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"Confirmed receipt of squad composition, sending FCS sync request to Comms team, to enable additional fire support options."

The FCS module on Platzragen was the single most modern, even advanced if one was feeling generous, component. For someone who focused so heavily on target tracking and smart munitions, it only made sense that the pilot invest so heavily in the ability to track and lock targets. One perk of that was, once synced, he could use the processing power of his FCS to process allied combat data in addition to his Aug's own. Unlike other pilots who had additional support on board, although he didn't know of this of course, he processed and tracked all the information on his HUD personally. Sync too many allies, and not only would processing power suffer, but the information overload would render target tracking difficult. But only two allies, that was simple enough to keep track of. Most enemies were not equipped to handle the shock of smart munitions being launched from targets not engaged directly with them. Still, getting the fire control sync up was muscle memory, giving him a chance to consider each individual on the mission.

Banshee was a vet, no doubt in his mind there, professional comms and mission focused. He would defer Comm team leadership to her, she seemed to naturally fall into that role to begin with and it let him focus on fire support. At the other end of the spectrum, Fallen Angel sure fell flat in her introduction. Her AUG stood out, and it was likely that he would be the slowest link in the team if his assessment was to be believed. More importantly this should be a good training excursion, MAs were, despite their capabilities, fragments of even a basic AUG's potential. The assault team certainly had some characters, R-18, as the comms indicated, was first to volunteer and seemed relieved to not be on a perceived baby sitting duty. All the better, last thing a rookie needs is that mentality. Rabbit chimed in next, attempting humor to alleviate the situation, not a bad sign of itself, and also volunteered for assault duty with CAS, interesting choice for specialization but who was he to judge. Snow was last to chime in, also siding with the assault team and pointing out, indirectly, the composition of the pilots could make someone jealous out there. Not that it mattered, as Redknight confirmed her role with 'Momo' in the assault team. All pilots named their Augs, but having shortened nicknames beyond that was an indication of deep attachment, though once again, considering he was piloting a War era AUG still, well, that said it all really.

VALKYRIE broke Watcher's train of thought, the recommendations matching the pilot decisions perfectly. Was it already in place, or did VALKYRIE merely eavesdrop in and let the pilots organize themselves, only to step in if things were too lopsided one way or another. Hard to say, he didn't deal much with AI if he could help it. He preferred his machines the strong, silent types, to make a mild joke of the situation. Still, the pilot chiming in was a relief, and as he brought Platzragen online proper, any biomonitoring would see that, as the Aug fully came online instead of merely being in transport mode, Watcher's vitals settled to what one might consider a resting state back at base. He was finally at ease, the hum of Platzragen powering up, the HUD fully coming online instead of being merely on standby, the hatch opening and the first two AUGs launching, hurtling down towards the moon. Finally, he could know some peace and quiet as he, almost serenely, reported in right before he was launched into the air.

"Watcher, Platzragen, deploying."

The shock of being launched into the sky did nothing to unsettle him, and at a glance, Watcher picked an ideal landing point to aim for, trusting fully in the reliable, rugged shocks. Coming in hard, Platzragen seemed to squat from the impact, before rising to its full height again, stepping out of the small crater the heavier AUG had created on impact, moving into cohesion with Banshee and Fallen Angel as the far more gung ho attitude from the former came over comms. She was one of those types then, not to disparage, but his decision to defer leadership was even wiser with hindsight. He fell in a short distance behind Banshee, all weapon systems checking green and he began scanning for targets, stationary or moving. The sooner he spotted them, the sooner he could alert his team. The sooner the alert was given, the sooner they could act, ideally with the advantage of surprise.

"Watcher in formation, scanning for patrols or other targets."
At about that time the trio were interrupted by the arrival of one of the Hraeslag family retainers, one Liletta Venn. She was an odd one, almost certainly wasn't entirely human, but that was like stating the sky was blue. Painfully obvious and not at all helpful, so rather than chime in on that, he gave her an easy grin and half hearted wave, meeting the current scowl with his own usual demeanor. Seemed she was here with that Doll they'd been gifted, well, gifted might not be the right word. Loaned, tasked with caring for, babysitting? Hard to say, he'd had effectively zero dealings with the doll in this case. "Please, Mr. Antiac was my father's name, call me Urden. I'd ask how your faring with the family taskings, Ghost, but that scowl says it all. I'm surprised, truly surprised, to hear your glowing warmth and kindness has gotten vexed by the little doll right there."

Handy stepped forward to take the doll from Ghost, seeming to absent mindedly set to patting its head and, seemingly out of nowhere if you weren't privy to the previous rambling conversation, asked about architecture. He knew about as much about building houses as he did summoning daemons, in essence, he knew that it could be done. Still, he chimed in an off hand manner in response to the question on architecture, a chuckle rising from Red's theatric whispering and responding in kind before answering properly. "Must be displaced by all that magic, huh?"

"As for architecture, I could figure out how to knock a wall down sooner than build one up, so not terribly helpful there." One thing was becoming clear though, things were probably going to get incredibly complicated with two mages going back and forth on the matter of magic and dolls. He somehow understood more about the latter than the former, which wasn't saying much because he could at least rationalize a doll. Magic dolls though, that was right out. Still, he had gotten the healing he was looking for, one would hope his leg didn't end up being cursed, and now that there were two mages, well, the odds of the conversation leaving him utterly floundering was increasing by the moment. Odds of him having anything to contribute to the whole discussion on Dolls was slim to none, and he wasn't fool enough to think he could help with that at all. After all, all he was good at was smashing dolls, not playing nice with them.

"I'll leave you ladies to discuss the whole Doll situation, the slaughter doll from before was enough playing with dolls to satisfy me for the time being. Unless you need insight on how to fight a Doll, I suppose, though that isn't exactly the concern here I'd assume."

Henry's leg bounced steadily in the cockpit of his Aug, eyes half closed as the shuttle continued along towards the drop point. Outgoing comms were disabled for now, listening just in case new orders or briefs came down. He had a lit cigarette in hand, taking the odd drag on it. They were cheap, barely qualified as a smoke, and were generally ass. But it beat having no smokes, and it sure as hell beat whatever crap those electronic vapes had compressed into them. It was a habit he had picked up when he was younger, one that he never could be bothered to kick the habit of, it kept his hands busy when waiting. Still, the confined space of his AUG's cockpit was calming in and of itself, which let him then focus on reviewing the brief.

Fairly standard smash and grab type job, two teams would split up, one to strike comms and strangle any attempts at calling for help, the other doing the lion's share of the smashing. His train of thought was interrupted by Valkyrie, the AI in charge of the teams of mercenaries. Odd? Absolutely, but there was more life in that voice than most of his former commanding officers, so that was a change of pace. Whether it was good or not, well, that was another matter completely. Nothing new was shared over comms, so Henry saw no reason to break comm silence yet, instead putting out his smoke so he could focus on the review of Platzragen's systems and ordinance load. Expecting mostly MA's meant a fairly standard load, a few CMST and WPCF missiles, but most of the onboard munitions for PAMS were HMAA missiles. A few well placed missiles could take out key points in defenses or comms arrays, and he was confident that he had chosen well for the mission at hand.

As Henry, once again, checked his FCS to ensure the most up to date IFF data was loaded and ready to go, a rather energetic woman chimed, dueling the AI for cheeriness and gung ho attitude. Suppose that was the mixed bag of freelance mercenaries was you got all sorts. Professionals, firebrands, dullards and idealists even, there were a lot of sorts who sold their skills in violence in exchange for pay, for various reasons. The first person to chime in was a professional response, Banshee and LINEBREAKER, who also questioned the organization of the impending mission. It was a good question, and it felt like it was finally time to break his silence and actually say something. Opening comms, he kept an even tone as he spoke, keeping it professional for now, focused all on the job at hand.

"Watcher here, good comms, Platzragen is ready to deploy. Assuming no prior VALKYRIE plans, I recommend that I be seconded to the comm silencing task. My FCS can rapidly pick out the key points in the comm relays to maximize initial impact from long range." Henry shut off his outgoing comms for the moment, listening as his leg started bouncing again. Just sitting in the cockpit only did so much, he only felt completely at peace when actually piloting and engaging in combat. It let him focus on a single task, one that required all his focus at least. Sooner they got moving the better, he could only sit for so long before he started feeling the nerves really start coming back, but fortunately focusing on discussion would help, hopefully. At least one professional was here so far, that was a good sign.
Urden would have cocked an eyebrow at the mention of a few decades savings before having to look for work again, if that had come from anyone other than a mage. He would blame the whole magic thing for the potential for long living. Well, that and being able to channel sufficiently potent amounts of energy into healing magic was probably doing wonders for Handy as well, though he knew better than to guess a woman's age. Lost him at least one job doing that, and he wasn't keen to make enemies of a healer. Made keeping a daemon around more sensible though, if one planned to live longer than most, you'd want company that could do the same. "I don't think anyone could stay in one place forever, though most of us don't have the expenses you apparently do. Well, the nobles might, but you never know what those bluebloods think they just cannot go without."

The smell of burning paper was certainly a welcome distraction from the aura that Handy had about her at all times. Why she couldn't just magic up all the resources she needed was a question he would save for another time, however, since it was probably not that simple. Pump some healing magic into a plant, bring it to maturity early, couldn't be that hard he figured. Well, not hard for someone capable of actually using magic, rest of the world got to keep toiling away the old fashioned way. Still, not sure he was grateful to have the rumors confirmed, though that wasn't really worth mentioning either. The remarks on trying to trap, of all things, Merophayal did get a genuine snort of amusement out of the mercenary. Better to laugh at the absurd, than balk at it outright. "Yeah, and if I was around half as long as she apparently has been, I'd know every trap someone pesky could possibly dream up in a single life. Not worth the hassle, near as I can tell."

There was some relief in the fact the ill advised summoning circle was nothing more than ashes and memories, so that would be a memory put squarely in the back of his head, unlikely not needing to be drudged up again anytime soon. "Funny thing, common sense, ain't all that common. Tell you what though, I ever find wisdom in old age, we can swap notes, see just how far behind the times I am."

@Raineh Daze
"A cottage isn't a bad end goal. Wouldn't be a bad way to wrap things up, just vanishing after a long life."

Urden had considered retiring once age slowed him enough, and nominally didn't just throw all his payment away solely on booze and hedonism for the expressed reason, and if asked he would confirm such suspicions. Of course, the number of mercenaries that got to retire he could name on one hand, and those were just the ones he knew from hearsay and stories. Mages were practically expected to retire, settling into some tower or sprawling manor that they could ride out the twilight years neck deep in books and study. Least as far as he heard it told, once again reminded that most employers with magical powers weren't even a fraction as chatty as Handy and Red here. Speaking of, Red started in on the usefulness of permanent circles for a mage that has cause to cast the same spell over and over again. Guess that made a sort of sense, the usefulness being for taxing or broad effects. He could see healers using something like that, just stick the sick and dying on the circle, wiggle their fingers, and wounds closed, disease banished, everyone's all happy. And the healer's purse is that bit heavier, of course. The mention of such a circle being put in Handy's staff would have gotten more of a remark if it wasn't immediately followed up by the mention that this circle could, in the wrong hands, accidentally bring Merophayal about. Didn't take a mage to know a name like that, though he did his best to keep a neutral expression.

"If even a fraction of the rumors are true, said frustrated mage will have plenty of time to regret his decision. Fortunately Red here seems to be as adept at being a voice of reason as a battlefield menace, who'd have known?"

For all the aloofness on the mission, Handy certainly was an odd one to try and get a read on. Urden knew she was capable, that much had been made apparent, and Red certainly made that clear as well. Metaphorically reeked of magic, to such a degree that even after expending a burst of it had done little to get his skin to stop crawling. Maybe it was something he would have to get used to, and given his apparent inability to avoid injury, that might just be necessary. But the sheer lack of consideration of long term consequences, even if it was just conjecture, was a concerning point. Then again, he was in a band of nobles, at least one assassin, and a griffon rider to name a few oddities compared to his usual, pre Lions dealings. A mage with more magic than sensibilities was hardly the strangest thing in the world when put in such circumstances, even if her voice of reason was daemonic in nature. And if said duo was going to make it even easier to keep collecting pay until he could also wander off and be forgotten, well, who was he to look a gift Hundi in the mouth then?

@Raineh Daze
The mercenary cocked an eyebrow when Handy got out of her seat and walked over, the sense of discomfort growing slightly stronger as the Hundi got closer and rested a hand on his arm, and the feeling went silent and, if he didn't know better, Urden would have had to assume he was going just slightly mad. The fact the sense of magic felt like other senses certainly could be disorientating, but Urden kept a level head as the sensation faded and the general feeling around the Hundi felt slightly less off putting. Of course it was still there, and a part of his brain wondered if it felt slightly off because some of that energy had been channeled into...or was it through him? Logically, a purge should go through, but there wasn't anything logical about magic.

"So next time I overdo it at the tavern, I should come to you to clear up the senses, got it. Appreciate the assistance, here's hoping that clearing out a poison should suffice. Not sure I want to know how clearing up a curse might go."

Of course, leave it to Red to chime in again about the original topic of the magic circle and not really needing it. Apparently the past work of Handy had proven the lack of need of this intent fueled circle. If he was forced to admit it, this was all frankly well above his head in regards to understanding, but the fact he was spending time agreeing with a Daemon was certainly not what he would have considered a safe bet. Then the mention of a permanent one in an eventual house brought a face palm from the daemon, which in turn got a snort of amusement from the mercenary.

"Right, going for the traditional tower design or something a bit less, what's the word, conventional? Though if you make a permanent circle, wouldn't that keep you from modifying it for other use in the future?"

Why did the stories always have mage and wizard towers. Why did a bunch of bookish types love going up and down flights of stairs constantly, now that his own commentary got him thinking. He didn't like going up and down flights of stairs all day, walking and marching was all fine and well, but having to carry stuff up and down stairs was another matter completely. Nevermind the fact that, the more he heard about magic circles, the less of a good idea they seemed to be. Some days he considered himself fortunate that he didn't have some ancient bloodline, heroic destiny, ancient magical powers, or other such nonsense. He got to do whatever he wanted with his life, even if he had chosen to follow in the family business of trading blood for coin.

@Raineh Daze
Alright, finally got my lad sorted out. And make that three submissions with socially troubled individuals.

You have my immediate attention, yes.
Urden decided to consider a cursed arrow the less likely option between cursed and poisoned, despite the kind of luck that it would take to have been hit with a cursed arrow from slavers, of all things. No, poison made a sort of sense, especially one that interfered with mobility even after a wound otherwise healed. Made it easier to incapacitate and capture, so he was inclined to suspect a poison of some sort. That of course led to the next question of whether the poison would sort itself out after a period of time, or if that meant more magic healing being slung at his leg.

"If I was a gambling man I would lay good coin on a poison of some sort rather than a curse. I don't think we ran into any particularly magical mercenary slavers, and a poison that interfered with movement to any degree would make some sense to..."

The rather large daemon interrupted at this point, dragging another sheet over and making quite a few modifications to the original design, apparently noting quite a few things needed to go. Handy objected, apparently the modifications made it so that the circle wouldn't...work solely based on intent? If he had the slightest inkling about magic, summoning, or magical summoning that would probably be cause enough for alarm, but his gut instinct told him that letting anyone do something just on instinct alone was probably questionable at the best of times. Of course, Red explained, mostly to Handy, but the explanation gave him at least an inkling of what was going on. As it was, the current circle would let someone summon a daemon with no control over it what so ever? Well that was a damn fool decision if he ever heard one, and he cocked an eyebrow at Red when she promptly asked him to imagine a world where mages could summon daemons without any inkling of controlling them.

"Hell, that'd be like leaving a bunch of kids around loaded siege weapons. Inevitably going to cause excessive collateral damage, at best. Except, I suppose, the siege weapons could promptly slaughter the kids, reuse the circle, and just let every last friend of theirs through to here. Least that's what I would do, if I was some daemon summoned by someone who couldn't negotiate out of a wet bag, let alone into a contract."

In short, Urden couldn't say that it was a very bright idea to have a summoning circle anyone could use without proper training. Last thing anyone would want is someone just smart enough to get themselves into trouble using it, and before you know it, everyone's neck deep in daemons. Well, maybe if he got a head start in planning he could prepare and make a killing, figuratively and literally, in the daemon slaying business. That many just running around, everyone who had coin worth a damn would be looking to hire exterminators. Though, more likely, it would be some grand apocalyptic event those religious folks sometimes rambled on about, to scare folks into behaving and being good boys and girls. Still, his day had started with damaged clothing and a sore leg, he had gotten overcharged for clothing and now he was listening to Handy and Red discuss a creation that could, in the, well, right or wrong hands be used to hold open a door to hell forever, if he understood the capabilities right. Some days he wondered if guarding merchant caravans would have been a better choice. It certainly would have been a damn sight more boring, that much was clear.

@Raineh Daze
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