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MarianFrae

Charon 5 (official)

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Important Information about Charon 5 Pen and Paper Roleplay:

In General...

This RP is a little different from the mostother ones, since it takes place in a world with fantasy as well as sci-fi elements. Because of this, its players can invent almost anything they want to happen or exist.

 

The Setting:

Our adventure takes place in a remote part of the universe, in a group of three solar systems. The cultures living there are quite different: While some planets live in a scientifically and technologically highly developed world, others are still living in mysterious worlds full of magic. However, they know of each other.

 

The Actual Back Story:

During the last 5 years, the Empire of Aurora has done an enourmous expansion under its unscrupulous ruler Jadis, controlling now the most part of the three systems Malachitea, Amathystis, and Sard. After the long wars, things seem to become even more unpleasant for its inhabitants, including forced resettlements and heavy suppression. The Empress, Jadis, seems to be trying everything to strengthen herself and to increase her powers.

 

One of Jadis' most recent sanctions was hughe capturings of "dangerous" persons, meaning conspicious people or people with exceptional abilities - including you.

However, the spaceship that should bring you to the prison-planet Rho in the system of Amathystis surprisingly changed it's course for unknown reason, heading for the nearly unexplored planet Charon 5, a place where fairy-tales could take place and whose culture is still in it's infancy. The ship crashed, and only few survived...

Why did the ship change it's course? Will troups of the Empire come to get you? Soon you will reveal the secret of this mysterious planet, and get a chance to stop the Empire and it's cruel ruler during your odyssey...

 

Past and Present Players:

- Jolien

- Dabih

- Basset

- Angelteddy

- Nancyheavilin(OneFeather)

- Alicia (Original DM and still close to our RP-Hearts)

- papierce

- MarianFrae

- Everace

- MagickWeilder

- Ares

- RivenSilver

- Mae

- CherryWine

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The adventure begins...

The two pilots maneuvered the huge transporter right into the atmosphere of the little planet in front of them, going deeper and deeper at a quite high speed, aiming for a certain spot they had order to land at. It wasn't their original destination - they had been supposed to deliver some new inmates to the prisonplanet, but then they got order to come here. Allegedly this mission was very important, but none of the two pilots really cared, since all they really wanted was a weekend at home.

They slowed down the spaceship, and flew over a beautiful, green landscape, speckled with forests and lakes. "Wow, look at this! It would be a great place for a new colony!" one of the pilots sayed, staring down at this little paradise.

 

Suddenly the other pilot cried "Watch out!", but it was already to late - something huge and black drove against the ship with a loud cry. The overtired pilots started to panick and couldn't get hold of the ship again, and some of the machines turned out to got broken as well.

The ship tumbled down towards the ground, slithered over the ground through a forest and finally crashed against a rocky plateau.

The pilots died immediately, as well as the prisoners in the back of the ship, which got totally swatted. Parts of the wreck started to catch fire, many people were dead or injured. Most of the guards are still senseless, though a view of them managed to leave the ship, fearing an explosion. However, the electric locks of some of the cells seem to be disturbed as well...

———————————

Sarona lay in the cell, wanting with all her heart to get back to where she had come from. The forest may not be home for most people, but that was one of the reasons she loved it! The peace of not having to see any other human beings, not having them question her strange abilites, or strange scars...

Now she was bound to be questioned. She wasn't even positive why she had been arrested. What had she done wrong? Could it be something political, and she was being roudned up with others for some reason? Being up with the latest politics wasn't something she normally did... But maybe she would start doing it in the future.

If she ever got out of here!

That was when the explosions sounded. Instantly she leapt to her feet as she felt them plumment toward the ground. She hated flying. What was going on?!

She pressed herself to the back wall and waited for an impact. If the plane was plummenting there must eventually be one. Her whole body was jarred when she felt it. But why was it still moving?

She braced herself for a second crash, and as she expected, it came. She slowly approached the metal door, afraid the plane would crash or move again... What did she know about these crazy flying things?

She looked out the door. All she could see was wreckage in every direction.

And she was still locked in. What did she know about these crazy metal locks?

"Someone? Anyone? What happened?" she called desperately. Calling out may not have been the best idea, but she didn't know what to do.

———————————

Lennie was woken up by some screams and a lot of rambling. It didn't take very long for her to realise that there was something wrong with the ship and that she had to get out!

While she was thinking up a plan to escape, she noticed that the door of her cell looked different... Is it open? How's that possible?

———————————

Kin stopped knawing at the bars of her cell for a minute. There was something wrong with the ship, it was slanting slightly.

A large explosion sounded very nearby and some pieces of metal flew by the door. Kin backed away from the door, and crouched down waiting for another explosion.

When one did not come she went back to her door. She noticed a high-pitched sound coming from her lock and, turned into her human form to get a better look. The lock was open! She opened the door, and ran out. She heard someone shouting in another cell, and turned back into a fox as to manuver herself across the wreckage in the passageway. She found the cell where the shouting was coming from. The lock was making the same sound her's did. She bit the lock off, and opened the door.

———————————

Sarona looked at the fox who had opened the door. "Thank you," she murmured in what she thought was fox language. "I didn't know there were any animals on the ship. Do you know what happened?"

She turned and looked at a person who was staring at her from one of the other cells. "What happened?" she asked them in a human tongue.

———————————

Kin had forgotton that she was in fox form. She was suprosed that this human could speak the language so well. "I think we have hit something, or more likely something hit us." She said camly, "We probably need to find an exit."

———————————

"Okay then," Sarona looked around. "Got any ideas where one might be? I'm no good with these types of machines."

———————————

"Well no I have no idea but if we find some other passenger, they might know." Kin said listening for more high pitched noise. There was one farther down the hall and she ran towards it. "I think there is someone over here."

———————————

Sarona just followed the fox.

———————————

I was hearing voices at last but who could they be? And will they be friendly? All tose thoughts swirled in my brain. I'm so scared, what got me here in the first place? Was it because I rescued a slave from a wicked lady? I started sobbing tears running down my cheeks; I put my head in my hands. A thought just came to my mind I took my orb staff and tried to break the lock but it wouldn't so I returned to my seat and tried to think of a plan. Will an owner of the voices I'm hearing will be able to rescue me? I wish.

———————————

The fire began to spread over the ship more rapidly, gradually approaching the cell sector...

———————————

I heard the fire rumbling i was so scared, i won't let the fire harm anyone, i am daugter of the snow queen and can freeze it! I got up and hoped for the best. The lock started melting until it was liquid on the ground so i took my staff and went outside, the flames were as if dancing and burning what they're touching.

" Freeze! " I chanted, I never new that skill until now, the fire froze in place then cracked and fell on the floor peices. I went to search for the others i can't leave them although i don't know them. The search began.

———————————

"Look, someone's coming." Sarona pointed the girl out to the fox. She looked around at what had been fire a little bit ago. Ice mage?

———————————

Angelicia turned to see the others, at last people! She looked at the surprized girl and fox, then joined them.

" My name is Angelicia and i'm a cleric, well actually an an ice/snow cleric. Who are you?"

———————————

"Sarona," she murmured, and looked down at the fox. "Who are you, I forgot to ask," she murmured in fox.

Then, in a human language, "Pleased to meet you, Angelica. Do you have any idea why we were all arrested or why the ship crashed, or if there is a way out of here?"

———————————

Lennie walked out of her cell. After that she noticed that there were still some other people alive. A girl and a fox. Suddenly she noticed that the fire was getting closer and closer. She wanted to scream to them that they had to run, but then she noticed that there was another person, I think a mage, because it seemed to be that the third person performed some magic... At least it had to be magic. The fire suddenly froze!

Because of all these strange things that are happening, she didn't really dare to walk to them. Can they be trusted? Who are these people?

———————————

Gradually, Derryl woke up. His head was terribly aching, and as he touched it with his hand, she was red with blood. Confused he looked around and the destroyed Crew-quarters - none of the other guards seemed to be alive. He got up and wanted to leave the ship, but then he realized that on his control-panel, the lights that showed the locks of the cells were all blinking red.

"Damned!" he screamed. Whatever had happened, soon another ship would come to search for them, and if he would have let the prisoners escape, he surely would have to take their place...

He ran out of the quarter, searching some corridors. Suddenly he saw a quite tall girl. "Hands up!" he shouted at her, drawing his electronic-shock gun.

———————————

Because Lennie was watching the small group of people, she didn't notice the guard coming towards her. When he started to shout, she looked at him.

 

The guy was kinda small, Lennie was at least 50 cm taller. His head was hurt, Lennie could see the blood on his head, but the worst thing was the gun that he hold in his hand. She has seen many of those guns and what they can do! At that moment, she felt no fear at all and walked towards the guard and pulls the shock-gun out of his hand and breaks it in two pieces.

"Why always those guns? There is certainly no need for those, we'd better help each other! Let me see your head..."

———————————

Unbelieving, Derryl watched how the big girl simply broke his gun into two pieces like it was a stick. As she tried to touch his head, he turned around, running screaming out of the wreck and dissapeared into the forrest.

———————————

When Lennie wants to help the guard he suddenly starts to scream. A bit surprised she watches the guy run out of the ship...

Then her attention is drawn again by the small group of people who are still standing there.

———————————

Angelicia was the first to see Lennie then the others all surprized to see the broken gun on the floor.

" Who are you? I'm Angelicia and this is Sarona " I say. Lennie begins to answer until suddenly new flames were born trying to reach the cell sector where we were standing. Again I turned to face it and called freeze the flames again crack break and fall in pieces.

———————————

The mage-like woman in the group suddenly notices me. She asks me who I am and introduces herself... Angelicais her name, a beautiful name in my opinion. But before I can answer she has to freeze the fire again.

I'm stunned. I'm amazed by the powers of Angelica.

"I'm Lennie", I tell them stuttering. "I was over there" I tell them and I'm pointing to one of the cells. It's still so strange to be outside of the cell again and I still have to get used to it. After all, I've spent almost my entire life behind iron bars and nobody was ever able to tell me why.

But besides Angelica and Sharona there is still the foxgirl and another person, who scares me a bit. I notices that he is staring at us and is following every step we make and everything we say exactly...

———————————

Angelica

"We should find a way out of here!" I tell the others.

———————————

Kin had kept quiet, until now trying to find an exit. She found an exit, down one of the hallways. "There is an exit down this hallway," She said in the human tounge. "Follow me." She said trotting off, towards where she had found the opening.

When she got to the opening she waited for the others to catch up. The landscape on the planet was beautiful. She started to clean the soot from her coat. She hated being dirty.

———————————

In the wreckage, which is scattered all over, the area around the destroyed ship, strange sounds and blurred voices are heard coming from a strange black thing lying next to a former door. It looks like a box.

———————————

Kin trotted over to the box. She cocked her head and stared. Maybe i'll wait for the others. She picked up the box with her mouth and walked back to the spot where she had been grooming herself.

———————————

Sarona hurried after the fox and caught up. She was still wondering about the fact it had spoken in human. "What do you have?" she asked, automatically in fox.

But then it occured to her this fox must be different.

———————————

Angelica

We all caught up surprized to see sarona and a fox talking to each other, I noticed that the fox had a box in her mouth. The coat I was wearing was full of dust i just hate being didrty so with my orb staff i cast the spell purify at myself, i glowed purple but then when the glow stopped i was clean. Then suddenly a black ghoul-monster with red bloody eyes emitted from the fox's box, which fell on the ground.

———————————

Lennie

Finally we were on the planet and we were able to see what it looks like! It's simply beatiful!

While admiring the planet, I noticed quite late that the fox (who could actually speak!) found a box.

I walked towards them, to check out the box, when suddenly something came out of the box! It looked evil, so I wanted to hit it, but for some reason I can't..

———————————

Angelica

The monster had a barrier (a veiw of the planet became visible it was some sort of forest beside a beach which looked beautiful) "that barrier doesn't let me magic him with freeze" i said.

"Anyone's got a water spell hes half fire atleast thats what i think" i continued.

———————————

I just gazed at Angelica when she was talking about spells..

"Water spells? I cannot do any magic, never learnt it... Maybe he can help us?" and I'm pointing to the quiet guy who is still staring at us.

———————————

Kin was about to reply to the question, when a ghoul thing came out of the box. One of the girls said it was half fire and they needed a water spell. Kin kept silent, hoping that they would have forgotten she talked in human, and figure the ghoul thing out by themselves. It's always the human that give me away. The reason she had been on the ship was because a human that she had met on her travles had given her to the police in hopes of money. The police had taken her and paid the man and no doubt he was living richly somewhere, collecting bounties. If they would just go away I could take this down with my gun. She though hoping something would distract them for a minute.

———————————

Close to them, a big black chest was lying, with a smooth surface and some flat buttons on it. Blurred voices came from it - it was the ship's blackbox, which had recorded the last communication before the crash. While running away, the ghoul struck it, and suddenly it started to show the last entries through projecting holograms right above the box.

After some quite dispensable things, suddenly a message from the Empire's ministery of war appears.

A high ranked general begins to speak. "By the order of our all beloved majesty, empress Jadis, you will leave your original course for Charon 5 in the Sard-System to pick up a new prisoner for examination. Our first contact failured, so your mission is now to find said person and to transport him along with the other inmates to the prison planet. You are not supposed to hurt or kill him, and contact with the other prisoners should be strictly forbidden, for he has information that they shall not know - for the fortune of our empire. The mission is of great importance, and strict penalties will fall on your crew if you fail. In the following we will transmit you all needed information."

A map appears, showing a big area. The lakes you have seen right before the crash are also there, and a bit removed from it, a settlement is marked with a red spot. There is also a picture of a very old man the crew would have arrested. The settlement seems quite far away. Then the message stops.

Finally, the last message is showed - a pilot asking what has happened since the signal of the ship had suddenly dissapeared from his radars. He says if there will be no contact within the next hours, in 8 days a rescue ship will land at the spot they had last tracked the ship.

———————————

Lennie

While we were discussing how to kill the ghaul, I notice that the ghaul is already gone. It must have fled while we were not looking. I'm actually a bit relieved and I hope I'll never see the nast thing back.

After that, I notice that it was not the box where the ghaul came out, it must have been something else, since there is now a map on that box.

The message we've just heard had also alarmed me. Eight days! I finally smell my freedom and I don't want to go back to prison.. Now I now for sure, we have to get away from this ruddy spaceship, otherwise the nasty people will catch us again!

"Maybe we can use that map!" I tell the others. "We cannot stay here forever, otherwise they'll find us in eight days and what's the use of that? They won't be nicer to us than before, not because of some accident. We'll all go back to jail... Let's go all together, I think it will be good if we travel together, it's much safer. What is more ghauls appear?"

———————————

"We should at least know each other's name's first." Kin said directing in fox to the girl who had been speaking to her earlier. "I mean if we are to survive, we might as well know each other's names." Kin was very interested, in what the hologram had said if it was true then where was the man.

———————————

Sarona looked at the fox and responded, in fox, "My name's Sarona. What's yours?" Then she turned to the others. "It might be a good idea to travel together. I'm Sarona. What might your names be?"

———————————

"My name is Kin, nice to meet you." Kin noticed slightly that the sun was starting to set. "Umm... I think we should find a place to sleep for the night, cause the sun is going down." She said to Sarona.

———————————

"Nice to meet you too," she said to Kin, "And the fox just said we need to find a place to sleep for the night," Sarona told the others, "Don't ask how I know. I'll explain later,"

———————————

“Not a bad idea at all Kin! Well, Sarona and Kin, my name is Lennie. Pleasure to meet you!”

But a place to sleep... that sounds like a very good idea... But where?

———————————

“Not a bad idea my name is angelica pleasure to meet you,” the place we landed on looks like a tropical island so were stranded! Although this place is nowhere near Earth.

———————————

“True Angelica... But where are we going now?”

———————————

"Hmm i think we should look for food, fire, and shelter there arer some fruits here and well i'm a cleric ive known herbology and know which food is posinous and which is not, for fire we would bring some wood and light them in some sort of way, as for shelter it may be a cave. Now to get out." everyone got out of the plane and into the new planet the new island. it has faint blue water and well thats weird but the sand is faint pink and sparkling.

———————————

Yenomeht

I was climbing though the tangled underbrush, following an old animal or fishing path when it happened...

I was going to search for some Bell Snail shells around one of the many fresh water lakes in the area, and chose this path because it was seldom used, and I hoped the shore had not already been searched and picked clean of the shells. Bell Shells are magic, and when held to the ear, soothing tunes can be heard that can bring restful sleep. 2 or 3 of them could sell for enough to support me for months.

The first noise I heard sounded like a sonic boom, from high in the atmosphere, it was so loud it deafened me slightly, but not as loud as the second, it was a huge crash, and then an immense explosion, and I looked up almost involuntarily to see a spacecraft spiraling down from the sky!

My heart almost stopped in sheer terror, it was coming right at me!!For a few second I froze, transfixed, staring at the craft hurling my direction, certain it was going to strike the very spot were I stood, ending my life forever.

It was falling too fast for me to run from it, I remember thinking, there is nothing I can do....

it came so close it seemed right overhead, then

passed just a few dozen feet over me and hit the ground with another explosion. The impact threw me to my hands and knees, and as I got to my feet covered with dirt and scratches, I could see the smoke rising from the wreckage that was just out of sight behind some trees.

I must be in some shock, my common sense told me to run, run as far as possible before something else explodes....but instead I started heading into the forest in the direction of the smoke...

My ears were ringing; I could barely hear; my hands and knees were filthy and scratched; and there was certainly nothing I could do about the wreck once I got there, but an intense curiosity consumed me. I felt obsessed with seeing it, and trying to find out what it was...a spacecraft of some kind, I am sure, but those were not common here...

Suddenly ahead of me I saw a man, he was injured, there was blood everywhere, all over his face and hands...and he was running right toward me!!

All I had time to think was he is up and running, it can't be as bad as it looks....

———————————

Lennie

As we get out of the plain, I start to look for a place to shelter. I see the cave and check it out.

"This could be a nice place to sleep tonight, but I do think that we have to move on!"

After that I walk towards a tree and gather some branches.

"Here is some wood, but how are we going to make a fire?"

———————————

Kin looked anxiously at the sky the sun was just above the horizon. "Aghhhh, why does this allways happen when I'm with humans!" She complained out loud. As the sun sunk below the horizon she transformed back into her human form. "I can help with the fire." She said grumpily.

———————————

Lennie

I'm watching how Kin is suddenly changing.. From a fox, she changes into a human! She scares me a bit, but she hasn't hurt anybody until now...

I throw the wood on the floor and I ask Kin curiously: "So, how are you going to make a fire? Do you have matches?"

———————————

"No, but I've camped out before." Kin said rubbing the sticks together. After a short time the sticks caught on fire. "So just as a question, do any of you know where we are? I'm bad with directions."

———————————

Lennie

"Well.. We could check out that strange box, over there.... There was a map on it... At least, I thought I saw something like that."

———————————

After the big girl had destroyed his weapon, the soldier ran through the forest, thinking about what to do next. Surely they would send another ship here soon... but when? He wasn't so insane to risk returning to the wreck as long as the prisoners would still be there. Best thing would be to stay somewhere here, close to the wreck. The second worse thing besides meeting one of the prisoners would be to be discovered by the natives - the last soldiers of the empire that had come here were roasted by some villagers.

While making his way through the forest, he didn't notice the woman watching them nearby, since while passing her, he noticed another guard who had managed to survive the crash.

"Oh my, I'm so glad you're still alive, too! But what should we do next?" he asked his companion.

"I found a cave not far away, we can hide there for some days!" and together they left for the cave.

———————————

Yenomeht

The bloody man suddenly turned and ran another direction, I had thought he was avoiding some rocks or fallen branches, then I heard voices and I realized he was talking to someone....I thought I heard something like "found a cave" and "we can hide", and then they moved away from me into the forest. I waited briefly, listening for anything else, my hearing was beginning to come back, now...then carefully headed toward the wreck again, nuts, I told myself, you won't find anything there but trouble, but I kept on going.

The survivors meant the wreck was not that bad, and there might be something useful left in the debris... scavenging like always.

———————————

While Lennie was warming up near the fire, she asks Angelica: "Since you're the herbology expert, could you find us some food? I really don't know what is poisonous and what isn't!"

Then she suddenly notices that there are people coming.

"Look over there! It seems to be that there are 2 people coming. And they're heading for this cave as well! What are we going to do?"

———————————

Yenomeht

I finally reached the smoldering charred remains of what used to be a spaceship, a large one, too, big enough to hold a sizeable crew....

I saw no other survivors, and after searching around the outside I saw a black box (I decided to look at it later, it would take a few minutes to figure it out), many twisted metal parts, and other junk, then I carefully climbed into the hull, to search it for anything else of value...

———————————

"I can go to look for food!" Kin said, leaving into the forest in her fox-form.

The soldiers suddenly realized the group of survivors - especially Lennie, causing one of the guards to run away screaming, followed by a confused companion.

———————————

Yenomeht

Parts of the hull were still hot from the fire, and I could not get very far into the shipwreck, so I turned around and climbed back outside.

Time to examine that black box...I thought it might be the ship's recorder, and was worried that it could send a signal if it was activated, but it seems it was already running, and as the message recycled, I listened to the orders, and the response to the distress signal....uh,oh...

a prison ship, huh...and sent to capture another prisoner...

I had heard something about this around here: that same old man was nearly kidnapped by another group of foreigners just a short time ago...

I remember the barred cells I saw within the ship, some of the gates were open, and the cells were empty, maybe there were other survivors besides the guard....that was a guard I saw running away bleeding in the forest, he wore a uniform, nothing I recognized, but a uniform none the less...

———————————

Lennie was very surprised to see that the guards suddenly turned around and ran away. Just before she saw them as a threat and now they're running away?!

"I think something bad is coming this way. I've just seen some people coming this way and now they're gone! It must be something bad. This planet... I don't know what it is..."

———————————

Angelica

"I feel hungry I think I saw a bush beside the cave somewhere, it might have berries suitable for eating, lennie could you find us some water?"

I said, the two of us exited and chose different paths before that i told lennie that we will meet beside the cave after an hour.

———————————

Kin walked around the forest and caught a bird, immediatly wolfing it down. Oops was I supposed to save that, for the others? She immediatly thought. She came back to the cave to find no one there. "Hello?" She said to sees if anyone was there. "Whatever, I'm going to take a nap." She crawled up in a corner of the cave and slept.

———————————

Sarona watched the others walk away. Of course, no one knew she was there. She didn't entirely trust her companions yet, so camoflauge worked to her advantage.

She waited for them to come back.

———————————

/yenomeht

I am not offically a Tracker, but I have a sharp eye, and there are too many footprints around the spacewreck to be made by just two guards, there must be more survivors, I am sure of it now...

I better stop and think before I do anyting else...

I sat on big chunk of metal and began to gather my thoughts.

The ship had been sent to kidnap that old native guy, and it was a prison ship. The first attempt to take him off planet had failed, I had heard the villagers killed the alien kidnappers, how, I am not sure....

It appears at least some of the prisoners from this wreck are still alive somewhere nearby...

and a few of the guards as well....

this could turn very nasty, and soon, if the guards encounter the escaped prisoners....

and the recorder said there would be a third ship arriving in 8 days...

serious potential for armed combat I am sure, and none of it is my problem.

My problem is being stuck here on this planet, staring up hopelessly at my true home on some nights, the moon circling around Charon 5, where I belong.

Hmmm, looks like I am not the only castaway, now,

those prisoners are stranded,too. I wonder how dangerous they are, the Empire has a bad reputation for imprisoning people for unknown reasons. No trial, no accusations, just pick 'em up and lock 'em up, if the rumors were true...

and I knew exactly what the guards were up to.

(sigh) I should go warn that old man...tell 'em someone is still after him...

it's only a days travel to the village he lives in.

Wait a minute, that incoming ship....the only chance those escaped prisoners have is to make this wreck look like there were no survivors.

That involves destroying the wreckage nearly completely, and rounding up those guards that are still alive...

But then again, maybe it would be better if the next ship did pick 'em back up...they could be really bad news and trouble, I don't know who they are.

Well, I could leave, and avoid this whole mess,

go immediately to warn that old man, or snoop around and try to find out who else is here....

I sat a few minutes trying to reach a descision.

———————————

Angelica

I spotted the green bush spotted in red embrced with red rose bushes, i looked around me trees were everywhere and tall grass was grown all around the place. How smart you are Angel where will you put the berries? You don't have a bucket! I said to myself. Then I remembered I picked a small looking rose then laid it on the grass for it was poisoned and with my staff I cast purify on it the brownish color on it was turning into deep red along with the rest of the rose largening until it looked like a bowl (the stem had disappeared), i made two rose bowls soft and pretty for both were filled with the redberies which were good for eating.

A thought popped in my mind, "snowflake!” I cried bringing a huge snowflake down from the sky,it began to melt for the tempreture was warm garden-like. "freeze" I called again remodling the water into a glass vail which i filled with the redberries and rose (bowl is the rose and the redberries were inside it) then turned them into medicine by crushing them.

When I finished I started admiring the thick dark red liquid in the vail, medicine and a rose bowl full of redberries at the same time! Now all I needed is water to wash the red berries so they'll be edible. with that I started returning to the cave or at least shelter.

———————————

Lennie

"Water, that's a good one!" I said while peering through the trees. "I think I've spotted some water over there, must be about a kilometre walking. I'll check it out!" and with those words I walk away.

———————————

Yenomeht

I'm wasting time with this I thought, and decided to follow the most prevalent set of prints into the woods, and find out who (or what) owned them...

———————————

Angelica

When I reached the cave area i didn't find it, but then i noticed that its hidden by trees I walked inside and found that by the fire a fox warmly sleeping beside it. I waited for lennie to return.

———————————

While Lennie was looking for water, she saw that someone was coming this way! Apparantly we left so many traces that the person could easily track us!

"I've got to warn the others!"

I ran back and told the others: "Someone's coming this way! What should we do? I don't want to get caught again!"

———————————

Seeing that lennie was worried i had an idea. "There are alot of grass and twigs out there, Lennie. I again need your help. Would you get us the thickest twig out there i'll go find some tall blades of grass so we can make a broom which i can enchant it to earase any marks we leave" i said forgetting my hunger then i noticed there was a bucket at the end of the cave which i took. I left the rose and berries beside the fox and rused outside.

I walked a short distance until i reached a river with tall grass all around it, i filled the bucket with water (to be boiled) and picked the grass and made them a bunch by tieing them with a blade of grassand hurried back i hoped lennie was back too she was our only hope now so we don't get caught.

———————————

Lennie

I hurried towards the tree and I took the largest and most straight branch I could find. "Will this one do? I do think we have to hurry up! The person is coming in our direction!"

———————————

"thats great lennie! just lay it on the ground" i laid the grass beside the twig then cast some magic to enchant it, the grass and twig began forming a broom then drying (looked more like a witch broom) sparkles began swirling around it and by itself it began cleaning all steps left behind i motioned to lennie to enter the cave with me, i began to trust her now. "We'll just leave it and it cleans any marks we leave behind all alone" i told lennie.

———————————

Lennie

"Sounds great Angelica! I really hope it will work. Maybe the person is good, but I don't think that we should trust too many people, since we don't even know where we exactly are!" and I followed her towards the cave.

———————————

Lennie and Angelica made their way back toward the cave. Yen found them in the cave.

———————————

Yenomeht

"I'm a Merchant", I called, "I was out here huntin' for GOLD" (that's moon slang for anything of value) "I'm not from here either, I wrecked my Starfire Cruiser, it's a long story, but tonight when the moon rises, you can see where I am from." I answered her. “My race are born travelers, and most of us learn basic navigation early on."

———————————

Angelica

"Thanks for the biscuits Yen they look so delicious! We did make some sweet soup I guess that that attracted you right?" I tried a biscuit and what a taste! It was so delicous! I handed Yen a wooden bowl with soup and a wooden spoon (which magically were created).

———————————

Yen

"Whoa! How did you do that?" I gasped. "Angelica, where did those come from? Do you use magic?"

I love magic stuff, this was incredible, the lady gave me a spoon and bowl that came out of no where...

———————————

Lennie

"Eeh.. Thanks" I said to Yen. "Chewy Nutty Biscuits you say?"

I tried some of her cookies, since Yen said that they tasted so good.

"Wowie! They are nice! It's been quite some time since I tasted anything as nice as this! Though your cooking wasn't bad either", I told Angelica. "Thanks a lot Yen!" and I took another cookie.

"But I do suggest that we're going to sleep now. We can talk about 'how to get the guards on a false track' tomorrow morning, okay? Goodnight all!"

And with these words I tried to find a comfortable spot in the cave and I fell asleep immediately.

 

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=Next morning=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

"Goodmorning! You all slept well? Now, we should find a way how to fool the guards. I don't think that they're too smart and probably they don't know exactly what we look like, so it shouldn't be too hard, right?"

Angelica replied, "I have no idea what to do now any ideas?"

———————————

Yen

"The injured one never saw me, he ran past me into the trees, but I heard him talking to another one. Do you think there are just 2? And are there any other prisoners still alive?" I asked.

"I think there was Sarona but looks like she just disapeared" Angelica answered.

"Sarona? I haven't seen anyone else besides you all and the 2 guards" I replied

"She was on the ship but we lost her when we crashed"

———————————

Sarona sat up from under the tree and dusted some of the dirt off. She didn't exactly miss being stuck in a metal ship. Earth was always agreeable to her, as it was to most earth mages.

She looked around. What now?

———————————

"Okay, but what are we going to do now? We've got to think of a plan.. I do think we have to move on today, otherwise we'll get caught.. Right?" Lennie looked away from the others, before she went on. "I don't want to get caught again.. I'm finally free!"

"Well since I'm a user of magic I can make a magical sheild for us to make us invisible to the eyes of whom are bad, so how about it?" Angelica suggested.

"I don't know if that would be enough, but if it is, it would be a nice way to move on. In the mean time, we can think of another plan, so they won't be looking for us anymore... 'cause they probably will now..."

"They won't see us if I cast the spell but if there was someone with a good heart then I think they will"

"So it's still a risk, but quite small, since the chance that someone with a good heart wants to catch us, is smaller, right?" Lennie considers the options for a moment... "I think the main thing that is important, is that we move on, and quickly. Angelica, if you can cast that shield then Yen can lead the way. Alright?" Lennie gets up and looks at the tracks they've made. "Angelica, do you think your broom can sweep away these tracks too? Then I think we're ready to go. Hopefully we'll find soon enough a solution 'bout how to get really rid of the guards! Shall we go then?"

———————————

Angelica

*the broom sweeps the tracks* "Sheild Exura!" I casted the spell, lennie, the broom, and I were outside the cave

———————————

"Okay!"

Now Lennie was sure that she could trust Yen, since people with bad intentions shouldn't be able to see us...

———————————

Sarona spotted the other two from where she was hidden beneath the trees. Should she step out and let herself be noticed? She probably didn't have much of another choice...

She walked over. "Hi. Remember me?"

The third unnerved her slightly. They weren't one of the prisoners...

———————————

Yen

"Are you Sarona?" I asked "My name is Yen, Lennie and Angelica told me there was another survivor."

"I am taking them to the village where the old man lives to warn him." "Do you want to join us?"

———————————

"What? Who's that?" Lennie asks when she hears a voice..

Lennie looks around and there she is, Sarona! She looks fine..

"OMG! Where have you been? I thought we lost you! You were suddenly gone and since we had to move on, we went on, but I'm really glad that you're alright!"

Lennie walks towards Sarona and tells her what they've done untill now.

———————————

Sarona shrugged. She wasn't extremely good around people. "Maybe," she responded to Yen, "I've got nothing else to do. If you're looking for someone, I might as well come with you."

She listened to the Lennie's story. "I've been around," she responded to her first question.

———————————

"Okay! We're looking for an old man, he's somewhere ahead, in a small village. Glad you can come too!"

Yen leads the small party toward the village.

"I guess so." Sarona followed the others.

———————————

Angelica

We reached the village "Sheild break!" I casted the magic to break the sheild we won't use it in the village.

———————————

Yen

"Let's go stay at the Inn", I suggested, "I think I can cover the 4 of us for a few nights. I'm not exactly sure which house is the old man's, we'll have to ask around to find out." I headed toward the local inn.

———————————

A crowd of villagers gathers around the group. They look dirty, mistrustful and some of them are obviously suffering from hunger.

Everything is silent, they just stare at you. The sun begins to set, and long shadows fall on the ground. Finally, some man shouts "What do you want here!"

And the crowd begins to yell at you.

But then, a deep, old voice comes from behind them, saying "isn't that obvious?"

They all get silent again, and make way for an old man with white hair. In his youth, he must have been quite big and strong, since even now he gives you the feeling of a powerful character.

With slow steps he makes his way to the group, followed by a young, blonde girl. Without any doubt, that's the man from the black box.

"They want me. But tell your fine empress i'd rather die than giving her what she is looking for!"

The man obviously believes you were sent by Jadis herself.

Yen steps forward "We're not from the empire, sir, surely you remember me, I've been in and out of here a few times trading goods. These are castaways from a prison ship that was sent here to pick you up, the ship's recorder said that they are sending another ship in 8 days, that was 1 day ago.....these people with me are some of the prisoners that survived the crash, however, there are at least 2 guards that survived as well... "

"Why is the Empire wasting so many guards and resources trying to imprison you?" she asked the old man, and just to try to lighten up a grim situation she adds "are you one Jadis' ex-lovers?"

"Don't fool around." The old man answers, obviously angry.

"I'm over 100 hundred years old. I could be her great-grand father. And I won't believe you a word, since I haven't seen one of you here. Though.... you really don't look like the soldiers that have been here to get me, and i feel some strong presence of power around you that they usually don't have."

"But grandfather!" the young woman on his side interrupts, and they start debating in an old language only they can speak.

Finally, the old man looks at you again.

"I hate Jadis and her Empire, for they have no respect for life. They kill everything and everybody that stands in their way, and do anything to get what they want, no matter what it is. How I despise this! Life is more precious than any personal wants."

He takes his time to take a deep look into the eyes of all members of the group, and finally continues.

"I'm not sure yet whether i should believe you or not. Maybe you are only some of her cold-blooded spies trying to fool me. But maybe not. Anyway, you are definetly not from this planet, what would be a great hope if you are indeed enemies of the Empire.

So i will test you, for we need help. If you fail, which will mean you ARE soldiers of the Empire, we will kill you all. But if you proof to be none of them, I will tell you why they wanted to get me, and more than that, I will help you and ask you for help as well."

He looks around again, and then gives you your task.

"Go and bring me the heads of the remaining two guards you told me about."

———————————

The group refused and, so, passed the test. The old man took them to his cottage.

———————————

It's quite dark in the cottage of the old man, only some candles are spending a warm, orange light. The blonde woman shuts the door behind the group, and the old man points at some sitting pillows on the floor for them to sit down.

"We do not know very much about Jadis and her empire here, nor about that strange technology they are dealing with. We just want to keep our own simple life, that's why we are so hostile against strangers."

He pauses to drink some water, and again his wise eyes are resting on each member of the group.

"But what we do know is that Jadis is doing everything to get hold of as many planets and realms she can get, and with that, to grow as powerful as she could get. She uses everything for this purposes, no matter what it is - and that is what she wanted here on charon.

She heard legends of an unbelievable source of power, powers so huge they would enable her to control whole galaxies. It didn't take her long to find out that I'm the only one alive who knows how to find that source, that's why she wanted me - though it seems like she isn't quite sure yet if she should believe those legends or not. And there lies our chance."

Again, he looks at you, smiling.

"It is a really good coincidence that you stranded on this planet, indeed it is....

The old people who created that source - which is in fact a tiny chest - were very careful, and when they left charon, they took two things with them that are necessary to open the chest, but i only know the location of one.

Jadis isn't that keen on this topic NOW, but she'll probably soon get more interested in it, now that they failed again in kidnapping me. But still, there lies a chance within this: I'm the only one who knows the location of the chest and of one of the keys, this gives us an advantage. Yes, I did say us. This was a sign of the old gods, the crash of your ship. None of our own people could leave the planet to search for the key, since we know nothing about your world. But you, you do so."

He raises to his feet, and looks abruptly 20 years younger.

"If Jadis will ever get hold of that chest, freedom is nothing more than an old word nobody uses anymore, nothing more than an idealistic dream or a faded memory of old people. And not only here, it will be the same with all worlds reachable from the malachitean system.

BUT if that chest will be found before she does, we have a chance to stop her, a chance to get rid of her and her whole damned empire. And even if we couldn't stop her with the chest, we at least have the opportunity to destroy it. Everything would be better than letting her get it. So, will you embrace your fate and fight for the freedom of our three systems?"

"Please, we waited so long for strangers to show that would help us!" the young woman suddenly says.

Strange information Yen thought...

"So you need someone to A-find a small chest, and B-open it, or destroy it? What is it, anyway?"

"I had to bail out of my Star Cruiser on re-entry , and the last reading I saw put it's trajectory into the ocean, under 2 miles of water."

"I don't think there is anyway to recover it, however, it is fully insured, and I can have it replaced with a newer one.....but there is no way to file a claim while stuck down here."

Yen shook her head.

"I have no problem helping you with this task, sounds interesting, but we need more information about where to look for it, etc...."

Sarona stayed silent through the exchange. She didn't want to be involved in this, but she didn't like the idea of an evil empress, who had already tried to have her arrested once obviously, getting that much power. She had seen how much damage one earth mage could do.

She would obviously get no peace until this was over and done with. And there was her little sister all alone far away, a magic weilder herself, or the little boy who didn't even know she existed...

"Whatever you need me to do," she murmured, "I'll do as much as possible.

Yen glanced over at Sarona.

Sarona was quiet, but seemed like a very strong person, and I wondered who she was, and how she wound up on that prison ship....

Depending on what else the old guy had in mind, I might finally have the chance to get off the surface of this planet, and back to the moon, where I could replace my ship and contine trying to make a profit, instead of merely surviving.

"Sarona..."Yen said quietly "from the tone of your voice I'm guessing you are taking this quest against the Empress for personal reasons....is that true?"

"Personal reasons? I don't even know who the current Empress is. I'm rather isolated." And she was perfectly aware she hadn't answered the question.

Yen nods. She took Sarona's answer for granted, even though she wasn't admitting to much.

"Where are you from, Sarona? Do you mind telling us how you were sentenced to a prison ship?"

"Where am I from?" What was she suppose to say, forest? "I'm not entirely positive where I'm from in relation to here. And to tell you the truth, I don't know why I was arrested. Like I said earlier, I'm rather isolated."

Yen shook her head. "That fits in exactly with the rumors I have heard about the Empress arresting people. There seems to be no reason for it. Could you describe the sky at night on your home planet Sarona? I might be able to figure out where your home is by the configuration of the stars...., my race are born travelers, and most of us learn basic navigation early on."

Lennie just looked at the others and then nodded. "If you're in, I'm in too, but we need indeed some more information about where to find that chest.."

The old man looks all the groupmembers in the eyes and he sees that they all mean it. They all want to go and look for the chest. "Well, that is good to hear. I shall give you the information that I know. You should look for the key on the desertisland Rho, but it's not easy to get there. The empire shouldn't know that you are looking for the key, that is most important of all!

"I don't have a plan, of how you can get to Rho, but I do know that you will need a spaceship. The only solution of how to get off this planet, are the empires spaceships. And luckily some of them will arrive soon. That is all I can tell you now."

"What! We have to pirate one of the Empire's spaceships? Oh, I'm sure that will be a breeze!"

I had thought whatever the old man wanted was somewhere on the surface....this was getting

complicated.... "Well, I am sure I can pilot any one of those pieces of junk, but those craft are always loaded down with weapons systems, no room for cargo, or anything useful, and the smaller swift ones have no space for anything but the pilot.... This will mean eliminating the guards and crew aboard those vessels, killing them or taking them all prisoner. Do you really think this small group of survivors can accomplish a mission like that? And there is one other problem....but I'll bring that up later."

"It's not as easy as you think, we shouldn't be seen, because we're still a group of fugitives, well, besides Yen, but you being with us is probably not very positive..." Lennie says.

"You're right, it won't be. I said I can pilot almost any ship, but I can't do it without proper equipment. I need something like an energy transformer sheild, or it won't even get off the ground.

"Since my space suit went down with my Star Cruiser, I can't make any use of mechanical devices without one....but I'm sure I can be useful, anyway," Yen smiles "think of me as a mechanical monkey wrench, I may not be able to use machinery, but with me around, the Empire's guards can't either."

"Does anyone here have a machine or device powered by electricity, or magnetics?" Yen asks "I'll show you what I mean."

"All mechanical equipment malfunctions if I am within a certain proximity to it, and if I stay nearby, mechanical systems fail completely.

Really bad luck for a race of Merchants, but we developed a uniform that absorbs the metabolic energy that causes this disruption, but mine is gone. Somewhere underwater I suppose."

"But I could potentially ground an Empire ship just by walking on board without it...."

Sarona had been lost the second they started talking about machanics. She'd just have to wait until they said something she could understand.

Lennie is also not sure what to say. "I'd love to help you Yen, but I know nothing about this technical stuff.."

Yen turns back to the old man.

"As I thought, this is going to be nearly impossible."

"Even if we manage to get aboard one of those ships, and I don't know how can we do that without being seen, my presence will simply disable it...unless I can find a device to replace the spacesuit I lost."

"There may be something on board I can use to make a temporary shield device, but I can't guarantee that."

"hmmmm...got another thought. I could sneak aboard first, their surveilance systems should begin to fail immediately, but they won't know why, and that will keep them all busy trying to find and fix the problem. The rest of the ship's systems will also start to malfunction, too, they are going to think they need major repairs if I stay on board. There's a chance I might get caught, but I'll cover my butt lying to them if I do, I'll claim I'm stowing away to get off this planet. Even if they catch me, odds are they won't realize that I am the source of their problem, and the ship systems will continue to deteriorate until they shut down completely."

"But what can we do with all the crew? and I still don't know if I can find what I need to keep the ship running so I can pilot it."

The old man just nods. "I already told you that it wouldn't be easy. The best thing you can do is to use the strengths of each other...”

———————————

whispers...

...soft as a breeze...

...floating through time...

..."Sarona"... "remember"...

..."talk with the animals"...

..."call to them"...

..."they will help protect you"...

..."call them to you"...

and the whispers fade into nothing

Faelyn, as she's walking through the forest behind the old man's house, is muttering to herself. "I still can't believe those tracks just disappeared around the spaceship. I'm one of the best trackers on this planet and I'm still baffled. I guess I shouldn't be talking to myself out loud. Someone may hear me and think I'm nuts like the old man who lives here."

Hey, the old man must be having visitors. How strange for him... maybe I could sit back here in the bushes and eaves drop and find out what he's up to. I have sensed for a long time that he isn't what he appears to be.

Sounds to me like there's three voices... the quiet one... I'm sensing that she's bound to the earth... she has some earth powers... she's confused... maybe I'll just whisper to her on the breeze... maybe that will clear her thoughts...

"Sarona... remember..."

What was that... someone else heard me. How can that be? This is a first. I'm at a lost as to what to do. Sounds like they're trying to plan an escape. Wonder if they are from the spaceship? This is just too good to pass up. I think I'll just drop on in and pay the old man a visit and get a first hand look at his guests.

Faelyn stealthly walks up to the back of the old man's house and knocks on the door.

Yen greeted her, obviously having some familiarity and someone asked her about the old man, "Yen!, Good to see you again. The old man... yes, we've met. Had a few philosophical conversations."

Lennie asked her who she was, “Well, Lennie, I’m a tracker by trade and live here on Charon 5. If someone needs something or someone tracked then they hire me to do the job. I was out on one of my walk-abouts when I heard the crash. I tracked down the spaceship and after seeing there were no survivors on the ship I began to track the footprints. As I was tracking them, they all of a sudden just disappeared into thin air. So… I decided to come back to the village. While I was walking past the house I sensed the old man had guests and decided to call on him. He never has guests over so I was curious.”

Faelyn nods in Lennie and Sarona's direction acknowledging them. She turns her gaze back to Yen. "Prison Spaceship? Woah, so that's what kind of ship it is. Are Lennie and Sarona prisoners? I do not sense any evil in them. I did hear that people all over were being captured for no apparent reason and being hauled off to prison.

I haven't seen any guards. I was around the spaceship trying to track whoever made it out alive to see if I could help. Then all the footprints just disappeared before my very eyes. I guess I was too busy wondering about the footprints disappearing to sense if anyone else was around. I didn't see a soul around there. Are the guards a problem? You seem quite anxious and upset about them Yen."

Faelyn glances around at the others noticing that they seem to be nervous about her being here.

She also notices that Yen seems to be trying to decide what to tell her.

Faelyn senses an urgency in all of them. She wonders what this all could possibly be about.

The old man seems to be the only one who is at ease. Faelyn senses, again, that there is more to this man that meets the eye.

"Well, Faelyn, the Empire is sending another ship in about 6 or 7 days to imprison this old man, why, I don't know, he hasn't told us.

However, he has said he wants us to find a mysterious box, and either use it against the Empire, or destroy it."

Yen sighed.

"To get to the place the box is located, we have to purloin a spaceship. Mine is lost deep in Davy Jone's locker, and the only ship available is the

one being sent by the Empire."

"I'm worried about those guards still being loose in the woods, and have no good ideas about shanghaiing an Empire spaceship full of guards."

she winks,

"otherwise, it's been a fine evening, do you want to buy any Bell Shells?"

“I’ll take a look at your Bell Shells a little later. I have a collection that I’m trying to add to. I like the unusual ones.”

Faelyn takes a deep breath.

“Sounds like you all need a game plan. I’d be glad to pitch in and help. I don’t have any other jobs right now that are pressing.”

Faelyn takes another deep breath. She thinks to herself that this is going to be harder than she’d like it to be. Maybe this time they will send more than one ship and that will take more engineering to get around all the guards. She remembers the last time they tried to capture the old man.

“Okay. If I may suggest? Let’s take a look at all of our gifts and determine what kind of magic and fighting power we have. We can develop a plan from there.”

Faelyn takes a long look around the room and then focuses on Yen.

“Like you said, Yen, we’ll have to take over the ship that lands to imprison the old man. We have to also think about the possibility of there being more than one ship on the way. If this one crashed with prisoners on it, the Empire is bound to want them back along with the old man. In that case they would have to have more men to scout the area and make sure that none of the prisoners escaped alive.”

Faelyn seems to ponder for a moment.

“It would be nice if we could fake the prisoners deaths. Maybe make a grave with a marker with something kind of cryptic written on it. Like a good Samaritan took the time to bury them.”

Faelyn shrugs and continues trying to come up with other ideas.

“Any of you, Sarona, Yen, Lennie, Kin, old man… have any ideas?”

At first, Lennie wasn't sure if she should trust this new person, though she looks nice.

"Well hello Faelyn. It's very nice of you to offer us your help, but who are you exactly? And how did you find us?"

Untill now, the old man has been watching the four people and listening to their ideas, quietly.

Then he says: "You're right that you should all use your powers. The spaceships will arrive in 2 days and you have to come up with a plan, before this time. You've got to hurry and there is no other solution."

"What I know about these spaceships, is that usually there are 2 of them and each have 10 people from the Empire on board. It's always the same, apparantly the Empress loves even numbers. Furthermore, the spaceships also arrive usually at 00:00h exactly." "You don't have to be too affraid of the guards, since they're cowards and they don't have too much power. Without their weapons, they'll just run. But, this time, we have to be sure that they'll report to the empress that none of the prisoners have survived the crash and that everyone is okay. So, the best thing to do is to pick one of the guards and hold him hostage. As for the others, we have to make sure that nobody of them is able to report to the Empress that something is wrong, otherwise, we'll be caught."

"I'll help you as much as I can, but I won't be able to help you in 2 days. I'll try to help you as much as possible with the planning, but that is all I can offer you. But you should make it, there are four of you and I know that you're all brave. I trust you all and I'm sure that you can handle this task."

Then the old man is silent again and waits for the responses of the four in front of him...

“Well, Lennie, I’m a tracker by trade and live here on Charon 5. If someone needs something or someone tracked then they hire me to do the job. I was out on one of my walk-abouts when I heard the crash. I tracked down the spaceship and after seeing there were no survivors on the ship I began to track the footprints. As I was tracking them, they all of a sudden just disappeared into thin air. So… I decided to come back to the village. While I was walking past the house I sensed the old man had guests and decided to call on him. He never has guests over so I was curious.”

Faelyn gathers her thoughts before speaking again.

“I’ll go first. I know that you are all wondering if you can trust me so if I go first that may go a long way to adding to your trust of me.

I am an elf so I can meld into the scenery around me. I have the ability to hear really well from a distance and I can sense things from people around me. I am excellent with a bow and am light on my feet. I have healing powers and the ability to put living things into a deep sleep. I think that may help with the guards. I also have the ability to conjure up a little food and water.”

Faelyn looks around the room trying to get a sense off of the others. She really wants to help and hopes the others will trust her to aid them with this plan.

“I guess that’s it about me. I understand that you will all have to make the decision if I join you in your plan.”

Faelyn pulls a chair out from the table and sits down quietly waiting for the others to speak. She looks over at the old man wondering why he can't join them in this quest.

Faelyn senses the urgency in all of them, however, it seems to her that they are biding their time and trying to make a wise choice.

Faelyn decides to chat with the old man while the others come to a decision.

"Hey there old man. You're looking tired. I imagine this is all weighing heavy on your mind. How do you plan on getting away from the soldiers this time? Will it be much like the last time they came and tried to capture you? I remember it well. Hopefully you won't have to go through this again if we suceed with the plan."

Yen smiles at Faelyn.

"I didn't know you're an elf!"

"I haven't any magic skills, just mechanical ones.

I can pilot almost anything until it runs out of fuel, and jury rig or repair most equipment given time and parts....

I know alot of this galaxy, and some other ones too, I seldom get lost, and can navigate by the seat of my pants."

"however I also jinx machinery just by being near it...a real plus when Empire guards aim those shock weapons at me"

Yen grins

"I just love to raise my hands slowly, knowing that gun won't even fire if they pull the trigger.

I really should be the first one inside the ship, I'm at a lot less risk than the rest of you, and have experience snowing Empire minions more than once with a fast line or two. They are usually not very bright, the old man is right about them running if really threatened, they also fall for all kinds of tales, and some of them can even be bribed."

She looks at Lennie.

"You mentioned strength, Lennie. How much can you lift? I may need you to help me with some of the equipment inside the ship."

"Sarona, you are quiet as always, can you tell us what you can do to help?"

"Very little. I'm an earth mage. Mechanical things mean nothing to me. I don't really know what I could do. I can talk to animals, manipulate the earth around me, and blend into surroundings, but I think one of you already said you can do that." She was pretty sure there was little she could do to help.

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Runner

I ran through the forests as quickly as I could, not daring to look behind me. I had to get to the old man. I had to warn him. And we had to hide. I'd been running for 8 days, non stop. My energy was finally beginning to dwindle and was no longer being able to heal the scratches from limbs and brush.

Upon entering the village, I was instructed to go to the old man's home. I burst through the door, "Elder they-" then I noticed the others. "Oh. Sorry. They- they just told me to come to you. I didn't realize you had company."

My body was about to give way and collapse.

The Elder urged me to tell my news. Out of breath, I answered, "They're coming. Two ships. One crashed- the other I don't know. I started running as soon as I saw the first one." Warily, I looked at the others, "I haven't seen them before. Do you trust them?" Turning to the others, I noticed distrust in their eyes.

The old man told me who the people in his cabin were. I looked at the one he called Sarona, scrutinizing her for any reason to distrust her. Not finding anything immediately, "I'm the Runner. I make my home in another village. When things go wrong, I tell whoever needs to know. This time, he was the one who needed to know. Ships come rarely and they're never good news. I know a lot of the people on this world. So tell me, who are you, Sarona?"

"Someone you've never heard of. I didn't mean to end up here, trust me."

Didn't mean to end up here? Immediately, I tensed, ready to leap into action if necessary. She still seemed calm enough though. She, I could tell, knew the meaning of trust, "Which ship were you on then?"

———————————

Faelyn listened intently. Trust was a big thing to everyone in the room. If they didn't trust each other their plan would never succeed.

Faelyn continued to watch and listen knowing her turn would come soon enough, and at the same time if they weren't quick about things it would soon be to late. Faelyn looks at the runner and decides to say hi.

"Hi, you look exhausted. You must have run quite a ways. Please, have a seat while we introduce ourselves."

"I'm Faelyn, an elf, native to Charon 5. I wandered in to say hi to the old man and he ended up having guests over."

———————————

Runner

Native? Habitually raising my eyebrow, I turned to her, still watching Sarona, "I've never seen you before, elf. I make my way around this world quite a bit. How is it I've never seen you?" Hermit perhaps? And this one, so eager... for trust? Why would that be? Who would ever be so eager for trust but a mere child?

———————————

Lennie didn't really know what to do. She just wanted to make friends and she trusted the others, but the way they were looking at each other, was not good at all. She could imagine, with all these new people, that it would be good to listen to get to know each other, but she also knew that they didn't have that much time.

"We can stay and talk here for a long time, but we're not getting any further with the plan!"

"I do understand that trust is important, but I think that, if she wants to help us, we're stronger when there are five of us."

Then she turns to the girl who introduced herself as the runner.

"Maybe it would be nice if you'd tell us your name."

———————————

Runner

My name? What made her think I have a name. I blinked for a second, assessing the question, making sure she was serious, "I don't have one." She seemed nervous almost and eager... like she had this built up energy or something that was about to explode. And she definitely didn't seem like she wanted to stay here before carrying on with whatever plan the old man had concocted this time. The ship which crashed.... it had been a prison ship. She didn't seem like a person who would be on a prison ship... but then, neither did most of the people they were putting there these days.

———————————

Seeing the girl's exhaustion, Yen lifted a small flask from her backpack, and offered it.

"Here, have some water" she said, "it's the best there is, drink all you want, the flask fills back up by itself."

"I don't think it has healing properties, but it will help you regain your strength to heal yourself. Nine days is a long run.....you are very strong to be capable of that."

"I came to warn the old man, too. The ship that crashed just missed the place I was standing."

"He has asked us to take over one of the spacecraft and seek a box on an island....he still needs to give me some directions, though, I don't recognize the name of the place he asked us to seek."

Yen waited to see if the swift one would accept the water.

"Are you hiding wings on those feet?" Yen winked at her.

———————————

Runner

I took the water and smelled it then took a long drag. "I normally take a couple of breaks but this was urgent. I can help with getting around. I've been running this island almost since I woke up." Looking quizzically at the old man, I felt the water move through my body. It may not have healing powers for normal people, but it works wonders for me. I handed the flask back to the girl. She seemed nice enough... and something about her was familiar.

"I think I've been through your village, I've been selling Bell Shells since being stranded down here." Yen smiles "I wish you could run up to the moon with my insurance claim and send back a new Starfire. You said you saw a second ship... was that before, or after the one that crashed?"

“After.”

"Well, I think that we've got to focus on the other ships which will come on Wednesday!"

"What's the plan so far?" Lennie asks

"I can't really contribute anything to this until I know where they're supposed to be going... then I can get you there." For this, the Elder trusting them would be enough for me... someday though, they were all going to have to earn my trust.

Faelyn looks the runner over again. She looks vaguely familiar, maybe only through tales told about her.

"Runner, I'm a tracker by trade so most of my days are spent out and about. And on days I'm not tracking I am usually on a walkabout the country."

"We're running out of time, ladies. We better put it all out on the table so we can bring our plans to completion."

"Runner, to get you up to speed on what's happening I'll give you a brief account."

"Lennie and Sarona were on the prison spaceship and escaped along with two guards that fled into the woods. They met of with Yen who brought them to talk with the old man here."

"Evidently the Empire is sending more spaceships to find out what happened to the crashed spaceship along with trying to capture the old man."

"We're trying to pull together a plan to take over one of the spaceships that are coming and find a black box that's located on a desert planet. The black box is suppose to help us take down the Empire somehow."

"And to top things off we can't talk the old man into coming with us."

"Yen is very mechanical and can shut down the spaceship just by boarding it. Lennie has super strength, Sarona has earth powers, and I can put the guards to sleep for a short period of time."

"So..." Faelyn takes a deep breath. "That's were we're at right now."

———————————

Runner

Nodding, I took it all in. I could understand the old man not wanting to go with them. His plan had always been to hide himself and, to my knowledge, he wouldn't have any more help than information he could give us... but I hated the thought of possibly leaving him. But where he sent me, I would go. He was the one who found me after all. "If we know where the ship is likely to go, I can get us there. My ears and eyes are keen which may help. The earth powers combined with the sleep could be very beneficial. You can put them to sleep but they will wake up again... unless we kill them. I don't want to kill anyone- even if they threaten my life- and you don't seem to be people who would want to either. So, if Sarona can enclose them in a hut of earth with no door but holes large enough to let air in, we'll be able to get away before they get out. As for turning it off... the same goes for turning it back on?" Turning to the old man, I searched his face, "As for you, will you be going to the hiding spot? Or are you going to let them take you?"

———————————

Faelyn listens intently to the Runner.

"Burying the guards sounds like a great idea. I had planned on putting them to sleep. While they're asleep we are going to disarm them. I'm not sure we will be able to move them together in one area before they wake. I will have to cast sleep on them again."

"Yen is going to go into one of the spaceships and shut it down. Then there's the delima of how to get her onto the other spaceship without shutting it down also."

"Lennie has a lot of strength so will be a great help in moving the guards. We will need one guard from each ship to check in with the Empire to let them know everything is okay with them."

"We were going to have Sanora bury the disabled spaceship in the ground up to the underbelly. She's not quite sure she can do it. She's never tried before. So I don't know about burying the guards in a hole in the ground. I suppose we'll have to come up with something at that time if she can't."

"I don't know about supplies on the Empire spaceships so I think we should plan on taking supplies."

"I think we're about finished with our plans."

Faelyn looks to the others for comfirmation.

"Do any of you have anything to add?"

———————————

Runner

"There are some natural sedatives on this world. We couldn't make much- only enough for about 3 guards. But it would help. Especially if your magic is tiring. Yen, can you turn the ship back on? Or is it something you have no control over?"

———————————

Lennie

"Mm, I do think it is important that none of the guards will notice that there were survivors of the prisonship. Therefore, they shouldn't see Sarona, nor me at first... We tried to let everyone believe that there were no survivors of that crash."

"Putting them to sleep is an idea. I 'm not really in favour of killing them, but if there's no other solution, I'll help you all."

"Though, I'm just thinking.. Don't you think that the Empress will notice that 20 of her guards disappeared? She'll go and track them either way, so why the killing?"

"I'm still not sure what to do.. Maybe we could lure them out of the ship and just disappear, ofcourse with disarming tracker devices etc. The Empress shouldn't know where we're heading for."

———————————

The squadron overfliew the green forests of Charon, aiming for the place once the prison ship had dissappeared from their radars.

Big shadows covered the wreck when the ships began to land. It was one big ship of equal kind, just like the old prison ship had been, followed by four smaller ships. the big one landed in the middle of the clearing. One of the smaller ships, some kind of scout, landed directly next to it. Soldiers came out of both ships and began to examine the wreck, looking for hints and tracks that could lead them to their stranded colleagues, others got in position to guard the ship.

After a short while, the other three small ships landed, quite away from the first ones on the edge of the clearing. The ships were small and flexible, defenetly no transporters - with luck, they could accomodate up to ten persons. After they landed, a small group of people came out of it, defenetly no soldiers. They had a short talk with the soldiers, thanked them for the travel and then said good-bye. After this, the people from the smaller ships began to unload equipment - obviously they were scientist. Indeed that was the expedition Jadis had sent to take a closer look on the planet and it's creatures.

After a short while, most of the soldiers left the clearence to fetch up the lost guards from the old prison ship - only 10 guards were left, patroulling in front of the ship but not paying much attention to the scientists. Also some of the expedition-staff left to take a first look at the forrest, while 4 of them stayed to prepare their equipment.

———————————

Runner

I shook my head. Killing wasn't what I was suggesting. "Not mounds of dirt just piled on them. We'd put them to sleep then trap them in little dirt prisons. They would be able to get out eventually and there would be holes for them to breathe. No death. I understand your wish to not be seen. I think I can lure them out. People tend to get curious when they feel sudden rushes of wind following what seemed to be a trick of the eye." My own eyes sparkled. It had been a while since I'd been able to do that trick. "I could even take things of theirs and make a trail to a spot where we'd hit them. That way, they'd all be together."

I need replies... this isn't being very active and we have a deadline...

"The ships will be landing, soon, are we ready to leave? We can make further plans on the way."

 

———————————

"I'm restored now so I'm ready. And further plans would best be made, I think once we see what it is exactly we are dealing with." I turned to the others for confirmation then added, "We will need to travel lightly but I cannot expect you to make your way like I do so we should pack some fruit. I will be able to catch things along the way for meat."

———————————

Lennie

"Okay, I'm glad we're not going to kill anyone. I think we should track the ships and watch them. Maybe we can even steal one of the ships when nobody's watching!"

———————————

Runner

"Hopefully that is the case. But we should be ready to fight as harmlessly as possible just in case. Everyone ready? I can get together some packs quickly and then we'll be on our way."

"Sounds good to me. My pack is still full. I was expecting to be out and about longer when I came upon the ship. It's a good half days journey so we should head out now."

Faelyn looks around for comfirmation from everyone else as she heads to the door.

———————————

Runner

"Alright. That's good." I looked at the others who didn't appear to have anything with them. "I'll fix the packs. Be back in a few minutes with them. Just meet me outside."

———————————

Faelyn walked outside into the cool night air. The clouds had rolled in so there wouldn't be much moonlight to fall on them.

Faelyn fades into the background around her and scouts out the landscape around her looking or sensing anyone out there meaning harm to them. There was no one.

Faelyn whispers on the wind to the others... follow... our pathway is clear at present... Faelyn lays back against the cottage waiting for the others to come.

———————————

Runner

I gathered packs from a secret spot the old man and I had made for a situation much like this... though in that situation there would have been no strangers... and I filled them with fruit from nearby trees and a few things from the old man's small garden. Then I sped into the deeper woods to gather nuts I knew were high on protein and necessary nutrients. I also stuff a couple of packs with blankets. The nights could get cold and wet some times. Already in my pack from the journey here, I had my small flute, a hunting knife, some arrows for the Unseen Bow on my back, and a short sword. I hoped I would only need the weapons necessary for hunting... and my own strength... but you never know.

———————————

Sarona slipped outside and sat on the ground nearby, ready to leave.

Faelyn looked around at the Runner and Sarona.

"When Lennie and Yen get out here we can take off. I hope the pace isn't too slow for you Runner. I imagine you're use to going at a much quicker pace than we'll be taking. It should give us a chance to finalize our plans along the way though." Faelyn said.

"Coming, coming" Lennie said and she went to the others.

She sat down and waited with the others for Yen to arrive.

I don't really see if I should still do something?

———————————

Runner

"It will be quite slow for me but I've made journeys with others before. I could run ahead and make a path for us... and possibly assess the situation before we all get there. I would come back to inform you of course. I don't need many breaks and rarely sleep so there would be plenty of opportunity."

Jolien, you don't really need to do any more. Once everyone's outside, as long as it's ok with everyone else, I can just say everyone followed me into the forest. I just want to make sure everyone's ready to leave and would be fine with me doing that.

———————————

Yen says goodbye to the old man.

"I hope you realize the risk we are all taking based on your word, old man. Good luck to you, I don't even know your name."

She turns and goes out the door behind the others.

———————————

Runner

As Yen came through the door, I stood, gestured for the others to take a pack, taking two myself, and began walking into the forest.

Yen grabs a pack, and stuffs it inside her own, amazingly, it fit right in....

The others joined me and we walked for hours in the forest, an nervous yet excited silence had fallen over us. Every now and then, I would sprint ahead and then back to keep my legs from cramping but mostly we stayed together. Finally light broke and we decided to rest. Because it was still cool out, we made a small fire and sat around it, lost in our own thoughts. Finally, I broke the silence, "So, let's get to know each other a little more while we rest. You seem to mostly know each other. So why don't you ask me something?" By knowing what they would ask a stranger, I would learn what was truly important to them- rather than their learned replies. And, maybe, I would allow them to know something about me.

———————————

"Wait for me!" the young cadet shouts, trying to catch up with his friend.

"Hurry up! We'll miss the speech!" the other young man shouts.

They are on their way to a swearing-in-ceremony, also attended by Empress Jadis herself.

They follow some dark corridors, until they suddenly hear a dark voic in a corner they just passed.

"When you are TOO late, boys, you should decide not to take part after all."

The boys stand still, looking at the stranger in front of them. It's a veteran general, that's obvious, though he looks quite mysterious.

"SHE wouldn't tolerate you to come late - she'd feel dishonoured." he continues.

"Why should you know?" the boys ask like with one voice.

"I know her, let's put it like this." the stranger replies.

The young men think for a moment, and then one of them asks: "Is it true she once was a high general of the old federation? Are all those stories true?"

The stranger nodds. "The stories are true, and even more adventurous. She was brilliant there. Too brilliant, otherwise there'd still be a federation." he smiles sinister.

He looks at a little pocket watch, shaking his had laughing. "So, if your attached to your heads, you should better go to where you came from!" he laughs again, and suddenly dissapears into the shadows again...

———————————

Runner

By knowing what they would ask a stranger, I would learn what was truly important to them- rather than their learned replies. And, maybe, I would allow them to know something about me.

"Well... I run things... anything I can carry by myself. I woke up a little outside the old man's village. I was strong, quick, and keen. I have an internal compass and once I go somewhere, I immediately have muscle memory of how to get there from a certain place... and can learn multiple routes." I shrugged, "They needed a runner. And I was available. A 'gift from the gods'... at least... that's what they say."

I shot Faelyn an odd glance. Again, they were assuming I should have a name... as for the waking... I could understand that, "You were probably born. I just woke up. Why do you assume I should have a name? I haven't done anything to earn one."

"Who will name you when you have earned a name," asked Faelyn.

I cocked my head, "That was never solid. Anyone can name me really... as long as there is reason to it and my village agrees the name fits. I could go my entire life without a name." I had never really thought about it... the matter of who would name me. I just knew how things were and what I needed to do. Who would care about something such as a name other than royalty? I pulled my locks back and affixed them loosely together at the back on top of my head, showing my slightly pointed ears.

Taken aback by the bluntness of the question, I turned to Lennie and pondered before answering, "I know not my heritage so I know not my race."

"There's no proof of my existence before the old man found me. This was about 4 years ago. It's not like I was a baby or toddler and people couldn't recognize me. I just... suddenly woke up." I could tell they were having trouble grasping this. Some of the other villagers still did as well... the ones who weren't superstitious enough to believe I was a gift from the gods. "During that time, seeing ships above head wasn't anything rare or bad and quite a few had passed above that day. My body was broken as though I had fallen... or been pushed. We've never had proof of anything though and so... we let it go. I had some life before this place but... we just don't know what it is... or my exact age." Not wanting to answer anymore questions for now as my legs needed to stretch some more, I stood and addressed the group, "I need to run so get some rest, eat some fruit. I'll see if I can figure out the situation we're in up ahead and I'll rustle up some meat as well." Grabbing up my pack, knife, and bow, I ran off further into the forest.

My stomach was in knots. How were we going to do this? On my way back to the others, I shot a deer and slung it over my shoulder.

Before entering our campsite, I threw the deer ahead of me. Sitting down, I solemnly told them what I had seen. "Can anyone make themselves... or others invisible? I can carry one person on my back and still run 10 times quicker than your average person."

———————————

"I agree. If you show me the way, I'll board the prison ship, first, to disable it, then it can't bother us when we take the smaller vessel.

Lennie, can you come with me? I need to rig an energy shield as quickly as possible, and can use your help dismanteling some of the larger equipment on board the prison ship."

———————————

"I can camoflague. But I'm not sure how much that would help." Her eyes roved over to the deer, then quickly back. "And I just don't like seeing dead animals."

———————————

The group continued making plans.

———————————

Runner

Sarona and Lennie agreed with the plan and I test ran... myself. Thankfully, I could run with more than one person. We decided to leave immediately. Yen and Faelyn climbed on and we made sure they were firmly attached by rope(not too tightly though) and I ran them to the edge of the forest. setting them down, I coiled the rope and ran back for the others.

When we reached the clearing, Yen was already inside and Faelyn was watching to make sure no one woke up. Lennie and I set to the task of putting the guards in the prison cells while Sarona confiscated the weapons of those whom we hadn't gotten to. After we finished taking care of the guards, I did a little more hunting so we would for sure have meat on our journey- wherever that took us- and prepared it so that Sarona wouldn't have to see another dead animal. Finally, Yen came out and said we were ready to go. I walked onto the small boarding ramp and looked back at my home. I knew this day would come eventually. It just seemed so sudden. Turning back, I boarded the ship.

———————————

"I think I can keep up with you, runner, but not for nine days...lead the way."

Yen reaches down and adjusts something on both of her shoes...then as the runner takes off at what seems like light speed, Yen follows her, running behind, and it seems as if her shoes no longer come in contact with the ground beneath them, as indeed they do not, there are no foorprints to be found.

Finally the runner stops near a clearing, and Yen lags a little behind to catch her breath, she does not want the guards to hear her panting as she recovers from the effort of pacing the runners amazing sprint.

A few moments, and her breathing slows to near normal, and she motions to Sarona and the runner that she is going inside the ship.

Yen gets as close to the vessel as possible, while still out of sight, then waits 30 seconds behind a tree.

That should be long enough for the surviellance to fail she thinks, mentally picturing the static that is replacing the usual images of the ship's exterior on the monitors.

She swiftly crosses the clearing and reaches the hatch, which opens readily, the locks failing as she pulls the latch.

She waves to Sarona and the runner, and leaving the door open for them, then proceeds into the ship. The lights in the corridors begin to flicker and fail, and Yen takes a small flashlight out of her pack.

Now, she begans searching the ship, avoiding the guards, locating a power source, a metabolic inverter, and containment shield...or anything that could be used as such.

After a few minutes she comes across the runner and Lennie stowing sleeping guards into the prison cells.

"I have found most of what I wanted" Yen tells them, "now all I have to do is rig this thing up, and see if it works. You didn't get much resistance from the guards did you?" she smiles

"they can't fight much in their sleep."

She sits cross legged on a bare spot of floor, and with a few tools rigs up a contraption that looks like somekind of headband/earphone/antennea gadget, that looks absolutely ridiculous and fits it neatly onto her head like a helmet.

Then she puts the repair shop away in her pack, and leaves the prison ship for the smaller vessel.

As she walks on board there is no change in the smaller ships status. Good, she thinks, it works for now.....the rest of the team begin straggling on board, and Yen begins to wonder where they should head once she launches the scout, maybe they could make it to Charon's moon, she would love to trade this junk scout ship for a new Starfire...

The others are talking among themselves, personal stuff, but Yen is not listening, she is busy analysing the scout's controls and equipment, waiting for all of the team to arrive...

the old man had mentioned a desert planet...

she begans searching navigational records, trying to guess what direction to program into the heading computer..

———————————

Runner

I was full of apprehension. I wasn't sure if my legs could handle being cooped up so long... but this had to be done. I sat down in one of the chairs and looked at the group. We were a rag tag team- a group of necessity... but we were a group. How much of a difference could we possibly make? The old man would say quite a bit... he always did. He would always say, "Look at how much of a difference you make through your running. You are just one person. Imagine a group of people who truly care about what they're doing."

I nodded and tried to make myself calm down. Who knew how long it was gonna be before I could run again? Claustrophobia was setting in.

———————————

Faelyn continued, "Like I said at the old man's cottage, I'm a tracker by trade. It seems like I have been doing it forever. As a child I would track different animals for food for our family. By the time I was about 13 my mother and father were very old. My two older sisters stayed around helping them while I tracked food for the family."

"As I grew older other's would want me to help them find their animals or pets that had gotten loose. And it just grew into me tracking for money and other things besides animals or pets," said Faelyn.

"I usually stick to myself... I'm quite a loner. I enjoy people's company every now and then but only when I want it," she said.

Faelyn contemplates whether she's going to tell them why. What does it matter... no use in having tension between us with unanswered questions.

Faelyn, with a heavy sigh, said, "I guess my being a loner comes from not being able to track my betrothed. He also was a tracker and was out on a walk-about that went wrong. I haven't been able to track him and no one has seen him since. It's a hard thing to get over once you have dedicated your heart to another. Thus I stay to myself."

———————————

Faelyn gave me some shoes. They weren’t very comfortable but she said they would mold to my feet and feel like a second skin. She also asked if I ever had thoughts of settling down. "Uh- yeah- thanks. I never really thought about it. I've never been in one place truly long enough to find anyone." I reluctantly put the shoes back on to see if what she said were true and then leaned heavliy against the chair once more. My breathing stayed shallow and I held tightly to the arm rests, my knuckles slowly turning white. "Running has always been enough for me."

———————————

"We're coming into orbit, now. I'm going to bring this ship into the space dock rather than land on the surface. You all are free to roam the station if you want, I'm going to the dealership to post my claim and get another Starcruiser. The best craft are here at the station, and I have few connections, and can get a good deal. There is a nice hotel, but if you all want to wait and save your money, I'll have us a ship in a few hours, the accomadations on board will be at least as good or better that the hotel."

The space controler signal comes on and starts giving Yen instructions on what bay to dock the ship. She docks it smoothly, and opens the hatch to the entryway to the station.

"I wonder what I can get for this junk heap in trade" Yen says outloud.

"I'll meet you all at the mall in the center of the station in 2 hours, you can't miss it, there is a big light fountain display there that humidifies the air. Don't lose all your money to these Traders, they'll try to get you to spend all of it!" Yen grins.

———————————

Runner

I walked out the door and was blown away. So much... man made stuff. It made me uneasy. But it was walking room never the less.

———————————

Faelyn

I followed the Runner down the ramp out of the spaceship. I was blown away with the vastness of the city. I decided to do a little snooping.

———————————

Lennie

I walked out of the spaceship and I looked around, curious what we were going to find over here.

———————————

Yen heads to the docks. First stop the insurance agency, they check her fingerprints, pull up a file and issue a credit voucher for the lost Starcruiser. She heads out to the sales area, and sees an old aquaintance minding the store.

"Zack! you old fart, how are you?"she grins and starts pumping the old fellas hand.

"Yenomeht! What are you doing wasting time here? he asks "I sold ya the top of the line last year, and thought I'd never see ya agin'."

"Wrecked it." Yen sniffs "Got to get another one."

"Another one!!?" he mock faints. "I don't have 'nother one like it, don't ya know custom work when ya see it?"

"Come on, Zack" Yen wheedles "You can get another one, are you sure you don't have one in stock? The insurance will cover the price easily."

Zack shakes his head "No way, babe. Not another one like it, it was for you, you know." he winks back. "Can't believe you wrecked the darn thing."

Yen frowns "Neither can I, between you and me there is a certain mechanic who is not very good at his job..." she leans over and whispers something in Zack's ear.

Zack's eyes widen and he says "Ya shoulda never taken that 'Cruiser there, I coulda told ya that, everyone knows about...." he whispers back.

Yen sighs "Too late now, just lucky I bailed out OK, Zack what have you got? I need a ship pronto, got one hour to pick one out."

Zack grins "Right this way, dear, got the best available."

"I thought so" says Yen "that's why I came here first."

"First!?" says Zack, "You ain't goin' anyplace else once you see these..."

They head out to the showroom, which is larger that a small town, and he starts pulling up sales sheets on the large screen computer.

———————————

Runner

"Sarona, you're welcome to follow me." I sighed and began walking aimlessly, trying to find the magnetic center and connect with it so I wouldn't get lost. Other things in my mind were the fears of leaving the one place I have memory of.

———————————

Faelyn

I drifted into the crowd and walked around taking it all in. The vastness of the city was a little unnerving. I have always been more comfortable among the forest. There were peddlers about selling one of anything you could dream of buying. I bargined with one of them and got a cloak of invisibility for next to nothing. This should come in handy for anyone not being able to melt into the background. I shoved it into my pack and continued looking around. It was almost time to get to the fountain so I started walking that way.

———————————

Runner

As the shoes began to conform to my feet, my mood changed for the better. Nothing really caught my eye until the end- not that I was really looking. At the very end of my walk, I saw a magnificent weapons stand. A gorgeous but plain sword shone keenly and a small but powerful hand gun called for me. I couldn't always just knock everyone out and put them aside. I realized that, unfortunately, we were going to have a violent conflict eventually. With some clever bargaining, I managed to buy both for just (insert $50 equivalent). I then headed back to our rendezvous.

———————————

Lennie followed the others, not sure what she had to do. On one hand, she wanted to go to the desert planet as soon as possible, to finish that quest. But on the other hand, she didn't knew where else to go after they would finish their quest. She had no home to go to...

———————————

Sarona just followed after the Runner. Cities weren't her thing.

———————————

Runner

I saw a magnificent weapons stand. A gorgeous but plain sword shone keenly and a small but powerful hand gun called for me. I couldn't always just knock everyone out and put them aside. I realized that, unfortunately, we were going to have a violent conflict eventually. With some clever bargaining, I managed to buy both for just (insert $50 equivalent). I then headed back to our rendezvous.

———————————

Faelyn

I bargained with one of them and got a cloak of invisibility for next to nothing. This should come in handy for anyone not being able to melt into the background. I shoved it into my pack and continued looking around. It was almost time to get to the fountain so I started walking that way.

———————————

As Zack slipped into his sales pitch flipping through a dozen vessels on the screen, something caught Yen's eye.

"Hmmm, Zack, go back 3 slots, what is that in the corner, there, a collector's item?"

"Oh, the bright yellow antique behind the black Comet?"

"Yep, the one with the supernova details.....are you busy right, now? I've got a few minutes, and I just want a tour, aren't many of those left, are there?"

Zack winks "I always have time for you, darlin'" and he calls up a tour bus and they hop on it to go look at the old ship in the corner.

The 'old' ship is now brand new, gleaming hull with supernova details from fin to the tip.

They board the ship, and Yen's quick eye spots a small panel on the wall, just as she thought... she ignores it, chatting with Zack about the antique ship....as he shows her the living quarters, room for twelve, and the control room, and describes all the latest upgrades, including being refitted with the newest engine, her excitment increases, and she forces herself to keep her most disinterested poker face in order to talk him down and get a real bargain.

"Well, Zack, it isn't a Starfire, but just curious, what are you asking for it?"

"Oh, several billion, dear...." Zack grins "but for you, I give it away for 1/2 of what the Starfire would cost ya."

"Just 1/2?" Yen is genuinely surprised, "Zack, you old lover, you must be getting soft, you put at least that much into repairing it!"

"Sure did, honey, but you & I both know I can't sell it. I saw you notice the sensor, tried your best to act cool, didn't you, kiddo. I'll let ya have it for 1/2, and you can keep the change, I don't dare let this one outta here in the hands of an idiot...." Zack says.

"I'll take it Zack" Yen took a deep breath, "one question, though, did you wake it up?"

"Nope, couldn't afford the risk, that's one reason yer gettin' it for cost....be careful when you do." Zack replied very seriously.

"Looks like a very expensive luxury craft for it's day, I can't imagine this one being dangerous, what happened to the original 'crew'?"

Yen asked.

"Don't know, it was towed in a mangled up mess, not a peep out of it the whole time it was gettin' repaired." Zack answered.

Yen looks at the ship in awe.

"Playing dead, huh? It must be really scared, afraid of getting dismantled or something, I wonder what happened, usually it can repair itself.....and the crew is completely missing..."

Zack looks Yen in the eye "You didn't see how bad this one was, dear....the crew may not have even survived whatever happened to it."

Yen stays quiet a moment, then hands Zack the voucher. "Take what you need for it Zack. Repairs and all. This is no longer a financial transaction, that would be close to slavery. I'll take it out of here, and see if it wakes up on it's own. That's the only way to find out what really happened to it..."

Zack takes the voucher, and subtracts something from it, then returns it to Yen.

"10 minutes left" she murmurs, and leaves at a swift pace to rejoin the group of rebels and give them the news.

She had just 'aquired' an old Wanderer, a senient ship with a mind of its own....when it regains conciousness, of course. She wondered how wise that choice was, since the group would no longer need a pilot....

———————————

Runner

I leaned against the fountain, waiting for Yen to get back with news of our vehicle. She returned and told us of her find. I straightened and took a couple of steps, "A sentient ship? As in it talks to us? And once it wakes it can drive itself?" She nodded, "Then why did you buy it? If it were to wake up... we could come to the conclusion we didn't need you anymore. 4 is less conspicuous than 5." I searched her face quickly then continued, staring directly into her eyes, "What so drew you to the ship?"

"It's alive. And we will need to get it's cooperation when it recovers conciousness. This one is full of expensive luxury items, it must have been very fond of it's crew, these vessels think of their passengers as pets. There is some risk boarding it, however, it can do whatever it wants, even turn off the life support systems and kill us all. That is highly unlikely, but possible, I want you all to understand the risks involved.

This ship is friendly, I am sure of it, it would not need to have any of the stuff on board for itself. Also, if it decides to help us, and we come up against the Empire for any reason, a ship like this will fight for its own life, and that is a huge advantage against all manually operated vessels.

I am thinking of taking it back down to the planet, and find the old man again, I'm still not sure where he is sending us....and we need to know. He said he couldn't help us right away, but maybe he can now. You all can come with me and take a look at it in the docks if you want....it's still hibernating"

"A ship that can talk?" It wasn't like she was expecting an answer, she was more just talking to herself. Sarona was good with animals, but had never heard of something metal that could think. What had she gotten herself into...?

Yen answers Sarona. "I assure you it can do more that talk. If it likes us, it will be a great advantage. There are twelve cabins on board, Sarona, you have got to see number 8. Somebody must have been an expert botanist, the walls are full of live plants and insects..."

Yen looks at the runner.

"Nothing is more conspicious than a girl with barefeet." She laughs.

"I want you all to pick up some gear on the way to see the Wanderer. You should have spacesuits, and shoes at least."

She takes the wierd helmet contraption off of her head, funny how Zack acted like he hadn't noticed it....must have been laughing behind her back the whole time....

"I need to replace my suit, too, got a real bargain on this deal, still have plenty of money left to spend."

Faelyn was standing in the background listening to Yen brief them on the spaceship. It was going to be a big risk traveling in this one. And at the same time if it woke up it would potentially, if it liked us, help if we get into trouble with the Empire's spaceships.

Faelyn had already acquired her suit and shoes so she was ready to get going. She could sense the concern of the others.

"The quicker we get going the quicker we can finish our quest. I've got all I need. Ready when everyone else is."

———————————

Runner

"I put on shoes..." I said... almost defensively. "Help me find a suit... and I'll get one. Though I don't know why we would need one." I figured our chances were better in a living ship which could... possibly... awaken and could... possibly... turn on us than in a wanted ship or a ship from which our odd grouping would seem... odd.

———————————

The Runner seems quite agitated, I think she would do well with the one I got myself right after I purchased the invisibility cloak.

"Runner, I'll help you out with your suit. I know of a suit that is hard as dragon scales but as light as a feather and very comfortable. Got one myself. Follow me."

I look around at everyone else. "We'll be back in about five minutes. Don't run off without us."

I turn around as head back to where I got my cloak motioning for Runner to follow me.

———————————

Runner

I reluctantly followed Faelyn. Why must there be all these stupid requirements? Like shoes....

———————————

"What did you say?"

"Ehm... it seems like we lost one of our ships..." the space-fleed major on the screen stuttered.

"And how could you 'lose' it?"

"The scientists have watched a group of people..." he replied nervously.

"Well, you don't want to tell me you messed up loosing something with getting it stolen, won't you?"

"Ehm... no.. i just wanted to say..."

"Who were this people?"

"We are quite sure they were prisoners from the wrecked ship, majesty."

There was a quite icy pause.

"And the old man, where is he? I wan't him here, immideately!"

"We've been to the village, but there was no sign of him..."

Another icy pause, until a soft voice continued.

"Major, would you please call your assistant? I'd like to talk to him."

The men in the screen dissapeared for a short while, and then another one appeared.

"My Lady..."

"I have a special task for you."

"Yes, my Lady." the man answered.

"Your superior seems not to be able to even obey the simplest orders. From now on you're the supervisor of this expedition."

The man looks more than surprised, but finally replied:

"Do you want to talk to him again and tell it to him yourself?"

"That's not necessary."

"So he already knows?" the man asked, stunned.

"No. But I don't waste my time on dead men. Liquidate him."

The screen was switched of, and the woman raised to her feet. In the room were also other people who had just witnessed the transmittal.

"Find me that ship. NOW!" Jadis said, and left the room.

———————————

Lennie looked around the new ship. She liked it a lot, it looked so nice and comfortable, but something was bothering her. They were talking 'bout waking it up and stuff.. She didn't really wanted to ask what it meant, but she felt that it was not good.

"Sorry, but you were talking about waking up the ship? What does that mean? And what are the consequences of that?"

———————————

Runner

We had just gotten back from buying my suit, "We don't really know. It depends on the ship I guess... but basically... we're putting our lives in the hands of Yen until this ship wakes up... then our lives are its charges... its... pets." I then muttered to myself, "It doesn't feel alive though... not mentally."

———————————

Lennie didn't understand a word of that, but she didn't want the others to notice that.

She just nodded and said: "Okay".

She sure hoped the others would know what they were doing...

———————————

"Everyone on board?" asked Yen.

"Shall we head for Charon's surface, then?"

———————————

Runner

I nodded, "Yeah, everyone's here. Let's go." I ventured to one of the rooms and, not bothering to shut the door, plopped the the bed, kicking off my shoes. Oh how I hate those things. Second skins... yeah right. But I have a feeling they would be for someone who's grown up wearing shoes. They're as close as it's going to get anyway. The room on this ship was much better. There still wasn't much... but I was having an easier time breathing... a little bit easier.

———————————

Yen says to Lennie and the rest of them,

"Don't worry too much about the Wanderer, let me handle it when it regains conciousness. I could try to initiate a 'wake sequence', but I'm not going to, I'm going to pilot it manually for now, and just see how long it takes to decide to come round on its own."

Yen heads for the control room, and seats herself at the command module. Running through the programs she notices extra high efficiency read outs, and is impressed by the quality of the controls. Entering Charon 5 as the destination, she waits for the launch sequence, when a series of additional program entries suddenly appears on screen....

Shield Defense On/Off

Camoflage On/Off

Encrypted Communication On/Off

Hibernate On/Off

"What in the universe...."Yen mumbles to herself....then switches the shield defense-on, Camoflage-on, encrypted communication-on, and left the hibernate-off.

As soon as she finishes the entries, launch initiates....

The ship is now effectively invisible, a mirage/camoflage device is active that reflects the starfield in 3D, a force shield is active, that can deflect attacks, and comunication is encrypted, making it inaudible and/or undecipherable. The ship is still hibernating, however....

Jadis' crew should have a hard time sighting this vessel...

———————————

Faeyln and Runner decided to explore. "Let's try down this way. Ah... here we are... not bad. Looks like the galley is fully stocked. Wonder when Yen had time to do this. Maybe that was one of the selling points," Faelyn said. Faelyn fixed some tea.

———————————

Runner

I saw a dark panel on the wall which didn’t exactly fit in with the rest. Curious, I touched it. My mind was filled with numbers and my hand was filled with a warmth which began taking over my entire body. The panel revealed itself to be a screen. A blueprint like map appeared.

———————————

Faelyn

Lennie came in and asked if she could join us. "Sure Lennie, Runner found a map of the ship in the galley. We were just about to go look at the exercise room and a viewing room. Would you like some tea before we head to the exercise room?" I could sense her nervousness about the ship, the tea would help to calm her down a bit. A look about the ship could take her mind off of the awakening too.

———————————

Runner

"Sure thing. We're just passing the time and gulping down some natural relaxants. When you two are ready, we can go see everything." I walked back over to the panel and touched the screen. I felt that same warmth which seemed to grow from the palm of my hand outward. This time, instead of numbers, there was an odd whirring which no one else seemed to hear. The whirring had a pattern to it... almost a speech. Maybe the ship was alive ———————————

The ship rolls very slightly, feels like everyone was standing on a skate board that just shifted a bit....then the lights dim briefly, and come back on, and the air pressure on the vessel drops suddenly, then increases creating a whispering noise, almost as if something huge had rolled over in it's sleep, blinked, and yawned...

Yen hands slaps the control center communication button at light speed, she had expected this...and she says loudly "Wanderer, are you active!? You have five passengers aboard."

A second slight drop in air pressure as another huge 'yawn' reverberates throughout the ship.

A low pitched alto/barritone voice, indistinguishable as male or female echoes inside the hull, "Welcome aboard."

"Wanderer, all your passengers are humanoid, could you turn down the volume a bit? Our hearing is quite good." Yen winces at how loud the first response had been.

"Certainly." the Wanderer answered in a softer tone, expertly calculated to imitate Yen's exact decibel level.

"Wanderer, if you run a system check you will find you have been completely refitted and repaired by Zack McCready, one of the finest mechanics on the moon of Charon 5." Yen tells the ship.

"We are currently on our way to rendezvous with the surface, do you have any objections to this?"

The control panel begins to flicker and shift on its own, and the ship replies "Hmmmm....I can go anywhere, it's up to you." The ship continues to check its systems, this keeps it busy for a few minutes, and Yen heads out of the control room to find the others....

———————————

Faelyn

All of a sudden I heard someone speaking in a hushed whisper, as if they were far far away. I could hear things from clearly from a distance with my keen hearing. I didn't want to alarm the other so didn't say anything about it.

Just as I was about to make the tea for Lennie Yen came over the ships speaker system and alerted us that the ship had awakened. From what Yen told us it could be quite an adventure. I made Lennie's tea and turned to Runner and Lennie.

"Well...," Faelyn looked at Runner and Lennie, "shall we do some adventuring? We can ask the ship all about it's aminities as we go along."

———————————

Yen finds them in the galley, getting refreshments. "Wanderer is a typical luxury cruise liner." she tells them "No need to worry, now, it will probably take us anywhere we like...

I am thirsty!" she makes a cup of persian mint tea with a slice of lime. "Have you all seen cabin #2? It's walls are three feet thick aquariums, filled with strange sea creatures, fish, and coral. I know why Zack spent so much time and money restoring it, it's a treasure house."

———————————

Faelyn

"Sounds wonderful, I can't wait to see all the cabins, each seems to have a different theme. I'm sure we can each find one that is comfortable."

"Yen, are you coming with us, or do you have to get back to the console," I asked.

I was excited to go exploring.

———————————

Runner

So it had awakened... surely it wasn't the panel? "You said she can drive herself, right? And where's Sarona?"

———————————

Faelyn

"I haven't seen her since we boarded. She might have wandered into one of the cabins on board."

I try and sense where she could be. I sensed that she was on the ship, I just couldn't tell where. Must be what the walls are made of that's keeping me from pin pointing where she is.

"Maybe if we go scouting out the rooms we may run into her."

Lennie accepted the tea, but then she felt that something was wrong. She felt that a ship that could be awake was not good at all and she didn't really felt like exploring.. But on the other hand,she wanted to stay as close as possible to the others. Being by herself didn't sounds good at all... She tried to hide her fear and she asked:

"What are we going to do now? And where are you going?"

"There was an exercise room that Runner and I wanted to check out. It can get a little close in here for us. There's also a viewing room too... don't know what that is. Thought we'd adventure around and get the ship to fill in the gaps for us as we went. I'm anxious to check out all the cabins. They sound pretty awesome. Hopefully there will be one for each of us to feel at home in."

Faelyn starts wandering down the hallway towards the exercise room.

"Anyone want to join me?"

———————————

Runner

We went to the exercise room and played around. I tried out the running machines. I couldn’t go my top speed on them... but I could come close. My legs were only barely visible when I ran. I noticed a punching bag and got off the running machine to go at the bag. Eventually, I looked around. Faelyn and I were the only ones getting anything from this and we could always come back. "Why don't we head over to the viewing room and finish our tour. Then Wanderer could possibly direct us to cleaning facilities?" I was practically drenched in sweat.

———————————

Faelyn was watching Runner go at the punching bag when Sarona walked in, "Nice punching Runner."

Faelyn looked around at Sarona.

"Hi Sarona, we were wondering where you got off to. I'm glad you could relax in one of the rooms, must be to your liking."

Faelyn turns her attention back to Runner.

"I'm ready when you are. I can't imagine what we're going to see in the viewing room. If it's like every thing else on this ship it's got to be pretty spectacular."

———————————

Runner

Alright. Let's go then. We made our way to the viewing room. Inside, there were multiple chairs and a large screen on one wall. "Wanderer, what is the function of this room?"

"This room is for viewing any visual media material. Entertainment, news, documentaries and the like."

"Thank you."

"My pleasure. I have a few things in the library. Just ask and I'll bring them up."

———————————

Lennie didn't really understand it, but she lifted the weight Faelyn pointed at, with no effort at all... She still didn't see the use of it, but well, if they wanted to run and excercise, she decided it was best to let them do that.

"Mm, yeah, it's nice..."

Then Lennie walked to Yen and asked her:

"Do you have any idea when we will arrive?"

———————————

Yen follows the rest of them to the physical training center, finishing her tea, and tossing the container into the wastebin on one of the walls.

She answers Lennie, "In just a few hours. I want to talk with you all about that, later. I think we should stay with the ship and send the runner or someone who can find the old man to get the directions I need...."

She unrolls a large mat onto an open area in the room and begins doing gymnastic flips and floor routines.

"I wish I had some rythyms with this" she says, and suddenly Wanderer answers in that unmistakably mellow genderless voice "Latin, Jazz, or Pop?"

"Latin is best for these moves" Yen replies, and the salsa rythyms begin to fill the room.

She handsprings and dances to the beat playfully, then stretches and cools off.

———————————

"I need a shower, now." Yen says.

"I'll join you in a few minutes at the viewing room."

She slips into cabin #3, her favorite, it has big view ports showing the starfield and a huge screen showing 3D galaxy maps and navigational charts. She enters the cleansing chamber and gets a steam bath, then aquires clean clothing from an extensive computerized wardrobe, selecting a blue and orange outfit, then heads out to meet the runner in the viewing room.

———————————

Faelyn followed Runner into the viewing room. It was fasinating.

"Runner, I wonder if Wanderer has any updated news on the Empire or the mess that happened on Charon 5? It would be nice to know what we're walking into when we land," I said.

I could hear the others headed this way.

"I suppose we should wait until everyone gets here."

Faelyn sat in one of the viewing chairs and waited for the others to arrive.

———————————

Runner

I paced around the room, not ready to sit again, and waited for the others. "I dunno. Maybe."

———————————

Faelyn sat and contemplated an issue. "Hmmm... with this spaceship not waking up until today it probably doesn't have the latest news. It would be kinda interesting, though, to see if Wanderer has any information on our races. Like where they started, how long they've been in existance, if there are others like us on other planets, you know, colonies. Maybe even some pictures too."

She sensed that Runner was still a little tense, from more than the fact that she was pacing the floor.

"Runner, do you know where your race started?"

———————————

Runner"I don't even know what race I am... much less where it started."

"I can help with that."

"How could you po—" she was stopped by a scan.

"Humanoid."

"Yeah... I knew that..."

"You have a wide variety of race mixes."

"Great. I'm a mutt." I turned to Faelyn, "I started everywhere."

———————————

Faelyn couldn't help laughing at Runner's comment.

"You're too funny Runner. Wanderer what race am I and where did I originate?" Faelyn asked.

Wanderer's scan started again, scanning Faelyn.

"You're of the race of elves. You originated on Charon 5. There are other colonies of elves on several different planets. Crighten, Bastellion, Earth, and Sabiton." Wanderer answered.

"Wow, How about that. Who would have figured?"

Faelyn tried to hide her amusement from Runner's comment. She was releived when she heard the others coming into the viewing room.

———————————

"Mutts are often multi-talented." Yen says casually. "If you are lucky, you get the best of both species, if not, the worst. Fortunately, most people are lucky at birth, they always have the advantage of being young."

Lennie didn't really want to know where her race came from. She just watched the others quietly.

Sarona slipped into the viewing room after everyone else. She didn't exactly want to be alone anywhere on the ship, as she didn't know what to expect from it at any time.

———————————

Runner

"I know mutts often have the best... but I'm so mixed up we still don't even have a clue where I came from before. Wanderer, do you have any news about what's going on right now?"

"I only have entertainment for you to watch. I provide luxury. Why would you want to know the news?"

I groaned, "Never mind. When we get back to Charon, land somewhere no one should see us coming back. I'll go ahead to see the aftermath of our departure."

———————————

Faelyn

"Good, then we have a plan when we land. Well, if there's nothing else right now I'm going to go check out the cabins and get a bath. I really need one after that exercise."

I looked around to see if there are any objections, there aren't so she leaves the viewing room.

I'll just head down this way. Here's cabin 12, wonder what it's like.

As I walked into the room I was overwhelmed. The ceiling was midnight blue and covered with twinkling stars and the moon was casting a glow over the room. I could hear the sounds of night all around me.

I flipped on the light switch and the sun shown in beams through living trees. There were birds flying through the trees. Squirrels and chipmunks were running up and down the trees. I could see nests and holes in the trees. It was a living forest right in the cabin.

As I looked around I saw the bed. It was a double hammock hung between two trees with pillows and a plush comforter which blended into the forest. I looked for dressers and found them among some stumps of trees. When I pushed back some vines I found a closet with an assortment of clothes hanging in there.

The shower room was awesome. It was like you were literally in the clouds. The walls, ceiling, and floor were painted a beautiful sky blue. And there were clouds everywhere, even on the floor. The shower water cascaded down just like a waterfall. I was in heaven.

I bathed and dressed and feeling elf again, I headed to the front of the ship to see what the others were doing.

———————————

Runner

I liked the idea of no longer being sticky so I took my leave as well and looked through the cabins. I saw Faelyn go into 12 so I ignored that one. In cabin 11, there was a waterfall like setting. The bed was a pallet on the floor which was covered with a grass like substance. There were "trees" on one of the walls. The waterfall acted as a shower as well as a relaxing noise for sleep. It was perfect- much more like home. I swear the Wanderer read our minds and created habitats just for us.

While I showered, my eye was drawn, as ever, to the odd birthmark we had hoped would help identify me. The overlayed patter of a star and moon. It must mean something... to someone.

———————————

Yen saw the runner slip into cabin #17? No, it must be #10, or #11, probably #11, there are only 12 cabins aboard....

She waited a few minutes, and then knocked at the door. She wanted to know where the runner reccomended landing, and if she could really find the old man's hiding place.....

———————————

Faelyn

After I had my shower under the waterfall I got dressed. The sounds of the forest were so soothing. I decided to check out the hammock before I headed out. It was so comfortable, like sleeping on air. And the sounds of the forest were so relaxing. The next thing I knew I was waking up. "I have no idea how long I've been asleep," Faelyn said.

"Exactly 23 minutes."

I jumped at the voice and then remembered it was Wanderer. "Thanks Wanderer," I answered.

I went out into the hall and headed for the front of the ship.

———————————

Runner

I begrudgingly opened the door and saw Yen there. She asked my opinion of where to land. I sighed and told her to follow me to the controls room. There, I asked Wanderer if she could bring up a picture of Charon. Promply, she brought up some satellite images. "How old are these?"

"I just took them."

"Thank you, Wanderer." There seemed to be a little extra action than there should be... but then I'd never seen Charon like that. "How do I make a flight plan?" A pen-like thing came out from an automatic drawer. "Can you put an arrow where we are? And tell me if they can see us?" An arrow appeared. I drew a line from a the arrow to a place on the planet. No one with sight less keen than mine should be able to see us. I just hoped they had no machines watching for us. That is fairly close to the old man's main hiding spot. He can be a bit of a bigot at times though... so he may not have hidden. Never the less, that's where we should go."

———————————

Fae

I got to the control room and Yen and Runner were there making out a flight plan of where to land on Charon 5. I sat in one of the flight chairs and waited for the others.

———————————

"Wanderer the landing coordinates are being provided by our runner" Yen says....

She looks at the swiftest one, "This is driving me nuts, you not having a name. Can I give you some kind of nickname? Nothing official of course, just something to call you, so we all know who is being addressed in conversations.

How about 'Swift Foot', or 'Greased Lightnin', or 'Runabout'?" Yen grins at the rest of them, "Let's come up with a few more while the ship sets down, and let the runner pick one out."

She looks at the nameless one, "Don't worry, it's just for now, you can always change it later."

———————————

Fae

"I've gotten use to calling her 'Runner'. Course we could come up with other nicknames for the time being like... 'Vizzy' meaning she runs so quickly she's invisible." I shrug my shoulders and look towards Runner to see how she's going to take being nicknamed.

———————————

"Entering orbit, prepare for landing sequence"

Wanderer's voice vibrates over the intercom system.

Yen takes a seat.

"Pilot from the moon of Charon 5, I have finished an extensive system check, did I understand you correctly that the repairs were completed by Zack McCready, a mechanic from the orbiting space station?" Wanderer addresses Yen.

Yen looks up at the console. "Yes, Wanderer. Zack is pretty good, are the repairs satisfactory?"

"The workmanship is excellent, brilliant in fact, the engine has upgraded speed and efficiency by 8.37%, the shield and camoflage are rerouted and consume less power, and all the flora and fauna aboard are secure and healthy.....but some thing is missing...."

"What is missing Wanderer?" asked Yen.

"My entire offensive weapons systems have been stripped" answered Wanderer.

"Weapons systems?" Yen looked worried.

"See the armament bay." Wandered replied, and suddenly the screen video displays a huge empty area somewhere in the ships aft, panning around showing vacant modules and disconnected consoles....

"Armament bay?" Yen frowns "What did you have there?"

"Prior to repairs the area looked like this..."

Wanderer's screen shifted, suddenly the empty area was full of equipment and machinery, the scene began panning around again showing, one thing after another....

"Whoa!" gasped Yen "Those lasers are illegal!" and as the picture moved she yelped again "and those Hyperexplosives are contraband in 5 galaxies!" then she sees the Solarnuke series and

demands loudly, "WANDERER WHAT ARE YOU?"

The ships voice answers almost smugly, "A Secret Weapon, a Vehicle for Espionage, the most dangerous and talented mercenary ship in the known Universe."

Yen gasped thinking to herself, an egomaniac for sure...."Well, Zack probably removed and sold all that stuff on the black market to pay for your repairs, which means he got way more money out of this deal than he let on, the old cuss. You must like getting into a fight, Wanderer, all of those arms are gone now, then?"

"Yes, and I would like to know how he did it."

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Wanderer's screen shows a close up....

"The armament bay was protected by these..."

Yen stared. "Detonation devices primed to explode all those weapons if they were tampered with? Don't ask me. I never heard that Zack handled arms, maybe he got an expert... a good one would do it in exchange for that equipment.

So...you were going to commit suicide rather than be unarmed?"

"Not necessarily" Wanderer answered "I just concluded I would be dismantled anyway if it ever got to that point. Touchdown in 1 minute, 30 seconds..."

———————————

Runner

Nicknames? "Can we just stick with 'Runner'? It's what I've been called most of my waking life... and I don't think I could get used to another one... though I would make myself for an official name. So... Wanderer... if we were able to find some weapons for you... you could fight?" Those weapons seemed oddly familiar though... I couldn't place them.

———————————

"Wanderer had enough arms on board at one time to take out an entire planet, maybe a solar system."

Yen says quietly to Runner.

"Can I see the arms bay, Wanderer?" Yen asked the ship, she wanted to be sure it was really vacant.

"Certainly, life support is being activated in the area, now." Wanderer replied.

"I'm going down there, then."

she turns to Runner,

"We need a map, star charts, navigation disks, something from the old guy to indicate which desert planet we are going to. The quicker we get it the better, we need to leave again as soon a possible, before the Empire finds out we are here, and wants to know what we are doing. How long do you think it will take? I hate to send you alone, but you and I both know any one of the rest of us would just slow you down." she winks at the Runner.

"Be careful, and don't get caught."

"Wanderer, where did you get all those illegal weapons?" she asked the ship as she heads out the control room door toward the back of the ship.

"Various places." the ship replied. "Usually I aquired part of a shipment on delivery. Most of it will be very difficult to replace, although I have the schematics for the lasers on file, and could possibly construct them with the proper equipment. The nuclear devices cannot be constructed aboard...it takes an asteriod size generator to manufacture those."

"You were running black market weapons disguised as a luxury cruise vessel, then." Yen surmised correctly.

"Sometimes." Wanderer answered "I have accepted other assignments on occasion, if the payoff was of interest to me."

"A mercenary ship. Zack could have at least warned me about you, Wanderer." Yen complained.

"You think he should have warned you about me, when you are planning to sabotage the Empire?" the ship sounded almost amused, as if it were chuckling.

"You've been eavesdropping, of course." Yen said to the ship. "Are you interested? Or do I need to get us another Starfire? I could take you back to Zack, and let you argue with him about your missing weapons of mass destruction...I doubt he'll return any of it, though, he probably has no idea who bought it, anyway."

"No, I have no interest in returning to the maintenance bay. I'm sure I couldn't have gotten better service......and dodging Jadis' warships is easy, my defensive systems are all in excellent condition. I'll take your rebel group anywhere you all want to go."

Yen has a small smile on her face. "You thought you were a goner after that last wreck, didn't you Wanderer? What happened?"

"I don't know." ths ship replied. "I sealed the records at the last minute....I can't open it for 3 years."

———————————

Runner

Yen left and I nodded... So then there was a possibility we would have luxury, defense, and offense options... this seemed a little too good to be true. But I would let her handle it for now. We landed and I joyously ran into my forest, telling the others to stay close and be quiet.

After much running, I approached an old bomb shelter from before even the old man's time. There were many things on the planet which pointed to a great civilization in its past... but that was it. Just hints and clues. The shelter was up against a steep stone wall. I went to the back of it, tapped four stones in a pattern of 12-14-12 and opened a side of the shelter, revealing a cave entrance. I closed the door behind me and heard it click, whizz, beep, and rumble then moved on.

At the bottom of some stone stairs, I found the old man. "We have a new ship but we don't know where to go. Yes said to ask for a map, star charts, navigation disks, or something like that. I wasn't followed, so don't worry. And we landed a long way from here... for normal people. 3 hours away for me at my maximum speed."

———————————

Yen reached the arms bay, just as it finished atmospheric pressurization.

It was gigantic, the largest area on the ship, almost completely empty and deserted, then she noticed some lights blinking and activity at the far end of the bay.

"Wanderer, what's going on over there?" she asked.

"I am reconstructing some maintenance droids, and using them to inventory the manufacturing supplies I have left on board." the ship's voice had that smug quality again.

"You want those lasers back, don't you." Yen was beginning to realize just how aggressive this ship's personality was.

"Definitely. Lack of offense is a serious tactical mistake, and I intend to mitigate the situation as promptly as possible."

"Can you do it?" she asked.

"I am missing certain key components necessary to complete the task at the moment." Wanderer answered. Further more, I lack anything to exchange for the material I require."

Yen almost laughed. "You're broke, huh? No money, no goods....ha,ha."

"Yes, but my services can be offered for hire, that is my typical method of aquiring needed items." the ship said.

"Well, I have a few credits, myself." Yen waved her credit disk.

———————————

Fae

I walked out into the forest and immediately relaxed. After listening to Wander and Yen discuss weapons for the ship, I was a little uneasy.

I needed to be relaxed and alert to be able to sense or hear anyone coming. It was easier for me to do this in the forest.

Once Runner returned we would be cooped up in the ship again and for how long, no one knew at this point.

———————————

Yen walked all the way to the other side of the arms bay, and satisfied that it was empty except for a few robots the ship was restoring for use, left for the control room.

———————————

The old man gave me a small box and said it had everything Yen or the ship would need to find the planet. After confirming that I had not been followed, he sent me on my way. Running back to the ship, my heart sank. I had a feeling it was going to be a while before I could run freely again.

Inside the ship, I looked around the control room, "Yen still looking at weapons?" The others nodded so I searched for the weapons room. Yen and I bumped into each other as she exited. "The old man gave me this box. Said it was all we would need." I handed the box to her.

———————————

Faelyn melded into the forest so no one could see her. She walked about looking for any other tracks besides Runner's. I don't see any other tracks out here besides Runner's and animal tracks and my senses aren't picking up anything dangerous, Faelyn said to herself.

Wait, what was that gust of wind? Could it be Runner. Faelyn looked at the hatch of the ship and sure enough, Runner was standing there opening the hatch and disappeared into the spaceship. I ran to the ship and hurried inside.

———————————

As Yen left the arms bay she could here the hissing of decompression, Wanderer was deactivating life support in the area, again...

suddenly the Runner appeared, barely out of breath, although she must have run the whole way there and back to return so quickly.

She handed a Yen hologram recorder, saying the coordinates were inside.

Yen went quickly to the control room, and connected the recorder to the control console with a small UBC cord,

"Wanderer, is everyone aboard?" she asked.

"If they are, please launch immediately, the planet we are trying to reach is listed in the recorder."

"Launch sequence initiated" answered Wanderer.

The screen began to fill with pictures of a strange, barren, desert world...

_________________

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Reserved for story relay

((if there's still more at this point... I'll just have to link it.))

 

I felt the Other sensing Yen and Shaed. I came to understand that both of us had been in the dream. The first time the bed was seen, I occupied it. But the second time, she did. We all had a connection... and I had opened us for attack- without meaning to.

"Why, thank you, dear little Runner, for your naivety and ignorance," the Other said. Suddenly, we were in the courtyard of the dream Tremere's house. She walked to Yen and ran a finger along Yen's jawline, "And you, sweet Yenomeht. So fragile and yet... such fire." She walked over to Shaed, "And you, oh furred creature, what is it you wish? I'll be your genie for a time." She grinned and was immediately scantily clad- her breasts more than peeking over the top of her far too tight shirt and her shorts barely long enough to be called anything but underwear. Grinning, even further, she grabbed him to her and before he could begin to react, had her tongue in his mouth.

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Wanderer Starship, Viewing Room - Shaed, Yen, Runner, 'The Other'

 

Now this kinda thing don't usually happen, but it figures it probly would when yer dealin' with the only chit around faster'n a Jhozian! Heh, gotta say I'm always pleased when a female feels the need ta stick her tongue down my throat, but... "Mmmph!" I gently take hold o' her shoulders and push away, but she's grippin' pretty tight! I increase my metabolism a bit and pry her off, tryin' again with an empty mouth, "Hells, woman, what'd I just tell ya 'bout self con..." I break off, my nose finally cluein' me in. It's not Runner. I'm sure it's not Runner. She smells of an ever-present killer intent, like a predator whos belly is never full. Must be Runner#2... I like her less now that I'm meetin' her in person.

 

I tighten my hold on her shoulders, "Nevermind, hun. Wasn't you I was talkin' to, was it?" My head tilts ta the side as I consider her. Will she die if I kill her here? Will Runner die too? Just how closely are the two connected? I keep my face confident as indecision boils 'round in my head, despite knowin' it's useless since we're all connected right now.

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Cefiyaen Tunnels- Lennie, Sarona, Tek-Zem, ???, Faelyn.

 

I watched with bated breath as two of the females overcame the fiery obstacle... The one who's name I was uncertain of, and lady Sarona, both looked thoroughly dessicated... The water even seemed to be leaking from their exoskeletons... Was it evaporating from the intense and merciless heat?

 

I looked over expectantly at Tez-Mar, but she was already fluidly conversing with the drone who had maintained the conflagration.

 

"I have been informed that magical resistance was encountered while the Burner was Crafting..." At this point, the voluminous female paused for an oddly long stretch. She was clearly deep in thought.

 

"But you all pass the test. The rule was that you should cross the path of flame, and all three of your eminences successfully accomplished said task... Now for the second ta-"

 

My head was throbbing, and a sonorous, muffled type of boom was bouncing against my conscience repeatedly, desperately trying to clobber me into submission... I turned around to locate the source of the noise. An alien female whom I had never met before... She looked phenotypically like Faelyn, Sarona and the other alien, yet there were subtle differences in their body structure...

 

Tez-Mar took a much longer time to recover from the pounding assault, seeing as she lacked antennae guards... But when she had finally recaptured her Gnaz Beasts, she was thoroughly incensed. I could even faintly hear her core churning in a clunky manner, as was typical of any angered or otherwise emotionally-overwhelmed Cefiyaen.

 

"Who are you, and how dare you interrupt the ceremony?!? Disrespect to the Matron Queen, at the highest level possible!"

 

She waved authoritatively at two young drones near the fire, and they unsheathed their claws with a metallic 'shing', then proceeded to attempt to capture the estranged one, trying their best not to slice her frail, gel-like exoskeleton apart with their fleetingly-sharp digits.

 

"Drone Tek-Zem, ask them if they recognize this newcomer." Tez-Mar apparently noticed the similarity between the fresh arrival and our foreign guests as well... I complied, and began translating the Cefiyaen female's request servilely for Faelyn and her companions.

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"Aww, playing hard to get? But I thought you liked that kind of thing," her mouth contorted into a playful snarl. She turned back to Yen, "Guess you have some good stuff, girl. Just don't go after my toy when he finally comes around, and you'll be ok."

I stepped forward, "Leave."

She turned back around to me, a mix between amusement, anger, and surprise etched across her face, "Leave? And where would I go? Why don't you leave? I'm the rightful owner of this body. I was here first." I felt my tail muscles tightening, wanting to strike at her, "Well, well, that's new. Looks like I'll have a toy to play with once I get back."

It was then I realized both of us had three eyes, four ears, and 8 appendages... but only I had a tail. I glanced at Yen and noticed her Psi features were fully seen here- not see through at all. I wondered if Shaed could see them here- even if only as we see them normally.

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Cefiyaen Tunnels- Lennie, Sarona, Tek-Zem, ???, Faelyn

 

I turned around to find I was staring at a female. She had garb on like a Druid; a long light grey flowing robe tight at the chest and waist and free flowing from there to the floor. The hood was up covering most of her face in shadow. The robe was tattered and torn at the bottom and on the free flowing ends of the sleeves. She must have come on a long journey. She held a quarterstaff and from her stance at the moment, knew how to use it. I had seen Druids on my home planet Charon 5 while tracking.

 

"Tek, she looks like a Druid, a holy person, very religious. We should find out why she's here. Druids are known to be peace seeking individuals."

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Cefiyaen tunnels - Faelyn, Sarona, Tek-Zem, Lennie, Riven Silver

 

My stance was battle-ready just in case the ant creatures came too close. They seemed to be trying to decide how to go about capturing me without slicing me to ribbons. Quarterstaff in my right hand I very slowly raised my left to let my hood drop back and my stark white hair fall to my waist.

 

Noticing the chaotic disruption my sneeze seemed to have caused I looked around for someone even remotely familiar to whom I could address a direct appeal. In front of me not too far away were several human-looking individuals. Maybe one of them could speak my language. "I am Riven Silver, a druid and a trader, who comes in peace seeking to trade goods and possibly services. Please forgive the intrusion and my ignorance. It was not my intention to show disrespect, to offend, or to disrupt the ceremony which seems to have been taking place." I waited; watching to see the reaction of my words.

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Wanderer viewing room (dream state) - Yen, Shaed, Runner

 

Yen pulled back from the Other’s touch and nearly hissed at the strange woman with Runner’s features, her mental ears flipped back, laying flat against her hair, and she could feel her claws extending automatically. The womans’ mind was pure evil, ………..and before Yen’s eyes she shifted attire and had Shaed in her embrace, as he tried to make her release him,Yen could feel him consider what would happen if he killed her, and she silently shook her head behind the stranger’s back, lip syncing ‘don’t kill her’, and then thought ‘let Runner control her’, even though she felt like finding out how effective her new found claws would be across the woman’s throat…..

 

then there was Runner, strangely appearing to argue with herself about who she is....

and who owned her body...

 

Yen was thoroughly confused, there was no similarity mentally between the two, but physicaly they were exactly alike, except for Runner's mental tail. She looked at Shaed, trying to guess what else he was thinking.

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Wanderer Starship Viewing Room (dream state) - Shaed, Yen, Runner, 'The Other'

 

Seems Yen don't want me ta think 'bout killin' Runner#2. Does that mean it'll hurt Runner? Can't imagine what else it'd be. The black hearted chit standin' in front of me could snuff all'v us if she suddenly took Runner's body without our knowin'. One little trip down ta the mainenance bay fer the diamond gun is all it'd take. Caught off guard, there'd be no way ta avoid the perfect accuracy and speed of her shots. Game Over. I, for one, had no problem cuttin' down a monster like her if it meant protectin' Yen'n Runner.

 

Still, this is Runner's monster, and I ain't gonna risk her neck by not knowin' just what it'd do ta her mind ta try'n kill Runner#2. Hells, in a place like this I ain't even sure I got the strength ta do the job! The others've all grown extra ears'n eyes, and both runners've got extra limbs. Dunno if that makes 'em more powerful here, but I ain't eager ta find out. My tail's lashin'. "Seems ta me we outta do what we came here ta do. This gal can sneer at us all she wants, long as she don't get in the way."

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Wanderer Starship Viewing Room (dream state) - Shaed, Yen, Runner, 'The Other'

 

“I’m sure she can’t leave without breaking the link, and Wanderer would stop her from attacking us” Yen tried to send a thought to Shaed….."She’s Runner’s 2% vampire genetics, killing her might harm Runner….Runner needs to be able to control this part of herself, better let her, this is as good as training us as far as she’s concerned, refusing to let her vampire self take over.”

Yen hated this vampire Runner instinctively, her fairy emotions were quivering, but her cat nature had a desire to pounce, and kill the black-hearted evil bat mind, only her rational personality was keeping her conflicting feelings in control.

 

Odd, she had no fear of the Runner's alter ego in here, in person Yen would be out-matched by either one of them, but mentally....she could still feel Wanderer in the background, and felt sure it was best to let Runner deal with the threat herself.

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Cefiyaen tunnels - Faelyn, Sarona, Tek-Zem, Lennie, Riven Silver

 

The Cefiyaens were all staring at the newcomer now, her chaotic sound-words had attracted their undivided attention. Some edged back slightly at the sound of her garbled syntax, others bent forward ever so slightly, detectable traces of curiosity staining their minds.

 

I requested Faelyn to translate the meaning of the gibberish for me, and she did so shortly after.

 

((I hope you don't mind me doing stuff like this, assuming you translated, it might be controlling your characters, but I guess it speeds things up. So yeah, I might be using it more often... If its ok with everyone of course.))

 

"My female, she appears not to be directly affiliated with our guests, but she is of a similar or maybe even identical species, and her language is also akin to their own... She comes seeking trade opportunities."

 

The portly Tez-Mar considered this strange turn of events for an awkwardly long while, before signing once again.

 

"Very well, she shall be assigned under your charge, drone Tek-Zem. But she too has to pass the Trial of Hardship, and the two others that follow, before she may be permitted to proceed and discuss trading matters. The time is ripe, and the Matron Queen is willing to forgive your transgressions... Cross the sea of flames, pardoned female Druid." I translated the ominous commands to Faelyn gesture-for-gesture, hoping she could, in turn, convey this message to the Druid organism.

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"You won't get to play with it, kewk. This is my body- my space," I felt a surge of anger rush through me and my hands lifted slightly, palms up. Suddenly a bluish plasma-like material shot out of my hands toward the Other. She flew back and almost hit Shaed. "Shaed, Yen, hold hands! Concentrate on opening Shaed's Third!"

The Other stood, "You don't want to kill me, sweetheart. None of us know what that would do to you."

"No, I don't want to kill you. Even if I could- I don't think I would. I want you to suffer. I want you to be locked away in here: mute without arms or legs but far from deaf or blind. A caged beast hardly worth keeping around." A reddish plasma like material shot from her and plowed me back some. My face set and my eyes hardened, "Your little whisperings inside my head have done nothing other than anger me. We share the same temper I think- the same strength in anger at least. But I have something you don't." Both of us sent the plasma like materials at each other.

She cocked her head, all amusement gone from her face, "What's that? Your tail? You're not even using it."

"You harmed my friends- or at least wished them harm. I have more on my side than just self-preservation."

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That's fine with me MW, it does move us along a little faster. Just don't throw a bomb at me and then have me blow up! ;)

 

Cefiyaen tunnels - Faelyn, Sarona, Tek-Zem, Lennie, Riven Silver

 

I watched and listened to Tek-Zem and then faced the female called Riven Silver.

 

"Riven Silver, the female Tez-Mar, has forgiven your intrusion. She says you can trade with them only after you have past three trials. The first being a hardship trial where you have to walk across the molten gems."

 

I turned slightly and pointed to the gem path on the floor. The heat coming from them was getting worse.

 

"My companions, Lennie, Sarona, and I have already walked the gems. If you have any earth magic to cool the gems I suggest you use it. Sarona used her's for Lennie and herself; however, she is spent.

 

The heat from the gems all but wipes you out as you walk even if the gems are cooled. I can translate your choice to Tek-Zem, our guide and companion." I pointed in it's direction.

 

"The female Tez-Mar is already irritated, so it seems. I suggest you be quick about your answer to her."

 

I stood and waited for her answer.

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Wanderer Starship Viewing Room (dream state) - Shaed, Yen, Runner, 'The Other'

 

A friend, fightin' for our lives right in front o' me, and she thinks I can just ignore it!? My muscles tense as I shift my metabolism ta full, readyin' myself ta pounce, when a poignant memory forces it's way ta the top o' my head...

 

The fire streaks in front of me, drawin' a line not ta be crossed. "Well, Shaed? You blame me for striking down that supposed friend of yours. What will you do about it?" I growl at the old man, every muscle in my small 12 year old figure twitchin' with rage. My metabolism jumps on instinct along with my body, but a curtain o' flame throws me back, etchin' burn marks inta my chest'n face. "Oh? Were you really trying to hurt me just now? It seems this lesson will be a painful one for you." I lunge again, ta get blown back again. Over'n over I try, but the old man calmly rebuffs me every time. It goes on like that 'til my strength finally gives out'n I collapse inta a sobbin' heap. The old man shakes his head. "Heart isn't enough in real life, my poor little fool. Unless you have power, you're nothing but a liability to all those you care about. Remember that."

 

Tsk, that old man! A Jhozian body might not show the scars, but he coulda darn well found an easier way ta teach me that one! My body relaxes, my mind feelin' it as only an illusion here in the dream state. Rushin' inta a fight like this'd be stupid without wakin' up what psionics I can first of all, and I know in my head that Runner can take care o' herself. My powerful desire ta help her seems ta be stirrin' somethin', but... I can't quite get a handle on it. My mind stretches out, lookin' for a helpin' hand, and brushes against Yen's. My eyes find hers and I reach out an open palm, needin' her touch both mentally'n physically more than anything else right now.

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Yen felt Shaed's anger flow over her as Runner engaged her alter ego in a strange combat she had never seen before. One of his memories suddenly surfaced, and she felt vividly immersed in it, as though she was there, sharing his pain and frustration, struggling against his instructors' merciless attempt at discipline brought tears to her eyes. The Runner's command was hardly needed...

 

It was wrong. She was at his side almost as quicky as he reached his hand out to her, wrapping her arms around him for a moment, then releasing him to catch his hand. She gazed directly into his mesmerizing feline eyes and as much as she wanted to speak, forced herself to remain silent, trying to reach his mind instead with her own thoughts...

 

"There is no power without Heart, love, you were being lied to, not instructed, Heart is the power source"

 

In case thoughts were not enough, she tried to recall a memory of her own, in the cool light of her cabin, quietly sitting cross legged at the console reading,

"The Nature of Mechanical Conciousness and Philosophy of Ego" a fascinating text discussing the development of sentient machines like Wanderer, nothing like the high tech manuals full of mechanical jargon she usually read, this one

was subversively simple....

 

'lacking typical emotions present in organic lifeforms, the ego is the heart of the machine...'

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"Oh really? And what is that? Those two buffoons? I don't think they'll be doing anything to help you, girl."

"I do have them... but not in the way you think. See- I care about their preservation as well as my own. I have more I'm working for. I can't let them down. I won't. I care about them so I have more power than you ever will."

"I doubt it."

"You can't care about anything other than yourself... and even then you can only care about part." I began walking toward her, pushing back her red.

"What are you saying? That you're a part of me?"

"No. Rather, that I was a part of you. But now, you're just a part of me. Look deep- look at the biology of this. You're maybe 3% of the 40% of our brain that we use consciously. I'm much more than you." She tried to walk toward me but couldn't. "You might argue that I don't care about you- but I do. I pity you. I've seen some of our memories- the ones you've kept hidden. You felt all that, not me. And for that, I pity you. I see how you became this pitiful, wretched creature that you are. And I pity you." I came within touching distance of her. She only had about an inch of her red left- and I pulled her into embrace- feeling the red pulsate into me painfully.

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Yen's disdain for my old man's lesson washes over me, bringin' her thoughts on the subject along with it. Heart's the source o' power? Darn right. But my old man, he knew what he was talkin' 'bout too. Desire is useless without power. At the same time, power won't be born without desire. Heart's the source, power's the means, and the end lies in your desires. I was born a Jhozian, physically far stronger'n most other races, but I'd still be a worthless whelp if I hadn't the heart ta chase after exactly what I wanted from life.

 

Strength from my past. Strength from my heart. Strength from Yen's touch. It swirls like a ragin' torrent in my mind, mergin' and buildin', givin' me the sense that I'm darn close ta somethin' new. My forehead's burnin'. My mind's racin'. Just a little more's all I need...

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Yen watches Shaed, and it seems his third eyelid barely flickered....and something struck her as funny.

 

"You're peeking!" she tickled him, threatening to put her hands in some inappropriate places,

 

then she asked him,

"The question is, what happens when the Irresistable Force meets the Immovable Object?

read my mind for the answer."

 

then mentally,

"The answer is: the Irresistable Force emmanates from the Immovable Object, they are the same thing."

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Cefiyaen tunnels - Faelyn, Sarona, Tek-Zem, Lennie, Riven Silver

 

The female who was translating appeared to be an elf; if her ears were anything to go by. Having named those in her party except herself I mentally searched for something appropriate by which to address her. Ma'am being the only thing I could come up with I began. "Ma'am, I have heard your words and agree to the terms outlined. I will, however, require a few moments to prepare before attempting the first hardship of 'Walking the Gems' as you have named it."

 

Moving slowly, quiet walking as I had been taught not wanting to disturb things further, I approached the elf. "If you would be so kind as to look after my staff and rucksack, it would be appreciated." Handing both to her I approached the gem walkway. Standing before it I turn my head in order to see the tip of one of the elf's ears. There I pinpointed my focus and let the chaotic emotions swirling around the cavern propel me into trance which would allow me to firewalk without harm as people of the greater majority of races had been doing for millennia.

 

Proceeding at a sedate walk I moved over the gems without hesitation nor allowing either foot to linger. Feeling the strength-sapping heat rising around me I knew I would need a revi potion when I reached the end of the gems. Reaching the mid-point I realized this was going to require everything I had to give and a bit more. It was going to make me stretch my limits beyond their current boundaries.

 

Feeling myself beginning to tire, knowing to falter would mean certain destruction, I reached deep within - diving into the divine spark that all living creatures are blessed to possess. I knew the higher power of my understanding would give me the strength to go beyond what I believed I could do. After what seemed like hours, but could not have been more than a few minutes, I came to the end of the gem pathway, stepped off onto the cavern floor, and sank to my knees. The wisps of smoke rising from the hem of my robe which had been only a few inches above the walkway were a testament to the trial I had been through.

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Cefiyaen tunnels - Faelyn, Sarona, Tek-Zem, Lennie, Riven Silver

 

I watched in amazement as Riven crossed the gems. Her robe was even smoking yet she remained steady on her journey down the path. As she got closer to the end she started looking distressed. I wondered how long she would be able to hold out.

 

At last she finished, with robes smoking she sank to her knees. I ran over and scooped her up and walked her back to the others.

 

"Riven, are you okay. I'm Faelyn, an elf. What you did was incredable. I have heard of it but never have seen it done. You are truly quite remarkable."

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