It’s been a few days since Felipe spoke to Hunter and Ardul about the Wolfen cruiser and getting back. The doctor must be busy or something. Still there’s lots of work for those who want it and Ardul seems to spend her time between Vesper and Sarens Rest. Today, it’s Sarens Rest and the winged warrior has been back from a mission into Vanished Point long enough to shower and change her clothing.
She’s slipped out to wander the market and then head to Rousseaus for a bite to eat. With the slightly warmer weather she’s just in her tunic and leggings, no coat, the scars on her neck and shoulders clearly visible as she wanders the market.
She’s just passing Grants stall, the draconic D-Bee who had said he’d have more equipment for Hunter, making her way slowly to the tavern.
Hunter certainly doesn’t need a coat. But he’s wearing it anyway. It’s not yet become warm enough for him to discard it and anyway it’s often windy in Saren’s Rest. He’s also headed toward Rousseau’s for a bite to eat and it’s probably not surprising that he’s passing near Grant’s stall though unlike Ardul he’s not here for extra gear. Just looking for some grub.
Ardul might regret the lack of a coat as the breeze kicks up a bit, sending her blonde hair flying and ruffling the feathers of her wings. Though to look at her, apart from trying to catch her hair, she doesn’t seem to be bothered by the chill on the breeze.
She’s not looking for gear, but talking to Grant, perhaps passing the time before going to eat. It’s not often she gets the luxury to simply be – not since arriving her and getting herself settled.
“Ho, Hunter.” Her voice calls out as the Wolfen passes the stall and she smiles at the Draconic D-Bee before turning to meet the Wolfen. “Thanks Grant. If he comes sniffing around again, let him know that I’m looking for him?”
“Sure thing, Ardul. Just didn’t want to cause you problems.” Grants smile is something truly terrifying but he flashes it anyway and waves to the Wolfen before moving to his next patron.Hunter turns to see Ardul and waves a small wave. “Hello. Out shopping?” He doesn’t bother greeting Grant. The man, the term is used loosely, is already helping another patron. Always busy. He looks like he should be tearing into things in the fighting pits but he always seems happier just tending his shop. Stall. Whatever you wish to call it.
“Not really…” the blonde answers as she joins “Finished an escort job into the city and found I had some time to spare. Thought I’d follow up on whoever was looking for me.” Casting the Wolfen a look, she gestures to Rousseau’s “I was just going to get something eat. Looks like you were heading that way, would you like to join me?” Or perhaps it’s her joining him. Either way.
Getting them moving again, Ardul is quiet for a long moment “I’ve not been able to track whoever it is down. They’re never at their lodgings, or whatever it is they gave Grant, when I’m there.” Which might mean the location given to Grant was ruse or the Winged woman is there at the wrong times.
“You look like a Wolf who needs to eat, though…”“I was yes. Food. Is important right now.” Surly as Hunter can be under certain circumstances, he’s much worse when he’s hungry. Ardul knows this. It’s important that he eat and soon or he’ll be tearing someone’s head off metaphorically if not literally.
The Wolfen stretches and sighs. “Been a long day. So, no luck locating your mysterious admirer. That’s odd. That’s damn odd. Suspicious too.”
“Then let’s get you fed before you start growling …” Ardul teases lightly, she knows he’s surly but some of that is about to be fixed as she leads them through the tavern. “My usual, thanks Rousseau.” she says to the balding elf behind the bar before finding a table and taking a seat, giving Hunter time to place his own order.
“Long day? Were you out in the city or something else?” She asks when he joins her. “And no. No luck finding my … admirer” that gets a ghost of a smile “What makes you say it’s suspicious?” She has her theories and her thoughts on the matter.
Now that Hunter’s closer he can see how tired she looks and the lines of tension that pull at her eyes.The wolfen has a seat at the table and orders some meat, veggies and a stiff drink. He seems to need it. Then he settles in to watch Ardul for a bit. She does seem tired and more than in just the ‘in need of sleep’ sense. She’s fatigured. Worn.
“So.” He says after food arrives and after he’s had a couple of drinks. “What’s eating you. I can see plain as day that something is.” He’s knows he’s not wrong. He can smell it as well as see it.
Watching Hunter watching her, Ardul’s silent till their meals arrive. Hers isn’t so different to the Wolfens, it’s nutricious and filling and that’s all she needs. “I could ask the same of you…” she says quietly, tucking into the meal and eating efficiently. It’s perhaps hard to believe that she might have eaten with Kings and Queens, or Princeps at least, just watching her. “You seem … tense.” She can’t scent like he does, but she’s noted the drinks and his general demeanour which seems more than his usual reticent mood.
The blonde shakes her head “I’m honestly not sure. I’ve been having dreams about Nina and the time we spent … incarcerated.” Another shrug and she looks at her plate “I know that sounds mundanely normal for a soldier and it is except the other morning when I awoke there was this …”
Pulling the tunic down her a shoulder a little, Hunter will see fresh wounds. Days old but not weeks or months, like the other scars that she sports.“Nothing that hasnt been bothering me for weeks.” The wolfen grunts and takes a long pull at his drink. Its beer. Its not particularly good beer either but it will work. Hunter looks back up after a moment.
“Is that unusual. Dreaming?” He pauses. “Youre hurt.”
Ardul is. Hurt, that is. The new wounds, there’s only two, are long and narrow, like something has cut into her flesh. The patterns are surprisingly similar to the scars that surround them.
“I see…” the blonde murmurs, watching the Wolfen as he answers. There’s not to say to that really, it is what it is. The beer isn’t particularly good, but as the winged warrior is finding out, nothing like that is here on Rifts Earth – not unless you can find something in Sarens Rest that might have survived from the Golden Age.
“I dream.” she answers his question “More so since I escaped and came here but also when they kept me prisoner. But these …” she gestures to her shoulder and shakes her head again “… I dreamt of this happening, the wounds being inflicted and when I awoke …” she doesn’t add more, they were there. “I’ve not slept much since then.”“You dreamed of being wounded and when you woke you were wounded. Is it at all possible you scratched yourself in your sleep?” It doesnt look like it but its a question he has to ask. If it isnt possible, then theyre dealing with something more in the realm of the paranormal and that is well outside Hunters expertise. Fortunately, Vesper isnt very far away.
The lack of sleep is a problem. Tired people make mistakes. Tired soldiers make mistakes that get them killed. Or other people killed.
If it is paranormal, it’s way outside Arduls as well. “I wondered that …” the blonde answers, places her hands on the table, palms down. The nails are trimmed short, functional and barely long enough to do anything, let along leave gauges like that. “… but I don’t think so, Hunter. I’m strong, I know that but it would take a lot get my nails to do that, don’t you think?”
Taking a long drink of that awful beer herself, Ardul’s grey eyes meet the Wolfs. “Could be psychosomatic, I suppose? The dream felt so real, that my body opened new wounds…” She’s stretching, she knows. That’s a rather extreme manifestation of her stress. “I’m not sure I like what the options may be otherwise.” she sighs “And whilst I’m used to working on little sleep, if this continues, the lack of sleep is going to cause me problems.” She echoes his thoughts.
“What do you know about the Doctor here?” She’s not sure he’s got the right credentials to help her.
“Doc Styles is good. Came from back West somewhere and has a proper education if not the best equipment. But he can only help you if the problem is physical.” Hunter is sure they can dismiss pychosomatic out of hand. No ones body behaves like that.
“If it isnt you’ll have to find a mage or priest or something and get them to tell you what it is. If they know”” Which they might not. Plenty of strange out there after all.
“Best equipment seems to be a problem across the board, here.” Ardul says quietly again. “I was wondering if he might … well you’ve answered that. I suppose I’ll need to stop at the Restorium in Vesper, speak to the staff there. Maybe they’ll be able to recommend someone.” Clearly it’s not her favourite place.
“I’ve got patrol out that way in the next couple of days, I’ll stop by then.” Hopefully they’ll be able to help. But maybe not. “How are you situated for work for at the moment? I’ve got a job coming up out in Vanished Point and I need someone I can trust. Pays fairly well and there could be some good salvage from it.” Those eyes meet his again “And I won’t change contract in the field.”“I’ve always got work if I want it. Benefits of having a privately owned robot like I do. Everyone wants to be your friend…” The wolfen’s words are dry. He’s experienced what ‘friend’ means in some places and to some people and it’s not always what everyone else means by it.
“Into Vanished Point? Is it a salvage run or what?” There’s lots of work in Saren’s Rest and Hunter takes his share of it. Mostly it’s sitting in his bot and being the big guns but not always.
“Aren’t they all salvage runs of some sort?” Ardul asks, taking a long pull from her mug as she watches Hunter. She doesn’t have the same amount of work as the Wolfen even though she’s gaining some reputation. “More a research run, though. A mage wants to go in and monitor the rift activity around Tower Six.”
Tower Six is a megalithic building in the lower menagerie of Vanished Point. It’s enormous but in a city that is made up of megaliths, it’s just ‘another’ building. Problem is, that lower menagerie is full of dimensional instabilities and monsters, so many monsters, that getting around normally needs some fire power.
“Depending on how far we get in, we might find something worth bringing back.” If they aren’t busy fending off some form of nasties. “Pays well though.”
Ardul grimaces and rubs her other shoulder, blood starting to seep through her tunic. Hunter might well notice the recent arrival of a man, who’s skulking by a table near the door. Not so unusual except they seem to have their attention focussed on the pair.The wolfen does notice but he doesn’t say anything yet. Getting attention isn’t unusual in and of itself. While Saren’s Rest is full of D-Bees, he and Ardul are still unusual. She more than he. Wolfen are pretty common in this part of the continent which is itself a bit unusual. He hadn’t been expecting to find that.
“Tower Six, mmm? I know the area. I could go with you, sure.” That he’s agreeing speaks volumes. Whether or not they’re volumes Ardul likes is up to her.
It’s true they draw their own fair share of attention, Ardul’s learned to ignore it for the most part. What Hunter probably does notice is that the man is gesturing with his hands and he’s holding a feathered talisman.
“Thank you. There aren’t many that I trust here, yet. They want to go in, in a couple of days.” the blonde answers, looking in consternation at the blood on her fingers and moving her tunic again. On her shoulder, another slice mark is appearing – it’s small at the moment but growing longer. “What …”
As for speaking volumes, the winged warrior wouldn’t dare presume. She knows that he doesn’t work with just anyone.Hunter’s eyes flick from the gesturing and then watches as Ardul winces.
Saren’s Rest is an interesting kind of place when it comes to the law. Mostly the sheriff isn’t concerned with violence of the citizens. Only anything that threatens the town as a whole. Consequently the place has a ‘frontier’ atmosphere. It’s a good idea to watch your back in town.
And it’s a good idea to not get caught doing anything someone might object to.
“Duck.” Is all Hunter says. And then he goes for his gun, drawing with practiced precision, leveling and shooting right through where Ardul would have been and at the talisman man’s shoulder. He’s going to loose an arm. At best.
It’s strange really that Ardul doesn’t even question Hunter when he gives his instruction. She just … ducks. Many people would hesitate or question such a thing. The winged warrior doesn’t, she just moves. Maybe it’s her soldiers training or maybe it’s something more, doesn’t matter at the moment. There’s a gun being shot right over her head.
Hunters aim is good, the best one might say, and hits the mans shoulder bringing a scream of pain. Yes, a scream. The man falls to his knees, his arm a ruined mess, still gesturing with his other hand, the air around him shimmering and he starts to fade.
“What …” the blonde says again, turning to look where Hunter was aiming. “… was that…”Hunter rises from his table, flipping it and upsetting the chairs. He starts to unload at the man. One shot after another after another after another. He’s got five more. Why not? Also he’s not pleased.
Rousseau’s place isn’t usually violent so it’s likely a shock to the other patrons. Rousseau is good about keeping the riffraff out. Apparently today he didn’t notice.
Rousseau wouldn’t necessarily have seen this man come in or at least he might have seen him but they seem pretty normal. Well normal for Rifts Earth. That they were going to do something so … foolish … wouldn’t have been identified.
As Hunter starts to unload on the mage, the air around him shimmers more and he fades but not before least one of Hunters rounds hits him again. In the space where the mage had been is a piece of his cloak that had been torn free and a part of a grey/black feather.
Arduls not far behind Hunter, leaving the table and chair as they are and ignoring the other patrons who are moving out of the way. “What on earth … was he doing?” She might have an idea but doesn’t really want to think about it. Magic is a bit an anathema to her.“Magic.” Hunter flips the cylinder on his weapon open and reloads it. The mage could always come back… but he probably won’t. Still, bad to have an empty weapon on your person. He leans down and picks up the feather that was dropped when he shot the man a second time and holds it up to Ardul, comparing the coloration on it to that of her wings.
He suspects it’s a pretty good match, truth be told. But he needs to check.
Ardul sighs, adjusting the neck of her tunic to cover the new wound and looks at the feather that Hunter holds up. “You think it’s mine?” she says quietly, unfurling her wings and presenting one so they can check for a match.
As much of a match as they can anyway. The colouration is certainly a match.
The blonde swallows, looking at Hunter and looking a little green. “First, are you ok? He didn’t do … anything did he?” Shaking herself she starts to move again, righting the table and chairs “I understand” she says quietly, after a few moments “that personal effects can be used to target individuals. I suppose it’s to much to imagine that he wasn’t trying something…”“Not to me no. He was slicing you up though. I think we can safely say this was yours given that it was being used against you.” The wolfen hands the feather back and sighs.
“I’m fine. I shot him. He won’t be happy with me but he’s also minus an arm so I can deal with that.” Given who the mage is, if he seeks revenge he’s most likely to try something like what he tried on Ardul. Protection for that kind of thing can be bought. It means a trip to Vesper, but it’s possible.
“I know you did…” Ardul answers, taking the feather, still looking worried. “This isn’t all of the feather either so I guess I can expect more?” she sighs as well, resisting the urge to rub her shoulder. “It might explain what happened the other night then …”
Maybe. Perhaps. Probably. It’s unlikely he needs to be able to see the blonde but it’s worrying how they affected her when she was in her apartment.
“If he’s minus an arm, he’ll need some form of medical attention and hopefully it will put him out of action for a bit.” She looks at the table she’s just righted and around the Tavern. Rousseau is looking at them but, perhaps wisely, hasn’t approached yet “Did you want to stay here or walk for a bit?” Clearly the blonde isn’t ready to be alone just yet.“Well I don’t know. Hopefully he’ll be hurt enough to not be casting for a bit.” Mages generally need to speak and gesture to cast. Certainly he could do it with his other arm but he may need time to… relearn how. Any delay will be helpful.
“Why don’t we…” Damn it, Hunter hasn’t eaten yet. He looks over at Rousseau as if to say ‘what’s taking so long?’
“Uh, I need dinner before anything else…”
“Dinner it is then …” Ardul hasn’t eaten either and it had quite slipped her mind. Unlike Hunter, the blonde doesn’t get anywhere near as growly. Just don’t ask her recruits about it, they’ll sing a different tune.
“On it’s way, Hunter …” the elf calls out still watching the pair, eyes flicking from them to the space where the mage had been. “And yours too, Ardul.” It’s probably a good thing he likes them, otherwise they might be out of there.
“I don’t know about that, Hunter. He seemed to cast just fine to disappear.” The blonde nods to Rousseau in acknowledgement and holds her mug in mute request.
There’ll be more of that bad beer arriving with the food, somehow she thinks they both need it.
“Thank you, by the way, for your quick action.”They might be and it’d probably be a pretty safe thing in a town like this. Then again, Hunter eats like a… wolf… so he does spend a lot of money here.
“You’d be surprised what you can do when your life is on the line. I don’t think he’ll be back any time soon but I’ll keep an eye out. And you’re welcome.” The wolfen rights the table he’d upended and grabs his chair to sit back down. This involves a walk. His chair is several feet away.
They’re also reliable and professional and Rousseau sometimes needs people he can trust when asked for recommendations.
“It’s just a little unnerving. I’m wondering why me, though. What does he get from it?” That someone is asking around about her and now this seems just too coincidental, but who knows? It could just be circumstancial.
Once Hunter is seated again, the blonde looks over “Do keep an eye out, I’d hate for you to get hurt because of me.” But he’s told her he’s hard to kill and he’ll take trouble to whoever brings it to him.
“You sound like you’ve had more than enough experience with what you can do when your lifes on the line. You’ve told me a bit about it, but not much.” She doesn’t push for information, but she’s interested. She knows though, many soldiers don’t (or even can’t) talk about they saw or did.
Rousseau is making his way towards them with their food and new drinks.Hunter shrugs. “Whether I get hurt or not has little to do with you.” Which may or may not be true. Perhaps that’s just his way of saying ‘don’t worry about it.’ Certainly he isn’t, at least outwardly. Whether or not it concerns him at all is something only he knows. He’d be a fool not to be at least a little concerned though. And Hunter is no fool.
“I have. Comes with the territory. You’ll find out if you stay here long enough to really live the life. Lot of folk I know live for those moments when life and death is on the line.” Another shrug. “I’m not one of them though. I live for this.” Food. Hot food. Too often a rarity. And he’s going to have it. Now.