If someone were to ask Clancy Drover about this little community before him, it would be ‘sorry’. ‘Simple’ would serve as an alternative, but at present the run-down state of things invites a different description. The herbalist sits astride his Ooroo, Apanie, at the entrance to a mining settlement high in the Appalachian Mountains.
He is not the only visitor here, today.
The settlement exists well outside the jurisdiction of the nearest two city-states (Vesper and Dogwood), thriving entirely off production from the D-stone mines. Except, the mining has stopped. Most folk have remained indoors. There is no town-hall — just a building that doubles as a pub and meeting place for anything official. The tech-level of the settlement is low — beasts and carriages — with the exception of the mining equipment itself.
Automatons built for navigating the deep tunnels just up the mountain road sit dormant, unused — many of them damaged. No one comes out to greet the visitor(s); they all remain indoors, watching. Suspicion is high; there are likely more than a few guns aimed at anyone stopping by.
Clancy wouldn’t even be here were it not for rumours of rare plants growing deep in these mines — word of ‘other problems’ didn’t reach him until he’d arrived, although there have been rumours reaching all the way to Dogwood. He’s here now, anyway.
It’s unusual for Ardul to venture far from Saren’s Rest and Vesper. She’s more that enough work there between aiding retrieval teams going into Vanished Point and working for the local authorities doing patrols. But she’s found her way here, following rumours about about flying cyborgs – cyborgs she’s sure have sent to execute her.
Execute. Not Assasinate. There’s a distinction.
Coming through a patch of trees, her armour glints brightly as the dappled sunshine hits it. The armour shining once more as she’d clean the salt water from it last evening. It had taken most of the evening to make it gleam, but gleam it does.
Stopping just before the ‘village’ proper, grey eyes taking in the area noting defenses and the like her wings flex, sending dust eddying at her feet.“Friendly place…” Clancy mutters to himself as he slowly coaxes Apanie into the settlement. He cranes his neck around to either side, looking for anything or anyone remotely amiable or even ‘pleasantly amused’ to see some visitors, but… nothing.
A kid — no more than ten or eleven — suddenly dashes across the street from one building to another. Terrified, he falls flat on his face, skidding across the rough ground and grazing himself — not seriously, but enough to leave him looking as though he’s ‘in the wars’.
A light reflected from a window hits Ardul in the face as an adult peers outside, to see the fallen kid, crying in the dirt. That light reflects off the winged warrior’s armour…
Clancy glances in that direction.
“Blimey,” says he trying to shield his eyes. “Who’s that?” He guides Apanie further out into the dusty street and stands up in the saddle (not that it makes much difference). It does, however, put him in full view.
The child running draws Arduls attention and her hand floats to the silver cylinder hanging at her hip, stopping as she realises it’s a child. As the child skids, the winged woman starts forward, slowly only to turn to the light at the window … and then to Clancy as he appears.
“Clancy Drover.” she says as she eyes the Ooroo and then the man “It is just I, Ardul. What is happening here?” Continuing her way to the fallen child, she bends to assist him up “There now…” she says gently checking him over “… just some grazes. Builds character …” No, she doesn’t ask if he’s alright.Apanie recognises Ardul before Clancy does.
The Ooroo turns her ears forward, in the winged knight’s direction, and then stretches her nose forward as far as she can. Clancy chuckles, and slides out of the saddle.
“Easy kiddoh,” he tells the young boy (who is trying hard not to shed any tears… and mostly succeeding). “She’s just ‘ere ta help ya.”
“Are you an angel?” the boy asks Ardul. “H-have you come ta take me away?”
Clancy blinks. “Now there’s a couple of questions you don’t ‘ear every day.” He glances at Ardul and puts his hands on his hips. “Or do ya? Get asked that a lot, I mean. Heh.” He reaches into a pouch and sticks a leaf of some plant in his mouth.
As Apanie stretches out, Ardul rests a hand on the creatures muzzle, scratching gently for a moment. “Easy girl…” she says before dusting the lad off a little. “You’ll be fine…” she says to the youth, clearly having little experience with the younger generation. She’s treating him like a small soldier. “An angel? No. And I’ve not come to take you away, why would you ask that?”
As Clancy asks the question, she turns her gaze to him, frowning as he eats that leaf. Disapproving? Potentially. “Not so often … Well, I get the Angel thing occassionally and back home, if they were asking if I was coming to take them away it was for other reasons…”A door slams open.
Out of one of the houses a parent — a mother — runs out into the street as though she had only just realised her boy wasn’t with her. She skids to a halt near Clancy and Ardul and reaches for her son, who is only too happy to run to his mother.
“What are you doing with him?!” she exclaims. “Get away from him! Tom, get back inside the house!”
“Wait, wait, wait!” Clancy interrupts, hands held up. “What’s goin’ on ‘ere? Why would the kid think my knightly friend ‘ere would wanna take him away?” As an afterthought, he adds: “I’m Clancy; this is Ser Ardul.”
The mother doesn’t reply, but the boy, Tom, says as he is dragged by his arm back to his house: “‘Coz, that’s what the other metal angels did — ow! Mom! They ain’ baddies, Mom. Mom…!”
Clancy glances back at Ardul and shrugs dubiously. One hand goes to his side, while the other itches at his scalp. “Metal angels…. huh. Wasn’t expectin’ that — although there’re all sorts o’ rumours goin’ round ‘ere.”
“I was just assisting him…” Ardul straightens to her full six foot of height, seeming slightly taller with the armoured helm. “Ser Trasinger… Knight Commander.” She corrects Clancy absently, frowning after Mother and Son. “Metal … angels…” her wings beat down gently, all feathers. No metal there. The only thing metal about the Iyesgarthian is her armour and weapons.
As they disappear into the house, she turns to Clancy, looking slightly confused. “What were you expecting then, if not that. What rumours have you heard?”Clancy watches the parent take her child away to their home, while he continues scratching his head, and then turns to look at Ardul. “The mining’s stopped — last settlement kinda made that clear — folks missin’, machines going nuts… an’ all I wanted was a trip down some o’ the tunnels…Now this.”
He lowers his hand and shrugs his shoulders. “Somethin’s definitely wrong. What about you, luv? When was the last time I saw you? …” He snaps his fingers. “Demon-huntin’ just down from the mountains, roight? With the gunwolf, an’ Bridge — some crazy sheila out on ‘er own… yeah. That what brings you here? more demons? Love the feathers, by the way.”
The wings flex again before folding to sit against Arduls back, Clancy’s comment getting a raised blonde eyebrow. “Thankyou, I think … Mining’s stopped, people missing?” she frowns at that, casting a look around the settlement. “Hmmmmm.”
“That’s correct though. Down near Clearwater, protecting the barricade with Hunter.” the gun-wolf pilot “Bridge and others. That’s not brings me this way today, though. I was following rumours of my own, tracking some winged cyborgs.” Casting a glance back to the house where the pair disappeared “Whatever you’ve heard, it’s got them spooked. I’m surprised they are shooting on sight.” Grey eyes swing back to meet his “What were you taking a trip down the tunnels for?”Clancy goes back to Apanie and removes a container from one of the saddlebags. Returning with it to Ardul, he opens it to reveal some mushrooms that emit a faint glow. He does not leave the container open for long, and then closes it back up again. “I can barely pronounce the name, but these ‘shrooms seem to only grow ’round rich D-stone deposits — hence, I’m lookin’ through the mountains. I’ve had the terrain and weather change on me just like that… more’n a few times. D-shifts… not fun.”
He frowns as if only having just heard something.
“Wait, ‘winged cyborgs’? Yer here after winged cyborgs? … ‘metal angels’… now there’s a coincidence if I — .” Clancy glances down at the tattoos on his arm and lets out a ‘hmph’. “I know, I know — it’s bloody close. Lemme talk to the nice, feathered lady-knight, alroight? Ease-up.” The eyes of each tattoo glow, and look eerily at Ardul.
“Can’t take ’em anywhere…” the man mutters. “Should we ask someone? Dunno how much light we got left. Can’t say I like the idea o’ kidnappings — ‘specially kids.”
The mushrooms get a reserved look from the winged warrior, her nose wrinkling just a little at the scent. It’s … rather strong. “Why are you looking for them?” She’s not really worked out that Clancy is a shaman and a …. herbalist. It’s possible that there’s similar on her world but … not like Clancy.
“I doubt my winged cyborgs have anything to do with this.” She says, not offering much more than that. “Who on Iyesgarth are you talking to?” she peers at his arm and the tattooes “Where are your pets … ” the tattooes put her mind of the Tigers. Fancy that.
“Asking questions is likely a good idea. They may not be receptive to speaking to us. Perhaps best though, if you lead the way. My wings seemed to have upset them …”The man grins.
“Where on Earth’s… Eyes…gah-th?” Pause. “I said that wrong, didn’ I?” He puts the container back in his saddlebags and shrugs his shoulders. “I’m from Australia — Down Under — ‘aven’t ‘eard of… that place. Sounds like it’s another dimension… as for my pets, well they’re not really ‘pets’. I’m a Clever Man — uhh… that’s a herbalist, and a totemist — they’re spirit-animals, an’ they live… well, it’s complicated. They can see an’ ‘ear what I can. Magic. Just go with ‘magic’; save a lot o’ time…”
As to the notion of questioning people, a man approaches from the local pub/meeting house, armed with a shotgun. He looks middle-aged, very weathered — like old leather — and has a long beard. “I’m Payne,” says he as he draws nigh with a wary step. “Hector Payne. Is this what you do, come into a town an’ just talk in the gorram street? Who are ya?”
At the mention of ‘magic’, Ardul sways back and tuts … clearly uncomfortable with that explanation. “Iyesgarth.” She pronounces it ‘eesgarth’ “Is another dimension and we don’t have magic there, not like here.” Judging by her armour and weaponry, she comes from a technologically advanced civilisation, it’s possible that magic has basically been explained … to a greater degree.
Anything else she might say is cut off as Hector arrives and she offers the man a bow, crossing her arm over her chest as she does. “I am Ardul Trasinger. This is Clancy Drover. And it would seem that it is what we are doing, yes. We were wondering why that mother seemed so frightened of me, actually.”Hector Payne hefts the gun in his hands.
“Been havin’ a lot of trouble lately,” he explains, eyeing Ardul warily — Clancy too, if only slightly less-so. “First it was the machines; they stopped workin’. Then we started losin’ folk — good folk, hard-workin’ folk. And /then/… we saw them — cyborgs with wings, or robots. Don’ care. Destroyed the gorram mining machines, flew off with more people…”
And he points the gun at the two newcomers.
“An’ yer tellin’ me you ain’ got nothin’ ta do with it? Tourists? To this hell-hole in the mountains? We, all of us, awful wary now… o’ strangers.”
Clancy merely listens for a while; he doesn’t get a chance to chat about magic or anything else for that matter, not straight away. His eyes are fixed on Hector Payne and his shotgun. “We… were jus’ sayin’,” he ventures after a bit. “We came because of the rumours — both of us. We… could get some help, you know… we’re not cyborgs or robots. Ser Ardul’s a knight — knights don’ kidnap. Honest.” He glances at her, eyebrows raised.
*** OOC Time: Thu Feb 02 11:20:49 2017 ***
“Cyborgs with wings…” Ardul says quietly. Unlikely the ones that she was following are involved in this – they would be programmed with one specific thing – to find her and carry out the death sentence she was under. They’d have no interest in these mountains beyond searching for her. Meeting Hectors eyes, her grey eyes serious “That’s exactly what we’re telling you. We were following rumours of our own and found ourselves here. If I’d not seen the young one fall I would have bypassed this settlement and continued on.”
Sensing Clancy’s glance, she looks at him sideways “No, we don’t. Kidnap that is.” Which is technically true but in House warfare, the taking of hostages to ensure agreements are maintained is … common. “And yes. We can help. Take a look around and see what we can find.” If her armour and weapons are anything to go by, she’d be hard one to take. Clancy … well, she’s seen him fight.Hector Payne stares at the two outsiders.
True, neither of them are cyborgs; Ardul’s wings are completely organic (and gorgeous), and Clancy has no visible ‘tech’ on him at all. So… “You let little Tom run back to his mother,” the suspicious man remarks carefully, slowly beginning to lower his shotgun. “An’ ya don’t have the look o’ gorram cyborgs, neither… I’m gonna regret this, I know… Fine.”
He lowers the gun completely.
“Come inside the pub; we’ll talk th — .” Before the man can finish his sentence, the fading sunlight glints off the metallic skin of a pair of flying… people. They approach from the direction of the mine itself, further up the mountain road, and appear to be ‘full conversion’ cyborgs… unless they are in fact androids. Each one is winged, and each one is armed with futuristic weaponry.
Each one opens fire.
“Get outta ‘ere, mate!” Clancy bellows to Hector, and watches Apanie bound away as well, taking cover behind a building. The first of the cyborgs targets Ardul, and shoots…
“Of course I did. A child should be with their parents.” Ardul speaks quietly again. “He was brave, though…” Peering in the direction of the pub, it’s the way the shadows fall that have her turning, her armour ‘humming’ as the blue edging lights up. The armour is now gleaming silver and limned in blue. At the same time, she takes the cylinder from her hip and an energy blade springs forth.
“We have incoming…” she says as she springs into the air, wings unfurling and beating down powerfully – poor Hector might be covered in grit and dust from the air current. “I’ll draw this one of— ” her words cut off as a beam of bright magenta shoots in her direction.
With a louder ‘hum’ a shimmering blue field appears around the winged woman and she heads straight //up// trying to avoid it. Most combatants would try to zig-zag, but Ardul knows the burst is likely to fall.The cyborgs had not been expecting able combatants to counter their little raid; that said, they recover very quickly. Ardul would feel the heat of the initial energy blast as it passes her by, slamming into the ground where she had just been standing. The raider hovers in the air for a mere second as the winged warrior approaches, zooming in on her face with its enhanced eyes. At the last instant, it produces an energy shield on its left arm and a bayonette of similar energy at the tip of its rifle.
Up comes the shield, and down comes the bayonette at the same time…
Meanwhile, Hector Payne finds himself on his rump but manages a couple of shotgun blasts at the second cyborg — before Clancy hooks an arm under the foreman’s shoulder and drags him behind an outhouse. “I’ll be a furry-arsed wombat…” the Australian exclaims. “I take it this is what you were talkin’ about — .”
The outhouse explodes in a shower of dirt, wood and waste — taken out by a cyborg’s rocket. The other raider deliberately tries to put Ardul’s back between it… and a damaged mining-mech, armed with a laser-drill, on the ground…
Leaving Clancy to fend for himself and Hector, Ardul banks and dives on her combatant, raising a guantleted arm to knock the upcoming shield wide, she parries the bayonette, moving (if she can) inside the reach of the cyborgs weapon. This … is going to cost her. Whatever comes next.
If they’re watching from the ground, Clancy and Hector will see just how strong the blonde really is.
She’s not realised the machine is trying to move her… she wants to finish this fight. And finish it quick.Sparks fly from the cyborg’s shield-arm as Ardul bashes it, briefly shorting it out. There is a metallic cry of pain from the winged raider, immediately followed by a slash of its laser-bayonette. Ardul is too close inside its reach to be cut badly by it, but cut her it does. At the same time, she might notice that the raider is not actually a cyborg, but a humanoid — thin, very thin — inside an armoured powersuit. Where her blade cuts it, it bleeds red…
The laser-drill fires, sending a beam of crimson energy sweeping across the sky as it tracks toward the duellists above. Its targetting matrix is damaged or it might have hit the knight in the first instant. The raider’s shield-arm is broken, such is the knight’s strength, but he is still trying to put her into the path of that beam…
On the ground, Clancy rifles through his pouch, much to the consternation of Hector Payne — who continues laying down cover-fire to keep the second raider at bay. They don’t have much cover left, so Clancy gives up on finding whatever talisman it is that he seeks, and summons his artifact-weapon to his grasp.
The shimmering boomerang appears and he leans out just long enough to hurl it at the shooting raider. Then he legs it for some nearby stables — stone walls, wooden roof.
Cost her it did. Her suits energy field flares and flickers once, letting the laser-bayonette get through. She cries out, once, and bites down on her pain, channeling the anger and outrage into battling this monstronsity.
It bleeds. She notes that as lets the thing turn her and keeps turning them… using it’s momentum to her advantage. The powered-armoured humanoid might end up in the line of fire.
The energy sword falls again, tagetting the cracks in the power armour, trying to weaken the creature further.
“Ho, Drover.” She calls down to the ground. “They bleed, target the chinks in their armour.”“Just what I needed ta hear…” the Aussie Clever Man exclaims as his boomerang comes flying back to his hand. It had struck the raider straight in the armour — magical artifact meets high-tech — but only succeeded in knocking the flying raider across the sky… and into the sign above the pub.
Hector Payne glares at Clancy, who gives him an ‘it’s not my fault!’ shrug.
With a better idea of what to hit now, the Clever Man leans out and hurls the mystical boomerang a second time. It connects with the chink just under the raider’s armpit, biting in deeply — and staying there, for a bit. The raider lets out a strangled cry, and drops his rifle.
The mining-mech’s laser slashes straight through the pair of duellists in the sky. It barely misses Ardul’s arm, but sheers through her opponent’s wings. He immediately starts to fall.
“Someone’s gotta get that drill offline again!” Hector yells. “They can take control o’ tech — we had to sabotage our own drills before… thought this one was already dead!”
“Make good use of it …” Ardul calls out, grunting as the beam sheers the humanoids wing. As it falls, she’s locked in it’s embrace momentarily, falling with it as she struggles to get free. It takes a moment, and the use of her booted foot to kick her assailant away. Her wings beat powerfully, several times before her descent is halted and she starts to rise again.
“Get that thing and disable it …” she calls, spinning on the spot, identifying the drill … “I’ll get the drill.” Wings beat again and she dives towards it, energy sword raised, beginning to lower through the piece of equipment.
Hopefully she evades the beams. And hopefully they don’t mind if the drill is demolished.Clancy nods and calls his artifact back to his hand, then he turns to Payne.
“Take care o’ that one,” says he, pointing to his former target. “‘E can’t shoot; get in close — take ‘im done.” Not waiting for Payne to nod or reply, Clancy murmurs something and summons his thylacines to his side.
Red and gold ghostly beasts appear to leap out of his arm-tattoos, and immediately rush Ardul’s former opponent as it lands in a heap on the ground. “No killin’!” Clancy calls out to his thylacines. “I wan’ ‘im down, but not out, ya hear me!” The raider really doesn’t stand a chance: with a broken arm already, and its wings severed, it barely manages a single shot before a pair of spirit-animals have it by each arm — pinning them.
The laser-drill continues firing, only now it is completely ballistic. Beam after beam after beam lances out into the sky… and into some buildings, but thankfully the damage is minimal (compared to what it could have been). Without a raider to control it precisely, it is both less — and more — of a danger than before.
But that doesn’t stop the winged warrior and her sword of light…
Ardul ducks and rolls as the beams fire out, deftly avoiding getting hit by anything but glancing blows. Her armour is going to be scratched and scuffed and it will take her an evening of polishing to set it to rights.
As she draws close to the drill, she brings that sword down, cleaving the device … not quite in two but enough to stop it operating.
Landing heavily on her feet, her blonde head droops for a moment and she breathes //hard// before extracting the sword and turning. “Sit. Rep. Clancy. Where’s the other …”//BLAM!!//
That was Payne.
He stands over the smoking corpse of the second raider, nudging the body with his boot while other citizens of the nameless mining town look on from their windows and doors. Clancy looks in Payne’s direction, shrugs his shoulders and walks over to his own quarry. The thylacines look hungry.
“One’s dead; the other’s alive… barely,” he replies to his winged friend. True, the raider is making noises and trying to struggle… feebly. The language is unlike anything Clancy has heard before, which he signifies by rubbing the back of his neck, frowning, and uttering a sigh.
“Sky’s clear at least. No more of ’em — not right now anyway. I’m fine — you?”
“Whadd’rya gonna do with that one?” Payne demands.
Ardul looks at Payne as the weapons goes off and raises an eyebrow. “That’s one way to disable it, I suppose.” As she says this, smoke rises from the remains of the drill behind her … she …. might not have a lot of room to speak.
“Keep it alive.” She says shortly, her tone of one used to command. “We can question it. And I’m fine. Winged a little, but I’ll survive.” She’d forgotten the injury she took in her battle. Blood seeps through her armour where the humanoids weapon penetrated and her face sets. Clancy and Hector may recognise that look – one of pain that’s being suppressed.
Joining the Drover as he stands over the downed creature, the blonde frowns and looks at Hector “Question it and find out what we can. This was a planned attack and I want to know what they’re after.” She glances down. “We’ll need a translator… ” She bends to inspect the power armour more closely. “If you don’t want us here, Hector, I’ll take this … you can accompany me, Clancy… and go … elsewhere.”“You know yer leakin’ a bit there, luv,” Clancy tells Ardul, pointing a finger at the worst of her injuries. Already he is fishing about in his pouch for something — and produces a phial of pale liquid. “Take this if ya like — don’ fret; it won’t turn ya into a frog or anything’. It’ll slow the bleedin’… if ya need it.”
“Keep it ALIVE?!” Payne half-exclaims, half-yells. Apparently the notion of questioning the raider has not quite occurred to the man, who is already pointing his gun at the prisoner.
“Point that thing some place away from my mates, Princess,” he tells Payne in a low voice. Grasper and Keeper look at the foreman, their mouths around the raider’s arms, growling.
Clancy looks back at Ardul. “Maybe we should take our little prisoner an’ go, eh? I know I got me some questions… Are you up ta carryin’ it? Or shall I strap it to the back o’ my Ooroo?” and he points a thumb back at Apanie.
Ardul gives Clancy a flat look. “As I said, winged…” She eyes the pale liquid, recoiling a little with a slight look of contempt on her face. It’s clearly Magic!! Or at least, she thinks it is. The bleeding is abating, albeit slowly and she takes the vial tentatively “What is it…” but the question fades as Hector points that weapon.
“I would suggest lowering your weapon, Sir.” Her tone now cold and commanding. Like she’s done this before. Faced down people holding weapons on her. “Or you might not like the consequences of your actions…” With a glance to Clancy, the blonde nods “We’ll go. I can carry it to your … Ooroo… ” the ‘dogs’ get a look, finally and the winged warrior nods to them as she bends “You both did well… ” beat “Well, come on then, Clancy. Daylights wasting.”
She glances at Hector as she hefts the body and turns “And you’re welcome.”
Seeking rumours and secrets, Clancy Drover and Ardul Trasinger come upon a mining town in the Appalachian mountains with some serious cyber-problems...
February 01, 2410