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This is interesting, I'll throw in a tag here. Are we sticking to the irl timeline and history?

With the mission functionally over Fuka had her mind set on one thing: the A/C 20. She wanted it, she needed it, she craved it and all the hole-punching, armor-cracking carnage it represented. The Dragon was a tanky old girl and a hoot to pilot but the armament was lacking. The LRM had its uses and the medium lasers were fine, but an A/C 5, seriously? She didn't want to be relegated to picking off Locust arms her whole career; she was supposed to be slugging it out with other heavies! That wouldn't happen without heavier weaponry, and the 20 was about the heaviest thing not strapped onto a starship.

Fuka was about ready to lift her leg and piss on the thing like a dog when the boss man called for volunteers.

"On it, let's go see what they got."

Adjusting to teeny human legs after clanking around on big metal ones was always a trip for her, being disconnected from the neurohelm giving her the sensation of input lag. Nothing serious, a moment of hesitation from her feet when her brain sent a command, but enough to be noticeable. It was a side effect of being a bad pilot. Maunvering took so much brainpower that she had to reorient herself when out of the cockpit, more embarrassing than it was dangerous. Still, something for her to work on.

With her respirator secured and her Nambu autopistol in its holster she trotted up towards the front, eyeing the Rassies in their hand-me-downs with amusement. With an army of expendable infantry and Sulser still in his mech she wasn't overly worried about any pirates still hiding in the hangar, idly scraping some of the excess moon dust off her feet as she waited to get going.
I’m note sure if I’m just missing an obvious link but where’s the Discord?
Tentative tag, I’ll have to see what my schedule looks like but this is quite cool.

Well, that had been wonderfully exciting. A few Locusts and some worthless ground vehicles, some pain in the ass VTOLs and big mean Hunchback all thrown together in a big ugly mess of a battle, metal and lasers and fire chewing up the scenery so that the desolate moon was in even worse shape than it was upon their arrival. There was a hole in the Dragon's leg which the neurohelm was kindly reminding her of by giving her a vicious migraine, but hey she was still alive!

That was more than could be said of the poor morons Overkill was trying to turn to paste.

There was some sort of annoying buzz coming through the comms, the damage that caused it somehow not coming up on any readout. Fuka was about to raise her voice in concern before she realized it wasn't neurological damage from the helmet but just Alvin running his stupid mouth for the sake of listening to his drool splatter about the cockpit. Why he felt the need to yammer about an unrelated company on an unrelated mission in circumstances that didn't match any of theirs, Fuka couldn't say. All she could do was give an appreciative cough into the comms when Jaromir beat her to the punch, his gentle reminder to shut the fuck up much nicer than what she had been planning.

"I'm alive, but my right leg's still busted; I'm not going anywhere with any speed."

She was just grateful it hadn't been the cockpit; she refused to die before the slave.

"Not sure if you want me at the front still in this shape, but I can manage if needed.

The remaining VTOLs were fucking off, finally, but the squishy troops they had brought with them were still a problem. There was nothing Fuka could do about them without flamers, or at least a few machine guns. Perhaps the techies back onboard the Ankhanne could pull a couple out of mothballs, solder them onto the Dragon's shoulders or something?

A thought for another, less hectic day. The here and now was occupied by slippery little rebel-pirates and their Hunchbacked comrade, Fuka gladly stepping back to let her commander tangle with the brute. She was relatively safe for the moment, neither wrapped up in a wrestling match nor being clambered on by demo charge-toting flyboys, giving the space she needed to reassess the situation.

Jaromir: Potentially about to explode, nothing she could do. Alvin: also about to explode, no big loss. The commander: about to be force-fed two hundred millimeters of explosive pain, but in doing so would sacrifice himself to win the battle. The Large Laser of his had scythed right through the Hunchback's plating, exposing the internals to the frigid air. Fuka was no mechanic, but she knew enough about mechs to know what she was looking at.

"I'm going for the engine and the gyro; someone save our friends from being boarded."

Fuka hobbled herself to the side to get an angle, her already poor piloting hindered by the damage to the Dragon's leg. No matter, one was enough to keep her standing. She aimed, she breathed, she squeezed the triggers-

The crack of autocannon fire merged with the sizzling hiss of a laser beam, the Hunchback's vitals receiving a direct blast even as the Slave tried to cut it off at the knees.

"It's on the ropes!"

Thozna Scrapblast-of-Norplain

Chatting with Malleck (@Enigmatik) and Athulwin (@Tortoise)

Thozna would have understood Malleck's distrust more if she hadn't known of his species's penchant for slavery. If one had a problem with the killing of outsiders it would only be logical to assume they didn't use forced labor, for both fates were the ultimate deprivation: the theft of the self. Her people took lives, Malleck's took souls, and yet he felt he had some sort of high ground over her? Preposterous.

Her peacemaking efforts dissipated in an instant, the Gnoll's tail swishing in annoyance as she eyed the painted pup.

"Your people take child from parent and husband from wife as surely as do mine; spare me your talk of innocents. We sit at the edge of a slave market stocked by Ainok hands, and if I were to hazard a guess I'd say that some within the Caravan have lost their own to Dinnin."

She turned to face the elder again, bowing respectfully to Athulwin.

"I plan to visit the city. Is there anything you would like me to bring you?
Thozna Scrapblast-of-Norplain

Chatting with Malleck (@Enigmatik) and Athulwin @Tortoise

Gnolls had a reputation for evil, something Thozna still found confusing even after all her years interacting with the other peoples of Alwyne. Gnolls had no inherent respect for life and saw no problem in killing for what they needed, but they weren't mindless. Friends and family were to be respected and protected, and the Caravan was now Thozna's pack. She presented no danger to them unless they for some reason turned on her and Ryt.

But the Ainock must have grown up with too many stories of her kind, for his body betrayed him by displaying his fear. Thozna found it gratifying, even if it was unwarranted, for there was no better boost to the ego than knowing that someone was scared out of their wits by your mere presence.

She bared her teeth in a smile, so used to the human way of doing things that she didn't realize just how poorly the gesture could be taken until it had already been made. "I could do so." She shrugged. "I just wasn't sure what sort of things I could expect."

The Ainock was still frightened of her, a slave to his ancestral memories, and when he backed away Thozna took the hint. "The elder is right." she said with a polite nod to Athulwin. "Gnolls do not turn on packmates without reason."
Thozna had never mentioned Clan Buraq directly, but she had spoken of places similar to it. Huge cities carved out of rock or simply burrowed into the mountains themselves, spires built by slave labor or close to it for priests and kings with too much money and not enough love for their people. The major metropolises of Alwyne all blended together for her into one grim soup, places of inequity and sadness.

It was natural for her to think like that, the boy supposed, because to her tell it, the cities she had grown up around had been breeding grounds for cruelty. The Ashvenkal did not encourage people to play nice with outsiders. While the free-roaming Gnoll packs and smaller fiefdoms at least engendered loyalty to one's kin, there was no such expectation under the rule of the Dragon-Sultans.

His mother's casual treatment of evil always needled him, which was why he was so disappointed by what he had been told of the Dinnin. Thozna was many things, but a liar was not one of them, so when she mentioned that the Sun-Stricken (as she called them) were slavers who liked to kidnap those outside of their religion, it was a statement based in truth. This begged the question, why was the Caravan visiting them? Surely other routes could be taken that wouldn't force them to patronize slavers and fanatics?

Thozna, seeing the quiet confusion on his face as they went about morning chores, answered unbidden.

"Because profit comes before morals, assuming the Caravan could have morals ascribed to it. It's a big group of people from all over, Rrakti,you can't assume all of them care one way or the other about such things."

Rrakti roughly translated to 'Little Man' in the common tongue, and it was both a pet name and a pointed reminder that by her standards, Ryt was an adult, and adults didn't have the time to bother themselves feeling bad about the injustices of the world. They looked out only for themselves and their loved ones; all others weren't a concern until they gave reason to be.

If that was what being a man entailed Ryt would never be ready for it. He frowned, stubby tusks peeking out from his lower lip as he fed a spoonful of stew to Buford.

"Maybe I'll buy a slave." the orcling said, half-mumbling the words. "Then since they're mine I can set them free."

"You'd better start saving up then." Thozna snorted, making that classic hyena cackle. "You come offering your pocket change and they're liable to add you to their stock just for wasting their time."

"I meant in the future."

Thozna grunted, going back to stitching her blanket. The conversation was now tabled, and Ryt was left to think.
Thozna Scrapblast-of-Norplain

Intercepting Malleck (@Enigmatik)

After making sure their animals had enough water, Thozna gathered her things for the day, tucking her coins into a pouch and putting on her armor with the ever-present reliquary chained to it. She didn't expect to indulge in violence(even an old war beast like her would balk at turning a trip to the market into a bloodbath), but it was better to be safe than sorry. Most of her interactions with the Sun-Stricken were through the Ainok, and if the rest of the brethren were like those slippery runts then it was best to be ready for trickery.

Don't let yourself be surrounded, don't eat or drink anything offered to you without your asking, keep your eye on anyone you don't know, and always assume that someone was looking to kick your legs out from under you, those were the rules Thozna lived by, and if any particularly entrepreneurial Dinny wanted to try and slap slave chains on her she'd see it coming a mile away. Ryt was not yet experienced enough to understand her paranoia, and all she could do was hope that this wasn't the trip where he learned. He was still so unsure of himself but growing into rebelliousness, rebelliousness that expressed itself as a need for separation. Thozna watched as her son left to explore independently, willing to trust him to keep himself safe.

Meanwhile, she wanted to get her bearings. Ostensibly, her attention was on the herds of massive elephants as she sidled her way toward the gates, but her predator's senses were always quick to pick up sudden movements. Her ears twitched as she caught a glimpse of someone running back toward the Caravan. It was one of the dogs, and for a moment her hackles raised at the memories of cutting off scouts before they could warn their friends. But that had been a long time ago in a faraway region, the Norplain a distant concept swallowed up by the vast expanse of the Ashvenkal this deep into Dinnin territory. The Ainok wasn't an enemy, or even local to this particular hold. Instead it was one of her packmates, one she recognized by sight but not name.

Thozna's great size belied just how fast she was, the Gnoll putting herself on a path to intercept the Ainok and falling in line behind him.

"Pardon me, little hound." she said politely, matching his pace. "Would you let me follow your lead now? You have a better sense of what and what not to do than I."

Her common speech was strangely accented, combining the guttural growls and laughs of her native tongue and a thousand other accents she had picked up during her travels. The end result was something curiously out of place but filled with an innate menace, much like Thozna herself.

Sightseeing with Terilu and Gadri (@Tortoise and Enigmatik)

It took Ryt less time to prepare than his mother because he wasn't layering himself in hot metal and thick hide. Even if he had such gear and the will to wear it the sun would have made it impossible to do so. He wasn't unused to sweating, having grown up on the farm, but living in a desert was distinctly unpalatable. He made sure to fill a pair of waterskins to the brim, one for him and one for Buford trailing behind him.

He had no objective yet, no particular sight he wanted to see. This was entirely new ground for him, a foundling far removed from both his birthplace and where he had grown up, and he wanted to enjoy the experience. He wouldn't be able to do that knowing nothing about this place save for the presence of flesh markets, so when the rumbling voice of a stone-hewn invited those willing to accompany them Ryt took up the offer.

He wasn't the first to get there, his little legs unable to beat out the wings of a bat. Buford, the chipper idiot that he was, was only dissuaded from snuffling at Terilu's leathery wings by Ryt stuffing his hand in the dog's face, keeping it there as they all passed through the gates.

"Are all holds this big?"

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