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Veta was in a state of disbelief as she strolled, dodged and bumped her way through the crowds and crowds of people that clustered the many streets of the Imperial City. Children, elders, soldiers, merchants and everything in between had come out either for the festivities revolving around their Emperor, or in protest against him. It was a powder keg, to be sure, Veta could feel the tension in the air, breathing in the resentment and breathing our her anxiety of being in the middle of it. Her armour and wits would only do so much if a skirmish was to break out and she was caught in the middle of it.

"Flowers for sale here!"
"Get some sweet Nordic Mead to keep you going!"
"Pyrotechnics! Celebrate your Emperor with the finest displays!"
"Toys! Toys for your children! The best prices here!"

All of the merchants of Tamriel were apparently here to peddle their cheap tack while they could, while spirits were bubbling and coinpurses were generously loose. Their individual cries and self-promotions eventually became urbane white noise as Veta continued to push her way through the endless mobs of citizens. No doubt, there would be some shady things occuring this day. Veta just didn't think she'd have a hand in some when she woke up this morning. Eventually, the hordes began to thin out, and the hustle and bustle of the festival decreased in volume as she left the worst of it behind. She sighed in an unexpected feeling of relief; she wasn't a city girl, and she had barely had any time to adjust to life in the metropolis surrounding the White-Gold tower.
With that thought, her heart panged at the thoughts of home. How she missed it so. The great beams of trees replacing the dishonesty and stench of the people here. The fresh air and the green grass, where there were placcid and friendly sheep instead of rabid rats and other vermin scuttling about.

She snapped out of it. She had a job to do to ever have a chance of returning to the verdant hills of the Great Forest and the rustic stone of Chorrol.

Veta had finally escaped the Market District through the gullet of an epic gate and found herself in the shadow of the White Gold Tower, it's once-pristine marble elegance still sundered and tainted by the Sacking at the hands of the Thalmor some 30 years ago. The stains of the Great War would not be easily washed, and many are reminded of how weak the Empire had become. Perhaps that has helped Emperor Havfyg justify the means he had undertaken to restore it to its former glory, if not to himself, then to the many millions of citizens living under the Imperial Banner.
Despite it's experiences of war, the magesty and authority of the White-Gold tower still emanated from the white stone as Veta walked around it. If nothing else, the Camorans built a monument that has lasted well beyond their demise, and still serves as a beacon of civilisation at the heart of Tamriel. Veta still felt a sense of awe in her being but an ant scrambling around the base of a tree. She passed numerous Legionaries who maintained an air of alertness and alarm, as if they were on their utmost guard in reaction to the detrimental potentialities that the Festival threatened. Each eyed Veta up, giving an occular assessment of her intentions, and each had reasoned her to be a non-threat fairly quickly. She wondered if they had come across any of her new colleagues, and if they had come to similar, or drastically different conclusions. A thought occured to her - How in Oblivion would the Lich cross the city unseen? Surely even Havfyg couldn't ensure that the men of the Watch wouldn't freak out if they saw an undead abomination roaming the streets?

She reached another gate that cordoned off the city into its famous Districts. This time, it was the one guarding the Arboretum. She stepped through, after undergoing yet another approval by a guard. She gasped as she appreciated the nature of its contents in a resurgent adoration of greenery and flora, born out of her experiences in the confines of her cell, and the urban jungle of the city prior to that. Great trees blotted out the sky in places, replacing it with airborne seas shaded green. Butterflies, birds and other fauna populated the rainbows of flowers that littered the ground, each pedantically cultivated into an organised chaos of botanical spectacle. Not another soul was in sight, save for the gardeners and a couple of guards posted at the edges of the Arboretum. Veta did not rush this leg of her journey towards the College. She never wanted to leave the comfort that the pocket of solace had gifted her this moment. But alas, she had commitments elsewhere, lying across the sprawling bridge hidden just behind the opposite gate to the one she had entered through.

She could see the towers of the College of Whispers as soon as the gate towards it opened for her, it's clandestine nature permeating from its architecture. Veta felt dirty even walking towards it. She certainly did not belong here, and loathed as the cruelty of the Gods that had led her into this situation. She prepared herself mentally as she approached, as she often does before going into battle, if she has time to. She was not immediately expecting a fight, but she didn't trust mages too well, and those harboured within the College were the most untrustworthy of civilised mages.

One more gate was between her and where she was needed to be, and it opened for her just as easily as the rest, but with an indescribable sense of forboding. There was an air of darkness here that creeped into Vera's bones, a corruption forking its way into her nerves. It sent a shiver down her spine, one that she struggled to shake off. As she approached the imposing structure, she paused, startled to see people once more, the tranquility of the Arboretum seducing her into a state where she was getting used to a world without other sentient beings. What a peaceful life that would be.

As she stared, she began to understand what she was gazing at. Two fresh-faced mages, their details hidden by hoods, stood at the top of some steps that led up to the doors of the College. An aura of superiority was woven into their stance, and general attitude. Whether justified, or one that was self-invoked, remained to be seen.
Below them, and recovering from what looked to be a tumble down the stairs, was an figure with a merethic build, slender and lean. It had a familiarity about it, and it took a moment for Veta to realise who it was.

It the mysterious, purple-eyed Dunmer that had been her cellmate for these past few weeks.

He was not the friendliest companion she had ever met, but she had at least heard his laughter boom from him as she stormed out of the Imperial Prison following her seething hiss at Caro, so he was capable of emotion at the minimum. It didn't matter if it was at her expense of the Lich's, the Dark Elf was an ally, willing or unwilling, and she figured she ought to get on his good side while she could. What was her alternative? A Lich or a Werecreature? She'd take her chances with someone that could at least participate in society.

She walked towards the Dunmer from behind, electing to announce her arrival in order to prevent alarming him. "Hail, Dunmer. Have you had a disagreement with the stairs?". She outstretched a hand to help the Dark Elf up, aware that he may be too proud to accept it, but she offered it all the same.

Collab with @Stormflyx

As the rest of the team got themselves on their way under Paladin Moss's orders, only Dr. Kinsley and Lancer Brown stayed behind, and of course the hero of the hour, Chowder, remained sleeping in a cubby hold within the vertibird that he'd found. The doctor tracked them all as they left, standing in the doorway of the ship, her hands in the pockets of her fatigues, fingers idly twitching within the fabric.

When they were gone from her sight, she turned on her heel and made quiet steps back to Lancer Brown in the cockpit. Surely at the forefront of everyone's minds was the note that had soured the relative success of the rescue. That McDowell had been left behind. She'd already tried to soothe Grimshaw over it, and there was certainly a tension simmering between their Paladin and her fellow Senior Scribe.

Still, she and Brown had a task of their own, but she gave him a scrutinous look. Tracing him from head to toe with her watchful eyes. "Alright," she began, removing a hand from a pocket, placing it flat on the back of the pilot's chair. "Shoes off."

Sami was lost deep in thought before the doctor once again came over to visit him at the helm. He blankly stared at the grating in the metallic flooring of the Vertibird, with thoughts of anger, guilt and despair rattling around inside his shaken mind. When the doctor snapped her orders, Sami shifted back to reality, startled at the command. As he came to and realised what she meant, he lightly chuckled and joked in reference to his stripping, "Wow. You get me alone for two minutes, doc…"

As he remarked, he unbuckled his boots, only to experience a fair amount of unexpected difficulty with removing the right one. Clearly, his ankle had swollen. What a battered and bruised bunch the squad had become, and they weren't even where they were meant to be yet. He winced and groaned as he gently but impatiently removed the brown leather casing that engulfed his pained leg. Eventually, it gave way, revealing a dark wool-covered blob that was meant to be his ankle and foot, noticeably larger than its unharmed sibling attached to his other leg. Presumably, Dr. Harper had asked him to remove both so she could compare what the injured foot was meant to look like, but he did so because it was what she told him to do.

Removing the socks were much easier, though smellier. His rushed morning had not left him much time for showering, a reality that he regretted more and more as the comforts of his Prydwen cabin lay further and further behind them. Presenting his swollen ankle to the doctor for inspection, Sami looked upon her eyes, which were relatively soulless and solemn, even moreso than normal. He didn't know Kinsley's story, but she obviously had one to tell, and it didn't seem like a particularly happy one. He didn't probe her for it now, though. It wasn't the time. But Sami did feel the closest to her on an emotional level, having spoken to her the most. Otherwise, he'd only really had a chance to get to know Frank, and look how that turned out. He hoped that his choice of companions weren't correlated to their untimely deaths, not only because of how woefully misfortunate that would be, but also because he was very fond of the doctor so far. She was kind and compassionate, despite the fact her presumably tragic worldly experience was probably telling her not to be, and she was brave and competent and many other good things. But most of all, she was human. Unlike the caricatures and gung-ho soldier types that made up the majority of the Brotherhood's ranks, Kinsley had something about her that Sami respected. She was different, and not like the others. Perhaps they were kindred spirits in that respect.

"So, what's the damage?", the Lancer inquired, not expecting good news.

“Well,” Kinsley began with a long sigh and a tilt of her head as she inspected him with narrowed eyes. “It isn’t broken,” - there was little optimism in her voice however, as she placed two fingers either side. It was incredibly swollen, more so than Grimshaw’s. “Probably not a fracture either,” her lips pursed. She wasn’t all that equipped to deal with it, and it’s not like they were in the best circumstance for her to be able to take her time. To x-ray him, apply a splint, some ice - have him on rest.

No, they had a ship to fix and fly - potential dangers lurking. All that Kinsley could do was prevent it from being injured further, and treat it correctly in the quiet moments such as this.

She couldn’t yet shake free the image of McDowell from her mind, the absolute hopelessness he must have felt had been written all over him during his last stand - but, he at least held the line. She tried to avoid thinking too much about how it would have been to have been in his position. That kind of violent death was not the kind she was drawn too, a quicker one was preferable. Still, McDowell had been their Knight Sergeant, and now he was under the rubble. What was on everyone's minds was of course, that Moss called it - and his manner of doing so.

Would he call it on her one day?

It was a raw and confronting thing to think about, and now was not the time for her to be having such bleak and spiralling thoughts. She averted her gaze from Brown’s ankle while she grabbed more of the same bandage she had used on Grimshaw. She looked at Brown, the worry in his expression, and yet still he had something of a kindly energy about him. Like whatever the news was, he’d still carry himself with a spring in his step because that’s how he was built. That he’d take it on the chin and keep going for the sake of everyone else. Kinsley realised in that moment just how important he would be -- far beyond the skills he displayed as a pilot and mechanic.

Of all the team members, she knew Brown best. Or, she’d encountered him many more times than anyone else. Usually with a different woman each time, always smiling though. It was easier to be annoyed by that in the relatively safe confines of the Prydwen, where trivialities like that mattered. Here? Not so much. She was somewhat loath to admit it to herself, but she was glad that Brown would be the person she’d likely spend most of her time with. He wasn’t difficult, intrusive, or aggressive in any way, or on a power trip that seemed to be something of a commonality in the Brotherhood. Samuel Brown was so laid back, he was practically horizontal. Yet, she still sensed that something was amiss with him.

As she got to bandaging his leg, pulling tight for good compression, she glanced sidelong at him. “Your ankle will heal, and I’ll clean up your forehead there - is everything else alright?”

Sami looked up and into Kinsley's eyes, always assessing, forever diagnosing. She knew that something was gnawing at his mind. Was it that obvious?

If it was anyone else, he'd simply say 'I'm fine' and try his best to leave it at that. But he trusted Doctor Harper. And he couldn't trust anybody else to be anything but a good, loyal, die-hard Brotherhood soldier who might have court-martialed him at what he said next.

Sami huffed, shook his head slowly and leaned back in his chair, taking a defensive-looking stance, planting one hand on his knee to support his back. He swallowed and took a deep inhale that doubled as a sigh before replying.

"I just left a man to die. I didn't have much of a choice, I couldn't have refused, but I did it." Sami paused, but Kinsley didn't say anything, she simply listened to what was to come, so he continued. "And I feel fucking awful about it. McDowell was a big, angry man, and I don't think we'd have been best buds. But I effectively killed him."

"And Moss… Moss didn't even give a shit! He's said nothing since. Nothing." The Lancer was letting his emotions increasingly line his words as he ranted. "Not an apology, not a justification. Not even a 'these things happen squad, but we need to stay strong. Ad Victoriam!". He mocked the Paladin for that last part, even mimicking the salute. "It's like any of us are expendable to him, like he'd let us all die, head back to HQ and chalk it all up to 'bad intel'".

Sami sighed again. "I thought the Brotherhood was meant to be different. I joined so I wouldn't have to look over my shoulder, because we watch each others' backs". He hesitated saying the next part, because the realisation had set in midway. "But if we're all as expendable as McDowell is, then I'd rather be back to surviving on my own. At least then there's not a false pretence of security and trust."

Rant over, Samuel waited for Dr. Harper's reaction. Perhaps he'd let too much of his mind slip. He considered the possibility that the Paladin was just within earshot, and what he'd do if he barged in with the knowledge of what Sami just said. But he didn't feel like he was the only one with these frustrations. At least he hoped so, otherwise this was going to be one lonely and potentially deadly mission for the Lancer.

For a while, Kinsley said nothing. She simply let him level his breaths again, and when she was sure he was done she relaxed her posture and took a seat on the floor beneath him, sucking in a breath through her teeth. "Well I'm glad you didn't let that one stew." Her brow quirked up, and she tilted her head back until it touched the edge of the control panel.

"It wasn't your fault, Brown," she said while maintaining eye contact with him. Her countenance somewhat stern - clinical. Like it was all she could do to manage her own feelings. A slight veneer of disinterest but her tone told a different story. It was warmth enough to take the bite out of the air around them. "You didn't let him die, you didn't kill him. It wasn't your fault. I need you to know that." Kinsley ran the back of her hand over her forehead again, blinking slow.

"Moss… Is under pressure, no doubt. We're on this mission and we all know that it could well be a one way trip. McDowell knew that too…" Kinsley said with a forlorn sigh, trying to be as diplomatic as possible considering the situation.

Brown wasn't wrong though, Moss hadn't acknowledged the grief that hung like a stormcloud, threatening to burst. Moss hadn't said a word about McDowell, and from what Kinsley could gather - the man had performed some heroics. She'd spent her life breaking awful news to families. She would forever be a part of their life, the first ripple of grief for them. There needed to be sensitivity in those moments. Seeing the Lancer so furious was unexpected, and his anger had been formed in a place inside him he probably didn’t like to dwell around in.

She turned her head to where Frank had been sat. They'd lost two people, two brothers - and not a damn thing had been done about it.

She held a breath, pinching the bridge of her nose as her eyes closed tight momentarily. It was exhausting. Kinsley was exhausted. Everyone was already exhausted. They needed something for morale. Brown needed something for morale. “If Moss can’t say something for our fallen, that doesn’t mean you have to be silent. Take that feeling you have here-” she brought a closed fist to her chest, her eyebrow arched and her expression harboured an altogether different kind of seriousness. “Take that, and use it to honour McDowell, and Frank too… To celebrate the lives they lived.” She then seemed to deflate a little after her words and she broke her gaze to close her eyes. “He didn’t die because of you. You didn’t kill him.”

The doctor's gentle voice soothed Sami's emotional irritation. She had tried to put a positive spin on it, of course, but she was trying to polish a fresh steaming pile of brahmin shit. He still felt guilty for his actions despite what she had said, but he knew he'd get over it, eventually. What mattered was going forwards, and making sure he never had to do such a thing again.

Her last suggestions sparked an idea in Sami's head, something had to be done that wasn't particularly pleasant, that everyone else had neglected to do. Well, at least something that the Paladin clearly didn't give enough of a shit about to order its doing.

Frank was still slumped lifeless in the chair, his grey corpse stained red. Sami looked over to him, and he could feel Kinsley realising his intentions in his peripheral. Sami shook his head in disapproval of the loss of the pilot, the man whose quick thinking and flying skill had saved the lives of four members of his crew. He was a good man, and he deserved a decent funeral. As he considered this, Sami could feel the immense weight of the photograph Frank had given to him in his last moments. It was all a damned shame.

Turning to Kinsley, he asked gravely "would you care to help me to move his body outside? The repairs can wait."

"Of course," Kinsley answered quickly, bringing herself back around from her tired state with a shake of her head. "I'll try and take most of his weight," she offered as she stood up - placing gentle hands on Brown's ankle again, even bandaged as tightly as it was, it was still badly swollen. "Then after that I want you to keep your foot up. I'll need to see to your head too, but let's clear this first, okay?" Sami nodded in agreement, he wasn't going to argue with her.

Kinsley gave him a smile, and it wasn't just for show. She was relieved to have calmed him for now. A funeral was a good way to hold onto their humanity. "And Brown…?" She said, with a slight change to her cadence. The doctor realising she didn't need or want to feel so shy and aloof around the Lancer. "I'll have your back. Don't know just how much good that is, but I'll have it. Chowder too."
Sami smiled at the promise. Sometimes, such words could be empty and insincere, but not in this instance. The doctor had a good heart, and he felt comfort in being able to confide in, and maybe even truly trust in her comradeship. And Chowder's loyalty was unarguably the most solidified certainty Sami had even known. The pilot glanced over to the sleeping canine, now so at rest and peaceful compared to his antics earlier that day. "I appreciate that Dr. Harper. But hopefully you won't need to."

Kinsley cleared her throat and moved behind Brown in the chair, placing a hand on each of his shoulders, "come on then, let's get to it… We'll even toast this hero off," she suggested in a whisper-like voice, rubbing the Lancer's shoulders some, as if it would relieve whatever anger may have been left - or maybe it was simply to make the man feel good before a shit job.

They managed to carry Frank through a combined effort of lifting, shimmying, dragging and hobbling. But sure enough they managed to get the corpse to a digable patch of dirt. Fortunately, it had seemed to have rained here fairly recently, so the earth was moved easily enough. Sami did most of the shovelling, shrugging off Kinsley's protests that he shouldn't spend too long on his feet. He needed to do this, and the doctor had already done more than her fair share. They didn't have time for six feet, so they had to settle for three, give or take. No doubt molerats or ghouls would smell and find Frank's body anyway; this whole thing was more of a morbid formality than anything.

They rolled Frank into the ditch, and re-covered the haphazard grave as quickly as they could. The late pilot's death was rushed, it was only fitting that his ritual of passing be the same, as sad as that may be. Sami struggled to find any words after the burial was finished, and neither could Kinsley.
Instead, the doctor had offered the vial of vodka that she had stashed in her medical, and the two chinked bottle and mug as Sami finally found the courage to say something in memoriam.

"To a good man'', he murmured, with a tear creeping out and trickling down his cheek. The two necked the vodka, it's warm sting a welcome feeling amidst the numbness the situation had fostered. Kinsley once again felt it necessary to place a supportive hand on Sami's shoulder as they turned and walked away, yet again accuracy assessing the need for a comforting human touch.

Scratched into the makeshift gravestone were the words:

Frank McCarthy.
Pilot. Saviour. Father.

Take off. Take. Off.

The words hung heavy in Sami's heart, and caused his stomach to twist and turn and fold upon their repetition inside his head. The crew said little after the orders were spoken. The Paladin spoke them softly, yet with the weight of a thousand McDowells. Sami himself became a vessel, zombified in his reluctant compliance. He dare not refuse, not if Moss was so willing to toss aside his most loyal subordinate so easily.

His face was uncharacteristically stoic as he piloted the Vertibird, paying the skies ahead far more attention than he had previously. Lesson indeed learned. The past few hours had been a brutal whirlwind, and not one that Sami had prepared himself for, nor ever thought he's be involved in. There were a million things going through his mind, guilt first and foremost.
While under orders, he had left a man to die. He didn't know Gregory McDowell at all really, and he was not one to get overly-attached to strangers - a lonely life spent in the Wasteland quickly makes sure of that. But he had never directly caused a comrades death before, and not without so much disregard for it from what was meant to be the man ensuring their survival.

The whole event made Sami think. Like, seriously think about his situation, and what his priorities were. The question that had occurred to him before was exponentially more present now. What the fuck was he doing here?

Of course, none of his pondering escaped out of his mouth. The Paladin in question had positioned himself right behind Sami, scouring the horizon like a hawk, no doubt searching for the next landing spot that hopefully be less crash-y. Lancer Brown wanted to turn around and give Moss the what-for, he wanted so intensely to curse him out and rant at him for forcing Sami to hold McDowell's life in his hands, and throw it away as if he was one of the many feral ghouls the team had collectively slaughtered. But he remained silent, his caution around the commander reinforced, and his doubts about the Brotherhood and its fanatics heightened.

A gruff growl came from the space above Sami's head, sternly ordering the pilot to land on what looked to be some sort of military or emergency services outpost. The latter was more likely, as it's defensive capabilities were minimal, from what Sami could see.

The Paladin had predictably told Sami to stay put while the others explored and fortified. Sami mused at the fact that he and Kinsley were to stay behind. He would fix the machines, and she would fix the people. He felt that he had the easy job.
Collab with @Lo Pellegrino

Gripping the pistol with both hands, Owen led the way from the vertibird. He understood the importance of the lancer if they hoped to survive. Their one and only chance to get out of this hellhole. Maybe their only chance to find the rest of the squad. Seeing the ghouls shuffling around the ravine, certainly more than fifty now, Owen struggled to imagine any other way of getting out alive.

The scribe kept low, hugging the outer wall of the vertibird as he crept around the side. There should be a ladder. Something for the engineers to use for repairs. He considered breaking silence to ask Sami, but then it appeared. Simple metal rungs like the handlebars on the paladin’s T-60. A little bent up from the crash, but usable.

“Climb up,” Owen whispered. “Focus on getting us airborne, okay? I’ve got your back down here.”

Sami obliged, silently. His stomach had begun twisting in knots as soon as they left the relative safety of the Vertibird, but here, at the precipice of the key moment, it had begun to do so violently. Right foot and left hand first, he pulled himself up onto the first stage of the ladder. The handles were slippery from the moisture of being in that deadly red cloud that had caused this situation, and Sami took care in his climb.

As he did that, Sami could hear a barking in the distance, surely Chowder enacting his orders from the good doctor. What a dog, Sami thought to himself, wishing the best of luck to the canine champion.

Upon the fourth cycle of his vertical movement, one of the rungs snapped off from his weight, and for a moment Sami was in freefall, until his reflexes managed to catch one of the lower rungs. However, the sudden jarring stop resulted in the Lancer's body and head swinging into the hull of the Vertibird with a loud clang. Sami's head had hit the cold steel on the same point it was bleeding, intensifying the throbbing pain he was already feeling. His right thigh became deadened and numb from the impact, and overall, Sami was even more rattled than before.

He cringed as he expected the noise to attract the remaining ghouls, but nothing seemed to happen, miraculously. Surely Chowder couldn't have encouraged ALL the rotskins to chase him? Regardless, Sami regained his footing and continued to climb. Not long after, he reached the top of the wing, and instantly saw where the lightning had collided with a crater of pierced metal still smouldering. Placing his tool bag in front of him, he frantically but quietly tried to find the opening of the panel.

However, the hushed nature of his actions wasn't required for very long. He heard Patty announce the opening of the minigun's bullet parade and braced his eardrums for the thundering sound of thousands of 5mm bullets being emitted from six steel barrels. But such a noise did not arrive.

Sami didn't have time to think about it, he quickly got to work on repairing the broken servos, redirecting electricity and power away from the destroyed circuits and replacing what he could in terms of hardware. He wasn't a specialised electrician, but he could do the job well enough for them to attempt to get airborne once again. He exchanged tools skillfully, like a gunslinger draws his weapons, and soon enough, he believed he had done all he could. He fucking hoped so.

Amidst the chaos of whatever the Knight and the Doctor were getting up to on the other side of the Vertibird, Sami descended hastily from the wing, but again slipped off the ladder and landed awkwardly on his ankle, twisting it. Sami cried out in pain and cursed in frustration, leaning against the Vertibird after performing obligatory hops and hobbles. After wincing, Sami informed the Senior Scribe of his apparent success.

"All done. Let's help them out and get the fuck out of here." After saying this, he cocked his MP-40 and prepared himself for combat.

Owen fired two quick shots and watched the feral tumble into the dirt. Another came up the side, flinging its withered arm faster than the scribe could guard and clapping him on the ear. He stumbled back, fired low, then kicked the ghoul back. A shot from inside the vertibird burst the creature’s head into a pulpy red mist.

“You get inside. Nobody else can fly this thing,” Owen shouted, doing his best to emulate a competent knight. “I’m right behind you.”

They moved slowly around the vertibird toward the open door. The pilot sprayed his submachine gun, covering their entry and downing two ghouls. Sami clambered in, ran towards the pilot's seat and took his seat, balancing the gun on his lap. He uttered a quick prayer aimed at the Vertibird gods as he prepared the vessel for takeoff. The next flip switch would determine whether or not his repair efforts bore fruit, the lives of the whole team on the line.

He held his breath as he flipped the ignition.

The engines roared to life, audibly not damaged, but functioning well enough. Sami couldn't contain his ecstasy of the angelic sound. "WOOOO! WE'RE GOLDEN, BABY!". He wasted no time in getting the Vertibird to lift off of the ground, hovering just out of the reach of a feral. After checking that Owen followed him into the ship, he concentrated on locating the two women causing a ruckus somewhere nearby. Slowly rotating the airborne 'Bird, he pinpointed Kinsley and Patty not too far away, surrounded by dead ghouls in all manner of states, almost unanimously bloody or dismembered.

He lowered the Vertibird carefully near them, so that they could get on comfortably. As he did, Sami shouted "I've got one order of 'the fuck outta here' for two wonderful ladies!" Sami was aware of the vulnerability the ship was in if another ghoul horde came out of nowhere, so he followed that remark up with "Take it or leave it, let's go!"

Tattered cables from the safety harnesses waved outside of the vertibird. Owen managed to tame the cable on the right long enough to tie it off around his belt. With no small amount of uncertainy, the scribe leaned out from the edge of the door and grabbed the doctor’s hand. She climbed aboard with ease, but her eyes remained fixated on the field. He thought something was wrong with Patty until the knight boarded through the other door, weapon waving side-to-side as she demonstrated just how little help she needed.

Just as the gratitude for their survival surfaced, Owen realized what held the doctor’s concern. Not all of them had made it. Her dog, Chowder, was still out there.

“We’re all here. Take us away, Brown!” Owen gripped her hand a little tighter, despite Harper sitting firmly inside the vertibird. Turning toward her, he whispered, “There’s weakness in crying. It’s okay.” His brow furrowed. “Nobody’s going to judge you. I’m not going to judge you.”

The engines roared as the vertibird ascended. Patty, ever vigilent, fired down onto the ghouls chasing below. Lancer Brown insisted on flying just high enough to clear the trees. Whether this was a product of fear about his inexperience or that the bird might still fail, nobody knew. And that was fine. What mattered was finding the rest of the squad. They all scanned the ground below for signs of where the others might have landed. For the dog instrumental in their escape who at least some of them believed might have survived as well. After all, the wasteland had already given its challenge. Weren’t they due some reward?
Fortunately for Sami, a seasoned pilot took the reins of the Vertibird, allowing Sami to focus his concentration on assisting with navigation and checks mid-flight, as well as fighting the urge to throw up. He succeeded in all tasks, and after a little while he felt much better; his hangovers thankfully had a quick turnover most of the time. He was pretty sure he hadn't seen the pilot before, although he only had a quick glimpse of his gruff face before he covered most of it with a flight helmet. His confidence behind the wheel demonstrated his experience and capabilities, which Sami was all to happy to let the man show off. Lancer Brown wasn't a natural pilot, nor did he feel completely at ease guiding the rotors of a mechanical avian beast. He was much better suited in the garages, tinkering and fixing. Nonetheless he needed to fly as part of his role, and thus he did, when required. But not today, which Sami thanked the heavens for.

There was an uneasy silence on board the Vertibird at first. Slowly, it evolved to cautious small talk and murmuring, which then developed into conversations which Sami could hear behind him but not comprehend, the white noise of flight preventing the language from being coherent to the pilots up front. With himself gathered, Sami opened up dialogue with his Captain.

"So, how long you been flying?", he enquired. The pilot was focused, but relaxed enough to turn to face Sami as he responded.

"Thirteen fucking years. I've loved it every since the first time. There's nothing quite like the feeling of flying, don't you think?" Sami grimaced, it was a sentiment he certainly did not share. "Nah. It always feels a bit fragile to me, man. I feel like a crow about to get ganked by a scattergun."

The pilot laughed upon hearing Sami's reply. "Then I think you might be in the wrong job, my friend", he remarked. Sami didn't exactly disagree. Chuckling, with a hint of morbidity, he replied "Maybe you're right there".

"I'm hoping this'll be my last mission", the pilot stated, after a moment of silence. "I've got kids back home, you know? A girl who's eight, and a little boy who's four". He paused, before taking out a small, square photograph and handing it over to Sami with one hand while flying with the other. "Wanna see?", he asked, rather rhetorically.

Sami took the photograph and inspected it. Within, there were four people. In the centre and sat on a chair was the pilot, with dark, curly hair and his chiseled jaw; Sami had definitely never seen the guy before. On either side of him, sat on his knees, were two young children. The girl had her father's hair, curled and the shade of mahogany, with a button nose and a gleeful smile. The boy had lighter hair, with a gormless expression of a toddler refusing to cooperate with what's expected of subjects of a photo. Stood behind the trio was a woman, presumably the mother, who had fair, rose-gold straight hair and a warm face. A happy family, by all appearances.

"That's my wife, Sarah. Cancer took her around 14 months back", the pilot narrated. Despite the helmet, it was easily noticed that the pilot's joyous demeanor was soured by the mentioning of it. "Shit. I'm sorry", Sami sympathetically retorted.

The pilot kicked himself back to his positive manner. "Yeah well, she'd want me to carry on smiling. I'm trying my best". Sami passed the photograph back to the pilot, who tucked it back into one of the pockets on his flight suit.

"It's Frank, by the way", he said while outstretching his right hand, rather awkwardly, over to Sami, who shook it in turn. "Sami".

The two pilots chatted for brief moments here and there. It was rare to find someone so positive and friendly, so Sami appreciated the jovial company while he could. Frank was from the Citadel, born and raised, and had met Sarah when she had passed through as part of a caravan selling meat. Sami shared parts of his history two, and the two men bonded over tales of various women they had met and bedded on their travels.


Frank was recalling a story about meeting the Lone Wanderer one time, before they were interrupted by blinking lights on the monitors and the sight of a red mist on the horizon. Despite being men of many words, both were astounded and speechless with what they saw. They could do little but frown with mouths agape as the Vertibird severed towards the clouds of crimson before them.

Frank cursed as he tried to inform the Paladin of what lied ahead, and attempted to turn the vessel around before they entered the worst of the storm. Before he could do either, a great flash blinded the crew, and a intense feeling of heat emblazoned the cabin as the hull shook and the left rotor suddenly caught on fire. Sami could feel his organs rattle around inside him as the Vertibird shook and jarred in reaction to the gales that gripped the wings. He could hear the tumbling and crashing of hunks of metal behind him, and desparate cries of surprise that quickly faded. Throughout was abhorrent amounts of cursing that pierced through the chaos.

Frank finally managed to somewhat stabilise the vehicle momentarily. The respite was brief, however, and the storm threw the Vertibird in a violent manner yet again. The pilot furiously sweared as he managed to guide their rapid descent, leaving the strangely-hued storm above.

The landing was not smooth. Despite Frank's efforts, the Vertibird clashed with what remained of a tree on the way down, the jagged branches forcing their way through the glass, the squelch of flesh was audible amongst the acapella of metallic clanking and miscellaneous rattling of both object and persons. Sami hit his head against one of the monitors, his seatbelt doing well to prevent him cascading through the glass and turning into a red paste against a solid wooden trunk. The Vertibird eventually laid still, after a few more twists, turns and drops, and an eerie silence followed after the frantic noise just prior.

Sami groaned as he touched the warm rush occuring on his forehead. He checked his fingers and there was indeed some crimson blood dripping off them. Cursing, he began to look at his surroundings. In front of him, there was the trunk of a barren tree, although not barren enough to allow the Vertibird to win in the collision that just occured. It was a miracle that they hadn't been obliterated on landing, the crew had Frank to thank for that, Sami alone wouldn't have been able to manage that situation. To his right sat said pilot, whose moving head indicated that he was alive, which Sami felt great relief to see. However, as he glanced downwards, he gasped, as Frank had violently merged with a sharp part of the tree, which had been strong enough to also pierce the chair Frank was sat on.

Sami couldn't find words to express the symphony of emotions and sensations he was feeling right now. He tussled and wrestled with the seatbelt, attempting to get free of the tangle. He felt a tap on his shoulder, which caused him to jump in alarm. He snapped his head to see what had touched him, and sighed in gratitude as he realised it was Senior Scribe Algarín who had perpetrated it. Without the need for words, not that he could find them at the moment, Sami nodded his head and gave a shaky thumbs up to the concerned Scribe. He knew of Owen and recognised his signature dreadlocks instantly when he had arrived before takeoff. Sami believed that the had even flown with Senior Scribe Algarín a couple of times for missions.

Sami managed to unbuckle himself from his seat and stumbled after getting up, his legs shaking and his balance unset after the freefall of the crash. He went over to Frank, who still maintained an aura of positivity despite the current situation.

Sami clasped the pilot's left hand as he said "You're gonna be alright, man. We'll get you out of here". Frank could only chuckle as his spat out a mouthfool of blood and rested his head.

Sami collected his gear from beside his co-pilots chair, which he had thankfully strapped to the wall. He slung his SMG over his shoulder and checked it was loaded upon witnessing the feral ghouls staggering in the distance, his stomach sinking as he did. He could still feel the warmth of blood tricking on his forehead, but ignored it for now. There were bigger concerns at the moment.

He approached the Senior Scribe, who was similarly ready with his weapon unholstered. The crew had somehow halved during the crash. They were a Paladin, two Knights and an Initiate down, which meant that most of the crew's combat capabilities had been flung out of the Vertibird as well as a significant portion of their chances of survival, especially with two score of ferals lurking outside.

Only Dr. Kinsley and a female Knight bearing the colours of an Outcast who was unknown to Sami remained, as well as himself, Owen and what was left of Frank. The two women were quickly gathering both their senses and equipment upon Senior Scribe Algarín's proclamation of urgency. It wasn't exactly a crack squad of hardened veterans, but it would have to do for now.

"So, what's the play?", Sami nervously asked to anyone who could take tactical charge. He certainly had no idea what to do.
Three more turns should do it. Afterwards, the job was complete, and what a well done job it was. There was definitely a drink well-earned beckoning at the bar. Sami admired his handiwork with his hands on his hips and a smirk on his face.

"And that's how you fix the pistons on a Vertibird", Sami proudly stated. Pistons were his bread and butter, a life spent on the lower decks of Rivet City made sure of that. They weren't difficult to repair, but the young Initiate stood next to him didn't know that.

"Were you actually paying attention? Do you think you could do it next time?", Sami asked, being playfully condescending to the fresh-faced young lad. He couldn't have been older than 18, his poor excuse of facial hair attested to that. "Yes sir! At least I think so, sir!", replied the Initiate, overeagerly, he was obviously enjoying not being scrutinised by a stern commanding officer. The last few hours spent with Sami had relaxed the kid a bit, but he still had a military-sized stick up his ass.

"Cut the 'Sir!' shit, alright? I don't care about any of that. Just call me Sami, please". The Initiate hesitated, seemingly unsure on whether or not it was a test. Presumably he had been subject to such deception before. However, he gambled: "Alright, Sami then. Thanks for showing me, I learned a lot today". Sami huffed, but felt nice after being appreciated. "There's only so much staring at manuals all day can teach ya. Gotta get your hands dirty to really understand what's going on with this sorta stuff."

The sun had long set, and Sami had finished his scheduled work well before that. The young recruit had come to him personally to ask him to impart any mechanical knowledge. Clearly word had gotten around that he'd been relocated to the Prydwen. He never fancied himself as a teacher, but the kid was eager to learn and Sami was more than happy to oblige. Maybe one day, when he needed to settle down, he'd consider it an option to pass on his skills to the next generation. But that day was far, FAR away. Speaking of which...

"Anyway, best you run along. It was nice meeting you kid. What you say your name was, again? George?".


Sami chuckled at his own failure to remember the name. He was never good with names, and it's landed him in trouble plenty of times and probably will plenty more. "Close enough. See you around, Danny. I'll let you know if I need any help with fixing anything". With that, Sami waved the boy away and began to pack his tools up. He wasn't going to see the kid around anytime soon, tomorrow was the day that his mission would begin. Whatever it was, Sami felt that it would take a while. The Brotherhood is never usually this secretive about assignments unless it was something big and/or important. He wasn't so sure now just why the hell he had volunteered, he chalked it up to just another dumb spur-of-the-moment decisions in a long line of them. Besides, he could use the break from the whole Jessica-Rhia-Kiki love polygon situation that had become heated back in the Citadel.

His tools packed, Sami walked back to his cabin to drop them off before heading to the bar, it's metallic siren song calling to his ears. Along the way he passed many familiar and friendly faces, and exchanged waves, clicks, winks and inside jokes appropriately. It was nice to be known and to see the same people frequently, and nicer still to be viewed in a good light by most. Sure as hell beats wondering if a stranger is going to put a bullet in your back if you turn around. Sami eventually reached his cabin, opened the door, and threw the bag of tools by his bed, still predictably unmade from the previous night. There was no time for cleanliness. He had a date tonight.

He didn't know who she was, and she didn't know who he was. She didn't even know that she was having a date. But some lucky girl somewhere on this floating giant was about to strike gold. At least for the night. Sami made sure to throw on some cologne, but not too much. The aroma of the spirit laced his skin with the smoky yet florally odor that had become notorious among the denizens of the Capital Wasteland. Or so Sami liked to think. If he was indeed going on a dangerous mission to Fuck-Knows-Where at the crack of dawn, Sami was going to make the best of his secured time left on this Earth.

With a self-assured smirk to his reflection, Sami left his cabin and headed towards the Prydwen's only watering hole. There were not many there at this time of night, it was just after evening meal and the mess hall was suddenly void of hungry grunts that needed their daily fill of gruel only to go back to training or shooting. Sami had eaten his own food prior to helping young Danny out with his practical homework. His stomach already lined, he approached the bar and sat at one of the tattered red stools. There was nobody else in sight actuslly at the bar, and the bartender looked half shocked to hear Sami order a vodka on the rocks. The slim barman obliged, however and slid over a short glass filed with transparent cubes covered by equally transparent liquid, with the faint wisp of some sort of vapour emitting from the meeting of ice and spirit. Sami effortlessly caught the glass and raised it to his lips, letting the vodka pour into his dry mouth and overun it with the taste of sophisticated, smooth potato nectar. That hit the spot.

His thirst quenched, Sami looked around to see who else was lurking around the mess hall at this unsocial time to be here. There was a middle-aged scribe sat scribbling into his journal something about something else, two Knights in fatigues sat silently and melancholically next to each other over a couple of beers, and a young female Initiate sat reading over a dark spirit of some kind. There was only one obvious choice of companion. Before he approached, Sami ordered a bottle of the vodka he had just sampled, leaving a pile of caps on the bar as he caressed his new purchase as well as pinching two glasses between his thumb and finger.

Confidently, Sami strided over to the woman and sat opposite her, placing both bottle and glass down onto the bench table carefully but assertively. The woman glanced over her book and raised an eyebrow, before casting her eyes back at the book and placing it page-down on the table, her attention fully aimed at what Sami had to say for himself.

"Hi." No fancy words, no need for cheesy pick-up lines, no random facts aimed at icebreaking. Sami didn't need that superficial bullshit. He's gotten by just fine with his good lucks and natural charm. And the smile, the smile gets them every time. And it was absolutely on show right now.

"Hi", the woman retorted, clearly expecting an explanation from such a bold entrance. She looked unimpressed, but they all usually do, at first.

"I'm Sami, my moms called me Samuel, but I don't think I suit that, do you?". His dark eyes scanned what was in front of him, but they didn't break contact with the Initiate's hazle ones. In his peripheral, he could see a pretty young woman who knew it but didn't flaunt it. She had a light complexition and skin like porcelain, with her woodish brown hair tied in a high ponytail, typical of a military girl. Her face was bordering on gaunt as her cheekbones were very prominent and her jawline well-defined. She'd have made an much-desired fashion model in the Old World for sure, however this New one doesn't allow for such professions to exist.

"I can think of a few names for you right now", she icily replied, but with enough hint of playfulness to not be perceived as outright dismissal. These Brotherhood girls were often as cold as the Steel they represent and just as difficult to get through to, but Sami had evolved to become quite the metalsmith in his time at the Citadel. He knew exactly how to play it.

Sami chuckled in response, and started to pour the vodka in each glass. "So, what you been reading there..." Sami intentionally traild off to allow for the Initiate to state her name, which she did after a quick pause. "Jill". Sami repeated it, careful to not make the mistake he did with David earlier. He slid over the second glass to Jill, who accepted it gladly. The two chinked their glasses in salutations, with Sami giving a cunning nod and a smirk as they did.

"Strategic guidelines for small arms contact. Don't suppose you'd know much about that, would you, flyboy?", Jill teased. It seems that the ice and spirit had melted her cold guard, ironically enough.

"Ooooh!, the Lancer cracked his head back and howled in faux-shock while chuckling. Did you just insult a higher-ranking officer? You're on your way to a Court Marshall, Initiate", Sami replied, his threats quite clearly without any seriousness. Jill smiled and looked downwards towards the table before looking back at Sami. Sami continued with his verbal chess, "BUT! I think I can let you get away with such a crass display of subordination on one condition".

"And what's that, sir?", retorted Jill.

"Have a few free drinks with this 'flyboy' who's away on a top-secret and dangerous mission tomorrow. If you're not too busy with anything else?". Sami cracked the smile once again, he was almost within checkmate, he just knew it. "Alright, I think I can handle that", the young woman responded.

The two talked about everything that came to mind over the next couple of hours. Jill was an orphan from some ruin in DC, her parents slain by Super Mutants while she was barely out of her teens. Her story was one of the many similar ones that occurred before the Brotherhood had managed to secured the area and exterminated or relocated the Super Mutant scourge. It didn't make it any easier to hear, and Sami of course felt saddened by her history. They bonded over shared stories of wacky things around DC and their love-hate relationship with Three Dog on the radio. Things got deeper as the vodka set in, talking about their parents and how they missed them but didn't need them in the end.

She was a nice girl, and Sami felt genuinely fond of her by the time they realised they had finished the bottle. Jill had left behind the cool, calculated persona she had fronted against Sami's incursion. Now intoxicated, she found herself uncontrollably giggling at the most mundane of things, and Sami was giggling right with her. In between the chaos of their hilarious conversations, Sami had managed to convince her to sample a some "Mar-Tie-Nigh" that he had back in his cabin, and promised that when paired with vodka, it was liquid bliss.

Jill was more than happy to accept the invitation, and the two just about managed to order another bottle of vodka through heavily-slurred words and clumsy gestures. The pair fumbled their way through the Prydwen to Sami's cabin, singing songs they had heard on the radio together, much to the grumbles of soldiers long since in their beds.

One can probably assume what eventually happened after the door closed.


The hangover hit before consciousness did. Before Sami had even opened his eyes, he felt an solid iron ball rolling about in his skull and the echoes of good times long since passed ringing in his ears. Agonised groans soon followed as he rotated his uncooperative corpse upwards, grimacing throughout. It took a few moments before he dared let the light in, however dimmed it was.
As his senses rebooted, the revenant man laid still, waiting. Eventually, his body informed him of quite a draught that caused his muscles to contort and shiver, his head slowly rising supported by an unwilling neck as he inspected the reasoning behind why he was suddenly cold.

Oh. He was naked. That'll be why.

Feeling somewhat more like a human being, Sami turned his attention to his surroundings. It was his room, of course, but he doesn't remember quite how he got there. Usually that means a 50/50 chance of it being a good thing or a great thing. He glanced right to determine which it had been last night. To his smug amusement, it had apparently been a great one. Laid next to him was a similarly naked woman, still zonked out and possibly drooling, but certainly hogging the majority of the bedsheets. To alleviate his shivers, Sami slowly shimmied out of the bed, taking care not to wake his company, and found some clothes to put on. He settled for some black fatigue pants and a woolen jumper that was baggy and cozy.

After getting some water (quietly) from the sink on the other side of the room, Sami sat in silence as he tried to battle the disease occuring inside of him stemming from his trademark hedonistic overindulgence. In between, he tried to recollect the events of the prior evening. Shitty stew. Vodka martinis. Steamy bed activities. Seemed like a standard affair.
He attempted to identify the young lady who's face was half buried into the mattress and the rest into her own armpit. She was Initiate, Sami was 70% sure, but where was she from again? Megaton? A Vault? The details escaped him, as did her name. He was pretty sure it began with J. Or was it G? He knew that he liked her regardless, he remembered that much.

Shit! What time was it?!

Sami dashed across the room to check his bedside clock, all pretense of subtlety and consideration for the sleep of his companion vanished. She stirred from the noise of Sami's panic, but did not wake. Sami clumsily picked up the clock, and almost dropped it repeatedly in his hurry.

03:34. He'd almost completely fucked it. But not quite.

This phrase had pretty much become his motto at this point in his life, but it's all worked out pretty well so far. Sami quickly got dressed in his Lancer overalls, shredding the cobbled together garments he had previously settled for, and scrambled to find the rest of his gear. He put on his grey woolen coat, collected his ammunition and belt, and grabbed his tool bag and submachine gun as he stumbled out of the door, leaving Jill (he had somehow remembered in the franticness of his getting ready) to snooze. There wasn't time to say goodbye, but for once, Sami wanted to. He didn't usually have the courtesy.

Walking the corridors of the airship, Sami was still very much drunk. He hoped to whatever gods above that he sobered up within the next half an hour. The Lancer cursed as he rushed to the docks and to the Vertibird that he was due to fly, or so he assumed. He arrived at the bay to see a Knight waiting by a Vertibird, fully clad in the signature power armour the Brotherhood of Steel was known, and feared, for. Sami guessed that he must be one of his passengers for the mission, why else would he be suited and booted at this hour?

Sami cleared his throat and rubbed his face and eyes before going over. 'Get yourself together, Samuel', he could hear the ghosts of his father and mother say. The Knight was distant, lost deep in thought as Sami hobbled towards the Vertibird, but as he came closer he caught the attention of the armoured soldier. His face wasn't recognisable, Sami hadn't really spent a lot of time with the Knights and soldiers of the Brotherhood, he merely dropped them off. He knew a fair few though, but not this one.

Ever confident, doubly so when attempting to compensate for his groggy state that he hoped nobody would notice, Sami dropped his bags and offered his hand to the Knight for a introductory handshake.

"Hey. Name's Sami. I'm the pilot for this mystery flight to Nowhere."

Hi, I am also interested in this RP as I love Fallout and haven't had the chance to participate in an RP yet.

Am I too late to join?
The Lich had taken it upon himself to encroach on Veta and Hafvyg. Veta could barely contain her disdain and disgust at it’s proximity, both in terms of innate fear of the undead and the stench of rotting flesh and death. To her surprise, the Lich greeted them in a formal and courtly way, akin to the rituals she had witnessed countless times while inside Castle Chorrol. She could not help but be intruiged, and her eyes betrayed a disbelief that such an entity could possess such grace and decorum. The image was highly peculiar, much as a zombie performing ballet.

The Lich went on to address the two, "My Liege, My Lady. If I might humbly inquire as to who you might be, Ma'am, and what of my nature is so intriguing I'd like to do so. I take kindly to being stared at, but I question your intentions. Pardon the interruption, My Liege. My name is Heir Presumptive to the Chorrol County, Reyman Caro. My namesake is our beloved God of War, Reyman."

Veta internally gasped, and externally frowned. It could not be true! After the death of her Count, his wife had assumed the role of ruling County Chorrol. She was unsure of the line of succession after that, but for it to be a Lich who was probably centuries old was a ridiculous notion. The wounds of the loss of her beloved liege had still not healed, and she felt insulted that this undead creature claimed to legitimately take his place. If it was a lie, then why did he torment her with such words? Had his nefarious magic invaded her thoughts? If it was the truth, then could this Reyman Caro have had something to do with the death of the Count in order to get closer to the title himself?

Veta struggled to contain her fury, and managed to restrain enough so that she only stepped closer to the Lich so she was almost in his face, their eyes level due to her stature and his levitation. She had a clear scowl and rage in her expression as she growled ”I am Veteria Venenum, knight-protector of the former Count of Chorrol. And you disgust me with your nature and your claims, Lich.”.

After uttering these seething words, the woman-knight stormed out of the room before her fury got the better of her. Better not to start a fight with a Lich at any given time, but it would be worse to do so in the presence of a particularly dangerous Emperor that obviously held Caro in high regard. She left the dungeons as the sounds of street parties grew louder, crossing the bridge to enter the Imperial City’s Market District. Her rage overshadowed any sense of appreciation of her freedom.

The streets were packed full of crowds of people celebrating the regency and divine nature of their Emperor. ‘Talos Reborn’, they chanted, with banners, floats and decorations all themed around the God of Man, the great conqueror who brought an entire continent to its knees, and his apparent reincarnation that was close to achieving the same goal. Veta was not in the mood to partake, nor would she have normally. She simply sat down on the nearest bench with her head in her hands, sighing.

After taking a moment to recollect herself, she remembered about the letter Havfyg had given to her. She took it out and began to read it, her eyes widening with curiosity with each word. She could not help but feel out of her depth, but what choice did she have? The ring on her finger seemed to pulse as she considered leaving Cyrodiil on the fastest ship, and she felt her stomach sink as she realised that such an option would be difficult at best and fatal at worst. Indentured again to a very different type of liege, Veta sat and pondered her next move.
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