Alpha Prime, Straggis Nebula
It floated in a large tub of water. Made of the same metal from the ship it inhabited, the bathtub was big enough to let it fit comfortably and even float in the freshly pumped water.
Theyd been using gray water for over a month, recycled through the pumps of the Stormrunner, cleansed of bacteria from other users of the cleaning station. A woman walked in with a towel, looking at the back of its head.
You almost done? ZealPropht looked at it with a smile. He turned his head slightly, and Gasper S. Keltner glanced out of the corner of his eye at her.
Give me five more minutes. Im checking the water regulation control valves.
The hot water heater, right.
Cant blame me. I just got done overhauling the drive units. Gasper stretched, and grabbed a towel from her hands. Standing and covering himself, he stepped out of the tub and went behind a partition.
Youre right, I cant. But at the same time, were still not in a position to just relax and take a bath.
I bet youre just mad I didnt ask you to join me. She blushed a deep red, and then quickly shook her head, dismissing her embarrassment. She turned around, away from where he stood dressing. Anything on the last run out of the nebula?
Zeal sighed, than cleared her throat. Yeah, I have a data pad if you want to take a look. You could probably make better sense of these readings.
Throw it over. She did. He stood there in a pair of comfortable pants, clicking his tongue every once in a while. This aint good.
What isnt? Walking out with no socks and no shirt, he made his way towards his small locker, pulling out a green shirt that was a trademark for him. Gasper turned and picked the pad up again after throwing it on the bed, and started scanning again. Well?
In a minute.
Cmon Steve! She almost lost her temper with him, the fourth time this week. He glanced up at her and shook his head.
Okay. Pulse trails add up to some new probes they threw our way. But the cosmic forces in this cloud have clogged up their sensors. With Earth not around, and losing a good chunk of his navy and ground troops, hell stop soon. He doesnt have the money to throw away. We hurt him fiscally, but that dont mean hes not gonna stop. Throwing the pad down again, Keltner sat on the bed, and ran his hands through his hair. His headaches were back again, and he tried to concentrate as hard as possible. He groaned a little, than shook his head. Hows your magic? And dont be stand-offish, I want the truth.
You sound like Icy and Saul. Im tired darling, and I cant synch with this world.
What about ethers? They could keep you running for a while.
But theyre like penicillin, they do less good sooner then ever these days. Steve stood up and took her hands in his. She embraced him, and he felt Zeal shiver in his arms. Im sorry Im so useless. He ran his hand through her hair, cradling her in his arms.
No you arent. I know this is hard right now. But well find a way. She pulled away to look at him, her mascara a bit smeared by tears. Look, were going on a run to a science station. We need some supplies, and I need to talk to my black market contact. He might have a few mana prisms.
I wont lose you hon, I promise. Gasper took her hand in his, smiling and putting on his best face. Leading her to the small living quarters, he found the large satellite dish chair that contained a large cushion, he leaned back into it, and she turned in his arms. Both comfortable, they kissed deeply for a moment, letting the stress flow out of their lives and returning to some normalcy. They sat there for a time, enjoying each other for the first time in days.
Getting cozy, are we? She jumped in his arms as Saul peeked in on the two. His tall form was unable to block the doorway, but the armor he wore adequately made up for it.
Theres just no privacy anymore. Whats up? Zeal slowly made her way up and went over to the bed to sit.
Were ready to lift off when you are. I thought Id give you a two a few minutes before I let you know. The Venezuelan grinned like a mischievous schoolboy.
Laugh it up, sure. Gasper replied, making his way up from the chair. All right well, wed better head out then. Is everyone accounted for?
Saul saluted, still mocking the Dragoon. Yes Captain. Present company accounted for.
Knock it off, and go swab the decks during take off. Zeal couldnt help but laugh at the comment as the tactician smiled and walked away.
Taran felt the warm wind on his face this afternoon, hours into his prayer and meditation. Only a month after his mysterious resurrection, he was still contemplating the course of events that occurred.
He remembered it all. To say the least he could never put the experience into words; it was something too spiritual to talk about at this point. Several of his friends had even breached the subject on occasion, but were denied explanation of the revival. Noticeable differences were then never asked about; his new equipment, his increase in strength, his mastery of curative and holy magics.
No, its not the right time yet. Perhaps soon though. Hed said to himself time and again. He opened his eyes slowly, looking across the horizon and seeing a small black shape in the distance. It was running fast, going east at what he guessed could be around fifty or so miles an hour. It, of course, had to be Nanaki.
Curiouser and curiouser. He noted, unsheathing the sword and summoning the white magic to his aid. It was time to head back to the ship.
He kept running across the golden plans, testing himself in the beast and bioorganic forms. The transformation was astounding, and easier to complete after training for a month. The lithe form of the organic-machine made it easier to conserve energy, but the original form offered more power at a greater cost. Contemplation not being a strong suit in some cases, Nanaki turned to the thought that as a beast-machine, he had to balance the two out. The ultimate transformation was in him somewhere, but where, he was unsure.
For the time being, this was normalcy for Minmei. Less then a month ago, shed been the systems administrator for the Legion of Fantasy; and shed been fine with that, working with her friend Jerm on the Complexs defenses and other areas of the large mainframes held on Isla Agrua. The quote that was then, this is now, came to her mind as she dug through the list contained on the data pad. She huffed once more, frustrated for the twelfth time in the last half hour. Lynn was more or less the supply and ordinance coordinator now; and while she didnt mind this either, their lack of contacts in space made buying and selling difficult. DK sat by her that morning, their table part of an unoccupied bar on a small backwater planet that bordered the Horace Cluster and the Milky Way.
Thats it. Im really getting sick and tired of this.
I could tell. He simply replied, bringing a cup to his mouth and taking a swallow.
Its too early to drink.
Its not alcohol. Minmei sneered slightly, turning off the pad and barely containing herself into not slamming it to on the tabletop. Look. I know youre not happy. But this is a basic retrieval mission. We grab LorenLeah, then head back to the ship and wait for JWolf. Dont think about work, just vegetate.
Ugh, men. Im just going over the figures, and while Gasper did set aside quite a bit of money, but its going to cost us a fortune just finance this little rebellion. We have nothing to barter in, have little to no contact aside from the folks JWolf got in touch with. Im sick of it DK. I want to go home. I dont care anymore if its just a ball of dirt, and all life is gone, I just want to go home! She put her head in her hands and set her elbows on the table.
The man nodded in agreement, turning back to people watch. I dont blame you, but this is the way it is, and theres nothing we can do about it.
Im not going to just grin and bear it.
Didnt ask you to, Im not. In any case, theres Loren, lets go.
The Wind Priestess slowly made her way through the crowd, and sat down by DK. Waiting long?
Nope. Just sittin and havin a drink. Howd it go? The large man shifted, looking out from his vantage point.
Theres nothing here for us, lest JWolf comes back with something. I was unable to find the suitable items you requested, and truthfully, this arid climate is something I cant appreciate. She handed the small pad over to the ordinance officer. I did hear an interesting piece of news. Seems that there is a human colony about two or three light-years away from here. Its supposedly one that popped up suddenly about four hundred years ago.
Minmei shrugged. How large is it?
Estimates say about two to five million people. DKs eyes bugged out, and Minmei shook her head. If we found them, they might be able to aid us.
Whats the planet called?
New Virginia. The two lost it again.
JWolf looked at the people in front of him, and smiled a large toothy grin. Do we have a deal?
The Flash may be a small faction, but they have great political power in this part of the galaxy. This offer is something we cant refuse though. To be free of his annual visits to enlist our young men and women and soil our lives with garrisons of corrupt officers and soldiers, oh what a dream come true. But how do we do this?
By pledging your support, Dr. Uzukawa, we would be on call when you need us in case of planetary crisis or disaster.
You make them sound like a group of super men.
Not far from the truth.
Im sorry Mister mister Uzukawa struggled for a moment, reaching for the name of the ambassador.
Wolf. My organization only asks for places to re-supply, safe harbors where in return, we can exchange our services. The doctor, a middle-aged man who was the governor of the planet, looked out his window on the fifth floor of the building, and sighed. The tallest on the world, it served great vistas of the rainforests to the south of the city. He turned to look at the mercenary, still somewhat perturbed by his appearance. The man was easily taller then he, and the weapons check they put him through produced too many armaments to give Uzukawa any sort of secure feeling.
Yes, yes, I understand the threat the Flash poses, and by the way you make your team sound, its as if theyve had run-ins with General Repike before. But I have a world to take care of, and I cant have rabble-rousers hiding in my cities and looting my treasuries and food stores.
So youd rather live under a totalitarian rule then to oppose him and be free?
The doctor turned and nodded solemnly. Yes. Im sorry Mr. Wolf, but there is no way I can help you and keep the populace safe.
Then Im sorry to hear that. Do enjoy your slavery. Ill show myself out. Wolf turned and walked out of the office, fuming at the infuriating leader. He stepped into the elevator, and pushed the button for the ground floor. The doors closed, and while he was alone, he slowly looked up and around for any sort of surveillance devices in the car. Noting nothing to his knowledge, but still on guard for anything.
The capital ship stood still in its orbit around Bandover, and while the ships captain was ready to search every vessel that came off the small dirt ball, he was at the same time hesitant. His mind flashed back to the month of work it had taken to replenish the wasted personnel and supplies it took to attack the so-called protectors of Earth.
The General paid him well though, as his family on his home world benefited from the private security detail and large payments for Dilaris services rendered. And while Antorn Dilari was away from his wife and three children, he still enjoyed the occasional junior officer who pleaded for transfer to his command. A fair man, he would consider it, though mostly asking for favors in return. Outer space was lonely, he reasoned, and why not help (but mostly himself) the other lonely souls in their search for a place in the universe. His eyes rarely wandered from the view ports in front of him as he stared down the small planet that encompassed his vision. There was a ship on that planet, full of rebellious children who General Repike would pay handsomely for.
His chief engineer was something to look at though. She always rebuked his offers to share a quiet dinner. While her face was beautiful, her body was fully sexual in nature, in his mind that is. The woman also detested the rumors shed heard about Dilari, seeing the occasional young man or woman exit his state-room with more then a semi-rumpled uniform. The bruises were one thing, bruises heal; the cuts, the yells and screams of pain were another matter. Her life was lonely though, now that her lover had been taken in as one of the dead commandos Repike used as target practice and re-animation experiments.
She wasnt alone though; other senior officers were noticing the deteriorating morale that saturated the ship. And a rat never wants to go down with a sinking ship.
Dilari looked away from the thick panes of transparent steel, and smiled. Watch for outbound traffic, they must be caught soon and sent to the General.
Aye sir. The lieutenant said, saluting her commanding officer; her one time fuck not even remembered by his busy mind. The promotion entailed more then the occasional extracurricular duty. Degraded was a word shed become fond of as of late. Degraded was her take on what she thought Dilari had done to her and a few others. Maybe the engineer was right, it was time for mutiny. She was still sore from the other night, not expecting what had happened when she reported for Evening Debriefing.
He walked back to his office, looking for any fresh meat, when he finally gave up after five minutes of looking. Uzukawas planet held nothing more for him, and a recruitment drive would do little to satisfy his tastes. Antorn finally decided that it was time to make a move on the engineer when he found himself in his office. Pressing a pad by the door, the lights refused to turn on, as was the desired effect for a light switch.
Dammit all to perdition. He said as he groped for a light stick. His hands found something soft and padded though, and he retracted them quickly. Red light flashed across the room, illuminating the figure that stood in front of him. She was shorter them him by a foot, her eyes flashing a magical green to them. She smiled at him suddenly, for when he looked again, she was gone.
Come now Little Annie, do you want to play with a real woman? Confusion washed over his mind as he pounded the light switch, illuminating the room with light. The woman was revealed, her red hair cascading over one eye before she slowly brought her hands up and pushed the bangs aside and gathered them with a hair clip. The red head put her hands down and suddenly flicked one. The rustling of the sleeve caught his eye. She held a small blade in one hand, barely five inches long, and sharp as her wit.
What is the meaning of this!
Youll see. She leapt at him with fury in her eyes, and the knife quickly sunk into Antorns chest, the crimson blood already started soaking the uniform that covered the wound. The woman pulled back, wiping her hands on a towel she had picked up. Antorn slowly felt his life force bleed away, and suddenly, images of his wife standing over him came flowing through his mind.
Regika! Why! But the assassin snickered.
Im not Regika they call me Lazuli . His world faded to black.
Lazuli stood over her victim, barely able to contain the excitement of her kill. She twirled around for a moment, then thrust her hand out and gave a peace sign. Victory! She giggled, and then slowly donned her stolen uniform. It was time to get off this pirate ship. Lazuli almost held her tongue and said that out loud.
Chief? Theres an unauthorized launching in docking bay three. Alana Staplos looked at the screen that detailed the ships departure.
Its no concern of ours, go back to all clear for now.
But Maam, There is a memorandum stating we must report all suspicious activity to the captain. Article Thirty-
I said not to disturb him, do I make myself clear?
The ensign gulped. Yes Maam, understood. Alana looked out the viewport and smiled to herself. Thirty thousand was more then enough to keep her quiet. And if the red haired woman and done what she planned, Alana would no longer be dealing with the bastard commanding officer.
To Be Continued
LegionQuest: Retribution is Copyright © 2002 Gasper S. Keltner. Characters used within are used by permission, and are copyright their respective owners. Some ideas and such are copyright their respective owners, and are used without their permission. No harm was intended to any company or individual in the making of this work.
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