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[WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only) 
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Before Coldfire reached the stronghold she already learned that the amplified sanzai wave had washed over it. All the pickets between the pen with the arianesin and the diral had registered it and were now relaying messages with comments.

One of the first reactions from the stronghold was Copperspike’s mirthful ‘I’ll have what she’s having’.

Soon after a discussion started about the incredible clarity, high information density and the range of the message. The consensus was that it had come from Natan, although also Argent had been involved in sending.

Coldfire noticed there was no feeling of alarm. The message gave no rise to that. All the diral initiates had precisely sensed where it had come from, they had registered Argent’s well known signature and - in the fleeting moment the surge of information had lasted - a new one of which most of them had only felt aspects before: Natan without impenetrable telephatic shield. New for everyone was the unprecedented strength and level of detail the message itself had carried without it being the sanzai equivalent of a shout.

By the time Coldfire arrived at the clearing Copperspike, Posioned Claw and Blackrune were waiting for her.

‘We need to step up our efforts with his training’, Copperspike said, ‘and find out more about it, because this was truly exceptional, and...’, she hesitated for a moment, ‘... it’s also our duty to help Natan to keep his encounters and his thoughts private. He deserves it.’

We all got to know him a lot better and we are endeared by what we saw, Coldfire realised.

The images, detail and context had indeed been exceptionally vivid and rich. It contained a level of detail usually absent from sanzai because it could only be included by highly skilled senders who set out to include it and then only with considerable effort. Sanzai via a direct contact was open to following up on hints, thoughts or emotions and, like a conversation, usually was an iterative process. Here it was as if an entire package comprising encyclopedic knowledge about Natan had been conveyed.

Argent swimming towards Natan with a slow breaststroke. The two standing in a place where they could just stand on the sandy bottom and keep their heads comfortably above water.

The exceptional aspect was that everyone who had experienced the sanzai wave could in retrospect describe the exact structure of those grains of sand, the water temperature, the sound of streaming water, the smells, the type of light that fell on the watersurface through the trees...

This was complemented with imagary of what happened, the laced fingers, Natan's feelings such as his initial shame and awkwardness, the purity of what he felt for Argent and his friends of the diral, and this had comprised an additional layer carrying a vast amount of cultural context and information about Nathan’s life on Earth. This conveyed knowledge about his selans, knowledge about forging steel, all the sessions with his father teaching him how to maintain firearms, load them and how and when to discharge them, together with detailed scenes about his family, the writing lessons his mother had given to his older sister and him, the reading sessions from the Tales of My Mother Goose during the winter with everyone gathered around the hearth, and how his people on the frontier lived in a permanent state of alertness in a challenging and unforgiving environment.

Interlaced with information about what happened when Argent approached him, was the sensation of her cooler body touching his warmer skin and when she wrapped her arms around his neck. The regret he felt again when seeing the scar on Argent’s upper arm, including the context that he had almost shot her when finding her in his cabin when they first met. The relief he felt upon Argent's reaction, kissing any regret about it away. All had been packed in a handful moments of sanzai, up to the part with the fireworks and bliss.

When Argent and Nathan reached the stronghold that night they were greeted by the four Loroi. They had been walking hand in hand and Argent hadn’t picked up the comments via sanzai yet although she knew a powerful message had been sent out.

Coldfire carried the communicator. An encrypted message had arrived on it which could only be opened with Argent's private key.

edits: typos (sigh)

Last edited by Zarya on Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:23 am, edited 3 times in total.

Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:05 am

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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

Argent took the communicator from Coldfire with shaking hands. It didn't take sanzai for Nathanial to know that something dire must have happened, or is about to happen.

Speaking of sanzai... Something had changed. Since they did... mate? Would that be the word? ... he was sure he felt Argent's mind, even the moments they didn't touch each other, on their way back. He felt Argent's elation, and her mood taking a downturn when Coldfire approached them, this 'communicator', the strange thing Argent used while teaching him their language, in hand, but didn't dare disturbing her.

Argent's mind put up one scenario after another up why in the world the Elders would break communication silence, none of them favourable, by any means. They were prematurely recalled and treated as failures. She did a grievous mistake by mating with Natan - or any male - without an approval. They learned about Natan and wanted to take him away. These and other thoughts were running through her head while she was entering her personal code to unlock the message.

To: Diral Leader Argent

Be advised that during the processing of satellite data ranging back to four tozons we came across several anomalies, most importantly a single discharge of a hitherto unknown energy signature, coupled together with several changes in the topology and environs. After lots of deliberation it had been decided to send you this warning that you may face events or phenomena which is never intended to be part of your diral trials.

We will continue parsing the remaining satellite scans, and depending on those, an investigation team may be deployed in your area. In order to maintain course of your diral trials, we'd suggest you moving location, as contact with the investigation team may count as a premature end of the traditional isolation, and depending on reason and severity, may count negatively to your overall assessment.

Mizol Parat Nelonial

Argent blinked on reading the signature. Why would a Mizol....?

'What is a Mizol?', Natan's thought popped up in her head, startling her.

She didn't try sending to him, granted, she didn't actively try shielding her thoughts.

And, she didn't touch him.

'Natan?', she tried, wide-eyed, 'Did you just...?'

'I... could feel your mood, and thought I should at least try sending to you.'

Message completely forgotten, she tackled him in a flying hug, showering him with kisses. 'Natan! This is ... wonderful!', her thoughts trailed off in a wave of pure bliss.

Unluckily, they were not completely alone. Coldfire watched the scene unfolding, completely puzzled, and when Argent quieted down a bit, she tried to cut in.

'Could one of you explain what just happened? And what is it about this message?', she sent, with a slight tinge of impatience and annoyance in her thoughts.

'Natan sent to me without touching!', Argent burst out in a joyous tone, 'Maybe because we...', she didn't finish that thought, ear tips turning a darker shade of blue, eliciting an "Ah!" of understanding by Coldfire and a decidedly measuring look in Nathanial's direction.

' not to give them another reason. They're almost queueing up for their turns as it is', Coldfire sent with mild aplomb, 'But what is it about this message?'

'And could one of you please explain now what a Mizol is?', Nathanial knew that he sounded much like a petulant child, but he picked it up from Argent that this little bit might be something important to know.

'Oh. Right. Mizol. It's like this way...', Argent started off with a rundown of their caste system, something Nathanial sort of recognized. 'Military, Army, Navy, Command ranks, Medics...', his thoughts provided.

'And we are to be Soroin. The... rank and file of the armed forces, you would say, right? Mizol are... well, the diplomats and spies. Everything is about secrecy around them, and they're about the only ones who can actually tell a complete untruth in sanzai.', Argent summed up.

'Sounds scary. And these ... secret police types would come to investigate?', Nathanial asked.

'Likely. They have satellites.... eyes in the sky...', Argent clarified, '...which could look down upon us and actually see what we built here. So far, they had no reason to look in our direction, but now they found one. Perhaps the means of your arrival, I don't know. But once they start looking, they WILL see your cabin, the diral cabin and the pen - we simply can't hide them.'

'And this would be strange enough for them to come here to have a closer look.', Nathanial concluded. 'Aren't you supposed to be, well, on a trial and isolated from outside help?'

'We are. We'd be supposed to move away if there's an investigation team arriving. Problem is, they won't simply leave if they come across our camp, so waiting them out might help us little.'

'...and there's little chance that we can fool them thinking that the cabins are completely designed by us - the very idea of building a house out of tree trunks was already a stretch.', Coldfire provided.

'So once they see the cabins, they likely start digging for more and they won't relent until they found it. Me.', Nathanial sighed.

Argent drew in a sharp gasp and pulled him into a fierce hug. 'I will NOT allow them taking you away from me! NEVER!'

Coldfire was shocked at the vehemence of Argent's declaration, but after a moment she placed her own hand on Nathanial's arm.

'Count me in', she sent with grim determination.

Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:37 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Soon after Blackrune and Poisoned Claw added their hands, Argent proposed to move inside the large Diral cabin.

Sitting in a circle, they reestablished physical contact, forming a group of five, able to instantly share thoughts and concepts, with Nathan participating for the first time. One of the effects was that he could sense the whereabouts of the initiates, either with a strong presence when nearby, or fainter when located farther away. He even felt how initiates sensed wildlife within their own sanzai reach and overheard them communicate with each other. Mimicking the others, he tried to clear his mind from random thoughts, which appeared fairly easy to begin with.

Nathan felt Blackrune’s presence and voice come forward. Much like recognising a face and a voice he knew it was her. Opening the session, Blackrune started with the proposal to open up a wider discussion to include all diral initiates, highlighting that any decision taken would affect all of them. Nathan felt how Argent agreed and approved. Within moments the entire Diral was in a plenary session.

Blackrune continued by presenting the message to all, concluding by adding ‘it’s a detail but I do want to mention that after opening the encrypted message our communicator sent a read-confirmation to the Mizol. Parat Nelonial knows that Argent unlocked it about forty bima after its arrival.’

Argent sat up and readied herself before adding, ‘First, everyone should know that this message is bypassing our Elders. It is unusual to be contacted during the isolation phase, and it is quite something to be contacted by someone else. Our Elders may not even be aware that we’ve been contacted. Secondly, based on what the Mizol tells us, we have just one choice and she threatens us too. Finally, what I want to specifically highlight right now is that this particular message doesn’t ask us any questions, nor does it require a response. I’ll share my opinion about what I think about the threat later’.

Blackrune nodded and continued: ‘The Mizol’s message arrived moments after Natan and Argent sent out their powerful sanzai wave. The message doesn’t refer to it in any way... so... I'm inclined to think it is unrelated with the sanzai wave we all felt. Also, her message doesn’t appear to be composed in a hurry, while also mentioning "lots of deliberations".
We don’t have a good idea about the exact range of the boosted sanzai signal, it will have carried far. Someone outside the diral may have picked it up. If there already is an investigation team in the region then they certainly registered it.’

Nah, it’s unlikely that an investigative team landed so close to nightfall’, Poisoned Claw sent. 'most of us are positioned in and around the stronghold, the farthest sentries are close to the pen with arianesin and some others are returning with ore from the meteorite impact site. We’d be aware of landers bringing in Mizol teams in the region.
What I do want you to think about is that this region is - or will soon be - under surveillance from the air. When that happens the Mizol will have special attention for anything that we do here.‘

With that Poisoned Claw conveyed imagery of a craft flying at a high altitude eying the entire region, registering any movements and passing on everything it saw to observers in a remote location.

Argent clarified, 'One of the reasons to sit inside is that we don’t want to expose Natan to this type of surveillance. Assuming that they didn't already start monitoring us. I hope we're lucky with that’.

Nathan felt how the wider group considered the presence of an investigative team as a low probability. Most expected that the arrival of investigators was imminent, and that surveillance would indeed be very likely, although it would also be in direct conflict with the initiation rules and traditions they were familiar with. While not a certainty, it contributed to a further buildup of a silent kind of anger and determination within the group.

For a moment Nathan also thought about the machine that soared like an eagle in the sky, looking down and sending images of what it saw to a different place. It fascinated him. Inadvertently losing his concentration, he played with the idea of colouring his skin in a blue hue and dressing up the armour of the Loroi with furs to better blend in. Immediately he received a ‘that’s a wonderful idea, I’ll help you with that!’ from Copperspike and an approving sideway glance and nod from Blackrune.

Coldfire pivoted back to the part of the message that spoke about lots of deliberation. ‘When asked our Elders would have objected against Mizol investigators entering this area, especially when forcing us to relocate after settling here in preparation of forging the weapons for our trials. I believe the threat related to our assessment comes straight from this Mizol, not from our Elders. And - whatever we do - we should work on producing as much blades as we can, before even considering moving out”.

I agree with you Coldfire, and was thinking about playing for time without entering into a direct confrontation’, Argent replied, ‘it appears the Mizol investigation is initially focused on something in the region - perhaps as close the Soia ruin - and it looks they don’t want us around while they’re investigating. Make no mistake about the requirement to move out though. It seems the easy way out, but we’re not done with them after we move. Keep in the back of your mind that Natan’s cabin was built prior to our arrival here, then the fact that Natan is here, and that our tracks can be found throughout the entire region, including to and from the place that has their interest. We may already know too much about what they’re after.’

Nathan could literally feel how these statements bounced around in the wider diral, and like many of the others he reconsidered the exact wording of the message, trying to read it also between the lines. Indeed it didn’t suggest any wrongdoing, they were simply required to move, fast, although no timescale for that was given. The fact that it mentioned topographic changes and hinted at events and phenomena not being part of the trial just sounded ominous. No further questions asked... at this time...

In a flash also the thought passed of Mizol helping him to return to his family.
He rejected the possibility outright, based on a very strong gut feeling.

It almost appeared as if the group around him firmly held their breaths with that...
Then, from far away, came a reaction from Firebrand ‘Very good Natan, many share the same feeling about this!’

Blackrune sighed ‘The strange thing with this entire message is that, while an eye is normally kept on large meteorite impacts and wildfires with small satellites in a low orbit, this isn’t usually done by the Mizol caste, but by automated systems for standard planetary monitoring and conservation. The systems are cheap and designed to last for a short service lifetime just outside the upper atmosphere. Mission hardware lasts two or three years and the image resolution isn’t great with off the shelf optics and sensors. It would be a challenge to see our current clearing with two cabins. High altitude mapping flights are also possible of course, but those are definitely not routine in this region. There were always good reasons for organising diral trials here. So, I don’t think there will be that much changes visible in archived data going back four tozons, unless the changed features really stand out. The Mizol don’t have a very detailed insight in all topographic changes over the last four tozons in this region. If they claim they do then it’s probably bluf’.

Copperspike frowned, ‘Well then, it must have been the energy signature that they’ve been looking for. And somehow that must have been brought to their attention, although not instantly. And now they go through a lot of trouble shooing us out before they send in their investigators.'

Nathan kept silent, he was still amazed by the concept of talking like this with the others, to consider the concept of flying observers and of other machines keeping an eye on things while falling around the planet. Just the vision of the planet, seen from above and covered by a thin layer of atmosphere, it was all totally new for him. Yet everything that had been shared had been readily accepted as a fact by the others. Again he cleared his mind - like he had felt the others do as well - preventing to inject the noise of his own thoughts into the deliberations, while continuing to absorb everything, even though so much was totally new to him. He sensed that his resolve was picked up by the four others, and they all subtly encouraged him: Coldfire squeezing his hand, Blackrune was smiling at him, Copperspike gave him a serious looking nod and he very clearly felt Argent’s affection.

Blackrune resumed, ‘The only visible changes in this region - at least the ones that I can think of right now - are the meteorite impact site. That one is really big enough to see. Our current enlarged clearing with the cabins should be barely visible. Of course with closer surveillance they’d see almost everything, our pathways through the forest, and anything under the trees’.

Having made up her mind Argent weighed in...

I don’t want to talk, or bargain, with a Mizol that is interfering with us and disrupting our trials. Leaving this region on the basis of what she is prepared to tell us is also out of the question. I don’t want to be threatened and bossed around.

It’s not perfect as a plan, but there’s just two things I want us to focus on right now: we must start work on forging our weapons immediately. This includes finishing the smaller and two large crossbows. Even the Mizol know what it means to disrupt diral trials for a group that has already set up camp and that needs to work on meeting all requirements. Issuing a threat about our assessment is a grave insult and I think we need some countermeasures to shield ourselves from them.’

So, here is what I propose: no direct confrontation, rather an attempt to shield ourselves from them, while we create a reason to work on our weapons and not to move out right away. We could recreate a crisis for that, one that allows us to play for time and make it that much harder for them to get to us during our trial period.

This crisis should last long enough to allow us to continue to live here for at least the next two of three nanapi without having to deal with the investigators. And it should make it impossible for them to come close to our stronghold.’

Argent turned to Blackrune, ‘i hope you can tell us how long it takes for our pack of arianesin to get hungry and run amok again. I want to position them tonight in the area between the Soia Ruin and the Stronghold’.

Last edited by Zarya on Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:29 am, edited 4 times in total.

Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:05 am

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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

'Excuse me, but I don't think a stampede would deter these ... Mizol ... for long.', Nathanial cut in.

His words were met with several set of Loroi eyes, some rather inquisitive, some a bit offended, but most of them surprised, since while Natan gave some good suggestions in the past, this was the first time ever he actually voiced an objection.

It took a moment for the sanzai chatter to calm down, and it was Coldfire who called the assembled initiates to order with a calm 'let him speak'.

'Well...', Nathanial continued, a bit self-conscious on feeling the attention of all the Loroi on himself, '... you make them sound like secret agents or such, but they are still a military outfit at its core? Scouts, Recon and such?'

Collective assents.

'Where I come from, there are big, massive animals. We call them 'Buffaloes'. They travel in vast herds, and if they get panicked, they could turn into a dangerous stampede - you don't want to be caught up in one, sure.', he sent, tacking on a picture of a buffalo.

'That thing could give an arianesin pause...', Argent admitted.

'Right. Now imagine a group of these Mizol being caught up in such a stampede. If they manage to warn their superiors, they'd send a larger, better equipped group, capable of dealing with the arianesin. After all, they surely wouldn't want it to be known that they were beaten by a horde of animals?'

'...Point.', Coldfire sent, grudgingly.

'So, just sending in the arianesin would incite a fiercer reaction from these Mizol, perhaps the next group would come here with an armed escort and then things would get really ugly, you mean?', Argent asked for confirmation.

'That's what I think. I think the best idea is to throw them a bone...'

'?', Copperspike and Blackrune blinked.

'...Sorry.', Nathanial sent sheepishly, showing them a picture of a mean, aggressive dog which started to happily gnaw on a bone which had been tossed to it.

'Ahhhh... Give them something to be busy with so they wouldn't be bothered with us, I take?', Blackrune asked.

'Exactly this. We sort of give them what they were looking for. Sort of, mind you, and at the same time we give them enough reason to never come back. I think I have an idea on how to do this.... It might be a rather ... personal question, but is there something you Loroi collectively fear?'

'I'm... not sure what you're looking for.', Argent hedged.

'Argent, you've seen in my mind images about the indians. They do believe that the world is filled with spirits, some beneficial, some not, but one doesn't cross them lightly. There are places sacred to the different indian tribes and would ferociously fight anyone trespassing. Is there something like this amongst your people?'

Subdued sanzai chatter followed.

'Actually....', Copperspike cut in, '... these 'indians', they sound much like some of the clans who up to date still resist the Unification. They try to continue living their own way of life and turned more and more isolationistic and aggressive towards 'outsiders'.'

'And, there is the legend of Tempest. She was a great war leader who was betrayed and secured herself the help of the Bedein to exact bloody vengeance on her foes. There more to this, but that's the gist. Thing is, the Bedein are in themselves vengeful spirit... Natan, what are you getting at?', Coldfire asked.

Nathanial grinned.

'Perhaps this is enough to put up quite a show. What do you think how the Mizol would react if I show up like this...', there Nathanial showed them a picture of himself, colored in blue, with a headband covering the tips, or lack thereof, of his ears, decked out in sort of indian style clothing, complete with geometric patterns on the leather, but showing a good part of his chest and abs, 'and say they are trespassing on holy clan ground and would face the consequences if they don't turn around?'

Nathanial never noticed it, but the picture he presented them was more then enough to make several sets of ears turning a darker shade of blue.

'Rest assured that they'd first try to get an eyeful before they ever consider the warning, then they might be confused that it would be a male addressing them in such a manner.', Argent laughed.

'Second, let's say we managed to train the arianesin to selectively attack anyone looking distinctly Mizol - perhaps if we stuff hoppers in dummies resembling typical Mizol we could condition them such - how would it look like if the horde of arianesin would rush on them, completely ignoring me, on my command after they repeatedly disregarded my warning?', Nathanial closed.

Stunned silence.

'This... is.... crazy.', Argent breathed, 'So, in essence, you pose as a shaman, is that the word, of a clan, warning off the Mizol, and if they don't leave, you sort of 'show your powers' by siccing the arianesin on them? I see - A simple stampede is just that, but you add yet another, unknown element to it. That could be enough to give them pause.'

'And since the Mizol expect a diral, and never a male, you put credence to the tale that this is clan land, belonging to a clan with even more outlandish traditions to allow males to be in such exposed roles.', Coldfire added.

'And, remember his Lotai. If he even looks more like a Loroi male - an extraordinarily large one, for sure - he'd definitely put the fear into them when they see they cannot detect him. Especially if he manages to harass them further after they had been thrown into disarray.', Blackrune finished.

'This is crazy enough that it could actually work. If there are no objections, let's start out with training our arianesin. Natan, I trust you can tailor your... well... mystic garb... yourself?', Argent send with a mischievous undertone.

'I'll do my best.', Nathanial sent.

Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:06 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Hundreds of kilometers above the surface of Deinar, a twice daily ritual happened. As Kakiri station swung around Deinar, the sun sinto view. It was a breathtaking sight to behold. The stars fading to golden light reflecting from oceans and clouds larger than any mountain range. The green forests of Deinar coming to life below.

For the six Loroi it had become a mundane annoyance. They blinked until the automatic viewport in the room had adjusted to the abundance of natural light. For these shipboard Loroi it was pure coincidence that their day had also just started.

One of their number, sitting at the head of the conference table now rose. She was a Mizol Parat with ivory white skin contrasting with her long black ponytail. She rose and stood with an unspecified sense of urgency about her. Some of the others had seen her like this before. Parat Nelonial always grew impatient when the time to deploy came near.

"I am pleased to see you gathered here this early." she send to the room. "As you know we will soon depart on an excursion onto Deinar following up on energy readings of one of our satellites. Lennai Songbird will brief you on the mission now."

Lennai Songbird was Nelonials assistant, as the others also knew. While the Parat sat down again, she begun to send. This was a routine briefing, yet a very slight sense of nervousness was about her sending. Songbird was inexperienced like most in the room.

"Yes, Parat. One of the satellites picked up an unrecognized energy reading in a remote part of Deinars forested wildland two tozon ago. Since then there has been a low base energy in the area, marked by several spikes in readings. We can't identify the source, as of now it could be anything from geological phenomena, an old garbage dump radiating or even some technological generator. As the area is covered in dense woodland and lightly hilly, we can't take precise readings from orbit.
Therefore we will travel to Deinars surface where Ranzadi Neat and Tozet Coral will take field readings under the direction of Parat Nelonial and myself. Narrat Anchor and Pideir Bast, you will assist with setting up the equipment. Anchor will otherwise stay in contact with Kakiri; Bast, you will be on guard for wildlife.
You can expect the trip to not last longer than two weeks, but it's almost autumn in that part, so pack for chilly nights. We will depart from hangar bay four in the Cloudsail-12. Are there any questions?"

Gallen Ranzadi Neat rocked forward on her chair. She was a short Loroi with dark grey skin and blond hair.

"What kind of wildlife can we expect?"

Songbird answered that question easily: "You aren't from Deinar, are you? On that continent there are several predators. Most are quite harmless to Loroi. We really only need to be aware of Arianesin."
With a helpful sending of what an Arianesin looks like, Songbird continued: "They are usually solitary and prefer easier prey. I do not expect much trouble with them, but we need to be aware. Everybody will carry a sidearm and Pideir Bast will also carry a long gun."

"Do we need to get our own from the armory?" Bast asked at that.

"No, the Cloudsail is already stocked with a full compartment of ballistic weapons. Bullets have more stopping power than energy weaponry in this case. You need to pack clothes and wilderness gear and what else you need. But keep it light, as things will be crowded with all the heavy survey gear already."

"Who did the preflight checks on Cloudsail-12? An hour is tight for that and packing." was the next question, this time by Narrat Anchor.

"Well..." begun Songbird. Parat Nelonial stepped in.

"We will meet in an hour in the hangar. There is still some equipment to load, so you will have time to do the checks. The Gallens assured me that the plane was freshly serviced."

That satisfied the Teidar, who nodded before politely tuning out of the conversation. Undoubtedly already busy with deciding what to pack.

The last Loroi to speak up was Tozet Coral. She was an unusual tall woman, who had gotten her name from the tight curls of slightly pink hair on her head.

"Is tthat Diral still in the AO? Ballistic weapons are rather loud and I'd rather not have to babysit them."

Nelonial took that question again. She regarded the Mizol with a smile. It was no surprise that the Listel was thinking ahead. Apart from Nelonial she was the only one with real combat experience.

"That is a valid concern. I don't want to meet the Diral either. A few weeks ago I send them a strongly worded message prodding them to move out or at least make preparations. By now they should be ready to avoid us for a few days.
I don't expect trouble from them, as we will land an hour or two from their base camp anyway. If they should decide to visit us, try to not get taken prisoner, unless you want to teach them a bit of survival in exchange for your freedom. Should we need to take scans closer to them, I will shoo them away with another message."

"Works for me. I hope we'll see an Arianesin. We could do with some roast to our rations." send Coral.

"What if the kids don't listen, Nelonial?" came from Bast.

"Apart from Coral all of you are barely older. How quick you forget.", thought Nelonial to herself. But she had prepared for the eventually of a bunch of kids not listening.

"If they don't move and if they sit where we need to scan, we will barter for "safe passage". There's a box of sweets behind the cockpit."

The Parat surveyed the room one more time. All questions seemed answered. Everything was ready to go.

"Good. If everything is clear, then you are dismissed for the hour. I expect a rather uneventful trip. Let's take the chance and enjoy the countryside while we are at it."

Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:51 pm

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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

'Unbelievable', Coldfire shook her head.

'Agreed. Had someone told me this three nanapi's ago, I'd have scarce believed it, likely I'd have judged the initiate delusional and unfit for a warrior tour of duty.', Argent agreed.

'You and me both. How by the stars did he manage that?'

Argent shrugged. 'He once told me that on his planet people have many animals they train for several tasks. Some are just foodbeasts, like these cows and pigs he mentioned, others are actually trained to guard said livestock against wild animals and poachers, and they use even animals to carry them around and pull their carts or power heavy machinery like mills or even cranes.'

'This sounds ... primitive.', Coldfire sent hestitantly.

'For us, it is. But see for yourself what he accomplished here and ask yourself, out of the two of us, us initiates and him I mean, who is the real primitive here.'

Coldfire took another look at the scene. It was still unbelievable to her - somehow, with a mixture of cajoling, forceful appearance and rewards he managed to garner obedience from the arianesin, especially the younger animals. Just now she watched one particularly large beast stop in its tracks, solons away from gutting a dummy, just on a sharp gesture by Nathanial.

'He told me that the arianesin felt to him like they were supposed to be domesticated - or actually had been - and they just went feral again. What he meant is that they are supposed to be receptive to such treatment and training', Argent added.

'Do you think the Soia used them for a similar purpose? As guard beasts?', Coldfire asked.

'No idea. Are the other preparations set in place?', Argent retorted.

'I think so. Whoever tries to make her way through the woods will be in for some surprises. Really. Snare traps? I scoffed at that idea but let me tell you, I stopped laughing once I saw Snow dangling upside down from a tree sapling. And that weapon he fashioned himself...'

'What weapon?' Argent's curiosity was piqued.

'A hollowed out reed. He calls it a 'blow tube', and said a specific tribe, the Cherokee on his planet used them to great success for hunting. You can shoot darts with it. Not very accurate, but completely silent. Blackrune picked up on it and is already thinking about making an improved version of it. Better materials, more precise workmanship, you know. And both Copperspike and Natan said the arianesin poison could be used to coat the darts.', Coldfire reported.

'This is scary. We were warned when we found the arianesin hide in front of his cabin when we arrived. But now we see how much better he is at woodman's lore and survival than we'd ever be.', Argent sent, shaking her head.

'What do you mean?'

'Take us. We're accustomed to technology. We have shelters made from hi-tech materials, a water filtration unit, a communicator, and that was deemed the barest minimum a diral is sent into isolation with. We knew about nothing about the woods and little of the animals living here. Then, take Natan. He came from a world which doesn't even have electricity. And again and again he showed us how he can make do with whatever he finds here and how to use everything at his disposal to great effect. By all accounts he is better adapted to this lifestyle than we are. And I think, the Mizol, even older and more removed from their diral time, might be in for an even nastier surprise than we had been.'

'Sounds about right.... For something different. Since your outing to the waterfall, I watched you several times coming out of his cabin early in the morning. It's likely that others noticed as well....', Coldfire left her comment open-ended.

Argent sighed. Of course someone would bring up this topic, it just had been a matter of time. She felt relieved that it had been Coldfire and not someone else.

'Yes, it's true. Ever since the waterfall, I ... couldn't get him out of my head. He's up there, in the back, always. It's ... disconcerting, and I know that this is wrong to get so attached to a male, but why does it feel so right?'

'I don't know', Coldfire hedged, 'Perhaps it is because he's a human and not a Loroi. We know that his people do things differently in that regard. Count yourself lucky that so far no one else had seriously made a move at him. But I've already seen some eager looks in his direction, perhaps it'd be just a matter of time - what would you do if, say, Firebrand, seriously tries to have her turn as well?'

'I'm not sure', Argent sent dejectedy, 'Perhaps I'll leave it up to him to decide. If he declines, the matter would be settled. But if he says yes... I couldn't stand in his way.'

Of course the subtext of Argent's sanzai told Coldfire her feelings on that matter.


'The readings seem to come from a Soia ruin, judging from what the scanner told me. Artificual structure, mostly comprised of ceramics and stone, but with a slight energy reading in it. Not enough for an active device, more likely it's dormant or damaged. Strange... there are numerous deposits of meteoric iron as well.', Tozet Coral reported.

'Do you think it has something to do with the deforested area you just scanned earlier?', Parat Nelonial asked.

'I don't think so. There were some oddities with the clearing, though. I read a number of Soia-Liron lifeforms, but can't make heads or tails of the reading.'

'Looks like we have two mysteries at hand, now. First, the Soia ruin, now that clearing. Any sign of this diral, though?'

'So far, nothing conclusive.'

'Too bad. Narrat Anchor, any place to touch down?', Nelonial turned to the shuttle pilot.

'The ruin ist mostly overgrown and I'm not sure I'd want to set down in an unknown clearing in the middle of a forest. My suggestion would be near the edge of the forest closest to the ruin. That would bring us in striking distance to both the ruin and the clearing. Still, be prepared for a hike through the forest', Anchor reported.

'A hike through the forest', Lennai Songbird sniffed derisively, 'how difficult could it be?'

Nelonial gave her protege a rather pointed glance. 'More difficult than you might imagine. We expect a ruin where we can drop off our Listel to do her sciency stuff, and maybe deal with the diral if they had not vacated the place. So yes, maybe add a bunch of ornery kids to the mission's risks in addition to the wildlife. Anchor, bring us down.'

Sending a wordless assent, Anchor broke orbit and directed the shuttle down to the landing site she envisioned.


'They're coming! They're here!' Poison Claw called out.

Nothing could have really prepared Nathanial for the noise that followed Poison Claw's announcement. A sort of whistling of something large piercing through the air, coupled with a deep thrumming that went right into his bones.

And the sight.

Something large passed high in the air, in front of the pre-dawn sky, lowering down and heading in the general direction of the ruin. Light reflected on a surface that must be metallic in origin. Argent tried to explain it to him, but still his mind stopped at the thought that this is some sort of ship, sailing through the air, and that there are persons in it.

And I'm supposed to scare away people who accomplished things like these - maybe I've taken too much on my plate with this. Nathan thought, doubt clouding his mind.

'Everyone to positions. Natan, Poison Claw, you take point and scout out the intruders. Remember, if they come close, don't hestitate to touch each other. Natan, don't be shy and let Poison Claw under your Lotai, as you've practised', Argent directed the diral as a whole.

Both human and Loroi sent their assent, though in case of the human with a some trepidation and distaste.

'Hope it won't take too long. I think the blue color gives me a rash if I need to wear it for longer than maybe five thousand solons.', Nathanial sent.


They timed their planetfall on their desired location in the early morning hours, local time, to spend the time before sunrise to set up a base camp and have a full cycle of daylight for recon. None of them were eager traipsing through a forest in the middle of the night, and they planned on reaching the ruins mid-morning to noon, ready to set up necessary instruments.

Sadly that required carrying some of the heavy gear from their base camp to the ruins, much to the chagrin of Gallen Ranzadi Neat and Soroin Pideir Bast.

Lucky for them the forest was not that dense that it required them hacking their way through the undergrowth, but it was dense enough that their sight, even under best conditions, ranged only several meters. Large rocks blocked their sight even further, putting the Loroi on edge.

"Halt!", a voice sounded out from the right, making Nelonial - and the rest of the group - stop in their tracks in surprise.

A male voice.

Turning to the source of the disturbance, the Loroi were treated to one thing they never, ever, expected to face in the wilderness of Deinar.

'Do you see what I see?', Neat sent disbelievingly.

'If you mean a large male with an almost bare chest... No, you are not male-starved, or we both are, because I see the same', Coral answered, flabbergasted.

'Oh, good. Since you see it as well, now I can be sure I'm not imagining things', Bast sent with mild aplomb.

'All of you, quiet', Nelonial cut in, 'first, what by the stars is a male doing that far out here and not succumbing to the Flames, second, how did we manage to get past by it and why don't I sense it even now?'

'You think the diral catered to its needs?', Songbird suggested.

Further deliberations were put on hold as the male spoke again.

"You tread on sacred ground. These lands, all you see, belong to the Hu'tin clan. You ... conformists ... are not wanted here. Turn around, and leave in peace. Continue trespassing, and suffer the consequences."

'Conformists? What does it mean?', Songbird asked.

'There are still clans clinging to the old lifestyle, refusing to be subsumed into the order of the State. They call us conformists, because we all conform to the modern lifestyle they don't wish for themselves. It's ... not a nice word.', Nelonial provided.

Nelonial herself listed the options in her mind. This seems to be a contact situation, with a potentially hostile populace. Trying to sway the male by any means necessary seems to be a futile effort - she herself put much effort in her looks, but that male didn't even spare her a second glance.

Nathanial himself went all out with his garb. Gathering motifs from several indian tribes, he opted for a leather vest that showed off much of his chest, along with matching breeches and soft-soled shoes, all bedecked in dyed patters, some abstract, some resembling animals. Finishing off he wore a headband, conveniently covering the upper part of his ears, showing off a pattern of triangles across his brow.

Argent was sure that it would have quite an effect on these Loroi, and she was proven right, as the younger ones positively raked their looks up and down on his body.

That got suddenly much more complicated, Nelonial thought with a sense of trepidation, I still cannot sense it, even if it is right in front of me. Perhaps that's why it spoke, rather than sending?

"We wish to seek passage to investigate a Soia ruin in this forest. Our orbital scanners registered an energy fluctuation two tozons ago and we need to..."

The male cut in. "The location you speak of is our most holy ground. No outsiders allowed. Whatever your eyes in the sky have seen is of no consequence. Turn around and leave. You have been warned."

Having delivered the warning, the male turned around and disappeared in the underbrush.

'Piss artist! Where did it go?!', Coral exclaimed.

'This way, I think', Songbird pointed forward and headed out in the given direction.

That was creepy, she thought to herself, Males are supposed to be docide and gentle, and that one actively threatened us. And the size.... Males aren't supposed to be that large, what...

Lost in her thoughts, she didn't watch her path, only to be rudely interrupted by something latching itself around her foot and violently jerking it upwards.

A snap, a rushing sound and a wordless yelp in Sanzai told the rest of the away team that something was amiss, but only Nelonial had a good view on the scene as it happened. Songbird's foot got caught in something, and a solon later a bent tree snapped up into upright position, pulling her foot high up, enough for Songbird to dangle upside down from a roughly spun rope.

'Get me down here! If I see that shit boot male again, I'll....', Songbird ranted, much to the enjoyment of Neat.

Cutting her free was easy enough, but the experience left the away team quite rattled.

'Traps? They set traps?', Coral asked with disbelief in her sanzai.

'Looks like it. Seems they really don't like outsiders. Anyway, let's proceed. Cautiously.', Nelonial warned.


Originally, they planned to be at the ruins by noon.

Now it was late afternoon, and they still were nowhere near the ruins, and morale took a turn for the worse.

For every trap they had found, at least two more were sprung on them. Coral suffered some scratches courtesy of a branch slapping right into her face, Nelonial herself got caught in another snare, and both Nelonial and Songbird dropped down into a pit, after breaking through its cover.

After examining the branches and saplings which made the pit's cover, Neat told them that it would have easily carried one Loroi, but not two of them. Or one Loroi carrying heavy gear.

After this, they spread out to avoid being trapped in the next pit.

Which turned out to be a mistake as well.

'Shred this! Something just stung me!', Bast exclaimed, her mood already turned sour after having been caught in another snare as well, and tried to slap the offending insect in her neck.

Her fingers came back dabbed with a drop of her own blood and some yellowish-green substance which made her index finger feel numb.

'What is this? I don't feel so....', her throughts trailed off the moment her legs gave way and she collapsed on the floor, out cold.

"You were warned", the voice of that damnable male sounded, much to Nelonial's shock.

I still can't sense him... he must have followed us!, Nelonial realized, a feeling of terror creeping up in her.

"Shit boot! Show yourself!", she exclaimed.

"You were warned", he repeated, "take your wounded warrior and go back. Proceed, and we won't be so lenient anymore."

"More traps?!", she screamed in his general direction.

"Worse.", he said, and even without sanzai Nelonial got the feeling that there were no words lost.

'I've had enough with these savages. Coral, do you have any idea what's wrong with Bast?'

'I'm no Doranzer', Coral hedged, 'but it looks to me like a venom. Arianesin perhaps, it does act like a strong soporific. Their typical hunting strategy, if they can't subdue their prey at once, is to wait out until it passes out and follow its tracks. Scans show that she's stable, only in deep sleep.'

'Since we're getting nowhere here now, let's set up a camp. Guard at all times. We don't want any more surprises.'


Argent was shocked at the ruthlessness with which Nathanial harassed the away team. She, Coldfire and Poison Claw watched, meticulously keeping their distance, to not to be picked up via sanzai, where Nathanial, under the guise of his Lotai, continued to tail and pester the Mizol.

'Looks like he tagged one of them with this 'blow tube' of his. She's seems to be out cold.', Poison Claw reported.

'Natan promised to keep things rather harmless for now.', Argent remarked.

'Rather harmless? One of them got bruises in her face, one is down by arianesin venom, and two might have wrenched tendons by the forces they were yanked up by their feet from the slings. I don't think I wish to know what Natan thinks to be harmful', Coldfire sent exasperated.

'He said he could have spiked the pit, for example.', Argent told the two initiates with mild aplomb.

'Looks like they decided to set up camp. Think they want to wait out the night?', Poison Claw asked.

Argent never answered because Nathanial turned up that very moment. Even if the three Loroi were already accustomed to his perfect Lotai and not sensing him, they couldn't help but be startled.

'Looks like they're here to stay', Nathanial sent to the three, 'If they really wish to stay, I'll give them a night they won't forget.'

'Do I want to know?', Coldfire asked.

'I'll let them off the hook for now. Let them feel safe in their camp. At least until nightfall or if they decide to break camp earlier than that. Whichever happens first, I'll make another entrance, with a group of arianesin at my beck and call.'

Argent tilted her head, waiting for Nathanial to continue.

'If that sight alone won't make them wet their breeches, perhaps a pack of arianesin trashing their camp might do the trick to show them we mean business.'


Night fell over the camp of the Mizol, and morale seemed to be equally low. Bast woke up just a bit earlier, with a ponding headache and the matching disposition to boot, and both Songbird and Nelonial suffered from a wrenched ankle, the medkit did little to alleviate.

Yet, that male didn't show itself again but Nelonial had the creeping suspicion that his last confrontation hadn't been an empty threat as well.

Everyone in the camp was on edge. Waiting for the second proverbial shoe to drop.

A low, rattling growl made the Loroi flinch. A second growl, with a slightly different pitch followed, from a different direction, then a third.

"Turn around.", the voice of the male sounded again, making Nelonial whirl around and face him. There he was, illuminated by the light of the lamps they set up.

But he was not alone.

To his sides, two arianesin stood erect, snarling at the group, fangs bared, ready to jump. And by the sounds, several more were there, too, almost surrounding the camp.

The Mizol reached for her sidearm, followed by the rest of her team making similar movements.

Solitary hunters, she said. Little to no threat, she said. Shred this! Explain five or six of them, I dare you. And a male who seem to have managed to turn them into weapons!, Neat thought, casting an ugly glance at Songbird.

Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:52 pm
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:27 pm
Posts: 516
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Songbird had heard it all in basic training. Anxiety and fear, the instructors had drilled them, were more dangerous to warriors than any weapon. She had never believed it. Now she did. It was an ugly thing that moved in their group now. Being a telepathic species meant that everybody knew what the others felt. The fear of one became the fear of all. It infected each of them in turn, growing out the fangs of the snarling Arianesin around them and deepening the setting shadows of the wood.

Her revolver started quivering slightly. Songbird cursed inwardly and gripped it more firmly, her knuckles turning white with effort. Poor form, she chided herself.

"Songbird, keep him talking." came from Nelonial. It was directed at the whole group and the Parats calmness a beacon to focus in on.

So Songbirds training finally kicked in. She focused on the male standing about two dozen meters away from them. She could feel the weak minds of the Arianesins next to him, she could clearly see the male, but there was no mental signature at all.

"Now wait a moment. We weren't even doing anything." she said to the male in what she hoped was her best conversational tone.

"Everyone, pick an Arianesin. Aim for its head. Once I say 'Fire!', you shoot and then immediately put two more rounds into center of mass." Nelonial kept sending, forcing Songbird to split her attention between the male, her and watching out for the Arianesin. She decided to push the Arianesin out of her mind for the moment.

"Turn around. You aren't wanted here." the male insisted.

"Coral, aim for the legs."


"Look, we got off on the wrong foot. It's not our intention to cause you harm. Can't we talk first?" Songbird tried to assuage the male.

"No, you are treading on holy ground. Leave now or suffer the consequences." the males words were underlined by the Arianesin next to him rising to its hindlegs and snarling deeply. Songbird saw the Arianesins teeth shine yellow in the low light. That would be hers, she decided. For now she lowered her gun to her side.

"We can't leave now. Not at night, not back through all your traps. We can leave in the morning but no sooner" she informed the male.

"Where you come from, there are no deadly traps. Go!" the male remained uncooperative.

"Keep ready."

"That is a strange accent you have. What did you say your clan was called?" Songbird asked, catching the eye of the male with hers directly for a moment.

The male wavered for the tiniest moment before he answered.

"We are the Hu'tin. Leave, or you will be attacked." he said. It sounded like Songbird was finally getting somewhere with him.
"Hey, we don't want to hurt you. We would have fired already otherwise."

"No, before you could reload, the rest of the Arianesin would be upon you. You lie!" the male protested after a short deliberation. She had got him to argue with her, his attention was now split between watching them and forming arguments. A success, Songbird thought. But what did he mean with reloading? Their guns were fully loaded.

Whatever the reason, Songbirds musings were cut short, by Nelonial. The Mizol had finally finished preparing and gave the order to fire now.

Almost immediately a salvo of five revolvers and one automatic rifle rang out through the woods. The noise was deafening. None of the Arianesin had ever heard such a thunder. Neither did the male, Songbird saw from his face. Her first, hasty shot missed her chosen Arianesin but the other two hit its center of mass.

A wave of terror washed out from their midst, riding on the soundwave of death and amplifying the pain and confusion of the Arianesin in their animal minds. Nelonial had timed it right after the shots and the Arianesin broke.

The ringing in Songbirds ears supsided. Their group was now alone again. No Arianesin in sight. The male was nowhere to be seen either.

"Where is the male?" Nelonial asked.

"He broke with the first shots, but I think I hit him." answered Coral.

Songbird couldn't believe what she heard. Coral had shot a male? And Nelonial was okay with it, had even ordered it? She gave both of them a disbelieving look, that was shared by the rest of their group, too.

"Shame, I am very curious to find out how his Lotai is done." Nelonial stated.

"I'll check for tracks, Parat." Coral send and moved through the bushes outside their camp.

"What now, back to the ship and call this in?" a calmer but still nervous Neat asked.

"No, there is a Diral in the area of a hostile tribe laying claim to the Emperors territory. For religious reasons...whatever those be. New objective, we push through to the Diral and see what the situation is. We might need to evacuate them." Nelonial stated.

"There are tracks here, alright." Corals sending was firmly disbelieving. A moment later the whole group gasped, as she sent an image of what she saw. A smudge of blood on a tree, about shin height, glisteningly fresh and red. "Yeah, I definitely hit that male."

"A male bleeding red, how can that be?" Bast echoed the question everybody had.

"No idea, it's imperative we meet up with that Diral. They might be neck deep in piss and rain." Nelonial decided.

Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:30 am

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

Poison Claw was close enough to witness everything.

She took a great risk, coming that close, but she reasoned it with them having their attention on Natan and the arianesin and possibly missing her own sanzai presence.

On hearing the shots she instantly knew that things went wrong. Horribly wrong. Fear welled up in her, Natan could be hurt, or possibly....

No! Don't think this. He cannot be killed. He must not!, her mind reeled, trying to fight down the panic.

She dared to get closer. Natan might need help.


Focusing on the blood spatters and the visibility down to only a few steps ahead due to the darkness, it was only a matter of time until another trap may be sprung.

Unbeknownst to Songbird, Neat shared her misgivings. So far, these traps were not designed to be hurtful. Had they intended them to be, the pit for example could have been studded with spikes, as well as the branch hitting Coral, resulting in much more grievous injuries. Or the poison that they used to knock out Bast was relatively benign.

So Nelonial's decision to command Coral to shoot the male - and Coral going through with it - had escalated things past peaceful reconciliation. Piss, Songbird already had that male talking beyond threats, was that all just a ruse? Damn Mizol!

Shoot him in the legs, she said. She could have easily hit an artery.

'Your handling of this situation was completely unwarranted for. Shooting the arianesin is one thing, but shooting a male is something completely different.', Neat sent openly, but directed at Nelonial, her ire showing through.

Nelonial turned around, fully facing the Gallen Ranzadi.

'Do I hear critisism for my actions, Gearhead?', Nelonial sent, dangerously low.

'You do. Actually, you as a sneak should have known better. Ancient clan laws have it that deliberately hurting one of their few males warrants a death sentence, especially if it's one of the smaller clans. By all accounts, Coral's life could be forfeit.'

Bast and Songbird gasped audibly.

'This is Empire grounds. The clans are to be disbanded. Their idea of laws mean nothing.', Nelonial stated stubbornly.

'Don't tell me that, tell it them.', Neat locked her gaze with Nelonial.

'Are you prepared to underline your words with your blade?!', Nelonial challenged, reaching for her dagger.

'Stop it! Nelonial! There's someone here.... I feel a presence.', Songbird sent.

'What? Where?'

'A bit further down the path, in Coral's direction.'

Nelonial took stock. Bast, taking up the rear. Neat, facing her off. Songbird, a bit further ahead, Coral, out of sight. Everyone accounted for. But who....

'CORAL! It's one of them! It's a trap!', she sent with impressive strength, amplified by the urgency.

'The presence.... is gone! I don't feel it anymore. It didn't move away, it ... vanished!', Songbird sent, panic lacing her thoughts.

Shred this tilted field! Do they ALL have such a Lotai?!, Nelonial thought, her own fear adding to Songbird's.

'Coral! Abort! Return immediately!'

'Aye, my Parat.... Ouch! Something.....', Coral's thoughts faded out.

'Follow me!', Nelonial ordered.

Both Mizol advanced. Slowly, cautiously. Their progress down to a crawl, searching for more traps in the light of their torches, and trying to keep the underbrush in view. Fear crept up in Nelonial as she realized that in all the tozons of her duty, she relied on her sanzai to pin down foes. Now.... she felt betrayed by her sixth sense utterly failing her.

Songbird's light fell on a prone body. A Listel in wilderness gear. Coral. A piece of cloth lying on her chest, with a crudely written note on it, in red ink.

"Leave now.", Songbird read, Not ink. His blood. His red blood, she thought, after smelling this metallic but completely unfamiliar tang.

Nelonial looked over her shoulder, curious at what had captured her protege's attention.

A rushing sound, like a sharp exhale, sounded from the right, and she felt a sharp sting on her right upper arm, then her world began to tilt sideways before going black.

Panic gripped Songbird as her mentor collapsed.

Piss artist.... we're losing! They're taking us out, one by one!

She gripped her communicator and activated it.

"Cloudsail-12 from away team! Two down, hostile encounter! Need exfil, on my position, stat! Warning, extraction zone hot!"


Natan needed help, Poison Claw quickly noticed. A wound in his thigh hobbled him and he was losing blood. Even if she didn't know how much blood a human may lose before it would be dangerous it looked quite serious.

And then there is that damnable Listel hot on his trail, leading everyone of the away team right towards her!

Natan's Lotai! Argent did tell her what to do!

'Forgive me for taking such a liberty...', Poison Claw sent to him while she placed her hands on his chest and, after a brief moment, placing a kiss on his lips.

It must be the heat of the moment..., Poison Claw thought flabbergasted, surprised by her own action. Focus.

Turning back, she saw that the Listel was looking around, though with less determination and a mixture of trepidation and confusion. But still she was getting closer.

'My blow tube', Natan sent, his thoughts already being a bit blurred and laced with pain.

Poison Claw understood. Picking up the tube and the small quiver with darts, she waited, sitting next to him, with his hand resting on her left leg, maintaining skin to skin contact.

'Let her come closer', Natan directed her.


Poison Claw loaded a dart and raised the tube to her mouth, slowly inhaling.


She set the tube to her lips, lining up the sights.


Poison Claw exhaled sharply, and saw the Listel flinching, then wobbling, then collapsing on the ground.

The Listel going down called the two Mizol on the scene, trailed by the Gallen and the Soroin bringing up the rear. Poison Claw furrowed her eyebrows.

The older one commanded Natan to be shot, she thought, her ire rising.

She loaded another dart and lifted the tube to her lips. And waited.

And waited.

They came closer. More cautiously. They were searching. Expecting danger.

But their torches made them excellent targets to aim at.

And the light showed her the target she had in mind.

Mizol Parat Nelonial, Poison Claw thought grimly after seeing the rank highlights on her wilderness gear. You will pay.

Poison Claw inhaled through the nose. And held her breath.

And waited.



The younger Mizol found the Listel and bent down to check her vitals and the note she left behind. Nelonial looked around, then stepped closer to the younger Mizol and the prone Listel.

A sharp exhale, and Nelonial lost balance and collapsed.

Poison Claw saw the younger Mizol panicking and reaching for her communicator, frantically speaking into it.

'Natan! We have to get out of here! She called for her shuttle, it'll be here in maybe three hundred solons!'

Nathanial grimaced, trying to get up, but ended up being half-carried by Poison Claw as they made their egress.

Just in time.

The whistling/thrumming sound in the air heralded the approach of the shuttle, and a blinding light shone through the foliage from above. Poison Claw jerked to the left, narrowly avoiding the search beam which homed in on the away team.

They didn't even look back to see that ropes were lowered from the floating shuttle, allowing to hoist up the downed away team members in fireman's grips by the lucid ones.

The shuttle turned away, rising in the air and accelerating, plunging the forest in darkness again, save for the lamps which still illuminated the away team's camp and the gear they stacked.

Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:29 pm

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

Nelonial was livid when she woke up and noticed they were back on Kakiri station. It took not-so-subtle threats from the Doranzer to restrain her for her to not to storm off and find those responsible for the 'cowardice in the face of the enemy'.

So there she was, silently fuming while the Doranzer continued running her tests, but at last, she gave Nelonial an injection she said it would fight the headache Nelonial must feel, and an otherwise clean bill of health.

'How long was I out?', Nelonial asked.

'Since you arrived, four hundred bials. It was highly concentrated arianesin venom, that stuff would have brought a full grown grass stomper on its knees.'

'What about Coral?'

'She woke up almost as soon as you arrived back on station. Not a moment later she made a beeline to the science lab and didn't come out ever since, as far as I know. Oh, and before I forget: Just a few solons ago, Bastal bade me to send you to her for debriefing, as soon as she can stand on her own two legs and not keel over - these were her words.'

That sounds bad. Very bad, Nelonial thought with trepidation. 'Thanks', she sent as she exited the sickbay.

Being a Mizol Parat, there aren't many persons she'd need to report to and obey orders from, but Mizol Torimor Bastal is one of them, and one Torimor Bastal in a bad mood is something one better stays far away from, given the choice.

Given the choice, Nelonial thought glumly on entering the sparsely decorated office.

Once again Nelonial noticed how few personal items are present in said office, and especially on her desk. Of course, Mizol are a bit tight-lipped about themselves, in word and deed, but many of them do keep some mementos and keepsakes as well if they could.

Not so Mizol Torimor Bastal. Her desk just sports the computer console, some tablets... and nothing else. All business like.

Not so much the look Bastal's violet eyes meet Nelonial's blue with. The look, the slightly furrowed eyebrows and her posture made it clear, Bastal was livid.

'You wanted to see me?'

'Damn right I wanted to see you', Bastal sent, red-hot ire lacing her thoughts. 'Explain me this: You set out for a recon mission to verify some anomalous readings from about two tozons ago. There is a bunch of Soroin initiates in the target area, and you chose to try shooing them away without even contacting their Elders.'

Nelonial nodded, not daring to interrupt Bastal with a sanzai of her own.

'Then, on your trek from the LZ to the area of operation - an unknown Soia ruin - you encountered... how did Lennai Songbird put it...? Right. An overly large male with a nigh impenetrable Lotai, declaring this area to be clan lands of the Hu'tin clan and off-limits to outsiders?'

Another nod.

'Then you chose to ignore the warning, only for your team to be harassed by traps which, by Ranzadi Neat's admission, were of a rather harmless variety, and that they could have been much deadlier if they had chosen to, as she put it.'

That bitch!, Nelonial fumed, with that she made the male and his ilk the aggrieved party!

Nelonial tensing up was not lost on Bastal.

'Then you set up camp in a decidedly hostile territory, and while I commend you for your swift action against the arianesin this male used to threaten you with, what gave you the idea to command Tozet Coral to shoot the male as well?'

Faced with a direct question, Nelonial had no choice but to answer.

'I thought it best to subdue him to stop the harassment.'

'So... even after he mentioned a clan, twice in fact, since Songbird actually got him talking you never had the thought that that male might be not alone? Even simple male biology should have told you that he simply cannot have been alone, and that the rest of this clan - I'll get back later to it - might exact retribution for hurting or killing him?'

Nelonial's slight flinch told Bastal that she was spot on with her assumption.

'Then you chase off after the male. In the night, with almost-zero range of view, in an area littered with traps and with an unknown number of hostiles you evidently had trouble to detect because of their Lotai, while you yourself were ill-equipped for a full combat sortie. It took Coral and you getting down for Songbird to call for an exfiltration. Count yourself lucky that they showed you more mercy than you showed them, else you wouldn't stand here in front of me, but the Doranzer would perform autopsies on your corpses, if the rest of the team had had the time to retrieve your sorry carcasses!', Bastal harangued, her sanzai getting more and more forceful throughout her rant.

'It looks to me as if I had chosen the wrong leader for this mission. Faced with a contact, by the accounts of Tozet Coral and Ranzadi Neat it was Lennai Songbird who got much further in negotiation than a Parat Nelonial did. By their accounts it was clear that she had him talking beyond issuing threats and you still carried through with your command to have him shot, allowing the situation to escalate from harassment to outright violence. And, to restate it again, you were equipped for a recon mission, facing aggressive wildlife at most, not for a full-fledged combat sortie or scouting in potentially hostile territory. And, do you have any idea what you had done, had you managed to kill him? Stars, even wounding him is already bad enough.'

Nelonial looked askance, making Bastel scoff in disgust.

'Clan or not. You know the foothold of our caste on Deinar is tenuous at best. We are diplomats and intelligence by trade, trust is a rare thing to find on this planet. We try to ingratiate ourselves to the positions of power left and right, and they are waiting for a chance to stuff us into the next cargo carrier and haul us back to Perrein, all of us, and you handed them such an opportunity on a silver platter. The Empire wishes to disband the clans one by one by bringing them into the Council's fold, but it is not our place to maim or kill their males. Empire laws have an officer court-martialed for wounding a male, and Clan laws would put Coral's and your life into their hands. If your actions ever see the light of day it would be in their rights to demand your extradition and I couldn't even deny them if we are to retain any hold on this planet we gained over the years.'

'What else should I have done? Report in?', Nelonial sent, only to flinch on feeling Bastal's ire flaring up.

'DAMN RIGHT YOU SHOULD HAVE! The second worst enemy every away team faces is mission creep, and you FAILED at recognizing it! As soon as you noticed that the mission would escalate WAY beyond its original scope you SHOULD HAVE at least ASKED for new directives instead of stubbornly trudging on into this cluster piss artistry! This debacle almost cost YOUR and Tozet Coral's lifes, if not for this male's and his companion's leniency, and the whole gear your team stacked at the camp.'

The whole scanning equipment, Mizol's finest to boot, camping gear, emergency medical supplies and provisions, plus two repeater rifles and spare ammo..., Nelonial tallied up the losses with a sinking feeling.

'Let's hope for you that whatever Tozet Coral brought back with her proves itself to be one good thing coming out of this heap of crap. Dismissed!'


One moment, Nathanial struggled to stay upright in Poison Claw's grip, the next moment he turned into dead weight, dragging her down. His legs gave way.

'HELP!', Poison Claw sent, her sanzai fueled by desperation, 'Anyone!'

Several calls heeded her cry. Argent. Coldfire. Blackrune. And, surprisingly, Firebrand. Poison Claw relayed what had transpired, to be answered by images of Nelonial and Coral facing some gruesome ends for hurting their male.

'Poison Claw!', Firebrand sent through the hubbub, 'He's in shock. Too much blood lost. Place him on the floor. Raise his legs. It is imperative that his brain continues getting enough blood and oxygen. Once done, bandage his wound. And stay with him. Check his pulse.'

Doing as told, Poison Claw remarked that the wound on his leg seemed to be a grazing shot, but deep enough to bleed profusely. Taking Nathanial's headband and a strip of cloth, she tried for a makeshift bandage. Hope it holds. It must...., she thought.

'Fast pulse, but weak. Almost two beats per solon.', Poison Claw reported, after checking the large artery below his jaw.

'Hypovolemic shock', Firebrand diagnosed, 'Listen. Whatever you do. Make sure that he doesn't lose any more blood, and by the stars, keep him awake. Stay with him. Talk to him. Send to him. Anything!'

'There must be something we can do!', Poison Claw stressed.

'Normally I'd say we need to replace his lost blood, but without human blood, any saline solution roughly matching his blood plasma would do. Hope that their gear has a medkit with a scanner and a suitable solution. If not, hopefully something to make one. I would even go for a saline solution of slightly higher osmolarity than his blood plasma, in order to draw water and electrolytes out of his body cells into the bloodstream...'

Argent cut in. 'We're on our way. Firebrand.... how do you know these things?'

Poison Claw felt her mental shrug. 'Originally I tried for Doranzer. I practically devoured the biology and medicine textbooks as a child. But it was decided that being a Soroin would be a better career choice for me than Doranzer. Yet with some extra tutoring in field medicine.'


Impossible, Coral shook her head.

The crude message itself wasn't that much interesting, but the stuff it was written with even more so. Coral redid the scans. For the second time.

Red round cells with an indentation in the center, containing an iron based component which transports oxygen.

Clear cells which seem to engulf and digest foreign components.

And smaller cells which emitted a fibrous mass to bind them together, turning the liquid to a semi-solid crust.

Components which had their likeness in Loroi blood.

No two ways around it. This is blood, completely alien, yet eerily similar to ours in the function of the separate components. Even the electrolytes in the plasma are quite comparable. It is as if....

Coral hestitated to form the next thought. The conclusion would be almost blasphemous.

...he did look like our males. Larger, more muscular, she felt her ear tips warm up as her thoughts strayed, ... but still similar enough. The scans don't lie, he's an alien, but after we found the Nibiren and compared them to the Barsam. Nelonial, we might have found this one thing that could rewrite our history and you made me shoot it?

A beep from her console interrupted her thoughts. Coral went to check the results of the other inquiries she put up.

Hu'tin clan... no matches. And no records of any clan residing in this region. If there had been, the area would have never been designated as a training ground for dirals.

The fingerprint on that message. Left index finger. Belongs to one 'Poison Claw', Soroin initiate, current location... the diral isolation phase, right at the designated location?

Coral blinked.

An unknown energy signature two tozons ago, an unexplored Soia ruin, some alien male that could be our template species, a clan that doesn't exist and is connected to the diral that just happened to be in the area of operation. What by the stars have we gotten into?

EDIT: Extended scene.

Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:27 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

Copperspike was sleeping when she was jolted awake by Coldfire’s very urgent, very pointed, and very loud sending.

“Natan is hurt! Get here now!”

Half asleep, she fumbled for the medkit in a daze as the others filled her in on what had happened.

Stupid male. Was her first thought. As hardy and knowledgeable as Natan was, she felt it in her bones that no male should be without at least two escorts, and given Natan’s rather brazen attitude to his own safety, four escorts would have been better.

Even stupider shitbooting pissartists who shot at him! Was her second thought as an uncharitable fury welled up inside her.

She was still building up a good head of steam when she reached Natan, Firebrand and several others fussing over him, to say nothing of Argent who was in a semi-controlled panic. All the while, the area was suffused with a hubbub of sanzai.

“Is he going to be okay?”
“Will he die?”
“Who could shoot a male?”
“Why didn’t we escort him?”
“He can’t die! He can’t!”
“Stay with us Natan, please!”
“Firebrand save him!”
“We need to call the elders.”
“We can’t call the elders, we can’t fail our trial.”
“They won’t fail us for trying to save Natan.”
“What if the Mizol come back to finish him?”
“What if they finish us?”

“Clear out you noissome parasites!” Copperspike sent as loudly as she could, “Give me room to work and get me more light so I can work the problem!”

The hubbub died off as the onlookers backed away to give their prickly medic a chance to work on Natan.

“He was shot in the leg, he’s lost a significant amount of blood. He’s undergoing hypovolemic shock and needs saline solution to bolster his condition,” reported Firebrand.

“Piss,” swore Copperspike as she saw just how much blood Natan had lost while assessing him, “there’s saline powder in the other medkit. Go get it while I tend to the wound.”

Firebrand hesitated briefly but nodded before sprinting. She turned to the wound, adding clotting agent to soak up the worst of the blood, and began to look it over, noting that Argent had refused to leave alongside the rest.

“If you are going to stay here, then talk to Natan, reassure him, keep him awake,” sent Copperspike.

“I am!” sent Argent, her distress and outrage mixing at the extremes.

“Cooing at him like an injured child is not helping. Hold his interest, give him a reason to live,” she sent.

Argent nodded and set to her task, promising him various things, places they could go, things they could do.

Copperspike tuned out the irrelevant conversation and focused on her task. The clotting agent was doing its work and she could see that in most respects both humans and loroi were utterly similar, which meant that she could work this without too much difficulty.

Unfortunately, the shot had lodged itself by the femoral artery. Though it hadn’t been sliced open, leaving the bullet in was not an option. One wrong move would cause the artery to be cut or punctured and he would bleed out in moments. Even disregarding that, the risk of infection would be too high to tolerate, though losing the limb was preferable to losing Natan outright.

Her diagnosis was interrupted by Firebrand sprinting back with the second medkit. In moments she’d pulled out an empty bag for the saline solution, added the salt and was mixing the water.

“We have to remove the shot,” Copperspike sent, relaying her diagnosis to Firebrand, “prepare the anesthetics and antiseptics. We’ll pull the shot, clean the wound, and dose him with antibiotics to ensure the wound doesn’t get infected.”

“We can’t do that, it will kill him,” objected Firebrand.

“What? How? It’s medicine!” snapped Copperspike angrily.

“He is alien!” sent Firebrand heatedly, “He uses a different biochemistry! Our medicine might harm him more than it helps! It might even be poison for him!”

Copperspike paused as she digested Firebrand’s reminder that yes, Natan was an alien and chastised herself for ever forgetting that, given how much he ate, slept, and how warm he was… how warm he was supposed to be.

“Shred this tilted piss!” Copperspike swore, mixing her metaphors as she reran her diagnosis from scratch, “Get him something soft and tough to bite down on then lest he swallow or bite his tongue. This is going to hurt him a lot. As soon as the shot is out, we need to warm him up as quickly as possible. Is the saline ready?”

“Already in,” said Firebrand.

Copperspike was both annoyed and impressed by her sudden helpfulness. She resolved to speak to her about why she’d never volunteered for medic duty in the first place as soon as Natan was out of danger.

Whoever did this I swear I’ll sew all their openings shut. She thought darkly to herself.

“Alright, Argent, explain to Natan what we’re doing and that it’s going to hurt a lot,” sent Copperspike.

“He understands, he’s heard all your sendings,” sent Argent.

“Good,” sent Copperspike, glad that she had Natan’s trust in this and that she wouldn’t have to waste more time explaining things, “I’m going in, prepare yourselves and be ready to hold him down.”

Though the surgical tweezers she was using were a delicate and fine instrument, her first attempt at reaching the shot must have hit something tender, as the outright howl of pain that issued forth from Natan’s throat almost completely unnerved her. He jolted involuntarily as Argent held his head and shoulders whilst Firebrand used her full body weight to hold his hips and legs as steady as possible.

“Get me more light!” she demanded tersely, trying to remain utterly focused on getting this done quickly.

Copperspike waited until he was still again before making a second attempt, leveraging the better lighting to improve the odds before once again trying to reach the shot. This time she was more successful, feeling the telltale sign of metal at her implements end as Natan merely moaned painfully.

Gingerly she raked the bullet with the medical tweezers, trying to tweak it in just the right way so as to get a good grip on it without nicking the femoral artery. Finally she managed to get a grip on the offending object and pulled.

She immediately wished she hadn’t. This time Natan’s howl of pain was sent over sanzai, a loud, wordless, and utterly primal call for his mother in the face of what felt like death. It caused her to fumble slightly on the way out, turning her hasty exit into a clumsy one and catching a smaller vein on the way out.

“Tempests shit!” she swore, reaching for more of the clotting agent and all but dumping it in the wound to soak up the excess blood while she lunged for a pair of clamps to close off the veins.

“What happened?” asked Argent, visibly shaken by Natan’s cry.

“Bullet is out, vein got cut, need to fix,” said Copperspike tersely, busily clamping the veins shut and reaching for the suturing tools… only to be met by Firebrand passing her exactly what she needed.

She grunted by way of thanks and continued to work.

Fortunately the suturing was a simple affair and, given the number of wounds she’d had to sew shut since their first battle with the arianesin pack, a well practised one. The moment she was done Firebrand was already on hand with both antiseptic and antiviral sprays that they had used before on Natan the few times he’d scratched himself during their time with him.

Thoroughly disinfected, Copperspike did one last inspection of the wound for anything she might have missed or any foreign objects that needed removal. Finding nothing amiss, she rapidly sewed the wound up. Natan seemed to be holding up as well as could be, with Argent keeping him focused on a very deep and very private conversation.

When the last stitch was in place, Firebrand was immediately on hand to bandage the wound, gently but firmly, ensuring that the work they’d completed wouldn’t be undone by either Natan’s movement or their own.

“We need to keep him warm, he’s too cold here,” Firebrand sent.

“I’ll arrange it,” said Argent, rising from her communion with Natan with a look of utterly unsympathetic rage lighting her eyes, “go clean up, Copperspike. We’ll need to have a meeting with everyone about what happened.”

Copperspike nodded, noting the blood on her gloves and arms, dully. Now that the impromptu bout of surgery was over she felt all the weariness and fear about what she’d been doing wash over her and shivered at the unleashing of tension.

As she washed her hands and arms clean of Natan’s blood, her thoughts returned to Firebrand. She’d had her pegged as the troublesome one of the group, the one to drag her feet and be useless in all things, the one they’d have to carry in spite of herself. That she was applying herself in such a way was a good turn, but one she couldn’t help but be curious about. It was rare, in her own opinion, that she ever pegged someone wrongly. It bore investigation when she wasn’t feeling so utterly drained.


Spoiler: show
This is my Mod voice. If you see this in a thread, it means that the time for gentle reminders has passed.

Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:05 pm
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Mizol Torimor Bastal had already lighted the end of her stick before she was dropped amongst the trees at a short distance from the settlement of the Diral. The bright light she carried on a stick held pointed into the air was an ancient custom from Perrein. A signal she was unarmed, alone and here to parley. The custom was that she would be able to talk before anything else would happen and this should be known to the initiates. The anything else could be anything else really. It usually depended on how the talking went, carrying a light-stick wasn’t a guarantee for survival.

She didn't look up at how the shuttle pulled away and left the area, opting to stare into the darkness. The only remaining light coming from the stick that illuminated her immediate surroundings, her armour with the backlit insignia showing her rank and also her face and head with its long nose and ears. She knew it was very unflattering and that it showed her full age, but expected it would also command a bare minimum of respect.

Bastal looked around, then started to walk down on the path in the direction of the clearing. And it didn’t take long before she was halted by a voice command.


Bastal was surprised, she hadn’t sensed the two Loroi that stepped out of the undergrowth and she still couldn’t sense them. The amount of control and discipline needed to pull that off was stunning. Yet, these girls did it effortlessly. Over parts of their armour the initiates carried fur patches in the shape of a short jacket over their shoulders and as wraps around the wrists and below the shin guards. The Mizol had to admit the look was creative, and that it made them look dangerous even without the weapons they carried. A piece of the breastplate of one of the warriors had been repaired, it had obviously been broken (which was nearly impossible). The repair of it was another clear indication that the diral had made metal tools. Both initiates were carrying a falcata and, even more impressive, were equipped with a crossbow which they currently loosely aimed in her direction.

If Bastal hadn’t seen them with her own eyes or heard the voice command they might not have been there.
There was noting she could sense or do with sanzai so she broke the silence.

“I’m Torimor Bastal. I came here to talk with you. It’s important that we do”.

“Someone’s already coming Torimor. Stay put where you are”.

It was not just the inhospitable sounding answer that felt unsettling. The initiates were clearly using sansai amongst each other but it was perfectly screened off. She decided this was another good reason to talk, and cursed Nelonial again for screwing up so badly.

Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:03 am

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)


The discussion was long, arduous and heated. Argent was torn between staying at Nathanial's side and stepping in front of the diral, but it was Poison Claw who elected to watch over him.

'Go', she sent, 'They need both you and Coldfire. I'll watch over him.'

Answering with a wordless thanks she stepped out of the cabin in front of the fireplace, where the rest of the diral had already gathered, the sanzai flying around quieting down when one set of Loroi eyes after another focused on her.

'He's stable for now, thanks to Firebrand and Copperspike. Thanks. I mean it. You did marvelous work in there. For now, they're gone. We ... managed to chase them off, so much that they abandoned their gear.', Argent sent hestitantly, trying to keep a grip on her roiling emotions.

'I don't know if Natan succeeded in convincing them that it's clan land and off-limits, but it's a moot point now. Poison Claw informed me... they got a sample of his blood', Argent elected not to tell them that it was her mistake, with the note she left behind - it would not matter, because the Mizol saw him bleeding red, 'and now they surely know that there is an alien in our midst.

They will be back.', Argent closed.

Mutterings in sanzai flared up, some of them arguing to run, far away, others to take the fight to the Mizol.

'I want the head of that Mizol who ordered him shot. No matter if the body is still attached to it!', one initiate sent, and the thought was picked up by several others as well, promising a world of pain if they get their hands on that Mizol.

And I cannot fault them for this. Truth be told, I'd cheer them on if they get her burning at a stake., Argent thought.

'I cannot fault you for this, but if we allow to escalate things to violence, we'd first fail because of attacking superior officers, if we're not summarily killed in the fighting that ensues', she tried for reasoning.

'Tempest's sagging left buttock! They started with hurting a male, we go to protect our own, so who should be called warrior and who shouldn't? As if sneaks could be warriors anyway!', a sharp sanzai rang through, coupled with a number of assents.

'We protect him best if we stay alive! If they come to the conclusion that he is an alien, they simply declare him outside our laws and perhaps call for his extradition. We are the only thing that stands between them and him! And they will come back. Maybe in full combat gear, and our traps and the arianesin would do nothing against them anymore.'

'What then? Run?'

'Natan is in no condition to walk, let alone run. Even carrying on a stretcher would be a risk, Copperspike said. Whatever we do... we either have to stay and defend him if we must, or abandon him.'

As Argent had expected, the thought of abandoning Natan was met with a storm of vehement denial.

'When running and fighting is out, there's one other thing we can do. Hiding. We could leave the traps in place, make it still troublesome to move. Everything to slow them down, but nothing to escalate things further. We have to become ghosts. They won't see us, they won't sense us. All they may see would be an abandoned camp. Blackrune, Snow... Try to salvage as much of their gear they left behind as possible. Even if it's of no use to us, perhaps they'd be anxious to have it back. That could be our bargaining chip if they actually try to parlay.'

'And it helps us how?', another sanzai voice asked.

'If they had been Soroin or Teidar, I'd have said 'nothing', but these sneaks profess themselves to be diplomats, too? As long as they talk to us, they wouldn't shoot Natan... or us. And judging from Natan told me before he fell asleep there had been at least one level-headed person in that group, besides that Mizol Parat Nelonial and her pet Listel.

And be sure if any of these two shows her face again, Tempest's tits, I'll make a trophy out of it.', Argent finished darkly.


Unbeknownst to the diral outside, Nathanial had woken up again, trying to find his bearings.

I'm back in my cabin... OW...., his thoughts were cut off when his brain registered the stinging pain in his leg. Looking around, he saw that a fire has been stoked in his hearth, but still he felt somewhat chilly and dizzy.

And he felt something - no, someone - stirring next to him in his bed. Turning his head, he noticed dark hair, almost black, not white, and a slimmer figure.

A slimmer figure out of her armor and in very light garments, right next to him under the fur covers.

He felt his face heating up on realizing that it was Poisoned Claw in his bed and not Argent.

'Shhh.... Lay still, your wound is still fresh', her thoughts came.

'Wha... what are you doing here?', he thought, his face fully aflame now.

'Copperspike said to keep you warm. And even if we are colder than you are.... supposed to be, I thought it best... Argent is outside, addressing the diral, and I felt that you need someone here when you wake up', she sent shyly.

It didn't help Nathanial that, given how close she was to him, he noticed that her scent - somehow exotic - was very much similar to Argent's, yet subtly different. But equally enticing.

'If Argent sees you... right here...', Nathanial started.

'She knows.', Poisoned Claw countered, 'Now rest. I'll watch over you. No harm shall come to you', she added, placing a wispy kiss on his temple.

Drifting asleep again, he felt the touch of her lips on his skin and listened in to the sanzai of the diral just outside.

Many thoughts wandered through his head, his own, being keenly aware of a certain waifish Loroi right next to him, and foreign thoughts, discussing how to hide and become ghosts.

Becoming ghosts...., his mind mulled the thought over the moment he crossed from the waking world into dreamland.


Blackrune and Snow recruited six more initiates to make the trek to the abandoned camp and retrieve the gear the away team lugged through the forest. Still it was difficult to pack everything together and distribute the load and Blackrune was seriously considering leaving parts of the gear behind.

Medicinal equipment is definitely a must. Their weapons would come in handy, too, as well as at least some of the spare ammo. Then there were some devices which look like scanning and analyzing equipment, and some more Blackrune hadn't the faintest idea of what they could be.

On their way back, Blackrune noticed something strange.

The diral was ... gone. Not silent. When they were silent or asleep, she would still have felt their minds, especially on her way halfway back to the camp - she must be in range now.

But... nothing. As if they packed up and left. Or were deported. Or her own sanzai was failing.

'Snow!', she sent, laced with panic, 'Can you feel them?'

Startled Snow needed a moment to gather her thoughts. 'Feel whom? ... What? .... Where's the diral?', she sent, adding to the fear with her own and bouncing back and forth through the other five members of the retrieval team when they noticed that they couldn't sense the diral as well.

'Something has happened! Drop the gear, weapons out. We're going to find out!', Blackrune commanded.

Covering the remaining distance in a brisk stride, the team arrived at the clearing, only to see that there seems to be nothing amiss.

But they still couldn't sense anyone of them, much like they couldn't sense Natan, most of the time.

Or anyone touching him when they played 'hide and seek'.

"Argent!", Blackrune called out vocally.

Argent turned into Blackrune's direction, eyes widening, then getting the focused look, then widening again.

No sanzai.

"What.... How?", Blackrune voiced the question on everyone's mind.

"Do you think Natan turned us into ghosts?", Coldfire, having just stepped forward, asked.

"I have no idea, but if he did, I could just kiss him.", Argent noted.

Blackrune guffawed, despite, or maybe because of the strange situation. "We all know that you went way beyond kissing, but you're right..."

A high-pitched whine cut through the night sky and a small shape blackened out the stars to the south. It was flying low, very low, and slow.

Words were not needed. Everyone knew what that sound and sight meant.

They were making detail scans of the area using drones. No way the diral camp was missed.



"Someone’s already coming Torimor. Stay put where you are", Snow said, keeping her eyes on the Torimor, having the crossbow at an at-rest position, but ready to be lifted and fired at a moment's notice.

Bastal felt the bials almost stretch out to an eternity until the rustling of the underbrush announced a new arrival.

She chose to make herself known. I'm sure she could have been as quiet as the other one here. Stars, how many of them are in hiding right here? And still I can't sense them....

The Loroi came into view. Tall, white-haired and with a dark hue of her skin. There aren't many Loroi matching this description in the diral, and her armor being in an even better shape left no doubt who this initiate would be. Seeing the seii sheathed at her belt only reinforced Bastal's suspicion.

She exchanged looks with the first Loroi.

No doubts, they [i]do use sanzai, even if I cannot sense them, despite them having right in front of me. Even seasoned operatives would be hard-pressed to achieve that.[/i]

"Initiate and diral leader Argent, I presume."

A short nod, even if Bastal's words were not meant as a question.

"Let's be frank. You know we were searching for something, and we know you have found something. Let's talk, and I'm reasonably certain that we could come to an agreement we all can live with."

"What about Mizol Parat Nelonial?", Argent shot acerbically.

A single tic made Bastal's left eyelid twitch. "She has been punished... most harshly... for that gross mishandling of this situation. Even given the scare you have put into the away team - and I'll have to hand it to you, whatever you did was quite effective - her response was over the top and uncalled for."

Conflicting feelings warred on Argent's face. Anger that she won't get her chance at revenge, relief that she might be spared the conundrum of attacking a superior officer, suspicion that that Torimor's words were outright lies.

"Be it as it may, I see a diral right here that had managed a lot more than a diral is usually supposed to - as far as I know the Soroin initiate's 'trial by fire', you'd trounce the defenders even now - and I would very much like to meet whoever is responsible for your resounding success."

Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:25 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

“What makes you think our achievements aren’t our own?” Argent threw back.
She couldn’t help but feel provoked, and the last thing she wanted was exposing Natan to scrutiny by a Mizol.

Bastal’s mouth formed a thin stripe as she pressed her lips tight against each other. She realised she had come across as presumptuous, not just stepping on long toes. Frankly these youngsters had been pushed around enough.

“I have to apologise for my remark, I do not want to offend you. I want to openly explain what I already know, what my regrets are and how I propose to rectify the situation. If we get to it I’d then want you to know what I hope to achieve.”

Bastal sighed, and wavered with the light-stick. She was obviously beginning to have some trouble keeping it up. Argent noticed how Snow slightly moved and barely held back as she instinctively wanted to help the Torimor.

Bastal straightened her back, holding the stick up again with a fresh resolve.

“My team made several unforgivable mistakes. This all happened on my watch and I am responsible for that, but before I shave my head, I want to discuss a couple of things with you. I shall be bluntly honest, as far as you can trust a Mizol. We can do that here, or we can choose to do it on a more comfortable place where I do not have to keep this damned thing pointed up all the time”.

While Argent mulled over that Coldfire weighed-in, sending “I think she’s very old, we should indeed show her some respect now, let’s take her to our fire pit”.

Argent acknowledged and broke the short silence that had fallen.

“Torimor, I guarantee your safety for the duration of our discussions.
And I invite you to come to our clearing. We shall talk there.”

For the first time in a very long time Bastal was pleasantly surprised.

Giving her guarantee, Argent had used the Perrein formulation for inviting the emissary to a more hospitable place. This could be seen as a conciliatory step, and at the very least it was a token of respect. She decided to repay this by being frank and open to the diral’s leader.

“Lein, prepare seats around the fire pit and make sure nobody kills her” Argent instructed Coldfire.

Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:22 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Following the youngsters to their fireplace proved more precarious than the short distance had led her to believe. If not for Bastals Perrein eyes helping her in this low light, she would have even stumbled into some of the traps dug by the Diral. So she had to be pulled aside only once. It was done gently, with the repsect befitting her rank and likely more so her age, she noted with pleasure.

The Dirals fireplace was in a clearing by a small stream. Two blocky buildings, one large, one small stood there, as well as a manner of smaller utensils such as racks to dry skins and furs on. All in all, Bastal judged, a rather well done base camp.

Bastal sat down on a log by the fire with a certain relief, which she decided to display honestly to quiet the hostile faces of the Diral members around her. Most of them wore the same kinds of furs on their armour and all were armed with metal weapons, to which their hands strayed dangerously close.

"This is an impressive camp and so quickly built." she remarked to Argent who had sat down beside her.

"Thank you, Torimor, but you haven't seen much of what we have built." Argent replied.

She is touchy, judged Bastal and decided to not mention that their huts didn't follow any style known to Deinar and were therefore built by that alien.

"Is that meteor iron your weapons are made out of? Your gatherers must have had good fortune for so many."

"We have found a lot." Argent admitted. An admission Bastal decided to ignore for the moment. Instead she worked the positive effect her advanced age had on the Diral by allowing herself to ramble a bit.

"That is fantastic. In my Diral we only had our leaders blade. The rest had to make do with wood and stones for two years."

"You didn't find any usable metal at all?" Argent asked surprised. Bastal used the opportunity and worked the angle a bit more.

"No, we were in the lowlands. Metals are rare there. We hunted for two years with wooden spears and clubs. Oh, don't give me that pitying look, young one, it wasn't all bad. We saved up the beaks of the landsquid we killed to stud our clubs with." she recounted.

This achieved two beneficial things for Bastal. First, one of the Diral handed her a wooden bowl with some steaming broth in it. Bastal made a point of taking it in her hands as if they were cold. The second thing was Argent shaking her head, as if to clear it and being the impatient one.

"Torimor, with all respect, you didn't come here to tell us stories." Argent stated.

"Oh, forgive an old woman for remembering her youth surrounded by youngsters." Bastal assuaged her before continuing. "You are right, of course, I came here for a reason. It's clear that you have found an alien, a male remarkably similar to us, but with amazing Lotai. You understand why we Mizol are highly interested in him."

"The last one didn't show it." Argent replied.

"Yes, she didn't. She was punished." Bastal agreed.

"How?" asked Argent entirely predictably. Therefore it wasn't a lot of effort for Bastal to keep her voice level and her face relaxed.

"As harsh as possible, given the circumstances. She has to reimburse the state for the equipment her actions have lost."

"What? That is all?" Argent exclaimed and the rest of the Diral shook and wavered around Bastal in silent agreement. No doubt they were sanzaiing to each other wildly, while she couldn't even sense one of them. Sensing was superfluous to read their aggressive intents anyway.

"Hm, oh, she did make grievous mistakes. You made her situation very difficult though. This isn't clan land or your Elders wouldn't have sent you here. So she was faced with a new clan suddenly laying claim to the Emperors land. Backing down would have been ..dishonourable for any Soroin." Bastal explained.

"She ordered a male shot!" Argent practically shouted. But Bastal knew it was important to remain calm right now.

"A male with a Lotai strong enough that two Mizol can't sense him at all? Not pursuing would have been dishonourable for any Mizol."

"Mizol honour? You are sneaks and liars!" Argents insult was predictable with Bastals experience and quite harmless in the scheme of things. She had heard worse.

"You'd be surprised, Argent." Bastal said. "In particular, we do operate within the laws. I charged Nelonial with the most I could in a disciplinary action. Shooting a male is a court case."

"Do that then. What did you come to us for, Torimor?" Argent asked bitterly.

"I don't want this to go to court." Bastal admitted. "Nelonials only crime would be attacking a male, but after walking through your traps and after being poisoned, being surrounded by dangerous beasts, in charge of a bunch of beginners close to panicking...her chances look rather good, before the court hears the male is an alien." she admitted to the Dirals dismay.

Bastal continued: "And you, do you want the courts to get involved? The aliens presence would go public, your Elders would hear about it. They'd question whether you had outside help in your Diral so far. At the very least, the alien would be taken into custody. The whole matter would be a black mark on your tender reputation. We Mizol wouldn't be making friends either." She had eased on the old woman routine while speaking and was now focusing Argent intendly.

The leader seemed introspective, no doubt thoughts racing through her head. The conflict showed on her face. "You are leading up to a deal of some kind. The problem is, that I can't make one with a Mizol. One of your number has attacked us, attacked our male. She even got off lightly for that. You seem to have no honor, Torimor."

This time the insult was less hot but spoken with more deliberation. Bastal found herself slightly irked even. "Argent, as much as I would like to be rid of Nelonial, experienced Parats and infantry leaders are hard to come by on Deinar. I must make whatever use of her I can. The knowledge of ..your male..would help greatly in my mission and advance Loroi knowledge considerably. We're outside the normal laws here, but I am honorbound to attempt acquisition of the alien."
Bastal allowed Argent and the Diral a moment to process her words. Discussions in Sanzai going on all around her. Then she continued.
"You need to trust us to make a deal and one can only trust the honorable. Therefore, I aim to prove that Mizol are proper warriors to you all."

"You, Torimor?" Argent said, mustering her old, weary form.

"Oh no, not me personally. I wouldn't put up much of a fight to such spry young things such as yourself." Bastal said.

"What do you mean then?" Argent asked.

"When I said that you'd trounce your "trial by fire" I meant it." Bastal said, loudly enough to be heard by everybody in the Diral. Astonished looks of pride were exchanged around her just as she had intended. "Let's agree to the following. We'll be conducting our own trial. To prove our honor to you and for you to prove yourselfes to us. If you win you have shown yourself capable of safeguarding the alien male until the end of your Diral. We Mizol will agree to leave you completely alone."

The possibility of being rid of the Mizol was meant to be exciting to the Diral. A full success, as Bastal judged from the speed with which heads turned. Poor Argent did her best to hide her excitement from the Torimor in front of her. Bastal didn't mention that once their Diral would end and the members transfered to their academy, the male would be discovered and end up with the Mizol sooner or later anyways.

Argent had managed to calm down and spoke to her with a forced voice.
"What if you win, Torimor?"

"Then you, as a Diral, agree to take on a new identity with the Hoste Blec clan where you will finish your training." she bluntly stated. A moment later she sweetened the deal a bit for good measure. "I have no doubt that your experience with this new form of Lotai will make you prime candidates for a fruitful career working with the Mizol."

"What about N..the alien?" Argent asked with suspicion.

"I see no reason you couldn't keep caring for him with the Hoste Blec. We would need to run some medical tests on him though." Bastal said.

The Diral leader thought this over for a moment. Bastal noted, that she never looked to the side, like if she were making her own decisions. Good, thought Bastal. A clear leader would make things easier.

"What will this trial look like, Torimor?" Argent finally asked.

"You will face the same away team from last time, albeit prepared and fully equipped and you will have to come to them this time. They have a box with them, about this size." she indicated a small rectangular with her hands. "In a week from now you will have from dusk till dawn to get that box. Inside it is a communicator, which I will call in the early morning. If you answer the call, you win, otherwise it will be routed to Nelonial or Songbird and you lose."

"Nelonial?!" Argents temper flared up immediately.

"Yes, she besmirched our honor, she will restore it. The team will be equipped with non lethal weapons. I trust in your honor that you will keep it the same, Argent." Bastal explained.

"Three weeks, Torimor." Argent demanded.

"Two, I want this matter settled soon." Bastal conceded, suspecting that this was about the alien.

"Fine, we will be ready." said Argent.

With her work done, Bastal put her empty bowl down beside her and rose. "Tow days beforehand I will send you the coordinates. A bit of travel will be involved. Prepare accordingly."

Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:47 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

Argent, I don’t like this’ Firebrand sent extremely loud to all.

She then stepped into the light of the fire looking straight at the Mizol.
She cleared her throat, mustering courage.

“Torimor, my mother is a Mizol and I have fought her long enough to recognise what you are doing with us. I don’t like it and I advise my diral’s leadership to take all the time it needs before committing to anything!”

Bastal stared at the girl, angered by what she considered insubordination.

Argent, realising she had been rushed into something grasped the opportunity.
“Firebrand, speak up. We’re not in a hurry to make mistakes tonight and we will weigh all views.”
Nervously she glanced sideways at her guest.

Blackrune and Copperspike positioned themselves next to Firebrand.
Blackrune spoke up with a strong clear voice

“Torimor Bastal, we do not need to conquer anything by way of a test. Our test is to make weapons, the initiates will hunt with these and use their skills to feed our diral. This test has been given to us by our own Elders, and it is doubtful if someone else can force us out of here, or make us take another test. Especially against a group that used firearms and threatened us right from the start with their Tempest’s shit message.”

Copperspike looked like she was going to say something, stepped forward, shook her head, then clearly outraged spit out

“My mother is a Mizol too!”

This was too much for Bastial, laughing and coughing she had to wipe the tears from her cheeks.
It took her a while to recover.

Coldfire sent to Argent “Before she turns into a witch again we should ask why she is so interested in the Soia ruin’.

Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:16 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

Bastal, who had still been standing, suddenly started walking in the direction of the smaller cabin.

Argent felt her hair rise, her heart skipping a couple of beats when she realised that the Mizol was out of control. On the brink of ordering Bastal’s way blocked she saw how the Torimor was suddenly stopped in her tracks as if bumping her head against an invisible tree.

Wobbling the old lady had the presence of mind to point her light-stick in the air again, turned 180°, heading back to the area of fire pit, barely reaching the wooden block on which she had sat before. She sagged down with a shocked expression on her ash grey face.

“Psychokinesis. Powerful” she muttered “I shouldn’t have done that”.

Copperspike reached in her side pocked for a handkerchief handing it over silently to the Mizol, who used it to tend to her bleeding nose.

What happened? Who did this!’ Argent sent in the blind.

She got a punch in her face, don’t know by who’ replied Firebrand shaking her head before adding ‘Poisoned Claw?’

Poisoned Claw could move light things, but only just. She was the only one in the diral with a measure of the ability.

Argent dismissed it outright. ‘Impossible, she can’t even bend a spoon!’

She’s been with Natan since we brought him in, perhaps he amplifies more than just sanzai?’ suggested Coldfire.

Bastial recovering turned to Argent raising her finger.

“Listen well to me my dear initiates, I apologise again. I’m by no means a perfect guest and clearly overstepped my bounds, which I admit I have been testing. I was stopped, perhaps because I am perceived as a threat. I do not intend to be a threat to any of you or to the one living here with you. I actually desperately want to be your friend. We’re indeed not done here tonight”.

Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:42 am

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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

"I'd dearly like to continue this discussion via sanzai, but am I right to assume that you aren't willing to drop that impressive Lotai of yours just right now?", Bastal asked.

Silence. And Bastal still couldn't sense any of the initiates. She sighed.

"It is always an uphill battle for a Mizol to garner trust, especially after what Parat Nelonial had done. Still... let me reveal what we had learned so far. No false pretenses. No misdirection. Then we can decide where we go from there."

"Alright. We are listening.", Argent conceded.

Bastal was sure that that statement included all the initiates out of earshot - she knew that beneath their Lotai, they'd still maintain an active sanzai. And that alone is a feat even many Mizol don't hope to accomplish.

For a whole diral to be able to is nothing short of miraculous. And given the display of telekinetics either someone had grossly erred with the assessment of that initiate or something else is at work here.

"Somewhat more than two tozons ago an automated satellite detected an unknown energy signature at a nearby place, someplace we now know to be an unknown Soia ruin of an unfamiliar structure. Parat Nelonial was tasked to lead the science team, and in her debriefing she argued she could not wait until you had been recalled, on the risk that you would discover and perhaps mess with the ruin. That's how she had the idea to make you move out."

Argent nodded, conceding the point. "Fat lot good it did. Actually, we did already find the ruin, so she had already been too late with that idea."

"Our suborbital scans now had shown that the ruin and the surrounding forest is littered with meteor fragments - the source of your iron, I think? It has to be, since this area is rather poor with iron and you'd have to do some extensive mining to acquire reasonable amounts, and we haven't detected evidence of this - and, the age of the impact site matches with the two tozons estimate for the energy outburst. By now it's conjecture, but the energy of the impact could have activated something in the ruin... for a short time at least."

Argent looked straight ahead, her slight nod just acknowledging her words, but neither confirming nor denying Bastal's assumption.

Stars, it's even harder without having a feeling in sanzai to rely on..., Bastal thought with a sinking feeling.

"Fast forward to the recent past. Parat Nelonial and her away team touched down, and got harassed by a set of traps, that male of yours and that pack of arianesin he had at his beck and call. A male that looks remarkably like ours, only somewhat larger - Stars, larger than many females I've seen - with a Lotai that put quite the scare into the away team and, last but not least, bleeding red. And, mind you, the very idea of using animals as weapons - I don't know of any other Loroi having such an idea."

Argent tried to suppress a flinch, but the slight twitch in her muscles was plainly visible in the firelight, and Bastal heard the slight rustling of other initiates moving.

"Go on.", Argent prompted.

"Now I'm here, in this camp, next to some cabins of a completely unfamiliar structure, surrounded by initiates who all display an impressive Lotai as well as telekinetic abilities that would be on par with seasoned Mizol. We analyzed his blood, and it's definitely alien. Similar in its overall makeup, but made of muchly different components, which are not even Soia-Liron based. Given the nature of his wound and the resources to treat him at your disposal, it is safe to assume that you cannot have him moved very far."

"Or he could be dead by now, bled out.", Argent countered.

Bastal's carefully maintained countenance cracked.

"Stars, tell me he isn't dead! He must not!"

Argent remained silent and completely motionless.

Damn, they don't let even just one thought leak, and they know and use their advantage to the hilt. Bastal thought.

"Why is a single alien male that important to you?", Argent asked.

"The idea of any completely unknown alien on Deinar? That alone is a concerning issue. How did he came here, and is his method of travel still available, perhaps for an invasion force? Is he a scout? Given his own Lotai he could be. This and the fact that he looks that close to our males. But why a male and why one looking close to, but not exactly like ours? That would defeat his purpose as a scout."

"Is that all?"

"No... Let me ask you, what do you know of the origins of our species, or the Soia-Liron species in general?"

Argent shook her head. "Assume we don't know anything."

"Alright. We think that the Soia rarely, if ever, used original designs for their species and fashioned them after so-called 'template' species. Like the Barsam and the Nibiren. We've found a number of other Soia-Liron/template pairings, mostly for base animals, but sometimes for sapient species as well... but never for us, same as we never found another fully telepathic species. But this male could change it."

"So he would be like ... what? Your lab nazil for you to poke and prod, just to confirm or deny some scientific theory?", Argent bit.

Bastal shook her head. "I ... admit ... that we would wish to run some tests, but limiting him to some labs would indeed be wasteful. I'm not lying when I say that all of you would have quite a stellar career amongst the Mizol, given how you ran circles around the away team until Parat Nelonial panicked and went haywire."

"And what would have pitting us against the same away team proven? Given our improvised weapons we would barely have a chance against a fully decked out and alert away team in a fortified position and heavy perimeter surveillance running."

"Your skills and determination. I got the feeling that you still have more abilities up your sleeve, like that display of telekinesis. I wanted you to dig deep in your bag of tricks, to be challenged and wanted to see how you possibly face defeat. Rooted in despair, or fighting to the last? Still bent on fulfilling your objective, or going rogue?"

This is a so Mizol way of doing things. Roundabout and in a backhanded way., Argent groused.

"Let's say we accept. What would it be?"

"As I've said. You would get new identities, well-protected within the folds of the Hos'te Blec clan. They're known to be reclusive, and only few outsiders are granted knowledge about its inner workings. Mind you, secrecy and anonymity would protect this male as well. Your unique talents would make you suitable for stealth and recon missions, for example."

Bastal opted not to mention sabotage and espionage, that would not go over that well.

"And the alternative?"

"Even if we maintain a strict hands-off policy during your time as a diral - what do you think would happen when you leave the isolation? This male would be difficult to explain to your caste Elders, and they could opt to disqualify you because you did recruit outside help. Furthermore, I have no idea what would happen to him as well, and while we may put his talent to a productive use, it could very much be possible that with everyone else he might end up in a lab. And... perhaps you as well, to find out how the contact to the male changed you."

For the first time, Coldfire's thoughts cut into Argent's.

'She does make a valid point. There's no guarantee that Natan would receive a hospitable treatment even from our Elders. We hoped he would, but it was never sure. She makes it sound like that the Mizol might be our better bet.'

"But... indulge an old woman. I'd dearly like to see that strange male of yours, if only to make sure that he is alive and well. Our Listel made it a mission to learn about everything she could from the sample of his blood, and if he is not well, maybe she could already give pointers on what medicine might be suitable for his biochemistry."

"That Listel that shot him?!", Copperspike bursted out.

"She regretted her deed deeply as soon as she was back on the station. She ... looked up to Nelonial, but her making herself shoot the male made Coral lose the respect she held for Nelonial. This is her way to try to make amends."

'Natan gave me some pointers on how to 'read' persons even without sanzai... And she genuinely regrets how things have gone this way. She honestly fears that he is indeed dead and wishes us to assuage her worries', Coldfire supplied.

Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:50 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

‘Snow, can you please check on Natan and Poisoned Claw?’.

Argent took a deep breath and looked at the torimor without saying anything.

Leaning on the backend of her stick, Bastal in turn observed the white haired leader and nodded at her.
The only sound in the background was the crackling of the fire.

The girl had appeared a walkover but she had a great team around her. Obviously she had to learn how to deal with dirty tricks and snake pits populated by Loroi such as herself, but it had been a revelation to see how she handled dissent within the group. Tolerance for a reasonable amount of pushback by the other initiates was amongst the rarest of leadership styles you’d see at this level.

353 tozon ago Bastal's own diral leader had been a tyrant that had surrounded herself with copies of herself. Still regretting that she had been one of those, she remembered all too well how the initiates of her group had barely survived the trials. Upon return most of them had been severely malnourished, all of them demoralised and in a sorry state. The group’s leadership evaluation had been devastating and - after the fact - their mentors had showed how many things had gone wrong from a group dynamics point of view. The damage had already been done though and time had never fully healed all wounds that period had burned in her soul.

Staring into the fire and feeling somber she sighed.

It was glaringly obvious that this diral was in a far better shape. It's initiates were confident and they clearly prospered. All things considered, she could have wrapped it up without much thought, but her gut feeling had told her to personally check it out and she was glad she had.

‘Natan and Posioned Claw are underway’ reported Snow.

‘How’s he doing?’

‘Looking pale and tired’

‘Tell them not to rush’

‘They already told me it will take a while’

‘Can someone help to organise a seat for them?’

In a silent choreography two girls stepped forward into the circle of light and moved one of the beams closer to Argent and Bastal, in between the two of them.

Nothing could be read from either of their faces until Argent broke the silence:

“Torimor, would you like another bowl of tea?”

“I’d love to, thank you”.

“It may take a while before they’re here”

“I understand, we are not in a rush”.

“How is your nose Torimor?”

“I think it is fine, bleeding has stopped”.

Then, looking more cheerful than a few moments earlier Bastal looked up at Copperspike.
“Thank you for the handkerchief.”

Copperspike responded with the slightest hint of a smile.

'They're now coming Argent'

‘Thank you Snow'

Leaning on Poisoned Claw Natan manoeuvred towards the light of the fire pit. After landing on the log, he unceremoniously used both hands to help stretch his leg forward. Poisoned Claw positioned herself behind him as a support to prevent him from falling over. She held her hands on his shoulders. To Bastal it looked as necessary as it appeared intimate.

Sweat pearled on his forehead and feeling out of breath Nathan made sure he was well seated before locking his blue eyes on Bastal.

In perfect Loroi trade he then said, “Good evening, it’s good to meet you.”

Bastal, visibly shaken by his appearance found some comfort in reciprocating the courtesy.
She added “My rank and spoken name are Torimor Bastal”.

“My full name is Nathaniel Hutchins. My friends call me Natan”.

While his full name had unfamiliar sounding phonemes, Bastal found the given name easy to remember.

“What does Natan mean?” the Torimor asked.

“My mother once told me it means gift of god”.

“You are a gift, it suits you well.”

“Thank you Torimor.”

“May I use your given name?”

“Yes, call me Natan”

“Thank you Natan”

The Mizol looked worried and pointed at his leg. “Is your wound clean, any signs of infection?”

“The wound is fresh. By tomorrow I should expect some fever”.

Copperspike standing next to the Mizol added, “Blood-loss our first worry. Then the bullet lodged in the leg, close to his femural artery. We removed it and closed the wound. Sterile as far as we can manage to do that here.”

Firebrand completed the picture, “No Loroi pain relief or antibiotics used. It might kill him”.

A silence fell as Bastal thought about that. Proposing a new challenge now appeared painfully foolish. She shook her head.

Argent raised her hand to attract the Mizol’s attention.

“It's of course tempting to deal with the one that is responsible for shooting Natan, but we may not have the time or zeal to play wargames”.

“Yes, I can now see why”.

The Torimor appeared on the brink of calling in the best care the Loroi empire would be able to provide, but held back.

“Natan” she started, “I really want to prevent you getting ill. I also want to keep you together with your friends.
 We have two options: stay here on Deinar and call-in the one who was ordered to shoot you to provide you with medical help, or we arrange to transport you off of Deinar to which you most likely won't return any time soon. I can make this decision for you, but feel this choice is best left up to you.”

“Torimor Bastal, I want to be here and with your team when they investigate the timo Soia”.

Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:15 pm

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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

"Is there something amiss?", Nathanial asked after a few moments.

Bastal sighed. "You have to excuse me if I stare. But you look ... different from what I expected and how you were described in the debriefings. This is your natural looks, I presume, and the away team saw a disguise?"

Nathanial looked at his own hand. The coloring had been washed off in the meantime, and Poisoned Claw used the headband as a compression bandage to stem his blood loss.

And she almost never left his side ever since. Even now he felt her shape in his back, giving him support where his propped up leg shifted him off-balance.

"Vendi Berries. Boiled and strained, the extract made for a rich blue colour. And this....", there he gestured to his ears, "... the headband covered parts of it, so they never guessed."

"Still it is eerie how similar you look like our males. Larger, sure, more muscular, alright. We have discovered a number of different species so far, all vastly different in their looks. Finding one that looks that close to us is definitely a first and will be the focus of quite some interest."

"Torimor Bastal...", Argent cut in, "Please be aware that his people have little to no technology to speak of, and a rather rudimentary understanding of astronomy - the idea of other sapient species is one of belonging into the realm of myth and legends."

"Truly?", Bastal was taken aback, measuring Nathanial with renewed surprise, "Please, do start at the beginning. Starting with the time you realized that you were not at home... or better, even before that. When you noticed that something was unusual."

Nathanial exchanged a look with Argent, one Bastal was sure was laced with sanzai.

I dearly hope they will come to trust me enough to drop that Lotai of theirs. It is disconcerting to see them all, and not sense them or their thoughts. No wonder the away team panicked, especially once he showed up with a pack of vicious animals in tow. Is that another ability of his, to command base animals to do his biddings?

"I am not sure if this is how it began. I was on a hunting trip away from my family's homestead, and a distant rumbling let me think of thunder, but now I'm not so sure if it hadn't been something different. I remember walking through some dense fog... and ending up in this strange land where nothing looked anything like what I remember", Nathanial summed it up.

A slight frown told everyone that Bastal might have expected more than this. "And then?"

"I was on my own. For... quite a long time. More than two tozons, by my counting. My provisions didn't last forever, so I had to learn everything from scratch. What I could eat and what gave me horrible stomach pains. I searched and searched, but there was nothing here that looked familiar to me. Trees, yes, grass, yes, but they looked different. And then, they happened to come across the clearing and the cabin I built for myself."

Argent hung her head, eyes lowered. "He tried to defend his home from an intruder, which, technically, I was."

"Imagine my shock on noticing that I injured a girl. That was nothing compared to when I realized that she was blue skinned, pointy eared and bleeding blue. For you this might be quite ordinary, but I had never seen suchlike so far."

Bastal tilted her head, eyebrow raised. She was sure there's much more to their tale, but both Natan and Argent were hestitant... ashamed, perhaps? ... to share it. But something else in his words clamored for her attention.

"Wait. More than two tozons, alone? By the time you should have succumbed to the Flames..."

Argent hastened to cut in. "Seems humans don't suffer from this. Please do not make the same mistake we did - we assumed that they are quite much like us, and in many things they are, but there still are some big differences."

"I see", Bastal relented, "this might be a topic for another time. But... try not to get annoyed when we ask questions about your people", she directed towards Nathanial, "you are as strange and curious to us than we might be to you, and every question we ask may tell us something about ourselves and would only lead to a better understanding. Yet the question remains, how you came here, or rather, what brought you here without you noticing?"

"This Soia ruin, you surmise." Nathanial supplied.

Bastal nodded. "The Soia were ... ancient people, coming long before us, and they ruled over a vast empire. But the nature with any government is, without decent transportation, an empire can only grow to a certain size until it starts to fray at the edges. And, the Soia Empire was larger than ... the modes of travel, as we know, would allow for. It should have collapsed on itself, but it didn't. And you being here in Deinar may be the proof of such a transportation system... something that had you take just a step to get from your planet ... what do you call it, by the way? ... on to Deinar."

Nathanial counted himself lucky to have had several glimpses into Argent's mind and knowledge, else Bastal would have surely lost him partway through her explanation. But even now he was sure that she redacted her words, for the sake of comprehension.

"Earth. We call it Earth. But ... if you are right, wouldn't that mean, that this transportation system is on Earth, too? Another set of Soia ruins? And that this Soia Empire included it as well?"

"Likely. But that's something we're intent to find out... and if we can discern the nature of this transportation system and if we can make use of it." Bastal admitted.

Argent swiftly met his gaze with her own, rather sorrowful one.

Of course his thoughts would turn towards the possibility of a way back. And it looks like our esteemed diral leader wouldn't be all too happy about this prospect. She seems to have become quite infatuated with this alien - she and this dark-haired initiate - Poisoned Claw? - who didn't let him go the whole time, and by the looks of it, the majority of this diral.

Is it just him being the first male they had extensive contact to? Sure, there is some rugged charm to him, but that can't be everything there is to that. Perhaps this is connected to how this diral is well-off even under adverse conditions, and this Lotai of theirs. Somehow he garnered their respect, and now I'm sure they'd react poorly on any attempt to separate them... it's either all of them or none of them.

"Then, how do we go from here?", Argent prompted.

"First, I would still like to have Listel Tozet Coral have a look at his wound. She deems it unlikely for an infection to set in, given his different biology, but if there is even just one way to accelerate the healing, I'd gladly take it. And, as said, without Nelonial's influence, she deeply regrets what she had done and would like to have the chance to atone for her transgressions."

"Especially Firebrand and Copperspike won't take it lightly if someone else butts into their work."

"Granted", Bastal relented, "have them double-check Tozet Coral's work if they feel inclined to. Since she's no Doranzer, perhaps she'd like to discuss treatments with them on her own volition as well. From what I see, your two initiates did do outstanding field medic work, given the circumstances."

"That was the first. What's next?", Argent followed up.

"We still wish to investigate the Soia ruins. Preferably together with Natan, if, and only if he can safely travel. 'We', that would include myself, Lennai Songbird, Tozet Coral and Ranzadi Neat - and, by your wish, yourself and some initates at your choosing. I'd offer you a lift to the ruins by shuttle as well, but I'd understand if you are hestitant to take me up on this offer and choose to travel by your own means."

"All this trouble because of these ruins", Argent groused.

"Not quite. Had Nelonial chosen to not to bother you with that message of hers but simply airdropped the team onto the ruins, we all might have been none the wiser... well, until perhaps you had chanced across the away team in search for more meteorite iron. But, I am sure we can turn this burning latrine into something that is beneficial to all of us."

Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:35 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
“Allow me to confer with my fellows,” Argent replied.

“Of course, take your time,” said Bastal.

The old mizol needed a moment to think on the entirety situation. She had perhaps understated things when she had said that Natan would be a person of interest to the Loroi Union.

To say that Deinar, Taben and Perrein were the sister worlds of the Union was a most apt metaphor. Like family, the sister worlds had fought bitterly against one another in the Splinter Wars. Though she had not lived in those times, she had lived in the aftermath of the conflict, often being assigned to various zones and provinces that had fallen to anarchy, ruin, or delusions of independence.

Bastal had dueled pirate queens and brought down cartels that had thrived in ruin and decay, she’d killed traitors that harbored the dream of rebellion and put down more than a few Torrai who had thought to bide their time and restart the splinter wars when the time was right, and if there was one thing she knew, it was that unity of the Union had a price in steeped in blood and piled high atop a mountain of corpses.

Through all of that, the single most effective tool to unite otherwise bitter and recalcitrant enemies hadn’t been the weight of a gun, nor had it been the force of personality that Loremark had possessed, ‘Tempest Reborn’ as some of her more loyal subordinates sometimes styled her as at the time.

No, what had cemented the unity of the Union were ideas. The idea of inheritance. The idea of their great heritage. The idea that they were the last descendants of the Soia Empire. The idea that their inherent telepathy raised them above the other species in the universe, that they were special, that they had a grand destiny to restore what was lost and make it greater than ever before.

Ideas had helped to build the Union into what it had become… and ideas could also bring it down. The idea that the Seren sector was mistreated. The idea that Perrein was merely the junior partner to Deinar and Taben. The idea that the current Emperor was weak. The idea that one sector plotted against the other, that governors were more sovereign than their own sovereign… all held at bay by the idea that unity was the path to their former greatness.

Natan was a threat to that idea. If the Loroi were merely another species, mirrored and uplifted by the Soia, then the Loroi had no grand destiny. There was no empire to restore, no reason that they were a step above all the other species, and no reason to believe that they were special.

Bastal had no particular attachment to the ideals of Loroi superiority. The ideal served the purpose of suppressing their desire for conflict, and so it was useful. Natan was a threat to that ideal, but she was not so short-sighted as to simply have him killed to preserve a comforting lie.

Others, however, she was not so certain of. Some of her superiors would not hesitate to have Natan killed to preserve the ideal of their superiority. Others would go further, likely going as far as to have his species wiped from existence. Others still would take solace in such, seeing it as an opportunity to find further common ground with the Barsam and other Soia-Liron species, to say nothing of the kinship they’d feel towards these humans.

And by that same token, Natan was as much an opportunity as he was a threat. Here in front of her was their template species, and the only other telepaths in existence. She envied these young girls in front of her for having the opportunity to properly communicate with an alien in such a way, and she was excited and fascinated to see how human telepathy had diverged from loroi telepathy. What they could learn and gain from even a few moments of contact was something she would have happily killed for, if it turned out to be necessary.

Finally, she mused upon more pragmatic matters; how to make use of all this. Everyone had her use under her command, and as she had learned long ago, one did not dispose of people or tools that remained useful. Nelonial, in spite of her failings, was still useful to Bastal. Her punishments would be severe, but she could not simply get rid of her like she would something that was merely useless.

She could already envision Natan’s uses. With a perfect lotai at his disposal, and his already demonstrated ability to extend that to others, she could imagine stealth assault squads hitting at dissidents without warning. She could envision courier vessels invisible to farseers crossing borders, untraceable assassins, and even simple stealth recon missions.

Yes, she could definitely use him for what was to come. This was not the only soroin group going through their time of trials on Deinar. Their clan was perhaps more traditional than most, but tens of thousands were undergoing such trials already with numbers trending towards the millions in the near future, and all were slated to have time with a male at the end of their trials.

Such a buildup of personnel bespoke of only one thing: war. As it stood however, their neighbours were mostly friendly and the mannadi were mostly pacified. This fact, amongst the more disturbing rumours from the middle colonies and the periphery, had sent icy shivers down Bastal’s spine more than once and kept her from restful sleep in her old age.

The Union was headed for another splinter war. She could feel it in her bones. These young girls had been isolated from the politics of the Union, partly because of their clan, but also partly because it was the role of the young to disdain politics, but nonetheless, they were not immune from such politics.

If they stayed the course, Bastal had no doubt they would soon find themselves in a new series of splinter wars between the Sister Worlds and their various colonial sectors, most of them would die, and the few that lived would live brutish lives of eternal conflict. She had lived in the aftermath of such a conflict. She had studied intensely as to the hows and the whys of it, if only to understand why the world was as it was.

But the world could be changed. She had seen it change. She had made it change. She would see to it that this war would be prevented, and if not prevented, then made as short and bloodless as possible. It had been the core of her motivation in trying to find the ancient Soia transport system in the first place.

If such a thing were to be found, then the distance between the colonies and the core sectors would become effectively nil, which would spur reforms, end the Axis system of sectorial governance, and remove the possibility of such a conflict, to say nothing of the advantage it would give to the Union over any potential enemies. And if such a conflict were truly inevitable, then such a transportation system would become an insurmountable strategic edge over any other contenders and end the conflict all the sooner.

Natan wouldn’t be the strategic edge she desired, but he was definitely useful in a tactical sense. Making use of his people if they could be reached would change such a thing to a strategic advantage, but failing that, she had to settle for him, and this diral he’d apparently attached himself quite thoroughly to.

They already had a rapport and familiarity with Natan, one that she had no intention of breaking so long as she could use it to use Natan in turn. The key in making use of Natan then was to turn Argent’s diral to her cause and make them subordinate to her. Not easy given Nelonial’s blunder, but not impossible either, all it would take would be to present the correct information and the proper use of manipulation to get them seeing things her way.

And that in turn begged a few questions. What were their clans politics? How would they feel about being raised to fight other loroi? Could they see the honour in preventing a war with a few well placed words instead of endless bloodshed? Their apparent isolation from and ignorance of politics was certainly a boon in manipulating them, she wouldn’t even have to lie, a thought that gave no end of amusement for Bastal.

She watched them as they conferred animatedly via sanzai. An angry retort, a mirthful remark, a conciliatory question, all such and more flowed between the members of the group, and all centered on Argent who either silenced with a look or encouraged with a gesture, sent a counterpoint with a stance, and considered matters with shift in her posture.

Watching others was what made Bastal truly excellent at being mizol, and the more she watched the diral discuss amongst themselves, the more convinced she was that Argent was the linchpin she needed to convince to get the rest to see things her way. Convince Argent, and the diral would follow. If the diral followed, then Natan would follow, unless they made contact with his people, in which case she’d have less need for the diral and her plans would change.

The discussion came to an abrupt end as Argent approached Bastal.

“Torimor, we’ve come to a decision,” began Argent, “we accept your proposals with a few conditions.”

“Name them,” replied Bastal.

“Nelonial is not to make contact with Natan under any conditions, wherever Natan goes he must have at least four of us as armed escorts, and he must not be taken offworld unless his life is in grave danger,” stated Argent.

“You understand that if he should require medical care aboard my station it may be difficult to enforce the first of your conditions?” Replied Bastal.

Argent made a face at the notion, clearly unhappy.

“I counter-offer that if Nelonial should make any contact with Natan, that she will be unarmed and will do so only in the presence of your selected escorts. Will that be satisfactory?”

Argent looked over her shoulder at the rest of the diral before nodding her assent.

“Good, then I will signal Coral to come down and will agree to your conditions, on one condition of my own,” said Bastal.

Argent’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, her stance becoming tense.

“Which is?” she pressed.

Bastal held out her hand expectantly.

“That we have a proper exchange instead of using words.”


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Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:25 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Argent hesitated to take the offered hand. Direct contatct with a Mizol had been a daunting prospect even for her aunts back home. To Argents knowledge, none of her family ever even had to make semi legal deals with one either. But Bastal seemed open and honest enough and she had already seen Natan, so how much worse could it get?

As Argent firmly grasped the hand, the Dirals Sanzai chatter surrounding them stopped. Every single pair of eyes and ears focused on the two of them. The only ones still sending were those relaying what was happening to the outer watchposts around the camp. Since those send privately to single individuals, the silence around Argent was near complete. For one long, arduous moment the anticipation that kept the Diral still, stretched out around them.

The moment didn't end for now. Bastals hand felt warm and real enough in Argents. There she was, in Argents mind, the older Mizol and her thoughts and emotions. It was all clear to Argent; this woman hadn't come to deceive and not once spoke a lie this evening. If she was deceitful, it was beyond Argent to notice.

Bastal felt loud and clear in her mind when she send. „Hello, Argent. Can you drop your Lotai now?“

„Yes, I am here, Bastal. What do you mean?“ Argent answered.

While Argent waited for Bastal, she was able to muster the face of the Mizol. Confusion and growing annoyance played across it. Hadn't the Mizol heard her?

„Please, as amusing as this game was, do drop your Lotai.“

„There is no Lotai I can drop, Bastal.“ Argent send back with more force. Couldn't she hear her at all?

„We're on the same side. Really.“ came from Bastal with a hint of trepidation and a healthy dose of disdain for teenagers.

„I hear you!“ Argent practically shouted at Bastal. Usually her sending was stronger than this. She hoped that the Mizol was just getting deaf in her old age.

Copperspike and others immediately send her questions on why she was shouting so loud. Argent had to remind herself to not let her own worries creep out into the larger group so much, as the already strained situation became quite a bit more tense.

Bastals patience had also become strained as she switched back into verbal communication.
„Is there an issue we need to clear up before you drop your Lotai, Argent?“ she asked.

Argent was just about to blurt out to the Torimor that she wasn't keeping up any Lotai when Coldfire stopped her with a warning. „Don't tell her! She thinks we're doing this Lotai ourselfes.“

„It's complicated and new to us ourselfes, Bastal.“ Argent managed as cover.

Bastal seemed to evaluate her words for a moment, the thoughts Argent received from her hand sounded all like harmless musings about the current situation. Then, suddenly, Argents eyelids snapped shut. When she had managed to force them open again by lots of angry blinking, Bastal let go of her hand.

„Sorry about that, just a test.You can receive but don't send. I suspected something like this. When did this Lotai start?“

„Shortly after Natan was shot.“ Argent replied sounding less confident than she would have liked.

The Mizol gave her a surprised look. „He taught you this technique while wounded?“

With that question, Argent was caught. She wasn't shrewd enough to hide her expression in time and Bastal didn't bother to keep that knowledge out of hers. With a heavy feeling Argent sought for something to say, but came up empty. The only saving grace she was able to think of was how genuine Bastal had felt, sending before. Argent made the effort to send this bit to her Diral to answer their mental groans.

The Mizol continued. „You know as much as I do. Let's work the problem together. Is there a range on this Lotai?“

„A couple of hundred meters. We don't know how much as „

„As you can all send to each other.“ Bastal finished her sentence for her. The Mizol had begun to walk from left to right in front of her, evidently in thought. She now spoke more to the whole Diral than to Argent, the whole matter being treated by Bastal now more like an academic subject at the academy than anything else. The absurdity did a lot to dispel any sense of danger that the Mizol still gave off.

„And because you can all still send to each other now, you can't test it either. Or you would have noticed that you turned mute.“

„Mute?“ Argent asked.

„This morning I was still able to send and receive just fine, thank you.“ Bastal answered with mock hurt. „A few hundred meters centered around what anyway?“

Caught again, thought Argent. That Mizol seemed to miss nothing. Argent resolved to better learn quickly or she'd have to hand over talking to somebody more capable at it than her.

„Around Natan.“ Argent admitted.

„Wait, Natan is keeping up this Lotai?“

„It seems so, Torimor.“

„That's....not good. An effect this strong and this big must be a strain on him. It's important that we begin having a proper look at him, for his health if for nothing else. I'll call in Tozet Coral now.“

"You agree to have us continue our Diral then?"

"Yes, you seem an able bunch and pleasantly interested in Natans well being."

Coral arrived shortly afterwards. There was a roar in the night sky, a focused bright light and a quick rappel from Coral completed her sporty entrance.

She was tall, Argent saw. One of the tallest Loroi she had ever seen in fact. She wore an infantry uniform even though she must have come down from space and her curled hair was now recognizable pink in the bright floodlight of the dropship. Coral wore a duffel bag over her shoulder, which she hefted around as soon as she had hit ground. Her gaze shifted from person to person full of suspicion.

After the roar of the engines of the withdrawing dropship had subsided, Argent and the Diral heard Coral speak for the first time. It was directed at Bastal, but spoken loud enough for the clearing to hear.

„Why can't I sense anybody?“

„You're here to find that out, Tozet. The effect is caused by Natan.“ Bastal informed her. „Follow these two, Copperspike and Firebrand. They will show you to him.“ she said while pointing at the two named Loroi who were each more than a head shorter than Coral.

The Listel curtly turned away from Bastal and towards Copperspike and Firebrand. Argent still stood next to Bastal, so Coral had turned her back on her as well without so much as a greeting.
„Show me to him then.“ she said to the two.

„Coral.“ Bastal called out again.

„Torimor?“ the Listel asked neutrally.

„Coral, this isn't a combat zone. There is no need to be armed. Hand me your knife.“ Bastal ordered. Argent then noticed the knife Coral wore on her lower back, almost fully hidden by the bag. Had she wanted to hide it from the Diral? If so, this Coral needed to be watched closely. A thought she immediately passed along to Copperspike.

„Torimor, I am to meet an alien of unknown disposition for data gathering. Protocol is clear on this.“ Coral protested.

„Listel Tozet, his disposition is known. It's ..friendly.. Your knife.“

This direct order form Bastal resolved the conflict and Argent relaxed a bit when she saw Coral remove the knife with hilt from her back and toss it to Bastal. She then turned without a single word, leaving the circle of light cast by their fire.

This was a strange way to make amends, judged Argent.

Nathan sat on his bed with his bad leg lifted up and the other half on the ground. He was leaning against the wall of his woodhut and tried to convince Poisoned Claw that he didn't need a blanket for the moment. The cool night air actually felt good on his wound. That awful roar of one of these planes made him jerk up his head. This time the noise was closer, and seemed to hover in the air for a while, before retreating back into the night again with vanishing thunder.

Poisoned Claw let the blanket that she was holding drop.. „Copperspike and Firebrand are bringing this Coral here.“ Her reassuring smile she showed him was all but, Nathan thought.

„The Listel?“ he asked. Most of the castes were still new to him.

„Yes, she'll have a look at your wound. I'm sure she'll make you feel better. Bastal said Coral feels really bad about that.“ Poisoned Claw told him just as the door opened and Copperspike and Firebrand entered. They were followed in by a Loroi with pink hair, wearing a kind of blue and white uniform Nathan had never seen before. There were also dim golden lights glowing on her uniform. Signs of her rank, as Poisoned Claw quickly supplied via sending.

Coral put down a duffel bag with an audible thump on the rough floor. The first thing after she did, was to sniff the air loudly.
„Is this coming from his wound or is that normal?“ she asked noone in particular.

„It's normal.“ Copperspike said with narrowed eyes. But neither of the three Diral members met Nathans gaze for a moment.

„Loroi are often very direct.“ Poisoned Claw explained to him.

Coral had by then opened her bag and gotten thin looking gloves and a paper mask. She put the mask and two pairs of gloves on, before getting out a grey board and moving closer to Nathan.

Nathan didn't like how this Coral mustered him from head to toe. She had the same dispassionate, calculating look in her eye he had once seen on a livestock trader when his father had taken him to the market.

„Listel Tozet Coral.“ she said. „I am here to give you a check up. Hold still.“

Nathan did as Coral kneeled down and mustered his wound. She took his leg in both her hands and turned it around as if to muster it from all sides. Her gloved hands felt strange on his leg. He had never before seen such a material. It was barely familiar to the cloth from which Loroi clothes were made.

„Who dressed this wound?“ she asked.

„Firebrand assisted me in taking out the bullet and closing the wound.“ Copperspike answered from over the Listels shoulder.

„I see.“ Coral said, while she held the grey board against his leg. Nathan realised that it must be some kind of Loroi technology as she saw a light begin to illuminate Corals face. His two medics both leaned over to watch what Coral was doing. Nathan tried to see for himself too. What he saw looked like part of a bone surrounded by grey and black.

„I see.“ repeated Coral. „Do you see this dark grey blob here? That's where his wound is. Have you regularly drained the wound?“

„We took out the bullet, cleaned it and then closed it.“ informed her Firebrand.

„I thought so. This wound would have healed shut very quickly otherwise. There's a minor problem.“

„Which is?“ asked Copperspike.

„The wound's healing from the top. Meaning the pus aggregates. You need to make sure the wound heals from the inside out. That's easily corrected. Hand me my operating bag.“

Copperspike went to get the bag. The prospect of facing another operation didn't sit well with Nathan and he shuffled nervously on the bed, involuntarily drawing himself away. The memory of the last time was still too fresh. Poisoned Claw squeezed his shoulders reassuringly.

„Did you bring narcotics this time, Tozet?“ Firebrand hesitantly asked.

„No.“ was Corals answer. Then she added as if in an afterthought. „Without proper tissue samples we don't know what works on this alien.“

„Well, if you think it's necessary. What will you do, Coral?“ Nathan addressed the Listel for the first time directly. In response she turned to look at him directly, still appraising him. But at least this time she looked him into the eye.

„Bastals orders are to make sure your wound is safe. This isn't strictly necessary. The worst that can happen if left alone should be an uncomfortable but not threatening abscess. But...I need tissue and pus samples anyway. So I will reopen your wound now, clean it, put in a small tube for drainage and some material to stop it from closing.“

Nathan saw Coral then open up a bag given to her by Copperspike. Inside were several metal instruments, knifes, pliers, a saw and similar. She took out one of the knifes and made a move as to start operating. Involuntarily, Nathan grasped the blanket he sat upon and leaned back into Poisoned Claw.

„Wait, you want to start just like that?“ Copperspike asked with her mouth hanging open.

„Oh yes. Hand me that spray can from my bag too. It'll freeze the skin and numb the nerves there. Should alleviate the pain. How forgetful of me.“

Anger welled up in Poisoned Claw who still held him firmly and not uncomfortably. Nathan puzzled a bit over it. Forgetting something like this seemed like a real oversight. But then Coral seemed very averse to actually talking to him. Maybe, he thought remembering Bastals words, she just doesn't know how to deal with guilt and is nervous. If what Nathan had heard was true, their physical similarity was also a big issue amongst Loroi. Considering the circumstances, forgetting something was easy to do.

The spray really did help. It made the skin on his leg feel very cold and Coral deftly cut his wound open during her window of opportunity. Nathan still supressed a yelp of pain and curled his toes and fingers up, but he'd been through worse and the pain faded quickly. Coral cleaning his wound was less painful but felt worse. She used a piece of what looked like cotton and pliers to get the pus out. Then she stuffed a plastic tube and another cotton piece into the wound and bound it again with bandages from her bag. All the while Copperspike and Firebrand peered over Corals shoulder full of worry and suspicion.

„There, done. Clean the wound at least once every two days and change the cloth daily. Every couple of days put the cloth in a bit shallower.“ Coral explained to Copperspike afterwards.

„How long do you think this will take?“ she got asked by Copperspike.

„Hard to say how much worse he is than a Loroi. Maybe a month?“ Even Nathan started to feel annoyed with Coral. That sounded like a clear insult. But hadn't Argent explained to him that spoken language was unusual to many Loroi? Maybe she hadn't meant it like that.

„Ok, now I'm going to take a hair sample, a tongue scraping and blood sample from you.“ she addressed him again directly with that statement. While he didn't know how a blood sample was taken, he was pretty sure that people usually asked for it.

A few of his hairs, torn out with roots were quickly gathered and stowed away in a clear container. Coral then turned back to him with a small brush in her hand under the watchful eyes of Copperspike.

„Open up your mouth and stick your tongue out.“ Coral prompted him. He followed that prompt but did so only reluctantly.

When next she turned back to him, she had a needle and two empty vials in her hand. Nathan shifted on his bed, moving to a fully upright position.

„Put out your arm.“ she demanded of him.

„No! You've been avoiding it but you owe me an apology.“ Nathan told her.

„For what?“ she flatly asked.

He gesticulated at his bandaged leg. „For shooting me!“

„You realise I only shot you in the leg because Nelonial ordered me to?“

„You are still the one who pulled the trigger. You can't just put all responsibility on your orders!“

Coral didn't answer. She sat down on the bed beside Nathan and took off her mask. Nathan realised that the Listel needed some time and so send to the other Loroi in the room to give her that time and let Coral speak.

„Look, I'm a Listel. If you want nice words speak to Bastal, Nelonial or Songbird. I can only offer you honesty.“

„Honesty is good.“ Nathan prompted her to go on.

„Fine.“ she shrugged her shoulders. „What did you expect to happen that night?“

„I didn't expect to get shot!“ he said angrily, realising that no apology was coming.

„Is your intellect typical for your species?“

„What? Are you serious?“ he asked her before his anger could catch up to his ears.

„Are you quick witted or slow for your people?“

„What does that have to do with anything?“ Nathan heard himself grow louder but infuriatingly, Coral remained completely unconcerned. She still mustered him with the same impersonal interest she had shown from the beginning.

„This,“ she pointed at his bullet wound, „is the consequence of your actions. Identifying as a savage invading our lands, threatening us, using poison on us would have made any Loroi a criminal. And then you appear next to us within pistol range believing a bunch of animals stops Loroi warriors? You should be grateful a Mizol was in command that night.“

„You honestly expect me to thank Nelonial?“

„My old Ragan wouldn't have ordered me to lower my aim.“ she stated and then rose. While what she had said sunk in, Coral packed her duffel bag again.

„I think you better go now, Coral. My friends won't like hearing what you just said.“ Nathan told her.

Already in the door, Coral turned one more time.

„Whatever. Since we're honest to each other, let me give you one piece of advice. Take whatever offer you can get from Bastal. Amongst these Loroi you light up on thermal imaging like a candle. It won't be long until others know you're here. If you're lucky, it will be a zoo keeper.“

Then she was gone, leaving behind only a pack of bandages and some of that cloth.

Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:13 pm

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

"Now listen here!" Nathanial raised his voice, and it took both Argent and Poisoned Claw to keep him in place to not to aggravate his wound, but it was enough for Coral to show up in the doorframe again, visibly annoyed.

"Where I come from, every man, woman and child has to defend their home against savages and raiders. If we don't do, we'd be killed, simple as that. For about two years I lived here on my own and as far as I looked, there was no living soul and this land looked as good as unclaimed. Then there is this diral which in itself planned to be here only temporary, and then your bunch showed up on the scene with something as good as an eviction notice."

Coral fully turned towards him, with an expression that clearly stated "get to the point."

"So I did what every good American has to do - defend the homestead and everything he holds dear. Want it or not, that includes these ladies now. You should be lucky that these traps were designed to harass you, with a few spikes or a different concoction they could easily have KILLED you, one by one. You could have turned around on your trek through your forest and noticed your rearguard missing, without you none the wiser. But I didn't."

"The arianesin posed a lethal danger. We reacted with equal force.", Coral stated.

"Equal force would be just to shoot them, and not them and me.", Nathanial countered.

"It was on Nelonial's orders.", she repeated her prior words.

Argent felt his muscles tensing and redoubled her efforts to keep him in check. She was sure Nathanial would have jumped up and things would become physical, open wound and draining tube be damned.

"'I was following orders' was NEVER an excuse in our military, and never will be! Base soldiers can be tried for war crimes they committed, together with their officers. My father should know, and he taught me to tell right from wrong!"

Coral blinked once, twice, with a pensive look on her face.

"Males have to defend their homes?" She asked after a while.

Thrown into a loop by her unexpected question, Nathanial's ire evaporated, mostly.

"Men, women, even children if there's need to. Basically everyone capable of holding a gun."

Another blink of her eyes. Nathanial realized that Coral might have even more difficulties to accept that males can be fighters than Argent and the rest of the diral had.

"I... see", she started haltingly, "you did what you had to do. As did I. Want to place blame? Blame Nelonial. But ... stay strong. You'll need it."

With that, Coral turned on her heel, finally leaving for good.

'Bastal said that she regretted her actions. Either she was sorely mistaken or she outright lied to us.', Nathanial sent, his thoughts having a dark undertone.

'I'm sure Coral has her share of regrets. Were her infractions any larger, she would have shaved her head in shame. Nelonial on the other hand - if we ever see her again, it is likely she sports a new haircut.'

'Uh... I'm missing something here', Nathanial puzzledly sent, 'what does your hairdo do with it?'

'Oh. Right. It never came up.' Argent tried at a bit of levity. 'The length of the hair denotes the honor the bearer earned. And if a warrior feels she has shamed herself or because of a severe transgression, it is cut off. Or ordered to be cut off. As a visible sign to the others. So by the length of Bastal's hair you can see that she has an unblemished track record.'

'Isn't that a bit impractical? Father told me that soldiers often cut their hair, so that their enemies can't grab and pull it back to slice the jugular with a knife.'

Argent smiled. 'If someone comes that close to achieve this, something has gone seriously wrong. Or the warrior would deserve this fate for her lack of situational awareness.'

Nathanial winced. 'Harsh.'

'Oh, and for something different - please do know that Coral might not have even seen a male for considerable time, much less having to give medical treatment to one or even just be in one's company for a prolonged period. And there you gave the whole away team quite a show at their camp, and before.' Argent sent.

'What? You don't mean...'

Poisoned Claw cut in, for the first time.

'Come now. You already know what effect you have on us. It's likely the same with Coral, only that she hides it much better by staying focused on the task at hand and her own regrets and anger.'

Nathanial shook his head. 'I don't know whether I should find this thought endearing or scary.'

Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:52 pm
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)

The arianesin kept returning to the clearing expecting food and Bastal was looking at how diral members were throwing skinned hoppers over the ditch into the huge mauls.

Blissfull grunts and smacking sounds came from the dark which made it quite a spectacle and Bastal was intrigued by the behaviour of the two matriarchs that made sure the food was equally distributed amongst the cubs. Somehow she felt happy witnessing this strange feeding ceremony.

Sensing that Coral was approaching Bastal turned around. It soothed her that sanzai was possible with her own crew even though she clearly felt the listel was in a foul mood. As usual Bastal hid her own feelings inviting the listel to report.

Patched it up. It’s lucky to be alive. The doranzer girls did a good job.’ was her terse comment.

Bastal chuckled, ‘I take it that.. he.. is well enough to complain that you have shot him?

Says he could have picked us off and killed the entire away team.

Yes, it doesn’t require a listel to analyse how that could’ve played out.’

Bastal turned towards the arianesin again.

Just look at these animals and also check the crossbows the initiates are carrying.

Bastal pointed at the initiates that were now feeding more than a dozen cubs.

These kids master this terrain and are armed to the teeth. They have also found an effective way to deliver a powerful nerve agent which they can harvest any time they want. They’re capable of organised resistance on the ground. Nelonial was lucky to be defeated in such a gentle way.’

Before Coral could protest Bastal raised her hand to silence her.

I will personally kill you if you let anything happen to the alien. Your mission is to protect him and keep him alive. Understand?’

Coral looked like she was about to curse, then with the sanzai equivalent of a sigh sent her clear affirmation.
After a pause she abruptly changed the subject.

“The timo soia...” she said... the spoken words apparently coming out of nothing sounded strange.

“Yes, we should investigate” responded Bastal. “I proposed a first visit to the site at day brake. We’ll fly over and take the alien with us”

With a sigh Coral looked around and sent ‘where is the diral leader?’

Argent? I don’t know. I still can’t sense anything here, except for those arianesin’.

Bastal sent an image of Argent, adding ‘She should be here on the clearing though’

Fine, I am going to tell her that she must wash the alien before we let it aboard the shuttle’.

Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:32 am
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Posts: 516
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
With a hiss Nelonials office door opened. The room behind was just like she left it when she had called it quits for the day. As orderly as was possible will stacks of supply forms to be checked, personal request orders to be approved, reports on the Kakiri stations sub sections for her to read; it all piled up on her desk and the surrounding area in shaky piles. All there just to keep her busy, with warm regards from Torimor Bastal.

The one thing that had changed was Coral, who was sitting nonchalantly in a chair in front of her desk. As Nelonial made her way to her desk, Coral didn't bother to turn around and neither of the two made telepathic contact.

From behind her desk Nelonial fixed up Coral with eyes still sticky from her recent sleep. As relaxed as Corals content expression looked, the Listel made an overall sorry sight. Her right arm was in a sling, a field dressing. Her face was bloted by dirt and blue blood. The thick weave of her hair still had twigs and pieces of moss in it. Still Coral was born and bred for the infantry and carried herself with dignity. From time to time a telepathic moan of pain comming from the small hospital of the station. Neither Coral or Nelonial acknowledged them.

"Coral, why is there a bunch of kids on Kakiri and why are they in such a poor state?" Nelonial asked at last.

"Commander, the Diral and our unit came into conflict with an expedition of the Northwest Mestirot Prospecting Guild." Coral reported.

"Drop the Commander, I can't deal with that now." Nelonial retorted bluntly. "How can civilians force you to evacuate, Coral?"

"Most of that was the Ragan."

"How do civies get hold of a Teidar?" wanted to know Nelonial.

"From the same place they got military gear and training from, it seems. Nelonial, they knew of Natan. They wanted him."

Nelonial had to take a moment to process the implications. Prospecting guilds were common on Deinar with its landscape dotted richly with Soia era ruins. A salvageable piece of technology was worth a fortune and even a large mass of compressed materials caught a good price. The costs were minor on a planet on which a jeep with a full tank and a couple of spades were enough to get started. But most these guilds were nothing more than fortune seekers who scrounged together a living, following up on rumors. A guild of them having military gear and a Teidar leading them was impossible. But so was the presence of the Lorois progenitor species on Deinar, which they knew about.

"I think those weren't civies, Coral." she sent to the immediate assent of the Listel. "What happened to Songbird?"

"Helped the rest of us to evacuate." Coral answered.

"The Ragan just let you evacuate Natan, their objective?"

"She had her hands full with Bastal. That is until the Arianesin came, Commander."

This time Nelonial let the title slip. She would never get used to it if nobody called her that. Better if it was Coral who saw her flinch the first few times, as the Listel was experienced enough not to tell. Instead Nelonial decided to act like a proper Commander. So she tackled the problem as only the military could. By opening a fresh report file.

"Now, start from the beginning, Tozet."

"Yes, Parat. When Torimor Bastal visited the Diral, she parleyed a joint excursion to the Soia ruin in the area. Two days later after our return to Kakiri station Torimor Bastal, Lennai Songbird, Gallen Ranzadi Neat and I returned down for this excursion."

"Why did you wait two days?" Nelonial asked with split attention between her screen and Coral.

"The alien, Natan, was still wounded. Torimor Bastal agreed to take him along. We returned when he was ambulatory with a crutch." sent Coral dutifully.

"Continue." Nelonial sent still typing.

"We landed an hour after sunrise local time. Because of the terrain we had to rappel straight down into the camp. The Diral was expecting us and had already moved the left behind equipment. While Torimor Bastal and Lennai Songbird talked to the Diral leader and Natan, Neat and I checked the equipment."

"What happened after that?"

"When we were done with the equipment I took Lennai Songbird on a walk along the perimeter that the Diral had constructed. I showed her the traps and defenses built by them."

"They just let you see all their defenses?" asked Nelonial in earnest surprise.

"We were followed by distrustful eyes the whole way. I don't think they grasped the full consequenses of what we did. It was hard to tell due to the Lotai affecting the area."

"I understand this Lotai was inactive when the fighting started." sent Nelonial. The reports that woke her had been hurried and lacking in detail, but the telepathic chatter of a full Diral worked fast. Nelonial had surmised a few things even when she had been still within her cabin.

"Yes, I wasn't in range of the camp at the time. Songbird noticed it first. A flickering of minds she said, like a weak powergrid barely keeping the lights on."

"What then, Coral?"

"I still had the medkit, so I ran as fast as possible."

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:11 pm
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Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
"I came to a sliding halt between the central fireplace and that wooden cabin. The looks I had drawn sprinting had been hostile but otherwise relaxed. Of course, they could sense each other like usual, so they were completely unaware of the flickering.
In medical emergencies every second counts, so I didn't bother to explain. Instead I barged right through the door. Only some alien memorabilia, a cot and an ancient looking rifle and no Nathan were inside.But I needed to be thorough, so I crossed the room in two steps and tore off that dirty blanket from the bed. The smell that hit me was intense. Nathan must have been sweating in his sleep for days beforehand. When I turned around again one of the medics, Firebrand, was already doing her best to look mean and tough in the doorframe.
"What are you doing?" she demanded to know verbally.
Instead of wasting my breath I just sent to her: "Where is Nathan?" Fortunately that one is not the slowest in the Diral. She understood the implications immediately.
Deflated she answered with a sending: "He went to the stream, said he needed some air and cold water."
Later I would find out from the others that Nathans alien stomach has trouble with deinar food. That meant that everybody was used to Nathan feeling unwell from time to time. Which could explain how they missed the symptoms. But that didn't matter back then.
Copperspike and me, we sprinted through the camp. Downstream and out of sight, somebody had found Nathan already. We could hear the worried Sanzai while approaching. A crowd had already formed and they could hear us too.
One of them turned around and signaled me to stop. She even went so far as to tell me: "No, not you. He is indecent." Can you believe that?
Anyway, I run her over and pushed my way through to Nathan. He was indeed indecent. Somebody had put him into a stable side position. His eyes were rolled back and a small puddle of foam had formed under his mouth. Several kids tried to suppport Nathans body with their hands. The whole scene looked bad. I told them to step back and went to check his vitals, breathing and pulse. I would have used proper diagnostic tools, but Nathan is a strange alien. No computer has any useful data on him. Which forced me to rely on my gut.
Are you familiar with telepathic depletion? It's very rare nowadays. Farseers had it and some Teidar with early amplifiers, too. If the mind is overexerted for long periods of time it's possible that the brain gets disordered. If that happens then basic tasks that usually run in the background can start to go wrong. It causes a progression of problems and the brain often has no way of stopping it. Only rest helps, but once it's an actual emergency, the singular solution is to restart. Flush the system and start new. It's dangerous of course and I wouldn't have done it if there had been any other way. Completely untested in humans, too. Especially with a dosage I had to calculate by hand the day before, since medical computers are useless for a species so new.
Not one of the Diral would have let me go through with it, had I told them. I simply started and hoped that the sheer audacity of it would see me through. I told Firebrand: "Get cold water, lots of it." Then I took two syringes out of my pack. One was small, with a very fine needle, the other larger and tougher.
The first I shot into Nathans neck. It went straight to his head. No more than 15 solon later and he stopped moving. First step done, but to be sure I checked his pulse again. When I couldn't find one, I proceeded to remove the clothing from his chest.
"What are you doing?"; "He stopped breathing!"; "What did you give him?" and other such nonsense began to rise around me. I concentrated on counting the rips and preparing the second syringe. This one contained a mixture of various stimulants I had tested on human tissue before. Injected straight into the heart they should hopefully get the second step done as well.
I took off the safety cap, raised my fist high up and plunged the needle down.It must have looked very martial. Once the syringe was empty, I immediately started a cardiac massage. Might have broken a rip or it might have happened later. In the moment I was concentrating on the rhytm and not on distractions like the gasps and curses my act produced.
When I saw Nathans eyes moving, I shouted to Firebrand to pour the water over him. She did and the shock pushed his body over the edge again.
I got up, suddenly far heavier than before and told probably all of them at that point: "Force him to walk. Don't let him rest until he's fully there again. Then have him walk some more. And don't sanzai him!"
To me that seemed to be it. We had a proper medical emergency, a reason to tell the Diral what a monumentaly stupid idea it was to leave an alien male in the wilds with them. Tell the alien to get into his cage and bring him to proper medical facilities. No, instead Bastal was approaching. She had intercepted Songbird and was coming at me with Argent in tow. She looked about ready to follow through on a threat she made beforehand."

Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:39 pm
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