Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Blizz
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Tales From Landrunia: Ten Thousand Suns

For the glory of the Federation.






Davenrom | Saturday 15:29PM | Frost's Hideout


In the metropolitan city, people were going about their typical day. Cars rolled down roads, federal cargo amp-ships pulled into the docks, and life on this piece of federal territory was perfectly normal for all upstanding citizens of the Galactic Federation of Landrunia.

All the upstanding ones, anyway...

A renegade android nested in an old warehouse, in a largely abandoned section of Davenrom, out to the southside of the heart of the city. The building was found off the main road of Abernathy Street, only a couple streets away from a waterway meant to redirect flood surge. The warehouse was once one of three locations for a large shopping center, Megaplex, to store inventory on a large scale. It was now, however, collecting dust in a forgotten side of the massive city; An old retail building, full of useless junk, perfect for an android outside the law such as herself. No one came to this part of the city anymore, no one had lived in the neighborhood for a few years now. It was essentially a ghost town of houses and dusty buildings, and would surely be repurposed for another shopping center any day now. The android, going by the name Frost these days, sat on the steps of a staircase going upwards. The top of the stairwell was essentially her home, as the ground was cluttered with high-stacked boxes of depreciated trinkets and other capitalist wastings only children and shallow teenagers might care for most. At the inner balcony of the warehouse's stairs, a large walkway from one wall to the other accompanied by old railing, was a makeshift living quarters with the most notable things being a single-person mattress next to a hammock nailed to the walls, a large, dusty table with wipe marks, a gun, and magazines as well as several loose sheets of paper with various things on them. This was where Frost and an absent partner in crime stayed most days as of late, neither of them were on the good side of the law- they were effectively criminals. The broken windows of the second floor where they stayed were covered with tarps to keep the breeze out. It was a dull and pitiful image, living in a graveyard of retail in a completely dead piece of the biggest city on the planet, with the most things to do you could ever imagine. This was Frost's life, and she was fine with it. The android was staring out an intact window to the horizon, clouds drifted forward along the desolate sky of the street as the day grew longer. Any other person in the galaxy in such a city would no doubt be seeing a movie with their friends or hanging out after school, not Frost though. Not Frost. Androids don't live with that kind of luxury, in Landrunia's politics, metal is just metal.

The galaxy was surely brimming with opportunity and time wasters for what could be everyone else in the federal territory, and yet she sat her furthest from it all. Not even two weeks ago, she and her illicit and ever trustworthy partner in crime, Vorra Mau, were nearly caught by federal agents in another heist over in another city. It was simple, sneak into a military base, steal a federal APC, stuff as many weapons into it as possibly, load it onto Vorra's ship before sunrise, and cart it off to Eyrkosh. It was an easy plan for plenty of cash to be made, but the feds changed their patrol schedule, so the two crime artists had to ditch the APC. They managed to keep an assault rifle, which was stuffed under Vorra's bed, but they didn't get the job done, so they didn't take a trip to Eyrkosh's black market, meaning they didn't get paid. The whole thing got on Frost's nerves, they weren't doing so great on cash at the moment, and Frost's bike was low on fuel; if they didn't catch a break soon, they'd be in bad shape. Where was she? A few days prior, Frost contacted Vorra just before she started crashing at the warehouse, she heard on her radio about a couple of downed ships from some starside pirates on a place called Formalis, Frost had never been to a planet like that but from what the pirates were saying, it was pretty chilly. It was just the kind of luck she needed to turn things around, so she got Vorra on the line and slipped her a couple hundred credits to scout things out since she was the one who could hop into space. When Vorra would get back to the hideout, she'd get another couple hundred for the info she could get. If it was anything good, Frost would try to jump down there with a crew to take what she could before the feds came in to reclaim their property. The only issue was she hadn't heard from Vorra in a while, not since yesterday morning. Frost shut the window and made her way over to the table and grabbed a radio transmitter, roughly the size of her hand, to try and get ahold of her partner on a low scale channel that feds wouldn't be on. Of course, anyone in the low 20s could hear her, but no one would be on them, more than likely, except those two who operated regularly on it.

"Vorra, it's me. You alive?" Frost's voice sounded like it was rather rough, coming through the radio, but in person it sounded like she was speaking through a radio anyway. The papers next to the radio looked to be a drawn out, half done strategy about how to tackle the operation, from loading tech to directions gathered from chatter.

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"I wish I knew. Are you attempting to get caught by the enforcers of the law? Get a better com-device."

The voice that responded was a scraping, distorted buzz that sounded harsh enough to be almost degrading but annoyed enough to not actually be hostile. Something scraped against the ground, skittered as if caught out of its hiding place and scampering for cover. Not too long after, a door could be heard clicking with a series of metallic scrapes, indicating that the locking mechanism was being undone. The gears whined and thuds ensued; heavy footsteps and a series of dimming chitters.

"I'm not a fan of waiting especially in conditions like these." The lock clicked back into place and the heavy steps continued."It is difficult for my kind to move around unnoticed. The porcine kind have eyes and ears all around. I walked in the city not as a free sapient but a creature to be watched and observed. It was difficult to not give them a piece of my mind, as your kind say."

His voice continued over the radio.

"They attempted to follow but I lost them in the scrap-yards. They thought me another vagrant, a lumbering hulk. They know not that the squalor and decay they created was my kingdom before it was their hunting ground." A grim chuckle, sounding more like metal scraping over dried bone than anything approximating human laughter. It was not easy for his kind to replicate the language of vertebrate species.

The steps stopped as the creature stopped, simply sitting onto the floor. Its massive, arthropod bulk was a death sentence for the old rusted chairs that were laid about.

"I was told there was work needed to be done, work that requires my talents." The huge creature continued, content to sit inside and speak over the coms built into its suit. "I want to know how big our team is and who they are first."

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by CitrusArms
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Serenity sipped her cup of coffee as she gazed at her station beneath her feet. She watched each construction bay assemble it's current project. Some were idle, many were engaged in repair operations, some few were building new for a client. She turned slowly, gazing across the security and defense platforms dotted here and there, eventually making her way around to the other end, with the residential section and the port. Vaguely busy, as usually. The way she liked it; it meant federal security wouldn't care as much about this area. The rotation of the residential area seemed fine. She'd been salvaging components for another artificial gravity core, to build a more compact residential area, but she just had to finalize a few things in the blueprints before construction could begin.
Satisfied with her inspection from the observation deck, she entered the elevator in the center and descended to the privacy of her home, the only open walking space attached to the manufacturing & processing block. She'd had one of the utility drones minding her breakfast. She wore pajamas. As she sat down to her meal, she started some music over her sound system and reviewed notes of the things they'd recovered from the ship graveyard since she went to bed. There had been some interesting finds over the few years she'd been here. If she were a better archeologist, maybe she could make more meaning out of it, but... She'd just have to let the information simmer in her brain.
After breakfast, she decided she'd check out an interesting report from the spaceport, something about an ancient mech? One jaunt down some moving sidewalks, through residential, would take her to the spaceport, but finding the mech in that maze was going to be a hassle, too. She'd read some interesting things about the machine in question, and she wanted to speak to the owner about it.
Heck, she should just find the owner. She remembered being surprised by his age when she reviewed the datawork. She disembarked into the residential archon of the station, following the listed address. The residential section was done up to resemble an actual town, and not just be a series of rooms on some lonely station. There were a few parks, as well.
It didn't take her too long to find the place, but was the kid even in? If he wasn't asleep, would he be busy? Whatever. She knocked at the door, stepping back then and turning to gaze out over residential. If she was going to build that new section and have folks move over, she should really be sure to improve on the design.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Letter Bee
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The door opened to reveal a sixteen-year-old kid in a jacket, shirt, pants and a simple set of slippers, a sixteen-year old boy who opened his eyes wide in surprise upon seeing Serenity then quickly recovered enough to let her in, saying, "Ms. Serenity, I didn't expect to see you! Come in, come in..."

Letting her inside the interior of his home, Ascot hoped that the scrupulously-clean interiors didn't come off as too bland - He just didn't want to be attached to his temporary home. Either way, he continued, "I'll have the drones make you some tea - Or I can make it myself, whichever you prefer."

Now, why would the station owner come here? Is it curiosity about the mech, or does she have something to do for me? Ascot thought as he waited for Serenity to respond to his offer of tea. Once he had paused long enough, the young man continued, "I presume that this has to do with the Ashbringer? If so, I'm prepared to answer whatever you want as long as it doesn't endanger my life and safety - After all, I have my own secrets."

And he did, having fought against the Federation alongside the latest push by the Vexyeul and the outer colonists before parting ways with them (amicably) due to differing ideologies and some whiff of mistrust. That and upon finding out he was psychic, they chose to communicate with him via robots and paper mail instead of face-to-face. Either way, he had gotten a good haul of money and a lead as to what Federation Prison his parents were locked up in. Now all he needed was more money and reliable partners in order to assault said prison and secure his parents' freedom.

Then they can be a happy family again.

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Red Fox
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Formalis - High Orbit | Saturday 15:31 PM Davenron Time | Aboard the Pegasus


"Alright, one more pass should do it. Victor, prepare the probes."

Vorra was sitting behind her display panel, reading down the data from the previous batch of probes. She was about to use another three from the remaining seven, but if the info Frost gave her was true, it will be worth it. " Probes on standby, awaiting further orders. " Victor, the ship's AI Assistant replied, and simultaneously, three green lights lit up next to Vorra's right hand. They were about to come upon the part she wanted to scan in a minute or two. Vorra felt her light leg jump up and down, like a spring, too anxious to stop. She was dangerously low on credits to her liking, and the Pegasus was running at half a tank. More than enough to make the route back to Davenron and back to Formalis, but she felt like she's dangerously pushing her luck. A few more seconds passed and Vorra felt her heart skip a beat as her ship reached the point from which she will finish the scan of Formalis.

" Probes away! "

Vorra gave the order and less than a second later, a series of three soft thuds were heard from below the bridge of the ship. " Probes are away. ETA to scan completion, 90 seconds. " Vorra leaned back into her chair and observed the screen in front of herself as it counted down the time." Vorra, it's me. You alive?" Judging by Frost's voice, she was trying to get in touch for quite some time now. She punched a button, opening a comm-link with her old friend. " Frost, it's Vorra! Alive and doing well. Still orbiting Formalis, just doing the last round of scans. One more minute and we'll know what's true about the rumors. " Vorra immediately went back to following the probes descend on a diagram on one of her screens. The minute passed in agonizing silence, and most of all, it seemed to drag on forever. Then, the screen lit up and Vorra reached to a screen with her left hand and dragged it infront of herself. For a first few seconds, there was nothing appearing, except the terrain. Vorra bit on her lower lip, only for her eyes to open in complete awe a few seconds later.

The scan revealed the rugged terrain of Formalis, dotted with dozens of crashed ships. All sizes, all the manufacturers, all the models one could imagine. " Frost, you have to see this. I'm saving the scan data onto my ships computer, it's too dangerous to be sent out freely. But the rumors seem to be true. Formalis is a gold mine. My scans picked up dozens of possible wrecks, I'm actually still counting them. But they are there, waiting for us. I'll go trough the scans in depth while travelling to you, filtering out the duds. You better get a trustworthy crew for this one. There could be enough stuff here to warrant a backstabbing or two. I'll leave Formalis within the hour, it will take me around a week to get to you. You prepare your part of the plan, I'll see what we have there. " Vorra finished speaking, a smile spreading on her lips as more and more possible hits popped up on the scan.

" And Frost, do me a favor. Don't get killed. Or captured. I enjoy busting your shiny ass from prisons, but we don't have that kind of time at our hands right now. "
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by datadogie
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Molly Agaphira

Fourteen Hours Ago


"This is Davis, we're all set on my end," Engineer Davis reported through his comm. The destroyer Wulfmageddon had been on edge for the past two days. The Wulfmageddon was getting ready for something big, though junior enlisted members of the crew like himself hadn't been told too much about their task. What he did know was that they were going to be intercepting a bulk freighter, named the Gargantuan Giant Garry, carrying a whole load of who-knows-what. A corvette could easily have swept in to escort the freighter to a shipping port of some kink to be searcher properly, which told him that the freighter definitely wasn't some pansy target. It could have been a Q-Ship, or something even better than that. Rumour had it that the freighter may have a load of hi-tech goodies, enough to get even a lowly engineer like himself a decent hit from the prize money of capturing the ship, but the rumours went even higher than that. There were some whispers going around that the Gargantuan Giant Garry was supporting something big with it's shipment, perhaps some kind of large terrorist organisation, and was a juicy target for a Commodore looking for a pat on the head. Maybe even-

"Hey dazy-brain, you good down there?" Called a feminine voice. Davis turned his head back from the ducts he had squeezed himself between. As his eyes settled upon Martha Pillion, a smile met his lips. Martha had joined the crew recently, a transfer over from the Indrid Valley to help bolster the numbers a little. Extra marines on board for the boarding of the freighter put a bit more stress on the Life Support System, and so a couple more engineers had been needed to keep an eye on the system. Davis hoped Martha was a permanent transfer - she was gorgeous, and Davis was willing to shoot his shot; At least, when he wasn't deep into piping ducts. "I don't want you getting stuck down there!"

"I'm fine! Will's got me down here looking for rodents and shit. Doesn't want them nesting in the heat and chewing on cables," Davis called back, pushing himself a bit deeper. Now that he was further into the ducts, he could hear something, though he wasn't sure what it was that was tapping away at some unseen metal. He only saw what was possibly making the sound as he squeezed between a pair of utility mounts - it was a small box looking thing, about the size of his boot. He guessed that whatever it was, something was stuck in the mechanism, but he didn't actually know what it was.

Then, a sharp pain, worse than anything he had ever felt in his life. He opened his mouth to speak however nothing came out, it took Davis a moment to realise he had been stabbed, a knife straight through the back of the neck, going straight into the back of his throat. He dropped to the ground like a sack of bricks, the life fading from him quickly. Someone picked up his hand, pressing it against something they were holding - was that his comm? It had the same orange highlights that he had put on it to stop losing it. Whoever it was, they pressed his finger against the panic button, triggering it, before getting up to leave him - why had they done that? Did they want someone to find him dead? He caught glance of the individual as they began to leave before letting out a little gurgle, all he could manage as he began to slip away into the afterlife. It had been Martha. Martha had killed him. All Davis could do was curse her in his mind before he finally lost the little life he had left. An hour later, Wulfmageddon's drive system went offline.




The Present


It took three minutes for the connection between the Elucidora and the communication node to be established. It was likely due the heavy encryption scheme that was forming between the ship and the node, and the node with another distant location. Molly knew that the shadowy supervisors of the White Ashes did not bounce their signal off of just one node but several in order to mask their location. And even then, there were other tricks that they employed, perhaps even some that Molly herself couldn't think of. Three minutes was enough time for Molly to finish packing away the engineer's uniform, and scrub the ID Card so that she could re-use it later; Martha Pillion would be no more, marked as having perished aboard the Wulfmageddon as it's primary drive detonated.

A light on the communication's panel flashed twice, paired with a trio of beeps. The communication's line had been established, and someone had picked it up. Molly reaches over the shoulder of the pilot's seat and picks up the headset - she could have easily began speaking without it, but there was no issue with clearer audio where she could find it. She paused for long enough to note that nobody was speaking on the other side, no questions from the receiver of the transmission. That was a silent checkmark for the legitimacy of the receiver in being a White Ashes handler. Therefore, she spoke first, starting the handshake.

"A white cat in a black fog."
"I am a wizard. What do I see?"
"A tower in the mist, a flower in the wind."
"A tower of flowers, purring in the misty wind. Continue."

"Wulfmageddon is out of play. Her drives are completely offline. I've wiped myself clean off their system, I'm a ghost now. They are aware that it is sabotage, as requested." Molly says, closing the cargo compartment she had been sorting. Making it clear that it was sabotage by triggering one of her unfortunate victims' panic button was part of the plan, though it did mean the little bit of extra effort needed by the Qrura Worm to wipe her from the system as if she'd never been there. The Gargantuan Giant Garry was not actually an affiliate of the White Ashes, just an unfortunate ship who got the attention of the Feds, which the White Ashes were using to their advantage. By putting the Wulfmageddon out of commission and making it clear it was sabotage, just before the ship executed an operation to intercept the bulk freighter, it made it obvious that someone was trying to protect the Gargantuan Giant Garry. The Feds would take a day to realise the Wulfmageddon wasn't going to go after the freighter, another day to fetch a few more ships to go after it due to it's clear importance, and then another few days scratching their head as they find absolutely nothing on the freighter except a couple of scared crewmen. In the meanwhile, associates of the White Ashes would be able to continue operating unhindered for the new few weeks. She found it funny that a couple of separate gangs were willing to duke it out with eachother over a crate of cheeseballs, but were also willing to gather a couple million credits to give to the White Ashes in exchange for a little bit of help - after all, White Ashes were expensive, and their few operatives were valuable. Not just anyone could ask for them, and they were just lucky that one of their leaders had a little bit of clout.

Molly lifted the back of the pilot seat, folding it completely forward, before lowering the bed so she could climb onto it and tug the blankets over herself. One would have shown amusement at the fact she was talking to her handler, which may as well have been the equivalent of talking to a military superior, whilst she was laying in bed, but it didn't matter. The communications were audio-only, and people got their rest where they could - in this case, the rest was talking to the Handler. She shut her eyes, her hand feeling for a panel on the wall beside her before dragging her fingers down, the gentle falling of her fingers joined by the slow dimming of the lights. "Congratulations on a job well done," the Handler says, his voice calm and neutral, as if he was just having a normal conversation with her. If there was one thing different about White Ashes communications to military communications, it was that not everyone sounded tough, because they didn't need to be. Handlers and Operatives could talk about whatever they wanted for as long as either didn't receive a different transmission they needed to answer. "You're free until something else comes up. Planning on anything?"

"Other than a nap, nothing. Let me know if something else pops up, I'm in a working mood," Molly says, rolling onto her side. The Handler said his goodbyes before closing the transmission. He'd contact her again if something did come up that needed her or was in a close enough proximity that she could check out. On the other hand, if something turned up on her end - which wasn't likely - she could mark her status as occupied and do as she pleased. But for the time being, Molly closed her eyes, and waited for herself to either drift away into a dream, or to open her eyes to the beeping of the communications panel.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by CitrusArms
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She hadn't seen a picture. Vortex hadn't included it in the report because it wasn't a security report, just a notification of interest. Security was automated, with Vortex managing things until something required Serenity's attention. That's why she got the report about a boy with a mech that morning. It wasn't urgent, but it was interesting. "No need to trouble yourself, I had coffee this morning already," too much caffeine would make her jittery, not a great feeling. Courteous.

"Ah, haha, you got me." He'd guessed correctly, sharp kid. "It's about your mech," she paused, "but about you, too. I don't often get lone kids on my station and certainly not with hardware like that," she hadn't come in like he offered, and stood in the doorway. "I'll be frank, I want to take a look at your mech. I won't take anything apart, I promise. Unless you don't mind? I'll throw in a free tune-up, if you'll let me!" Contrarily, she suggested they leave and go to the hangar. She was more used to making space ships than mechs, but she had that old constructor model... Maybe she'd learn some things and be able to modify it in some cool way.

"While we go over there, why don't you talk to me a little? Kids your age shouldn't be on their own, it's rough. We can talk while we go to your mech, If that's alright. When's the last time you had a mechanic look at her, anyway?" He might be hesitant to just trust her like that, but Serenity was a professional. Besides, she could just design her own, if she really wanted a mech.

This kid had a totally different air about him than any other kid she'd met. Well, maybe not any other, but most. You meet serious kids kind this one occasionally, even in a place like hers, where you only get there by going in a ship. Or a mech.

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Ascot nodded, then said, "To be honest, I came here to get my mech maintained, anyway. So sure, you can see it and let's talk on the way - Let me lock the house up, and we can go."

-------

As they walked to where Ashbringer was docked, Ascot said, "My backstory was rather simple - My parents were dissidents against the Federation and I ran away just before they can get arrested and I sent to a more 'loyal' family who would 'reprogram' me. I then used my money to travel from spaceport to spaceport for a while before becoming a minor smuggler and thief. I then found my Mech, Ashbringer, while stealing from some rich guy's treasury and it awoke my latent... Potential."

To show Serenity what he meant, he created a small, orange barrier of psychic energy, which he dispelled almost as soon as it manifested. "Yes, I'm psionic," he continued, "Anyway, I spent one full year fighting against the Federation alongside the Vyexul and Outer-worlders. Then I went to this place with enough money in order to rest for a while, get my mech maintained, and of course, find wherever my parents have been imprisoned so that I can rescue them."

They got to where Ashbringer, the 4.51-meter-tall mech, was, and Ascot remarked, "Ain't she a beauty? Either way, just a tune-up - Don't take it apart."

Then, a thought, "By the way, if there are any 'jobs' I can do for you while I work on getting my family freed, I can do them if they pay well enough..."

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Wow, this kid was an open book if you pushed the right buttons. He should definitely be a little more suspicious of her, even if she is the- WHOA! Psionics?! "Kid, gods, don't do that!" She spoke hushed, looking around quickly to make sure nobody was looking. "Do you know what the feds would do if they found out I have-" she stopped herself, shaking her head, "Vortex, I need you to stay on top of this one. Nothing about this kid leaves my station. Ascot, right? Do not do that on my station. Not where anyone could possibly see you."

A circular holographic panel appeared in front of her face with a green checkmark and disappeared. Some small solace, there was only so much her AI could do about it from here without attracting attention, herself. Damn, this was going to be more trouble than she thought, she'd have to figure out how she could have caught this sooner.

The mech brought out his potential? Does that mean it was some kind of psionic mech? She should look for strange materials. She'd have to have him bring the mech around to her private workshop so she could look at it more thoroughly. "A year, fighting? I'm surprised she's held up this long, if you're only now looking for maintenance. I wouldn't be surprised if you need parts, too. Don't worry, I can have them made for you, I can manufacture just about anything. I'll even do the work." Can't trust anyone else to work on it, anyway...

They stepped out of the residential area into the security hallway between the space port and residential. It was spacious and branched off to where she would be building the residential section. She was automatically identified and let through with Ascot into the public area of her station, the spaceport. She checked for her self defense measures, but knew that the intense presense of her drones would deter most criminals from open aggression. "Feds could be here, you never know. Remember that. We'll talk more about your mech somewhere private." She let the kid lead the way to wherever his hangar bay was. She didn't have too many mech hangars, but there were a few. Most pilots came in ships, and usually larger ones.

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Ascot could feel the surge of surprise and fear - For him as well as for herself - Which emanated from the station owner as she told him not to use his Psionic powers. It appeared that the old suspicions still lived on in this space station. He briefly nodded, only glad that it seemed Serenity was going to be reasonable about this. "I'm sorry," he said as apologetically as possible, "And thank you for your offer - It's both unexpected yet kind. Again, if I can do anything to pay you back, I will."

And with that, he led Serenity to the Ashbringer's hangar bay, a small chamber more fit for an exosuit or oversized power armor than a 'true' mech. Ashbringer stood there, docked, with its crimson surface glistening despite its year-long combat career - It must have been cleaned already. Aside from the original frame, which was of unknown manufacture, it had also been retrofitted with Vexeyul weapons, which confirmed that Ascot had fought on their side. But its most notable feature was that it was so small, only 4.51 meters tall.

"Ain't she a beauty?" the sixteen-year old said proudly. "Don't be decieved by the size - She's much more powerful than her size."

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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Blizz
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"Huh?" Who's there?" A strangely accented voice responded to Frost's voice- and it wasn't Vorra's. She instantly reached for her gun. She looked down off the balcony and saw something moving among the boxes and crates, a large, arthropod like creature. A Vrexul, eavesdropping on her, they weren't very common to see in federal space these days, and it only added to the amount of surprise to see someone here. "The hell?!" She was half tempted to raise her gun and fire on sight, but that wouldn't be a good idea, Frost had seen Vrexul once or twice in her earlier years- they were made for fighting. How much had this one heard already? They said something about work, did Vorra say something, or did he just hear that much? "Who told you that? Where did you come from?" There was a sharp tone in her voice as she barked questions at the intruder, she hadn't heard him come in. Ultimately this Vrexul probably wasn't that big of a threat, if he had been eavesdropping as long as she thought he was, he knew she was a criminal.

" " Frost, you have to see this. I'm saving the scan data onto my ships computer, it's too dangerous to be sent out freely. But the rumors seem to be true. Formalis is a gold mine. My scans picked up dozens of possible wrecks, I'm actually still counting them. But they are there, waiting for us. I'll go trough the scans in depth while travelling to you, filtering out the duds. You better get a trustworthy crew for this one. There could be enough stuff here to warrant a backstabbing or two. I'll leave Formalis within the hour, it will take me around a week to get to you. You prepare your part of the plan, I'll see what we have there. "

Instantly brushing off the unknown party, Frost would've smiled if she had a mouth. "Good, good. Get back here as soon as you can, that place'll probably be crawling with federal toadies before long, we gotta get there and get out as soon as we can- load the scrap onto your ship, and and sell it for creds. While you're on the way back, I'll put together a crew for us, I know just the person for the job, Frost out." The line clicked dead as Frost reach for her datapad, a slightly outdated model that was a little smaller than the more recent ones. Her fingers glided along the screen for a few minutes until she reached a particular contact with a group that owed her a solid- the White Ashes. They were a rebellious black-ops dystopian killing bunch of assassins who wanted political power, in Frost's eyes anyway, but they got results. A while back, she ran with a few of them around the back ends of Kastrack to set up something shady- the kind of shady Frost deals in. That was probably years ago, she didn't remember, but they made her a promise personally that they'd throw her a bone with one of their better agents when the need were to arise. Luckily, having friends in high places on rare occasion came in handy. Frost scrolled to a contact listed under the name APOLONIR. She ringed them up, beep...beep...beep.

Total silence for what felt like five entire minutes, Frost kept an eye on the guy downstairs in waiting..."I'll worry about you in a minute."

"Underneath the sun."
"Far above the clouds we soar."
"Into blinding winds we ride."
"Down into the darkest night."

"...Code acknowledge-" A voice retorted in a Spryzali accent. "Greetings, Ra- Frost."

"Yeah, s'me. About that time in Bluestrand..."

"The White Ash repays their debts. Whatever you need."

"I need one of your best agents, I have work that needs numbers."

"And I presume this agent is to be treated fairly, in relation to your...work."

"You get dirty, you get rich." Frost remarked bluntly.

"Very well, do you have any names in mind?"

Frost pondered that one for a second, then she remembered a certain someone.

"Get me Agent Wicked Falcon. ASAP."

"Understood. You will be patched through shortly, once Wicked Falcon and her handler are relayed your request. "

"Got it."

"And Frost- don't get our agent killed."

The line went dead as Frost waited for a phone call.

In the secret cogs of White Ash, information was sent to the people that needed it, until the brass got ahold of the tacks, and Molly "Wicked Falcon" Agaphira was assigned yet another mission.

Meanwhile, Frost pinged Vorra again. "If you're still there, I've got us someone good coming on board, I'll get back to you on that one, Frost out."

The plan was in motion. She turned back to the uninvited guest on the ground floor, roughly 15 feet down.

"Okay, explain yourself. Who are you? What's a Vrexul doin' in federal space?" Frost spoke with a blunt tone in her voice, her grip on her pistol had visibly relaxed a little, even if she still wasn't all too thrilled about someone getting the drop on her like that. It was a strange sight to see someone of his kind in a place like Davenrom, Vrexul despised the feds- probably more than her. She didn't actually know that much about his people, other than their weird biology and their messy history with the federation.

Meanwhile, on a distant land wracked with rime and mist...

A gruff, yet feminine figure trudged through feet-deep fresh fallen snow into a sunken valley. The sky was a churning cauldron of vapor and snow that one could rarely distinguish from the monochromatic, dim glow of the far away star that fit the barest definition of a sun. This was Formalis- a fringe land closed off from most of civilization, where you have to either be as hardened as the permafrost to survive, or capable of exploiting it. The physically stoic creature forged through the snow into a twisted, vaguely warmer mass of crashed ships, into shelter from the endless blizzards. Shortly after finding way inside. These ships hadn't been here long, they were still flaming and were painted with the hues of the Federation. No one survived the crash of these ships, which were meant to touch down in relative safety and establish a foothold, whether the native people wanted it or not. If agents of the government could gain so much as a scrap of influence over any land that wasn't already their own, they would spread like wildfire. The humanoid figure that stood to be roughly 6 and a half feet tall was a Skala, a native subcategory of Elksie to the frigid planet. She carried with her a walking stick with hardened bark for texture, and was covered head to toe in long, bulky clothes made of animal pelts and bones stitched together. The Skala woman stared at the broken mess of metal in curiosity, none of her people have surely ever seen such a thing. What would they say? Will more appear?

Bad things were coming to the dreary planet.
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She paused as she came into the hangar, "whoa. That's not much bigger than my builder, kid," she waved a hand and parts of the hangars started to move, "you fought in this?" A small cargo drone, usually used for deliveries, came into the bay, carrying a toolbox and bringing it to the woman as she approached the mech. "Thank you, Vortex."

This kid just got hotter and hotter. And she most certainly did not mean the attractive kind. She was taking all kinds of risks, sheltering this boy. But, If she turned him out, he'd just end up caught, most likely. And she knew about him, so they might even trace him back here. Her best course of action was to hide the kid and his mech as best she could.

But that would be very selfish of her. The kid knew what he wanted... She couldn't deny him the justice he sought. In a way, it was the same thing that brought her all the way out here. They each wanted what was rightfully theirs. She couldn't just turn him out to fate.

"Ah, of course," she complained from under the outer chassis is the torso. "Can't even get in without specialized tools. So much for a tune up. I'll just have to check everything besides the engine. Tiny thing..." She shook her head, going over the rest of the mech and studying it's parts closely. They were very worn, from all the stress of combat over a whole year, don't parts would need to be replaced. She figured as much... You need a miracle material to get both performance and durability. Maybe it was made from just that, but that wouldn't make them unbreakable, either.

After a little while of inspecting this crevice and that nook, she comes down from the lift, wiping her hands off with a rag. Drones have been assisting her the whole time, and she passes her hand towel off when she's done with it. The little automation, this one spherical and cute, bobbed and chirped and flew off with it. "Not gonna lie, kid, the mechanical parts look pretty rough. Why don't you bring her to my private dockyard, we can let Vortex handle the maintenance. Don't worry, she'll handle it. It's hard to make a computer forget something accidentally, she won't forget how it goes together. Vortex will upload the docking coordinates to your nav computer."
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Ascot felt what Serenity was feeling, and he was glad that she empathized with him well enough to keep him hidden. So he said as he received the new coordinates, "Sure. Do I drive the Mech myself, or do you take have Ashbringer taken via drone?"

A reminder that he was still a kid and didn't know everything. Nevertheless, once Ashbringer was being shipped to Serenity's private dock, Ascot bowed to Serenity and said, "Thank you - As I said before, I didn't expect to receive such kindness." A pause, "And it is kindness - People don't usually treat me this well."

Ascot knew this was merely basic human decency, that this was not special and giving a price for basic human decency was a bad thing. But after he had been so emotionally deprived, he couldn't help himself. After all which had happened to him, he couldn't help but point out that it had become rare for him to receive kindness. The young man then said, "I'm not blind, I'm going to have to move to another residential area after this, right? For safety reasons."

Then his stomach rumbled, "I haven't eaten yet. Mind if we get food afterwards?"

It was only in the seconds after that Ascot had noticed that he had given Serenity his secrets, opened up to her, and she didn't actually judge him except as a safety risk. And it was only if he was the latter that she would banish him. And right now, she even empathized, sympathized, with his quest for justice. He had been using his last secret, his psionic hyper-empathy, to read her emotions and even pick up a few stray thoughts. This was unintentional, but he also knew that he might still be judged if he revealed that power. So he wouldn't give away this last secret.

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Molly Agaphira

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The opening of Molly's eyes came abruptly, caused by the pinging of the communications terminal, which was in turn beeping in her ears in order to notify her of an incoming transmission. Moving her hand up to wipe the sleep out of her eyes, she took a moment to check how long she had been asleep, a meager fifteen minutes. It would have to do, she thought, bringing her hand to the headset and tapping a button on the side to open up the communications. Rolling onto her stomach, she listened for any introductions from whoever was trying to communicate with her, before nodding her head in respect and acknowledgement. Speaking out another codephrase, the Handler on the other end met her own phrases with his, and security on both ends was established.

"Sorry to wake you up so early, but we have something for you, and you specifically," the Handler says. This intrigued Molly, and so she did not speak, allowing the Handler to continue explaining the task at hand to her. "Debtpuller mission. You'll know her as Frost, you worked together with her around Kastrack. As we've worked with her in the past, she asked any names that she had in mind and yours came out of the hat. I guess you managed to catch her eye, lucky you. Specific mission details haven't been discussed, that's between yourself and the Debtpuller."

"As usual," Molly replies. She had worked in the past with those who asked for the returning of a favour, known as Debtpullers within the White Ashes, though Frost would be the only one that Molly had worked with before Debtpulling. That was likely the reason that Molly got asked for specifically - oftentimes, people didn't believe the fairytales of the White Ashes operations until they saw them for themselves, and that went for any organisation that went above and beyond in it's legends. "How's her Codephrase?"

It was obvious that Frost's codephrase checked out, else this would be an assassination operation rather than the supporting of a Debtpuller. The true meaning of the question was not lost upon the Handler, however. "Hardee har. She checks out, and the effects of her involvement are still ongoing. Threat of a pounce is extremely minimal; Harpy has already started monitoring until you give the all clear, and there are subsidiaries ready to enter play if something does happen. Speaking of which, any deviation from your typical Paranoia settings?"

"No changes," Molly replies. The Paranoia settings existed in the case that an Operative was lost and a rescue mission had to be launched. Oftentimes, Operatives could handle themselves even if they got betrayed by those they were on the side of, but there were a few cases out there where an Operative was in a pickle. In the case that an Operative didn't send an all clear within a specified period of time, based on their Paranoia settings, any action could be taken based on what the Operative had set. An Operative could set it so that after a month, one of the 'Subsidiaries' of the White Ashes, who were in reality just groups that owed something to the White Ashes by money or otherwise, would be deployed. Or, the Operative could set it so that after three days, other Operatives would be sent to help them, though an operative who did this would be dismissed from the White Ashes - and from life entirely. Operatives could set their settings however they want based on their own preferences, and sometimes Operatives who partook in extremely dangerous missions could set themselves up to become a target for elimination if they thought there was a major risk of brainwashing or other methods of making agents turncoat, though this was unheard of, and an agent who played turncoat would warrant the cancelling of almost every ongoing Operation in order to prioritise the elimination of the turncoat. "Harpy, pass me the location and contact details," Molly says.

"HARPY ACKOWLEDGES. WICKED FALCON SAFE. ZERO RISK OF SHOULDERCREEPER. DETAILS SENT." Came a voice that was quite obviously not biological in any form, and spoke very robotically - speaking otherwise took processing power, and Harpy was always using it's processing power. Harpy was one of the few things that every single member of the White Ashes agreed made the Ashes what they were. Whilst every individual of the White Ashes could operate independently and find the information they needed through various means, Harpy could support White Ashes personnel in every way imaginable. It was a computer system that constantly tracked and monitored what flowed in and out of the White Ashes, and could be directed to monitor specific things if needed. It couldn't monitor the entire Galaxy at once, but if you told it to look for something, it'd find that something, or tell you how to find that something. It was part of the reason that the White Ashes operated the way it could with so few members. There were only two members of the White Ashes that knew where Harpy was actually located, the Junior Keeper and Senior Keeper, however everybody, including those who wished to tear the White Ashes down, knew that Harpy had to be in deep space somewhere. White Ashes members were open to wondering if the White Ashes were really lead by the Squire's Blade, or if the Keepers really pulled the strings from behind the scenes.

"Thanks. I'll contact Frost now," Molly says, closing the transmission. As expected, the details of Frost had arrived, and so Molly turned the Elucidora around and let the navigational data Harpy provided plug itself into the computer. As it did it's thing, Molly opened the communications panel again, and let the panel start pinging Frost's datapad, requesting communications.

Beep. Beep. Beep.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by LustForDecay
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LustForDecay Death Metal Maniac From 2010 Or Something

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"You can release your grip on the pistol. You would need an accelerator-mod to even dent me." He continued, his multiple mandibles stretching outwards like a gigantic set of narrow sickle-like bear traps with serrated teeth lining every appendage. He was facing away from her, watching through the wide field of view afforded by his dome-like eyes, but the length and gnarled features of his mouthparts were clear. Sapient as he was, he looked more as if he should be some creeping, crawling, mindless creature. It was a miracle his voice, rough as it was, could somehow be more comprehensible than the vile biomechanical tapestries of grotesque cybernetics, mutations, and symbiotic growths that covered his carapaced form.

"We are not an illegal people. My kind have wandered your streets and back alleys before me. It is harder now but far from impossible, unless like me, you are in a certain line of work." He continued, extending one of his large arms. Even simply stretching it out caused multiple complex mechanism-like joints to reveal themselves as if it was not a limb but some enormous creature whose head ended in a formation of claw-like digits, each one moving as if bearing a life independent of the main body. A section of his wirst flicked open a series of text messages and star-maps opened up. They contained rather pertinent details - it appears he had been recruited for a very specific assignment.

"I was told a certain kind of expertise was needed. Aczyiom Dvrawsxyir thankfully, is the exact sort often requested in such a scenario." He continued, retracting the holo-display and turning fully to face her.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by CitrusArms
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"I'm asking you, kid. The station listens to my every word, if you haven't noticed. Although... Maybe I should just have it moved." It'd be less likely that he'd run into someone she didn't want him to run into or that someone would ask him a question it was better wasn't asked. "Yeah, I guess I'll have Vortex move it, instead. I can just claim it's mine to avoid suspicion... Cmon." She started to head back to residential, as drones started to filter in. Vortex had heard her, loud and clear.

Ascot thanked her. It wasn't like she was doing this for him or something, she just didn't feel right turning him out. Maybe that meant she was doing it for him. Whatever. "You'll be able to stay in residential. I can keep feds out if I want. If they decide they want to search my station, they'll search it anyway."

"Vortex can handle most of the maintenance. We'll stop by the diner in residential and grab some breakfast. I'll have her leave anything weird for me to look at. Cmon, then."

She led the way back to residential, finding that nice, quiet little diner where they could sit and talk in relative privacy. "So, your folks are held in some prison somewhere, are they?" She started speaking once they got out of the space port, "what for, do you know?"

The residential area was a very comfortable place to live. It was open and well lit, looking more like a miniature city than anything else.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Letter Bee
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"Political dissent," Ascot said as the two sat down in the diner, "It wasn't even major, mostly standing against policies which would have driven people out of their homes so that the Feds can set up a few hundred plantations. They paid the price and I had to run away, as I said before." He looked away, instinctively trying to hide his grief. "But they're still alive, I know that much."

He saw the residential area through the windows, and continued, "You run this well - It doesn't take... You know, to see that the people like and respect you." Note that he did use his psychic powers, though, he just hadn't needed to. A smile, "Anyway, I should order something - Words won't fill the stomach, you know."

He then ordered corned beef, turkey bacon, eggs and rice as well as coffee and water, before saying once more, "So, does anyone who won't betray me right off the bat have a job?"

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Blizz
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@LustForDecay@datadogie

Frost listen to the Vrexul speak in his strange accent as his arm writhed in legion-like manners, she watched the holographs curiously. They emerged from his body like he was machine-like. Perhaps they weren't as different from androids as they seemed. Frost slowly pressed her gun into a holster she kept at her hip while he continued. This creature was like a hundred smaller ones, he was weird to look at, but it didn't bother her. She had seen unusual things before. This guy, Aczyiom, apparently, caught wind of their operations. Did he hear about it on the radio? Elsewhere? "Where'd you hear something like that?" Her own face was just a metallic sheet of rough texture with a glowing pair of eyes, no mouth, no nose, just glowing dots that suggested eyes. She was wearing street clothes, and old white t-shirt and her jacket, looking a little out of place with the scene around them. "How'd you find t-"

Beep...Beep...Beep.

"Who's this?" Frost picked up the datapad and hit the call button, setting it to speaker.
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"The walls have eyes and ears. So does the dirt. An old saying from my homeland." His response was about as casual as he could get with a voice like rusting metal and rotting wood and a body like a jigsaw puzzle of segmented biology. It was an old saying but it wasn't wrong - work wasn't always steady for a vagabond like himself. Between dodging Federation patrols and dealing with the more unscrupulous parts of galactic society, it wasn't necessarily easy for someone was conspicuous as him to get work through official channels. Listening in, sometimes where he shouldn't be, was a necessary skill.

The fact that he hadn't simply murdered anyone made it clear that he had skills he didn't mind putting to use in the service of another's goals.
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"Rright, yeah, you told me that part." Just political opinion? Man, she knew the Feds were upright, but this was something else. Serenity ordered a breakfast with some french toast and bacon. Paid the price for what, wanting decent policies? It's why she left federal space and employ.

It had been a while since she'd had a serious chat with someone. She'd talk with her residents, but she kept it fairly professional with most of them. "Well, kid, you give people the things they need with fair conditions and that tends to happen. The people living here are ultimately under my protection. They live on the station I built myself. Even better that it's on the edge of federal territory, and they don't have to deal with the bullshit. They appreciate that, y'know?"

"Looking for work? Mm..." Well, as long as he wasn't running around with his telekinesis all over. "There's always something to be done for the station. Vortex knows what she needs." The kitchen sizzled, they could hear it from their seat. The diner was fairly quiet, just a few folk having their own meal. "I've got a couple builder mech suits, depending on how long she takes with your maintenance. They're nothing special like yours, but they do the work I need."

Their food didn't take long to come to them. Serenity didn't waste any time in digging in, thinking about what the lad could do. "The work you'll find around here might be a bit boring, kid. We don't get a lot of excitement out here, which suits me perfectly fine."

I should look into where his parents might be held. But, say we rescue them… what then? She certainly didn't want to bring the feds here in force or anything. She didn't have the kind of firepower to defend herself against the Federation if they really decided to come down on her. She might last a little while, but that'd just put her on the run again… Not something she was excited to go back to.

"Do you have any sort of plan? For how you're going to proceed from here." If he had somewhere to go, or some such, that would make things easier.
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