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Page: Pt 2: The Last Praetorian
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Loren Metcalfe
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 2:52 am    Post subject: Page: Pt 2: The Last Praetorian Reply with quote

24 Years Ago
War hero Loren Metcalfe institutes the Special Projects Group. A top secret, scientific experimental group within the United Systems Military. Genetic manipulation trials begin with the Praetorian Initiative. The goal: To create the perfect soldier. Smart, cunning, obedient, resilient. Stronger, faster, more durable and without fear or remorse, the volunteers agree to become something more than human. Initial results meet with catastrophic failure as those who few who survive genetic manipulation show tendencies toward homicidal psychosis and often turn on their CO's and fellow soldiers.

19 Years Ago

Leaps are made in the field of genetic and cybernetic modification. Major Metcalfe initiates the second trials of Praetorian. It is discovered that fully grown adult bodies do not take to the genetic and cybernetic enhancements, as several die or are rendered permanently physically or mentally disabled by the experimentation.

8 Years Ago
In a controversial, and highly classified move, Loren Metcalfe establishes a team to covertly gather intelligence, finding the best, brightest, most eligible young candidates between the ages of 10-12. Those who pass muster are given invitations to a school for gifted young men and women and their parents told a cover story about what will go on there. 30 kids are inducted and undergo a rigid, harsh training program.

3 years Ago
Praetorian Group 1 begins genetic manipulation. Of the 30 candidates, 18 die during the process. Those who survive are taller, stronger, faster. Their skeletons surgically coated in a strong metal alloy, rendering them virtually unbreakable. Behavioral conditioning has removed the ability to feel fear in most of the recruits, and groomed them to be obedient and willing to carry out any orders their masters give them. They are to be without mercy, remorse, or attachment. Among the survivors are Subjects Charlie and Delta, siblings and among the top soldiers in their class. They are deployed immediately as part of a Top Secret mission dubbed "Operation Blackout". An insurgent force on Valere is occupying a government capitol, threatening to kill the country's leaders. The Praetorian are sent in to deal with the insurrectionists. At the end of the day, every Praetorian returns and every hostage is rescued, but the entire 120 man insurgent force is wiped out.

2 Years Ago
The Praetorians are deployed to secure a Ragarian Military Vessel said to be carrying tier one enemy operatives. Subject Alpha experiences a mental breakdown and attempts to kill his squadmates. He is subdued with no memory of the incident and is never seen again.

3 Months Ago
Subject Charlie begins showing signs of mental breakdown. In a fugue state, he attacks his team, including Delta. She is forced to kill her brother.
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"Your memories and choices are all you'll have left. At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box. You have to decide what you're willing to sacrifice."


Last edited by Loren Metcalfe on Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:06 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loren sat at the long table in the Citadel's conference room. The silver and white room possessed a spartan, antiseptic quality to it. No frills, just streamlined. In the center of the cold steel table was a holo-projector. Loren's superiors had summoned her to discuss the future of her program, and this was not setting her at ease. In the HoloVid, Praetorian operatives advanced upon a position.

"Target in-sight, moving in." Subject Echo whispered, shouldering her rifle. A heads-up-display high-lit a figure in the distance. The man walked in front of hostages with his own rifle in hand.

"I read 12 marks along the wall." Delta added.

Beta was in charge of the mission, he appeared in Delta's field of vision. "Charlie, Delta, take positions at 3 and 9 o'clock."

They both replied in affirmative and moved out. Loren and the committee watched as, in first person, Delta knelt in the foliage and lined up her shot.

"Status?" Beta asked.

"I have my shot." Delta replied quietly.

"Ready and waiting." Charlie said. The men along the top of the wall moved back and forth on patrol, one of them stopping to light a cigarette.

"On my mark. 3. 2. 1. End them." Beta ordered. Three quiet shots rang out. Simple ballistic rounds instead of the typical laser fire. 3 heads exploded, leaving only the smoker. He looked up and around hearing his fellow guards hit the metal floor grate.

"Charlie...what are you waiting for? Fire." Echo exclaimed as quietly as she could. There was no response from him. Delta glanced down the field to her brother.

"God damn it, Charlie fire your weapon." Beta ordered.

The voice of the operational commander came over the radio. "Charlie, your heart rate is through the roof...what's going on?" No response.

Delta turned, dispassionately back to the field of fire. The remaining guard looking around panicked. She lined up her shot and pulled the trigger before he could alert anyone.

Beta cursed over the system. "Nice shooting. Delta."

Command came over the coms again. "Charlie, we've lost your feed. Report in." Again, nothing. "Charlie, put your helmet back on and report in NOW."

When there was no response, Beta spoke up. "Echo, check on Charlie. Find out what the hell is going on."

"Roger." She took off.

Moments later there were sounds of a scuffle on the video. The image cut to the view from Echo's helmet cam. Charlie had thrown her to the ground and first person image showed him smashing the butt of his rifle into her face again and again and again, shattering her faceplate. Her arms struggled against him trying to stop him as best she could. Suddenly the feed went dark.

Beta's footage came up as he approached the scene. Echo's face was caved in and Charlie was helmet-less, covered in her blood, standing over the lifeless body. "What the ****!" Beta brought his rifle up and immediately fired upon Charlie. The rogue Praetorian drew a side arm and returned fire. Beta took a few rounds to his armor's chest plate before seeking cover behind a large tree. They could hear him approaching firing round after round into the tree.

The feed cut to Delta's cam as she charged through the trees, coming out behind Charlie. He was moving almost robotically toward Beta's position. She sprinted for him launching herself through the air to tackle him. Charlie whipped around grabbed her in mid air as the two crashed to the ground. Delta rose to a crouch, drawing a combat knife, Charlie doing the same, his unnaturally blue eyes shining in the moonlight. He looked almost possessed in this light. No recognition that an ally stood before him, let alone his sister.

The siblings charged at each other, slashing and dodging with their knives. Beta rounded the corner and tried to get a shot as Charlie gained the upper hand. He caught Delta by the arm as she stabbed downward at him, disarmed her, and wheeled her around, throwing her into Beta. Beta caught her before she hit the ground, stumbling back. It gave Charlie enough time to grab his sidearm from the ground, and raise it.

From Beta's helmet cam, they saw the shot and suddenly the feed went dead as the bullet passed through the faceplate and into Beta's skull. Delta's POV whipped from Beta's falling corpse to her brother. The clip was empty and he had begun reloading when she plowed into him. He didn't go down, though. He thrust his elbow downwards, their armor absorbing most of the considerable impact. Her fist slammed into the weaker part of his armor at the abdomen. Charlie readjusted grabbing the back of her armor and pulling her off him. Delta allowed herself to be pulled away and dealt him a vicious upper cut that would have taken the head off a normal human. The two of them stumbled away from each other, Delta recovering first. She ran and slammed into Charlie bringing him to the ground. He reached up and a chaotic struggle ensued. Suddenly, her helmet was sent flying off her head and hitting the ground in a wild roll. It came to a stop facing the two of them.

Delta remained on top of him. He was reaching up and trying to strangle her, but she knocked his hands aside, delivering blow after blow to his face. Her armored fist dealing more and more damage with every smash. His hand came up and slammed into her face, sending Delta off to one side. Bloodied and battered, Charlie started to get up. Delta was on him him immediately, her arms wrapping around his neck from behind, holding him in a choke hold. Struggle as he might, she did not let go. Her eyes, much like his had that unearthly blue glow to them, seemingly staring into the camera of her own helmet.

"Kaila!" He choked out. "Please!"

Her face contorted in effort as, with a vicious jerk, she snapped his neck. Life left his eyes as he slumped against her, finally at peace. Delta stared ahead, face devoid of emotion. The image froze.

Loren sighed deeply, she knew what was coming next. Director Van Leuen stood, the paunchy 64 year old man in his cheap suit walking to one side of the table. "Major, I think the results speak for themselves here. Your subjects seem to be prone to mental imbalance and random outbursts of violence against even their comrades. The Praetorian initiative is a catastrophic failure. We hear rumors that other subjects are showing similar symptoms as Alpha and Charlie, as well."

"I wouldn't call it a 'catastrophic failure', Director. There are still 9 Praetorian soldiers who remain stable." She said evenly, though her pride made her want to cross the table and beat the fat little man to a pulp.

"Seven." He corrected her, as two of them were now dead. "The Praetorian Initiative is done, Major. All assets are to be expunged and all records of this mess destroyed."

Loren glared at him. 24 years of her life had been dedicated to this project. Her blood, sweat and tears poured into it. She'd forgone a personal life, children, a marriage for this. And this pudgy little coward was going to take it from her? Over her dead body! "You can't do this." She said.

Van Leuen leaned on the table. "Major, it's done. You've met with nothing but failure in the poorly realized venture. Time to give it up."

She stood up abruptly, her heart pounding like a cornered animal. "You're making a huge mistake. The Praetorian Initiative CAN work. We just need more time to work out the kinks. If you would allow us to continue-"

"More time? Major. You have had 24 years to 'work out the kinks'. 2 of your soldiers have tried to murder their comrades. Costing us control of the Nila Outpost. 4 more are showing similar symptoms. The amount of money thrown into this little project is inexcusable. It's over."

Loren's fist clenched, her jaw setting.

"You will relinquish all research, mission data, and personnel records. All subjects are to be disposed of. Is that understood."

Loren's world was falling around her and she was helpless to do anything about it. Van Leuen stared at her.

"Major? Is that understood." he asked pointedly, a harshness to his tone.

Loren's eyes narrowed slightly. "Yes, sir."
_________________
"Your memories and choices are all you'll have left. At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box. You have to decide what you're willing to sacrifice."
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delta stood over the body of her brother, staring down. "Kaila" he'd called her. Why had the name sounded so familiar. Why did it stir the feelings it did within her? Those eyes of his, mirrors of her own stared up almost accusingly. Suddenly, she was back in the Sanctum, but she was much shorter. Praetorians walked past her, towering over her with their enhanced skeletons. They looked down at her as if she were a flea. When she tried to speak, she felt her throat tighten and only a gasp leave her lips. She tried again to no avail.

Her head turned left and then right, stunned to find Charlie's corpse laying beside her. She tried to scream and back away. What was this feeling coursing through her body. It brought a chill to her, goosebumps raising along unmodified flesh. His head lolled then to one side, blue eyes staring at her. Her heart was pounding, her chest rising and falling as she took panicked breaths. His lips began to move slowly exhaling "Kaila..."

Unnaturally blue eyes opened, focusing on the room around her. Delta sat up in her bed, blinking away the confusion in her brain. She reached up and placed a hand at her head, surprised to find a cold sweat on her brow. The only sound in the room the light hum of the lights above her. She was in the Sanctum, her quarters to be exact. The room was the definition of efficiency. A bed, a sink, a washroom built into the wall and a closet. Inside the closet were 3 outfits. Her PT gear, a pressed and cleaned uniform, and her compression suit for under her armor. Beneath that were three pairs of footwear. Boots, Miltary Dress shoes, and her PT shoes.

The intercom screen pinged behind her, drawing her attention. Delta turned and pressed the respond button. Dr. Lia appeared on the screen. "Subject Delta. We're reading high stress levels on your biometric sensors. Is everything alright?"

Delta blinked those huge eyes of her's, considering a moment. "I am...unsure. I was awoken by a strange dream."

"A nightmare?" Lia asked.

Delta's brow furrowed, her scarred face contorting in confusion as if she had never heard the word.

"Subject Delta, you will report to my office, please."

"Yes, Ma'am." Delta responded.

Dr. Lia Clark was a dark-skinned woman in her mid 60's. A kindly disposition to her bespectacled face, her graying dark hair always perfectly coiffed. She sat across from Delta in her office, legs crossed in front of her, a datapad on her lap.
"So, tell me, Subject Delta. This dream. What happened?"

Delta's pale youthful face was at odds with her tall, powerful stature and various scars. She looked down at the woman, remembering. "I was on Nila Outpost again. My-" She stopped herself before correcting. "Charlie was at my feet. Dead."

"The incident from 3 months ago?"

"Yes, ma'am." Delta confirmed. "He was staring at me. Like he was alive. Like he..." She trailed off, confusion setting back into her face. "Like he was blaming me for something I had done."

If that bothered or concerned Lia, she didn't show it. She just entered something on her datapad and returned her attention. "Do you feel guilty for the death of Subject Charlie?" She inquired in a professional tone of voice.

Delta tilted her head. "I defended myself. Subject Charlie had gone rogue and attacked his team."

"Yes, that is what happened, but it is not what I asked you." Lia said firmly, yet politely.

Delta's brow furrowed again. "I'm...afraid I don't understand the question."

Lia smiled and leaned back in her chair. "It's very simple. How do you feel about killing him?"

"It was...regrettable. But it was a necessary action." She said carefully.

Lia stared at Delta for a moment, trying to read her face for any hint of a lie. If there was, she was hiding it. Still ,she had to press on. "Was that all?"

Delta's eyes twitched up from her lap to the doctor. "I was back in the Sanctum. And...I was...I was...small." She said.

Lia's interest was piqued. "Small?"

"Like a child." Delta continued. "No more than 1.7 meters tall. The other subjects, they were...looking at me."

Lia tapped away at her datapad and looked back up with her patient. "Go on."

"They looked at me as if I did not belong." She went on. Something in her face told Lia that Delta did not like the feeling. That it actually hurt her. This was a concern.

"You felt that you were not one of your brothers and sisters?" Lia inquired, her head tilting.

"Affirmative. And I felt that they knew it and...disliked me for it." Delta continued, trying to find the right wording. She remembered the next part very vividly. It had chilled her then and it chilled her now. "Charlie was there."

Lia glanced up from her datapad, looking concerned over the rims of her glasses. "Subject Charlie?"

Delta nodded. "He was...he was dead. Just like before. He..." She swallowed. "He looked at me...and he whispered."

Silence hung in the air between them as Lia waited for her to go on. Finally she asked, "What did he say?"

Delta's brows arched with concern "Kaila." She said, shaking her head.

Lia suppressed the worry in her face, but she could feel it down in her bones this was not good. "And how did that make you feel?" She pressed on.

Delta stared at the older woman. "It felt...familiar. Like...I had heard it before. Do you know what it means, Doctor?"

Lia forced a smile and gave a slight shake of her head. "I haven't a clue." A few more things punched into her datapad and she smiled politely right at Delta. "What I would suggest is that you return to your quarters and get some sleep. I'm sure this was nothing, Subject Delta."

That seemed to put the girl at ease, a comforted smile appearing on her youthful face. "Thank you, Doctor." She stood up to her full 6'1" height. "Good evening."

"Good night, Delta." Lia watched the girl walk out of the room, her smile fading. It was starting. It was only a matter of time before Delta ended up just like Alpha and Charlie. She had to warn Metcalfe. The girl would need to be dealt with.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delta was in the training room of the Sanctum, another sleepless night weighing on the Praetorian Warrior. Hints of her surgical scars could be seen peeking up her spine under the tank top of her PT gear. Her raven colored hair pulled in tight pony tail, bouncing as she waged war on a punching bag. Her fist slammed into the canvas, rocking it away from her violently. Her eyes were distant, her mind not at all focused on the bag. Her punches were rapid, vicious, and would have devastated any normal human opponent. Her mind was on that night, like so many other nights since. She tried to put it away, but it wouldn't go. She couldn't help but think of Charlie and what he'd done. What SHE had done. Lia had put it in her head about the idea of guilt. Praetorian were supposed to be without remorse, without regret, but she couldn't shake the feeling. It confused and angered her and she was most definitely taking it out on the bag.

That name. "Kaila." What had it meant? Why did he say it? And why did it sound so familitar? Beads of sweat formed on her forehead, her fists pounding harder and harder against the canvas bag. Why had Charlie, like Alpha, turned on them? She'd known them all longer than she could remember. They'd trained together, fought side by side. They'd survived everything the Initiative had thrown at them. And yet, Charlie had killed two of their ranks and completely botched the mission. He had smashed Echo's face into mush, and shot Beta through the head. All for seemingly no reason.

The memory of him standing across from her, knife in hand, ready to kill her would never leave. And his voice... "Kaila...please!" It had not been fear. It had not been pleading for her to stop, it had been begging for mercy. For her to do exactly what she did. She took his life, she ended her brothers existence in one swift jerk. He was gone forever.

Delta heard an anguished scream as the punching back was sent flying off it's chain, slamming against the wall across the room. It took her a few moments to realize the scream had been her own. What was happening to her? Something felt very wrong, and it terrified her. Had this been what happened to Charlie? To Alpha? Was she going to end up like them?
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loren entered her quarters with a long, exasperated sigh. Those dark eyes flicking around the room. That had been a massacre. The entire Praetorian Initiative scrapped. Decades of her life had been spent building that project from the ground up. It was her pride, it was her joy. It was her baby. Loren unfastened the front of her black and white dress uniform. The medals on her left breast weighing the garment down a bit. She made her way over to the small kitchen, undoing the rest of her tunic.

Her hands were shaking as she picked up the bottle of bourbon, tilting it into a glass before desperately shooting back the liquor. Loren's eyes slid shut as it burned its way down her throat, warmth filling her body. Brown eyes popped open and she traded the drink between her hands, pulling the dress tunic off and tossing it on a chair. The hint of her back scar peeking out the back of her black tanktop.

Loren sat at the desk in her office, setting down her glass. They hadn't set a date of execution yet, but knowing USM protocol, it would be sooner rather than later. The current batch had been 8 years in the making, she couldn't believe two failures were bringing it all crashing down. Van Leuen had been lucky she hadn't been armed back there. She would have gladly put a bullet in his forehead.

There wasn't much decoration in her quarters. Loren never saw the point of it. It wasn't like she had visitors over. Hell, she didn't even HAVE friends. The one decoration was a picture at one corner of her desk. A young woman and a young man in USM body armor, arms across each other's shoulders, skin glistening with sweat, but huge smiles on their young faces.

Gorman. He'd been the last to get through that tough exterior. It had been 28 years ago just last week, she recalled. God, what had happened to the time? She barely recognized that fresh-faced girl in the picture. Though, it did spring to mind, even that kid, at that point in her life was a hardened veteran. Had there been a time when she wasn't, she wondered? That was something she held in common with the Praetorian. She couldn't remember a time before the military. Before war.

A knock came at her door, stirring her out of her thoughts. Who the hell would be visiting at this time of night? Loren downed the rest of her glass and pushed away from the desk. She reached the door and opened it to find Dr. Lia on the other side. She nodded her head. "Major."

"Doctor." Loren inclined her head in an upnod. "What can I do for you?"

Lia appeared a bit nervous, despite her best efforts to the contrary. "May I come in for a moment?" She requested. Loren stepped aside and gestured for the doctor to enter. "I'm sorry to visit so late and I hope I'm not disturbing you. There's just something I thought-"

Loren held a hand up, silencing the older woman. "Just...skip to the point, Lia."

Lia nodded. No use in prolonging it. "I spoke with Subject Delta this afternoon." She gave the Major a pointed look. "She's showing symptoms."

Loren's face was unreadable. It almost seemed like she hadn't heard the doctor's words. She just stared. A long moment of silence passed between the two women.

"Major-" Lia started trying to pull the Major out of whatever daze she'd entered.

"Would you care for a drink, Doctor?" Loren interrupted. Lia simply nodded and the Major was off to the bar. She busied herself, gathering and pouring the drink as she spoke. "Director Van Leuen and the committee have decided to scrap the entire Praetorian Initiative, Doctor." She held the glass out to Lia. "So, look like neither of us have good news."

Lia's brow furrowed. "Scrap it? But we can still correct the problems, do better with the next batch."

"Command doesn't want to spend the money or resources on, what they consider, a doomed project." Loren said, shaking the drink, reminding the good doctor that it was there.

Lia took the glass from her, feeling a bit numb. "What happens to the Subjects?" She asked, almost certain of the answer already. The look on Loren's face confirmed it for her.

"Terminated." She said simply, clinking glasses with Lia and downing her's. Lia just stared, her shoulders slumping.

"They're...they're just going to kill them all? Even the ones without symptoms?" She shook her head.

"According to Van Leuen they are no more than 'faulty tech'. And tech cannot be killed, only 'decommissioned'." the spite in her voice was palpable as she leaned back against the counter. A bitter laugh escaped Loren as she shook her head. "We were so close. It took years for symptoms to manifest in this group. If we had one more trial, I bet we could have done it, Lia. God damn it, we were SO close!" The ache in her voice was immediately apparent. Her fingers went to the bridge of her nose, a bitter laugh escaping her. "Tell me about Delta." She said, finally, wanting to talk about anything but the extermination of the project.

Lia sipped from her glass, distracted by this latest revelation. "She's...having nightmares." She sipped again. "About Charlie."


Loren turned to her, brow furrowed. "Nightmares? They don't HAVE nightmares, Lia. They *can't*."

Lia looked to her, almost haughty. "Well, Delta DOES. She feels guilt over killing him. And I know. They aren't supposed to feel that either, but there it is."

"She told you this?" Loren pushed on.

"Not outright, as she doesn't understand what guilt is, but...basically, yes." Lia nodded slowly. "Whatever is happening to these kids, it's clear we have very little understanding of it."

Loren stared off, nodding. What the hell was going on with this experiment? What had they done wrong? The most brilliant scientific minds had poured all of their considerable efforts into this project. What had they missed.

"But it's all academic now, isn't it?" Lia sighed, knocking back the remnants of her glass. The two women sat in silence for a long time, nothing much left to say. Finally, Lia slid her empty glass over to Loren, silently asking for a refill. The old soldier smirked and grabbed the bottle pouring for the both of them. Both ladies picked up their drinks and raised them up.

"To the Praetorian. May they live forever. If only in our memories." Loren said, sadness twinged with pride in her voice.

"The Praetorian." Lia responded. They downed their drink, Lia wincing as the liquor hit her system. Something then came back to her and she turned her gaze on Loren. "There was one other thing."


Loren quirked an eyebrow, looking to the old doctor.

"Charlie...according to Delta, was in the dream." Lia went on. "He said something to her."

"Said something?" Loren responded, rising off the counter.

Lia nodded. "Kaila."

Loren's eyes widened, realization coming to her face.

"She's remembering, Major."

Loren blinked, returning to the conversation at-hand. "That's not possible."

"There are so many things we don't know about the human mind, Major. Anything is possible."
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loren sat in her office within the Citadel, going over a few files on the Praetorian Initiative. In her heart, she knew it was pointless. Command made their decision and she would have to live with it. There was never any changing their minds once they were made up. No, this was delusion. A distraction from the inevitable. Loren rubbed her tired eyes with a sigh. She hadn't slept much in the past few days. She was stunned she was even conscious at the moment, if she was honest.

A chime came from her door. "Come in." She responded.

The door slid open to reveal a tall man in his late 60's. General Simon Lanning. His grey and black uniform sharp and flawless, left breast covered in medals, right showing a staggering amount of ribbons signifying the campaigns he'd been a part of. Wrinkles carved into his slim face, his blue eyes still sharp as ever. A golden Aiguillette at his right shoulder and his hat tucked under one arm, he stepped in. Loren immediately shot up out of her chair, snapping off a crisp salute to the man. "Sir." she said, eyes straight ahead.

Lanning returned the salute and let the door slide shut behind him. "Major. As you were." He looked around her sparsely decorated office as he made his way to her desk. His presence made her nervous for some reason. She could feel his judgement as he scanned over her office. It was clean. Spotless. And if he was to kick her out, she would be packed up in 3 seconds flat. She sat as he did.

"What can I do for you, General?" She inquired, keeping a steady voice despite her rattling nerves.

"You have friends, Major?" He asked. "Family?"

She shifted in her seat, straightening up. "The USM is my family, sir."

A kindly smile came to his face, a small gruff laugh leaving him. "Yes. A common tale among those like us." He said in a grave tone. "One day, you're a kid, scared ****less going into a hot zone, whole life ahead of you...the next you're 70 years old and nothin' to show for it but some scars and a couple worthy stories."

She looked confused and felt the need to reassure him. "Sir...you are one of the most highly decorated-"

"I understand the desire to leave a legacy, Major." He interrupted her. "I know what the Praetorian Initiative meant to you. What you gave for it."

That, she did not respond to. She wasn't sure how to. She wanted to say "You're damn right. I gave up decades of my life to this experiment and this is the thanks I get?" But, she knew better to speak that way to a man who was not only her superior officer, but the ultimate superior officer within the USM.

"I want you to know, Loren, that we didn't take this decision lightly." He continued. "What you've accomplished with those boys and girls is utterly astounding. No one believed you would have as much success as you have had and you proved them wrong at every step."

She swallowed hard, and it slipped out before she could stop it "Then why are you shutting us down?"

If it upset him, he didn't show it. "The Praetorian are unpredictable. They appear to just be time bombs. It was the same with the first batch, and it's the same with these kids. I won't pretend to be smart enough to understand the science, Major, but something about the tinkering you've done with their brains makes them, at best, unstable." He stared across the table at her, his voice stern. "You want to put them with the rest of the boots on the ground and you can't even tell when one is about to snap and attempt to kill his fellow soldiers. That is something I cannot abide."

Loren hated hearing this, though she did see his wisdom. Men would never follow a leader who was very likely to turn on them at some point. It was true, but she didn't have to like it.

"The amount of money we've poured into this project compared to the results are simply just not worth it."

Loren's head hung low. "I understand, Sir."

There was no mistaking the pain in her eyes, though she kept a tough game face.

"I'm afraid I didn't come here just to explain myself Major. Command has decided that decommissioning will commence in two day's time. The remaining subjects will report for a check up on their biometrics, whereupon they will be subject to lethal injection. Quick, painless, efficient." He said, trying to make it sound not so bad to her.

Loren could have sworn she heard ringing in her ears, everything sounding far away now. She blinked and shook it off. "Yes, Sir." It was the only thing she COULD manage right now.

Lanning stood up and placed his hat upon his head. "Again, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, and I wish things had been different."

Loren stood up and saluted him. "Thank you for your time, Sir."

He returned the salute, eyeing her a moment. "Major."

With that, Lanning stepped out the door. Loren dropped into her chair, her brow furrowed as she looked around helplessly. Her right hand went to her eyes, suppressing the slowly forming tears. She sniffed and took in a deep breath, exhaling it shakily. That was it. It was really over.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delta lay in her room, waiting for her escort. She was scheduled at 1100 hours for a routine examination, after which she would be given the day off. She dressed in the white scrubs which they had given her and stared up at the ceiling. All morning something was gnawing at her. An inexplicable feeling of dread. Like something was wrong, but she couldn't figure out what. Those big blue eyes darting back and forth under her eyelids. She was there again, in that forest. Alarms blaring behind her as the insurgent force mobilized. Charlie's eyes glowing in the moonlight, a knife in his hand. Echo was on the ground, her face smashed in through her helmet. Beta was slumped against a tree, his body still twitching. Delta's fingers tightened around her knife, those keen eyes watching every tick, every slight movement dispassionately. Suddenly he lunged for her.

Those cybernetically enhanced blue eyes popped open, the room coming into focus around her. Chimes came from the door to her quarters. For a moment, she didn't respond. Just laid there and collected herself. Her breathing evened and she pushed off the bed, making her way to the door. Delta's thumb pressed against a pressure plate and the door slid open.

A middle aged doctor stood on the other side. His pudgy face topped by thinning dark hair, small brown eyes covered by a pair of glasses. She could smell the coffee on his breath. "Good morning, Delta." He said with a plastic smile.

"Good morning, Dr. Reynolds." she said, eyeing him.

"Are you ready for your check up?" He asked in a polite tone.

"Yes, Doctor."

Dr. Reynolds stepped aside and gestured to the hall. As she passed him, she could hear his heartbeat. It was beating fast. She wondered what could be causing that? He hadn't shown any signs of illness recently. While he wasn't in peak physical condition, he wasn't THAT out of shape.

The doctor lead her to the examination room, letting her pass through. "Please. Have a seat."

A grey padded examination table sat in the middle of the white, sterile room. Something felt wrong. A sense of forboding that she couldn't shake. She sat on the table and looked to Reynolds. The good doctor smiled...but she could hear that heartbeat again. Perspiration growing at his forehead. He was nervous. Terrified.

He ran through a couple of normal tests that were designed to put her at ease. But the longer he took the more concerned she became. She was beginning to feel like a cornered animal. The doctor sat back. "Well. Everything seems to be in order!" He flashed that toothy, fake grin and stood. "There's just one more matter to take care of and you'll be on your way." He said. Reynolds turned and walked to a counter, sliding open a drawer. Delta watched him like a hawk.

He turned around, a long syringe and a vial in his hand. She stared at it as it trembled ever so slightly in his fingers. A normal human would never have caught it, but she wasn't normal was she? The doctor moved to her and she looked away, her mind going a mile a minute. Alarms going off in her head like crazy. Get out. Don't let him do this. This is wrong. This is wrong! THIS IS WRONG.

He put the needle into the vial and loaded up the syringe. Immediately, her heightened sense of smell caught wind of the mixture. Poison. Aggressive stuff, too. Her heart began to race inside her chest her breathing picking up as he took her arm. The needle getting closer and closer to her. "Stop it, Delta! STOP HIM!" Closer and closer. "Delta!" Something inside her was screaming. "DELTA!" The tip of the needle touched her skin.

"KAILA!"

Suddenly her hand was wrapped around his wrist, keeping the needle from plunging into her flesh. Those eyes shifting slowly to him. The smile faded from his face, his left arm slowly moving toward his hip. She moved so incredibly fast he didn't realize the needle had gone through the bottom of his jaw, through his tongue and into the roof of his mouth. His eyes were widened as he realized the what had happened. Those cold blue eyes glared at the man as his hand wrapped around the grip of his tazer. The Praetorian were horrifying in a good mood, but now that one had it's sights on him...

Reynolds never was able to finish that thought. Delta jammed the plunger up, sending the poison burning into him. He recoiled, screaming in agony. Flailing about and slamming back into a cabinet. The doors burst open and 2 armed guards filed in, drawing their weapons. They were momentarily distracted by the agonized doctor as foam gurgled out of his mouth. It was enough for Delta, to roll back to the other side of the Table and kick it. The examination table went flying at them, pinning one of the guard's against the wall with sickening crack and a ear splitting scream.

Delta was already on the move, moving to an operating tray and grabbing it up just as the second guard opened fire. She leaned out of the path of the bullet, and deflected it as much as she could with the tray. She quickly threw it, like a rectangular frisbee, the metal tray slamming directly into the guard's nose, shattering the bone in a burst of blood. Even as it impacted, she was moving toward him. He'd barely gotten the scream out before she got him by the neck. The guard was lifted off the ground and across the hall, blood pouring down his terrified face as he was slammed against the wall. Her hand clamped hard, crushing his windpipe, and then jerked to one side, finishing him off.

She knelt, grabbing his sidearm as he hit the ground. More were coming from down the hall. She shot a look to them, her pale face speckled with blood. Three shots put three men down. Delta rose up and ran down the hall, full blast. As she passed a corridor, a burly guard tried to grab her from behind. Her right arm reached back and grabbed his, twisting out of his grip wrenching his arm around. A vicious palm strike sent jagged bone through his skin as the arm bent unnaturally. She threw him face first into the metal wall.

She couldn't see the men coming up the hall behind her, but she could HEAR them. The first shot, she barely ducked away from, whipping around and putting a bullet through the first man's stomach. Two more went through his chest, followed by a last shot to the head. The other two took cover. After a moment they whipped around the corner and fired...into the armored body of their dead comrade. Delta used him as a human shield, charging at them. She threw his body forward, her eyes locked onto the guard on the left, letting the one on the right deal with the body heading at him. As she came up, she grabbed her target by the wrist, redirecting his weapon just as he pulled the trigger. The bullet hit his partner in the face, whipping his head back as blood splattered against the wall.

His hand went to a knife at his belt and drew it quickly. Delta grabbed him by that wrist forcing it around with a snap. As he opened his mouth to scream, she pushed the knife upward through his jaw. Crimson shot into the air and rained down on her as he coughed his last agonized breath. The alarms finally sounded. Delta let him drop, collecting his weapon and ammo. She didn't know what was going on, but she had to get out of there NOW.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loren stood in the control room and watched as Delta attacked Dr. Reynolds and killed the guards. This was a nightmare. Delta was loose in the facility, mowing down anyone in her way. A security tech behind her vomited as Delta stabbed a guard upwards through the bottom of his jaw. Loren just embraced the horror and spoke into a microphone. "This is Major Metcalfe, keep your distance from Subject Delta, do not engage her head-on! I repeat, do not engage her head-on!"

On the screen, security cameras cut to another view as Delta redirected a shotgun to fire up into a ceiling and then grabbed the barrel, wrenching the weapon from his grip. The stock hit him hard in the face like a truck, hammering him into the ground. She wheeled around, turning the shotgun on men who stormed around the corner.

Loren grit her teeth and slammed her fist on the console. "Damn it! Fall back! I repeat, fall back!"

The first man around the corner's head burst like a red balloon, his body lifelessly flailing backwards against the wall. The others behind him took cover behind the wall. Delta backed up the other way, the merest hint of them turning to fire on her was met with a blast from the shotgun. She reached the corner and disappeared around it, on the look for a new exit.

Loren watched her move, noting the deadly, precise grace with which the girl moved. There was a twinge of pride there. This was her creation in action. Showing these amateurs what she was capable, the true success of the Praetorian Initiative. But she was out of control. Loren leaned into the microphone, "HRF, converge on Delta's location." She sent the coordinates to each of their helmet HUD's.

Delta was headed toward the hangar bays, desperate to make her escape. The Heavy Response Force soldiers, in full body armor and riot gear had converged on the entrance. Delta's advanced hearing picked up their radio communications before she even got close. She pressed up against a wall a couple hundred feet away from their position. She was cut off, those blue eyes searching frantically for another way. Then she saw it. Her determined eyes locked forward and she made her move.


The HRF troops waited for her, their weapons drawn, riot shields in front of them. Loren's voice came over their helmets. "I've lost visual. Stay on your toes."

She scanned all the surveillance feeds. "Where the hell is she?"

It was quiet. Just the sound of the HRF breathing, their armor and weapons brushing as they each tried to peer ahead. Suddenly the roof burst open above them, the shotgun blast hitting a man directly from above. Delta dropped into the fray, landing on the man's body. The shotgun barrel press against the back of the trooper in front of her. The deafening shot relocated a few vital organs out his chest as she pulled the trigger. She whipped to her left and put another in the chest of man turning to attack. From the other side a trooper tried to bash her with his riot shield. She was already turning toward him as he came at her, catching the shield with the length of her shotgun, stopping him in his tracks. From her right another man was bringing up his rifle to put her down. Her foot hit his chest hard and sent him against the wall.

Loren watched her put him down with a shotgun blast, apparently the last round in the weapon, as she released it and grabbed the shield she'd been resisting, and swinging it around, slamming and cutting into trooper's faces. Suddenly, she was grabbed from behind, her arms pressed to her side, but the man was no match for her. She broke free and spun, a palm strike to his chest sending him stumbling back.

Delta's back arched as a stun baton was pressed against her back, the electricity flowing through her body. It was enough to drop her to her knees for a moment. Slowly, her head turned to her attacker, rage on her face. He pressed harder as if it would do anything more. She was slowed, but fighting through it, willing her limbs to move though they didn't want to. Her hand gripped the handle around his fist hard. Loren could almost see his eyes widen in terror before the baton was shoved against his face, the trooper's body writhing as the current ran through him.

The man who'd grabbed her had picked up a shield and slammed into her, suddenly realizing he was now the only one left. She stumbled only a bit before turning on him, swinging the baton at him as hard as she could. Every impact on his shield rattled up his arms, the girl's impossibly strong slashes leaving him barely able to keep up. He didn't have time to go on the offensive, now he was just trying to survive. She pushed him back, back, back toward the wall, the baton slamming hard, denting the steel shield, she was hitting so hard.

Loren watched helplessly as she batted away the shield, spun and, using the force of the momentum, knocked the shield from his hand. She redirected in her follow through and stabbed him in the stomach with the baton. His body went rigid, shaking as his nerves ached like they were on fire. She withdrew and slammed it across his face.

Loren's shoulders dropped as Delta tried to enter the door to the hangar bay. Loren had, of course put it on lock down. It wouldn't hold her forever, but it would at least slow her down. Time she would need to contact the fleet and let the air patrol know what was coming.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The hangar was quiet for the most part, the deck crew having sought cover when the word got out about Delta. Suddenly, the doors were blown inward toward the hangar. Delta had created a makeshift bomb with the HRF's grenades. She stepped through the smoke, her tall, strong form silhouetted in the light from the hall.

Those cybernetic eyes scanned the hangar for an appropriate ship before landing on an CondorTroop Carrier. That was it. That was her way out. She broke into a run as reinforcements were filing down the hall after her. Those augmented legs carrying her faster than any human had any right to run. Bullets zipped past her, barely missing as she ascended the docking ramp. Her fist slammed against a button as she passed into the cockpit. The ramp raised shut behind her. The young Praetorian slid into the pilot's seat, firing up the ship's engines. The Condor rose up and turned on the troops massing at the entrance way, opening fire upon them. Delta's hands flew over the the controls, turning the hangar doors.

She slammed on the thrusters, kicking the ship forward as fast as it could go. The doors began to shut, but Delta betrayed no hint of fear or panic. She just calmly stared ahead, ignoring the useless gunfire that came from behind her.

Closer, closer she got and narrower her only escape route became. It was going to be tight, she knew, but she would make it. She HAD to make it. The Condor scraped against the closing doors as she shot out into the afternoon sky. She was out! But she was far from free to celebrate (if she knew how to celebrate).

Immediately, she was at work, checking the scanners for the inevitable incoming fighters. Condors were not the most maneuverable of ships, meant for quick drop off and extraction rather than aerial combat. And, sure enough, they were en route. Flying without a gunner would be difficult, as well, but she was out of options.

The first fighter came up behind her, there were no contacts from them. Getting her to land was NOT their mission. They were there to kill her. She was barely able to miss the laser fire they sent her way, banking away. One hand was at the controls while the other was at the automated weapons screen, tapping on the targets. Turrets at the tail of the Condor whirred to life, turning on her attackers.

Delta ducked and weaved that ship, squeezing every bit of maneuverability she could get out of it, bringing them into the mountain range that surrounded the Sanctum. Laser fire poured out the back of the ship as she took them on through the winding canyons. One of the ships jerked back and then suddenly burst in to flaming wreckage at a bolt made contact.

Delta was jostled in her chair as the Condor was hit. Calmly, she checked the systems, it was just a surface impact, no serious damage. She looked ahead seeing a cliff-face heading right for her. She jammed back the controls, the ship moving upward sharply, cutting it so close the belly dragged against the rock. Delta was out of the way just in time for two patrol ships to slam into the mountain. She was gunning the Condor straight for atmo now If she could break orbit, she could hit FTL and get the hell out of there.

Laser fire poured all around her, a few blasts hitting her and rocking the ship. Warning alarms screamed as the damage piled up. Just when the sky had turned from blue to black, she took another hit. The FTL drive was wasted, looks like she would need another way out. She looked around for anything she could use that might help. Fortunately for her, the Condor was primary means of transportation for the Praetorian soldiers. She set the ship on auto pilot and rushed toward the back, pulling open the equipment locker. Inside was fresh armor for her team. Without hesitation, she stripped the bloody clothes from her body and slipped on a compression suit, the ship rocking hard with every landed shot.

The ship's computer spoke "Warning. Warning. Reactor damage critical. Immediate evacuation required." She pulled her armor on as quickly as possible. She grabbed a rifle and a helmet and readied herself.

The helmet descended on her head, the seals locking down and pumping air. He fist hit the ramp controls again. Slowly it lowered and the pilot saw her standing there. She brought her rifle up and fired one shot. The bullet passed through his cockpit canopy and caught him in the face, blood bursting in weightlessness. He was dead before the decompression could kill him.

Delta heard the computer blaring it's warnings of an immanent explosion. Time to go. She launched herself off the ramp at the now pilot-less ship behind her. Through the cold of space she sailed gracefully. If this didn't work she'd be drifting until another ship found and annihilated her or she starved or suffocated to death. Her chest armor hit the nose of the fighter first, her body turning, dragged as it continued it's course. She was going to roll off the back and be spent spinning off into oblivion forever, she thought.

No. Two fingers caught the bullet hole she'd put in the canopy, keeping her from going further back. The rifle left her hand and was sent spiraling away toward Boros. She looked up just in time to see the Condor go up, lighting her faceplate in blinding white. She turned away, forcing the rest of her fingers through the damaged windshield to get a better grip and covering her face head with her other arm. The ship passed through the debris, but she managed to hold on.

Once in the clear, she yanked the cockpit open, unstrapped the pilot, took his side arm and threw him back away from the ship. Carefully, she climbed into the pilot's seat. Icy blood caked the headrest and inside of the canopy as it lowered shut. Delta fished around and found an emergency repair kit. She brought up up and sprayed it at the damage to the transparent surface, a clear resin material hardening over the hole.

Not one to waste time, she set a course for the nearest star system and prepared her FTL jump before anyone could figure out she wasn't on the ship when it blew. Eyes forward, chin up, she locked in her coordinates. Where was she going? She had no idea.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Would you care to explain what happened, Major?" The Admiral stared at the woman standing before him, hands behind her back, posture rigid and perfect, but the tension in her face reading to everyone in the room. Loren swallowed hard.

"Sir, Subject Delta reported to Dr. Reynolds at 1101 hours." Loren said nervously. "Something must have tipped her off, because she began panicking-"

"Panicking?" Director Van Leuen interrupted. "Is that what you would call it?"

Loren's sharp eyes turned to the bespectacled man, her jaw switching.

Lanning looked tired, weary. "Major, we know what happened, my concern is why."

Loren turned to him. "Sir... The Praetorian all have heightened senses. They are trained to survive. But I could not have predicted that she would be able to detect poison simply the insertion of a syringe into a vial."

Van Leuen looked up from his data pad. "And now, how people are dead. And you wonder why we refuse to allow you to continue this...highly dangerous and, frankly, shoddy work?"

Loren fought the urge to glare, refusing to meet his gaze, lest she jump across the table and punch in his fat face to bloody pulp. "Well, she's dead. So, the problem is solved."

Van Leuen turned to Lanning. "You haven't told her?"

Lanning sighed and gestured for him to bring the Major up to speed. Van Leuen pulled up some info on his data pad. "Major Metcalfe, at 1200 hours yesterday, ComSat reported in on one of our fighters, serial number 1138 making an unauthorized jump out of the system."

Loren's blood ran cold suddenly.

"1138 was, at the time, in pursuit of Subject Delta and the pilot's vital signs read negative after a vacuum breach within the canopy." Van Leuen leaned back. "I don't know how show managed it, but unless the pilot rose from the dead and decided to make a hasty get-away, I'd say it's a safe bet that Subject Delta is long gone from here.

Loren's eyes were wide. "We need to track her. We have to find out where she's going and-"

Lanning held up a hand. "We're already on top of that. What we are concerned about is bringing her in. We threw almost everything we had at her here, Major and she cut through them like a hot knife through butter. You designed her. You know her best. How do we pacify Subject Delta?"

Loren thought for a moment, her mind racing through a thousand things at once before it hit her. "The Praetorian."

Van Leuen looked up at her with stunned eyes. "Excuse me?"

"We send the remaining Praetorian after her." She explained.

"No. No, absolutely not!" Van Leuen protested.

"They are your best shot at taking her out, Director." Loren said icily.

"They're dangerous, unpredictable. What if one of them goes bughouse while on the loose? How many more lives are worth sacrificing to these abominations?" He asked.


Loren snapped her eyes upon him. "They are the only option!" She turned to Lanning. "Sir, you saw what she was capable of. She was MADE to be better than any living soldier. She was made to plow through them like tissue paper. The one shot you have of getting out of this with as few casualties as possible is to send the Praetorian. None of them are showing symptoms at the moment. Let us use them for one last mission, and then we can demolish the entire program at once."

Lanning considered for a long moment, mulling it over in silence.

Van Leuen shook his head, "General...you can't honestly be considering this idiotic plan."

Lanning shot him a look before turning back to Loren. "Major, can you guarantee you can control them."

"I'll have them implanted with micro explosives. If they step one TOE out of line, I'll detonate." She promised.

Van Leuen looked dumbfounded, he could not believe they were going to use those monsters after what had happened.

"Do it, Major." Lanning said with a nod.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delta's stolen fighter suddenly lurched out of FTL, normal space filling around her. A massive spaceport hovering in front of a big Green planet. Ketbrae, she remembered it was called. Her instruments were reading that she was dead on fuel. Calmly, she tried to put some power to the sublight engines with no luck. She was drifting.

Well, at least the seal on the canopy hadn't ripped open while she had her helmet off. It wasn't even a question, how she would get to the station. Her practical, fearless mind had the plan in seconds. She pulled down and sealed her helmet. Then, like it was the most common thing in the universe, she pressed a button, the pressurization seals popping around the cockpit with a hiss, the oxygen rushing out. Finally, the canopy burst off the top of the ship, drifting away gracefully in zero g.

Delta undid her harness and climbed out onto the nose of the dead spacecraft. Those bionic blue eyes turned down to her forearm, flipping a small hatch. On the screen she entered a series of codes before shutting the hatch again. She turned her attention to the station and leapt, her fists closing. Out the back of her armor came small jets of pressurized air, propelling her forward.

It was almost peaceful, out there with the vastness of space all around her. The only sound that of her even breathing in the helmet. The readout on her faceplate gave her all the important information. Distance to target, remaining O2, readouts on her vitals. It didn't take too long before she was approaching a maintenance hatch. It was secured with a passcode lock.

Delta reached back into her left forearm gauntlet and drew out a cord, plugging it into the machine. Within seconds, it had cracked the code and opened the airlock. One last look behind her to be sure, and she slipped inside.

Red lights were blinking all around her as the airlock pressurized. Once it was done, Delta slipped off her helmet and headed into the spaceport. Hopefully here she could formulate her next move. But where could she go? She knew no one. She had no credits to her name. Her whole life had been the Initiative. She couldn't remember a time before it.

What do you do when your home, your family, your life is taken away?
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First thing was first, Delta found a maintenance supply room and swapped out her armor for a gray staff jumpsuit, stashing the armor in the locker for now. She had to get a ride off the station and wearing that Armor might raise suspicions. She stood in front of a mirror and looked at herself. That pale skin flecked with blood from the men she'd killed the day before. Delta splashed water on her face, washing the dried blood away. On her way out, she grabbed a hat and pulled the brim down low, just in case.

Ketbrae Station was bustling, cabs flying over head, vendors hawking trinkets, food, supplies on the crowded streets. Those big, enhanced eyes took in every face she passed looking for any signs of trouble. Just because she'd gotten far away didn't mean she was safe. The arm of the USM reached far and wide, it wasn't unthinkable that they might have one or two people here.

Delta knew from intelligence training that most star pilots could be found in the spaceport taverns. Especially the ones whose discretion could be counted on.

She entered the doorway, immediately drawing a few eyes. The tall girl with a powerful, yet still-feminine figure stood out. It was attention that she did not like. Delta stepped up to the bar and ordered a water.

The bartender scoffed. "Water? You want water, go dunk your head under the sink."

Delta looked perplexed. "What should I order then?"

"Pick your poison." the barkeep said, gesturing back to the collection of bottles.

Delta's head tilted. "Drinking poison is inadvisable and would likely result in my death." She said, as if he were an idiot.

The barkeep stared at the girl like she'd just grown a third eye. "Look, you gonna get a drink or what?"

Delta blinked. "I believe I did. You asked me if I wanted a drink. I told you would like a water. You responded-"

"Alright, alright! You're gonna break my balls over it, I'll pour you some tap water. Ya pain in the ass." He ran a glass under the tap and slid it over to her. She looked confused at his words but did not press on.

"Thank you." She said before taking the glass.

She turned around and scanned the bar. Almost immediately a scraggly bearded man with slicked-back thinning hair slid in beside her. A sleazy demeanor about him and toothpick between his lips.

"Well, well, well...lookit you! You're a tall drink a' water ain't ya?" He said looking her up and down, his tongue moving that toothpick to better accommodate his talking.

Delta looked at her glass of water. "It appears to be an average sized glass." She responded matter of factly.

He gave her a lopsided grin. "What brings ya here, beautiful?"

"I am looking for passage from this station. The discretion of the pilot is a requirement for my purposes." She explained. "Do you know any pilots?"

He chuckled. "You talk funny, y'know that?"

She looked to him curiously. "My manner of speech is humorous?"

Again he laughed. "Well, you're in luck, Princess. Just so happens, I 'm a pilot. Got my own ship. The Moonjumper. Might be willin' to take you on."

The hopeful smile on her face was so innocent and genuine. It didn't match with the woman who had done everything she had. "Really? That would be wonderful. When do you depart?" She inquired.

The man smirked "Whoa, whoa whoa...slow down. We need to discuss payment."

She looked like the concept had just occurred to her. He quirked a brow to her. "You...*can* pay, right?"

Delta shook her head, sheepishly. "I am...without credits."

He put on his best charming smile (which was more creepy and sleazy than charming). "Well..that's alright. I'm sure we can find...other ways," his hand drifted up to her cheek. "For you to repay me."

She didn't like his hand on her. Not one bit. Nor the way his eyes trailed down her body. She sensed he was suggesting she do something... sexual in order to pay. Delta snatched his hand, squeezing hard. Her expression turned hard, those impossibly blue eyes burning into his. "You will not touch me again." She could hear bones crack as she squeezed his fingers, a groan of pain escaping him.

Delta released him roughly and watched him for any attempts to retaliate. The greasy man clutched his hand and stared at her angrily. "To hell with you, freak!" He ran off and out of the bar.

Delta became aware that all eyes were now on her. This was not going to work. She had to come up with a better plan.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delta stepped out of the bar quickly, disappearing into the crowd outside. Pilots needed payment and she couldn't pay. Maybe there was another option, she thought. Quickly, she made her way back to the maintenance area. She took her armor and threw it in a cart and slipped back out.

She would need a ship large enough to hide in, but small enough to fly under the USM's radar. From hangar to hanger she went looking for just the right ship. It was beginning to look hopeless. Every ship seemed too crowded or too small. A sigh left Delta as she stepped back out into the port. That was when she saw them. A detachment of USM personnel rounding the far corner. Those blue eyes going wide as she saw who was behind them. They were huge, towering over most, clad from head to toe in armor. The Praetorian. She turned around quickly, lest they see her.

Now was no-longer the time to be picky. She pushed her cart into the nearest stall and looked around. The ship before her had materials being loaded on. The redheaded captain pointed to the crew. "Hey, careful with those! This cargo's worth a lot of credits! You break it, I break your face, got it?"

Delta glanced over her shoulder. This had to be it. She followed the last of the maintenance people, pushing her cart toward the ship. She looked up over her head, a modified LumaTech Star Runner securely suspended over them. Someone had fitted the racer with weapons. Smart, she thought. As soon as the last man left, she checked to make sure nobody was looking. These ships always had hidden compartments, she knew. In fact, she could point all them out. She quickly headed to the fore of the ship and pulled up a heavy panel. For a normal human it would have been a struggle. For her, it was light as air.

Delta took one last look around and in she slipped.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I'm telling you a Gazillion is NOT a number." Page said as he and Annikah entered the hangar bay where the Dragon's Tooth waited for them. Their arms were full of bags of food and alcohol for the ship.

Annikah rolled her eyes. "It IS! I've heard it a gazillion times!"

"Well, how much is it?" He asked her.

"I don't know! More than a trillion!"

Page shook his head. "No! It's a made up big-sounding number, I'm telling you."

Annikah looked at him like he was an idiot. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

Page snorted. "The dumbest thing *I've* ever heard is that you think it's a number."

Nara stepped over, her brow furrowed. "What are you two morons arguing about?" She asked.

Annikah rolled her eyes and hooked a thumb back at Page. "**** here thinks that Gazillion isn't a real number."

"it isn't!" Page insisted.

Nara covered her forehead with one hand and gave the two of them an exhausted look. "You two are going to turn me grey, you know that?" She shook her head. "You get everything."

Page nodded to their captain. "Enough Food, water, and booze to get us to the outer rim."

Annikah smiled. "And *I* managed score us up a bunch of vids and music off the cortex. So, we'll have plenty to keep us entertained. We're WELL in-hand."

Nara nodded. Things had evened out for the crew of the Dragon's Tooth. In the months s-ince the USM had taken out Boggs and they had made the necessary repairs to the ship, they'd found steady work. Running cargo and supplies to some of the border moons and colonies. Keeping out of trouble for the most part. Every now and again, they pulled a job as a passenger transport. Life was good. A bit unexciting, but if you asked Page? Excitement was overrated.

"We're all fueled and loaded up and ready to go, then." Nara said. "Mount up and let's get the hell out of here."

The crew of the Dragon's Tooth walked up the ramp and into their ship. Page stopped took one last look outside the ship. It would be his last for the 2 week journey to the Outer Rim. A small smile crossed his lips.

Yes. Life was good.

His fist hit a button and the ramp raised shut.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nara moved along the cargo crates, getting everything checked in. The Dragon's Tooth had disembarked, and they were well on their way. Annikah was currently at the controls of the ship, keeping them on their heading as they navigated through FTL. The cargo was mostly farming supplies, food, and other sundry items. The Outer Rim planets were generally poor and still being colonized. They required a bit of help here and there.

Nara's brow furrowed as she finished the count. Those sharp, emerald eyes moved across the crates. There was one extra. The redhead moved along them. All larger than she, herself stood...except for one. "What the hell is this?" She wondered aloud, stepping toward the crate. She went to lift it open and found it padlocked shut. She tilted her head to one side and called out. "Hey Page?"

"Yeah?" His voice came from the catwalk above. The tall, lean gambler doing a little work on the Star Runner.

"You pick up some cargo back there?" She asked him.

He snorted a laugh. "Uh...yeah. See all those big boxes down there?" He asked, teasing her.

"Anything NOT on the manifest, jackhole." She responded with a roll of her eyes. Page walked up to the railing, looking down at her.

"No. Why? We got a misfit?" He asked.

Nara stared at the crate, she didn't like a locked mystery crate on her boat. "Yeah." She nodded. Hey eyes turned up to him. "Grab a torch."

Page slid down a ladder, blowtorch clipped to his belt. He hopped down and walked over to her holding it up for her. Nara had already strapped on a pair of welding goggles when she took it from him. Page squinted at the light as she cut through the padlock. Both of them were dreading what they might find in this crate. Finally, the clanged to the floor. Page put one hand at the grip of his blaster as Nara prepared to open it. "Ready?" She asked. "One...two..." On three, she threw it open and Page stepped forward, pistol raised.

To his relief there were not animals or bombs...just a set of armor. Really tough-looking armor. His brows raised. "Holy ****. This is military grade." He said, impressed. "But...I've never seen anything like it on the USM. This looks specially made." He reached in and grabbed the chest armor. It was heavier than he expected, a grunt leaving him as he lifted. "God damn..."

"What's it doing here?" Nara asked, looking around in suspicion. "You're sure you didn't buy it?"

"I'm pretty sure I'd remember buying a set of high-tec military grade battle armor." He joked. Nara wasn't in a laughing mood. Someone put this on her ship without her permission. But why? Why would they leave it? Unless...

Nara's eyes widened. She looked around, frantically, drawing a concerned look from Page. "What? What's going on?" He asked.

Those green eyes turned to him. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I think whoever put this on the ship....is still here."
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