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A Simple Job


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Lor Space

The Unseen Ocean - interstellar transport vessel

All was quiet on The Unseen Ocean - and, really, it had better have been for what people at this end of the massive vessel paid for the trip. The middle-class got the midship and the proles got pods and benches back by the engines, but this section, near the bow, was all high-rollers and corporate contracts. In fact, even the halls outside the multi-room suites were silent and nearly empty - a lone few employees, impeccably dressed, made their way through the smooth metal and plastic archways to keep everything invisibly supplied and anonymously clean.

All of which, unfortunately, made the woman who stepped out of one of the corporate suites stand out like a sore thumb.

A bellhop stopped cold, fins along the side of his head extending in surprise as he stared - her already unacceptably-dyed hair was disheveled, her would-be faultless uniform torn in places and discolored near the shoulder in what could have been her own blood if she'd had any visible wounds. A slow clicking sound drew his attention downward, to the segmented tail that was slowly curling out from between the door and its frame as she flashed a winning smile and tried to close the door.

The door stopped short of its frame, stuck on the arm of someone who - at the sudden sensation of their limb getting hit by a closing aperture - made a disoriented and not-quite-conscious groaning sound.


"Ah - no tickets," the woman explained, flashing her smile again and none-too-gently kicking the hand out of the way so that the door would shut. She picked up a heavy, ornate case from where she'd set it down, quickly brushing past the young man on her way aftward.

The bellhop reached for his commlink.

"I've got the cabin package, Rock, but we're probably blown. We've only got a few minutes before an alarm gets hit and security starts crawling out of the walls." Eclipse tore what was left of the uniform off, exposing a far more practical jumpsuit underneath and putting some extra energy in her stride as, all around her the lights went red and a low klaxon sounded. She reached up to her ear with her free hand to adjust the volume on her communicator. "....maybe less. Please tell me things went cleaner on your end."

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"Rrrooock." The gravelly sound produced by a larynx made of slate was muffled by the howl of air rushing past into the void of space through the fist sized and growing hole in the Ocean’s hull. The bulkhead descending to seal the room off from the rest of the ship groaned in protest as the animate statue formed from piled stones standing below it pushed upward, his fingers leaving gouges in the metal. He looked over his shoulder, a blocky brow lowered over two embers of molten lava.

"Oi, you’re just a master of understatement, you know that, pebble brain?" the cobalt blue furred simian hanging upside down from Rock’s shoulder by both feet and one arm accused irritably while carrying a hefty toolbox in another hand and typing furiously away at the control panel next to the door with her remaining pair. Getting nowhere, Nae-Dae made an angry, inarticulate sound and gave up typing in favour of pulling a hefty wrench longer than her forearm from the toolbox. Several emphatic swings quickly reduced the wall mounted interface to sparking scrap. "There," the Irreran mechanic sniffed in satisfaction, "that’s the shuttle bay codes sorted."

Shifting his stance with a grunt so that he was holding up the bulkhead with one hand, Rock picked Nae-Dae up by the back of her heavy apron and held her in front of him, away from the distending breach. His shoulders heaved up and down twice as he prepared himself before rolling forward with a sudden burst of momentum, taking the goliath into the hallway as the emergency door slammed shut behind them. Placing his much smaller friend atop his shoulder, Rock began taking long strides toward the rendezvous point. "Rock?"

"Nah, sure they weren’t keeping nothing important in there. Built like a paper bag, innit?"

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"Well, that's that sorted. Glad to hear you two are doing waaahahahaha, hello, there," she cut off, skidding to a halt as she rounded a corner into the barrel of a security droid.


"Sure thing," she smiled, holding her free hand up in a peaceful gesture of surrender. "Afraid I'm kind of in a hurry, though. Is that model sentient?"


"Yeah, no. Not talking to you, sorry. Echo?"

The small metal device hanging off the alien woman's belt lit up, a circular lens on the outside shining yellow. "I believe the word you were looking for was 'sapient'," a distinguished male voice responded, light pulsing in time to the words. "From the looks of him he's a Cynka-series civilian protection android; one of the newer model 805s, I do believe. Their engineering is really quite remarkable: they've been given a custom hardware set that compiles whole volumes of pre-set orders for the specific job and environment they happen to find themselves deployed in--"

"So, 'pre-set orders' means no?"

The voice sighed, light dimming in something akin to put-upon defeat. "....no, ma'am, they are not 'sentient'."


The droid found itself interrupted by a foot-and-a-half of dark, matte metal blade that had just sprouted from its chest. It collapsed as Eclipse broke back into a jog, twisting on the floor as she pulled her tail out of the back of its chassis. "Less than a minute from rendezvous," she announced over her commlink, spur folding back into the tip of her tail. "Watch the droids - they aren't very smart, but I don't know how twitchy they'll get around passengers."

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"They're a real bundle of nerves alright," Nae-Dae chittered facetiously as she sought refuge behind Rock's considerable bulk. They'd made it to the steerage section of the Ocean before running into a trio of the security bots. As it turned out the custom hardware that had so impressed Echo prioritized neutralizing a pair of potential threats over minimizing the risk of passenger injuries, at least when it came to the sort of passengers resigned to the makeshift accommodations in the belly of the starliner. The blaster bolts emerged from the bots' cannons with the resounding sound of heavy high tension cables vibrating only to collide with Rock's chest with a much less inspiring cough like marbles being dropped into sand. The huge humanoid brushed a bit of scorched dust from one stoney pectoral with his hand and gave his attackers a flat, unimpressed look.

The situation might have been comical if not for the panicked screaming of the dozens of beings running in all directions trying to get away from the firefight in the cramped quarters of the hold. A small child of perhaps ten had gotten separated from her parent, taking rapid, distressed breaths as she scuttled about on her six tentacles and tried to spot a familiar face among the throngs of unfamiliar knees. Tripping over herself, she tucked into a defensive balls of pale green skin and hand-me-down dress and rolled a few feet before falling with a plaintive cough between Rock and the security bots.

"Oi, kid!" Nae-Dae shouted, leaping up and over Rock's shoulder like a cobalt blue pinball, six limbs quickly carrying her across the deck to the child. She arrived just in time for one of the three security bots to turn its attention and its blaster cannon toward them, components whirring momentarily as its visual sensors refocused. "Aw, kark," the mechanic muttered, squeezing her eyes shut and wrapping three arms around the girl while using the forth to hold her toolbox up like a shield.

Instead of red hot oblivion she opened her eyes to see a stoney palm set down in front of her as Rock crouched to shield his much squishier partner. The giant's flat look had turned to one of anger, his molten eyes glowing more brightly as he surged forward with surprising speed for his size. The same huge hand quickly enveloped the offending bot's head. "Rock." One squeeze later the droid toppled over, a ruined stump where its neck had been.

Rock turned his attention to the remaining two bots to find them similarly dispatched with great round burn holes through their chest. Turning back around he found Nae-Dae holding a weapon from her toolbox that must have weighed nearly as much as she did, sniffing derisively. "Losers. G'wan, kid, go find your ma, yeah?" The little soon ran into the waiting tentacles of her relieved parent, waving at the departing pair.

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"'scuse me, sir? Hoy! You!"

One of the fleeing civilians stopped short as Eclipse's tail snagged his belt, dragging him a few frightened feet backward as he looked up at her in...recognition? "I think this is yours," she said, giving him a simple smile - no grin, no teeth - as they stood impervious to the surrounding chaos for a moment. "I'm sure you must have just misplaced it somewhere, you should really look after your things better in the future."

Her free hand hefted a long black bag, its uneven contents settling a bit as she dropped it into his surprised arms. "Off you go, then!" she announced, releasing his belt and giving him a gentle shove back into the thinning stream of bodies. She didn't even wait for him to fade back into the crowd, spinning on the heel of one boot to finish her stride over to her crew with the large, ornate case thrown effortlessly over one shoulder like so much simple luggage. "I think this has been an exciting trip." She stooped to peer at Rock and Nae-Dae through one of the newly-ventilated robots before gently pushing it over with one finger. "We should probably get a move on, though - wouldn't want to overstay our welcome. We were hanger C, I think? They've probably realized that by now, though, and it's not going to make our job any easier."

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"What, you're worried about these chumps? Aw, come off it Captain Swishypants, they're strictly amateur night," Nae-Dae scoffed dismissively from her perch atop Rock's right shoulder, waving with one of her free hands. The stoney goliath matched the Alarian's pace as they ran down the corridor with a longer stride that made up for his less streamlined physique. "Took care of the deadlocks, didn't I? We get back to the boat, knock some heads together if we gotta and waltz on outta here, yeah?"

They did indeed find the door to Hanger C spread invitingly open for them, the Horizon within view as they stepped through. The pint-sized mechanic had just opened her mouth to confirm her prediction when androids identical to the ones they'd dealt with previously began pouring in through each of the remaining four entrances to the hanger, led by a livid man wearing the uniform of the Ocean's command staff and shouting some very unkind words.

"...yeah, alright, I deserved that," Nae-Dae admitted, ducking her head between her upper set of shoulder blades. "Rock can still take this bunch, though!"

The pile of stacked stones looked from one side of the hanger to the other, doing a quick headcount as the number of robots increased. A beat later he answered his companion's vote of confidence by scooping Eclipse up by the waist under his left arm and making a mad dash for their ship just as laser bolts began to fly. "Rooooock!"

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