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Thevshi

Getting There Is Half The Fun (IC)

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Oskar settled into his seat on the bridge as the Xeno as it dropped into normal space. Nocturis looked impressive, cold, beautiful. The General wanted a city that was bathed in the darkness, and would be for weeks to come. 

 

"General Tolann, we are approaching Nocturnis now. Smack in the middle of the long night. City full of lights though. Might not be warm..." he said through the Intercom. 

 

He started the flight down to the city, curving into the night and atmosphere. 

 

"Now would be a good time to let me know what the mission is" he said, adopting a slightly military tone he hoped the General would respond to. "Come up and enjoy the view" he offered, as the Xeno powered down to the planet. 

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"On my way."  General Tolann replied curtly over the intercom.  While the general was making his way up to the Xeno's cockpit, Oskar received hails from the surface and was soon following a flight path down to the city in the darkness.

 

General Tolann entered the cockpit, his immaculate uniform still on.  His white eyes regarded the view outside the cockpit for a brief moment before focusing back on Oskar.  "The purpose for our stop here captain is for me to purchase an object from a vendor named Fariar Uloc.  Unfortunately, there are some unsavory elements on Nocturis, which would come after me were I to venture out into the city.  Therefore I need you and your engineer to accompany Balus in going to acquire the object." 

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"Sending out the troops?" replied Starshot, biting his lip. He never liked generals that lead from behind a wall of cannon fodder. Still, the man was paying, and he was, at least so far, no trouble. 

 

The Xeno landed without incident on Nocturis starport, and Starshot put on Mask, around his neck, who spat out a few warnings about every danger under every sun. He slung Trigger, his gun, around his back, who spat out a few excited comments about getting to shoot. 

 

Fingers, his cybernetic hand, merely commented: "What are we buying? Is it shiny?" a question that he asked himself. 

 

"Who is the contact? Barus leading the way?" he asked the General, and, he supposed, Barus, as he flipped the airlock, and with Ana stepped into the Nocturnis air...

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When Oskar had let her know they would be 'assisting' the general with his shopping, Ana nodded to herself and unpacked her suit, making sure its power cells were fully charged and all systems were operational. It amused her no end that a girl so tiny could act as 'muscle', but her triggered mutation had seen to that.

When the airlock cycled open, she was at her captain's side, streamers of ice crystals dancing around her armored fingertips. "Which way?"

Edited by Heritage

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"I believe that my accompanying you would cause problems that would be better to avoid." The general replied. He then made his way towards the ramp with Oskar, as Balus joined them, looking rather nervous. "As I indicated, the vendor is named Fariar Uloc, and her shop is in the center of the main bazaar. Do keep an eye out, Nocturis is infamous for pickpockets, particularly during when its regions are in its long night."

Once Ana had joined them, Oskar led the way off the ship, Ana and Balus following. As soon as they were off the Xeno, they were met by the starport supervisor, to register their stay and begin any refueling that was needed. The process went rather quickly, and then the three were on their way, with some directions to the main bazaar.

As they exited the space port, the trio found that nighttime Nocturis had a rather festive atmosphere. Lights of various colors were strung throughout the streets, and music filled the air from various street corner performers. There were crowds of people making their way long the streets, but with almost a laid back, casual sort of pace, taking in the sights and sounds. There were a number of vendors set up along the streets, selling an array of foodstuff, most of which smelled appetizing.

But as they move along, the trio also quickly realize that the city was rather vast, and the streets curving and crisscrossing. It might not be so easy to find the main bazaar as it would have seemed…

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Keep your eyes open, Cap'n...anything could come...anywhere...anyhow...look at him! look at her! look at...

 

Starshot clonked Mask on the side. 

 

"That doesn't help you know..." he said aloud to his Mask. "In any case, my eyes are already open..."

 

This was outside his comfort zone, too many people, colours, lights, sounds, pressing and crushing in on him. He didn't mind people, he grew up in a city. But after the cold and majestic vastness of space, and exploring strange new worlds...well, strange new civilizations always felt a bit overbearing. 

 

What he did see was someone trying to "bump" into Ana. He turned quickly, and clamped his cybernetic hand on the pickpockets wrist. The hand could crush steel. It would have no problem with bones. 

 

Hey, give the guy a break! He just wanted something shinysaid his hand, glowing with green lines. "Fingers" had been notorious for "liberating" things as a soldier in the war. The AI had taken that part of him wholesale. 

 

"Your lucky day, thief" said Starshot, his metal mask glowing and his voice deep and rumbling, before letting go of the wrist, but not before a painful squeeze had been delivered. 

 

He delivered a boot to the departing thief and strode on, into the bowels of the bazaar. 

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Ana had been intently focused on a blue holographic map of Nocturis hovering above her right wrist, only rarely looking up at their actual surroundings; as such she was completely oblivious to the hand trying to snatch a few items from her carbon mesh storage belt. Her head snapped up at the sound of the confrontation. "Oh, uh, thanks boss.' Her cheeks showed only the slightest hint of pink.

 

However when her employer started boldly striding off in the wrong direction, Ana showed no compunctions against grabbing the back of his coat. "Nope, that's not it." She held up the holo, the light-traced outlines of the buildings to either side of the street cycling forward to show the correct path. "This way."

Edited by Heritage

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The pickpocket let you small yelp of pain at the squeezing Oskar's cybernetic hand provided, before scuttling away into the crowd once released.  With Ana setting the group back on the right track, they continued onward through the twisting streets, eventually reaching the main bazaar.  As the name hinted, the already twisting and crowded streets of Nocturnis gave way to even more narrow, winding and crowded streets.  In addition to the shops in the buildings that framed the streets, numerous stands had been set up in the middle of the streets of the main bazaar, and in places where enough open space remained, other vendors had set up on a simple rug or blanket, usually positioned so as not to interfere with the narrow pedestrian paths, but not always.

 

Now that they had reached the main bazaar, it became an issue of finding the right shop amidst the chaos.  Oskar began to inquire with some of the nearest vendors, which resulted in some general directions, after he had overcome sales pitches on how the particular selection at Fariar Uloc's shop was far inferior.  As the trio progressed further into the bazaar, Oskar found he needed to ask additional directions a number of times before they finally arrived in a narrow back alley which led up a steep hill.  About halfway up the hillside, located at a sharp turn in the alley, sat Uloc's shop, something of a hole-in-the-wall sort of junk/antique shop.

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Starshot was not best pleased with the market chaos. He enjoyed biting into two novel fruits, the Ka'bath lemon and the Ooobork melon. Both felt initially sickly, but had a curiously pleasant bitter aftertaste that lingered well. And the tactile sensation of fruit juice dribbling, despite all efforts to avoid, from his lips was a delight. 

 

"Left...left...noright! lookout! There, he looks dangerous!!!"

 

Mask was being his normal paranoid self, and after a while, and some nasty looks from people the tinny voice accused, he just shut the unit down, letting it fold back to his neck. No more directions from Mask, but at least Deep Freeze knew the way. 

 

"Right, lets see what this is all about..." he said as they approached Ulrocs shop. 

 

He stopped to knock at the entrance. 

 

"Hello! Anyone in?"

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Ana rolled her eyes as her employer eagerly sampled the alien fruit. "Do you know what those things might do to your insides...?" She decided to hang back a bit, scanning her immediate surrounding with her eyes as Oskar prepared to do the talking thing; if things went bad, they would have a heck of a time getting back to the Xeno in a hurry!

 

She also decided to keep an eye on Ballus, just in case; if she'd learned one thing from watching all those British TV shows, it was 'never trust the help'!

Edited by Heritage

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Balus had been following along with Oskar and Ana during the entire trek to the shop looking rather nervous, his eyes constantly darting about as if he expected to be attacked at any moment.  Now that they had reached their destination, he did not look any more at ease, although he prepared to follow Oskar into the shop. 

 

The door to the shop swung open easily enough, reveling a narrow path into the dimly lit room, which wound between piles of objects stacked up on tables and shelves, or hanging from the ceiling overhead.  There was so much clutter that Oskar could not make out any of the far walls or accurately judge the size of the room.

 

"Welcome, welcome.  Old Uloc is back here."  A decidedly female voice replied in heavily accented Galstandard.  "Come back and we can find what you are looking for."

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Starshot walked in, neither slowly or with haste, taking time to look at all the most peculiar and interesting junk and bric a brac that lined every available service, or, in one case, just hung in the air, wobbling slightly. 

 

"Uloc? Fariar Uloc?" he called out, brushing aside some beads that hung from the ceiling. 

 

He kept half an eye on Balus. They were here, but they did not know what they were here for. 

 

"We coming looking to buy" he called out, before turning his head to Balus. "Time to lay the cards on the table" he said to the servant. 

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Ana really wanted to browse like Oskar, but she figured at least one of them should keep their mind locked on target, so she let her employer indulge himself a bit as her eyes darted between Balus and the path ahead, determined that nothing bad would happen to them due to her lack of vigilance.

 

She went back over the route they'd taken in her head, trying top recall landmarks she'd seen on the way in; more than likely, they'd all be horribly lost if things went south during the deal, but the blonde engineer had a memeory like a trap, so she'd be damned if she wouldn't at least try to get Oskar and herself out alive. 

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Making his way into the depths of the shop, Oskar had to weave down the crooked path that led toward the back of the shop, finally reaching what seemed to be a counter. It was the only surface in the store that had any empty space on it, and even that was limited. Being the counter was a humanoid woman, old and wrinkled, with thick grey hair that went down well past her shoulders. Lots of beads and jewelry covered her person, adding to her rather unkept appearance.

"Aye, I am old Uloc." She said with an almost toothless gin. "If you wish to buy, I am certain you will find something to your linking here."

Balus moved up, coughing slightly as he cleared his throat. "I….we, are here on behalf of General Tolaan. The general wishes to purchase a very rare item in your possession."

"Oh!" Uloc exclaimed. "I have many rare items, but they can be quite expensive."

Moving into the entrance of the shop, Ana found she could not keep an eye on Oskar and Balus from the front door, she would have to move further into the shop if she wished to have them in view.

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I hope the General wants to buy something rather than steal it...this could go bad quickly...

 

"Well met, Uloc"

 

How old is she? Who can say? Years, Centuries, Millenia...or more? Appearances can deceive, but the old are canny and wise...

 

"I am sure the General has enough money to buy from you. We have travelled some way to look at your wares" he said, still looking around and distracted by the many wonders and dust in the shop. 

 

"Perhaps we could look at the object of the General's desire?" he suggested. 

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Ana reluctantly made her way to Oskar's side, hoping that for once her pessimism would not be rewarded; the shop keeper looked old, or at the very least wanted people to think she was old. The whole shop smelled of old, broken things, and she really wished they were all back at the ship, ready to leave this dark and cluttered planet.

 

"So spit it out, Balus; we're all eager to see this mystery item." She really didn't sound all that eager.

Edited by Heritage

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Balus gave a small nod at Oskar and Ana's urging, then slowly raised one hand to point towards an object sitting on a small shelf behind Uloc. The object was an unusual one. Small enough to sit on either of the displaced human's hands, it was made of a bronze colored metal, and had several spurs or spikes of the metal jutting out in all directions from what seemed to be a small golden colored core. It certainly appeared to be incomplete, or broken, but almost as if it was the frame for some three dimensional puzzle.

"Oh that." Uloc muttered, looking at the object a moment. "That is very expensive. Very expensive indeed."

"My employer is willing to pay quite generously for the object." Balus replied, reaching into one pocket to draw out a credit stick, which he seemed prepared to place into the reader that was buried among some of the brick-a-brack covering the countertop.

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"As long as you got the goods, seems like the General is paying" said Starshot to Uloc, moving closer to the object. He studied it, peering at its lines and colours. 

 

He had no idea what it was at all. 

 

Perhaps, perhaps a piece of a bigger puzzle. It was like seeing a piece of a jigsaw, the kind he had when he was young, so long ago, with his family. Before it all went to hell. 

 

If you had just one piece, you could not place it, or recognise it. It was only when the whole came together that you could see what it was. 

 

"Can't say I like the look of it much. If I asked what it did, would I get an answer?"

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"Probably not," Ana chimed in helpfully. It had the look of something very old and dangerous; totally innocuous and insignificant on the outside, but actually the key to something really, really bad. Ana chose not to trust it.

But that was nothing new, since Ana was not the trusting type by nature. As an engineer, she was constantly thinking in terms of failure: metal fatigue, power loss, human error. She spent most of her life in a state of resigned anticipation, waiting for things to go wrong; she really wished she had a more positive mindset, but the universe kept confirming her suspicions.

The ice-blonde Terran turned to address both Ballus and Uloc. "So do you guys haggle, or is that considered bad form? I love to watch people haggle." Ana rested her elbow on a small vacant spot on the counter, her jaw in her hand, ready for a show.

Edited by Heritage

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Uloc turned one eye toward Oskar. "Come to collect something and you do not even know what it does?" She gave a little laugh. "It is the heart of a puzzle, one that if it can be completed will provide a map, of sorts."

The old being then focused fully on Balus, not responding to Ana's question, or, at least, not directly. "If your employer wishes to have it, it will cost him twenty million credits."

Balus seemed to stiffen some at the quoted price. "Twenty million? That is robbery and you know it. As you just explained, it is just one part of a large whole. But we are more than willing to pay half a million for it. A generous offer for what otherwise sits on a shelf and collects dust."

The pair continued to go back and forth for a bit, haggling over the price before finally settling on six million credits. Uloc took the object off the shelf, handing it to Balus, who placed it in a satchel he was carrying.

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Starshot did not like the comment on his ignorance. He did not like it because it was true. What exactly was the general...constructing?

 

Look at that! So pretty! Can I touch it?

 

Starshot clunked his hand against the wall. "Quiet, fingers. Touch it, I fear you will be burned" he explained. 

 

And we all may be burned anyway. But..hell...such is life....

 

"That's a lot of money for one little trinket" he commented. "I have a feeling it may attract a little attention" he suggested. Nodding to Ana, he indicated the door. "The sooner this is on the Xeno, the better". 

 

"And we best not get lost or pickpocketed on the way..."

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The snotty remark about ignorance stung a little, but Ana refused to take the bait; she'd gotten pretty used to other races looking down on humans, and found it was best to just let them roll off her back.

Once It was time to go, she called up her suit's navigation system again; between it and her excellent memory, she felt fairly confident she could get them back to the ship in one piece. As before, the directional hologram hovered over her forearm as she led the group back out onto the street, eyes peeled for danger.

"So how long do you figure until we get attacked, boss?" Oh Ana, ever the optimist!

Edited by Heritage

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Balus quickly fell into positon between Oskar and Ana as the trio made their way out of Uloc's shop and back into the maze that was the main bazar. Of course, having just recently made their way here, and with Ana paying close attention, they managed to weave their way back through the crowded narrow streets of the bazar and were soon back on one of the more main streets and headed back toward the spaceport.

They had not been far along the main street before Ana's words became prophetic. As the trio rounded a corner, the crowd of pedestrians suddenly seemed to vanish, and seven figures stood spaced out across the street in front of them, blocking their path. It was a rough assortment of aliens of a variety of species. There were a couple of humanoid aliens, each armed with energy pistols, along with a couple of reptilian and insectoid aliens as well, similarly armed. One of the reptilian aliens towered well over seven feet tall, appearing to be armed with nothing more than its thick, muscular arms. Standing in the center of the group was a female humanoid alien with vaguely feline features and silver fir.

"Well now, I believe you there are the ones out on an errand for one General Tolaan." The feline female stated. "Unless you want some trouble, we will be taking whatever you were picking up for the General."

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"Will you now, you bunch of crooks! If you are looking for trouble...."

 

Starshot whipped up his rifle as it spoke, its green energy firing up. 

 

"You have come to the right place" he finished. His helmet had clicked into place over his face even as they left the junk shop. Whilst his gun was happy to zap, his paranoid mask was dribbling pleas to flee, or hand over what they had had. 

 

"Do you really think we are handing over that twenty million credit ball that the other guy has in his satchel?" shouted his hand, livid with thought of losing such an item, and blurting out his rage in sheer stupidity. 

 

"Thanks for that, fingers" grunted Starshot quietly to his unruly cybernetic hand. He trusted Ana was already priming herself for a messy streetfight. 

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"Twenty million you say?" The feline female stated. "You know what to do boys, get that satchel!" She cried out as she drew a energy pistol. But she did not engage immediately, instead, she seemed to ready herself to dodge any attacks, as she prepared to observe how things unfolded.

But one of the reptilian aliens with her wasted no time in moving into action, as it drew a sword that crackled with energy along its blade. The criminal moved forward toward Starshot, bringing its weapon up and back downward in an overhead strike. But the augmented human was able to slip to one side, avoiding the attack as the alien nearly drove its weapon down into the street, just stopping short.

Balus meanwhile gripped his satchel more tightly, as he tensed, his eyes darting between the various attackers, as he appeared ready to run if any opening presented itself.

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