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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-17 10:22pm
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White Mage
White Mage
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Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17494
Location: Tahalshia Manor
Ok... I'm caught up now.

You should know by now that I enjoy your BTech stories. That this one has yet to have Mechs means nothing, it's full of Scorpions and I fully expect Lucien to be abtakha by the end of it, or dead trying.



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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-18 10:01pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
Shuttle GS-417
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


Jason nodded as he finished circling the shuttle, examining the camouflage netting that the Scorpions had finished erecting. The storm had passed, and already the clouds were breaking above, but the canopy let very little illumination from Circinus’s two moons pass through to the jungle floor below. Still, what he had was enough—combined with the thick canopy, he was confident that the shuttle would be not spotted from the air.

His team waited for him as he turned his back on the vessel and walked over to them—Amanda, his second-in-command, the bondsman Lucien, Pilot Tyrell and Technician Robin, the old Warrior Walter Roche, veteran of the Dragoons and Snord’s Irregulars, a security team of five Elementals led by Point Commander Evelyn, and then . . . Jason shook his head. Scientist-Engineer Mathias and his team of four Technicians, assigned to evaluate the condition of the lost SLDF facility and prepare a report for the Khan.

“Scientist Mathias,” he said quietly as he stepped up close to the men and women, “a word if you please.” Jason then walked away out of earshot from the rest, the young man trailing in his wake.

“We have quite a hike in front of us, Mathias, and from our sensor data collected just before reentry, we have pursuers—that destroyer launch their entire shuttle complement on an intercept vector for us. Six ST-46 shuttles, which, if they are at their full load, can accommodate up to one hundred and thirty-eight personnel—one hundred and twenty of which can be trained infantry. They have but one purpose, to find us and to either kill us or capture us for interrogation.”

Jason paused and the young man nodded. “Including myself, I have ten Warriors and one Technician with survival training—and you and your technical team. We cannot slow down, which means that you and your Technicians must keep pace. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, Star Captain—I did undergoing survival training on Roche with my sibko before being assigned to the Scientist caste and I have made a point to remain in shape. My Techs are at the peak of their physical ability as well—I made certain of it.”

“Good. Do you remember your weapons training from the sibko?”

Sir?” Mathias asked in a puzzled voice.

“Mathias, you are true-born—while you were placed as a Scientist instead of a Warrior, you spent fourteen years of your life in the sibko receiving the same training as I or Amanda. Do you recall your weapons training?”

“Aff, Star Captain.”

Jason nodded and he motioned to Amanda who walked over shaking her head. “Kerensky help you if this gets out, Jason,” she muttered as she passed across to the scientist first a web-belt containing knife and an automatic pistol, and then a gauss sub-machine gun on a sling and a bandolier containing ammunition magazines.

“You are the only one of your team trained in weapons, Mathias. For the duration of this mission, I am authorizing you to carry these weapons—use them only in last resort. Is that understood?”

“A-aff, Star Captain,” he answered with a heavy swallow as he took the gear and put it on his body.

“Understand me on this, Scientist Mathias—I will leave no one behind to be captured, that includes wounded as well as those who cannot maintain the pace we are going to set. If your team cannot keep up, I will terminate them myself. Is that understood?”

“Perfectly, Star Captain,” he stammered and nodded.

Jason glared at the young man for a moment and then he nodded. He turned and walked back over to the main group. “Pilot Tyrell . . . is the shuttle secure?”

“Aff, Star Captain. Anyone cracks the hatch without entering the proper code, it will self-destruct and send us a signal. Of course,” he said wryly, “if that happens, we are well and truly up shit creek without a paddle—unless you have another means of getting us off planet, Sir.”

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it . . . I hope that they do not find the shuttle, but if they do, it will cost our pursuers some men. Point Commander Evelyn—has the gear been distributed?”

“Every Scorpion—military and civilian—has been issued a hydration pack, night-vision goggles, a scrambler-equiped, frequency-agile headset comm, and a medical kit, plus a rucksack with supplies, ammunition, munitions, ration packs, and sundry equipment. Warriors have their weapons as well, Star Captain.”

“Do we really need all this extra gear?” Lucien asked sotto voce.

Walter spat on the ground, and Jason smiled at the sight of the old man in his black fatigues, a knife on his hip, a sub-machine gun cradled in his arms, and a wide-brimmed bush hat on his head. “We need every piece of that gear, boyo, breaking into a sealed SLDF facility ain’t no walk in the park. Hell, we need twice as much, but everyone is packing damn fifty kilos as it is—three times that for you Elementals.”

"Four times your load, old man," laughed one of the Elementals.

“Lucien?” Jason barked, and the bondsman came to attention.

“Star Captain?”

“Your codex states you spent three years on Eden—jungle patrol?”

“Aff, Star Captain.”

“You have point, Bondsman. Scorpions, we are moving fast and quiet—keep your mouths shut unless there is a threat and then use your comm, they are short-ranged and not powerful enough to be detected—do not shout. This is the jungle, there will be predators present and plenty of hazards. Keep your focus on your sector and watch your step. Munitions are at a premium, so check your fire and make every shot count. Lucien, head out, everyone else, single-file, nice and easy, we have kilometers to travel before dawn arrives. Point Commander Evelyn, you have our six.”

“Aff, Star Captain,” the woman answered.

“Let us get moving, Scorpions,” Jason finished. And through the branches of the trees, he could see six fiery contrails burning aross the rapidly clearing night sky high above. “The clock is ticking.”

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-20 12:07am
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
Scorpion Expeditionary Party
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


“You enjoying the hike through this jungle, Mathias?” asked Jason quietly as he helped the scientist ascend a steep embankment.

“Technically, it is not a jungle, but a rain-forest. Circinus does have two rather dense jungles—far more so than this, and with less dry land, higher levels of humidity, an- . . .”

“I do not need a dissertation on the subject, Scientist,” Jason scolded with a chuckle. “How are your Technicians holding up?”

Mathias looked back down the slope and he nodded as his men kept plodding along, one just now starting up the incline. “They could use a rest, Star Captain—we all could. Dawn in two hours, and we have been marching for five. How much further?”

“About half-way to the coordinates I was given,” Jason answered. He frowned as he looked at the scientist and then at the loose line of Scorpions moving up the hill. Then he sighed and keyed his radio.

“Scorpions, form up on me—we are going to take thirty. Evelyn, I want the perimeter swept and remote sensors deployed, assist her Lucien. No fires.”

The only answer was clicks in his earpiece as the others signaled their acknowledgement.

“About bloody time, boy,” Walker said as clung to the rope and held out one hand for assistance in getting over the final hump. Jason reached down and grasped his forearm and pulled him up to the narrow plateau situated on the top of the ridge-line. “Just our luck, the ridges run perpendicular to our route, eh, Star Captain?” he panted.

“Could be worse, Walker. Could be a lot worse.”

“Yep, I won’t argue with that, Warrior,” he shook his head and then he patted Jason on the shoulder and found a granite boulder to sit down on, sighing as he slid off the pack he wore.

“Go ahead, Mathias, I will help the rest up,” Jason ordered. “Get what rest you can.”

“Neg, Star Captain,” he answered with a grin. “Haven’t had this much fun since I left my sibko.” And he reached down to extend his arm to Amanda, pulling her to the top, then he slid his pack off of his back and passed it to Jason. “You can carry this over there for me, though, if you do not mind.”

Jason snorted and he took the heavy pack and walked over to the rock Walker was lying down on; he sat down the scientists ruck and then his own, before squatting down with a sigh, as he took a long pull of water from the drinking tube on his hydration pack.

“What is for breakfast, Warrior?” he asked Walker as the old man pulled out a few ration packs.

“Does it matter, boy? It all tastes like crap anyway.”

Jason chuckled softly. He lifted his arm and checked the codex he wore—it was still two hours until dawn, and the temperature had bottomed out at a stifling 30-degrees centigrade . . . and the humidity was only 89%. And before the sun set tomorrow, it should be over 40-degrees with the same atmospheric moisture. He shook he head, sending droplets of sweat flying into the air, and then he pulled off one glove and his bush hat, and briskly rubbed his scalp.

“Walker?” he asked.

“Yes?” the old man answered as he swallowed a spoonful of grey stew.

“Where are all those critters you promised me?”

“They are reptiles for the most part, Star Commander. Most are underground, right now, but there are some out there—like that snake on the tree behind you . . . easy, he’s not venomous. Come dawn, when the temperature starts to climb and the mist rises, they will emerge from their dens—hungry,” he took another bite and nodded. “There are some nocturnal species, of course. But the dangerous ones are few and far between; unless we get real unlucky and meet up with one of Clayborne’s Frilled Dragons, we shouldn’t have a problem, not until dawn at least.”

“They cannot be dragons, Walker; they do not have wings,” Jason joked as he opened his own ration pack and spooned through the pasta and marinara sauce.

“Well, being as they are as big and temperamental as a black rhino from Terra, be glad they don’t have wings. Nasty critters, their saliva is packed with bacteria that infects the wounds—just like the Komodo Dragons of Terra. They bite and then they slink off as their prey dies from the infections, then they eat the rotten meat. Unless they are protecting their nest, in which case, they will just outright kill you.”

Walker ate another bite of the stew and shook his head. “We are going to have to cross that river today, boy—and that won’t be easy. Laredo’s lizards, they like the water. There are things in the rivers that would eat a Nile croc for lunch, and come back for seconds. Unless there’s white water, they will be there in force.”

“Understood—they are not particular about what they eat are they?”

“Hardly. Why?”

“And they are drawn to blood?”

“Like flies to shit, boy.”

“Well then. Perhaps we should arrange a meal for them, downstream of our crossing point when we reach there tomorrow.”

Walker smiled. “That might work—it might not. But, it is better than nothing.”

Jason took a bite and he chewed the cold, gummy food slowly, telling his taste buds to silence the protests they were screaming. He swallowed and dipped his spoon back in the pack, extracting a ball of some form of protein—but processed beyond all recognition. “How certain are you that you can find this place, Walker? The truth?”

“Oh, I can find it. But whether or not I find it before those who chase us catch up—that is a whole ‘nother question,” he put his spoon in the pouch and fished around for a moment, and then he shook his head. “If your information is right, we might be able to get in at the evacuation tunnel to the west, maybe even before they catch us. But the SLDF hid those things well—and just know is in a square kilometer doesn’t mean shit until you search that entire square kilometer . . . even then, we might miss it.”

He pulled out the spoon and took another bite, and for several moments neither man spoke as they chewed their food. At last Walker looked back up. “And if we do find, they are on top of us, that means they will probably know about it too.”

“How long until they could get it up and running?”

“Took the Dragoon’s better part of a decade to get the factories on Outreach on-line and spitting out ‘Mechs. I figure the Circinians ain’t going be as qualified.”

“And the Word?”

“Them bastards might well do it sooner. All depends on what sort of shape the place is in. Might not be anything there worthwhile, you know.”

“I know, but we have to see to make certain.”

“Aye. That we do,” and Walker quickly ate the last three bites of his meal, and then handed the empty pack to Jason. “Bury that for me, along with yours, Star Captain, if’n you don’t mind, that is. I am going to get some shuteye while I can.”

Jason nodded. “Evelyn,” he broadcast. “Perimeter set?”

“Aff, sensors in place.”

“Good, get your point—and Lucien—back here, have some chow, and get some rest before we head back out. Slave the sensors to my codex—I will keep an eye on them.”

“Aff, Star Captain.”

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-22 11:51am
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
Scorpion Expeditionary Party
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


Jason tensed as the Scorpions ahead of him slowly crouched amid the ferns and moss-covered detritus of boulders, fallen branches, and vines that covered the floor of the jungle—the rain-forest, he corrected as he shook his head. The Warriors were making the raised fist sign to halt in place and get to cover—but each covered their assigned sector with watchful eyes. The Technicians, on the other hand, they simply dropped to the ground; Jason joined them by crouching down slowly and he waited, but nothing emerged from the darkness of the pre-dawn primordial woods.

After waiting for several minutes and hearing only the buzz of the night insects, he began to slowly, carefully, quietly creep forward, remaining in a crouch as he moved forward along the line. One of the Techs began to rise up from the ground as the Star Captain passed him, but Jason put his hand on the woman’s shoulder and shook his head; she sank back into the rich soil and he continued forward. When he passed Warrior Jeremiah, he sank down and crawled the rest of the way up beside Lucien, who had volunteered to remain on point once the Scorpions resumed their night movement.

The Elemental bondsman squatted in a thick strand of ferns, and he frowned at the sight of long abandoned buildings ahead, the walls thick with creepers and vines and even full-grown trees emerging from open doors and windows and broken roofs.

The jungle—the rainforest—had reclaimed this community in the long centuries since Kerensky had relocated the civilians who once upon a time dwelt here. It lay on the very edge of the woods, atop a terraced hill that overlooked the broad and placid river below—but it was not the ruins that had caused the Elemental to pause. Jason cursed under his breath, for there were at least a dozen men gathered among the dilapidated structures, all dressed in green tiger-striped jungle fatigues.

He pulled out his field glasses and zoomed in on the men below—sure enough, each shoulder featured a subdued flash of the star and sword emblem of the Word of Blake. Jason lowered the glasses and tapped Lucien on the elbow, signing for the two of them to low-crawl back and away. The bondsman nodded and slowly, carefully, quietly, the two of them backed down the low ridge until the ruins and the men within them vanished into the night once more.

“Tarp,” Jason whispered, and Lucien pulled out a heavy folded piece of cloth that he arranged to cover Jason—once the Scorpion was certain that no light could escape, he keyed his codex and stared at the map he had uploaded into its memory. Although long out of date, the map still contained the location of this former community—and the lay of the land. Jason scrolled back and forth and then he shut down the codex again and pulled the stifling cover off of him.

“We will skirt the ruins to the south-east, and head down-stream following the course of the river—it narrows into a gorge two kilometers away, and we will try to cross there.”

“Aff, Star Captain,” Lucien whispered in reply. “I find it hard to believe it coincidental they are between us and the facility.”

“Agreed. Let us get to the gorge, and see if we can cross—we will not make it before dawn,” Jason paused as he heard a slight rustling sound; Lucien too turned his head. A Word of Blake trooper crossed over the top of the ridge and scanned the landscape in the night—he jerked as he spotted the two Scorpions, and Jason pounced, drawing his zulkari in one smooth motion. Before the soldier could yell, or even pivot his weapon, Jason was there, his hand covering the soldier’s mouth as he slammed the blade deep in between the ribs of the Blakist—but the warrior was not prepared for the raw strength of the trooper.

Without a sweep of his arm, the soldier slammed Jason down to the ground, the force of the blow stunning the Scorpion with its sheer force, as the trooper ignored the weapon that protruded from his chest. His reaction time greatly exceeded what Jason had expected and he watched as Blakist raised his rifle—then Lucien was there. One massive hand covered the troopers mouth, and a second knocked the rifle away. The two men struggled, and despite Lucien’s greater bulk and mass, the Blakist stood his ground and slammed a pile-driver fist into his side twice—but now Lucien had his second hand on the neck of the soldier and he twisted his opponents head suddenly to side. A dull CRACK sounded as the vertebra snapped and the trooper went limp.

Jason took no chances, and he drew his second zulkari across the throat of the downed man. “Free-birth,” he whispered as he got a good look at the trooper. The man had replaced both his arms and his legs with cybernetic prosthetics—bare metal with myomer muscle strands, and half of his face was also covered in metal. “What abomination is this?” he whispered. He pulled his first weapon free and then he severed the head from the body and tossed it one side, before wiping the blood clean from the blades and resheathing them.

Lucien gathered up an armload of ferns and covered the body, but the smell of blood was thick in the night—the local animal life would not leave it undisturbed for long. “Are you injured?” Jason asked.

“Only my pride—his strength exceeded my own, and he bruised my ribs, but was not successful in breaking them. Who would turn a man into a machine?”

Jason scanned the ridge, but no other soldiers emerged—the loner must have not reported to his superiors. “It is something we will deal with, Lucien. Get our people moving—and if you cross paths with more unaware of our presence . . .”

“Aff,” the Elemental whispered. “If they are alone, I will take them from surprise to prevent the alarm being raised,” he finished with a wince. “The mission is more important than honor at this moment.”

“It is a hard lesson, Bondsman, but one that all true Warriors of Kerensky must learn, if they are to ascend to what they are meant to be. Quickly and quietly, Bondsman—I want to be far from here when he is discovered.”

Jason signaled to the waiting Scorpions, and one-by-one they softly rose from the ground and began to circle around the ruins—and away from the cybernetically-augmented warriors of Blake.

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-25 02:01pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
ROM Special Operation Strike Force Smythe
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


“I thought you claimed to know the location of this hidden facility,” Justin Hawk asked the ROM agent over the holographic link.

Smythe frowned and he cocked his head to one side. “Demi-Precentor . . . are you questioning me?” he asked softly.

The Word of Blake official swallowed and he quickly shook his head. “N-no,” he answered. “I just do not understand why your men are roaming the jungle instead of waiting for these Clanners at the facility.”

Smythe sighed. “Demi-Precentor, we know the approximate location of General Kerensky’s old headquarters on Laredo . . . unfortunately, the details of its exact coordinates were never entered into the secure archives, if we even had them to begin with. That is what my term was tasked with—once you had secured an agreement with McIntyre, then we were to located the exact coordinates and breach the facility. The Master wishes us to discover if the rumors Kerensky had ‘Mech production lines here are true—and whether or not we can restore them to function in service of the Word. This . . . incident has made McIntyre side with us, so now I can do my job—once the Clanner infestation of this world has been cleansed.”

Smythe paused and he smiled at the pick-up lens of the field communicator. “Now, could you explain why the overflights I requested four hours ago have not yet arrived, Demi-Precentor?”

“The shuttles are en route to your location, Adept,” Hawk replied with as much indignation as he could muster. “They consume less fuel staying atmospheric, which will give you more time on station.”

“That is acceptable, Demi-Precentor. I shall contact you again once we have purified the infidels,” and with that, without waiting for a reply, Smythe terminated the communication link. “Jonas,” he said quietly, “you have word from the search parties?”

“Squad Sigma reports one casualty—but contact was broken. They are attempting to track those responsible. I have vectored Tau and Upsilon to assist in the search.”

The acolyte showed Smythe the location on a map and the older ROM agent nodded to himself. “Right where we thought they would try to cross the river. Our information on the location of the ruins must be correct—pursue them, but not too close. If they know the exact coordinate, Jonas, they might well lead us to the facility and cut months off of our mission here. Afterwards, we can take our time killing them.”

“As Blake wills, Sir,” the junior officer replied.

“And the Master dictates,” Smythe added.


May 11, 3056
Scorpion Expeditionary Party
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


“The remote sensors we left behind confirm it, Star Captain,” Evelyn whispered. “They are following us—but slowly. Right now, they are about a kilometer and a half behind us.”

Jason took a sip of tepid water from his hydration pack as he considered the situation. “Are they communicating?” he asked.

“Aff. They are using encrypted burst transmissions.”

“So . . . either they are waiting for additional forces to cut in ahead of us—lay out an ambush, perhaps . . . or,” his voice trailed off. And then he nodded. “Or they want the HQ and they are letting us lead them to it.” He paused again and listened the distant faint roar of a shuttle’s engines at high altitude. “Point Commander, I believe that is time we discouraged them from following us too closely. How many directional mines do we have?”

“A dozen, Star Captain.”

“Good. Let us lay in a surprise for them once we cross the gorge,” he finished. He gauged the distance again—the two cliff edges narrowed together here, but the separation was still at least ten meters if it was a decimeter. Unfortunately, the gorge was not likely to narrow any further.

“We will cross here—Lucien, we will require the grapple launcher you are carrying. Can you put the hook in the fork of that tree trunk on the opposite side?”

Lucien took a long look at the target and then he hefted the grapple launcher and its coils of high-tension line. “Aff, Star Captain. But the hook may not hold against my mass—or those of your security team.”

“Understood, Bondsman. Amanda, you are the lightest Warrior we have—can you cross once Lucien makes the shot and secures the anchor?”

“With ease, Star Captain,” she answered, shedding her pack and all weapons except for a laser pistol and a zulkari.

“Take the shot, Lucien,” Jason ordered quietly. The elemental raised the grapple launcher and he carefully aimed, raising the barrel as he evaluated the distance and the wind. There was a sudden POP and a puff of carbon dioxide as the gas cartridge propelled the grapple and line forward—the slender shaft flew through the air in a ballistic, wobbling slightly as the line trailed out behind it, then it flew through the Y-fork in the tree’s trunk and Lucien grunted. He pressed a button on the grapple launcher and the small motor within began to retract the line and the hook, the prongs of which had automatically deployed once it struck the ground beyond. Suddenly the motor began to whine, and the line hung taut—Lucien shut down the grapple launcher and extracted the line, wrapping it around his arm four times and he pulled hard with all of his mass . . . and the hook remained seated in the timber.

Jason nodded and his team anchored the line on this side securely around a nearby tree as he walked up to the edge. Beneath him, the gorge dropped nearly fifty meters to the rock-strewn river below. He turned back to Amanda, who was pulling on a climber’s rig attached to a a bulky device with a paired set of twin polymer wheels; Evelyn tied three heavier ropes to her belt as well. Jason approached her and he made a final check of the rig, pulling against the buckles and clasps and then he at last nodded in satisfaction.

Lucien and Evelyn lifted her up and she fixed the upper wheels to the line, then the lower, and locked the device in place, buckling onto the crawler with D-rings set in her harness. She nodded and both the Elementals stepped away and she hung there suspended on her back, facing up to the line, and she gave Jason a thumbs up. Jason smiled and he made the hand signal that WarShip crew gave the pilot of an aerospace fighter authorized for launch; she grinned in reply and saluted, and began to pull herself along the line slowly crossing over the gorge.

“Star Captain,” Evelyn said as Amanda pulled her across the chasm centimeter by centimeter. “The mines will delay them, certainly—but they will be able to follow the tracks these technicians are leaving, if our opponents are even reasonably skilled.”

“You have a suggestion, then, Point Commander, quiaff?”

“Aff. Once on the far side, I take the security team and the technicians, and we lead our pursuers on a wild goose chase—away from you and your team and away from the facility. You, Star Commander Djerassi, Pilot Tyrell, your bondsman, Walker Roche, and Scientist Mathias will go to ground until those who hunt us pass, and then you proceed to the facility without having the hounds on your heels.”

Jason frowned. “You realize that it is extremely unlikely that you and your Warriors will ever leave this planet again, if I accept your suggestion, quiaff?”

“Aff. Star Captain, this is our job. The mission has to come first, and our legacy will live on in our genetic heritage. And the civilians have had no survival training to speak of—except for the Scientist. I and my point will lead them as far away as we can, until the civilians drop from exhaustion, and then we will show our foes the meaning of the word Warrior.”

The Seeker nodded again and he sighed. Evelyn was a true Scorpion—she would make certain that none of those under her command survived to be interrogated. “What of Technician Robin? She has some survival training, after all.”

“Not enough, Star Captain. Not for this. She is much better than the other civilians, but she is still leaving a trail behind that any competent tracker can follow.”

It gnawed at him, leaving civilians to play the role of the sacrificial lamb, but damn it, Evelyn was right. He nodded. “Very well, Point Commander—pull the data-storage modules from codexes and we will return them to the Clan, along with your giftake.”

The woman smiled and she nodded. “We will do the Clan proud, Star Captain.”

“Aff. And I will see to it that you and your Warriors are honored.”

Jason turned back to the chasm and he noted that Amanda had crossed, unhooked her harness and secured the three parallel ropes upon which the rest of the team would make their own transit.

“Civilians first, then our gear and weapons, followed by Mathias, Walker, and Tyrell—Elementals last,” he ordered as he pulled off his own heavy rucksack began to buckle on his climbing harness. “Quickly, Scorpions.

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-26 05:59pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
ROM Special Operation Strike Force Smythe
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


Smythe frowned as there was a dull CRUMP in the distance, but the dense forest keep even his enhanced hearing from locating the proper direction. “All squads check in,” he ordered into the radio as he paused, wiping away the sweat from the flesh on half of his face. One by one, the ROM Strike Team squads reported in—except for Kappa. “Squad Kappa, report,” he ordered again. A long silence greeted him and he snarled. “REPORT!”

At the sound of a throat being cleared Smythe turned around to face his second in command. “Yes, Jonas?”

“Kappa reported a few minutes ago that they had discovered a Clan shuttle and were securing it, Adept,” he said quietly.

Smythe pursed his lips and he nodded. He clenched one fist and then he released it, instead raising his rifle and firing a short-burst into one of the local lizards—the pack scattered, but then came back and began to tear bloody chunks of the flesh away.

“Did Kappa report anything else before they went silent?” the ROM agent asked.

“Only that the shuttle had Scorpion markings upon its exterior.”

“Scorpion? Now it makes sense, Jonas,” he said brightly. “They are here for the SLDF complex—and they know where it is. We sh- . . .” another series of explosions sounded in the distance, and Smythe sighed. “Jonas, is there something wrong with our bloody infantry today?”

The other ROM officer stood silent as he listened to the incoming transmission and then he nodded. “Sigma reports heavy casualties from directional mines laid on their line of advance—they know we are after them,” Jonas paused and shook his head. “Booby-traps? Mines? Could these not be renegades after all?”

Smythe snorted. “The Clan’s so-called honor code is a kilometer wide, but only skin-deep. They break it as they see fit, justifying their deeds with claims of their opponents being dishonorable. The Scorpions are no less hypocrites in this regard to the remainder of the Clans—they stood by and allowed Nicholas Kerensky to transform the Clans from the proud SLDF into the abomination they are today. They stood by and did nothing when our ancestors were accused of an atrocity—when it was Nicholas who set off that bomb.”

The cyborg drew in a deep breath. “Soon enough, Jonas, we will deal with the Clans once and for all time . . . it will be a,” and he smiled. “A Final Solution.”

He looked out over his men, children one and all of those few survivors who had fled so long ago and he nodded. “I tire of letting them draw us onwards—let us converge upon them and kill them as the scum they are.”

“By your command, Adept,” Jonas answered.

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-26 10:32pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
Scorpion Expeditionary Party
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


Jason looked up as he heard the distant thunder of the explosion—at nearly the same moment, he felt his right forearm tingle as the codex he wore informed him of the death of the shuttle. And he sighed. He checked the ground one more time to make certain that no sign of their passage had been left . . . satisfied, he carefully stepped from rock to rock and slid through the curtain of vines that hid the narrow cave mouth. He made his way through the curving, falling passageway until the mouth was hidden completely by the rock—his eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, but then he saw the faint green glow of the chemical light sticks ahead.

Jason stepped down as the passage dropped again and he round the last bend into a relatively spacious cavern. Amanda looked up at his approach and she nodded. “The shuttle.”

“Aff. They found it and the self-destruct worked.”

“Well, that’s great,” muttered Tyrell. “Even if we are not found by the hunters, we have no way off this rock.”

“There are always options, Pilot,” whispered Jason. “Are we getting the feed from the remote sensors?”

“Aff,” replied Mathias. “And those surats will not detect the transmission—that I will guarantee.”

“Hope you are right, Scientist,” Tyrell said shaking his head. “Otherwise, our long lingering deaths to starvation or predation will become short painful deaths to gunfire.”

Mathias frowned and he shook his head. “Pessimism is strong in your genes, Pilot Tyrell.”

“Remember your pla-. . .” the pilot began to snarl, but Jason cut him off.

“Enough. Our Scorpion trothkin are buying us an opportunity with their lives out there—let us not waste it by fighting amongst ourselves.”

Jason waited until first Mathias and then Tyrell nodded. He glanced at Walker, and then Amanda, and then Lucien in turn. Each nodded their agreement, and at last Jason too nodded. “We must take refuge here until the hunters pass—how far back does this cavern go? There must be another entrance, I can feel the air flow through this passage.”

“Aff,” Walker answered with a smile. “About five meters behind us the cavern drops off into a steep tube that goes at least ten meters further down before bottoming out . . . I would not recommend walking in your sleep,” he finished with a chuckle.

“How far done does it go? And is it possible that anything lairs there?”

“I don’t know, and anything is possible, Star Captain. But there is sign of any creature of significant size passing through that tube—Lucien there would only barely fit.”

Jason nodded. “Set up another remote sensor on the tube and I would advise, trothkin, that you get some rest. We will keep watch in turns—teams of two, two hours per shift. Tyrell and I will take the first watch, followed by Amanda and Mathias, then Lucien and Walker. We may be in here for a few days, so stay quiet and calm. The Scorpion is patient . . . now we must follow his lead.”

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-27 05:06pm
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
Posts: 1039
May 11, 3056
Scorpion Expeditionary Party
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


Lucien turned his head at the faint sound of scuttling from back in the cavern. The sounds stopped and he frowned, then he heard it again, very faint.

“Did you hear that?” he whispered.

“Hear what?” Walker asked as he nibbled on a piece of thick bread from his ration pack and scrolled through a book reader.

“It sounded like an insect.”

The old man snorted. “There are always insects in caves, boy.”

Lucien shook his head and then he stood. “I will be back,” he said. Walker did not bother to reply as Lucien picked up one of the chemical light sticks and slowly made his way towards the rear passage of the cavern. He shook the stick and snapped it, activated the cold light carefully made his way back to the tube that descended down into the earth below.

CLICK-CLICK, he heard again faintly and he turn to the wall—and he froze as he saw a green and black scorpion perched up on a rock that jutted from the cavern wall; it was about the size of one of his hands, and it remained still as he stared at it. Slowly the scorpion raised it claws, and then it lowered the sting; it ran down the wall and into the tube at Lucien’s feet—pausing half-way around to turn about and look at the Elemental once again, before continuing on into the darkness.

Lucien stared at the tube for a moment, and then he dropped the light stick down—and the scorpion sat there at the bottom, as if it were waiting for him to follow.

The elemental shook his head and he turned away, heading back in the main chamber where he squatted down next to Walker. “There’s a scorpion in there,” he said quietly.

Walker looked up at the big man and he frowned. “There are no scorpions on Circinus, boy, except us. It may look like a scorpion, but trust me, there aren’t any on this world.”

“No, it was a scorpion.”

“Look boy, insects look a lot alike—there aren’t any scorpions here,” and with that, the old man turned over on his side and scrolled to the next page.

Lucien looked over at the rest of the sleeping Warriors and he shook his head. He picked up a coil of rope and headed back towards the tube.

*****************************************************

Walker looked up and he sighed. Damn it, boy! He groaned softly as he got to his feet and he headed deeper into the cavern. “Lucien, it wasn’t a scor-,” he started, but stopped as he realized Lucien wasn’t there. And then he saw the rope looped around a stalagmite, the line descending into the tube, where a green glow-stick still shed light. “Shit.”

*****************************************************

Jason sat up with a start as Walker touched his shoulder. “We’ve got a problem—your bondsman has gone off exploring the cave. Said he saw a scorpion and went after chasing it—he isn’t addicted to necrosia, is he?”

The Seeker didn’t answer, but he woke Amanda. “Lucien has wandered off, Star Commander. Keep watch until Walker and I return—if we are not back in an hour, come looking for us,” he ordered as he picked up a pack and buckled on his weapons belt.

“Get your gear, Walker, let us go find our lost scorpion.”

*****************************************************

The tube was slick, steep, and narrow, but with the aid of the rope, Jason slid safely down to the floor ten meters below. A light stick sat on the floor and ahead of him Jason could see another . . . the cave widened out here, and moisture slowly dripped down from the ceiling and the tube. He began to make his forward across the rocky ground, slowly placing his feet where he was certain the ground was solid. Through the winding passage he kept going, Walker following close behind him—and then he saw Lucien . . . and what his bondsman had found.

The Elemental stood in front of a sealed airlock-style hatch, one ungloved hand resting upon the metal which bore a Cameron star. And perched on one rock nearby, stood a scorpion.

Holy shit . . . that is an Asian forest scorpion, Star Captain! From Earth! How the hell did it get out here? There aren’t any scorpions on Circinus!” Walker sputtered softly.

Lucien turned around and he nodded. “I told you I saw a scorpion, Walker. Star Captain, I think we have found what you were looking for.”

“And a Falcon will lead the way,” Jason whispered.

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-27 11:09pm
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White Mage
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Location: Tahalshia Manor
Falcon's eyes see the farthest. Now, however, how DID a forest scorpion get THERE?



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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-27 11:14pm
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LadyTevar wrote:
Falcon's eyes see the farthest. Now, however, how DID a forest scorpion get THERE?


Hitched a ride on WoB DropShip? It's distant ancestor was a pet of an SLDF officer? It teleported across more than thousand light-years? I leave it to your imagination.

MA

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-29 09:42pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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May 11, 3056
Scorpion Expeditionary Party
Laredo
Circinus, Circinus Federation


Jason entered a long and complicated code into the panel set into the rock beside the airlock hatch, while the rest of the team filled the narrow cavern behind him. As the final digit was entered and he keyed the access command, the door groaned, and then the wheel began to slowly spin, dust spraying outwards—with a tremendous sigh, the bolts retracted and the hatch swung open, revealing a small airlock, the lights automatically coming on.

“Power . . . well, the batteries still have life at least,” Jason said.

“Actually, that’s bad news,” Walker replied with a frown as he examined the controls on the inside. “The automated defenses are still on-line and . . . damn!”

“What?” Jason asked as the old man began to curse.

“They locked this place down hard before they abandoned it, Star Captain. Full nitrogen atmosphere on the interior—and it will take six hours to restore levels of oxygen necessary to sustain life,” he shook his head as he scrolled through the schematic. “God in heaven, this is a big facility—bigger than any SLDF Castle Brian I have ever crawled through, at least.”

“The codes won’t deactivate the defenses?” Jason asked.

“They should—but the software is two and half centuries old. What if they don’t recognize your authority to be here? Automated weapon stations aren’t something we use in the Clans—but the SLDF did for their major bases. Good news? If the interior has a nitrogen atmosphere, that means no breaches. So, everything should still be operational and . . .” his voice trailed off and Walker began to laugh.

“And the joke is?”

“There is a shuttle bay with seven K-1 DropShuttles according to this schematic—and fuel in the base storage tanks.”

Tyrell’s eyes lit. “K-1s? I can fly a K-1. We are not marooned here after all!”

“Save the enthusiasm, Pilot. There may be a Baron-class destroyer in orbit when we lift off—and you are not faster than an aerospace fighter in one of those DropShuttles, even if they are operational,” Jason warned.

“Details, Star Captain. There are seven things here I can fly—that is what matters,” the Pilot finished.

Mathias was practically hopping up and down, though. “We have breathers—can we not go ahead and enter the facility? I have only a limited time to conduct my inspection, after all?”

Jason considered it and then he shook his head. “Neg. We will wait until the atmosphere finishes its purge cycle—Lucien, where does this passage end?”

“I followed it as you instructed, Star Captain, while the others were making their way here—it goes another fifty meters to a large chamber with a pool of water, safe for drinking my codex said after I tested it. There is an opening in the rock roof—about a meter in diameter—that is the source of this breeze, and the water as well. The water runs off into another passage going down further into the rock, but that route is partially flooded. Only a few scorpions, and some insects, nothing larger are present.”

Jason nodded and he set an alarm on his codex. “Amanda, can you ascend through the tube and removed the ropes and signs of our passage—Lucien you can catch her when she slides down, quiaff?”

“Aff,” the two answered.

“Good. In the meantime, we will wait until the atmosphere inside is safe to breath—and that means we are back on rotation. Keep talking to a minimum—there are two exits through which our foes might hear us.”

And with that, Jason sat down on the bare rock, lifted a meal pack, and began to eat. One by one, the rest joined him as Amanda and Lucien went to retrieve the rope.

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 Post subject: Re: The Seeker PostPosted: 2012-10-30 02:55pm
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White Mage
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Location: Tahalshia Manor
I fear a purge of Nitrogen will be noticed, unless it's venting somewhere other than atmosphere.



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