[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Tweed Valley Throwdown #rp-demaria #storytelling #OtherSpace

Razorback is hardly the most graceful of riders, but he manages to stay astride his Varas Lizard as he approaches the valley suggested by Fluffpaw the day before. He comes to the valley entrance and relaxes his gentle pull on the reins, allowing a pair of blinders to snap shut over the reptile’s eyes. His knowledge of the local area might be lesser than that of his companions, but his tracker’s sense of smell has revealed the presence of the herd long before he could see them.

The large bumbler herd is meandering ploddingly through the valley, flowing riverlike between the dune ridges on either side.

Whitepelt whirs along on an elegant silver and blue hoverbike, accompanied by a pair of gruff-looking bodyguards on their own cycles. One of the guards, a patch-eyed Demarian named Spotchaser, wears a rifle slung over his back. The other, a scarred Grimlahdi named Unthan, wears metal knuckle rings topped by sharp spikes.

They slow to a stop as they reach the overlook with the view of the herd in the valley.

“Here’s hoping the herd is cooperative,” Whitepelt says.

Whiptail rides the Varas Lizard like a seasoned pro, keeping the beast headed towards the valley. As he looks out at the bumbler herd, he takes off his hat and brushes off the dust from his jacket. “I ain’t had one be reasonable yet.” the old cat says. “Ya jes gotta turn ’em to your way ah thinkin’.”

Fluffpaw’s ears flick back and forth as she nudges her Lizard forward enough to get a good view of the herd. “How many did you need?” she queries, casting a glance in Razorback’s direction. Her whiskers twitch and the Cliffwalker and Whitepelt both get semi doubtful looks. “Have you ever herded before?”

“As many as possible,” Razorback rumbles, his ears canted forward as he watches the herd. “And … to a degree… I have driven bumblers before, but in hunting, not on a long trek. Do you think if I flush them out of the canyon from the other side, the five of you can continue guiding them to our destination?”

From a shadowed cave on a ridge about a half mile from where the wranglers led by Razorback are gathered to confer, a scar-snouted Demarian lowers his high-powered binoculars and looks toward his companions – a calico-patched Demarian and a human female with spiked blue hair and a heavy rifle cradled in her arms.

“Notify Lady Coldstar,” Scarsnout growls. “We’ve confirmed Greenwater’s saviors are on the move. Tell her…we’ll deal with them.”

“Ain’t gonna be a problem, least fer me.” Whiptail says, his paw idly fingering the rope coiled over his shoulder. “We just box ’em in, and keep ’em headed the way we want. So you flush ’em, we’ll wrangle ’em. Once you got ’em flushed, you’d best take up the rear and watch for stragglers.”

Fluffpaw gestures towards Whitepelt. “The bike will help spook ’em in the right direction,” she suggests. “If you both got started, we can then start to keep them boxed in until they run themselves out.”

“I think we can manage that,” the dark-furred noble responds with a purr. He bobs his snout to his companions, then nudges the accelerator as he arcs the hovercycle around.

The Cliffwalker nods quickly, then guides his mount towards the far end of the gorge. Once he arrives, he motions for the bikers to turn off their engines while he gets close enough to get the herd moving without stampeding them.  His ears swiveling about in a state of alert, and his nostrils reading the air, he makes his way silently though the scant desert brush as he approaches the bumblers.

Although the bikers comply, Scarsnout’s minions at the high ground are less cooperative. The calico-patched Demarian finishes assembling a shoulder-mounted plasma launcher, which he hefts and aims down into the gorge. He targets a rocky gully behind the lumbering bumblers. Pulls the trigger. With a WHOOMP! and a HISS!, the plasma torpedo descends into the gorge. That noise alone is enough to set off the bumblers. The ensuing blast leaves them confused in their panic, so that the herd scatters in mad clumps of stomping doom. Whitepelt cries out in alarm as his Grimlahdi companion and the hoverbike are trampled in the stampede.

Whiptail gets his lasso ready to start roping stragglers, but with the blast from the unwanted guests, and the sudden stampede, his mount rears in panic. It takes all his strength to hold on. “WHAT IN TARNATION!?!? WHOA THAR!!! WHOA!!!!” he hollers, trying to get the frightened reptile settled down.

Fluffpaw has trotted her mount off in preparation to take up the far side of the herd, staying upwind and away from anything that might spook them prematurely. The first sounds of the blasts and the herd swerving in directions not previously anticipated peace marks of panic on her feline face. Paws take up a much firmer hand on the reins, struggling to control the jittering, bucking, upset animal. It’s all she can do to yank it out of the way of the stampede and not share a fate similar to the unfortunate Grimlahdi. “Get around them on the outside, ” she cries loudly to her companions. “Get ’em together!”

Razorback’s ears snap towards the direction from which the “whoomp” sound comes and is already racing there quadripedally when the detonation occurs. Seeing a stray bunch of bumblers crossing his path, he looses a predatory roar at them to send them scurrying back towards the others as his nostrils follow the scent of the torpedo’s propellant.

Scarsnout watches through binoculars from the ridge as chaos unfolds below. He sees Razorback fixing on their location. Then he lowers the binoculars and nods to the human female. “Target incoming. Aim for the killshot.”

Whiptail finally manages to get his mount under some semblance of control. Once he’s assured himself its relatively calm, he gets his lasso ready once again, and throws a loop around the nearest bumbler that appears to be one of the lead ‘troublemakers’, hoping if he can get some of the leads settled down, the rest will follow suit.

Not exactly the gunslinging type, Fluffpaw keeps her head low and focuses on the herd, ears flicking back and forth wildly in distress. She veers her mount to intercede with a bumbler starting to swerve off, ready to take some of the herd with him. She bares her fangs and gets a menacing growl. Knowing what’s best for him, the bumbler rejoins the herd with an anxious rumble. It would prefer to not be lunch for a Demarian today. Her dark eyes scan the heads of bumblers to search for any more strays seeking to remove themselves from the pack.

Razorback finds the time to flick the switch on a little device at his belt before he begins to take the side of the gorge in a series of tremendous leap, his claws scrabbling across the rock as he launches himself upwards bit by bit. His ears and his nostrils still search out the as yet unseen foes.

The human female crouches so that she can use a small boulder as a mount for her rifle as she stares down the laser sight and pivots the barrel as she waits for the perfect shot at Razorback – the crosshairs lighting on the front of his head once or twice, but never quite locking on as he jumps to and fro. “C’mon,” she mutters. “Sit still a second.”

Whiptail notices that Razorback has taken off towards the ridge, but keeps a firm grip on the bumbler he has lassoed. “Give ’em hell!” he hollers as he works the bumbler to where he wants it to go.

Back and forth Fluffpaw sways with her mount, snapping and snarling as necessary to discourage strays from diverting from the main body and to keep them running straight. It’s hard though, with just one person covering a large side and the occasional bumbler does escape, swerving off and taking a friend or two with it. “Keep ’em running til they tire!” she shouts to Whiptail. She slows a little to approach the rear of the herd to keep better eyes on how they move, and where they’re all headed.

The Cliffwalker begins to zero in on the scent of the launcher, the shifting of clothing against stone, a muttered word. He bursts upwards over the boulder hiding his would-be sniper. His claws slip out, his jaw stretched wide, he looses a roar that echoes throughout the gorge as he descends towards the human female.

The woman’s finally got a lock on Razorback, cool and seemingly untroubled by the massive felinoid descending toward her as she’s about to squeeze off a blast into his face with the rifle. Unfortunately, the shot goes wild as the calico Demarian to her left gives a harsh jab with his rocket launcher to knock her onto the ground. Scarsnout, furious, pulls his own weapon – a plasma pistol – and aims it at the traitor, preparing to fire.

Whitepelt, meanwhile, is using his bike to help corral the panicked bumblers.

Whiptail tugs on his lassoed bumbler, trying to steer it and catch the attention of the rest of the herd, with the hopes that he can get them into a better position to get them stopped and rounded up.

The bumblers begin to tighten up under the pressure from three sides – Whiptail, Whitepelt and Fluffpaw. Skittish and stampeding, they cramp in on themselves, which causes them to start slowing down. From each side, some of the bumblers have made an escape into the brush but the majority have accepted their inevitable fate. Fluffpaw wilts slightly in the saddle as the initial round up so far seems to have been at least a semi success. The herd is still moving and so onward goes the youngest of the Demarian in the group.

Razorback doesn’t question the sudden intervention of the new “ally.” Not yet. He touches down on boulder the sniper had been using to brace her rifle, his legs coiled beneath him for barely a moment before they launch him swiftly forward towards Scarsnout.

The female sniper’s gun is about three feet away from her now. Raging, she scrambles for it. The turncoat Demarian, either oblivious to Scarsnout’s gun (or ignoring it), leaps to grab the woman’s leg in an effort to slow her progress.

Scarsnout, of course, cannot ignore the impending pounce of Razorback Cliffwalker. His fanged mouth falls open in frustrated dismay before he turns and bolts toward the cave in search of shelter.

Whiptail keeps working the lassoed bumbler to act as the guide of the herd, hoping that Razorback’s intervention has prevented any further projectiles from afar. “Derned idjits.. ” he mutters to himself.

Flick. Flick. Fluffpaw’s ears swivel back and forth, seeking out sounds that might be of use to them in the settling of the herd. Their pace is starting to slow now that the initial panic has worn off and the interest in moving is dwindling. Her own mount has slowed into sluggishness from the hard run and quick change movements. She looks to Whiptail for further direction.

Predatory instincts are fully engaged in Razorback as he leaves the turncoat to deal with the sniper. He pounces after the fleeing Scarsnout, trying to close the distance before the other Demarian can gain enough room to bring his pistol to bear. His ears remain canted forward however, testing the sound from the cave for evidence of ambush.

Scarsnout doesn’t waste the steps slowing to aim or fire at Razorback. Instead, he disappears into the shadows of the waiting cave ahead of his pursuer and is quickly gone down one of three divergent passages leading away from the entrance chamber.

Outside, the woman lunges for the rifle and almost grabs it, but the calico Demarian tugs her leg, thwarting her this time.

Down in the gorge, Whitepelt eases alongside the calming herd. He then looks toward the wreckage of his stampeded companions. “I should see to them,” he says, dismounting from the hoverbike.

“Let’s keep ’em rounded up, watch for stragglers.” Whiptail says. “Damned if I’m gonna let these varmints get loose again.”

Fluffpaw rubs a paw over her mount’s neck, a gentle encouragement to keep moving. She urges the animal back into a steady pace as she loops around the rear end of the herd.

The Cliffwalker scents the air ahead of him, barely pausing for more than a moment before taking off down one of the three passages, closing his eyes for an instant to help them acclimate to the darkness, while his ears also chase after sound of his quarry’s flight.

The sound of Scarsnout’s flight is obscured by a gurgling, burbling noise – water flowing in a cavern stream that parallels the passage Razorback follows, leading down deeper into the ridge.

Still following scent as well as possible, his eyes squeezing every possible available photon of light from the passage, Razorback continues to chase down his prey.

Back in the gorge, the herd seems managed. The sniper on the ridge draws a knife from a concealed pouch behind her neck and stabs the calico Demarian in the chest as he tries to pounce on her. He tumbles over onto his back, lung filling swiftly with his own blood, coughing violently and wincing at the pain. She picks up her rifle. He holds up a hand in vain. She squeezes the trigger. The blast scorches a hole through the Demarian’s palm before hitting him between the eyes.

She takes a few deep breaths, then looks down into the gorge at the relative tranquility. She considers the cave where Razorback chased Scarsnout. And then her gaze settles on the rocket launcher.

Razorback, completely unaware of these events, continues to give chase.

The herd has slowed from its panicked stampede and has more of an interest in returning to their grazing in a more tightly clumped group, making it far easier to start their moving up at a later point. Fluffpaw rides a circular loop around the perimeter, both checking for problems and cooling her mount down at the same time.

For a moment, the sniper woman aims the rocket launcher down into the gorge – targeted on Fluffpaw’s back. Then Whiptail’s chest. Then Whitepelt’s legs as he crouches next to one of his fallen comrades.

But finally she turns fully around to fire the rocket down the gullet of the cave passage, where it explodes: sealing both Razorback and Scarsnout inside.

The Cliffwalker hears the explosion and skitters to a halt for a second. Left in nearly complete darkness, he finds himself forced to depend only upon sense of smell to continue his pursuit, while looking ahead in the darkness for any evidence of a light being used by the other Demarian.

“Sands take that lunatic woman,” Scarsnout growls in the shadows. He stops just in time to hear a scattering of pebbles tumble over a ledge into a drop below – hard to say how far, but probably deep enough to hurt plenty. Possibly maim. Or kill. He presses his back against one of the side walls and listens for Razorback’s approach. He tries to keep silent. Maybe the interloper will just tumble into the abyss like a worrisome pebble.

In the gorge, Whitepelt peers up at the smoke coiling up from the ridge: “Our friend’s in some measure of trouble, I think.” He looks toward Whiptail and Fluffpaw, drawing his blades. “Coming along?”

The Cliffwalker, having slowed his progress, also hears the shuffling of gravel ahead of him. He sniffs the air carefully, stalking in the dark while his ears swivel about in search of his prey.

Whiptail narrows his eyes. “Sounds like th’ fats in’ the fire now.” he says, drawing his pulse pistol. “Reckon we oughta go check it out.”

The sniper, run out of rockets, tosses the launcher aside and retrieves her rifle from near the corpse of the fallen Demarian. “Time to act like a professional and deal with this problem once and for all,” she mutters. She kneels behind a boulder, aiming the barrel down into the gorge toward the chest of the approaching Whitepelt.

Inside the cave, Scarsnout hears movement in the darkness. “We should work out an accommodation, friend,” he growls.

Fluffpaw’s ears flicker with uncertainty. “Y-yes, we should go help,” she replies slowly. “We shouldn’t take the mounts too close though. They could get hurt.”

The Cliffwalker smiles silently in the black as his ears zero in on a voice. The muscles in his legs and arms coil beneath him, ready to pounce at the slightest confirmation of Scarsnout’s exact location as he stalks incrementally closer.

Whiptail kicks his mount in the sides, and gets it going at a good sprint towards the cliff. Once he gets a bit of distance from the herd, he draws a bead on where Razorback had headed, and catches a small glint of something in the rocks reflecting the desert sun. A quick series of shots are fired at that general location, the old cat knowing full well he won’t have much accuracy at this range.

Whitepelt flinches and ducks at the sound of gunfire from behind. He turns and nearly flings one of his knives at the source. Seeing it’s Whiptail, and noting that the Demarian is firing up toward the ridge, he decides instead to turn his attention toward the rocks above.

Up there, the sniper curses and ducks below the rim of the boulder while cradling the sniper rifle. Her cover blown, the enemy approaching at an advantage of numbers, she decides to cut her losses. She makes for a narrow mountain passage that leads off toward a promontory where her small runabout shuttle is parked.

In the cave, Scarsnout makes no effort to conceal his location. Instead, he says: “I know a way out.”

There’s a notable hesitation for Fluffpaw, paws clenching on the reins of her mount. Whiptail gets a good distance on her before she is pulled out of her freeze and nudges the lumbering beast forward. Her head ducks low to make her body as small as possible.

Without a word, the dark-furred hunter launches himself at the benighted vassal of Coldstar, tooth and claw stretched out to rend what flesh they can find purchase upon.

Scarsnout’s eyes bulge wide as the silent Razorback hurls himself into an attack. Clearly, he had expected an opportunity to negotiate. And, clearly, he had misinterpreted the conversational terrain. Now he only knows *one* way out. He struggles with Razorback and lets himself fall away from the ledge, gripping the thrashing attacker, into the waiting chasm.

Whiptail gets up to the ridge, and spots dust settling indicating recent movement. Following it, he gets on the sniper’s trail.

A mounted figure emerges from across the valley in the direction of Huntsekker.  Stubtail, out of pure grit or ignorance, risks skylining himself atop the ridge as he surveys the scene.  The lynx drives a wicked spur into his varas lizard’s flank and the beast snarls raw hatred as it hurtles down a narrow switchback to the valley floor below.

Whitepelt follows Whiptail along the path leading up to the ridge, clutching a knife in each hand. “Strategy?” he inquires.

Fluffpaw is not far behind Whiptail but she does not possess much in the way of weaponry. “Where did the big one go?” She asks meekly.

The Cliffwalker feels himself start to go over the ledge even as his teeth bite down where he judges Scarsnout’s throat to be. His right arm stretches out, claws grasping for some sort of purchase in the rock to stop or slow his descent.

Razorback’s fangs find their target, tearing into Scarsnout’s throat – the other’s pained outcry is drowned in gurgling blood as they fall away from the ledge – but no luck snagging at the rock before tumbling into the darkness below.

A shower of sun-bleached pebbles and red sand precedes Stubtail’s mad dash down.  His mount leaps that last six feet to the ground, staggers, then rights itself.   Before it can fully regain its footing a spur sinks into the beast’s opposite flank and it cries in furious shock, whipping its head around to snap at the cruel rider. Stubtail yanks the reins and the lizard’s snapping maw misses his throat by inches, “Hiyaaah!  Run you bastard!  RUN!”  With no other channel for its rage, the lizard surges ahead, kicking up a cloud of dust in its wake and rapidly closing on the stampeding bumblers.

Razor uses his tail and his legs to try and rotate his body so that he is less likely to end up underneath his falling companion, meanwhile keeping a solid grip on the throat of his victim.

“Not sure ma’am.” Whiptail says, following the trail. “But I have a feelin’ the varmint who was shootin’ at us is makin’ a break fer it.”

The two tumbling Demarians – one quite alive but the other well on his way out – splash into brackish water, about 20 feet deep, at the bottom of the chasm.

Meanwhile, the sniper woman scrambles into the cockpit of her small transport and revs up the engines to prepare for launch.

Fluffpaw’s ears flicker back and forth, even as she tests the air gently, seeking some sort of scent. She’s no fighter, but she tracks prey well. Stubtail gets a searing look. “Don’t you dare stampede that herd now that we got it settled,” she hisses loudly.

Pushing away from Scarsnout, Razorback flounders towards the chasm wall. He clings there for a moment to catch his breath while calculating the climb out.

As Whiptail rounds a corner, he sees the shuttle  beginning to start up. “Thar’s the varmint!” he hollers, raising his pulse pistol and starts firing towards the ship, aiming particularly at the engines themselves.

One of the transport’s exhaust nozzles flares as the blast from Whiptail’s gun ruptures a fuel line. An explosion booms down through the gorge, louder than it is destructive.

Below, the bumblers spook and scatter.

The sniper in the cockpit frowns as she assesses the damage. Relying only on atmospheric thrusters, she lifts off.

Deep within the ridge, Razorback will find the climb is long, arduous, and deadly. But he’ll also notice a narrow but passable gap in the rock that stretches above and below water level.

Stubtail casts Fluffpaw a withering glare.  “I know what I’m doing,” he says, just as the blast casts the herd scrambling into disarray.  The Demarian spits a curse and steers his mount to catch up with the nearest cluster of spooked bumblers.

Sighing, the Cliffwalker decides against scaling the chasm and begins to pull his way through the stale water down the passage.

Fluffpaw hisses angrily at Stubtail, tail lashing. It may not be his fault but she’s apparently blaming him. “Find the big one,” she says to Whiptail and Whitepelt before turning her mount to go after the newly spooked herd.

Whitepelt nods to Fluffpaw, then looks toward Whiptail. “I hope he wasn’t severely exploded.”

The sniper woman, meanwhile, jets away from the ridge – intent on returning to Lady Coldstar to report on how everything went awry, and probably to blame it all on the now MIA Scarsnout.

As Razorback proceeds down the narrow passage, he’ll eventually catch the scent of fresh air and notice light growing brighter. Daylight. A crack will deliver him back into the gorge, where a lazy bumbler chomps impassively on gray grass stalks.

Razorback pulls his sopping-wet self irritably into the comforting dryness of the desert. He pauses at the crevice opening to scent the air and satisfy himself that combat is still not ongoing. He moves off towards where Fluffpaw is located, following the sound of the herd.

Whiptail curses as he sees the sniper getting away. “That derned varmint will blab everythin’ to Coldstar, just you wait.” he says, shaking his head. Bringing around his mount, he goes down to help get the herd settled once again.

“I did not expect to be burying my friends today,” Whitepelt mutters as he returns to the site of their broken bodies.

“Newbies don’t belong on a drive,” Fluffpaw complains loudly to Whiptail. Her attention is on the herd, chasing it to try and slow it back down again, completely unaware of Razorback’s approach.

Stubtail misses the slight or chooses to ignore it, his focus firmly directed at a particularly plump bumbler several of the smaller beasts have taken to following in their mad scramble.

Like a big overzealous cattle dog, the Demarian’s mount nips at the large bumbler’s flanks, driving it and, by extension, its followers into a shallow arc toward Fluffpaw and Whiptail.

Razorback moves in, blocking the bumblers’ last avenue of escape. He immediately starts counting the heads of his companions, his ears folding tightly back as he spots the newcomer. His expression changes when he finds that two of Whitepelt’s friends are down. “Thank you for your assistance, sir,” he says to the newcomer, his brow furrowing with a healthy amount of suspicion, “And I would speak with you when there is a moment to be spared.” He begins to move towards the fallen bikers, though. “Can the two of you keep this lot together while I help our comrade bury his men?” he asks of Fluffpaw and Whiptail.

“We’ll keep ’em rounded up.” Whiptail says. “Though that varmit that whar shootin’ down at us got away in a shuttle, but their engines ain’t in workin’ order… flew off on thrusters only. Though ya can bet that bitch Coldstar is gonna know what went down soon enough. We’d best watch our tails.”

Whitepelt gnashes his fangs, resting against a twisted column of rock near the bodies of his companions. He looks toward Whiptail and replies: “Lady Coldstar better watch her *own* tail.”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] The Demon Queen and the Space Whale #storytelling #OtherSpace

A medium-sized personal ship with a faceted appearance floats, tumbling slightly, bow over stern. it appears to be running on very low power consumption mode, even lower though than most usually do.

On board, a human, Mikial Nachen, and his pet hawk, Vachok, slumber in suspended animation in their cryopods, an AI runs on low power, periodically scanning for signs of civilization, or anything dangerous enough to warrant waking the two. It is still inactive at the moment.

In the depths of space, Kemetti rests, sated by his most recent meal. The immense space-dwelling creature, sensory arrays detect something of a curiosity, a ship adrift. The Yaralu stretches his senses out towards the vessel, and then he surges forward into the void, driven more by curiosity than by hunger. For now.

On board the DNC Amadaun, a certain pilot raises an eyebrow at an usual flash on the console. “Huh. Don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those. C’mon Kail, looks like we’ve got to skip the Kipper Festival again.” The penguin sitting in the next seat tilts his head quizzically “Might be someone adrift. Aina would stomp the both of us if we ignore that.” Wark…

The A.I., Alice, takes a moment before the next scheduled scan shows something strange. Alice wakes up enough to take more regular readings and to investigate the sensor input. It was peculiar, big, and what was more, it seemed to be closing in. Then the second, more definite blip pops up, some sort of ship!

“Beginning cryo-suspension resuscitation procedures.” an pre-programmed electronic voice announces. Mikial’s cryopod begins to warm, blood substitute drains and is replaced by  his true blood. Mikial wakes suddenly just as the cryopod cover swings out and up, he falls forward, coughing out a thick, dull gray liquid from his lungs, and then retching.

He crawls up the side of a bulkhead, using it to lean on as he gets his body to work right again. “What is the situation, Alice?” He asks, coughing and making his way the few meters to the command console.

“We have an unknown ship, doesn’t match the ships from X-47’s destruction, thankfully, and something unknown, big, and seemingly heading our way.” Alice reports.

“Let’s see what trouble we’re in for today, then.” he says, waking the console and bringing the ship to full power, and starting inertial dampening, stopping the spinning. “Hello, Unidentified ship, This is the Oskolok, from colony X-47….. God I hope they’re friendly…” he says over the comms array, leaving out that last part for himself and Alice.

A greeting from a previously derelict ship is something new, and it piques the Yaralu’s curiosity still further. He moves closer to the Oskolok before his voice is transmitted over the hail frequency. “I am Kemetti,” he says, “What are you?” If he detects the Amadaun, he gives no sign of it.

The pilot aboard the Amadaun flips a switch while still on approach “This is Kethren of Danu Chroi. Do you need assistance?”

Mikial sighs of relief, he can communicate!

He eyes the Yaralu, he’s seen nothing like it before, and it looks vaguely similar to the machines that destroyed his birth planet, though only slightly similar, “Hello Kemetti, I…” he pauses, wondering if saying he was human, since it was asking, would even clear up anything, He had only ever known of two sentient species, his own, and the aliens that they traded with back home. then of course, the third species that invaded, “…I am Human… mostly…” he says, looking down at his cybernetic left arm. it was still sluggish from the cold temperatures of the cryopod.

The second hail catches his attention, snapping himself away from his bionic limb, “Affirmative Danu Chroi, uh… am I anywhere near a planet called Earth? I set course for where it was supposed to be… approximately, but they are old as can be and I’ve never seen Earth myself… Oh, and you’re human’s, too, right ?” he asks, hopefully.

The former consciousness known as James which resides within Kemetti also becomes aware of the new vessel. “That’s one old ship he’s piloting…” he thinks to Kemetti. “I haven’t heard of cryo chambers like that being used for centuries.”

Detecting the transmission from the Amaudan, the Yaralu places himself between the two vessels. “No faster than light propulsion,” he ponders to James, ignoring the question from Mikial for a moment, “Do you wish to bring it aboard?”

Keth raises an eyebrow slightly at the Yaralu’s blocking of his path and looks over at his penguiny companion in the next seat. “Well, I’m not one for ramming space whales. Let’s just idle here for a bit.”

Mikial looks between the space behemoth and the ship. Something feels stand offish here, the two vessels don’t appear to be of the same faction, however he looks at it, and the one called Kemetti has placed itself between him and the Danu Chroi. Does Kemetti know something he doesn’t, but should? is Kemetti trying something? Unsure, Mikial unlocks automatic controls, detaches part of his bionic arm, stowing it on a rack, and plugs the neural link cables into the ports on his arm and then his back. This much newness and unfamiliarity is unsettling, oh yeah, is that a living spaceship?!? Mikial then remarks to himself on his delayed reaction, passing it off as an after effect of the cryopod.

“Worth a shot.” James thinks. “Must have been drifting a while.”

The great Yaralu considers this for a moment before a tentacle starts to drift lazily towards the Oskolok. “Perhaps,” he says. The immense creature bears the still-healing wounds of recent battle, along with many scars far more ancient. One of these seems to have been used as a landing bay of sorts. “Human?” his voice returns to subspace transmission, “I see. You will come aboard, then.”

Mikial glances back at the Vachok’s cryopod, wondering if he should risk taking the time to bring his falcon out of suspension, when the ship’s sensors feed him a sense that something is reaching out for it. Mikial turns to see the tentacle reaching out towards him, “OH SHI-WHAT TH- HELLNOHELLNOHELLNO! SHITSHITSHIT!” He strings expletives as his neural link allows him to instinctively engage retrograde thrusters and verniers. Still, his weapons systems haven’t activated just yet, it is a space whale, it could be a space whale handshake, but he’s still backing the hell up.

Keth drums his fingers on the penguin’s head for a moment while seeing the apparent space panic. So, comms open back up. “As regards your earlier question, stranger, you’re not right by Earth, no. However, FTL drives being what they are these days, it’s not a terribly long trip. That said though, far as I know, Yaralu tend to be friendly, and you were adrift out in the middle of nowhere. Best let him say hi. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s got closer medical facilities than I do.”

“Not too interested in joining the party, is he?” James thinks.

“Perhaps not,” Kemetti replies to James, some boredom seeping into the thought, “Perhaps you had better speak with it.”

“Friendly….ok then…” Mikial stops applying thrust, drifting for a moment, “I guess I’ll have to take your word for that, though I don’t require medical care. What I need is a good starmap and navigation for this area. Maybe somewhere I can re stock rations, make repairs… make a living.” He states bringing Oskolok to a dead stop, eyeing the tentacle and glancing for any other movements.

Kethren chuckles slightly at the faint chittering noise on his end of the comms. “I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone these days who stumbles across a drifting pilot in an unknown vessel, and doesn’t think a medical exam may be warranted. More often than not, the pilot’s injured in some capacity. I’m probably biased, but if you need a place to set down and get your bearings, you could do worse than Impiruil Baile. Though I’m not ruling out that our Yaralu friend nearby has better plans”

“We intend you no harm.” James says over the comm. “We simply wish to interact.”

While it doesn’t play out on comms, James can almost hear Kemetti’s irritation as the little vessel pulls back. The tentacle remains still though.

Mikial thinks for a moment before agreeing, “Ok, I’ll play along and get a medical exam… Who knows, maybe there _was_ some sort of parasite or disease on my planet that would be detrimental to you all.” He un-tenses and then activates Vachok’s cryo chamber to resuscitate him.

The Falcon flaps out awkwardly before heaving out cryogenic material and giving an unamused look about the ship.

Mikial detaches the neural link attached to his upper arm, reattaching his bionic, and walks to a panel, which he opens and pulls out a ration pack, opens it, and tosses a piece of jerky towards Vachok, who hops and catches it, tearing it into hawk bite sized pieces while Mikial prepares the rest of the MRE.

“Interaction sounds fine, sorry if I seemed rude, I’ve never seen a living ship before.” He says with a glance out the viewscreen.

Keth nods, mostly to himself. “Well, I’ll be out here if you need me.”

The tentacle that had stretched out wraps itself about the Oskolok, and pulls the vessel in. It bypasses the great maw of the creature towards what looks like an immense scar that creases Kemetti’s back. One might wonder what sort of creature could do such damage to the behemoth. The scar is covered by a pair of metal hangar doors that now slide open. Their motion is jerky, though, as if from lack of use. The chamber inside is gargantuan in scope. Great grey bone-like structures support the hardened flesh. Organic tangler projectors rotate in their sockets towards the newcomer as air is pumped into the chamber and the immense doors slide slowly shut.

Mikial leans against a bulkhead next to the viewscreen, watching the fascinating constructs of the creature go by, at the same time he hurriedly eats some nondescript packaged meal, finishing it as the tangler projectors come into view. Pulling the trash chute open and tosses the package in to be stored and compacted later.

about this time he notices the outside oxygen indicator rising. He debates with himself whether or not to bring a pressure suit anyways, since it would seem that it could be depressurized at the creatures will, but ultimately decides it would be rude to do so, and since he’s the guest he should try to be less paranoid.

Vachok makes a noise and hops on up on Mikial’s shoulder, looking like a large danger parrot, and starts preening.

As the Oskolok is set down on the deck Mikial heads to the cargo bay and opens the airlock and  lowers the ramp, stepping out with Vachok on his shoulder, who, once they’re out, flaps his wings and starts flying around Mikial in circles, stretching his wings.

Keth idly drums his fingers on Kail’s head for a moment. Wark? A little tapping on the console with his free hand, and a secure channel to the Cro is opened up. “Keth here. May not amount to anything, but just stumbled across a drifting vessel… looked kind of old. Vessel and pilot have been taken aboard Kemetti. Anyway, let’s reserve a room in each of the lodgings in case he wants to visit and settle into what’s likely a new time for him. I’ll stick around here a bit longer in case something develops.”

Into this region of space a small personal spaceship emerges. It’s Sophie Snelling at the pilot’s controls. Next to her is a small holodevice playing videos. The one specifically she has up is titled, “Model 052 Sivadian Personal Craft Leaving FTL.” Clearly a tutorial of some kind that she’s trying to pay attention to while at the controls. She checks her sensors and sees multiple other craft in the area. She impulsively hits the comms button to broadcast to every major frequency that isn’t an emergency one, a feature this button conveniently left out, and says, “Hello new friends!” Her tone is extremely cheerful, oblivious to the events that have just transpired.

The Yaralu, feeling a bit crowded, begins to move away from the other two craft at sublight speed.

Within the landing chamber, that atmosphere is a bit stale, but breathable. The area is tremendous, large enough to fit many ships the size of the Oskolok. About a fifth of the space is organized into a cargo warehouse of sorts, with row upon row of empty shelves. There is another vessel parked on the floor of hardened, dead flesh. It is the size of a small freighter, organically shaped, and made of the same material as Kemetti’s tough hide. A single great door leads out of the cavern and into the rest of the space. No one greets the newcomer, in fact, Mikial is the only living thing she can see.

Looking around, Mikial begins to feel the feeling of unfamiliarity close in again, seeing the organic ships, he swings open a discrete panel just inside the open airlock on his ship and pulls out a bullpup style carbine by the strap and slings it across his back before grabbing a few magazines and stuffing them in pouches as he asks Kemetti, “you don’t mind if I bring this along, do you? like I said, You don’t know if I have any unknown parasites or not, and on the other hand, I don’t know if you have parasites bigger than me or not.” he shouts loud enough to be heard by anyone or anything in the hangar.

Then Mikial hears the new arrival through his infantry-to-ship comms on his suit.

“Sounds like a party’s starting out there, huh Alice? Hello out there!” he says with a chuckle as he begins to walk, looking for where he should go next, Vachok slowing into a low glide behind Mikial.

Keth just raises an eyebrow a bit at the enthusiastic greeting. “…Hello there, excitable pilot. What brings you to this corner of space?” Wark!

Sophie smiles as she receives replies. Her ship starts to decelerate. Her piloting skills aren’t bad as she makes a point to stay a good distance from everything else at the moment. Then she looks behind her, “Orby, start recording!” she orders. True to the less than creative name she gave it, a small black orb with a lens hovers over her right shoulder. Then she mutters to herself as she adjusts the comms. This time her messages are only on the frequencies she replied, and for those that can receive them, they have visual as well.

The feed reveals a small young woman in her early twenties with dark black hair. When she looks at the orb her eyes look natural, except for the fact the irises are red. She’s currently wearing a dark black dress that begins just beneath her shoulders. This is accented by matching gloves and stockings. Notably, on her back, are a pair of cloth wings. Then she begins to speak, her voice is fast and excited. “Well, I saw several contacts moving slowly and so I decided to check on things. I’m currently reviewing the Model 052 ship and needed to test its ability to drop out of FTL. I’m going to give it a very bad review at this point because the controls are not intuitive *at all!* So what’s going on out here? Is everyone okay?”

Kemetti continues to move away from the other two vessels, not engaging in the transmitted conversation.

Tangler projectors continue to cover the new arrival as he moves through the landing area, but other than that, nothing seems to respond to him.

Unable to receive or send video at all, Mikial simply listens in on the conversation outside, letting  Keth do the explaining of the situation as he could probably explain better at the moment as Mikial continues to looks around the hangar.

After looking around for a doorway or hall leading out, then returning next to his ship, scratching his head in frustration, he begins to wonder if Keth had encouraged him to wander straight into a trap, seems like the only way out is the way he came! he is about to panic when he sees a great big, how-could-you-miss-it, door on the other side of where he was looking. He gives an annoyed expression directed at himself and goes to it and tries the door.

Keth idly scratches Kail’s head a bit while he responds to the latest hail. “Well, that’s an interesting question. Myself, Kail, and Floriana are fine” The penguin at his side offers a friendly Wark! to the camera, while the calico kitten-ferret on his shoulder waves cheerfully when mentioned “but the other ship, which I believe you just missed, has been taken aboard Kemetti. Not really sure what that one’s like… definitely doesn’t seem like the most outgoing one, though.”

“I did miss that ship!” Sophie acknowledges enthusiastically, still transmitting video. “Do you have something that can talk to them? I’m not getting any responses from either of them in the past few seconds. “Or does that mean the comms on this thing are bad too and I need to mark this model down for that as well?” Then she continues to check her sensors, “I don’t know anything about a Kemetti, but if you’re out there Kemetti I’d be willing to talk!” Notably she’s keeping her ship a good distance from Kemetti.

“What do you wish to say?” the voice of the Yaralu asks over the comms, though he does not change velocity.

Onboard, Mikial finds himself on in a chamber that hangs below the spine of the space-borne creature. Light is provided by floating glow-globes, some of which have long ceased to float. Above are long, hammock-like structures that are overgrown with vines.

The chamber seems as though it was once a market, with abandoned shops and stalls throughout, connected by haphazardly-placed streets. Tunnels extend down below the chamber to unknown destinations in the belly of the beast. To the fore is a large metal door, closing off another area. Here, Mikial finds the first signs of anything resembling life. Faceless humanoid forms, impossibly tall, stand guard over the door. They seem unarmed and unclad, and remain still, like giant stylized statues.

Mikial looks around the chamber in both awe and wonder, and slight aversion and apprehension, the feeling of both a ghost-town and belly-of-the-whale not a comfortable idea to Mikial, the natural human fear of the unknown sinking its teeth into him more than he’d like to admit. He tries to shake the feeling off.

Mikial sets his comms to stay open, piggybacking off his own ship, “So, what happened here? It’s a bona fide ghost town in here.” Then he spots the sentries and the second door, “Hmm, the welcoming committee?” he approaches, and looks walks slowly around the still and silent sentinels, looking them over before coming around front and looking between the two once again, “Guess I should go in…”

Keth nods slightly “Shame you missed it. Something of an unusual model in these parts. For now, I just hope he doesn’t do something stupid in there.”

“Well, first, I want to say hello new friend! I haven’t talked to you yet!” Sophie says excitedly as Kemetti responds, “I’m Ila. I’m actually a demon queen but Ila is fine since you’re my friend now.” Then she turns to the orb over her right shoulder and smiles. Then she raises her right hand and moves it over her right eye, separating the fingers to make a sideways V-sign. “Also you have another one of my new friends in you right now and I want to check on him! It sounds a little scary in there. So I introduced myself, what’s everyone else’s name?” She then turns back to her controls.

“You will not enjoy what you find beyond,” Kemetti’s voice says in Mikial’s head while the tall guardians of the doorway turn their heads towards him as one. The door remains shut.

Kemetti’s voice speaks over the comms again. “Friend? You are hasty even for a lesser one such as yourself,” he says.

“Mikial Nachen, Nice to meet you Ila!” He says, trying to match Ila’s enthusiasm. Vachok lands on his shoulder and lets loose a hawk screech, “and this is my partner in crime, Vachok the peregrine falcon.”

A moment later he’s reaching for the door when Kemetti’s warning is issued and he freezes in place, an expression of ‘oh shit…’ as he looks left then right at the two sentinels staring at him.

Wordlessly, slowly, he backs up a good distance around 15 feet away from the sentinels, “Ah-hahaha, uhhhh… so, not the buffet, huh?” He looks around the cavern, “soo…. where *do* I go…..” he says mostly to himself.

Looking around the cavern, He tries to spy the medical facilities mentioned when he was outside of the fleshy ship, since there seemed to be concern about him not being well or carrying some malevolent organism. Either way, it sounded like a good idea for all parties for Mikial to get some sort of check-up on Kemetti, just in case.

Mikial wonders if he’s on his own on finding the med-bay. He looks at Vachok, clicks his tongue to get his bird’s attention, and signals for him to search for anything medical or with a red cross on it. now he wanders about Kemetti, searching eyes high and eyes low.

Keth smirks slightly “I’m Kethren, of Danu Chroi. The penguin on the copilot seat is Kail, and the charming lady on my shoulder” the kitten-ferret waves a bit while chittering at that “is Floriana.”

Sophie perks up as she receives replies. “Everyone who replied even has friends of their own to introduce! I guess it’s only polite if I introduce my friend I brought with me.” Then the feed goes to a first person point of view as she looks at Orby, the black orb with a lens that’s hovering. “That’s Orby! He helps me share my stories with everyone!” Then it goes back to the normal view over her right shoulder. “Anyway, now that we’re friends is there anything I can help with?”

A few seconds later she adds, “Well, I’m a demon queen and sometimes think of humans as lesser ones, but they make wonderful friends and can be fallen angels! So if you think of me as a lesser one that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends still!” Then there’s laughter, “Some people think I’m rash and hasty like that’s a bad thing, but then they saw how fast I wrote commands and code and were impressed. Even if sometimes they had to debug it because I wrote it too quickly. It still got done!”

“What do you seek?” the Yaralu asks in Mikial’s mind. There is no iconography the human would recognize in the ancient ruin of a market, though a careful search along with some scans might lead to what was once a clinic of some kind. The tools and instruments are strange, as if designed for nonhumans, and the medications are labelled in Old Hekayti.

“Your help is irrelevant,” Kemetti replies to the young woman over the comm,  “Your friendship, unnecessary.”

Mikial gives a start as he hears the voice a second time, this time, he’s sure it wasn’t a speaker on the ship or his suit, or from the sentinel constructs, and was close than someone speaking to him. It was inside his head! a flood of confusion overwhelms him once again, but this time only for a fraction of a second before he finally accepts that this is either a really strange Cryo-chamber dream, or he should just start expecting things he’s never even though were possible, and god-damn-it-all-to-hell, fuck it, what next, spikes erupting from the walls?

Mikial says out loud, as well as thinks to himself rather loudly, “Looking for a medical bay I can use to give myself a once over so I can have contact with someone without them trying to put me in quarantine.” He doesn’t have the ability to scan the area, unfortunately  and equipment made for different races would most likely go unnoticed by Vachok and Mikial.

Mikial quirks an eyebrow at the mention of a ‘demon queen’ and Keth’s penguin, though when he looks up at Vachok he shrugs off the penguin part. Who’s he to judge? He has a male Peregrine falcon and an A.I. sidekick, so to speak. His brow furrows, though, at the mention of considering humans lesser… ‘Great….’ he thinks to himself, ‘I’m lost inside some living space ship with someone outside who considers themselves better than humans… this could go perfectly fine or ass sideways…’ perhaps his experience from his life prior to cryo-stasis as a mercenary has him leaning pessimistic…

Kethren quirks an eyebrow a bit. “Demon queen, eh? Well, I’m in no place to judge. I like with a lady that’s got horns.”

“You’re that type. I see.” Sophie responds to Kemetti. “Fine! You don’t have to be my friend.” She huffs. Then she listens to Mikial as he talks. “I get the sense you probably shouldn’t look for a medical bay on my not friend. It won’t even share its name after all! New friends share things with each other, like names, after all, just like you did with me, and the ship won’t share!”

“None such as you has made their home here since before your species existed,” Kemetti replies into Mikial’s mind, “But you may use what is here. I have no need of it.” A mobile unit, an exact facsimile of the “guards” comes up to guide the human to the aforementioned clinic.

“I am called Kemetti,” the Yaralu says through the comms, coming to a stop and turning to face the other two ships, “Does this information profit you?”

“None such as I, huh? I hope I can still use it well enough…” he says as he falls in behind the mobile unit.

“Well, I’m here, might as well give it a try” Mikial replies to Ila.

Keth leans back in his seat a bit “Well, Ila. How’s that ship your testing out doing? Sounds like we may have a little while before our other new friend comes back out.”

Sophie closes her eyes for a few seconds, then opens them widely, switches her comms to speak with Kethren alone, also switching off the video feed so it’s audio only, her enthusiasm gone for a moment. “I did a search on the name Kemetti. I’m pretty sure my not friend is dangerous. As in eats ships or something. I’m not sure how that works. I’ll be happy to tell you about testing the ship later, but we might want to focus on getting our new friend out of there. This ship didn’t come with weapons for me to test.” Sophie starts entering some coordinates into her navigation system.

Once that is done, Sophie switches the comms to speaking with everyone again, “It does profit me to know that!” Then she turns the video feed back on again, “Ooh, I know! I can give Tarot readings to people if they want them! Even you, Kemetti! I mean, I’m not sure human interests are your thing but you never know until you try, right?”

The mobile unit conducts Mikial towards the ruined clinic and opens the door for him. The door immediately falls off its hinges, and the mobile unit tosses it aside.

Outside, the Yaralu has begun to move away from the other two vessels again. “I try to live with my ignorance,” comes the reply.

Mikial isn’t sure about things when the bloody door falls off the hinges, but he stil goes in, following the drone.

Once in the clinic, Mikial notices that absolutely nothing looks familiar, and nothing reads as any human language he’s ever seen. Then again, the creature did tell him that.

Mikial picks up a peculiar looking device and fumbles around with it, trying to find it’s function. he hits a switch of some sort,  and right as he does, some medical monitor behind him beeps to life and Mikial drops the device, which has now produced a small glowing plasma blade. It twists in the air and stabs right through his coveralls and into his thigh and slides off to the side and onto the floor, leaving a gash about 3-5 inches across his thigh, “Gnhhh! goddamn! That was a stupid Idea!” Luckily it doesn’t look too deep, it’s missed anything major, and is just bleeding a bit and stings like shit. he doesn’t bother doing anything about the bleeding as it’s nothing too bad in his judgement, though that hasn’t exactly proven too good today so far. He looks around at the rest of the medical fare and realizes he can’t do jack with any of this, “closer and better medical facilities my ass…” he grumbles. “Well, thanks for the try Kemetti, but I can’t work any of this, looks like I’ll just have to try the more distant facility and  deal with quarantine or whatever… at least I might not end up stabbed there…” He says to the drone, which hopefully can ‘hear’ for Kemetti.

Keth flips over to a private channel to Ila for a moment “Yeah, I wasn’t planning on going to war today either, so I didn’t bring an armed vessel myself. Hopefully the new guy gets bored and heads back out on his own.”

“Can I at least have my new friend back, Kemetti?” Sophie asks. “I mean, I value my friends and don’t want anything to happen to them, and I worry about the condition my new friend is in right now! He might be hurt and I’m concerned, that’s all.”

“You may do as you wish,” Kemetti says into Mikial’s mind, and the faceless mobile unit goes still.

“I am not holding the creature against its will,” Kemetti’s voice says over the comms, “If I wished otherwise, I need not resort to subterfuge.”

“Well, thanks for offering anyways Kemetti.” Mikial says flatly, turning to walk out and back to his ship, walking off the scalpel slash.

As he walks he speaks on the comms to Keth, “Hey, you said there was a place you recommended I could go get my bearings? Imperal Bail, was it? If you could send me some coordinates for that, I’d be grateful. I have less than minimal navigation charts on this area. The medical stations turn out to be a bust, I can’t use any of it myself… Alice, prep for departure…. Oh, also, maybe something like some transponder codes or an I.F.F. code so I’m not shot down by defenses? You sounded like you were a government official there at some point.” he opens the door to the hangar bay.

Keth lets his eyes slip out of focus for a moment while switching back to general comms “Sending coordinates and such now. I’ll head on back myself once you’re under way. Give you the grand tour. Does our other new friend want to come along as well?”

Sophie turns and smiles brightly for Orby, “I’ll come along, sure! Send me the coordinates and Orby and I will be on our way!”

Nothing is done to prevent Mikial’s exit from the ship known as Kemetti, as it would seem the creature is not hungry today. The outer doors to space do no open until he is aboard his own vessel, and the Oskolok is allowed to leave.

Mikial straps in and closes the cargo bay airlocks and ramp as Alice enters the coordinates into the navigation systems. Once it’s ready, Mikial charges his FTL drive, “_Do svidaniya_ Kemetti. power levels look good still, everything seems to have weathered the journey here rather well… All set here Keth. Ready to in; three, two, one, Mark!”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Y’luci Checks In #OtherSpace #storytelling

It’s been a while since the Ekaterina’s Pride started undergoing her refit and Vechkov Prague – private investigator turned profiteering industrialist – set about seeking bids for contractors to build the new moss farming operation on Mintaka.

Now he watches on a landing pad at the San Angeles spaceport as cargo workers load hoversleds full of supplies aboard the Pride for the trip back out to the newly discovered world.

Sionnach steps up beside Prague, handing him a tablet with some sort of reports on it. “Ship’s ready to go, boss,” he says, his ears tilted forward, “You figure out what we’re doing for a mechanic, yet?”

“No, not yet,” the captain replies with an extended sigh. “Let’s make another refueling stop at the Rucker and hunt for somebody who knows their way around an engine room.” He holds up a PDA. “I’ve been reading up, but I think I know just enough to get us killed.”

“I’d be willing to bet I’d get us killed faster, ” the pilot replies, snorting in self-derision, “We’ll be ready for takeoff as soon as she’s loaded.” He winks before heading up towards the vessel.

A petite brunette trots through the spaceport with a massive backpack threatening to topple her over, and a pda in hand. She’s humming a poppy tune to herself and stepping to the beat, each footfall punctuated with the clatter of metal, plastic, and other materials. When the woman spots the Pride, she double checks the pda and then squeals in delight, “It’s still here!” She practically skips towards the vessel, dodging others with quick apologies.

Standing at the base of the ramp of the pride is a squat, middle-aged man in a beige trenchcoat with a battered fedora, dark trousers, and a charcoal-hued tunic. He squints at the approaching female.

“Hiii!” chirps the woman as she stops in front of the squat man, pushing up her hipster glasses and adjusting her very, very pink sweater, “Are you the Captain? I’m looking for Captain…” she double checks her pda, “Prague? Of the… Eh…ka…ter…ina… Ekaterina’s Pride! I heard there’s places to go and things to fix and whenever there’s places to go and things to fix there’s always need of a grease monkey-” she points to herself and continues without taking a breath, “like me! I’m Lucy. Well, Y’luci, but humans call me Lucy. I’m a grease monkey and I’m really, really good with human ships. Like, REALLY good. They’re my favorite ships, then there’s Yoridini ships and Hekayti ships and…”

She just… keeps talking. So much.

“Hoop, you’re perky,” Prague grunts. “You always this gabby?”

Y’luci stops mid-sentence with a little, “Oop!” She giggles then and explains, “Not always! I’m just excited. I’ve been between ships a while and I LOVE LOVE LOVE meeting new people, and going new places, and fixing new things, and-oh… I’ll, uh… I’ll shut up now?” She gives a wide, sheepish grin, but now she’s staring expectantly at Prague.

“So you say you’re a grease monkey,” the captain says, considering the female. “Good with ships? Well, the Pride’s special to me. You think you can take good care of her? Worth thinking about. But you talk about human ships like you’re not human and you, well, look human. What’s that all about?”

“When on Earth, do as the Earthers do,” Lucy shrugs, then… melts? Slowly her form transforms from the dainty human female to a blob of Yoridini the same pink shade as the sweater she’d been wearing, the backpack laid nearly on the floor beside her.  A face forms in the being’s surface and explains, “I’ve spent lots and lots of time around humans and they usually prefer if I look like them. Plus, Earth spaceports are just so much easier to navigate in a human shape, you know? BUT, as a Yoridini, I’ve got a major advantage over most solid races when it comes to engine rooms. I fit in all the tight spaces! And I can reach things, and I can be a wrench if I don’t have one.” The weird blob face smiles brightly (creepily) and adds, “I’ll take great care of her!”

The Ungstiri tilts his head as he ponders the grinning pink puddle. “OK, well, you make quite the first impression.” He gestures with his head toward the ramp. “Welcome aboard, Lucy. I’m Vechkov Prague. I hope you’re not allergic to Pyracani.”

“Sweet!” squeals the blob, as she surrounds her backpack and lifts it up, “You won’t regret it, Captain!” Lucy makes for the ramp without bothering to retake her human form, “I’m gonna get settled in – and I’m not allergic, no. But I’m not gonna be in charge of the litter if we have any Demarians!” She snickers, oozing her way up the ramp to the ship.

Prague takes off his hat, scratches the back of his head, then makes his way up the ramp after Lucy. “She’s definitely a nice change from the last one,” he mutters.

Y’luci doesn’t seem to hear the captain, squishing around the ship with the vague familiarity of one who has an idea of where everything should be. The superpink Yoridini makes her way to the crew quarters and seeks out an unclaimed space in which to make herself at home.

Hearing a sound from below, the red-furred Pyracani pilot begins to descend the ladder. “Almost ready to shake the dust off, Skipper,” he calls down. Spotting the Yoridini, his eyes widen a bit and he races over to a storage compartment. He pulls out a sealed jar with some kind of moss in it and sighs with relief. “Um, can I help you?” he asks the new engineer somewhat sheepishly.

The blob pauses as she’s lifting her backpack up to her claimed bunk. The weird blob face indents itself into the side facing Sionnach. “Oh, hi!” Lucy chirps chipperly, “I think I’m okay for now, just settling in. Cap just signed me on to be your new engineer! I’m Y’luci; it’s SO NICE to meet you!” A tendril stretches out from her body and forms into a human arm, which waves then offers a handshake. (edited)

The Pyracani blinks, then nods in realization. “You are a Yoridini,” he says, more to himself than the newcomer, “Nice to meet you as well. Meuc Sionnach, pilot.” He reaches out a paw to shake the offered “hand”.

“Yep, I am,” the face nods. Her hand feels authentic as it grips that paw; bony in all the right places, right amount of give, the skin even moves and feels accurate. Y’luci continues to speak, “Sorry if I startled you, Mr. Sionnach, usually I look like a Human when I’m meeting new solid people but I’m so excited I just-” she giggles brightly, “can’t hold myself together!” The giggling continues.

“You’re fine,” Sionnach replies with a toothy laugh, “If anyone should be sorry, it’s me. Haven’t met many Yoridini. And I’m pretty excited myself. Second time going out to a new planet and all. Boss show you what we did to hold this heap together on the way back?”

Y’luci shakes her… something… “Nope, not yet. Just got here! I’m just stashing my bag and I was going to do a full diagnostic next. Speaking of which, I should probably grab my tools, huh?” The backpack is gently lowered to the floor, before the blob opens it and sticks about half of her matter in with the assortment of tools and random parts. The contents of the bag shift and several tools work their way to the surface, in pockets inside the Yoridini’s body. She extracts herself from the bag, places it on her bunk, then shifts towards the ladder. “I think Captain Prague might be busy. You want to show me your rig-job?”

“I take no responsibility for that,” the Pyracani says with a smirk, “And just a heads up, he doesn’t like being called captain.” He gestures aft and starts making his way towards the engine room. “So, there was a Faraday malfunction after our last jump,” he says, “Cascaded down into the main drive unit. We cobbled it all together as best we could, but neither of us are what you would call a decent mechanic.”

Lucy follows along, listening to the explanation as Sionnach leads her aft. “So I should call him Boss, like you do?” she inquires lightly, her tools juggling around inside her pink form. Once the Pyracani is finished, she nods the roughly head-like section with her blob face on it, “Well, decent or no, you guys clearly made it work long enough to get here. I’m curious how close you got to electrocuting yourselves or blowing up the ship, though… or catastrophically crippling the ship to the point where you were hopelessly drifting through space without life support, or…” She continues, each scenario a little more creative than the last, but none entirely farfetched.

“I like the one where we got turned into hobo frogs and the ship was a metal space lily pad,” concludes Prague as he pokes his head down through the ladder well. “So what do you think, Lucy? How long to get the Pride ready for a trip back to Mintaka?”

“I’ll know after my diagnostic, Boss,” Lucy replies as the tools work their ways to her surface. Each is extended from her main form with a tendril, held aloft as two empty ones rub together, “Let’s get started!” With that, the Yoridini dives right into the engine room, touching only surfaces that are safe to touch and maneuvering all the tools at once for each of their assigned tasks. She squishes, squeezes, slides, stretches, and even squelches at times, and is able to do a full, in-depth analysis of the state of the ship in maybe a quarter of the time it would take a single human mechanic. She mutters to herself all the while, little comments like, “Oh, that’s not good at all,” and, “This is in pretty great shape, all things considered.”

Sionnach watches this for a few moments, then glances incredulously over at Prague with his ears leaning back before turning back towards the corridor. “Well, let me know when you want her airborne,” he says.

“Oh… oh that’s BAAAD,” Y’luci quickly extracts herself from the engine compartments, almost seeming to recoil, “That’s so bad! The safety rig is open! No wonder you had a Faraday malfunction, that stays closed for a REASON, who did that??” She closes it quickly before compiling the data from her diagnostic. “As for the damage, your patch job… It shouldn’t have even worked, honestly. You guys got really lucky you didn’t overload the propulsion systems, some of these circuits are screaming for mercy. I’ve got some boards in my collection that’ll fit this class of ship, and I can get the rest easy enough. Worst case, 3 days. Best case, it’s not as bad as it looks and with no distractions I can cut the time in half. I could cut it down more if you want the quick and dirty, but you asked me to take care of her and I wouldn’t go exploring new planets that way.”

The Ungstiri frowns at Lucy’s analysis. “Our last engineer’s parting gift?” He looks at Sionnach and says, “Run your own diagnostics on nav systems. Make sure she didn’t tamper with anything else.”

“Will do, Skipper!” Sionnach calls back from the corridor and makes his way quickly up the ladder to the cockpit.

“Parting gift…?” the blob-face frowns, “Hold up, what the hell am I getting myself into here? What’re you doing that your engineer would sabotage your ship?” Two tendrils form and hold themselves akimbo, “I didn’t sign up for any spy holovids…”

Prague clambers down the ladder into engineering after Sionnach makes his way toward the cockpit. “It’s a fair question. The answer is: I got no idea. We went out to explore one star system and hit paydirt. Then she up and disappeared on us after a refueling stop at the Rucker.” He scratches the stubble on his cheek. “I’ll give you an educated guess, though. She’s got her own angle on Mintaka. Maybe she figured taking out the Pride would leave the planet open for someone else to take advantage.” A dark chuckle. “Maybe we haven’t seen the last of her.”

“Oh dear… Oh my…,” the Yoridini shifts back and forth, fussing, “That’s terrible. You think you can trust somebody and they try to destroy your ship? Oh that’s just awful… I…” She takes up her tools again, “I’m going to fix her up good! The ship, not your last mechanic. Well, maybe her too, I’d like to give her a piece of my mind… but I told you I’d take great care of this ship and I meant that. She’ll be good as new when I’m done with her!”

“I appreciate it,” Prague replies. Then he grunts and starts back up the ladder. “Let me know if you need any parts ordered.” The badly worn soles of his patent leather shoes are the last things Lucy would see before he’s gone into the corridor above.

Sionnach, meanwhile, is still trying to find any errors in the nav system. “What’d she say?” he calls down the ladder as he hears Prague heading forward.

“The short version?” Prague chuckles as he looks up the ladder toward the Pyracani. “She’s going to do a better job than Eloise Sharpers and won’t try to kill us. So, that’s positive, I think.”

“Will do!” Lucy fetches her bag and brings the whole thing to engineering, where she sorts out several spare parts and a tasty mineral snack, and starts working. Anything she doesn’t have is listed (along with images and acceptable price ranges) and sent to Prague. None should be hard to find, though one is expensive. There’s a note that she can rebuild the one they have, but it will take an extra day to do so. If left undisturbed, she’ll work almost non-stop (punctuated by remarkably brief periods of rest) until the job is done or she has to wait for the requested parts.

“Cheerful news,” the Pyracani mutters wryly, “Everything looks ok up here, but these are the same checks I ran when we left the Rucker. If we’re here a bit I can check the wiring over for what that’s worth.”

“I think we have a little time,” Prague replies to Sionnach as he reviews Lucy’s list. An eyebrow goes up at some of the items and their anticipated price tags. “OK. Let’s get to work.”

Lucy keeps her optical micro-organs open for more signs of sabotage while she works. She’s quick, but very careful. Squeeze here, disassemble this, squish there, repair that. Broken parts from her bag are taken apart to rebuild ship parts, and any leftover scrap is set aside.

After a while she starts to hum while she works, causing a shimmering sort of look as the vibrations form fine ripples across her surface membrane.

The Pyracani nods, pulling a somewhat less comprehensive tool kit than Lucy’s from under the helm console. He shuts down the console and begins opening access hatches, following the wire to make certain it goes to the appropriate places.

Everything else seems to be in proper operating order, suggesting that Eloise Sharpers limited her mischief to the Faraday cage.

A short while later, a spaceport technician arrives to deliver the parts Prague ordered on behalf of the ship’s new engineer.

The pink blob forms back into her tiny brunette form to accept the shipment herself, inspecting everything to make sure it’s all accurate and undamaged. Once that’s settled, she hauls the whole bunch back to engineering and resumes her work without thinking to drop back to goo shape. Her arms and such stretch and squeeze as needed, but for the most part she just stays human… ish. The squishing noises die down a great deal because of this.

Eventually she comms that she’s just about done and will be running another diagnostic to make sure everything’s in good working order.

“Engine room reports that as long as we pass the last diagnostic, we should be good to go shortly,” Sionnach says, closing up the access panels up in the cockpit.

Prague finishes transmitting a message via PDA, then settles into his seat behind the Pyracani. “Start calculating the course to the Rucker. That’ll be our new home for a while until I get some professional eggheads to help manage the moss farm on Mintaka.”

The diagnostic goes well, and Lucy gives the green light to go. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to clean up and pass out for a couple hours,” she chirps, packing up her bag of parts and tools, dumping the useless bits into a scrap bin, and making her way to her bunk. Once there she plops as a human, then slowly melts back into a very pink puddle of ooze.

“Course laid in,” Sionnach says to Prague, “And… ready for liftoff.” He glances back at the Ungstiri, ready to fire off the thrusters.

“Good,” Prague says. He nods to the Pyracani. “Take us up and away.”

The pilot nods back, and with a whine from the engines, the Ekaterina’s Pride lifts off the tarmac and surges skyward. The small transport weaves through other traffic and within moments breaks free of the Earth’s atmosphere.