My absolute favorite is Han, actually, followed by Boba. Which is kinda funny when you consider that they're rivals. But Han is such a character. As awesome as Fett is, he's pretty lacking in that department. When's the last time you made friends with someone who is all about their job? They are not fun.
Ã¢Â€ÂœYou look like hell, stumpy.Ã¢Â€Â
ItÃ¢Â€Â™s hard to get into a mood to banter when youÃ¢Â€Â™re still coming to terms with the loss of a limb and suffering from fatal injuries. Instead, Demarq coughed a little blood onto his companionÃ¢Â€Â™s feet.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAw, you little dungbag, I just washed those. Make yourself useful and bleed your way over to the med supplies. I mean, the ones that didnÃ¢Â€Â™t get completely blown up.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœSbehÃ¢Â€Â¦Ã¢Â€ÂDemarq panted, reality beginning to swim before his eyes as his adrenaline reserves trickled with most of his favorite blood onto the ground. Ã¢Â€ÂœCaaaaakeÃ¢Â€Â¦Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœHEY!Ã¢Â€Â the Trandoshan barked; if he had been an avian species, he might have ruffled his feathers. Ã¢Â€ÂœNo bleeding out while IÃ¢Â€Â™m talking to you. Get over here.Ã¢Â€Â
With all the tenderness of a worker in a mill handling a bag of flour, Nossk hefted his handless companion over his shoulder, picked up the pirateÃ¢Â€Â™s fallen carbine, and picked his way across a floor covered with blood, bacta and bodies.
A timid voice came from the doorway above them, above the fallen staircase. Ã¢Â€ÂœOh hey uh is the bacta tank in here? They said there would be a bacta tank in here.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœIt blew up,Ã¢Â€Â Nossk replied. Ã¢Â€ÂœGo away.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœOh uh okay.Ã¢Â€Â The faceless individual in the doorway to the rest of the house turned to the rest of his group. Ã¢Â€ÂœHey guys, it blew up.Ã¢Â€Â With an audible groan of disappointment, the would-be attackers slumped their shoulders and left the battle-scarred house of death.
And that was that.
Nossk, meanwhile, was hard at work keeping Demarq from crossing over into the sweet release of death. Ã¢Â€ÂœAinÃ¢Â€Â™t getting off that easy, nubs. We might be even, life-saving wise, but you donÃ¢Â€Â™t get to leave until I get to call you some degrading nicknames to your conscious face.Ã¢Â€Â
The bacta tank was a lost cause entirely; its entire chassis was bent and broken as a result NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s fortunately-timed emergence from his trance. There were several cabinets against the wall, however, which were scorched on the outside but had protected their precious cargo from harm. Nossk grabbed a roll of bandages and some packets of bacta, and set about his business.
The stump where DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s left hand had once been was bleeding the worst: though disintegrations do not leave any charred matter behind, they do leave lots of blood vessels only partially finished, saying hello to the wide world with cheery spurts of blood. Nossk looked at the injury for a minute, shrugged, and slathered the bloody stump with bacta before wrapping a bandage around it.
Next on the list of injuries were DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s legs; he had apparently taken a good deal of shrapnel in one of the many grenade explosions (that must have been one hell of a bright fight, Nossk mused). He looked at the mess of metal and burns and skin, shrugged, and slathered them with bacta before wrapping them up in bandages.
Then he realized what a terrible idea it was to leave the metal in there, unwrapped them, and picked out the metal bits how covered in blue goop, before rewrapping them in the old gooey, bloody bandages. Why waste?
Though Demarq had done a good job bandaging his hand, Nossk decided to take a look anyway. You know, while he was already at it. In the process, however, he managed to rip off the scab that was healing quite nicely, causing the wound to ooze blood again. He fixed it, of course, with a liberal application of bacta and a scab-free bandage. Sometimes it is okay to waste.
The pirateÃ¢Â€Â™s only other injuries appeared to be internal, sustained during his short rocket-propelled flight across the basement. As little as Nossk knew about human biology (were they or were they not allergic to bacta? He could never quite remember), he was pretty sure that DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s ribs were just bruised, not broken. They only moved if he pressed really, really hard.
Demarq awoke an hour or so later. He coughed, tried to caress his throat (still injured from the choking incident with that one merc. See my previous post, Space Pirate fans!) with his left hand, only to feel smooth cloth bandages against his skin. He looked down, surprised to see white fabric where his hand should have been, and sighed. I really wish this was not reality.
He changed his view from the Stump of Depression to the rest of his body. All things considered, the lizard appeared to have done a decent job, though the leg-bandages looked a little sloppy. This raised his spirits by a few Joy Points, but not quite enough to overcome the Gloomy Points granted by his newfound Unidexterity trait. Oh well. I guess youÃ¢Â€Â™re still alive.
He then looked further away, at his surroundings. Nossk had switched on the basements lights, and while some of them had been destroyed in the fire/explosive-fight, there was enough light to see by. And MAN were there a lot of bodies around.
Demarq decided to share this sentiment aloud. Ã¢Â€ÂœMan, there are a lot of bodies around.Ã¢Â€Â
Nossk looked up from his task of inspecting a corpse. Ã¢Â€ÂœYou say something, stumpy?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœI said man, there are a lot of bodies around.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœA lot of buddies around?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœBodies. A lot of bodies around.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœOh, bodies. Yeah. There are a lot of bodies around.Ã¢Â€Â
Hopefully this illustrates how many bodies were actually around. Man, there were a lot.
-There were the bodies of the 6 Black Mesa mercs that had been the last to go down
-There were the bodies of everyone who had fallen into DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s spikey death trap
-There were the bodies of everyone Demarq had shot from his hiding point behind his wall of bodies
-There were the bodies Demarq had shot earlier and used as his wall of bodies
SO MANY BODIES. Probably 40 or so. MAN.
Anyway, Nossk was busy poring through the pockets of each of those 40 bodies (man, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s a lot of bod-), taking whatever he could find for food, ammo, weapons, medical gear, and other assorted crap. Normally the prisoners had next to nothing, but a few had gotten lucky. Mixed in with the deep pockets of the several mercs who had fallen, Nossk was amassing quite a little stockpile, particularly the weapons.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWeÃ¢Â€Â™ve got four different models of rifles,Ã¢Â€Â Nossk mused aloud as he sat before his impressive pile of death-instruments. Ã¢Â€ÂœI figure if I hold one in each hand, and you do the sameÃ¢Â€Â¦oh wait, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s just three. Whoops.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœNot to worry, Sparky. IÃ¢Â€Â™m just proud you can count that high.Ã¢Â€Â
Nossk snorted indignantly. Ã¢Â€ÂœNo need to get all defensive. ItÃ¢Â€Â™ll grow back in a day or so anyway.Ã¢Â€Â
A few seconds of uncomfortable silence passed.
Ã¢Â€ÂœTouche, my scaly companion. As proud as I am of my ability to produce my own body heat and to create children who do not eat each other, I bow to your evolutionary superiority in this regard.Ã¢Â€Â
Nossk shook his head. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhatever, Nubs. I got bored of that sentence after about three words. Now that youÃ¢Â€Â™re awake, whatÃ¢Â€Â™s the plan of action?Ã¢Â€Â
Though he made sure he didnÃ¢Â€Â™t show it, Demarq was glad to see that the trandoshan still deferred to his command. Though their positions of physical dependence had switched, Nossk recognized that DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s leadership abilities had kept them alive thus far, and didnÃ¢Â€Â™t think his career-ending injury had made him less of a man. Though it may seem silly for him to be putting so much stock in the lizardÃ¢Â€Â™s opinion, Demarq had to assume the role of captain. Without proper order, mutiny is the only logical result.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWell, youÃ¢Â€Â™re back in fighting shape. That gives us a big advantage. I can still shoot, though itÃ¢Â€Â™ll be easier once I get this bandage off. WeÃ¢Â€Â™re pretty well offÃ¢Â€Â¦except that without my other hand, itÃ¢Â€Â™ll be a lot harder to fly a ship off this rock. I donÃ¢Â€Â™t suppose you know how to pilot a ship?Ã¢Â€Â
Nossk paused for a moment in thought.
Demarq spoke again before the trandoshan could say a word. Ã¢Â€ÂœThe fact that you had to pause tells me everything. We need to find ourselves a pilot, and a good one, if weÃ¢Â€Â™re going to have a chance of escaping. We need to get back out there and see if we canÃ¢Â€Â™t find someone like that to join our merry band.Ã¢Â€Â
Nossk glanced around the room all those damn bodies. Ã¢Â€ÂœYou interviewed all these guys before you took them down, right?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœTheyÃ¢Â€Â™re different. The mercs can probably fly, but they have no reason to ally with us. The attacking prisoners did so in groups, so they had no reason to join us either.Ã¢Â€Â
Nossk snorted. Ã¢Â€ÂœSo why should anyone join us, then? How are we supposed to motivate anyone to join up when theyÃ¢Â€Â™ve already got this far by themselves?Ã¢Â€Â
DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes regained a bit of their luster as he answered the question he had been hoping Nossk would ask. Ã¢Â€ÂœThatÃ¢Â€Â™s the reason I went after you first, you glorious bastard. Pain is scary, and youÃ¢Â€Â™re really, really good at it.Ã¢Â€Â
Demarq struggled to his feet; the wounds on his legs cried out in pain, but he could feel that all but the biggest of them had already sealed up entirely. Bacta is wonderful stuff.
Ã¢Â€ÂœStuff all the gear you can into your bag, then boost me up out of this basement. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s time we got moving.Ã¢Â€Â
((<3<3<3 I love the Chistori...in the SW RPG they have natural damage reduction and increased constitution, making them pretty badass. And on top of that, once a day they can go into a battle rage and become even MORE badass. My character earned the nickname Tinycuts because at the end of every battle he'd end up with dozens of tiny wounds all over hos body, but remain standing...
I was apprehensive about adding a new player, but I can't wait to see where Crunch ends up going))
((post coming! honest!))
post-comin', fear thee not the death of this thread, for it is reborn; fear only for the player characters to be left behind in the swiftly rising tide of plot...
After the first three hours, they began to come faster. At first it was just one or two at a time; since one would usually take a nosedive into DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s pit of spikey doom, it was easy enough for him to shoot the looming silhouette in the doorway without becoming a target himself thanks to the near-darkness around him.
At that point it was mostly prisoners who were attacking: small bands (or, more rarely, solo expeditions) of poorly-equipped and starving individuals who went down without a fight. The cityscape was their ideal combat area: hit-and-run tactics could allow the unfortunate prisoners to take down a few mercenaries and instantly climb to the top of the technological foodchain. As such, the mercs preferred to stick to the zones where there was less of a chance of being jumped by a starving Chadra-fan: the open area in the middle, and the borders of the forests. Now that they knew there was a medical facility for the taking, the mercs with wounded limbs and groups with wounded members were slowly making their way across the hellscape that was the battledome, headed right for Demarq and his unconscious companion.
He had picked up a number of weapons from the beings that fell into his stair trap: primarily blasters, so he had no need to worry about ammo. What was beginning to worry him, however, was the dwindling efficiency of his last line of defense: each time he removed an impaled victim from his pointed chair-legs, he risked destroying the setup. Already two of the chair frames had fallen apart from the abuse, so he was down to eight posts, and had to hope the victims would hit the target. Even then, a large enough individual, or one with body armor, would destroy his trap for good, making him one man with a blaster and an unconscious lizard.
5 hours in, the chair trap had long been demolished. A particularly robust merc in full battle array (solo, no less!) had taken the setup out when he finally fell. He was wearing some kind of night-vision helmet, so in the time it took Demarq to down him he managed to tag the pirate in the arm with two shots from his blaster. Demarq applied medical treatment as best he could, and got the arm working again with minimal pain, but all the bacta in the world wouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t save him if one of those shots had hit him in the head.
The growing body count- must have been 15 corpses in the basement alone, not to mention the ones littering the hallway above- were put to use in interesting ways. The first thing Demarq did after healing his arm was to stack up the bodies for cover. At a glance, it was hard to pick his face out of the stack of bodies, and he had more than enough time to pick off his opponents even when they were using flashlights.
Additionally, though the pit had stopped being useful as a deathtrap, invaders to his turf still had to jump over the three steps he had sabotaged to get down there. And since Demarq had been making good use of the knife he lifted off the pitÃ¢Â€Â™s first victim, he made sure there was always a fresh coat of blood on the step immediately after the gap. Several bodies left head-sized stains on the wall after slipping and bashing their lovely skulls into the wooden foundations of the building.
Demarq seemed to have things well enough under control, and could have continued that way for a good couple of days, until he encountered Black Mesa.
Generally mercenaries groups form because there is strength in numbers. For this reason, any solo merc, a one-man army, could probably take down a good dozen garden-variety thugs-for-hire without breaking a sweat. Taking jobs as a group means a bigger split, which means less money for weapons and equipment, which means less overall effectiveness of each member. A solo merc doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t need to split, so he gets better stuff, and is overall more formidable. Makes sense.
However, the planet Happar is known for 3 things: its isolationist tendencies, its large mafia-style rackets, and its (literally) cutthroat approach to economics. Racket bosses planet-wide employ assassins to take out their targets totally legally, so Ã¢Â€ÂœmercenaryÃ¢Â€Â is a legitimate career choice for the more naturally brutal of the Happar people. Most mercenaries work on a regular paycheck for one mafia boss or another, but the best of the best work freelance. In each major city, there are perhaps a dozen mercs that are in high demand, and they are very often hired by opposing clients and wind up fighting each other.
That is, until in Happar City some of these cunning killers came together and decided to incorporate: make a merc monopoly and completely clean up the inferior competition. Why waste manpower fighting each other, when they could join forces and force all the lesser mercs into submission? Long story short, they cleaned up, and decided to take their show on the galactic road, calling their exclusive merc company Black Mesa. They were numerous, well-equipped AND experienced, and any one of them was a match for a veteran merc.
Anyway, enough exposition: Black Mesa was vying for that sweet, sweet prize money of GerbaÃ¢Â€Â™s, and wanted to get at some medical supplies. So they ended up on the first story of DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s little fortress.
Demarq knew something was different when there was no one in the doorway. Just a clunk noise, and a small sphere hurtling through the air toward him, bounced expertly down from the hallway. It plopped softly off the wall of bodies surrounding him, rolled a few feet, and chirped quietly. Demarq was still a little bit in awe of the situation- he had heard no sounds of combat from above for the last two minutes- and just barely managed to get his mind moving in time. ThatÃ¢Â€Â™s aÃ¢Â€Â¦grenadeÃ¢Â€Â¦
The blast was large enough to blow the wall of corpses back and pin Demarq against the wall. He had regained his wits with enough time to duck behind his cover, but now he needed to be on the run before his attackers came back down.
IÃ¢Â€Â™m lucky they want the equipment here. If not, they could just use a thermal detonator and flood this place with fire.
The stench of torched bodies filled the air around him; Demarq shoved bodies off of himself and staggered to his feet, coughing in the smoky aftermath. Before he could think, a black armored body was on him, grasping his throat and shoving him up against the wall. An expressionless helmet regarded him coolly as just another threat that was about to be put down. He felt the powerful hand tighten, about to snap the frail bones of his neck.
No time to think. DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s hand was on the hilt of his knife, and as he heard his larynx crackle he plunged that knife into his attackerÃ¢Â€Â™s middle. An inch above or below, he would have hit solid plate armor, but he dug into the sweet spot and twisted as best he could, anything to get that hand off his neck.
His opponent gurgled something indeterminable and slumped over. Taking a ragged breath that hurt almost as much as the choking had, Demarq hurdled at full speed to the space under the stairs. He looked up, and there was another one, looking down at him through the gap in the stairs.
At that point, he knew he was in serious trouble.
He took a step back, and the spot he had been standing in a second before shriveled and dissipated. He has a disruptor rifle. Sweet Jedi teats, IÃ¢Â€Â™m not going to last a minute longer.
Before his opponent could get in position to take another shot, Demarq had whipped out one of NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s remaining two grenades, kissed it, lobbed it up through the gap, and made a break for it.
The fragÃ¢Â€Â™s blast tore apart the rickety staircase, and sent the two mercs who were standing on it raining down. Miraculously they survived the blast (What kind of armor are they wearing?), but Demarq risked firing a shot into the now-ruined torso area of one soldier, scoring another kill, before ducking behind a support pillar. Not a moment too late; another laser blast filled the air behind him. Just getting his breath back, Demarq was again alarmed to hear the familiar clinking of a grenade approaching. No time to appraise the situation, he leapt, full-out, to the depths of the basement. The support pillar was engulfed in flame, and DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s legs took a fair share of shrapnel, not to mention an accelerated trip into a cloth-covered sofa that had been shoved into a corner.
His reality swam before him, everything going out of focus for half a second before rematerializing. As it did, another black helmet was in his face, a large black glove heading to cover his face. However, his left hand still held his knife, and in it went, straight through the faceplate. Blood gushed out, but before Demarq could celebrate his momentary victory, an energy blast came from the ruined stairs. Blaster bolts may move hundreds of miles per hour, but in DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes, this one moved with a terrifyingly slow inevitability. His eyes tracked it, he knew what was coming, but although the rapid firing of the synapses in his nerves were too slow for his liking, his screaming brain saw it all in slow-motion and wanted to get it over with already.
The disruptor bolt tagged his left hand as it held the knife still embedded in his opponentÃ¢Â€Â™s face. For an instant there was no pain, only wonder as the atoms that made up one of his primary manipulation tools dissipated into nothing. The palm went first, separating the fingers from the wrist, and they began falling, but long before they hit the ground there was nothing left. Simultaneously, the wrist was dissipating into the air, retreating further and further toward his sleeves until it was gone altogether. The knife clattered to the ground, and that was it.
Demarq was beyond rage at this point: the walls of crushing despair enveloped him. Not even the exquisite pain of the disintegration could get more than an anguished wheeze out of his injured throat. He was less than a man now; after fighting so hard, this group of mercenaries had dealt him a career-ending blow, and he had not even halved their numbers. He had no chance to survive, never did. His "good" (though still bandaged, at least it still existed) hand grasped the last grenade and gave it a half-assed lob in the general direction of the merc who took from him his will to survive. The merc dodged out of instinct, rolling toward the bacta tank, but wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t counting on DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s last attack to be more one of apathy than desperation. The grenade landed a bit too close to the delicate medical equipment, and the blast destroyed the merc as well as the terminal that was operating the bacta tank. The hum that had filled his ears for hours droned down to nothing, and the faint blue hue of the tank was replaced with red emergency lights lining the rims.
DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s remaining hand groped around on the ground for his blaster carbine, but before he could find it a heavy boot pressed down on his wrist. Four mercs gathered around him, gazing down with expressionless helmets. They werenÃ¢Â€Â™t enjoying this victory. This was just another job completed, with reasonable losses. Demarq tried to gurgle something, anything; he had promised himself years ago that his last words would be a witty remark, but he wasn't even in control enough to do that. Such a promise seemed trivial now anyway, after he had failed so utterly.
IÃ¢Â€Â™m sorry, trandoshan. IÃ¢Â€Â™m sorry Duchess. IÃ¢Â€Â™m sorryÃ¢Â€Â¦everyoneÃ¢Â€Â¦
The muzzle of the merc's rifle was aimed right between his eyes, but he found himself looking elsewhere. The bacta tank was bathed in a dark red, sinister light, making it hard to see, butÃ¢Â€Â¦was that movement?
YO SCIFI G2G HOMES
First things first: Hi Gojan!
Second things second: I vote that we keep Gerba alive a little while longer. Have some more fun with him that way. All in favor?
Third things third: my post.
Continued (sort of) from my previous post:
PART II: THE FIGHT
Demarq felt a searing hatred toward the Hutt at that moment. Not that he hadn't been expecting a trap of exactly this sort, but still, it just wasn't fair. The first time things were starting to go their way, and now they probably had an entire quarter of the Battledome knowing exactly where they were. That sadistic Hutt was going to pay for turning what should have been a relaxing couple of hours into yet another battle for survival.
He still had a good while before he had to start worrying: it would take the combatants some time to make their way to the street Gerba had mentioned. Even then, there were dozens of houses on that particular street. The prisoners and mercs would be fighting each other and trying to search all the houses at the same time, which shifted the odds a little bit closer to Ã¢Â€ÂœreasonableÃ¢Â€Â on the Fairness Spectrum. They might not even figure out which house they were in at all, since the basement was fairly well-hidden.
Yeah, maybe, if you hadnÃ¢Â€Â™t left a present for them at the front door, sneered the self-critical portion of his brain. Nothing screams Ã¢Â€Â˜occupiedÃ¢Â€Â™ like a grenade blowing up 4 of your buddies.
Better than just hoping no one finds us, defended the cautious portion of his brain. Besides, we didnÃ¢Â€Â™t know for sure there was any kind of trap associated with the tank. Some rest would have done us good, and we couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t have risked resting without some sort of alarm system.
I could go for some cake, mused the portion of his brain that really liked cake, but no one paid it much mind.
All he could do now was wait.
<Hey Isamm, get over here!>
The RodianÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes darted left and right, to make sure there were no other mercs close enough to take a shot at her. Satisfied, she let her carbine fall from her shoulder and sprinted over to the buildingÃ¢Â€Â™s door where Neepa waited for her with his usual calm stance she could never hope to imitate. He looked vaguely amused at her nervous expression, which always irritated her to no end. As usual, however, she kept quiet; after all, he was the seasoned mercenary. Indignant sass is no way to address a superior, even when that superior is your older brother.
<IÃ¢Â€Â™ll crack open the door and secure the area inside,> Neepa buzzed to his sister in their native tongue. <Just make sure you cover my back. Can you handle that?>
His sincere concern bugged her even more than his comfortable stance did: she was a warrior too, dammit! She didnÃ¢Â€Â™t need his protection! Still, she bit back her spiking anger and nodded that she could in fact handle it.
<Good. Because here we go.> He eased the door open slightly, peered inside, then kicked it the rest of the way open.
Isamm flinched slightly, almost expecting the door to be rigged with explosives. Of course it wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t, and Neepa went about his business securing the interior of the house. He headed upstairs, and Isamm wandered her way about the ground floor. It looked identical to the other two they had already been through, with the exception of the open cellar door. Someone had clearly been here already.
<Neepa!> she shouted, hating herself for relying on her brother so heavily. WhatÃ¢Â€Â™s the matter little girl, afraid of the dark scary basement? She took a step closer to the door, and heard a faint buzzing from the darkness beyond.
Suddenly Neepa was at her side. <Interesting. SomeoneÃ¢Â€Â™s been here already. Step back, Isamm.>
She did, letting her self-loathing embroil her as he did the task she should have been able to do. He took a bold step into the basementÃ¢Â€Â¦and promptly disappeared with a crash.
She peered her head inside. It was nearly pitch black, and she could only make out the reflection of the faint light from her brotherÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes from his position where he lay two meters below.
<Isamm, the stairsÃ¢Â€Â¦theyÃ¢Â€Â™ve been knocked overÃ¢Â€Â¦I thinkÃ¢Â€Â¦I think my leg is broken. I need you toÃ¢Â€Â¦figure out a way to get me upÃ¢Â€Â¦>
Before Isamm could do so much as move, however, the buzzing rose sharply in volume. There was another brief reflection- something hard, like a shell, or a carapace, and suddenly Neepa was screaming.
Isamm wanted more than anything to be the hero. She wanted to jump down there, beat down whatever was attacking her brother, and more than anything she wanted to save him for once. But all she could do was stand there, frozen, and she hated herself for it.
Thankfully she didnÃ¢Â€Â™t have to hate herself for long, because a black claw shot out from the darkness and snapped around her ankle. She too was dragged into the darkness, and before long there was nothing left to hate.
Elsewhere, a merry band of prisoners stood outside another door in the endless sea of identical prefabricated houses. The leader, a woman dressed in dark leather, kicked in the door and jumped through, the sights of her blaster rifle held at eye-level. She whirled once, twice, then motioned to her four men (two other humans, a twiÃ¢Â€Â™lek and a wookie) where they waited expectantly. They split up, and had fully searched the house from top to basement in 45 seconds.
Ã¢Â€ÂœNothing,Ã¢Â€Â the woman spat unnecessarily. Ã¢Â€ÂœAll right. Next house. Move it.Ã¢Â€Â
Yet elsewhere, a Gamorrean kicked in the front door to a house, stepped inside, and nodded to his companions. Two human males, a twiÃ¢Â€Â™lek male and a Devaronian male all crowded in, trying to be the first to get at whatever loot the dwelling might hold.
Before they could get very far, the grenade that had been taped to the doorframe exploded, engulfing them all in flame. The sounds of the blast and their screams rang through the faux neighborhood.
A story below them, Demarq sighed. Well, it took them an hour and a half, but they found us. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s going to be a long nightÃ¢Â€Â¦I hope.
Ã¢Â€ÂœYo Cap, we got mercs approaching the front door! You better make your search a quick one!Ã¢Â€Â
A human male, the one known as Cap and the leader of this band of prisoners, swore under his breath. He thought heÃ¢Â€Â™d gotten lucky, finding this place after the initial trap had been sprung, but before anyone else could respond to the explosion. Right place right time, heÃ¢Â€Â™d thought. Unfortunately, there was apparently a merc group that was in a slightly-less-right place at that right time, and his ragtag group couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t stand up to armored professionals in a firefight.
Ã¢Â€ÂœRingo, lay down some fire, make them take cover, buy us some time. Allie and Kooper, you get the upstairs, IÃ¢Â€Â™ll take the ground floor. Holler if you find the med gear. We gotta find a good place to stake out.Ã¢Â€Â
The prisoners about their orders, Cap did a quick check of the ground floor. Nothing out of the ordinary in the sitting room, or the kitchen (though, didnÃ¢Â€Â™t those other houses have chairs at the table?). He was about to check the basement door when a shot far louder than RingoÃ¢Â€Â™s blasterfire rang out.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAllie? Kooper? Report!Ã¢Â€Â Cap bellowed over the blasterfire in the adjacent room.
Ã¢Â€ÂœKooperÃ¢Â€Â™s down, some kind of trap they set up in the room. Took a slug to the face, itÃ¢Â€Â™s not pretty. IÃ¢Â€Â™m searching the room now.Ã¢Â€Â
Cap nodded. He had expected more traps after seeing the aftermath of that grenade in the entry hall. Ã¢Â€ÂœRingo, what kind of resistance are we looking at?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœActually, they ainÃ¢Â€Â™t mercs. Five prisoners, three humans, a tentacle-head and oneathose fuzzballs. Woozie? Wookzy? Whatever. One of those.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœWookie, you ignorant ***. Just keep Ã¢Â€Â˜em pinned down. Keep track of them while I search the basement.Ã¢Â€Â
There was a slight pause as Ringo tallied up his opponents. Ã¢Â€ÂœSay, whereÃ¢Â€Â™d that one human chick go?Ã¢Â€Â
Right on cue, a blaster bolt came through the side window, splattering RingoÃ¢Â€Â™s head against the charred wall and adding his headless body to the pile of grenade victims where it looked right at home.
Cap swore again, more severely this time. Ã¢Â€ÂœAllie, RingoÃ¢Â€Â™s down, theyÃ¢Â€Â™re coming in!Ã¢Â€Â Before he could get a shot at the female dressed in leather that had gunned down his point man, she ducked out, presumably to rejoin her four men and invade.
One of the human males was the first to enter the house; he committed a bit too much to his entry, aimed squarely into kitchen, and took a shot from Allie perched on the steps to the second floor. Allie squatted down further behind the banister for cover, and Cap stepped out from inside the kitchen to take the other human. 2 down, 3 to go.
The prisoners were more cautious now; it took a good 5 seconds for them to try again. It was a two-pronged attack: that damn woman was back at her window, firing at Cap and forcing him back into cover. Meanwhile the wookie charged in and crashed headlong into the banister Allie was hiding behind. It was all she could do to get out of the way, but it seemed like the enraged creature was immune to blaster bolts. It shrugged off her attacks, grabbed her ankle, and dragged her down the stairs where he continued to pound on her.
The twiÃ¢Â€Â™lek also took this chance to enter, momentarily cutting off the leather-bound womanÃ¢Â€Â™s line of sight. Cap used the opportunity to riddle the tentacled alien with energy before retreating further into the kitchen and working his way around the other side, through the study to the other side of the sitting room. The wookie was still pounding Allie into pulp against the wall, blood beginning to mat its fur. Cap took careful aim, and let loose three shots into its skull. The beast collapsed mid-pound and fell atop Allie without so much as a whine. Cap didnÃ¢Â€Â™t bother checking to see whether Allie was alive. It was just him and that leather-woman now.
He headed back through the study to the basement door and opened it. That woman was younger, and probably faster than he, and he needed every advantage he could get. Before he could take a single step, he felt a searing pain as a knife entered his back. He staggered back, looked into the womanÃ¢Â€Â™s sadistic smile, and collapsed on the kitchen floor.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBasement, huh? MightÃ¢Â€Â™ve missed it. Thanks for the tip.Ã¢Â€Â She removed the knife from CapÃ¢Â€Â™s back, stepped over his corpse, and began descending the stairs.
After two steps, however, the step buckled under her weight. A single thought ran through her head- trap! and then she was falling: a quick drop to a sudden stop, impaled on four of the waiting stakes.
A man sitting against the far wall stood up and stepped over to her. He was very attractive, although too lean to be healthy, and his right hand was rolled up in a bandage. He stopped right in front of her face and squatted to her eye level.
Ã¢Â€ÂœOoh, so close. Thanks for playing.Ã¢Â€Â He reached over to her belt and pulled out the knife, still covered in CapÃ¢Â€Â™s blood. Ã¢Â€ÂœAnd thanks for this.Ã¢Â€Â He drew the knife across her throat, and that was that.
Demarq wiped off the knife on the womanÃ¢Â€Â™s clothes and tucked it into his own belt. Two hours in and IÃ¢Â€Â™m out of surprises. Time to see what else the universe can throw my way.
**OH boy this is taking longer than i thought. here's something to chew on while i finish this mother up. it'll be done this evening. It'll be worth it, i promise
Post coming this afternoon. It'll be a good one.
PART I: TRAPS
"I don't like being helpless," Nossk growled as he watched Demarq attach one final diode to the reptileÃ¢Â€Â™s bare torso. Ã¢Â€ÂœIÃ¢Â€Â™m not gonna be stuck watching while some merc guns me down as I float around with wires sticking out of me.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœDonÃ¢Â€Â™t be an idiot,Ã¢Â€Â Demarq barked curtly as he ran a quick check of his partnerÃ¢Â€Â™s vital signs on the tankÃ¢Â€Â™s control screen. The TrandoÃ¢Â€Â™s complaints about entering the bacta tank had been unending, and increasingly irrational, since he had first proposed the idea, and it was beginning to grate on his nerves. Ã¢Â€ÂœYouÃ¢Â€Â™ll be unconscious the majority of the time. Some merc decides to gun you down, youÃ¢Â€Â™ll be dying in your sleep. Besides, if we donÃ¢Â€Â™t get you healed up you wonÃ¢Â€Â™t last two minutes out against the remaining competitors in this hole.Ã¢Â€Â
Impressed as Demarq was with the TrandoshanÃ¢Â€Â™s regenerative abilities, natural biology can only act so quickly. Underequipped as the pair still was, they needed to be in prime condition as soon as possible to gather a decent stash of weapons if they hoped to stay alive. Now that a day had passed in the battledome, the competition was becoming more and more cutthroat. They had been lucky so far, but to trust more in luck would be foolhardy in the extreme.
The Trandoshan would be back in perfect condition in a weekÃ¢Â€Â™s time, despite the gravity of his wounds. With the accelerated healing of the bacta tank, he would hopefully be ready for action in a single night, even before DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s own newly-bandaged hand was finished healing. At least, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s what Demarq was counting on. He moved to the tank and initiated the filling process. Life-sustaining bacta began streaming down the glass walls of the tank and collecting at the bottom.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAnyway, I envy you; while youÃ¢Â€Â™re floating around regenerating, IÃ¢Â€Â™ve got to keep your *** alive. Gerba went through the trouble of putting a whole swarm of Bartokk in that last house, because he wants as many of us as possible to die. Why put life-saving equipment in the middle of a death match? This whole thing could be a death trap.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœYeah, well,Ã¢Â€Â Nossk growled, Ã¢Â€Âœwe get another swarm of those things and IÃ¢Â€Â™m not around to save your hide, weÃ¢Â€Â™re both screwed.Ã¢Â€Â
The pirate made an amused noise half-way between a cough and a chuckle. Ã¢Â€ÂœSorry, I thought you just said it was you who saved my hide. YouÃ¢Â€Â™re funny, Fido. Anyway, IÃ¢Â€Â™m going to go fortify our position a little bit in case I have to do it again. Yell when the tankÃ¢Â€Â™s done filling.Ã¢Â€Â
He stopped on his way out the door by the table where theyÃ¢Â€Â™d placed all NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s equipment. Ã¢Â€ÂœYou donÃ¢Â€Â™t mind if I borrow these do you? They might come in handy.Ã¢Â€Â Before the Trandoshan could say that he most decidedly did mind, the pirate had scooped up the remaining grenades and was bounding up the stairs.
Improvised defenses (alternately known as Ã¢Â€ÂœtrapsÃ¢Â€Â) are one more thing an effective space pirate has to be familiar with: when the defending vessel is outgunned, their only hope of resistance is to take advantage of their home turf. Most took a passive route, simply attempting to stop the pirates from advancing with jammed blast doors and force fields. Demarq had never been sure of the thought process behind such methods: did they think that the pirates would get frustrated and simply leave them alone? It was safe to say that it never happened that way.
Offensive traps were far more effective, snares set up with the intent of blowing or tearing or ripping apart the invader who was stupid enough to trigger them. The mechanics inventive enough to improvise such traps are few and far between, but Demar had been around enough to have witnessed a few of the surprising ones. Sure, there was the usual proximity mine, the transformer rigged to explode, but those werenÃ¢Â€Â™t the really impressive ones.
One cargo frieghterÃ¢Â€Â™s mechanic had let loose his shipment, which consisted of a small pack of hunting nix hounds, on the pirate invaders. Two of the pirates fell to fatal bites, and to make up for the lost crew and cargo Demarq was forced to sell the freighter and buy a new set of dogs. Another mechanic had even rigged charges in an attempt to breach the hull and expose the invaders to open space. Half a ship is better than no ship, after all. Luckily for Demarq and his crew the mechanic wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t aware of the auto-seal safety feature that activated in the event of a ship depressurization.
At any rate, Demarq didnÃ¢Â€Â™t have a lot to work with in the prefab house, so he couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t attempt anything too fancy. However at the same time, NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s arsenal gave him enough firepower to stop a small battalion of mercs should the need arise.
First, Demarq assumed his attackers would be entering through the houseÃ¢Â€Â™s front door. Sure, there were other entrances- windows- that one might try to use, but if they thought the house might be occupied, it was foolish in the extreme to attempt a difficult entry that robs one of the ability to defend himself. The door is a much more tactically sound option, especially if the attackers had superior numbers. Which they always do.
Using the blade of NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s blade, the pirate pried up a good-sized splinter of the wood at the bottom of the door, under the knob. He then tied a cloth bandage (heÃ¢Â€Â™d found yards of the stuff in the med lab downstairs) to the knob, wrapped it around the jutting splinter, and tied the other end to the pin of one of NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s remaining three frag grenades. The body of the grenade he taped to the wall using tape heÃ¢Â€Â™d discovered downstairs, so that when the door was opened the pin would be yanked. He left the timer at three seconds, enough time for the door-opener and a few friends to step inside and get close to the blast area.
Demarq moved to the window to make a similar set-up, but as he peered over the window ledge he locked eyes with a man, standing outside the front door to the next house over, looking slightly ill ((NOTE: THIS IS RANDO. When he saw someone working in the next house over. Just to avoid any confusion.)). Before Demarq could react, the man had jumped back inside out of sight. Unsure of what to do, the pirate abandoned the window for now. He didnÃ¢Â€Â™t like being watched.
He moved upstairs, the location any interlopers would be most likely to search first. He took stock of his resources: the plan was to eliminate as many opponents as possible without depriving himself of the a way to defend himself, should it come to a straight firefight. For that reason, the carbine he now owned (it had previously belonged to a Rodian who lay rotting in the street outside the house) had to remain at his side. As effective as NosskÃ¢Â€Â™s slugthrowers were, Demarq just felt more comfortable with blaster technology. Most of the universe probably felt that way.
Anyway, that meant the carbine could not be involved in a trap. However the slugthrowers, particularly the shotgun, could. In the main bedroom, Demarq dragged the dresser beside the door, placed the shotgun (loaded with a single round, so as not to provide the enemy with additional firepower, of course) so it was aimed at the door frame, and strapped it down with medical adhesive strips. A strip of fabric cut from the cheap linens on the bed connected the trigger to the door handle, and that was that.
Of course, he was stuck in the room now. Demarq opened the window and inched along the sloped overhang outside it to reach another window on the second story, reentered the house, and moved back downstairs.
Now for the best trap ever, his coup de grace: Demarq dragged all four chairs that were placed around the kitchen table down to the basement. If Nossk had any interest at all in what his partner was doing, he made no mention of it and merely continued to sulk. Once all four chairs were in the space below the staircase, he went to work prying off the seats and snapping off the backs, leaving four posts connected by a square framework around the middle. A little hewing with the knife made the posts pointy enough for his purposes, and before a quarter of an hour had passed there were 16 stakes ready and pointed at the staircase above.
Ã¢Â€ÂœTankÃ¢Â€Â™s filled,Ã¢Â€Â Nossk called out, clearly not pleased that the time had come. Ã¢Â€ÂœYou gonna get me into this thing or what?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœWait a minute,Ã¢Â€Â Demarq commanded with the annoyance of a man who was nearing completion on a large project and was being asked to stop. He pried the top off the third step from the top of the staircase, sawed it in half (it was hardly the sturdiest of wood. Remember that one time Nossk knocked a whole staircase over by hitting it with a dead body?), taped the halves back together and gingerly placed it back on the step. It could not support any weight whatsoever, but stayed up by itself easily enough. He repeated the process for the fourth and fifth steps, carefully leaned over, and pulled the door closed. Voila, instant pit of death.
Ten minutes later, Nossk was loaded into the bacta tank and glaring at Demarq. A few commands entered into the computer, and several lights lit up on the console: Ã¢Â€ÂœTissue regeneration in progressÃ¢Â€Â, as well as Ã¢Â€ÂœAnesthetic IV activeÃ¢Â€Â. The glowering eyes of the Trandoshan began to flutter, and before long closed entirely. Nighty night, Fido.
Exhausted from the dayÃ¢Â€Â™s work, Demarq collapsed next to one of the humming machines, his carbine across his knees. His head tilted back, and he allowed his eyes to close. Just for an hour or twoÃ¢Â€Â¦
A loudspeaker thundered as though it were right in his ear. Ã¢Â€ÂœATTENTION COMBATANTS: A MED FACILITY ON 1ST STREET IS IN OPERATION. REPEAT, A MED FACILITY ON 1ST STREET IS IN OPERATION. TARGETS ARE AVAILABLE ON 1ST STREET OPERATING MED FACILITYÃ¢Â€Â¦Ã¢Â€Â
DemarqÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes flew open at mach 5.
SON OF A-
PART II: THE FIGHT coming hopefully this weekend?
POST COMING SOON honest
Nossk opened his eyes and promptly wished he hadn't.
"Why's it gotta be...so gorram bright?"
He moved his right hand to cover his blinded eyes, and promptly wished he hadn't.
"I wouldn't advise moving any of the injured parts just yet," said a voice from his left side. "Which essentially means that you should stay perfectly still."
Despite the warning Nossk whirled his head toward the voice, and growled in pain as something previously scabbed opened up and began to ooze anew. His eyes involuntarily squeezed shut against the pain, and he managed to find his voice again. "Who the hell are you?"
"I'm the one who followed you down into that cellar," uttered the voice that Nossk still could not pair with a face. "I'm the one who saved your scaly *** from imminent death. I'm the one who killed the rest of the swarm, who succeeded where you failed."
His words opened up the scabs on the wounds the Scorekeeper had dealt his spirit in what he thought were his final moments. It distracted him from the pain his body was in, but honestly, he liked it better the other way.
Like many other times in his life, he distracted himself from the pain at the expense of another.
"Pretty speech. You been sitting here thinking that up while you waited for me to wake up? Waited so you could kill me while I watch?"
"Wrong, on two accounts. First I never plan what I do or say too precisely ahead of time. I find that more often than not, having a rigid plan in your head limits your ability to adapt to a situation. I prefer to think of most encounters, conversation included, as more fluid ordeals." He was well aware that his description of his personal style were wasted on the brute, but he felt the need to defend his methodology regardless.
"Second, you've got me all wrong. I don't want to kill you. I want to hire you."
Despite how much pain it caused him, Nossk opened his eyes in the light of the backyard (not even as bright as he thought it would be, as dusk was rapidly approaching) and focused his vision on the man sitting at ease on the pseudoturf that made up the lawn they inhabited. He was almost certainly Corellian (not that the specifics of human diversity mattered to Nossk in the least), with shoulder-length black hair that was beginning to gray. His eyes were hard and intense as they stared down at the reptile's own. His face was far too gaunt, even more than the average prisoner, and his mouth was turned slightly down in the expression of one who has suffered greatly and still harbors some private inner pain.
Of course, these subtleties were lost to the Trandoshan. His eyes were fixed on the man's chin and jawline, which appeared freshly shaved.
"You'd better not have used my knives for that, human," he growled as menacingly as he could. It is difficult to growl menacingly with multiple contusions and lacerations lining your entire torso.
Demarq's intriguing expression turned into a sad smile as he rubbed his hairless chin, and then stroked the mustache that he had allowed to remain. "I'm lucky you keep them so sharp. There wasn't much to use for cream, so I thought I'd have to smear some of that insect blood on my face."
Nossk barked out a single laugh, which was followed by a growl of intense displeasure at the feeling his diaphragm had awakened in his bruised ribs. Sobered by the pain, he resumed the initial line of questioning.
"What makes you think I'll want to work for you? I don't even take partners, so what makes you think I'll stick a collar around my neck and act like your pet masiff?"
Demarq considered this question for a moment. "A couple reasons. One, I saved your life, and something tells me that's not going to sit well with you unless you either save mine in return, or kill me. I don't remember which it is that you lizards prefer, and honestly I don't much care.
"Two, once we find a way out of this hellhole I'm offering you a career. A chance to sail in the employ of the famed Demarq Halloran. Pirating is a lucrative business, and every bit as rewarding as bounty hunting. Even more so sometimes, since you aren't tracking a single being at a time. You'd be surprised at how much carnage is involved in an average shipjacking.
"And three," Demarq cut off suddenly and placed Nossk's pistol against the Trandoshan's temple. "If you're not my ally, you're my competition. And I've already got more of that than I can handle right now."
Nossk had no intention of repaying any kind of debt this creature felt he owed him. He had no intention of becoming a pirate after he butchered his way out of the battledome. What he did have an intention of doing was not dying just yet. He looked Halloran in the eyes, and muttered, "You got yourself a deal."
Demarq nodded in approval and got to his feet. "Get your rest, Trando. I want to get moving as soon as you're able to walk without hemorrhaging internally."
"If I've got to be your pet, don't I at least get a name besides my species?" Nossk asked under his breath, just loud enough to be picked up by the pirate.
"If you've got one, I'll hear it. I'll even consider using it."
Nossk toyed with the idea, but decided against it. He had to cater to this human's ego to live long enough to redeem himself in the Scorekeeper's eyes, but he didn't have to make it easy on him.
"I've got a name, and a damn good one. But I don't want you polluting it with your human mouth. Especially not while you're ordering me around like a dog."
"Alright then, works for me. Sweet dreams, Rexy."
"Call me that again and you won't wake up tomorrow."
"Okay, fine. I'll check on you in the morning...Fido."
Nossk went to sleep fuming at having his life saved by this insolent human. Demarq went to sleep feeling remarkably good about himself.
It's going to be a fun couple of days, methinks.
Demarq let the Trandoshan enter the house and watched on from an alley across the street.
He'll be cautious this time. He took a lot of damage from that battle droid, he must have figured out by now that he's not immortal. Give him time to look around, to become at ease with his surroundings. Wait for him to leave the house before you attempt to jump him.
But what if he hasn't learned? What if he's as headstrong and stupid as when he was fighting that droid?
Well, then there'll be no reasoning with him, no way to make him join an alliance. He'd be useless. Time to hope this lizard you're chasing's got the least bit of sense in him.
Five minutes passed before the Trandoshan emerged again. Demarq tightened his grip on the gun, ready to make his move from a distance, when the beast stopped, apparently aware of some new threat, and headed back into the house. Normally a hunter would be discouraged when their quarry behaved unpredictably and threw off their plan, but Demarq had learned long ago not to put much faith in plans.
The situation is always...fluid.
The pirate stepped out from behind his cover and approached the open door, clutching his improvised blaster in apprehension.
Once the fighting starts it's fine, it's just the suspense that kills you.
He was within five meters of the door when he first heard the sound that had brought his quarry out of sight: a low buzzing, barely audible by his human ears, seemed to pervade the air around him. How could that brute have noticed something this subtle? Perhaps some reptilian extra-perception, or simply a lower range of frequency for hearing? Demarq decided this question, while intriguing, was irrelevant, and disregarded it.
He stepped through the door, and he took in the scene: the open door leading into the lightless depths, where his target had clearly gone, and from where the buzzing appeared to emanate.
His senses took in what happened next, but in a detached sort of way. His brain decided to interpret each sensory input independently, lest the ramafications of everything put him into shock (which, given his recent psychological trauma, was not out of the question)
Sight: A flash of light, for only an instant, flooded from the dark portal to the basement
Hearing: The distinctive sound of a explosively-propelled slugthrower weapon firing a single shot
Taste: Bile rising in the back of his throat as the implications of the situation begin to dawn
Feeling: His body begins to vibrate as the low buzzing rises, angrily, and becomes the unmistakable roar of an insect swarm
You stupid n'wah, what have you done?
Demarq's survival instinct screamed at him to retreat from this house, find another brute to tame to his cause. Had this happened perhaps half an hour before, the pirate would have listened to it. However now, having put all the work into tracking this one humanoid, he was loathe to start from scratch, even if it meant his own death. Living is a top priority, to a point; sometimes, the looming boredom of a tedious task can overcome a sentient's desire even to continue its own existence.
I'll be damned if I'm going to stake out an entirely new target. You're mine, and until I see you ripped apart and don't have anther choice, I'm sticking to this.
Another shot rang out. Then another. Light flashed twice from the doorway. Demarq stepped up to the door; he took out his panicked survival instinct for a moment and played with it. He shrugged, put it away behind a wall for the time being, and plunged into the black.
Demarq was a man who appreciated atmosphere. He would have admired the moldy furniture placed in disarray against the walls, the dust-covered knickknacks piled high in boxes. The dusty, rotting scent that filled the air (bear in mind this was all pre-fabricated! It was as though Gerba had this exact scenario in mind from the start), the almost utter darkness, would have tickled something deep inside him and made him squirm with private artistic joy.
Here is a place for an epic encounter! Where an anti-hero faces a force of evil unlike any he could have imagined! he would have allowed his inner romantic to reflect. All this would have happened, had he not been focused on something else.
He was too busy looking at the epic encounter before his eyes to imagine the others that might occur only in his imagination.
The Trandoshan faced an endless multitude of the insect-like creatures that were quite clearly the source of the buzzing noise. He appeared to have killed at least one of their number already, if the spray of white fluid that covered his body and the surrounding area. For the moment, the reptile and the swarm were staring each other down, but there was only one way this could end. Blood had been spilled. There would soon be quite a bit more of it.
A shot rang. An insect fell. The shotgun pumped. beyond that, Demarq saw nothing as the Trandoshan was beset upon by the wall of enemies. Claws and mandibles flashed in the traces of light that found their way down from the still-open door to the first floor. The buzzing rose in pitch.
Here goes nothing. You'd better not be dead yet.
Demarq squeezed his makeshift trigger, connecting the wires on his gun and triggering a discharge of crimson energy. One of the closer bug was burned straight through its chitinous exterior, and collapsed to the ground twitching. Demarq fired again, obtaining similar results.
The bugs certainly noticed his presence. Rather than simply head toward him, as he expected, the swarm split into two groups, one intent on destroying their new attacker, and the other to finishing off the Trandoshan who had killed one of their own.
They're much smarter than anticipated; this may very well be a sentient species. This changes nothing, except- OUCH
Lost in the glory of the moment, Demarq had not noticed that his makeshift weapon had begun to overheat in his hand after the third shot he fired. He involuntarily flung the molten piece of metal from his body. It sailed through the cellar air, taking a sizable chunk of the charred flesh from his right index finger with it.
He stood weaponless, injured, before the half-swarm that threatened to engulf him. This all of a sudden seemed not to be such a fantastic idea after all.
((More to come, honest. I'm just a tired dude right now.))
(If that's too gross, or wrong, or whatever. Just tell me and I'll change it.)
((I'd say that's just the right amount of gross. It's awesome. However, could you possibly clarify what it is exactly that W can do? I've been looking back, but can't quite figure it out.))
((AWW I miss Sathik now.))
Demarq shuddered against the splinters of wood that blew past his face, and hugged his knees closer. For the last several hours he'd been here in the forest, squatting in a copse of trees, lost in thought. Eyes, faces, lips crossed his mind's vision and stayed, swirling, bringing back pains that he had kept locked away all this time in Gerba's dungeon. Now that they were back, the haunting resumed. It was only a matter of time before he slipped back into his coma-like state of apathy to block out the pain.
Assuming he lasted much longer, that is. Which, given the small army of droids closing in on his position, guns blazing, was anything but a sure thing.
The droids had appeared a few moments ago, and had been attacked immediately by something lurking in the trees. The creature (it had turned out to be a Mandalorian, armed with a Verpine shattergun) had destroyed three of the ten droids before making a run for it, leaving seven to patrol the area and, inevitably, stumble on Demarq's hiding place. Assuming he was armed (a faulty assumption, but a good one nevertheless), the droids had fired at him from a distance, felling tree after tree in their single-minded attack. They marched forward slowly but inexorably, and it remained to be seen whether they would fell the large tree he was using as cover, or march all the way over to him first.
He still had time. He could survive. But that required motion, and motion required a presence of mind.
Your fault she's dead your Duchess is dead she's gone it's you traitor idiot greedy stupid failed you failed to protect it's over it's done there's nothing you can do nothing left for you just let go let them take you-
Demarq resurfaced from his thoughts and gasped for air, a drowning man breaking the surface of the water. He leaped to his feet, ignoring the faint feeling from the sudden change in altitude. Another shot from the droids sent charred splinters flying past his vision, and his heart skipped a beat. The events he had observed without seeing for the past seconds flowed back to him, and panic rose in his throat.
Calm down, damn you. You've been in tighter scrapes than this.
He had, at that. There was one time a particularly clever rival pirate had gotten his hands on a gravity well projector, and set it up along a trade route commonly used by supply ships headed for the Outer Rim. The Duchess had been ripped out of hyperspace directly in the other ship's line of fire. They would have been done for, if another transport ship hadn't gotten fallen into the same trap and appeared mid-firefight. Demarq had been able to use the new arrival as cover, and its added firepower, though slight, was enough to turn the tables in his favor. He killed the pirate and looted the now-crippled ship that had saved his life. Because hey, free loot.
There was a reason people said Demarq Halloran's luck was sometimes supernatural.
Your luck ran out the second you crossed Gerba. There'll be no transport ship this time. You're a dead man, you just have to realize it.
There was a crack, and time stopped.
Here's what happened.
1) The droids' volley of shots finally succeeded in felling the tree Demarq was standing behind, leaving him completely exposed.
2) The droids registered, in the subroutines inhabiting the back of their positronic brains, that he was unarmed, and therefore not a threat. If they could feel disappointment, they would have.
3) A group of mercenaries, recently entered and spoiling for a fight, stumbled on their one-sided battle, and opened fire on the droids.
The droids turned and faced their new threat that ranked significantly higher than the weaponless pirate standing before them.
For a full second Demarq still thought he was dead. For another second he whooped and hollered inside his own mind about the return of his good luck. In the third second, with the soundtrack of screams from the mercs who clearly did not know what they were getting into, he bolted.
Normally, it would be considered wise to run as far away from the droids as quickly as possible. Demarq, however, looped a bit, running perpendicular to the line of sight the droids had with him and arcing around to run out of the woods. This path brought him by the droids felled initially by the Mandalorian, allowing him to reach down and scoop up a severed arm. Then he booked it, running south and hoping fervently the screams of his saviors didn't stop until he was well out of range.
He didn't stop until he reached the perimeter to the battledome, half-way between the woods he had just exited and the city he was now facing. He saw the turrets train on him, but figured he was safe at his current proximity. He dropped the severed droid arm and slumped to the ground, rubbing his aching legs.
Now that the adrenaline was leaving his system, he felt the waves of despair threaten to engulf him yet again. In protest, he grasped the discarded droid's arm, and caught a glimpse of the wiring that extruded rudely from it.
Any decent pirate has experience with forcibly rewiring electronics. After a ship-to-ship fight has left the pirate's prey crippled, a second battle has to be conducted: the close-quarters fight with the crew, onboard their ship. This is generally the most thrilling part because it gives the opponent a chance to show its claws. The fight is on their terms, on their home turf. They have the most to lose. In all likelihood, they have the greater numbers. For a pirate, it's a fight unlike any other: the opponent has every advantage.
Unfortunately, the majority of shipping ships don't carry an army of space marines with them. Generally there are pilots on the crew, for obvious reasons, and mechanics. Once the pilots have lost in their arena, the more creative mechanics do their best to halt the oncoming pirates with obstacles like locked doors, sabotaged access ports, and the occasional trap. For this reason any effective pirate has to be able to bypass the odd blast door, unless he wants to spend a fortune in explosives.
The droid arm was disturbingly simple to modify. A simple bridge here, a switch fashioned from part of his belt buckle, and Demarq was able to rig a crude trigger. He wanted badly to test it, but dared not to while close to the perimeter turrets. Any discharge of fire would probably make him a target.
More important than the actual making of the weapon, the process of rewiring the appendage kept his mind off the depression that kept insisting to take over. The rational process of mapping the circuits and reattaching the wires suppressed the emotions, cleared his head, and let him think. It was refreshing; for the past day, when he hadn't been lost in a vortex of black feelings, he'd been high on adrenaline and fighting for his life. This moment was blissfully peaceful in comparison.
So now he had a weapon, but he was not a particularly good shot, and his jury-rigged solution was not nearly as good as a simple trigger on a normal gun. With no armor and only second-hand weapons, he wouldn't last a minute in this bloodbath. He needed someone considerably more deadly than he to deal with everything that out there to kill the prisoners in general, and him in particular. He was a captain, and more than anything, he needed a crew.
A smile came to his lips as he remembered his last few hours in Gerba's prison. He had witnessed several fights, and only one individual he had seen had gotten out alive. He recalled with morbid pleasure the brutal death by cell-door-slamming that had sprayed him with blood that still covered his clothes now. He wasn't normally such a sadist, but this had implications that made him grin despite the mess.
The loser had been a Whipid with a vibroaxe; the winner, an unarmed Trandoshan named Nossk. Neither had noticed Demarq sitting in the corner of the cell, lost in his personal pit of despair, but his unseeing eyes had recorded it all.
Step one in screw-building: get the biggest, baddest, stupidest hulk you can find, and make him yours. Amazing what a little brute force does for potential converts, not to mention your own survival.
This Trandoshan was exactly what he needed. Of course, there was no guarantee the brute would still be alive, but something in his gut just told him he was. Demarq had learned a long time ago to trust that feeling.
A roar broke the relative silence about him, a gurgling, hissing sound that was clearly from some kind of humanoid, yet had to have bestial origins. Demarq's smile widened further (had there been any observers, he surely would have been taken to be a crazy man. Though, hey, given his recent mental track record, who's to say he wasn't?); his quarry was alive, and better yet, in the nearby city.
Shouldering the modified droid arm and feeling a surge of confidence well up from inside him, the pirate set off to attempt to bring the most fearsome creature he had ever met into an less-than advantageous alliance in a free-for-all bloodbath. Despite the odds, he couldn't get the smile off his face.
I'm back, baby! Legendary space pirate Demarq Halloran's epic rise from the ashes begins now; this'll be a day the galaxy remembers!
((So yeah, Scifi, I'm comin' for you. best be ready, foo.))
Demarq observed the chaos around him with a passive, lifeless gaze. Humanoids howled with rage and with pain as they clawed, kicked, and occasionally stabbed each other in a struggle for survival in the rapidly emptying bowels of Gerba's lair.
The former pirate had not moved a muscle since all the gates of the cells had simultaneously sprung open; what was left of his mind had not even imbued the event with any kind of importance. The fighting had erupted immediately, and although sentients had been dropping like flies for nearly half an hour now, no one had yet made a move to attack Demarq. Whether this was because they thought him dead or because they realized he posed no immediate threat was relevant only in terms of what was to come: if it was the former, he would be safe until he quietly expired from hunger, but if it was the latter, it was only a matter of time before someone came to put him out of his misery.
The fight came into the cell, at a few points. Once, in the beginning, a fist-fight had been going on between two humans, when both had been cut down by some maniac with a recently-pilfered vibroknife. Some time later, a Trandoshan and a Gamorrean had dueled to the death right before his eyes, the frenzied swings of the porcine humanoid's axe nearly slicing apart his unspotted bystander. The death-blow the Trando had dealt the Gamorrean ("death by head squish") had sprayed a torrent of blood across Demarq's face, but he did not bother to wipe it away. The scaled hulk departed without ever acknowledging Demarq's presence.
The violence in Demarq's portion of the cell block quieted gradually: all the surviving prisoners had either made a run for the battledome proper, or had staked out their own little territories they intended to hold without ever venturing into the open. There was the occasional shouting now between "neighbors", but the real violence had ended. Demarq continued staring at the ground as he heard, without registering, the arrival of footsteps in the cell.
A Devaronian carrying a knife entered the fairly spacious cell containing Demarq, the two brawlers and the yevethan. He stepped quietly, deliberately, as though any of the bodies strewn about the room might reach out and grab his ankle. He delivered a quick, twitchy kick to the nearly-decapitated Gamorrean, then another to the closest brawler. A third kick to the final corpse sharing Demarq's living space produced a slight gurgle, so the Devaronian sliced his throat, then plunged the knife into his abdomen and swirled it around for good measure. At last he moved on to Demarq, planting his boots (they did not fit well, as had clearly been looted from a being with considerably larger feet than his own) directly in Demarq's own line of sight as he gazed emptily at the floor.
Many of his contemporaries wondered exactly what it was that made Demarq, so young, so inexperienced and apparently suicidal, the best of the best in his 5-year span of pirating. How it was he was able to take any job, no matter how absurd; how he could enter the most impossible fight and, even if he didn't win, escape more or less intact. How he could manage to keep a loyal crew that didn't soil itself before every encounter with a much larger, much better armed frigate carrying expensive goods. Some attributed it to advanced technologies tucked away in Duchess's innards. Others said it was merely dumb luck. A few of the more gullible ones swore he'd had Jedi training. What it came down to, however, was something so simple it was bound to be overlooked.
Some men have an affinity for speed, others for strength. Demarq Halloran's was for survival.
It was this survival instinct that made his raise his head to look the Devaronian straight in the eyes. The blank stare he gave, coupled with the smear of dried Garmorrean blood across his entire face, was enough to set the twitching, knife-wielding Devaronian back a step.
In that single moment, the furnace of Demarq's mind roared to life. He had been viewing the world with the single lens of his eyes; now, with the second lens of his fully conscious, jump-started brain behind it, everything had snapped into ultra-real focus. The lines were too sharp, the colors too bright, and everything seemed so close together.
He saw the look of irrational fear on the Devaronian's face, saw one of his legs in the middle of a step backwards. He saw the single kneecap still firmly rooted to the ground that was holding all its weight. He wanted to kick it. He didn't know why. But he did. So he did.
Like a sleeping cobra, the leg whipped out and bit the creature right on its mark. The leg buckled, the Devaronian tipped forward and attempted to bring his other leg back to stablilize himself. However, he had already begun to fall, and only managed to position his other knee so that he fell on on it, full-force, accompanied by a shriek of pain. The knife clattered to the ground, and Demarq, now on his feet, kicked it under the bars of the cell into the corridor. He kicked his attacker in the gut, bringing him down on his side, and dashed through the cell door. He snatched the knife up from the ground and ran on, down the corridor, through two turns, and out through the open portcullis.
he felt as though he had just awoken from a deep sleep, which, in some ways, he had. He didn't know where he was, and at the moment didn't much care. All he wanted to do was run, so he ran. He ran for the woods, and didn't stop even when his breath ran ragged. Stopping would force him to think, and if there was one thing he didn't want to do right now, it was that.
Dude Scifi I was so happy to see you joined this. That post was friggin fantastic.
Name: Demarq Halloran
Affiliation: Prisoners (formerly in the employ of Gerba)
Demarq was the archetypal gentleman pirate: charismatic, flirtatious, arrogant, fiercely loyal to his crew and built of ambiguous moral fiber. He and his crew worked the Corporate Sector for years, earning their place among their contemporaries as the most suicidal crew of "in-transit procurement professionals" money could hire. Their competitors would shake their heads whenever they heard about the crew of the Duchess and their latest narrow escape, muttering about the day Demarq's luck would run out.
The day finally came when on a job for Gerba, hitting an entire convoy of spice freighters. The job went flawlessly, but when it came time to deliver the liberated cargo to their employer, Demarq decided it was a good opportunity to abscond with the goodies. A terrible business idea normally (who would want to deal with a pirate who has a history of making off with the quarry?), but given the amount of spice the Duchess had in her belly, it is widely believed that Demarq planned to retire, get into drug dealing and buy a small moon somewhere.
However, he misjudged the Hutt in terms of both ruthlessness and disposable income. Before long there was a bounty of absurd proportions placed on Demarq's entire crew. Those who split off from Demarq in the wake of the betrayal (those who didn't quite stomach the idea of giving their employer the slip) were, ironically enough, the first to die, one by one. The Duchess and the remaining crew evaded capture for nearly three weeks before they were captured by a hunter under the guise of a client.
The entire package was delivered neatly to Gerba, who immediately had the entire crew tortured to death before Demarq's eyes, and the Duchess sold for scrap. After bringing Demarq within an inch of his life, the Hutt had him thrown into the dungeon.
Off in the corner of one of the smaller cells sat a single gaunt man. His cell-mates had never seen him move from the spot except to receive their erratic meals, and even then he moved so sluggishly that by all rights everything should have been devoured by the time he got there. He was, however, such a pathetic sight that even such organisms as inhabit such dungeons were moved to pity enough to save him sufficient food to sustain his life.
His once-handsome face was gaunt and pointed; his once-meticulously-groomed hair now shoulder length and prematurely graying. Always clean-shaven in his former life, he now wore a wiry beard that only detracted from his already repulsive visage. The single worst part of looking at him, however, were his eyes; a new prisoner would look there once, to attempt to establish dominance, but then never again. Most prisoners harbor some illusions about escape, about regaining a life outside of these bars. It isn't until years later that they begin to lose hope, but here in Gerba's dungeon they rarely make it that long. For this reason, Demarq was the only prisoner to be found with eyes so completely devoid of life that were it not for the ragged breathes he continued to draw, one would think him a corpse.
Behind those eyes, a single thought runs its course day in and day out, slower and slower with each iteration until some day when he will cease to function at all:
My Duchess is dead.
School and work pretty much suck up all my time this semester (lab classes and 2 jobs do NOT mix well at all), but I manage to set some aside to do improv twice a week with a group on campus. I also draw a comic with my roommate for the school newspaper. I used to do some web design recreationally, but now that falls into the work category.
I graduated in 07 and am busy with college. I'm on my way to being an English teacher, so I'm taking education courses and what not
High fives, class of '07!
Going to UConn for physics right now. Fun stuff, but who knows what I'll do with it. It looks like the options are basically teaching or grad school, but I guess I've got time to decide that. Unless the LHC sucks us all into a black hole, in which case I don;t have to make a decision at all!
Holy hell, guys, take it easy. Nothing wrong with borrowing, certainly nothing worth getting all accusatory over.
Name: Jenice Atherford
Occupation: Jedi Scholar
Weapon of choice: Blue lightsaber
Jenice is the daughter of senator Gentile Atherford of Naboo. She was discovered as a Force-sensitive individual at the age of 14, by which point she had already received the majority of her etiquette training as a member of the social elite. She was loathe to leave her life of luxury, but after some encouragement from her father, who saw the advantage of having family in the Jedi Order, she traveled to Yavin to receive training.
While competent with a lightsaber, she finds the idea of combat somewhat barbaric and concentrated her studies on mastering her use of the Force. She has become a star student in this regard, and in the wake of the destruction of the Yavin training grounds, she was high on the New Jedi Order's list for promotion to the rank of Knight. However, the tests clearly showed that while competent in the Force and quite bright, she constantly distanced herself from those around her and insisted on acting in a dignified manner in all degrees of interaction.
She has been assigned to Dantooine to assist Ben Okinawa to give her some perspective on her place in the Universe, and to see if she is truly ready to join the ranks of the Jedi Knights.
SUMMARY: She was a rich girl, and she doesn't like fighting. So she has to prove she can handle herself on Dantooine if she hopes to become a Knight.
The darkness in this place is absolute.
"WHAT?" the demon screamed inside his own head. He did not sleep; he had no need for it. He did, however, meditate for hours at a time, and he certainly disliked being interrupted. He had just been getting into the swing of it, too. Almost hit that elusive alternate plane of existence.
"Inferior beast, I told you we need them. If it was simply a matter of slaying the weaker ones I could handle that myself. You WILL resist the urge to kill."
"There is nothing to be gained by killing them, and everything to be gained from letting them live. Your place is not to question, is it simply to do my bidding. Submit to me, Balor Lord. Do only as I tell you, and no more. Know your place."
"Perhaps...it is best to instill a little fear. Mother did always say that you can never get enough fear!"
In the absolute darkness a faintly glowing mist appeared, and took the shape of a gaping, toothy grin.
"Attack if you must...but try to keep a few alive, hmm?"
A dead body in the park is peculiar. A trio of werewolves and slayers gathered around it is stranger still. What tops them all, however, is the sudden appearance of a 12-foot demon armed with a whip and seemingly composed entirely of flames, hulking through the sparse foliage and setting everything to flame. If you were standing in that park on that night, you could have seen it all.
An elder demon such as Gezele is known to be subtle. A Balor Lord is not.
(A nondescript one. As cool as the big, fiery, whip-wielding demons are, I think the creepy Randall Flagg-type ones are by far the coolest. Basically he changes shape, has invisibility, and minor impossibilities. It's his intelligence and elusiveness that make him dangerous, not necessarily brute force. Course, he's got a pet for that )
Clara awoke from her thin veil of sleep with a start; it took her several seconds to remember who she was, another few to recognize where she was, and yet another several agonizingly confused moments to piece together why she was there. She sat up abruptly, disregarding her aching head and the screaming burns that covered her body, and looked blearily around the deserted park.
Most werewolves feel perfectly at home in the dark; when the moon brings with it inhuman power, one begins to feel more vulnerable when light covers the earth. Clara had felt this way for years- the night made her invincible- but now it bore down on her, terrified her like it had when she was a young child with a nightlight. The closest thing she had at the moment was a lone street lamp that flickered irregularly, but somehow that made everything worse.
A breeze barreled through the park, causing her battered body to shiver painfully. She looked up at the night sky, to check the moon's progress. It was well past 2 a.m.; she thought he would have come for her by now. A moment's meditation made her previous assumption seem absurd: it was a creature of darkness, this Balor Lord, and it would only come when it knew she could feel terror at its approach. As long as she slept, it would not come for her.
"You seem to be laboring under an unfortunately incorrect assumption, my dear." A reedy voice came from nowhere, somehow impossibly close to her ear. It was all she could do to keep from screaming.
"Who...who's there?" she managed, unable to keep the tremors from her voice. Her entire body had started trembling painfully, and she knew it had nothing to do with the cold.
This time a small yelp did escape her lips: a man appeared directly in front of her, with an impossibly round head, an impossibly large, toothy grin and wearing an impossibly out-of-place tuxedo, complete with bowtie. He was crouched so that his pale face was mere inches from her own, his eyes- blood red and shimmering with sadistic glee- staring directly into hers.
"Who indeed?" the man whispered. He rose from his crouch; Clara could see now that he was impossibly lanky, as thin and angular as a bare skeleton, but that his tuxedo fit his awkward limbs with ease. He produced a top hat from thin air, placed it atop his head, and began whistling as he strolled in a circle around the park bench Clara was seated upon.
"You..." the young werewolf began, then ended abruptly. "You...cannot be the Balor Lord. You look nothing like-"
"That's RIGHT!" the strange man screeched in a falsetto, his skeletal hands gripping the back of the bench. They were gone a moment later, but Clara could see the deep indentations they left in the wood. He can't possibly be that powerful. There is something terrible about this man...and I have a feeling...
"But surely!" The little man continued, having made his way back to the front of the bench, "surely you knew what you saw! The marks were clear, weren't they? How could it have been anything but a Balor Lord?"
"Unless..." Clara mused. She felt a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Yes?" the bizarre man pressed, his smile growing even wider.
"It...was a Balor Lord. It...wasn't you."
The smile grew still wider.
"Puzzling...who, then, am I, my dearest Clara?"
Tears came to her eyes as the revelation stood clear before her. Her friends...Paul...they had no chance.
"You..." her head drooped, hiding her face in shadow. "You are its master. An even....even greater demon, the likes of which..."
The streetlight flickered on and off, and the lanky man flickered in and out of existence with it. He gave her a wink, and vanished.
The bushes to her left rustled and Paul burst into the clearing where Clara now sat alone. "Clara! There you are!"
"PAUL!" she shrieked. "RUN AWAY!"
"What?" he managed, both confused and relieved.
The tears that had been welling in here eyes finally released, and with an audible snap her neck twisted 180 degrees.
Name: Originally named Sharr'ka'karntula, though he(it?) has had many names throughout the centuries, including Cian'thar, Frescoe, Legion, and countless others. His current cult uses the name Gezeru.
Gender: None, but when using a human form prefers male
Appearance: Can take a wide variety of forms. You'll get descriptions as they occur.
Weapons: He's a freakin' demon.
Personality: Obsessed with personal power, and cares for nothing else. However, since he is an ageless demon, he is extremely patient and methodical in everything he does. You'll get more as it develops.
I'll be back on later to make an actual post. How exciting.
The Stand was pretty fantastic, you should definitely read it. Just when you think you've seen every character out there he brings in The Trashcan Man.
Also, if you're reading the Dark Tower series, definitely read both The Stand and Salem's Lot. Makes it more rewarding, since King repeatedly (and significantly) self-references.
Fallout 3 FTW! Assuming Bethesda does a decent job with it.
Who am I kidding, I'll love it even if they screw it up.
Halloween pictures can be fun...I went as Bill Nye the Science Guy. See the link from my previous post for a comparison.