"You don't trust me Darius? I'm wounded. To think that I would ever keep some of the winnings for myself. For shame, good sir. For shame!" Althalus pocketed the coins despite his drama, eyes turning to watch as Leith now made his way over from Henri. We're just becoming oh so popular aren't we? It'll be a wonder if we ever leave this area. Aramir and Danica had the right idea, bailing immediately. He thought idly, waiting for the albino to get closer.
"Okay? What does that have to do with anyt-" Althalus stopped as he felt something soaking his sleeve. Looking down at the message he felt a brief flash of panic at the mention of the Eternal Hunger, the bitch that had eaten his hand then left him for dead. He still got nightmares from that mission. As the message disappeared, not even leaving a trace behind, he looked back at Leith. "Ha. Ha. I thought we were past the hand jokes? Regardless, message received. As I was saying, what does me being Lyn's father have anything at all to do with the current situation?" His face fell as he connected the dots and he sighed rubbing a hand across it. "Is that what he told you the reason for Alaira and I being so 'rude'," he gave air quotes to emphasize how wrong he thought Henri was, "to him? He's either even more of an idiot than I thought he was or he's a liar, and I genuinely hope its the latter, because liars are at least smart enough to know what's going on. I don't care that he's hanging around Lyn. I haven't cared for the months he's been around her before now. I do care that he doesn't seem to understand that his actions affect all of us, and that he thinks he can just treat nobles as he likes. That will get him, and us by association, in jail or worse. And if goon is the best insult he can come up with, he needs work on that. A lot of work."
Serena and Sabinus, night of Hostage Rescue Mission
Serena walked through the barracks, heading towards Sabinus’ office. She was out of her armor, but kept her Carnifex on her hip. They were still under imminent threat of a Kett counter raid, and she didn’t want to be caught with only her biotics and drones to help her. Sarah floated quietly over her shoulder, Del still downloading the evasion updates back at her bunk.
As she approached the door she quietly debated even going through with it herself. ”He already thinks you’re an undisciplined idiot, do you really want to bring up the question that made him think that? Besides, he doesn’t look like someone dealing with grief so she’s probably fine.” She shook her head, continuing to walk towards the door. ”You don’t know him, and you haven’t heard from Tanya since before the Scourge. You need to know and he’s the one who would know. Besides, Khosin’s worrying. That definitely needs to be addressed.” With that settled and the door before her, Serena took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and opened the door. Lets see if I can avoid making him annoyed this time.
She took a step into the office saying, ”Hey Sabinus can I talk-” She paused awkwardly, remembering her new situation and then took a step back through the door. Blushing lightly in embarrassment she knocked on the door frame and saluted. ”Permission to enter and talk to you about things….Sir?” She mentally groaned in despair. Good start. Way to show him you’re a disciplined fighting machine.
The turian was seated behind a desk with a terminal, a thermos of coffee, and one of the freeze-dried ration bars with the dehydrated fruit chunks that everyone had grown to hate. However, given how limited resources were and how each one contained several thousand calories that covered almost all of the nutritional needs of the individual unfortunate enough to eat it, it was going to be a life staple until crops started growing. For Sabinus, he found his coping mechanism with it by dunkin it into coffee and eating the soggy, slightly more flavoured mess of a bar like it was a luxury item after abusing the beverage to make it more tolerable. He looked up from the terminal.
“Absolutely, come on in out of the heat, take a seat. Good performance today, you showed excellent initiative and use of resources. The science team owes you a debt of gratitude. What can I do for you?” Sabinus asked, minimizing the screen of the report he’d been compiling, leaving the transparent glass blank.
Serena stared at Sabinus for a moment, nonplussed. Whatever she was expecting, it certainly wasn’t this. This friendliness, harshly contrasting their first interaction. In all honesty she had expected to be reprimanded for having her drones abandon the science team and fire team two. “Thank you...Sir.” She said uncertainly, walking into the office and sitting down. She still wasn’t sure if this was some sort of test she was failing, like from all the horror stories she had heard during boot camp and her time active duty with the Alliance. For a moment she was silent, trying to figure out how to best go about asking her question. Ah fuck it. Straightforward and blunt it is.
“Sir, I would still like to know Tanya Carson’s condition. I haven’t had contact with her since before the Scourge and the Kett and I’m worried.”
Sabinus smiled, studying the human’s face as he linked fingers on the table. Time with Tanya certainly made him far more proficient at understanding the much more explosive range of tiny muscles that made up the human face, and as such, gave them far more emotional tells than most other species. It was interesting, to say the least.
”I’m surprised you didn’t make a trip down to the shuttle-bay in your downtime, she was one of the first ones they thawed out after the Scourge hit and they needed to send scouts off to survey the garden worlds. She’s got quite the aptitude for that sort of thing, as you’re well aware, and the trade-off of having someone who’s that talented with mechanics and a rather non-conforming personality meant that her colleagues have never wanted for music, although you can imagine they might not have liked the section, or the volume. Last I heard, the compromise for keeping ‘Shit-Head’ active and blaring music while they work was the volume has to be at a reasonable level and she has to program in anything anyone gives her. Knowing her, she’s finding a number of creative ways to subvert that compromise.” Sabinus replied, dipping the bar in his coffee again to saturate the next length.
”Truth is, I’ve barely spent much time with her since getting out of cryo, even though we were both out fairly early in the time frame since the Nexus arrived in Helius. Different shifts, constantly being required to do different jobs, and now I’m off station more often than not fighting against an extremely hostile and dastardly alien race that feels like the Spirits were watching too many horror vids when they willed them into existence. I know you two were close and you idolized her, and that’s the primary reason I’m being so candid about the state of affairs between my girlfriend and I. The situation isn’t ideal, but we both know hard work and duty so it’s not as much of a strain as I imagine it is for more…” he drummed a pair of fingers against the back of his hand, searching for the words.
”Emotionally compromised couple would handle being apart. I can understand needing comfort and familiarity when you jump galaxies and wake up to find that a number of people have died from an unknown entity and the situation grew so dire that a significant number of friends and colleagues did something unfathomably stupid and rebelled against the establishment. But personal needs are secondary to the Initiative, so I sit on this radioactive dust bowl eating some forsaken rations that some scientist determined met all of my nutritional needs without account for the fact people actually have to eat them and lead a bunch of strangers who have no unit training or comparable doctrines and hope that they can figure it out immediately because the enemy isn’t waiting. The fact we didn’t lose anyone today is largely due to luck and individual talent, understand? Had the Kett been prepared we would have had far worse casualties. I trust you understand why I immediately had to single you out for non-conforming and familiar behaviour, correct?” he asked, regarding Serena evenly.
Serena breathed a sigh of relief, visibly relaxing at the mention Tanya was alive and well in the shuttle bay, if being annoying and abrasive as ever. She smiled at the thought of Shithead having to play new music. That’s one worry down the drain. She opened her mouth to thank him when he continued, delving into their relationship. Mild surprise showed on her face, but she didn’t stop him. If he wanted, or needed, to talk about it he was more than welcome too.
Her eyebrows rose slightly at the mention of her ‘idolizing’ Tanya. What has she been telling him about our friendship? she wondered briefly, before deciding it was better not to ask.
Specialist organizations often have wilful individuals with varying doctrines and almost no conformity. Hierarchy Cabal, Republic Commandos, Alliance N7 troopers, the list goes on. APEX is just another one in a long line. She didn’t comment, however. What Sabinus thought was his own business, and he was a competent commander who knew what he was doing.
”Of course I understand, sir.” She answered immediately, meeting his gaze. It was the unnecessary speech afterwards I took issue with.
”Thank you for telling me she’s okay.” And just about everything else in your relationship. With the easiest of the two questions out of the way, Serena shifted slightly. Now for the touchy subject. She really hoped this went well, and that she was doing the right thing. If it didn’t , or she wasn’t, Khosin would just end up farther down his darker path.
”The other thing I came to talk about is Khosin, sir.” She paused for a moment, struggling with how to word exactly all the little things and changes she had noticed about her friend. There were so many, and they all added up to one dark outlook on Khosin’s mental state, and what it meant for him in APEX.
”I’m sure you know that he and I ran with the Jury Riggers, a few centuries ago.” She smiled briefly at that, still finding it amusing. ”I’m not sure if you know that, during that time he went back into Hegemony space. I figured there was a chance, since the Initiative is really good at digging up information people try to keep hidden, but I can’t be sure. He went to the Hegemony for a reason he wouldn’t tell us, and still won’t. When I tried to track him, to at least help him remotely, he told me to not follow or track him again, fried the connection, and went off the grid.”
After a while he came back, but he was changed. Something went wrong in the Hegemony, and I don’t know what. Whatever it was seriously hurt Khosin, because he’s no the same. Khosin was, and still is to a degree, the most professional soldier I’ve ever had the honor to serve with. He was calm, methodical, and purposeful in combat, and generally all he did. He was not the reckless type to rush into the center of the enemy without warning anyone. That’s Firu’s style, not his. And it’s not like her recklessness. She’s reckless because she has latent bloodlust issues. Because she enjoys the fight and the thrill too much, but she doesn’t take unnecessary risks. Khosin’s recklessness is far more careless. Unless it affects someone else, he’s not going to be careful about it. ”
”He’s always been quiet, but there wasn’t this….depression in his eyes. He tries to hide it, but I know him too well. He drinks much, much more than he did and is always by himself. The only things that seem to get to him anymore are things relating to the Initiative, and then it’s not just passion for the project. It’s a blinding manic obsession. It isn’t just loyalty to the ideal or the hope for a new life. It’s all he has right now. I’m scared for him, sir. I don’t think he values his life anymore, and I can’t do anything about it because I just hit a wall whenever I tried to talk to him about it.”
Serena shrugged helplessly. ”I don’t know what to do, and I don’t want him to throw his life away.”
Sabinus listened to Serena’s concerns, drumming his fingers in a slow rhythm. Mathews was an emotionally driven individual with a bit of a mother hen instinct, and this more or less affirmed that. ”You think I haven’t properly checked him before clearing him for duty, or the Initiative made a mistake putting him into the militia with concerns about his mental health. Let me ask you this; do you have any idea what it must be like for him being one of the very few batarians in Andromeda? He’s left behind far more than most everyone else, and the fact that he felt that the Initiative was the only place he could have gone after things crumbled behind him tells me that if he was suicidal or had a death wish, he could have easily have found it back in the Milky Way. He could have signed up with any number of tin pot militias out of Omega, or drank himself to death in a bar, or gone on to become a political extremist who ends up getting shot in a standoff with law enforcement.” he said, leaning forward with his fingers bridged.
”And yet, he managed to pass all of the important mental health screenings to get into the Initiative and managed to qualify for armed service with the militia. I’ve read his dossier, even probably bits that you don’t know about him. Is he lost and despondent? Of course. Does he not see a future for himself? Possibly. But the actions that Sedgoroh performed today were those of a purposeful and mindful soldier who wasn’t in a hurry to die. He put himself at risk for others, yes, but he also did exactly what I’d expect anyone under my command to do to protect his or her comrades. It will take him time to adjust to his new surroundings and the people he serves with, but you strike me as someone who doesn’t think that he isn’t looking for his place in all of this. Maybe he doesn’t know it yet, or know what he wants, but it doesn’t mean he’s given up finding it. If he starts losing his cool or otherwise begins to show signs of cracking, I will be on top of it.” he regarded the bar and coffee for a moment before turning his attention back to Serena.
”You pathologically worry about people, you’re empathetic to a fault and you make it your personal duty to try and fix everyone who’s hurting. You may not realize it, but some people don’t want other people to try and fix them. Tanya left abruptly and cut off communication with most of the Riggers to start over in Elysium because she didn’t want others fretting over her or trying to figure out how to make things better for her. She wanted a fresh start and to be around people who didn’t know what she’d been through, and maybe that’s what Sedgoroh needs, is someone to look at him like a peer and comrade and not like someone who needs pity and concern. Maybe he’ll need to talk one day, maybe he won’t. It isn’t your business to try and figure out what he needs. Much like you can’t walk up to me like we’re best friends in front of the Fireteam and undermine my authority in the eyes of people who are about to fight in a war with an unknown enemy, you can’t treat him like he’s a special case who needs to be cared for differently than everyone else. There’s services he can use to get help if he needs it, but what he needs from us is a solid outfit that treats his service with respect and dignity.”
Serena listened to Sabinus’ response, shaking her head in quiet frustration. He wasn’t understanding, and that may be because she explained it wrong. She had to chuckle at the pointing out of Khosin passing mental screenings. ”Respectfully, sir, my faith in the Initiative’s mental health screenings have been, shall we say, severely lessened given that I know they let someone through they wouldn’t have if they had known anything about him, not anyone on this team I should add, and the fact that they let entire non-krogan population of Elaaden on board. But regardless, I think you’ve misconstrued my concerns or my reason for voicing them to you.”
“I don’t want you to immediately pull him or put him on watch or anything like that. I just wanted you to know, that for Khosin after the Hegemony, there is nothing else besides the Initiative. You have something other than the Initiative. I have something besides the Initiative. Firu, Clyff, Kargad, we all have something besides the initiative. Khosin doesn’t. I’m not worried about him breaking under fire, not now at any rate. I’m worried about this consuming him till there’s nothing left. I’d die for the Initiative and any member of this team without question, sir, but that’s not my end goal. I’m worried that for Khosin, it is or will become his end goal. Someone who cares if they live or die doesn’t charge into the middle of a group of enemies with no warning, sir. Afterwards, he acted like the professional he is and was, but that was only when other members of the team were in danger.”
I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m just,” She lifted her hands up for air quotes, “‘Pathologically worrying’ about him. But someone with more power, experience, and better judgement than me needs to know. And now you do. If you do decide that I’m not just worrying for no reason, I think he told Dex about his trip to the Hegemony, but I’m not sure.”
She stood up, stretching. ”For the record sir, pity isn’t something I give people. In our line of work it only pisses them off. I respect everyone enough to trust them when they say they don’t want my help, and to treat them as the soldiers they are. Anything less only makes things worse with them. So you misunderstand me if you think I don’t know when to back off, or stop pushing. I let Tanya close herself off mostly because I knew my pushing wasn’t helping, and if she wanted to she would reach out to me. Just like I suspect she knew that, for me at least, her tactic did nothing to lessen my worry. I’m not going to going to worry or mother hen Khosin anymore than I would the rest of the team, even you or Tazen. Whether you like it or not.” She smiled lightly. “So, as a forewarning, just be prepared to tell me to shut my empathetic yap. Sir.”
Sabinus snorted at the thought of Elaaden, a desert-covered world with unbearable temperatures that the krogan had almost to a man fled to and started a new colony. The other inhabitants, however…
”A peculiar example about Elaaden, but that’s a peculiar instance that defies our current understanding. You don’t have a number of people who were fine while aboard the Nexus and clear medical profiles from before the Initiative suddenly go mad around the same time on one planet. There’s much about these worlds we don’t understand, and for all we know some kind of vegetation or water contaminant that hasn’t been documented is causing the mental deterioration, or some other environmental factor. Remember, this planet as of three weeks ago was so radioactive that it could lead to death in minutes if you weren’t wearing a protective suit. Now because of the vault, we’ve got ourselves a garden world in the most improbable event I’ve ever witnessed. Regardless, I take your meaning and things do slip through the cracks, as it were, but the people who’ve screened the candidates have a lot more expertise in that field than you or I, so don’t assume that they’re failing at their jobs.
“To reiterate, I know about Shegoroh’s… unique circumstances. He’s not an immediate threat to himself or anyone else, and if I’m understanding your concern, you’re reiterating exactly what I’ve explained to you. He’s come to Andromeda with nothing outside of his duty, and you’re worried he isn’t going to find it and let it become the only thing in his life. Like anyone, he’s being monitored and I will speak with him if need be, but you need to give him time to adapt to his new circumstances. Think of it like a larger-scale version of relocating for a new job and leaving your old life behind. It’s not ideal, but it happens for a reason. I have faith he’ll find his purpose and a reason for being here outside of APEX. You should, too.”
Serena nodded. That’s what she hoped and prayed would be the case, but experience taught her it was best to prepare for the worst. That way, if everything worked out like they hoped it would, this conversation wouldn’t be remembered, and even if it did it’d be another story of Serena overworrying and mother henning the people around her. ”I’ve done what I can for him. I leave it in your capable hands, sir.” She gave another salute. ”Anything else you’d like to add, or shall I take my leave?”
The turian rose from his seat in turn, returning the salute. ”I’ve got nothing more for you for now, but know that my door is always open if you need it. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention and looking out for your friend, and I promise I will keep an eye on him. You’re a fine soldier and you have a good heart, never lose sight of that. Dismissed.” he replied affliably.
Serena smiled in genuine relief, reassured Khosin would be alright, nodding and turning for the door. ”Thank you sir. If you ever want to lose a game of chess, I’m your girl.” She paused at the door, looking at him over her shoulder. ”And I’m really glad you found her, Sabinus.” With another nod and smile, she left.
Serena was walking along the Nexus, taking a break from planning on how to rebuild BARAT. It was an even more arduous task than it had been the first time around, even with knowing the exact specifications of what she would need. Not only was there not enough resources to go around so she could just find someone selling her the parts she'd need, she also didn't have anywhere near the access to the funds to do it as she did while she was a merc.
"Say what you will about the pay being unsteady, it was very large when it did come through." She sighed, looking around. It didn't help that there wasn't really anything to do on the Nexus. There was the Lounge, but she wasn't the drinking type. She'd drink with the rest of the team and her friends, sure, but not because she personally enjoyed it. She could go offer her services to the mechanics under Kesh, but this was her shore leave. She wasn't like Ryria, all to willing to give all of her time to working when she should be relaxing and prepping for the next deployment. Even if she did spend the latter part of her days helping the icy asari in the medbay.
She had already been through the painfully tacky and purposely downplaying, if not outright deceitful, Cultural Center. It only made her wonder if the Angara saw through the bullshit immediately, or if they had to interact with any of the new aliens (it was still a bit of a mind warp for Serena to consider herself an alien to the cluster, but its what she was) before that happened. The intent was nice, but the execution was terrible.
It hadn't taken her long to catch up on the local gossip and hot news on the station. Apparently, the Pathfinder was opening the first murder trial of the Initiative again and giving all the evidence another look over. Serena herself was largely indifferent to the whole affair. Murder was going to be apart of the Initiative from the day it put thousands of people together, no matter how sure the Initiative was in their, obviously flawed, mental health evaluations. Arguably, it had already happened when the leadership had the Krogans attack the Exiles and then betrayed the Krogans. Besides, it wouldn't be her problem or of any interest in three days. She'd be shipped off to another planet to deal with more of the Kett, the Exiles, or even the splinter group that was among the Angara. What was their name...Ryak? Roethaga? Roykan? The Roekaar! That's it. Those bastards. Another extremist group that, from what she understood, was taking the name of a noble group of warriors and dragging it through the dust. Another enemy, trying beat down the newly risen Initiative.
Much like the Kett, their hands were going to break on the unforgiving shield of APEX.
Her aimless wandering had ended her up near hydroponics. While the increased security made her uneasy (bringing back all too fresh memories of the Mutiny) what really caught her attention was the krogan bent over a table, obviously upset. "...Kargad?" She said, somewhat incredulously. She had never seen the krogan anything other than joyful and boisterous. Whatever was upsetting him had to be bad then, to get through that joyful exterior. She couldn't just leave him like that. Serena made her way over to him, cautiously touching his shoulder. "Kargad? Are you okay? What's wrong?"
"Who? Alaira? Nah." Althalus waved a dismissive hand at Darius. "She only does that to people who try and fail to be subtle about insults."
"Aw, come on, think of all the money we could make Alaira! We could establish you as the cha-and she's walking off. Well. There goes my master money making plan. And you're save Darius, she must be feeling merciful." Althalus mused, rubbing his chin. I'll have to put my money on Ssarak now. As Ssarak spoke up on the matter of Henri, Althalus pretended to be offended. He knew Ssarak had a point, and was perhaps the most diplomatic out of all of them, but it didn't mean he had to like it. "He wouldn't have died I would have had Mar close up the wound before he bled out all over the ground. It was more of a 'man maybe I shouldn't get angry at everyone and think about what I'm doing first' wake up call. He tried to fight Tyrael, Tyrael of all people, his first day at the College remember?" He gave a light shrug at the Esyire mentioning Henri saving Lyn's life. It had already been addressed when she told him and Mar, and had no bearing on the current issue.
"Mar and I already thanked him for that. And that's not the problem here, even if he seems to think I do have issues with him being around Lyn. The problem here is that he seems to think that any of his actions, his precious 'I must retaliate against any and all perceived insults real or not' code, will only affect him if he uses it on Eanian nobles, or that he can even out run the consequences. Which are both blatantly wrong. If he pisses off a noble, all of the College suffers. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be kicked from this festival or spend it in a dungeon because Henri's mouth went off. Plus, he's with the College. There's literally no where to run because all escape routes lead, quite publicly, to Twilight College."
He swatted at the hand of a child, reaching for his coin pouch. It didn't have anything in it, of course. He wasn't dumb enough to leave coins where they could easily be snatched, but it always helped to have a decoy. "Alright you little rascals, get out of here before I steal your souls and eat your eyes!" He dramatically raised his hands, shadows spring forward like claws from them, and jerked towards the children. They scattered, in shrieks of both fear and laughter.
Althalus held his hands up to ward off Annabeth's excitement, shadows dissipating from them, laughing softly. It was nice to see that someone was enjoying the prospective day. "Easy there miss champion-to-be. I'm no duelist, can't fight properly with all their rules, so I think I'll have to bow out of the fighting ring. You and Ssarak however, you two I'm more than willing to bet on. I'm sure you both could be champions, and make me money in the process!" His face fell as Ssarak bowed out of the Tourney as well. "Oh come on. You're gonna make me bet on Darius? Darius of all people?" He gestured towards the Yarosmerian, grinning at Darius and winking. He turned back to Ssarak, a hopeful face and sugary voice turning on. It worked on Mar, sometimes. Lizards and Snakes were close enough, right? It was worht a shot at least. "Just one little tourney? For that time you drugged Mar and I against our will?" His wheedling voice and hoping face dropped at the mental message Ssarak gave him. The experience still made his skin crawl, anxiety and mistrust from Satori's first demonstration rearing their ugly heads, but the contents gave him even more concern. His daughter was in danger. Again. He swore quietly, looking around. Lyn was gone, and he'd just have to trust Helena would put her training to good use and Henri could repeat his status as Lyn's saviour.
"Well, we need to find Lyn then, and stay in a group. Can't take our form and pin something on us if we're all publicly together. And its harder to get Lyn if she's in a crowd." His eyes landed on Keri as she approached. "She looks mildly annoyed." He glanced at Mar. "And she's headed right for us. This should be fun!"
"You know Tyrael, as much as I so enjoy standing menacingly here with you, what if we switch it up a bit hmm? How about we really scare them and sit menacingly in the cathedral? What do you say? No? I figured. You were always particular to the tried and true 'stand menacingly' tactic." Uicle spoke dryly, standing next to Demonomancy master. He was with Tyrael for two reasons. The college both wanted someone to who could stop Tyrael if he went on a wild hare and tried to do something violent during the festival (and Uicle being the most unkillable teacher besides Tyrael himself got the lucky draw) and it wanted two teachers in a central location, should something go horribly wrong and their students needed a safe place to run to.
Personally, Uicle didn't even want to be in the city. He wanted to stay back at the College with Khan, and make sure the idiot didn't do something stupid like make a pact with Kudd while they were gone. But nooo someone had to be with Tyrael, because Tyrael just haaaaad to follow Mar and Lyn. It wasn't all bad. Uicle did get some grim amusement out of the distress they must be causing the local priests and Paladins. A half-demon and an undead immortal former servant of Aaarem, both possessing incredible power and a history of intense violence, casually standing in their temple. It was enough to make him chuckle, if only for a moment.
So here he was, trying not to go mad from boredom, waiting for something interesting to happen. He had Golems all over the city, of course. Masked as gusts of wind, they followed the students around and generally floated throughout the city, keeping an eye out for trouble. As the situation with Henri, Lyn, and the rest escalated he sighed. This was going to be trouble, and not just for the students involved. He took a step forward and put a firm hand on Tyrael's chest. "Let the students handle this Tyrael. They're all adults, even if Althalus and Henri refuse to act like it, and the latter hasn't done anything to make good on his threat. He might just be blowing off steam and we don't need you running around Eania with a scary look on your face. " Uicle paused, considering the demonomancy teacher's face. "Scarier look on your face." He conceded, continuing. "So why don't we sit down, and you not make me put any actual effort into stopping you. Just this once."
"alright my Maniacal Gardener, go have fun." He kissed her on the top of the head before Lyn sprang off, heading towards Henri and Helena. But not too much fun. He thought silently, willing her to get over this crush soon. She wasn't old enough to have a crush yet.
Althalus shrugged at Ssarak. "Could be worse. Would be a lot better if, someone would let me just nick a vein in Henri's leg." He looked pointedly at Mar. "But alas, I'm informed that would be 'wrong' and 'get us kicked out of the College'. So I'll just have to settle for waiting till his pride makes him take a swing at me, then nicking a vein in his leg. Its only a matter of time before that happens. He seems to think any time someone suggests that his way might not be the best way is a personal attack. Unless you wanna drug him? That seems to work wonders for calming people down." He looked over at Mar and smiled. "As we both know. Overall though? I'm good. We're here in a relatively safe city, surrounded by friends and one annoying person, and at a festival? What's not to be okay with?" He heard Mar's comment and grinned at her.
His eyebrows waggled suggestively. "I could think of a few things to distract you. We'd have to rent an inn room, and miss out on all the festivities, but I'd be able to keep you distracted for hours." As Alaira walked up and spoke, he mock swooned. "You wound me, dear Alaira. I happen to think I am one of the most intelligent people in this area. And Mar's personality and social skills with new people and areas? Absolutely sparkling. We're offended. If you're so bored, I suppose there is some sort of duels and sparring going on somewhere. You and Ssarak could join one together, beat the Pit out of some poor local guardsmen." He shrugged again, pulling out a coin and flipping it between his fingers. "Mar and I are probably just going to wander, and see where the road takes us. Unless you want to take me up on that 'distracted for hours' offer?" He looked over, eyebrow raised.
The little snow elf practically jumped up and down as Danica listed off all the places they could go, the things they could see. If she was being honest with herself, all of those places and ideas sounded amazing. She really couldn't decide which was the best to go to first, and frankly, she didn't care which she went to first. There was plenty of time, all day long, for them to see all of them. There was no need to rush, move along, or even hurry. She didn't even know what half of those things were, but figured there wold be more than enough time to get a crash course in it. "Whatever you think is best!" She declared, dancing around Danica. "The Plaza, the tower, the cahtedral, the dresses, the gallery, the bakeries, whatever you want to go see first! Because all of that sounds like things I would enjoy immensely. So take you're pick! I'm sure I'll love whatever you choose!"
She grinned up at Dani's mask, eager to get going.
A small bird, one leg half missing, chirped to itself. Its eye fixated on Henri, Lyn, and Helena. It ruffled its feathers in satisfaction, taking off towards the inner city. It had a mission to complete.
Down beneath the ground, a figure walked around a chess board, moving one of its constantly changing pieces through the city of shimmerstone. "And the final pieces begin to fall into place. We're in the end game now, siblings. Soon, soon. Soon it will be time rise again. Everything is coming. Soon."
Leith's ring whispered in his ear, breaking the long silence.
The shapeshifter is in the city. She has fixated on your firebrand. Careful, careful. She has plans for you and your cohorts, and will never forgive you for murdering her sister.
Serena chuckled at Haze's reply, eyeing her omni-tool readouts. The three Dels were all spread out back behind the four remaining Chosen, waiting for an opportunity to come back up and fire into them again. Unfortunately, the aliens had learned from the death of their comrades, and were keeping an eye behind them. They seemed to be familiar with the subtle movements Milky Way cloaks used to cover their wearer's movements, firing the second they saw or though they saw a Del getting too close. That's going to be annoying. We'll have to give them something to move about or pay attention too then.
Dex ran into the building with Ryria, to get the scientists ready to move the second they could. Serena concurred. She didn't want to be out here in this base any longer than she had to be, and she certainly didn't want any more Kett to show up and pin them down. "Hurry fast Dex, this commotion is doubtlessly going to bring more Kett sooner or later." She muttered, readying up a machine swarm in her omni-tool. "Come on my pretties, lets see if you can't get those nasty Kett out from behind cover and ready to be shot at." She cooed, moving to stand up.
What she heard next over the main channel made her immediately sit back down behind cover, her blood going cold. Clyff was hit. She dispelled the machine swarm, bringing up her omni-tool and having Sarah zoom in on the breacher. He was hit bad, and right out in the open to make things even worse. Serena's first reaction was to immediately shoot to her feet and take a step towards his position. A teammate was hurt and she was going to be damned if she would just sit by and let him bleed out all over the sands of this godforsaken place. Bullets peppered her shields, the Chosen taking the opportunity given by her stupidity to get some shots off on her, and she crashed back behind her cover, cursing. Too close. At around the same time, Dex's affirmation that the civilians were getting ready to move out came over the comms.
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." She couldn't leave, both because she'd get shot to pieces by the Chosen in front of them, and if she did she be dooming even more civilians to death. Serena paused, taking a deep breath and steadying herself. She couldn't go save Clyff, or even put most of her resources to saving him. The civilians hadn't asked for this, or even come looking for it. Clyff had, and was prepared for the risks. It hurt, but if she had to, she'd leave him to his fate to save them.
But she didn't have too. Think think think. She had to do something, anything. Clyff was dying out there. She looked down at her omni-tool as it beeped at her, the Dels awaiting instructions. "Perfect! Overwatch positions, Clyff Ward. Keep Kett suppressed." The drones beeped an affirmative, flying high over the Chosen and heading towards Clyff's position. Forming a triangle above him, they watched for any Kett looking in his direction, opening fire to keep them suppressed. Serena spoke over the whole team's comms. "I got the Dels covering any approach to Clyff, you're good to go get him."
That done, she turned back to her original plan, her omni-tool thrumming with a machine swarm once more. "Go get them." She popped over her cover again, firing the pods of her swarm at the Chosen. They burst on the Kett's armor, thousands of small drones controlled by one VI swarming him with an angry buzz and burrowing through his shields and beginning to work on his armor. The Kett panicked, his shields shattering like glass under the combined assault, and stood arms flailing as he tried to knock the machine swarm off.
Serena's first two-shot burst hit him in the chest, sparking off the armor. She swore quietly, and aimed where her robotic eye indicated. The next two slammed through the Kett's head, and he collapsed on the ground as her swarm moved from his corpse too its next victim. As an additional incentive to get the remaining Chosen to move, Serena focused her biotic power. A small ball of blue swirling energy formed in her hand, and she threw it like a baseball at the Chosen's position. It soared across the battlefield, seeming to move slowly and quickly at the same time, before bursting into a gravity well around the three remaining Chosen. It didn't do anything, of course, but as soon as one of the Chosen lost their shields or the machine swarm got over to them, it would be quite lethal.
"Got a machine swarm and a Singularity on the remaining Kett. They'll either move or be floating targets. And by the by Haze, that's 2-to-1."
He merely raised an eyebrow at Henri as the boy went on a spiel of what, Althalus supposed, Henri thought were scathing insults and sharp witticisms. They were more like a child's blustering attempt at returning perceived insults with flailing taunts. All it did was solidify the idea that Henri had no true idea of the situation he was now in, and that he would cause problems because of his pride or machismo, or whatever it was the drove him to act the way he did. Truth be told, when he turned the same heavy handed and childish taunts and replies onto Alaira, Althalus was surprised she didn't punch the boy's teeth back through his throat. Guess we've all done some learning since we first met. He mused, waiting for the carriage to stop. Lyn and Helena's defense of Henri wasn't unexpected. Helena wanted to sleep with the boy and Lyn was experiencing her first crush. A prospect that was, if Althalus was honest with himself, a major source of his dislike of Henri. Still, it didn't mean any of the points he had made were wrong.
As he got out of the carriage, Alaira stopped him. He looked up in mild surprise at the half-elf, having never known her for whispering much, then shook his head "No. He'll be more likely to do whatever we don't want him to do out of spite if he thinks he's being followed by us. Hypocrites are like that. I'll tell Helena to keep him out of trouble and do whatever necessary to do that. I'll stop to chat with him again, since they're so close."
He made his way over to Henri, sighing as he did so. Why did Lyn have to have a crush on an arrogant fool? When he reached said arrogant fool, he began talking once more.
"Since you seem completely oblivious to the College's political situation and your roll in it, allow me to explain. The College doesn't have any allies. Oh, Eania and Djarkel and all the rest make great big shows of support for it, and say they are allies all the time, but they all really want the College to side with them more than just 'magical aid and benevolent neutrality'. They want the College to send its mages to war with them, against their enemies. As I'm sure you know, Mages change the course of war. And no place has more mages, much less master mages, than the College. So they are constantly maneuvering to get the College into a more war time alliance, and the College is constantly maneuvering to stay in the current agreement.
"Where you fit in, my oh-so confident boy, is that once you leave College grounds to go do a mission, which is what we're in right now, you are a representative and diplomat of the College. You wield the immense responsibility and consequences of being able to influence entire nations policy and leverage on the College. That means if you do something violent, stupid, kind, smart, so on so forth, it will reflect upon the college and affect the grounds on which they can negotiate with whatever nation it happens to affect. For here, it means that if you are unfortunate enough to encounter a noble and you aren't smart enough to swallow your own pride and be polite no matter what, because make no mistake they will try to get you to make a fool out of yourself and play into their hands, and you get yourself thrown in jail for attacking a noble, the College will either disown you entirely and leave you to rot or it will have to acquiesce to Eanian demands that might just get it and every student it has embroiled in a war. So when you have an insult on the tip of your tongue, or a dagger on the tip of your fingers, try to remember that there is far more at stake than your pride."
Althalus looked over Henri. He assumed the boy was going to take what he said as an insult, again, and make more childish fronting, but it was worth a shot. "I'm assuming you want respect, given your little speech about arrogant people and how they think they can talk down to you. What Alaira said was right. None of us care who you were before you got here. None of us are impressed by your stares, puffed up reactions, and flippant remarks. You want our respect? Start by proving you know when more's at stake than arrogant people stinging your pride, and that you can actually let things go without saying something. The rest, courage, skill, calm under pressure, all that good stuff, you can prove on other missions." He shrugged.
"Or don't. I don't particularly care what you do so long as it doesn't get my family or the College embroiled in your mess. Also, your insults need work. You sounded like a blustering child rather than someone with a sharp and biting wit. You could actually learn something from Helena in that department." He looked over at the other woman, smirking at the look in her eye. "Keep an eye on him. I don't trust him to see past pride and hold his tongue if a noble pisses him off. We'll all be considered accomplices if he does something stupid, and you don't want to go into jail during the festival, hmm? If you get him through the entire festival without him doing something to a noble, I'll give you an extra point. If you actively stop him from doing something to a noble, I'll give you an extra three points. Do whatever you deem necessary. Have fun, kids." He left, ignoring whatever remarks the two of them made at his back, heading over towards Mar.
He walked over smiling at her, before leaning against the wall, noticing Lyn snapping Mar out of her trance, he grinned and winked. "Still entranced by my beauty, I see. Don't worry, a few more years and you'll be used to the effects." He sighed dramatically. "What a painful loss that will be, when I no longer daze you with my beauty." He glanced at Lyn, making a subtle gesture to the city around them and then back at Mar. 'Makes her nervous' he mouthed back. "Do me a favour, my Maniacal Gardener." He smiled at Lyn. "Keep an eye on Henri and knock him out if his pride gets to big for his britches again. I've already explained the situation he and the College is in, but I'm afraid his pride will interpret it as 'someone is talking down to me again, so I should flail verbally like a child.'"
The snow elf practically bounced out of the carriage, ignoring the tension among some of the others. They'd figure it out, or they'd just ignore each other. Right now, she had a whole city to explore and she wasn't about to waste it. She looked right to left excitedly, trying to figure out where to go next, when her eyes settled on Danica. She skipped over to the masked woman, grabbing her hand and bouncing up and down energetically. "You said you had been her before, right Dani? Can you take me on a tour? I have no idea where to go and I'm really interested in seeing all of the best parts and the music! Can you, please?" She did her best pleading eyes up at Danica, hoping they'd work.
Frankie was studying the case, mostly oblivious to the conversation around him, muttering quietly. It was a locked case, so he would have to be careful about opening it by force. He wasn't delicate enough to even think about prying it open. "Knowledge is the death of fear, Joe." He said it idly, still focusing on the case. Perhaps it was because of his status as one of the more indestructible denizens of the wasteland, but he had never really understood why people erred on the side of caution rather than the side of learning. Ah well. It'll have to be left to me then.
He hefted the case, examining it closer for any latch to just open it. It definitely is too old to be a Silverfish trap. Not to mention the fact that we haven't sprung anything that released a trap yet, which would have happened if the Silverfish had set up this trap. He would have to go a far distance away from the caravan, in case the case itself was trapped. Out of everyone here, he was far more suited to dealing with and recovering from any damage that the case might deliver onto them. It'd be a good idea to follow a fair distance behind the caravan with the contents of the case, just to make sure it wasn't some sort of lure or a thing that the Silverfish could track to attack them. Not to mention, it'd give him plenty of time to study the contents in the case in peace.
The Super Mutant was suddenly ripped from his single minded examination by Shepherd's heartbreaking wail. He started, looking at the poor man in the grave. He looked from Franz to Joe, helplessly. For half a moment he reached out with one hand towards Shepherd, perhaps to try to convince him to continue living, then drew his hand back suddenly. He was a Super Mutant. Reassuring people wasn't something he was good at, or even capable of. "I..I'm...I'll just examine the case over here." He muttered, shuffling awkwardly away with the case and heading towards the back of the caravan.
Species: Humanoid fish people with primitive gills allowing them to breathe under water (in both fresh and saltwater) for up to 10 hours, webbing in their hands and toes to swim better, able to dive to depths of 130ft (40m), and have a clear, third, eyelid that allows them to see underwater. 'Cethosi tears' are often used to describe fake tears, as they get rid of salt build up via it leaking out of their eyes with water. They lack hair, instead having vestigial fins on the top of their head that start brightly colored and can be large, but dull with age. Indeed, that is the only sign of age.
Cethosi women are larger than Cethosi males, by an average of five inches. There is no noticeable difference in physical attributes, though the men are typically faster swimmers.
Population: 40 Million
Culture: Cethosi culture, unsurprisingly, is tied to the ocean. From it their demi-gods were born, on it they expanded and united the Cethosi tribe, and it gives them life and sustenance daily. They have a deep respect for the ocean, and go to great lengths to ensure that it is respected as well. The Mother gave us life, but she is a force of nature that will never be tamed, never forget that.
Every Cethosi is first and foremost a sailor and a fisherman, and every single one of them is a powerful swimmer.
The Cethosi honor code is fairly simple, with every man's word being his bond. If a Cethosi gives you their word, they will hold to it until it complete or they are dead. If it becomes known that someone is an oath-breaker, they will be shunned by the community at large, until they are forced to leave. Most leave the islands entirely, as any ship they take to another island will spread the word of how untrustworthy they are to wherever they land.
Cethosi practice exo-cannibalism, believing that if they eat their slain enemies they will gain their enemies strength. In war, to prevent vicious last stands that will result in more casualties than necessary, Cethosi go to great lengths to make it clear that anyone who surrenders and any wounded are safe from being eaten. Everyone who fights and dies against them, however, is fair game.
Cethosi believe that when someone dies, their power is spread throughout their family. Being descended from Demi-gods, every Cethosi thus has part of divinity in them, no matter how minuscule. After someone has died, their family thanks them for the power they are leaving. They are then given back to the ocean, to nourish that which has nourished them their whole lives.
Tattoos play an important part in Cethos culture, denoting rank, accomplishments, tribe, and which of the long gone Matra Tu they worship. It is rare to find a Cethosi that doesn’t have some form of tattoo on their body, and many tribes view it as a disgrace if you do not.
Geography: By and large, most Cethosi islands are pleasant tropical islands. Some have sheer cliff spaces or extremely shallow waters very close, limiting where ships can dock and land, but they are all clear waters and pleasant weather.
The main cluster of islands in Cethos is starkly different to the rest of the islands. Instead of easy, clear, waters, the approach is filled with dark, choppy waters with large rocks jabbing out at frequent and seemingly random intervals. All around the island are 'ship graveyards' where entire invading fleets met their doom or the royal family forced the rebels to enter the island on their defenses, sinking what remained the royal navy around the island. There is one main path through all of this, and that leads straight into the teeth of the island's defenses
The waters of Cethos are filled with exotic and magical creatures: huge fish whose scales shine with every color of the rainbow, mermaids playfully calling from the sea, giant squids sinking under the waves, talking turtles with gold growing on their shells, etc etc.
History: Descended from the many Demi-Gods ( Matra Tu ‘Mother’s Children’) of the ocean, whose final decree was that no impure would set foot on their holy islands, the people of Cethos have always preferred to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. The only recorded time in Cethosi history, before modern times, that they ever left their islands as a nation to interact with the outside world, was when Kratoria reached for allies against the Chan Ak Su-na the ‘Dark Invaders From Afar’ (often shortened to simply Chan).
Known as the Black Empire, the Ap Morgi, The Morghul Dominion, and a thousand other names in a thousand other tongues, the Chan had already gained a foothold on the Cethosi islands, and were embroiled in a bloody war of conquest against the Cethosi and the Matra Tu. The Cethosi and their gods were losing ground every day, only slowing the Chan at a terrible cost. The Kratorians landed on Cethos’ shores, and offered an alliance. With nowhere else to turn, the Matra Tu accepted. Together, they forced the Chan off the islands. Thus began Cethosi involvement in a centuries long war that would claim the lives of thousands of Cethosi and dozens of Matra Tu.
When the war was finally over, and the Chan finally defeated, the Cethosi retreated to their isolation again. The Matra Tu bid their former allies farewell, and settled into their isolated kingdoms, ruling over their islands.
It was only a few years later that Kratoria would return, demanding Cethos allegiance and servitude to the Kratorian Empire, a new power filling the void left by the destruction of the Chan. The Cethosi and their gods refused, and threw the Kratorian delegation off of their islands. Within days, a Kratorian fleet sailed across the ocean, intent upon conquering the isles. The Matra Tu would unite their islands again, and meet the threat in open battle in the sea. In the centuries that followed, the Matra Tu would engage the Semideums in titanic battles, entire fleets being shattered on both sides, and the Cethosi tribes awaiting to battle any Kratorians that made it to the Islands. The Empire never achieved its dream of conquering the Cethosi Islands, but they did inflict severe blows to the Cethosi population and morale. Bit by bit, year by year, the Matra Tu were being eradicated. History debates and wildly speculates on the cause, some claiming a curse from the Chan Ak Su-na, others from the Kratorians, still others simple old age, and yet more others that the Kratorians had poisoned them. All agreed that the war with the Kratorian Semideums aggravated the issue, and the results are all the same. Eventually, the Matra Tu were extinct as a race. Cethos was left without its defenders, and Kratoria wasted no time launching another invasion fleet. This one without Semideum, as they were needed for the war against Etresna and knew it to be below them to battle ‘island savages’.
The Cethosi, still united despite the death of their guardians, met the fleet in open waves. It was a desperate last stand. They knew that if the Kratorians were allowed to gain a foothold, they would be conquered within months. So they threw every ship they had at the Kratorian fleet, and did everything possible to destroy it. Ships were lit on fire and rammed into the enemy. Cethosi crews would madly rush aboard Kratorian ships with oil and fire, throwing it everywhere as they were cut down. Cethosi ships were thrown in front of advancing Kratorian ships to slow their advance to the island.
Hundreds of Cethosi ships were sacrificed, and thousands died. But it worked. Most of the Kratorian fleet was destroyed and those ships that weren’t slinked back to Kratoria. Another invasion never came, as Kratoria became ever more obsessed with defeating Etresna and lost its grip on the rest of its holds.
The Cethosi leadership that had united them during this battle all perished, and the tribes of Cethos fractured again. They only unanimously agreed to keep the Islands free of outsiders, and then went to their separate islands to live how they believed their Matra Tu wanted them too.
Even during the unification of the islands in the years 1650-1660, Cethos kept outsiders as much out of their islands as they could, even going so far as to execute those they found twice. Up until 1880, the islands kept as minimal contact with the outside world as they could. Their sacred decrees were everything, and they would not break it. When the year 1880 finally arrived, the Cethosi Civil War broke out and ravaged the islands for twenty years.
An officer of the Cethosi Navy, Gharn Lashk, had become the leader of a faction pushing for Cethos to open its borders and to increase contact with the outside world. Cethos, he argued, was falling behind in the arms race of the world and it would only be a matter of time before a stronger nation came and conquered them. He had seen the technology Etresna possessed, the armies of the nations that were only a short sail away, and new that his beloved Cethos would not survive a war with any of them.
His warnings were ignored, and he kept pushing. He kept pushing for their borders to open, for trade to be allowed, for them to become modernized quickly before someone took advantage of their weakness. After being stopped time and time again, stopped by his superiors and his king, Gharn took matters into his own hands. He had amassed a strong following, especially among the peasantry of the islands, and he could seize control. Gharn attempted to assassinate his king and the royal family. The attempt failed, and Gharn barely escaped with a handful of his followers. He vowed to return, and finish what he had started. The Cethosi Civil War had begun.
What would follow was twenty years of vicious naval battles, bloody beach assaults, and the massive ramp up of modernization and defensive fortifications on the islands. Ships and guns became more and more modern as both sides bought from outsiders, islands became entrenched on all sides awaiting the next assault. Gharn got all that he wanted and more. He only had to bring half of the islands under his control to complete his dream. He couldn't afford to let them destroy each other any longer. He needed to end the war quickly, so he reached out to the outside world. Specifically he reached out to Etresna, and made their alliance stronger. In return for Cethos' naval aid and keeping some of the islands they take, Etresna will help him win this civil war. Etresna fleets and military soon deployed in aid of Gharn's rebellion, and their aid proved invaluable in winning Gharn the war.
As Etresnamaden and Cethosi Rebels stormed the palace of the main island, the royal family and their last loyal troops barricaded themselves in the palance. It was a magnificent structure, made of ebony wood, that had been apart of Cethos history for hundreds of years. It was said to have been a gift from the Matra Tu, before they died. Gharn gave them one chance to surrender, to join him. They refused. Gharn set fire to the entire palace with everyone inside. As the Royal family burned alive, the flames of the old ways flooding the skies with black smoke, Gharn was crowned the new Matra Prunak of Cethos.
Ten years have passed since then. Gharn's reconstruction of the military and its fortifications on all the islands, in addition to Cethos acquiring two client states, has left the economy perilously weak. If not for its tight alliance with Etresna, Cethos would have no doubt been stuck with its devastated army and navy. The economy has slowly been built back up, exports previously kept within Cethosi borders being shipped out to other nations. With their navy strong, their army dug in, and their alliances sealed, Cethos stands ready for whatever this new era brings.
Territory Claims: All of the pink islands off the coast of Etresna.
Economy: The Cethosi economy is perilously weak. After the Civil War and the military rebuilding, the economy had no trade beyond Etresna to fall back on. While that was enough to prevent complete economic collapse, Cethos simply doesn't have the funding to increase and improve many things. With the recent discovery of oil on and off their main islands, the outlook is better. As trade opens and things previously kept from the world are sent out, their economic weakness might change. As of now, Cethos is tightly tied to Etresna for economic support.
Technology: While by no stretch of the imagination a leader of the pack in the technology arms race, Cethos has, with the help of their allies Etresna, kept themselves effectively modern.
Army: The Cethosi Army is divided into two divisions. The Islands Defense Force, IDF, is a small and purely defensive branch of the military. Numbering only 120,000 in total, the IDF is spread out across the island holdings of Cethos, entrenched in the fortifications built during the Cethosi Civil War, and repaired to modern specifications in the past ten years. Every island has some form of fortification, the smallest having pitfall trenches, barbed wire, and machine gun bunkers, the largest having coastal artillery emplacements, sea mines (not deployed), barbed wire, pit falls, machine gun nests, etc. The vast majority of active duty soldiers being veterans of the Civil War, the IDF stands ready and able to repel any possible invasion of the islands.
The Second Division of the Cethosi Army is the Islands Army. Numbering 180,000 standing members with another 100,000 on reserve the Islands is the projection force of Cethos. It is the force that will be sent forward alongside the marines to support allies or attack enemies.
Navy: With 600 war ships the Cethosi Navy is one of the largest navies on the seas of Narrev, if not the largest, and Cethos goes to great lengths to maintain their naval supremacy. As such, and due to their heritage and culture with the ocean, the Cethosi naval forces are much larger than that of other nations. The Marine Corps alone contains 980,000 active duty members and another 150,000 on reserve. These active members are spread across the navy ready to form a beachhead for allies, or help defend. The Marine corp is so large in its own right that it is more akin to the army of other nations, though they lack artillery, and as such are trained in land operations as well.
The Cethosi navy, technically, has access to thousands of other ships from centuries of Cethosi naval aspects. The Byuna Vasha are possessed ships with crews from centuries in the past, ranging from simple ramming ships to massive manowars. The vast majority of them are scuttled on the beaches, those with cannons and ranged weapons facing towards the sea for defence, and are more like to temples than actual warships.
The Cethosi Army and Marine Corp weapons designs are based off of Etresna, using the same base design as the make and models from the Etresnamaden military. The standard Cethos rifle, the Matra Wuban ‘Mother’s Wrath’ is based off of the Etremaden ‘Atassidaiir Vyye 1903 - Repeat Firearm Model 1903’. The Cethosi design was built with durability and functionality in mind, capable of operating even after submerged underwater for hours at a time or being used as a makeshift club, at the cost of some range. Every Cethosi soldier or marine comes with a dagger attached to their hip, and their bayonets are longer than traditional bayonets, making their guns looked more like spears than rifles. Melee combat and styles vary from island division to island division, as each culture has its own take and preference on how to fight.
Air Force: With no money to fund this innovative technology, Cethos has no airforce to speak of.
Magic: Cethosi magic is tightly tied to blood, flesh, and the consumption of it. Those two things are major factors amongst the mages of Cethos, as is ancestor reverence and worship. It is not uncommon for a modern day Cethosi mage to discuss things with the spirit of a mage who existed centuries ago, during the times of the Matra Tu. As an organization, the mages of Cethos are only loosely united by their investigation and cultivation of magic. Aligning themselves more according to their tribal lines than their universal similarities, there is no overarching organization to govern them. It is generally accepted, however, that the mages in the service of the crown have the power to shut down any research or development they deem dangerous to the Isles.
Cethosi magic is most well known for its use of the bodies of the dead. In various factories and special buildings across the islands, mages and those that work for them process the blood and flesh of the dead (enemies or volunteers) into vials of blood or packets of meat to be consumed. Upon consuming these, the Cethosi gains the physical attributes of whoever was processed into the vial or the packet. If a Cethosi was to drink the vial of blood, they would experience increased attributes for a few hours (a max of five, but it also depends on physical activity, with the shortest amount of time being an hour). If a Cethosi eats the package of meat they would experience increased attributes for a little longer than a day ( 28 hours max, but it also depends on physical activity, with the shortest amount of time being 20 hours).
Because of this, bodies of certain races are valued highly by Cethosi mages. They’ll pay top dollar for Uruk, minotaur, and elf corpses, and will pay any amount demanded if someone were to somehow get their hands on a semideum corpse.
They can get this process down to only a specific trait, used primarily with animal corpses. For example, an eagle’s blood would only lend the eyesight of an eagle to whoever drinks it, a bear’s blood would only lend the strength of a bear, so on so forth. These vials, while much more powerful, are much shorter lasting. They only last for a max of thirty minutes, depending on the physical activity, with a max of 15 minutes.
The Cethosi have developed a liquid, made from blood of course, that their bullets can be dipped into. When this liquid comes in contact with blood it causes the blood to turn acidic, making anything it touches burn in agony and, eventually, death (time frame depending on how fit and healthy the victim is). If the wound is washed out quickly enough, the effects are cancelled.
Cethos has also figured out how to tie the souls of dead sailors to ships they served on. These Byuna Vasha ‘Blessed Vessels’ have the souls of crewmembers who had been on the ship for years, and sailing in war vessels for decades. While the spirits are incapable of touching or interacting with the living world, they can possess the ship to tell the crew the max they can push it beyond recommended levels, they do not need rest or feel the elements (making them excellent look outs and guides through storms), and can tell the living crew the best way to set up things for the fastest and most accurate firing.
The same process is used to bind the souls of ancestors to buildings, allowing for their wisdom to be accessed for centuries to come. It is particularly popular amongst the cethosi mages.
Cethos has designed submarines made out of the corpses of dead sea leviathans. While these submarines are much more fragile and easily destroyed than normal submarines, they can stay under longer and move faster than their technological counter parts.
Cethos has developed a bone armor that covers the torso and head. Covered in blood runes and flexible, the bone is weaker than steel, but also much lighter. Incapable of blocking bullets at anything except extreme long range, it is more than capable of blocking melee weapon attacks. For that reason, and its lightness, most Cethosi soldiers come equipped with this light armor.
5 - Territory - Your nation is somewhat small, with room for perhaps a city or two and some farmland. (7-2)
13 - Tech - Your nation is decently modern, with an effective grasp of technology. It is by no means a trend setter, but it stays up.
17 - Army Size - The size of your army is formidable, and is maintained year-round. (7+10)
5 - Economy - Your economy is weak, and is teetering on a recession.
12 - Production -Your nation is a mix of agrarian and industrial. (14-3)
20 - Navy Size - Your nation rules the waves. Your merchant fleet is the best out there and your matchless navy seeps with tradition.
1 - Airforce Size - You have no air force.
20 - Mobilization Ability - It takes a week to mobilize.
15- Magic -Impressive, you can put lightning cannons in a lot of places, perhaps you've decided river patrol boats should shoot lightning instead of bullets
Masters of the Sea- Every Cethosi has been in a boat from the earliest time they can remember. They’ve been swimming since before that. They know the ocean, and all her fickle moods. As such, Cethosi ship crews are the most efficient in the world, getting that extra knot from their ships, firing those couple of seconds faster, etc etc. When in water, regardless of whether its swimming, beaching operations, or any other operation in the ocean, they’re much more at ease and skilled at it than other races.
Cannibals- Cethosi are exo-cannibals, meaning they only eat enemies slain in battle. However, their reputation as cannibals has rapidly distorted out of proportion. Enemies who face them are understandably afraid of this fate, making them more likely to break if they see defeat (and being eaten alive) rising. However, if they have nowhere to run this same fear makes them more likely to fight to the death instead of surrendering. The knowledge of the Cethosi honor code has eased some of these fears, but not many.
Battle Forged- Cethos only recently finished a brutal civil war that soaked the islands in blood. As such, all but the very young and the very old have experience in combat and war. The Cethosi army and navy is filled with experienced and hardened soldiers and sailors, ready from their time in the war. A large amount of the factories that they have are geared towards building weapons of war still. However, this has left their economy perilously weak, and there are still dissenters from the losing side, hidden away.
Naval Traditions- Cethos has always been a nation and a people that emphasizes navy and seagoing traditions over most others. As a result, it is only natural that most of their volunteers are for the navy and marine corp, making those military factions much larger than other nations, more akin to actual armies in their own rights. However, this also means that their army and artillery corps are much smaller than other nations.
Unfettered Ambitions- Cethos is playing catch up with the rest of the world. While they were being isolationist, the rest of the world was making advances in industrial and technological sectors. Now that they have reentered the world they are only kept afloat by their ally’s technological superiority and economic might. To stop that, any and all money Cethos can spare is going to creating a thriving and modern industry in within the nation’s borders, at the cost of other sectors.
Population: 27 million
Army size: 80,000
Overview: A mess of snarling tribes and contentious members, Hyan has always been a divided nation. Until Cethos arrived and forcibly united them, and continues serving as a peacekeeper and settler of disputes, the tribes had separated themselves into various city states. Once Cethos arrived, the tribes acquiesced to the greater Cethosi strength one by one, until Cethos had all of their loyalty. They were allowed to keep their autonomy, but with Cethos keeping a watchful eye on them.
Trait: War Dogs- The Hyan’s culture is based heavily around war and combat. It is built into almost every facet of their lives, and they are very prepared for and experienced in it. However, they are also extremely eager to fight in it and die in it. This leads to recklessness, such as charging heedlessly straight into the teeth of entrenched forces and artillery, giving away positions in a night attack, so on so forth. It also leads to officers being unable to control them, leading to acts of unnecessary savagery and cruelty.
5 - Territory - 5 Provinces 3 - Political Stability - This nation is doing alright. 6 - Nationalism - This nation is ashamed of its culture and is completely subservient to your nation.
Population: 10 million
Overview: Natives to Shrask, the Slaugs are a largely isolationist nation. They would much prefer to be left alone, even from each other, minding their own business. Alas, the ways of the world prevented that, and when Cethos arrived offering their navy in return for Shrask's allegiance, they couldn't refuse. Still, Cethos maintains a very hands off policy towards them, not wanting to anger them.
Trait: Good Things Take Time- The Slaugs are a very patient race. They move slowly in everything. Building, moving, going to war, firing weapons, the Slaugs are slow and precise. When they do get to completing what they’re doing it is usually with masterful purpose. Their creations are superbly built and beautiful to look at. They move into a purposeful location. They strike at a key area in a war. Their weapons hit hard and powerfully. The Slaugs move slowly, but never without cause or impact.
5 - Territory - 5 Provinces 5 - Political Stability - This nation is peaceful and stable. 3 - Nationalism - This nation is somewhat nationalist, and is fiercely independent.