November 27, 2018 at 2:33 pm #11323
I had just gotten out of my trousers when Al called for beer. Nothing wrong with that, so I just tossed him one of the ration bags.
“Sorry, no can of that American piss you like. Just more of Harvester’s micro brew.”
That done, I donned the special underwear, that would allow me to wear the FBA without getting chaffed raw. Not exactly flattering, but very functional. After that came the flexible, gel padded outershell, allowing a maximum of free movement without sacrificing protection. I left off the cloak and helmet for now, but began to configure the deck with the help of the friendly little agent on it.
It had taken a bit to remember the training I had received a few years ago, but once I went through the motions, it all came back – not the fancy cybercombat stuff – that was for the pros. But all the lessons about signal work resurfaced, allowing me to get ready to tag and bag anyone foolish enough to let wireless stuff run on their body.November 27, 2018 at 2:37 pm #11325
Al caught the bag easily without moving from where he sat. “Obliged, Tin Man.” He extracted the can and discarded the rest carelessly, still full from breakfast. Gesturing to the others with the can, he asked, “How ’bout y’all? Ya drink?”November 27, 2018 at 5:09 pm #11347
Alessandra smiled. ”Frequently.” She replied without dropping her astral perception. ”I find it makes for a pleasing social ritual, if nothing else. Though why so many people insist on drinking cheap stuff that tastes like kerosene is beyond me.” She shrugged one shoulder. ”I think it would be better to drink less frequently and imbibe better alcohol. Or at least purchase mixers that do not also taste like the northern end of a south-bound devilrat.”
A quick glance at Vindariel showed him configuring his deck, and he’d come into possession of some godawful huge cannon somewhere. Alessandra’s eyebrows crept into her fiery hairline and she remarked, ”I see you’ve got some new tricks since last I saw you. Nice piece, by the way. To what castle do you plan on laying siege with it?”November 27, 2018 at 5:43 pm #11351
Al was liking Alessandra more. Sure, she was irrational and immature. But that was the curse of her gender and so not fully her fault. And not only was she retina-blistering eye-candy, but she knew how to turn a phrase.
“Well, I’m with ya on the devil rat business,” he said, wincing slightly as he sipped at Redback’s fake beer, “But when it comes ta beer, I’ve found quantity to take precedence over quality.”November 27, 2018 at 5:55 pm #11355
I smiled at the remark: “I’ve always gone with the times – in general live gets better when you can use the tools it offers. As for the weapon: I’m not sure it will be of any help at all if we come face to face with one of the denizens on the other side – but then it’s better than relying on blind luck. Besides, you never know if you have to disable an APC in a hurry somewhere.”
To Al I nodded: “Quantity has a quality of it’s own – but I like to extend that saying more towards food. Be a dear and give me that rations bag. I’m overdue for second breakfast.”November 27, 2018 at 6:09 pm #11361
”You’re quoting Stalin about breakfast. Dear oh dear, what have I gotten myself into?” Alessandra laughed. She was starting to warm to this ragtag little bunch. But since everyone else was gearing up, it was probably time for her to do so as well. She stood and reached into her own small bag, producing a folded catsuit, covered in voidblack coating with electrochromic versions of her tattoos all up and down its exterior to give her some definition, if she wanted to be seen. Stripping off her faewear and removing various percings, she stepped into the suit skyclad- no room for anything but what she was born with here- and began to pull it up over herself. It was very much like watching somebody peel a fruit in reverse.
November 27, 2018 at 6:23 pm #11364
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by BrickyardBabe.
Or…it was very much like watching a totally hot woman get naked.
It would be wrong to say that Al stared. That would suggest the rapt, unblinking attention of a teen that had never seen a nude beauty before. And if Al hadn’t seen his share before getting into this line of work, he’d still have had a lifetime’s worth in just a few years in this business.
It would, however, be appropriate to describe him as visibly savoring the display, with not the merest hint of polite disinterest. “Shee-it, woman, reckon if’n I was king I’d outlaw clothes, jist on the off chance any should stumble onto the blasphemy o’ findin’ they way onto you. Reckon yer definitely in ol’ Al’s top ten.”November 27, 2018 at 9:27 pm #11368
”Indeed!” Ilario responded to Al’s question about imbibing, ”Though it is rare that I trust someone else’s tastes to match my own. Thus, do I come prepared!” With a flourish, the elf produced a silver flask from the inner breast pocket of his coat. The thing was almost a piece of art, in itself, covered with swirling designs, both occult and mundane, etched into the perfectly-polished metal. The light of the cabin glinted from it as Ilario unscrewed the top, then tipped it to his lips.
His seat had been facing away from Alessandra, but even before seeing Al’s reaction to seeing her, his elven ears twitched as they picked up the rustle of fabric indicative to changing clothes. A sly smile spread over his features and he casually turned around to watch and appreciate her incredible form. ”She is in many’s ‘top ten’, Mr. Guthrie,” he said with an adoring tone and a fond sigh. Then, without taking his eyes away, he held out his hand to offer Al a swig from his fine flask.
Should Al take him up on it, he would find the metal container filled to the brim with 30-year Glencraig Scotch.
#10-5November 27, 2018 at 9:46 pm #11372
Shrugging into the suit and turning to face all, the front of the material still open to a point just between her hips, Alessandra grinned. ”Why, Mister Guthrie, flattery will get you everywhere.” She said in a purring voice. Her tone returned to normal. ”But I’m not sure you’d want it to.” She shot Al a wink. ”I’d eat you alive, old man.”
Alessandra sealed up the suit, a pressure seal so as not to interrupt the voidblack with a zipper or buttons. From the neck down she was just a three dimensional shadow now, before her suit began to glow, her tattoos reappearing in a combination of scarlet and purple, lending her body definition below the throat. ”I appreciate the compliments, gentlemen, I do, but they’re unnecessary.” She raised one hand, palm up. ”There’s not much of a nudity taboo in the courts, and when the entire populace has had centuries or longer to perfect form and grace and motion, there’s something of a cult of the body. You may think me a stunner, but I am barely a patch on some of our more exotic denizens.”November 28, 2018 at 5:22 am #11383
Al happily sampled Ilario’s liquor. It tasted expensive., which was a sell-point for some. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t Jack. “Nice whiskey,” he said politely, passing the flask back. “Reckon that’s real top-shelf stuff.”
But Alessandra’s words really caught his attention. “More exotic, ya say? Lady, reckon more exotic than yerself, well that’d be one drop too much habanero on ol’ Al’s carne asada, if’n ya take my meanin’. I’m a simple feller, like my ladies with jist but two cha chas an’ one hoo-ha, thank ye kindly. Woman possessed o’ such pulchritude as yerself, I can overlook a bit o’ hippie, but forked tongues, fangs, tails, fins, fur an’ fluorescent freckles is all way outside o’ my strike zone.”November 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm #11406
Ilario managed to tear his eyes away from Alessandra to give Al a grin and a “cheers” motion with the flask at the compliment before taking another drink of his own.
It was then that he finally noticed what Shrike was gearing up into. ”Well, now, Mr. Redback!” He said, a genuine appreciation in his tone, ”That is quite the suit. I imagine those Ants won’t know what hit them, once we Drop in!” The elf sat back with a knowing smile, waiting to see if any of the others had gotten the reference.
He didn’t often make them, and he was quite proud of his own wit for being able to bring up something in recent culture.
November 28, 2018 at 4:57 pm #11409
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Foxglove.
“I’m doing my part,” I responded with a grin and picking up the reference replied: “Join the Mobile Infantry and save the world. Service guarantees citizenship.”
If I was honest, I’d rather have had a Firewatch Bug Stomper armor, but even the influence of my patron had its limits where the proprietary gear of Ares was concerned.November 28, 2018 at 5:23 pm #11410
“Close!” Alessandra chirped. “I know him, I think he’s going for Heinlein-adjacent rather than Heinlein himself.” She turned to Ilario. “Only if we get the drop on them, honey. Of course, how would they sneak up on us, scout? Tiptoe?” She grinned as she paraphrased the Steakley novel. Honestly, Armor was one of her favorites too, ever since it had been reprinted just after the Cermak disaster and the flurry of interest in bugs, and their concomitant appearance as the villains in everything for a while.November 28, 2018 at 5:28 pm #11411
”Ah-HAH!” Ilario exclaimed, grinning wide and pointing to Alessandra, ”Ten points to the lady!” He then turned that same finger to Shrike, ”But five to you, my good man, for a good effort and close call!”
He was rather liking this group, now. Not that he didn’t before, but they seemed to have broken whatever surface ice there had been. Al was a good man, he could tell, and liked his slovenly ways, since they both offset and ran parallel to his own, debonair style. Shrike’s reference quoting had now gotten him on the “pleasant” list. And, of course, there was Alessandra, but she had now grown on him even more for fully recognizing what he had been going for.
November 28, 2018 at 5:40 pm #11413
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Foxglove.
“In my defense, I think the last time I read Armor was about 80 years ago, while Starship Troopers is still fresh in my mind.
But the comparison is good, nonetheless – Banshee is pretty much where we are going to go.”
I replied between two bites from something that claimed to be an MRE meal bar, but tasted more like old newspapers marinaded in fish oil.November 29, 2018 at 7:48 am #11431
[Evening, Thursday March 25, 2077; On board Hopper’s Zepplin, Somewhere over Salish Lands]
Despite their fears that they were travelling on a slow moving target, the zep, especially with a good following wind from the north, went at a reasonable clip clocking an average of sixty kph. Still, it wasn’t suborbital flight and the journey was edging towards the end of day two by the time they were at the southern end of Salish lands. It had been wildly uneventful and slightly cramped. It was possible to go up in to the cargo hold to stretch ones legs but at the altitude that they were operating it was bloody cold inside the gas bag and most didn’t stay up there long. At least in the last leg they had descended below the cloud cover and they’d had the benefit of the stunning scenery passing below them to give them something other than VR entertainment or Al’s card tricks to talk about.
They’d landed in a deserted clearing, the gas bag scraping the trees on either side as it settled on to its landing skids. Hopper reversed the Banshee docking process, insisting that everyone waited outside in the cool March air until the vectored thrust vehicle was clear of his precious mother ship.
“Right, flight checks will take about an hour and then we’re good to go. Do what you want until then…”
#88November 29, 2018 at 7:13 pm #11468
Al smelled fresh water nearby, and he might have suggested Alessandra avail herself of a chance for a bath. Hell, it had been a few days, he might have availed himself of one. Or both! Or he might have grabbed his rifle and gotten them something fresher to eat than the miserable field rations that seemed to be all they were stocked with. Or he might have just taken the opportunity to stretch his short legs properly after so long in the belly of the behemoth baloon.
But, in fact, all it took was for the taciturn Hopper to mention flight checks, and Al was following the smuggler around like a puppy dog, peering into every crack and crevice of bird he could get a sightline on.November 29, 2018 at 7:38 pm #11471
Ilario exited the zeppelin with a groan as he stretched. While he much preferred that method of air travel, it seemed that the cabins had gotten smaller and less luxurious over the decades. A pity, really.
And then the pilot spoke about flight checks.
The elf’s expression fell to one of dismay, and he slowly turned to see the whirlybird once again sitting ready to take them away. ”I don’t suppose there’s any chance that we could just…walk the rest of the way?” He attempted, trying for a strained, hopeful smile.
#13-6November 29, 2018 at 8:15 pm #11472
“Could be worse, kemo sabe,” Al said with a wink. “Could be ol’ Al inna pilot’s seat…..So jist you buckle up an’ count yer many blessin’s.”November 30, 2018 at 12:49 pm #11495
I used the time to get some sleep and bulk up a little – even if it was combat rations. In between I went into VR to hone my skills a bit.
I happened to be eating while the mention of walking came up:
“Wouldn’t advice it at this time of the year. There are some very hungry critters around after hibernation. Also, this mission is likely a bit time critical. As nice as sight-seeing some unspoiled wilderness would be.”
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