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Everything posted by Franco

  1. IC: Onu-Koro's having a few decision moments. In a historic hut, two Akiri draft village futures in soil. In quiet private chambers, a poet puts off a personal transformation in liquid. And in an Ussalry office stinking of cigar smoke—recently blended with notes of ketchup—one spy decides to cut the ####. "Cut the ####, Colonel," Mars says. One of her feet’s kicking her chair up slightly, both of her eyes staring down at the man sitting behind the desk. Her hand flicks a fry out of the pack on her lap. “I appreciate that you’re giving me your robot.” She reaches over to the desk for a dip in ketchup, still looking at the colonel. “Karz, I can even understand why you’d want me to ‘take this as an opportunity t’ practice squad cohesion in suboptimal conditions,’” she mimics, ending with a blood-colored nibble that goes down smooth. "But if I’ve learned anything from all those squadron barhops, it’s that whenever you start talking about ‘squad cohesion,’ it’s because you’re about to ask for help with ‘suboptimal conditions.’ P sure you don’t need a wingman for hitting up the only stallion around," she says, jerking her fry at the statue of Stannis, “so what do you want?” Ussalry Colonel Gavarm—veteran of the Nui-Rama Hive Assault, the hunt for Jazek Rehn, and various attempts to get an attractive stranger’s attention—is thinking that romancing the stone would be preferable to this. Well, not really, he thinks, fingers circling the case of cigars in his desk, but some wordplay on “closing the distance between a prophet and his polearm” would at least make Mars groan. And then Gavarm could say “about those squadron barhops...” And then they could trade the office for some place with greasy food and cheap drinks and start forgetting about all of this. Just like old times. Ask along Uyism, and Tarnok, and no sense not asking Leli as well… Leli. Gavarm stills. No forgetting that. He owes it to Leli. “I want you to listen,” he says, and Mars only opens her mouth to finish the fry. He tells her about Gyn Kirsug; not the smiling squadmate Mars met all those ops ago, but the Gyn Kirsug Gavarm knows. Gavarm tells Mars about the man who engineered Sulov’s exile, who backed Kyju’s murders, who brainwashed Leli. As Gavarm speaks, he can sense his seething: I was part of this. He can’t count the number of times he chokes up, drowning in what he’s uncovered or finally voiced. But Mars just keeps flicking out a fry, giving it one dip, nibbling away without more ketchup until she’s onto the next one. That is all Gavarm needs to swallow and keep going. By the time he’s done, the fries are nearly out, and he can speak clearly: “I’m going to kill him.” Mars nods. “Where do we begin?” Gavarm predicted this, and his response rolls out of his mouth like liquid. “That won’t be necessary, old sport. I’m not putting anyone else in the legal crossfire.” He draws a cigar and cradles it. ”This is a one-person job, and it has t’ be me.” “And you’re not the right person for it, Colonel.” Mars jams a fry into the last bits of ketchup, cuts its down in two trim bites. “Yeah, you screwed up with Sulov. But you didn’t know about that #### with Kyju or Leli. ‘Your’ job? Karz no, the dude brought this on himself, and if I thought the justice system would treat him that way I’d say Nuparu should pass the sentence. Let me do it,” she says, inclining her chair until her eyes are almost level with Gavarm’s. “We’re talking about eliminating one target while avoiding legal retaliation. That’s how I got in the force, and even if this job means I have to leave the force behind, I’m the best you’ve got.” Gavarm did not predict this. Still, he recovers in time to muster a “no.” Mars drops the chair to the ground, still looking down at him, and he adds gently, “You’re right, you’re the best I’ve got.” He runs his fingers over the cigar, assured by the familiar smoothness. “But this is my responsibility.” “Don’t be a Maru, Gavarm,” she fires back, and the name tells him he’s stepped in it. She yanks the ketchup off the table and slides it in the pack alongside the last fries, springing out of the chair. “It’s not your Duty to clean Makuta’s ####ing kitchen sink by yourself.” He starts to move his lips, but she holds up a fry, a salty and now-cold finger. “You don’t need to march off into Mangai with just your sword and a squadron’s worth of regrets. Why tell me about this job if you just want to play hero?” Gavarm sets the cigar down and stands up. He’s been waiting to say this, and now that he’s staring up at the person who should hear it, he knows this is his first responsibility. This won’t be another regret. He speaks quietly, accent washed from his voice. “I don’t want to play hero. I want revenge.” Mars slides the fry back. “I want to hurt the person who’s hurt the people I care about. And I want to stop being part of the system that made that hurt, especially if it means leaving the force.” Gavarm meets Mars’ eyes, stands straighter. “I need to do this and leave because I’m selfish. I told you about this because, with how you got in the force,” he adds—and Mars’ fingers tightening on the paper package is the loudest he’s ever heard her—“I thought you’d understand.” “How you got in the force” hangs between them again: the story of a Le-Matoran gardener who would rather turn her knife on someone else than be cut out from her roots. Mars puts the pack down on the table. She nods. She pads over to Gavarm and opens her arms. And Gavarm throws his arms around her and the hug alone is warmer than he’s felt in weeks. She pulls back, grabs the fries and slides one out again. “Copy that, Colonel,” she says, and Gavarm hears she’s not sarcastic. “Orders?” “Key in Tarnok and Leli, and Uyism; haven’t seen them in a while, but they deserve to know.” Gavarm picks up the cigar again and imagines lighting it, blowing away his frown. Then he perks up. “Rynekk too—Po-Toa with the Sentinels,” he adds, seeing Mars’ blank stare. “And take care of yourself. I appreciate that you’ve got my back, but Exo-Matoran or not, there’s only one Mars.” “Could say the same to you, Colonel.” Mars chews a cold fry with a liberal dose of ketchup. “You’re the one who’s about to go do something selfish, after all. Better not screw it up by becoming just another professor.” “Come on, Mars,” Gavarm says, chuckling. “I don’t miss research enough t' become an adjunct.” Mars rolls her eyes. “Says the man who nearly talked poor Kol Uskey’s ear off about Nui-Rama nerve clusters after exactly one drink. Can’t promise I’ll be around to shut you up next time.” She tosses the empty ketchup in his bin. “Use your own ‘nerve clusters’ and don’t make me clean up after you.” “Good luck t' you too, Mars,” Gavarm says, and he is suddenly aware that he’s been grinning even as Mars alludes to his mission. He won’t stop now. “Don't keep me waiting when ya write.” “Don't intend to.” Mars tips back the pack and lets the fragmented fries at the bottom fall into her mouth. She gives it an exact crunch and swallow. The pack joins the ketchup in the bin, and Mars steps over to the door. She flicks a final side-eye back to Gavarm. “And Colonel?” “Yeah?” “Really, don’t make me clean up after you.” She tilts her head at the ashtray on the desk. “That Gold Standard aroma isn’t exactly cologne.” Then Mars opens the door and steps out. Gavarm’s grin has pulled back to a small smile, but he doesn’t stop. He puts the cigar back with the other Gold Standards and picks up the tray instead, moving to take out his trash. He has a job to do.
  2. IC: The dust settled and Sulov felt through it, grasped the wreckage whimper into place. Knocked down. The only building left stored Stannis, and Korero, and whatever had put Oreius in a Le-Koro hospital. God. He hunched slightly in a moment. Scanned and caught the opening they'd made in the warehouse. Jagged like a bombed hive, holding something like Nui-Rama, outside an Ussalman and his friends about to charge in and die so that others may live. Except they'd all lived. (Isn't Destiny nice like that?) He did not think they'd live this time because of Destiny or lucky timing or the fact that the guy in charge of the opposition just decided to head out. They'd live this time because they did this together, Leah set up and he knocked down and Reo cleaned up, and they played to win. So that Reo and Iset and Oreius may live. He straightened, drew the pistol, absorbed the pillars in his path, stepped into line beside his friends. Then forward.
  3. Hrrrrnnggh Colonel, I'm trying to sneak around, but I'm checking in back here instead. Digging the end of the arc and especially the wrap-up content--it makes me genuinely happy to see Sulov written with emotion. I look forward to seeing where y'all take things from here, and maybe getting involved again in some capacity (without quite so lengthy absences). I would be glad to touch base with anyone and everyone.
  4. IC: Sulov flicks his eyes toward Leah. He doesn't know what he can say, but he thinks he understands how she feels. He missed having someone around who knew the Reordin behind the sardonic counterpart to Stannis; someone who watched his back, against anything from Rahkshi to Makuta; someone who sensed the feelings of others--power to detect intent notwithstanding--and could accurately respond with an admixture of words. He mostly just missed having a friend. He would like to knuckle her like he does Reordin but quickly decides to save it for later. Now is not the time to be so unrestrained. So he puts his head down, then up in a slow mirror of Leah's gesture, not affirmation inasmuch as reciprocity.
  5. IC: The living GPS has the sudden and entirely unexpected feeling that someone, somewhere, has just compared him to an object. He eyes Korero inscrutably. "...Let's get them in the loop," Sulov continues, holding out a hand.
  6. IC: Sulov answers almost before the question has left Korero's mouth. "Ta-Koro--Magma Lounge, Po-Koro--his house."
  7. IC: Cero swallowed. He had known something was off about Esen since the start--in fact, there had been nothing about Esen that was normal since the start. But there was abnormality and there was aberration. The look in her eyes was nowhere near natural, nowhere near excitement to survive; she looked more excited to predate. That was far worse than terror could have been, and he had now idea how she obtained it. He knew now the good news, that sending her to fight against a dozen men would not result in her death. The bad news was that it might well result in worse. Still, there was no time, and there was only Kyle ahead and defeat at his back, so all Cero said was "Copy that" and he all he did was slink toward the door, readying himself for the next phase of the plan.
  8. IC: Gavarm caught Leli's start, piercing through her words to something else, but made no physical or verbal response other than a sudden intensifying of his eyes. He shook his head. "Ah'd hoped we could have a chat regardin' his status, but Ah suppose we can talk about him later. Y'all could do wid some tahm b'tween friends." He pivoted to go, smiling. "Thanks fer th' help. Ah'll jes' see if Ah can fahnd him and solve some such problems mahself. Later, ol' sports." Gavarm walked out.
  9. IC: Gavarm smiled. "Thought Ah'd check in after hearin' about th' Dark Walk. But more importantly, Ah'd lahk to talk to one o' yer boys, and he don't seem to be 'round HQ. Any clue on th' whereabouts o' Gyn Kirsug?"
  10. IC: "Thanks, Tarnok--howdy, Leli." Gavarm entered, easy smile on face and hand extended for a shake.
  11. The Era of the Newman has ended. But the Homeboy Dynasty is just beginning.
  12. Indubitably, of all sentences ever uttered, that is among the most sickoning. But happy birthday, Konuju.
  13. IC: Sulov automatically disengages at the sound of his name, turning to face Korero. He does not know enough etiquette to know if a sit or stand is appropriate, but he accepts that ignorance without loss and assumes his typical upright stance with limbs rigid. He is still. He is too emotional to display anything but aloofness. "Yes. You have information."
  14. IC: Piedra's excitement was undiminished. It had simply transmuted from the anticipation of an angler with a bite to one who had hooked a shark. A group for each mini-nose? Pokemon? The opposition was stepping up. Piedra had to play this carefully if it wanted to survive intact. "Alacrity" was the watchword. It drew the two noses back in different directions, circling them toward the limit of its control. It waited a few seconds before flinging the final mini-nose into the mix, Discharging between both groups. Then it sent the others to sandwich the parties between the new and old, and moved itself farther back. The Pokemon-wielding search parties moved farther, coming a step closer to the noses, and then Piedra pulled another trick and moved everything back again. It was holding them. It was unbearably "hot," threatening to erupt at any moment with the pent-up energy of both sides; each passing second was another step forward for the enemy, and a Probopass didn't have the speed to outrun its pursuers in a drawn-out race. But guided by magnetism, hidden by foliage, hindering and distracting its foes as much as it could without seeming an obvious trap, Piedra was holding them. It could hold a little longer. Faintly, it wondered about its trainer. ... Cero didn't remember what "cathartic" meant. Going by context alone, though, he guessed a good fit would be "suicidal." He frowned. Not a good plan of attack. Yet the alternative was a back door, something that wasn't guaranteed to exist or be an easy find, something that would take time. They didn't have time. The Signs looked like they were leaving, and they'd probably want to take Kyle with them or get rid of him; meanwhile, Cero's team grew more endangered the longer it stuck its neck out to grab Kyle back. Did he want the mission to fail, or did he want to risk the life of someone he wanted to help? He couldn't phone a superior even if he wanted. He and Esen and Kyle and everybody here was too deep over his or her head. All he could do was fulfill the first priority. He could complete the mission. "Take them," he stated reluctantly. At least Esen wanted this. At least it could only be a minute before Kyle was back on his feet. At least... "We'll catch up to you stat."
  15. IC: Sulov read Leah and Korero in the cards, but hearing their footsteps in the Kimi is a crevasse from them, and their impact only comes with the revelation of their presences in the here and now. An oasis appears in his vision of the desert. He gets up, quiet and stately, and strides to the others before giving them a gentle hug.
  16. IC: "Ah kin agree with that. What we all need is a dose of th' truth."
  17. IC: Piedra watched the guards' movements, saw a detachment head for the forest, sweeping for intruders. That was fine. More toys in his box. Time to play. The mini-noses Discharged again toward the searchers, this time in such a way that the flash glinted off their metal. Then the Probopass parts shuffled through the foliage nearer to the distracted, letting out thunder more rapidly. The hook had new bait. Piedra was enjoying this. ... Viajero was not enjoying this. He knew Trainer loved him. Trainer petted him all the time. Trainer had him catch wild Pokemon. Trainer always took whatever he found with a "Thank you" and a scratch behind the ears. Sure, Viajero had love. But love was not enough. Trainer loved near everyone. Trainer respected only a few, and Viajero had a feeling he was not one of them. He didn't think Trainer had thought he could win against the Mienfoo. He knew Trainer had to recall him, no one else, when fighting Leviathan because no one else was so horribly weak. Trainer only sent him out to catch Pokemon so he could feel and get minimally better. He didn't have the responsibility to carry Trainer, let alone obey orders remotely. And Trainer had seven Pokemon now, so one always had to be in a PC; Viajero hated the idea of a box. He had to show Trainer he was worth it. What did he have? Finding things, something anyone could do. Biting, something Aridez would always win. And Viajero had speed. That was it. Greater speed could've kept him away from Leviathan. Agility could've allowed him to beat the Mienfoo. He could've flanked that terrible Trapinch if he had just been faster, and then he would've had the definitive victory he needed. He would become faster. "Let's see," Trainer murmured, chest pulsing against Viajero warmly. "Viajero?" Viajero scurried out of Trainer's robes. "Check the exterior of the buildings for Kyle's scent." Orders! Viajero put his nose to the ground, and remembering speed, let scent dictate his pace in following.
  18. IC: "...Keep them distracted, lead them into the forest if you have to, by any means necessary, but don't let them find Noibat. If we take longer than ten minutes, get Noibat and run," Cero finished his instructions to Piedra. He and Esen had mounted. Presently, there was but one word left. "Now." ... The guards at the Signs' compound were without warning when lightning flooded its yard. On three sides, bolts arced away from the forest's top and into their assigned area, crackling into the fence and buildings. Crackling roared in their ears. But in the microseconds after the strike, any remaining illusion that the storm was at all natural disappeared: those same three stormy sides were shot through with lasers that struck by the ground at the guards' feet. Then that receded to leave but the continuous crash of nearby thunder and a stirring in the woods. This was all the doing of the three mini-noses nearby. They used Discharge, then Power Gem and presently Thunder Wave. Now they began to shift, rustling the trees as they replaced light with sound and utter stealth with apparent movement. Meanwhile, two trainers and two Pokemon glided through the darkness in a relatively-quiet section of the three assaulted sides. They were aimed for the fence.
  19. IC: It wasn't often that a colonel followed an Ussalman. But it wasn't often that Gavarm had spoken with Tarnok, and Gavarm was hardly overbearing. "There's a difference between expectin' an' desirin', ol' sport. Ah think people need be aware o' certain realities, is all."
  20. AD update soon.

  21. IC: Gavarm nodded. "Yeah, th' problem kin be solved. Ah know how."
  22. IC: Gavarm looked thoughtful for a second. "No one you'd know, ol' sport," he responded, the accent seeping back in. "Targit's hard ta notice, sorta like you once was, but he probably ain't arrestin' any Toa teams in th' near future." The allusion to the Maasi incident came with practiced archness. "Not because he don't want to. He's just scared o' the spotlight, Ah reckon."
  23. IC: Gavarm's eyes carefully settled as undried mud. His face receded into a grin. "Sure," he said, atypically taciturn.
  24. IC: Gavarm's eyes flashed the color of a flood, reeling with something reminiscent of hurt, and he stumbled back into a light smile. "Why, I just need to talk to her about someone under her command. I think he's not performing well as is, and I'm wondering if she'd be amenable to a transfer. I'm more experienced handling problem guys--got by with you, didn't I?"
  25. IC: "Any clue where she is?"
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