"Tch. If anything, he has nerve," the Brigadier muses as he rubs his eyes, his vision still blurred. "But it is of no consequence."
Darkov had not at all been pleased with his men's incompetence, which had allowed Ritter to escape without so much as a plasma round fired. Yet, he could not help but to be amused by the development. That he found the aristocrat on the bridge at all had come as nothing more than a surprise; he was largely irrelevant to his plans. Cutting off escape from the island was their priority.
Then we will be free to hunt, he thinks with a grin, before putting a hand to the comlink hidden within his ear canal. "Proceed with the operation," he commands, transmitting the message to his men in the weapons control room. In time, they would reload the Virago's primary weapon and pivot the turret towards the nearest operational ship.
'Von Zombi's dead - I knew it...I knew that assignment would be his end. I told him so. Poor Gigus!' Cassies thoughts whirl as the despair of death flits across her face.
"I know, life is too fleeting, that's why we have to get out of here. Get to the Ament; that I repaired or one of the other ships! Yours Taraz?" Cassie asks remembering her earlier conversation but being fearful of where the mechanic Cassie is.
"Don't cry, Lady Massri, we'll be safe soon! The sooner we rush out of here. Should we go though the passages or out the garden?" an uncertain note hits her voice as she is frightened by the chance of destruction.
|Taraz the Wastrel|
Taraz allows his outstretched arm to fold over the young woman. Her concern for him makes him smile. While Rashida seems upset, she doesn't appear to be in any more danger than anyone else. And apparently, the snakes were not her only magic trick. An amused smile played about Taraz's lips to imagine this beautiful woman as dangerous. As far as Taraz could discern, Rashida didn't have prior experience with fighting and killing, as most nobles wouldn't typically. Taraz knew his own family's proclivity for such things was wholly unusual. But everyone had their secrets, and Rashida Massri was proving to be no exception.
Wrapping his other arm around Rashida, Taraz listened as she spoke somewhat manically about her experience and worry. "I am okay. Really. I...I just need a drink to help calm my nerves." Taraz knew explaining he actually needed a lot to drink right now was probably just going to upset Rashida further. When they had the time, he was going to explain some things...and probably ask some questions as well. Without even thinking about it, Taraz breathes the scent of her hair. He felt a little silly when he realized it. How could she have come to mean so much in so short a time?
"This has gone far different than I expected...though I should have...If I had known von Ryuko had gone to such great lengths..." Taraz shook his head. "I think I have underestimated this situation greatly. There were indeed soldiers in the garden. I fought them as Andrezi and I were coming out of this passage. I pray the Russian is alright. I ran into Mlle. DuSollier here coming from the beach. Some kind of large mechanized clockworks were emerging from the surf. We must gather the others and get off this island as soon as possible."
Still holding Rashida close, Taraz regards Cassie with a small smile. He raises his voice slightly to include her. Though if her uncanny hearing from earlier was any sign, this act was unnecessary.
"I encountered some more robotic replicas. Inactive in a laboratory. I destroyed them with a controlled explosion. But you may find it interesting to know two replicas were already missing. One of the General Eldon Gorski. The other? Our own dear Cassie."
Taraz eyes narrow slightly as he looks at the young woman, and while he may not be aware of it, he holds Rashida to himself even tighter. The mitochondria are clamoring angrily now, and Taraz begins to open the pathways slightly. The world rushes into a greater detail, time begins to feel fluid again. His head has cleared mostly, but he can still feel the the presence of the two women and knows he will have to be careful lest his mind be overrun by the warring feelings amplified by the mitochondria's involvement.
"I do not trust you," Taraz says to Cassie simply. "There is no way to know what you know that I could test. Knowing von Ryuko, the replica would have been supplied with any and all communication that I may have had with Cassie DuSollier since the beginning of this...party. If you are not the Cassie we know and love," this word comes out differently than the rest, "then know I will be watching you carefully. Baron Gigus von Zombi's replica was greatly repentant for his role in this game. I would prefer to think you are the same. Cassie has swore that she will find a way to restore Gigus. So if you are not her...or have never been her as is possible...you should consider this."
Taraz gestures to the figure on the floor. "If this is any indication, at least one of us here can destroy perfectly when threatened. If you are not the wench-wielding woman, consider your own existence is tolerated at our whim. Cross us, and it will be to your own misfortune."
Releasing Rashida, Taraz takes his eyes of Cassie and looks down at the Massri clan member. Her eyes were just so dark and beautiful. Taraz couldn't help but feel that the answer to many of the mysteries of life lay in those eyes. An upsurge of fascination and attraction came bringing a euphoric moment. This was followed by a stab of guilt. Taraz knew that long term involvement would lead only to one thing. Exposure to the Rorensons. Taraz forced the thought away. No, not now.
He allowed the mitos more access, bringing his senses to greater attunement. If Cassie wasn't Cassie and made an attack while his eyes weren't on her, he would be more than fast enough to meet it. So he had a moment to...
When the moment was done, Taraz looks from Rashida to Cassie. "We must get the others. Time is not on our side. The Baron von Ryuko is determined to keep us on this island. So it is of the utmost importance we leave. Let's go."
|Taraz the Wastrel|
Taraz looks back to Rashida. His next words are very soft.
"If anything happens...if we are separated or worse..." Taraz squeezes Rashida's hand as her breath catches at what he is suggesting. "Listen...if something unexpected happens, keep the Duchess close to you. She is a helmetcat. She is very capable, and she should be able to take care of you. I know that may sound crazy, but trust me, she will be a powerful ally.."
Taraz's arms felt right around her, and he seemed right. And the kiss... oh, the kiss felt very right. Rashida almost melted at the embrace, only a little part of her mind realizing there was still danger. A faint remnant of the Presence lingered, and she tentatively called it. Amazingly, it responded easily, so easily, like never before. In the intimacy of the kiss, she reached out to this Taraz, assessing his very soul as she had done at the party, and felt his familiar being - her protector, as Cassie was, but more. Knowing he would not let her come to harm like this, she released all worry, all concern, and luxuriated in the contact.
Weak-kneed and trembling in the aftermath, Taraz's words registered slowly. Her grip on him tightened. "Wait. I... this is not Cassie, I think, but she acts like her. She does not seem to know what happened at the party. But her first instinct at the giants' appearance was to protect us. I think - think - we can work with you, 'Cassie', as long as no harm has come to the real Lady DuSollier. My... my brother certainly had the same feelings as the real one, hence his attempt at murder." She rubs her tender throat gingerly and takes a deep breath, nestling against Taraz for comfort.
"My brother - the real one - is out there on the island. I released him from the Baron's trap. I could do nothing against the giants, I thought, and he... he certainly can. He looks like that" -- she points to the body on the floor -- "only he may, um, be different. He may have a head resembling a lion. Or he may be a lion. In any case, he cannot harm the nobles that were at the party. I have forbidden it."
She remains in Taraz's arms as she looks to Cassie. "If you are not Cassie, you may be in danger from him. I do not know if I can protect you. I shall try, as long as you do not play us false. If there is anything you can tell us, now may be a good time."
Still holding Rashida close, Taraz regards Cassie with a small smile. He raises his voice slightly to include her. Though if her uncanny hearing from earlier was any sign, this act was unnecessary.
"I encountered some more robotic replicas. Inactive in a laboratory. I destroyed them with a controlled explosion. But you may find it interesting to know two replicas were already missing. One of the General Eldon Gorski. The other? Our own dear Cassie."
A chill starts up Cassies spine as the wastrel starts to talk to her directly. Her jaw drops as goose-bumps erupt across her flesh. 'Oh no! He knows and he's destroyed the others. I'm next. He's going to slag me! How can I survive?' Her eyes subtly flick towards the tunnel, assessing the distance.
Her voice small and light; "There's another me out there...." the scared tinge to her voice leaks out. "I thought I was unique!" she tries to joke, but her voice sounds soft even to her.
"And where did Baron Von Ryuko find the data?" she tries to sound indignant, although she really wonders as it's not in her memory.
"I do not trust you," Taraz says to Cassie simply.
"If you are not the Cassie we know and love," this word comes out differently than the rest; "then know I will be watching you carefully. Baron Gigus von Zombi's replica was greatly repentant for his role in this game. I would prefer to think you are the same. Cassie has swore that she will find a way to restore Gigus."
Her eye's widen as Taraz announces that he doesn't trust her but that's a cover, for the declaration of love, even if just of friend-ship. 'Cassie wants to restore Gigus?!? But he was ordered to kill them all. Did he break his programming?' she is shocked at the revelation.
Rashida's grip on Taraz tightened. "Wait. I... this is not Cassie! I think - think - we can work with you, 'Cassie'"
The passionate embrace causes something to stir inside the robot; her breath catches and she feels alone... maybe if she ran... could she make it? Then Rashida's words cut her deep; 'They know! They both know! I'm meant to be immortal, but either could kill me on their own.... I don't want to cease functioning.' her body instinctively shivers as an algorithm activates.
Then hope, hope that she may live; unconsciously she nods lightly at the offer of clemency. Although Cassie doesn't admit to being cybernetic construct, her silence speaks volumes.
Looking down at the dead Massri replicant, the French-woman shivers in apprehension. Taking a step towards the couple, her eyes lost wanting to be protected.
Cassie steps another pace back from the non-functional robot, "Yes, we need to get out of here!" she states emphatically, cautiously moving towards the tunnel. Though the tension in her body clearly tells the enhanced couple, she holds another secret. An important secret!
Upon the Virago
Cassie looks down the dim lit corridors; "I don't know who the Ferrus Lupus are but these guys are tough." she puts her non-weapon holding hand in the small of Vorians back as she nearly pushes him down his corridors. As the start moving Cassie slows so she is a pace behind - her senses aware of everything around her.
Silver pistol shines with a soft luminescent glow, a pale grey-blue as if a ghostly sheen slides down the barrel. Cassie gently strokes it to reassure the weapon of the situation.
Vorian gently carries Meowselsworth along the narrow ships corridors.
The big cat lay stretched on his side in the underbrush, breath rasping between parted fangs in great clouds of steam. Insects buzzed nearby as early dewdrops fell on his heaving flanks with great splats, there to steam from his tortured body. Distant pulse-round concussions mingled with the stomp and roar of the remaining giants, but all was peaceful in the little spot where he lay.
A tickle in his mind teased. Somebody wanted contact. But he could do nothing right now. Burned flesh and shattered bones would take time to mend. The Presence could accelerate healing, but energy was required on this plane and his was depleted. So he lay and gasped and debated releasing the link to preserve his life. But nobody knew where he was, and it was certain his damnable sister would not look for him. She would be happy to see him gone.
The buzz of flies and sharp smell of blood finally penetrated dimmed senses. With difficulty, he rolled onto his belly and painfully crawled to the source of the smell. Three men down. That would suffice. The great cat sniffed the first body, drooling, then opened its jaws to feed.
While her body is being carried, Meowselsworth has extended her mind into the ship, rerouting the cameras about the ship into the display, making it seem as though the Virago is aiming at the Ament, when in reality the gun lines up with one of the risen horrors. Knowing this trick is going to only work once, the feline reroutes as much power as possible in the ship into the blast. Careful careful Kittington, don't catch a friend in the crosshairs.
I know what I am doing, and I still have more than enough will to keep my safeguards in place, mother. You are not going to creep into my body.
Perhaps it is not your safeguards that you should be worrying about...
The explosion is spectacular, and it snaps the limp Duchess into a more alert state. The intercom whispers menacingly, in a voice eerily similar to the feline Duchess's, but with just a hint of madness added on, "Hello lifeforms I can see you all inside scurrying like ants I cannot even tell you apart only that your vitals seem to indicate that you are still alive but perhaps I can help you with that unless you run run run run run RUN RUN RUN AHAHAHAHA!"
"We should probably run," suggests Kittington, tensely.
Visions in the Virago
Cassie's whole body shakes as the ship rocks under the weapon firing. 'I never thought Vorian had such a powerful weapon! Where did he get it? Although he has a crew, so must be rich.' Suddenly the corridors seem not like the cover from the open kill-zones of the dock; but as tight traps, tubes to focus the fire.
"Meows...what have you done? Lock the gun - we are out of here!" Cassies words are hurried and her eyes wide. Quickly she sprints her long legs taking her to point. The pistol out in front of her, she fires before she even realises she's pointing it at anyone. The man slumps to the ground his half-raised gun dropping from his fingers as his shoulder is severely wounded.
The corridors glow in a sickly green of the emergency lights, a door opens onto the corridor only for it to be kicked hard into the mans' face. The run to the freedom of the outside seems to blur in her mind; a strategic kick here and well placed punch there - all the while the insane laughter echoes. So intense that Cassie thinks it's her own voice. Behind her the crack of rifle fire echoes heavily down the corridor, punctuating death and destruction.
At the exit; a guard grabs at Cassie before his partner opens fire, however Cassie spins away the guards hand just missing her skirt before he explodes in a shower of blood and viscera. Instinctually she smashes the killer in the face with a jump kick off the wall, before the horror kicks in her dress coated in red.
Then the trio burst outside into the dark, they may not be safer here but at least they are not trapped.
Rashida kows they should separate and move, but she has never felt so safe, so comfortable, so right as now, with Taraz's strong arms around her. Reluctant to lose contact, she dithers and delays.
"Which way do we go? You came in here from the garden, yes? Shall we return that way, or take that other corridor? I came in from that direction" -- she points to a dark corridor - "and we can eventually get to the ballroom, but I followed the fresh air and did not mark a path. The door I unlocked for Gahiji... the false one... is well-lit and leads away from the house. I don't know what is there."
She caresses Taraz's back with the palm of one hand as she looks between Cassie and he. "Which way? I will follow you. I fear Taraz needs medical help, though, so am reluctant to go much further in a new direction. The faster we get to the ships and away, the better." She looks up at Taraz, assessing him, worry plain on her face.
The warning about the Duchess was a death thought. I do not like such things, especially not from one so bold. I wish we were far from here... very far.
Below the Manor
Nerves pull at her; hands starting to shake slightly. She looks to Rashda and realises that she might be able to survive - if she's decisive. "We are going out through the passages, you know I have good ears..." she says hopefully trying to persuade the Egyptian tho follow her. Perhaps Cassie might even survive....
"If we go through the garden, then we have to avoid the Ferrous Lupus. They won't hesitate to kill you." Cassie clicks on the safety of the pistol, obviously. "Can you carry Lord Rorenson out? I'll lead the way!" Cassie moves towards the dark tunnels.
As Vorian comes running out of the Virago, suitcase and Duchess in hand, he looks behind him, watching as the Answerer enters stage two of its cooling procedures. Having dissipated the majority of its heat into the air, water pumps in the ship flush through all of its superheated components, evaporating in an instant as it touches the burning metal. Within moments the ship is spewing out white clouds of steam, which quickly billow across the ground, far faster than any of them could hope to run.
"Brace yourself!" he calls out to Cassie, just as the white cloud hits him. The scalding water vapor tingles painfully on his flesh as it washes over him, prompting him to grit his teeth. Fortunately, it was more painful than it was harmful - it would have been far worse if they had happened to be near one of the ship's exhaust ports. As the air cools and the pain subsides, Vorian checks on the Duchess, before turning to speak again. "Well the ship seems to be lost, for now... So where do we go--AUGHHHH!"
Abruptly the aristocrat tumbles over, dropping both the suitcase and Meowselsworth in mid-fall. He hits the ground on his side with a hard thud, clutching his right leg with both hands. He found himself plagued by the familiar sensation of pins and needles, excruciating pain surging through every nerve in the limb. Grinding his teeth, he scrambles for the flask on his belt, but his hands shake with each movement, making the entire effort futile. As panic threatens to settle in, Vorian looks to Cassie from the ground, trying his best to mouth his words.
"My... flask. Please..." he murmurs helplessly, embarrassed by his foolishness. All of the running and stress had exhausted the vitae in his system; and by hastily consuming a larger sum of draught, he had left his body open to inevitable backlash. In all the chaos, he had not even thought to consume another dose.
"I did nothing, my mother has been creeping around in the back of my mind, and she decided to take over the Virago! Have I told you about my mother? She was the sweetest queen, up until she went mad and killed a bunch of people on a space station. She's still something of a-" Meowselsworth suddenly tumbles to the ground, which just means that she lands paws first and a little bit confused.
At the request for his flask, Meowselsworth tilts her head lightly and says, "I unfortunately do not have thumbs... I have other analgesics available, but... I cannot grab anything for you. I apologize, Vorian..." Perhaps she can take control of an entire ship's control, but she cannot even operate a can opener to feed herself. Such is the plight of the noble helmet cat. "Er, I imagine we will have less of Darkov's men to worry about if they're still caught in there with my mother's mind... She died yet plagued with madness and a thirst for blood... she likely turned much of the steam inward to burn their flesh..." She shudders softly.
The cold night air hits her, then a roiling cloud of super-heated steam hits her she screams a silent cry. Cassie blinks away the tears and pain, her body feeling raw and exposed. Whilst the coolant dissipates; Cassie realises the cloud will attract the soldiers like flies to honey.
Vorian slumping to the ground, draws her attention away from the darkness and the approaching storm of violence. "Merde! Are you alright?" she drops to her knees beside the man. She cradles his head against her chest and takes to flask from his belt. Quickly she sniffs the concoction inside, not wishing to be responsible for poisoning him.
Carefully placing it to his slightly rough lips, she tilts the container back allowing the liquid to slowly flow....not too much lest it harm him. 'What is it? He needs some vital fluid! An addict?' Then she looks into the dark, seeing movement faintly there. "Don't worry, mothers are a tricky thing! And psychopathic mothers....pretty normal." Cassie quips, but there is a deeper meaning to her words.
"ARGHHHH! MY EYES!"
Tired of the incessant screams of pain ringing in his ear, Darkov pulls the comlink out of his hear, tossing it aside with a sneer. He mulls over the situation, trying to get a grasp on just what had happened. Things had gone well up until he had given the order to fire the cannon, at that point, all hell had broken loose. What had been a smooth operation had quickly devolved into something else entirely.
Who could be responsible? Nothing like this was mentioned on the dossier! Every single command console on the bridge was now locked down, failing to respond to even the override commands that they had extracted from the weaker-willed crew members. Attempts to manually reset the systems were thwarted when at least half of the ship was filled with the Answerer's steam exhaust, cooking many of his men alive. The shutters on the viewports had closed and the monitors showed nothing more than looping camera feeds of empty hallways. They were essentially blind.
"Evacuate the ship," he calls out to his men, the words bitter on his tongue. The maniacal, taunting voice pouring out of the intercom was quickly wearing down his patience. His men's attention on him, he makes a subtle gesture with his hand. The sound of plasma fire rings through the air, and in seconds, the entirety of the bridge crew is left dead.
"Get one of these shutters off. We'll take the expedient way out."
..."Can you carry Lord Rorenson out? I'll lead the way!" Cassie moves towards the dark tunnels.
Rashida glances up at Taraz, standing a half-foot taller than she, and feels the solid muscle of his back warm beneath her hand, then looks at her own slender arms. The corners of her mouth creep up despite their situation. "Maybe on a good day, but I rather doubt he would let me," she smiles, noting the proud glint in Taraz's eye, "Unless perhaps he were unconscious. But wait, take this. It is sufficient to light our way. I encountered nobody in my journey here, so the tunnels may be clear. I.. I did not pay attention to the turns, though, as my only intent was to find Taraz and exit into the fresh air. I.. I'm sorry. I should have paid better attention." She whispers a word to the serpent on her right wrist and its eyes flame with a blue glow, not bright, but sufficient to illuminate the path a step or two ahead. She shakes it loose and hands it to 'Cassie'. "It's safe."
Cassie moves towards Rashida her steps tentative ready for her throat to be crushed, or the fire to burn away her flesh. She takes the cyan sighted serpent, holding it gently as if it was going to explode at any moment. "So, we'll head out?" She walks cautiously and slowly down the corridor; The light illuminating just a couple of steps before her and providing a beacon for anyone who wants to attack them. 'So I am to be the diversion, if there are any enemies out there I'll be killed. So that the Lovers can counter-attack!'
Her tear-ducts start to sub-consciously flow, as she slowly makes her way into the unknown....
When the silver flask is placed to his lips, Vorian slowly imbibes its contents, taking care not to choke. As usual, the acrid fluid burns as it pours down his throat, leaving a buzzing sensation in its wake. Almost immediately, the alchemical concoction's effects take hold. As the sensation spreads all across his body, the pain in his leg vanishes in an instant, leaving him numb. Vorian lies still for a moment, breathing slowly as his senses return. Much to his relief, his leg feels as though nothing were wrong with it at all.
"Thank you, Madam DuSollier," he murmurs, before becoming acutely aware of what his head was in rather close proximity to. On any other day prior he might have tried to take advantage of this situation. Fortunately, the sight of Cassie blowing a trained mercenary's brains out was rather fresh. Vorian quickly sits up and tests his leg once more, sighing when he is assured that the draught has taken hold. Reclaiming the flask from Cassie, he then stands and dusts himself off.
"My apologies... I would have rather that the two of you did not see that," he says with a wry grin, before picking the suitcase back up. It felt markedly lighter than it had before. Hastily, he decides to change the subject. "Now, we should meet back up with everyone else - I imagine the ballroom will be ideal. And I don't know what in blazes you did to my ship Duchess, but it certainly seems to be keeping Darkov busy. Let's hope things stay that way for a while."
"It is fine, I do not judge humans and their weird drinking rituals," says the Duchess to Vorian, "And... yes, I imagine it will keep anyone inside rather busy. I will work on reversing it a little bit later, but your ship now has an AI, and that AI is a murdering psychopath... Anyways. The ballroom, yes. I would like for us to be able to regroup..."
Cassie down the Docks
She bites her lip gently at Vorians discomfort, enjoying seeing the composed man blush as he gets to his feet. 'I wonder what's in the flask?'
"It's fine." she shrugs Gallically; "However I would suggest, the Ament, Rasida's ship. I created that light as a focus. And it's fixed and if we need to leave quickly...."
"Although, I haven't got my bag. That's in the ballroom...." Her voice peters out as she goes wide-eyed; her vision consumed by the vehicle to one side. Her heart races and her voice catches in a constricted throat; "This is the Ornithopter you were talking about Meowselsworth? It's gorgeous....I haven't seen one in ages!"
Vorian straightens out his collar, recognizing the vehicle before them as an ornithopter. Such vehicles were favored for their high speed and maneuverability. Unfortunately, they were also fragile and impractical to arm with heavy munitions.
"'In ages?'" he says, chuckling in amusement, "The Duchess here said you jumped out of one earlier. I'd think that an experience like that would be a little more memorable."
Cassie looks slightly distraught; "NO!" she looks to the helmet-cat. "I left you in the ornithopter....? But you don't have thumbs, you would crash! I wouldn't hurt you..." she bends down to stroke her soft fur in reassurance.
"I was having a bath, not jumping out of flying machines." Cassie says a hint of doubt creeping into her mind. 'I protect people not put them in harms way! Or I try. Can it be I don't remember it... like that time?'
Cassie's heart beat's through her chest, she thought she was immortal. The first of the robots of Von Ryuko's experiments, Cassie had managed to survive the purges, her software becoming ever more sophisticated. Whilst simultaneously trying to keep in line with the Archetype of her programmer, being the French noble-woman.
The darkness closes in, only kept away by the pale light of the serpent eyes. 'Was this what death was like. I've been powered down so often, but to never be able to power up....' Softly her feet walk down the passage, the sounds swallowed by the blackness. Behind her she can feel the soft presence of the couple, their power - a sword of Damocles. 'No, Cassie fix yourself to the sticking post. If they destroy you, then they will. Don't be so afraid...' Her pace falters slightly as in the dark the tunnel splits; she looks behind to the pair.
The blue light illuminates her face creating a ghostly visage as she questions the direction with a raising of her shapely eyebrow - half-questioning half-accusatory. "I'm sorry, I didn't mark the way!" Rashida apologises; Taraz squeezes her fore-arm reassuringly in a gentle loving manner. "Don't worry." he softly whispers into her ear.
There's a strange tightness in Cassie's chest at this gesture, but she doesn't have time to analyse it. Using her in-built sensors she tries to work out which of the tight dark tunnels will lead out. 'Left for danger!' So she heads right. The passage narrows so it is barely more than a person width, their pace slows as they move. The sounds of the footfalls echo and Cassie is more cautious...though she knows she cannot put her hand near the heavy pistol a her hip.
The passage ends with a blank wall, Cassies heart falling despite the fact they have got there safely. Then the serpentine eyes fall upon a blemish that cast a shadow; without her acute eyes it would not have been noticeable but she investigates. Von Ryuko's private seal!
She winces at the sign, he does like to mark his property with that... Inverting the seal, a doorway opens. Blinding light causes her to stop, readjusting her vision.
Moving into the room it's apparently a guest quarters. Taraz looks on at the trunk at the foot of the bed, "That's mine! I thought Von Ryuko had passages all throughout this place!"
Cassie interrupts; "This one is special he marked it with a seal! He only marks his special things like that." She moves to the doors; "We leave?" Rashida briefly caresses his cheek with her finger-tips a sign of affection. "I need to check out my room for a moment, we'll meet up in a minute."
Cassie follows the Egyptian woman out of the room and down the hall-way a few doorways.
"Madam DuSollier, are you alright?" Vorian inquires, confused by her reaction, "And what do you mean you didn't...?" He wrinkles his brow, looking to the Duchess for assurance. Did she land on her head?
No, something isn't right here... he decides, looking back and forth between the two.
Docking with Cassie
"I haven't seen this vehicle before. I'm fine; better than fine. Rashida's brother....he has a... healing touch....anyway." her attention is rapt by the vehicle, whilst her face turns crimson. Slowly she moves over running her hands down it's soft lines like a lover. "We need this... I'll put it on the deck of the Ament? What's this."
Upon the prow is a Silver pistol like hers apparently, but different. Under her ministrations she takes it off and examines it, finding it was somehow semi-automatic. However it fits perfectly in her thigh holster, he other 'real' pistol in her hand. "This is strange!"
"Miss Meowselsworth, you said I flew this? Then you did?" her voice shocked and amazed.
Treppa linked an awesome Airship, it's in Cassies profile
"Yes, you flew this machine, and then you hopped out, leaving me in the passenger seat. I tapped into the controls wirelessly and then landed it safely, as there is only so much time I can fly such a thing untrained," says Meowselsworth, hopping up onto the seat to make sure it was this machine, and indeed, there is some shed fur on her seat and seatbelt that matches her colouration quite well. "Do you really not remember it? It was not very long ago, I came directly to Vorian's ship after I landed, as I wanted to make sure he was okay."
"That's not right. I was with Gahiji. I mean, he...No, we fought and killed a couple of the giants on our way here." Cassie is aghast; "Someone disguised as me and she tried to hurt you! I'll....." Cassies voice deepens in fury, then she takes a cleansing breath.
"We get this out." Cassie jumps into the cock-pit and tries to understand the controls.
Cassie puts the Duchess on her lap mirroring, her robot double. Meowselsworth looks up and says; "Hey, don't jump out this time." with a cheeky glint in her big eyes. Taking a big breath Cassie's fingers play across the console, like a maestro, whilst she understands the complexities of the machine. Closing her eyes she focuses upon the bird; at the edge of her hearing she can still hear the echoes of the manic laughter.
The ship lifts off with a humph, it lurches before bouncing down. Her delicate fingers playing across the keys she looks from Vorian to Meows; "I hope I can fly this thing!" It then takes off with a hopping bouncing motion; as Cassie looks to the Ament some figures seem to move out of the mists long rifles in their hands.
Like a fledgling; the Ornithopter moves through the air wavering as it lands upon the rear deck of the Ament. A blue bolt flies past her hair startling the French-woman; her reflexes catch the vehicle before it careens into the balloons. With a thump, the power is cut and the vehicle falls to the deck - hard but safely.
Carrying the Duchess Cassie jumps out as a small group of men emerge from the darkness; their rifles firing a deadly barrage. The noble pair vault over the guard rail of the Golden Airship, lest it be hit by a explosive bolt, Cassie moves towards Vorian and the cover of a loading fork-lift. A couple of hundred yards stretch like an eternity as with the helmet-cat in her hands, she runs like a gazelle.
There is a groan and behind her she sees a giant crawling towards her, blind but deadly...
As Cassie glances back, she notices one of the shapes emerging from the misty darkness - the one farthest in the back - suddenly disappears as if yanked back into the fog. Then another silently vanishes. The third screams before he's dragged off, and there's a roar of annoyed triumph as the scream is cut short.
The remaining mercs turn and fire wildly into the mist, giving Cassie and Kittington a lead, though the blind, fishy giant still clambers noisily forward, great fists pounding the pavement and grabbing towards the duo.
'Oh, Gahiji is here!' she thinks a soft smile crossing her face; 'Good, I cannot wait to see his face when I win the bet.'
Graceful long legs take her forward, whilst the Massri-Scions' distraction gives her the time she needs. The blind giant pounds the concrete nearby causing shards to explode under his heavy clubbing fists. Cassie spins with the Duchess away from the threat.
Stumbling through the dark after the faint blue glow that marked the Cassie replica's position, Rashida was silently thankful that the... thing... could not see her condition. Now that the Presence had faded, fatigue rushed back even worse than before. Taraz's arm on her shoulders weighed like iron, and she was sure that the arm she had around his waist was the only thing keeping her from staggering and falling.
She glanced at her remaining serpent, showing a glimpse of it to Taraz and glancing towards the Cassie replica. The shaking of the hand that held the tiny snake was alarming and she quickly tucked it back out of sight, plodding after the apparently indefatigable bot through the nearly pitch-dark tunnel, eyes straining to make out anything at all in the faint glow ahead.
I wonder if it is dawn yet. Will this night ever end? And despite everything that has happened tonight, I would kill for some breakfast. How absurd.
Rashida was startled when they reached the end of the blind passage. Have I been asleep on my feet? I wonder if Taraz has been holding me up. She glanced up guiltily but could not see his expression in the encompassing darkness. Lifting her head high and straightening her shoulders, she tried not to show her weakness before a potential enemy. Her throat still felt sore and raw, and she wondered why it had not healed completely. They needed to reach the ships fast, but the note and other items of importance were still in her room. She had to get them.
The room they emerged into turned out to be Taraz's own bedroom, and she felt her face redden, realizing this was very much where she wanted to be, but not with the Cassie-bot present, and not in such dire circumstances. She looked into Taraz's eyes, gently stroking his cheek with her fingertips. "I need to check out my room for a moment, we'll meet up in a minute." She touched her lips gently to his, then whispered into his ear, "I do not want to be parted from you, but I need to pack a few things. Keep an eye on 'Cassie'."
Reluctantly disengaging from her new lover, Rashida tried to pull herself upright and make her way to her room without staggering or leaning on the walls. She fell heavily into her dressing table chair and looked dumbly at the items scattered on the surface, trying to remember what it was she needed to take. A long moment passed before it registered that the little apothecary's jars she'd earlier used to mix her little potions were no longer on the vanity top. She stared in confusion, trying to recall if she had put them elsewhere.
Finally, she pushed up out of the chair and tottered to her traveling trunk. She could barely lift the lid, but it was enough to see that the precious canopic jars and other equipment were gone. Gone! Rashida's knees gave out and she sat heavily on the floor, leaning against the sturdy wood and leather chest. Who would have taken them? Gahiji? Perhaps, but why would he have wasted his time when there were things to kill...? Swallowing hard and breathing heavily, she gently leaned her forehead against the cool, polished wood of the steamer trunk and closed her eyes, trying to think.
Thoughts whirling, head spinning, she barely noticed as the world faded out.
Minding her Manors
Seeing that Taraz probably wanted his own privacy and that his own paranoid nature could easily turn on her. Cassie quietly, although under his notice, draws the pistol and places it upon the bed. "I'll just..." and she quietly follows the Egyptian woman out of the room. Her nervous soft steps slow her as she follows Rashida.
Reflecting upon life and it's precious nature she almost bumps into the beauteous lady laying across the trunk. 'OH NO! Is she alive? I didn't do it!' Cassie moves quickly around to check the soft breathing of the woman...
'Exhausted, or is it something more. She wanted something?' Checking her condition, she cannot help but be lost looking at the delicate visage. 'She's so beautiful. I can see why he would fall for her, though the way she comports herself is not just physical but spiritual too.' Her finger traces a line across Rashida's jaw, as she check the pulse.
Cassie looks up to see if Taraz is standing in the doorway.
Vorian watched as Cassie flew away on the ornithopter with the Duchess, the worry on his face palpable. It was not so much over his doubt regarding her flying abilities than it was over the question he had been left with. If she wasn't with the Duchess before, then who was? He frowns, shaking his head as the thopter landed on The Ament. He had an answer. He didn't like it. But even more so, he did not like the new questions that arose from it. Not one bit.
Biting his lip, his thoughts are interrupted by the sight small blue lights, streaking through the air. Oh no! He curses his foolishness, realizing the obvious. Of course there were more soldiers on the island - Darkov had made it clear that he was hardly the only target. As if things could not get any worse, one of the last surviving colossi made it clear that it was nearby. If that thing destroys The Ament, then...!
With a frown Vorian looks through the steam, seeing moving shadows in the distance.
Lock'em & Dock'em
"Duchess, get to Vorian I'll distract them." Cassie says as she lets the noble cat down to the floor. With her newly free hand she draws the second pistol and advances firing shot after shot into the Giant. Globs of putrid white flesh are ripped from it's body under the incessant impacts. However it just moves forward, inexorably dragging closer as Cassie manoeuvres to keep it away from the fragile ships and even more so other nobles.
Looming above her even in it's prone form, the monstrosity raises a hand. The putrid odour reminiscent of rotting fish and burnt oil causes her stomach to revolt. Time seems to slow as the fist descends, Cassie back-flips away firing into the creature. A staccato rhythm, until it clicks the ammo spent like her luck.
The fist smashes into the concrete where she was a moment ago, destroying itself under the enormous impact. A shock-wave of displaced air hits her a moment before the shards of concrete rain upon the area. Her tender flesh is cut by the flying detritus, however she managed to avoid the blow. With a grunt the Construct tries to remove the stump of his hand from where it embedded itself, however it appears stuck.
Cassie lands on her feet from the flips, but nearly loses her balance in exhaustion.
Strong hands grab Cassie's waist. "Steady, huntress. What will you do now that your chambers are empty, hmm?" a voice purrs into her ear.
Now that the pounding of the giant's fist has stopped, they can hear the faint sound of an ornithopter fading into the distance. Cries of "Lord Gahiji! Save us!" ring from the Ament, and Gahiji looks up and gives a brief wave.
Taking advantage of the thing's predicament, he releases Cassie and dashes towards the downed giant, flowing into a lion form as he leaps upon its back and begins to claw and gnaw through its neck, tearing away rotting flesh, cogs, cams, struts, and wires.
Wandering through the dark Whitey steps carefully keeping one hand on the wall to guide him in a straight line.
"I have gotten myself into this mess, I can get my way out of it. If only I didn't loose my flashlight! I'd be able to find my way out of here and back to the ship. Don't be afraid Whitey! You can do this. Don't panic, Don't panic, Don't panic. You're panicking Whitey!"
She lets out a little squeal as Gahiji's hands find her hip; the predatory silence having taken her by surprise. She looks up into his eye with a sardonic quirk of her eyebrow at his double entendré. A dozen retorts die upon her tongue; as she takes in the earthy spiced smell and the hot line of his body against hers. Then the moment is gone and the leonine man is deep in blood again.
'What are you doing, stupid girl!' she chides herself. Spinning away just as a cascade of pulse rifle fire co-ordinates upon her position. Rhythmically she flows across the ground, her every step as part of a dance in synchronicity with the music of the pulse rifles firing. Knowing one wrong step will be the end of the performance; permanently.
She spins and tumbles towards the safety of Vorian and the cover his is behind. Emerging from the steam cloud, an ethereal figure, the lithe French-woman vaults the boxes and nearly lands in Vorians arms. "Sorry, but thanks for the catch." she says huskily as she crouches down into cover.
Having found cover from the wayward plasma fire behind some cargo crates, Vorian mulls over their situation, which only seemed to get worst once they had left the ship. Not that they should not have – if what the Duchess had said was any indication, her mother would have killed them. Just as he prepares to look over the crates, a familiar woman lands in his arms. He is almost sent reeling backward, but regains balance just in time to see who it is.
"Madam DuSollier! It's a wonder you haven't gotten yourself killed!" Vorian hisses through his teeth as he sets her down, a burst of plasma streaking over his head shortly after. The mercenaries' unusually horrid aim was getting better. His thinly-veiled relief over Cassie and Kittington's safety was shortly lived however by the sight of a small yet noticeable explosion from the direction of the Virago's bridge.
"It looks like Darkov's finally grown tired of being in the company of the Duchess' mother," he says to her and the Duchess exasperatedly as he pulls his suitcase towards him and fiddles with its locks, putting in their combinations one by one. With the locks unclasped, he tosses open the lid, exposing a number of canes set in parallel grooves. "This cover will be useless if they manage to surround us," he adds, deciding to ignore the fact that it would be useless anyway if the giant managed to reach them.
Grabbing at a hidden latch in the seam of the suitcase, he lifts the cane ensemble up on a hinge, allowing it to flap into the open lid. With the top layer removed, another series of grooves is revealed, containing a number of distinct components. How many times tonight have I needed someone else to save my hide? he contemplates with a wry grin as he pulls the pieces out one by one and assembles them – the barrel, the ignition, the stabilizer, and a sniping scope. With the carbine assembled, Vorian loads a magazine and peers over their cover, taking a few potshots at the approaching soldiers before catching the strangest sight through his scope.
”Is that…? My gods, is that a lion?” he asks incredulously, without taking his eyes off it.
She looks up the bridge in bewilderment as there is an explosion; then back down to the pair beside her. Her heart beating heavily.
Eyes boggling as Vorian arranges his masterful weapon, the skillful way he slides the intricate components together. At his words she replies softly; "Oui, he is an arrogant...., not a gentleman like yourself."
"I'm afraid a gentleman is not of much use in this situation," Vorian says with a smirk, as he moves his sights onto a mercenary, "Your lion friend on the other hand seems to be making quite a mess." He fires a single round, dropping the man to the ground, clutching at his throat.
|Taraz the Wastrel|
At first Taraz has some apprehension about letting Cassie run off, but he doubted very much that she would try something now after all the chances she had in the passage. He looked around the room at the items of clothing and toiletry that had been strewn without regard by the Baron's servants. He snapped his fingers and Serv-Bots suddenly crawled out of hiding. The closet, under the bed, the vents, and at least two other secret entrances. Some of them were holding items Taraz would not have wanted anyone to find which they knew. The all looked at him waiting for his command.
"Time to move on," he said softly. A small whirlwind of activity appeared and all of Taraz's things began to be expertly packed.
Taraz reached for a bottle of Gale Force '77 and began to drink straight from it. The liqueur coated his throat even as it burned. It would take a few minutes for the mitochondria to begin calming down, going back to "sleep". He paused and regarded the Serv-Bots, his personal force.
"We're taking all the Serv-Bots in this castle. Make sure they know this. Make sure they are not infected with rogue programming. I am sure the Baron will have tried...something. Once we're on the Ament, I will deal with the Baron's bots directly."
Several Serv-Bots raced out of the room. Taraz sat on the bed and drank, the alcohol bringing the world back down...down...down...
"Don't believe everything they tell you; there's many situations where I need a good gentleman." She says as he fires, whilst she keeps her head down.
"Good Shot. Now, if you could cover me? I have a bet to win and I don't fancy paying out." She leaps over the cover as another shot rings out behind her; advancing upon the mercenaries with a scream she dodges the projectiles. Drawing upon her spiritual powers to enhance her senses she can almost predict the pattern of the shots as they intensify. All the while Ritters carbine fires picking off those she faces.
A whirling dancing dervish amongst them Cassie smiles; a flying knee turns into an axe-kick. Her whole body a weapon, she spins through them. The rifle firing no flesh except for their compatriots. Of course, despite her impressive attacks none are lethal; the mercenaries are too armoured or experienced for that. But their morale starts to falter; especially without their sadistic leader.
Vorian takes a man behind as Cassie spins around seeing his bayonet would have spilt her life-blood. She blows him a kiss whilst chopping man in the throat guard...
Then the big lion bounds into the flank of the platoon, huge covered in ichor and less desirable fluids. He rends a man in an instant with huge claws.
The rest flee...rushing into the darkness of the far side of the island. Cassie stand there breathing heavily from the exertion.
'What do I do, she seems exhausted. Maybe needs some sugar, or food? If Taraz catches me like this...' she shudders cradling the exhausted Egyptian. 'No, she trusted me. I have to return the favour.' Unsurely she gets to her feet, heading towards the doorway, softly she paces down the hall. She looks in the half opened door, seeing Taraz sat on the bed.
Her nails scratch the door, trying to make him aware of her presence. 'That's where I left the gun.' Timidly she approaches the bed; "Lord Rorenson, Lord Rorenson."
The beast whirls, bounding to the Ament's boarding ladder and ascending, transforming to a man as he does. He vanishes into the gondola, but reappears within seconds, surveying the area, then descending to saunter to Cassie's side.
"So, you speak the truth? Then I need you. Get aboard and let us go from this place."
She looks up at him; then straightens up standing tall. "We wait for your sister. She will be here soon! Think of it as my reward for winning the bet!" she says arrogantly looking into his intense eyes.
She reaches out with her senses; feeling for Rashida's life signs. 'Where is she? Have we drifted apart already? Is she dead?'
He snorts with disgust. "My 'sister' can take care of herself, and take another..." He looks around at the remaining airships and his eyes narrow. "Virago! I have found it!"
Grasping Cassie's arm, he growls, "Wait for me, woman, or lose your... reward." He sprints to Virago and swarms up its ladder like a practiced sailor, muscles flexing under bronzed skin.
Where are you, he growls to himself, prowling the corridors of the now-deserted ship, Where did he stash you? He flows into the form of a lion and begins sniffing through the corridors, seeking.
|Taraz the Wastrel|
Cassie sees Taraz sitting on the bed, leaning forward on his knees. His head hangs down hiding his face, and he has a bottle clutched in one hand. It's mostly empty.
"Come in...close the door...Cassandra," Taraz says quietly.
On the floor next to the bed is a a couple of luggage bags and a large garment trunk. All are neatly packed. There are no Serv-Bots visible anywhere. The room seems oddly quiet, and a draft blows in from where the secret door remains open. The darkness stretches onward.