The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 17

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds


(Wesforce)

Badjimmy made sure he was on the far side of the passenger compartment from the Ork. For one thing he hated Orks anyway, another, the no-tusker made him uneasy with his humanistic speech. It just...wasn't right...

He rummaged in his coat when he thought the two weren't looking. His hand closed around the platic form of his little Norinco Type 66 'Lemon Squeezer' hold-out pistol.

Might as well be le fragging toothpick against Trogg... But if I jam it in his eye... He'll have to be close first.

He stood up, suddenly emboldened.

"Okay, you fragging merde heads, take me to the Transys Neuronet facility near Orkessa, NOW!"

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(CKW)

"TELL US. Why do you want to drive this ship to get to Transys Neuronet?" Behemoth asked. He was pretty angry with the elf.

The door in the hatch opened. Eva came out. She sniffed the air.
Pheromones. That explained the strange behaviour of Mist Lotus. She was having the same sensation. Containing her instincts, she finally got over it."Are you spraying pheromones?" She asked.

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(Wesforce)

"Heh, I don't need pheromones to get les bitches. Fragging women. I never trust them. Just get me down, you don't need me, and I can make life difficult for you."

He looked again at Mist Lotus.

Typical woman. They want my body and then leave me, again and again and again AND AGAIN! Well, no more!

Badjimmy's arrogance came naturally to him. He was his own Elf, he knew that if you wanted anything in this harsh world, you had to get it yourself...

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(CKW)

"You have never known how much damage you have caused. I would slit your throat right now..." Quickly she pulled out a gun, pointing at Badjimmy┤s neck.
"...If those pheromones weren┤t bickering my head."
Hammerwing rushed to answer.
"So we drop off the bollock, no?"
Eva answered.
"Yes drop him whenever he wants. He has earned it. He is brave enough, trying to take us down with that gun he is seizing now!"

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(virtualoctopus)

The conferance hall in MUNDI HQ was too small for it's purpose, but would have to serve. As Cairns strode in, Rayi Shah at his side, he swept his eyes across the gathering. There were at least a hundred people here, and Cairns could spot reprisentatives bearing the logos of the Megacorps - AET, Zaibatzu, IWS, Western Etherspace, even a few of what looked like to be Shunwang Ben Envirotech. An undeniably Neo-SU reprisentative, surrounded by aides, took a seat, face to face with one of his greatest rivals from the Imperial Japanese Empire.

Cairns took a seat to one side of Holsten, on the podium, along with Rayi. He was disturbed to find another man taking a seat on the left hand side, a young, sickly looking man with jet-black hair and pits for eyes.
"Who's that?" asked Cairns to Rayi, in the hubub of the pre-talk conversations.
"I don't know, but I think he might be one of the Catholic reprisentatives. From what I can find out, they're been very pro-militarisation, but less.... how shall I say...... persuasive than you."

At that moment an usher called for silence, and the room fell still. Holsten stood up, and stepped up to the platform.
"uh.." he coughed into the microphone.."... ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to discuss how we are going to do about the - as you all know - daemonic incursion into Geneva."

"Sounds like a wedding..." whispered Rayi to Cairns.

A german from Neuwerke GmbH was on his feet, heckling the chief about how the daemons had now - as was obvious - breached the Genevan perimeter, and were threatening the very building in which they were talking. His observations were greeted with some uneasy laughter by the other reprisentatives.

"Well... um... as you can see it will take some solution on a part of all of us to remedy this. We all know that MUNDI needs increased forces to deal with this... and the megacorps are...."
"How do you intend to keep these forces alive? You've lost, what? Seven hundred troops out there in the last 48 hours. And the missing are at about a thousand? Why should the megacorps risk their men in another MUNDI blunder!"

This wasn't going well. Cairns looked around, trying to judge the reactions of the rest of the small amphitheatre. Having a weak MUNDI chief was one thing, but having no support from the megacorps was another entirely.

A chair clattered, and the catholic Inquisitor leapt to his feet, almost shoving Holsten off the platform. Grasping one hand around his cross necklace, He leant over the podium, and called out to the crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I think it is clear that MUNDI has failed us!". His voice was nasal and seemed to echo around Cairn's head like a bouncing ball.

The statement was greeted by a cheer from the assembled audiance. Frag. This was bad.

"I think it clear that we need to eliminate the infestation of these daemons at it's source - the Geneva dome. Your most holy and beneficial Catholic empire has sent a thousand knights, eached blessed with the true faith, to achieve this task! Armed with zeal and backed up by your troops, we will form a victorious incursion into Geneva, destroy the dome, and end this forever! All I need is your support!"

Another cheer. This was not good. Well-meaning as this man may be, charging blindly into Geneva would not work - they didn't even know how to destroy the dome, anyhow. What was he expecting to do, pour holy water on it?

The other inquisitor continued. "What is more, with the true faith of the catholic empire, we will drive the beast and daemon back, bringing truth to the world! Glory to our lord god! Glory to the Catholic Empire!"

The man paused, sweat dripping down his face as he held his cross aloft. He obviously expected a reaction, but nothing greeted him, only stony silence.

Cairns knew he had to act. If the momentum was lost now, even a more sensible plan would fail in the minds of these fickle Megacorps who wouldn't normally commit their troops. With only Western Etherspace and the NAN shamans supporting MUNDI, they wouldn't stand a chance.

Cairns stood up, as the Catholic Inquisitor began to burst into another oratory. With one hand on his shoulder, he carefully manauvered him aside, quietly mouthing "You have a lot to learn about speeches, boy".

Cairns stood behind the podium, and leant foreward on one weathered arm on it. He took a moment to take in the crowd.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. I haven't had time to prepare a speech, nor have I had time to even contemplate speaking today. Yet here I am, and here I stay, it seems.
Our catholic friend has the right idea, but has not communicated it well enough for my liking, so I guess it's up to me now.

We all know MUNDI is faltering. We all know that those daemons - which have been massacring the troops out these - are powerful. We all know that if we do not help, MUNDI here will be swept under it's foul tide."

The audiance was listening. That was a good start.

"However, I think that it is clear, as the previous speaker pointed out, that we require a concentrated effort to defeat them. You may recognise me as a church man, but I know that it is not faith that will win this for us. It is men. Blood and sweat, soldiers fighting to preserve, as MUNDI has been doing. Now is NOT the time to abandon the cause, as with each abandonment the cause sinks further to failure. MUNDI will fall without us to support it, and we must all, one and all, stand together. Now is not the time to assess MUNDI's weakness, now is the time to provide MUNDI's strength!"

Cairns heard the clapping. He looked out, and watched the support run bubbling towards him.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we must defend Geneva, one and all. No corp can stand alone like MUNDI has against this, and it is only in unity that we can work. Men and woman, human and metahuman, megacorp and church, in repulsing the daemons! At first, we must repulse them from here! Then we must contain them, before finally seeking to destroy. Together we shall stand, ladies and gentlemen, but we will not fall divided. For we shall not fall!"

More clapping. That was enough. Cairns pulled up Holsten from the seat Rayi had guided him too, and told him to brief them on the strategy that they had prepared in detail. The shaky MUNDI chief was now needed - if he dropped out or resigned, the beaurocratic scrable would take days, at least, to resolve, days that they didn't have.

Cairns took his seat.

"Very well done Inquisitor..... I knew you had it in you.... say - is that you blushing?"
"Shut up, Rayi, just shut up."

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Badjimmy would have paled were possible. He didn't know how the woman could have seen the tiny gun he still concealed in his coat.

But he knew the chance when he saw one.

"Thanks, Lady la biche, you have made wise choice."

He smiled, cruelly, again.

"Maybe I can get you a favour, in the new world order..."

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(CKW)

Damn It. Those fat ass, short minded Catholic Inquisitors did only know of Oratory. Emmanuel thought. But he was also an Inquisitor. And now it was his turn. To explain the whole cake, in the Catholic point of wiev.

"Ladies and Gentleman. We are on our way to destruction."
His voice echoed through the hall, catching everyone┤s attention.
"Explain yourself." Demanded a catholic Comrade.

"The situation is rather critical. And is in these kinds of situations that we must prove the true value. By our beliefs, we were made as an image of God. We have power over our own. Power to choose. But, freedom is not enough. Strategy is needed. Like the Church of Light has told before, we need a plan to attack the daemons."
Everyone was expectant.
"MUNDI has proven to not be an efficient TRUE organization. But their ideals are proven to be worth. We all must unite,as COL Inquisitor also said."
Inquisitor Cairns didn┤t get the sense of the speech of the young man. Now it was time to put the beef.
"However... His strategy will not work. For a simple reason. It was conceived to fight as if the daemon army were structured like a human one."
He opened a vid agenda.
"As you can see, these beings do not USE any kind of usual tactic, except one. They are attracted and lured by champions, they feel like if it is a trial to them."
"Why do you know that?" Cairns gasped.
"The source can┤t be told. But I can say, that when the two dragons, of the Royal Brood, entered the Daemon territory, they attracted a big amount of Daemons. The more powerful they seemed, the more daemon-bait they looked."
And he continued with his speech. The room suddenly realised that the fragile looking guy was really intelligent.
"As a military Genius say: Divide and Conquer"
He finally ended with the speech. No one clapped. They were deeply affected. Emmanuel came back to his seat, sunken in his thoughts.

***

"Just get that clothes off... that Smell of pheromones will make me go like Mist Lotus..." Eva ranted, while assumming command of the ship.
Behemoth and Hammerwing looked eachother. They tried to contain the laughter, but both chuckled.

---------------------------------------------
(virtualoctopus)

Bloody hell. Not again

Cairns stood up, watching the crowd. He hated doing this so much.
"Don't strain yourself, Inquisitor. Think of your blood pressure"
"I said shut up, Rayi"

Cairns watched the Catholic take his seat. He took to the platform., and looked out.

"Well, I guess you've heard about our destruction now, so now I better talk about our survival. Survival, which relies on our holding together. Standing together."

The Catholic Inquisitor looked on, hands folded nearly on his white robes. The man probably hadn't even tasted combat before, much as his ideas might be sound.

"It is one thing to say that we must change tactics to fight these daemons, but another to actually do it. In theory, it is sound, but will it work in practice? I was used to the Catholics clinging tightly to old, outdated views, not embracing the new and risky."

There was a stirring in the crowd. A little laughter. Maybe this would work.

"Much as our catholic friend may speak, it is obvious that he must have no experience in battle. A agree wholeheartedly in the respect that ? if true, and the daemons do respond to champions, we could utilise this. However, theorising and unconfirmed rumours will get us no-where, no matter if two (Cairns spat) Royal dragons did work as bait? Will it work again? I do not know. We cannot work piecemeal, polarised and alone. Together we MUST stand!"

The catholic inquisitor took to his feet. He almost tried to push Cairns off the podium, as he had done to the MUNDI chief of staff. Cairns held on, and yelled out to the hubbub that was growing in the hall.

"I ask you... do we risk everything, on a novice, barely out of nappies, who does nothing but theorise and talk of sources he cannot identify. Do we trust in what we do not know, or stand with what we do? I know for one, that we cannot try to predict these daemons, so we must instead use our own knowledge of what we have. Now is not a time for military geniuses, now is a time for soldiers! Now is the time for us to rally round what is left of MUNDI, and stand together, not cast it away as a relic of the past! TOGETHER WE MUST STAND!"

The crowd burst into applause. Cairns stood standing, waiting for it to die down before taking his seat.
A snake shaman stood up from the NAN party, his oily black hair and strange green eyes playing, as usual, to his animal?s image. He obviously had something to say. Cairns would have to weather this, and the obvious avalanche of questions, before he could take his seat again, and listen to Rayi's incessant teasing.

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(CKW)

"You want proof, Inquisitor? I┤ll show you proof!" The Catholic punk seemed furious. His youth had rushed him. He interrupted everyone.

He began to chant an spell.

"inquisitor Emmanuel, magic use is not allowed in this meeting."
A shaman inquired.
But Emmanuel went on. He carried away with the spell. Soon, another source of power appeared. Hijackers.
"I am going to use an astral form... and the Hijackers are already here. Proves that DAEMONS are truly lured by champions."
He left the spell dissipate.

"Inquisitor Emmanuel, other thing like that, and you will be kicked off..."
But he had a point. Everyone could sense the Hijackers. Still wandering in the room.

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(virtualoctopus)

"Aye, Hijackers, whatever they are. But what about the big'uns? And please refrain from summoning any of them here, laddie, if you know what's good for you. You have prooved nothing, except that the Catholic Church has spies in MUNDI, given that you knew how to reveal those Daemons so easily."

"But.. I..."

"All your clever trick has done is shown us that the daemons are real. That we took for a fact. Silence. For now. Let the Shaman speak."

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(Wesforce)

Renwu acted to stop the bickering.

"Gentlemen, no need for arguing. Emmanuel, try anything like that again and we'll kick you out of the council."

He ignored the Inquisitor's surly look in return.

***

Badjimmy looked at the advancing woman. She had been threatening him, and now she was coming on to him?

Why are le biches always doing this to me?

"Heh. Maybe once we get to my turf, I'll think about it, but for now keep your heaving breasts to yourself, she-who-has-no-morals."

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(BlueThunder)

"Oh Aye!" a dwarf in full heavy armour stood up, interrupting the Snake Shaman. "An' where do yer suppose we get all these forces? They magically appear out of the sky? Rain down on us baring candy? Gimme a brake!"

The dwarf stormed to the front, pushing others out of the way. Cairns opened his mouth, but he gave him not the chance to talk.

"Yer see...." He continued. "The problem we have here is, it's all a load of talk. We don't HAVE the resources to get any of these "plans" in motion. We have a few beat up lads from Mundi and some religious zealots" he stared at the inquisitors. "Well, on group of religious zealots. As Mr. Cairns seems to have a solid plan, but he forgets that he has not the forces to back it up."

"We could easily call up masses of troops." One man chimed in. "Send countless more to die."

"Oh aye?" The Dwarf said turning to them. "The rate this shambles of a meetin' is goin', the Daemons will be on us before we can call a troop from outside, let alone from miles away!"

"And who are you to be sssaying thiss!" Spat the Snake Shaman, annoyed at being interrupted.
"If you really need to know, I am Holmer Thruman, ex-Grexxon armed forces officer and now their representative. But my vile friend, it matters not who we are. All that matters is that we rally what we have and defend until we have enough forces to attack, we can't attack with thin air, like our religious friends would have you belive!"

The snake Shaman hissed at him, a loo of disgust in his eyes.

"You fool!" he spat. "You are blinded with your stinking ale you pathetic dwarf! We must all fight together, assss the COL have already stated! We must all rise up and meet the threat head on! Only then do we stand a chance!"

"Well....." Rayi whispered to Cairns as the dwarf paused, anger was swelling in him. You could see it. "Looks like your speeches stir much more then emotions."
"Rayi......shut up!"

"You slimly, son of a half rat! You'll be the one getting a glass of ale down yer, right with the glass, my fist and my 'ammer too if you don't control that forked lounge of yers!" Holmer's face turned red. "You people are maniacs! We got one guy who thinks we can fight with nothing, One infernal idiot who has been sniffin the fumes from the popes sock too long, who believes we can use valuable people as bait and this worm who just goes a long with the most powerful lookin' of the lot!" He raised to the podium, almost knocking Cairns off his feet in anger (not an easy thing to do!).

"Steady there old man." Rayi piped in.
"Shut up Rayi." were the first words that came from the Inquisitors mouth as he rose to his feet.

"Now...." continued the dwarf. "We can all sit here, cracking jokes, sipping tea and making fools of ourselves, OR we can get somebody who has their head screwed on tight and get a good defence out there! Mover yer arse or die as you sit! I know what i'd do...."

The dwarf stepped down, just the very vulgarness of him stirred people. But most saw he had a valid point.

Rayi opened her mouth, but Carins imminently told her to shut it.

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(Wesforce)

Renwu listened with interest, and chipped in:

"Well, we have forces inbound - The Mechanized attack units, some aircraft. As to what effect they will have, you all know as musch as me. I have a different proposal..."

He took a deep breath, still wearing his full-face mask, as impassive as ever...

"But these two dragons seem to be heading for the rift, for reasons unkown. Maybe we can wait until they go in, and put up some kind of barrier? Spirits know how we'd power it, though. We'd need a dragon ourselves, to keep all those things in. Even temporarily, even with all of us..."

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(Nyerguds)

Korum tried to open his eyes... and failed.

Am I still alive? Oh frag... what happened to me?

You are still alive... but when you lost conciousness I took the libery of shielding that to everything outside, so that the Daemons would leave you alone. To them you're a corpse that isn't even re-usable as zombie now.

Oh... can you.. umm... re-activate me?

Nope... you'll have to do that on your own. It's your body... you have to regain control of it, not me.

Right...


Korum started making a mental inventory of his body.
Hearing...
He concentrated on his hearing, and heard something burn. He heard some screams too, although he wasn't sure they were human or daemon.

scent...
The smell of the battle... the sweat, the smoke, the slime... it all came back to him.

Arms... legs... chest... head...
Slowly, he started feeling the plascrete under his body. He felt he had a head wound, and his leg seemed to be injured too.


sight...

Using all of his willpower he was able to open his eyes. His vision was blurry at first, but it improved rapidly.

Chana?

He saw the female Sioux Wildcat checking the bodies for survivors. Her arm was wounded, but apparently she survived.

Speech... Oh frag...
"Chana..." he said. His mouth opened, but no sound came out of it.

He tried again, but while breathing in, his lungs filled with dust.
His lungs burned... and he started coughing. The reflex-triggered muscle movement suddenly made him regain control over his body.
He moved his arm, and pulled himself up.

Chana turned her head when she heard the cough.
"Another shaman? Oh my goodness... Korum." She ran towards the Shaman, quickly put her arm around his chest and pulled him up.

"Are..." Korum said, weakly. "...there any other... survi..."
He started coughing again.

"Only three of the Wildcats survived. We got the Mantis shaman in there... don't know if she'll survive though. The horse shaman is dead... and the Cat shaman was dying when I left the building. Nohing we could do for him... I'm sorry. I know you liked him."

That's only three... what about Mako?

He tried to speak, but he couldn't... his throat was too dry, and his head hurt like hell.

"The daemons went away when two dragons appeared out of nowhere. I don't know if you saw them..."
"No." he whispered softly.
"Well anyway, they're gone for now... let's hope they don't come back any time soon."

Slowly they moved towards the building, where the two other Wildcats were taking care of the Mantis shaman.

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(Wesforce)

Newseye: Back on the air, braving crisis and disaster FOR THE TRUTH!

*World rocked by outbreak of walking dead. 'Abhorrent Spirits' blamed, says MIT&T
*Fierce fighting drives attackers back from most populated areas
*State of Martial law exists in UCAS


Cut to Zombie attacks in major cities, scene from helicopters

"All over the world, cities have been attacked by the undead reportedly returning to life. In scenes never witnessed since the disaster at Dragon's Paw's Facility near Marseiiles, armies of zombies have been terrifying citizens in their hundreds."

Cut to scenes of Armed Corporate Forces shooting zombies and rolling over them in APCs, tanks, blasting them with spells, mowing them down with roto-drones

"Already at a high state of alert because of the previous night's Comet-related rioting, security forces have acted quickly tio put down the walking undead, using magical support wherever available. The hordes have been crushed in most major cities, however, in Britsprawl England, Socialist Northern France, New York UCAS and Orkessa Orkislavia, sizable Zombie gatherings remain, apparently refusing to be destroyed by the forces of law and order."

Shot of spokesmen from MIT&T, Oxford, and the NAN

"Experts say the cause of the attacks are so-called 'abhorrent spirits', and that these spirits are a short-lived manifestation brought about by the Return of Halley's Comet. The following guidelines have been issued to the public:

Cut to stickman diagrams

1) Report any signs of zombie activity in your area immediately. Do not attempt to attack them yourself.
2) Seek assistance from the closest licenced mage. If one is not available, consult a shaman, but remember to report them to duly constitued authority afterwards.
3) Cremate all corpses as soon as possible."

Cut to apocalyptic scenes in London.
"And now back to the aforementioned 'Zombie enclaves' that remain:
Britsprawl England was taken completely by surprise by the wave of zombie attacks so soon after the terrible riots of the night, and large tracts of the city have been cordoned off and designated 'no-go' areas, and sealed off by British and IWS military forces."

Cut to Major Golan Halstrom, IWS Security Forces
"With the help of the Royal Police Services, Army and RAF, cordons have been placed around several districts of the city: Camden, Luton, Kilburn and New Kentish Town to name a few. Regrettably, we cannot allow any citizens still in those areas to escape, and inform anyone thinking of doing so to think again, or be fired upon with the latest range of IWS weapons, as seen on our 3DTV advertising. We urge the public to report Zombie activity everywhere to us or our allies, and secondly to think about buying IWS weaponry to defend themselves against both Zombies and looters who may be armed by our inferiro rivals. That is all."
*Walks off-stage as IWS ad jingle starts playing*

Cut back to studio
"And back to our main story:
President Gibbons of the UCAS has been removed in a snap-vote of no confidence, brought to UCAS Congress and Senate simultaneously by Church of Light founder Cynthia Stormcrow.
As Miss Stormcrow is not a member of either house, it is unclear how she could make such a movement, which is on its own of unclear legality, nor is it clear why a full 70% of the TAG Independant party's backers seemed to have suddenly switched to back The Church of Light's party.
However, this new station is reliably informed that Miss Stormcrow is indeed our true saviour, and we should all bow down to her, casting off the decadent illegal false-Presidency of the hated Terence Gibbons.
Even as we speak, the UCAS military, on the streets to keep law and order during the night and earlier today, is dividing itself depending on allegiance. Naturally, most of the units have seen the True Light and have flocked to the new government. Unfortunately, some units of weak-minded individuals still purport to support the hated Terence Gibbons. It can only be a matter of time before they too, see the Light."

Cut back to the studio - Bedecked in pro-Church icons
"This is Flaxine McJanadaren, in Washington FDC, the nation's capital - The Cathedral of Light. Hail Stormcrow! Hail the Light!"

Zombies getting you down? Give 'em a taste of their own medicine with the IWS AS '57 Autosotgun, Comet Night commemrorative edition, now with improved drum size, built-in smartlink and synth-walnut furniture! The fleshbags don't deserv to die by such a stylish weapon! - IWS - Annihilating the world's problems, one after the other.

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(Wesforce)

Mako was almost dead on his feet, covered in blood and sweat and unspeakable fluids from the near-immaterial beings he'd been embroiled with a fight to the death, and the many spells he'd cast. He'd fought ferociously with the metal bar and his bare hands, using spells when Shark let him.

And he'd survived.

Even the hardened Sioux Wildcat who'd stood by him had died, cleaved almost in two by one of the red beasts.

Mako had killed the thing using the Soldier's own Tomahawk.

And it was over.

For him, at least.

They'd driven back the daemons, it seemed. They'd stood against the night, fought back the impossible, the invaders from beyond the comfort of Earth. But he felt no better for it. Dead and dying were lying everywhere, screaming or lying eerily silent. They had lost many men, MUNDI men, all the WESforce personnel who'd charged out with them, all but a few of the Wildcats.

First, Mako knelt by the body of the man who'd fought with him, feeling sadness, but a sense of pride.

Huh, pride. Shark told him. He died. Thats nothing to be proud of. Only those who kill, and live to kill again earn MY pride, land-creature.

The totem meant that as an insult, but Mako could tell there was a deep-down respect for the fallen comrade. The man had been wearing an honour feather. A female Sioux Wildcat came over to him as he knelt.

"His name was Richard Darkstar. I saw you fighting alongside him. You did well."

Mako found himself nodding absently.

"Here," The tanned woman said, "Take this. You earned it."

She passed him the honour feather. It pulsed with power, emotion, memories. Mako suddenly knew that Darkstar had earnmed this feather, and earned it well, wearing it for long years of service.

"I thank you." He told the woman. But she had already turned away from him, moving on over the hellish battlefield.

There were no dead enemies - They vanished, seemingly to cheat their killers of trophies of war.

"By the way," The woman called back, over her shoulder. "I saw some of your friends heading back to the conference centre. If you hurry, you might catch them."

Mako picked up the feather, which he attached to his vest, and kept the Tomahawk - Also a prized item, containing its own memories, and ran past the paramedics moving out to do what they could for the men before the daemons came back.

Then Mako saw the Mantis shaman, and what had been done to her.

Like I said, Mako's totem mocked, She obviously wasn't enough of a killer for us.

"Shut. Up."

It was the first time he'd ever said that to his totem.
A single tear ran down the shaman's face as he went to Korum and the Mantis shaman's form.

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(LeFire)

Fragging headache...

Chance leaned over his SAR-125, the weapon covered with the blood and dirt of non-stop melee fighting that had taken place some fifteen minutes ago. The soldier was catching his breath, the battle having taken much of the stuffing out of him.
All his commandos and Ash were still up and alive, although Evans was prone on the smashed plascrete of the MUNDI HQ floor, bitching away with a exhausted-but-bemused Wangfei working on the left cheek of his butt, a parting stab by a dying daemon after Johan and Evans had battered it to submission with machinegun and shotgun butts.
Winston was also hunched over on the floor, winded by his exertions during the battle. The sniper's rifle was, for once, stained and dirty... having crunched daemon skull for the past half hour or so.

Those daemons were tough... and Chance and his men had learned quickly that they were not subject to normal gunfire. They had also learned that the daemons did not have a specific physical form... Instead, they appeared differently to each person based on their secret fears and desires.

Or so it seemed, anyway... Everyone was too busy staying alive to count the number of eyes a daemon had, or to admire their array of claws and teeth.

A particularly sharp pain suddenly jerked him upright, Chance touching the area just above his temple and under his helmet in consternation.

Strange... Feels like I took a little bump there during the battle.

Shrugging, the soldier proceeded to clean his weapon, unaware of a tiny streak of blood that had run down the side of his head, soon disappearing in the rest of the grime that covered him.

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(virtualoctopus)

"Dragons! We don't need fragging dragons!"

Everyone looked round for the speaker. It was the Neuwerke GmbH spokes person, dressed in his Corporation's livid green uniform.

"All dragons have ever brought us is pain and suffering, from their appearance sixty years ago, until the present day! The Sellafield Nuclear Disaster! The Euro-wars! Even the buking of Geneva, which has lead us to this situation, was caused by dragons!"

Cheers followed this statement, sweeping the room with a wave of anti-dragon sentiment.

"We do not need dragons in MUNDI! All MUNDI has done failed us, because, and all because, I am regretting to inform you - Dunklezahn the dragon has 47% stakes in MUNDI funding!"

Everyone in the room gasped. Although MUNDI funding was kept secret, it was common knowledge that an average corporation only inputted a few percent, even none at all.

Cairns swore under his breath. Although the corps were obviously straining under heavy dragon domination of much of the world's market, now was not the time to make this feeling heard.
"Gentlemen, now is not the time to discuss dragons. We are in direct danger here! We must deal with the dae..."
"No! Dragons have been our bane for too long! We must deal with them now, and expel them from MUNDI forever!". The speaker was a Imperial Japanese spokeswoman, head fashionably shaven and dressed in military uniform.

"Madam, we must deal with the immediate situatio..."
"Never! Dragons first! Daemons next! They are both as terrible threats to our welbeing as each other!"

"Profits, she means", said Rayi, just low enough so only Cairns could hear her.
"Shut uh.. Rayi. I think now is our chance to use the plan."
"Ok. Whatever you say, oh benevolant high master, sir."

While the Imperial Japanese and the Neuwerke GmbH spokespeople continued their anti-dragon oratory, Rayi spoke quietly into her wristphone.

Renwu stood up, about to defend his plan which would both help defeat the daemons, and soften up the dragons.

At that moment, a fair haired man stood up at the back of the hall. No-one but Rayi and Cairns recognised him as Inquisitor Jˇhannsson, dressed in non-descript standard corp uniform. The icelandic inquisitor coughed, loud enough for the people closest to him to turn around.

"Uh.. Ladies and Gentlemen," the small, blonde man began. "I was wondering what reconstruction rights my corporation would be able to have on Genevan territory, once the forces I intend to commit have helped defeat the daemons."

There was a landslide of conversation. Reconstruction rights? Would the megacorps get payback for helping defeat the daemons? Free space was a prescious commodity now in Western Europe, and had prompted the largely undesirable LEO habitats over the North Sea.

The Shunwang Ben Envirotech spokesman leapt up. "What land rights would my corporation get when we commit our aide! We have two thousand men ready in our facilities on the Indian Ocean."

Neuwerke GmbH was still standing. "Whatever he offers, Neuwerke GmbH will double, for exclusive land rights!"

The meeting descended into the chaos of rival bids. It was exactly what they had hoped for.

Corps. Greedy, self-serving, and easy to manipulate.
Cairn turned to Rayi. "Well lass, looks like our little coup has done, eh?"
"Once again, Cairns, it proves that I'm the real brains behind the operation. You just stand up there and look important, and I'll sort it out, old man."
"Shut up Rayi".

---------------------------------------------
(BlueThunder)

The dwarf stood again, damned greedy corps. Looks like a military man had to stand up and do the leg work.....AGAIN!

"Now, now ladies and gents, don't be gettin' yer hopes up yet." he yelled into the chaos of the corps. "Nobody is gettin' anything until we get off our arse and remove these Daemons, and the question still remains how it should be done."

Cairns watched him carefully, one word out of place could rip his whole plan apart.

"It looks to me that we have two options, excluding those Catholic nuts just because their insane. I ask yer, throwing are most valuable men out there to be Daemon fodder. Sounds like the work of those damned dirty Daemon cults to my ears...and the fact they could even summon them just proves it!"

A murmur of approval went though the room.

"Looks like that guy isn't as bad as we thought.....you know, he kind of reminds me of you." Rayi, said under her breath.
"Just shut up...." said Cairns, standing up. He'd got the corps, the dwarf hadn't messed it up. It was time to wrap this up. But the Catholic Inquisitor beat him too it, holding his cross up high.

"How dare you!" He yelled out at the dwarf. "How dare you accuse the true religion of such blasphemy! It is YOU Dwarf, YOU who fails too see the light, YOU and these dirty Pagan witches! You'll all die and go to hell if you follow their path! You must act under the one true religion! FAITH WILL GUIDE US!"
Cairns pulled the man from the podium. He ignored him and signaled to the dwarf to stand down. He did so with a nod.

"You have a valid point there, Mr. Thruman. We must act now and bicker later! The time has come to decide and only two choices lay a head." he paused, letting the crowd take it in. "We rally and make plans to attack right away. Or we rally and Defend until support comes to our aid. The choice is yours, please choose wisely."

Cairns sat back down, a low murmur ran though the crowd.

"Oh, how very awe inspiring." Rayi's sarcastic voice came to his ear again.
"Look, lass. You might think your too old to go over this knee, but your not!"
"You may think theres no such thing as sexual harassment laws, but there is."
"Do you want my hand on your cheek girl? 'cause your heading that way!"
"Depends which cheeks your inquiring about." Rayi laughed.
Cairns just sighed, she was impossible.

---------------------------------------------
(CKW)

Ack.That was going downwards pretty quickly. The council was turning into a gossip. And, they were failing into unity. Emmanuel thought for a while. It was needed. It was too risky, but he needed to do it.
He spoken to that pagan, Cairns.
"This catholic nutter... like the other punk said, has something in mind to unite all this gossip."

Cairns did not understand what had planned... yet.
Emmanuel stood up, smiling cynically, and he took the word.
"Do you want to see IT?"
Everyone mumbled and gossiped about the last phrase.
He continued.
"Bring the beast in." and then he clapped.
Two hefty crusaders, an elf and a man entered the room, with a big cage. Inside the cage... there was... A DAEMON!!!! It was the size of a man, but looked way too dangerous.
Everyone opened wide their eyes.
"It did cost me pain, but I was able to caught it. It was waiting in Ambush, when i was doing a preemptive recon in Geneva."
The cloak revealed the face. A bandage covered a scar in his cheek.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. This is our TRUE enemy. And this will be the last face you will see upon death if we can┤t hold off the daemons."
He continued to speak.
"A while ago, you called us nuts. BUt answer me. Did your "sane" troops capture a daemon?"

This was the last cartridge, the big boom. Nor Cairns could expect that. Emmanuel faded away again, sunken in his thoughts.
"He, these people nowadays are scared off everything. If they knew what I know about dragons..."
He thought.

***

"Answer me, do I look attractive to you?" Eva asked.
Badjimmy examined her well. She looked...so perfect...
"Cause it will be the last sight you will have in your whole life if you don┤t shut your fragging mouth up!"
She was getting upset again.




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