Ardul has been unsettled since the news of her people and the information Hunter had extracted from the nanites. So far, no physical changes were noticeable and they shouldn’t be, given the ‘command node’ had been disabled. Still, she checks.
In order to put her mind on other things, the blonde has sought Kaji out and offered more training. Which is why there’s the sound of humming blades and the scuffing of feet as they move.
She’s not going easy on the youth either, pressing the attack when she can, dancing backwards. Trying to tease him out into a situation that pits him against her strength and not skill.
How well has he learned from past lessons?
When you know that you don’t have enough in terms of strength against your opponent, you know you have to play it smarter, not harder. Kaji’s movements are controlled as he can manage them to be, his eyes flicking between Ardul and her blade to try anticipating where she might move or what her next intention might be. He keeps his own blade close, his own attacks quick, the hold on his plasma sword’s hilt firm.
Even with blades of energy, Kaji can feel the force of the Valkyr’s strikes as blade impacts blade. Whenever their blades lock, he angles to try getting it to move past him rather than attempt to push against a wall.
He may be a nerd for thinking of comics and such for reference of best methods to fight, but there’s basis to some things, and applied with what he’s learned from Ardul, makes a lot more sense.
“Well he hasn’t cut his hand off yet. I’d say you taught him well ish.” Hunter has taken on the role of peanut gallery for this. He’s also been eating something crunchy and whiteish which looked a bit like popcorn but for the fact that it apparently has legs. Some kind of insect that’s a local delicacy? Or something more exotic? Whatever it is the wolfen seems to like them.
If asked, he’s mentioned that the constant quips are simulating the sorts of distractions that might occur in battle. Which makes sense even if Kaji maybe correctly thinks that he’s just having a bit of fun at the young man’s expense.
There’s a short pause and the wolfen’s ear perks and swivels, as if he’s listening to something outside.
“Or his arm, or his leg…” Ardul agrees with Hunter as she brings the blade down with her strength but just as the youth tries to let it slide by, she pulls back again. She’s quick, as well as strong, which is a little unfair to Kaji but … given what they’re going up against, it might save his life.
“Again …” she says but puts her hand up quickly enough, turning to look at Hunter as his ears swivel. “What is it, Lord?”
“Thanks–” Clash, sidestep- “–for the vote-” A hop back- “-of confidence!” Kaji finishes with a grunt as he brings his blade back into a middle defensive stance again with Ardul’s retreat. And yes, he was being a bit sarcastic in his response, obvious by tone of his voice although he’s at least kept his attention upon Ardul rather than let it stray towards Hunter.
At the Valkyr’s word the young necromancer’s already making his move, easily halted as he’d but taken a step when she’d signaled. He too looks over at the other then, head tilting before he glances around.
“Someone’s just come opened the door.” Hunter turns curiously. Opening the door in this not quite public place isn’t necessarily alarming but it’s always something to be mindful of.
And then Hunter winces and yelps. There’s… nothing happening that any one can tell but the wolfen is covering his ears and doubling over in obvious pain.
“NOW!” A trio of Iyesgarthians burst into the room, weapons at the ready. Crucially… they appear to be using local weapons and not Iyesgarthian plasma swords.
“Lord!!” Ardul is already moving towards Hunter as he covers his ears. “Kaji… ‘ware…” She knows what’s been done and she can guess by who. “Kaji, if you can, find the source of the sound that’s afflicted Hunter. We need his guns.” It’s not clear that the youth will even be able to, but the blonde flows into action, placing herself between Hunter and the trio.
Her blade hums and without hesitation she closes on the first one, seeking to disable but not kill.
The question running through her mind is … how did they find them?
It doesn’t take much of a guess for Kaji to figure out what’s happened with Hunter, given his reaction and the distinct lack of an actual sound- at least in his range of hearing. “Well that’s dirty,” he mutters, eyeing the Iyesgarthians that force their way in. That they don’t seem to be using fancy weapons of the buzz-buzz potentially-literally-disarming sort is a mild comfort.
“Got it,” Kaji replies to Ardul, his eyes not leaving the three intruders. Easier said than done, but he figures it must be something localized, and if not on their attackers, then somewhere inside the building..?
Either way, he can’t do much with these guys in the way, so when Ardul moves to attack, so does he, whether she intended a flanking maneuver or not. His blade thrumming, he lashes out at another of the winged ones, trying to disarm them of their weapon and not of their limbs.
The one that Ardul attacks dances back, trying to avoid her. One of her companions brings something to bear and fires a sonic blast at her. Non-lethal. Which is interesting. “Ardul! Snap out of it! Come on, fight!”
That voice. She knows it. It’s one of her subordinates. Importantly… this group doesn’t seem to be wearing the face concealing masks their other attackers seem to favor.
The sound. It’s not obvious where it’s coming from, but it’s probably mobile and coming from one of the attackers.
One of whom is pointing a laser gun at him. “Don’t move. We don’t want to hurt you.”
The effects of the sonic blast don’t knock the blonde around, they do cause her to feel momentarily nauseous and disoriented. It slows her attack and makes her swing go wide. That, combined with the voice and the words are enough to make her take stock of the situation. These ones wings aren’t tipped red …
“Hold!” Her voice snaps out to Kaji, gesturing for him to take up formation with her and her energy blade stays active in front of her. “Turn off the device that is affecting my Lord and we will talk … Sargent Gretchen.” beat “And you will not harm my companions… ” She’s still disoriented from the sonic blast but it’s clear she has her wits about her.
Do these blades absorb or deflect shots from guns like that? Kaji can’t help but wonder. It’s not like he’d been able to experiment with something like that. His lips pulled into a thin line, he keeps his eyes trained on the Iyesgarthians as he steps back, moving towards Ardul’s position. At least she’s still able to speak, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
“If you didn’t want to hurt us you wouldn’t have barged in with weapons,” he points out flatly, keep his own blade in a ready position as well, even if he seems to relax his stance.
The device affecting Hunter does not turn off and the wolfen remains doubled over, incapacitated by what feels like someone trying to drive an ice pick through his skull.
“Your companions? Ardul, it’s me. Yes. Gretchen. These aren’t your friends. They’ve done something to you Ardul. That creature you call Lord, he’s trapped you with some kind of… technology. Fight it!”
The one on Kaji doesn’t waver but also doesn’t move any closer to him. “I don’t want to hurt YOU, human. The furry one we don’t care quite so much about.”
Hunter, who might not be hearing any of this, has his metal hand coming off his ears and slowly creeping gunward… which would only make this worse. Ardul must understand what’s going on by now.
“No, he hasn’t Gretchen…” Ardul’s voice is low and she glances to Kaji with a speaking look. Be ready. If Hunter gets his hand on that gun there’s no telling who he will shoot. “Did Hyfil send you? Or was it Nina’s Uncle?” There’s a sadness in her voice. She had thought, hoped, for a moment that these were rebels like herself.
But it doesn’t seem so. It seems they’ve been subverted as well – perhaps differently but it seems they have.
“It is Hyfil and Nina’s Uncle that have tried to trap me time and time again. I can see the transmitters we used to signal our mounts have been modified. The ones that are fitted on our shoulder pieces.” That’s a hint to Kaji. The blonde has worked that out.
As to the rest, she’s not sure if they’re Hyfil’s creatures or … something else. Either way, Kaji needs to disable sound and he now knows where.
There’s only so much that can be relayed in a look, although in this instance it seems enough. And while Kaji may not understand the further implications regarding the possibility of a maddened Wolfen taking action, he does know that there’s a risk at the very least. The unheard sound is still incapacitating Hunter, after all, and with nothing much else to retort, Kaji instead listens as Ardul engages the other Iyesgarthians in conversation.
Shoulder-mounted transmitters, huh…
The necromancer finally eases out of his at-ready stance, his blade hissing as he thumbs it off. He looks at the one who’s been keeping an eye on him. “That’s good to know. I don’t like hurting people either, but you’re still hurting our friend. We can’t have that.” Kaji himself? Does nothing. But from where his jacket is draped over a chair on the side of the room by where Hunter sits, a handful of little paper beetles crawl out of a pocket and take flight, aiming to dive-bomb the pauldrons of the Iyesgarthians.
The beetles… detonate on the shoulderpads and throw the people wearing them into something of disarray. Hunter comes up from his doubled over stance with a weapon in hand and points it right at Gretchen’s head. “Don’t move!” He growls.
No one moves. Fortunately.
“We don’t belong to Hyfil. And you don’t belong to anyone. No one is your Lord except Nina, rightful ruler of Iyesgarth. We… we came to free you Ardul. And you can’t tell me you don’t need it.”
Gretchen looks hurt, confused and betrayed. This isn’t how she expected this to go.
No less than Ardul does, but she hides it well. Hunter will know and Kaji will see the fleeting look before her usual soldierly mien replaces it. “I … don’t, Gretchen. At least not as you think. Hyfil tried to change me but Hunter … saved me. In the process …” she shakes her head. She doesn’t need to explain this. It just is.
“If you had taken time to observe us, you would know that I’m hunted.” There’s a look to Hunter and then to Kaji. “Check them over, make sure they aren’t carrying trackers or implants or nanites…”
Then back to Gretchen “And where is Nina? Do you have her?”
Kaji himself remains unmoving although his attention hasn’t wavered from the three, even with Hunter’s immediate jumping back into things. He clips his plasma blade to his belt again before stepping towards the other Iyesgarthians as Ardul addresses them again.
“Weapons please,” he insists. It’d make everyone a lot less jumpy if they could chat without them, and if they’re offered, he’ll gather them up to set aside by where the Wolfen sits before looking for the things Ardul specifically tells them to check for.
“Wait, how can we tell if they have implants or nanites?” He frowns a bit. Not like he has a scanner.
Hunter tosses something that looks like a wand toward Kaji. “Wolfen scanner. Use that. If the end lights up red they have nanites.”
Weapons are handed over. Hunter keeps his gun on his erstwhile opponents but the weapons and the negative scan that Kaji soon finishes are good ways to bring the tension in the room down.
“We do not. She was being kept safe by a group of us but when her guard was compromised she went on the run. We haven’t seen her since or had contact with those who were travelling with her.”
Gretchen looks first to Hunter and then to Kaji. “If these are not your captors then the human is your… apprentice? Servant?” Beat. “Intended?”
There’s, of course, no real reason to think that. The winged woman is just trying to make sense of what’s going on.
Ardul is tense and she stands next to Wolfen, her wings moving slightly in agitation. “We’ve been working on the tech since I was infected, Kaji. Hunter has been able to … interact … with the nanites affecting me. He can tell you the results in a moment.” That’s certainly going to raise some eyebrows from Gretchen, Hildegard and Brunhilde.
“I have many questions, I will want a full report from you Sargent but for now. How did you get to Earth and on which world was Nina last seen, and where?” The question from the other blonde – and yes, the women are all blonde with giant grey/black wings, draws a stern smile. “This is Kaji. He was my Charge but he passed the trial so is no longer. I call him, Friend. And this Hunter.” beat “This is Gretchen, Hildegard and Brunhilde.”
“Nifty.” It’s a reminder of how much Kaji misses tech-y stuff. Once the scanning’s done and the all-clear’s verified, he twirls the scanner between his fingers as he walks back to Hunter to return the thing.
The information passed is concerning. With no one certain of Nina’s whereabouts, it wasn’t likely to put anyone at ease given what the actual enemy had told them regarding their misplaced ruler. Kaji frowns, folding his arms. At Gretchen’s question he squints over at her. A nod is given their way once the three Iyesgarthians are introduced by Ardul.
“Pleased to meet you.” Hunter is not pleased to meet them. They introduced themselves by giving him the world’s most massive headache. “I’ll explain everything… shortly. Right now I’m going to clean up.” And suppress the urge to strangle them.
He glances to Kaji and Ardul. “Carry on, if you like.” He’ll be back and everything is in hand here.
Ardul suppresses a sigh as Hunter leaves. She’ll stay and question the women, make sure they’re secure and not going to cause mischief for them and then seek out the Wolfen … later.
For now, she’s a lot to work through.
“Kaji, would you see about getting us some food and then we’ll find out what’s going on …”
It’s going to be a long afternoon.
A training session interrupted. Ardul, Hunter and Kaji are confronted by a trio of Iyesgarthians... who seem to have some misunderstandings.
May 22, 2411