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Post Info TOPIC: Liandri Tournament

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Liandri Tournament

In 2291, in an attempt to control violence among deep space miners, the Liandri Mining Corporation legalised no-holds-barred fighting in a series of leagues and bloody public exhibitions.  For years the fights' popularity grew with their brutality, but the to-the-death nature of the events deterred many skilled fighters from competing.

Until now.

Nanowhite - a chemical synthesised from the life-giving Nali healing fruit of Na Pali and combined with the reanimating properties of captured Necris nanoblack to produce a gaseous elixer capable of cheating death itself.  Saturating the atmospheres of Liandri's arenas, nanowhite captures the life force of slain combatants at the moment of death, recondensing it into a fresh clone body created by energy-matter converters and allowing the fighters to kill, die and respawn to kill again.

The leagues could now be expanded to an unprecedented level, featuring ever more spectacular shows of death and mayhem with no long-term risk to the combatants.  With the nanowhite leagues promising to become their most profitable enterprise, Liandri announced an unparalleled competition to be broadcast throughout the sector - hundreds of deadly fighters organised for the first time to compete in a Grand Tournament.
The annual event is now entering its third year, and Liandri have promised that this years games will be expanded to never-before-seen levels of individual and team warfare.

Do you have what it takes to win the Liandri Tournament?

Marcus Fantom watched without interest as the advert faded from the bar's holo-screen and the opening chimes of the Hyperwave News Network's hourly broadcast carried over the general noise of conversation and chinking glasses.

"This is HNN..."

He sipped his drink and surveyed the holo-screen from beneath the unruly mass of dark hair that fell nearly over his right eye where it had been brushed haphazardly sideways across his forehead.

"Cross-border warfare continues in the Gryphon system between corporate and Necris forces..."

Marcus continued to watch until he was satisfied that the newscaster wasn't going to mention him.  That was the seventh day running so, thank God, it looked like they'd finally dropped him out of the spotlight - a position he most definitely didn't want to be in.

He sighed, leaning back in his chair.  He hadn't asked for it.  He hadn't asked for any of it.  Four years marooned on Na Pali and, as he often thought bitterly, he'd have been better staying there.  The Company had come and pulled him back out of there, but they couldn't take away the memories, couldn't nullify the horror, couldn't bring back the ones who had died.

*   *   *

A younger Marcus Fantom, with shorter hair and a face less weather-beaten and careworn, tapped a key on his data pad to save the entry then stowed it inside a pocket of his blue uniform as the doors of the Inuit Science Vessel Kran's observation lounge slid open in front of him with a quiet hiss.  A number of other off-duty crewmembers were present; talking, eating or getting information from one of the flatscreen computer consoles fixed into the walls.

He walked over to a dispenser on one wall, took a pyrex glass and a small cylindrical laser stylus from a compartment at the side and pressed a button.  The dispenser obligingly dropped a yellow gel cube into his glass and he moved to join a group of junior officers sitting round a metal table next to the transparisteel window, outside which star-lines flashed by against the black backdrop of space. 
They looked up as he approached.

"What took you so long to get off your shift?" a young woman with dark red hair tied back in a short ponytail and the fringe brushed to either side of her face asked him, her slight British accent betraying her origins on the New Anglian Confederation colony of Mar Sara.  She arranged her delicate features into a mock pout until Marcus leaned over the back of her chair and she tilted her head back so he could kiss her.

"Ah you know, usual boring engineer stuff." he grinned as he sat down in the empty chair next to her.  She was a young medical officer whom he had met on Mar Sara shortly before they had both been posted on ISV Kran, and her name was Luthienne Thrace.

"Not while I'm eating please, you two." grinned executive officer Keith Dallas from across the table, running a hand through his short, gel-spiked hair and pretending to look out the window.

"Ah, just ignore Keith - he's only upset because he had to leave his latest boyfriend back on Caprica when shore leave ended."

This was from Tamika Carter, an Alpha Centauri-born human who had the blue Centaurian tattoo around her right eye to prove it, and the XO grinned back at her good-naturedly as she spoke.

"Yeah, damn the Company." he returned the joke.

'The Company' was Inuit corporation, the exploration and research corporation that they all worked for and that owned the Kran.

"You know though, Chris hasn't been answering my calls.  I think the bastard's ignoring me."

"Could just be the tarydium field around Gryphon IV screwing up the long-range comms." suggested Tom Reynor, a long-time friend of Luthienne's who sat on Marcus' other side.

Tarydium was the whole reason that ISV Kran had been dispatched to the Gryphon system in the first place.  Inuit corporation was investing big time in research into this rare new substance, which could be refined into super-strong crystals to made excellent superconductors valuable enough to justify the significant costs of tracking it down and the significant hazards associated with its radioactive nature when energised and its volatile by-products.  Atmosheric scans showed that the fourth planet of the system was saturated with the stuff a potential goldmine of a substance which on a galactic scale was rarer than dilithium.  It was true that the special properties of tarydium also played havoc with conventional sensors, meaning that they couldn't get any clear readings of the planet's surface.  In fact, it had been the sensor blackspot that extended for some distance around that had led the Kran there in the first place, hoping that the sensor void was due to tarydium.  It was conceivable that the same tarydium field was interfering with the ship's long-range communications, even if they did operate on a different wavelength to the scanners.  Marcus thought little of it.

He shrugged,
and liquefied the gel cube in his glass with his laser stylus.  He didn't think much of that either.  Its 2295, he thought as he sipped the reconstituted fruit juice, and they still can't do much better for starship fare than they could two hundred years ago.

"Yeah, maybe," he said, "We must be getting close, we're due to reach standard orbit round the planet round about..."

His PDA beeped.

"Now," he finished with a wry smile as he answered, "Engineering."

He frowned as he listened.

"What's up?" Tom asked.  Then other officers' PDAs started bleeping, and the warning siren that rang out across the deck a second later confirmed his suspicions.

"Tarydium field's much stronger here and it's mucking up the scopes.  We're practically flying blind so they're putting everyone on duty and going to yellow alert just in case." Marcus explained,

"Come on, let's get moving..."

*   *   *

Marcus laughed bitterly to himself as the news report from Na Pali continued.  The thing was, he had actually had a purpose there.  In spite of everything, on Na Pali his life had still had meaning.  He watched angrily as the newscaster continued to talk about the "corporate skirmishes" in the Gryphon system and on Na Pali itself - a battle here, the names of a few dead Company mercenaries there - no mention at all of the natives who were being casually shunted aside, caught in the crossfire between humans and Necris in the struggle for the planet's natural resources - tarydium energy crystals.

And, he thought cynically, extract of Na Palian healing fruit for Liandri's nanowhite technology.  For their grand tournament, set up to channel aggression and keep the colonists servile and content.  To distract them from the constant struggle of eking out a living on the fringes of known space, where the New Earth Government barely existed and the corporations' words were law, and where people had to resort to blood sports as an outlet for their harsh existence.  That was the pinnacle of human civilization at the close of the 23rd century?

Marcus pushed back his chair, and it scraped loudly against the grimy stone floor.  Unable to go back to Na Pali, he had come to the backwater planet of Archeron to get as far away as possible from this brand of civilization and from the corporate media who tried to hail him as some sort of returning hero for surviving four years on Na Pali under Necris domination.  They seemed to have forgotten him quickly enough though, which only proved his point that the whole thing was a hollow publicity stunt.  Of course, by refusing to go back to work for Inuit science and research corporation and losing himself on Archeron, he had left himself at a loose end and out of work.  The rut he had been stuck in since leaving Na Pali was growing - as was his tab at the local bar.

He made his way to the door, his eyes hurting in the harsh sunlight of Archerons small yellow sun after the dim illumination of the pub's flickering lights.  Another patron was making his unsteady way out as Marcus left, and he bumped into Marcus as they reached the door.  The drunk growled, then squinted up at the taller Marcus.

"Wait a minute, arent you that guy who...?"

Marcus pushed past him and strode away with quick, purposeful steps before recognition had time to filter through the drunk's alcohol-slowed brain.  Damn - looked like he hadn't quite dropped out of memory yet.  As far as Marcus was concerned, the faster he could fade into the background the better.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Fenix at 16:45, 2007-10-26


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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Diego crouched behind the fallen debris pressing his back against the cold stone, above him bullets roared past as two armed men fired at him mercilesly, he wiped the thin treakle of blood on his forehead.

"Come on Gail, don't let me down," he said to himself, a shot rang out in the distance promting a smile on Diego face, "headshot," he said to himself as the firing ceased, one of the men ceased firing to watch his team mate take a bullet in the head and fall back his body vanishing as it hit the floor. "Now Snowva!" Diego shouted. Suddenly a great man burst out from cover catching the man completely offguard he punched forward with a mighty fist strength by knuckledusters the mans was thrown back and landed hard barely conscious, Diego sprang out of cover and finished him off with a barrage of bullets.

"five more kills to go guys, we are dominating, think they only got 2 kills," Diego laughed. The great man merely smiled when suddenly more bullet roared towards the pair, charging at them came three more opponents one the man recently shot by Gail eager for revenge.

"Damn, we should of relocated," Diego said to himself.

"You were too busy gloating," Snowva said in a deep voice.

"No worries I'm prepared for this, you know what to do," Diego ducked back into cover while Snowva ran to other cover, ignoring the bullets heading towards him, taking minor wounds which he merely shrugged off. The Three men approached there location looking for there targets. Snowva once again burst out of cover hauling a minigun, the spin of the barrel alerted them and they quickly dived for cover as the minigun let loose a punishing barrage of bullets which tore apart debris.

Elsewhere Gail scanned the battle field from her postion perched on top a tall building.

"There you are!" A female voice roared ascending the stairs, Gail sprang up and turned towards a voice a young women aimed her gun angerly at her, Gail merely smiled and the young women froze as she felt a gun press against her back then open fire the bullets tear through her body, behind the smoking barrel Mander smiled.

"Have we not won yet?" he said stroking his white beard.

"Not yet, you might want to go back up Snowva and Diego,"

"Damn kids if they had they're heads out the clouds we would have won by now, this team is nothing but savages, I've seen better team work and skill from the beast of Geoearth," Gail smiled at Mander's critizim. "Wheres Cleet?"

"Monitoring the enemy movements,"

"That boy needs to get more involved in the battles instead of working in the shad...," Mander suddenly paused and fixed his gaze behind Gail, he withdrew his pistols and ran past Gail leaping in the hair off the building, through the air he drew his sword and raised it high while coming down with a beastly roar, below the building an enemy who thought he was sneaking by undected looked up in shock as Mander came down upon his bastard sword piercing through his chest.

Snowva continued to keep the enemies in cover with an endless barrage of bullets, while Diego lay in cover waiting.

"Cleet better hurry up," he said getting ready to spring to action the minute he arrived. Suddenly Snowva's barrel stopped moving and he froze expecting his bullets to last longer, "****," Diego paniced and sprang from cover ready to support his friend, Snowva ducked as the enemy opened fire Diego provided as much support as possible with his pistols. Blake smiled, his come back had finally started.

"You shouldn't let your guard down so quickly," someone said from behind Blake, the three turned round slowly, slowly floating towards them came Shock-Core, behind it in the shadows a thin man pushed up his glasses with a slight smile. Blake was quick to move but his allies instead raised there weapons. "Shock-Combo," Cleet said firing his shock rifel, the bolt colliding with the Shock Core creating a devestating explosion, the men were devestated by the blast, Blake to who was not quick enough to escape the blast was thrown away, Cleet smiled when suddenly a piece of debris cracked his glasses.

"Damn it," he said to himself discarding his glasses and producing a new pair out his clothes.

"Nice!" Diego shouted at his friend approaching Cleet, "This game is in the bag, snowva are you alrite?"

Snowva emerged from his cover slightly wounded but still smiling, suddenly he froze as a granade landed at his feet explouding nearly instantly enguffing the great man.

"Bastard!" Cleet yelled

emerging from cover Blake fired upon Cleet the short range shot thrown him back, he turned to fire at Diego but Diego was gone.

"Hiding? Is that all you are good for?" Blake taunted.

"I can do more," Diego said sneaking up on Blake and pressing his gun against his back, but Blake was fast he quickly spun round striking Diego across the face with his Flak cannon, Diego stumbled to the side nearly spinning round 180, Blake leveled his gun but Diego quickly kicked the gun upwards and out his hands angered he jumped at Diego but missed miserably.

"You guys really do suck, I don't think we ever beat a team this bad before," Diego laughed angering Blake further, he drew a long combat knife and stabbed at Diego, who easily side stepped and pressed his gun against Blakes head.

"I think we win,"


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The pale sun of Archeron was bright but weak in the sickly yellow sky and Marcus Fantom pulled up the collar of his overcoat as he walked, the wind blowing dust and rubbish from the street in small whirlpools round his feet.  He wound his way through the dull-grey prefabricated buildings, noting cynically as he passed that most of the advertising video screens were also proclaiming the imminent Grand Tournament and that several building walls and battered billboards were covered with still-frame posters advertising the same.  One of these faded posters, one corner torn where it hung pinned to the wall of an alley he had just turned down, caught his attention though.

A gaunt humanoid face was glaring out of the picture at him, one side of it in shadow for dramatic effect.  Its skin was chalk-white, stretched so tight over the bones of its skull that a tracery of black veins was just visible at the edges of its face.  Jet-black hair hung lankly across its forehead and cheeks in further contrast to its albino skin.  To either side of the menacing central figure were several other half-silhouetted faces, their eyes glowing an unnatural flat white with no visible irises or pupils.  Their names were printed in gothic script below, and above, next to the stylised "L" logo of Liandri corporation, a title banner read "The Twilight Wraiths".

Marcus stared in disbelief.  Necris.  They had teams of Necris in the Tournament?  The text below named the central figure as team leader Azaziel, a Phayder assassin who had apparently killed the entire crew of a Freeman class cruiser before being captured by Liandri and drafted into the Tournament.

Marcus had seen real Necris with his own eyes, and he knew what they were capable of.  He found it quite believable that this Azaziel had slaughtered his way through an entire starship crew.  Looking at the poster, he reflected that the sinister picture still did little justice to the real thing.

*   *   * 

Marcus felt the first impact as a shuddering of the deck that caused him to stagger against the bulkhead.  He flailed for balance as alert klaxons began to screech.

"What the hell was that!?" one of his engineering team shouted over the wailing sirens, moments before a second, much closer explosion rocked the engine room.

Had the engine room been fitted with the same transparisteel windows as the observation deck, Marcus and the others might have seen the attacking ship bearing down on them - so close now that it would have been visible to the naked eye as a glittering speck where reflected light from the great blue disc of Gryphon IV scintillated off its dark metal hull.  It was curving around the planet, taking advantage of the ISV Kran's blinded sensors to sweep round in what no-one who saw it could have mistaken for anything but an attack run.  Not that it would have made any difference.

White lights flickered along the dagger-shaped hull of the newcomer, laser weaponry silently flashing pulses of deadly energy towards the Kran.  With no air to ionise, the laser bolts were invisible as they slashed through space, but their effects could be seen all too clearly as they tore crimson explosions from the Kran's hull.  Without time to raise its deflector shields and without any defensive armament to speak of, the Kran tried to take the only course of action open to it and flee.  But their antagonist was far more agile and kept the Kran in its sights even as the human vessel fired up emergency thrusters and swung round, bleeding fire from several hits.  Weapons fire continued to wink in a steady stream from the attacker, and the Kran's streamlined hull was first battered and then pierced by the relentless barrage, hull plates ripping off and flung spiralling through space trailing streams of fire and frozen atmosphere.  Secondary explosions rippled along the hull, sending walls of flame spurting from the seams of ruptured hull plates.  An engine core ruptured, sending an explosion billowed out from the ship's starboard flank.  It faded in eerie silence as the void swallowed the blaze, and the Kran heeled over towards Gryphon IV as damaged engines could no longer fight the planet's gravitational pull.  The ship veered, tumbled, then corkscrewed prow-first into the blue haze of the planet's atmosphere, the intense friction causing the hull to glow and burn while the buffeting slipstream stripped yet more components from the ship's hull.  The Kran plunged headfirst into the planet, its wrecked hull shedding metal plates, plumes of debris, and broken, frozen bodies.

The attacking ship banked elegantly and turned after the crashing ISV Kran in an attempt to finish what it had started, but the tarydium-saturated atmosphere was scrambling its sensors almost as effectively as its victim's and it was forced to pull up sharply as it lost sight of its target, decelerating and, for a brief moment, hanging suspended in space as the Kran disappeared into the atmosphere below like a falling star.

If anyone on the Kran had been able to see it, in that brief second where their attacker hovered almost motionless above them, they might have recognised the dagger-like silhouette of a Necris raider.

The Necris were a mysterious alien race, biologically almost identical to humans, but set apart by their technology to reincarnate the dead using a chemical called nanoblack.  Beings who had undergone the nanoblack process were easily recognised as the procedure turned their skin albino and their eyes a glowing white.  They also had black blood as the nanoblack replaced the normal components of their bloodstream - life-giving to them, but poisonous to any really living creature.  At some time in the past the entire Necris race had gone through this sinister transformation and became the Necris that humans knew and feared today.  The nanoblack process reanimated its hosts with strength and speed well above that which they possessed in life but at the cost of their mind, with side effects ranging from amnesia to psychosis.  Whatever they had been before, the Necris were now a sadistic and cruel race, who upon first contact had declared a kind of terrorist war against Earth, forefronted by the guild of master assassins known as the Phayders.  The ISV Kran had just become their latest victim.

*   *   * 

The Necris were at war with humanity, had killed countless humans in merciless terror raids, and had condemned Marcus himself to four years of struggle and terror on Na Pali.  And here they were, all of these things casually forgotten, being worshipped like celebrities because of their ability to entertain by killing in the Tournament?

Angrily, Marcus seized one corner of the poster and tore it in half.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Fenix at 11:02, 2007-10-29


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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The crowd roared for the victorius Nature's Deadilest walking down the red carpet Diego stood several feet from his team his hands held high waving to the fans. Behind him Mander shook his head, Cleet walking next to him a cigarette burning in his mouth. "You'd think he had won the whole tornament," Cleet said sarcastically to Mander.

"Lighten up Cleet," Diego said turning to his friend, "they ain't just shouting for me," Diego put his arm around Cleet's neck friendly half getting him a head lock, straightening up Cleet cooly pushed up his glasses the crowd loving his cool exterior and with a casual smile raised his hand.

"He acts all cool but deep down he's just as much as a kid as Diego," Gail said to Snowva before getting distacted by fans calling her name and declaring there love, with a nervous smile and laugh Gail waved. "You don't look too excited Snowva,"

"I am," Snowva said turning to her.

"Then smile," she teased nudging the great man, "You don't have to look tough when you've won,"

"I am smiling," Snowva said in his deep blank voice, Snowva's mouth looked emotionless but his eyes said it all, Gail could see the happiness in the kind giants eyes through his wild wavey brown hair.


The loud screaming fans behind him Diego returned to his ship much later after his team in the hanger, a great converted transport ship over the years of ownership Diego and his crew had suited there ship for each members individual needs, the **** pit and large cargo hold remained untouched, the rest made more homely, the ship included a up to date medical bay, seperate rooms for every crew member, cooking facilities and even a make shift den where the crew spend most of there time when landed it is not only a form of transport but the crew's home. Outside the ship is kitted out to hold its own in combat, and painted on the side was the word 'Haven' the name of the ship named after a planet which Nature's deadilest owe much too and the only place other than there ship they would call home.

Outside the ship Diego was welcomed with bangs and sparks under the ship.

"Hunny I'm home!" Diego called out towards the ship the bangs and sparks haulting, emerging from under the ship came a female figure dressed in a blue boiler suit and black cap, slowly she pulled back the cap removing it her hair collapsing down, gently she pushed back her hair behind her ears.

"So I see, what took you so long getting back?"

"Had to collect my winning," Diego said smiling waving a handfull of cash.

"Betting again? Diego if you keep pushing it one day you'll lose,"

"Not as long as it's a sure thing, what you say up for a drink tonight Alex? We need to celebrate after todays victory,"

"We? I hope in we you are including the rest of the crew,"

"Possibly, unless you want a private drink, just the two of us,"

"And do your kind of celebrating I surpose?"

"You never know what could happen eh?"

"We both know what could happen,"

"Nothing wrong with that,"

"I never said anything was wrong with it,"

"What are you guys talking about?" A young voice interupted suddenly, Diego sprang to attention.

"G-Gina!? What are you doing here?"

"What do you think Diego, I'm teaching her," Alex laughed

"Is he sleezing again Ally like you said?"

"Yep Diego is what we like to call a Sleez, avoid that kind of man they are pretty low,"

"Harsh..." Diego said to himself, "Your giving a 12 year old advice on men?"

"Nope just for warning her for when she's older, you can go inside now Gina where done for the day,"

"Okay," Gina said joyfully before entering the ship.

"I'm a sleez then?" Diego smiled, Alex returned the smile and started walking towards the airship.

"I'm away for a shower,"

"I'll be there in two minutes, you can scrub my legs,"




Mander lay on the table of the white medical bay, a beautiful young women with long blond hair wrapping a bandage round his ankle.

"Seriously what where you doing jumping off a building? At your age? Geo or not Mander you are getting abit old for that kind of stuff,"

"I've jumped from heights twice that to get the jump on a wild beast,"

"Just take it easy ok? Nurse! Oh Nurse!" At the other end of the room Cleet poked his head out of a medical book.

"I'm not your nurse,"

"Whatever Nurse, could you pass me the tape?"



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Diego burst into the Haven waving his newly won cash proudly.

"Good work today guys, I say we all go out and celebrate," Diego called out getting the crews attention. Mander stood up sternly.

"Good work? Indeed you won but your performance was still poor,"

"Thats abit harsh," Cleet said lighting up his cigarette, "We won and with only four kills against us,"

"They could have been prevented, Cleet your growing too comfortable in the shadows getting the jump and fighting from a distance, instead of going out I'm going to have you train hard in close combat and spring some muscles back into those skinny arms," A thin trail of sweat came down Cleets head.

"I've always been this build," he said to himself.

"And get that hair cut how can one fight with that length of hair,"

"I like my hair..."

"Snowva! Your aim is off and your too clumsy, you failed to get a single good hit with your gun, you too will go through my training routien until you drop,"

Heather smiled uncomfortably, "Don't push them that far please,"

"Gail, I had to come to your rescue today remember? You have that whip why don't you use it?"

Gail sighed "I thought I would be able to get out of training,"

"And Diego, you will spend the rest of the day and night sparring with Gina,"

"What!? With Gina?!" Gina stepped out from behind Mander her karate gi on, she smiled at Diego.

"If you insist of acting like a child you will be treated as one, until you start acting like an adult a real warrior you will be sparring with Gina,"

"How can I fight a 12 year old?" Diego sighed.

"Don't you think you are being abit too hard on them?" Alex who had kept quiet finally stepped in.

"This tournament is yet to fully get under way, if we truely want to win then you will have to work harder, at your ages I was fighting wild beasts! In fact that might not be a bad idea, when we finally get permission to leave I'm taking you all to Geo for some real intense training, that includes you Heather and Alex,"

"Why us!" the girls protested. Mander who was too distracted with going on about his past failed to notice Diego slip out the ship.

"Ok then everyone down to the cargo hold lets get started," Mander turned to see Diego was gone, "Where that boy go?"

"He just left," Alex said with a nervous smile.

"Smart man..." Cleet said to himself he then turned to Snowva, "Lets follow his example...Ok Mander lets get started, but first I have to get food for tonight, Snowva could you give me a hand?"

"Ofcouse," Snowva and Cleet made haste out the ship.

"Wait!" Mander called out.

"Heather I cut myself while working today think it might be infected could you have a look at it?"

"Sounds serious, hurry to the medical bay, Gail could you lend me hand incase she collapses,"

"It does sound serious sorry Mander training will have to wait," It didn't the crew long to fully leave the ship leaving behind Mander and Gina.

"Damn kids..."


Safely away from the ship Diego took a deep sigh of relief, "Looks like I just got out of that one, don't think I could survive another round of Mander's training. Diego smiled to himself when suddenly his path was barred by a couple of Liandri Angels, his smile soon turned into a serious face he knew exactly what they wanted and without a word he followed.

The Liandri Angels led Diego into an empty room before shutting him in, before him stood a large blank screen, the screen then flickered, appearing on the screen came a dark figure of a man his entire face shadowed out.

"Good work today Diego, your display got the crowds attention but I'm sick of your parading Liandri sponsered teams have a reputation for being to the best skilled at brutality, killing machines you were raised and breed for this purpose,"

"I think your tournament is as brutal as it could get,"

"Don't speak back to me Diego, I own you, I own your team, if I say step up your game abit, I mean it, understand?" Diego clenched his fist, "Unclench that fist," Diego ignored orders, "Diego... visited Haven much lately?" Diego froze and slowly unclenched his fist.

"I understand,"

"Excellent, enjoy your night," with that the screen went blank again.

"Scum..." Diego said to himself, "Like I'll really follow your orders." Diego was about to leave when suddenly the screen went on again, appearing this time came a young man, his face chubby.


"Jerry, hows it going?"

"I tapped into that conversation, don't worry Haven is still safe, even my father isn't that stupid, he needs Haven to keep you on tight leash"


"Just hold on a little my friend, soon we'll get him,"

"soon eh? Have found his location yet?"

"No, I can't seem to trace him or track him down,"

"Some father eh? won't even tell his kid where he is,"

"Well I'm not actually his favourite child, but I have information on my brother, seems he will be around during this tournament,"

"Really now?"

"Yeh that means Releana will also be around,"

"Any idea why they will be around?"

"By the looks of it Ross will be the one co-ordinating the tournament,"

"So anything will be reported to him directly,"

"And straight to my father,"

"This limits our freedom even more, heh Best be on my best behaviour then?"

"You will have to be paitent for abit longer Diego, I'm still searching for more Liandri secrets but my privilages are low,"

"When we make you owner you'll have all,"

"But by the way things are going that will be awhile, I'm just getting info on the likes of the Liandri 7, info is very little however, they may be a threat to us,"

"What do you know?"

"That theirs 7, and they report to my father directly,"

"Hence the name,"

"I've got more to go through with you Diego but I'm running too great a risk comunicating this way, I'll have to go," The screen went blank once again and Diego left the room.



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(occ Quick explanation before you read.The < > when Alitans are talking means they are talking in their language, it would be very unlikely to find someone other then Alitans that know this tongue.Also, the reason that Lunes trousers are a quarter length is because of the shape of digigrade legs.Ill find a picture to explain.Or you could accept that long trousers wouldnt really work on them :p loleither way.Also, their space shipthink romulan kinda design, ya know, star trek? :p)

Lune paced the corridor, a cool breeze from the vents ruffled her fur and she took a deep breath, she was standing outside the door, the door leading to the cabinet meeting which she had asked to speak at.

The Serelian wore her uniform, a black jacket and quarter length trousers with red stitching.The insignia of her tribe was printed beside her name on her chest.Three stripes sat on her shoulder marking her at Commander Rank.

<Battleclaw.> A raccoon Solstice in feral form walked up beside her with a bag on his back.

<"Ravinal.> Lune nodded to him then turned back to the door paying as little attention to him.

<Theres a rumour that your team is going to enter the Liandri Tournament.> He sat down, waiting his turn to go before the Cabinet, she recognised his fur markings, he was a major in another team.

<What of it?> Lune looked down at him.

Before he could answer the door in front of them opened, <Battleclaw, the cabinet with hear from you now.> A voice from somewhere in the room echoed out.

<Good luck.> The Ravinal spoke as Lune disappeared into the room.


Three years on

<Lune, we have an incoming transmission, from Liandri> Minqua, the spangled cat leaned back in her chair and turned to her Serelian commander who was piloting the ship.

Lune let out an exaggerated sigh at her co-pilots words, <Put it on screen.> Minqua pressed some buttons and the middle of her view screen became a picture of a human in an expensive looking business suit.

"Lune, wonderful to see you again." The man smiled, Minqua narrowed her eyes at the humans lack of respect.

"What cant wait until we arrive?"Lune glanced at him and then back to the black expanse she guided her ship through.

"Ah, yes, I thought it would be best to inform you before you left Alita that your sponsor has withdrawn, youre not allowed to enter the tournament."

<THEY WHAT?!  WE'RE ALREADY HALF WAY THERE!> Minqua hissed practically jumping out her chair, the Liandri man looked at the cat suspiciously.

"Are you going to tell us why?"

"Indeed, all Alitan teams are bad for ratings; youre too arrogant you see.With your, 'humans are inferior attitude.'They just dont want that kind of publicity; it wouldnt be good for business."

<We organised their sponsoring three years ago, why now, of all the times, have they changed their minds?> Minqua muttered.

<It was to be expected, humans are stupid.> Lune replied quietly."Is there any way for us to get back into the tournament? " She addressed the man again.

"They said they would sponsor you again if you accepted at least one human into our team for the tournament." He waved a hand dismissively.

<A human would get in the way; they cant even run very fast.> Minqua complained.

<Then wed just have to use it as a meat shield, weve worked too hard to let this stop us winning the tournament!> Minqua stopped and looked back at her controls while Lune continued talking with the man."Tell our sponsor we will have a human before the first matches."

"Excellent!" He clapped his hands together.

"Have you got any suggestions for a human worthy of my team?"

With the transmission finished Minqua opened an internal channel. Koda, Lunes twin, was sitting beside Seneca who was sprawled out sleeping on a chair while Aino, the tigress, sat opposite reading a book, a human book, <Humans have very strange imaginations.> She commented to Nokoni who was starting to doze off in the chair next to her.

<Everyone, were going to Acheron to find some humans.> Lunes voice appeared over the intercom.

Everyone looked up at each other with puzzled expressions, except Seneca who was dead to the world.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 15:43, 2007-10-31

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 15:46, 2007-10-31


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<ooc - Ah yes, the Romulans...without a doubt my favourite race in Star Trek :D  Probably coz they've got so much in common with the Eldar XD>

Back now in the dim coolness of his flat, Marcus leaned tiredly up against the doorframe of the spartan living room and gazed blankly at the dreary grey walls.  A chirp from a cage on the corner table greeted him as he entered, and he looked up and made his way over to lift the latch and let out the small green creature inside.
"Hello Kiwi," he said as it hopped onto his hand.  Kiwi was a member of a species native to Gryphon IV - or Na Pali as Marcus knew the planets correct name to be - which the crash survivors had nicknamed the Nali Rabbit.  Although, when Luthienne had found one hopping about in the breached loading bay she had thought it resembled nothing so much as a kiwi bird from old Earth, hence the creature's name.  Kiwi was a strange little alien, with soft, dark green skin resembling a snake's, bright blue eyes and no forelimbs but a pair of strong back legs on which she loped effortlessly over Na Pali's grasslands.

Kiwi ki-kee'd happily as Marcus scratched her behind her short, pointed ears and carried her over to the sofa and sat down, deep in thought.  Kiwi was a reminder of the brief quiet time theyd had on Na Pali before the nightmare had started.  She had also been Luthienne's pet and was Marcus' last reminder of her - the Inuit soldiers had given her to Marcus after she had stuck beside her mistress even when they brought them aboard the rescue ship, right before...

Don't think about that, Marcus told himself sternly.
It was difficult though.  Four years it may have been, but the memories hadn't faded.  He still remembered Tom, and Tamika, and Keith, whom he had only found out afterwards had been killed in the unprovoked Necris attack, incinerated as deck 4 turned to fire around him.  Marcus wondered if Inuit had ever managed to track down Chris on Caprica and tell him what had happened to his lover, and suspected not.
He remembered Mikael Leatham, the ISV Kran's captain, who had almost single-handedly held the survivors together in the three months following the crash.  Almost a quarter of the Kran's crew had died in the initial attack, and even more when the ship had been slammed mercilessly into the rocky terrain of Na Pali, driving a blazing trench several miles long through one of its smaller mountain ranges.  Mikael Leatham had led the unpleasant task of burying their comrades, and leading the survivors in exploring the surrounding area and scavenging what they could from the Kran.  The Kran's engines were badly damaged and the hull breached in too many places for taking off again to be an option, and the scrambling effects of local tarydium deposits made the chances of a rescue beacon being picked up slim, but on the plus side the Kran was still stable enough to use as a shelter, and the Necris who had attacked them had obviously assumed the Kran had come apart in the atmosphere and had broken off their pursuit.
The crash survivors had found the local area to be abundant with edible plant life, including the remarkable Healing Fruit that the science team couldn't fathom even after weeks of study, and had used the still-operational mech suits to begin excavating the surrounding rock of the trench, discovering rich tarydium deposits.  Marcus and Luthienne had joined Tamika in the deck 1 science lab several weeks after the crash to inspect their latest work.
"So what you got for us Tami?" he had asked, leaning nonchalantly against the railing of the lab's other deck and looking down at the cordoned-off floor below.  It was dominated by a rig supporting a long, flat-barrelled rail gun surrounded by a protective force field.  At its centre was a long shard of refined tarydium, glowing a dull blue.
"I think we've made a breakthrough with the Atomic Shock Matter Disruptor." Tamika replied, pushing a flyaway strand of her blonde hair back behind her ear as she spoke.

"I thought you couldnt get the ASMD to work without it blowing itself to hell in the process?"

"We found out we can use a tarydium crystal in the focus mechanism to safely channel the beam.  It's strong enough to withstand the compressed energy release."

She looked over to chief science officer Kira Argmanov, who tapped a key on the control board in front of her and all four were forced to shield their eyes as a blue lance of energy seared out from the barrel of the ASMD rig, leaving a vapour trail of blue rings in its wake and sending sparks flying from the circular force-field target at the other end of the lab.


"We should have a man-portable version ready pretty soon."

"Why dont you stick some tarydium crystals in the main drives and see if it gets them working enough to get us off this rock?"

Tamika laughed ironically, "Yeah, if only..."

Those, Marcus thought looking back, had been the good times.  But then, three months after the crash, one of their explorer teams had gone missing, and mere hours later captain Leatham had called the senior officers to his ready room with grave news.  Mikael Leatham was a tall black man, just over 40 years old with a deep commanding voice but an easy-going attitude that made him more of a friend than a captain.  His face was solemn now though as he addressed his crew.

"Before we lost contact with our team, they sent out a garbled transmission from which we could make out two phrases - 'under attack' and 'Phayders'."

"Oh ****." breathed Ivan Romanov, the ship's dockmaster.

"It seems the Necris weren't just passing by on a random raid.  They're on the planet itself."

"They're after the tarydium as well then." Marcus growled.

"Probably.  And now they know we're here, they'll not want anyone finding out about their presence on the planet."

It had been only hours later that the proximity alarms the crew had set up at the edges of the trench started screaming.  Numbly, Marcus and the other crewmembers had grabbed the long, flattened cylinders of the experimental ASMDs from their racks in the science lab and rushed to defend deck 4 and the docking bay that provided the main point of entry to the Kran.  Others seized automags from the weapons lockers, while some even armed themselves with mining tools converted to fire a machine-gun stream of tarydium shards, making use of every weapon they could find.
But the Inuit personnel were not soldiers.  The hull was breached in too many places and they were no match for the Necris Phayders that swarmed the ship, armed with strange energy weapons and blades poisoned with their own nanoblack blood.  Marcus had seen them for the first time when they burst from the ventilation ducts into engineering, black flashes against the gunmetal grey of the engine room, leaping across consoles and the engine rigs with preternatural speed and killing as they went.
Marcus spun round as behind him engineer Dawson was blown apart in an explosion of plasma, burning chunks of his body thumping into the walls and floor.  He swore in horror and saw, impossibly, a Necris Phayder in a black bodyglove jump to plant a foot on the protruding railing of the upper level and push off to somersault halfway across the engine room, flipping through a hail of energy bolts and tarydium shards.  A blade flashed down and Espin's head went spinning away across the floor.
Everywhere was chaos.  The lights were failing in several sections as the Phayders deliberately knocked out the power systems.  The female Phayders known as Blademaidens ran up walls and sprinted halfway across the ceilings, dodging all return fire and hurling nanoblack-coated knives as fast as bullets to thunk into throats and stomachs.  Phayders leapt from wall to wall, their glowing white eyes the last thing their targets saw before they got close enough to strike out with their swords and glaives.
Tamika and several of the other scientists were trapped in the deck 2 hub as the power failure caused the doors to jam.  Suddenly a Necris Phayder materialized from the shadows, milky eyes glowing in a corpse-white face.  Danalov froze in horror, but Tami raised her automag and fired, spitting bullets towards that horrible, death-pale face.  A flash of silver like a tiny sliver of lightning arced across the room, and suddenly a long bright blade was stuck quivering in the choking Danalov's chest, having severed both gun and hand from Tami's wrist along the way.  Tami was still staring in shock at the bleeding stump where her hand had been as an energy blast vaporized her midriff.
The two remaining crewmen finally acted, their Stingers spattering tarydium shards across the room, but the Phayder had read their movements flawlessly and he twisted through the air like a gymnast, the shots slicing through the air inches from his skin as he pulled his glaive from Danalov's corpse in midleap.  A second later and both humans were dead, cut in two down through the shoulder.  They slid apart and fell in a welter of blood.
With decks 3 and 4 overrun, the order was given to evacuate the ship.  Luthienne was running in blind panic towards the docking bay and the main way off the ship, but skidded to a halt as blood-soaked horror came into view through the bay doors ahead.  The floor was awash with blood, bodies strewn everywhere, and in the centre slumped up against a crate of spare parts was Tom Reynor, his Inuit uniform stained red.  He was clutching a bleeding wound on his chest and as Luthienne stared in horror, he gasped two words at her.


A dark shape dropped from above to land between the two and suddenly Luthienne found herself staring into the unblinking, flat-white eyes of a Necris Blademaiden.  She froze helplessly under that unforgiving stare, but suddenly there was a shout from behind her.  Marcus came charging up the corridor, his eyes wild and his face spattered with blood.  He slammed a fist against the door control, and the Blademaiden snarled but her thrown sword spanged harmlessly off the other side of the thick metal bay doors as they hissed shut.  He seized Luthienne's hand and she unfroze, screaming hysterically.
"Tom's still in there!" she yelled at him, but there was nothing either of them could do.
Somehow he had dragged the sobbing Luthienne through the ship towards deck 1 and the bridge, lights flickering on and off erratically as power systems were damaged, the sounds of weapons fire and humans dying echoing horribly through the walls.  When they reached the bridge only captain Leatham was there, his face grim, an ASMD in his hands.  The barrel was glowing from repeated firing, the bleed vents hissing as they tried to stop the compressed energy core of the weapons magazine overheating.

"Get to the teleporters, now!" he ordered them, "The ship's lost and we've got to make a run for it.  Some others have already gone on ahead."

"We have to wait..." Marcus gasped, cradling Luthienne in his arms, both their breathing fast and shallow, "There might be others still trying to get up here."

Mikael Leatham fixed him with an intense stare.

"You're the last.  Decks 2 to 4 are gone, and all I'm getting over the radio from the rest of deck 1 is screaming.  No-one else is coming."

"This can't be happening..." Marcus gasped, and began limping towards the teleporter array behind the bridge.  He turned back when the captain didnt follow.

"Once you're gone I'm going to fry the system and stop the Ghosts following you." he said before Marcus had a chance to speak, "At least that way you'll have a chance."

Marcus stared into the captain's eyes for a long moment, then Leatham shouted "GO!" and he helped Luthienne towards the teleporters.
Leatham watched the brief flash of green light as they disappeared, then raised his ASMD and fired a bolt of blue energy into the teleporter control console, shredding the array in a hail of sparks.
"Come on then you Ghost bastards!" he hissed, pivoting and training his weapon on the force-fielded entrance to the bridge.
Suddenly the deck shuddered, followed a moment later by all the lights going out.  The force-field went with it, its comforting hum fading.  The ship's computer, surreally calm, cut through the silence.

"Main battery power, offline."

There was the tiniest whisper of movement, followed by a menacing snarl.  Leatham's ASMD strobed in the dark once, twice, its blue light illuminating a wiry black shape as it darted across the room.
Then a cry of agony pierced the darkness.

 *   *   * 

Back in his flat Marcus closed his eyes tight, as if he could will the memories away.  Only he and Kiwi were left now.  Tami was gone, and Keith, and Tom, and Leatham...
Captain Leatham.  Friend Leatham.  He gritted his teeth.

Dead Leatham.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Fenix at 14:00, 2007-11-01


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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(occ - sure? lol hahaha)

It took the Battleclaw team three days travel before the planet Acheron was in sight.Luckily it was a smooth, uninterrupted trip there but everyone was bored.Lune had gotten Koda and the others to research the humans the Liandri had recommended, there werent many, and they quickly narrowed it down even further until there were only four that they thought were worth looking for.

Between them all they split into groups of two and each team was assigned a human to find, then if they all came up useless, they would find the last one together.

"Unidentified ship, this is Satin, Acherons intergalactic space hub.Please state your captain and ships name."A female voice requested.

"Satin, this is Commander Lune Battleclaw, captain of the Raitin, ship code Alpha, Zulu, eight, five, niner, requesting permission to dock."Lune rolled her eyes at her long winded reply, <"Why do humans have to over complicate everything?"> Lune joked.

"Permission granted; dock forty-seven is being prepared for your ship now. I hope you enjoy your stay on Acheron."


It was nearing the end of the day when the three teams re-met at the Raitin, all empty handed, <"Our human was grossly over weight, he was completely useless">Minqua complained.

<"His file must have been very out of date."> Nokoni who was paired with her muttered.

<"At least yours was alive, we found ours shot dead in an alley."> Seneca and Aino laughed, <"These humans are such pathetic creatures.">

<""Ours was also unavailable."> Koda sighed.

<"The last one, the backup, what was his name again?"> Minqua looked to Aino.

<"Marcus?I think thats how you pronounce it.">

<"Lets go, even if hes useless well take him any-"> Lunes ears folded back and she hissed as a small human child behind her grabbed a hold of her tail and pulled.

"Miss, your costume is really cool."The little girl smiled innocently.

Everyone looked around behind Lune and cringed, Lune herself turned around, claws extended, as the girl let go, "Be gone, you hideous little brat!" Lune hissed.

The child ran away screaming for her mother who was close by.Lune and the women shot angry looks at each other, "Stay away from them, they arent like us."

<"What annoying little kits they have here."> Seneca yawned and stretched, <"Lets go and get this Marcus guy, Im bored.">

<"Yes, lets."> Lune agreed, retracting her claws.


<"This planet is a dump."> Nokoni commented.

<"It smells like pollution and alcohol"> Aino added her dislike to the commentary that had been going on for most of the day.

<"This is it."> Lune from the front announced as they came to a door.

<"I can tell hes going to be useless already."> Seneca muttered, looking at the worn down complex of flats.


Marcus looked up as he heard a heavy knocking on the door, Kiwi squeaked from her hutch. "Go away." He muttered to himself but the knocking just came again and again until he got up and went to the door.

Opening it a little bit he looked through the gap and thought his heart stopped, standing outside his door were six very tall creatures, he looked them up and down but couldnt think of anything to say. Styx, the moon was high in the sky behind them, giving the Alitans an eerie glow.

"Marcus Fantom?" Lune standing at the front asked.

"Yes?" He answered, he didnt like the look of their uniforms, they looked like something they would issue in the military.

"I am Commander Lune of the Battleclaw Tribe." She rose her right paw to her left shoulder.

Marcus who had opened the door properly now, mimicked the act, thinking that it might offend them if he didnt. A slight smile appeared on Lunes face, she wouldnt admit it but she was slightly impressed that he saluted.

"We would like a word with you, may we enter? " Marcus looked at each other them one by one. The tallest one would likely hit his head off the door frame.


-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 14:43, 2007-11-02


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Posts: 1565

Trying not to let his confusion show, Marcus led the six aliens inside and offered them a seat.  They declined.  Upon closer inspection, Marcus hazarded a guess that the newcomers were Alitan - the mammalian fur and facial features were a dead giveaway - though he had forgotten the distinctions between the planet's two sentient species, Serellian and Solstice.  Although he had occasionally seen holo-pics of them, Marcus had never actually met an Alitan before.  This was hardly surprising as the Alitans were known to be an isolationist species - while not overtly warlike towards humanity like the Necris were, as a general rule they shunned contact with humans except when necessary.  This casual disdain of humans in general, and those who couldn't fight in particular, had earned them the distrust (if not the hostility) of most human planets in the fringe territories.  It had also earned the feline Serellian the moniker "cats" - arrogant and solitary - as well as a variety of less polite nicknames for both them and their Solstice counterparts.  Marcus couldn't think why a team of these aloof aliens would seek him out.
"So how can I help you?" Marcus asked warily, his attention directed towards the tall, catlike alien who had addressed him first, the one who had introduced itself as Lune.  It appeared to have some sort of authority over the others, and - although Marcus was not an expert on Alitan physiology - seemed to be female.
"We're here to make you an offer, Marcus Fantom," Lune replied in fluent, if heavily-accented, English.
"What kind of an offer?" Marcus said, his tone neutral.

"We're representing the Alitan military in your Tournament.  We were looking for an extra member for our team."

Marcus' eyes hardened noticeably, though his voice remained calm.

"Why come here?  Why not another Alitan?  A professional?"

"Certain complications mean that we cannot enter the Tournament without at least one human team-member."

"You'll forgive me commander, but how is that my problem?"

The largest Alitan, the heavily-built Solstice with dark grey fur and a lupine face, drew himself up to his considerable height and growled.  Lune's ears pricked up, and she turned and hissed something to the lupine in her native tongue.

"You may not be a professional, Marcus Fantom, but we have been digging around your company datalinks and we know something of your exploits on Gryphon IV."

"Na Pali."

Lune ****ed her head, "Excuse me?"

"The planet's name is Na Pali."

"On Na Pali," Lune acquiesced, though the way her tail was switching back and forth made it clear she did not want to be corrected again, "You survived there for 4 years, on a planet infested with Necris.  You must have learned how to kill.  We're offering you the chance to use your talents to achieve eternal glory."

Marcus nodded to himself.  It made sense - the Alitans were a proud people, with a strong martial tradition within their various clans.  Such a reward would no doubt appeal to them.  Accordingly, he phrased his answer as politely as possible.

"With all due respect commander, as a soldier yourself you must know that there's nothing glorious about killing.  Besides, I wasn't fighting the Necris alone - no-one could do that.  I had a lot of help from the Nali."

Lune's protruding, catlike face somehow conveyed a confused frown, "The who?"

Marcus found himself almost laughing at the bitter irony.  The corporations had no respect for the Nali - why should they have mentioned these inconsequential primitives in his datalinks file?  But without the Nali, Marcus couldn't have survived.


*   *   *
Marcus and Luthienne had rematerialised in a deep, winding gorge the other side of the crash site.  Protruding over the sheer cliff behind them was the prow of the crippled ISV Kran, its dark hull gaunt and silent against the night sky - a complete contrast to the chaos raging inside.  Inside, Marcus knew the last of their crewmates were dying to give them a chance to escape.  Looking ahead, Marcus couldn't see any other survivors.  There were several branching passes that twisted away in different directions and Marcus picked one at random, knowing that they had no time to wait.  Pulling Luthienne by the hand he ran as fast as he could away from the Kran, the wind howling around him and adding to the roar of his heartbeat in his ears.  Somehow Luthienne had kept hold of Kiwi in their flight and the little alien was kicking and screaming in a terror that mirrored the silent panic of her owners.
Stumbling over rocks and slipping down gullies, they didn't stop until exhaustion overwhelmed terror and their legs gave out under them, so that they both collapsed on a bed of strange alien moss by the edge of a mountain stream.  Marcus pulled himself up onto his elbows and immediately retched, vomiting into the purple-laced green bracken at the water's edge.  He splashed water on his face, clearing his mind a little, and forced his breathing and heartbeat down to a less frantic pace.  He looked up and saw Luthienne hugging her knees with her back to a rock, wide eyes staring blankly into space.  She was in shock, her face ashen and her breathing fast and shallow.
"Jesus, they're all dead..." she kept whispering.
Kiwi had slipped out of Luthienne's hands, and was now sitting stock still and shivering next to her owner.
Marcus knelt down beside them and pulled off his uniform jacket, wrapping it round Luthienne's shoulders to keep her warm and cradling her unresisting body.
"Its's okay..." he kept saying, as much for his own benefit as Luthienne's.  He had to keep a clear head now.  They had to survive.
After a drink and a short rest under an alien sky, untouched by cloud or the light pollution common to most human planets to reveal strange new constellations, they continued running for most of the night, putting as much distance between them and the Kran as they could until fatigue and the biting cold forced them to stop again and sleep in a sheltered cave.  Their rest was fitful, their dreams tortured, and every now and then they would be jolted awake by screaming jets and the double-axehead profile of a Necris aircraft would sweep past overhead, a darker black against the star-studded firmament.  The Necris were indeed on the planet in force, and they were on the lookout for survivors.
The next day had dawned bright and clear, a small yellow sun not unlike Marcus' home planet of Chiron's rising in the sky and putting the stars to flight.  Gravity was a little higher than earth standard and as a result the atmosphere seemed slightly oppressive.  Still overwhelmed by the night before, Marcus and Luthienne were unable to think of much to say that morning.  Without anything to do but keep moving, they ignored their hunger and fatigue and headed out, though this time stealth took precedence over speed.
With no clear idea where they were going, they wandered aimlessly as the strange sounds of an alien morning rose up around them.  Small unseen creatures clicked and whistled and called to each other, causing Kiwi's ears to prick up.  Of other humans there were no signs, and neither Marcus nor Luthienne had a communicator or thought it wise to call out when there might be Necris scouts nearby.
"Don't move!" a voice suddenly shouted from above, in perfectly spoken but strangely-enunciated English.
Marcus and Luthienne's heads snapped up in unison and they saw someone standing on a rock only a few metres ahead, having just dropped silently down over the edge of the gully.  Their hearts had jumped into their mouths when the newcomer spoke, but it was no Necris.  It stood taller than a human, its tan-coloured skin marked with dark red tattoos that swirled across its arms, chest and legs.  Its hairless head was dominated by a flat nose and deeply set yellow eyes.  They glowed slightly, but there was no malice in them.  The alien had four wiry arms, two of which it was using to hold itself steady against the rocky wall of the gully.
"Don't move!" it repeated, and Marcus saw that it was now not looking at the two of them, but past them.  He looked round and saw something silver drop into the trench.  It hovered about a metre above the ground, coiling ominously.

"Its one of the Sky Demons' hunter-seekers," the alien hissed in a low-pitch, not quite human voice, "It will kill you, instantly, but its vision is limited and it can only target movement.  Stay very still."

There was something commanding in the alien's voice and Marcus and Luthienne froze.  The hunter-seeker drifted closer, sidewinding through the air with a soft humming noise.  Its body was made of glittering black metal, ribbed sections flexing easily as the small machine slid through the air.  Marcus could tell instantly that it was a Necris construction.  It came straight towards Marcus but he did as the four-armed alien said and stayed perfectly still, and the hunter-seeker flew right past him, flicking its tail to propel itself sideways round his head.  It coiled towards the alien, hovering menacingly less than a foot in front of its face.  Marcus' heart was pounding in his ears, he heard Luthienne stifle a sob as her eyes began to water in fear, but the alien stared unblinkingly back at the hunter-seeker, its nerve holding as it stared down the Necris robot now hovering just inches from its right eye.

"I must not fear," Marcus heard it whisper, "For fear is the mind-killer.  I will face my fear.  I will let it pass through me.  And when the fear is gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain."

Slowly, the hunter-seeker backed off, twisting around to head out of the trench.And then, as it was drifting past Marcus, something moved.They had forgotten Kiwi.  The hunter-seeker whipped round like a snake as the small green rabbit hopped down into the gully.  Its sinuous body immediately stiffened to form a long thin spear, a blade extending from its head as it shot towards Kiwi.  Marcus' hand shot out as the hunter-seeker darted past him, closing his fist around its body.  The metal monster twisted and thrashed, trying to strike at his hand with the blade on its head as he smashed it against the wall of the trench.  Its head crumpled but he slammed it into the rock again, sparks flying.  Eventually the thing went limp and Marcus dropped it, the hunter-seeker twitching and spasming as it bled sparks and black fluid onto the ground.
"Quickly, follow me!" the alien shouted.  Luthienne grabbed Kiwi and she and Marcus ran after the alien, grabbing onto its two spare hands as it helped haul them out of the gully, and then they were up and running across the rocky terrain.

"More Sky Demons will come soon, we must hurry."

"Sky demons?" Marcus asked, though he assumed the alien meant Necris.
"Who are you?" Luthienne gasped.

"My name is Myscha.  My race is Nali.  One of the few free Nali - those of us who were not enslaved to mine the tarydium fled to the mountains, where the Sky Demons hunt us still."

"Where did you learn English?" Marcus asked, daring to hope the answer might be other survivors.

"You are not the first of the two-armed soft skins to fall from the sky.  There were others before you, men of Rikers, men of Prometheus...but they are all dead now, killed by the Sky Demons.  We pray that their souls find peace with the water god Chizra, or else with Vandora, goddess of lightning.  But the gods are angry - they cast their minions to the ground in metal chariots borne on wings of fire, in punishment for the sins of my people."

"Prometheus?" Marcus asked, "UMS Prometheus?"

The UMS Prometheus was a starship gone missing in this sector several weeks ago.  The Freeman-class cruiser UMS Bodega Bay was still on patrol looking for it.

"I never saw it myself, but my brothers from Nyleve's Falls say that when the thunderbird was brought down by the Sky Demons, the soft skins that emerged said its name was Prometheus.  Now hurry!"


*   *   *

"I'm sorry commander," Marcus said, "But my answer's no.  Fame and glory don't really appeal to me, and killing in some sort of game to keep the miners entertained definitely doesn't.  You'll have to find someone else."

"We've already looked.  There is no-one else on Acheron even half suitable."

"Then I'm sorry."

Lune and her fellow Alitans exchanged rapid conversation.  A male Serellian with the same fur pattern as Lune nodded.

"Alright Marcus," said Lune, "I'll get straight to the point.  If you're good enough, the Tournament pays well.  You might be good enough, by human standards anyway.  Let's face it, according to your file you're also broke, so you need the money.  Our team sponsor will pay your entrance fee, and if you fight well then you'll be able to clear your debts.  You'll be able to make a fresh start and leave the past behind, instead of rotting away here on this dump of a planet.  You've got nothing to lose by joining us."

Marcus sighed quietly, which Lune took as a yes.


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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(occ - random conversations on the Raitin, and some anatomy of the ship. Yeah i'm bored in class again.)

The Alitans after successfully recruiting Marcus retired back to the Raitin and reported to their sponsor about the situation.

<"We dont have amour that will fit the human."> Aino pulled out one of the spare uniforms that they would be wearing at the tournament.

<"Adjust one as best you can, we can fix it further when we go back to get Marcus tomorrow."> Lune brushed a matt out her tail with her claws.

<"Hes probably half way across the galaxy right now, fleeing like a coward."> Seneca yawned from across the room.

They were all spread out across the room doing various things, Nokoni for one was doing sit ups.There was one door on the north wall which led through to the cokpit, and then several doors on the east wall leading to bedrooms.The lone door on the south wall went to the engine room and finally the door on the west wall went outside.

<"I doubt it."> Minqua having seen Seneca yawn realised how tired she was and yawned as well.

<"He couldnt afford to run away.Besides, I think Nokoni scared him."> Koda added as the final word and everyone went quiet for a minute.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 13:19, 2007-11-09



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Diego waded his way through the knee deep sewer water, boldly he followed the directions he saw in the note left for him Snowva and Cleet following closely behind just as cautious. Was this another one of Liandri's dangerous 'Exams' or has someone really offered the three teenagers freedom, something they hadn't had for over 11 years. Although today they were extemely greatful for the infiltrating skills forced upon them succsesfully invading Liandri corperation and sneaking out undetected.

Eventually the trio came to the end of the tunnel the exit lit up by the moons rays, they stood several miles from the tall building they called home for so long it now a grim tower of black in the distance, the surronding area was barren and empty but for a space ship which stood several yards away.

"What is this about?" Cleet said coming to Diego's side.

"The note says 'we will meet at the tunnels exit' then ends, I guess we wait then,"

"That won't be nessicary my boy, I've been waiting for you," Walking out from behind the ship appeared a familar face.

"Gerald!" Diego said greeting the elderly man.

"I am truely glad to see all three of you made it here, I'm sorry for all the secrecy but I can't risk being discovered,"

"Not a problem gramps, is it true, are we getting set free?"

"Yes Diego, the time is now," A tear came down Geralds cheek "I'm so sorry boys for all we have put you through, the harsh training, living, experiments and modifications, taking you all away from your parents and locking you away in a lab, it pained me to watch every minute of it,"

"Gerald, you don't need to apologise, you are not to blame," Diego said stepping towards him.

"We owe you our sanity, if it wasn't for you and your children bringing those moments of happiness, who knows what we could have become," Cleet said also stepping towards Gerald along with Snowva.

"Thank you," were the only words Snowva could bring out.

"I've watched you all grow up since the age of 5 and it brings me great joy to see what men you have become despite the circumstances, I judge you men at 16, it will be truely a sight to see what adults you can become, if you leave this behind you and get on with the rest of your lives, I have one final gift to you all," Gerald pointed to the spaceship. "The universe," a smile appeared on his face "Live free, discover the true meaning of freedom and the universe will stretch out before your very eyes, let your dreams guild you spirits and fulfill your dreams, I give you all this and ask but one thing," Diego raised his eyebrow, "Please take Gail with you, I am forever bound to Liandri but I don't want that life for her, when I was young I dreamed of seeing the universe but never could, I want her to have the life I couldn't, she is a talented pilot despite only being 18,"

"How could we deniy such a request from you, Gail is our friend we could never leave her behind, what about Releana?"

Gerald's head sank, "I asked her but she refused, she desires wealth as opposed to freedom,"

"And when we say we could never leave a friend behind we mean you to," Cleet smiled offering his hand to Gerald.

"I'm sorry I will have to refuse your offer Cleet, like I said I am forever bound by Liandri, to high up to simply leave, also I must stay with Releana, Gail should be here shortly when she arrives you must leave immediatly,"


Diego awoke on board the Haven he stretched and gave a massive yawn before slowly rising from his chair, the rest of the crew were lounging around the room apart from Cleet who was busy cooking and Mander who was no where in sight.

"Finally awake eh? Don't you sleep enough?" Alex teased.

"Nothing like a nap to clear your head,"

"Your head must do alot of clearing then your always sleeping,"

"That's why his heads so empty," Heather laughed.

"Haha," Diego said sarcasitcally rising from the chair, the sleep had done the complete oppoiste of clearing his head his dream reminding him of his past, four years had passed since Diego escaped Liandri and now once again he finds himself a prisoner under there shadow, he felt he had beterayed Gerald for his kindness and in his memory Diego will find his and his friends freedom once again but this time more than just himself and friends will be free, he vowed to help as many people as he can along the way and grant all freedom.

Diego entered the cargo old or otherwise known as Mander's torture chamber, in the middle Mander trained himself, he paused as he sensed Diego entering the hanger.

"Well Diego, have you finally decided to get off your lazy ass and do some training,"

"This close to a meal time? Now now I don't want to tire myself out as I can't even lift a fork,"

"What a pity...such wasted talent, but now that your in here, you can't escape," suddenly the door slammed shut and locked, Gina standing at it with a cheeky smile.

"Your not seriously going to have me fight Gina?" Diego smiled, his hands slipping into his pockets.

"No Diego," Mander turned to face Diego smiling devilishly, he crouched down in a stance ready to pounce and raised his hands them open the fingers slightly bent as if representing claws, the powerful maritial art of the Geo, the wild man style. "Your opponent is me,"

(Next time Diego and Mander spar plus a little more on the past)


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Marcus looked up at the raptor-prowed profile of the Alitan ship, atmospheric wings sweeping forward from the fuselage like a hovering bird of prey's.  The nose of the vessel was hooked downwards, giving it the appearance of a hawk's beak.  He jogged up the entry ramp, hauling with him a single suitcase which, rather depressingly, contained almost all of his worldly possessions.  Lune had been right - there really wasnt much left for him here on Acheron.
"Mascot?" the Serellian with the same fur pattern as Lune commented.  He was standing at the top of the ramp and seemed to be the only one making an effort to pay Marcus any sort of attention.  He had asked the question because Kiwi was riding on Marcus' shoulder.
"Something like that," Marcus replied evasively, stepping into the ship and allowing the Serellian to show him to an unoccupied cabin on the opposite side of the deck.
"Don't think I've seen that species before," the Serellian nodded towards Kiwi as Marcus set her down on the metal desk next to the cramped bunk-bed and she began chirping happily.

"She's a Na Pali rabbit."

"Souvenir then?" the Alitan grinned.

"No, she belonged to Luthienne."

"And where's Luthienne now?"

Marcus went very quiet.

"Ah.  Sorry.  Anyway, get comfortable, we'll be taking off in a minute and we'll be arriving at the Liandri campus on Elsinore in a few hours.  My name's Koda by the way."

Doubting that Alitans shook hands, Marcus settled for the Alitan salute instead, touching his right fist to his left shoulder.
"You're not related to Lune are you?" Marcus inquired.

Koda grinned, "Twins."

Marcus sat down on the bed as Koda left, leaving the Alitans to go about their business.  He wasn't going to force his company on them given their prevailing attitude - Alitans had a reputation for being disdainful of humans and this lot were doing nothing to dispel the stereotype - they definitely didn't seem to want him there.  But then why should they, he thought.  Still, Koda seemed to be an exception at least.

He laughed wryly, scratching Kiwi behind the ears, "What have I gotten myself into?"


*   *   *
Elsinore was a temperate planet near the centre of the sector, where Liandri headquarters was located and hence where the Tournament was staged.  It was the perfect place for it too - it had a variety of different climates in which to set up arenas and its several large moons provided further exotic environments for nanowhite arenas.  Gravity was slightly lower than earth standard, which was the secret behind making competitors' jumping and dodging feats within the arenas look even more impressive.  The Liandri main campus where all the competitors were barracked, lay at the centre of a sprawling equatorial cityscape whose winking lights were visible even from orbit as the Raitin came in to land.
"Name?" the Liandri computech asked Marcus as several other corporate representatives saw to registering the impatient Alitans.

"Fantom, Marcus A."

Marcus watched impassively as the computech typed in his details, then held still as a retina scanner panned across his left eye.

"Okay Mr Fantom, that's you registered as a member of the Battleclaw team - your team leader will be receiving information about your first qualifier matches shortly.  I just need you to tell me your chosen weapon for the duration of the tournament, so we can organise supplies of the right ammunition and replacement parts."

Marcus held up a battered ASMD shock rifle.  It had been his weapon for most of his time on Na Pali, a solid and reliable weapon in countless skirmishes with the Necris Phayders.  With the help of the Nali, he had returned to the wreck of the Kran several weeks after they had first fled it.  The ship's interior was completely smashed and still reeking of blood, but the only thing the Phayders had taken before moving on were the crates of refined tarydium, having no use for any of the other supplies.  That and the bodies.  All of the murdered crew's bodies were gone - Marcus had never found out what the bastard Ghosts had done with them.  But in the wrecked cargo bays they had found many Stingers and ASMDs still in working condition, as well as plentiful ammo supplies that they carried in secret back to the Nali's mountain hideout.  It had been the beginning of their resistance movement.

"Hmmm," the computech said thoughtfully, examining the flattened cylinder of the weapon's gunmetal-grey barrel, "Haven't seen one of these in a while, an original prototype.  Inuit phased these out two years ago.  Tell you what though, we can provide you with a mark 2.  More refined focus mechanism, more efficient energy compression and multiple fire modes."

He passed a data pad to Marcus, which produced a rotating hologram of the mark 2 ASMD.  Marcus could see similarities in the design, but the newer version was longer and sleeker-looking.
"Alright." Marcus said, nodding to the computech.

"We'll have it delivered to your team weapons locker as soon as possible, I'm sure you'll be wanting to get in at least one practice match before your first qualifier.  Just contact your agent and he'll arrange for some of Liandri's gladiators to be made available to you.  We keep a substantial contingent of them on campus for competitors to practice against.  Okay, and your chosen melee weapon?"

Marcus produced a long-bladed combat knife.  It had also served him well on Na Pali.

"Good God," the computech commented, "I've seen some exotic weapons being entered this year that tarydium?"

Marcus nodded.  The knife's blade was indeed a broad, flattened shard of tarydium crystal that tapered to a wicked edge on both sides.  Tarydium was one of the hardest substances in the known universe, and it had never lost its edge in four years.  Marcus looked at it - the translucent blue blade glittered slightly on the table, refracting the harsh interior light of the Liandri building.  There was a lot of history to this blade.
It had been in one of his first battles against the Necris in the Arajigar mines, during a raid to free the Nali slaves being forced to mine the tarydium there.  They had been detected and all hell had broken loose.  A Necris plasma bolt had blown apart the crystal-studded tunnel wall Marcus had been sheltering against, raining splinters of shattered rock and tarydium everywhere.  Without thinking, Marcus had seized a shard as one of the Phayders leapt at him.  By a miracle, the Ghost had died and he hadn't.  Later, the Nali had fashioned the shard into a knife for him.

"Right, everything seems to be in order, Mr Fantom.  Good luck in the Tournament."


*   *   *
The Battleclaw team's agent turned out to be a native Elsinoran human.  Slender of build from the planet's low gravity, he wore an expensive business suit and greeted way the Alitans in a way they seemed to consider overly-familiar.  He escorted them to a Liandri taxi and drove them through the huge reinforced steel gates of the Liandri tournament campus, which split open down the middle of the huge Liandri logo emblazoned on them and slid apart as they passed through.  Several female soldiers in dark blue combat armour stood on the inside of the gates, M32 combat assault rifles held across their chests.  Liandri Angels - the corporations private mercenary army.

"Competitors must stay within the campus grounds for the duration of the Tournament," the agent explained, glancing briefly back at Lune as he drove up the main campus thoroughfare.  His dark sunglasses reflected the Alitan's impassive face, "But don't worry, the company takes good care of all its fighters."

Lune didn't smile back as he began pointing out buildings as they passed them.

"We've got restaurants, bars, nightclubs, holo-cinemas, training centres with fully equipped gymnasium and pool, holographic shooting galleries for target practice, relaxation suites where you can order, ah, services."

He grinned, "Off the record, of course."

Lune looked disgusted.  Seneca on the other hand pricked up his ears.

"Over there is the security zone where we keep the more...unreasonable competitors.  Please note that competitors are not permitted to carry weapons of any kind outside the arenas - they'll be kept safe for you in the weapons lockers in the arena stadiums in between matches, and as soon as the match ends you must relinquish them before exiting the armoury.  If you attempt to pass through the security gates while still carrying them you'll be immediately put down by automated defence turrets."

"Keeping us on a tight leash, aren't you?" Lune commented dryly.

"Not at all, just standard precautions." the agent replied as he pulled up in front of one of the campus hab complexes, which was guarded by two more Liandri angels, "Okay, this is where you'll be staying, please make yourselves comfortable.  We've arranged for your possessions to be brought up shortly.  These cards will grant you access to the facilities - you also have unlimited access to the training arenas - and this data pad has details of your first qualifier match.  If you need to contact me the number is also there."

The Alitans and Marcus disembarked, and some glanced around the campus while others watched their agent pull away again and head back down the main thoroughfare.  Lune was studying the data slate, and frowning at the holographic relief of their first test arena that it was displaying.

"They expect us to fight in this?" she muttered, "Look at it, it's a deathtrap!  Very little room to maneuver, little cover, loads of opportunities for's going to be a slaughterhouse."

Marcus was leaning up against the hab wall with his arms crossed.
"I think that's the idea." he said.


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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(This will have happened while Marcus was on the Raitin when it was going from Acheron to Elsinoran.  Hehe, random crap.  Aino is the nice one :) lol)

Marcus laid on the bed quietly with his hands behind his head; Kiwi was curled up sleeping at the end of the bed but was awoken when there was a knock on the door.

"Come in?" Marcus spoke, not really expecting guests. The door shifted off to the side and revealed a striped feline.

The Solstice, which Marcus assumed was a Serelian, was carrying a pile of folded up clothes and a small box on top. "I hope Im not disturbing you." She turned the lights up. "Im here to sort out your armour."

"Um, sure, come in." Marcus sat up ad waved a hand, "I dont believe Ive caught your name?"

"Aino of the Nyantooth tribe."

"Ninetooth tribe?" Marcus confirmed, Aino smiled.

"Close enough."


A good while had passed; Marcus now wore the armoured uniform similar to what the Alitans would be wearing in the tournament. As Aino was adjusting it, the pair got carried away in conversation.

Aino explained about the Solstice and Serelian, as well as the traditions and laws. Marcus took it all in quickly, realising that small things in human terms were regarded in a much higher respect with Alitans. Honour and reputation made or ruined tribes.
It was an interesting history, after hearing about Alita; he wasnt surprised at the reason for the team entering the tournament.

"Your world sounds a lot more appealing then any place Ive ever been, it sounds...peaceful."

"It is."

""Youre a lot more open minded then the others arent you, Nyantooth?" Marcus pushed slightly.

Over the time she had been talking with him, Aino had forgotten that he was human; he was a better conversationalist then Seneca at least, she paused, "I suppose I am. Dont worry about the others, they will get used to your presence...Hows that feel?"

Marcus having forgotten about the armour went quiet for a second before realising and nodding, "Good, thanks."

"Well then, Ill leave you with that then. Dont forget it when we reach Elsinoran." She rose and moved to the door, "You can call me Aino, if you want."

Knowing now that it was a privilege to be on first name terms with an Alitan, Marcus smiled, "Thanks."

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 21:20, 2007-11-14



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Diego raised his fist promting a smile on Mander's face.

"Now how long has it been since we last fought Diego?"

"Since we left Geo, 2 years ago,"

"Ah yes I remember, I hope you don't make a fool of yourself again,"

"Very funny old man," Without warning Mander threw himself at Diego, Diego stepped back avoiding the various clawed hand strikes flying around him with swift movements. Mander went for a well aimed strike to the face but by using his palm on the opposite hand Diego gently pushed it aside and with the same hand flicked his arm back striking Mander on the chin with the back of his fist Mander, Diego smiled ****ily when in an instant Mander struck back putting his entire weight behind a clawed strike to Diego's chest causing the young man to skid back before collapsing to his knees trying to get his breath back, but before he could Diego looked up to see a foot come tearing towards him, he froze as it suddenly stopped inches from his nose.

"That's how you fight, once you gain the advantage you don't stop or risk losing it," Diego angerly rose to his feet this time on the offensive Mander smiled standing straight his hands behind his back, Diego threw his fist forward but Mander in one movement got on the inside and slid his foot in front of Diego pushing it back and Diego soon found himself falling over Mander crashing into the ground.

"You lose again Diego," Diego this time leapt to his feet using his legs, but before he could strike Mander was already on the inside of the attack his elbow colliding into Diego's chest causing him to skid back again but this time he stayed on his feet, Mander pressed his hand against Diego's chest a pushed him against the wall, his fist came flying past Diego smacking into the wall slightly denting it. Once again Diego could only freeze in fear.

"This is pathetic Diego, is this all you are capable off,"

The 12 year old Diego rose to his feet unsteadily, blood pouring from his nose and mouth, before him stood an unharmed man his fist smeared with blood. Diego roared and charged at the man but before he could attack a fist smashed into his face nearly knocking out the boy and slamming him onto the ground, but shortly after once again Diego got to his feet, at a window several people in white coats took notes on his performance.

"He's still concious,"

"Impressive and his aggression only seems to increase, won't be long until he can effectivly fight back like Snowva,"

"Perhaps we could start steering him towards Gene Therepy like Snowva's?"

"No, too risky, he has not the build for that and I don't think mixing treatments is wise, we don't know what could happen, we wouldn't want to waste his mind,"

"Then perhaps we could experiment on Snowva, using Cleet's therepy, both require work,"

"Ok and in the meantime increase Diego's modifications, we are on to something with him,"

The tall muscular man turned to the scientists the head one nodding.

"Ok Diego good work today we will continue training on Friday," Diego paid no attention to the mans words and in a blind and uncontrolable rage charged, quickly the man flicked out a syringe and effectivly pinned Diego, but Diego surprised him greatly has he struggled to keep the boy pinned, dropping the syringe he pinned Diego down with two hands a man in a white coat running in picking up the syringe and injecting Diego the boy quickly calmed down and drifted off to sleep.

Back to reality Diego pushed back the unwanted memories but retaining all his knowledge on his marital arts training attack suddenly punching Mander in the stomach throwing him back, he the leapt at him with a flying kick Mander ducking allowing Diego to pass over him, turning round Mander went to counter with his fist, but Diego's foot was already there and stopped inches away from Manders face the middle aged man smiled.

"Excellent Diego, you have improved greatly,"

"There's nothing glamerous about how I can fight," Mander's face suddenly went serious.

"I don't know what you went through in the past Diego but what I do know it you are a highly skilled warrior if you just applied yourself to training instead of goofing off there's no limit to what you can do, its the same for the other two Cleet and Snowva,"

"I'm sorry Mander but I think I'm strong enough,"

"No I'm sorry Diego, I can tell your past wasn't great, I shouldn't pressure you kids so much...but their's nothing wrong with abit of exercise,"

Diego smiled, "Your right, very well, I'll except some of your training just don't give me any of the hard crap, I really can't assed putting in too much effort,"


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"Alright, Marcus." Lune said as they stood on the upper deck of one of the training arenas, separated from the war zone below by a thick window of transparisteel. The arena was carved out of rocks like a small cave system, with a large central tunnel dotted with rows of stalagmites and a tunnel leading to another rocky chamber at each end, all open-topped so that Lune and the others could view the action from above. The entire arena was force-fielded and pressurised so the nanowhite gas could be flooded in and siphoned out easily. "It's time you showed us what you can do. You'll be going one-on-one with Seneca."

One of the Alitans Marcus hadn't yet spoken to stepped forward, narrowing his eyes at the human. He growled something in the Alitan language, and the massively-built lupine Solstice behind him gave an amused grunt. Marcus ground his teeth - Koda and Aino might have been okay with him, but he had yet to impress the rest. He followed Seneca as the wiry Serellian turned on his heel and loped with an easy, feline grace towards the series of metal detectors and security gates that led into the arena antechamber, which contained both the changing rooms and weapons lockers.

Marcus handed his card to the Liandri supervisor, an impassive oriental-looking woman, who swiped it across a machine in front of her so that a wall panel slid open next to Marcus and delivered his promised mark 2 ASMD. He took it from the storage rack and balanced it in his hands, nodding his thanks to the supervisor. He looked over to Seneca, who had retrieved his own chosen weapons from the long rack of guns and was now spinning them in his hands with practiced ease.
"Nice weapons," Marcus commented, hoping to start a conversation. Seneca's twin pistols were indeed finely crafted, and of an unusual Alitan design. Each barrel tapered down into a thin blade that extended from the trigger grip to a good twelve inches beyond the guns muzzle.

Seneca looked at Marcus curiously, hissing something in his native tongue.

"Ah, sorry. You don't speak English, do you?"

"If youre ready gentlemen, please step onto the teleporter pads." said the supervisor, tapping away at her keyboard. There was a loud hissing noise from the pipes overhead, which Marcus assumed was the automated compressors pumping gaseous nanowhite into the arena. Marcus and Seneca stepped on to two circular platforms opposite each other in the next chamber, circles of white lights flashing around the two platforms. Seneca shot Marcus a hostile stare.

"Hold still for a moment please while I scan you into the nanowhite matrix. It'll store a copy of your genetic code and physical form as a reference for when you respawn."

Green bars of light flashed up and down the chamber.

"Thank you gentlemen, you're good to go in"

Marcus' vision whited out and when he rematerialised he was inside the cave arena, standing atop a circular metal platform that pulsed with the subdued afterglow of the teleport. Several more teleporter pads were dotted across the floor. Marcus turned quickly, bringing his new weapon up to eye-level and sweeping a 360-degree arc around him. There was no sign of Seneca, so he cautiously made his way into the central hallway, ASMD still raised. Sliding with surprising ease back into the habits he had necessarily acquired on Na Pali, he flattened himself against the cover of one of the large artificial stalagmites before spinning out and panning the barrel of his weapon around again before proceeding. He strafed around the stalagmites, trying to get as wide a view of the tunnel ahead as possible before continuing.

The cave at the other end appeared deserted too. Marcus ducked under a rocky overhang and slowed his heartbeat, taking his nerves off edge so he could think straighter and make full use of his senses. The apparent disappearance of his opponent was making him uneasy, but he remained alert - the Necris had pulled that trick often enough on Na Pali and Marcus had seen panic get more than one of his Nali companions killed. Calm again, he slipped back out of the overhang, each step carefully placed so as to make as little noise as possible against the rocky floor.

Seneca struck.

He had been crouching on top of the overhang, and now he swung down, twisting gymnastically, his twin gunblades punching forward in a flash of silver. They lanced upward between Marcus' ribs, slamming him back against the rock wall. Red electric pain flared, dragging the breath from Marcus' lungs. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't cry out, he couldn't even think - it was pure freezing agony, cold as the blades in his chest, sharp as their edge. For a single, endless moment, pain filled his universe. The dust that Seneca had kicked up in his landing froze in midair. The silence of the arena became a screaming white wall of noise. Then everything faded - the cave walls, the bright artificial lights - and Seneca looking down at him as he wrenched the gun blades free, spun them around his fingers by the trigger grips and fired twice into Marcus' chest was the last thing he saw as the darkness closed in and obliterated everything.

There was a blinding white flash. Marcus stumbled forward off the teleporter pad, gasping in pain. He took a huge breath, clutched at his chest. He was fine. His flesh, even his clothes were undamaged - only his mind was reeling as his heart beat a violent tattoo against the inside of his ribs. He blinked rapidly to clear the coloured blobs dancing before his eyes, and saw his ASMD appear on the ground in front of him in a crackling storm of light. He picked it up and regained his composure, spinning the gun up into his shoulder as he strafed behind the cover of the nearest stalagmite.

*   *   *


<Respawning looks painful> Koda said to Lune as they stood watching the fight below. Lune was resting her paws on the handrail at the base of the window.

<Probably shock. It was his first time.> his twin sister and captain replied, <I'm guessing it wont take long for us to get used to the feeling either.>

Below them a blue beam of light seared into the air as Seneca batted Marcus' gun aside, the energy bolt flying wide but still scouring the fur off one side of the Serellian's face. Seneca took no notice, knocking Marcus onto his back with a flying martial-arts kick and riddling him with bullets. Two magazines materialised by his feet and he slammed the fresh clips into his gun blade pistols, leaping off into the shadows as Marcus' corpse dematerialised, broken down into energy by the arena's matter converters to be respawned as a new body.

<This is ridiculous,> Seneca's voice crackled up to Lune over the radio built into his armoured forearm. Only slight heavy breathing betrayed the pain of the energy burn across his face, <What are we doing with this useless kit on our team? If we hurry we might be able to find someone more worthwhile among Liandri's gladiators...>

Lune didn't answer, though her face was grim. So far, Marcus hadn't seemed to be up to the mark.

*   *   *


Marcus saw Seneca leap with catlike speed between two stalagmites at the other end of the cave and opened fire, a vapour trail of blue rings streaking down the hall as the ASMD bolt blew chunks from the opposite rock wall, the shot missing the darting Serellian. Marcus gritted his teeth - he was out of practice. Necris moved faster than Serellian, and he had fought enough of them on Na Pali. He had wanted to put that part of his life behind him but he would have to unlock it again if he was to stand any chance here. He was also acutely aware that he was 2 - 0 down. As Seneca darted forward, covering fire blowing chips from the rock around Marcus, Marcus turned on his heel and sprinted down the narrow tunnel towards the secondary cave at the end. He would not normally have turned his back, but he was fast enough to get away with his current head start, and he also had a plan.  He was starting to learn the layout of the arena, and had begun sizing up its potential as he had used to assess battlegrounds on Na Pali. He dived into the cave at the end of the tunnel, glancing back over his shoulder for a sign of Seneca and not seeing the Alitan.

With Marcus out of sight, Seneca had slowed to tracking mode, stealthily padding up the tunnel with his gunblades held out in front of him. He ignored the pain from his burn - it was only a minor wound. He too had been sizing up the arena and he had already second-guessed Marcus' plan. He ducked into the shadow-splashed cave at the end of the tunnel, staying out of sight of the raised alcove which provided a perfect sniping position into the entrance tunnel, but did not cover one corner and it was from this corner that Seneca stalked, digitigrade paws silent against the rock floor. He grinned to himself - it made perfect sense of course. Marcus' profile made reference to a number of guerrilla actions on Gryphon IV, and guerrillas liked to use ambushes to tip the odds in their favour. Well Seneca was a master hunter and he knew more than enough about ambushing his prey. He strafed silently round the edge of the cave, under the overhang that was still streaked with Marcus' blood from where he had first surprised him, still out of sight of the alcove. He was within range. He crouched, muscles coiling like liquid steel. With a powerful spring, Seneca launched himself upwards, somersaulting through the air and blazing away with both pistols in a hail of bullets that would tear through anyone hiding in the narrow space - no opportunity and no space to dodge aside.

His shots ricocheted off the rock face at the back of the alcove. Seneca landed perfectly on the lip of the alcove and gaped in momentary confusion, because Marcus wasn't there. Then searing pain shot through him as a blue ASMD bolt lanced into his back, punching effortlessly out through his chest armour. Marcus stood up from behind the rock where he had been crouching as Seneca fell to his knees, gaping at the glowing hole in his chest.

How did I not see him? How did I not hear him? Seneca's mind screamed the question but no answer came as the world spun around him and his face slammed into the cold rock of the alcove floor.

Seneca respawned with a gasp and, recovering quickly, picked up his Alitan pistols.

<Lucky shot, human> he growled aloud as he stalked silently into the central hall. A flicker of movement caught his eye and he dodged just in time, spinning behind a pillar of rock as an ASMD bolt seared past him. He heard Marcus run out, strafing between two stalagmites with gun raised and he broke cover and fired, sending chips flying from the walls as his bullets flew wide of Marcus.
Seneca cursed - Marcus had figured out the effective range of his pistols and was using that to his advantage. He moved forward at a crouching run to close the range, reloading as he went. He trained his pistols on the twisted spire of rock Marcus had just ducked behind, but Marcus reappeared at a crouch and in the split-second it took Seneca to adjust his aim down Marcus had aimed and fired, forcing the Serellian to abandon his shot and dive aside, the ASMD beam searing past an inch from his face. Seneca dived into cover as Marcus sent two more energy bolts screaming down the hall, forcing him to close his eyes against the flying chunks of shattered rock. He leapt out from behind his cover, which was now smoking from two glowing craters where the ASMD bolts had struck, and raised his pistols but Marcus blindsided him from the left, emerging from behind a rock pillar and firing before Seneca could turn to face him. The energy bolt tore through the side of Seneca's neck, blasting clean through, and the Serellians scream of anger and pain carried over to his new body as he respawned.

<How the hell did he circle round me that fast!?> Seneca roared, but Marcus reappeared at the other end of the tunnel and he was forced to raise his pistols in immediate defence. He yelled in triumph as he opened fire this time. Marcus, probably out of overconfidence, had made the mistake of pursuing Seneca into the narrow tunnel between the main hall and one of the secondary caves where there was no cover.

Marcus saw Seneca respawn, and saw the Alitan spin on his heel towards him with lightning reflexes. In the split-second it took Seneca to raise his guns, Marcus saw where his opponent's eyes were looking and instinctively dived out of the way of the imminent shot's path. Seneca's gun-muzzles flared in the darkness and Marcus fired simultaneously in mid-dive as the bullets whistled past him. His shot lifted the Serellian off his feet and hurled him backwards against the far wall, flying blood frozen in midair by the strobing light of the energy beam.

*   *   *


Up in the observers box, Koda was laughing out loud.

<What the...what the ****!?> Seneca was yelling into his mike, <He dodged my bullets!>

<Don't be stupid, Seneca> Lune growled in reply, <No-one can dodge bullets. He just anticipated where you were going to shoot.>

<Now that's more like it though> Koda grinned.

<Maybe the human will be some use after all> Lune admitted, grudgingly.

<He pops up out of nowhere,> Seneca grumbled, <Lurks in dark places. He's like a bloody mushroom.>

"Alright you two, that'll do," Lune's voice echoed over cleverly-concealed speakers throughout the arena. Marcus and Seneca stood up from behind cover in amongst the rocks and lowered their weapons. Seneca was looking mutinous, while Marcus wore a grim smile. His heart was pounding, the familiar sick rush of adrenaline still coursing through him and almost making him want to vomit. He had forgotten the savage joy that came with killing, though he had felt it enough times on Na Pali. Each and every time he had fought the Necris he had been terrified, but to survive you had to want to kill, and though he had tried often enough to deny it the perverse adrenaline high of combat had swept over him every time. It had not taken him long to realise that the terror and the euphoria were the same thing.

"Training match terminated." a pre-recorded female voice echoed over the speakers, "You are about to be teleported out of the arena. Put down your weapons immediately."

-- Edited by [BOSS]Fenix at 19:03, 2007-11-15


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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(occ - I was going to write more, but i've got things to do! AHH!)

Lune and the others waited patiently as the two combatants were teleported out of the arena, Koda was desperately trying not to laugh as Seneca appeared, quietly growling and tail end twitching back and forth in annoyance.

"Im impressed." The tall lupine, Nokoni admitted to Marcus who inched away from Seneca slowly. "Its not everyday that he is bested." Seneca shot him a murderous glare, Nokonis grin widened.

Seneca stormed out, closely followed by the wolf and Minqua. Lune looked as Marcus warily before leaving, he had won, she couldnt deny it.

"Congratulations, it looks like youve been promoted to Mushroom." Aino almost giggled.

"Mushroom? What was I before?" Marcus sighed, not really wanting to know the answer.

"Meat shield." Koda grinned, "But dont worry about that now. Lets go drink to your demise!"

"...My demise?!" Marcus, now slightly worried, blurted out.

"Senecas a bit of a sore looser you see." Aino explained.

"Theres not hope for you now!" Koda took one of Marcuss arms; Aino took the other, and between the two of them, dragged the human after Lune and the others.

"He'll probably suffocate you in your sleep!" The two Serelians laughed.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 15:26, 2007-11-18



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Diego sighed leaning back against a large crate looking towards Haven expectantly. "Why do they always take so long," he complained looking towards the roof of the hanger, "Hey Cleet, Snowva, you guys want to just go on ahead?"

"Nah dude, lets just wait for the girls,"

"I see, don't want to go ahead without Heather eh?" Diego smiled.

"No, just being a gentle man!" Cleet yelled defensively.

"Enough of the act mate, everyone knows right Snowva?
"It is kinda obvious,"

"See and even she knows, you should do us all a favour and just ask her out already,"

"W-w-what you talking about? I don't have feelings for Heather!"

"Oh? I wouldn't blame ya if you did, she's one hell of a girl, I wouldn't even mind taking her out for test drive, in fact I could make that my mission for the night,"

"Don't you dare!"

Diego smiled convincenly, "See? I'm always right about those things I can read you like a love sick book,"

Cleet sighed, "Ok maybe I do,"

Diego rested his arm on Cleet's shoulder, "You want some advice?"

"I don't think advice from you would help mate?" Cleet smiled.

"Then how about reasurrance, she won't say no, right Snowva,"

"I swore to secracy," Snowva said with a smile hinting to Cleet.

"See, you should just drop the cool act and go for it," The hatch suddenly opened and Diego turned to Haven. "Wayhey!" he shouted as the girls walked down the ramp, "Bout time!"

"Sorry Diego, but you know beauty takes times to perfect," Alex smiled.

"And by the looks of it, it was time well spent," Diego said examing the three girls, " wasted valuable drinking time! So without further a do lets go!" Diego spun round leading the group out the hanger.


The crew entered one of the many pubs for there usual routien, a few warm up drinks then hit the night clubs.

"First rounds on me guys!" Diego shouted, rushing to the bar while the rest of the crew took a seat at a round table.



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(occ - Yes, more randomness from the aliens XD lol)

Seneca stalked angrily into one of the pubs, having had Nokoni jabbing jokes at him since they left the arena.Despite his mood, the rest of the team followed the Serelian in, apart from Marcus, who was close to being dragged.

It was quite bare inside, there were very few people in the dimly lit building, those that were there looked at the Alitans with sceptical eyes.<"Those must be people from other teams that, right?"> Minqua looked down her nose at those who were staring.

<"They look as useless and scrawny as Marcus, better watch out Seneca!"> Nokoni winked with a laugh, Seneca slumped further down into his chosen chair.

<"Blackfoot."> Lune hissed at Nokoni, the lupine paused before sitting down.<"Stop acting like a childish kit.">

<"Sorry, Commander."> He resigned.

<"And so you should be!You would have got your tail kicked a lot worse then I did."> Seneca finally retaliated.

<"Swiftpaw!"> Lune stepped between them as they rose, <"Cut it out before I skin you both!"> She growled, sick of listening to their squabbling.


"What are they saying?"Marcus queried after thanking the barmen for his drink.

"Lunes threatening to skin them alive, nothing to worry about." Koda recoiled from the smell of Marcuss drink, "What is that?"


<"If you werent so valuable to the team, I would be throwing you in the cargo hold of a freighter and sending you back to Alita!"> Lune roared; both Seneca and Nokoni had their ears laid right back as if they were kits being told off by their mothers.<"Nokoni, lay off.And Seneca, you fought well, but the human got lucky, get over it.">

Senecas ears rose as he brought up the courage to object but Lunes glare knocked him down again, <"Sorry Commander."> They both said together quietly.

"Bloody kits."Lune flopped into the chair across from them both, her tail flipping back and forth violently.

Minqua who had been sitting listening the whole time smiled, <"Dont start."> Lune stopped her before she even started.


Marcus looked up from his mug warily to see Seneca walking towards him.<"I dont like you."> Seneca grumbled, <"But you fight well, I respect you more then I did this morning, be happy with that, Mushroom."> The Serelian saluted the human and then went back to his seat with the others.

Marcus rose an eyebrow, "What did he say?"

"Well..." Aino smiled.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 19:08, 2007-11-22



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Diego finished his drink placing it on the table next to the other empty glasses.

"Ah, that so good, well thats the one for winning what we drinking to next guys," Diego laughed.

"How about just for the hell of it," Alex said rising from her seat, "It's my turn now,"

"Now thats my kinda girl," Diego continued to laugh.

"Aren't you gonna give me hand?"

"Ah sh-, sorry," Diego said almost forgetting his manners.

The bar man stood cleaning a glass immediatly placing it down upon seeing Deigo. "Well, well Diego," he said in a deep voice, "What can I get you guys? The usual?"

"Yeh think that'll do pops,"

"Hold on barkeep," Alex butted in, "Diego how about that private drink? Lets have a real drink, since we the only ones who can handle it," Alex said smiling at Diego.

"Now thats an offer I couldn't possibly refuse," he smiled

"Rite on, Barkeep, give us something good, surprise us,"

"You got it Alex," the barman winked soon returning with a small glass of brown liquid, the pair picked up the their glasses and gently tapped them
together before downing there drink. "Well what do you guys think?" the barman asked with smile at the pair.

"That stuff was ****ing awful," Diego laughed covering his mouth with his arm, the barman joining in with the laughter, Alex sqinted expression showed she agreed with him.

"Well how about an another? I'll add it to something, won't be as bad for you kids,"

"We really should be getting these drinks back the others, but, I'm sure one more won't hold us up to much,"

Several drinks later Alex and Diego remained at the bar having drink after drink the pair in fits of laughter.

"You know guys, when you go get the drinks the idea is that you bring them back to the table," Cleet said looking at the drunken.

"Aw sorry Cleet," Alex said "Looks like we got a little carried away,"

"I'd say," he smiled.

"Come on mate, join us, Pops, give him that good stuff," Diego winked at the barman.

Cleet took his place next to Diego, the barman handing him a small glass of the brown liquid, Cleet sniffed it suspiously. "What is it,"

"The hell do I know, it's a surprise," Cleet shrugged and downed the drink, the strong alcohol and terrible taste having no effect on him.

"It's nice," Cleet said nodding to the barman, Diego laughed putting his arm around Cleet shoulders.

"Everyone get over here!" he yelled back at the crew.

(I'll finish the rest of this post 2moze, as i'm away out)

-- Edited by The Underdog at 21:12, 2007-11-26



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Natures Deadiest gathered at the bar.

"One for each pops,"

"You guys are by far my best customers, you know that, coming rite up,"

As the night went on the crew drifted apart doing there own things Diego found his way on a table of girls telling them tales of his adventures through space, Alex and Gail where speaking to a couple other competitors while Snowva standing near by covertly inspected them to ensure they were no threat to his friends and Cleet and Heather remained at the bar still speaking to the barman.

The door opened and Diego raised his head to see who came in followed by 5 other people Blake entered, he walked with a confident stride as he examined the bar, he eventually locked eyes with Diego remembering all to well his defeat earlier that day, Diego chose to ignore it getting back to his drink finishing it off.

"Think I better go get another drink, I won't be long ladies,"

Diego pushed his way through to the bar, standing next to a familar face.

"Hey you were on the Steel Cobras team weren't you?" he said turning to the girl next to him, the young women gave him a glance before facing forward again.

"Yeh, names Shiva, and you're the famous Diego I take it,"

"Famous, I wouldn't say that just yet, hey about today no hard feelings eh?"

"Yeh, it's just a game and besides things have just started, but next time we'll win, but I'll warn you Blake is very bitter I'd stay away from him for now for your own good,"

Diego laughed, "I'll bare that in mind, I'll keep to myself,"

"DIEGO!" Blake roared pushing his way towards him the entire bar coming to a stand still, Diego smiled before turning towards Blake.

"What you think your doing flirting with my girlfriend!"

Diego looked a Shiva "Flirting? We were just talking,"

"Don't give me that bull**** I know exactly what your like!"

"No seriously we were talking about the match today, thought at least one member of you're team could be mature about it,"

"Diego, don't make him angry," Shiva pleaded, "Calm down Blake he's speaking the truth,"

"No point trying to talk him out of it Shiva, the guy came here looking for a fight and will use any excuse to get one, I know his type,"

"Don't look down on me, you have no idea what I'm capable of,"

"I can make a good guess,"

"You two I want no fighting in my bar, I will call the Angels,"

"I'm sorry pops, just note, I didn't start this fight, I will only act on self defence,"

"I've noted Diego,"

"Stilgar, Trey," Blake called out, to members of his team coming to his back.

"You still want to run your mouth Diego?"

Diego laughed, "So when the going gets tough you make up with it with sheer numbers? Cowards like aren't worth the time," Just then a tall figure stood behind Diego, "It's ok Snowva, besides this fight is unfair, there are three of them, Blake think you should call a couple more friends, your going to need a hand,"

Blake's anger boiled he swung heavily punching Diego across the cheek, his head was pushed to the side by the force but other then that Diego stood unmoving, slowly Diego turned his head back to face Blake smiling confidently and looking as if nothing had happened.

"Big mistake," Diego said stepping back and raising his leg straight up kicking Blake on the chin and knocking him to the ground, Stilgar and Trey jumped forward at Diego at which point Snowva pushed Diego aside, he grabbed Stilgar by the face and by stepping forward pushed his across the floor, the groud seperating, Trey immediatly turned towards Snowva, punching him in the chest yet it had no effect and Trey ducked narrowly dodging Snowva's great fist, he then went for another punch to Snowva's head, Snowva ducked his head into the path of the punch so the fist hit the top of his head, Trey roared as he heard his knuckles crack and Snowva was left without a mark, he jumped back holding his hand, Stilgar rose to his feet and ran at Snowva but his charged was interupted by a flying Trey.

Blake also rose to his feet, he jumped at Diego but missed as Diego stepped back and elbowed him in the back of the head, flooring him once again.

Kane suddenly burst out the crowd a chair in hand held high above his head targeting Snowva, but then suddenly the chair came to hault as he went to strike Snowva in the back, and then ripped from his hands, he turned round to see Cleet throw the chair aside.

"They are three things wrong with what you were about to do, one you failed to notice I was watching you, two weapons in a fist fight are cowardly and three your attacking my friends,"

"You think your tough skinny boy? I'm a black belt," Kane said raising his guard and charging.

"Black belt eh?" Cleet said taking a draw from his ciggarette before throwing it aside quickly, then suddenly he kicked forward breaking through Kane's guard and haulting his charge, catching him at the tip of the nose, suddenly blood poured from Kane's nose completely off guard he found himself on the end of a barrage of fast kicks and powerful kicks, despite and last minute effort to guard his face Kane was overwhelmed by the endless barrage and found him thrown against the wall, he slid down in utter defeat shocked and how quickly he was defeated, suddenly a hand grabbed Cleet's shoulder and pulled him into the crowd.

"What the hell?" he said turning round to see Heather.

"The angels are here, do you want to get caught?" Cleet turned round to see Kane get hauled to his feet and harshly dragged out, the angels immediatly began to look for Cleet, Heather dragged Cleet into a corner and kissed him, the angels paying no noitce to them pushed there way toward Diego and Blake.

Snowva stood over the uncontious Trey and Stilgar when suddenly he was pounced on by the angels remaining calm he let them remove him from the area, Diego on the other hand unaware of the angels continued his fight with blake, he blocked a punch striking back with a punch to the gut suddenly both were grabbed and pulled back, Blake put up a struggle angered greatly by Diego and had to be dragged out the back exit by several angels, Diego on the other still remained calm the angels that pulled him back and onto the ground hauled him to his feet.

"Come on your out of here," one said pushed him towards the door

"I thought angels were meant to be nice?" Diego joked getting pushed harshly to the door. Outside Diego was lined up next to Snowva.

"What is the meaning of this?" An angel demanded.

"I'll tell you what, lets flip a coin, heads I'll tell you, tails we go out on a date," the angel immediatly stuck Diego across the cheek. "What is it with people and hitting me today? Doesn't matter I love a girl who can kick my ass,"

"Stop playing around!"

"Ok, Ok, I was merely defending myself, the bar man can back me out speak with him,"

"Very well Turner we will speak with the barman, but either way don't think the head's won't here about this, expect a call from the CEO, I suggest you lot go home,"

"Can't wait," Diego said as the angels entered the bar again, coming out as they exited came the rest of the crew.

"Well that was interesting," Gail said "Guess some people can't take losing, by the way pops said not to worry about what just happened, Blake is barred but we are welcome back,"

"Excellent, we can count on pops backed us up, and Cleet where were you? How you escape the lecture?" Cleet looked at Heather.

"Heather helped me get away," he said slightly red.

"Anyway guys lets put this behind us, looks like Trey and Stilgar will spend the night in the infimary and Kane home his pride shattered, and I don't think Blake will try anything on his own,"

"Well that can only mean one thing, on to the next club!"



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(occ- just a quick little bit)

The Alitans who had retreated to one of the darker corners of the bar before Diego and his team had arrived watched as a second group entered. Minqua laid her ears back as the man Blake yelled Diegos name.

"You can hear everything their saying?" Marcus noticed that his team were all looking over at the bar.

"Every word, though Im trying not to listen." Koda explained, "If you watch, that human, Blake, that just walked in is going to punch the one called Diego." The Serelian sipped at his water, which was the only drink that didnt smell funny.

Marcus wasnt shocked when Kodas comments came true, a fight broke out but was quickly settled, Angels stormed in and dragged them out.

"Your kind has no grace." Lune stated bluntly, "Throwing punches at people when there are others around, how very inconsiderate."

The others nodded in agreement, returning to their discussions, "Guess its a bit of a disadvantage having such good hearing all the time."

"The advantages out weight the disadvantages." Lune replied with a crooked smile, "Besides, we never had a problem back on Alita, there were no humans." Lune looked away.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 20:41, 2007-11-28


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(ooc - lol beaten to it :P I guess this all happens between Bryn's two last posts, and before Sean's)

Still confused even after Aino's translation as to what Seneca had meant by "mushroom", Marcus settled for sipping his drink. The irony of being back in a bar so soon was not lost on him. Although this one was better lit and more lively than the pubs on Acheron. Liandri corporation had its logo stamped everywhere, right down to the coasters they rested their drinks on. The holoscreens flicked between HNN updates and the scoreboards for the individual and team qualifiers, the first of which had been resolved that afternoon. Marcus sat between Aino and Koda, because they remembered to slip from Alitan to English from time to time for his benefit. Marcus had picked up a few words of the Alitan language so far, but nowhere near enough to hold a fluent conversation.

"What you reading this time, Aino?" Koda asked, leaning forward round Marcus towards the tigran Solstice who had her nose buried in another human book.

"Terran zoology," Aino answered, "I was looking up cats because I was wondering what humans thought we had in common with them. Apparently terran cats are hyper-carnivores who need 3 times as much protein in their diet as a human, and their males are promiscuous little bastards who if given the chance will mate up to 10 times a day."

"Yep, sounds like Seneca..." nodded Koda, knowing full well that Seneca couldn't understand him, and snorted into his drink.

Aino said something in Alitan that Marcus judged from her tone to be a reprimand. Koda glanced over at Seneca, who was still looking a little surly, and turned back to Marcus.

"So where did you learn to fight like that?" he asked.

"On Na Pali." Marcus said in a neutral tone.

"Against the Necris?"

Marcus nodded.

"Tell me about it."

Marcus looked the Alitan steadily in the eye. To talk about Na Pali was to reopen a lot of old wounds for him, most of them still only half healed. But then he thought about the casualties of the Na Pali war. His fellow crewmates of the ISV Kran, their deaths now little more than a footnote in the sprawling archives of Inuit corporation's datalinks. The men and women of the Prometheus and the Rikers, just more statistics. The Nali mountain fighters who had fought back against Necris oppression - Kruun, the young and headstrong Nali who had been one of the first to join the resistance movement. Noorlé , who had a pregnant wife back in the mountain village but fought anyway because he wanted his child to grow up in a world safe from fear and slavery. They had died for their beliefs. They deserved more than silence.

Marcus sighed - if he didn't tell their story, then who would?

*   *   *


Myscha had led Marcus and Luthienne up a hidden road that wound its way laboriously up the side of the mountain. The view to all sides was blocked by the other mountains around, but this was a good thing as it also hid them from any Necris that might be around. Finally, they reached the lip of a great depression in the landscape, and Marcus' gaze followed the track before them as it twisted down into a small cluster of houses nestled in the valley bottom. The houses were all small single-story cottages, made of roughly hewn but sturdily assembled blocks of stone. The roofs were thatched, and wisps of smoke coiling up from a couple of them indicated fires burning within. In the centre of the village was a larger building that Marcus guessed to be some sort of church. A finely-crafted statue topped the roof over the arched doorway with both sets of arms outstretched. A longer, lower building stood on the other side of the village, with a fenced-off enclosure in front of its wide door in which several cattle-like creatures (that looked like much larger versions of Kiwi) were moving slowly about, stopping occasionally to lie down or to graze from a trough in the corner. A waterfall cascaded down into a deep pool behind the cowshed, and a narrow mountain stream zigzagged round one side of the village. Around the central plaza, several four-armed figures were moving about, passing in and out of the buildings.

"My home village," Myscha explained to Marcus, "We remain free here where the Sky Demons cannot find us. You will be safe here."

As they climbed carefully down the narrow causeway into the valley, Marcus supporting a pale and silent Luthienne, the fact that there were no other humans in the village became apparent. He voiced his thoughts to Myscha, who frowned thoughtfully.

"Myself and a few others volunteered to investigate when your thunderbird fell from the sky, but we could not find a way to reach the trench. When we saw the Sky Demons descending, we went out again to try and bring some of you safely back to our village. You are the only soft-skins I came across, but it might be that some of the others are not back yet. I shall take you to the priest - he will know what to do."

Myscha led them down through the village, and the other Nali stopped what they were doing to watch their approach. Some looked scared, others curious, and one female Nali brought forward a clay cup full of water and offered it to Marcus and Luthienne, to which Marcus nodded his thanks. Like Myscha, the female Nali's skin was smooth and hairless, but her features were softer and unlike the male Nali she had no tattoos on her skin, and was swathed in a plain toga of alien cloth. Marcus had learned later that the tattoos were a kind of rite of passage for male Nali - when they came of age they had religious symbols imprinted onto their torso and limbs, and from that day on were forbidden to cover them up, lest it should anger the gods.

The priest Myscha had spoken of was sitting outside the church, his devotional tattoos snaking across his scalp and down his back in elaborate whorls. He appeared to be praying, sitting cross-legged on the ground with one pair of arms held out, palms upward, and the other cupped in front of his face, but when he heard their approach he slowly rose from his sitting position and walked to meet them. His slow movements and darker skin tone suggested great age to Marcus.

The other Nali of the mountain village had gathered around, perhaps fifty of them in total, and they watched silently as Myscha addressed the priest in a soft, flowing language. The priest replied in a deep, slow voice and Marcus waited for him and Myscha to finish their conversation, but when Myscha turned back to Marcus the Nali's sad expression made his heart sink.

"I am sorry. My friends searched far, but they could not find any more of your kind."

"Can we go out and look for them again?" Marcus asked, hiding the fact that he was so tired physically and emotionally that his legs were about to collapse under him. Myscha shook his head, pointing at the darkening sky.

"Not today. It's getting dark, and the Sky Demons are always more active at night."

The Nali had shown Marcus and Luthienne great kindness that night, sharing their food and their homes with the strangers as if they were their own kin. The two survivors were given accommodation in Myscha's cottage, the logical choice since Myscha had a better grasp of their language than any of the other Nali. Despite their host's best efforts to look after them and put them at ease, Marcus couldn't sleep for a long time that night.  Eventually though exhaustion completely overwhelmed him, and he fell asleep to the sound of chirping alien insects and the soft lowing of the Nali cows in their barn. Luthienne, who still seemed to be partially in shock, lay down and cradled Kiwi but remained staring blankly at the wall, and when Marcus started awake after a fitful half hour of uneasy dreams he heard her crying quietly. She was curled up in a foetal position, so Marcus wrapped himself round her, tucking his legs behind hers and pillowing her head on one of his arms while curling the other protectively around her stomach. Eventually, they both slept.

*   *   *


The next day the two humans, Myscha, and two other Nali volunteers set out as Myscha had promised to try and find the other survivors from the Kran and bring them to safety. They spread out across the hills, ducking into cover with pounding hearts every time a Necris aircraft screamed by overhead, but though they swept the landscape all day they couldnt find a trace of any other humans. When they returned to the village and Myscha told everyone of their failure, the priest bowed his head and traced some kind of religious sign over his chest with one hand.

"I'm truly sorry," Myscha said to Marcus, "But if we haven't found a trace of them by now it looks likely that the Sky Demons got to your companions before we could."

Luthienne gave a strangled sob. Marcus wanted to rail at Myscha that they couldn't give up, but he knew that the Nali was probably right. The Ghosts were fast, they were deadly, and they were pitiless.

Bastards, he thought bitterly, bastards.

One of the village Nali stepped forward and addressed Marcus.

"What did he say?" Marcus asked Myscha.

Haute wants you to know that he understands your pain. His sister was taken by the Sky Demons several moons ago and none of us have seen her since. We think she is a slave in one of their mining complexes. What they want with the blue crystals none of us can understand. Why can't they leave us in peace?"

Marcus looked up at Myscha, his fists clenched at his sides. The unspeakable wrongness of what the Necris were doing on this planet washed over him like a sick tide. From what he had seen of the Nali they were a good people - kind to all newcomers without thought. Compassionate but sad, weighed down by the plight the Necris had forced on them without reason. Such a peaceful people did not deserve this.

"I swear I'll help you fight them." Marcus snarled, "All those who have been taken as slaves to mine the tarydium, I swear you'll see them again. Tell them, Myscha."

Myscha looked greatly troubled, but he did as he was asked and translated Marcus' promise to the assembled Nali. His words were greeted by expressions of shock and fear. One Nali stepped forward, his speech fast and fearful.

"What's he saying, Myscha?"

"That you cannot kill a Sky Demon. What good is any weapon against a monster that can move as fast as thought, whose blood is poison, and whose weapons spout fire and thunder?"

"The Necris are not demons." Marcus growled, "This is not the only world that has suffered under them. My race have fought against their terror raids on dozens of planets, and sometimes we beat them."

Myscha translated, and added some words of his own. There were murmurs and whispers among the crowd.

"I told them about how you destroyed one of their flying metal serpents, one of the hunter-seekers."

Marcus nodded his thanks, but even as he did so the whispers of the Nali villagers were silenced by a loud voice as one of them stepped forward. It was the priest.

"He says that Nali do not fight," Myscha explained, "He asks have we all forgotten the stories in the books of good lore how the war god Velora turned Nali against Nali and drowned our world in blood. How the fire god Ch'tharoth decreed no Nali must ever again bear arms, lest he send his fire-breathing demons against the sinners."

The Nali looked at each other fearfully. Several made the religious sign across their chests and foreheads.

"The gods of good lore give and they take away. Our sins have angered them, and they have sent the Sky Demons to ravage our world as punishment." Myscha translated as the priest went on, forceful gestures adding emphasis to his words.

"No!" Marcus said in a loud voice, "Your gods gave this world to you! The Necris have come because of their own greed, not because of divine anger. Your gods would not want to see your world taken from you! They would not want to see you as slaves! I swear to you, the Necris are powerful but they are still mortal. Trust me and I will show you - they can bleed and they can die."

The Nali looked at each other, whispering fervently.

*   *   *


A commotion from across the bar interrupted Marcus.

"Hey, whats going on over there?" he asked aloud.

(ooc - Had more but as you guys beat me to the post it no longer tallies with what you've written so I deleted it)


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.

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Lune's agent did not keep them waiting long for the details of their first randomly-generated match, getting back to them first thing the next morning.

<Well, the fact that it's in the Assault category is good news.> Lune said to Koda as the team practiced their aim in the heavily force-fielded shooting range, under the watchful eyes of two armed Angels and a team of Liandri technicians who as well as dealing out weapons and ammunition could, if they so chose, deploy automated turrets across the gallery or release potent knock-out gas at a moment's notice.

<How do you mean?> her brother asked, sighting experimentally along the infra-red scope of his sleek Alitan rifle.

<It's the sort of basic attack/defence scenario we've been training in for years. Should be easy enough given that the other team's only human. Well, and one Geo. A natural hunter might make things a bit more interesting, but I reckon Blackfoot or Nyantooth could flatten him.  Plus from what we saw in the bar last night, they're impulsive and ill-disciplined.>

She raised one of her gun-blade pistols and put a bullet through the head of the holographic target 30 metres down the hall. The bullet vaporised against the force-field behind and the target flashed red as the computer recorded a fatal wound. Lune lowered her gun, frowned at it and slid the magazine out of the stock.

<What's up?>

<Doesn't quite feel right. How's my team doing?>

<Itching for a fight. They're all wanting to prove their skills to the humans.>

<They do realise there won't be live crowds until further up the ladder, yeah? Liandri's got that many matches going on near the start they'll probably just broadcast ours from holocam.>

Lune took aim again, but this time the bullet flew a couple of inches wide. She swore under her breath and started examining her guns firing mechanism.

<Ha, you know them better than that, Lune. They won't care if it's in front of a live crowd or over the holo-networks - they'll kill just as well. They're here to redeem our clan's name, just like you and me.>

<I know perfectly well why we're here, Koda.> Lune said curtly, <What about Seneca?>

<I reckon he's pretty much over the incident now. You giving him a good kick in the tail certainly helped, plus Aino let him know what Marcus told her afterwards. That he might have figured out Seneca's weaknesses after the first couple of kills, but in the real world he wouldn't have had the luxury of respawning and Seneca would have had him. Though he also said he wouldn't have got himself into that one-on-one situation in the real world without knowing what he was dealing with first either, if he could have avoided it.>

<So the human is scared of a fight that's not on his terms.>

<He's cautious, yes. But wouldn't you be?>

<Yes, but improvising can be important too - there's a lot more opponents in this tournament than just Necris. Do you think that same caution will mean he'll be a weak link tomorrow?>

<Well, he was just getting used to the whole respawning thing, a bit like we'll have to tomorrow.>

<I just don't want him jeopardizing our chances. We've been training for this sort of thing most of our lives, and we've been working as a team for almost as long. And now we've been forced to take on a new member. A new member moreover who is, at the end of the day, still just a human.>

<He survived for 4 years in Necris territory with little or no logistic support Lune, now that's got to be tough. Plus from the way he talks about his and the Nali's little guerrilla war I'm guessing he knows something about teamwork.>

<Hmmm. As long as he doesn't completely **** up everything for us. And follows orders.>

<Now, I think you're perfectly capable of letting people know who's pack leader.>

Lune grinned slightly. Then she spun round and put three bullets in quick succession through the target at the other end of the gallery.

*   *   *

Marcus sat frowning at the data-slate, with Aino and Minqua conversing in rapid Alitan next to him.

"Are you still not finished?" Aino turned round to ask him, "Captain Battleclaw went through the tactical briefing this morning and we spent an hour afterwards studying the arena maps and our opponents' stats. What are you looking at now? Battleclaw will probably want to take us through some drills in the practice arenas soon."

"I'm just doing some extra background reading," Marcus replied, looking up, "Seeing what else the datalinks has on Nature's Deadliest."

"Know your enemy and all that?" Aino grinned, "Funny coincidence we saw them in the bar the other night wasn't it? So what's it telling you other than what was on their competitor profiles?"

"Surprisingly little," Marcus frowned, "A lot of Turner's background is classified."

"So there's something there that Liandri don't want people to see. Meaning we'll have to watch out for him tomorrow."


"Anything else?"

"The alien on their team, Mander. Liandri has him classified as a Geo terrorist."

"Battleclaw said there would be a lot of competitors with shady pasts. Because the viewers care less about where they come from than how well they can kill."

"Apparently he led a resistance against Liandri mining operations on Geoearth, even though they'd already been given the go-ahead by the Geo government. Which, given Liandri's aggressive expansionist policies I find a little hard to believe. Also, doesn't it seem a bit strange that he's on the same team as the daughter of a Liandri exec?"

He brought up a hologram of Gail for Aino's benefit.

"Are you sure?"

"Uh huh. Her sister's even married to Ross Liandri, look."

"Hmmm. Do you think any of this is relevant to the match tomorrow?"

Marcus deactivated the data-slate and stood up, "Perhaps not."

<ooc - Be warned, if anyone tries looking up HIS story and asking after Lu or the Nali he'll get touchy :P>


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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(occ - this is really as far as i've gotten. Havn't had much time to write much else. Been too busy being electrocuted XD LOL)

In the large seating room of the Raitin, Aino tickled Kiwis neck with one of her blunter claws while listening to Marcus talk the upcoming battle, <You really are a silly creature arent you?> She whispered as Kiwi sprawled across the data-slate she had on her lap.

Ainos ears perked up and Marcus fell silent as the door from the engine room slid open, Minqua padded in and took a seat in the corner farthest from Marcus and Aino."Not very sociable is she?"Marcus whispered quietly, Aino grinned.

"You better watch your tongue there Marcus, Battleclaw will cut it off." She sang, amused by the humans comments.

"Anyway, as I saw saying..." Marcus went back to discussing their opponents.

Minqua sat quietly becoming more and more aggravated by Marcus lack of respect, referring to everyone by their first names as if they were friends.Soon Nokoni and Seneca came inside and sat with the Battleclaw, they too picked up on the conversation but didnt care to say anything after Lune berated them earlier.

The Battleclaw though was too stubborn to stay quiet, as she stood up to approach Aino and her friend, the screen on the wall flickered to life with a picture of Lune and Koda.

<Battleclaws.> Everyone rose and saluted, not having forgotten their manners even though they had been quite lazy with them since Marcus came onto the scene. 

<Report to the training grounds, were going to do some basic simulations for to benefit of adding Marcus into our formations.I dont want to hear any complaints, now move.> Lune stood a step back as Koda relayed her orders to the team.

Everyone relaxed a little as the screen turned off and went about getting their proper uniforms on and other items that they needed.Aino repeated Kodas words in English for Marcus benefit and he too went to get ready.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 11:20, 2007-12-19


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Security cameras tracked the Battleclaws as they strode down the dull, gunmetal-grey corridor that led to the training centre teleporter array. Warmed up by an hour of physical training beforehand, their muscles rippled like liquid steel beneath their glossy fur. They were accompanied, to Lune and Minqua's ill-disguised annoyance, by their Liandri agent who was seeing to the requisition of their opponents from Liandri's pool of gladiators.

"Will 7 gladiators for the 7 of you be enough?"

"Can you make it a bit more of a challenge?" Lune shot back.

"I doubt they'll be able to spare more than 10 or 15," the Elsinoran replied, unfazed, "The training areas have been pretty heavily booked due to the matches tomorrow."

"What kind of background do these gladiators have?"

"Mostly criminals or ex-military. You can review the datalinks later if you like."

"Have they fought together before?"


"It might be less of a walkover for us if they used some semblance of teamwork..." Lune growled. Their agent stopped as they neared the armoury.

"And make sure you get back to me with your 5 selections for the Nature's Deadliest match by this evening so I can sort out the details."

<You humans and your red tape.> Lune hissed under her breath. She had already given thought to who she was going to take with her to the first match. They were defending a small fortress surrounded by rocky terrain, so her and Koda's sniper skills would come to the fore picking out the attackers among the rocks as they advanced. Together they'd probably outmatch the single sniper, Gail, that Nature's Deadliest could put against them. If the fight entered the fortress itself it would likely get close and bloody, so Minqua and Nokoni were the ideal choice for filling the corridors with death with blasts from their pump-action Alitan shotguns. If the attackers tried to batter their way through with close combat, Nokoni would have the raw strength to take on the giant Snowva, and Aino could assume her feral form to combat the Geo Mander. Seneca's martial arts might come in handy as well though - she'd have to think about it. The kit might sulk if he wasn't chosen for the match tomorrow, but he should know her well enough to understand it was simply due to the requirements of the mission and not because he had screwed up against Marcus.

"Just make it happen," she told their agent tersely as the Liandri operators announced over the intercom that the arena was prepared and that the gladiators were ready. The reinforced doors ahead slid open with a low grinding sound and the Alitans stepped through into the armoury, picking up their weapons before moving to stand on the circular teleporter pads and letting the bio-scanners sweep their green beams up and down, gathering data for the nanowhite matrix.

Marcus stood between Aino and Seneca, checking over his ASMD shock rifle. Satisfied, he hefted it in one hand and shrugged his shoulders inside his modified Alitan armour, the black shoulder and chest plates of which fitted round him like a flexible carapace. They looked more like they were designed to ward off splinters and ricochets rather than stop direct hits, but they were lightweight and didn't restrict his movement. They told him something about the Alitan way of fighting, and suited his own combat style just fine.

The scanners finished playing their beams over them, and circles of white light began to pulse round the bases of the teleporter pads as they charged up. Marcus found the palms of his hands sweating slightly, and he automatically scrubbed his free right hand against his black fatigue trousers. He felt a slight pain from the thin scar slashed across his palm and clenched his fist as the memories of its origin came flooding back.

"Ten seconds." reported the Liandri operator.

"I must not fear," he whispered instinctively, using the Nali litany to calm his mind, "Fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear, I will let it pass through me..."

Aino turned to look at him curiously as nanowhite gas hissed through the overhead pipes.


"Nothing." Marcus answered, glancing briefly in the tigran Solstice's direction. He noticed then that she wasn't carrying a visible weapon, nor was she wearing armour like the others. Neither was Nokoni, only a bandolier of shotgun shells slung across his barrel-like chest.

"Why no armour, Aino?" he asked.

"Youll see," she answered vaguely, "You're about to find out what makes Solstice unique from Serelian."

"Stand by for teleport in"

A white flash, and the Battleclaws were in.


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.


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(occ - bady discribed, but OH WELL!! :D lol)

Koda had passed the basic battle formation plans and signals to Marcus during the warm up.

Lune was satisfied to see that at least one of her requests had been fulfilled; the training arenas holographic structures had been programmed into a simpler version of what they would be fighting Natures Deadliest in.

A wall with a central blocked entrance made up the centre of the arena, on the Battleclaws side the area was made up of a open topped levels the increased to its highest point at the far back.On the other side of the wall the area was mostly flat, with varying structures for defence.

The two teams had spawned at the centre of their areas, Lune was quick to shout out her orders.

<Blackfoot, Nyantooth, feral form and get down front by the entrance.> She started, Koda knowing his place by Lunes side starting hiking up the levels while she continued her orders over the ear pieces.<Swiftpaw, Battleclaw stay mid level and give the Solstice backup when they need it.>

<Dont forget Marcus.> Koda reminded Lune as she finished; she rolled her eyes and turned back to the team.

"Marcus, behind Swiftpaw and Battleclaw.Shoot things."She said simply.

<Well done.> Koda laughed as they reached their destination, and the pair of them laid down and set up the scopes on their snipers.

"Keep out the way."Minqua snorted as she lent behind a wall with Seneca, Aino squinted at her.

<Do you have to be so rough?> Aino muttered.

Marcus looked at the surrounding Alitans wearily; he looked at Aino to Minqua but had to do a double take on Aino as she shrugged off the little armour she was wearing.Seneca grinned but Minqua backhanded him across the chest

Nokoni too shed his clothes and started to bend down and grow larger, Marcus watched fascinated as the two Solstice started to alter, their arms lengthened and humanoid features quickly disappeared.

"What...?"Marcus looked at the overgrown tiger and wolf in front of him, Nokoni still having his string of shells and shotgun slug across his back.

"This is the difference between Serelian and Solstice; Ill explain it properly later."Aino spoke, though Marcus seemed to find it a little more unsettling that a giant white tiger was talking.

"Later is right, we have Gladiators to kill.Get into formation!" Koda yelled.

-- Edited by [BOSS]Asreal at 21:07, 2007-12-20


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<20 minutes to hold out, team - let's go!>

The ten gladiators that Liandri had provided were, by definition, not a standing team. They were a random mix of volunteers from the Tournament's individual ladders, NEG military or rich civilians looking for extra practice to increase their chances of glory. They were criminals who had been offered to serve their sentences in the Tournament instead of in the squalid prison colonies. They were psychotic maniacs who were there simply because they enjoyed killing. They did not fight with much cohesion, but they still possessed the will and ability to kill.

So did the Battleclaws. From her high vantage point Lune singled out the largest human from the loose formation as he ducked and weaved through the cover leading up to the wall bisecting the arena, and pressed one eye to the scope of her rifle, locking the butt securely into her right shoulder. She tracked the human as he advanced in a crouching run, and felt a surge of adrenaline rush through her as she centred the crosshairs. She had executed shots like this a thousand times before, and still the thrill of the kill never left her. Time almost stopped as she took a deep breath, half let it out and held it, her rapid feline heartbeat loud in her ears. Her blood sang as she squeezed the trigger and felt the slight kick of the weapon in her hands, shock absorbers dissipating most of the recoil. Almost instantly, a red halo of blood misted the air behind the gladiator's head as the bullet tore straight through.

Next to Lune and almost at the same moment, her brother Koda took his own shot. His target was a gladiator who, displaying more tactical acumen than his colleagues, had expected the long-range fire and started to set up his own sniper's nest behind the cover of some hedgehog barricades. His head snapped back as Koda's bullet punched a hole just above his left eye.

The gladiators knew they were under fire and some of them tried to suppress the Alitan snipers with return fire from automatics, plasma rifles and shotguns, but Lune and Koda were too far away and too well hidden to be targeted accurately. Few of the gladiators' random shots came close, and Lune did not flinch as an energy bolt flared against one of the metal bulkheads next to her alcove. She kept firing, ignoring the targets she lost sight of as they neared the wall and instead looking for the tell-tale flashes of respawning enemy gladiators, so as to prevent reinforcements overwhelming Aino and Nokoni at the gate.

The two Solstice were making their presence felt, Aino leaping on the first gladiator through the gate and dispatching him with a swift bite to the neck and killing a second with one blow of her forepaw before he could do more than fire off a single unaimed burst. Red scores against white fur showed where a couple of bullets had winged the tigran Solstice, but it didn't stop her bounding forward in a massive leap to crush another Liandri gladiator. A scarred man in red flak armour went down, hit by Koda as he tried to draw a bead on the snarling tigress. A blue energy beam seared through the melee and lifted a gladiator off his feet, Marcus making use of the greater range and accuracy his ASMD had over Seneca's pistols and Minqua's 12-guage shotgun.

The muzzle of Marcus' shock rifle glowed as he ducked back and seized the new energy core that had just materialised beside him, spawned by the Liandri technicians responsible for monitoring competitor ammo supply. The high-pitched shriek of energy bolts and the staccato bark of automatics merged into a white wall of noise, a cacophony of battle that Marcus had heard often enough in the last four years but now augmented with the unfamiliar snarls of the two Solstice as they darted amongst the gladiators. The sound was the same but subtly different - like his overall situation. Like on Na Pali against the Phayders, it was kill or be killed. But his reason for fighting had changed. On Na Pali he and Luthienne had fought for their lives, for the memories of their murdered friends, and for the freedom of the planets rightful rulers. In this Tournament, he was fighting because he was broke and didn't know what else to do. And, though he hardly dared admit it to himself, because he enjoyed it. But here it had no meaning, no purpose. Whatever the hardships they had had to endure on Na Pali, he found himself wishing once again that he had never been rescued.

He flattened himself against the wall beside one of the bunker complex doors, and spun out low to open fire. The two Battleclaws rampaging through the fray did not throw him off. Necris liked to fight up close and Marcus had had to learn quickly how to pick fast-moving targets out of a confused melee - it was second nature to him now. A small, detached part of his mind regarded the gladiators he was instinctively taking aim at. Though they were here to kill each other, this time it was because of the rules of the Tournament and not because any of these people had done him any personal wrong.

The rest of him, hardened by four years of hell until it was almost completely divorced from his feelings under combat conditions, did not hesitate. A spread of blue energy bars slashed through the melee by the gate, blasting glowing chest wounds in at least one of the gladiators.

He ducked back into cover, feeling the violent pounding of his heart and the beginning of a cold sweat on his forehead. The familiar sick rush of adrenaline and fear was exactly the same as on Na Pali.

And, as always, it was intoxicating.


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
Farseer Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.

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<Not bad, team,> Lune said to the others as they stepped off the teleporter pads back into the armoury. They placed their weapons back on their racks and watched as they slid neatly into the walls before heading for the changing rooms.

The practice match had gone as well as Lune could have expected - her team seemed to be adapting reasonably well to the nanowhite arenas, and the course of the match had told her that the choke-point at the wall was their best chance of holding off the attackers until time ran out, although they could probably hold Nature's Deadliest up all day in the open plaza between the wall and the bunkers as well, for that part of the arena was a shooting gallery.

Marcus undid the straps on his modified Alitan armour and shrugged off the lightweight plates before handing them to Aino to be stored away and heading for the showers to unknot the muscles in his tired limbs. The fight had been brief but intense. He ducked his head under the water jet then pushed the wet hair away from his face, thinking to himself.

He felt completely calm. After his first few battles with the Necris he found that the immediate horror of the fight quickly faded, returning only sometimes in his dreams, where the shot or blade that had come within a hair's breadth of claiming his life would jolt him awake in the dimness of Myscha's hut bathed in cold sweat. He wondered what form the dreams would take after his actual deaths in the arena, and shivered despite the warmth of the shower.

He thought about the other, worse events that still sometimes plagued his dreams and clenched his jaw, the fingers of his right hand rubbing subconsciously back and forth over the scar on his palm.

After a hard night's partying, Diego didn't wake until late morning. The girl he had met last night was still asleep, her hair fanned across the pillow next to him. Diego got up carefully so as not to disturb her, then picked up his trousers from the crumpled heap on the floor and pulled them on, thinking vaguely about breakfast. With everything else that had happened last night

he had almost forgotten the fight with Blake at the bar. He was sharply reminded when a team of Liandri Angels appeared at Haven's airlock. He sighed and went to the door, leaning casually against the bulkhead as the outer hull doors ground open.

"Hello ladies," he said, "To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"

The sergeant's face was as cold and hard as her dark blue body armour.

"The CEO wants to speak with you."

"Figures..." Diego sighed, standing up and following the corporate mercenaries down the ship's gangplank.

Mander wasn't aware of the Angels' arrival. He was on the other side of the Haven in the cargo hold, which as well as being his training suite was also the quietest section of the ship. If he disapproved of Diego and the others wasting time getting drunk instead of training for their next match - which was now less than a day away - he knew it would be pointless to tell them so. As it was he continued to gaze at the holographic display in front of him, studying every inch of the arena map and every now and then calling up pictures of each team's members and staring at them intently as if he could extract their deepest secrets from behind the eyes of their expressionless photos. He stroked his beard and muttered under his breath, thinking aloud as he worked.

He heard Heather approach even though her feet made almost no noise against the metal floor. He turned slowly and fixed his fellow Geo with an unblinking golden stare. The hawk-like gaze might have intimidated a stranger, but Heather and Mander went way back.

"Gina's looking for you," the female Geo said.

"Alright, I'll be upstairs in a minute."

"And a squad of Angels just hauled Diego out for a telling-off about last night."

"Damn kids..." Mander growled, but in an exasperated rather than angry voice, "Got themselves into trouble again, I suppose..."

"Boys will be boys," Heather smiled, "Besides, you're serious enough for all of us."

"Someone has to be..." Mander grunted.

Heather looked past Mander to the holo-display still hovering patiently behind him.

"So what do you reckon?" she asked, standing next to Mander and resting her arms on the table as he turned back to the arena map.


Captain Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien. All we have seen are deluded tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
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Diego was led into the same room as always, a cold dark room the only light being from the giant screen on the wall, the angels pushed open the door slamming it behind Diego, Cleet and Snowva who were already in the room turned to Diego.

"Finally awake eh?" Cleet said greeting his friend, "We've been waiting here for ages, this room is making me depressed,"

"Sorry dude was a wild night," Diego laughed.

"Tell me about it, but you left early enough with that girl,"

"Well, we didn't leave to go to sleep," the three laughed. "So Cleet, get anywhere on the Heather front," Diego teased causing Cleet to blush.

"No he avoided her most of the night," Snowva interupted.

"Seriously! I'm starting to question you sexuality Cleet, good looking girl comes onto you and you run away!"

"I'm too hungover for this," Cleet said pushing up his glasses.

"Well your headache's about to get worse," Snowva said pointing to the screen as the CEO's shadowy figure appeared.

"Don't see why I'm here, I didn't get caught," Cleet said to himself.

"I know very well you were fighting Cleet Lambarg!"

"Wow, we're getting full names today guys," Diego said looking to Cleet.

"I'd prefer Mr Lambarg from the likes of him,"

"Hold your tounge Cleet,"

"Mr Turner...hmm, Mr no Master Turner, I like the sound of that, think your onto something Cleet, sorry Mr Lambarg," Diego then turned toward Snowva.

"Don't even start," Snowva said.

"Mr Scrots, heh, heh," Diego said under his breath

"No Master Scrots," Cleet said smiling immaturly.

"I hate my surname..."

"Enough of your childishness!" The CEO roared at the three, "I own you I can call you anything I want!"

"You don't have to yell," Diego said quietly.

"You three...what makes you think you could get away with fighting fellow compeitors?"

"Umm I'd like to point out that I wasn't fighting," Cleet stepped in, Suddenly appearing on the screen appeared a part of the Tornament news with a head line 'Nature's Deadliest in Drunked Brawl', scorlling down a paragraph was written on Cleet fighting Kane and escaping the Liandri angels with a female asscociate. Cleet smiled.

"Damn reporters,"

"Don't try to make me look like a fool Cleet," the CEO roared. 

Diego raised his hand. "That reports a lie," although the CEO was only a shadowly figure Diego could feel his angered stare.

"And how so?"

"We weren't drunk just abit tipsy, if we were drunk we wouldn't have been able to fight like that, and it wasn't really a brawl, more of a routein ass kicking," Diego stood back expecting the CEO to roar back at him, but instead he kept silent.

"It appears you three are getting abit out of hand, your immaturity and attitude towards authority worries me slightly, I know you are not to be underestimated, after all you evaded my hunters for four years and defeated some of my best agents, which is why I have taking measures to ensure your co-operatiion." Diego, Cleet and Snowva's faces turned serious, "Ah so you all remember what I am capable of, and know this I won't hesitate should you not do exactly as I say," Diego suddenly smiled slighly.

"I don't think you will do it,"

"Do you tempt me Diego? I have had planets flattened before Haven will be no differen't,"

"No, no, if you do that then you lose what control you have on us, and also we might get angry,"

"I don't fear you Diego, you are all but a small rebellious group of kids,"

"I may go public on one of your dark secrets,"

"I have other measures Diego, to keep you in line, lovely girls on your crew I must admit, you rebel I won't kill them like I will you three, I could do so much more to them,"

"If you touch any of them," Diego said sternly, Cleet and Snowva stepping foward with him fists clenched.

"Well now that thats settled lets get back to business, if you had done your research then you would know your next opponents and the type of match, Assaults are good as the amount of times you die has no effect on the score, so I want to see some risky moves and some kamakazie attacks, your opponents aren't human and thus superior to you all naturally, but I'm sure you lot can handle it, understood?"

"Yeh, whatever,"

"good and oh more thing, to make sure you boys don't try anything, I have a special person to monitor you lot," Diego turned round with the slam of a door. Standing at the door was a man about the same age as Diego, his hair combed back and gelled in place, he wore a loose fitting untucked white shirt the top and bottom buttons undone with black trousers.

"Well if it isn't pretty boy,"

"Diego, long time no see, and you can call me Ross, and from now on you answer to me, you step out of line and I won't hesitate to smack that ****y face of yours,"

"You want to go tough guy?" Diego said stepping forward but was held back by Cleet and Snowva.

"Diego, from now on you will answer to my son, he is incharge of the tournament from here on out, and he has been given permission to use whatever means nesercary to keep you in line."

Ross walked over to Diego, they stood at the exact same height and they stared at eachother for what seemed an eternalty, then suddenly Ross struck forward with a fast and powerful punch flooring Diego instantly, Cleet and Snowva where about to jump forward when Diego ordered them to stop, rising to his feet and rubbing his cheek.

"As you may have just noticed Ross has gone under abit of modification and some heavy training, so I couldn't think of a better person to keep you in line, now you three may take your leave," Diego led Cleet and Snowva out the room brushing past the still smiling Ross who merely produced a comb and combed his hair back.

"Ross, I fear Diego may step out of line despite all this, I think I'll take one more extra measure, bring Blake to me,"

"Yes father,"

(A long post, kinda dragged it on but who cares)

-- Edited by The Underdog at 23:14, 2008-01-08



Status: Offline
Posts: 1086

"Whats this about?" Blake asked Ross suspicously as he led him to a guarded door.

"Nothing much, the Laindri head would just like a word about last nights incident, don't worry nothing major, just a slap on wrist I think,"

"Well lets get it over with I have to get ready for my up coming match,"

"Oh you shouldn't worry about your next match," Ross said as he opened the door. The pair were greeted by a large screen the filled the great shadowed figure of the Liandri CEO a man of great mystery.

"Welcome Blake,"

"It's a pleasure to meet a man like yourself," Blake said overwhelmed by the power and stature the man on the screen radiated.

"My son may have told you why I had you brought to me on such short notice," Blake looked at Ross.

"He's the son of one of the most powerful men in the universe? Always thought the son of Liandri would be a spoiled little brat," Blake thought to himself before answering the CEO, "I apologise for my actions, it won't happen again,"

"Such words I would never expect from a man like you, I don't need any apologies Blake and I wouldn't expect one from you, no instead I'm willing to make you an offer to make my tournament a little more interesting..."  Blake relaxed calmed by the CEO's words. "Do you hate Diego," the mere mention of Diego's name irritated Blake.

"He's humiliated me twice already,"

"And I bet it irritates you more knowing you'll never be able to beat him," Ross mused, angering Blake.

"That little runt only got lucky!"

"What both times? In the arena you could use that as an excuse if the match was close but you and your team were dominated from start to begining and not to mention this is Nature's deadilest first tournament when you and part of your team are vetrens, you can't put that down to luck..." Blakes rage boiled.

"If you weren't the CEO's son," he said through gritted teeth.

"And in the bar he still kicked your ass even after you had a free first punch, face it Blake you can't beat Diego he's on a whole other level,"

"Don't mock me!" Blake roared charging at Ross, Ross kept his hands in his pockets and easily twirled around Blake following up with a kick in the back of head flooring him.

"Nice aggression," Ross commented, stepping back as Blake rose to his feet.

"Thats enough Blake, although its hard for you to take you could never face Diego as an equal, Ross is the same as Diego this proving they are beyond you, however with our help that could all change,"

"I'll do whatever it takes," Blake vowed.

"Very well go with Ross, unfortunatly you won't be able to compete, in the meantime Stilgar will lead the Steel Cobras, don't worry Ross will make sure your team stays in the tournament, and when you return you will have a rematch with Diego,"

"Why are you doing this,"

"All in the interest in ratings..."


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