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Charon 5 (official)

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

I almost spit out my coffee when I got a reply back from Yen. It didn't seem like Yen though. Who else could it have been???

 

I stared out of our window deep in thought and called out to Runner... "Runner, Yen contacted me... it doesn't sound like her... she said, 'I don't know how you found out about the little switch, sweetie... But I promise- you will learn to regret it. I assume Runner dreamwalked you? Well... as soon as things are done here- we'll come find you. Don't try to send any more messages to the ship... or I'll come to you sooner...' what does she mean, Runner? Could there be someone else out there that heard? I'm so scared for all of you... what can I do...?

 

Again... I waited...

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With great disdain, I thought, Adrian. I cooled my tone a bit before continuing, He can... intercept signals. He must have been searching for something for Elindra or me. Faelyn... you have to hurry to the wilderness... and go into as few towns as possible. You don't want to leave a breadcrumb trail for him to follow. Get to the black box as quickly as possible. I should have warned you... but... I'm sorry.

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

Adrian? Who was Adrian? It must be either the Vampire or his minion. "We leave at nightfall so we won't be traveling in the heat of the day. The sun is just barely up, I can see shimmers of it's coming. We will make our plans while we wait. It doesn't seem to far from here... maybe two days journey or so if we don't meet up with any of the Hominefs... we will try and stay out of the towns as much as possible... I wish you much luck on defeating the Vampire."

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Nighttime is more dangerous in some aspects... be careful. The vampire- Necunoscot or something like that as he's calling himself now- is dangerous on his own... but no doubt Adrian will come along. Adrian is dangerous on his own as well to those who aren't shielding their minds. Just promise me you'll be careful. Don't let anyone in. I'm in right now because of the dream... so I don't know if you can shield from me. But you must promise to shield from everyone and warn the others. As for our situation on Wanderer... I just hope luck and our minimal amount of skill is enough.

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

I'll warn the others... I know traveling at night is dangerous, however, we seem to have little choice. I will try to block out Adrian. You and I are linked through dream, as you said, so blocking out the others without blocking you should work. I hope everything works out for you all.

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

Finishing up breakfast I went to see what could be done for Lumiana.

 

"Lumiana doesn't seem to be in physical discomfort. Her heart rate is faster than normal and she is running a low grade fever. The deep sleep is what concerns me. I can detect no reason for it. I may be able to bring her around for a little while, but it may not be for long."

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She glanced at the side of her cloak. So it did show... Her hands move to pull it together, to cover it. "It's nothing. There are no scars... those were just shadows from the ripped material. Yes, it would be nice if I could have it repaired..."

She didn't expect the lame lie to be believed, but she had to try something.

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

I was pulled back to reality by Sarona. Those were definitely scars and not shadow. Thinking it over I decided to risk asking her more about them. It was a way to build our trust and on this journey we will definitely have to trust each other.

 

"They don't look like shadow to me, Sarona. They definitely look like scars. I understand if you don't want to talk about it right now, and at the same time, it may help to start the healing process if you do.

 

"I know it's hard to trust... if you do, we can help each other out throughout our journey. There are many things we can learn from each other. The closer we get, the more in tune we are, and the easier it is to watch out for each other. Just something to think about."

 

I paused for a moment.

 

"Do you feel like sharing with me... with us...?"

 

Riven had gone to check on Lumiana, she didn't seem to be coming around. Riven said, "Lumiana doesn't seem to be in physical discomfort. Her heart rate is faster than normal and she is running a low grade fever. The deep sleep is what concerns me. I can detect no reason for it. I may be able to bring her around for a little while, but it may not be for long."

 

That reminded me about the map. "Riven, Runner told me in my nightmare last night, I'll tell you about that in a minute, that the only map to the black box was in Lumiana's mind. We have to try and retrieve it somehow. Do you have any ideas of how to do that?"

 

It seemed we had so much to do before we got on the road. I wondered if we would have enough time.

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I'm sure Yen musta said somethin', but it was blocked outta my hearin' when I gave a "Hells ya!" Ta Runner. Her scent's still all bloody, but I figure she's just as worked up as I am! Besides which, she's the only one tellin' me what I wanna hear right now. "Wanderer, we're headin' out! Prep a couple diamond guns for us and have 'em ready at the door!" Didn't plan on tryin' ta use the thing, but it's best ta have it and not want for it, ya know?

 

"Understood. The equipment will be ready at airlock 2." Pause. "Can you actually use a gun?"

 

"Heh, leave it ta me!" I throw a roguish wink ta Yen'n Runner and make for airlock 2, at the nose o' the ship.

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So she wasn't going to let it go. "I fell." Like the last, it was a lame excuse. No one got scars like that from falling.

Faelyn actually seemed like she wanted to know. Sarona couldn't help worrying it was just curiousity that prompted her to ask... Vulgar curiousity as to how they got there. But her tone, words, and everything else pointed towards she cared... Cared. Strange thought.

That she was only curious existed only in her mind.

She sighed. "I was in a duel that went bad. The person I was facing was really rather powerful... Much older, more experienced than me, and he was angry. I had displeased him." No need to go furthur into that. "We fought, and he got in a lucky shot at the cliff face. I had been too busy to guard myself to have the sense to think about the dangers of falling rock. He shattered it, and the stones tore up my skin as they fell. The man left, believing I was dead, there was no way I could have survived. He was wrong, of course, or I wouldn't be here. That's it."

She had never told anyone before, mostly because of the detail she hadn't mentioned.

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

"Well, Faelyn, you have to understand that I'm just guessing at some of this. Most who would look at Lumiana right now would say she is simply sleeping deeply, but with all the activity in the room this morning she should have awakened by now. Even if she hadn't, my examination of her certainly would have roused her. At any rate, I have saischeirando with me which will awaken her; for how long I cannot say.

 

Lumiana is of the Unica race which is supposedly naturally endowed with psionic abilities. Most helpful in this case would be telepathy. She should be able to transfer the images necessary for this quest. Whoever will accept the transfer must be ready when she awakens and as relaxed as they can be to effect the transfer. I should be able to keep her awake and focused until the transfer is complete."

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Elindra turned from Yen's sight, snarling, "Let's get that garen." Then, mimicking my voice almost perfectly, Elindra swished my Psi tail subconsciously and called over her shoulder, "Will you be joining us, Yen?"

Not waiting for a reply, she made her way to the airlock and took one of the guns, "Shoot at Adrian... I think the vampire is just a ploy. He's slightly wavering. Wanderer, open the door, please."

-----

Adrian heard an airlock door open and hissed, Elindra, what are you doing? Clapping his hands, the decoy vampire disappeared and he appeared a few steps from the opened airlock. He walked into view, palms out in front of him, protected by a shield, "Come, now, be reasonable. We don't want to harm you. We just want to take you back to Jadis. She wants to brief you... find out how you got here and what you've found out about the planet. The little dream was just to make sure you were hostile," His eyes flitted to Elindra, "and it proved you wouldn't be. In fact, it gave us extra incentive not to harm you. What with two pretty girls on board- one of whom having been lost some years back. Jadis would have me strung up and dipped in acid for three years if I harmed any of you." In a much lower, bitter tone, he added, "Wouldn't do to harm her favorite."

 

((fyi, Adrian is very hard to read... or smell in your case. If Shaed smells anything, it will be a false sense of insecurity overlaying an arrogant confidence.))

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Time passed oddly for the mist that had been the vampire Necunoscot de Nedescris. At one point he thought that he had heard Elindra speaking to him: You were right. I got in. I'm trying to get them out of this chunk of metal. You'll stay alive no matter what I have to do... but the worm you call a boy is free meat. Are you alright? but the words were hazy in his mind... or what passed for his mind in this state.

 

He saw himself appear briefly beside that boy-like thing and then disappear again shortly before Elindra...Elindra appeared outside the ship.

 

It was her. She was real this time. He could feel her presence shining through unobstructed this time. It was her, and that, finally was what brought him into sharper focus. The dark mist that floated silently above and around the ship began to coalesce into a black cloud, nearly invisible against the night sky. He was still very weak, and the sunrise was not far off. He must find a safe place to rest.

 

Elindra he called softly, You are here... I see you! I cannot take on form right now. That blasted fireball! And I'm still weak from Jadis' curse. Adrian should die a slow death... will die a slow and infinitely painful death. But you cannot kill him until this curse is lifted! I think he was invovled, and I do not know that Jadis can lift the curse without him.

 

His thoughts trailed off for a moment, distracted by the overpowering rage that swept through him. Only the sight of Elindra kept him sane. He drifted down slowly, quietly, ever so thinly... a tendril of smoke, a waft of fog and as tenderly as a mother might pull a blanket over her sleeping child, he caressed her cheek and wrapped himself around her like an invisible cloak.

 

Help me find a place to rest through the daylight. I think by tomorrow nightfall I should be able to take on form again.

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Do not worry about Jadis's curse, my pet. I taught Adrian how to do it a long time ago... and he Jadis. I had long given up on teaching my arrogant, closed minded, handicapped sister. I can remove the curse... and shield you from it forever... but you must promise not to mess with dealings with my sister. She is mine to ruin. Those dealings include the two imbeciles on this ship. I felt him near me and it was all I could do not to shudder. He was mine and I had finally found him again, To them, I am still the fool impostor. But I will see what I can do. Go inside for now.

"You say you come in peace? Then why did you try to kill us with your spiders? And where has your master gone?"

"The fireball... weakened him. And-" Adrian gulped, he wasn't sure he wanted to admit this to the Jhozian in front of two people who greatly wished for his death- and for good reason... "the Great Empress Jadis has placed a curse on him... he's been- testy."

She raised my eyebrow, "Testy?"

"Yes... he..." Adrian glanced at Shaed's gun, "can you please lower those things?"

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Tsk... turns out he's nothin' but a coward! No fun! I wanted a nice rough brawl! "Sure, whatever makes ya feel comfy, runt." I casually toss my gun back over my shoulder, where my tail catches it and holds it pointed steadily at Adrian. I'm frownin' at it, about ta have a word, but decide now isn't the time ta go arguin' with my tail. Just wouldn't look right in fronta the enemy, ya know?

 

"Lemme ask ya, though. Just what is my standin' with the empire just now? I crashed on this bloody planet, ya know, and I haven't been able ta get offa it. So what am I? MIA? AWOL? DOA? What were your orders regardin' the missin' mercenary, hmmm?" My tail flicks forward with the gun menacingly, makin' my shoulder twitch in irritation. Damn thing's gotten me inta trouble just's often as it's saved me!

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Inside... the word escaped like the faintest whisper of a breath, a shadow of a breeze in the night air. Gently he floated through the smallest cracks in the ship, deeply reluctant to leave his close embrace of Elindra.

 

It was only as he squeezed through one of the overheated air vents, now burned free of spider webs, that he thought clearly enough to be afraid.

 

The ship would be very difficult to leave if Elindra lost control...

 

Still, there was nothing he could do for the moment. He must rest. A cloud of fog settled in the deepest, darkest corner of the ship's air filtration system. It amused him to send his darkest thoughts into the otherwise fresh clean air circulating through the ship. A bit of fear... a hint of distrust... there... If a fog could smile, it would. He settled into a dark sleep and dreamt of blood.

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She felt him leave and relax. Noticing the gun in Shaed's tail, she lowered hers and took his from his tail. Pointing them both down, she looked to Adrian for his answer, "Jadis merely wants to know what happened. We thought locals attacked or something like that. Do not worry... as long as you did not purposefully kill the ship, you will be fine."

"Good. Now, why don't you and your master-" she could almost feel his hackles rise at the word, "go back to the Empress and tell her all is well?"

"She already knows we found you."

Elindra opened her mouth to make a wry comment, but abruptly changed direction, "Why would that matter? I cannot recall ever hearing anything about her setting her concentration on two young traders who were stranded on a desolate planet. And... while I may not be able to remember much of my life... I doubt I was of any importance."

"Trust me, girl, we've been looking for you for years now. You and the old man."

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At Runner's touch my tail arches and whips, smackin' her hand away and keepin' a tight grip on the gun. I throw it an irate glare, "You're ornery today! The heck's the matter with you, anyway!?" It curls slightly, like it's tryin' ta tell me somethin'. I grunt at it, and turn back ta Adrian. "Well, ya found her for sure, even if I dunno anything 'bout this old man ya seem so interested in." I get an idea, but o' course I can't let the runt hear about it. I send it straight to my mouth and flood my mind with all the oh so satisfying positions I wanna get Yen in. "Tell ya what, head on back and we'll be along in just a tick. Ya caused some kinda malfunction in our propulsion systems with all that goo, so we'll need a lil' while ta repair it. I'm an imperial mercenary, doncha know, so ya can count on me ta see to it they come along quietly... right after we're done takin' care o' the engine and the thrusters... and... all that..." I break off, eyes off in fairy land, as one damn sexy pose enters my mind.

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"The Empress Jadis would not approve of that. But we could send people to come get your ship for you and fix it," Adrian put on a falsely sweet smile that seemed perfectly genuine on the surface to anyone who didn't know him.

Elindra turned to Shaed, "What if we don't have a chance against the vampire either way and yet we kill this imbecile... there is no chance Jadis would let us go free after that. He seems to think he can fool us into trusting him. I think we should play along until we know our situation better." Disappointment surged through me... but lust over toned that with my last thought, "Then we can strike at the opportune moment. No battle... just absolute surprise."

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Tchaa! Let Imperial 'mechanics' onboard Wanderer? I ain't that dumb! My eyes flick over ta Runner, wonderin' just a moment how she could think such a bad move could be a good idea... even if we're playin' along, lettin' in the impys can only mean trouble! Oops, back to my slide show of erotic poses... "Hey, that's a great idea! Head on back and round 'em up, we'll get workin' on repairs while you're gone."

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

I listened very intently while Sarona was describing the events around which she had gotten her scars. There seemed to be more that could be told, and at the same time, she had trusted me enough to tell what she did. The rest would come in time, I thought.

 

"That must have been quite traumatic for you and to have survived. You seem to be a walking miracle Sarona. I'm glad you survived through it all. We're the lucky ones to have you along on our journey. Your skills have been invaluable to us so far and I'm sure they will continue to be."

 

Riven had finished examining Lumiana and saying she could bring her around for a short while. The exchange would have to be made quickly. I had enough going on in my head trying to block out Adrian so I didn't think it was safe for me to stick the map inside my head and have to keep it in my minds eye. That would give Adrian a way to track us and we didn't need that now or ever. We needed Sarona to take over the map of the volcano for Lumiana.

 

While Riven told of the procedure to transfer the map I was watching Sarona to see her reaction. This was going to be a hard sell, I could tell. So, may as well pitch her the best deal I had.

 

"Sarona, we need you to be the one to carry the map. Now, before you say no, let me tell you why it has to be you.

 

"I had a really bad nightmare last night and Runner was in it. However she wasn't asleep. I can't explain it any better than that.

 

"I have been in contact with Runner and tried to warn the ship of danger from another entity that has taken over her body. That message was blocked by Adrian, a minion of the vampire that's tracking them, and he has threatened to track us down and kill us.

 

"I have got to try and block him out while still keeping contact with Runner. That is difficult enough without having to bring forth a map of our whereabouts. I would have to block the map from Adrian while trying to see it myself. I don't think it will be possible must less prudent.

 

"Sarona, we 'really' need you to carry this map for us. It is our only hope for getting the black box and back to Wanderer and then to Charon 5 without Adrian finding out our location. Will you do this for us?"

 

I set myself up to wait patiently for her answer.

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Adrian began to grow weary of his facade and the Jhozian's antics, "What I mean is that you come with us- as esteemed guests- and we send someone back to fix your ship and bring it to you. I can't leave here without you." His eyes flickered to Elindra before his gaze moved to the ship, sensing Yen, "Or at least some of you. There's... Yen? Correct? And you two... correct? Well, I wouldn't feel right leaving either of you girls here... and Jadis would hardly hesitate to kill me if she heard I found you and left you to possible death-"

"I can take care of myself." In Elindra's emotional falter, I gained some ground- not much... but a little. We joined voices, "If I am so important... how can I be sure I will be taken care of? I have been lost after all."

Adrian blinked, noticing the subtle changed, "You are one of Jadis's few loved ones. Your name... I assume you do not remember it... was Elindra. You were great and powerful. More so than your- than her. She was always jealous, yes... but you were more than unwilling to take hold of the throne. You were never one for ruling things. You wished more to be in the field... so she was safe and she never tried to touch you. She has very little ability herself. She- that is why fool innocents are being taken all the time. They have some magic... and so they must be taken care of- leashed in her eyes- before they become dangerous."

His monologue aroused something in both of us- for Elindra, it was his cool admittance that she was below Jadis in a way- and for me, it was his arid indifference to the treatment of people like my friends. And yet... "And what about you, Adrian? You have ability obviously. What does she see you as?"

We both knew it as a cold stab... but he deserved it. He deserved more. Through thin lips and gritted teeth came his icy response, "A pet. And nothing more. A trifle... a dog to do her bidding. Same as the vampire you so wrongly have called my master. He is now called Necunoscot because of her... and to a greater degree because of me... and you. But neither of us are pets or toys unless we choose to seem so."

"Send word to her. We will not leave here."

"Necunoscot will die."

I lost what little control I had, "If she truly finds him a toy, I doubt she would kill him."

"She has placed a curse on him. One you created as a child, Elindra."

"My name now is Runner. Elindra is... suppressed as memory. No more."

Adrian raised his eyebrow, "I doubt she would be so easy to suppress... and you do not strike me as strong."

"Perhaps we should test it then? My strength?"

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Well, now, that's some interestin' info on that Lindy, ya? She's Jadis' loved one? Like a cousin or sister or somethin'? Heh, how'dya like that? "Well I dunno about all the rest of it, but in case ya haven't noticed our ship's sentient! She's a friend of ours, and I'll be damned if we leave her all alone here in the desert. You wanna tell me she'll be fine? Ok, then clearly we'll be fine waitin' along with her. Now scoot on back to round up your mechs... unless you're really lookin' forward ta that nice friendly test o' Runner's abilities." I nod ta Runner, since Adrian only seems ta know her as Elindra. "Might be interestin'! Mebbe I'll join in too, ya know?" My voice's pretty friendly, but my eyes sure as heck aren't.

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Adrian glanced between them, "Only mental. This isn't a fight... it's a test."

Elindra's word came out like syrup, "Of course."

He lowered his shield and four eyes opened- two Psi,

"Then let the game begin."

Prove yourself worthy of this body. If you start to fail... I will take back over. Suddenly, I was given back main control. I realized there were some new... "toys" as she phrased them which she probably didn't know how to use. I closed my eyes for a second, weaving a mental net. The strings were thin but sharp. Even when I opened my eyes, I couldn't see the Psi net. Satisfied, I unleashed my first attack. Adrian was struck with stinging sensations all over his body. I expected to hit him... or to miss completely. What I didn't expect was for him to like it. Laughing, he sent feelings of love at me... feelings toward him. They didn't stick... but they hit, "Not in your dreams, garen."

A wave of green Psi acid flushed toward him. It hit him and he screamed. This burned him. Boils could be faintly seen on his Psi features. Rage welling up inside him, he went for a major attack... but one that would require him getting near me.

Not seeing the net, he walked through and fell to the ground. His mind had been horribly wounded... and Adrian was almost entirely Psi energy. Elindra inwardly sneered and took over again, "I believe we can take the little pest inside now. He shouldn't have been stupid enough to fall for a Psi net."

Perhaps you are stronger than I thought... together we could do much.

Good or bad?

I suppose it would depend on who had the more commanding personality. Right now, that appears to be me.

I'm split. You were never split. You were whole in here... I am stronger, Elindra. You make one wrong move... and you're gone.

We shall see, swift one. We shall see.

She broke off contact and pushed me back. Across the planet, I opened to Faelyn, I gained some ground today, Fae. They finally encountered Adrian. She had me fight him. I didn't kill him... but I greatly wounded him. We might have a chance. And I learned something too. I'm stronger than Elindra. Stronger than she ever was... and I'm split now. If I were whole again... this would be no problem. I have to join with her. We have to become one again... and hope that my personality is stronger as well as my ability.

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Jho (city of Jermann) - Faelyn, Sarona, Lumiana, Riven Silver

 

Runner... she's okay... thank the heavens above. I put up a mental image of beautiful full green trees, a running stream, the bluest of blue sky and risked sending to her. I directed my thoughts towards her including the image hoping that if any of it got picked up by Adrian he would see the image also... throwing him off track. "Hey Runner... good job! Be careful. The switch is happening today. Take care." I held the mental image in my mind in case it was traced back to me by him. It calmed me and set me at peace.

 

Sarona seemed to be deep in thought... I hope she sees how important she is to our journey.

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