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Pest Control (IC)


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Aboard the Xeno
Syl'n System, inbound to Syl'n V

Oskar was in the Xeno's cockpit, having recently dropped the vessel out of lightspeed and began its approach toward Syl'n V. Oskar had been hired by Kazzack Biogenetics, a corporation within the Lor Republic that was heavily involved in biomedical research and the pharmaceutical industry. While much of the corporation’s operations were on heavily populated Lor worlds, it did have one small, but important operation on Syl'n V, where it had teams that harvested rare plants which had incredible medicinal properties.

Recently, some members of the harvesting teams had been killed by what appeared to be some sort of predatory animal. So Kazzack had contracted Oskar, and one of his associates, Seika, to travel to Syl'n V and see if they could track down what was attacking the harvesting teams.

According to the information Oskar had received, Syl'n V was a lush tropical planet, with no native sentient species. The only inhabitants of the planet were the Kazzack harvesting team, who operated out of a small outpost on the central continent. Oskar had been provided the comm frequency for the outpost so he could make contact as they approached the planet.

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"We gonna shoot something? I cant wait to fire up!"


Starshots gun was more keen than Starshot himself. Shooting things was fine, but no sense rushing to it. Skilled as he was, powerful as his gun was, always best to get prepared. Hunting was about more than point an aim. His companion on this trip was probably more dangerous than he was, and she just used an old fashioned bow. 


He clicked on the comm panel, establishing a link with the outpost. 


"This is the Starship Xeno, on approach path. Calling Kazzack outpost. Come in. We are en route. How are you doing down there?"

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As Oskar guided the Xeno towards Syl'n V, he got a better view of the planet.  It was just a bit smaller than Earth in size, situated just within the ideal zone for development of conditions similar to Earth's.  The planet was covered in bright blue oceans, with several large island continents that were situated primarily along its equator.  These continents were a lush green, in all likelihood, evidence of heavy vegetation and the like.


Oskar did not have to wait long before he received a response to his hail.  "Copy Xeno, this is Syl'n Outpost reading you.  We are doing fine, but glad to have you here.  Just follow the beacon down, our landing platform is clear."


The Xeno's sensors has just picked up the homing beacon for the outpost, pointing toward a costal location on one of the central island continents along Syl'n V's equator.

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"Copy that. Heading in now..." answered Starshot, flipping off the comm-link. 


It was a straightforward run, as far as he could see. And he knew how to fly the Xeno, that was for sure. 


A coastal area. Maybe some maritime excursion. Or swamps, marshes. The jungle was thick. It wouldn't be easy terrain, that was certain. But hopefully nothing he could not handle. 


was probably good for the jungle. Her world was heterogenous, but jungles were her home, as far as he understood it. The tall alien woman was a hunter like no other. He was glad he had rescued her from servitude. And more glad that it was Zaul's work he was undoing. 


First time he would see her in true action, though. 


Reminiscing about the past, he set the Xeno onto a landing course, and started flicking through the readouts on the planets gravity, heat, atmosphere...

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Seika had been taking a rather nice nap in the living quarters. Having pushed two of the beds together, she managed to fit her long frame on them rather nicely. Though her limbs, mainly, liked to drape over the edges. Still, she was sleeping soundly enough for her to miss the alert for approaching the planet. She cursed inwardly at herself as she groggily made her way down the corridor, her head just missing the supports of the craft as she navigated her way to the cockpit.


One hand balanced her on the top of the doorway as she leaned in, looking  to Oskar and out the window. His kind… human… were so strange to her. With their fleshy hide and lack of natural armor. To her it was a wonder that they weren’t eaten by his planet’s predators long ago. Still, she thought there must have been something to them. After all, he did come back for her. Though he was the one who captured her in the first place. “Arrive?†She asked, following the question with a yawn that exposes many sharp and pointed teeth in front of narrow flat molars.


She didn’t hesitate to scrunch herself into the cockpit. Her frame narrow enough to take one of the rear seats and lean far enough forward to easily speak to the pilot. “This planet is much green. Warm too yes? Will like this place.†When she spoke the words seemed foreign to her mouth, as if they were sounds she was not meant to make. She manages, but her accent makes her speech airy and strange.

Edited by GooseInduced
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Oskar piloted the Xeno down toward the outpost, the ship bucking slightly as it entered the planet's atmosphere.  From the readings Oskar was receiving, everything about the planet seemed similar to Earth.  The atmosphere was a bit more oxygen rich than Earth's, but that was likely due to the lack of pollution.  The temperatures seemed to hold at tropical levels across much of the planet, diving down to more temperate levels towards the poles.  Gravity was almost identical to Earth's.


The Xeno was just passing through a cloud bank when Seika made her way into the cockpit.  The sun was still just below the horizon along the hemisphere in which their destination was located, leaving the sky still dark but starting to show signs of brightening.  Down below them everything seemed to just be darkness, no defining characteristics.  But then after a few moments, Seika was able to make out a faint glow below, soon realizing that it was some sort of bioluminescence within a large body of water, possibly an ocean, and seemed to be gathered along the coast line.


She was also the first one to spot their destination, a collection of faint light and heat situated along a cliff near the ocean.  It was not long before the Kahi'iru was able to make out some of the area around the outpost, a vast jungle that stretched inland as far as she could see.


Oskar was able to lock onto the landing pad, which was illuminated in the darkness.  The sensors made the outpost out to be a tight collection of three buildings, two of which were about the size of the Xeno, the third being at least twice as big.

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"Jungle, Jungle, everywhere..." murmured Starshot. 


"Should be right up your street, Seika" he said to the tall alien. The archer was intimidating even to him, who knew her. Something about her size, primitive ways, and above all, deadly skill...Starshot was a tall man, and anyone taller than him made him feel a little stange. But then, it was a big universe out there, he reasoned, with big people in it. 


He landed the Xeno carefully, taking one final look at the readings. Should be easy enough. Heat never bothered him; between the Genetic alterations of Zaul and the cybernetics in him, he could regulate his body temperature perfectly. Good oxygen supply too. 


He slung on Mask, around his neck, powering up the AI and letting it form a helmet, glowing with green lights. 


"Already? Well, it pays to be careful out there!" said the paranoid helmet as it flashed up an HUD for Starshot. 


"Just till we know we aren't going to get eaten by eight legged poisonous lizards" he countered, slinging Trigger, his gun, over his shoulder. It was as much to himself and to Seika as anybody. 


And with that, he popped the docking hatch and the ramp, and walked outside into a new hot and green world...

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Seika’s expression had twisted for a moment. Her brow less forehead scrunching into an easily recognizable expression: confusion. “If this mean Seika will like jungle? Yes.†Oskar really had such a strange way of speaking sometimes. Nice guy. Still strange.
As Oskar landed the ship, Seika was double checking her equipment. Her bow collapsed stored on a holster at the small of her back. Arrows, stored both at her hip and over her shoulder in their specially designed quivers. Her knife (a large knife to her but practically a sword to those much smaller than her) strapped to her thigh as usual. She wouldn’t need her environment suit, not here. Not as long as the air was breathable. She might not have been able to read the panel, but Oskar wouldn’t let her out there if it wasn’t safe to breathe.
Regardless of the dangers, Seika found herself excited. You can take the girl off her home planet but you can’t take the predator out of the girl. Regardless of where she was, Seika was a hunter and the approaching chase had to eager to explore, especially in this jungle world. She wondered how Oskar would fare. His planet, she understood, was mostly civilized when he left. She wondered if any jungles were even left there now.
She heard the strange voice as Oskar strapped on his helmet, the language foreign to her. One of Oskar’s home if she remembered correctly. “Good idea to be safe. Seika not want to carry suit.†She shrugs. It’s not like the heat was going to bother her. In fact, when the docking hatch opened to the outside world, it sent a comfortable little shiver through her. Seika’s mouth twisting into a reptilian smile as the cabin is rushed with a gust of hot air. Her bare feet padded along the metal ramp as she ducked under the opening and out into the hot, humid air. “Oh yes. Seika like this. This Seika street†She said, trying to use Oskar's phrase.

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The landing pad turned out to be just large enough for the Xeno, perched right at the edge of the cliffs overlooking the ocean below.  When Oskar powered own the vessel and opened the ramp, warm, moist air was blow in through the open ramp, the air temperature a sign that it was sure to be much hotter and humid once the sun was fully in the sky and the day progressed.


Standing just off the landing pad, near an entrance to the largest of the three buildings that made up the outpost were two Lor wearing coverall style jumpsuits.  One was a male, who was older (appearing to be about 40 years old by Earth standards), the other female, who was at least ten years younger than the male.  Both seemed a bit surprised when Seika's large form appeared behind Oskar as the two made their way off the Xeno.


The male Lor managed to recover his composure first, stepping forward.  "Welcome to Syl'n V.  I am Gallan W'yr, chief of operations for Syl'n Outpost, and this is Tal'a Vixx, our chief scientist."  He stated in greeting, indicating the younger female Lor when he introduced her.

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Oksar bowed, electing to deactivate deactivate Mask, which clicked away to a collar of strange metal and gleen glow around his chest and neck. 


"Dont shut me down! There might be anthing out theeeerrree....."


"Thank you Gallan and Tal'a" he bowed modestly, waving his hand towards the lean and tall archer beside him. 


"My name is Starshot. And my friend, Seika, the finest archer in the galaxy. Nobody knows Jungle like she does" he said, bigging her up.


"We heard you had some...pest control problem. Of sorts" he said, by way of vague introduction. "We are here to help, if we can. Kazzar sent us...employed us" he said. there was a shaky balance between money and goodwill in his visit. 


"Is everyone safe and secure? I don't want any more death creeping up on us..."

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Both Lor nodded greetings to Seika as she was introduced by Oskar.  "Yes, we have been having a problem."  Gallan replied to Oskar's summary of the reason for his and Seika's presence as he began to lead them back toward the entrance to the main building of the outpost.  "Currently all collection teams are here at the outpost, so everyone is safe."


"But we are approaching another collection cycle."  Tal'a then interjected as she followed along.  "So we will be needing to send out the teams once again."


"Yes, that is correct."  Gallan agreed.  "We operate on something of a strict schedule with the collection cycles.  We have them scheduled so at to maximize the amounts we can harvest, if we have too much deviation, then our production can be severely impacted."

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"Collection cycle?"


Starshot took a second. 


Collecting what?


"You mean you harvest..the biosphere...at regular intervals?" he asked as he followed them into the outpost main building. "Why is that?" he asked. 


It would make sense. No point in going out in the dark and cold starry night. Even if armed with lights, it would disrupt the wild life, and the animals themselves presumably hibernated, or something like that at night. 


But collecting what?


"What is the biosphere of Sly'n V, Tal'a?" he asked politely. Mask deactivated, folding back on itself until it was just a metal and light collar around his neck. "Aside from its vast jungles, I am not familiar with the planet. Has something...exotic...evolved here?"

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Seika followed Oskar down the ramp. A smile crept across her reptilian features as she gazed about. Soon enough though her eyes settled upon the two Lor wearing jumpsuits, her golden gaze looked them over and she thought of how strange it made them look. Though the thought did not last long. For if one with scales could blush, Seika would have. As if she didn't already feel awkward enough, now she had to try and live up to Oskar's praise...

She tried to put it out of her mind as she followed Oskar and the others. She was observing at first, listening, following along with their conversation.... or at least she had tried to. Right around the time the doorway forced her to duck under it, she lost track of what in the galaxy they were talking about. When Oskar looked her way, she tried to grab his attention without interruping the conversation. She grabbed his sleeve and tugged gently. "What bispharen.. bi-bio-something. What mean?"

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Tal'a hesitated a moment at Oskar's question, glancing over at Gallan. The older Lor gave a small nod and she focused back on Oskar. "Please follow me to the botanical laboratory, I can better explain what we do there." She stated as she started leading the way through the outpost.

"A biosphere is the total sum of all the ecosystems of a world." The female Lor said in reply to Seika's question as they went.

The interior of the outpost was all smooth surfaces and well maintained. Kazzach had clearly spared no expense in providing its employees on the planet with the latest technology. Tal'a led them done the smooth, well lit corridors, eventually coming to a turbolift which took them up several floors. From there it was only a short walk to a portal which led into a large room with several computers and work tables.

Tal'a moved over and picked a data tablet from a counter and moved toward one of the work tables. Activating the tablet, she quickly moved through several files and pulled up one in particular. "Sly'n V has a number of unique flora and fauna, but the species of greatest interest to us, and the reason for our presence here, is this plant." She tapped the screen of the tablet and a hologram appeared over the table. It showed a plant that had a main body which looked like an immense, fat bulb, surrounded by several broad red leaves. Several long, thick roots were also displayed, apparently deigned to reach deep into the ground several feet.

"Over the course of each decacycle, the main body of this plant fills with a clear, blue tinted liquid which possesses remarkable medicinal properties. It is used in the production of several of our most potent hyposprays as well as a number of other medicines manufactured by Kazzach Biogenetics. All attempts to synthetically reproduce this liquid have failed. Similarly, all attempts to transplant or grown this plant on other worlds or in artificial habitats have failed as well. Even our attempts here to cultivate the plant in greater numbers have failed. So we are left with sending harvesting teams out regularly to extract the liquid from known specimens at locations across this continent and two neighboring ones."

"It was one of those harvesting teams which was attacked and killed while out on its collection route." Gallan stated as he interjected.

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Starshot paid close attention to the presentation. 


"Fascinating" he said, without untruth. He was an amateur scientist, who liked growing exotic flowers and flora. Whilst his expertise in the matter was limited, he still enjoyed the field. What they had was a unique species, and a beautiful one too. 


"Quite a challenging plant. But...what is out there in the jungle that could attack a harvesting team? what happened?" he asked, curious. Kazzach looked like it spared no expense on the outpost, he would imagine they would treat employee safety as well. 


"And how do you know they were attacked, rather than just lost?"

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"We have their bodies, if you wish to examine them."  Gallan replied, his face seeming a bit queasy as he did so.  "You can also speak with our medic who examined them after they were found."


"There are a number of dangerous predators on Syl'n V."  Tal'a then added.  "As well as a number of herbivores that can become extremely aggressive if they feel threatened.  But our teams are trained to recognize and watch for these species, and how to deal with possible confrontations as well.  In any event, given the data on those known species, it is rather unlikely any of them would be capable of killing all four members of a collection team, two of whom are there specifically for security."


The Lor scientist then continued.  "But in truth, we estimate that no more than fifty percent of the species on Syl'n V have been identified, likely even less.  This could be something we have never seen before."

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"Nice planet"


It was a hunter's paradise, of course. Much as he deplored war, Starshot got a huge kick out of hunting. 


"Can't say I like examining the dead. I haven't got the stomach for it. But, prudence first. However grisly the picture, I think it is worth looking at them". 


He was hardly a forensic specialist, but he had seen plenty of scars and wounds from tooth and claw. Zaul's "improvements" had made him heal better, and he tended not to scar. But he had one or two blistering ones from the worst maulings. Nothing like the scar down the left side of his face from when Zaul had blown up his troops in the Swiss mountains. It itched with excitement, running down his chest too. The wounds predated Zauls work, and as such were his most prominent. Old now, faint, but present. He had come to make them a part of his identity. 


"So lead on, if you can" he asked Tal'a. 


"The question then is - do we escort your next crew, or try to find out what is exactly is down in the Jungle ourselves?"

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"This way then." Gallan replied as Oskar indicted he would like to see the bodies and leading the group back out of the botanical laboratory. As they made their way back down the smooth corridors of the outpost, the administrator responded to Oskar's question on how to tackle the problem. "Well, you are supposed to be the expert in this, we have no real preference in how to try to track whatever is responsible down."

"Of course, simply escorting our teams will be difficult, as we send out several at once in order to cover all the collection points."

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"If know what kind of creature killed then, Sei and Oskar might be able to track." Seika chimed in. Her gold eyes skimmed between the Lor and her companion. She can't pretend to understand much of any of this. She can't even read the signs on the walls or the words on the screens. What she does know, is the jungle. Tracking. That she can help with. "Do know if big?"

Edited by GooseInduced
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"That means its time to shoot something! Zap! Zap!"


Starshot slapped his rifle hard. "I'm sure there will be something to shoot..." he growled at the unruly weapon. 


"Then I guess we have to track the...beast?"


What was it anyway? There was no real proof it was an animal, although that was the likely culprit. It could be a giant carnivore plant. It could even be a malfunction of equipment, or a natural geographical disaster. 


"I presume it is a beast? As opposed to an earthquake or lightning bolt?" he inquired. "Perhaps the bodies will tell..." he said, rubbing his forehead. This would be a grisly experience....

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"I am afraid we currently do not know what local predator it might have been, or what size it is." Gallan replied in response to Seika's comments and question. He then turned back to Oskar. "I can assure you, we could have been able to tell if it was some natural event, even if we cannot tell what sort of creature it is."

The four then arrived at another door which Gallan opened by swiping one hand over the dark panel to the right side of the door. The door slide quietly open, revealing a fair sized room beyond. Like the botanical laboratory, the room was smooth and filled with a variety of work stations and equipment. Unlike the laboratory, the room also had a group of medical beds slightly indented into the far wall. The room certainly had a clean, sterile feel to it. A couple of other doors led off of the room, one to the right side of the room, the other on the left.

A tall Lor appeared at the door to the right. He was wearing a coverall jumpsuit similar to Gallan and Tal'a's, but white, where theirs was a medium grey.

"Doctor Rann, these are the experts that have been hired to assist us, Starshot, and his associate, Seika." Gallan stated by way of introduction. "They are here to see the remains of collection team 3."

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The tall doctor looked over at Oskar and Seika, focusing on the tall Kah’iru for a few moments before focusing back on Oskar. "Greetings." He stated in a rather flat tone and with a small nod. "Right this way to view the remains please."

Doctor Rann then led them into one of the side rooms of the main one, with Gallan and Tal'a remaining behind. The smaller room was colder than the main part of the medical lab, with five long metal tables set up along one wall. On each of the tables Oskar and Seika could make out a form underneath a white shroud.

Rann moved toward the nearest table, pulling back the shroud to revel a Lor male underneath. The Lor's skin was pale, his face almost tranquil. But there were a series of deep gashes running down the front of his body. Oskar had seen plenty of similar claw wounds, though to make wounds a spread apart as these were, the claws had to be at least a good two to three times larger than a human hand. "As you can see, multiple claw wounds, each at least three to four inches deep on average. This one by the neck was what proved fatal, severing a major vein and causing massive blood lose." Doctor Rann commented.

Studying the body a bit more, Oskar noted that three were no other signs of injury on it. Whatever had killed it, had not eaten any part of it.

Looking at the other four bodies, two more male and two female Lor, reveled mostly similar injuries. There were injuries on one of the other males and one of the females that were a bit different, and not something that could easily be attributed to claw marks. The skin around those injuries looked as if it had been shredded in long strips four or so inches wide. Like the first body, none of the others showed any sign of after death injury.

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"Looks like a grand beast! It's going to be a fine hunt!" trembled Trigger. The old gun rumbled its energy cells in anticipation. 


"Its a ferocious beast" agreed Starshot, casting his eyes over the corpses. 


The gunfire...the mud...the cold....the dead...


He refocussed on the now, pushing aside the memories of the war. What concerned him was...


"Why did they attack? The beasts killed your men, but why? Not to eat. Where they afraid, scared? or just angry?" he asked aloud. 


"I guess there is only one way to find out.." he answered himself, giving a nod to his bow slinging companion. 

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Seika stood behind Oskar as the body was revealed, able to easily she over his shoulder and to the body on the table. The long gashes made her flinch ever so slightly. Golden eyes looked down at her own hand, reveling. Whatever it was, had hands or paws even bigger than her own.... "It is big. Even to Sei this creature will be large." The huntress pushed out a small sight. Though part of her was thrumming, excited for the approaching hunt.


"Oskar is right. Creature did not eat them." Though the moment she said that, Sei noticed the strange injuries. What in the three suns made that?


"Yes. Sei and Oskar should be careful. Big creatures are easier to sneak up on but... Well, even Sei is good at hiding."

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Once the trio had come back out into the main part of the medical bay, they found Gallan and Tal'a still waiting there for them. Gallan seemed to be doing his best to remain patient, while Tal'a was studying a small holographic screen projected from a small device on her wrist.

"We have no idea why they were attacked. Could be something territorial, but there have been plenty of collections in the area where they were killed, and never any issues before." Gallan replied. He paused a moment, and then added. "But in any event, we have collections to start making this afternoon. What is your plan for trying to locate and deal with this beast?"

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