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Slowly, painfully, I opened my eyes, a feeling of sheer terror washing over me as it seemed for few brief moments that I was blind, my eyes perceiving total darkness, inky black only. Every part of my body ached, feeling as though it had been bashed to a bloody mess by falling rocks....probably because it had. I sat up painstakingly, feeling stones of various sizes spilling from my torso. Taking a deep breath in, I coughed as a thick cloud of dust clogged my lungs. Suddenly, a muffled voice filtered into my ears.

"Schuster! Mister Schuster! Are you alright?"

It was Captain Maxwell.

"Captain...!" I coughed. I couldn't get enough air into my lungs to project very loudly. I reached up to tap my headset, only to feel half of it break away and fall sparking to the floor. At least I wasn't blind. I fumbled through my pockets until I found utility flashlight. Withdrawing it, I clicked it on, but it wouldn't light up. A few smacks later, an erratic, flickering beam came on, illuminating the chamber. I was in a shallow alcove, about 5 and a half meters deep. At the near end, a massive cave-in entombed me in the rocky space. At the far end sat a rectangular cutout, surrounded by a metallic frame inset with shards of shattered glass, before which were the ruined remnants of what appeared to have once been a shrine. All around, mysterious glyphs covered the walls, and desiccated bones sat atop burial shelves. It was....eerie.

"...coming to get you! Are you alright?" Another voice shouted, probably Lieutenant Jaeger.

"I'm alive! I think everyhing's working...." I shouted back, giving my aching limbs a once-over. Pointing my flashlight at the ground, I noticed with chagrin that my laser pistol had been smashed into a billion pieces by a falling rock. I counted myself fortunate that it hadn't been my head.

"Good...stand back! We're coming through!" Bishop's voice shouted.

"Roger that." I answered, pressing myself up against the far wall as much as possible, squinting through the darkness to try to see what would come next....

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I slumped down in the tiny patch of shade at the base of a boulder, and held my jacket over my head to keep the sun off. I’d gave up on wearing the helmet and clipped it on my belt instead a ways back

Black Canyon Oberon VI - Oberon Confederation October 7, 3029 ____________________________________ "Orpheus-1 to Orpheus-2 and Orpheus-5 - it looks like we've got some double trouble up ahe

PART DEUX....  "Well I DON'T want to get Fines and low credit scores for doing Atrocities like ripping out teeth, go ahead and do what you need to do Steve, just don't melt his brain." Said CPT M

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Black Canyon
Oberon VI - Oberon Confederation
October 7, 3029
____________________________________

A sudden yell, drowned out by the sound of sliding and collapsing rocks drew my attention from the far end of the group. I moved to the far end of the group to provide guard duty alongside Lieutenant Weyland while Mr. Schuster explored beyond this second blockage in the tunnel, his small lithe frame best suited to maneuvering through the narrow passage spotted in the rubble. I had already started moving back towards the rock pile to see what the commotion was when the Captain called out to us.

"Bishop! Orlex! I need your help now!" Maxwell exclaimed, running toward the pile of rocks that had just unexpectedly collapsed.

Dropping my Blazer rifle to my side, it's shoulder sling more or less holding it in place, I broke into a run towards the rocks and while the limited visibility prevented me from seeing exactly what the issue was there was no mistaking that the rubble pile had shifted and the hole that Schuster had used was no longer present. A blur of movement on my left, the vague shape of something moving quickly in the dark, resolved into Bishop's form as I looked over and my night vision visor revealed details on that side of the tunnel. The large man, his hulking frame belying his speed, was inhumanly fast as he sprinted across the full length of the tunnel in mere seconds. His myomer enhancements accelerating him to what had to be approaching vehicular speeds and I wasn't even sure he was close to his limit yet. My own rush seemed only half-hearted in comparison despite moving as quickly as I could with my gear, Captain Maxwell reached the rocks mere moments before Bishop overtook him and the two of them began pulling at rocks with fervour as I arrived. I dropped my extraneous gear to the side and climbed on the small hill of rocks alongside the others and began digging in as well, my prosthetic arm being used as more of crowbar and spade than how one would normally dig in rocks with a regular arm. The reduced risk of damage to my metal arm allowing me to pry loose and remove larger rocks that would have otherwise been impossible to move, similarly Bishop was able to brute force his way through the rubble with his myomer implants to an even greater degree. His enhanced strength sufficient to not only move incredibly large pieces of rock and boulders but to outright shatter chunks off some of the more stubborn ones. Maxwell for his part was throwing rocks with an equal effort, relying solely on his armoured gloves and jacket sleeves to protect him from the sharp edges and abrasive surfaces of the debris.

"What happened?" I asked between breaths as we continued heaving rocks away.

"Something shifted, started a collapse, took Schuster with it," the Captain relied, breathing heavily with the effort.

"Shit," I muttered as I moved a little higher up on the pile, able to move the rocks to the side and away from the others.

"Schuster! Mister Schuster! Are you alright?" yelled Charles as we made further progress.

No response, not a great sign but it was possible that Nicholas just couldn't hear us through all the rocks, or that we couldn't hear his response. I thought I heard a scuffling sound filter through the rocks but I couldn't be certain that it wasn't just small rocks falling somewhere. We continued digging vigorously through the collapsed rock pile for a few moments more before my night vision enhanced visor lit up with a couple small streaks of light, the faint light was clearly visible in the otherwise complete darkness but it was indicative that we had thinned out the rock wall considerably and the fact that the light was moving also gave hope to Mister Schuster being at least somewhat mobile on the other side.

"Captain, I've got something here, I think I can see some light coming through the rocks. Bishop can you see anything better?," I called back towards the others before turning back to the rock wall itself and yelling, "Nicholas, we're coming to get you! Are you alright?"

"I'm alive! I think everything's working...." came the muffled response, there was still clearly several kilos of rocks between us.

Bishop arrived alongside Maxwell, having finished clearing away the largest rocks that had fallen down, we now had a clear pathway, almost like a doorway, cleared out from the initial pile of rocks with what appeared to be roughly 1m of rocks left before breaking through. Bishop cycled through his various vision modes, or at least I assumed that's what he was doing as he blinked in an unusual pattern, the green hue of the night vision adding an unusual flavour to his face as I looked over at him, a moment later his deep voice boomed out loudly in the darkness.

"Good, stand back! We're coming through!" Bishop shouted.

He then picked up a pair of rocks that fit surprisingly well in his hands, splitting one of them to match the other in a vague wedge shape before planting himself before the small doorway shaped clearing we had made. Maxwell and I stepped to either side as Bishop seemed to flex every myomer muscle in body before stepping forward and then slamming the wedge shaped rock into the collapsed wall of stone still standing before us, the wedge shaped rock punched deep into the space between rocks shattering the edges and knocking the smaller rocks free from the wall. Another blow and several more stones and debris fell from the wall followed by another and another, Bishop did not stop until the wedge shaped rocks were crushed beyond usefulness and a new large pile of half broken rocks and debris lay around his feet. Maxwell and myself quickly moved to clear out the loose debris while Weyland appeared about ready to use his weapon as a battering ram before thinking better of it and instead framed up and then stepped in quickly and delivered the most powerful kick I have ever seen in my life. His armoured boot hit so hard the entire rock pile seemed to shudder violently from the impact, the sounds of stones and rubble hitting the floor on the far side echoed through the thinning wall of rocks and the Lieutenant re-positioned before delivered another mighty blow with a myomer enhanced kick that literally blew the rock wall apart this time. The force of the kick sent rocks flying into the small chamber beyond like non-lethal shrapnel, we could only hope that Schuster had managed to get out of the way. With the remaining rocks above the kicked in portion of the wall now collapsing down Bishop, Captain Maxwell, and myself continued to clear out the few remaining rocks that were impeding our progress before we were able to finally step inside the blocked off chamber.

"Mister Schuster, are you there? Are you hurt?" asked Maxwell, leading us into the relatively small chamber.

A thin beam of light flickered from the far end of the chamber before Nicholas stepped out from the shadows of the wall, "Boy am I glad to see you guys."

"As we are to see you, are you hurt? Do you need medical attention?" inquired Maxwell as he quickly began to give the young man a once over, he appeared to be surprisingly well despite his recent ordeal although his headset was lost and his cooling suit appeared to be roughed up pretty good.

A few minutes later, after having finished checking Schuster over and assisting him with collecting the gear he had left behind, we once again re-entered the final alcove on this tunnel. It clearly was the location of our objective and as per the mission brief the locals had definitely setup a shrine for the object. The need for maintaining night vision capability had passed for the time being and as such we all had flashlights of some variety on and passing about the chamber illuminating various glyphs, apparently ceremonial type bones, and various other occult looking items that were once probably meticulously placed throughout the place but now lay scattered in a haphazard fashion. The central focus of the room was what appeared to have once been a metal framed glass case that likely was designed to hold or enshrine object IE-OBO-FE-01-3029, colloquially known as 'Robert'. I passed my flashlight over the case, noting the shattered glass panels that lay about it and inside it and saw no sign of the object we were supposed to be looking for. An eerie giggle echoed within the rock chamber as my light moved on sending an involuntary shiver down my spine, now I'm not the superstitious type but some things were just unnerving. I moved closer to the raised pedestal trying to look around behind it to see if whatever had broken the glass case had also displaced our target when a second giggle echoed through the chamber again, this time almost sounding like it was directly over my shoulder. I looked around and saw no one close by and went back to moving around the pedestal before voicing on open question to the room.

"Anyone got eyes on this artifact we're supposed to be retrieving?" I inquired to no one specific.

A series of negatives came back and as I stepped up into the recessed cutout that housed the pedestal an almost ghostly wail followed by a faint giggle began to build again along with what sounded like the patter of small feet scuffling across the rock, the hairs on neck and arms stood on end before a odd crack in the voice creating the echo suddenly grounded me and I spun quickly to spot Jenkins off in a corner with a hand up to his mouth wailing into the corner and then giggling about it.

"Blake damned it Jenkins, you almost had me going there," I chuckled at him shaking my head, "You got me, now knock it off."

"What? That wasn't me, I was only responding to Jingles over here," came his somewhat confused answer as he gestured to the empty space beside him, save for a few decorative skulls on an otherwise barren rock shelf.

"Sure it wasn't," I said turning back to the pedestal and broken display case.

"Found it!" I exclaimed as I finally looked around behind the pedestal and my light fell upon the object we were after.

The doll was ancient, like pre-Terra ancient, if the intel was to be believed this particular item was over 1100 years old and had no right to be anything more than a pile of moldy dust by this point. Somehow though the doll was still in relatively pristine condition, very aged and well worn but in remarkable shape considering its purported age. The figure was around 1m tall (40") and was wearing what once may have been an ancient maritime outfit but was now faded to the point of being a non descript outfit save for its general shape. It appeared to have a hood of some kind on instead of what would have traditionally been a matching sailor hat and the face was also faded to the point that none of the original paint remained. Eerily enough the non-descript face, while lacking most definitive facial features, still managed to present an expression that was rumoured to change depending on "Robert's" mood. Currently it appeared almost perplexed but also possibly happy that it had been discovered, though that was most likely just me projecting imagined emotions onto an inanimate object, anthropomorphism I think it was called.

"Excellent work Jaeger," said Maxwell as he approached with his own flashlight and the transparent Faraday cage provided by Interstellar Expeditions specifically for retrieval of this particular object of interest.

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I slowly approached the artifact, squinting at the figure's weathered, beaten, and eerie appearance in the darkness. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, an inexplicable, primal fear building in my mind as I drew near to the doll.

"I have no idea why someone would want this thing," I grumbled, glancing at Schuster. The Lyran shrugged, looking toward Bishop inquisitively. The Skinwalker didn't respond, instead staring intently at the glyphs painted on the cave's walls. I raised an eyebrow, twisting the lid off the portable containment unit. Nearing the objective, I reached out to pick up the doll - and found my hand passing straight through it, as though it wasn't even there.

"What the fuck...?" I blurted, sweeping my hand through the doll again. The antique's humanoid form rippled and distorted, and I realized in an instant what it was we were confronting. "It's a hologram!"

Nick moved in close to examine the projection. Reaching a hand into its shimmering light, he fumbled blindly for a moment. There came a loud mechanical click, and the projection faded away. In its place was a mass of tangled wires and an eclectic collection of improvised electronics.

"Well. This is just...dandy," I seethed. "You don't suppose that there's any chance the doll was a hologram all along, do you?" I quipped.

"I don't think so," Nick replied, popping a power cell out of the rat's nest of cabling. "Driving a holoprojector like this with these energy cells would only give you a couple of hours at best. Whoever set it up had to have been here recently."

"Damn," I responded, glancing at the burial slabs around us, atop which rested bones laid out with apparent reverence and ceremony. "And I doubt any of these guys are going to give us any useful leads."

"Actually, Cap, they just might..." Bishop's deep baritone replied. I turned toward the Lieutenant, who was staring, transfixed, at a specific set of symbols on the wall.

"What've you got, Weyland?" I asked.

"The caretakers of this place. They live in a village not far from here called Tó Neinilii's Lament," Bishop explained. "Maybe they can get us pointed in the right direction, or at least tell us what the hell happened here."

"You got all that from a handful of characters?" I asked, scrutinizing the text.

"I did," Bishop deadpanned. "And I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if they had at least a passing familiarity with whoever hit this site - and possibly the whereabouts of the objective."

"Okay - in that case, I guess we're going to meet the locals, Lieutenant. Nice work. Lead the way."

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Black Canyon

Oberon VI - Oberon Confederation

October 7, 3029

____________________________________

With the captain’s permission the Skinwalkers silently moved around the pedestal that used to house the artifact. On the other side he found the a hidden cave entrance that would lead the team out. He knew it was there the minute he had entered this part of the cave. He could smell fresh sent of air moving, it was cool and smelled of fresh pine. He also smelt there adversaries, they too had come this way. 

Like a ghost the beast moved with a purpose, his movements were quick, quite and tactical. He was hunting again. 

Maxwell’s voice broke the silence.

“Talk to me Lieutenant, I know so thing is on your mind”. 

While skulking forward Bishop spoke his thoughts, almost distant like in tone. 

“They hit this place with two teams.... first, the heavy team. All mechs, heavies and assaults. They wanted to take the Pirates out fast, and with no casualties. That’s why we didn’t see any other enemy Mechs, they probably hot dropped them right on top of them. Once the area was secured they sent in a specialized entry team. High end and well equipped, more then likely they fast roped in from a Vtol. They were moving fast.  Once they secured the asset the mechs got picked up and the ground team went for the back exit”. 

Orlex spoke first, “why do you suspect this Bishop?”

Bishop paused for a long moment as he continued moving forward.

“It’s what I would have done, it... was our S.O.P”

“So it was your old unit then?” Asked Nicholas. 

“Absolutely not.... we... they would have never taken the contract. Due to religious reasons”. Bishop said stoically. Skinwalker had a good idea though.... one he wasn’t ready to reveal just yet. He needed to see more.

“ So taking in this information in.... it’s safe to say this op costed an astronomical amount of C-bills... and our pirate captain did mention Irian... I would say this was a high end corporate hit”. 

Bishop was about to respond but Orlex spoke first. 

“Yes sir, but we still haven’t confirmed who exactly it was. I.E does have allot of enemies, no telling who it was yet. But it’s a start. 

Just then the team broke out into the open, fresh air and sunlight. The path took then out into a heavily wooded clearing. Bishop spotted a small path in the grass caused by their prey, it lead deeper into the forest... the darker part. 

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We wound our way up the wooded hillside, the gray and blue hues of the river gorge giving way to the deep greens and browns of the forest. Bishop led the group, his eyes tracing an invisible path that only he could see. I followed, slightly behind and to the Lieutenant's right, my Hawk Eagle pistol at the ready, scanning the treeline for the ambush I was sure to come. To my surprise, the only creatures laying in wait for us were several flocks of startled birds, accompanied by myriad unseen animals, all of which fled with a noisy cacophony as we passed through. Nevertheless, we walked in cautious silence over the course of the next few minutes, concerned that we might be discovered at a disadvantageous moment. Slowly, the trail made a gradual transition from a rough-hewn cut in the forest floor to a more solid, well-worn thoroughfare which eventually ended at the outskirts of an old, run-down village encircled by towering trees. Strangely, though I saw smoke coming from the chimneys of several of the houses, no one appeared to be present.

"I don't suppose we came at a bad time?" I mused out loud.

"Well, they might've had quite a show before we got here," Orlex observed, gesturing back toward the canyon. Glancing over my shoulder, I realized that the town had a perfect line of sight to the river, where, moments before, we'd been engaged in an orgy of violence and destruction.

"Point taken," I replied. "And if we're the second crew to come through, I can certainly understand why they'd be spooked."

"Particularly since they're pretty isolationist to begin with," Bishop advised. "Almost to a religious degree."

"Speaking of," I observed, "how is it you know so much about these people?"

"Well sir, I - " the Lieutenant began. Just then, an outburst of shouting cut through the morning air, coming from the direction of the town. I couldn't quite make out what was being said, but whoever was doing the yelling sounded quite emphatic. Without a word, the four of us fell into a run toward the center of town.

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Luke tapped his glass on the table as two scruffy men entered the bar.  Looking slightly singed, they hurried over and flagged down the bartender,  whispering furiously amongst themselves.  Attempting to look nonchalant,  Luke headed to the bar as well,  empty glass in hand.  Our comms buzzed few moments later with a message: Recent fight.  Either our boys or someone who can lead us to them.

Johnny glanced over at the newcomers, then back to me,  and I immediately felt my stomach drop. "Whatever you're thinking,  absolutely not."

 

"So, Octavia." He downed his drink and stood,  grinning. "Do you re--

 

"I said--"

 

"--remember the bar with your Highlander friend?"

 

Oh... I really did not like where this was going.  More infuriating than his plans were the fact that they ended up working. The newcomers didn't seem to be paying us any attention,  seemingly focused on getting their drinks as quickly as they could. Luke was inching closer to them,  pretending to look to the menu and utterly falling at being a personal shield. "Don't you dare, you Davion basta--"

 

Whistling cheerfully,  Johnny hefted me up and hurled me in the direction of the two at the bar.  "Make some friends!"

 

Glasses and bottles crashed to the ground as his (admittedly decent) aim landed me squarely into the closest target.  Luke, startled,  ran over to help as Johnny staggered over, exaggerating a drunken gait and patting a now swearing 'friend' on the shoulder.  

 

The other, shorter of the two grabbed a bottle,  breaking the neck over the counter and backing up.  Wild eyes darted around as he kept backing up, making no move to help his buddy. "The fuck is wrong with you?"

 

"She's-- you know how they get.  Throwing themselves everywhere,  amirite?" Johnny hiccuped, nearly falling over.  The cursing stranger scrambled back towards his retreating friend. Luke,  taking advantage of the commotion,  quietly slid money to the barkeep - whether it was a bribe or our tab, it was enough for them to turn a blind eye to us as they started to wipe up the bottle shards. I kept quiet. Johnny had to have a plan, and--

 

"Fuck, they must be with the ones from earlier. Screw the drinks!" Both turned and bolted out the door, faster than we expected. Others?

 

Immediately taking chase,  I followed them out.  Johnny wasn't far behind,  taking a few seconds to pull out a pistol and a smoke grenade, with a panicked looking  Luke trying to keep up the rear. 

 

The tall one was fast. His companion, however, stumbled on a loose stone and fell,  shrieking loud enough to wake the dead. Perfect. One was enough for an interrogation. Still, it wouldn't do for him to escape like the other one.  Precautions needed to be made. 

 

A quick flick and the blade popped out of my cyberarm. One quick thrust of the blade and renewed screams later, I had him pinned to the ground by his shoulder as an out of breath Luke helpfully stepped on his other arm.

 

Johnny lit a cigar,  seemingly unphased by the blood seeping into the dirt.  "Hey buddy! We're looking for Nickles. Got any?"

 

It was hard to hold the blade in place with his squirming, but any retort was cut off as we heard footsteps running towards us. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I slumped down in the tiny patch of shade at the base of a boulder, and held my jacket over my head to keep the sun off. I’d gave up on wearing the helmet and clipped it on my belt instead a ways back - ironically, it was too hot out here for the Thermo Man getup.

 

The Nickles Boys lost, and I knew better than to try making off with one of their mechs - I’d seen what Benny lost cheating one of them at cards, and that was just cards, a hand for a hand. So I’d followed behind the other mechs, a long ways behind since their legs were a good bit longer than mine. Luckily, so were their footprints. It seemed like the better option for keeping all my OEM parts on, even though the canyon had me sweating like a soda can.

 

I’d seen the metal head of the Atlas in the distance a moment ago, and hadn’t felt any stomping in a while, so I had to be close. Wasn’t sure why they stopped. If they’d made camp, maybe I’d have another chance at the mechs after dark. Do mech pilots camp?

 

I swished the water around in my plastic soda bottle - wasn’t ready to drink the last bit yet, but it helped to know I still had some. Then stuck it back in the pocket of the stupid bright-red jacket that it was too hot to wear, and got up and headed for the cliff-base.

 

It seemed better to follow the canyon wall, then to keep following the mechs’ footprints directly. There was more cover this way, and sometimes even a bit of shade. As I got closer, I got a better view of the Atlas, and then the other mechs gathered ‘round it too. Three other, smaller person-shaped mechs that I didn’t know the names of, and one that was bird shaped. The man-mechs were all stooped over low to the ground. I couldn’t tell if the bird was crouching too, or if its’ legs were just like that.

 

I found another rock to hide behind, and put my helmet and the sweaty, sticky jacket back on. Better to have some kind of “armor” now that I might run into angry mech pilots if I got seen.

 

I turned on the helmet’s heat vision display, and peered over the rock. The Atlas glowed a bit, but not nearly as hot as I would’ve expected. Same with the other man-mechs standing around it. I figured maybe it was the heat throwing off the sensor’s calibration. I inched a bit closer to get a look at the bird mech, and that was glowing. So either the bird and my sensors were both having a problem, or more likely, the bird was the only mech that was powered on.

 

I made my way toward the mech farthest from the bird, a bulky machine painted brick red. I didn’t see anyone around on the ground, either with the infra red display or with my regular vision. The bird remained facing the other direction.

 

Last rock big enough to hide behind - last chance to turn back. No one around, except for whoever is driving that bird thing, which could definitely splat me like a fly in one shot if it saw me. I was pretty sure I’d turn back if I thought about that any longer, so I gulped the last bit of water and ran for the rope ladder hanging from the red mech’s cockpit.

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MEANWHILE.... 

There was a bunch of yelling as we walked into the town, we looked awesome, like a row of cowboy shooters you see in the movies. I started whistling heavy theme music but then as we went around the corner my Whistle turned into just a stream of spit coming out of my mouth as I realized what was causing the yelling, there were 5 pirate dudes in the middle of the road, their leather jackets all said NICKEL'S BOYS in big Gothic letters on the Backs, going toward a Bar where a lady and a couple of guys had another NICKEL'S BOY down on the ground, another NICKEL'S BOY was off in the grass somewhere, I don't know what his deal was but he looked like he was taking a Nap. I didn't know for Sure what was going on but it looked like the Nickel's Boys were the bad guys, and that was bad Business. I pulled out my Bushido Blade and ran screaming at all 5 guys. 

"STEVE WAIT NO YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GETTING IN TO!!" Somebody screamed, but it didn't Matter, I Knew what I had to do. I let out a bellowing holler and I jumped into the air and bashed into the first pirate with a giant chest bump, him and me went down Hard. All of the sudden all Hell broke loose and the AEGIS guys were brawling with the other 4 pirates, I heard lots of Blood and other Punching noises and crunching sounds as they tussled while I was Rolling around on the ground with the first Pirate. He kicked me really hard in the Groin which made me barf blood, then I rolled on top of him and Smashed the pirate on the forehead with my nunchucks. He uppercut me back and I Flew backwards in slow motion making a slo-mo yell of Pain as I went backwards. Then I got up and Roundhoused him in the teeth, I saw a couple of teeth fly out and go everywhere. The Pirate tried to pull out a gun and shoot me but I did a Rising Crane Kick and kicked the gun out of his hand, it flew up in the air and landed on the ground and went off, then I heard some lady scream. I looked over and saw that the bullet had went into a nearby Porto Potty and had made the door fall off, "SORRY MA'AM!" I Yelled right before the pirate hit me in the Gut with a Super Sledge, I fell over screaming with no sound on account of he had knocked the wind out of me. 

I managed to get on my Feet and Stumble away from the pirate, then I turned around really fast and whipped a ninja star at him, it flew straight into his Face and went into his nose, the pirate started yelling and fell over, just then a Rabid Dog came out of no where and jumped on the pirate and started eating his face off with all kinds of Awful Noises. I looked away in Horror and said a quiet prayer for him, I wanted to Remember the pirate as he was when he was still in the Living. Then I ran over and started getting into Martial Combat with another pirate That was beating up on Nick Schuster, I jumped on the guy's back like a crazed Ebola monkey and started racking him in the nads with my boot, the pirate yelled and growled like a monster while he was getting beat up by me and Nick. Suddenly I heard a HUGE Gun Shot and I looked over to see Captain Maxwell I guess had Got tired of their Shit and had shot a hole clean through one of the pirates with his Desert Eagle. Bishop was meanwhile busy ripping the arms off another Pirate and I think I saw Orlex using an electroBlade to take out the last guy. All of the sudden I got Bucked off the pirate that me and Nick were attacking and he ran off into the trees. 

"OH MY GOD YOU GUYS SAVED US" Somebody said. I turned around and rammed my bloody Bushido blade back into its Sheath, then I walked up to the people who had a Pirate captured. 

"I'm Steve Jenkins and by the glory of my Blade I am Sworn to destroy pirates, these are my Business Associates CPT Maxwell, LT Bishop, Nick and LT Orlex, who are you?" 

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Either the drinks had been drugged or a local transient was spouting nonsense. Still, they'd helped without getting killed,  so I should be outwardly gracious at least.  Yet I didn't move from my spot. Losing sight of the mission was more important than improper protocol at the moment.  

 

Johnny still had his grenade that I could see, which meant there were explosives I couldn't. We could at least buy time to tactically move back and fortify our position if they decided to challenge us. They seemed capable,  which meant trying to win a fair fight would be idiotic. 

 

Luke discreetly put his whole weight on our hostage's forearm - ignoring the renewed scream as the bone snapped - and stepped forward with winning smile #47 to greet these strangers. "Gentlemen, welcome.  The enemy of our enemy is our friend, and let us extend the hand of--"

 

"Who the fuck are you all?" Johnny interrupted.

 

...if he got us all killed I was going to murder him. 

 

 

Edited by Baroness Octavia Incendio
Grammar
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Black Canyon
Oberon VI - Oberon Confederation
October 7, 3029
____________________________________

We had made our way through the heavily forested region as we traversed upwards out of the river canyon we had previously been occupying, our entire group on alert for a possible ambush as we wound through a trail that we could only see after travelling through it. I had little trouble navigating through back country thanks to my training and experience but that did little good when following an almost non-existent trail without an end destination but Bishop seemed to have no problem, in fact the man appeared to simply know where the trail was without needing to search for it, whether that was due some facet of his augmentation or purely another set of skills the man possessed I did not know, nor did it matter much. We eventually reached level ground again and arrived at the edge of relatively large village for being in the middle of nowhere. The majority of the buildings appeared to be small single room domes covered in dirt and sod with a clearly man-made framework underneath, the type of building you might see in some very old documentary holovids or in isolated populations on worlds where the inhabitants have returned to living as one with nature. There were more modern type buildings here and there though indicating at least some type of contact with what the Inner Sphere would loosely describe as civilization.

"I don't suppose we came at a bad time?" mused the Captain out loud, more rhetorical than anything else.

Regardless I felt obliged to respond as I observed a particularly striking view of the canyon we had been fighting in a short time earlier this morning, "Well, they might've had quite a show before we got here."

"Point taken," answered Charles after looking back and observing the same view I had seen, "And if we're the second crew to come through, I can certainly understand why they'd be spooked."

"Particularly since they're pretty isolationist to begin with," added Bishop, "Almost to a religious degree."

"Speaking of," observed Captain Maxwell, "how is it you know so much about these people?"

Before the Lieutenant could really respond a sudden outburst of shouting from further within the town drew our attention, it wasn't clear what was happening but it sounded like it could be some kind of trouble, possibly for the locals. We ran towards the sound of the yelling not sure what to expect but prepared for a fight if needed. As we approached what appeared to be the town square we came up behind a group of individuals that clearly were not locals and were likely members of the Nickel's Boys pirate group, judging from their jackets. Just beyond them was another group of individuals that also did not appear to be locals and were clearly involved in some form of altercation with another pair of Nickel's Boys. Unclear who was the initial aggressor, or even if things warranted any intervention on our part, we slowed up as we approached the two groups but before we could ascertain the situation any further Steve Jenkins pulled out his sword and ran screaming at the closest group of the Nickel's Boys.

"Steve wait! No, you don't know what you're getting in to!!" yelled Captain Maxwell as Jenkins ran ahead and just dove into a brawl with the Nickel's Boys.

"Well shit, here we go," I said aloud to no one in particular as we rushed in to help our well meaning but currently misguided teammate.

Conveniently there was currently one pirate for each of us and the pirates seemed to notice this as well and the melee quickly broke up into paired fights with everyone taking a single opponent. My particular opponent took the time to draw a large 50cm (20") blade that a moment later had sparks racing across it surface as the pirate activated what appeared to be a stunstick power core incorporated into the handle of the large knife, apparently this man had never heard of "non-lethal" or misunderstood what the phrase "less-than-lethal" actually meant. With his blade drawn we circled each other sizing one another up, the close distance meant I wouldn't be able to draw my sidearm quick enough to ensure he couldn't engage me up close and the Blazer rifle hanging from my shoulder sling was equally unsuited for CQC due to it's bulk. I could opt for the laser integrated into my prosthetic left arm but I was hoping to disable my opponent without actually killing him if at all possible.

The pirate apparently thought he saw an opening as he lunged forward, thrusting the blade towards my stomach in a low strike and I stepped sideways around the man batting his attack away with an outward sweep of my left arm, careful to avoid the blade itself. He recovered quickly and switched his grip to swing back with an overhead attack trying to drive the blade into my shoulder or head, still on his outside I stepped into the attack this time, jamming his arm while the weapon was still overhead. Keeping my left arm, which was essentially immune to the stun effects of the blade due to the armoured prosthetic, in tight contact against his weapon hand to prevent him for driving the blade down I stepped in further and delivered a sharp blow to his floating ribs with my right fist. As the pirate involuntarily reacted to the strike I traced my right arm up the pirates body and found his weapon arm while my left hand simultaneously gripped his wrist and rolled his arm forcibly forwards. Dropping into an arm bar I drove the pirate to his knee while he valiantly struggled against me, even managing to scrape the blade edge across my left arm a couple times to no effect, despite the blast of sparks from the overcharged weapon. I felt a slight tingling from the prosthetic's haptic feedback that extended just barely into my natural nerves and tissue but not enough to have any effect beyond a mild "pins and needles" feeling. Driving the arm bar lower and sinking my weight behind it I forced the pirate to double over before sweeping his left leg out from under him and driving him face first into the ground, the pirate was able to actually take advantage of his sudden freefall and managed to roll out of the lock as he hit the ground, a miscalculation on my part as I failed to maintain pressure. In his roll though I managed to disarm him as we disengaged and the pirate got back to his feet, however I was now holding the stunblade, for lack of a better term, and clearly had the tactical advantage. We engaged in another quick bout that resulted in the man's right arm getting slashed and going numb, blood running down his sleeve, though not enough to be immediately worrisome, before we again separated and continued to circle each other, both looking for an opening.

A sudden gunshot drew the pirate's attention and I lunged forward again, striking with the flat of the blade on the man's left arm before reversing direction and striking with the back of the blade across my opponent's left knee, momentarily paralyzing his entire left side and dropping him to the ground. I quickly moved in and dropped my knee onto the man's chest, applying enough pressure to be painful but not enough to break anything, the hard metal prosthetic of my right leg providing extra leverage to keep the pirate pinned. He started spouting obscenities at me and I just smiled and lowered the flat of the large blade towards his forehead as his screaming got louder before it touched and he was rendered unconscious.

I moved to join Steve as he stood before the other group of people, the ones not currently attacking us, and noted that the woman pinning one of the pirates to the ground had a prosthetic arm similar to my own, although hers apparently had a blade installed in it. I also noted with a slight grin that she was using said blade to literally pin the man to the ground through his own shoulder, clearly they didn't really need our help.

"Gentlemen, welcome. The enemy of our enemy is out friend, and let us extend the hand of..." began one of the men in this second group, stepping over, or rather through, the pinned man as he did so and most likely breaking his arm in the process.

Before he could continue though another, gruffer man interrupted him with a straight to the point question, if less refined than his partner, "Who the fuck are you all?"

I dropped the stunblade I was still holding off to the side and held my arms out to the sides with my palms up in an attempt to show I meant no harm and stepped forward to introduce us, again, hopefully before things went sideways.

"We're mercenaries, as our sometimes overzealous friend Steve pointed out and my name is Orlex. Orlex Jaeger. We happened to be in the neighbourhood, heard some yelling and mistakenly thought some of the locals might have run afoul of Nickle's Boys or some other group of degenerates that seem to like hanging out nearby. Obviously you guys had things well in hand, even before our well intentioned, if unnecessary, intervention. We weren't aware of any other mercenaries currently in the area so we were a bit surprised to come across people that can clearly handle themselves. Ah, here's Captain Maxwell, he's in charge for us so I'll let him continue. Sorry if we've caused you any trouble."

I wasn't entirely sure how this new group of possible mercenaries would react so I tried to placate them as best I could without being patronizing, but diplomacy wasn't my strong suit and I was glad when Charles joined us to talk with the others. The one member of this team seemed to either be looking to start a fight, or just generally a rather blunt, no nonsense type that preferred to let his fists do the talking, the rest of the team seemed more amicable, at least so far.

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