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virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce
It was remarkably well photo-copied for an Ork. They probably had some elf hidden away somewhere to do this kind of stuff for them.
Dear Sir/Madam/Other (delete as applicable)
Your husband has been killed during a terrorist incident in Geneva, Switzerland. As a result, the supreme court requires reposesion of all of the listed items below, in order to pay off any damage your husband may have done. All property will be handled by the estate of Mawrose Delori, OOE, and must be assembled and itemised by two week deadline following the dating of this letter.
Should any of this not be provided, service to the deptor in question must be provided to pay off the vaule of the missing items.
Second Secretary for Reposession
A list of items, mostly vintae wines, was scrawled below, extending for two pages. At the top, were the words "One Silver Staff", and the vaule of 170,000 Yen. It was circled in red ink.
Mary almost dropped the afformentioned staff in disbelief.
"Western Asia... "
Were the thoughts of Draco when travelling alone. He had got a hard time, but now he was ok.
A second figure appeared out of nowhere surrounded by a light.
"You have not followed my hints, Draco."
"How...What happened? How could you do that teleport so easily."
"Let's say that the Halley comet, as he approaches, makes the Royal Dragons stronger. A pity it does not work with the other dragons, though. But enough talking. We need to reach Japan as soon as possible".
And the couple dissapeared in the horizon.
Illidia was fascinated with the book. She did not know that Dragon could be such a great teacher, even in the written form of his lessons.
Chapter 2: Melee Weapons and Guns...
Raven looked over Mary's shoulder.
"170,000 big ones eh? All for a stick of silver? I don't dig that. No doubt it's worth more than that, we've had too much trouble the last few days for it to be a coincidence."
Raven snatched the 'official form' out of Mary's hands and began looking it over.
"Hmm...yeah....ummm...This smells of Delori all right, excuse the pun. I've done some business with some of his goons, right royal screwballs they are. Badjimmy is right, you don't wanna pick a fight with this mean ass hombre. Owns more of Orkislavia than does the government........Don't tell me we're gonna start makin' waves again?"
The looks he recieved from Mary, Silvia and Sarah withered Raven's constitution. He sat down next to Badjimmy.
"Jimmy, I need a drink."
"Non, This is miiiine...myy preciousssss..." Badjimmy said, hugging his bottle and his half-hand as if to keep warm.
Shrugging, Raven simply lifted the bottle from the detective's feeble grip.
"The Puppet Master? Yes, that sounds just like him. You say he wants us for a job? Has he given any information about the run?" Chance was departing Hammerhand's establishment at a slow pace, giving Ash beside him time to get used to her repaired eardrums.
"Nope. No info. And apparently Chance, if we refuse, he's going to send his cronies after us. He's a big fixer in these parts, Chance, with people in every branch of authority. I won't suggest going up against him." Crystal replied, her eyes still on the red-devil woman. Zizz was starting to notice the attractive woman standing so close to him.
"Well, looks like we don't have a choice there, do we? Not unless we want to be chased by a whole lot of assassins and what-not for the rest of our stay in London. Of course... being chased by assorted bad guys everywhere we go seems to be our speciality, judging from prior experience."
Crystal laughed... Chance was using dry-humor again, a sure sign that Ash was ok.
"Well, then, come down to Club Hate. We'll be waiting for you here. Bring Ash... she'll like a little music after being deaf all day. No weapons in the club though, and you might be a little bit surprised at whom I found here... Lady Zero, and the merc named Shadow. I suspect that that guy will be on the job with us."
"Right... Be over there in a jiffy."
A name: Warehouse 34.
Illidia looked at the paper that just dropped from the book. It had attached the keys of that warehouse. Apparently, Mac was much wealthier than everyone could imaginate. He even had his own warehouse.
"Well, It's hard to think in this ambience. I need a drink." she sighed.
So, after putting the sign CLOSED on the inn, and locking the door, she left, and headed for Club Hate.
"Ok. What now?"
Everyone looked at Mary expectantly, including Hurricane, the speaker. Mary stared back.
Mary hurriedly thought of something to say. Why was everyone looking to her to lead? She didn't even want to be here. She, as much as everyone, wanted to return the staff to lay Curim to rest, but was it worth tangling with basically an entire country?
"I guess... do we risk this Mawrose Delori, just to give Curim's staff back?"
Cylinder Head rummaged around in the back of his Land Rover parked down a dark night-time alley. The night's pickings had been good: He'd picked up some new servos for the arm of his IWS DLK Mk6 drone which had lain in pieces on the floor of the van for ages. He'd also picked up some mounting brackets, some hydraulic pieces he'd use for some kind of weapon mount and, as luck would have it, a battered piece of steel with a symbol embossed on it - It was a ring, with spikes in one quarter, like it could be a line drawing of a bomb or something.
Busily welding the plate to the front of the drone, Cy almost didn't notice when the woman walked past.
She was beautiful, elven, flowing golden hair covered by a transparent coat, treated to resist the acid rain.
"Gruddamn," Cy said, pushing his goggles up. "Someone's bones I gotta jump - And for once its not Lady Zero!"
His big idiotic grin vanished from his face as the same time the thoughts of debauchery left his tiny mind - When he saw the fright on the woman's face. And the Troll and two Orks who were chasing her. They'd chased her down into the alley - His alley.
"Screw this!" He gritted out, jumping into his driver's seat and slamming his rigger jack plugs in.
The engine of the dependable vehicle caught first time - Several hundred-thousand candlepower's worth of halogen lights flooded the alley.
"Ugh, frag!" One ork screamed.
"Vision! Buggered!" Groaned the Troll, as his eyes were overloaded.
"Oh my God!" Said the woman, stumbling blind into a recessed doorway filled with rotting cardboard.
"YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME!" Cylinder Head screamed. His engine red-lining, the 4x4 hammered forwards. Bits of junk flew about in the back and the van flew down the alley.
Using his vehicle's sensors and Rigger reflexes, Cy missed the woman by inches as he tore past her, with only half a foot clearance on each side.
"UUUNk..." Came the choking cry of the first Ork, the wind crushed out of him to the tune of cracking ribs by the van's wheels. The second Ork was caught full-on by the bull-bars and flung forward, plowing into a steel skip at the alley entrance and slumping to the ground, his body like jelly, spineless. Then there was the Troll.
The Land Rover hit him with all it had. With a terrific crunch, it came to a stop.
It was like hitting a wall.
The Troll was knocked to the ground, but the Land-Rover was stopped to. Small pieces of gear whirled forward into Cy's cab. He was saved by his rigger harness.
The Troll got up, enraged.
"ME GIVE YOU FRAG-KILL METAL MAN!" He screamed. He jumped up onto the vehicle's bonnet and punched a human-head-sized fist through the windscreen, grabbing Cy by the neck. His rigger jacks were ripped out.
Then a, moonlight glinting off it's polished surface, a spinning metal object transfixed back of the Troll's neck, embedding into flesh and bone audibly.
"Eh? What this be?" Said the Troll, pucking the knife out. It was a very fine knife, decorated with tassles, the handle made from buffalo hide.
"I think you'll find thats mine, Anglo scum."
The new voice was powerful, arrogant.
A new comer stepped forward into the light from the headlights.
Heavily-muscled, long black hair, coppery skin and high amerindian cheekbones. He wore tribal scars and had an honour feather in his hair.
The Troll frowned, and prepared to smashe the-to him-small figure.
"Thats mine, And I'm taking it back!"
Then he yelled so harshly that it alone took the Troll back. The man charged. In a heartbeat he was on the beast - One fist got the Troll in the kidneys, making him hunch slightly. The next blow smashed the Troll's jaw - Not an easy task - scattering pieces of his tusks.
"OOWWooo!" The Troll wailed, bringing his fists down on the tormentor. But the Amerindian guy was too fast. By now he'd retrieved his knife - He darted out of the way, slishing the Troll's calf. Then he was on the other side of the Troll, swinging and ripping out a large chunk of abdominal muscle.
Then the knife ripped through the now-kneeling Troll's throat.
The huge Troll slumped to the filthy, wet ground.
By now, Cylinder Head had reached the woman. He was shocked - He recognised her.
"You're...You're that wioman from the Geneva Pizza slut!"
He remembered her beauty. Even with all the semi-naked women in the place, he'd remembered her.
The newcomer came over.
"Man, that was some sweet work! I-"
"Stow it, anglo. Are you alright, lady? My name's Redwing. I'm here to help you. Where are you going?"
Cylinder Head frowned, not knowing whether to be happy or pissed.
A cave. Finally, a place to rest and garrison from the blizzard. The hard eighteen hour trip exhausted his strength. Everest was a hard trial.
"Here, brave warrior"
He was dreaming for sure. A woman's voice invited him to go even deeper.
"Curse it! If I die in this place, I want to know what the hell happens here!"the man groaned.
Without ever blinking, he went deep into the cave. It seemed to be like a ladder, going up, and up, in spiral.
Up in the cavern, the man found his destiny. But he still needed to hike up the mountain. As a final step.
Ash and Chance were in a taxi headed for Club Hate when they passed a heavy motorcycle parked alongside an alley.
The recon soldier initially gave it a cursory glance, looking down the entrance to the system of fishbone alleyways at the same time... before he suddenly spoke up.
"Driver, stop us here!"
Ash gave him a questioning look... the taxi had halted in a grey area of town, not the best place to be in the night. Chance motioned to her that something was on, both of them getting out before he led Ash to an area of shadow beside the alley entrance.
He knelt down carefully and picked up a muddy metal dish, examining the edge of the wall that led into the alley complex.
"You see something?" Ash whispered. Unlike Chance, she was unarmed, though armoured in her typical chainmail jumpsuit, her flamethrower left back at Mary's flat. Her fingers loosened a glove and tucked it away, exposing a hand.
"Yes... Hubcap from Cylinder Head's land rover. He probably got it scraped off when he drove into the alley. He's in trouble too... Those prints there in the mud heading into the entrance of the alley..." Chance lowered his head towards them and felt the edges of the prints, "...are fresh. Minutes-old at the least, you can still see the tiny bubbles in them and the edges are sharp, clean and still wet."
"From the size of the prints, I'll say two Orks, one Troll or exceptionally big Ork, and two humans.
All of them save one are male--judging from the way the footsteps are turned outwards as opposed to the inward-turning footprints of a female, confident--from the length of the stride... and moving with purposeful speed--as dirt kicked up in front of them and the deep heel imprint shows.
That human male's a soldier or ex-soldier... I've seen enough combat boot tracks to know. One of the Amerindian forces."
"The woman is special..." Chance pointed to the blurred edge of one of her footprints. "She's looking back over her shoulder constantly... she's not running yet, but her steps are irregular and skewed. She's being chased."
Chance now indicated a long leather holster mounted on the motorbike's side. "That's the holster for an assault rifle, and I'll bet that the human ex-soldier owns it."
Then there was yelling from within the alleyways... Cylinder Head's voice... and an almightly crash.
The recon soldier stood up and immediately pulled a zippered hardcase from his belt order. He had the Night-vision goggles on in under a minute, the equipment, contrary to public belief, being quite troublesome to wear. Flipping it down over his left to preserve night vision in his right aiming eye, both Chance and Ash entered the alley system at a quick jog, following the tracks on the ground as they did.
Chance wished that he could hand Ash his pistol, but he didn't want to risk an accidental ammo cook-off if things got messy. The sounds of combat were dying off as he sped up his pace...
Then he froze as voices drifted back towards them from the depths of the alleyway... Cylinder Head's, and another one that carried the edge of an Amerindian accent.
"Man, that was some sweet work! I-"
"Stow it, anglo. Are you alright, lady? My name's Redwing. I'm here to help you. Where are you going?"
Redwing spun around to see an advancing human soldier dressed in black fatigues, a night-vision device pulled over his left eye. In the darkness, the jungle hat that the man wore shadowed his face. Another figure was behind him, moving with cautious grace.
Shock consumed him for a scant moment.
The military police! I'm screwed!
Then came realisation...
I could dodge him, can't I? Afterall, I'm cybered... But my rifle is on my back. Curse my choice of using my knife on that Troll!
Then the soldier stepped into the light of the Land Rover's sole remaining headlight. RedWing saw the man's face, an Asian? He wasn't an Amerindian or anglo... Not military police then... but still a soldier, judging from the fatigues and manner which the man prowled forward. The Amerindian saw the soldier halt, then slowly ease his firing hand off the rifle's pistol-grip and point the weapon towards the ground.
Not bad... He has me outnumbered and knows that he must stand down first for us to have peace. RedWing thought.
"Easy, my friend. I mean no harm. That fellow beside you is my buddy, and I'm just here to help what I can." Chance said.
Ash beside him called out to Cylinder Head, eyeing the dead body of the Troll at the Amerindian's feet. "Cy, you ok?"
"Yes, yes... I'm fragg..." Cy almost cursed in front of the lady, before he hastily altered his speech. "I'm fine... Thanks."
Well, there goes the fragging plan for a some one-on-one 'You're my hero!' action. Still, Chance and Ash have just given me the edge... That woman's more likely to go with me if Ash is around.
Cy was suddenly feeling a bit more cheerful.
"David Redwing, Sioux Widcats." The amerindian man boasted proudly.
The Wildcats... The elite special forces of all the NAN forces, expert trackers, rumoured to operate all throughout North America - Including the UCAS and CAS, who wouldn't be too pleased..., Chance realised.
Redwing glanced at the corpse of the Troll.
"When I see a fragger like that," - Chance noticed Redwing took no notice of the lady's presence - "Chasing a woman, I pull no punches. The fragger would have been a waste of bullets. i got him the old fashioned way." Redwing grinned.
"Hey man, you look like a soldier. You any good?" Redwing asked.
"I think we better get out of here first, right?" Cy put in. He helped Illidia up, and into his van, now that Redwing was preoccupied.
The descision was almost unanimous - everyone, apart from Mary, who was secretly hoping against it, wanted to attempt to rescue Remini from the crimelord.
However, the problem of actually getting acess to the centaur still had to be worked out. Mary assumed it wouldn't be easy. If only they had Crystal, or Cylinder Head, or even Chance here to provide some kind of help.
Raven spoke up.
"I have an idea to get us at least into wherever the main base of operations is. it may be dangerous, and will leave us without some of our advantages, in that at the moment, we are practically undetectable, as no-one knows who we are.2
"What is it?"
"I used to work for someone out here - when I was younger. I suspect he may have ended up in the employ of this Delori - he's not got much of a soul to speak of, just an eye for money. He was also interested in the new slave trade - he predicted the huge rise in it, and was planning to cash in."
The other runners looked on expectantly.
"His name is Fardel North. He's a Human scumbag, and I guess I could contact him via my vidwatch if we need to, and, as long as you agree to my cover story, I should get us into Delori's underground pretty easily, albeit without our weapons." The man paused, and went on. "There's a catch, though"
"What?" Silvia was the first to react.
"I have to pose as a slaver. You're slaves"
Sorrow had decided it was time to explore this place. He had managed to work his way down to a secret part of it, he had to take out two Cadre on the way, but he brought them back to life by Necromancy so it didn't arose suspicion.
The smell of organic matter seemed strongest here, it was almost as if this was the source of the smell. It was also very dark here, hardly a light in sight, insanity. It was quiet here, every footstep he made seemed amplified to the sound of Polt's shrieking, but Sorrow had learned that the real dangers in the world didn't lie in places like these, as load noises, foul stenches and no lights usually means one thing... empty.
He continued until the path came to a halt, he could still hardly see a thing, he moved his hand over the surface of, what he believed to be, a table until he found what felt like a touch.
"Polt is very predictable for a madman" he thought to himself as he switched it on.
At first he saw nothing, save the table where he had found the torch. But as he proceeded further into the room, he saw, what looked like, large cylinders. Big enough to fit people in, and by the looks of things people were in there. He took a closer look inside one, it was a man... an undeveloped man...
"Clones?" then it hit him "BIO CHAMBERS! That insane fool is growing clones." he continued to look around this place, one undeveloped body after another, hundreds of them. Insanity, just plain madness! What on Earth, sea or sky had he gotten himself into? He looked and looked, one by one, all the same. Until...
"Empty" he thought a load "Why would one be empty?" his questions was soon answered, as a voice came from behind him.
"You are not meant to be here..." it was a voice Sorrow would never forget, he could hardly move for the shock of it all. This voice, it was... well blank. No emotion in it, almost mechanical, yet somehow organic. Sorrow turned, turned to see the gazing eyes of Damocles.
"Ah, good to see you... friend" he started to circle the bio Ork, Damocles just turning on the spot to follow him "I was just admiring this place, has a really... original touch to it don't you think?"
Damocles was still staring at the Illusionist "These your brothers and sisters?" He asked pointing at the clones "Such a lovely family you have." Damocles did nothing,
"Such a fasinating creature you are... we could learn much from each other Damocles, so, so much."
Damocles stood for awhile, until he finally said, in his cold mechanical voice, "Leave this place, Magician." He then turned to leave, and Sorrow followed.
"Good enough to stay alive, I guess." Chance gave a cautious smile and dip of his head. "London's a harsh place to be at night."
What would a NAN soldier be doing in London? I would like to ask... but I don't think now's the right time. Maybe when I get to know him better, assuming I get the chance.
There was an uncomfortable pause as the two soldiers sized each other up... Chance noticed the way that Redwing stood and moved, with much of his weight balanced on the balls of his feet.
Only a trained tracker moves like that... Chance took pains to stand in a normal manner--he didn't want the amerindian to know too much about his own tracking abilities.
Then Ash, with her tendency to "warm" icy social encounters, spoke up, lightly stepping on Chance's foot at the same time to remind him to be polite.
"I'm Ash... And my friend here is Chance."
Chance pulled a half-glove off and extended his hand for a handshake... the old tradition of knights removing their gauntlets to shake hands had made a comeback in recent years. The soldier noticed that Redwing didn't bother with removing his own brown leather half-gloves.
Better not let him know my rank. Chance was a 1st lieutenant in his army days, and Redwing didn't seem to be an officer like himself. The former didn't want the natural aloofness between enlisted personnel and officers to cause friction between them.
"I'm Chance. 2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade, Recon Dogs." Out of the corner of his eye, Chance saw Cy taking advantage of the distracted Redwing and help the girl into his car.
Time for me to help him out the soldier thought.
"Nice job on the Troll... he's blocking the whole alley though... I'll need a strong fellow to help me move him to the side. Comon, I'm sure you are up to it."
Faced with a physical challenge, Redwing was of course unwilling to decline... Both him and Chance moved the corpse out of the way of the Land Rover, the latter noticing that Redwing was exceptionally strong... it would be an unwise (and soon-to-be-dead) man to get into a hand-to-hand fight with him.
Ash had also noticed that Cy wanted some private time with the lady... She moved further up the alley, ensuring that the two downed Orks were dead. Lighting her way with burning hands, she caught the attention of Redwing, who, although his expression didn't show it, was rather impressed and alarmed... Was she some sort of shaman?
He didn't ask Chance, Ash or Cy on the way out, and none of them cared to enlighten him. Both Chance and Ash piled into the back seat of the Land Rover, with Cy and the lady taking up the two places in front... Redwing was left outside with his bike. Somehow, it didn't feel so easy to demand the lady to step out and accompany him, now that everyone was strapped in and the engine running.
The foursome bade their farewells and thanks before driving off. Redwing sat on his bike until they were out of sight, considering his options... then gunned the engine and moved off.
It was easy to track them... child's play for the highly-trained tracker.
In a matter of moments The Land Rover pulled up outside Club Hate again.
The music had changed: At least now distinct rhythms and melodies could be heard. Not to Chance's taste, but better.
Cylinder Head eyed the bouncers on the door, and turned back to Chance, who had been talking with Illidia.
"You goin' in? I'll keep the engine runnin' for you."
Redwing stayed out of sight, the light on his Triumph combat bike dimmed.
Why do I get the impression they don't just come here for the music? Maybe I could get a deal going, show my skills, get some money?
A voice stumbled from the very dark cave.
"Spirits of ice and winter, hear my call ond obey!"
The blizzard over mount Everest magically stopped. The man smiled. He had gained power. Power enought to be feared and respected by spirits. Power enought to become a Warlock.
"Now to the top"
He casted a levitation spell, and continued to climb up the mountain.
Illida whispered to Chance's ear. "I want to see your leader, Crystal. I have something that might interest her."
"Well even if I'm gonna act as a slave I don't wanna smell like wine. Besides, I don't want to show everyone I'm a half-dragon right away. I have to go back to my Elvish form."
Silvia walked away, in search for a bathroom. It wasn't hard to find.
"Nice! It even has clean water!"
Hmm... where the frag do they get that from? Must've been very expensive to get that here.
She quickly cleaned the scaley dragon skin with some water and made her clothes re-appear. They still smelled a bit like wine, but there were no stains on it.
Oh well... good enough.
Silvia changed back to her Elven form and returned to the group.
Chance remembered seeing that girl before... Dragon's girlfriend. He was at a loss for words as he thought of what to say.
Should I say that Dragon was a good man and that I was honoured to know him? Frag... I was never good at this. Chance wondered.
Illidia surprised him with her matter-of-fact greeting statement.
"I want to see your leader, Crystal. I have something that might interest her."
Thankful for not having to think of a nice "he was a good man" speech to say to the late Dragon's girlfriend, Chance told Cylinder to go ahead and take his time and talk to his new lady friend... Both the soldier and Ash would be staying in the club to look for Crystal.
Distracted by both events, he did not see the amerindian follow them as he led Ash and Illidia into the club in search of Crystal and Zizz.
Leaving their handguns at the door, Illidia, Chance, Ash and Cy went into the club, witht he Land Rover parked just around the corner.
Cylinder Head ensured his home-made electro-shock kit would keep unwanted passengers out for the time being...
Feeling the wave of noise and wall of sweaty, smoky air wash over them, the four made it into the club. The packed dancefloor was evidently a dangerous place to be - Whirling, slipping characters charged each other wildly, others span around, knocking into each other. Every so often someone would go under the press of mad dancers.
Illidia picked out Crystal no problem. She also saw Crash with Lady Zero. She walked up to Crystal first off.
RedWing made his way into the club - He'd almost had to kill the bouncer for trying to take his knife. Fortunately, the other bouncer had helped the two come to a compromise.
He took a seat next to a comatized young woman. She was slumped near a neon-green drink, which Redwing sniffed. he threw it away in disgust.
"Fragging trance-punks." He muttered.
He saw the asian guy and his fellows walk up to some woman with Blue hair - She had a gang-scar on her cheek, just like the weasel guy rigger.
A woman... A tough woman, if not by her build, by the way she held herself. She looked like the type not to give up without a fight. Interesting...
His view of her was blocked as the silvery-haired punk rigger moved in to try and talk to the woman from the alley. But she had already started talking to the Blue-haired woman.
Even more interesting. He thought. Heh, nice try anglo. I've already pegged the elf-bitch. Or maybe the blue-hair... Once they see how fragging tough I am, the men will know they're outclassed, and I'll take my pick...
Several days later
They were back in Raven's van.
They were wearing shackles. Crude, iron monstrous devices, rigged with electro-restraints. They cut into the wrist just enough to annoy, without actually being that painful.
Dorodo sat in the seat previously occupied by Badjimmy, and stained with his blood. The small goblin had been smeared with some kind of oily makeup, darkening his compexion dramatically.
A pair of old, dirty goggles covered much of his face, and his Genevan outfit had been replaced with animal-hide and leather. He looked like the kind of wannabe-slaver that one such as Raven (now decked out with stun gun and wrist-mounted vibro-knives, and looking the part), would have in his company. The clothes and shackles hadcome from Raven's large equipment compartment, concealed in the roof of the van.
The others were remarkably less comfortable. All wearing shackles, their clothes had been swapped for items less affluent-looking. Hurriane in particular was annoyed about this - she had had to give up her staff (as well as Tank his armour, and everyone their weapons) - and Dorodo now held it, so, if they got inside the palace and were discovered, she would be fairly useful in combat. She could see his grubby fingerprints running up and down it.
"Ok. We're nearly here. Trollberg. We're meant to meet Fardel in the "Orkmaid's Arms" here, so keep a look out. I don't know this town at all, and it's gonna be worth keeping an eye out so we don't get into trouble'.
Tank grinned. He liked trouble.
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