Author Topic: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...  (Read 12011 times)

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Offline Mako

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2010, 10:04:39 pm »
Fuel Base Echo Foxtrot
0220 Hours

Chris was majorly peeved, every instinct screaming at him to stop the fleeing Samson. "Tsahey!" He spat with disgust. "Ma Jax, oel tspìyang ngati. Ngal lonu kxututi, ulte oel ke tslam futa aynga lu nìftxan nawm na ayoeng," he hissed into the comm channel. The hum of the blades disappeared as the Samson fell behind the canopy. Chris turned away and hissed with anger as he strode angrily toward the rapidly descending Dragon.

« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 01:20:49 pm by Reyona te Tsateka Ray'i'itan »

Offline Txontaw

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2010, 03:21:38 pm »
Hells Gate Biolab
0000 HRS

Joy jerked up, and hit her head on the top of the closed link.

"Son of a..." she said, and tried to move her arms to open it. Her arms refused to move with her head. Her entire body felt sluggish, and by the time she had lifted her arms, she was exhausted. What had happened? she wondered. She tried to recall... she had been in the biolab... then... here? She took about ten minutes of resting and moving her arm to reach the emergency open switch in the link. She pressed it, and the link sprang reluctantly open. She looked around slowly, and realized that she was in her storage container. Her avatar lay decanted on a table next to her. It looked weak, almost dead, but hanging on by a thread. Her memory was coming back to her.

Hell's Gate Biolab
1410 HRS

"Hey, Nick, would you mind running these samples down to the warehouse for me? They need to go into storage."

She gave him a false sweet smile and handed him the tray. Nick groaned silently. The warehouse was all the way across Hell's Gate.

"Thanks so much. I knew I could count on you." Joy gave another quick smile, and went back to her station. It was fun to play with your food before you ate it.

She went back to sorting, but she wasn't really thinking about her work. She kept walking to the warehouse in her mind, looking at that Avatar.. it kept beckoning to her, calling to her, wanting her. She tried to shake her head clear, but her Avatar just laughed in her tank and playfully said "You can't get rid of me that easily." Joy wiped her brow and realized she was sweating. What was happening to her? As far she knew she had never had a nervous breakdown, and she had always considered herself mentally stable. Why couldn't she just focus?

She surfaced from her thoughts and realized that she was standing in front of the warehouse door. The hell? How did I get here? Am I really this obsessed with my Avatar? She knew there were risks, but the pros way outweighed the cons. Successfully creating an Avatar by herself would make up for all those years of failure...

She found herself walking as if in a trance to her container. She powered up the link and calmly climbed in....

Hells Gate Biolab
0000 HRS

How long have I been out? And what went wrong? she wondered. She lay there until she had some strength, then slowly pulled herself into a sitting position. There was a vacuum-sealed meal on the table next to the link. She grabbed and ripped it open, stuffing whatever was inside into her mouth. There would be time for investigation later. Now she had to gain her strength. And save my Avatar, she thought, glancing at the giant body, inches from death.
"You're not in Kansas anymore. You're on Pandora, Ladies and Gentlemen." - Colonel Quaritch

Offline Brainiac

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #42 on: December 28, 2010, 10:41:10 pm »
The Dragon hovered in a clearing as Chris approached it. Oscar jumped out, ridiculously big gun at the ready. Chris, already peeved, rolled his eyes. "Where do you think you’re going?"
"What, you’re done? Already?" asked Oscar. "Yes, we are. Get back in the Dragon."
"Where are the others?" Chris was starting to lose his patience. "They’re on their way. Now get back in the Dragon."
Oscar looked at him, as if denying him entrance to the dragon. "So I flew my butt all the way over here for nothing?"
"Pretty much. In the Dragon. Now."
Oscar took a step closer to Chris, and tried being slightly intimidating, despite being at least fifteen centimeters shorter. "Then why did you need me here?" Chris didn't flinch, of course. "Who says we needed you?"
Oscar briefly considered socking Chris in the jaw, but realized he’d just get his ass handed to him. Instead, he took a step back and pointed his gun at him.
"What are you trying to say?"
Chris kicked the gun out of his hands and shoved him into a tree. He pulled out his knife and planted it into the tree, about three centimeters from Oscars ear. Oscar could hear it vibrating. "You’re dead weight, Oscar. Now get. In. The. Dragon."
Chris grabbed Oscar by the shoulder and pushed him towards the dragon as he pulled the knife out of the tree and shot him a look that implied every variation and permutation of the sentence: "Don't push me."
Oscar got into the Dragon and punched one of the walls in sheer frustration. Despite what he expected, that dramatic move didn't hurt. He was genuinely too pissed off to care. He had been useless before, and he was useless now. He'd started to regret what he'd done to end up on this backward moon.
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Offline Txontaw

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2010, 06:14:56 pm »
Hells Gate Warehouse
0140 HRS

After ravenously searching her box for food, Joy felt much stronger. She had cannibalized a med kit from a nearby crate, and had hooked up and IV to her Avatar. It was stable, for now.

She had finally gotten around to checking the date. "Damn, I was out for a while." she said to herself. She quickly checked the video logs of the scientists; they were the best way of getting information. Wow. A lot had happened... that must mean that someone had noticed she was gone. What was she to do? Show up again and pretend nothing had happened? No, she had to get both her and her avatar out of Hell's Gate ASAP. She'd get to a mobile link and then walk her avatar out. But from what she'd gathered from the video logs, any avatar was immediately an enemy. It would take a miracle to get out in one piece. Then a miracle I will find, she thought to herself. There was no way she was giving up her prize possession. Not now.

But what had gone wrong? That was the question she had been asking herself ever since she had woken up. She had double checked, triple checked the data, and it all read out normal. There was no reason that it wouldn't have worked. And any link is supposed to terminate and open if an error occurred. She had been locked in. She had triple checked the link she had stolen. It had been dented up by the explosion, but it was still very functional. She had checked the wiring over and over. Nothing was wrong. What was she missing?

The link had thought she had successfully connected, or it would have been open when she woke up. She didn't successfully connect to her avatar, or she would have known. What if... Is that even possible? she wondered.

She pulled up a list of all registered avatars, and their current status, based on the chips that let the drivers connect to the avatars at all.
There were some dead ones, some fully functional, and... Grace's avatar was unconscious, wounded. She would be in an induced coma state, to help with the healing... Is that even possible? she wondered again.

How could I have possibly tried to link with Grace's avatar? It fit the data. But there's not supposed to be any mistakes in the connection. It's direct. She rechecked the software. The ID! She didn't have one! Idiot! she cursed herself. Without an avatar ID, she was a free floating variable. She'd be linked with any avatar, which could have very bad results. She had actually been lucky, trying to link with a wounded avatar. The inactive brain had caused very little conflict with the mismatching DNA.

She quickly ran a keygen code, and grabbed herself an ID. This was the tricky part. She had to officially register her Avatar without anyone knowing. She hated leaving any trace, and this was like painting a target on her head. She'd have to wait to do it until she was at a mobile link and away from Hell's Gate. Which left no room for another error. She had to make sure that everything, everything was correct. No missing IDs this time.
"You're not in Kansas anymore. You're on Pandora, Ladies and Gentlemen." - Colonel Quaritch

Offline Lehrrap Uniltìranyu

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #44 on: December 31, 2010, 11:27:46 pm »
Fuel Base Outskirts
0224 HRS.

"..." Jax stayed silent as he watched the SA-2 left. "... You owe me for this Sheppard."

Jax turned and walked away, the ringing from the flashbang fading quickly as he slid though the shadow towards the camp. "Meet back at camp, five minutes... it looks like I have some explaining to do..."


SA-2 Nighthawk
0223 HRS.

Doc takes a slow, shuddering breath. "What... the HELL... was that?!?" He says, only barely making it back onto the Nighthawk before it took off.

"Damn! I mean, really, I understand that those Natives are pissed, but where the hell did they get assault rifles and a #@[email protected] DRAGON!?!?" Doc yells, pulling the massive arrow out of the door gunner as he checks for a pulse.

"... Still breathing. No Toxin... damn, this was a hell of a shot. He's gonna hurt but he'll live." Doc says, pulling his Medical bag around as he starts rummaging around, pulling out something. "Take a breath if you can hear me... if not, well, you're going to anyway."

Doc brings the tube of quick acting and hole-filling medi-foam and jams it into the gunner's arrow wound, and hits the plunger, filling the gap with foam, before smacking the gunner's face. "Oi! Wake up! I need you to wake up! Or so help me I'll put the arrow back!"

"Ta'em 'eko!!!"
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Offline Coyote

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2011, 06:12:19 pm »
Fuel Base Echo-Foxtrot N
0230 Hours

The Dragon had successfully chased away most of the remaining RDA resistance... Arik also chased away thoughts of what fate befell them as they charged headlong into the woods, into the realm of the Na'vi. There had been a time in his life when he would have cared about their fate, but now their motivations and lack of concerns about what they were doing only made them that much more alien to him.

Odd, the juxtaposition, he pondered as he rushed towards the fuel bladder, his M-60 placed on the ground beside him as he stopped --the barrel was too hot to carry slung over his back, now. The humans seem alien to me now, limited in their thought processes... yet the Dragon and my actions here... my ties to the materiel world of Earth remain.

"You're perfectly in place," Arik hollered through the throat mike. "Lower the straps!"

Up above, through the ducted-turbofan howl, the belly of the beast opened. The Dragon was so large at this distance that it was like the heavens themselves parting; opening as if to pass on to Arik a divine message.  The carry straps, however, were all that came cascading down, unwinding as gravity did their work, and Arik grabbed the industrial-strength carabiner connections and started fastening them.

In a real helo sling-load operation, he'd have a crew to do all the straps at once, but here only Chris and Jax knew how to help. They quickly fumbled with the straps and fastened them tight, over-engineering the connections. It would have to do.

"Are you done down there?" Trudy asked as a short burst of fire came from the autocannons at some unseen target.
"Good as it gets," Jax said in his mike.
"Careful," Arik said to whoever was shooting, "We've got a company of friendlies out there."
"Roger," Esme's voice came back.

The Dragon hadn't even landed; it gently pulled upward, briefly anchored by the staggering weight and bulk of the fuel bladder, but as Jax, Chris and Arik got away from the blast of air from the four rotor-fairings the mighty gunship brutally clawed its way past the thick jungle air and into the sky.
"We are pretty much at capacity," Trudy said, impressed. Over the radio, they could here the low, droning buzz of the 'overload' alarm.

"Get outta here," Jax yelled, "before they organize a counter-attack!" He knew the notion of that was far-fetched; the fuel base had a small personnel footprint to begin with, and most had been logistics specialists rather than true warriors. And about half of them are dead or fleeing for their lives now, anyway, he knew. Still, there was the chance that the RDA could have a gunship patrol near enough to cause trouble.

Trudy Chacon acknowledged and gunned the engines, gently spinning the Dragon and it's massive sling-load of fuel away from the battle site. Within seconds, the droning buzz of the engines faded, and a now-unnatural silence descended on the camp.

For a moment, Chris, Jax, and Arik looked around at the fueling station. A couple hours ago it had been a small, active and normal --by human standards-- pinpoint in the forest. Now it was derelict, a ruin, with a handful of bodies to punctuate the ruination of the buildings. The brush around the clearing wavered slightly, and tall, lithe blue bodies stepped through the foliage-- Omatikaya and Sengtsil, familiar faces and those still strangers. Many piled RDA-issued weapons in a small pile as trophies of kills. Howls and yips of triumph rang through the clearing, and the noises of the jungle began to resume.

A million thoughts went through Arik's mind; but in the end all he did was search a couple of the bodies for their radios, and a scrap of paper to write down the frequencies they had been set to. He grabbed an extra radio to monitor those frequencies-- hopefully they could keep a step or two ahead of Childs' people, but he also knew that, realistically, the frequencies he'd found were just used by the fuel base. With Quaritch in charge, he'll want some fairly anal-retentive security measures.

"Well?" he asked.
"We're done here," Jax said curtly.

Aniuket, Ray'iun, and Sek'Mut approached, Tseylian and Nef'Tys not far behind.

<<We should go,>> Sek'Mut said with certainty. <<The one known as Childs will send more warriors.>> Ray'iun and Tseylian looked at one another, a silent understanding between them.

"We go this way," Ray'iun said in accented English, pointing to a track in the foliage that Arik would not have recognized as a trail a month ago.
"Make ready warm cloaks," Aniuket advised. It was already noticeably cooler, and Arik had noted a thinning of jungle plants and an increase in what might be considered the Eywa'evenga version of "alpine" plants.

"North to Alaska," he muttered, and the two tribal bands got ready to move out.


Omatikaya and Sengtsil warriors overpower fuel base.
Large fuel reserves captured by renegades in Dragon, carried off to base.
March north resumes; Shep in SA-2 waits nearby.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Hell's Gate
Communications Office

"Director" Warren Childs entered the room, hastily dressed and with a cup of steaming coffee in his hand. "What is it?" he demanded, having been roused from bed by what his aide had described as "an emergency situation".

"Call from Sheppard," Colonel Quaritch said. He, too, looked freshly roused and had his own cup of coffee in his hand. "Our renegades have struck one of our refueling stations on the way to Sengtsil territory."

"Struck how?" Childs asked.
"They brought the Dragon in," Quaritch said, "But that wasn't how they did it." He went to where a composite computer map of the site was being generated by hologram. "They came in from here, and here," Quaritch informed him. "A little over a platoon's worth of ground forces, supported with limited machinegun fire."

"So, those renegade scum are there, then," Childs said.
"Definitely," Quaritch confirmed. "Their attack was carefully planned to avoid any damage to the fuel bladder we had there, indicating that human-directed Avatars were involved. They sling-loaded the fuel bladder under then Dragon and carted it off."

"Damn," Childs muttered, remarkably calm considering the bad news he'd just been given. He clenched his teeth and subconsciously drew in air through them, briefly making a slight whistling sound as he contemplated the news. "Alright," he said, sipping some coffee. "Any survivors?"

"Not from the fuel station," Quaritch said, "Sheppard's in a Samson, shadowing the Dragon back to it's hiding place."

"No, no-no," Childs said. "Forget the Dragon. Now that we know where they are for sure, we need to watch them," he said, pointing towards the holographic dots on the map that represented the Na'vi and Avatars.

"Director," Quaritch said, "All due respect, but if we can eliminate the Dragon, we can take away a major asset from the renegades."

"Let's not get distracted by details, Colonel," Childs said. "These people were a thorn in the side even before they had the Dragon. The theft of the heavy gunship is a personal affront to you as a military man, and I understand that, but the real action is with their people on the ground. Have Sheppard go after them, not the Dragon. We can handle the Dragon through other means; keep it bottled up in the Vortex, whatever. Soon, it won't matter."

Quaritch hesitated for a barely perceptible moment and nodded. "Yes, sir," he said, and called up Sheppard. "Break off pursuit," he ordered, "Concentrate on the enemy ground forces; they are your priority."

As Quaritch waited for the acknowledgment, Childs gazed at the holographic map. They are voluntarily going north, he figured, Right to Danjou and the Sengtsil tribe. We can let this unfold at its natural pace, and they'll destroy themselves by walking right into a trap...

Childs and Quaritch aware of the situation.
Childs wants Sheppard to break pursuit of Dragon and continue to monitor tribals and Avatars on the ground.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 09:39:42 am by Coyote »
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Offline El Jacko

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #46 on: January 12, 2011, 11:02:05 am »
EF-N Local Canopy

   Minutes slowly ticked by as the SA-2 Nighthawk lingered on the presumed approach vector, the droning of the idling turbines punctuated only by the sounds of Doc working on reviving the injured door gunner. As Shep tried to focus on the sounds of the forest in preparation for the Dragon, though, a not entirely unexpected voice crackled through the com-link.

"Staff Sergeant, this is Communications. We've lost contact with station Echo-Foxtrot November, requesti--"

"Give me that..." The sound of an annoyed colonel punctuated the background, before a mutter of protest and the sound of a microphone being adjusted, "Sheppard, what's going on up there?"

"Depot's been ransacked; renegade avatars brought a small army with 'em, laid siege to the base then flew the Dragon in. We managed to escape before the big guns arrived, but we're down a door gunner and the other one's got a hole through him." Sheppard said quickly, to odd mutters of acceptance from Quaritch.

"Any survivors on site?" asked the colonel, sounding somewhat concerned.

"Possibly," he started, recalling what he'd said to Jax earlier, but he noted the ruthlessness the first assault had occurred with and changed his mind slightly, "but I can't confirm that."

"What's your current location?" asked Quaritch

"Hovering in a tree on what we think is the Dragon's approach vector. If we can trace it now, that'll cut the entire search pattern out of the mission." Shep replied, safe in the knowledge that Quaritch would agree. Any chance of getting his prized gunship back sooner was a chance worth taking, Shep figured.

"If you think you can track it, do so," Quaritch ordered, "I want that flying tank out of their hands as soon as possible."

"Yessir. Out." Shep finished, ending the transmission just as the air started to resonate with the thunder of powerful turbines. In anticipation, Bill began to throttle up the engines and drifted the Samson underneath the canopy until he came to hover near a break in the foliage.

   The world seemed to shatter as the Dragon powered overhead, its turbines stirring up a storm of leaves and branches as it strained to stay airborne. As it passed almost directly overhead, the Nighthawk dipped in the downdraft; eliciting some considerably profanity from the cockpit as Bill struggled to keep control. Fortunately, the turbulence was short-lived, and the roar of the Dragon quickly grew quieter.

   As soon as the Dragon passed, however, Bill was off. He quickly picked up speed below the canopy, weaving around the colossal tree trunks, before spearing up through a small clearing and hurtling around the treetops. Under normal circumstances, the Dragon would be considerably faster, but with the payload it was straining to lug back it needed the full lift of the rotors just to stay in the air.  

   Realising this, Bill eased off considerably -- much to the relief of Doc -- and settled for sneaking around the canopy, following the storm of leaves kicked down by the flying tank ahead.


   The Nighthawk had been shadowing the fuel-laden slab of metal for some 15 minutes when Shep's com link once again crackled into life, with a somewhat dejected-sounding Quaritch on the other end.

"Break off pursuit," he ordered with a sigh, "Focus on the ground forces; they are your priority"
"Aye sir," Shep replied out of habit, "I presume the plan has changed?"
"Yeah...hold on..."

   Shep could hear the muffled sounds of a conversation occurring away from the microphone. Presumably the 'Director' was also around.

"Search pattern is out," Quaritch returned, " I want you to keep an eye on those renegades for me; you can operate out of the other fuel depots we've got set up."

"Yessir. We'll keep an eye on 'em." Shep replied, realising half the intention for this particular mission had just been discarded. Remembering his notes from a month previous, he switched the channel over to the cokcpit frequency.

"Bill, what vector are they following?" he asked bluntly.
"Errr...hold on...about..177 degrees" Bill replied, after straightening the flight path to get a reading.
"Cheers. Anyway, change of plan. Dragon is no longer a priority, we're following the Blue Man group."

"Colonel's orders?" asked Bill.
"Colonel's orders," Shep replied, "Sounded like they may be heading northwards"
"Right then, north we go"

   As he finished, Bill pulled a spectacular looping turn -- once again earning mutters from Doc -- and began to speed northwards. No longer limited to lazily drifting along, the Nighthawk was free to cruise properly; Shep could tell Bill was flying like this for fun.

   Thinking forward to the site ahead, Shep decided it was worth calling ahead to check if any survivors remained. If there were some still there, it wouldn't hurt to pick them up along the way.

"Fuel Base Echo-Foxtrot November, this is SA-2 Nighthawk, please respond," he stated, waiting a moment before repeating the message.

   After the third attempt, someone picked up.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 06:28:39 am by El Jacko »
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Offline Lehrrap Uniltìranyu

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #47 on: January 12, 2011, 11:31:52 am »
Na'vi/Avatar 'Camp'
0250 HRS

Jax wasn't looking forwards to the next leg of the trip. He didn't particularly like the cold that much, and now he was going to have to brave it with 'Warm Cloaks' of the Na'vi.

Frankly, he would rather have his Aviator's Jacket and flight goggles. No reason to walk into a storm blind. Doing that sort of thing usually ended up badly for him. But that wasn't why he wasn't looking forwards to it. He was more worried about Chris.

Jax knew that his stunt with Sheppard and the SA-2 cost him some of his trust with Chris, but Jax continued packing anyway, as if nothing happened.

He kept the scope that he had broken off from the Assault rifle, as well as five rounds. Never knew when gunpowder could come in handy, and a makeshift match could mean life and death in the cold. Jax liked the scope. He could see very well and very far in this body, but the scope let him pick out details that he never would have noticed before, and he was sure that would come in handy later.

Jax sighs as he looks around, and then blinks in surprise when suddenly the radios Arik picked up start squaking, a few of them anyway. Quickly, Jax streaks over to Arik and the radios, and scoops one up, listening.

"... November, this is SA-2 NIGHTHAWK, please respond." Jax lets out a little sigh of relief as he hears Sheppard's voice echoing over the radio's. Sounds like he was trying to contact the fuel base.

"Stand down Special. There were survivors. No guards minus those that took cover inside." Jax says into the speaker. "Surprised you're still around. The child and the scars still giving you orders, or are you playing your own game now?"

Jax waits for a response from Sheppard.

EF-N Local Canopy

Doc perks up and lets out a soft sigh of relief as he hears the radio. "A survivor! And there are survivors... but who in the world is he talking about? What game?" Doc asks Shep, looking at him with a critical eye as he monitors his patient, checking his pulse as he finishes patching him up, before letting loose another slap to the arrow victim.

"I TOLD YA TA GET UP! You're gonna be fine and I need you to take some meds and eat something before you throw up all over the SA-2. You're still on active duty and I'm not going to take over a gunner position."

Sheppard isn't happy with Doc's questions, and quickly growls out, "That's on a need-to-know basis Corporal. And at the moment, you don't need to know."

Doc lets out a long sigh and grabs a flight headset, snapping it on over his ears so he doesn't have to listen to Sheppard and instead focus on his patient. Inwardly, Sheppard lets out a sigh of relief as he triggers the Radio and speaks a reply...

Na'vi/ Avatar Camp
0254 HRS

"I've always played my own game, lanky. However, I do still report to scarface. For appearance's sake." The growl of Sheppard's voice come back over the radio, and Jax grinned to himself. The old SAS quickly picked up on Jax's little code talk, and they were on the same page. Sheppard was reporting to Quaritch, if only for appearances sake, as he said, but that complicated matters a little.

Jax pauses a moment, and quickly speaks into the Radio again. "Well then 'player'. Lets have a little chat, shall we? Quite the game we've set up. Care to tell me your next move? You already know mine, so I'm assuming you have a plan? Perhaps we should add the pieces together to remove the second party?"

There is a long pause before Sheppard replies. "We've had a change of plan over here...I'm now making it up as we go along, so combining the pieces would be...difficult...unless something were to occur..." Jax nods at what Shep said absently, thinking aloud about the Samson that Shep was responsible for at the moment.

Jax takes a breath. "Ok. Remember what sides are what and get things together. We'll regroup when we can and come up with something. The Smug Snake is still in the bush, and scarface is still hunting blindly I'm guessing?"

"Aye, they're both clueless. Next stop is at EG-N, hopefully there won't be an...accident...there too."
Jax's eyes lit up a little at this one. "Of course not... we don't want a firestorm I assume? You gonna bring some extra's with you this time? You still owe me those rounds from Nigeria..."

"True...very true...and yes, extras in tow. Some clueless, may need some convincing; preferably with tact."

"Got some skills I hope? Don't want to drag rank and file around if they can't handle themselves. It's rough and tumble you know?" Jax responds, glancing at Arik to look at the bemused look on his face a moment before looking up at the sky as it slowly lights up thoughtfully.

"I can vouch for their skills, but as I say, may need some convincing."

"Do what you can on the way and ditch whirlybird. Play the game to keep them on the ground. Don't want anything going wrong or surprising us. Meet up five-six hours?" Jax says smoothly.

"Stretch it out a bit, you've got a fair ways to EG-N" Sheppard's reply comes. Jax chuckles. Perfect.

"Have fun then." Jax replies and shuts down that one radio with a audible 'click' over all channels, and then changes the channel on it before turning it back on, looking up at Arik. "Gather the People together. We need to discuss something before we get underway."

Sheppard and Jax have a long conversation, and a plan has been made in cryptic form
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 02:33:27 pm by Lehrrap Uniltìranyu »

"Ta'em 'eko!!!"
"Better to have fought and died then never to have fought at all"
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Offline Tanhìyärina'

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #48 on: January 15, 2011, 09:48:37 pm »
"We go this way," Ray'iun said in his thickly accented English.  He indicated a trail and began to walk.  Aniuket said something to the other Ayuniltìranyu, and they began to follow.

Tseylian hesitated a moment.  She had not been home in a long time.  Exactly how long, she could not say, for she had been off on her spirit quest, high on brainworm and the other hallucinogenics that her tribe used to induce visions.  Her eyes closed and one of her hands fluttered to her temple for a brief moment as she recalled the experience.  I will never forget how that felt, she thought.  Then she took a deep breath and leaped forward, passing a few others to catch up to Ray'iun.

"Ma Ray'iun," she said softly from a half step behind him.

Ray'iun, in reply, made the kameie gesture and glanced at his clanmate.

"Oengeyä kelku," Tseylian began, searching his face with her eyes.  "Zo lu srak?"

Ray'iun simply looked at her.  Deep in his eyes was a chill, a coldness, haloed with sorrow.  Tseylian had to look away, fixing her eyes on the nearby trees for a moment.  "Ke omum," he finally replied.

"Txopu rä'ä si," Tseylian mumbled to herself.  How many times had she heard Tsu'tey use those words since she first heard his voice?  He seemed to say them all the time, whether seriously to his siblings or in jest to the young hunters.

"Srane.  Txopu rä'ä sivi," Ray'iun replied, though Tseylian could hear the uncertainty in his voice still.

"Ma Tseylian," called a voice from behind them.  The two Sengtsil turned to see Aniuket waving.  <<Do you have a warm cloak?>>

Tseylian shook her head.  She had left her warm garments behind.  Had the others found them? she wondered.  What had they thought, seeing only a pile of my clothes and no signs of me except perhaps what few tracks remained after the cold winds blew over the ground?  It is getting cold.  Ray'iun is not cold, but I have been with the Omatikaya so long that my blood has grown thin.

"Oeyä mivunge," Ray'iun replied, reaching into his pack and drawing out his cloak, offering it to her.  Out of the corner of her eye, Tseylian saw Aniuket grinning and nodding eagerly.

Did I not tell her that he is mated to another? Tseylian wondered.  I will need to straighten that out, there is nothing between us.  Though once...  "Irayo," she replied to Ray'iun, slinging the warm fabric around her shoulders.  It was too big, but it was very warm.  And even after all this time, it smelled of home.
Fitseng lu oe, tìftia kìfkeyä seri.

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #49 on: January 17, 2011, 03:44:07 pm »
The Road North: Morning

The way north had been walked in silence for awhile. It meant nothing to Arik for awhile until it truly sank in to him-- that they were walking in silence. He hesitated a step, then kept going, noting with interest that their footfalls were almost unheard completely, the suft chuff-chuff on dirt and alpine grasses was barely noticeable from the background noise of the forest. I guess we're getting better at this, he mused, smiling. He had been pretty good about walking quietly before, but he'd had to think about it, put himself mentally in a place where he could remember his experiences in Nigeria, for example... but now it was second-nature to him.

He looked up, smiling at Tseylian, but she did not notice-- for she was walking with the Sengtsil tribesman, Ray'iun. Walking closely. He instead glanced at Aniuket, walking slightly behind him and smiled, nodding his head towards the two of them. She gave a shy glance at them and grinned as well. A movement in the trees caught his eye; Nef'Tys peered down at them, giving Arik her trademark Cheshire grin and a "thumb's-up" sign, which he returned.

They walked on awhile longer. The full sunlight of dawn warmed them, and it felt good. The Omatikaya and Avatars in the group gave slight exclamations of relief as the heat tickled their shoulders, backs, and faces; the Sengtsil just smiled knowingly amongst themselves.

A small figure walked towards them from the treeline, and Arik recognized Nef'Tys, now walking on land.

<<What is wrong?>> Arik asked.   
<<Wrong? Nothing,>> Nef'Tys replied. <<Running out of trees,>> she said, pointing towards the treeline. The trees were nowhere near as tall as they had been, nor were they as closely packed together. <<Now I have to walk on ground, like a yerik,>> she sighed.

Arik took the opportunity to slip back, behind the two sisters. He listened to their low chatter for a bit, picking out bits of ninavi here and there, and rolling different words and verb forms on his tongue quietly to himself, still trying to pick up the language. It was difficult, and he still instinctively infused everything with a Hebrew accent. But he slowly dropped back, finally coming closer to Jax, who was himself loping along almost cheerfully.

"So, what's the word?" Arik asked sotto voce.
"What do you mean?" Jax replied.
"You and that guy, the British guy," Arik replied.

For a moment no one said anything.

"I have reason to suspect he's not exactly Childs's man," Jax said. "Not as much as Childs would like to think, anyway."
"Being even a little bit in Childs's pocket is not a good idea," Arik said. "For us."

"Remember, not everyone working for Childs will be doing so because they agree with him," Jax said. "Some are just here to punch their ticket and go home, and going along is the best way to do it."
"That works for the miners, the bartender, folks in HR filing our dental paperwork," Arik said, "But in order to punch his ticket, he has to punch our ticket, if you know what I mean."

"All to well, I assure you," Jax said.
"So, can we trust this guy?" Arik asked.
"Nnnoo, not... exactly," Jax said, looking around, "Any more than we can trust anyone. But whether we like it or not, there's only one way off this rock, and that's through Hell's Gate one way or another. I can't go back, but the rest of you can."

"It'll take two years before the Venture Star gets here," Arik said.
"Yes, and if Childs has the place locked down and running smoothly when that happens, they'll just accept his leadership and drive on," Jax reminded him. "I don't get it, you're the one that first talked about all this, mister Revolution Guy."

"Yeah," Arik said, "We need to keep Childs off-balance. But if this British guy is some kind of double-agent type, he could be leading us into a trap."

"He's not leading us anywhere," Jax said, giving Arik a strange look. "We're walking boldly right towards it, on our own. We know there's RDA up there; the Sengtsil told us themselves."

"But they don't know exactly where we are, what we're planning, what our motives are," Arik replied. "Look, RDA has all the power, but none of the initiative. We have all the initiative, but none of the power. If this guy--"
"Sheppard," Jax said.
"--Sheppard finds out too much of our plans, we lose the one thing we have: initiative."

"Valid point. But this guy Sheppard..." --he frowned-- "...we've met before. In the, um... real world I guess you could call it. I can't explain it."

They walked for awhile in silence.

"I hope you're right, man, I really do," Arik said.

Me too, Jax thought as the taller Avatar went to catch up with Aniuket and Nef'Tys.

Arik learns a little bit about the connection between Sheppard and Jax, but not very much.
Arik is not certain that Jax's hunch --trusting Sheppard-- is a good idea, but will go along for now. Cautiously.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Hell's Gate Biolabs
Avatar Control Center

"Good morning, Doctor Patel, how was your night?" Julia asked, her face a mask of stony indifference.
"Quite well, actually," Patel responded, looking at her curiously. "I was surprised at the mess out in the Avatar barracks that you left."
"Yes," Julia said. "It was ugly, what can I say? Is my Avatar ready?"

"It is," Patel said, questions and curiosity evident in his voice. He contained his desire for answers, though, which Julia was thankful for. No doubt Uncle Warren will have microphone sin here somewhere, she figured-- and by Patel's face, he figured much the same.

"Well, we're burning daylight," she said. "Let's get cracking." She went to the drivepod and leaned into it, settling back, relaxing as the lid closed. Sure would suck to be claustrophobic in this job she mused absently as she went under...

...and woke up again, her Avatar blinking in the fluorescent lamps of the medical lab. She got up, stretched, and did a few bends and twists. "Ahhh," she breathed a sigh of relief as the muscles of the Avatar worked again.

"Alright, Doc, I'm going to move back out to the barracks myself, okay?" she called to the wall-mounted speaker. "Is my care package ready?"
"It is," Patel's voice came back over the speaker, "Waiting for you just outside the door."

Julia got up and walked outside, feeling the hot jungle sun on her face, and the warm, wet sticky atmosphere. It was different from the greenhouse-gas generated hot, sticky effect back on Earth. There, it felt like a plastic film of garbage stretched over you-- your skin sometimes burned after being outside too long in some areas, and you skin felt clammy. But here... it was real; real air, real sunlight, real dirt beneath her toes. She grabbed the Avatar-sized backpack full of food and medicine and walked over towards the bungalow-like barracks structure where the Avatars were kept. Inside, she met Blake Goodson's Avatar, wide awake.

"I was wondering when you'd show up," he said. "Do you have the IV's?"
"And good morning to you, too," Julia said, unlimbering her backpack. "IV's, some food besides protein bars, instant coffee even. Some meds, too, just in case."
"We're fine on meds," Blake said, "We haven't been able to go outside to get sick or injured. But Liz needs access to a driveod," he said. "Her Avatar is getting weakened. Dangerously so."

Julia sighed, worried. "I don't know what to do about that," she said.
"Can you get her a job in the drivepod room, with Dr. Patel?" Blake asked.
"I dunno," she replied, setting up an IV and handing the needle to Blake, who was very well-experienced in the procedure now.

"Well, can you at least ask? Or try?" Blake demanded, impatient. "Maybe Patel knows someone who can help. Forge an ID on that fancy lab equipment. You guys are in biomed section, re-brand her DNA card reader with the name of someone else, give her a fake name and bring her in."

"I'm not on your side," she said defensively. "I just want you guys to go away. Go away somewhere I don't have to think about you."
"And if her Avatar is healthy, we can do that," Blake said. "We'll leave. We'll go join the renegades and start our own little society and leave you alone, but to do that we have to get out of here, and to do that she has to be able to walk."

Julia frowned, looking at the thinning Avatar. "I'll talk to Patel," she said, "And see what I can do."
"You better," Blake said, "The longer we're here, the more likely it is someone will find out that you weren't as thorough as Uncle Warren would have liked. We need to sneak out of here and you're the only one that can do that. For your sake as well as ours."

Julia trying to cover up existence of Blake and Liz's Avatars.
Will try to get a fake name & identity for Liz so she can access a drivepod.

In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

Attempted to pee on Viperwolf to test reaction. Please see attached medical file.
WARNING: Attached medical file exceeds gigabyte limit. System failure.

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #50 on: February 10, 2011, 06:09:25 pm »
Hell's Gate,
Avatar Complex
A Few Days Later

Blake Goodson started as the low moan came from behind him. He'd been jumpy, gazing out across the dark fields near the Avatar barracks towards the massive internal bay of Hell's Gate, where floodlights sufficient to put a World Cup stadium to shame kept illumination on Warren Childs's massive project.

"I'm still not used to you being up and about," Blake said as he turned to see Liz forcing herself up out of bed, the ache of her newly-rediscovered muscles forcing groans, pops, and twitches as she stretched for another evening workout. "I hear a sudden moaning and groaning, and wonder if I'm now in a zombie movie, too."

"No such luck," Liz said as she slouched over the side fo the bed, vigorously rubbing her scalp and enjoying the feeling, even while lamenting how tangled her hair would inevitably be. "For if I were dead, I would not hurt this much," she opined.

"Heh," Blake breathed out a brief laugh, and helped her up. "C'mon," he said, "Water first, some food, and we'll start the stretches."
"Huurrrgh," Liz gave an overly-dramatic groan. "I wake up to protein bars and vita-paste. Did I drown kittens in a previous life, or something?"
"Hey, now," Blake chided, "It's not so bad. The algae-based survival protein bars are replaced with..." he looked at the wrapper, "Hmm, tapioca & soy laced with cashew butter. Not bad."

"Upscale hiker rations," Liz said, tearing into one. "I guess we get them here because there's no place left to hike on Earth."
"Too early for politics," he shushed. "Eat and enjoy, nummy-num-num."

She gave him a sour look, but eagerly consumed a couple of the bars before reaching her limit. "My stomach has shrank," she said. "Two bars and I feel like I ate a seven-course meal. I guess some good came from this," she said sardonically.
"Your Avatar stomach shrank."
"Thanks," she said, "Although, actually, my real body has had to cut back, too. Since my identity on the roster was destroyed, I have to hustle food from stuff left over on people's trays at the chow hall."
"You said it, brother," she replied, licking her fingers of protein-bar residue. "So what's the story?"

"Our mutual buddy Julia is trying to find a way to get us out of here," Blake said.
"If it weren't for our impending dooms, I'd gladly announce my presence here and let dear old Unca Warren know that widdle Julie is a weak link."
"Yeah, well, then Quaritch would just assume the job of turning us into plant food," Blake said. "Well, my Avatar would become plant food; for you, both Av and self."

"So, we have to trust her to get our Avatars out," Liz said, "But as you pointed out, what about my real self? I could stay here, be an invaluable resource on the inside. We have a few others in the program, you know, Planetary Protective Front folks. And Patel seems sympathetic, he could be recruited."

"Dangerous," Blake said, "It will be hard to get your human body out, and I agree you could do a lot of good on the inside... but don't start trying to recruit people. That could draw attention, and we also don't want suspicion to be focused on Patel."

Reluctantly, she agreed. "Alright, fine," she said. "So we wait here and be ready to move. So when the time comes, let's make sure I can do it..." she said, and started going through her stretches for her workout.

Liz gets access to her Avatar at evenings, when Julia isn't around in the biolab.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Hell's Gate
Next Day

Julia was exiting the drivepod bay, not noticing the guarded look given to her by Dr. Patel. She had told Patel that she'd be adhering to a strict schedule as the new manager of the Avatar program, and she had stayed true to her word. She never arrived at work without calling in first, notifying them she was on her way, and she always made sure to tell them when she was leaving-- and so far, she'd never shown up un-announced, or even after-hours at all.

It had taken Dr. Patel a few days to feel certain about Julia's schedule, but before long she figured he'd notified Liz-- the records showed a number of "drivepod calibration tests" being run in the evenings, about four hours after she left each night. It was also after the "cleaning staff" had typically showed up, so she had a good idea of what was going on.

Julia didn't care; she wanted the last two refugee's of Grace's Avatar program to just leave. She still had turbulent emotions over her inability to just kill them and be done with it-- was it good that she couldn't casually kill people? Or was she setting herself up for future failure? She went to the lounge and bought a too-expensive Polyphemus Sunrise to drown her sorrows; she was mindlessly crunching the ice at the bottom of the empty glass, feeling slightly fuzzy, when her phone beeped.

"Yeah?" she asked.
"It's me," he uncle said, "Warren. Come on up, I want to show you something. We're at the control room overlook above Armor Bay."

Julia frowned. What the..? "Okay," she said, "I'll be right there."

Julia made her way towards the overlook, her Executive/Biolabs passcard allowing her quick access through ordinarily restricted hallways. "What is it?" she asked as she arrived, seeing her uncle Warren standing in front of one of the massive, reinforced-mesh windows, Colonel Quaritch standing nearby.

"Look at it, honey," Warren Childs said, nodding towards the bay with his bearded chin. Julia stepped forward, her eyes tracing the bright beams of the overhead floodlights towards the monstrosity in the center of the field.

The large 'ferris wheels' that had been receiving attention for so long had been completed, and arranged in a long line. Julia noticed that the opposite ends had smaller 'ferris wheels' that tapered to points. They had all been joined together with connecting cross-beams to form a long cigar shape, and now, huge sheets of some sort of fabric were being stretched over the framework.

"Whaddaya think?" Warren asked, looking at her with a happy twinkle in his eye.
"It's, ummm... pretty big," she said, "I don't get it?"
"A Zeppelin," Colonel Quaritch said with a smile. "Big heavy-lifter, like the kinds we used in Nigeria for long-range supply drops. Carry a platoon of tanks in that thing, you could-- probably more, with the local conditions here."

Julia's brow furrowed in confusion. "I... I guess I still don't understand. How's a blimp going to help us?"

"Not a blimp," Warren corrected, "A Zeppelin. Blimps don't have a frame inside; once they're deflated they lie flat like a balloon. A Zepp has the internal frame you see here. Thousands of smaller balloons are fit inside it, fastened along the frame. It can carry a lot more... a lot more."

"So, this will replace the Dragon?" she asked, dubious.
"To an extent," Col. Quaritch said. "A Zepp that size, in this gravity, will actually carry as much as two or three Dragons," he said. "And a lot farther. We could circle Pandora a dozen times before refueling, with the internal reactor providing power and the solar collectors on top providing back-up. The trade-off will be speed. This will be much slower than anything else we have."

"Ahhh, but much more grand style," Childs said. "You rode on a United Airways Zepp when you were a kid, but you probably don't remember," Childs told his neice. "You were not even a toddler at the time. Your folks went to the Allied Municipalities of Europa for vacation; I met them for a few days in Frankfurt."

"So, with this you'll be able to resume direct flights to Sengtsil territory, then," Julia said, thinking it over.
"Exactly," Childs said.
"Can you go after the folks that stole the Dragon?"

Childs and Quaritch glanced at one another. They seemed hopeful.

"We're not sure yet," Quaritch said, "We don't know how the vortex zone will affect the flight characteristics of the Zepp. We're using as many pirated parts from the other Dragon as we can, so it's likely we'll be just as blind as a normal helicopter."
"We also have to see how many guns and troops we can mount on it," Childs said, "And test it, see how it handles against the local airborne wildlife. But make no mistake, if this works, we can build more, and with a fleet of these... all of Pandora will be a ripe fruit in our hand."

Childs & Quaritch confirm the suspicions: a new Zeppelin will take to the sky soon.
Warren and Childs certain that properly applied, Zeppelins can be a powerful addition to their arsenal.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Iknamaya Base
Late That Evening

Trudy and Esme were outside, inspecting the hull of the Dragon for damage. They'd managed to get the gunship off lightly, a few holes had pierced its non-armored components, but nothing vital had been hit-- which was why only certain parts of the heavy-lifter were unarmored, after all. Of course, the armored sections had a few dark smears and pain chips dug out of it, characteristic of bullet strikes on the strong points of the hull. The two women were applying daubs of paint to the chipped areas in an attempt to keep rust from forming.

Nearby, the massive fuel bladder sat, buried under a pile of leaves and branches, and with a camouflage net from the Dragon stretched over it. Even now, after the giant pillow of fuel had been used to refill the tanks of the gunship, it still looked bloated and full. Fuel was taken care of; now they only had to make sure they conserved their ammo and spare parts.

Inside the prefab containers used as housing & facilities, the small crowd of rebels assessed their resources.

"The Omatikaya are willing to supply us with some food," Na'ama said, "The challenge will be getting it from there to here."
"Why not just use the Dragon?" Ariel asked.
"Too big, too obvious," Grace replied. "We can't risk taking it out for every little thing."

"Maybe we shouldn't go all the way to Kelutral," Blake said, somewhat moody, "But we can pick up food left at a drop-off point inside Vortex territory."
Next to him, Na'ama shrugged. "Good an idea as any else we've heard."

The food problem was going to be a pressing need, and soon. The small band of anti-RDA rebels seemed pitifully small when compared to their adversaries force-wise, but when it came time to find sufficient food to keep everyone healthy, it seemed an impossible task. Grace and Ariel had both their actual bodies as well as their Avatars with them at the base camp, while most of the others just had their human bodies there. Still, those bodies needed sustenance, and the rations were running low already.

And none of them were really what could be considered "hunters".

"Can you talk to the tribe and see if you can arrange something?" Grace asked.
"I'll try," Na'ama said. "Maybe we can take your Avatar back down, too, and we can work together?"
"We have just one extra drivepod," Grace said.

"Come on, you know you want to!" Ariel said.
"I do," Grace admitted, sipping at her coffee. "But I don't want to get hyped up about going back until I think, realistically, about any reasons I can't go back."

"What do you mean?" Blake asked.

"Well, let's see-- there's an increase in Avatar activity at the camp, which might draw the RDA's attention," she said, ticking points off on her finger, "Two, we have one extra drivepod to cover any emergencies that might come up."

"Three," Na'ama spoke up, "If you are helping me at Kelutral, we have a better chance at preventing emergencies before they become emergencies. My ninavi is good, but it's not as good as yours, and I certainly don't have the grasp of nuance, inflection, and cultural references you have."

Grace smiled, knowing that the younger woman had a point. Still, she felt... oddly overwhelmed at the thought of going back to Kelutral. The land of the Omatikaya had become an area of great pain for her. She had no trouble admitting to herself that she felt gun-shy about returning.

"I need your help there," Na'ama said, "We need to find a way to get food. Please, Grace-- I need your Avatar there."

Grace nodded. "Let's ask Blake how progress is going when he wakes up," Grace said, "And tomorrow, Na'ama, you start negotiating for food..."

Iknamaya Base Camp settling in to realities.
Fuel now bot a problem, but maintenance and food need to be worked out.
Na'ama will try to get a food deal with the Omatikaya, and convince Grace to come back to the camp with her-- eventually.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

The Road North
Next Morning

Arik and Tseylian were like rock, immobile as statues, their breathing barely registering. She had taught him a simple trick; to take a small handful of the light snow that dusted the ground each morning and place a handful in his mouth so that the steam from his breath would not be seen by the yerik before them.  

She fought the urge to remind him to keep steady. He was steady, but for so long he had not been, that she'd gotten in the habit of admonishing him, regardless; a situation that he joked about when they were camped. In a way, she was at least grateful that Arik had a fairly adaptive sense of humor; others might not take so well to being told something they already knew...

The arrow was already buried in the sweet spot of the yerik's shoulder-neck junction when they suddenly realized that Arik had loosed the bowstring instinctively as the creature had --unwittingly-- lined itself up for an excellent shot.

<<Go,>> Tseylian whispered, almost to herself, as the two of them vaulted cleanly over the log they'd used for cover and charged towards the fallen animal. Arik unsheathed the bone knife Tseylian had loaned him, and knelt to give the prayer of thanks to the animal.

"Umm..." he began, uncertain, "Oel ngati kameie, ma tsmukan, ulte ngaru seiyi irayo...." Not bad, he admitted to himself, But then I've been practicing that one...
"Ngari hoo-eywa slew treya..." I botched that... "tokx..." He paused, took a breath, and thought about it. "" he stumbled, avoiding Tseylian's unforgiving gaze. "slu Na'viyä hapxì."

Tseylian looked at him with heavy eyes and a sigh that let out a long tail of steam from her mouth. She gave the prayer quickly, the proper way, and faced him.

<<A clean kill,>> she said, and playfully reached up to slap him on the side of the head, <<And then you go and spoil it with your mumbling and... gur... gar... what was the word?>> she asked.
"Gargling," Arik replied, grinning. <<When you have water in your thought and you force the air out anyway. Sounds like you are drowning.>>

<<You will be drowning if you don't get it right!>> she said, somewhat impatient. <<You have come far with stalking, hunting, bow, knife... but you speak like a baby with a bump on the head, and you still have not made your own knife.>>

<<I am more of an artist than a craftsman,>> he said with a smile as he carefully cut into the intestinal cavity.
<<A good knife is art,>> Tseylian admonished him, reluctantly helping to dig a small hole to bury the gut pile in. Ordinarily, the hunter would do it himself, but they were on a time limit. <<Apply your skills there.>>
<<I am your humble padawan,>> Arik said, grinning widely at her.

<<Ah, you and your tawtute culture references,>> she said with a slight hiss. <<HUrry and tie the feet to the ropes. I will find a pole to carry it back on.>>

It wasn't much longer before they were back in the small camp.

"Ya got one," Jax said, looking up and giving the thumbs-up sign.
"He make big mistake on prayer," Nef'Tys said as she jumped from a low tree.
"Not a big mistake," Arik replied, "And were you watching?"

"All the time, watch," the girl said, pointing up to the trees. "Good, you make, the hunt, the kill," she said, pantomiming the use of a bow and arrow and making the sounds with her mouth, "But no good, your ninavi. What is the saying--? 'Like ass'."

"Hey!" Arik defended, passing off the yerik to the Sengtsil preparing the campfire. "I'm getting better, And I taught you to say 'like ass', so no fair using it against me."
"Why do you teach them this, Arik," Jax asked, pretending to be shocked, "Man, you're so rude."
"No soup for you," Arik muttered. "No appreciation. No respect. Who brings home the chow? Me. Who gets dogged on? Me."

<<No time for playing around,>> Sek'Mut muttered, <<We need to get on the road, before the kunsips fly past.>> Standing nearby, Ray'iun nodded in agreement. They all subconsciously turned their eyes skyward, the Omatikaya and Avatars especially feeling dangerously vulnerable with the thinner tree cover.

Sek'Mut, Tseylian and Ray'iun met to talk, considering their next moves, while Aniuket said something to Tsamseyu before getting up and walking over towards Arik. She grinned at him, waving her arm freely.

<<I am good,>> she said, moving her arm through a full range of motion. <<Tsamseyu says I am healed.>>
<<Very good,>> Arik said as they sat down next to each other, sharing a hide cloak over the backs of their shoulders while they faced the fire. Sek'Mut glanced over his shoulder at them and gave them a dirty look, but said nothing.

Soon, cuts of the steaming hot meat was serving as breakfast, while the bulk of it was wrapped up in leaves for the later meals of the day. Not only would it provide them with quick meals, but also would not require making another fire that would risk betraying them.

"Who's up tomorrow?" Chris asked. "I was yesterday's hunter."
"Jax," Arik said.
"I will go too!" Nef'Tys said.
"Where's 'Domino's Airlift' when you need it?" Jax teased.

Within half an hour, the camp was packed and traces of the fire buried.
<<Another day to the edge of Sengtsil territory,>> Ray'iun announced. <<And the spirit lands.>>

"Did he say 'ghost lands'?" Chris asked.
"You heard the man correctly," Jax said, knowing he'd gotten the words right but uncertain about the meaning. "What are <<spirit lands>>?"

Ray'iun and Tseylian exchanged glances, obviously not sure how they could explain it. Sek'Mut, Nef'Tys and the other Omatikaya were obviously as confused as the Avatars about the meaning.

"The breath," Ray'iun said, exhaling with a huff of hot air, "It makes, like a spirit," he explained, breathing out again and pointing towards the steam. "The whole land is like that."

The Avatars looked at each other. Arik laughed.

"Geothermal hot springs," he said, hooking a thumb towards himself, "Geologist, remember? This is going to be awesome."

Arik learning the ways of the hunter very well.
Not so well the ways of the speaker or crafter.
Some insight into the nature of their ultimate destination.

« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 04:55:19 pm by Coyote »
In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

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WARNING: Attached medical file exceeds gigabyte limit. System failure.

Offline Lehrrap Uniltìranyu

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #51 on: February 13, 2011, 01:59:48 am »
The Road North
0600 HRS

"Hot springs? Excellent, break time!" Jax jokes for a moment, but his face soon falls serious again.

"To get to refuel base EG-N is about another day's march." He says thoughtfully, looking at Arik. "I know you don't really agree about this, but I think I'll split off from the group with anyone who wants to come with and meet up up the trail a ways after hunting breakfast for everyone tomorrow."

Just a quick filler post

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Offline Brainiac

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2011, 04:50:47 pm »
As soon as he knew no one was paying attention to him, Oscar sped off in to the jungle.
He ran in a random direction. The last thing he needed right now was contact with others. After a minute or two of running, he stopped by a river. No one was around. The river wasn’t exceptionally deep, the current not that strong. Oscar waded a few meters into it, and looked down at his own reflection. He hadn’t paid that much attention to what his avatar looked like. It looked a lot like him. Same thick eyebrows, same lips. He recognized himself. Mostly. He was short, especially for a Na’vi. His hair was short, except for the braid. He looked at his arms. Webbed with burn-scars. The color was slightly off, too. Too light, too pinkish. They’d probably stay that way. The Na’vi doctor was good, but there are some things you can’t heal.

He got out of the river. He let it all wash over him. The stress, the gravity of the situation, all of it. He tried to grab hold of himself, but it was too late. It engulfed him. Anger and self-pity came in waves. He should not have been here. It was all a big mistake. He was stuck here. The one who didn’t want to be here forced to forever stay. He pitied himself, endlessly. He had grown up being told that he’d be capable of anything. He was going to be amazing, on top of the world. And now he was here. He wasn’t even important. He cried. Thick tears rolled down his face as he sagged to his knees. He gritted his teeth, and he tasted the tears as they passed his lips. He focused through it all. He was embarrassing himself. “When did I become so whiny?” he wondered.

“Strewth, I don’t know, cobb. You’ve been pretty whiny all along.” Oscar spun around and faced Chris, leaning against a tree behind him. He was relaxed, calmly regarding Oscar. Oscar's thoughts were clear. He knew exactly what to do: apologize.
“I’m sorry. I wish I could say it was the heat of the moment, but I consider you a friend, and after what you did for me, what I did was unforgivable.”
Chris smiled, and approached him. “It’s okay mate. I get it. For what it’s worth, I shouldn’t have said what what I said.” Chris extended his hand to Oscar, who gripped it firmly and pulled himself to his feet.
“But it’s true, isn’t it? You really don’t need me. I really am ‘dead weight’, as you called it. By all rights, I shouldn’t even be here. I’m not qualified. Heck, I’m not even old enough.”
Chris looked at him quizzically. “I can't say I'm following you.”

Oscar sighed, the look of a dejected puppy who's been caught red handed falling over his face. “I forged my papers, my qualifications, and my age. I’m twenty. I should not be here. I heard there was this space-program, and there were the rumors of the avatar-project at school. I had to make sure, so I forged an authorization to visit the labs. When I was there, it all seemed so amazing. I had gotten that far, so I figured, why not go all the way? I faked university records, test results, even lodgings. I didn’t expect to get accepted, but apparently the 'recomendation' by my xenology professor was what convinced them. I was accepted, given the quick training and sent here. And I can’t do any of the things I claimed in my resumé. I don’t know a thing about the Na’vi, I don’t speak a word of their language and I know even less about this planet. By all rights, I cheated my way in. I edged out someone far more qualified, I reckon. And now I want to leave, and I can’t. Karma’s a b****, huh?”

Chris didn’t seem to know what do or say. He’d nodded a few times during the confession, frowned in disapproval from time to time. Now he was quiet, as if processing what he’d heard. After a few seconds, Oscar was getting uncomfortable. He’d been keeping this quiet, for obvious reasons, and he had no idea of how Chris was going to respond. Chris looked him straight in the eye and put his hand on Oscar’s shoulder.
“Sounds to me that you saw an opportunity and wanted to 'ave a go. You're here now, cobb, no sense in complainin' about something what you can't fix. Besides, you're a quick learner, you'll prove useful in the long run. Mark my words. C’mon, let’s get back to camp.”

“Just give me a minute” Oscar said. Chris nodded and walked off. Oscar made a mental note of the direction he went in. He hadn’t exactly been paying attention on the way to the stream. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had some thoughts, ideas, like silver fish, swimming around in his head. And he might just have caught one. He smiled
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Offline Tanhìyärina'

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #53 on: February 14, 2011, 01:11:19 pm »
Tseylian watched Ray'iun trying to explain the spirit lands to the Ayuniltìranyu.  For all his problems with lì'fya leNa'vi, Arik seemed to understand first.  He said something in his nasal, mumbly flat language, and the other ayuniltìranyu nodded.

Perhaps she shouldn't have been so hard on him, she caught herself thinking.  His heart was in the right place.  Eywa, Tseylian was sure, had understood.

A small burst of nìNa'vi reached her ears.  One of the Omatikaya was translating with Arik had said about the spirit lands.  "Kilvan asom ta äokllte kä nefä, ulte yapay slu."

Ray'iun added, "Tsun tsive'a fizayuyä sirea tsatsenge, mì yapay."

Arik had turned to Aniuket and was trying to explain how hot springs worked.  The Na'vi understood some of it, especially after Arik began sketching diagrams of underground lakes and plate tectonics.

Nìwotx tìftia kifkeyä lu.  Po ke kamänge, maw oeyä sänume nìwotx.  Fpìlfya ke nìayoeng kaw'it, Tseylian thought to herself.  She had been willing to cut Arik a bit of slack, thinking he was just bad at languages.  But no, there was a way to do things.  And the way was to say the prayer correctly.

The Sengtsil woman's hands clenched into fists instinctively.  Her eyes narrowed.  "Faysawtute," she hissed to herself, tearing her eyes away from the sky person to look at the forest-- what was left of it, this far north.

And there, resting on a branch just outside the group, was a tiny atokirina', bobbing slightly in the breeze.  Tseylian sucked in her breath as her eyes widened again.  "Slä aungia lamu," she whispered, so taken aback by this reminder that for some unknown reason, Eywa had wanted these Sawtute to stay with the People.  The Great Mother had chosen them, and She was still choosing them.

"Srane," Tseylian murmured, nodding.  "Oel ngati kameie, ma Nawma Sa'nok.  Terìng mikyun, ma Eywa."

She noticed neither Oscar crashing off through the brush nor Ray'iun's curious gaze on her.
Fitseng lu oe, tìftia kìfkeyä seri.

Offline El Jacko

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #54 on: February 24, 2011, 02:53:43 pm »
EG-N Airspace

   After the radio conversation with Jax, Shep ordered the Nighthawk be flown directly to the agreed fuel base, safe in the knowledge that the Avatar's caravan would arrive in due time. Doc was still tending to the perforated door gunner, who had by now recovered conciousness; he was, however, still in a bad way and needed further treatment. This worked to Shep's advantage, granting another excuse to get to EG-N and lurk for a few days.

   He noticed a general feeling of distrust from Jinx's direction, too. The young corporal seemed particularly interested in the minimal goings-on at the other end of his gun sight, rather than the fact his entire mission plan had just been torn up and re-written. Time would tell if this animosity was temporary or not.

Geological Outpost EG-N

   As the fuel base neared, it became clear that this particular station had existed longer than a simple filling depot. Smack bang in the middle of a denser patch of forest sprawled a small, yet well-hidden, industrial complex.
Didn't know they had a plant up here, Shep heard through his com.
"Me neither. Apparently Hell's Gate isn't the only place we're poking around..." he replied, taking a mental note of the landing pad and it's proximity to the forest.

   Without another word, Bill drifted the Nighthawk gracefully down toward the so far unused-looking landing pad, kicking up a flurry of leaves as he touched down. The Site's foreman was already waiting at the edge of the pad, and stepped up to meet Shep and his 'crew' as they disembarked.

"Morning!" he shouted, over the roar of the rotors, "Col. Quaritch just radio'd in, said you were inbound."
"Crackin; we good to sta--"
"What medical facilities have you got here?" Doc cut across, striding up to the foreman, "We've got a casualty, and he's going to need specialist treatment if he wants to keep using his lung.". Two green-suited medics emerged from a door as he said this, towing a gurney.
"Relax, there's a small wing upstairs prepared for this sort of thing." he said, before turning to say something to the medics. They nodded, and approached Doc, who then lead them back towards the Samson and his patient.

"You're welcome to use this facility as a 'base of operations' for as long as necessary, Staff Sergeant." said the foreman, as Shep turned to enquire.
"Excellent. If all goes well, we won't be here for long..." Shep said, trailing off as he glanced at the forest, "...Aaanyway, where's the canteen?" He finished, turning to more pressing matters.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 06:32:44 pm by El Jacko »
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Offline Coyote

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #55 on: February 26, 2011, 04:52:51 pm »
North Trail
Just Outside Sengtsil Territory
Next Morning

Arik awoke, close to Aniuket's suspended k'sey nivi. She still slept; Arik had 'woken' early.

Back at the hideout in the Hallelujah Mountains, his human body had informed Grace and the others of their progress as he stuffed himself with food. The time at the base seemed more and more surreal, like when he was talking to Grace and the other humans, he was playing a video game. Back in his Avatar body, on the other hand, he felt better.

"Hot springs? Excellent, break time!" Jax jokes for a moment, but his face soon falls serious again.

"To get to refuel base EG-N is about another day's march." He says thoughtfully, looking at Arik. "I know you don't really agree about this, but I think I'll split off from the group with anyone who wants to come with and meet up up the trail a ways after hunting breakfast for everyone tomorrow."

...Arik thought back to the brief conversation he'd had with Jax about going off on his own for awhile. It troubled him. Was Jax just getting more and more comfortable as a Na'vi, or...? He knew that Jax had discovered some sort of connection between himself and their hunter. But would he really go off to meet the man who'd --so far-- been the only one to come even remotely close to stopping them?

Was Jax going to... betray them?

It bothered Arik. In his human body he exercised and ate, took a cold bath in the stream outside the prefabs --awkward with a breather mask-- and took a nap, getting some full, real sleep. His human body felt great, under the circumstances, but his mental state wasn't so good. He couldn't relax, and had gone back into his Avatar and awoke. Instead of getting out of his own k'sey nivi, he looked around.

Jax was gone. So was Nef'Tys, as near as he could tell.

Damn, I should have seen that coming, he kicked himself mentally for the oversight. His mind had been full of things lately, and talking to his sister in human form last night had not really helped. They'd actually done some of the evening prayers --he'd been shocked to learn that it was Shabbat-- himself muttering half-hearted Hebrew to her as the others gave them some respectful privacy.

He sat up in the hammock and stretched, gliding gently to the ground. Hey, didn't make a sound. I'm getting better at this. He walked over to the campfire, where Beyral and Tseylian sat.

"Mmm, slug paste," he muttered, then grabbed some. <<Good morning,>> he said.
<<Good morning,>> Tseylian said. Her tone seemed strained.
Arik sighed, looking around again. <<Nef'Tys.>>

<<Yes,>> Tseylian confirmed, <<Nowhere to be found. And we are almost there,>> she said, indicating towards the trail ahead. A small range of low, rolling hills, covered in trees dusted with a light coat of morning snow lay ahead. <<Over those hills is Sengtsil territory. She will not be able to find us.>>

Arik scooped some of the paste onto another selection of their nikt'chey from the yerik he'd killed. "Hope this is technically kosher," he mumbled as a joke. <<But we can't stay here,>> he said, looking up.
<<No,>> Beyral agreed, <<We cannot.>>

Aniuket joined them, and then Ray'iun and Chris. They ate light breakfasts and waited as the rest of the camp awoke. With Nef'Tys and Jax both gone, they were moving slowly. All of the Sengtsil insisted that a stranger entering their land would be hopelessly lost within a few paces, so thick was the steam-- or as they called it, "Eywa's Breath".

<<Why would Jax go on his own?>> Sek'Mut demanded, looking at the Avatars.
<<I could not say,>> Chris said with a shrug. <<He's been acting odd lately.>>
<<And no doubt, Nef'Tys followed him,>> Aniuket said, worry evident in her voice.

<<I will have words with him when he gets back,>> Sek'Mut growled, <<Making us wait in an exposed place like this...>>

If he comes back... Arik thought, but couldn't bring himself to say it out loud.

Next morning, and Jax takes off. Nef'Tys followed him, not known if Jax is aware of that.
The pongo will have to wait, since Sengtsil territory is tricky to maneuver in.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Hell's Gate, Pandora

With a powerful roar, the massive cigar shape lurched into the sky, the pilot trying to find the 'sweet spot' between lift and over-compensation of lift. It was nothing like a helo, neither a Samson nor a Scorpion, not even the Dragon Heavy Gunship was like it.

"Easy, easy," Director Warren Childs said as he stood behind the pilot and braced himself.
"Sorry, sir," the pilot said, "This thing just wants to leap into the air at a touch."
"That's why it's called a lighter-than-air ship," Colonel Quaritch said, taking a sip from his coffee mug to mask his own nervousness.

"The next one may have to be heavier-than-air," Childs said, scratching his beard in thought.
"The next one?" Quaritch asked.
"We'll need our own force of airborne craft," Childs said, "One we can sustain and replace on  our own. The less we need to bring from Earth, the better off we'll be out here."

"I can't argue that," Quaritch said, "But heavier than air? What's the point?"
"Better control, more stable," Childs said. "It'll still be a heavy-lifter, but if the power goes off it'll settle to the ground instead of just drifting. Something to look into. Captain, take her around in a nice, slow arc and let's see how she handles."

"Yes, sir," the Captain said, and the Zeppelin started coming around gracefully, examining the perimeter of the entire Hell's Gate complex in all its imperious majesty. The gondola of the Zeppelin was made mostly out of the body of the remaining Dragon; the engines salvaged from various SA-2 and Scorpions that had been ruined. The nose had a minigun in it, as did the tail, and the gondola had all the weapons systems of the original Dragon it was built from.

"Some curious fauna approaching on long-range," the co-pilot said, looking at the radar.
"Now we get to see if it can hold it's own against the wildlife," Childs said. He smiled at Quaritch. "The beauty of it is, if this thing crashes, it takes, like, ten minutes to sink to the ground."

"What have we got, lieutenant?" Quaritch asked.
"Couple of Banshees, sir," the co-pilot said. "Shall I release weapons?"
"Weapons free," Quaritch said, sipping at his coffee.

The pilot made no move to avoid the Banshees as they approached-- such an encounter was expected, and part of the test. The miniguns were remotely-controlled from gunners in the back of the gondola, and they warmed up their weapons as the Banshees got close.

"Test fire!" the lead gunner said, and he thumbed off the safety, then sprayed a burst of fire from the lead minigun into one of the Banshees. The unfortunate beast was shredded in midair, not even time to begin falling before it was already dead. The other Banshee squawked its anger at the loss of its mate, and angled to attack the Zeppelin, but another burst of fire stitched cruelly across one wing, shattering it and sending it plummeting, a spray of blood arcing out of it as smoke would trail from a damaged fighter plane.

"Good shot, Sergeant!" Quaritch called back to the gunners.
"That'll make a mess," Childs said dismissively. "Remember, only the fabric stretched across the bottom part of the Zeppelin is Kevlar-stitched; the top part is all solar collective fabric. So don't let them get above us; we only have a couple of open-air gun ports up there."

"We should get a turret of some sort," Quaritch said, "I don't like having that vulnerability."
"I was thinking we should take the top half of an AMP suit and mount it up there on a swivel," Childs said, "And just replace the arms entirely with a pair of cannon. What do you think?"
"I can have someone get on it as soon as we land."

"Do it," Childs said, "I want to be able to take this thing north by the end of the week."

"It'll be ready, sir," Quaritch assured him. The Zeppelin looked to be a rousing success.

Zeppelin goes on test flight over Hell's Gate, kills two Banshees with mounted weapons.
RDA will put some more weapons on it and go to Sengtsil territory in a few days.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Sengtsil Borderlands

Two shadowy shapes ran through the steam, knowing the path by its feel, by the angle of the ground, by how far it had been since their last rest. Their breathing sounded loud in their own ears, but it was illusory; they were relatively silent considering how fast they were running. Here, the ground was warm, a spot where Eywa --in her wisdom-- had brought heat to the frozen land, allowing ice to melt and form pools, and life to flourish. It was their next resting point before moving on to their destination.

At the small meltwater pond, the two Sengtsil drank, and hastily ate from the small nikt'chey they carried. They said nothing, but the looks they exchanged said much. They were close, but a long way from safe.

The older one looked to his younger companion, and nodded his head. They hastily swallowed their snack and sprang into action again, carrying spears instead of bows-- missile weapons were not as useful in the limited visibility-- and took off again, counting their paces. The older one led, a shadowy figure, ghostlike before the younger one; his pace count was better with his longer legs, so it was he who determined, after the bubbling hot water place they passed next, to turn hard left onto a little-used trail. They picked up the pace and ran harder, almost at their destination, and eager to have the shroud of Eywa's Breath close in behind them, masking their movement.

Did the younger one imagine a crowd of feet rushing past, behind them, still on the original trail? He concentrated on the route ahead, and dodged some rocks. He was running faster but on an unfamiliar trail, trusting the one in front of him entirely. But even he had only been on this trail twice before.

They erupted into a an area of wide, flat rock, the kind that was smooth and almost fluid in appearance, worn down by years of hot water. They stopped, just a copuple paces away from a hot pool of black water.

<<Elder,>> the leader whispered.
<<I am here,>> the crackling voice of the Old One said, stepping forward out of the steam. He himself seemed ghostly and spiritlike, and the younger Sengtsil had to remind himself not to collapse into a bow at his feet. Apparantly, the Old One didn't like that.

<<They are coming,>> the first Sengtsil said.
<<They are here,>> the Old One replied. <<Eywa has told me. Our friends come, but the enemy is already in our midst. It was dangerous to come here.>>
<<I could not leave you here alone.>>
<<I am never alone,>> the Old One said, <<For Eywa provides. I have water, I have warmth; I want for nothing.>>

<<We came to protect you,>> the young one said.
<<But who will protect you?>> the Old One asked back, his voice full of sad mirth.

<<Eywa will be our shield,>> the leader said, looking around at the Breath. <<We need only provide the knife.>>

The Old One looked at the leader. <<The beginnings of wisdom,>> he said, and they went into the clearing, the mists of Eywa hiding them as thoroughly as any blanket.

Certain Sengtsil already preparing for the arrival of new people.

« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 10:57:24 pm by Coyote »
In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

Attempted to pee on Viperwolf to test reaction. Please see attached medical file.
WARNING: Attached medical file exceeds gigabyte limit. System failure.

Offline Lehrrap Uniltìranyu

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #56 on: March 15, 2011, 12:19:22 am »
Outskirts of EG-N
0830 HRS

Jax takes a breath as he creeps through the underbrush, checking his surroundings as he goes, knowing that he's gonna need to move fast in order to get back with the group without getting lost, when his ears flick up as a light, very distinctive sound hits them.

"... Nef'tys..." He breaths. "<Why did you follow me?>"

<<Because it's fun,>> the adolescent Na'vi said, sliding gracefully from her tree perch to the ground. She gave the briefest flicker of a grin, but her eyes centered right on his, searching. <<Why you wander off to Sawtute area?>> she asked. <<Danger here, away from Ray'iun and his guides. Other Sengtsil; they are not so friendly like the Omatikata.>> She looked around, gazing at the trees around them, the overhead cover... <<And nowhere to hide when things go bad, too.>>

Jax nods. "<I know.>" He says, his ears flicking as he looks around, on alert for anything. "<We need to go collect a friend, a ally.>"

Jax lets out a little sigh. "<However, it appears no one trusts me anymore.>" He grumbles. "<I know what I'm doing... this Sawtute can be trusted. He and I have history.>"

Nef'Tys sat back, her shoulders slumping slightly. Her eyes continued to scan, as always, but otherwise it was probably one of the most passive postures Jax had seen her in.

<<Maybe... maybe you don't see how much they trust you?>> she said. <<You are here, after all. Maybe it is not a thing with trust, but care. You know this Tawtute, and want to reach out, go home, maybe...>> She looked at him, big yellow eyes seeming to bore right into his head. <<Maybe you see what you want in this person, and you ignore danger he may bring. Or...>> She thought for a moment, then leaned forward, thinking.

<<What if he is being tricked?>> she said. <<The Sawtute at Scar-in-Ground. If they know of your connection, what if they tell him lies, and trick you through him?>. She straightened her back and gave him a wary look. <<Kill both of you, then, hm?>>

"<<... Maybe. Yes, No, I don't know anymore.>>" Jax says, frowning. "<<Ugh... damn it, what I really want is for all of this be over. I'm tired of running, I'm tired of not knowing, I'm tired of...>>"

Jax falls silent, his eyes closing as he lets out another soft sigh. "<<I'm tired of people expecting me to just fall into line... I didn't train for this... I didn't train to use a bow and arrow, I didn't train to slink through the forest as a hunter, I and damn sure didn't train to live in this body...>>"

Jax's ears fall low. "<<... This was a mistake. All of... this.>>" He gestures to himself, his voice bitter. "<<Why did Eywa send the seeds? Why did she do any of this? Why did she let me live... Why am I here?>>" He asks, softly shaking his head.

Jax stands still a moment, and then softly shakes his head. "<<I am sorry, Nef'tys. I shouldn't be bothering you with my thoughts. Even if it's a trap, it would be best for us to continue onwards, if only to ensure that our allies are aware that they may be walking into a trap... or kill them, if they are leading us so.>>"

Nef'Tys looked serious --very serious. It didn't seem right, coming from her, and for a moment it made Jax hesitant.

Scared, even.

<<Your choice was to live as you are, now, or to die. Many people went into danger to take you to Eywa. Some did not come back. When you say people don't trust you... maybe they see you angry about this great gift, this sacrifice. Is it so bad here?>>

Jax said nothing, but looked away, thinking about the words she said. I didn't know you had it in you, he wanted to say, but fought the urge. <<You've been talking to Arik, haven't you?>> he said, instead.

Nef'tys's Cheshire grin came back. <<A lot. I make sure he's okay for my sister, srane? Learn a lot. Like when something is no good? It's like ass.>>

<<Yeah,>> Jax said. <<Like ass. Like this situation here. I don't know what to make of it.>>
<<You need to make careful choice,>> she warned, <<You want to meet this guy, you go; I wait and watch. But Jax,>> she said, suddenly reaching out and grasping his shoulder with a squeeze that was companionable, but at the same time like iron. <<You be careful. Don't waste the gift.>>

Hesitantly, ever so hesitantly, Jax reaches out and grips Nef'tys shoulder back. "<<... Thank you... Nef'tys. You a blessing in and of itself.>>"

Jax smiles at her. "<<I will go meet with him, but give information, and take information.>>"

"Ta'em 'eko!!!"
"Better to have fought and died then never to have fought at all"
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Offline El Jacko

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #57 on: April 08, 2011, 05:49:10 pm »
Geological Outpost EG-N

   A few day's respite at EG-N had proved a great bonus to Shep and his haphazard crew, allowing Nick time to recover slightly, Doc time to shed some stress and Jinx some much-needed time to think. To Shep's untrained perception, it almost seemed as if Jinx was becoming more trusting of the somewhat unpredictable Staff Sergeant.
   While his crew dealt with themselves, Shep took it upon himself to try and do something useful around the compound. This morning, he'd elected to put his life on the line and patrol the outer perimeter. Like most of the fortified structures the RDA had built, EG-N had a foreboding main wall encircled by a (what was intended to be temporary) chain-link fence. The idea in keeping it was partly to slow down any opportunistic wildlife, and partly to save the hassle of removing it. Due to the hazardous nature of this patrol, Shep had made sure to be 'careful'.

   As he rounded the perimeter, a worn patch of fencing caught his eye; a large swathe of the chain link had rusted to the point of crumbling away. Heading closer to investigate, he heard a dull *thunk* from one of the trees just outside the perimeter. He quickly vaulted the tired chain-link and tentatively headed over in the direction of the sound, pistol drawn. Upon arrival, he found a native arrow buried in the trunk; dangling from which was a rifle bullet casing. Scanning the overhead branches, a crouched blue form perched a short distance away; a somewhat familiar blue shape.

"Mornin Jax," Shep called out, "Lovely morning for a walk, wouldn't you say?"
"Volume down Shep, or this time I'm not going to miss." Jax replies. "By Eywa, be careful dude."
Jax leaps out of the tree, landing softly, before brushing himself off. "Did you grab my arrow?"
"I brought careful with me," Shep retorted, gesturing to the rifle on his back, "And aye, here's yer arrow.", he finished, stabbing the metre-long stave into the soft ground.

"Now; to business. I'm not entirely sure our plan is the best idea..." Shep said, trailing off as he saw movement in the branches behind Jax. Instinctively, he drew his pistol in anticipation. A few seconds later, Nef'tys lands next to Jax as he takes the arrow and stows it with his bow.

"I know. I've been thinking about it as well, and we need to wait a bit longer. Do you have any allies?"
"Yes, somewhat. The crew of my Samson are relatively trustworthy -- however, whether they trust me is still up for debate" Shep replied, trying quickly to mentally evaluate his crew.
"One is a medic, pretty good one too. I'm unsure of his fighting skills, but he seems halfway happy with a gun. The other is a rank-and-file soldier, but he's proved he's at least able to handle himself." Shep reeled off, while Jax slowly nodded.

"Well, that's something." Jax said, Nef'tys watching Shep carefully; studying him and his mannerisms. "...What happened to the guy I pinned to the Samson?"
"He'll live. Bit perforated, mind you," Shep replied, "I'll expect he won't be too pleased if he ever met you."

Jax laughed. "Bah. He was firing spray and pray, and I bet the only thing he ever saw was the arrow!"
"He was doing as I ordered. The fact that some gump decided to skewer the poor fecker was pretty irritating, considering he was the one member of the crew that actually trusted my word." Shep growled, staring down Jax with a look that'd turn milk sour. Through the exopack's visor it lacked the intended effect.

Jax rolled his eyes. Like he hadn't gotten -that- glare before. "Hey, I deliberately shot him with a un-poisioned arrow, and aimed for his leg!--"
"Great shot then..." Shep muttered.
"--I wasn't planning on killing him, I was planning on keeping him from doing something stupid!"
"Yeah, well he's now got a hole in his lung. I'd appreciate it if you don't shoot him again the next time you see him.", Shep retorted.

Nef'tys suddenly let out a burst of Na'vi, glaring at Jax briefly before watching Shep wearily, eyes fixed on his revolver and her knife out and ready.
"Relax Nef'tys... he's a old friend." Jax says, looking to Shep. "Look, I'm not going to apologize for what I did, because he's alive, neither of us have bullet wounds, and last I checked, we're at war. We got more important things to do..." Jax paused, as if to tell Shep to stand down. As he visibly relaxed, Jax continued. "So what's the plan from here?"

"Well," Shep said, holstering his pistol and keeping a wary eye on Nef'tys' knife, "We're moving north on assignment, up to Sengtsil territory. By the looks of things, your caravan is doing the same thing. As it stands, I've got orders to shadow the caravan and keep an eye on affairs for Quaritch and Childs."

"Joy of joys." Jax sighs, and then blinks. "So your crew is shadowing us?"
"Pretty much. Wherever you and your new friends go, I go too." Shep replied with a smile. "It'd be nice if you didn't point us out, we're supposed to be doing this covertly."

"Well, that'll make coodination at least -slightly- easier..." Jax grumbles. "What we need is a way to communicate. Makes it easier to keep everyone alive if you've got peices on both sides of the board."

"I think I have a solution for that. you still got those radios from EF-N?" Shep enquired.
"Yeah. Ugh. Rather impractical though. Blasted things are -heavy-. What's with the outdated gear anyway?"

"Man up, yer great blue pansy. I carry one around, and you avatars are supposed to be stronger than humans. Besides, they don't break. Ever." Shep teased. Being at a height disadvantage didn't help his usual sarcastic outlook.
"Heh. Guess that's what I get for being a medivac." Jax says as he shakes his head, while Shep chuckles to himself.

"Right then, I'd best get back to patrol before anyone starts wondering where I've got to." said Shep, finally.
"I hear that. I'll keep an eye out for you" Jax replied, turning to leave.

"I'll try to stay hidden then" Shep called back over his shoulder as he walked away. The grey mass of the main wall loomed in the distance as he marched towards the compound; the chain-link fence highlighted against it in stark relief. Ambling along for a while, he soon found the rusted patch and clambered over, making a mental note to inform the foreman when he was done with patrol.

Geological Outpost EG-N

   Shep found Doc in the medical wing, exactly where he expected. He'd already spoken to Jinx - if informing the corporal that they were due to ship out tomorrow counted as a 'conversation' - and the Nighthawk flight crew while on his rounds.
"How's the patient doing?" Shep called out as he entered the room, drawing annoyed glances from the other medical personnel in the wing. Doc recognised the voice, and stuck his head out of an office door just as Nick dragged himself up to a seated position.
"Getting better, Staffy" Nick said, with some difficulty.

"Should be back to normal in a few months, I reckon," Doc said, walking up and checking the notes on his datapad, "or as close to normal as possible."
"Excellent. Doc, is he alright to travel?" Shep enquired, somewhat optimistically. Doc just sighed dejectedly upon seeing the expectant look on Nick's face.

"I'd rather not, but it should be doable. You'll be dead weight for a few weeks though, at least until you get full mobility back." he said, glancing sternly at Nick.
"Good to hear. We ship out tomorrow, 1230hrs. Heading northeast first, over to FF-N; if I'm right, we should come within a few miles of the smurf caravan." Shep said, before continuing over Nick's pained laughter. "That alright with you?"

"Yessir," Doc replied, stowing the datapad and turning towards the office, "I'll get to making arrangements."
"Aye cap'n!"
"I'm not captain yet, Nick" Shep replied, struggling to keep a straight face.
"Yes boss"
'Look at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us...on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam' - Carl Sagan

Offline Mako

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #58 on: December 26, 2011, 11:29:49 pm »
Traveler's Camp

Shadows skirted the edge of Chris' vision. Somewhere a fire cast an eerie red glow upon the landscape before him. Chris had no recollection of where he was or how he got there. He walked slowly across the field, now aware of the screams of men, and of something else that pricked the back of Chris' mind. "It could be..." The air was cold. Chris shivered as his bare skin touched the brisk air. Chris picked up his step, suddenly afraid to face the night. Fading light didn't bode well on a battlefield. Ahead of him on the ground lie the body of a man, facedown in the dirt. Around him other bodies were strewn, some men, some blue-skinned. So he was on Pandora. Even though he felt compelled to check on his Na'vi brethren, Chris couldn't stop walking toward the man in the middle. He knelt and rolled the body over. Without warning, the man shoved a WASP pistol into Chris' face. "'Ello brothah."


Chris awoke with a start. His dreams lately were becoming overly vivid, but even so, he had never encountered something like this before. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he replayed the dream in his head. This one was very clear, and Chris hoped that it was a nightmare and not a premonition. He rolled out of his bunk. It was queer how awkward and uncomfortable his human body felt now. After eating breakfast, he slipped into the link room and activated his link. He wanted to continue to ponder his dream in the comfort of his avatar's body.


He awoke in his avatar and made his way to the edge of camp so as not to disturb anyone else. After roughly a half an hour, the soft footsteps of a native approached Chris from behind as he sat against a tree. Chris turned and smiled at the recognition of who it was. "Ma Eanataw, peul zamunge ngati fìtseng?" She flashed a brief smile, but then her face took on a look of immense sorrow. Chris' smile immediately faded. "Ngeyä Na'vi sìltsan lu. Nìtram oe lu ngeyä karyu lolu." Chris stood and looked her in the eyes. "Lolu? Ke tslam oe..." With difficulty Eanataw spoke. "Oe zene kivä. Oel ke tsaye'a ngati nìmun." Chris words caught in his throat. He could not speak. "Mì aynari, Na'viyä hapxi nga lu. Alaksi a Iknimaya nga lu, slä ke layu oe pesul munge ngati." A hoarse sob escaped his lips. "Ma Eanataw, ma oeyä Eanataw..." She turned to leave, stopping briefly to add in a barely audible whisper: "Oe...oe lu ngaytxoa." And with those last words, Eanataw turned and walked off into the forest. Chris stood in complete shock as he watched her go. Eanataw dared not look back. She kept her eyes fixed ahead of her, the image blurred by the tears streaming down her face. She kept walking, away from Chris, and towards home. Chris's knees suddenly went weak and he collapsed against the tree. He wept.*


Traveler's Camp

Chris slowly ran out of tears as the morning progressed. He stayed riveted against that tree until he could cry no more. Emotions come hard to men who have killed other men before, but the pain that filled Chris' chest was no imagination. In a sense it felt good to feel pain. Though it tore him in two, Chris found solace in his newfound emotion. She was gone, and it hurt, but it felt good to be reminded that he wasn't a machine and that he was capable of feeling. His mind wandered for a few minutes, but then the glint of a revelation drew him back. "What if..." Chris thought to himself, "my connection to this world and these people has freed me from my prison?" He thought about it for a while. As each second passed, the answer became more solid. He had never before felt so strongly. There and then, Chris made a decision that he had been contemplating since his involvement with the rebellion. He swore off his human half. To him humans had become a scourge, a waking evil. He no longer wanted to associate himself with them. 


He slipped over to where Arik, Sek'mut and a few others sat, now more confidant, his sadness evaporating before the strength of his resolve. It wouldn't fully leave, and would continue to haunt Chris in the dark hours of the night, but he decided to no longer dwell upon Eanataw's desertion. Arik looked over at Chris as he sat, concern written in his eyes. Chris knew his eyes told the morning's story, he would explain later. Arik said nothing, briefly placing his hand on Chris' shoulder before returning his attention to the conversation. Chris appreciated Arik's concern.

Quote from: Arik
"Pelun kìvä Jax nì'awtu?" Sek'Mut demanded, looking at the Avatars. 
"Oe ke omum," Chris said with a shrug. "Po hìlmek nìfkrr."
"Luke am'a, Nef'Tysìl poti ," Aniuket said, worry evident in her voice.

"Oe paylltxe hu po krrpe po tätxaw," Sek'Mut growled, <<Making us wait in an exposed place like this...>>


Chris has a nightmare concerning a large battle and his younger brother.
Eanataw surprises Chris by telling him she is leaving, never to return.
Chris deemed ready for the Iknimaya trial by Eanataw, the first in the group.
Chris decides he is human no more.
Feelings for Eanataw still exist, but Chris represses them.

*Eanataw's character is dead weight, and since Lin isn't going to return (and I have been given permission to write on our behalf), I'm dropping her character completely. I figured I'd do it in a way that I can identify with, so I'm kinda venting some thoughts about my recent breakup, but that's irrelevant. So to explain where Eanataw is going, she finds out while everyone is sleeping that her mother is dying. Eanataw is conflicted about the decision, but chooses to return home to be with her mother and never returns.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 10:17:44 am by Reyona te Tsateka Ray'i'itan »

Offline Coyote

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Re: Storm over Pandora - Those Left Behind...
« Reply #59 on: January 02, 2012, 02:04:29 pm »
Traveler's Camp
The Trail North

Arik sat next to Tseylian and Aniuket, enjoying the morning sun as it crested the rise. With Polyphemus it was never truly dark, and with the multiple other moons reflecting light, sometimes it was hard to tell when the sun was truly "down". He reminded himself that they were far to the north, also, and if Pandaora's seasons were much like Earth's, that meant that they'd have either extremely long periods of day or night, depending on what time of year it was. So far, it seems to be mostly light instead of dark, he thought. That means we're here in summer, I guess? He looked around and shivered, and drew the furs closer to him. I can't imagine it in winter.

Nearby, Tseylian gave what would almost be a human smirk. She and Ray'iun, on her other side, exchanged a knowing glance.

<<Good thing we are here in the beginning of the warm time,>> she said. <<You would not last in the cold seasons.>>
Arik looked at her, uncertain exactly what she said, but it had something to do with being warm enough, or too cold. He smiled to indicate a general sense of agreement, but he was certain she'd know he hadn't caught it. His suspicion was confirmed when she shook her head with some trace of disappointment on her features.

Eeanataw's departure had shaken Chris, that much was evident, but at the same time it seemed to give him some sense of confidence, too. Word had spread that she'd had to leave, for reasons that Arik didn't know but didn't seem to reflect a problem with Chris himself, but some outside problem. I hope this isn't a bad sign, or something, he thought. He wondered if Na'ama would put a mystical spin on it of some sort.

<<Scouts return with news that we are at the border of the spirit lands,>> Ray'iun said, focusing everyone's attention back on the business at hand. Arik appreciate the man's good sense of timing-- it was never good to let people dwell too much on misfortunes... or the unknown. <<This means we will be in Sengtsil area again. It is both good and bad. We know the area,>> he said, indicating the other Sengtsil tribesfolk, <<--but it is also the area where Kai'iu leads. We do not know which of his warriors are loyal to him and his Sawtute master; how many have agreed to the promises of power. Until we know better, we must regard all with suspicion.>>

<<What of the Elder?>> Tseylian asked.

Ray'iun became uncomfortable. Chris and Arik exchanged looks-- both of them were uncertain about the way the conversation had gone, being hard-pressed to keep up with the rapid ninavi, which was also full of Sengtsil-topical references they were unfamiliar with.

<<The Elder,>> Ray'iun said, his voice trailing off and the universal look of doubt on his features, "No one is sure about him anymore. Not for a long time. Those few who see him, say he has become more of one mind with Eywa, and impossible to interpret.>>

<<But he will know what is happening better than any other,>> Tseylian said, even though she herself also seemed to be uncertain. <<He will be the only one we know for certain is for Eywa, and not made tainted by lies.>>

Arik was relieved to see that Sek'Mut and Aniuket were equally perplexed by the conversation. Okay, so it is not just us, he thought, glancing at Chris.

Ray'iun bit his lower lip in indescision, and drew in a deep breath, thinking a bit before letting it out again, slowly. <<I wish I did not find such sense in your words,>> he said to Tseylian. <<You are right. The Elder is the only one we can know the allegiance of for certain; but who else will be there waiting?>>
<<The people of the tribe still... fear him, do they not?>> Tseylian asked. <<Even the hardiest of tsamsiyu will not approach him easily, no matter Kai'iu's threats.>>
<<They do not need to guard him,>> Ray'iun said, <<They only need to guard the path to him.>>
<<He is deep in the land of spirits and boiling blood,>> Tseylian said. <<Most do not even know how to find him.>>
<<Then how do we do this?>> he asked.

Tseylian looked at the group-- especially the Sengtsil, and the uniltìrantokx among them. She sized them up, and thought about what lay ahead. For once, she felt that the uniltìrantokx would actually be able to get by on an even footing with the Omatikaya members among them-- not because the Sawtute that lived in their minds had become better at learning to be proper Na'vi; but rather because the Omatikaya would be far out of their comfort zone. The uniltìrantokx, on the other hand, lived in a near-constant state of unfamiliarity, and so they were used to it. And they do not yet know how much they do not yet know, she thought with wry humor. So they think they can do anything.

<<We will lead,>> she said, <<We will find the Elder, and we will draw our plans from what he knows, and from his place. We will be fine. Eywa will not lead us astray.>>

Ray'iun smiled. <<Spoken like the Tsahik already,>> he said.

"So, we're going?" Arik said. "Ahhh... Ayoeng si ne kä set?"
<<We go,>> Tseylian said. Around the campfire, Sengtsil wrapped their feet with leathers. The Omatikaya and Avatars had cut up a hide and begun learning from the Sengtsil the same trick, but it was an unfamiliar experience for them and many times, the foot-wrappings had to be re-tied with help. The leathers gave insulation from the cold as well as the sharp ice, and some measure of traction on smooth ice.

"We'll have to teach them 'boots'," Arik whispered to Chris as they leaned over their own feet and wrapped the leather straps around their ankles and arches. Chris smiled, his eyes still reflecting melancholy.
"Hey, at least we're not the only ones who are gumming it up," he said, "The Omatikaya are botching some of the wrapping stuff, too."
"We're on an even keel, but always remember-- it's not that we've become good; it's that we finally found something they are equally bad at."
"Don't take the wind from my sails just as I'm getting comfortable, mate," Chris said with a sideways grin.

They wrapped up their feet and Arik said to him in low tones, "I'm sorry about Eeanataw. If you want to talk, I'm cool."
"Thanks," Chris said, "Maybe. But I think I'm okay." They nodded and went about getting ready in silence. The camp was struck; hides rolled up and stowed on the Pa'li, along with the remaining bags of dwindling supplies. Their nikt'chey were down to a few small wraps per person, but they had been supplementing their intake with a great deal of hunting and foraging. Arik wondered if they were going to be able to keep up with that for long in the geothermal springs-- from what he knew, food-bearing plants weren't common around such places back on Earth, but then it had been so long since plants had grown normally back on Earth who knew what to expect? And if these springs are full of sulphur, would animals come there to drink it?

"Anyone seen Oscar, too?" Arik suddenly asked out loud. "That guy and his wandering off..."
Chris frowned-- that had been another bombshell that had been dropped on him earlier. He'd almost forgotten about Oscar's revelation to him earlier, about sneaking into the program on forged documents.

"Uh, I saw him earlier," Chris revealed. "I forgot, what with..." he shrugged, and glanced back down the trail Eeanataw had disappeared. "Sorry. He went to a stream and was taking a bath."
"Well, he and Jax better get back," Arik said, concern in his voice. "We're going to go into an area where they'll have a hard time finding us. Even Nef'Tys will be out of her comfort zone."

Chris thought about it. He glanced up, and for the first time noticed the thick, puffy clouds ahead of them.
Arik traced his look and nodded his head. "Yeah," he said, "This cold weather with mineral hot springs-- there'll be permanent fog all over. Thick and soupy. Ikran riders won't be able to scout; we'll be at the mercy of our line of sight in the fog."

Crap, Chris thought. Delay for Oscar...? A part of him wondered if Oscar had wandered off on purpose.
"Odd, how the people who say they least want to be here are always communing with the plants at the most inopportune time..."


Pongo Ray'iun about to enter the fog-shrouded border of Sengtstil territory.
Missing camp members will probably not be able to catch up-- Jax, Nef'Tys, and Oscar.
Ray'iun and Tseylian mention a mysterious figure called "the Elder" who will be on their side-- or rather, on Eywa's side.
The group will try to make their way to the Emder, but the way will be treacherous and dangerous because of both natural and Na'vi dangers.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Remote Site 26
Iknamaya Base
Early That Morning

It had been a week since Na'ama had been able to negotiate food with the Omatikaya, coached through the process with a lot of help from Grace Augustine. The Na'vi of the Omatikaya had continued to hunt as always, and they had noticed --and confirmed-- the movement of many RDA habitat-pods from their old locations to new ones lining the border of the vortex area. The habitats were manned, as expected, with two or three Sawtute apiece, mostly observing the movement of the Na'vi and their Ikrans.

The Na'vi, however, ranged wide in their hunting lands, and riders on Pa'li were a common sight. Riders carrying game were equally common, and the occasional "loose" arrow that "accidentally" clanged off the side of the RDA habitats was soon ignored for the childish provocation it was assumed to be.

"A good haul," Trudy said as she and Esme helped unload the Dragon. The massive gunship was able to fly within the vortex unchallenged, since the RDA's strategy was just to keep them boxed in. Blake, Ariel, and Grace helped unload the ship as well, by now able to work comfortably in their breather masks outside. Game and fruit dominated the haul that the Na'vi had dropped off at pre-agreed sites in the vortex region, which the humans in their Iron Cloud had come in later to pick up. At no time were humans and Na'vi in the same area, so that if anyone were watching, there'd be no appearance of collusion.

Na'ama, meanwhile, was in her drivepod, her Avatar back at Kelutral offering thanks to the Na'vi for their help.

"Let's separate it," Grace said, "Some of this stuff is hard on the human digestive system; some of it cannot be digested at all. Some--" she smiled, and grabbed a pair of large, melon-like tubers with ridges that grew lengthwise on them "--are kinda like, um, fiber. Super-fiber, if you catch my drift."

"Gotcha," Trudy said, as she, too, searched out all the similar tubers and separated them. "Very small doses of those, then."
"Yeah," Grace said. "Mostly, anything harmful to humans has to be cooked out, boiled, whatever. We've got more water than we need from the stream, and filtering it gives us plenty to work with. Some of this stuff, though, the boiling and washing also removes the nutritional value, so we'll have to take vitamin supplements."

"We've got those," Blake said.
"Only some of these foods need supplements," Grace said, "Some of them are fine with little preparation. The Avatars can chow down on all of it without a proble, though."
"So our food situation is taken care of, then?" Ariel asked.
"For the most part," Grace said. "As long as the Omatikaya are happy, we'll be okay."

They were interrupted by Na'ama emerging from the drivepod room.

"Checking out already?" Grace asked, looking at her watch.
"I'm going back in," Na'ama said, "I just wanted to let you know that one of our Avatar's teachers, the one called Eeanataw, will return to the camp. Her mother is dying, so an Ikran rider went to go get them and deliver the message. But the rider came back today, and he said that the group is right at the edge of Sengtsil territory. They'll be going into the fog within a few hours." She glanced at her watch, and pursed her lips, thinking. "Probably in by now, actually."
"We'll have to see what Arik and Chris have to say about it," Grace said, unable to hide her excitement fully. "The Sengtsil... wow, I wanted to go there. See how Na'vi adapted to the cold."

"I guess we'll find out," Na'ama said, and went back to the drivepod room as the others unpacked the food.

Na'ama successfully negotiates a food drop-off deal with the Na'vi.
No direct inter-action between Omatikaya and renegade humans will take place, keeping both groups out of danger.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Hell's Gate, Pandora
Avatar Barracks

"Come on, you two," Julia's Avatar said, her face drawn with tension and uncertainty. The Avatars of Liz and Blake looked up at her, standing in the doorway, silhouetted by the morning light. They were dressed and ready, and had packs full of food and some basic medical supplies-- everything but guns, which Julia had been unable to obtain. "Get moving! Hurry! I want you out of my sight! Quickly!" she hissed.

The two refugees of the great purge ran for the door, and took cover in the nearby vegetable patch. They had RDA-made clothes that were made from camouflage material, so they blended in-- and hopefully, would be able to stay blended in wherever they ended up going. Julia really had not cared where that was-- she just did what was necessary to get them out.

Julia went into the Avatar barracks and looked around, making sure everything was secure. It was, and it would appear as if no one had used the structure for weeks-- which was the official truth for anyone affiliated with the RDA who cared to look. Liz had been allowed access to the drivepod room before Julia had showed up, and she was already logged in before Warren Childs's niece showed up. That way, she could honestly say that she'd never seen Liz accessing a drivepod. The EFF woman had been logging into her Avatar for several days now, rebuilding her strength. Now, they were ready to make their run for it.

"Alright," Julia said from the step of the barracks as she closed the door behind her, "I'm holding my end of the promise. I got you out of here. Beyond that, I want you guys to disappear and never be seen again. Got it? Far as Uncle Warren is concerned, you guys died long ago."
"Got it," Blake said, before Liz could say something snarky to upset the plan. But Liz knew what was at stake, and the best way for her to continue the fight was to trust this woman-- for now.

Julia looked at them, hiding among the vegetables, and looked over at the massive cigar shape of the Zeppelin, getting ready to go. "Well?" Julia asked, "Come on."

Julia walked down the trail towards the tarmac of Armor Bay, the Avatars sneaking along behind her and through the native-grown plants. The tower guards didn't notice or care; most tower sentries were actually robots, and both them and the human guards were looking outside, at the constant threat of Pandora. She walked them towards the edge of the tarmac where final preparations were being made for the Zeppelin to lift off. Even though Blake and Liz had seen it being constructed, it was still an imposing sight up close-- a massive wall of grey-green Kevlar-reinforced canvas stretched along the bottom; the metallic-shiny solar fabric stretched over the top...

Under other circumstances, it would have been beheld as a thing of almost ungainly beauty. The main control gondola, slung under the front part of the Zeppelin's frame, was a modified Dragon gunship hull fastened to the interior braces. The cargo ramp on the back was down, and inside Blake saw four AMP suits being loaded onto their brackets. It was all the Zeppelin could fit-- the rest of the AMP suit brackets had been removed so that a large stairwell going up into the interior of the airship could be accommodated. On the undersides of the Zepp's skin, about a third of the way up, a row of windows looked out, with gun turrets interposed in a couple of places along the row. Before the row of windows, in letters several feet high, was a word:


"So, he's named the toy," Blake muttered.

The contra-rotating props of the multiple Samson and Scorpion helos were strung along the sides of the lower spine of the Erebus, and they were howling with noise and restrained power. Inside the gondola, the AMP suit pilots were getting out of their machines and going upstairs.

"Uncle Warren has the suit drivers get out and go upstairs to strap in for safety," she said. "For the duration of the flight, the cargo area is empty. Get in that container right there--" she pointed to an open cargo container-- "and keep quiet. It's scheduled to be loaded with a bunch of others."

Blake and Liz looked at her, uncertain.

"It's all I could get!" Julia snapped at them. "Do you think I could just borrow a helo and fly you out myself? I'm supposed to be your killer, not your goldamn chauffeur! Go, before they load the crate!" They broke and ran for it, piling into the container as the flight line was cleared of all unnecessary personnel. Julia hung back, at the edge of the tarmac on the garden side, watching as any curious observer might. An AMP suit dedicated to cargo duty clumped over, it's heavy metal tread drowned out by the roar of the multiple engines of the Erebus, and it scooped up the last cargo container with ease and trooped it over to the ramp of the Zeppelin.

"Bye, bye, problems," Julia said with a smile. She had no idea where they were going, not really, and didn't care.

They were no longer her concern.

*** Cargo Crate ***

Blake could feel her glare even in the tight confines of the crate. "Sorry," he said, and he removed his hand from where it had ended up as he rolled into the container. Whatever he'd grabbed, it was soft and warm and definitely not a shoulder. Behind them, the servos of the door whined as the massive cargo door was raised and shut.

"What the hell is this stuff?" Liz asked, as she ran her hands along the various metal forms in the crate.
"Couldn't say," Blake said, "Boxes of some sort. Metal boxes. Damn heavy, but something rattled in them. Liz leaned down, bringing her Avatar's head to about where Blake's Avatar's waist was. "Whoah, there," he said with a nervous chuckle.
"Dream on, little broomstick cowboy," Liz growled, and she held her watch up to the side of the box and hit the "illumination" switch. In the faint blue glow, she read some letters: "Cartridge, 30mm, 300 count AP/Incen mixed."

"That.. doesn't sound good," Blake said.
"Ammo for the AMP suit guns," she said, turning off her watch's illumination. "They expect to use a lot of it, it looks like."

"You know this stuff?" Blake asked.
"I was with a team that used a couple captured GAU-90s in the Sierra Nevadas," she said. She gave him an evil grin. "A bunch of McMansions were going up in Yosemite for the mega-rich to enjoy some of the last forest lands left in the United States," she said. "It was disgusting. Planned community, ringed by fences. During hunting season, deer and stuff were going to be released for the rich to 'hunt'."

"Deer?" Blake asked. "There's some left, outside of zoos?"
"They're all in zoos," Liz said. "But they take genetic samples, share them with different zoos, and create cloned baby deer. To keep the zoos stocked, but also to sell to the rich for hunting. Bastards."

"So... you shot the hunters with the GAU-90?" Blake asked.
"I shot up their fancy-ass homes, is what I did," she said, chuckling at the memory. "Hit 'em where they care: the pocketbook. And the pride."

They started as the engine pitch rose, and the ship suddenly lurched into the air. The Erebus rose gently, but they could still feel the change in elevation, and soon, their ears popped.
"They keep it unpressurized," he said.
"Just going to drop the suits anyway," she said. "Wonder where we're going?"

"I wish I knew," Blake said, as both Avatars settle din for a long, uncomfortable ride.

Blake and Liz's Avatars make their break.
Hide in a cargo container loaded in Childs's new Zeppelin, the "Erebus".
Neither have any idea where they're going; Julia is glad they're out of her hair.

« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 11:34:45 pm by Coyote »
In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

Attempted to pee on Viperwolf to test reaction. Please see attached medical file.
WARNING: Attached medical file exceeds gigabyte limit. System failure.


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