The bot is still cramped. And after living in it for a week or more it may be picking up a faint odor. It’s taken that long to follow the trails that they’ve picked up.
The trail of broken trees had led to several more empty structures and villages. When Hunter had used the Bot’s navigation software to map it out the picture is rather bleak. A crescent arc of swamp two hundred miles long that seems to be empty of sentient life.
It’s late and Hunter is edging the bot toward the outskirts of some nameless Pre-Rifts settlement. There isn’t much left of the old structures from the looks of it.
An odour. One could call it that and Ardul is experiencing something akin to cabin fever. Not that she’s spent the whole of the time inside the bot. Just most of it – and it’s showing.
She’s peering out the cockpit window, glancing occasionally at the instruments. “It’s different to Richmond.” She notes absently. “There’s nothing else on your scope?”
“Just some ruined walls and building skeletons…” Hunter says as he looks at the sensor readout. “There is some residual heat from something pretty warm and pretty darn big passing through.”
He looks up into the darkness and thinks. “We’ll dismount. There might be something out there in the night and it might detect my bot. We’ll have to go in on foot. I think that’s safer.”
“Well, that’s something.” The blonde murmurs, chewing her bottom lip as she looks into the night as well. Getting out and moving around is so appealing but it’s also dangerous, she knows that. “If you think that’s best….” she’s got nothing better to offer, so that’s what they’ll do.
Unstrapping her harness, waiting for Hunter to ‘park’ the bot somewhere safe, Ardul finally pops the hatch and gets out, sitting on the top as the Wolfen follows. “My eyesight and hearing might be better than most, but it’s not particularly attuned to the dark. We’ll have to rely on your ears and nose for the most part.” she says as she waits for him to head down the ladder. She’ll use her wings.
It’s imperitive that Ardul not fly right now. Against an open sky she’s easily spotted by anyone who can see in the dark and there’s plenty out here that can. They can’t risk that. So it’s on foot for both of them.
The two exit from the back of the bot once it’s parked in cover. From there Ardul is largely relaying on following Hunter but because she doesn’t have to track she’s able to notice things around them. The salt tang in the air, the breeze from the sea which must now not be too distant. And also how there are no animal sounds. Wild places only do that at two times. When they’re frightened… and when they’re dead.
Ardul sighs when Hunter nixes her gliding to the ground. She really wanted to stretch them, work out tired muscles. But it’s down the ladder she goes instead.
Pacing along behind the Wolfen, walking in silence, the blonde casts around frowning slightly as her wings move, almost imperceptiably but restlessly all the same. Hunter knows her well enough, to know that’s a sigh of concern. “Are you hearing anything, Hunter?” she finally murmurs, pitching her voice so it doesn’t carry as much “Because I’m hearing nothing and all I can smell is the sea air. Something’s frightened the creatures here… ”
Her hand closes over the cylinder at her hip, but she doesn’t draw it – not just yet.
Hunter stops to sniff the air. His ears flip back and forth like small radar dishes. “I don’t hear anything either…” He murmurs.
It’s disturbing and it lends a creepy ambiance to a place that definitely doesn’t need additional creepy ambiance. The pair pass by a ruined building that looks like it’s fairly sizeable and Hunter holds up a hand.
“Do you hear that?”
There is a distant… sound. A rythmic ‘thump, thump, thump, thump…’
As Hunter stops, so does Ardul and she turns slowly, trying to pierce the dark that surrounds them. She knows better than to talk, he needs to be able to listen.
Just before he speaks, the blonde turns, putting her back to his and cants her head. “Yes, I do. It sounds like … not something moving exactly. Is it coming from in there?” She indicates the ruined building.
It might be ruined, but there are still the skeletons of walls and a structure. Enough to shelter things within. If it’s not in the building, it’s not far past it.
If not in it then, yes, past it. Hunter nods and the two make their way over, crouched low. When they finally make their way up to the second floor of the building – rather precariously they should be noted – they can just make a dim shape moving in the darkness some distance away to the sound of thump, thump, thump.
That in itself might just be odd and ominous, but the quickly realized thing is this: In this kind of darkness at the distance it appears to be, that thing would have to be huge to be able to make it out with no light.
Slowly, keeping her wings furled as tight as she can, Ardul follows, reducing her silhouette to avoid notice. Once at the second floor, she peers out the window – or what’s left of it – and a pale brow rises. “If that’s not what we’re looking for then I’d say we’re in trouble.” she murmurs, trying to get a feel for what the shape is.
The problem is the shape is an absence of light in an already lightless environment, making out the outline is difficult. “You did say there might be dinosaurs that are that big. I’m suspicious though, that sound is far too even. Do you want to follow it or …?”
Their options are rather limited really.
Hunter watches for a few minutes before answering. The large shape seems to stop after a moment and doesn’t move.
“There are large creatures here in these swamps. But I don’t think they’re quite that large. We need to get closer… if you can fly low enough you can probably close the distance. I want a look and we won’t get it if they start moving again.”
She’s been waiting for a chance to do this.
“I can.” It’s a simple answer that Hunter gets but Ardul is concerned none-the-less. Her armour is likely to reflect off any light, so she’s going to have to be careful to keep to the shadows. Fortunately there’s cloud cover, not completely, but enough – she should be able to avoid detection.
“Don’t go anywhere without me.” she tries to joke, slipping through the window frame and letting her wings flare wide. Not quite silently, her pinions aren’t like those of an Owl, the blonde drops and glides close to the ground, aiming for the shadows of the derelict buildings.
It doesn’t take her too long to draw close and her pace slows. “Coming up on it now, Hunter.” she murmurs into their comms, finding a building she can hover behind.
“I usually don’t.” Hunter says with a smirk as she drops away. He’ll have to pick his way forward on foot and try to meet up with her. He’ll move more slowly and have to go a lot more carefully. A hell of a lot more carefully.
The broken ground rolls beneath Ardul but she has to fly slower than usual, weaving around the broken pieces of steel and ferrocrete stabbing up into the sky. Eventually she sees light ahead. A series of baricades encase what looks like a camp and in the center of it is definitely a large, two legged robot that looks like it could house dozens, possibly a hundred or so.
Hunters smirk receives one in return and the Valkyr blows him a kiss as she glides. She knows he’ll follow and right now, she’s not too worried. Hunter’s quick and strong.
Perching in the shadows, the blonde narrows her eyes as she surveys the camp. “A camp, Hunter with a big bot that could hold a number of passengers. Might be what we’re looking for.” She’s silent for a bit, taking her time to assess the place “There’s movement in the shadows, I’m assuming sentries, but they’re not visibly obvious. Entry to the North through a barricade. I can’t see any sentries patrolling, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”
“What do the structures look like?” Hunter’s voice comes through the radio as he moves somewhere several hundred yards behind her.
That’s an interesting question. Some of them are prefabricated, others are clearly built onto the existing ruins. It’s hard to tell more than that from this distance and angle though. She’ll have to get closer. Off the top of her head though, at least one of these camp structures is large enough to house a fair number of people. Prisoners, perhaps? Still no one and no defenses visible.
Ardul is silent as she moves closer. It might concern Hunter that she is. Moving carefully between the ruins, slipping from shadow to shadow, the blonde gets as close as she can, circling the encampment or at least part of it, to get a decent look at the buildings.
“The building to the South is new. Not made from the structures that were here to begin with. I … don’t recognise the materials it’s made from, I’ll need to get closer and I don’t want to do that yet. It’s the only one big enough to house beings though. The other structures are made from the ruins.”
There’s more silence and then she continues “From what I can see that building is the only one with security on the doors, but I could be mistaken. It //is// dark after all. Where are you, I want to go in for a better look.”
“New construction? Wouldn’t be easy here. They’d need to corral a lot of labor or have some heavy equipment. That means they need money.” Which makes sense given their theory about where all this comes from. Having the money of a kingdom behind you would help that quite a great deal.
“I’m behind you quite a ways. Probably… a quarter mile out?” Hunter might be able to make the distance if he just ran but that’s dangerous. “See if there’s a way to get a good angle on it. Or if you think it’s worth it, make a flyby.”
Or she could glide in if she thinks ehe can make it.
“Maybe. That makes the most sense but they could have used those they’ve kidnapped to do it. How many D-Bee’s do you think they’ve taken and droned so far?” She thinks. “But if what we’re thinking is happening and Iyesgarth is involved, that means they’re siphoning funds from the Kingdom.” Which is concerning on many levels. Bankrupting the treasury would be totally possible.
As she’s talking, the blonde lifts up, moving higher on the ruins that she’s sheltering behind. “I’m having a look now. It’s a bit difficult trying to stay in the shadows and not appear as a silhouette but I think I can make the building and take a look around. There’s a shadowed area that should give me cover and there’s windows on the faces of the building I can see.” Her wings flare out again, Hunter will hear that through the comms. “Going in and Hunter?” beat “Be careful coming in.”
She launches herself falling into another glide, landing in that shadowed area with soft //thud//.
“Based on the settlements we’ve seen so far, I’d say between the high hundreds and low thousands. Depends on how long and how successfully they’ve been doing it.” That’s quite a few people really. Most of the villages are quite small, none of them would have had more than four dozen people and not that many people really live in the swamp. It’s mostly dinosaurs.
“I’m coming up on the southwest side. What are you seeing?”
This building? It’s not well built enough to live in, so it’s probably not a residence. It might be a prison, it’s sturdy. Hard to say without looking though.
There’s no skylight on this building but there is a door Ardul can see. And it appears to be ajar. Is someone home?
“So they could have used forced labour.” Ardul murmurs, moving silently as she inspects the building. “I don’t like this, Hunter. It looks like a prison – but it’s not well made. Temporary holding, perhaps, before they moved the captives on … or … modified them. There’s a door. You’ll see it as you get near, I’m going in, it’s quiet in there.”
She should wait, she really should, but time is against them. It’s clear now and the Valkyr isn’t without skill.
Stopping by the door, there’s pale light spilling from it – indicating that there’s some illumination inside at any rate. It’s quiet though, so either there’s noone there or they’re sleeping. Either way, the blonde unclips the cylinder from her hip and slips inside … letting her eyes adjust to the different light level.
There just doesn’t seem to be anyone around. No guards, no sentinels, no defenses, no alarms. And that’s quite odd, but perhaps whomever is here feels safe.
The harsh white lights reveal what look like pens on one end of the building, empty at the moment, and tables on the other end. It looks like an operating theater… for possibly not entirely unwilling patients.
That’s just a bit unsettling. What’s more interesting is the lockers at the far end. They look much more heavily secured than anything else, and they’re the kind of thing that one might store sensitive electrontics in.
The obvious question is… where is everyone?
“There’s no one here, Hunter…” If Ardul sounds worried over the comms, it’s because she is. Slowly she starts to move around the room. “It’s a holding and conversion facility, though.”
The pens cause her to shiver. They’re not furnished and it looks like many could be held there at one time. No better than cattle really. But it’s the med beds that get a blanch. The restraints to hold the … patients … in place, need no imagination to determine how they work. It’s clean(ish) though, so that’s something.
Moving to the lockers at the end of the room, the blonde takes her time to inspect them. “There’s equipment here. Locked away, going to try and access them.” The locks are digital, backed up with some fairly sturdy physical measures “I might need your muscles in here, but on your way through, check out that bot? The captives have to be somewhere, if they’re not in here. Though they might have been ‘moved’ elsewhere.”
Before she turns her attention to the lock mechanism, Ardul looks around the room again, seeking anything that might operate a Rift. Maybe that’s what’s in the lockers, among other things.
“I’ll be over in just a few minutes. I’m just finding a safe way in.”
Why is there no one here. That bot was moving, which means there was someone in it. Is the crew still inside and if so, why? Do they not plan to use their accomodations here?
There isn’t anything obvious here but while looking around Ardul spots some fairly heavy duty cable out a window. It runs to… something. It looks circular but it’s obscured by another set of what look like huts or dwellings. It’s fairly large though and that cable is fairly heavy. Maybe that might be a gate?
That thought immediately accompanies a sudden blue glow from whatever that curved structure is.
All very good questions and none of them, Ardul can answer. She can conjecture but nothing really makes sense.
“Something’s drawing a lot of power…” she reports as she follows the cable, frowning as the blue glow appears. Making her way past the huts, they certainly look dwellings, she’s careful to make sure they’re empty as well. “The other buildings look like smaller dwellings. For the guards or those who pilot the bot, perhaps. But they’re empty as well.”
As she rounds the corner, sticking to the shadows, the blonde literally freezes in place at the sight that greets her.
An archway, it must stand at least fifteen feet high with runes marked around the edge of it. Right now, there’s a shimmering blue surface that looks like water “Hunter. You need to see this.” the blonde speaks lowly into the comms, staying in the shadows and watching for the moment.
“Be careful. I’m coming over.” Hunter says. He can’t be too far away by now. Ardul can see the gate clearly. Something very much like a rift seems to open and stabilize. From what Hunter has told her, only magic really has the ability to do that, which means this device must be in some way magical.
And then the figures march through. Three of them, with dark wings and dark armor much like hers. Their helmets conceal their faces but the styling is almost a mirror for the armor that Ardul wears.
It’s unmistakeably Iyesgarthian looking.
The figures look around slowly and then turn to move toward the bot.
Ardul intends to be careful. She’s seen the results of the conversions and doesn’t want to be captured.
“Iyesgarthian.” She mutters into the comms. “Three of them.” The armour is nearly identical. Black instead Silver though, a difference she notes immediately. But only after she frowns at the Rift that has formed. Her people don’t have magic, not as it’s known here – they’re technological. Evolved to a point where most magic is explainable. Well, explainable until the Winged Warrior got to Rifts Earth and saw the effect the Rifts had wrought.
“They’re heading to the bot, be watchful.” She’s going to follow, of course, and try to see if there’s any insignia on the gauntlets. Her armour is a mark of her position within the Iyesgarth nobility and military. Are these ones similar to her or something else? She can’t tell, without seeing the marks or their faces.
“I can see them. I’m across the lane from you four huts down.” Hunter says. The rustling sound says that he’s drawing. “Do you want to try to ambush them? I don’t think they know we’re here.” It’s possible that no one knows that they’re there though that seems inexplicable. Then agian, perhaps they just didn’t expect to be tracked down. Maybe they’re complacent.
Or maybe something even stranger is going on.
Maybe it’s an ambush, though Ardul thinks that unlikely – it would take a number of things being in place to know that they were tracking them here.
Hunters question is met by silence as the blonde considers. It’s a good opportunity to find out more and if the black armoured figures get away, they still don’t know enough. “You’re asking me?” she finally answers “But Yes. I think we should. Though, I’m concerned about what’s in the ‘bot. Hammer and Anvil. I’ll attack from behind, you from the front. That should let us break them. On my mark… Three, Two, One…”
That’s all the warning he really gets as Ardul powers her sword and moves towards them, bringing a slashing blow through the first ones wings – trying to slice through the feathers and disable them.
Hunter lunges out of the cover exactly where he said he would be. He’s got his pistol flipped in his hand, holding it by the barrel and smashes it into the throat of the first being in line with superhuman strength. The next move, a punch across the jaw of the following winged man with his cybernetic hand, dents the armor. This is not, though, a winning fight for him. Not if he wants it to be quiet.
Unless, of course, he has help. All eyes are on Hunter. Which means they won’t be expecting Ardul.
Ardul is there as Hunter lunges, blade humming in her hand and wings extended to their full span. As the first figure crumbles, gagging for breath and the seconds head is snapped round with the force of the punch, she hits the last one – extinguishing the energy blade at the last moment and connecting at the base of the neck and knocking it into its companion.
It’s not elegant. It’s rather brutal but its what she has to work with. These aren’t killing blows, these are designed to disable them. They want prisoners to interrogate.
Hunter follows the first one down, smashing with his pistol butt and fists over and over and over. It’s only once it stops moving that he stops striking. “That went better than expected. Let’s…”
Wooop! Wooop! Woooop! An alarm blares from some distance off, near the bot. Hunter looks down to see the first one pressing a button on his gauntlent. A pistol butt follows swiftly and he hoists the one he guesses was the leader.
“We need to leave. Now.” They need to leave. They’re on foot. And it’s half a mile back to his bot. While carrying a prisoner…
Ardul falls on the third one. She might be as strong as Hunter, maybe, but these creatures are in Iyesgarthian armour. It takes a few more blows to make it stop moving. “Do you think…” she starts to say dryly in response to him, just as the alarms start to blare. Her foot lashes out at the same time his pistol butt does – that ones’s going to have a hell of headache when it wakes.
“Go …” she looks at the Wolfen “… the way you came. I’ll lead them away – I’m quicker by wing and when I’m sure I’ve lost them, I’ll circle back and find you.” She can buy him time and the risk is … well not minimal but less if she can draw them off. Grey eyes meet his as she ignites that blade again and waits for him to approve that plan.
Approve the plan. Not agree to it.
“Do not get caught.” That’s not a request. Hunter knows better than to waste precious time arguing. He takes off at a run with an armored Ieyesgarthian over his shoulder. He can move quickly but that will slow him and there’s no gaurentee that their persuers won’t have some better ways to chase.
The sound of dogs, or something very like them, is the first thing Ardul hears other than the alarm. She has seconds to make some kind of play before she’s confronted in force. The response time is quick. Will flying help here? It’s probably faster than walking.
Ardul nods and takes precious seconds to press a kiss to the Wolfens cheek “I won’t. You’ve commanded.” She doesn’t operate her helmet, leaving her face clear and visible. If she’s going to be chased, she wants them to know who they’re chasing.
Wings extend to their full span again and beat down powerfully causing the dirt and dust beneath her feet to swirl. Rising off the ground, waiting till the baying draws nearer and then moving in the opposite direction to the Wolfen. She’d been serious about leading them away – and to do that, she needs to make sure they follow her and Hunters trail.
Is it dogs or demigryph? Bird heads with a canine body. Iyesgarthian pets used for Hunting. They can fly, but she’ll loose herself in the ruins once she knows they’ve seen her and then disappear into the swamp – using the water to cover her scent.
At least that’s the plan as she takes to the sky, drawing the pursuit after her.
Good question. Perhaps they’re robots or stranger things under the control of the nano-implants.
It’s dogs, as it turns out albiet augmented dogs. This suggests that perhaps the Iyesgarthians are not operating alone. Whatever the case they throw themselves at Ardul missing her by inches as she takes to the skies but as she wings away she can hear turbines spinning up.
Someone is going to chase her. Again she’s on a timer. She’s got to hide or get away. She won’t be able to outfly a machine.
The blonde is stoic as the hounds leap for her heels as she takes off. She can feel the teeth that connect with her armour booted foot but it doesn’t slow her. She misjudged though, leaving her flight a fraction to late, and she knows it.
There is no talking. No communications with Hunter. Not yet. She won’t risk tipping them off that there’s another.
The ruins of the city loom around her and she dodges through the crumbling walls. A machine might be as maneuverable as she, but it’s not likely and she’s betting on that as she takes the first sharp left turn and then a right a few buildings on, looking for somewhere to shelter. She doubts she can outfly a machine – no matter how much stamina she has – so shelter it is. Besides, she wants a look at this machine.
Just up ahead, she sees it, a mostly intact wall that she can duck behind. Her wings beat down powerfully, propelling her to the sanctuary. When she makes it, she drops down – not up – and hides in the shadows, looking out to see what passes.
Chasing someone in the dark is hard no matter what tech tricks one has. Ardul can hear the whining of an engine pass her position seconds after she drops into it. Then another. Then another. There may be… half a dozen searching. It won’t be long before someone starts looking more carefully… if they don’t give up entirely.
She can hear something thumping again, distant and much less deep than the noise she heard when they were tracking the big bot.
//Nearly to you…// Comes on the radio.
The blonde is breathing heavily and wings tremor a little as she hides. She flinches at each of the sounds as they pass and wonders what the hell they’ve found. She just can’t see anything and she has to get out of there. Miscalculated. Again. She had expected a single vehicle that she could lose and get out. With multiple vessles in the air, it’s going to be that much more difficult.
The first thump that she hears causes her to tense but then she realises it’s different.
“Drones. I think. Surrounding me.” she radio’s back, speaking quietly. With the Wolfbot closer, she can do a much faster more urgent flight to safety and hopefully Hunter can ward off any possible attack. “Coming to you…”
She listens, getting the search pattern from the sound. Timing her next move in, what she hopes, is the middle of the next sweep, the Winged Warrior throws herself skyhigh and towards the bot.
“Not drones no. I can almost promise you those are skycycles.” Hunter says over the radio. Half a second before Ardul takes flight she hears a sudden cacaophony of noise split the night. Weapons fire and an explosion. As she takes to the sky she can see the gunwolf, all weapons firing, tracking skycycles and the buzz and juke and try to get out of the deadly stream of railgun ammunition and ion blasts blasting up from the ground.
The noise causes Ardul to falter for a split second. Hopefully it doesn’t affect her mad dash to the bot.
“Coming in hot. Just like weapons.” she says over the comms “That’s a pretty impressive sight you’re maki—” She cuts hard left as a skycycle comes into view. It shouldn’t take long before the Gun Wolf makes short work of it, but she’s not taking any chances. Those things are firing on her.
She also knows that the weapons fire is going to make the interior of the bot warm. With the armoured figure, Hunter and herself in there – it’s going to be … cozy … to say the least.
“Nearly there…” She is and he might hear her alight on the ‘head’ of the bot so she can open the canopy and slip inside.
Hunter doesn’t let up the weapons fire even when Ardul lands on his top hatch and from the scorch marks on his armor he has taken a few hits. A flight of missiles nearly bathes the winged woman in hot jet wash as another skycycle explodes. That’s three, perhaps four and it seems that the rest are breaking off. They don’t have the firepower to deal with this and they know it, not with half of their squadron down.
The bot interior is near swealtering as Ardul drops in and Hunter doesn’t wait for her t osecure herself before he swings around and sets off at top speed.
The blonde hadn’t expected Hunter to stop and by the time she slips into the cabin, there’s marks on her armour that he’ll knows she’ll fuss over when they’re free and clear of this mess.
She’s breathing heavily and the edges of her wings are frayed slightly from the jet wash and other associate weapons fire. “You told me not to get caught…” she pants, grappling with the harnes as the bot takes off at startling rate. “What the hell is going on here, Hunter? That’s a small army they’ve furnished and they weren’t going to let up. Did you get any readings on the cycles? I confess I only got a glimpse of a few before they disintegrated.”
“Old model northern gun sky cycles. The kind of thing that’s been floating around the market for twenty years give or take. Pretty heavily armed but nothing particularly special.” Hunter is venting heat, he knows, which is necessary but it means they’ll be visible on thermal scopes for a while. That being the case he heads them toward deep water. The bot is sealed and they can survive under it for a time. It’ll certainly cool them off a hell of a lot faster than anything else.
“You okay? Wanna look in on our guest?”
“I’m fine.” Is she really? She’d say that anyway but she //is// in her armour so probably. “You? You had more of a run than I did…”
She stops trying to strap herself and wriggles around to the sleep space. “Northern Gun, again. I’m seeing a pattern here. You said that walking building was older too, how does it compare to those cycles?” There’s a number of questions raised by this and the blonde won’t rattle them off quickly but she does add “Is is possible someone picked up a bulk deal on old equipment? Because I’m telling you, Hunter, this is looking like your old employers have deployed an army.”
In the back, she finds the black armoured figure. Hunters secured him, or is it her, with Wolfen restraints. Whatever they are, they aren’t going anywhere. “Still sleeping, I see…” the blonde calls back, her hair plastered to her face in the heat. Carefully, she reaches down to remove the helmet – she wants to see they’re face.
“Northern Gun is a weapons manufacturer. Their equipment is used by half the mercenaries, free cities and general lowlifes on the continent. Believe me, if this were an army of their invention, they’d have better kit. This stuff’s what more or less anyone could pick up laying around.” Hunter explains as they duck into deep water.
The helmet comes off, revealing a face that looks, in general, remarkably like Ardul’s. Of the same species, definitely. Someone she recognizes perhaps? Hunter’s not looking, he’s busy driving.
“That’s an awful lot of stuff that was just laying around. I’d say someone got a bulk deal.” She’s not loving the Northern Gun connection in this at all but she likes what she sees as the helmet comes off, even less.
She hisses. About the same time the outer hull of the wolfbot as does when it hits the water.
“Arvid…” her voice is low, but Hunter will hear the inflection. Horror and sorrow wrapt up in one. “He wasn’t a blackguard when I left. He was on Nina’s household guard.” Blackguard, black armour – as opposed to Arduls gleaming silver affair. Carefully, the blonde starts to strip the chest plate from the prisoner and inspect their neck, head and torso for marks.
“He … he … might have been turned…” She really hopes that’s the case because if it’s not, it means she missed something rather fundamental when the coup occured.
“Possible. Mostly to this point the hardware has been pretty obvious, hasn’t it?” Hunter says. He’s still not looking back. “Don’t forget to secure him by the way.”
The Wolfen begins to carefully navigate the bot into what appears to be an underwater cave, or possibly a tunnel from the golden age since collapsed and flooded.
“What’s a blackguard.”
“He is. Your restraints are holding and I’ve secured to the anchor points.” Ardul murmurs, still checking the Iyesgarthian they’ve taken. Clearly she’s not happy, Hunter can tell from her voice. If he was to look, her wings would tell the story as well.
“It has been obvious.” The blonde says almost absently but she glances over her shoulder a moment later. “What are you thinking? Someone trying to point the blame where it shouldn’t be? Maybe to take attention off somewhere else? I’m still not quite up on the politics of the areas…” She’s not doing badly, but there’s still lots she doesn’t know.
“A blackguard … is … a covert trooper, I guess. Not an operative. They tend to work in small groups and are highly trained and skilled. From what I knew, the force was a small one – we didn’t have much use for them – but now, I have to wonder.”
Finishing her examination, she sighs and starts to look over the armour “No marks or implants that I can see, Hunter. I’d like Felipe to do some tests though. See if his screening procedures can pick up anything – like nanites.” beat “Where are we going?” she saw a glimpse of that tunnel when she looked back just now.
“We are hiding. I’m hoping those people don’t have a submersible on them.” Hunter says as he puts the bot into standby mode and unbuckles his harness.
“I’m going to let us cool off and let their search exhaust itself before we sneak back out. Make sure he doesn’t have any kind of transmitter.” The wolfen comes over and stands over both Ardul and their prisoner. “Getting back will take some time.” It took them time to get out here after all.
Ardul nods as Hunter speaks, already stripping the guantlets from their prisoner. “There’s no insignia on these. That’s unusual. Even blackguard had an identifying mark. I can’t help but wonder what’s happened back there in the time that I’ve been here.” She’s not sure if time runs the same here as it does back on Iyesgarth. Not home. She’s stopped thinking of it as ‘home’.
“If this armour is like mine, there’ll be a processor in the helmet that we can tap into. I’m not sure what it will give us – instructions aren’t usually stored there, not like our Cyborgs, but it might be worth checking it.” she sighs, straightening to stand next to the Wolfen. She’s tall, but he makes her look short in comparison. “No transmitter that I can see. I … hadn’t thought of submersibles, let’s hope they don’t have one.”
She’s noted he hasn’t spoken more about Northern Gun and doesn’t press the point, not yet. “Getting back will give us some time to question Arvid, if we can. And if he gets out of hand, you can hit him again.”
“I’ll take a look at that. You look over the rest of his kit. Take your time and if he wakes up let me know. I’ll put him back to sleep.” Hopefully Hunter has some seditive… because repeatedly concussing him into unconsciousness may result in him not having any useful information when they’re finally back in Vesper.
And hopefully there’s no one in Vesper they have to worry about.