NATION

PASSWORD

Back At It (FT, Closed, attn Xiscapia)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Back At It (FT, Closed, attn Xiscapia)

Postby Alversia » Wed Mar 24, 2021 12:32 pm

It was one of those days where Chloe Kazu had to admit, all was right with the world.

There was not a single cloud in the Illesian sky, itself not an unusual occurrence during the long summer on Alversia and the sun beat down upon the city. Normally, this did not translate into the heat that it promised, at least at Chloe’s house as the wind that swept in from the sea kept things at best tepid and at worst, even chilly. It felt like the only time the wind would abate was when the sun had retreated and the clouds taken over. That was the beginning of the Icoras rainy season that would see a deluge for a solid two months; hardly optimal weather for lounging in the garden. Even then, when the stars aligned and there was neither cloud or sun, more often than not Chloe was off planet and in no position to enjoy it!

Today was not one of those days however. The sun was intense and warm, the wind little more than a gentle whisper against her olive skin and the Chloe Kazu lay on the lounger in her large and green garden. She lay on her stomach, cheek rested against her folded arms as she hummed to herself, her long and bushy brown tail folded over to one side so as not to block the sun. Her yellow eyes were half-lidded as the vixen resisted the urge to drift off into a peaceful doze. Her large triangular ears twisted lazily, following the sounds of gulls who flew overhead, the calls and cries that came from the beach below and the ever-constant hum of waves washing against the shore. This, this was paradise.

There came a buzz from beneath her arm and the kitsune sighed softly, lifting her head with only the greatest reluctance. She should really get back to her task; the datapad that lay in front of her flashing as if to taunt her, to goad her out of her peace and back to the job at hand. In front of her was a long list of invoices and bills that demanded her attention and Chloe knew it was better to deal with them sooner rather than later. They had recently hit something of a cash flow problem, a number of their contacts and fixers had upped their prices and upgrades to their ship; the Elixir of Life were proving to be more costly than even her most pessimistic budgeting. There was money available; her friend and lover Tara was one of the wealthiest women in the galaxy but Chloe had never felt comfortable asking her for anything, though she knew her fellow kitsune would have given it freely.

But no, their little merc group; her, Nat and Katie, had been independent for a long time and that would not change now. Of course, what it did mean was that their account was running a little dry. They would have enough to finish the overhaul of the Elixir, pay their fixers for this month and then maybe have enough for a coffee each at the end.

Chloe lifted her head with intention to look into the problem, to see if she could negotiate something with their more accommodating contacts. Damn, the sun just felt so good against her bare back, against her tail and she rose no further than an inch before sinking back to the soft material beneath her with a contented hum.

Turning her head, the woman fixed her eyes on her fellow vixen who was lounging alongside her with only a small table containing two half-empty cocktails between them and offered a small smile; “Have your contacts upped their prices as well, Sky?”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:35 pm

Sometimes, being a famous mercenary wasn't all it was cracked up to be, Skyler reflected.
Being a war hero in half a dozen different conflicts had its perks. Official approval made it a lot easier to get things done, companies wanted to do business with you, and even the recognition from ordinary people on the street was endearing. But fame, money, and power came with their own demands -mainly, lots of people wanted a piece and figured they could get it from her. It seemed like every day she was the target of a scam, or a cold call, or some wannabe celebrity asking for a guest appearance or interview.
And sometimes, the people who came after you for one thing or another were your friends.

She reflected on that as she stared at the other vixen reflected in the screen across from her. Tara was a voluptuous redhead with sparkling yellow eyes and an impish grin seemingly permanently affixed to her pale face. The Xiscapian was lounging back in her chair, head angled back as half a dozen women attended to her: combing long scarlet hair, painting her nails, rubbing in creams, and generally fussing and fawning over the leering vulpine. Her feet were up, and Skyler knew from experience that they were probably resting on the back of some poor serving-girl who Tara was now using as a footstool. As the richest and most influential pornographer this side of the Twin Galaxies, she could afford such excesses.

"Sky, honey, you can't let them take advantage of you like this," Tara was saying. Her voice fairly oozed the magnetic charisma that had drawn Skyler to her so many years ago. "The insurers, the fixers, the tax collectors, they're all price-gouging you because they know you're good for it. At this rate, between that and all your other expenses, you'll be lucky to break even at the end of the quarter! That's no way to live."

Skyler raised a single blue eyebrow. "You already know Chloe won't accept anything you send her. She hates feeling like a charity case."

"Oh yes, a charity case in her multi-million sedar seaside mansion," Tara smirked as a brush rolled through her silky hair. "But fine. She can work for her money like everyone else. I can think of a few things-"

"No," Skyler frowned at her. "We're enjoying our hiatus, thanks. And not always looking over our shoulders for fear of getting pounced on," she rolled her own orange eyes. "We'll survive a bit longer without you, Tara. Thanks though."

"Awww, so afraid of me getting my claws back into you again?" Tara's grin was unfazed as ever. "There's no need to fear success, Sky. More money might make more problems, but it solves them too. Just let me give you a few side jobs. There's a shoot I have with Temanni that you two would be perfect for!"

"Oh, gods," Skyler groaned at the very thought of the atoran being involved. "Yeah, that's it for me, Tara." She rose to her feet, stretching with a little whine and a curl of her gray-furred tail. "We'll talk soon, I'm sure. I'll tell Chloe you said hello."

"Oh fine, flee from my winning argument," it was Tara's turn to roll her eyes, though with good nature. Her smile remained. "Go scrabble in the dirt for a few credits, then. I'll still be here for you when you come crawling back." Her grin widened, and even after Skyler turned the screen off, the expression stayed burned into her vision for a few moments. Sighing and shaking her head at the thought of the little minx, Skyler turned on heel and ambled out from the living room and through the sliding glass doors onto the back patio.

Stepping into the warmth of the sun moderated by the wind playing over her bare body made the vixen let out a pleased sigh. Illesia was still in its phase of having wonderful weather, and she stretched her arms out and let her tail unfurl to full enjoy it, eyes closed as her lips curled into a smile. Exhaling, she opened her eyes and strolled across the deck to where she'd left her lounge sheet, its cushions soft and inviting next to the half-full glasses on the side table. Lying on her belly, she gave one last stretch and grunted before settling, head resting on her folded arms. She had closed her eyes, but they fluttered open with all the intensity of the veteran mercenary's gaze when Chloe spoke to her.

Of course, for her old friend and (relatively) new lover, Skyler had nothing but affection in her eyes. They rolled in her head to show her exasperation, but her gray ears were perked up and she was still smiling, if ruefully. "Of course they have," she nestled her head against her arms. "That's not who I was talking to, though. I just got off a call with Tara trying to rope us back into some productions. I told her no, of course," the kitsune smirked. "But she heard about our lack of funds. Any ideas on what to do about that, babe?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Thu Mar 25, 2021 11:28 am

Chloe’s ear perked up as she heard the door slide open from towards the house, clear even over the lapping of the pool and the song of the birds in a nearby oak. The soft sound of bare feet on grass made her smile and she raised her head ever so slightly as Skyler returned, sun-kissed and gorgeous as ever. She gave the vixen enough time to settle herself, laying as Chloe had done so their faces were mere inches apart before extending her brown tail and coiling it around Skyler’s grey one. All of this was done without a word spoken, the affection evidence enough in itself. At the mention of Tara however, Chloe pursed her lips ever so slightly, one hand going down to adjust her bikini bottoms almost subconsciously.

“Well, the lack of funds has a fairly simple answer,” Chloe’s accent was not so strong as Skyler’s, closely related but with the unmistakeable twang of her adoptive home in each word, “We find more work. I’ve had a few fixers get in touch but its mostly been pretty nasty stuff,” She shook her head and frowned gently, crossing her ankles in thought, “Not the sort of things I want to be involved with. Other than that, we just have to wait and pick our contracts carefully. I don’t expect it to be too much longer and I’m quite enjoying the…freedom…we have currently.” Her lips curled into a soft smile, “Something will turn up. It always does. In the meantime, I just need to work out-“

What Chloe had to work out, Skyler never found out. For in that moment there came an almighty bang from the house as one of the walls blew out completely. Chloe felt the wave of heat pass over her followed by pieces of glass and debris. With a cry she half fell and half rolled off her chair, grabbing the pistol that lay in the grass alongside her as she did so. The house was shrouded in dust and smoke, that same pleasant wind not strong enough to carry it away while all she could hear was the patter of settling debris and the tingle of broken glass.

“Nat?!” Chloe’s heart was in her mouth, an icy coldness so alien to this summer day in her stomach, “Katie? Kartosh!” She dashed forward, pistol in her hand but with no other thought that getting into the house, to find out what had happened. Could it have been the post? No, Katie had scanned it as she did ever day. It had been safe. It looked like the blast had come from the kitchen. Had someone altered their equipment? The oven maybe? But no domestic oven would ever do this…what had…

Then she heard it. From out of the dust, a loud single cry.
“Woooooo!” Came the voice, and Chloe’s triangular ears pin-pointed it to where the door from kitchen to hall would be, “Now that’s a test!”

“Nat?” Chloe called anxiously, eyes narrowed and stinging as she peered into the dust. Thankfully it was just starting to drift slowly into next door’s garden, “Nat, are you okay?”

“Never better, Chlo!” Came the same, triumphant voice, “Revelling in success over here!”

“Succ-Nat, what have you done?”

“Only gone and pushed the fucking envelope, haven’t we?”

“What are…” The dust had cleared sufficiently for Chloe to see into the kitchen. She ignored how every panel of glass along the kitchen wall was gone, little more than jagged remains and how the kitchen units had been turned into matchsticks on that side and were broken and burnt on the other. What her eyes fell on was the stubby, black pipe from which was billowing a considerable quantity of smoke still.

Chloe’s nostrils flared and her tail swished around to whip Skyler’s back without her even noticing, eyes narrowed, “Nat…why is there a mortar in my kitchen?!”

The Alversian had appeared out of the smoke. Tall, leggy and athletic, her dark hair spilled over her shoulders and her green eyes were alight with mischief. Her bikini-clad body was covered head to toe in dust which made the pearly teeth shine out all the more clearly in her broad grin.

Our kitchen, honey! Once, it was a humble 120mm mortar but through our cunning!” She pointed to two equally dusty beings who were emerging from the same hiding place she had been using, “It is now a drinks dispenser!”

“A what…” Chloe exhaled like a bull, tail whipping left and right.
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:41 pm

As the blastwave swept over them Skyler automatically flattened herself on the chair, burying her face in her arms and whipping her tail low. Her ears were pinned into her blue hair when she raised her head, rolling onto her side as her hand flew down to touch at the silver stud nestled in her navel. She wasn't as paranoid as Chloe, but the personal E-field did come in handy, covering the vixen in a shimmering ethereal shield that clung to her skin. Shielded, she lunged to her feet and took off after Chloe, heart pounding as she scanned the smoking hole in the side of their house and tried to figure out where the closest intact cache of weapons and medicine would be. Leaping bodily through the gap where the kitchen wall used to be, she landed lithely among the debris and whipped around.

Her ears had been perked high, but they folded down again at the cry of joy from behind a sturdy refrigerator. She stared as Nat emerged, her own slate-colored tail lashing from side to side in sympathy. When she noticed the mortar, she stalked over to it, inspected the heat-warped barrel, and let out a disgusted sigh. There was a canister next to it, the kind designed to be fired from artillery to deliver supplies, full of froth and shards of glass. Turning on heel, she marched back over to where a soot-blackened tod was standing beside the Alversian.

Kartosh was shirtless, or maybe his shirt had just been blown off in the blast; it was hard to be sure. His normally dusky red and alabaster fur had gone ashy from dust, though there were dark circles around his bright vulpine eyes from where a pair of goggles had been. "It worked, too!" he exclaimed, his own tail snapping in excitement. "I mean, probably! Right now, somewhere out in Illesia Bay, there's a canister full of cold ones for the silarians," the kitsune beamed. "Probably."

"You idiots!" Skyler grabbed him by one upstanding, lightly-smoking ear, making Kartosh yelp as she twisted it. She seized Nat's at the same time, pinching the taller woman's painfully and forcing her to lean down closer to her level. "Are you out of your damn minds?! You could have killed somebody! And now, when we don't have the funds to deal with this kind of shit?! C'mere!" She dragged them both around by their ears, tail whipping furiously. "We're going out front, where you two fools are going to explain to the nice police why you just blew a fucking hole in the side of our goddamn house!"

She was manhandling the two of them over to what had once been a door when she shot a look at Katie. "And you. I expected more sense out of you," Skyler shook her head and pushed Nat and Kartosh past, still ranting about "structural integrity" and "police investigations." The worst of the smoke and the ringing in the ears had dispensed a few moments later, letting Chloe and Katie alike hear the footfall and gasp of surprise from behind them. They looked to see a mammalian woman peering in through the destroyed wall, open-mouthed and blinking in surprise. At first glance, she appeared to have scales, but closer inspection revealed that what little of her head and arms were exposed by her robes was in fact a tough, naturally-armored dermis.

A furred arm reached out and pressed itself across her chest, revealing itself to be attached to a massive escan woman. The white-furred lupine was just over seven feet tall, dressed in jeans and a bulky jacket despite the weather and staring out at the world from dark blue eyes. She looked to one side and then the other, eyes sweeping over the wreckage before landing on Chloe, darting down to the pistol she held. "Is anyone hurt?" the towering female demanded, interposing herself between the blast site and the smaller sapient behind her. "What happened here?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Fri Mar 26, 2021 11:21 am

“Well, we were doing it for Chloe,” Nat beamed, brushing hands down herself to get rid of the worst of the dust.

“You were what?” The Vixen’s eyes flashed dangerously.

“Sure! Why just last night you were saying ‘Oh Nat, if only there was a way to get drink from the kitchen to the garden without getting up’ and I thought to myself; Nat, you can make that dream come true!”

“I said nothing of the sort!” She snarled, tail lashing, “In fact, it was you who said that!”

“Oh was it?” Nat stroked her chin, “Maybe it was, my memory of that night is a little fuzzy. Well, it mostly worked too! We had only a little issue. Katie, what happened?”

“Um…” Katie’s eyes were downcast and the blue vixen looked suitably ashamed of herself. Her tail was limp, her ears flat against her skull and her hands behind her back, eyes downcast, “There…there was a failure to engage the p-primary power delivery m-method to the…um…ejection port…”

“Well there we go,” Nat nodded in fervent agreement, “And what does that mean, Katie?”

“You…um…you didn’t plug in the motor to…y’know…open the w-window…”

“Oh!” Nat slapped her head, “I knew I’d forgotten to do someth-ow! Ow! Ow!” Nat was bent over, powerless to stop herself as Skyler took a firm grip to her ear and dragged her towards the front door. Already there were sirens in the distance and a pair of drones had appeared overhead, hovering close by. Katie looked like she was close to tears at Skyler’s admonishment, tail dropping yet further.

Chloe tiptoed through the mess with a sigh, eyes down as she tried to pick her way through the splinters and broken glass without standing on something to make her day even worse. She looked up in surprise at the sight of the two, eyes narrowed briefly as she first saw the smaller woman in robes and then the snowy lupine being, dressed in what she would call ‘standard mercenary gear’. Chloe’s tail curled even as it continued to whip from side to side.

“You’ve really, really not caught me at a good time, Melony,” She said, taking deep breaths to try and calm herself down, “What’s up?”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Fri Mar 26, 2021 3:34 pm

"I can see that," Melony sniffed the air, eyes returning to Chloe. Apparently deciding there was no threat, she stepped off to one side. "Not here for me, though. My client wanted to meet with you." She nodded at the other woman, who had peeled back her hood to expose her head. Two upstanding ears quivered high as she stared at Chloe, blinking as her eyes dropped to the vixen's chest and legs. Licking her lips, she stepped up and thrust her hand out.

"Um, greetings, Chloe Kazu," her grip was weak but she looked Chloe in the eye. "My name is Teila Marsimony. I am here on behalf of the Allevian Commonwealth government of Daiasari, with an offer for your team. I have heard much about you, but it seems the time is, er, inopportune," she glanced at the smoldering wreckage of the kitchen. "Should I return later?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Sat Mar 27, 2021 6:11 am

Chloe regarded the smaller newcomer with some interest, her tail tip curling yet further even as she folded her arms. She was an Allevian, that she knew but the species and their space was relatively unknown to her. Certainly, she had tried to keep the group well clear of that quagmire even though there were jobs aplenty. The vixen’s eyes darted to Melony, a questioning look before returning to the woman who was now extending her hand in greeting. A true Xiscapian born vixen would have found this gesture odd, or at least awkward, the natural instinct being to bow in greeting. Chloe, on the other hand, was as nativized to Alversia as it was possible to be (“Converted” Nat called it before being hit by a cushion usually) and so she took the hand without a second thought. She noted the weak grip but unbreaking eye contact and she inclined her head. Perhaps there was more to this smaller woman than met the eye.

“No, no, Miss Marsimony?” She cocked her head slightly, unsure of the title to use, “This isn’t being cleaned up any time soon so we may as well go over it now,” Chloe waved dismissively at the mess as the sirens grew even louder. How many there were, she couldn’t tell from here but it was certainly more than a few. There were yet more drones overhead now, both police and fire markings on them and the vixen sighed at that realisation.

Closing her eyes, Chloe took a deep breath, tensing and relaxing her shoulders before looking back at Marsimony, “How can we be of assistance?”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Sat Mar 27, 2021 3:25 pm

Glancing up at the gathering cloud of drones, Teila stepped to one side further into the remains of the kitchen, putting herself under cover. Chloe noticed that she had a ropy, segmented tail that trailed through the air behind her. "Do you have somewhere we can sit down?" she asked. "I realize that you are not in a good state for hosting guests, but this shouldn't take long." With Chloe's acquiescence, the four moved from the blasted kitchen into the villa's den.

The living area was a far better sight, consisting of half a dozen sofas and armchairs arranged around an entertainment center. The coffee table in the middle opened up to reveal a mini-fridge inside stocked with beer, though fortunately for appearances, it was closed at the moment. Alongside model ships carefully arranged on shelves behind glass were bookcases full of military manuals and technical guides side-by-side with romance novels. What drew Teila's attention the most, however, were the decidedly risque posters on the walls, courtesy of Tara, which advertised the vixen's company via good-looking vixens. The allevian stared.

Finally wrenching her gaze away, Teila sat down in one of the chairs and smoothed out her robes. As Melony took a nearby seat, Teila focused on Chloe, leaning forward to look her in the eye once more. "The Commonwealth government needs the services of your team for an asset retrieval operation. There is a 10-day deadline for this work, so it is something of a rush job. Due to that, and the dangerous nature of the contract, I have been authorized to offer you double your usual rate of pay. I can't get into any sensitive details before you agree, but I can answer any other questions you might have if I am at liberty to say."
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Sun Mar 28, 2021 5:12 am

Chloe lead the pair into the house, again forced to tiptoe through the remains of her own kitchen to avoid placing bare feet onto a fragment of glass or wood. This forced her tail up as she balanced rather elegantly, moving like a dancer until at last she was through and into the relatively unscathed hall. At the other end she could see the front door was open and Skyler stood, still holding Kartosh and Nat by the ears as she spoke with a rather stern and urgent looking Carvon officer. Behind them, there had to be at least a dozen squad cars and what was unmistakeably a pair of fire engines, blue lights still flashing.

“In here, please,” Her teeth were gritted as they entered the den. Chloe did not spare the posters a second glance, fully aware of their contents by now, and settled herself on the couch opposite the Allevian. She brought her legs together demurely, hands resting on her knees as her long tail curled itself around her waist. She listened at first, ears perked forward and a light frown crossed her features. Before she could speak though, there came from the hall a series of heavy-set footsteps. Passing the open doorway came two beings in very heavy armour who were unmistakeably members of the Illesian Metropolitan Police’s Munitions Defusal Squad.

A third poked their head around the door,
“Apologies Chloe, ma’ams,” He said, “You may need to vacate the house while we make a thorough investiga-“

“We’re fine, thanks Aron,” Still Chloe had not looked around, “Just the usual drill, yeah?”

“Well, given the mortar, we need to check its safe, then let the fire service in to check the mains and the amenities.“

“Thought as much,” Chloe finally looked to him, tossing her brown fringe out of her eyes, “I assure you if the house goes up in a mushroom cloud this time, I won’t hold you responsible in this life or the next.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure. How’s the kids?”

“Fine, thanks. Youngest has just started school.”

“Lovely, tell Blossom I said hi.”

“I will.” He ducked out of sight.

Chloe looked back to her guests as if nothing had happened, “I do have a few questions right off the bat. What sort of ‘asset’ are we talking? What’s the context of the operation? Who took it and why? Ten days isn’t a lot of time to gather info either, why is its retrieval so urgent? Hold on,” She leant back, “Sky! You wanna come in? I’m sure the two baboons can be trusted at the door for a minute.”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:34 pm

Melony let her eyes wander during the interruption, examining the decorations and luxurious state of the room in contrast to the blasted kitchen. She wondered how much a place like this cost. Certainly, more than she could afford. Teila stared, though she stayed politely silent until Chloe turned back to her. The allevian opened her mouth to answer her questions and paused when Chloe yelled over her shoulder. "Sure!" the other vixen called back from the porch, appearing a few moments later with her e-field still gleaming around her body. Her eyes darted over to their two guests and she made a couple of bows. "Uh, hi there. I'm Skyler."

Teila's mouth was still open, jaw slack as she stared at the mercenary. Her eyes were bulging and there was a dusky blush growing on her snout as she struggled with her words. "I, I, um," Teila swallowed hard. "Y-you're naked..."

"What? Oh, yeah," Skyler looked down at herself. "Sorry about that. I'll go put some clothes on. Can I get either of you anything while I'm...oh. Yeah. I forgot we don't have a kitchen anymore," she slapped a palm against her face. "Sorry. I'll be right back."

There was an awkward silence, broken only by a few thumps from the kitchen as the bomb disposal squad did their work, before Skyler returned. She had thrown on a long shirt that came down to her thighs, providing her with the required amount of modesty, and she sat primly on the sofa next to Chloe. Teila had at least recovered enough by then to introduce herself, while Melony received a nod from Skyler; they had worked with the escan veteran on a couple of other occasions. Taking a deep breath, Teila turned back to Chloe again.

"As I was saying, the asset is a civilian hostage held by violent non-state actors. Their prompt recovery is critical to the highest levels of the Commonwealth government. I cannot say more than that before you accept the contract. I am sorry," Teila's mouth shut in a hard line. "It is sensitive information."
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:55 am

Chloe turned to see Skyler enter, eyes briefly falling to her navel piercing before the Allevian spluttered her greeting. It had not even occurred to Chloe that the woman would find it so offensive when she herself had barely noticed but nevertheless she waited patiently for her partner to return. When she did so, dressed now only in a long shirt, Chloe’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly as it was one of her shirts. She did not mind at all however and when the vixen had settled beside her she wasted no time in wrapping her brown tail around Skyler’s grey.

Her ears then perked towards Teila, ears perked in he direction and a little frown of concentration dancing over her features, “What happened that this hostage was taken? Can you give us any more info on who might have carried it out?” At the same time, her tail tip danced on Skyler’s tail, tapping out a simple message.
What do you think?
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:35 pm

"It's alright," Skyler raised a hand as Teila made to respond, her tail squeezing around Chloe's. "I didn't overhear much of what you two said, but I did hear about it being twice our usual rate." She raised an eyebrow at Teila, who simply nodded. Glancing at Chloe for affirmation, Skyler gave the allevian a small smile. "We'll take it."

Reaching into her robes, Teila produced a datapad with a contract document on it. Leaning forward to take it, Skyler glanced at the first page as she turned her head. "Katie! Come here, please," she called, and the kitroid appeared in short order, almost timid in her presence. "Read through this and make sure it's all in order, please," Skyler handed her the datapad, and the A.I. dutifully processed its contents faster than Skyler could blink. Katie now knew all the details of the job they had just been given, and since she had made no complaints, that meant there was nothing nasty hidden in the contract's legalese.

So, with Katie signing for all of them, Skyler let Teila explained for the benefit of herself and Chloe. "Daiasari is embroiled in civil war," she began, and the datapad triggered to show a holographic display of the fertile, mountainous planet and its orbiting moon. "The Commonwealth's primary opponent is an umbrella of indigenous groups calling themselves the Fell Division. Our nation reached for the stars, and the Fell Division conspired with the Zillars to drag us back down into the muck," Teila scowled as the display changed to show lines of allevians in heavy if ragtag winter clothing, cradling rifles where they marched behind technicals and other civilian vehicles bearing mounted guns. "They are bitter, uncompromising fanatics who'd tear everything down and mount a theocracy in its place."

Teila flicked a hand, and the video changed to a map, highlighting the many places across the world's city and countryside where civilians had perished in the past few years. "But the people are tired of war. The Commonwealth has difficulty retaining its soldiers, and few believe that the government is capable of victory. At the same time, the brutal tactics and extremism of the Fell Division is causing them to lose support. We have the opportunity, if not for a lasting peace, then at least a truce that can buy us time. The People's Republic is assisting the Commonwealth, and this will give us time to strengthen our position against the terrorists. We are due to meet for negotiations in ten days.

"However, there is a wrinkle. The Fell Division has made it clear that they will only negotiate with a Commonwealth representative who they view as an equal. For their High Priestess to attend, we must send our own. However, our High Priestess Anastasiya was abducted two days ago from her temple. If she is not recovered alive, then negotiations cannot proceed, and the war will continue. The fear, which no one speaks of but everyone thinks, is that if the Fell Division prolongs the conflict, the government may collapse," Teila stared at Skyler, Chloe, and Katie in turn. "And a new dark age will begin."

The datapad's hologram projector changed once more, showing a web of settlements from sprawling metropolises to small villages scattered across plains and hills. "People's Republic intelligence indicates that the group likely responsible for the kidnapping is the Zlata Network. They are one of many groups affiliated with the Fell Division, but not under their direct control. The suspicion is that the titular Zlata has a political and perhaps even personal reason for targeting Anastasiya. Regardless, she and her group are threatening the potential for peace over the entire world."

Teila looked back to Chloe. "Normally, the Commonwealth would have accepted the Republic's offer of special forces teams to recover the High Priestess. The Fell Division already accuses the government of being a puppet of foreign interests, so if the Republic intervenes on its behalf, the Fell Division may refuse to negotiate with us at all even if the High Priestess is rescued. That's where you come in. The plan is to attach a Commonwealth special forces team to you, and send you to retrieve the High Priestess. If allevians appear to carry out the operation, then that will strengthen the government's position, and negotiations can proceed."

She took a breath, looking like she was beginning to rather desire a drink as she licked her lips. "Do you have any questions?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:34 pm

Chloe gave a small nod at Skyler’s look knowing full well as she did that if they wanted to be cooking their own meals this decade, they had no real choice at all. She settled back to await the details when a fresh head popped in through the door. Katie’s tail was still limp, the dust coated kitroid’s hands behind her back and her tail limp as she glanced at the datapad and processed the contract instantly. With her affirmation that there was nothing deceptive or unfair, she went to go.

“Katie, love,” Chloe called after her gently, “Take a seat. You’re welcome here.”

Katie glanced at Skyler nervously through wide eyes before nodding wordlessly and taking a seat, hands on her knees, tail coiled around herself as she looked between the two groups sitting on different couches.

“So-“ Chloe went to speak, expression creasing into a gentle frown as her tail tip curled. She got no further however before Nat appeared through the door without so much as announcing herself, running a towel over her bikini-clad body to rid herself of the worst of the dust with an envelope in the other.

“The nice Carvon at the door told me to give this to a responsible adult so,” The Alversian handed it over without even glancing at it, “Here we are!”

Chloe took it with a scowl and placed it on the side table. She knew a fine when she saw one and opening it in civilised company was not going to be good for anyone’s blood pressure. Especially when Kartosh came in holding a second one for Skyler.

“Oh, hey Mells,” Nat rubbed the towel around her silver navel piercing, looking at the Escan, “I totally haven’t forgotten about those ten sedar but y’know,” She patted at her mostly bare hip where a pocket would be, “How about going double or quits? Panthers to beat the Bears this weekend?”

“Anyway!” Chloe snapped as Nat settled herself into one of the free chairs, tucking her long legs beneath her as she worked the towel at her ear with one finger, eye closed, “What can you tell us about the Zlata network? Do you have any info on their agents or areas of operation? Any details you can give us on Zlata would also be appreciated. Likewise a full bio on the Priestess would be much appreciated.”
Last edited by Alversia on Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Fri Apr 02, 2021 2:28 pm

When Katie sat down on the couch next to her, Skyler reached a hand out and ran it down the kitroid's arm. When she looked over, Skyler smiled at her and laced their fingers together, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. She forced herself to relax as Nat barged in, shortly followed by Kartosh, who had gotten the worst of the dust out of his fur and had his towel draped over his shoulders. Teila stared at him, watching almost incredulously as he handed his envelope over and then flopped down on a spare chair, feet propped up. Sighing, Skyler cracked the seal on the envelope and unfolded the invoice within, eyes narrowing as she assessed the damage. One portion of it, anyway.

Melony smirked at Nat in the interim. "Fans shouldn't bet, Nat," the escan gave a low chuckle and shook her head. "Can't approach it rationally. Which is to say, you're on." She flashed a grin.

Chloe got everyone's attention and focus back on the matter at hand, including Teila's. She had been eyeing Kartosh, unmoving even when he gave a little wave, but she quickly turned back to the other mercenaries. "To begin, High Priestess Anastasiya was born to a poor urban family in the capital, the eighth of eleven children. Her mother was a traveling preacher, and Anastasiya followed in her footsteps to become a priestess. She became known to a local seminary school, Limrai's Faithful Sisters, and enrolled there, her tuition paid for by donations from the families she helped. Anastasiya met Zlata at Faithful Sisters, and they were both selected to attend a cultural exchange program with the People's Republic."

The hologram displayed a veiled allevian, uncovered only for her passport photo, which showed a grim-faced woman with gray eyes shadowed from the weight of all they had seen. "Anastasiya studied among the Ġemellati priestesses of Silaria, and learned from them for a period of eighteen months. She returned to Daiasari with many books and new ideas, and after graduation she rose quickly through the ranks of the church on a popular moderate ideological stance. Anastasiya preached for peace and understanding, despite several attempts on her life by proxies of the Fell Division. A new hope arose when she was confirmed as the High Priestess, one that seems to have been snatched away."

Teila adjusted her position on the chair, getting more comfortable as the hologram changed again. This was another passport photo of a female allevian, topped with messy brown hair and a pair of fierce blue eyes that all but glared into the camera. "Zlata is the eldest daughter of an executive at Omni-Tech, a Boolean Confederacy megacorporation," she explained. "She wanted for nothing, and had the opportunity to travel widely throughout the Delta Quadrant, but like Anastasiya, she was drawn to the impoverished on her own planet. Instead of using her family's connections, she enrolled at Limrai's Faithful Sisters, and visited the People's Republic along with Anastasiya.

"Unfortunately, it seems that where Anastasiya liberalized, Zlata radicalized. She spent most of her time on Alversia and Dela, and even visited Irongate during her return trip to the Milky Way. Zlata dropped out of seminary when she got back to Daiasari, emptied her bank accounts, and disappeared into Daiasari's mountains. Our information on her movements and activities after this point are spotty, as she had taken great care to avoid being tracked. Even Alversian intelligence has not been able to pinpoint her location."

Teila clasped her hands in her lap. "Zlata's Network is known to have cells in all of Daiasari's major planet-side cities, including Alos, Theia, and the capital. It grew out of an organization called Youth for Limrai, and is mostly composed of ethnic Tuntere allevians, the same race as Zlata herself. The Network recruits fighters to combat Commonwealth forces, but in practice they clash with other rebel and organized crime groups just as often in spats over territory. Zlata is always looking to strengthen her organization, and her forces kill anyone that gets in their way, including rival insurgents and innocent civilians. They are also fanatical, and willingly fight and die for her."
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:17 am

If any of the other mercs had noticed how Teila looked to Kartosh then they made no mention of it, though Katie cocked her tail and her blue tail curled slightly in evident curiosity. She had held Skyler’s hand with a little blush and just the beginnings of a smile, weak and unsure but evidently pleased that the other vixen was on speaking terms with her again.

Chloe meanwhile had dug under the couch and picked out a notepad and pen, of which she had so many stored around the house in case of emergencies. Nat joked that Chloe was prepared to open her own stationary shop in case the merc job didn’t work out. That was another one that would inevitably result in a cushion to the Alvie’s face. Now though, Chloe checked the pen worked by drawing on her own bare hip then put it to paper, noting down everything as the Allevian spoke.

When the photos appeared though, Nat laughed aloud, “No way! Stumpy made it to High Priestess? Empress’ tits, who’d have thought she’d have made it after that night-“

“Nat!” Chloe shot her a warning look before looking back to the hologram and making yet more notes, “We…crossed paths with the High Priestess while she was on Alversia. She got into some trouble and we helped her out in passing,” She bit her lip, “What are the chances that she’s been hurt?”

Nat had shrugged at being shushed and was now rubbing around her shoulders and upper chest, other hand holding the back straps of her bikini to keep it slipping without so much as a second thought, “So does that mean the Zlata of said network is…ah…” The second hologram appeared and the Alversian scowled rather uncharacteristically, “That bitch.”

“We…also encountered her,” Chloe exhaled but her tail tugged against Skyler’s as if longing to whip in irritation, “We did not see…eye to eye…”

“But I thought Nat punched her…” Katie offered in a low voice, looking between the two with wide eyes.

“…yes, thank you Katie,” Chloe rolled her eyes, “Yes…Nat did punch her.”

“She was lucky,” Nat was holding her towel with a distinctly ugly expression, “That they split us up before I could give her more than a black eye.”

“She said I was…something rather rude,” Chloe shrugged, “On account of my being gay.” She tightened her tail around Skyler’s before resuming speaking; “Where was Ana seized? Do your intelligence agencies have any idea where she might have been taken or where would be good to start looking? Do you know of any groups who are in opposition to her we could speak with?”

“Plus it’ll be nice to give that bitch a matching black eye,” Nat said rather keenly, tossing her towel so it landed like a parachute over Kartosh’s head, playing with the anklet that was so close to her hip, “Or even better!”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Sat Apr 03, 2021 7:55 pm

When Nat exclaimed about the High Priestess Melony snorted and Teila glared at the Alversian. Their would-be employer held her tongue, however, even if her eye did twitch once. It was a common sight when Nat was involved. That expression resolved into a look of surprise when Chloe revealed that they had met Anastasiya previously, brow rising even higher as Nat mentioned Zlata as well. "Is that so?" she said evenly when Chloe explained and winced to hear Nat swear again.

Across the room, Kartosh bunched up both his and Nat's towels and hoisted them over his head, only for Skyler to give him a warning look. Scowling, he put the dusty mass down and sneezed, then stuck his tongue out at Nat when he thought Skyler wasn't looking. The blue-haired vixen had turned back to Teila with a long-suffering smile on her face, bidding her forward in answering Chloe's questions. Shifting a little uncomfortably in her seat, Teila looked her in the eye again. "The High Priestess and Zlata were friends once, and we found no signs of a struggle at the temple she vanished from, but that doesn't mean anything. The Network has been known to torture its prisoners. And if it's between letting her escape and killing her," Teila paused. "I don't think they would hesitate to shoot her."

Leaning back, the allevian continued. "In terms of where the High Priestess might be, all we can say with good confidence is that she is probably not being held in the capital. Commonwealth forces are the densest there, and the High Priestess is recognizable to most allevians, so we suspect that she has been spirited away to a mountain hideout, where we cannot easily reach her even if we locate her. The Network is much smaller and more diffuse than the Fell Division, but they are still likely using Fell Division territory, and they would not welcome Commonwealth forces. Hence our hiring of you.

"One disadvantage the Zlata Network has is that it is not well-liked anywhere. Zlata has fought practically every major faction on Daiasari at one time or another. Whether or not they would be willing to help you is another matter," she gazed at Chloe. "But, if you want my advice, there is a capital cartel called the Cousins who are suspected of having done business with the Network before Zlata backstabbed them. They won't cooperate with the Commonwealth, but they might talk to you."
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Sun Apr 04, 2021 4:20 am

Nat did not seem to have noticed how Teila was looking at her but when Melony snorted, the Alversian gave her a wink. She was mostly looking over to Kartosh as if waiting for his retribution and when Skyler headed it off, she grinned. She returned the gesture of the tod, poking her tongue out and mouthing “1 – 0” to him while holding up a single finger, even as she continued to play with her anklet.

Chloe was regarding Teila, unblinking as if daring her to say anything and when nothing came she instead turned her eyes back to her notes. She added a few more touches to them before placing the paper down on the rest of the couch, “Okay, I think we have enough to work with. Is there a contact or liaison to whom we can speak with if need be?” She stood, unwrapping her tail easily from Skyler’s and stretching, reaching up towards the ceiling before looking around at Skyler, “Do you have anything else you’d like to ask?”

They had their first lead, the Cousins. Already she was thinking of which fixers and contacts in the capital they could use to get in touch with them, or at least get a little more info. This network of theirs cost a fortune so it was about time they started to repay that investment.

“You want a drink before you go? Mell? Titchy?” Nat stood as well, looking from the Escan to the Allevian, standing quite a bit taller than either of them, hand now playing with the string that hung down one hip, “We’ve got lagers, ales, pale ales, stouts, bitters,” She rubbed her hands together eagerly.
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:18 pm

"I will be serving as your liaison officer," Teila stood as Chloe did, adjusting her robes as she averted her eyes. "My contact information is included with the contract. Your droid should have all the details," she nodded to Katie. Skyler had also risen, opening her mouth to ask something else when Nat interrupted. Shooting the woman a glare, the vixen rolled her eyes.

"We would have, if you hadn't blown up the kitchen," she reminded her before whipping back around. "Right," Skyler summoned her most winning smile for Teila. "One thing. We've run into some, uh, expenses that we'll need to take care of before we go off-world. Would it be possible for us to get an advance on our payment? Say, a hundred kay. It would help a lot with prep, too."

Teila sighed but nodded. "Yes, I can pay for a portion of it upfront."

"Great. I'll give you my account info and walk you to the door," Skyler looked back at Katie. "Get the ship ready, will you? We don't have a lot of time on this one."

Pausing by Nat as she followed her client, Melony smiled down at the Alversian. "Good luck out there, Nat," she gave her a light punch on the shoulder. "And you better have my money in a couple weeks. I know you're good for it now!"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:12 am

Chloe nodded at the Teila’s first statement but the expression slipped into a frown at the mention of “a droid”. She did not need to look at Katie to know that her blue ears had drooped ever so slightly at the cold reference.

“I’ll be sure to ask Katie,” She put special emphasis on the word, “If we need to get in touch with you.”

So she left Skyler to handle the rest of the liaison work, the vixen leading their guest towards the front door after getting enough of an advance to cover the repairs to the kitchen. At least, enough to make the house weatherproof while they were gone. At this rate, they could not ask for much more than that. She then turned to Katie herself and saw that the Kitroid still looked upset.

“Don’t worry about it, Katie,” She gave the vixen a hug, then whispered in one of her flickering eyes, “We can’t use the Elixir, it’s still in bits down at the yard so we’ll need to use Skyler and Kartosh’s. You okay with that?”

“Um…yes,” She nodded, tail giving a little swish, “I’m up to d-date with the specs…”

“Very good,” Chloe smiled maternally and watched as Katie headed off.

Nat grinned up at the Escan and responded with a friendly slap on the back, “I’m already thinking how I’m going to spend my winnings, Mell.” The grin only widened as the mercenary departed. In her tail was a little spikey ball the size of a tennis ball, easy to slip into fur but a pain to untangle without pulling out a clump of hair. The writing on the ball read “Wuff wuff.”

Once she was gone, the Alversian had settled back into her seat and gave a snort, “That’s what she thinks,” She poked her tongue out at Skyler’s back as she rummaged about in the chair and pulled out a couple of bottles of beer, grinning broadly, “As if we wouldn’t take precautions before doing something that dangerous!”

Chloe went to say something but found the words would not come. Instead, she just shook her head as Nat tossed a bottle to Kartosh and gave a long, exasperated sigh.
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:36 pm

"Yeah, she doesn't know how many stashes we've got!" Kartosh grinned and caught the bottle with his tail, wrapping it up in the dexterous limb. The bottles were self-chilling, so they cost a lot, but that made them well worth it for exactly this sort of situation. The cap popped merrily as Kartosh undid it, and he flicked his tail to toast Nat with the condensation-beaded bottle. "Cheers to a new job!" Drinking, the tod stood up and smiled around the neck of the bottle at Chloe before pulling it away. "'s alright, I'll go talk to her."
Beer held jauntily in one hand, Kartosh walked down the hall.

Outside, Skyler folded her arms and sighed heavily as she watched Teila and Melony pick their way through the traffic jam of emergency vehicles and police officers who had appeared around their car. Her eyes were keen enough to pick up the little sphere buried in the escan's fur, a sight that had alarmed her at first before she recognized the hitchhiker for what it was. Nat loved that little prank, but Skyler was more worried about their employer and the mission. She had always tried to avoid Daiasari, but there was no helping it now. She could only console herself with the thought that at least they were doing a good deed -and for good money, too.

Turning back, she fished her phone out of her shirt's breast pocket and tapped it to life. Chloe would already be making calls to fixers and outfitters in preparation, ensuring they'd have everything they needed and gathering intelligence on their destination, which left her with the fun stuff. Namely, talking to creditors, collections agents, and her friends down at the police station to pay them off or promise enough to stop the group from being harassed about debts and fines during their work. Then calling remodeling contractors to reinstall the kitchen and fix the house.
It was almost enough to make her look forward to running and gunning again.

As she held her phone up to one ear, her eyes flicked over to the garage door opening. One of their cars was carefully backing out of the driveway, Katie's familiar figure at the wheel, with Kartosh in the passenger seat. Nodding to them, Skyler waved one hand and turned away to stride back up the path to the front door. In between all of this, she was somehow going to have to get Nat to make herself useful. Shoving that thought aside as someone answered her call, Skyler put a smile into her voice. "Hi, Karen! Yes, I'm doing just fine, how are you? Good. Listen, about that money we owe you..."

----

"So yeah, you should be able to get into the hangar and the Star Snake no problem, Skyler keyed you in as a partner a while back," Kartosh leaned back in the car's passenger seat and propped his paws up on the dashboard. He was still holding his beer in his lap, nursing it in between talking to the kitroid beside him. "It's too bad about the Elixir, but she'll be back online and better than ever by the time we're back," the tod smiled and stretched, tail unfurling into the cubby behind his seat. "You know, we've been thinking about installing an A.I. on the Snake like you guys have. Could even give it a chassis, just like you! Would have to be later, but, you know."

Shrugging, he glanced out the window as Katie eased around a fire truck. "What am I doing here again? Oh, right! So, look," he turned back in his seat, looking at her earnestly. "I can't say for sure what all you've been up to with Nat and Chloe, but I know you haven't done a lot with me and Skyler outside of AXIS space. And, well, it can be different out there. More like Xiscapians in some places with prejudices against A.I. and such, sorry to say. I just want you to know that if you hear talk like that, then it's wrong, and we'll defend you. All of us."

Kartosh stared at her. "You can't let it get to you too much, though. We've got a job to do, and we have to focus on that. So, we need you just as determined to help us as we are to defend you. You need to be able to handle people who hate you unreasonably, who will fuck with you just because of who you are. Because where we're going, people are going to be trying to kill us. Ain't any fucking with you worse than that," he shook his head. "You know what I mean, Katie?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Sun Apr 11, 2021 8:04 am

Katie did not look to Kartosh at first, instead looking to where he had put his paws up on the dashboard and biting her lip. It was something she had often seen him or Nat do and they were often chided by Chloe or Skyler for doing so. She remained silent, hands by her side as the car eased its way around the emergency vehicles still parked outside the half of their house that remained. Despite her apparent lack of action however, the car twitched this way and that as it eased itself out of gaps that would have been difficult for any driver to navigate. Only once they were free and driving down the street did she look to the tod again, eyes going wide and tail swishing.

“You might find an AI?” She asked eagerly, “What type? Where from? Will they be nice? Will they like me?” She stopped herself then, a little colour coming to her artificial cheeks and instead she turned her attention ahead. When he spoke further, the vixen’s blue ears dipped ever so slightly, tail dropping, “I know I should ignore her. Chloe always says I should but…how can she not like me?” Katie looked at him, “She doesn’t even know me…I think I’m nice…I don’t mean her any harm…” She looked away again, for there was a sadness in her voice before she took a deep breath, “But it won’t stop me doing my best on this mission! You and Skyler and Nat and Chloe are my family and I’ll do everything on this world and the next to help.”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Thu Apr 22, 2021 5:41 am

"Whoa, slow down there, tiger," Kartosh laughed as Katie launched a volley of questions at him. "We don't right know yet. Have to talk about it with Sky," he smiled at her. "We were thinking it would be another Xiscapian one, to make sure they interface well with you. But we'll see. Hey, if you have any suggestions or ideas, let us know!"

He quieted when Katie spoke of their employer and her apparent antipathy for A.I. The tod sighed. "I know it's a cliche, but try not to take it personally," he said. "You're right, she doesn't know you, so she just thinks you're some drone like the ones she's familiar with. So, you can prove her wrong. Or, you know, just try not to care," he shrugged.

When she made her commitment to do her best, Kartosh grinned. "That's the spirit! I know you won't let us down. That's why you're our best and favorite digital girl."
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:36 am

Chloe sat in the co-pilot’s seat of the Star Snake and tried to ignore the growing uneasiness she was feeling in the pit of her stomach. Try as she might to, the vixen could not keep from betraying it, every little twist and flick of her tail told its own story for those who were paying attention. There was no one particular thing that was worrying her, it was just…everything. It was the fear of what had happened to Anastasiya and if they could reach their friend in time. It was the concern of crossing paths with Zlata once more, who she was sure had now mellowed in attitude since last they had met. It was the planet they were now approaching quickly and just how little assurance her research had given her. It was a quagmire, with Alversian involvement little more than political influence and the two sides doing the fitting bogged down. It was precisely the sort of warzone Chloe liked to avoid, a place of shifting loyalties and one bad day could alter the entire landscape beneath their feet.

She glanced sideways to Skyler who sat in the pilot’s seat, biting her lip and wondering if her lover had the same doubts and the same concerns. Her tail swished again as she went back to checking her instruments.

“Well shit.”

She sighed at the voice and looked over her shoulder. Nat sat in one of the chairs of the cockpit, boots up on the back of Skyler’s sit as she chewed on a toothpick and looked to her console.

“Dare I ask?” Chloe glowered.

“Panthers are down 2,” The Alversian shook her head, long brown ponytail swaying as she did, “I wonder if Mells will go treble or quits…”

“Are you actually trying to bankrupt us?”

“Please, don’t insult me like that. I don’t even have to try.”

Chloe looked to Skyler with an exasperated look.
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

User avatar
Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12818
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Sat Apr 24, 2021 7:18 pm

In the passenger compartment of the Star Snake Kartosh knelt on the deck, legs crooked to either side and his tail swishing happily as he picked through several open crates. Katie was right across from him, watching as the tod laid out machine after machine from their charging cradles. "Right, so we'll want some of these," he set down a trio of small, oval camera drones equipped with gravitics and a suite of sensors. "And probably a bunch of these," he set aside a much smaller box that opened to reveal half a dozen tiny insects -disguised spy drones- nestled into slots. "Oh, and a couple of these!" The lupine-shaped droids stood up on four legs, sleek metallic wolves without visible eyes that "sniffed" and pawed at Katie as they identified the A.I. as the master system. "That should about do it, at least for starting out. You can control all of these, right?" he flashed a smile at Katie.

Through the open hatch leading to the cockpit, Skyler was focused on maneuvering the ship. The trip from Alversia to Daiasari had taken about a day, starting with the FTL flight to the Xiscapian System and through its Jaunt Portal, taking them from the Home Galaxy to Phenia in the Delta Quadrant of the Milky Way. Most of the time had been taken up by the transition from Phenia to Daiasari itself, traversing hundreds of light-years until they reached the distant star system. After an initial hail with Daiasari's traffic control, she was now on the final approach to the planet itself. Even the trip through the system had revealed some interesting things.

Namely, most of the Daiasari Commonwealth ships she observed patrolling near the celestial bodies were completely automated. The sophisticated scanners of the Star Snake told her many details, but when the visuals were magnified she could clearly see that the smaller vessels were little more than skeletal superstructures studded with turrets and launchers. Only the larger craft seemed to have hermetic compartments, with periodic blisters along the hull berthing swarms of maintenance and repair droids that scuttled across the surfaces of cruisers and capital ships. Skyler also noted the strict flight path she was given, well clear of the other planets in the system, undoubtedly due to lurking pirates and the like. The Star Snake was too small and fast to risk being heavily targeted, and indeed they came up on Daiasari itself unmolested.

The planet was a rocky, green-gray ball speckled with azures and whites from patches of water and cloud cover across its surface. Land seemed to dominate, with water limited to seas and large lakes linked by spiderwebbing river deltas feeding the verdant lowlands. Lights glittered across most of the green spaces and along the snaking streams of blue, becoming sparser as the land grew higher and more rugged before petering out into the darkness of the world's highest mountains. Smaller balls of light seemed to often detach themselves from the mass and rise up, transports rising into orbit to dock with larger ships or among the constellation of stations and platforms that ringed Daiasari. The largest among them was their destination: Summit Station.

The massive hull of the fan-shaped station was densely populated enough to qualify as a city in its own right, sectors gleaming with lights along the arms where steady streams of traffic berthed from the planet below. The elegant, spiraling curves of Summit spokes, lined with domed towers in the Daiasari style, spoke to the beautiful aesthetic sense of its designers and the competence of the engineers who made it a reality. Sadly, it seemed that their vision was never fully realized, as when the Star Snake drew closer it became obvious that many sections of the station remained incomplete, just naked girders and compartments open to the void where construction had halted. Summit's hull was likewise marred by an innumerable count of dents, scars, and burns from collisions and weapons fire, not to mention its own orbit of debris, space trash, and other stellar flotsam floating through space. Skyler just consoled herself with the fact that nothing appeared to be currently exploding or on fire.

Fortunately, it seemed that they were being waved to the front of the line as far as customs was concerned, and Skyler angled the ship towards the designated hangar. She had long since stopped being distracted by Nat, but her ears twitched as she became aware of Chloe staring. "We're on our final approach now," she said without looking away from where Summit grew larger and larger on the scopes. "This is just customs check-in and all that, but we'll meet that special forces team Teila mentioned after that. Make sure everyone is ready, please," she glanced at Chloe. "Thanks, love."

The Star Snake landed in a modern hangar bay that even had all the lights working, Skyler noted as she set the ship down on the designated pad. There was no one visible to meet them, but that was hardly surprising since they would be expected to go through decontamination and scanning first. Putting the ship on standby before activating the security system, Skyler swung around out of her seat and stood with a flick of her tail. "Let's get out there. Be ready, but don't get too comfortable. We're not going to find Anastasiya here."

The five of them trooped down the ramp and made for the hatch marked DECONTAMINATION. It was the same sort of process they had been through many times: entering a chamber lightly misted with water vapor, being swept with compressed air as particles were scanned, and feeling the prickly heat of sensors delving deeply into their bodies to identify everything from alien diseases and cybernetics to hidden bombs. Skyler was wearing her usual midriff-baring tank and jeans with combat boots, and she kept her arms folded across her chest and her tail swishing as the moving walkway guided them through the first section of customs. Kartosh was dressed similarly, though he wore a bomber jacket as well, hands stuffed in his pockets as he rocked on his paws and whistled. After a few minutes, the walkway deposited them in front of a blast door, which hissed open to admit the group into a waiting room.

Hard plastic chairs bolted to the deck lined the bulkheads around similarly utilitarian tables under harsh lighting. A hallway continued on through the customs area with an office door flanking it on each side. The way forward was blocked by a booth covered by a shimmering hard-light field and occupied by a uniformed allevian woman, who watched them through dull blue eyes. "Welcome to Summit Station of the Daiasari Commonwealth," she said in the automatic way of someone who had repeated those same words hundreds of times before. "Papers, please."

As she examined each of their passports in turn, she asked every one of the mercenaries the same questions: "What is the purpose of your visit, and how long do you expect to be staying in the Commonwealth? Do you have anything to declare?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

User avatar
Alversia
Minister
 
Posts: 3231
Founded: Apr 26, 2007
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Alversia » Sun Apr 25, 2021 4:53 am

Down in the passenger compartment, Katie sat alongside Kartosh in exactly the same pose as he. She had been careful to mimic the tod precisely, shifting her weight from knee to knee, flexing her paws and twisting her tail as she kept glancing across to make sure her positioning was right. Her ears perked up as each of the little devices was removed from its berth, tail tip curling as she watched them with wide eyes. She could not help but giggle as the little four-legged AIs pawed and sniffed at her, one blue-furred hand coming out to pet each one in turn. She did not immediately answer Kartosh’s question but rather, each of the circular drones he had placed out began to spin about his head, turning over and over in a synchronised fashion while the spider bots danced in a conga and the dogs all rolled over onto their backs.
“I think I can control them,” She was evidently enjoying the show and clapped in delight at their performance before each resumed its previous stationary pose.

Chloe meanwhile, was up and eyeing the planet of Daiasari, that sense of ease only growing worse for seeing it. The ships they passed were automated, that much was clear and their flightpath was so heavily escorted that the vixen would have been surprised if so much as a speck of dust could have passed through without being detected and turned to dust. Even the station they approached filled her with a sort of melancholy. Summit Station could have been so beautiful, the architecture was gorgeous and evidently designed by someone who really cared about their craft but it was pockmarked with battle damage and vast expanses that had clearly been unfinished. That gave the whole thing a sad look to her, the beautiful work of art that had never looked as beautiful as its creator had wanted. It had been so attacked and damaged that it could never achieve those standards.

“Whoo,” Nat exhaled as she glanced up from her screen, “And you were saying our kitchen looks bad.”

“Our kitchen does look bad!” Chloe glared back over her shoulder at the Alversian, “Don’t think I’ve forgiven you for that.”

“Just wait until we get launcher 2.0 up and runn-“

“-no!” Chloe interrupted Nat right there, “Absolutely not.”

Nat said nothing more but had that infuriating look of rebelliousness that suggested it would be happening. Definitely at a point when Chloe least expected or was ready for it, either in terms of nerves or finances.

At Skyler’s request, she heaved herself out of her seat, tugged down the hem of her own midriff bearing top and then, with a single brush of her tail tip on Skyler’s shoulder, she headed into the back. Just in time to see Katie’s little performance come to an end, “Having fun?” She leant against the bulkhead with an indulgent smile, “You guys ready? We’re just landing now.”

"Let's get out there. Be ready, but don't get too comfortable. We're not going to find Anastasiya here."

Nat looked up with a pout, “Can we give it ten? This game’s nearly at half time and okay, okay,” she stood hurriedly at Skyler’s expression, “What’s ten sedar anyway. Okay, be ready but not too ready, got it.” She hefted up her sizeable combat shotgun and held it in one hand over her shoulder, “How does this look? Too ready?”

Once out, they went through the decontamination procedures so common that none of them really paid any attention to them. Once they were through and passed the customs agent one at a time, they each give their answers, presenting their papers at the same time.

“Chloe Kazu, here on a government contract. We’re not sure how long we’ll need to stay but it should be nine or ten days. We’re carrying a considerable amount of equipment and weaponry, our permits should be in our passports.”

“Um…K-Katie Kazu…we are here to h-help someone in trouble…we should be here t-ten days? I…um…I am an Artificial Intelligence. Is that…okay? Do you not like me?”

“Heya Pretty! Natalie Barnes, here to kick ass and drink beers and I’m all out of booze! We’ll probably be here however long it takes find a decent drink and a decent ass…to kick. Maybe. As to anything to declare, I have this,” A thump as the shotgun landed on the desk, “And that the Illesia Panthers have the worst defence in the league! 2-0 down to the Bears, can you believe that?” She shook her head in evident annoyance, “Say, you a betting woman as well as being good looking? Fancy a flutter?”
R.I.P. Shal
17/01/2010

R.I.P. Peg
04/06/2018

Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
~Jean-Luc Picard

Next

Advertisement

Remove ads

Return to International Incidents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Parcia, Piikala, Redpeake

Advertisement

Remove ads