November 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm #11138
[Morning (EST), Tuesday March 23, 2077; Onboard the Kessell, North of Boston]
Al rode the bucking deck back to the rear hold and sure enough the promised crates of supplies were securely fastened down with restraint ties. A quick bypass on the locking mechanism and their contents were open to his view…not everything he had requested by any means but perhaps more than he had actually anticipated they’d be able to source with an evening’s notice. With their patrons on board hopefully the rest would be waiting for them on their arrival at Yellowstone…or perhaps en-route somewhere? Difficult to tell where their priorities where when it was dragons pulling the strings.
It wasn’t long before the craft slowed to a slightly more sedate pace and then banked in a sweeping turn to the west before massively accelerating, plastering anyone not adequately strapped in on to the nearest bulkhead.
> Entering Quebec airspace now, hold on to your hats ladies and gents
#86November 22, 2018 at 4:25 pm #11145
I tried to relax while all this was going on. My mood had stabilized on it’s usual hyperactive, brash mode, allowing me to react faster but not necessarily smarter.
So I tried my hand at a bit more small talk: “So, you folks are all from the Seelie courts? Been a while since I last got in contact with your lot. I think the last time I had to hunt a man-eater lion down in Tanzania when it turned out it was one of your gentry’s pets. Can’t quite remember the details but I think it was a fellow that liked to swing two swords and had some Othello fetish. Anyone of you knew that guy?”November 23, 2018 at 2:09 pm #11164
Ilario did a double-take at the cabin-roaming Al, glancing up briefly then snapping his gaze back to the man with a look of utter horror. What kind of mad man would actually get up and move on this thing?! He shook his head in disbelief as Al disappeared from his line of sight, managing to relax a little when the craft slowed to make its turn.
”Not such as that I can recall–!“ The elf’s voice strained at the last bit of his sentence, his body going stiff again as the T-bird very suddenly picked up velocity, pushing him back into his seat and sending his hands back down to grip the thing again. Once things evened out, he took a breath and continued with his thought. ”That is not to say that I haven’t met the man. I’m sure I would recognize him were I to meet him, again.”
#07-3November 23, 2018 at 2:10 pm #11165
Al was like a kid in a candy store. No, not quite everything was here, but most of it.
That didn’t mean he trusted it, though. Nor that any of the explosives were configured the way he wanted them.
Soon he was seated on the floor of the rear hold, working his way determinedly through half a pack of Lucky Strikes as he cleaned weapons, checked actions, loaded clips, and attached detonators, the raucously haunting strains of Zombie Murder Train’s My Baby’s Got Four Arms ringing in his ear buds.November 23, 2018 at 4:43 pm #11182
Alessandra nodded in agreement. ”He sounds distinctive, but I am afraid that particular cylinder in my memory is not firing quite properly.” She pursed her lips, considering how to answer Vindariel’s question. ”I suppose I am.” She said finally. ”I try to spend as much time in the real as I can, but there are long periods where I know nothing but the court. I have been my Queen’s handmaiden for as long as I- or anyone else, really- can remember. It is…trying.” She cocked her head. ”And you? How did you become an agent of the great Wyrms?”November 24, 2018 at 1:48 pm #11209
“If it helps, he talks with a very high pitched voice – at least he did after our meeting.
But to answer your question: I didn’t become I was made. My mother was one of the 49 elven maidens taking part in Blinky Binky’s crazy attempt to breed super soldiers that could punch the horrors in the face to make them go away. Might have worked if he had started a few decades earlier and scaled it up to 10.000 or something. Anyway, I was born into a Spartan training program that left me only two options about my future. And seeing that I took option S for survive, I find myself here in yet another harebrained scheme of my master to keep up the noble name of the Nine-Killers. I tell you, those 6000 years of no mana where really enjoyable even though for most of it food and sanitation was a bit lacking.”
Seeing Al go through the packets of gear I called back to him:
“Oy Al, careful with grey package back there. That’s my new Greycloak. Tends to wreak havok with mages getting close to it – and probably with your vodoo gods too.”November 24, 2018 at 2:19 pm #11212
“What, this package?” Al asked, picking it up and shaking next to his ear like a kid trying to figure out what the package under the Christmas tree was. He scowled and tossed it back on the pile. “Criminy, Redback, ya already got that bad juju comin’ out o’ ya from ears ta anus. Why ya wanna go an’ add more to it?”November 24, 2018 at 3:34 pm #11214
“Because it vexes all those devil worshippers something fierce – and I’m all about being a vexing person.”
I replied with a laugh.November 24, 2018 at 4:52 pm #11219
Alessandra nodded along politely with Vindariel’s story, marveling at how easy it was for immortals to spend hundreds of words saying nothing at all. He’d given her a bit of background, but nothing about how he became a dragon’s agent, and he’d managed to do it fairly seamlessly. Now if she asked for further clarification, she’d seem prying, or nosy, which would lay her open to reprisal. She cursed the byzantine rules of immortal politicking and social convention under her breath for a moment, then went back to surveying the astral.
More to pass the time than anything else, Alessandra asked, ”So where are we going? My orders were rather more sparse than yours, I’m afraid, and I do not know for what purpose we journey, or to which destination.”November 24, 2018 at 5:36 pm #11225
“As I said: Yellowstone. We are looking for a Fovea that allows us to take a peek into the Horrors domain, so we can see where they are working on their beach heads and beacons to let them cross earlier.
But as Clausewitz said: In war all complicated things are simple, but the simple things get really complicated.
So try not to lose your mind when we take the dive.”
I replied, stretching and yawning. Sometimes I wondered if my inability to experience fear was the reason everything I said sounded sarcastic or if that was a totally unrelated part of my nature.
November 24, 2018 at 6:04 pm #11229
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Jack_Spade.
Al’s ears pricked up at Shrike’s explanation. Hoping to understand what they were up to. But nope – go to Yellowstone. Cross over to some other crazy dimension. Stop the demons. That was exactly how much he’d known already.
The tattoo on the soles of his feet seemed to twitch.
“This dive. How diff’rent’s that gon’ be ta our little trip ta Magical Mystery Island?”November 25, 2018 at 5:59 am #11241
I shrugged at the question: “I’ve been through one only one time before. And then we were in hot pursuit. It’s hard to describe properly but if you want me to compare it to Lyonesse…
Have you ever had a really nice beach vacation with scantily clad ladies bringing you Mochitos and all you had to worry about were people trying to sell you expensive crap? Our meeting with the dragons was one of those, compared to being dropped onto an arctic island with a defect compass, during a blizzard and a base full of Russian spetznaz out to nail your corpse to their barracks give it just a bit more isolation against the cold.”
I shrugged: “All in all it could probably be worse…”November 25, 2018 at 2:57 pm #11245
Ilario managed to put aside his discomfort of the flight to let his imagination wander away with Shrike’s description of babes, beaches, and booze. He smiled wistfully, remembering a time, or several, he’d had an experience like that. Brief clothing, a lounging chair with a sun umbrella, warm sea breeze caressing his skin and a cold drink in his hand. A beautiful woman with olive skin and dark hair arrives to bring him another, this one in a coconut half with a straw and tiny fake palm tree poking out the top. Her smile is lovely, and she reaches down to caress his jaw.
Then Shrike’s description changes, and suddenly the warm sand is freezing snow, the umbrella gets torn away by the arctic winds, and in a blink the lovely woman becomes an angry Russian man trying to strangle him.
The elf snaps out of his day-dreaming, huffing a sigh with what could only really be called an angry pout. The expression disappears quickly, however, replaced by his previous discomfort. ”Won’t be the first time I’ve traveled into a war zone, my dear boy.” He said, managing some of his usual joviality, and using the word “boy” even though he was fairly certain Shrike was older than he. ”Though, I must say that I will be quite chipper if I never again have to set foot in another one of these metal birds.”
#08-4November 26, 2018 at 4:06 am #11256
Al made a mental note about the new guy. He was arguably more amiable than Redback (to your face anyway), but Al didn’t really go for the fop/dandy thing.
And while Redback had acclimated to tech over the passage of time, this Ilario guy seemed to be clinging to the past pretty hard. Good to know. Still, if he’d lived this long….
He also couldn’t help but notice that Alessandra had gone back to fell-fairy-fae mode, which showed more of her figure, so by default was his preferred appearance for her. If you’ve got to have these psychos around, they might as well be easy to look at.November 26, 2018 at 12:34 pm #11260
[Afternoon (EST), Tuesday March 23, 2077; Onboard the Kessell, Somewhere in Quebec]
The journey, if turbulent, was otherwise uneventful and given the speed that the T-bird was clocking, extremely short. Within short order the turbines reduced to a muted whine as Hopper settled his bird with a featherlike touch down on the deserted tarmac surface of a smuggler landing strip back near the Quebec border. The passengers were given a few moments to get out and stretch their legs and sample the fresh pine laden air while Hopper called in the next leg of their journey. The ruthenium cloaked zeppelin appeared as if by magic, its cargo bay doors gaping to receive them like the jaws of some giant whale wanting to swallow them whole. Using his control deck Hopper piloted the fragging T-bird inside the zep…presumably done from outside on the off chance that he managed to ignite something important inside the zep while manoeuvring.
“Next leg folks, all aboard who’s coming aboard”
#87November 26, 2018 at 12:43 pm #11261
Al stretched his legs for a full circuit around the huge airship. It was an impressive feat of engineering, and he didn’t doubt her radar profile was just about exactly zero. Still, there was something discomforting about sitting inside such a huge and clumsy target. A giant balloon, basically. If somehow they were detected, what were their options? He supposed the answer would be to jump back into the T-bird and zoom out of the fiery conflagration ofthe burning. Which did sound kind of cool.
“Well, Ilario baby, maybe this leg o’ the journey’ll be more yer style.”November 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm #11263
”Indeed it is, my good chummer!” Ilario chipped, clapping Al on the shoulder once again as he smiled up at the giant balloon. Now that his feet were back on land, he seemed much his old self.
Well…his previous self, any way.
”I remember, fondly, the travel I’ve experienced in these big beauties back in the early 1900’s. Ah, a time of refinement, that was. The zepplin’s have since then been my favorite mode for air travel.” He leaned in conspiratorially, his hand still on the other man’s shoulder. ”You see, the fewer moving parts, the less chance for something to go wrong. Unlike the whirly bird, which has many.” He straightened again, moving away from Al to more closely inspect their new ride, fists on his hips in an almost “Peter Pan” stance of pride. ”And if it does, the balance on this whale will give us time to act!”
Ilario didn’t have long to admire the beast from the outside, but he seemed all the happier for being able to stride into the great thing’s belly, his hands gripping his lapels and the tail of his jacket flaring dramatically in the wind as he entered.
#09-4November 26, 2018 at 1:17 pm #11265
Alessandra didn’t move, sitting and watching, She was paying special attention to Al and Vindariel- she just couldn’t bring herself to call him “Shirke”- and how they interacted, how they looked at her. Ilario was, at least, a known quantity, so she didn’t have to pay too much attention to him. She watched auras as much as gestures and body language and expressions, and scanned astral space regularly. This zeppeling was big, lumbering, slow. No radar profile, as Al said, but physically still huge. And while she could mask and Ilario could mask- thank gods-, the big astral dead zone that Vindariel created around himself was going to stand out in the same way that something black stood out against the stars at night. They could be found by looking where the magic wasn’t, and she resolved to keep a weather eye for hostile spirits or magical intrusions.November 26, 2018 at 3:14 pm #11275
I stepped over into the blimb without comment. True, it was better to not have to deal with the constant vibrations, but then this thing was also slow as molasses. Hopefully stealth would do what speed could not. Instead I studied carefully the private ARO that had come with the package. Harvester had used my recent measurements to recreate another full body armor. Only this time with a much more powerful cyberdeck, as well as some other features. The grey cloak was a deep charcoal grey and had that special weave that allowed it to act as a signal amplifier for the matrix.
But the real gem awaited me on board of our new transport. The prototype even smelled new. Carefully I took it from it’s scabbard on the backpack. The jet black material didn’t exactly soak in the light, but threw a shadow nonetheless.
Very carefully someone had stenciled the name Auto-Assault 18 on the weapon. Checking the drum I saw my special ordered, handloaded APDS rounds, as well as half a drum full of specially crafted Ex-Ex bullets. The recoil on the thing had been mitigated by various measures that would prevent the shotgun from being silent in any kind of way. So exactly, how I wanted it to be. Most important was the fact, that due to some special tweaks, this little baby had the penetration value of an antimaterial rifle – mainly by having been crafted lovingly by hand with the highest precision tooling available for money.
I must have smiled like a young mother who got to cradle her newborn child for the first time. Removing the smile from my face, I faced the others again: “Alright, seems the delivery went through. If you don’t mind, I’ll gear up now.”November 26, 2018 at 3:32 pm #11277
Having already prepped his new boom-bag during the T-bird ride (the turbulence had lent an air of excitement to the plastique priming process), Al was already all geared up. And aside from the addition of a couple of low-tech longarms lying carelessly beside his seat, he looked exactly the same as he had before he’d geared up: ancient brown RAF bomber jacket over a yellowing white T-shirt; threadbare fatiques with big cargo pockets over scuffed Doc Martens.
And a face to launch a thousand ships.
“Guessin’ this next bit’s gon’ eat some time. Where’s the beer?”
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