent nurse when he couldn't, the doctor seemed to be using some sort of miniaturized fresher designed to rapidly cleanse his hands, readying them for work quicker and more consistently than simply washing them. Another good sign. A tray of some sort was wheeled in. A bunch of tools and tinctures, Perseus assumed. Half naked, Perseus looked around. He caught himself in the mirrored reflection of a nearby observation window. A little on the tall side, a little on the lean side. Not as wiry as his father had been at his age, that's for sure, but certainly not an athlete. He had toned up a bit after starting work at the salvage yard. He had got into the habit of frequent exercise, and there was a lot of pushing and pulling on the job.
Perseus turned and... Ouch, alright, maybe he did need to be here. Across his left side, where he had impacted the console, a purple-brown bruise marred the golden skin. Like an ink splot, across the bottom half of his chest on that side. Hurt to look at, hurt more to touch. "Wow, Dr... Wait what was your name? I don't think I caught it... This is my first time off Lustre. How familiar are you with Lustrian biology? I only ask since you're ack-" half-drunk with lethargy, Perseus was gently but firmly sat in what looked like an adjustable crash couch, only the couch seemed to form fit under his body, cushioning it and slowly flattening into a bed at the command of his doctor. "Has anyone ever told you your bedside manner leaves a little to be desired, doc?"

Quero a vida sempre assim com você perto de mim // Até o apagar da velha chama
 

muffinphobia

dancing witch
don't you dare look out your window, darling, everything's on fire
safe & sound
The council was running late - apparently still deciding amongst themselves how to approach the fact that The Cotopaxi was technically under the ownership of a third party. Gabi was seated in the waiting area outside the meeting chamber, fidgeting. How much longer was this going to take? Patience had never been her strong suit. Just then there was a quiet beep in her ear, signaling that she now had access to the dossier, at least. She slipped her glasses onto her face and said, ”BD, show it to me, please.” It appeared a moment later as a narrow wall of text about halfway up the wall beside her. She scrolled through it quickly. It looked like most of the time would be dedicated to talking about the ship, as she’d suspected, but something interesting caught her eye as she neared the end.

Discovery: cryogenically frozen life form recovered from INS Troubadour. Appears to be alive. Further evaluation by Dr. Meadows requested.

Her mouth fell open as she processed that particular bit of information. They’d found someone!? How was that even possible? Was it a sentient being that could possibly know something? Would Reginald even know how to wake whoever it was up? Cryogenesis hadn’t been utilized for hundreds of years at least…had he even seen this mystery life form yet?

She stood up, ignoring how her head swam and how she almost slumped into the wall beside her. Her curiosity was too powerful to wait until he arrived for the meeting to get answers. She pushed her glasses back to their original position and took off at a brisk pace until she reached the tunnel that connected the council building to their medical facility.

A few minutes later she had arrived at her destination. She paused and flagged down one of Reginald’s assistants. ”Henry, where’s Dr. Meadows? I have something urgent to ask him.”

The assistant replied, “He’s in exam room 4…uuh, are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

She’d barely replied with a ”I’m fine” before she disappeared down the hall lined with exam rooms. Once she’d found the right one, she knocked and opened the door without waiting for a response. ”Reginald! Is it really true that we found a cryogenically frozen-” she started to say, but the words died in her throat as she realized who else was in the room with him.

Oh. Oh.

It was very much Perseus getting a physical exam done, and he was very much shirtless. And taller than she’d realized. And muscular…

Once her thoughts caught up with her eyeballs, she realized she’d basically been ogling him and felt her face flush. “I’m so sorry!” she squeaked, her voice several octaves higher than she’d ever thought it capable of going. She turned around so fast that she nearly smacked into the door in her rush to get back out. It had barely opened before she’d slid through and practically sprinted back to the waiting area in front.

Oh. Gods.

I cannot believe that just happened.
She groaned and leaned back against the wall closest to her, cheeks still burning. She wished for nothing more than a hole in the ground to open up and swallow her. Maybe Blaster could help...
you'll be alright, no one can hurt you now
Code by Jenamos
 
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Verran

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The Sleeper

Velshia had spent much of the trip reading. Before blast off, however, she did stop off in Engineering to acquire a method of hiding some good old computer equipment. Black Op vessels were wonderful in that everybody knew at least some sort of trick and, a short while later, she boarded the shuttle with the looks of a general drifter with a pack on her back. Someone to be hired for a day and then gone the next. Able to do those menial jobs shared all across the galaxy.

She had hoped to enjoy Orchard. Certainly not for the local civilian life, considering the raw squalor of the place, but perhaps the environment would remind her more of home's humidity. Sadly, this was far, far from the case. The industrial engine had well ruined any chance that the land could be related to home. Turning the humid air distinctively grimey. Velshia made a mental note to requisition an extra long shower upon return to the Ophelia.

But, again, most of the time had been spent reading. The I-6 model certainly had the complicated history. Hmm, she mused, I wonder how much personality algorithms can be enticed into the system. Colorful machines always made the most fun to report on. If it were allowed, she would have given the INS Ophelia a subroutine to give the most floral responses and then charted how long it took the crew to recognize all the puns. Or at least taught the AI to respond as such. Ah, alas. The rigidity of military life.

Elazar proved to be a quick read because, once again, there wasn't much on him. Which made her wonder, also once again, what exactly his clearance or history was to afford him such obscurity. As if the mists themselves had formed a great and impenetrable barrier. Yet all barriers could be torn down. Those with the mind, dedication, and faith could penetrate the mists. Velshia had shaken her head. The question wasn't a matter of capability but if she should work to do so. What Intelligence barred was not her to break. Still irksome though.

Her thoughts then turned to Lang. The Jackrabbit certainly had an interestingly broad profile. There didn't seem to be much he didn't have his fingers in. However, there wasn't anything of particular note that Captain Angstrom hadn't covered in her briefing. Well it would only be a matter of time until they found him and extracted all his personality quirks with every other drop of information. And time indeed was of the essence. Two days for the full operation. Tight time budgets made for baggy eyes! It would do. It'll do.

And, upon arrival, it seemed that they were already off to a good start. I-6 had narrowed down the location to a mere two-square miles. Simple enough to begin searching if they just accessed the various security observation fields owned by all the differing factions across the planet.

"Well done I-6!" she commended, "now all we need to do is…"

"I'll check southside," interrupted an evidently disgruntled Elazar. Disliking the planet already? And what was he planning to do if he saw the Jackrabbit? Somehow fight through an undoubtedly thorough compliment of security systems and personnel? Grab him and then rush back to the shuttle through an almost certain fire fight? Wait for allies, hopefully, to return to the vessel and then blast off through whatever defense network and ships to race their way back to the INS Ophelia? Just hoping that everything would simply work out? That wouldn't do, no it would not. Certainly, time was not on their side, but they did have two days. They could at least spend the first half of the first day gathering information. Finding and tracking his location. Marking guards. Narrowing down locations where he stored the black box as where he filmed his studio productions did not necessarily imply that his prized valuables were stored in the same place. Not to mention that having a safehouse to work from would be a wonderful commodity to have in this cutthroat landscape. In short, planning things out! Velshia sighed. Trying to persuade Elazar of changing whatever plan his solitary mind had come up with did not seem likely to succeed. She'd have to crack that outer shell and begin worming her way into the sphere called trust. Now that would be quite the project. One to take far longer than the two days in front of them. Time to start on it then. Which would, sadly, mean playing along to at least some degree.

"Alright, I'll take the north then," she commed after him with I-6 kept firmly in the loop, "but let's keep it to recon. After all, we'll want an extraction plan before we steal him from his adoring staff. And keep an eye out for a good place to hole up for the operation."








The Good Doctor

"Doctor Meadows. And I'm quite familiar with Lustrian biology. One of the ten races every first-year med student needs to learn of the eighty-seven they need to know upon graduation," he gave a reminiscent smile, "And that's if they're only general practitioners. Lucky you, I'm more than that. Unsurprisingly enough, you are far from the first patient to comment on my lack of 'bedside mannerisms.' To which I always reply, 'that is one of the many reasons why doctors employ a full staff and cannot do everything themselves.' Now, Nurse Kedamar, please take an x-ray of Mr. Perseus side. Though his overall pallor does suggest that…"

The door burst open. "Reginald!"

"Doctor, Gabi, I'm at…"

"Is it really true that we found a cryogenically frozen…" she froze for about three seconds, "I'm so sorry!"

Back out the doors she went. Dr. Meadows rolled his eyes. Already having an inclination as to what was happening. Then narrowed his eyes. She's bloomin' pale in the face! And who knows what else. Growling, he punched the comms. "Orderly Mordily Mason! Kindly ensure that Ms. Gabi makes her way into exam room three and that Dr. Crystal Maylor sees to her in short order!"

Fool woman deciding to take a jolly jaunt while looking like that. Removing himself of his glare, he accepted the picture taken by the nurse. "Thank you. Yup, broken rib. Another cracked. Nurse, do get a skin sample…no, hair sample. Run structural analysis. I want to check something. You wormholed all the way here. And I'm betting that deciding to buy the bloomin' Cotopaxi did not go over very well with the local garrison. Wherever you bought it from. How did you come here anyway?"

The nurse used her machine fingers to snip a cut off a single strand of hair and placed it beneath a scanner. All the while, Dr. Meadows punched buttons on the side of the bed. Immediately, the injured side to Perseus's body grew warm. Stimulating the body and feeding it Galcomiin to encourage the body to regrow and connect the broken structure based upon projected data of what Perseus's ribs should look like.

"Doctor," the nurse chimed in, "the results…the hair look…loose?"

Doctor Meadows perused them with eyebrows raised, "yah, figures. Hell, son, how many bleedin' holes did the two of you jump through?" He flipped the flimsy data-pad around to show him. Indeed, the cells of his hair appeared, well, loose. Like they didn't want to always just stick together.

"What you've got is called Catakorii Syndrome, or the Wormhole Wiggles. Happens when someone, like you two, jump through hole after hole without the proper shielding or breaks. Shakes your body apart bit by bit. Why the hell it does that, search me. Ask a physicist. Fortunately, your symptoms are mild. Nausea, vomiting, so on. No blood in it though. I'd be worried otherwise. You'll recover, in time, if left well alone. Probably puke your guts out a few more times, but still. Or I can stick some medicine in you. Make you go rigid as a board for about three to five hours. I'll need to know if you're allergic to anything before I can though. Nurse Kedamar, page Dr. Maylor that Gabi likely is suffering some mild to moderate Catakorii Syndrome. So, what do you want?"

Speaking of Gabi, she was yammering about some cryogenics. While waiting for Perseus's decision, he checked his pager. Huh…who knew. It came when he was on break and wasn't an emergency. Strict division between work and relaxation saw to him not seeing it. Well, this could be interesting.
 

Quake

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[01000101 01010010 01000001 01000100 00100000 01001001 00101101 00110110]


The mission had begun, and there was little time to waste. Exiting the dock through the main gate, I-6 downloaded the city’s sights and sounds as they came, calibrating itself to the new location. All around it, the city was alive with noise and heat. Countless vehicles littered the desert planet's roads; everything from run-down mining transports heading off for excavation to carefree rich kids burning their parent's money in the latest supercars. The ERAD took it all in, unable to recall a time it had seen such a blatant display of wealth disparity. Past records of the colony claimed that the general populace had once considered the planet a 'paradise.' A quick glance towards the slums a stone's throw away all but confirmed whose 'paradise' it was now.

Unfortunately for the locals, Operation Burning Sands' mission directive wasn't to fix the deep-seated power and economical issues of the desert colony, or I-6 may have attempted to formulate an actual solution right then and there. Instead, all processing power was directed towards locating the Jackrabbit. The Empire viewed the information he possessed as priority one, which meant their A.I. viewed it the same way. Passing through the crowds of Camilla City, the drone made it's way downtown mostly unbothered. It's towering physique drew attention from the occasional child or passerby, but for the most part the Assault drone was simply one of the many faceless, mechanized citizens that occupied the city streets.

As I-6 stepped across the road and into the first of many shopping districts, it was immediately bombarded with countless advertisements and promotional holograms offering the latest in fashion, technology, and experiences, The audience for many of these stores was clear, as simple items like clothing and footwear were found tagged with prices rivaling annual paychecks for the common man. I-6 performed general base scans on a few of the ads as he passed, noting how they all seemed to run on the same basic looped hardware. Easily manipulatable, it thought. For a city that offered the best to the rich, it seemed to skimp out on the smaller, more basic things. These oversights would likely prove useful in the future.

Pathing through a series of open-air malls and back out into the main city, I-6's gait slowed, coming to a full stop. The drone's red marker was now blinking in the green square, designating that It had arrived on location. Glancing around for where to begin, the machine observed a blue, two-story pillbox building with the letters CCPD embossed in bold lettering across the building's facade. Camilla City Police Department. This was a good place to start. Lang wouldn't be found here, but the station would likely possess records and documentation of the crimes in Camilla City with which the team could use for assistance. All the drone needed to do was gain access to the precinct's filing system. Unfortunately, it couldn't just walk through the front door without drawing attention. Taking up a corner position out of the way of foot traffic, the droid's eyes swept the exterior of the building, searching for cameras and other security measures. As it did, a plan of attack began to come together.
 
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muffinphobia

dancing witch
elAzAr : weApons mAster
Elazar drew up the hood on his jacket as he walked, careful not to spend too much time gawking or glaring at one thing in particular. It was a difficult task because truthfully, he loathed almost everything in sight. How could any proper leader allow their people to sit in filth and rags amongst stalls with items priced so unbelievably high? He brushed past a salesman offering a large spool of silk that looked rather suspect in quality. Searching for the Jackrabbit like this wasn’t going to work for him, not at all. He’d become too enraged. He stopped walking just long enough to reach into the bottom of his pack for a ration package. As he made for the exit, he allowed it to slip from his grasp and land at the feet of a young girl who was eyeing an exotic fruit vendor’s wares hungrily.

A moment later he had exited the open-air market, doing his best not to dwell on what he’d seen. He instead angled for a building that swept high above the others, his eyes on the pavement under his feet as he circled around to the alley between it and a neighboring structure. Once he was safely out of sight of the general public, he took out his datapad and consulted it - he was approximately halfway inside his third of the map, his red dot blinking steadily on the purple line he’d drawn earlier. His eyes darted around the shadowed alley. There was no one in his direct line of vision, and no security cameras that he could see. Excellent.

He activated a protocol via his datapad and stashed it away just as two small hidden compartments on the bottom of his pack opened, revealing thrusters. He caught the power dial before it had a chance to fall to the ground - he really needed to fix that third compartment - and secured it to his wrist. His eyes turned skyward now, looking for a vantage point that would be somewhat obscured from the street’s view. After a minute or two of searching, he finally saw it: the building’s penthouse floor was supported by statues of gigantic, ugly beasts. Each beast appeared to share the same squat torso but had at least seven heads atop long and twisted necks. Open mouths full of sharp teeth screamed down at the city silently. Massive tentacles also adorned each monster’s body. It was…disconcerting, to say the least, but the nook between the monster’s back and the balcony was the perfect spot. He sighed and turned the dial to its lowest thrusting capacity. It would have to do.

The jetpack had been designed with secrecy in mind, so it made little noise as he ascended to his query and carefully maneuvered his way into the nook. Once he was close enough, he disengaged the thrusters and grabbed hold of the tentacle nearest to him, using it to boost himself up over the thing’s shoulder and into the nook. He looked around as soon as he had a secure spot, but the quick scan of his surroundings didn’t reveal any astounded onlookers. Satisfied, he reached into his pack and pulled out a pair of binoculars. It wasn’t the most complex method of information gathering, certainly, but it could prove useful. He began a scan of the closest storefronts, looking for any sign of unusual activity.
 

Presea_cousin

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Blazing Hair Runi

"Ship orbit is being maintained. Relative position between the planet and star is steady."

"Jammers and reflectors are fully functioning. Ship's visibility is zero."

"Emissions are dispersing widely. Ship's footprint is zero."

"Excellent work. Keep the ship steady." A firm voice came from the head of the bridge, a raised platform looking down at the rest of the bridge stations. Currently at the head was the Ophelia's XO, Runi Kindler. Her bright neon red hair waving slightly as she walked along the bridge, her eyes flitting between the different monitors and readouts. In front of the bridge was a large screen with a simulated 'window' that looked out onto the front of the ship and a distant Dresdan's Orchard which they were currently maintaining their position from. Captain Angstrom was giving the briefing to the strike team, so Runi was holding command over the bridge. Not that there was too much to command. Right now it was just glorified guard post duty. As long as their position remained incognito and nothing came close to approaching them, there wasn't much to do on the bridge. Out of the corner of her eye, Runi was already catching one crew member playing 4D hologram solitaire. She ought to reprimand them. In fact, they probably wouldn't have even attempted sneaking something like that if Angstrom was on the bridge. But Runi decided to let them have that. In fact, in her mind..

Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Runi sighed. It had been five years since she had attained her coveted rank of XO. A dream position she had wanted since she first joined the Navy and even tried to blatantly blackmail her way into on her first ship assignment. It was always a fun memory to look back on. A teenage girl fresh out of the academy trying to blackmail her way into the second top position through a blatant lie. Still it was something she aspired to and worked towards her entire career and now she had it. She had the privilege of staying on the bridge of a ship that was, for all things relatively considered, motionless.

Runi completed a lap of the bridge, ending back at the raised section with the captain's chair. She plopped into the elaborate swiveling seat, the arms of the chair lined with consoles, readouts, and holographic dossiers that would display whatever file the current in-command needed. She pulled up one of the screens and began flickering through some of the ship's documents. She went over the details of the current mission to hunt the Jackrabbit, the strike team having deployed hours ago and probably made planetfall by now. The current plan was to let them take action on their own and await contact by them. Too many communication attempts from the Ophelia's side had the slightest, very large emphasis on slight, chance of being intercepted and jeopardizing the mission. So again, not much to do from the bridge side of things.

Runi's free hand tapped against parts of the chair as she tried to figure out if there was anything she could do to add to the mission. Read intercepted communications? No, they already had other officers doing that. Most of it was just chatter about stocks, economics, disputes over docking and import charges, nothing useful yet. Mobilize additional personnel to send down the planet? No, that was the exact mistake Angstrom was avoiding with sending down the infiltration squad. Mobilize additional personnel to just be ready? Oh, that was called a drill. They did that today already. The redhead drooped her head for a bit and sighed before raising it and assuming a half-proper, half-bored slouch position on the captain's chair, legs crossed, one arm propping up her head. It was going to be slow for awhile. She prayed godspeed to the infiltration team. Or at least for an asteroid to get somewhat close to the ship so she could order a laser fired at something! Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored.
 

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Pigiron

Shipcutter
Original poster
Da janela vê-se o Corcovado // O Redentor que lindo

Perseus had frozen when Gabi burst in, his eyes growing wide. He heard her announce something about cryogenics, let out a cute little strangled yell, and run off. Perseus just screwed his eyes shut as Gabi ran away, having seen him in all his sweaty, half naked glory. Okie-doke. Suppressing that twenty seconds. Aaand suppressed. Perseus straightened up on the bed-couch thing, wincing at a shooting pain in his side, and got on with the medical inspection.

"So, uuh... Apologies for questioning your expertise, Dr Mead-ow!" The Nurse gently held Perseus still as she took an X-ray scan with a small handheld medical scanner, running up and down the brown and purple bruised area. Dr Meadows demanded an orderly to put Gabi in her own inspection room, proceeding to order various densitometer and other scans on Perseus. Perseus sat still for a moment. hold on... cryogenics?" Perseus opened his mouth to enquire, but shut it again when the doctor took a look at the various scans, a pensive and concerned look coming over his augment-pocked features. "Hell, son, how many bleedin' holes did the two of you jump through?" Dr Meadows sighed, his usual gruff demeanour showing what Perseus hoped wasn't dire concern. "I uuh.... We had four homeworld mil-pol Frigates on our tail, because... You know, I'm not sure why? Why would they have a vested interest in seeing the 'Paxi decommed? It doesn't make any sense- oh, sorry. Right. We uuh... Look we had to pull five simultaneous wormhole jumps.... with no atmo..." Perseus winced slightly at the look the doctor was giving him; "And-I-know-that's-not-healthy but it was that or-or be blown outta the black! The frigates tracked us through some of the holes, I'm sure! They have tracking capability. If we hadn't made several jumps, we would have been caught, or worse, led them right here!"

"What you've got is called Catakorii Syndrome, or the Wormhole Wiggles." Perseus winced as realisation dawned. He had seen the results of acute Catakorii's during some late-night morbid gal-net searches and... There was a distinct dread that crawled up his spine. He was glad the doc had Gabi locked down for an inspection. It was suddenly very apparent just how lucky He and Gabi had got. With a suddenly dry throat, Perseus croaked out a: "Whatever you think would be best, doc, but if you say I should be fine after a few days... I'll happily take it easy. I don't like the idea of being locked up for hours on end."

Quero a vida sempre assim com você perto de mim // Até o apagar da velha chama
 
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Pigiron

Shipcutter
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Captain Bernadette Angstrom
Ship time 1924 hrs, 03/01/5032
Dresden's Orchard System, Planetary Lagrange point L1 Flickering_cursor.gif




Captain Angstrom leaned back slightly, slightly lidded eyes dispassionately observing at the live holographic feed of first officer Kindler, wandering about the bridge. The captain didn't need to be a mind reader to see that her first officer was feeling the monotony of the captain's current stratagem more than most. Ruri was a battle-leader, more than anything else, and every step of her climb up the ladder of command had been bought in the blood of the empire's enemies. Angstrom allowed herself a moment of nostalgia for her field service days; almost subconsciously her arm wavered and ran like wet paint, extending into a limb somewhere between the wing of a bird and the front limbs of a praying mantis, the two switchback segments slightly curved and bristling with a saw of thorns on the inside edge, stretching and flexing with the slight shudder of nanite-built musculature. Casually inspecting the limb's current shape, Angstrom spoke in her usual crisp voice. "Computer, end first officer Kindler's shift early and request her presence at the officer's mess. Append message: We haven't had a chance to talk recently, let's take dinner together." The bridge would survive on its own for a while, what with military policy dictating the chain of command. Her hand snapped back to its human shape, receding and compacting in a few moments.

Angstrom permitted the humanoid cleaning borgs to enter her office as she left it. The corridor to her office branched off of the command corridor, and the command corridor was short, by design. It led up to the bridge to the fore, to the command staterooms to the aft, with all the necessary command offices, essentials, and amenities in between. Angstrom only had to wait for a moment, as Officer Kindler strode out of the bridge, her eponymous mane flowing behind her,

"Ruri, good evening. How are you doing? I know a holding pattern isn't precisely your favourite posting." Angstrom turned and began striding toward the officer's mess, subvocally sending commands to the ship's computer to prepare her meal. "what will you have? I've got the line open." as Angstrom passed on the first officer's order into the computer, the pair walked into the warmly lit lounge-cafe area. One of the "night" shift officers, taking breakfast ahead of their shift, spotted Angstrom first. A shout of "Captain on deck" was belted out, and a flurry of activity unfolded as various officers saluted and those not sat at mess snapped to attention, a clear "as you were." and the five or six officers in the room continued eating and socializing. In the moment of silence a series of molecular printers could be heard quietly working in the kitchen, weaving meals from vats of organic slurry, transforming unpalatable carbon-gruel into cooking to rival the finest line chefs in mere minutes.

The captain proceeded to a wall table, choosing one that commanded a good view of the door and the rest of the room. Once they were sat, they didn't have to wait long for a serving drone delivered their food. "I've been reading a study on an imperial terraforming candidate. A planet on the edge of empire space. Sintris, it's called. Its people are barely out of the stone age. Suffering unbearably, I'd imagine. The entire planet is a desert, and a senary star system means no, or at least very few nights..." the food arrived, and a small blue Volturnian lobster, still steaming, arrived for Angstrom. "There is an... insect, on Sintris. It's called Werel'Khol in the native tongue, with Imperial scientists deigning it the basking albatross-mantis..." Angstrom cracked open the shell, but didn't eat any of the flesh, laying out carefully cut strips alongside the empty carapace. "It's top side is covered in a silvery carapace, to reflect the heat of the suns. Its underside is the warm ochre of the Sintris sky."Angstrom continued to gently dissect the Volturnian lobster in front of her, still pensively holding off on taking a bite; "They survive the heat with a rather interesting air-cooling system. They have a large mouth that is almost always open. Their lungs function at dual purposes, not only for respiration, but also as a sort of biological air cooling system for their organs. They only close their mouth to dive and hunt other Sintris bird-analogues, and to eat of course." the husk of the Volturnian lobster now entirely shucked, it was neatly set aside. "If they fly too slowly for too long, they die. They are beings built on the idea of constant progress, constant forward momentum. For a time, I wondered why the idea felt so familiar, and then I remembered your progress through the ranks." Angstrom broke into a smile, dipped a length of the lobster's flesh in a small bowl of dark sauce, before finally taking her first bite. She chewed, swallowed, and proceeded "I feel like you might need an outlet, of some sort, while we're in this holding pattern. Would you agree?"
 
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Verran

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The Sleeper

Velshia hummed pleasantly as she meandered the streets. Fiddling with buttons on the inside of her straps. Keeping one eye out for either the Jackrabbit or his layer and the other eye on learning the lay of the land. Unfortunately, only the clergy back home had the right to paint the third eye, the eye of dreaming, upon their head. So, she was forced to rely on only her two eyes to find a safe house. The squalor all around barely even touched her. It wasn't the idea of being above it or more important than it, but just the simple facts that she could not do anything about it, currently, and that any emotional attachment to it would not help her achieve the mission objectives.

A smile grew on her lips as memory lapsed across reality. Blurring the lines of the dilapidated road with the large, towering trees along with dense clusters of pools. Mist and fog swirled around. Crowding in about the girl swished her arms through them.

"Velshia." Her Mother's voice penetrated the land-ridden clouds. Immediately, Velshia snapped her arms back into a meditative position. "You must not get distracted, Velshia. The mists swirl and delight. When you revel with it, so too will everyone know your revel. To stride unobserved, you must become as the mist, as the forest. Align your world to the world and those who walk in that world will only see the blinding fog. Even when you stand straight before them."

"Yes, Mother." The child Velshia didn't truly grasp what all that meant. Not yet. But she knew enough to get started and so she pondered the mist. She didn't lose herself in it. Did not marvel. Instead, she considered how it swirl, swayed, and occluded all eyes. Hours passed and still Velshia sat, rigid as a board, eyes closed. Then she began to sway. Flowing with the invisible ghost of an untouchable breeze that still drifted the mist ever so slightly this way, then that. Her breathing a mirror to the soundless breeze.

"Very good." Her Mother's voice slid through the mist. "One day, little one, we shall teach you to be mist with your eyes wide open."

Velshia shook her head with a chuckle. What would her parents say if they knew she were reminiscing on the job? Well, to be fair, she didn't need to even imagine it. Very stern words would be winging their way to her ears. With these thoughts buoying her up, Velshia immediately dragged her head down. Her four arms clutching her pack tightly to her back. Velshia's feet became a furtive shuffle while her eyes darted around with equal parts fear, depression, and desperation. Velshia, Akorra, needed a job. And needed it yesterday. There hadn't been any work in the last city over last month. But here. Here had to work, it just had too! There wasn't anywhere left to go…

Akorra, the drifter of three years, ever since the Kuadar corporation collapsed under a gang war, desperately sought work. Hard laborer, bartender, bouncer, mechanic, anything! Well…almost anything. Not a…slut. Never a slut! She wasn't some cheap whore who spread her legs for a crust of bread. Akorra's stomach growled. Warning her that that day wasn't too far off. Not anymore. She'd find a job here, she was sure of it! Desperation was the mother of drive and no one was more driven than she was right now.

Then, she saw it, light from the heavens it seemed as, blazing in the window of glitzy decayed establishment were the simple words: HELP WANTED! Yet, even as Akorra's eyes stared hungerly at it, she hesitated. True, she needed work. But her pride still held in one field and if the help wanted was in that field… Furtively, Akorra scurried towards one of the windows. Trying to peer inside. Not tinted! Success.

Inside was one of the most garish nightclubs ever laid eyes on. A broad, raised dance floor stood in the middle of the room. From where she stood, Akorra couldn't quite see the top of it, but knew what it must be due to its size. Scattered below it and on balconies on the second and third floors were numerous tables. Crowded together with barely enough room for anything Velshia's size to squeeze between. The floor and walls were a dark purple, hiding who knew what stains. The walls glittered as preschooler's glue project but was probably meant to be stars. To offset the shadow of the purple, bright, neon flashing lights that struck out through the dim. Drunk, or high, customers probably found it psychedelic. Akorra found it nauseating. A broad bar stood at the far side of the room, below a shielded DJ box. Scattered about were various doors. Some, undoubtedly, led to the employee sections. Others would be VIP. Akorra shuddered to think as to what happened behind those doors. Still, the lack of poles suggested that this wasn't a stripper joint. At least the front of house wasn't. But that was enough for her. Its name was the "Dancing Bunny" with the neon symbol of a person with terra's rabbit ears on their head, high kicking.

Akorra slipped inside the closed club and was immediately accosted by a massive bouncer squeezed into body armor. Uncomfortably, Akorra noted that the brute had not only a stun stick, but a fully automatic weapon on its hip. Not that it really needed either as the monster had enough muscle to crush Akorra's skull between two of its seven fingers. However, of all its brute strength, Velshia noted as Akorra's eyes darted once to the hulking face as rugged as broken granite, it was not a dullard. Intelligence sparked behind those black eyes.

"Closed," it grunted.

"I..iwansomwor," Akorra mumbled to floor. Clinging tightly to her pack.

"Closed. Leave."

"I want some work!" Akorra desperately shrieked as the bouncer took a thundering step closer. Both trying not to cower and raise her arms to ward off a blow that seem sure to come.

"Hmm. Stood ground. Enough. Come. Vedice like you." The bouncer took earthquaking steps towards the bar and Akorra scurried after. Both terrified of the creature yet more frightened of being left alone in the shut down club. A number of the workers' looks were less than kind and more than a bit hungry. Through the doors next to the bar and through a short maze of halls to a rear elevator. Up three floors and then out onto a poshly laden hall. Yet they didn't go through the richly emblazoned blast doors at the far end of the hall. Instead, they turned aside to a door that could have led to a broom cupboard and, instead, led to an equally cramped office without a window.

"What is it?" a man's voice scratched out from a mouth with a balding head. Tufty brown hair lay plastered with too much grease upon his skull as he looked up. "I'm busy, Rauncorn."

"Job applicant," the bouncer, apparently called Rauncorn, said.

"Eh? Where, ah. Dwarfing them as always. You! Front and center," his command held surprising force behind the weak face. Akorra obeyed in an instant. He walked about her. Eyeing her up and down with the same appraisal as a merchant examining for counterfeits crossed with a vulture eyeing a potentially delectable carcass. "Hmm, yes. Pretty enough. After a bit of cleaning. Name?"

"Akorra Renshar."

"Age?"

"Twenty-three."

"You're eighteen."

"Eighteen."

"Held platters? Served drinks?"

"Yes."

"Danced?"

"No, never!" With a sudden whip of defiance.

"Hmm, so that's how you stood. We'll see how it lasts. You start tonight. Boarding is half your pay so…seventeen Katucks a-day you take away. Unless you have other living arrangements…"

"No! Here is fine."

"Good. Now get down to the third floor for examination and your room. Put her with El."

It was just before they reached the elevator that it happened. The door slid open and twenty armed and armored guards spilled out. Clearing the room with professional mercenary grace and aiming at least three guns at her. Akorra immediately shrank to Rauncorn's side, but Velshia was only mildly interested in the guards. Far more intriguing was the two people being guarded. Or, more likely, the one being guarded who had had an escort on his arm. The Jackrabbit leered at Akorra before comfortably adjusting the escort's position and bellowing, "Oy! Buzzard! Get out here!"

Out scurried Mr. Buzzard with a simpering, "yes Master Jackrabbit?"

"Get drinks and entertainment sent up. I feel like lounging before tonight's entertainment. The numbers are going up and up and I feel like treating myself."

"Yes, Master," Buzzard bowed.

Akorra and Rauncorn remained rooted to the spot as the guard squad, escort, and target made their way into what Velshia now knew to be the Jackrabbit's personal suite in the club. If Akorra weren't so terrified, Velshia would have smiled.

***​

One thoroughly embarrassing cavity exam later and Velshia stood alone in her room. "Wondrous are the gifts of Cassadrel, who, unseen by the mists, drapes boons upon her beloved," she hummed. The room was a cramped hovel for two with the amenity of a bathroom attached as an afterthought. It didn't have a window. Didn't want people jumping to their deaths when it became too much. Better to work them into oblivion. There was no question of being observed and the answer had already been rebuked. Taking a half-hour of being in various positions across the room had given the cameras all the footage she needed to loop endlessly. Certainly, her roommate, El, would need to be looped in. But, for now, this was enough. The engineers of the INS Ophelia had done their work well. Breaking down and disguising the various computers that she needed inside of gel-food packs, rustic sleeping bag, and other such oddities that, while they had been searched, scanned, and sorted from her bag, had not been torn apart to reveal the computerized innards. As ever, people believed what they saw.

Velshia was now waiting for the response from the rest of her team while twiddling on her pad. Checking up on all the various free hotspots her programs had flown to. Data mining everything of relevance. Others began launching probing attacks against numerous firewalls for monitoring systems, security scanners, high profile accounts, taxi systems, waste management, anything that could begin to formulate into plans just beginning to percolate in her mind. 99.8% of all her attacks against hardened systems had failed. No surprise. You didn't survive here without a decent firewall and all her attacks, so far, were pretty much spam. Nothing that could be easily traced and easily blended in with the uncountable billions of cyberattacks from all the gangs, criminal organizations, "legitimate" corporations, and everything that attempted to pass as law enforcement. Again, no one survived without at least a decent firewall. The only one she had determinedly sliced into was this…establishment. And not fully. Its bank accounts, VIP rooms, and the Jackrabbit's personal suite were thoroughly robust. And that suite was a borderline cyber fortress. Probably a literal one too. The camera system for the club wasn't and she had everything outside those shiny, secured gems. Speaking of the Jackrabbit and his protection, those twenty guards were visible, so it was a question as to how many were not visible. After all, only the supremely hubris beings or the supremely well-protected would be so brazen with both their claim and their body.

Velshia smiled. She was certainly rather enjoying herself. Would it be best to follow the little hare or to try and intercept him as he moved between fortresses. Undoubtedly, he had his own, personal entrance to the club. Velshia was likely smack dab in the middle of his turf. Perfect! Maybe they aught to penetrate the fortresses after narrowing down the locations of the hare's homes. She had signaled the team, covertly, the news and lay out her current work schedule. It would be best for them to show up as a rich patron with his, or its, personal security. Then they could discuss some plans, right under the gross hare's nose! The simplest would be for Elazor to be a crude, grasping patron who Akorra couldn't quite say no to. Yes, that would be simplest and account for most wild cards. One card that wasn't accounted for was El. At that moment, her proximity senser pinged a silent alarm. In a flash, the pad with stowed away and, a moment later, the door burst open. Akorra whirled and scrambled back in alarm as a ball of energy in the form of a human shot into the room with incoherent words of excitement.

"Ooo, hello! Rauncorn said I had a new roommate! I'm Elle, or El. It's a delight to meet you! What's your name? What are you? Oops! Sorry! Rude, rude El. Where are you from? How'd you come here? It's amazing here, isn't it! All the glitz and the glam. And aaaallll the famous people come here. It's only a matter of time before someone sweeps me away, don't you think? Up into the shiny high rises. Said it to my previous roomie, Natallia. Said it to her, 'just hang in there for a few more weeks and you'll be swept up too!' Happens all the time here. Yes it does, it does indeed. Only a matter of time for me! Well don't be a stranger, cause they're friends I haven't met yet and I'd love to have met you!" spilled in a torrent from El's mouth.

Velshia was almost impressed as to how a bastion of naivety had somehow lasted this long. Akorra fumbled out, "I'm…uh, muh name's Akorra."

"Akorra. Akorrrra. Oh, how delightful! We'll be fast friends, I'm sure. Have you seen what we wear? Let's get it on. Need to make sure you're ready for tonight. Who knows, maybe tonight will be the night for you or me!"

Velshia let El ramble on as Akorra got swept up in the tidal wave of energy. El was young. Human with a small face but large amber eyes and the beginnings of an hourglass body. Mousey brown hair framed numerous freckles around her eyes. Allowing the camera in the room to record normally, Velshia mentally added El, the 'roomie,' to her web of possibilities. 'Strangers were friends you just haven't met yet.' A quaint notion that was almost mirrored by an idiom of Intelligence: 'strangers were assets you just haven't figured out how to exploit yet.' Velshia smiled on the inside. This was going to be simply wonderful.
 
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Quake

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[01000101 01010010 01000001 01000100 00100000 01001001 00101101 00110110]


An hour had passed since I-6 had began its surveillance of the police station. Within that time, it had located a glaring weakness in the department's operations: dropbots. Originally designed for basic autonomous jobs, the Camilla City station had employed these flying beetle-shaped machines as street security, outfitting them with cameras and non-lethal deterrents. Every thirty minutes, these drones had returned from their designated patrols and plugged themselves into exterior ports on the station, downloading all the footage they gathered up into the department's record system. I-6 had seen dropbots put into service in a similar manner before, but they had been used for assistance with securing private organizations, not policing entire city blocks. It was possible that Camilla City's central branch simply didn't have the manpower for actual patrols, but dropbots were hardly an upgrade. Was law enforcement really that low of a priority for the rich citizens of Camilla City? The lawlessness the AI had seen in the short time on the planet all but answered that question.

Slipping into an alley off the main street, I-6 laid in wait until one of the flying patrols came around the corner. The moment it did, the AI snatched it out of the air, forcing a virus into the machine's top port before heading further back into the alley so as not to draw attention. The ERAD was a large machine, but it was deceptively quick. A few buzzes and garbled beeps later, the patrol bot's defense and alarm system finished shorting and it's engines idled out, sorting itself into standby mode. What I-6 had done was nothing special. Dropbots were notoriously unsecure; older models even moreso. Anyone with a webpad and a brain could hack one, which made using them for law enforcement all the more questionable. Regardless, I-6 would have it's questions answered soon enough. A few moment's passed as the two machines synced together, blue pulses emitting from their visual ports in rapid succession.

•[Access Granted.]

It was time to begin. The first step I-6 took involved a scan of the individual machine’s video logs. Nil. I-6 scanned the system again, searching for hidden files or records hidden behind firewalls or special keywords. Even though the patrol drone had just finished an upload to the department's main system, there should have still been stored backups or at least residual files. And yet, the results remained the same. Perhaps CCPD protocol directed that the drones delete their own files upon upload for security reasons. I-6 delved deeper, checking the specialized coding files for such an order. Dropbots of the same model all shared the same base codes, but would always have specialized coding and software installed by their owners depending on the type of job they were performing. Storage dropbots held filing orders, cooking dropbots had recipes, programming dropbots had troubleshooting orders, and so on. There was always something, even if it was just an error.



•[Accessing Coding 255.]
•[Generating Technical Code: 131_1_1E Security.]
•[CCPD hardware 001.]
•[Generating Available Orders.]
•[Results Returned: 1.]
•[Accessing Directive...]

Having read the single order, It became clear to the ERAD what was going on. It had been fooled. These weren’t security dropbots. They were just the base machines coated in paint and stamped with a CCPD branch logo. They weren’t even connected to the department's database, and their single line of code had been looped, causing them to repeatedly fly from point to point at regular intervals. The AI had suspected something was off, and now it's theory had been confirmed. The whole thing was a sham meant to make the city appear safe and secure. If I-6 wanted real information, it would need to manually enter the police facility and download the information from the main hub. The process seemed simple enough. If the dropbots were any representation of what the local law enforcement had to offer, than the ERAD could likely just brute force it's way through the building. Unfortunately, Velshia's orders had been clear. They were only to observe and gather information. I-6 would have to find another way.

As I-6 finished up with the bot, Velshia's message came through, paired with the information she had uncovered. The ERAD immediately shifted gears. The local law enforcement was no longe a priority. Lang had been located, and getting him was all that mattered. I-6 suspected any information he discovered from the police database would likely lead to Lang anyways. Either way, it was time to act. Downloading the last fragments of useable information, I-6 set a time delay on the drone, leaving it on the ground nearby. In a few moments it would reboot and continue it’s ‘patrol' as if nothing had happened. I-6 turned and left the alley, slipping back into the crowds as it headed north. With a location in mind, it wouldn't take long to reach it's destination. There it would rendezvous with Elazar before heading to the nightclub to carry out the next phase of the plan. The AI quickened it's pace.

The dropbots had been a waste of time...

01010000 01100101 01110010 01101000 01100001 01110000 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01110111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100110 01110010 01110101 01110011 01110100 01110010 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00101110

 
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muffinphobia

dancing witch
elAzAr : weApons mAster
Only about twenty minutes had to pass before Elazar realized his chosen method of information gathering was faulty at best. He grunted in irritation and began the work of wiggling himself out from behind the statue he’d hidden in. Once he was free, hanging off the edge of one of the gaping mouths with his fingertips, he activated his jetpack once again and carefully maneuvered to the ground. A few moments later his boots had touched grimy pavement once again. He deactivated the jetpack function altogether and the thrusters disappeared, along with the activation button as he tossed it somewhat carelessly back into his pack. His failure, even though minor when considering the larger scope of the mission, displeased him. It wouldn’t do to be taking missteps so early on, not at all.

He needed to reconsider his strategy. I-6 and Velshia had not yet made contact, and considering they hadn’t been planetside for all that long he did not disturb them. Surely one of them was having more luck. Instead, he wound his way through the crowded streets, looking for a hostel or an inn, anywhere that he could set up without drawing too much attention to himself. He’d nearly made it back to the landing bay when he finally spotted it: a rapidly blinking neon “Vacancy” sign in front of a sad, squalid building that was smushed between two skyscrapers. It was as though the engineers of the city had simply forgotten it. He took a deep breath, crossed the street, and stepped inside.

The sight that greeted him was somehow even more depressing. The entire place was dimly lit and dingy, a low ceiling hanging overhead. Everything in sight, from the walls to the sparse furniture scattered about the tiny lobby, had probably been white at some point but was now various shades of beige and brown. Elazar swallowed around the rage-induced lump in his throat and stepped towards the reception desk. A bored-looking Zharian was seated on a tall stool behind the counter, her beady eyes glued to a small television set in the corner without really seeing it. From the glazed expression on her face, he guessed her to be under the influence of something.

”Can I help you?” she asked without looking up, boredom coloring her tone.

“I need a room for two nights.”

“Fine. Fill out the paperwork,” she said, pushing a datapad across the counter to him. He thought he saw a small bug crawl out of the small cooling vent. “I’ll need an ID and a copy of–”

“No,” he said flatly. He pulled up his sleeve and held the bracelet comprised of his Biobank’s vines over the owner’s rather sad-looking plant, initiating a transfer worth double the rate. She finally looked up at him. “Two nights. No questions.”

Her eyebrow arched slightly, but she merely turned away, reaching for the wall of keycards behind her. After a moment she selected one and activated it by tapping it against her desk. ”Room 16. Don’t you be bringing any funny business into my inn.”

Elazar accepted the keycard and turned away without further comment. A hallway to the left of the reception desk led him to his room, which was situated next to a fire escape. That could prove…useful. He let himself inside and almost immediately the edge of the bed made contact with his shins. He cursed quietly as the door swung shut behind him. The room was unbelievably tiny. He barely had room to shuffle around the edges of the bed to what he assumed was the door leading to the restroom. A bare, flickering lightbulb above a surprisingly clean sink and toilet confirmed his thoughts.

He dropped his pack on the edge of the bed, choosing to ignore how it caused a puff of dust to rise up into the air, and reached behind his ears in order to disengage his mask. There was a hiss of pressure being released and then it had come free. He tossed it down beside his bag and stepped into the restroom, looking into the mirror. The face that glared back at him was a perfect copy of his sister’s, though his hair was shaggy and black where hers was longer and dyed dark blue. Or at least, he assumed it still was. He resisted the urge to put his fist through the glass and turned the light off as a ping from his datapad reached his ears.

He slammed the bathroom door shut and dropped onto the edge of the bed, causing another, bigger puff of dust to explode. Coughing, he reached into his pack and pulled out the ‘pad to see an encrypted message from Velshia. Excitement sparked in his chest at first, but the further he got into reading it, the more he began to wish he hadn’t opened it at all. It was excellent news that she’d located the Jackrabbit so quickly, of course, but her plan of action for gathering intel left a lot to be desired in his mind. He highly doubted he’d be able to play the part of handsy, flirtatious patron well short of actually getting hammered out of his mind. But…she’d gotten them this far. Resigned, he scrolled to the bottom of her lengthy report and typed a single word in response: Tonight.
 

Presea_cousin

Edgebabby
Invitation Status
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  2. Looking for partners
Posting Speed
  1. Multiple posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per week
Writing Levels
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  2. Elementary
  3. Intermediate
  4. Adept
  5. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Primarily Prefer Female
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Above Lustre, a small shuttle pulled out of hyperspeed drive and flew above the planet. It had a specific destination in mind: The Lustrian Scrap Yard. "Cirele Putt, Log XII. We have just exited hyperspeed and are approaching the scrapyard where, according to several of my sources, who shall remain anonymous, a very infamous ship was about to be scrapped. The Cotopaxi!" The captain (as well sole resident) of the shuttle spoke into a recorder around her neck as she flew closer to an array of floating wrecks and debris. "However, just a few short hours ago, footage leaked of what appeared to be the Cotopaxi warping away from the scrapyard. How did this happen? How is it possible that ship still flies? And where did it go? That is what I aim to answer.." As she got closer, she sent out a communication towards the scrapyard. She had set up a meeting on there with the foreman, under the guise that it was a documentary for recycling and scrapping operations when really she just needed a way in. However the answer she received was different than what she was expecting.


"Shuttle Hi-pixel, please turn around and leave this space area." A very authoritative voice spoke back after answering her communication. Oh dear, guess she should've expected the Lustrian military was still present.


"I have a prior appointment with the foreman. If you would just allow dock-"


"Shuttle Hi-pixel, leave this space area. The scrapyard is currently under investigation. It will not be taking any visitors! This is your final warning."


Cirele furrowed her brow and sighed. "Understood, shuttle Hi-pixel out." She said as she lowered her speed and began to move away. She flew out at a different angle to get around some of the debris and that's when she spotted them: Lustrian Frigates. And ones in operation, not there for scrap. They were in position near the scrapyard, turning away any reporter ships away as they performed their own investigation. Well this had derailed her plan a bit, but it certainly made the entire area much MUCH more enticing..


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About an hour later, Cirele was headed back towards the scrapyard. But this time not in her shuttle, that was on a programmed course around Lustrian space until she sent a signal for it. No, now she was just in a space suit, clutching onto one of her camera drones that been fitted with thrusters to act like a space version of a sea scooter. Her metal signature now much smaller, the scanners wouldn't be able to differentiate her between all then scrap floating around. It was much slower going, but she had gone through worse on investigations. To fill the time, she had downloaded what official statements had been made regarding the Cotopaxi. Of course everyone was suspecting a new Resistance might be involved. The Lustrian government had made statement of "these were the actions of a single individual, who is thought to have recovered it for its value as a historical artifact." That made some sense. It was a famous capital ship after all, a museum exhibit would be more fitting than the scrap heap. But that was doubtful. Cirele wondered how many people were even buying that story.


Now moving freely around the scrapyard, Cirele skirted around the various disabled ships and spare debris. Despite the Lustrian's efforts, trying to lock down such an open and scattered scrap area was near impossible, allowing Cirele to weave between all the wreckage to reach the heart of the Scrapyard. She avoided the main building which was obviously filled with government officials taking all kinds of photos and other 'protocol investigation' stuff, and instead headed to where she saw some sparks lighting up. It led her to right what she was looking for: A scrap worker. He seemed to be using a plasma torch to cut a ship's hull by hand, seemingly while the larger machinery was under inspection.


"Excuse me." Cirele spoke through an open transceiver frequency, a local one meant to mimic talking in a normal atmosphere. This meant that the worker would be able to hear her even in space. The worker soon turned around, a look of surprise that someone had come out to him. He seemed like the naïve sort, the type to not immediately sell her out, so she truthfully introduced herself. "My name is Cirele Putt, from the Putt-om Line newsblog. I'd like to ask you some questions."


The worker put down his scrapping equipment. "Ummm, sure. I'm not really all that important, but I'll try to answer."


"Excellent! So first off, your name? Don't worry, yours will be kept confidential, this is strictly for my own records."


"I'm Takeo Nulli. I'm a salvager here on Lustre."


"Great, so.." Cirele got serious. "What do you know about the incident yesterday of the Cotopaxi disappearing?"


"The Coto- oh, that ship that flew off. Ummm, I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about-" there was a soft >thunk< against Takeo's helmet as Cirele had just tossed a container of galactic credits. Clearly a bribe, which Takeo grabbed immediately. "Okay, so I didn't get a good look at the ship myself. I only started here a few weeks ago. In fact, I'm technically on probation right now after a near accident-" That explained him taking the bribe. Poor guy probably needed every credit he could get. "But one of my superiors was in charge of breaking it up. I think he went inside it, I don't know why, maybe inspection? Checking for explosives? Oof, I need to remember what our protocols are. But anyway, after he got on, our station started picking up chatter about Lustrian Defense Forces coming for him."


"Do you know why? Was he a known criminal or something?"


Takeo paused to think. "Well, this scrapyard IS kinda a place for wash outs, college drop outs, and the like. But I remember hearing he was a graduate, so no, not a criminal."


"Okay, then do you know why the defense forces were after him?"


"Maybe they wanted to stop the salvage on the ship? After we received communications from the forces, our boss told us to get inside the scrapyard outpost and not to move or talk to anyone. Though I think I heard them ask if anyone was with him. Maybe there was another reporter like you or something here earlier?"


Cirele jotted that down, though she would be miffed if there was a reporter out there getting to scoops before she did. "Okay, and then afterwards the ship flew?"


"Warped. Opened a wormhole right in the scrapyard. Actually we're surprised that didn't tear any of the outpost apart."


"But Lustre has really advanced technology, surely they would've tracked it down easily then."


"I don't know any further details. I know the Cotopaxi warped, the Lustrian ships warped, but then the Lustrian ships came back here empty handed. Then they asked us pretty much what you're asking me now, but no one else here has any other information."


"Hmm, so it must've done something to lose them after the first warp.." Cirele scratched the top of her helmet, despite it not really doing anything. "One last question: What was the name of this superior that went aboard the Cotopaxi?"


"I guess I can say it. I assume Lustre will make a statement asking for him eventually. His name was Perseus. Perseus….Galaxy? Giant? Something that begins with a G. Perseus G. Pretty sure he was Lustrian."

~*~*~*~*~*~


Another hour later and Cirele was back on her ship, having activated a beacon so it could pick her up again from the fringes of the scrapyard. she had said goodbye to Takeo, given him a few extra credits for all the trouble, and assured him his name wouldn't make it out. She looked over the transcript her mic recorded as well as some post-interview notes she had made. There was definitely a story here with the Cotopaxi, but she was missing too many details. Why did it still work? Who really took the Cotopaxi away? And how did they outmanuever several working order frigates? And the big one: Where was it now? Cirele looked at the clue of a name she had. No announcements had been made yet regarding a wanted 'Perseus G.', but she had some search engines combing through news articles and databases to try and find anyone by that name. Meanwhile she was left with a choice. Should she publish that she knew it was someone named Perseus G.? Hmm, but that wasn't much of a headline to identify the name. And that Takeo kid was right, it might become public knowledge soon anyway. Cirele sighed as she put her ship into autopilot and afterwards pulled up a keyboard and began to write.


[The Putt-om Line]

Article 213

"Resistance Ghost Takes Flight"



Late yesterday, above the cloudy skies of Lustre, the famed ship of the old Resistance, the Cotopaxi was scheduled for scrap. The Cotopaxi is most well known for its roles in the Empire/Resistance war 30 years ago as well as taking part in the Paranoia War against the Khivux. After peace summits were held, the Cotopaxi had fallen in obscure mystery, disappearing from the public eye. Many tall tales tried to explain away the disappearance. Some thought it was thrown into a sun. Others theorized it was dismantled to look for cutting edge Resistance tech. And some thought King Regulus Brandt of the Neydis system bought it for his Magic-Galaxy theme park.



All were proven wrong when the Cotopaxi made an appearance at none other than a scrapyard of all places. But just before this fabled ship could be torn apart to be recycled into non-perishable food cans, a wormhole warp was initiated from it and it warped away, disappearing into myth once more.



Is this a sign of a new force? Is this just the work of artifact bandits? Or was the Cotopaxi a ghost all along? Stay subscribed as this intrepid reporter pursues this 'ghost' across the universe.



Nothing really grounding breaking in the article, but Cirele was keeping what little cards she had close to her chest. The Cotopaxi disappearing was going to be news everywhere. The real scoop was going to be finding it after this point. Cirele pushed her keyboard away and leaned back in her chair. It was going to take a lot of combing around to find a lead..