OPEN SIGNUPS The Phoenix Nebula


dancing witch

If this lady was trying to piss him off it was sure as shit working! Yeah, maybe he blew more stuff up than the average crew member, but someone had to keep things interesting around here! He bristled when the security guards who had shown up started subtly eyeballing him as she mentioned the chaos and “problems” he caused. “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said through gritted teeth. And then she was saying something about Gabi deciding to give him the boot. Yeah, right! She would never do that! The captain valued his abilities…but hey, wait a second, how the hell did this lady know so much, anyway? He’d never seen her before in his frickin’ life! Either way, he wanted to put his shortsword through her stupid face. He’d just about had enough of her assumptions and condescending chatter. The opportunity presented itself in the form of her rushing at them. The guards fell back and kept firing at her, but Blaster charged forward, his shortsword aimed at the place he’d just been daydreaming about cutting through. After all, there were two other intruders somewhere. The captain didn’t need all of them.



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The Chosen Hand
The Messenger of Ink and Blood
The Herald of the Holy, Destined to Sail the Stars~~

~A bit before the attack~

People were staring. It was always stares here. People staring and shuffling out of the way as Harli walked through the halls of the Resistance base towards the docking bay. It wasn't because of her white pale skin or her long, dangly fingers that were twice the length of most other humanoid races. It had everything to do with that look on her face. Her wide eyed, too-big grinning face. But she just couldn't stop it. Especially as she entered the docking bay and she laid eyes on what she had only heard legends of: The Cotopaxi. Her people's savior. A sacred ark.

"As I live and breathe. And breathe in the air of my god.." She murmured to herself as she walked closer to the Cotopaxi, gazing up at the ship as she took it all in, burning its silhouette into her memory. Standing close to the ship, she reached out with her long fingers to touch the hull. "Ahhh!" She shuddered as she placed her hand against the hull. One would think she might've been shocked or the hull burned her. But no, nothing. Her hand was completely fine. She was just feeling elated at having touched what she considered a holy relic. "Alos enff anim hala coto einnn.." Harli murmured, praying in some of her native tongue.

A dock member moving some supplies on board spoke up near her. "'Scuse me ma'am, but can you please move? You're in the way-"

"SHUT UP!!" Harli screeched, turning to face the simple worker. Her face had turned from a serene smile of elation to a contorted face of an anger. The worker didn't even respond and shuffled away immediately. Harli flipped back to the hull, continuing to pray as everyone else in the dock gave her a ten foot berth.

Eventually Harli managed to peel herself away from the hull of the Cotopaxi to instead walk inside its sacred halls. The hallways were crowded with personel and cargo moving in all sorts of directions. Everyone was hustling to get this ship up and running, some looking like they had 50 things on their minds, others looking like they just picked up a box and were told to run in a random direction. Harli meanwhile was the exact opposite to all the busybodies, instead walking at a slow, graceful stride, like she was in the middle of ballet instead of the halls of a warship. Her hands were clasped in front of her, her lips rapidly moving as she kept murmuring prayers of admiration and awe as she walked along the metal corridors. To her, every light fixture was a promise of bright futures, every ding and hiss of machinery and repairs was holy cacophony to usher in peace, every rivet and solder was a message of unity and healing. Many of the other workers had tried to tell her to get out of the way or to speed up, but Harli was too stuck in her own mind to even yell at them, and soon everyone just resorted to skirting around her. Harli's slow pace did eventually get her to the bridge. Her smile only grew as she stepped into what she would consider an epicenter of a holy crusade. Even the captain's chair was regal looking.

Harli walked to her given station, the Head Communications/Navigation workstation, and relieved the temporary member who had been firing everything up and making sure all the equipment was ready for her. Harli spun in her chair for a bit, just to get a look at what she would be seeing from now on aboard the holy vessel. She grinned as the bridge had been designed perfectly so she could still see much of it from her own station. She turned back to her desk and reached into her robes, pulling out a journal. She then also pulled out a pen as well as a long vial of ink and set them aside on her console. Picking up her pen and filling the ink reservoir from her vial, she began to write in her journal.

'Amid hums and din of machine,

Amid the whispers and chatter of the living,

On this day, a Holy Star will plunge into a dark galaxy once more,

Showering the worlds in its trail with blessed peace.'

Harli was so engrossed in her authoring of new scripture, that she entirely missed that the Captain had come up onto the bridge. What she did not miss was someone broadcasting a message through the Cotopaxi, calling out 'fugitives and renegades.' Harli nearly snapped her pen in her hand, her face contorting with anger. "HOW DARE THEY! Who are these HEATHENS called Akkanar's Blood!? They dare spout their filthy words in this hallowed ship!! By the four moons of my home planet, they should be purged and purified in the fires of X-Chasm's sun!" Harli was now standing, arms wide as she was damning the intruders, which certainly wasn't helping the other bridge crew that were scurrying in confusion. Only when their captain spoke did Harli shush and turn to listen to orders. Gabi Burnett. How dare anyone name her a renegade or fugitive. To Harli, Gabi was about to be the brave captain that would soon lead a ship of destiny into a dark sea of stars. Ooh, that was good, Harli would have to write that into her scripture later.

Harli sat back into her chair and got to work. First she made sure all communication channels were opened and given command to Gabi, then began hailing Dr. Meadows on the comms. "Dr. Meadows, come in. The exalted Captain has given orders to prep the Med Bay. There may be incoming patients." Harli waited for a response from the doctor, as well as repeating it for good measure. Harli kept it going, but then noticed something odd. It wasn't any alarm or notification, but as she was keeping an eye on all the other communication channel readouts, it looked like some messages and reports were coming in slightly slower than when she had first sat down. "That's not right. The holy vessel is too new(ly reconstructed) to be experiencing such problems already.." Harli began opening different diagnostic tools and started examining the communication channels in higher detail. There was something in here, and Harli wasn't going to stop until she had purged the intrusion.


Original poster

// And what do you want // I want to change //

Gabi had looked so damned confident. So confident. Like she had done this all before. Like her life wasn't hanging in the balance. Good lord, she had started barking out orders like a drill sergeant while the rest of the bridge had been asking if it was all a drill!
Gone was that hesitant woman that she had let slip to him. This was Gabi's game face. This was the captain of the Cotopaxi.
Perseus' heart grew warm with pride and adoration. He wanted to follow her, to do what he could to help-

Then she was gone.
And the alarms continued.
And Perseus realised he had absolutely nothing to contribute.
He stood there as informatics crew battled in cyberspace, as the security squadron erected barriers at defensible positions and prepared to lay down their lives to defend the bridge, as the non-combatants filed out, rushing to the canteen-
The canteen. The ship's large, defensible canteen.
Perseus joined the other non-combatants.

By the time Perseus had passed through the command corridor and reached the canteen through hastily erected security checkpoints, Perseus' heartbeat was loud in his ears, and he felt his breath shake in his throat. Grinding noises and emergency klaxons reverberated through the hull. Perseaus heard, far off, the tell-tale grinding of bulkhead doors sealing themselves closed.
This wasn't right. This wasn't right.
The ship was still in dock! There were no damage reports coming in for Perseus to see to or atmosphere alarms for him to check on. Everything he had expected regarding combat on the ship had gone out the window the moment the alarms had started blaring.
The canteen was a cacophony of action tinged with panic. People were getting behind ballistic cover hastily erected by the security amongst upended tables and scattered chairs. Everywhere he looked, people were asking each other how these boarders hit them in the heart of Resistance space, before they had even got off the ground.

Perseus gulped and headed toward a cluster of engineer-orange clad crewmembers, before realising that now was the time to show leadership. Perseus hastily tuned his comms to the engineering and maintenance channel and sent an all hands transmission to the people that were in his department, praying his voice didn't sound as shaky as it felt.
"Engineers, stay away from all reports of combat and congregate in the canteen. We'll only get in the way of the security teams if we interfere with repelling the boarders. Buddy up and look after each other with your shift-partners. Assist if you can with the construction of ballistic cover, but don't take any risks." Perseus finished, swallowing fear. Thankfully, the bulk of the security team was here, so the perimeter should be a tough nut to crack. Of course, that's not to say he wasn't putting everyone in danger simply by being here... A knot of guilt twisted in Perseus' stomach. Was he subconsciously using these people as human shields? Should he give up, to prevent his crewmates from being harmed?

The moment it looks like it might be them or me, I'll give myself up. No human shields. Not if I can prevent it.

// And what have you got // when you feel the same //
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Fantasy, Scifi.
The Good Doctor
Reginald looked over, for the fifth time, the staff members who had managed to make their way to the medical bay. All told, four members. Dr. Kilshaw, Nurse Meganin, Nurse Colb, and Orderly Maverly. Non-department members added another three. Two marines by the names of Dot and Dit. Twins, apparently. And Mr. Macklimara who had crawled out of the service access port at an incredible speed, screaming about a horrendous silver monstrosity that was oozing at blinding speeds through said service ways. Nurse Meganin had successfully calmed him down and Dot had sealed the service hatch off. Though ensured that its immediate interior could be remotely monitored in case any other crew members came that way. Reginald had a sinking feeling as to who the silver "ooze" might be. However, dealing with the agent of chaos would have to wait.

His communicator rang and he responded to Ms. Harli's relay of the captain's orders that he, and what staff he had, were indeed more than ready to accept potential patients. That the assigned security had reached them. And they were awaiting further instructions. With people in the office and a task to do, Reginald was able to suppress his own fears. Harli's voice was suddenly distracted. Referring to some problem. Dr. Meadows said his farewell and closed the line. Let the head of Info. do their job and he'd get back to his. Which was, unsurprisingly, waiting for casualties to stream in.


dancing witch
The Jackrabbit Chronicles, Chapter 1
Co-written by Verran, Quake, and muffinphobia

Velshia’s brain was rushing. The guards and the hulking Rauncorn had moved in. El was just around the corner and completely oblivious to what she was about to stumble in on. Both I-6 and Elazar were getting into gear. But, oh, she thought, that delicious tidbit of information! So wonderful! So perfect! Who could have foreseen it? Again, Cassadrel showers her blessings in such beautiful ways.

She now had her hand. Stacked against her opponent. Now it was a matter of playing the cards correctly. I-6 and Elazar were raring to start the brawl. Too soon. They needed to get closer to the Jackrabbit. To prevent, or radically decrease, his time to start hopping out. So, how to do it, how to do it. Oh but of course, she thought, it’s a matter of changing the narrative.

After all, if she had been made by the Jackrabbit, all one had to do was own up to it. Just, not in a matter they expected. She whispered, “follow my lead.”

Immediately, Velshia changed her position. Uncurling somewhat into what was undeniably a lounging position. Her tears were gone. A soft cat’s smile was playing across her face that she flicked towards the mercenaries. “Really now,” she purred, “it took your boss this long to act? My, my, he must be losing his touch.”

“Valkorav,” she gave Elazar a meaningful pinch on his back, “give the nice big one our banking iterant. You’ll find 400,000 credits on it that should serve as my opening bid on Mr. Lang’s…item.”

Velshia enjoyed the confused glances the guards began throwing each other. If she was lying, then they would want to attack all the more. But if she was telling the truth, well…it would certainly get the big rabbit’s attention.

Elazar shot Velshia a withering glance - Valkorav, honestly - and removed his arm from around her waist. He leaned forward and grasped the handle of the briefcase that I-6 had been carrying when they’d walked in, his eyes on the guards as he did so. In one fluid movement he’d left his spot on the couch and now stood directly in front of the shorter guard. He wordlessly handed it over and resumed lounging on the couch beside Velshia, his arm casually draped over the back, though the look in his eyes was anything but relaxed.

Fortunately, one of the mercenaries did have a security scanner on him and, after they ran it over the case, delicately opened it. Connecting the iternant to his pad, big-boy gave a curt nod. Velshia’s smile broadened. They would need to check on the situation. She rose, drawing Elazar with her. “Well then, shall we go see your boss?”

“We’ll need to check first,” the man replied. The guards gripped tightly to their shocking, and paltry, weaponry. This was already not going to their designs. He contacted the Jackrabbit while the others kept wary watch on the party. The big brute had turned away, not letting her even a chance to read his lips. Unfortunately for him, Velshia could read his body language. The bunny-boy wasn’t buying it. He had somewhat shifted his pistol to easier access. Likely, the Jackrabbit was ordering the mercs to take them out back, gun them down, and take the money. How crude. How predictable.

He turned back, gruffing out, “boss wants to keep deals private. Says he’ll meet you upstairs. Come on then, I’ll bring you.”

“But of course,” Velshia purred. The big man didn’t even ask their names. And they wouldn’t even go all the way outside it seems! Not to mention that Jacky was planning on slinking into his little bunker. Ah, the price of information. Velshia casually mouthed the words: I have you. Do it.

One of the mercenaries cocked his head, reading her lips and trying to understand. An instant too slow. His head jerked sideways under a sudden blow, distracting his fellow. Unnoticed and completely forgotten by everybody, save for Velshia, El had come close. And had heard the entire conversation. Her face was completely different from the bubbly cheer she had greeted the agent with. It was feral, desperate, and wholly committed into this course of action. Velshia could admit that she was wrong in her first reading of the girl. It was not innocence or ignorance that kept that face smiling, but raw desperation to find a means of salvation. Of escape. And Velshia had so casually dropped such figures and displayed such an attitude change that El’s little mind had come to the conclusion that she was a big roller. One that, if El could find a way of being of use, might just get her out of this hellhole.

In that instant of distraction, Velshia surged forward, hands whipping like water snakes to the skulls of the two guards. While her psionic skill lay chiefly in delicate operations and the picking apart of brains, applying it with the brute force of a sledge hammer led to a, usually temporary, catatonic state. Both men’s eyes rolled into the back of their heads and collapsed to the floor. As they did, Velshia’s other two hands slipped free one of the men’s pistols and grabbed the suitcase of cash. Wasting no time, she ordered, “the Jackrabbit will be making a play for his bunker first. Elazar, stop him. I-6, throw Elazar up there to give him a head start. Then let’s get clearing a path.”

"But of course."

Cold steel clamped down on Elazar's shoulder, scrunching up the hunter's sleeve tightly under its iron grip.

“Warning: Medical advisory recommends bending your knees for this next part.”

Taking a large step forwards, the ERAD cranked its arm back momentarily, servos spinning up with a shrill whine before the INS Ophelia’s weaponmaster was rocketed high into the air towards the club’s second level. A perfect throw; I-6 had stifled its strength perfectly to just barely avoid launching Elazar through the roof. A faster way, sure, but somehow the bot suspected their team’s grumpy assassin wouldn’t care for it all that much. Or at all.

As Elazar moved out of view, I-6 turned to face El, registering her vitals with a quick scan. She would be added to the system’s Protection Protocol until the mission was over. Although, judging by her recent actions, it didn’t seem as though she would need much fussing over. For now, a more vital issue was rapidly descending upon the trio from every corner of the room.

[Shifting to Combat Phase.]

Turning its attention to the Jackrabbit’s men, I-6’s arm shields came to life with an orange glow; its right hand now sporting the Boltane 004, the drone’s signature firearm. Designed to resemble a six shooter of old, the relic-inspired weapon boasted an unsuspecting yet outrageous amount of firepower; its first three shots blowing searing craters through its targets the size of softballs. Opposing shots rang out in response, but I-6’s barriers and auto-rapid reaction speed picked them up as it began crossing the dancefloor, meticulously removing the oncoming threats one by one.
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dancing witch
The Jackrabbit Chronicles, Chapter 2
Co-written by Verran, Quake, and muffinphobia

Elazar had had the presence of mind to grab the other unconscious guard’s pistol prior to being launched through the air by his companion. He landed on the catwalk in a crouch and straightened immediately, footsteps pounding as he ran in the only direction it made sense for the bunker to be. As he rounded the corner, there the filth was, frantically typing a passcode into a small datapad by a garish, ornate door that looked to be extremely thick. Elazar raised the pistol and fired at the datapad, causing it to spark and singe the Jackrabbit’s fingers.

He cursed and, in the same instant, flicked his right leg. At blinding speed, he kicked out a cylindrical device at Elazar. A helmet unfolded itself from underneath his shirt just before the flashbang grenade detonated just as it reached where Elazar stood. Elazar made a dive for the wall he’d just come around and was partially successful - he avoided being blinded but the force of the blast knocked him on his stomach. A high-pitched whistle filled his ears, and if he’d had any breath he would have sworn. Not wasting any time, the Jackrabbit shot off as fast as his namesake. Whipping out his own laser pistol, he fired round after round at Elazar’s cover. However, his goal wasn’t to kill, but merely keep his opponent down as he shot for the exit.

Meanwhile, Velshia calmly strode through pandemonium. There were shouts and screams as bullets and lasers flew through the air. Despite how relaxed her gait was, she moved with a striking lithe quickness that saw her weaving about the tables with ease. Keeping to the shield shadow of the powerful machine in front of her. So far, she hadn’t even needed to shoot a single shot. El scurrying on in her wake. “I-6,” Velshia spoke, calm and to the point, “project likely escape paths from the fourth floor that the Jackrabbit can reach. Access to routes where he can lose us in should be prioritized. Move to intercept. Then provide access to your maintenance panel J-7. I will need to input programing to the various systems under my control.”

Acknowledging the orders, the ERAD death machine slowed to a halt, its back ports clicking open with a snappy hiss as soon as the team reached a defensible corner. Bits of blood and flesh now stained the AI's frame; stray rounds snagging and peeling flecks of paint off the bot's chassis.The assault drone had been busy, and now possessed a dancefloor massacre to show for it.Through it all, I-6's defenses had remained steadfast; an everlasting bulwark against a torrential hail of opposing enemy firepower.

"Visible are all known exits leading from this place."

I-6 had summoned the building's floor plans, casting them onto the ground for the team to analyze. "While I am unable to predict specifics, these three exits generate the highest possibility for escape." Paths lit up green as the drone spoke. "The first accesses the roof, where he may try to lose us in a chase.The second wraps around and exits out into a side street; only two blocks from a nearby slum. This third path: a connection to a skybridge splitting off deeper into Camilla City."

As I-6 explained through the noise, a new volley of gunfire ferociously ripped across the club, lurching and knocking it off balance and onto its hands. Immediately, every alarm and notification went off, glitching and sending a violent shock through the system. I-6 knew immediately. Heavy explosive rounds.Their available time had just been cut in half. ERAD shields could withstand just about anything, but even an endless barrage of focused explosions eventually took its toll. Fortunately for now, it would only take half a second for I-6 to recover, its shields surging back to life as it stood upright once more.

Internal Damage Sustained.
Attempting to Repair…
Remaining Shields: 63% and falling.

Above, Elazar was dimly aware of the rounds being fired at him - he could hear them ricocheting off the metal wall he was hidden behind, though it sounded as if they were being shot from a great distance to his still-ringing ears. He scrambled to his feet, a stray plasma ray singeing his abdomen as he did so. He hissed in irritation and, when there was a pause in the firing, chanced a peek around the corner. The sight that greeted him only furthered his vexation: the damned rabbit had abandoned his bunker plan and was now hightailing it for a ladder on the opposite side of the catwalk marked “ROOF ACCESS.” The ringing in his ears nearly gone now, he took off after him. He raised his blaster and fired at the somewhat fragile-looking joints in his mechanical legs. As he did so, he spoke into his comm. “He’s escaping. Roof.”

Velshia hummed her approval over the comms. Taking quick aim, she fired several energy bolts straight at the HE enemy blasting I-6. He dropped after one hit his shoulder and then the other punched his chest. Everything was falling perfectly into mission parameters. Well, her mission parameters. She thrust the pistol into El’s shaking hands with the words, “shoot anyone who even thinks to shoot at us.”

Then she got to work. I-6’s provided access gave her the ability to reach the city’s network. She noted that I-6 had already brought some drones into the area to increase surveillance. Well and good, but she planned to go bigger. Quite a bit bigger. It’d cause a scene but, well, bit too late for discretion anyway. A pleasant smile graced her lips as her four hands drummed out lines of text on the interface. The raging panic, the explosives, the Jackrabbit’s flight were all so thoroughly accounted for that she didn’t even need to pretend to not be nervous. Velshia finished her text and, with a flourished stroke, sent it across the city. Immediately, drones, so easily overlooked by everyone, including herself for a time, changed their course. They flew, with increasing speed, towards the club. Programmed to sort every mobile entity into four categories: non-combatants, allies, enemies, and the hare himself. Non-combatants were to be avoided. Enemies were anyone fighting or shooting at the allies and were to be mercilessly pummeled by the drones at the highest speed they could achieve. The allies were herself, Elazar, and I-6. The hare was obvious and he was to be hammered at a force that was non-lethal. However, they were programmed to wait in as many out of sight alleys as possible for two minutes before striking to build up sufficient numbers. Velshia keyed her comm again, “Elazar, track and attempt to take down the Jackrabbit. Continually relay GPS location. We will join you momentarily.”

Speaking to I-6 directly, “I-6, I must confess that neither myself nor this compatriot will likely be able to keep up with the necessary pace. As such, I must request that you carry us. After self-repairs are complete, of course.”

A bright flash from the ERAD's eyes confirmed the command. The AI's self repair protocols had kicked in the moment damage was sustained, but mission priorities now forced them onto the system operation's backburner. The damage I-6 had received was substantial, but neither Velshia’s nor even Angstrom’s orders could supersede the programming mantra the Empire had installed onto the bot: Mission First, Team Second.There was no self; not in the order of priorities at least, and this meant repairs would have to wait. With Camilla City's drone population now rapidly descending onto the nightclub, the entire district was set to become a warzone; a flooded commotion of bots and bullets. Velshia's programming might’ve ensured their team wouldn't be targeted, but chaos always invited unpredictability; unknown variables the ERAS AI would simply rather not have to plan around.

The fight carried on, with I-6's aim continuing to prove superior time and time again. With each takedown, the drone searched for an opening that fell within its accepted parameters for success. Negative. Negative. Negative. Neg-Positive! The ERAD broke its stationary defense, rushing forwards and hurling a nearby seating booth across the room towards a cluster of enemies. Soaring through the air, the impact saw the seats violently explode, charged by a set of loaded shells from the bot's firearm that had been rapidly stuffed into the seat cracks just moments earlier. As wood flecks, shrapnel and burnt leather rained down, the droid dropped down onto its face, its limbs splitting apart into twelve separate, insect-like appendages. The ERAD had bought a moment. However fleeting, It was time to go.

Scooping Velshia and El onto its back, I-6's four smaller arms interlocked themselves around its riders; its shields creating a protective dome around the pair. There was no time to waste. In a flash, I-6 took off, skittering along the club's walls and ceilings on its way towards the front exit. Resistance had weakened the closer the team got to the exit, with most of Lang's men having been taken out on the dancefloor or nearby. The moment the main door came into view, the ERAD's speed picked up even further, breaching through the club’s front entrance and back out into the city.
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