An Odd Job

As far as scenery goes, the Valley of the Rare-Hertz is similar to the rest of Zi. There is something else however, a strong aura is emitted here called the 'Rare-Hertz'. The Rare-Hertz is an aura that causes Zoids and Organoids to go crazy and attack anything in sight. Zoids however, come with something called a 'Pulse Guard' to protect against this; Organoids do not.

[ Branches: Evopolis Ruins ]

An Odd Job

Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 6 2016, 12:45 AM #1

The Fallen King. Two miles from the Valley of the Rare Hertz.

The Whale King wreck was quiet. Zoid tracks leading two and from the bisected carrier are the only indication of life from afar. Inside is little different. The lone Fire Fox dashing towards the behemoth seems to take shelter in its cavernous belly.

Once inside, Catherine Celest, Cat, pops the canopy and jumps, not even waiting for her Zoid to fully stop. You're going to hurt yourself. You should at least let me put you down. She was already disappearing down one of the corridors into the dark depths of the wrecked carrier, not even bothering with a flashlight in the dark. She knew this place well. She was here enough to call this home. Almost. This was his home. She just visited. A lot.

"Remiel." Her tone was flat, even. He responded best to that. He was already putting down the shotgun and swinging his legs over the side of his bunk, with only traces of light coming from under a closed door across the hall, she could barely make him out as she stepped up to the open door. He seemed alert, but she knew she just woke him up. He clearly hadn't shaved or showered yet and was only wearing a sleevless undershirt and his boxers. The shotgun thumped heavily back into its rack next to his bed.

"Cat? What is it?" He knew it was work. She wasn't too worked up for it to be trouble, or the rare good news. He ran a hand threw his hair as he looked up at her.

"Remiel," she repeated in the same flat tone.

He cocked an eyebrow. "That serious, huh?" He stood up, stretched, and waved her in and sat back down, indicating for her to join him. She came in, but stood in front of him, leaning back against the wall, arms crossed. He scrunched up his face looking at her.

She took in a deep breath. "It IS work, but...it's weird. My usual contact gave it to me, said it was a job that the client asked for you, specifically, by name." She gave him a moment to process that, be fore reaching into a pocket on her flight suit and pulling out a folded paper and gave it to him. "Remember Colonel Garrot? The ARMY is the client, HE used your name."

Remiel froze, starring straight at her. He remembered the colonel, but couldn't be sure if this was good or bad. Judging from her tone, neither could Cat.
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 6 2016, 07:07 AM #2

"Well," Cat continued, "one of the clients for this job. Like I said, this one is weird. In addition to the army, some private rich guy, owner of some company is the other client. Apparently he organized some expedition into the valley and lost contact with them. Pulled strings, probably greased a few palms, got an army unit to go in after them and whatever their big discovery was. Fair size unit. Six Rev Raptors, two Cannonry Molgas, a Dark Horn, and two Redlers." Remiel started at her. "A force that size, and the only thing heard from them was one of the Redler pilots reported being under attack. Then silence. The whole unit was gone." Remiel's stomach churned as a chill went up his spine.

"Then the job is what exactly?" Remiel unfolded the paper as he asked, but Cat didn't answer right away. Instead, she flicked on the lamp in the room. They both squinted against the sudden brightness, but adjusted quickly. Still she stayed quiet, so after looking at her again, he turned his attention to the paper.

"An official contract? Not usually the work offers you get me. Witness signatures, official stamps, Colonel Garrot's signature, but no space for mine?" He jumped back up the contract and skimmed over it. "Terms if you choose to accept....not to be held responsible....no provisions for the care of....here we go. Search out and report back information relating to hostile party or parties, search for survivors if possible, neutralize hostile party or parties by any force necessary, if possible. Report back any successes and or information relating to situation." He looked Cat in the eyes. "Are they serious?"

She nodded. "Yeah. Apparently the unit that went in didn't have the approval of the higher ups yet and are MIA. The army doesn't want to make a big scene by throwing a major force in, if they don't have to. The colonel figures you're trained and local with more experience around here and would fare better than a large unit."

He nodded. "Hopefully you'll be helping me with scouting. Flare is MUCH better suited to both the job and the terrain than Brass."

She inclined her head, indicating that she was, and gestured back to the contract. "Hurry up. Get to the weird part of this whole thing."

She was right, so far this sort of situation had come up before. People going after 'easy money' get hurt, cry for help, military sends out a call for mercenaries like Remiel and Cat to do the dirty work so the army doesn't look bad and can claim no responsibility if something goes wrong. Or right, in some cases. He looked back to the contract. "Rewards for services rendered are to include...holy crap. Are they serious?" She nodded again. "Salary pay equal to last held rank plus one grade, provided he conducts himself in a manner befitting an imperial officer, consideration for future military activity or needs, anything recovered from the expedition or hostile force to the exclusion only of official military Zoids, AND..." He let his hand drift down as he just looked out into the hall. "That's....a LOT of cash as a bonus...."

"Especially when you consider the requirements to EARN it. All we have to do is look around, find out what happened, if anyone's still alive, and report back. They would LIKE it dealt with, but don't expect us to. Could be people, or rampaging Zoids, or...something else. We're blind."

He looked back at her as he considered, and narrowed his eyes. "Pot's too sweet. They're hiding something. Or they have never dealt with mercs before."

"Yeah. I thought the same thing. Most of the reward is being put up by the civilian, and I expect he's pulling strings with someone for the rest. Worst case scenario, we get whatever we find plus the cash. Or they just claim the contract is fake or something and we keep anything we find."

"And he tells families the news. Probably hoping bandits, beyond his control. Organized though, to take out so many trained soldiers so quickly." He scratched the stubble on his chin as he thought. "So we just have to hope we find something good. Make it worth it, just in case."

"Only other stipulation is a time limit. We have to go if we're doing this."

He nodded and stood. She looked him in the eye and he held her gaze with a grin. "Thanks, Cat." He reached out and pulled her against him, kissing her forehead. She returned the embrace, but pulled back. "Shower. You need it." She stepped back and started for the door.

"Join me?" He couldn't help but ask with a grin.

"If we both come back alive, sure. But you have to shave first."

He watched her go, hips swaying more than usual and holding his attention, subconsciously rubbing his face, and wondering what the near future held for them both.
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 7 2016, 07:44 PM #3

Fifteen minutes later, Remiel walked into the one hangar he had restored to serviceable condition, where Catherine Celest and her Fire Fox, Flare, waited for him. Still pulling on his coat and his short black hair still damp from his shower, and his face now clean shaven, he grinned as he walked up to her. "Ready to go?"

She smiled back at him. "I was already ready before I came this way. We only have a couple days, don't need too much, hopefully." She eyed the duffle bag Remiel was carrying as he fitted his jacket in place. "You know, you aren't actually in the army any more. You don't HAVE to dress like an officer."

He looked down at himself and realized that out of habit, he had taken to dressing like an officer still. The clothes weren't the same as his old uniform, but were definitely similar. He looked back up at her and gave a helpless shrug as he slung the bag over his shoulder.

Clearly heavy, Cat easily guessed it was his personal weapons and provisions. She chuckled at him. "We'll get you something more casual with the reward. Let's move out."

Remiel walked past her to a large gate in the side of the hangar. "Brass, mobilize." A low groan followed by gears whirring to life preceded the gate sliding aside, a black Iron Kong moving into sight. Opening its hand flat, Remiel stepped up and it lifted the pilot up to the opening cockpit. Remiel tossed the heavy bag inside first, then settled into the seat with practiced ease.

Flare lowered his head to the ground and Catherine climbed up and dropped in, Flare raising up and closing the canopy as she strapped in. I don't like this. Too many unknowns. Not enough support. I believe this would constitute suicide to most intelligent beings.

The Iron Kong, Brass, rumbled his agreement. Remiel pulled up Cat on his HUD. "You briefed them?"

She nodded. "While you were getting cleaned up. Figure we'll go slow, I'll survey from the valley ridge while you patrol down below."

"I was thinking the same thing. Flare's sensors should give us more range from up high and with less interference. Com chat to a minimum?"

"Yeah. I'll keep you in sight and give cover fire if necessary, and slide down if I can. Until then, slow, cautious search."

"Alright, let's get started. Send me the coordinates to start the search."

A couple minutes later, the two Zoids were making good time toward the Valley of the Rare Hertz, pulse guards up at full.
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 8 2016, 07:38 PM #4

Six hours after setting out the two cautious pilots and there Zoids came across the first signs that they were indeed on the right track.

"Zoid tracks. Lots of them, probably the missing unit. We should be on the right path. Let me scout ahead. Hold tight fifteen minutes." Remiel nodded to her and they cut communication. Remiel kept Brass almost perfectly still while they waited for Catherine and Flare to return. He couldn't help but to watch every direction on his view screens, constantly looking for unexpected motion. He was on edge, ready to respond to nearly anything, keenly aware of the dangers one normally expected to be able to find in this place, while also aware that an unknown threat could be lurking anywhere. Four minutes passed. Five. Six. He kept calm, forcing himself to breath normally, fighting to hold the balance between highly alert and jumpy. Nine minutes. Ten.

"Remiel."

He frowned. She was back early. "What's up?"

"I'm dropping a cable. Leave Brass there and come up here. You need to see our target."

Two minutes up the cable, four minutes creeping across the ridge of the valley crammed into Flare's cockpit with Cat and he saw what she was talking about. Pieces of the army unit, mostly melted, and the stretch of valley looked like volcanic glass.

"What do you make of it Remiel?"

His eyes traced the destruction as he tried to picture it happening in his head. "That trench was melted by the same blast that wiped out the unit. Either a concentrated thermal blast, or...."

A Zoid roar cut in on his thoughts. They looked at each other and she urged Flare on further. Suicide. You're both crazy. No amount of anything could be worth this.

"Hush, you'll draw attention." Catherine mostly ignored her terrified Zoid's very understandable protests, but she knew there was some truth to it. As they approached the rim of the gorge, she pulled Flare up short, well back form the edge and had him crouch down as low as he could. This he did happily. Cat had binoculars, Remiel had his shotgun, and the two of them crept slowly to the edge and peeked over. Catherine caught her breath. Remiel grimaced. "A Geno Saurer." Rare. Powerful. Lethal. Armed with long range pulse laser guns and a charged particle cannon as its main weapons, the signs up the valley made sense. But this was probably too much for them to handle on their own. Remiel gently took her binoculars and scanned the area.

"There," he whispered, pointing. She took them back and followed his finger. "I'm betting that was their big discovery. Though to be honest, I was hoping for a pilot." Curled up on a rock maybe forty meters from the large black Zoid was a much smaller Zoid. Also a Tyrannosaurus type, this one didn't look much too bigger than a person. "That's an Organoid, right? No pulse guard, it probably went berserk, took control of the Geno Saurer, and the rest is history." Cat couldn't believe her eyes. The Organoid, this close to Eveopolis, she could understand, but where did the Geno Saurer come from?

"Remiel, this is bad. We AREN'T equipped for this....a Geno Saurer, where did this one even COME FROM? No army markings, and the rich guy didn't mention anything about one...so WHERE? It shouldn't be here..."

"A cast off maybe? If the stories are to be believed, a Geno Saurer out here isn't too strange. Or a ruined one the Organoid resurected. Ultimately, the why and how don't matter right now. We have to try to deal with this. If it leaves the valley..."

Shakily, she nodded. "Ideas on how to DO that? Geno Saurers tend to be violent."

He frowned, starring down at the two Zoids below. If we can immobilize the Geno Saurer, the Organoid should abandon it, or seek other options. We can deal with that then. Then we try to take it down on foot. If we can bag both, this job just paid for itself."

Cat looked suspiciously at Remiel. "You can't seriously be thinking about selling the Organoid, Remiel. Who knows what they would do to it? The army..."

He cut her off with a gesture. "Wasn't thinking about selling it. Was thinking about keeping it." He looked her in the eyes. "Sell it, and a merc could retire for good. Live in a mansion. Have no needs unmet. Nothing but time." He grinned at her skeptical expression. "If I had that much time to just sit and think, I'd blow my own brains out, and you know it."

She considered his words, then relaxed some. He probably would. That was why she spent so much time trying to keep him occupied, after all. "Fine. So a friend, then? But its berserk. No one knows how to fix that. Rumors always said that when the Rare Hertz drives a Zoid insane, that's it. It's gone for good. What are you thinking?"

He shrugged. "Figured I'd have to subdue it first. Drag it out of here, then try something. But we can worry about that bridge when we get there." He gestured back to the Geno Saurer, and Cat followed his gaze. "If you can sneak down that wall under optical camo, I'll slide Brass down that side over there. If I can get Brass to grab it by the tail and turret, and you have Flare grab it from the other side and anchor down, the Zoids should be able to hold it immobile."

Cat nodded. "Timing will be close, but I think we can manage. Then we jump out to confront the Organoid?"

"If it doesn't run. If it does, we try to deal fully with the Geno Saurer first."

"Alright. Back to Flare and Brass." Cat looked Remiel in the eyes. "If we live through this, you WILL be buying me dinner. Somewhere nice. Probably very expensive."

He grinned as they crept back to Flare. "Wouldn't have it any other way."
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 8 2016, 11:32 PM #5

Getting back to Brass was easy. Getting the Iron Kong up the cliff side was a little trickier. It took nearly an hour, but soon both Zoids were on opposite sides of the ravine and moving slowly into position. Flare, with active camo and having been designed for stealth had a significantly easier time than the large Iron Kong, who consequently had to circle wider around. Remiel moved into position and waited, confident in Cat's ability to get her Zoid down the cliff without being noticed. He waited for her move, and he didn't have to wait long. The Geno Saurer lurched sideways as the Fire Fox grabbed it by the left leg and deployed all four anchors, two on the Zoid's armor, two on the ground. Literally holding on for dear life as the surprised Geno Saurer started to react and the crazed Organoid roared.

Remiel was already moving. Brass barreled down the cliffside, and the Geno Saurer immediately tried to pivot toward him. Flare held tight, preventing the off-balance Geno from turning and Brass slammed into it exactly where and how Remiel hoped. One massive arm around the tail, the other grabbing the pulse laser gun, the Iron Kong wrestled to hold the tyrannosaurus still, while the Geno Saurer tried to thrash and throw off the Zoids trying to pin it. And the Geno Saurer, caught by surprise and off balance, was still quite strong...

Catherine knew they were in trouble. They couldn't hold it for long and the Organoid hadn't even fuzed yet. It seemed to be fighting with itself, struggling to move. That wouldn't last. The crazed Zoid would gather it's wits enough to fight them. She pulled back on her controls, Flare jerking the Geno Saurer sideways before disengaging the anchors. Letting go for just a second, the Geno pushed towards Remiel. Flare dropped low and lunged forward, grabbing at its fore arm and angling one paw at its cockpit. The Geno roared as the Fire Fox's claws forced it's chest open a little and it turned back on her. She wasn't braced as well anymore, and the Geno's surprise and confusion was quickly giving way to anger. It flung the Fire Fox back and down, but in so doing, wrenched its own cockpit open further.

Remiel jerked the Zoid back towards himself, and succeeded in actually toppling it over, along with Brass. Both Zoids fell over in a heap as the Fire Fox pounced at the Organoid. Remiel popped Brass's canopy even as the Zoids struggled and swung down for the Geno Saurer's empty cockpit. Metal screeched against metal and the Iron Kong bellowed in pain as the Geno Saurer's claws dug into it. Remiel winced in sympathy, but knew this needed to end fast or they were doomed.

Catherine was trying not to hurt the Organoid too badly, but it had recovered enough to react to her trying to put Flare's paw on it. It darted to the side, then forward, much faster than she had given it credit for. Swearing as she realized it was aiming for the Geno Saurer, she fired Flare's gattling gun ahead of the little Zoid. It balked at the impacts and jumped back, roaring at her in anger and defiance. She pounced again, and again it evaded her. She knew time was against them, but it was quick. The Organoid opened boosters on its legs and she pounced again. This time, frustrated as she was, she finally made some contact. The airborne Organoid tumbled back to earth just in front of the Geno Saurer, and Remiel. Outside the Geno Saurer's cockpit still, the Zoid suddenly lurched upright, and Remiel fell. The Organoid turned on him, and he was back on his feet to face it.

The Geno Saurer had dug its claws deeply into Brass's leg, and the wound cost the Iron Kong some of its leverage. It jerked itself up, pulling Brass up as well and twisted violently towards the Iron Kong, trying to shake it the rest of the way off. Brass held tight, but the Geno Saurer twisted itself away some, pulling its tail and slowly pivoting its turret away, it pulled Brass off balance, then turned quickly the other way and slammed Brass against the cliffside. Then again. And a third time. Still Brass held on, but He was losing his grip.

Cat pushed Flare forward, charging the Geno, and intending to help hold it again. Instead, it twisted and Flare's head ended up biting its forearm. She grimaced, and pushed Flare's head down. The cockpit. It was still open. The Geno slammed Brass against the rocks again, practically ignoring the Fire Fox. She released her harness, ready to jump for the Geno's cockpit when it slammed Brass a fifth time, and this time, he fell off. She popped her canopy as the Geno pivoted its pulse laser guns down. She jerked Flare's head to the side twisting the Geno Saurer back towards her as much as she could and throwing its aim as it fired both barrels point blank into the Iron Kong. She was in. Pulling the harness into place she jerked the Geno Saurer's controls. Surprised, it jerked back and nearly toppled over. Fast as she could find them, she switched off the Zoid's weapons.
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 9 2016, 12:23 AM #6

Remiel stood face to face with the berserk Organoid. Looking very much like a miniature tyrannosaurus, it's sleek gun metal plating and wicked teeth reminded Remiel he wasn't staring at some idiot in a ring. Flesh against metal. The Organoid was bigger than him too, nearly six feet at the shoulder, and probably twelve feet long, with a big head, mostly jaw. "Kinda look like a tiny Gojulas Giga, don't you? With sharper claws and teeth, and shorter arms..."

It growled at him.

"Well then," he popped his neck and shoulders, "lets do this."

The Organoid roared and charged him, mouth wide open, teeth gleaming wickedly. Remiel stepped aside just as it closed the distance and pushed against the side of its jaws with his bare hands, forcing its deadly bite out wide. It wheeled back around, intent on taking a bite out of him and he dodged the other way. When it came at him for the third time, he kicked his foot into its ankle as it charged past, tripping it. He winced and hissed through clenched teeth at the pain, hesitating a moment as the Organoid thrashed on the ground in fury. Limping a little, he jumped on it before it could right itself, holding it down with his body weight far enough forward to keep it too top heavy to stand, while pushing his hands against its lower jaw, preventing it from snapping at him. It bucked and thrashed and roared, but couldn't dislodge him.

Catherine was finally getting the Geno Saurer under control, trying to calm it down, talking to it and fighting with the controls. Finally, the Zoid calmed. The damaged cockpit groaned closed, and her monitors sprang to life. She looked at Brass, and it didn't look good. The guns hadn't hit him squarely in the chest, they had nearly blown his right arm off, and being repeatedly slammed against the stone by the Geno Saurer had crushed in areas of his chest. His legs were both in bad shape, the claws had torn one wide open and the other had gotten caught in a bad angle when the Geno was smashing him, leaving it twisted in an unnatural angle. Flare gradually eased off as the Geno Saurer lowered its arms, not fighting back anymore and Cat looked down to Remiel. He had the Organoid pinned, and the way it was thrashing, it should tire quickly.

Gently, Cat urged the Geno Saurer's controls to lower the cockpit towards the ground, not too far from Remiel. Flare dipped his head nearby as well, awaiting the return of his pilot. The cockpit opened again, with some difficulty, but Cat wasn't willing to just abandon her potentially tenuous position just yet. The Organoid had finally exhausted itself and Remiel held it down just a little longer.

Cat hollered at her Zoid. "Flare, when Remiel stands, pick the Organoid up in your mouth. Hold it tight, but try not to damage it if you can help it." Hearing her, Remiel held it down through a weak attempt to throw him, then jumped clear for Flare to scoop it up. He looked up to see Catherine in the Geno Saurer's cockpit and nodded to her, taking a moment to catch his breath.

"How'd we do?" He finally managed.

Cat cringed. Gesturing to the side, he walked to where he could see Brass. And immediately wished he hadn't. He ran to his partner and started climbing, forgetting the pain in his ankle altogether. Oil and hydraulic fluid impeded his progress but he struggled on. Dropping into Brass's still open cockpit, he addressed his Zoid. "Brass? Hang on buddy. It's over now. We'll get you fixed up. How bad is it?" Monitors statically flashed damage reports, one over top of another. Remiel's heart sank as he watched. "Brass, my old friend, you WILL pull through. I've known you for years, you CAN endure this. Just hold on. Take it easy, we're going to figure out how to get you out of here and into a repair bay."

Remiel stood and yelled to Cat, even as she turned the Geno Saurer around and stood it up to see him. "I think we can put Brass across the Geno Saurer's back, in front of the turret. We should be able to get him out of here and get him fixed up."

"Alright, put him across!"

Remiel strapped in and gently urged his critically injured Zoid to move as Cat put the Geno Saurer's side up to Brass, making it easy for him to lay across. As he got into position, Remiel opened the cockpit again and climbed down to the Geno. Cat left the cockpit open and he stepped up to it, holding on above as he did.

"Remiel, you pilot the Geno. Get Brass on the way to repairs. Flare and I will scout around more for survivors, just to make sure. We'll leave you the Organoid as well. Maybe you will have some luck with it, but it needs to be away from the Rare Hertz to have a chance.

At first, he was surprised. But as she explained, he nodded grimly. She unfastened as he came in, they kissed, and he settled into the seat as she stepped out to Flare's waiting snout and settled into her more familiar cockpit. Remiel closed the hatch, and Flare opened his mouth and set the Organoid down and the Geno reached down to pick it up. Slowly, they parted ways. Remiel easing the large Zoid forward, careful not to dislodge the injured Iron Kong, Cat and Flare off to search out signs of life.
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 11 2016, 08:32 PM #7

Remiel urged the Geno Saurer on, so agonizingly slowly, impatient and anxious to get Brass somewhere to be repaired. The Fallen King wouldn't be sufficient for this. The damage was too severe. He had to constantly force himself to keep it slow and easy, so Brass wouldn't fall off. Two hours in and he was suddenly pulled from his internal struggle.

If you're so concerned about the Iron Kong, we CAN go faster...just a suggestion, of course. We won't be getting anywhere soon at this speed...

Remiel snapped all the way up in his seat. "Geno Saurer? Wasn't expecting conversation, or concern about your passengers..." His surprise quickly gave way to curiosity, but he was still wary.

What? I can't care about the plight of others?

"You WERE the one who put him in this condition." Remiel felt a twinge of indignation at the Zoid's casual and innocent attitude. He got the impression the Zoid shrugged.

Am I not allowed to defend myself? The two of you and your Zoids attacked me, unprovoked. If this is in response to all those others who were killed, THAT was that blasted Organoid. I would have been just fine leaving well enough alone, but that crazy little monster seems to delight in death.

Remiel couldn't believe what he was hearing. "We tried to hold you, so you wouldn't attack us, on your own or by control of the Organoid. No one shot at you." Remiel sighed and the Geno Saurer stopped walking. The fox clawed at the cockpit in my chest. "The fox didn't laser charge its claws, though. She went for your cockpit in an attempt to stop you without injuries." You think that wasn't unpleasant? "Look, I'm sorry. I was hoping this would be an easy job and we'd all get out with our skins intact. Brass and I have been partners for years, and it kills me to see him in this condition and not be able to help him better. You and that little Organoid gave us a lot more trouble than I had been expecting to find, but one doesn't normally ask an unpiloted Geno Saurer if it will cooperate and stay to the side." He sighed again as the Zoid shifted. "I'm also just not very good at dealing with others..."

The Geno Saurer rolled its weight, settling Brass more securely on its back. Brass, huh? Seems a rather uncreative name for an Iron Kong. How'd you come up with that?

Remiel was taken aback by the change in attitude. After a moment, he allowed himself to laugh. "I was assigned to Brass as a freshly appointed Lt. I called him Brass because it was usually the top brass who piloted Iron Kongs in the army and I took it as a good omen for my career."

I take it all did not go as planned.

"Perceptive. The short version is I accidentally caught my superior officer in a burst of cover fire." His tone betrayed how much the memory still haunted him. "He ordered all units to fall back. We were still taking heavy fire, I turned and fired a full salvo without aiming, just to disrupt the enemy's fire. He had charged in, looking for glory, and caught a missile right in the cockpit." He sighed again. "That wasn't the end of my career. I was found not guilty in court marshal, but having to live with that memory over and over, and the other soldiers in our unit COMPLIMENTING my aim, I started drinking." He laughed at himself. "That was when everything went downhill."

So? You killed someone. Get over it. As a soldier, you're expected to kill people, aren't you? Isn't that the point of war?

Remiel stopped, shocked. "WHO you kill is important. More important than whether or not you kill anyone. Control. Identifying threats and only striking at THEM. Indiscriminate slaughter is never the point." Remiel frowned. "If we were just here to kill and destroy, the Fire Fox would have hit you with laser charged claws before you knew she was there. Control. Discipline. Precision. A goal other than than just killing."

And collateral damage? Accidents? Unintended consequences of conflict? Everyone dies. You're stuck on the one person you didn't want to kill. Remember all those dead people and Zoids the Organoid make me kill? I don't let it bother me. Did I particularly want to kill them? No. But they are dead, because of my weapons. Brass's missile was what ultimately killed your boss? Does he let it bother him? How many did you intentionally kill? Why let the one accident, that you can't change, bother and control you so much? Move on already.
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Ian Constance
Zoid Pilot
Joined: Jun 2 2013, 10:40 PM

Mar 14 2016, 06:32 PM #8

Remiel seethed at the Geno Saurer's casual, condescending tone. But before he could respond, Catherine's voice cut in on his com.

"Remiel, I don't see any traces of survivors out here. I'm heading back to you."

He took a deep breath to steady himself, trying to keep his frustration out of his voice. "Alright Cat. We didn't expect to find any, anyway. The Saurer says we can go faster without throwing Brass. When you catch up, we'll pick up the pace."

"Sounds good. Let's go get him taken care of and cash in on this job. I'm looking forward to dinner on you!"

He couldn't help but to grin. "Shopping first. Have to find me something nice to wear."

"In that case, you should buy me something nice too! See you in just a couple minutes!" Her tone was light, and it eased his heart to hear. She had already cut the com link before he could respond, but his smile was genuine.

Interesting how much influence the lady has over your tone and reactions. Illogical, but interesting. The Zoid seemed to shrug again. Perhaps though, such reactions give a glimpse into your deeper purposes? I had assumed you would be able to simply accept that your problems were imagined and you would be able to move forward again. You humans make so little sense. Still, watching you may prove amusing, if nothing else. You will need a partner at least while Brass is mending, yes? Perhaps you can learn something from me, or I from you.

He cocked his head. "You're OFFERING to be my partner?" He rolled the possibilities around in his head. A Geno Saurer for his partner. He'd have to figure out how to keep it under control, but otherwise, his life was about to get significantly easier. "Why not? Today's been anything but what I expected anyway..." He laughed. Maybe things were looking up after all. If the job doesn't turn out to be a double cross, then maybe his luck would finally turn around. All he still had to do was cash in and...

The Geno Saurer's arm jerked. Startled, Remiel looked down. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot about you." The Organoid had thrashed violently in an attempt to break free. "Need to deal with you first, don't I?" He kept an eye on the small Zoid as he waited for Cat to catch up. She didn't keep him waiting for long. The Organoid jerked again just as Flare came up along side the waiting Geno.

"So, the Geno Saurer will be my stand in Zoid partner at least until Brass is back up again. But, we need to do something about the Organoid before we go any further."

Catherine was shocked at first, but nodded. "You going to try to force it down again?"
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Mar 21 2016, 09:52 PM #9

"Yeah. Care to give me a hand? Or be ready to?" Remiel grabbed his bag and pulled out his shotgun, lowered the Geno Saurer's arm and opened the cockpit. Catherine popped her canopy and jumped, Flare lifted his head back up ready to go. Cat pulled her pistol as Remiel jumped down to the sand. "Alright, let's do this. Go ahead and drop it! We'll either knock some sense into it or put it down!" He looked Cat in the eyes and she nodded. Go time.

The Geno dropped the Organoid and before it even hit the ground it was rolling to get its feet under itself. With a roar it charged Remiel and Catherine, and was met with a 12 gauge slug. The Organoid, shocked at the impact, staggered backward, reeling from the glancing hit to the head. Remiel stalked towards it, keeping a steady bead on it while Cat circled slowly to the side, finger on the trigger. "Easy does it, big guy. These are expensive shells, but we don't have a lot of time to waste. Calm down and we can talk civilized. Keep up the wild animal routine, and we have to put you down like one. What'll it be?" Slowly, he closed the short distance between them, the Organoid still seemed dazed, but defensive, wary and watching. It stepped back and staggered a little, keeping it's eyes on his gun.

He was almost to it when he caught the trick. It shifted it's weight to one leg and he almost didn't catch the motion in time. The Organoid lunged while Remi was midstep. Caught off-balance, he barely put his gun up between himself and snapping jaws in time. The Organoid drove him straight into the sand, his shotgun sideways in its mouth, the only thing holding back its huge head and long teeth. Catherine screamed at it and fired repeatedly as she ran in, Flare couldn't fire into such tight quarters and hung back. The Organoid ignored Cat as it struggled to bring its powerful jaws together around Remiel's head, and he struggled to hold it back. It was close enough already that it managed to rake him with the claws on its short little arms. Remiel growled through the pain and pushed back harder. As Cat came in on it, it abandoned attacking Remiel for her. Keeping its back teeth hooked around his gun, it whipped up, taking the shotgun with it.

Cat back pedaled and shot it right in the face as it flung Remiel's shotgun away and whirled at her. He rolled to the side, avoiding its foot talons as it turned, but couldn't stop it from charging. Catherine jumped to the side and ducked, avoiding both a bite and a.swing of its heavy tail. She ejected her magazine and reloaded to shoot again when Remiel yelled. "Cat!" The Organoid turned back toward him just in time to catch brass knuckles in the face. With all his weight behind the hit, Remiel knew he hurt his hand, but he couldn't think about that right now. The small Zoid was off balance and he pressed his advantage.
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Mar 21 2016, 10:08 PM #10

Remiel's empty hand pushed the stumbling Zoid over, the two dropping back into the sand.Still pushing down on its head, he pounded with the brass knuckles. His fingers hurt too much after the fourth punch, he just couldn't hit it again. Grimacing, his free hand dropped to his side for his combat knife while he switched his weight to his right arm, pushing down with his forearm. Wrenching the knife free and pulling it up to the dazed Organoid's exposed eye, he growled from the pain in his throbbing hand as he cursed and swore. "Calm the heck down, blast you!" He threw his leg across its neck to try to hold it, and while its thrashing eased, it continued to growl and hiss savagely.

Remiel held firm, keeping the knife tip to the small Zoid's eye, and slowly regained his composure. Keeping his position on top of the Organoid and adopting an look of controlled dominance, he held the Organoid's gaze, unblinking. The growling and hissing stopped as they stared at each other. Catherine lowered her gun, watching them curiously. Remiel finally sighed and stood, dropping his knife into the sand next to the Organoid, where it could see it. He couldn't explain what happened, but he knew. "It's alright now. No more Rare Hertz. Go ahead and stand up."

For a moment, the small Zoid laid there, staring at the knife. Then, slowly, it rolled to get its feet under itself, and shakily rose to its feet. Looking groggy, like it had just woken from a terrible dream. Finally upright, but arms and head hanging, it gradually raised it's eyes to level with Remiel. Remiel met its stare unflinching. It cocked its head slightly as it regarded him. "I am Remiel Kane. This is Catherine Celest. And if you've come to your senses, we mean you no further harm." Sensing what was transpiring, Cat strode up next to Remiel.
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Mar 28 2016, 07:21 PM #11

The Organoid regarded the pair warily, looking from Remiel to Cat, then up to Flare and the Geno with Brass. With a low, throaty rumble, it inclined its head. Remiel looked at Catherine, then stepped forward to the Organoid, his open hand outstretched towards its snout. It took a reflexively cautious step back, but made no further hostile actions as he touched its nose. It dipped a little and growled, but the sound and posture were not threatening. Remiel nodded, gave a pat, and turned. "Come. You stay with us now." His tone clearly left no room for argument, and to Cat's surprise, the tyrannosaurus fell in line behind Remiel.

Circling around behind Flare, Remiel stopped by the Geno. "Remiel, what are you thinking?" Cat clearly suspected what he was up to, but wasn't sure to trust that the Organoid was ready for the task at hand.

"Brass needs repairs, and its a VERY long way to any actual hangar equipped for this kind of job." He turned to the Organoid. " I need you to fuse with the Iron Kong, just to heal him. Then come back. Got it?" He knew he was taking a risk, but Flare and the Geno could rattle the little Zoid out if it came to it. The Organoid looked up at the mangled Iron Kong, then back down to Remiel.

It growled, then threw back it's head in a roar. The back midsection of each leg opened sideways outwards, boosters blasting to life, and the Zoid rocketed up and back down again in a silvery blue flash, disappearing into the Iron Kong. Brass rumbled as his wounds and gears all glowed from within with the same bluish light, mending even as Cat and Remiel looked on. He shifted, and slid off of the Geno Saurer's back onto solid ground once more. The recovery took only seconds, and he looked as good as new.
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Jun 6 2016, 07:15 PM #12

A few tense moments slipped by, but finally the Organoid ejected from Brass in the same silver-blue light as before, returning to stand before Cat and Remiel as they blew out muted sighs of relief. The Organoid looked at them calmly, such a change from just minutes ago.

Remiel looked at Brass and had to hold back a smile. "Well, that's one problem remedied, but it raises a question." He turns to the Geno Saurer. "What does this mean for you?"

The Geno Saurer turned to look at them directly. A weight off my back, for one thing. But I told you already, staying should prove interesting. Not to mention that you have a great deal to learn from me. Such as how to remember recent conversations.

Remiel did grin and Catherine laughed openly. "Oh I think he's got your number, Remiel. You should definitely spend some time with him." She paused thoughtfully for a moment. "Any idea what you're going to call these two?"

He considered a moment and both Zoids looked at him, intrigued. He took a deep breath. "Well, let's see." Looking up at the Geno Saurer, he began. "Strong, resolute, composed. You withstood the Rare Hertz, and demonstrated great strength and resilience. I think, Adamant."
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Jun 7 2016, 12:25 AM #13

Adamant. You are fond of simple names, aren't you? Very well then, perhaps you will at least remember what you call me by.

Remiel sighed, and turned to the Organoid, which shifted its weight back and forth uncertainty. "Although you were under the effects of the Rare Hertz, you demonstrated cunning even while berserk. Combined with your inherent weaponry, strength that I felt firsthand, and all the trouble you've caused so far, but also because you resemble the wild Zoid types that the Berserk Fury and others are based on, I'm thinking Protean. I'm not sure though, because you haven't been sane long enough for me to get a feel for your personality.

Pro...te....an....?

All eyes turned to the Organoid at it's first word spoken. It's voice was...unsettling. Hollow, distant, empty.

Remiel eyed it cautiously but nodded. "For now, at least. I'm sure something will come to me that fits you better."

Pro...te...an.... He threw his head back and roared.
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Jan 21 2017, 06:34 PM #14

Remodel and Catherine shared a concerned look, but only for a moment. "Cat, you know where to find our contact for this job, why don't you go on ahead to the capital? I'll get Brass back to the King and then catch up."

Cat hesitated a moment but nodded. "Alright, if you're sure." She scaled. "Just remember our deal."

"Deal?" He remembered SEVERAL agreements made recently and started to grin.

She turned and walked back to Flare who lowered his head and opened his cockpit for her. She waited until she had strapped in before she looked back and responded. "Dinner is on you tonight. Nice. And expensive. Look the part." She grinned as the canopy closed and Flare howled before breaking into a run. Remiel, Brass, Adamant and Protean all watched the two go before Remiel sighed and turned towards Adamant. "Well, I guess it's time to show you where I stay. For now at least. I might consider a real place if we get paid as much as we were promised." Brass grunted and Adamant growled. Remodel climbed into the Geno Saurer's cockpit. It wasn't long before Adamant and Brass were stomping back across the wasteland towards the Fallen King.
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Jan 21 2017, 07:55 PM #15

The trip was short and relatively quiet, Remiel spent most of it familiarizing himself with the controls. Protean trotted alongside them, easily keeping pace with the walking Zoids despite his small size. As Remiel guided Adamant inside, Brass moved back to his hangar. "Rest easy friend. With any luck, we'll be back in a day or two..." a crash off to the side made him jump.

Turning, with the Geno Saurer responding in kind, he saw Protean looking pointedly disinterested in a pile of equipment now laying scattered across the floor as he found other dark corners to poke his curious nose into, not hesitating to push things around, and another stack of scraps looked ready to topple over on him. He sighed.

"Protean!" The Organoid's head swung around, and knocked the stack over the other way. He spared his newest mess only a passing glance and looked back to the Geno. "Let's go, before you hurt yourself. We'll come back and you can poke around all you want then." Seeming to understand the change in pace, Protean rumbled in agreement and boosted up onto Adamant's back.
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Nov 6 2017, 05:08 PM #16

Remiel turned to Adamant. "Long trip to the capital, let's get going." He turned halfway and looked over his shoulder at Protean. "Ride on his back. I don't know how much endurance you have or what kind of speed you have yet, and I don't want you getting separated or wandering off."

Protean looked at him for a few seconds without moving. Remiel frowned. "On the Geno's back." He was more firm this time, and Protean responded by looking up first, then boosting up to look for a perch. Remiel considered Protean's initial lack of response before shaking his head and entering Adamant's open cockpit.

While he wouldn't admit it in front of Catherine, he was pretty sure he had broken his hand and had quite a bit of difficulty strapping himself in correctly. That would need attention. Easing Adamant forward out of the hangar, Remiel winced. "Alright, let's see how fast you can go."
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Nov 6 2017, 08:14 PM #17

The armor plates on the back of Adamant's legs lifted as boosters roared to life. The Geno Saurer roared as it took to flight, though the sudden acceleration forced Remiel painfully back in the seat. Grunting, he fought down the pain, blocking it out with experience gained from years of conditioning and combat. His hand had limited use, but he refused to succumb to the pain, or let it stop him.

As he grew accustomed to the controls, and the Geno Saurer's speed, he began to relax. Flying allowed faster travel than even the Fire Fox, since he could travel in a straight line without concern for grade or obstacles, but he was still a couple hours behind Cat. He sighed as he considered the distance and time. "I guess dinner will have to wait until tomorrow." His thoughts drifted as the flight dragged on. It was quite a long way to the capital.

As he considered recent events, he began to give actual thought to his own condition for the first real time. He started looking over his lacerations from the fight with Protean, and it dawned on him he had likely lost quite a bit of blood before the worst of the bleeding stopped. Adrenaline. Must have been why he didn't notice. Crap.

He sighed again. His hand was swollen and dark, especially around the fingers. "I need to get these injuries looked at... that will be our first stop." As he considered his current situation, a new problem dawned on him. "But what on Zi am I going to do with the two of you while I'm in there?"
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Nov 7 2017, 01:18 AM #18

Simple. You leave us somewhere and you come back to us.

"Uh huh. And what do the two of you do while I am away? Could take some time."

Adamant shrugged. I will stand and wait and observe my surroundings. Quite simple. I make no promises about the little one. He is... unwell. I believe the Rare Hertz may have caused permanent damage to his cognitive function, awareness, and processing abilities. In short, he is a nearly mindless little savage and you should take him with you.

"Not a convincing argument so far. Hospitals are full of expensive equipment and hurt or sick people. Not the best place to put a 'nearly mindless little savage.' But I suppose it would be easier for me to keep an eye on him than for you to.

Adamant rumbled in approval, and they traveled on for some time in silence. So much so that Remiel was startled by Cat's voice over his com.

"Remiel? Flare said he detected what he hoped was you."

"It's me, Cat. I'm going to need to get my hand looked at. Have you reported yet?

"Not yet, Remiel. We were waiting for you to catch up, figured it would be too late for dinner tonight, so you can just treat me tomorrow. What's the worst injury? One of the claws?"

"No, my hand. Probably broke a couple bones. Going to need some antibiotics too, for the open wounds, and stitches."

She winced. She knew he was a little worse for the wear after the struggle with Protean, but she hadn't realized the full extent. "Alright. We get you looked at first. I've already called my contact, but a meeting won't happen for a few hours. We have some time."
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Nov 13 2017, 11:46 PM #19

Remiel adjusted course and Adamant fell in line following Cat's signal. It didn't take long to catch up and soon Flare and Adamant were side by side at nearly top speed.

"Guygalos isn't too much farther ahead, we should see the outskirts soon and there is a route to an easily accessible hospital on this side of town. I'll signal my contact once the doctors are looking at you."

Remiel smiled at the concern in her voice. "Thanks Cat. I just hope nothing needs to be reset. Always the worst part." He was no stranger to broken bones, but realigning bones that had separated was always particularly unpleasant.

And perhaps after the two of you are done, you can spare some time to repairing the damage done to me. WITHOUT using the little one. Adamant growled and Flare cast a sideways glance at the claw marks around the Geno Saurer's cockpit from the scuffle earlier. The damage wasn't bad, but the fox certainly wouldn't want to be running around with such unsightly scars.

Cat laughed before Remiel could respond, catching onto the sarcasm. "Of course, we haven't forgotten about you. The organoid, Protean, could fix you right up in seconds, but thinking about it, I'm not sure I'd want my body hijacked to heal any injury that wasn't life-threatening."

I dunno... I think it makes you look even more intimidating! The fire fox gave an approving howl, Just think what all the little people will think as they soil themselves at the sight of not just a Geno Saurer, but one that has very recently seen battle! Not particularly common these days!

Indeed? Would you care for a few carefully placed gouges? None that hinder your performance or threaten the security of your pilot of course, but just enough to make you look "tougher"?

Cat had to fight a moment to bring Flare back alongside the Geno Saurer and this time Remiel laughed. No, not particularly. Though to be fair, people tend not to be as intimidated by me as they are by you. These two swore quite colorfully when they first laid eyes on you, for example.

"True enough." Remiel shrugged. "The sight of Protean didn't help either. But I seem to recall your talk of our plan as being 'suicide', don't you, Cat?"

"I do seem to recall that, actually." She grinned at her Zoids's indignant huff. "Lots of grumbling and talk about just walking away."

Well, it WOULD have been the smart thing to do. Each of us nearly died at least once, and Brass took the worst of it, and it could have gone FAR worse than it did.

Indeed it could have. Brass has you to thank for his continued life, Flare was it? And at any point, the humans could have been crushed, or torn apart by the Organoid's teeth, or if it had fused with me, you likely would all have been vaporized by a particle beam, regardless of the damage inflicted on me in the progress.

It was a sobering comment, but with the outlying buildings of Guygalos in the distance, they wordlessly agreed to travel more cautiously anyway. Both Zoids slowed, with Adamant falling in behind Flare, as Cat selected the route that would best accomodate their passage to the hospital.
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Nov 14 2017, 12:38 AM #20

Guygalos, like any large city, can be an absolute nightmare to navigate, an almost endless labrynth of streets and buildings, to say nothing of the ruins, abandoned due to irreparable damage from the war. They had the great fortune to be near one of those sections of city. And crumbling ruins are often magnets for society's more unsavory characters.

Flare stepped cautiously, examining nearly every large structure, listening for any unexpected noises. By contrast, Adamant hovered behind, head tilted down, optics glowing brightly in the gloom of twilight, seemingly completely unconcerned with his surroundings.

To Remiel, with the desrination so close, but the pace so agonizingly slow, he felt the pain of his wounds, especially his hand, more than he had until then. He really wanted to go faster, but understood the caution.

He was actually a little annoyed when they reached thr hospital withoit incident, unable to perish the thought that they could have gone faster and he could already be receiving treatment. But the area surrounding the hospital had been cleared for a few blocks and new buildings occupied the reclaimed area. A good sign, had he cared to pay attention to them.

------------------------------

Protean growled as the latest nurse backed hurridly out of thr room. Remiel sighed as he dropped the faked malice he had leveled at her. The drugs were helping, but the radiologist had told him two fingers needed to be reset, possibly with plates to hold the bones. He had not been in an amiable mood. Protean seemed to at least respond to his changing emotions and be able to understand some of how he felt, though the little Zoid seemed to have difficulty expressing itself. It was almost.... animalistic in its' simplicity. He sighed again.

Cat had left an hour before to talk to their employers and had yet to come back. He wasn't comfortable with the delay and his nerves were wearing thin between the waiting for her and the pain in his hand. The cuts hadn't required many stitches and had already been dealt with, but he wasn't going to let them operate on him without her around to keep an eye on Protean.

He was lost in brooding when Protean's rumble of recognition finally caught his attention... or maybe it was a woman's arms wrapping around his neck. He gave a start at having let himself become so engrossed in his thoughts, but relaxed back against her with a smile. This was very positive body language, even more so as he felt her breath against his ear. "They're here, waiting to come in."

Not what he was expecting her to say, but she didn't sound concerned. Intrigued, he moved to stand and she let him. She stood there grinning at him as he walked around the bed and she stepped back to the door and waved in someone without even looking.
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Nov 14 2017, 01:15 AM #21

Colonel Garrot was the first to enter the room, followed by a middle-aged man Remiel didn't recognize. Both men waled with the stiff efficient movements that spoke of discipline and years of leadership.

"Remiel, you remember Colonel Garrot, and this is Mr, Daniel Constance, CEO of Constance Industries, a research and development focused company specializing in Zoids and their equipment. He is our mysterious second client. He and I have spoken about the job already, but he wanted an opportunity to speak to you directly before we went any further." The second man inclined his head politely.

"A pleasure, sir. Both the colonel and your partner have spoken quite highly of you."

Remiel paused, his eyebrows going up for a moment. The colonel had requested them by name, but he had assumed that it was because Remiel knew what the army would expect, but was expendable if something went wrong. Protean took a curious step forward, his massive frame demanding the attention of the two new comers. Mr. Constance, scrutinized him intently.

"I assume then, that... THIS, was both the discovery my initial team made, and the cause of both missing groups' misfortunes?"

Remiel looked down at the man a little more cautiously, not liking his tone or choice of words. "That's the conclusion we came to, given the evidence. Calling him Protean, and hoping he will come around soon."

Daniel's gaze roamed up and down the Organoid appraisingly. "I presume that I already know the answer, but I would be remiss not to ask. I don't suppose you would be willing to sell me the Organoid?"

Remiel's eyes twitched and narrowed, but he knew the man was waiting for a verbal response. "No."

Daniel sighed. "I don't blame you. I had hoped my team would find an organoid and manage to recover it SAFELY, but we don't know how it, he, escaped and went wild the way he did." He looked back at Remiel and Catherine. "My contract offered to let you keep whatever you found, and I'm good for my word. I also recall other offers of payment, and your partner has already asked me to cut two checks, each for half, one for each of you. Know also, that you have my gratitude and feel free to do a little shopping with me, I would be happy to give you both a discount and hope to be able to call on you again in the future, but, I believe the colonel would like a word with you while I see to your pay."

Remiel was a little suspicious, but he caught Cat smiling at him. She seemed to trust him, so he relaxed, but only a little. He shifted his weight as the colonel stepped up to address him directly.

"You no doubt had questions, especially relating to the unusual nature of the request. Return with information, neutralize the threat only if you can, keep anything you like thst is not property of the army. For all this, you were offered equivalent pay to your previous position and priority in jobs offered by the army." He paused.

Remiel's discomfort returned in full, and even Daniel looked up from presumably writing the two checks, at the sudden change in tone in the room.

Colonel Garrot continued. "The army is not directly authorizing this payment, but will under a condition." He looked Remiel, a former subordinate in the eyes. "The Imperial Army requests that you return to active status, as a member of the Guardian Force." He turned and looked Cat in the eyes as well. "Both of you."
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Nov 14 2017, 10:37 PM #22

Remiel just stared for a minute, gawking openly at the colonel. Finally, he turned to Cat, but she seemed to be recovering from an equal degree of shock. She didn't know about this part, it seemed. As he looked back at the colonel, the man's face was straight and composed, he meant it.

"But, my discharge...?" He was practically stuttering. This was not any of the directions he expected this meeting to take.

Colonel Garrot waved his hand with a dismissive expression. "Already waived. You were a good soldier, and served with distinction. More than that, you showed that your intentions are to protect and you take the loss of any life seriously, understanding that it is not expendable. Your recommendation has already been approved by my superiors, our counterparts from the Republic, as well as officials of the Guardian Force itself. You only need to accept, and you will be publicly inducted into their ranks, at one grade higher than your previous position." Garrot turned to Cat. "Not just him, both of you. Miss Celest, your dedication to your partner has not gone unnoticed. Again, you understand what it means to protect and support, not just pull the trigger when ordered." He turned to eye them both, who were at this point both sitting on the bed, totally blown off their feet by the revelations. "The empire is proud of you both, regardless of your decision. But returning to active duty, even with more leeway, is a big decision to make. Think about it, and I hope to hear from you both soon." Colonel Garrot saluted them, about faced, and started for the door, but paused as he reached it. "Stay in Guygalos for at least a few days. Enjoy yourselves, recover, and don't feel rushed or pressured."

With the colonel out of the room, it still took nearly a full minute for Cat and Remiel to look at each other again, still trying to wrap their minds around this. Protean looked at them curiously, unable to reconcile their confusion from the man who had just left and turned instead to Daniel Constance, who stood forgotten momentarily as he finished scribbling something.

"So, I believe congratulations are in order for you both on the offered promotion, and you both have my sincere gratitude for cleaning up this mess. Perhaps you will consider working for me again in the future, regardless of your choice with the Colonel. My business is legitimate, and I work too closely to the army and it's contracts to compromise everything I have built by doing anything to jeopardize my company." He sighed, recognizing that his words were barely registering to the pair. "Well, here's your pay, my card, and an invitation to join me at what I have been told will be quite a show. For now, I'll leave you two be." They were just starting to get their senses back as he left the room with a "good evening" over his shoulder.

Cathrine looked at Remiel. "Remi... what do you want to..."

She never finished the question. He grabbed her, and pulled her against himself, kissing her repeatedly as a smile grew and grew across his face.

-------------------------------------

There was not enough privacy in the hospital room for what the pair wanted, so they settled for cuddling for a couple hours. It was finally interrupted by the nurse from the new shift coming to check on Remiel and see how his pain killers were holding up and when he wanted to go ahead and schedule the procedure for his hand. He sighed as Cat laughed at him, and the nurse told him that they could begin preparation immediately.

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