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Kestevan 79
The Spinal Core, Coalition Victory Station
Lor time mark 1482.4 [April 2, 2016 (Terran Calender)] 

The Voidrunners' work rarely brought them near CoVic Station, as their bounties typically favored the border regions, away from whatever government, organization or individual that was looking for them.  But their latest bounty had required them to make the delivery to CoVic Station, so now they had the rare chance to take in the thriving galactic hub that had arisen in the aftermath of the Incursion.  Currently, they were making their way into the Spinal Core. 

The Spinal Core was a section of CoVic Station that had developed as the central market place, filled with business and shops.  Its named derived from the fact that it was built along the inside of a hundred-meter-wide shaft that descended deep into the lower levels of the station from the section where most of the embassies and other governmental facilities had been established.  With the somewhat hasty construction that had taken place in making parts of CoVic Station habitable, the engineers had not bothered trying to alter the shaft, but had simply set up the artificial gravity generators so that the entire surface of the Spinal Core was covered with two or three story buildings and numerous stalls.  Assuming one could find a straight path that went all the way around the interior of the Core, it would have been possible to have starting walking and ending up right back where one had started. 

While there had been an initial attempt to set out orderly and symmetrical buildings and shops, expansion and additions had quickly sprung up that created twisting and curving avenues.  Added to this were numerous small stalls and vendors selling their wares on a mat laid on the ground, making the Spinal Core something of a crowded, fast paced environment where all manner of goods could be found, if one looked hard enough. 

The Voidrunners had been taking in the sights of the Spinal Core, and taking advantage of the wide array of goods, when the news that a Stellar Khanate warship had emerged from the nearby wormhole and approached the station.  As sense of nervousness had come over many in the Core, although they still went about their business as best they could.  It lessened somewhat when the news began to spread that apparently the Khanate ship was delivering a diplomatic envoy that was to meet with Ambassador Th'emme and envoys from other intergalactic governments that had embassies aboard the station.

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Roulette was less than pleased by the news of the Khanate envoy.  He doubted he even registered as far as Khanate concerns go on lost experiments.  But, he knew his government well enough to assume it would never do anything quietly.  A situation that would no doubt cut into their shopping leisure.

 

"Alcohol's about to get a whole lot more expensive.  Best to resupply before the rumor mill starts flying."  The chatty Voidrunner said without a sense of urgency.  Even if standard Khanate diplomacy was at work.  It wasn't as if the blade would be specifically pointed at their throats.  Yet.

 

I haven't pissed off anyone this week.

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Galactic politics was something Ruby tried her best to ignore most of the time. Unless it had an effect on what kind of jobs she had in mind or something was going to drag her into a war, she did not care. Though that said when the Khanate flies in with a Warship even she takes notice. "Good thing I stocked up on munitions then." Envoys or not, you don't bring that kind of firepower unless you really want to see it used. At least things were likely going to be more interesting.

 

"We seem pretty well provisioned for now. Anything else we need?" The layout of the station did leave her head spinning a bit and she would be glad to leave soon, warship or not.

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"I like hitting Khanate soldiers."  Bliss said simply as she shrugged a bit and kept moving.  She was also unconcerned with politics, or anything really, most of the time.  Punching yes.  Punching good.  It fills Bliss with happiness, and her people never liked the Khanate, so any official ship was something that she kind of wanted to punch for awhile.

 

A week maybe.

 

Though the urge to play and move through the station like a child was there too.  Of course with the tendrils she could try and launch herself to the other side.  So there was that.  Though any mischievous impulses were not showing up on her nominally unexpressive face.

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Not far from the Voidrunners... 

A dark clad figure walked through the crowds of the Spinal Core, red eyes scanning the area as it moved smoothly among the crowds.  Coming to a halt in the shadow of one of the permanent structures, the figure put his back to the wall and looked down at the chronometer on one wrist.   

<Is everyone in position?>  The figure through "out loud," the message transmitted over a mental network to others within the Spinal Core.  As the affirmative mental replies came, the figure focused back on the crowd.  <Alright then, time for us to earn our pay.  Just need to find a suitable target for starting things off.>  The figure stated once everyone had checked in.

<One moment.  I think I have spotted just the thing.>  The figure then added, focusing across the crowd. 

In another section of the Spinal Core 

Kresh Melek made her way through the crowds of CoVic Station's central market place, a task made somewhat easy by her towering form and the unwillingness of most others in the area to block her path.  The Lyankanian had only recently returned to CoVic Station, to seek out her former comrades in the Praetorians once again to rejoin their ranks. 

While Kresh had left the Praetorians not long after the end of the Incursion, she had known of Imperatrix Val-Ren's plan to establish a headquarters for the organization in CoVic Station.  So she had been able to find transport back to the bustling space station, arriving in one of the lower level hangers. 

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And so, Kresh Melek, the Praetorian known as Barrier, had returned. CoVic station certainly had changed from when she last saw it only days after the incursion. Back then, she had decided to leave her companions and walk her own path, for as long as it took to find out what she wanted to. She had only partially achieved that goal, but here she was again. Something told her that for now her former companions were a bigger priority than whatever was left of her home. She had spent much time searching, only finding dead ends. It was time to do what she was chosen to, back two millennia ago.

 

And so, she had come back. She didn’t know what the Imperatrix had ended up doing after the Incursion, but she knew that this was where to find her. Or at least, somewhere on CoVic was where she’d find her and the other praetorians. Walking through the streets was easy enough, people were wise enough to not stand in the way of somebody usually about twice their height. But then again, that also made talking to them a lot more difficult. Many stuttered uncontrollably, some even ran away. And others just ignored her.

 

In casually walking with the crowd, Kresh had arrived at what clearly was a market place. A positive. She didn’t need anything, or even have the money to anything expensive, but the merchants would probably be more keen on talking to her than some civilians on the streets. She picked out an armor maintenance shop, maybe she could stock up on polishing equipment, arguably the one thing she might need more of in the future, and slowly walked over there, doing her best to not disturb the crowd. Maybe she would've realized the fact there was some general stress, but she was used to that being a thing when she walked around crowded areas, so she just ignored it.

 

The Lyankan, towering over the crowd, approached the store, and started looking around its inventory. Finding what she wanted was fairly easy, and she could just about afford it. She bought some spare polishing equipment, and when paying, struck up a conversation with the merchant. She spoke with accented GalStandart, speaking slower than most.

 

“Greetings. I’m looking for the headquarters of the praetorians. Are you able to tell me where it is located?”

 

Edited by olopi

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Barrier 

The shop keeper looked up at Kresh Melek as they concluded the transaction.  At the Lyankan's question, the humanoid gave a small nod.  "Everyone that has been aboard CoVic Station for more than a cycle can tell you where the Praetorians' headquarters is.  It is located on the upper levels, near the embassies and other governmental buildings." 

The humanoid pointed off to its right, up towards one end of the curved interior of the Spinal Core.  "Follow the avenue up to the top and then ask for directions to the central plaza.  The entrance is located at one end."
 

The Voidrunners 

The Voidrunners were trying to decide what other shop they might wish to visit while on the station when the crowd around them seemed the thin slightly. 

"Well, Stahnze Turk, this is a surprise."  Came a gravelly voice from ahead of them, as a figure emerged a short distance ahead in the crowd.  The figure was tall and lean, a grey skinned humanoid wearing a poncho over his shoulders, covering one side of his body, the other side open wide enough to revel a blaster slung at his right hip.  A wide brimmed hat covered his head, from under which dark red eyes studied the trio.  "The Indigo Moon still have a sizable bounty on you." 

His eyes glanced ever so slightly to Ruby as he added, "You are Ruby Voxx are you not?  Consider this a professional courtesy.  Don't interfere."

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Did no one recognize her?  She felt hurt, slightly.  Though given she was also wanted she accepted some small benefits for these sorts of things.  Bliss straightened up and growled as she stepped forward, and her lips pulled back to show the beak like structure beneath them as she looked at the man before them.

 

For whatever the other Voidrunners had said of her, Bliss was more than willing to attack anyone who picked a fight.  And rarely did she overtly challenge people head on of her own volition.  Her people were sometimes violently xenophobic, but they weren't a strictly warlike or conquest orientated race towards outsiders.

 

Though... Bliss was an exception for her species in most instances.

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It appeared her former, and hopefully soon to again be present, comrades were important. The headquarters being located amongst embassies and governmental buildings spoke of such. Being part of an important organization again, like two-thousand years ago. Kresh was uncertain about whether or not this was something to look forward to or not. While she had always enjoyed the respect and appreciation that came with being part of the praetorians, she never was fond of the attention that also came with it.

 

Often, she had retreated and spent days in deep meditation, with the goal of escaping the attention brought onto the praetorians. When called upon, she acted, but as soon as her presence was not further required, she enjoyed having others take the attention. But now, where not many praetorians remained, this would no longer be possible. She would have to be more active.

 

And just as she was moving away from the merchant’s stand, ready to head to the upper levels, her stomach grumbled. The noise startled a few people around her, already wary of her. It was true, Kresh hadn’t eaten in a few days, ever since she’d started her journey to CoVic. Maybe now was time to do so. A few more minutes would hardly matter. And she already was at a marketplace, finding edibles here would be easy and quick. And so, she slowly moved along the crowd in search of a food stall, where she would spend the last bit of money on her.

 

Edited by olopi

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Ruby's helmet immediately materialized around her head. To hear Roulette's name spoken aloud was usually the signal that violence was about to break out. She did not recognize the man threatening them right away until her vision zoomed in. Must have come along with the Khanate ship. She concluded. Whether or not this was a coincidence or a planned ambush did not really matter. He was threatening the Voidrunners and that was something she could not let slide.  "Too bad, you are already interfering." She said as she drew her rifle and aimed it at him.

 

Hate criminal Bounty Hunters...

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"Alright, have it your way."  Kazzan Suul replied as his narrowed slightly.  Take out Vox.  He mentally relayed to a comrade elsewhere within the Spinal Core. 

I've got her. Replied a female mental voice, as the concealed sniper zeroed the crosshairs of her scope onto Ruby Vox.  Taking a deep breath, she pulled the trigger on her powerful energy rife, sending a blast of energy flashing through the air of the market to strike the Terran bounty hunter on the right shoulder blade. 

Kazzan meanwhile was already moving, his poncho whipping to one side as he drew a pair of matched blaster pistols in an instant, bringing them up to aim at Bliss as he went down in a slight crouch.  But even as the bounty hunter let lose a barrage of energy blasts, Bliss had already dodged aside, the shots flying wide to blast pockmarks in the walls of nearby buildings.  The already nervous crowed immediately around the encounter now going into a panic. 

Meanwhile a third bounty hunter moved up from behind the group, leveling a blaster at Roulette and hitting the Zultasian conman in the back.

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Ruby's cried out as the full force of the shot threw her should back. Bloody hell. Ambush it is. She though as she clutched the scorched armor plate. The fact the blast did not leave her in shock was a small miracle. She scanned the area quickly, eyes darting between the sudden appearing of rivals and the chaos you get when people start opening fire in a crowded space. There was an freshly abandoned stall nearby. There was not a lot of options other than stand in the open so she quickly dashed over to it and leaped over, scattering trinkets and other cheap souvenirs across the ground. There was no guarantee her cover would hold against them, but she just needed it to last long enough to take everyone down.  

 

She peered over the counter and spotted the bounty hunter that fired into Roulette. If they wanted the option of retreat, he needed to go. She aimed her rifle and opened a volley of kinetic bolts into his chest before ducking back to safety. Ruby was doing her best to ignore the shooting pain in her shoulder.

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Ruby's volley of fire hit the bounty hunter that had come from behind the group, staggering him slightly with multiple hits.  But in the end, the alien stayed on his feet and appeared to be very much still in the fight.   

A energy beam lanced out at Bliss from the right side, the Xuli'pan having caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye and was already ducking down when the blast passed harmlessly overhead.  A quick glance in that direction reveled another bounty hunter, this one a reptilian species, having moved into view, a blaster in its hand.

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As usual Roulette's first inclination wasn't to start firing wildly.  They were surrounded and there were clearly more gunmen lying out of sight.  "Kazzazn, you realize my bounty didn't get so sizeable by playing nice right?  Clearly you've had to think about why Indigo Moon would put so many credits after a lone conman.  Every man they've sent after me has had to look for a new line of work.  Their bodies left so battered.  Just returning the bit of professional courtesy.  It's not too late to put away your blasters and walk away."

 

It was a lie, and Roulette knew Kazzazn wasn't falling for it in the slightest.  But, it laid the groundwork for when Roulette quickly turned his attention to the bounty hunter that had shot him. Especially when he began to sprinkle in a bit of the truth in.  His Lor hardsuit had done a good job of keeping him safe up to this point.  But, he wasn't about to try and test just how effective it was in the long term if he could help it. 

 

"And you.  Between you and I, the last corrupt lawmen that came after all of us.  We dropped an entire building on them.  Kazzazn's led you to the slaughter and you don't even know it.  Not too late for you to get out of our way.  Or I'll make you get out of our way"

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And Bliss was making a shrill grinding and rasping noise, as her shoulders  shook as she ducked to the side, dropping to her knees and sliding on the door to avoid the blasts fired at her.  "Turk!  You brought me presents, you shouldn't have!"  Her normally sort of stoic expression lit up like a fireworks display, or solar flares as she finally had something to play with.  Well someones.

 

Springing to her feet, there was a whirring noises as the tendrils shot out as her arms swung, hitting the second bounty hunter that shot at her, and wrapped him tightly after doubling him over with the blow.

 

This, this was where she got her name.  The effervescent glee she got in the face of combat.  It was rare she got to cut loose, and now she was going to.  "Skulking stink apes!  I am going to rip you apart and feed you to diseased gut slugs!"  And then came that disturbing sound as she pirouetted and prepared what came next.  Which the other Voidrunners knew to be her battering their foes with their foes.  Lips pulled back into a snarling smile.

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GM 

I still have Vox lined up. The concealed sniper communicated as the firefight began in earnest and Ruby took cover in a nearby stall.  Taking another deep breath, the sniper fired once again, and once again a powerful blast of concentrated energy struck the Terran bounty hunter, this time just on the front of her armor's chest plate. 

"Nice try Turk, but I do fully appreciate the risks of this line of work."  Kazzan Suul replied calmly, clearly unimpressed by Roulette's attempts to intimidate him.  With that, the bounty hunter crouched down near a wall as he steadied his aim at Bliss as he once again let loose a barrage of energy blasts.  This time his aim was true, as three blasts struck the Xuli'pan squarely.  Time for some help with Bliss.  He communicated mentally. 

I am on it.  Came a mental reply, as a new figure appeared, leaping off the rooftop of a nearby building and landing next to Bliss.  The figure was a tall, insectoid alien, with chitin armor and a long, wide blade like weapon.  The new arrival swung its blade at Bliss, but the Xuli'pan managed to easily dodge the attack. 

Although clearly unnerved by Roulette's comments, and hurt from the barrage Ruby had launched against him, the bounty hunter at the rear of the Voidrunners took aim at the conman once again.  This time however, the energy blast missed the intended target. 

Elsewhere in the Spinal Core 

Kresh Melek was just finishing her small meal when the distinctive sound of energy weapon fire echoed through the market.  It sounded somewhat distant, and the former Praetorian did not have a precise location, but it sounded like it was more toward the center section of the Core....

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Small meals were good, but not enough. Barrier was standing in line for a food stall. She had found one, offering “Extra Size Meals”. One of the few times she did not stand out, most people also waiting to purchase food were of a similar height. Both strangely comforting and somewhat disconcerting. Kresh Melek remembered Lyanka, its inhabitants, her life there. It had been the last time she had been around this many people of this size. In all her travels since waking up again, she had hardly met anybody able to see eye to eye with her from a most literal standpoint. She still stood out somewhat, her grey skin and white armor standing in contrast with the brown most were wearing.

 

And then, while lost in thought and her head sunk, she heard it. Quickly, she raised her head. This was a sound she’d not heard in a long time. Maybe it was a more peaceful universe than two millennia ago, maybe she’d simply ignored it ever since waking up. Gunfire. A quick step to the side, outside of the line. Her shield taken from her back, slotted into her left arm. Right after, she ascended, the will of her people’s spirits carrying her above the heads of the crowd below. She did not know where the noise had come from. But she would find it. Stop it. Act as a protector, to whoever was being attacked, and all those caught in the crossfire.

 

 

 

Edited by olopi

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Ruby felt another shot connect with her torso. But unlike the other time it reflected harmlessly off of her battle-scared armor. She glanced up. It was difficult to work out where the hell that shot came from other than somewhere up above. Scanning... Part of her helmets HUD read on the corner of her eye. It would likely take another shot from the sniper to figure out the source of laser fire. Not a prospect she was looking forward to...

 

Her trail of thought was interrupted up by the sight of Roulette laying down threats about how dangerous he was...And getting shot in the chest for it. It was moments like this that made her question why it was so difficult to capture him in the first place. "Turk, less talk and more shooting!" She shouted before opening another burst of fire from her rifle, this time aimed as Suul. While it looked like a few shot it, she suspected it did not quite hit anywhere he would feel it. Not wanting to have her head taken off from the next shot from her mystery assailant, she ducked behind her stall.

Edited by Darksider42

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"You never appreciate the fine intricacies of the spoken craft, Voxx.  A glaxarn tongue will go further than a blaster."  Roulette responded unimpressed.  Taking a moment to calculate the angle needed to hit as many of the bounty hunters as possible.  I don't get why we're not trying to make a break for it.  Scratch that, I do get why.  Bliss and Ruby live for getting shot at.

 

Once the nervous bounty hunter exhaled he was in the exact position Roulette needed.  From behind his visor he fired a concussive beam of light directly at the doubting Bounty hunter it ricocheted off the bounty hunter's chest towards another, who rolled out of the way,  before finally making it's way towards Kazzan Suul.  Unfortunately, Suul leaned out of harm's way before Roulette's optic blast crashed against a wall.  "Happy?"

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"Hhraah!  Ixt ixt ixt!"  It was at this point that Bliss was laughing.  Her companions knew the sound of it prior, the roar followed by unnerving clicking noises she'd make that seemed to be impossible to do unless you had the right physiology for it.  "Is this all you offer!?"  Her tone incredulous as she slammed the victim she had ensnared in those tendrils at Suul.  Intending on battering him with his own men.  It was funny.  A trick she never got tired of.  Though she was having to work around the insect that was attacking her.

 

She was similar to a madwoman, a berserker in this case.  It was how she always was, though they had never gone over this before, she always felt that  she would serve as a distraction while the other two beat ground.  As she could wrap up a couple attackers and then retreat herself.  Even if she thrilled in the efforts of this.

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GM 

While Bliss was able to hit Kaazan Suul with her makeshift weapon, the veteran bounty hunter managed to roll with the impact at the last minute, coming back up to his feet apparently unharmed.  His dark red eyes fixed on Bliss as he stood back upright. 

Somewhere else in the Spinal Core, the hidden sniper fired once again, the blast hitting Ruby in the chestplate and knocking her to the ground.  The Terran bounty hunter's vision blurred with spots from the impact of the shot, but she was able to shake it off and pull herself back into the firefight. 

"You should not always be so quick to dismiss an easy fight."  Suul replied to Bliss' comments about him and his companions.  With a quick movement, the hunter holstered one of his blaster pistols and then took a small canister off his belt, which he then threw at Bliss.  The canister burst apart as it flew towards the Xuli'pan, and a mess net opened up to try and ensnare her.  But Bliss was able to twist away just enough to avoid the net, which continued past to land in a heap a short distance away. 

But just as Bliss came to a halt, the tall armored insectoid was right beside her.  "Ignoring me was foolish."  The figure stated in a vaguely female voice, as it swung its large weapon at Bliss, hitting her with the flat of one of the wide blades.  The blow knocked the Xuli'pan back more than a dozen feet, where she slammed into a nearby wall before falling to the ground dazed.  Her cybernetic whip loosed, freeing the other bounty hunter from its grasp.

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The distinct noise of weapons shooting could still be heard. This was more than just one or two shots; this was a shoot-out. Energy weapon fire was difficult to pin down, even for somebody experienced in doing so. The sound echoed through the halls, and the general noise of a busy day in the streets made them fade into the background even more. Occasional screams as people saw the huge body being carried across the air above their heads made it even more difficult. Kresh had done this before, some concentration and she would be able to get a better idea of where this fight was happening.

 

And then she heard it. Down a street, around a corner. That was where it was. The sound had come from there. Immediately, the shield of Elmega stopped, and alongside it it’s lyankan carrier. And then, a moment of no motion, before accelerating again, towards where these shots were coming from. It had only been a few seconds, there still was time to limit casualties.

Edited by olopi

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"Not rea-Hrk!" The bounty Hunter did not have enough of a chance to complain to her companion when yet another sniper shot knocked her flat on her back. The visor of her helm was enough to hide the look of surprise and anguish on her face. Imaging and tracking tech started scrolling text in her blurred vision. It made no sense until she could finally focused. From what she could tell her display had managed to roughly estimate where the sniper was. The sudden sound of Bliss hitting a wall was enough for Ruby to make a choice. She quickly lept to her feet and activated her Rifles Cryo Rocket systems. "This isn't working. Lets get moving out of here!" She shouted as a rocket went whistling into the distance. Pain and rage were starting to get to her, but she knew when a fight was not going their way. Lets hope Turk is done showing off and getting shot at.

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GM 

Ruby's cyro rockets streaked across the open area of the Spinal Core toward the side above where she and the other Voidrunners were fighting.  The rockets exploded over a section of the opposite block, covering it in ice.  But whether it had trapped the sniper, she was unable to confirm. 

Not far from Ruby, Roulette felt a strange sensation enter his mind, as an outside presence tried to take control.  But the Zultasian con-man turned bounty hunter was able to resist the influence, pushing whomever it was out of his mind.   

I was unable to take control of Turk.  A mental voice stated to the other bounty hunters currently engaged with the Voidrunners.

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Roulette had no qualms with the retreat plan.  They weren't getting any money out of this fight to begin with.  And there was the strange creeping sensation that someone had attempted to encroach upon his mind.  Of course, convincing Bliss to retreat was another matter entirely.  Their foes might've sprayed the area with a chemical beforehand when setting up this ambush or worse they had a mentat in their midst.

 

Roulette positioned his feet shoulder width apart and focused his eyes on the center of the bounty hunter he had been engaged with.  Intent on finishing off his foe quickly, the Zultasian put more force into the blast abandoning the precision he had been relying on up to this point.  The bent chest plate and lack of movement after the bounty hunter landed on the ground was all the confirmation Roulette needed.  "Do you want to run and gun, or split up and regroup?"

 

Roulette openly shouted to Ruby.  Discussing their plans to pull back, out in the open without any degree of secrecy.  Of course, I can always do the opposite of whatever Ruby plans if we want to actually catch them off guard.  Well, we've been in worse situations.

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