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"Stories?" Eden Espadas inquired with a hopeful inflection as she ducked her head under her aunt's elbow and pulled herself up onto Ellie's lap to get a better look at the medical text open on the table in front of them.

With a small laugh, Ellie shifted the toddler about into a safer position. "Not exactly, Edie. Y'know how tu papa teaches people here? This is how I learn how to be a doctor." She'd set herself up at a deck on the dojo's first floor partly so that she could take advantage of the light coming in through the large front windows and partly so she could keep an eye on her niece as she played on the pads covering most of the floor. Chris had also mentioned something about coming by to work on the security systems in the headquarters hidden in the converted bomb shelter under their feet and with her brother and sister-in-law out celebrating their anniversary she wanted to watch the door in the meantime.

Eden looked equally skeptical at the idea of a book that wasn't for stories as she did about her aunt being a doctor. She liked Ellie, after all, and she knew she didn't enjoy visiting the doctor much at all. She could only assume it was another case of an adult trying to be funny. They did that a lot.

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The front door to the dojo was pushed open suddenly, setting the bell a-ringing. A scrawny young man in a brown leather jacket and blue jeans came through it at an alarming rate. "Hey, party people." He yanked a large toolbox through the door after him, and set it down against a wall. 


"Meant to swing by earlier, but there was a thing..." Chris trailed off. He leaned back on his heels, looking around. "​No one here. Anyway, he shot me, I hit him, minor misunderstanding really." He crossed the floor to the front desk with deceptive speed, planting both hands on it and leaning forward, head cocked. 


"Ooooh, big words. Don't see the point, can't you just, I dunno, rummage around and figure it out? Or get pop-up books, everyone loves pop-up books." He reached over and mussed Eden's hair. "Hey, shorty. Your aunt being all boring and what-not?"

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Sighing mightily, Ellie put a hand on Chris' head and forcibly pushed him back out of her light. "May I just say how much confidence that attitude inspires as you prepare to make adjustments to sensitive electrical systems?" she drawled, glad for the knowledge that the brown haired young man was at least moderately more competent than he let on. "Given the frequency with which I need to make sure your insides don't become outsides, you might be a little more supportive."

For whatever reason the exchange struck Eden as considerably funnier than her aunt's previous attempts and dissolved into a fit of giggles, grinning up at the new arrival. "Hi, Tío! Do the thing! Do the thing! Please?" The toddler clapped her hands and bounced about on Ellie's lap.
"She's not going to calm down until you stand on the ceiling," the elder Espadas warned with a shrug, glancing over to the section of the ground floor hidden from the street.

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"Eh," waved away Chris. "They'd go back in on their own eventually. It's all about the time crunch with you guys." He waved his arms about as he walked over to the section of room not visible through the window. "It's just exhuasting."


He turned to face the Espadases. "Ok, Eden... in three... two... one... BOING" He jumped clean off the floor, twisting his legs above his head as he did so, bringing them up to slam heel first into the ceiling. Then immediately flattened out his feet to force them to stick to the ceiling, leaving his upper body dangling facing the floor. "Well, kid, I don't know what you did, but you're all upside down now!"

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With another jingle-jangle, the Espadas' dojo door swung ajar for the second time, this time hurriedly followed through by a darker skinned young man dressed in a casual polo and khakis. Awkwardly straddled across his shoulders, a pair of heavy-looking bags dangled haplessly from their straps; one a red backpack no more uncommon than the garden variety of any academic student, whilst the other was unmistakably larger, overflowing with various pieces of equipment from the dojo itself.


"Heya, Ellie!" Baxter chimed as he made his way in, giving a slight, short wave towards the familiar brunette and her ward as he briskly made his way into the school and up to the front desk. "Is Mr. Espadas here? I brought that gear back he let me borrow."

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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Eliza followed behind Baxter, carrying a box that was surprisingly heavy, given how small it was. She wondered if she'd been stuck carrying the weights, before she realized that wasn't quite how a place like this would work. "I think this is the last of the stuff, Baxter," she said, setting it down as gently as she could. This place hadn't exactly been on her list of stop-off points, but Baxter had been willing to give her a ride to an orientation session for next year's FCU class - God, it felt weird to know she'd be there in a matter of months - so she felt the least she could do was help him with this load. "Looks like a good place for this kind of thing."

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"Baxter! Hey!" Ellie greeted, casting a significant look behind the partial wall separating the front of the building from the training area before giving the lanky teenage a broad smile. "Ah, no, he and the missus are out celebrating their anniversary, so I'm holding down the fort."

The toddler on her lap clapped her hands excitedly, squirming about in a fit of giggles. "Up'n down! Up'n down!"

Keeping her niece in one place with one arm, Ellie gave a short, slightly forced laugh of her own. "Heh, learning new words every day, this kid." Scooping Eden up, she stood and walked over to meet the new arrivals, not incidentally stopping them before they got too far into the room. "You can just leave that stuff there, I'll get it packed away. Hi! Sorry, Eliza Espadas," she introduced herself belatedly to Baxter's friend, offering her free hand. "You can call me Ellie. It's my brother's school."

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Chris froze as people came into the school. Dammit, Eden. "Eep!" he said, falling off the ceiling and landing in a tangle of limbs on the floor. He managed to quickly extricate himself enough to bring a finger to his lips and look straight at Eden. "Ssssh."


He rolled over a couple of times and came up in an awkward stagger, moving towards the reception. "Silly me, I tripped and fell!" he announced. He quickly crossed the room and picked up the big toolbox with one hand. He turned to look at the two new arrivals and held out a hand to shake. "Hi, I'm Chris, I'm a friend of the family. I'm here doing maintenance type things. With this toolbox here. Yeah." He wiggled it to make some of the tools (and utility belt) inside clank. "Big box of tools."

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Eliza extended her hand to Ellie. "Well, that's one hell of a thing," she said. "Eliza Oxum. Pleased to meet you. I'm helping out Baxter with some moving." She set down the box, and swiftly turned her attention to Eden. Maybe it was something about handling baby cousins when they were still cute and docile, rather than howling balls of spit and... other things, but she'd always gotten along well with toddlers. She waved to the little girl, with the kinds of faces and gestures that usually drew the smiles of kids but usually didn't devolve into infantile babble. Usually.

"So, what kind of --" She was interrupted by the sudden thud from the next room over, and the appearance of Chris. "Man, those things can be a pain. You should hear the things that've come out of my dad's mouth when he has to work the gutters."

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"Geez. Ouch," winced Baxter as Chris explained the situation, the collegiate freshman giving the electrician a glimpse of sympathetic pain, the young incognito hero all too familiar with the collateral damage wayward toolboxes could inflict himself. "Still, nice to meetcha. I'm Baxter. Must be a heckuva problem," he continued, nodding towards the toolbox before taking hold of Chris' hand and giving it a quick shake.


Taking the opportunity, Baxter plopped his own bag of gear down beside the one Eliza had already deposited before turning back to his compatriot, a little smile creeping across his face.


"Mr. Espadas teaches self-defense. It's good cardio, and he's a nice guy; you'd like him. Should pop by sometime if you're free," exposited the Bee-Keeper proudly as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Thanks, by the way. Y'know, for the help. Really do appreciate it, Eliza."

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"There's at least one big tool, sure..." Ellie muttered quietly enough that it was almost impossible to hear. She's seen Chris pull off acrobatic feats that strained the imagination but his coordination always seemed to be in inverse proportion to the potential for slapstick. "Oh, ha, don't run into that many of those," she agreed more cordially as she shook Eliza's hand. "Go figure." Eden for her part waved back at their visitor, giving the teenager a dimpled smile.

"Anyway, Chris, give me a hand putting these aw-" Before she could finish that thought, the four young adults and toddler were surrounded by blinding light that washed out the room around them with a high pitched hum. When it faded mere moments later, they stood atop a round platform in a room of blinking diodes and metal panels that had probably been gleaming at some point in the past but were now well worn and a little bit patchwork. The floor beneath their feel vibrated subtly with power and the suggestion of movement.

Not a full heartbeat after they arrived a shimmering sphere of blue energy winked into being surrounding them like a bubble. It took the others only just longer to realize that the force field was coming from Ellie's free hand, aglow with similar light while she held Eden closely with her other arm. "Not @#$%ing again..." she growled with a furrowed brow while her niece burrowed her head into the crook of her aunt's shoulder and began wailing in protest.

Across the room, standing behind a workstation was what some of the humans recognized as a slightly overweight Lor in a tech's military uniform, looking back and forth between the screen in front of him and the platform. "Uh. ...that can't be right. Captain? You may want to come down here..."

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Chris tried to react immediately as the white light enveloped them... but there was nothing to react to, and by the time the toolbox hit the floor, it was clattering off the platform they now stood on. Ok, space station... Lor... but come on, they weren't at war with the Lor... his eyes quickly tracked the room, sliding up and down control panels and panes and Eden crying and...


With practiced ease, Chris shucked out of his jacket in the same fluid motion he unbuttoned his jeans. In the next instant, he'd stepped forward out of his pants, fallen to the floor and ripped his shirt open to bare a green jumpsuit with a yellow G emblazoned over the chest.


"Hello, boys and girls."


Geckoman glanced to the floor, knowing his gloves, mask, belt and most importantly, his goggles were in the toolbox. But more pressing matters. He crossed muscular arms over his chest. "I totally agree with you there, tubbs. Get your Captain over here."

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In a flash, what had once been a happy, productive Baxter Bowles was now one of utter surprise, confusion, and no small measure of increasing stress. For the second time in his life, the Bee-Keeper had been whisked away against his will, and again, he stood face to face with more of the Lor, the same space-faring weirdos who'd saved his bacon once before from the Curator's orbiting menagerie. Disoriented but not incapacitated, he had a moment to get a hold of his surroundings as he shook off the spots from the blinding light. What he saw did little in the way of providing clues. Was he on a ship? A base? Maybe.There was no way he could be sure; Baxter was hardly an expert on the Lor, and what little experience he'd had with them wasn't exactly at the best of times.


At least this time he wasn't waking up alone amidst the ruins of his hometown; instead, he was surrounded by a field of energy from a protective Ellie, Eden wailing away and cradled against her aunt's shoulder, whilst he and Eliza were beset by Chris, now spontaneously revealed to be sporting some sort of bright jumpsuit after tearing his shirt asunder. It was like something right out of one of his comics: cheesy, yet oddly inspiring. If for no other reason, at least seeing some kind of costume brought Baxter a measure of relief.


All things considered, the young hero was taking things surprisingly well. In stride, one might even say, were it not for the fact his brow was furled in such a way as to match Ellie's prior expletive, defensively clutching at his backpack like a child clung to a security blanket. True, he didn't know much about the Lor, but they'd been the ones to show up first when things looked their darkest the first time he and many others were stranded across the universe. So what was the deal? They couldn't be after them -- a bunch of (admittedly strange) Earthlings and a child? It didn't make sense.


"Just stay cool," Baxter mumbled, concern keenly present even under his breath as he shifted back towards Eliza. Rifling through his backpack, he let the faux leather fall to the floor, leaving only a heavier looking pack in-hand, dark bands of black and yellow striping their way across the cold metal it was constructed from. If things looked like they were going to go south, Baxter wasn't about to be caught unprepared again.

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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Eliza was, to say the least, caught off guard by having a dojo fall away in two seconds flat, leaving her on a disused set from Star Trek. In fact, she was probably less surprised by the fact that she turned out to be surrounded by people involved in the game. From the force field of the other Ellie's hand to Geckoman "showing up out of nowhere" to Baxter's definitely-not-a-backpack - didn't really expect it, but don't know why I didn't - it was safe to say that she was among likeminded individuals.

Which was why she felt much more safe willing the water out of her Camelback, causing it to form a thick stream in the air. It shimmered, as if caught somewhere between liquid and solid. As per Baxter's advice, she wasn't going to turn it into a hailstorm just yet. But it crap was about to go down, she did want options open to her.

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Above the sound of Ellie's continued profanity and Eden's crying, the technician drew himself up with some indignity at Chris' comment. "I'll assume that was translated incorrectly, you little savage." Indeed, his voice wasn't quite in sync with his lips, converted to English between his mouth and their ears along with a vaguely Australian accent. "Look, just, just stay calm and-- where did you even get a personal force field emitter on a backwater like that?" The Lor's curiosity briefly outweighed other concerns as he squinted at the shimmering sphere of energy. "The readings are all-- And that one, what's she doing with the dihydrogen mo-- Is that an infant? Why would you bring an infant?!"
"We didn't bring anything, you @#$%!" Ellie snarled, bouncing Eden up and down gently in her arm to try to quiet her down why maintaining her concentration on the protective sphere surrounding them. She wasn't really clear what was going on with the water around Baxter's friend, either, but that was well toward the bottom of her list of immediate concerns. "Where did you bring us?"

Before the technician could respond, the door to the room slid open with a faint woosh and two women charged in. The first was Lor as well, wearing a sleek set of body armor covered in hard points that Baxter recognized as attachment points for heavier protection. With dark red hair and a square jaw, she had the grim disposition and precise body language of a career military woman. The second was distinctly alien, with vivid blue skin and a pair of antennae sprouting from her forehead and surrounded by long teal hair, between which electricity sparked. Unlike the Lor her outfit was anything but uniform, a dark brown coat stretching to her ankles sitting over a loose cream coloured shirt and battered black pants.

It was the latter who spoke as both came up short and regarded the humans with nonplussed expressions. "That is not Jackblade."

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Geckoman wheeled on the technician. "Yes, savage! Backwater! Yo can tell that, see, on account of how we so incompetently and inconsiderately teleport two-year old children out of their homes! Must be a great indicator of our savagery. Also, your translator is flawed, dihydrogen monoxide is needlessly complex and nobody speaks like that!" He knelt down beside the toolbox, ripping up the lid, and then the top compartment. He pulled on his long gloves and his mask, before attaching his goggles to his eyes. He stood up with a yellow utility belt slung over his shoulder... to double take at the new entries.


Was that one dressed like Jack of all Blades? "No, no Jackblade here, except possibly you?" He straightened up, and looked the two newcomers dead-on. "I'm Captain Geckoman of Earth. Let's make some things clear. I'm guessing you wanted help of some sort. And thus decided to involuntarily teleport him up here, instead of coming down and asking." He walked up until he was right on the edge of the force bubble. He knew Ellie could let him through easily. He hoped they didn't know that. "Instead you got the wrong people, against their will. One of those is a two-year-old child. 'Jackblade' would not be happy with this situation. Neither are we." He gestured back at the rest of the group. "Look at their smiling faces."

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Eliza blanked briefly at the "dihydrogen monoxide" bit, but then she realized what she was doing with her fingers. She was willing to write it off on the stress of being teleported onto an alien spaceship. That, and her chemistry grades could've used improvement. "It's called 'water,' where we come from," she said. "This has been your lesson in English for the day."

She snapped the fingers of her free hand, and the water contracted - well, expanded, on a molecular level - into an ice ball that fell into her palm. She rolled it around, as if to suggest that she might just try to find something to hurl it at. "You're seeking 'Jackblade.' I may not know everyone here all that well, but I have a feeling you didn't find him. However, I doubt you came all the way around the solar system for autographs. So, if there is something you need help with, you might want to share it now."

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The technician sputtered at Chris' heated rebuke, looking to the Lor woman for some kind of support. The redhead merely shrugged, crossing her arms. "Don't look at me, Chief. You can't keep things civil for the five micros it took us to get down here, I'm gonna let the angry little male kark you out for it." Her subordinate let his shoulders slump slightly, noticeably shamefaced at being caught at less than his best on top of everything else. His glance in the humans' direction suggested he was a little too proud to actually apologize but he also wasn't going to press the issue.

"Eheh, one momentpause, please, guestfriends," the blue alien requested with a wan smile, putting her palms together in a placating gesture as she jogged over to the control station. "How did this comepass? You had a lifecode sample." She kept her tone light and almost melodic but her knuckles had turned a light sky blue where she gripped the side of the podium.

"Which was four cycles old!" the technician protested, running a hand through his thinning hair and giving the crying infant a look that was genuinely remorseful. "It's not an exact science, you know that. Anything from concentrated flora to spratzing Preserver radiation could have thrown things off! The readout still says that's a match for the target!"

"Told you this was a lousy idea," the other woman interjected, not sounding particularly pleased to have been proved correct. "Earthens hate teleportation. Fact."

With a spark of electricity, her counterpart raised her hands in bemusement. "Jackblade debtowed me a favourdue and the royalborn insisted, yes? Better to ask forgivegrace than sanctionleave."
"Ugh. Pirates."


Eden's sobbing began to soften as the shock of the bright lights wore off and sensing that they were in more danger from confusion than malice, Ellie let her force field wane and stepped next to Chris. "Okay, everyone please just... shut up now. I'm Jill O'Cure. Jack of all Blades is my brother," she announced, carefully enunciating each syllable now that she had stopped cursing. "If you need help, we'll talk but first you have to send us back home right now."

A look of growing dread crossed the Lor officer's face. "...you're the Earthen from the Curator's ship. Spratz me sideways, I cannot catch a break." As if to underline her statement the entire room shook violently while a klaxon alarm sounded in the hallway.

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Between Chris' well-deserved quips against the incompetent operator and the revelation of Eliza's own powers, things were happening fast. Under different circumstances, Baxter might have been much more surprised at the latter, instead only managing a raised eyebrow and cocked glance in surprise; it was like everyone he knew had superpowers or some kind of alter ego! But for now, here, trapped on an alien vessel and mistaken for someone else, he'd just have to roll with it.


Maybe everyone he knew really was some kind of masked vigilante.


Returning his attention to the Lor and their blue-hued guest, Baxter couldn't help but bite his lower lip, contemplating the slew of new information. He was ready to side with the others; willing to help, even, but the whole Eden situation made that difficult. Whatever this liaison from beyond the stars needed from Jack of all Blades, it was obviously important.. and dangerous; this was certainly no place for a two-year-old to be! Before the Bee-Keeper could chip in his own two cents, however, the room was rocked to its core, accompanied by an obnoxious alarm that made Eden's crying seem almost melodic in comparison.


"Well that's just super," snipped the young hero, trying his best not to seem at all terrified at the prospect of being blown up by pirates from space. Sliding the heavy pack across his shoulders, Baxter activated the release mechanism along the straps. Dark, striped metal folded its way over his body, each section clinking and clanking into place with meticulous mechanical precision until, finally, he was completely enveloped. He no longer looked human; he was more akin to a walking tank, all chitinous steel and high-tech weaponry, replete with an insectoid helm and antennae to match and sharp, metallic wings affixed to his back.


"Gonna go out on a limb here and guezz thezze guyzz aren't juzzt here to plunder your treazzure," buzzed the armored apian over the aggravating alarm. "Now'd be a really good time to beam the little girl home, Zzcotty."

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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Ok, so the Lor didn't much see what they'd done wrong, he was surrounded by superhumans, and there was now a blaring alarm. Brilliant. "Alright, I suppose you're in a spot of bother..." He snapped his belt's buckles shut around his waist. Was the fact apparently Erik's gym was frequented by superhumans part of his aim to scout more superhumans? Did being on his team give him the same obligations to repay some favour he owed to aliens? Was it true aliens seeded broccoli on Earth?


"So, what's the dealio?" He whipped out his staff and swirled it non-chalantly, electricity sparking from the tips. "You under attack, or is that just a 'waaaah-ooooh waaaah-ooooh someone done screwed up the reactor' alarm?"

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Ah. That "Jackblade." Which means it would make perfect sense that Jill O'Cure was here, and - well, Temperance was kicking herself that she hadn't recognized Geckoman. She was willing to write it off as distraction due to the whole "alien abduction" thing. Given that the Lor had been seeking out one of their colleagues, this was more of a matter for them. She could've spoken up and tried to butt into a matter of intergalactic politics, but it likely wouldn't have ended well for her.

So, she just drew back and observed the events. She kept her eye firmly locked on the folks in charge, but stopped rolling around the ice ball. If she was going to have to throw it at this point - which she highly doubted - best it be when they weren't prepared for it.

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"Attack," the Lor officer replied, regarding Bee-keeper's distinctive and familiar armor unfolding with the look of a woman finally resigned to the circus her day had become. "Ducking behind your moon bought us a chance to use the teleporters but it looks like these damn mercs found us already."

The room shuddered again and the tone of the alarm changed slightly. "Uh, also the reactor thing, now," the technician piped up, glumly looking over his readouts. "We're taking a beating here, Captain. Er. Captains." A third impact rocked the ship and sparks flew from the screen, forcing him to shield his face. "Subsystems are starting to fail!"

Setting her jaw, his superior turned to the humans. "Alright, I'm sorry to mix you up in this but today has not been going to plan. I'm Captain Shepard-07 of the Republic military."
"Andtoo I am Captain Myshel Czak of the Flareriders, currentnow in the servicesell of House Th'emme," the electrically discharging woman added with a bow and flourish, keeping her graceful stance despite the shaking of the vessel. "Moretell will wait, yes?"

"It'll karking have to," Seven snapped, already heading for the door. "They're disrupting power to knock out our scramblers so they can teleport a boarding party over. It's what I'd do. Any of you good in a scrap, follow me; at least I know where they'll head."

"I will quickdash for the bridge," Myshel continued with a nod to her Lor counterpart. "Could use extra handskills there, also."

Grinding her teeth but accepting that they weren't going to be able to make any progress getting home until they were out of immediate danger, Ellie followed after the latter captain. "Argh, fine, alright. I'll take Eden to the bridge, try to find out more about what's going on," she told the others. "We can discuss..." She gestured generally to their assorted costumes, armors and powers. "...all of this later."

Having finally stopped crying and now more curious about the continuing tremors, Eden looked up at the alien woman as her aunt carried her over. "You're blue," she observed seriously.

Myshel beamed as they sprinted down the metal corridor. "Yes, smalldear, I am!"

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"You juzzt had to jinx it," the Bee-Keeper halfheartedly buzzed at Geckoman as the alarm shifted gears. He hadn't thought it possible, but the deafening klaxon had become even more obnoxious, suddenly grateful for the suits built-in audio adjusters as the ordeal became even more serious.


Panning between Seven and the gaggle of superhumans, Baxter knew Jill was right in that there wasn't time to debate or question the sheer statistical odds of all of them have powers or abilities being abducted simultaneously. This whole thing was just a mess; one giant, ill-timed mistake that just threw the whole situation into utter disarray. Alien kidnappings, space pirate shenanigans, Flareriders and Lor Republics... really, if it weren't for the life-threatening reality of it all, this whole thing might have passed for the plot of a sci-fi B-movie.


Turning back to face Eliza before continuing after Shepard, Baxter gave her a soft, apologetic nod.


"Zzorry for draggin' you into thizz, Elizza," he said. Admittedly, he couldn't have known this would happen, but in some small way he was responsible for her being here. In an endeavor to remain optimistic, the iron-clad adventurer continued, "But hey, look on the bright zzide. If we make it through thizz, you can tell people you went to zzpace and whomped a bunch of piratezz."

Edited by SpicyWaffle
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Huh. Baxter had a robot suit. That was a thing to take a note of. Despite all the madness going on around them, Eliza was a little exhilarated. She smiled. "Trust me, it's no big deal," she said. "Maybe it we get out of this and back to Earth, I can show you a few of the weird places I've been. But, right now, we got bigger things to deal with."

She waved her hand, and a small blob of water broke off from the greater stream and flew at her face. It didn't quite so much hit her as it did rupture and splash out half a second before making contact - and as it did, it flash-froze, forming into something like an elaborate Venetian carnival mask carved out of ice.

"And if we're going to take care of this," said Temperance, "we might as well make an impression while we do." She turned to the technician. "Two questions. One, do you have enough... dihydrogen monoxide on this ship to spare a few gallons? And two, what exactly is going on with the reactor?"

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"OK, let's go," concurred Chris. "Bee dude, c'mon, we gotta get going here if we want off this ship." He turned and began running after Captain Shepard-07, slapping his staff back into his belt, collapsing the length of it as he went.


"Before we get there, I don't want any surprises. What're these mercs capable of? By human standards." He effortlessly kept pace with the captain, mouth moving faster than his legs. "I don't want to find they're all ludicrously strong and shoot lasers out their eyes, know what I mean?"

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