It had taken Hunter and Ardul some time to get from the Saurian village to Vesper. It was a long enough journey without transporting an injured being and longer still given they searched from some of the survivors of the raid.
Magewyn had been taken to the Restorium and cared for although her recovery had been slow. The wound that had been treated by Robot Med Kit needed more attention than either the Wolfen or the Winged Warrior could provide.
Magewyn is resting in one of the garden areas of the Restorium, sitting by a babbling pool of water, a far away look in her eyes. Ardul has just entered the area and pauses for the moment, to observe the setting – her wings rustling restlessly on her back, a sure sign the Valkyr is worried about something.
“No! Bad George!”
So much for a peaceful resting area. Something darts out into the open, a feline creature little over two feet in length with black tuft-tipped ears and a golden coat mottled in brown and black patches along its bath. It stops abruptly as soon as it scents that it’s not the only one out here, crouching slightly, statue-still.
Not long after the big cat’s arrival comes the odd sound of footsteps, a mismatched thump-tap, thump-tap and scrape along the paving stones. Pegi emerges from one of the passageways leading back into the Restorium’s building itself, looking about in mild annoyance. Her amber eyes fix upon the cat, and she once again moves forward, albeit a little more quietly- as much as she can manage with one metal leg, anyway- so that she can reach the oversized cat to grab before he runs off again.
Hunter is not wearing his signature red duster, though he is as ever armed. Without the duster his cybernetic arm is much more obvious, a contrast to his otherwise sleek furred form. He is at the moment leaning on a pillar just inside the garden area and speaking to one of the nursing staff in hushed tones.
There had been a couple of other survivors from the village, most of whom are being cared for in one of the other wards. Their wounds had been more serious. Magewyn hasn’t spoken several hours, not since they arrived in Vesper really. She hasn’t spoken. Hasn’t moved. Hasn’t seemed alive but for her breathing. When George arrives though the lizard-woman turns to what disturbs her reverie.
“Hunter.” Ardul says quietly, rolling her shoulders and settling her wings against her back, as she joins the Wolfen, touching a hand to his arm in greeting. “Sorry I’m late. The guardsmen needed to talk about some training for some of them.” The blonde has certainly found a place for herself here, it seems.
Nodding to the nursing staff, the blonde watches Magewyn carefully, catching up to the conversation as the other two talk. She’s not in her armour today rather she’s wearing soft leggings and a tunic, the scars over her shoulders that run down her back somewhat visible.
As the golden mottled cat arrives and Pegi’s voice carries through the courtyard, Ardul turns and goes even stiller … “Hello, Pegi.”
By then Pegi’s collected the cat, who despite its size and obviously wild origins seems content to dangle limply from the young Saurian’s grasp. Lifting her head, she looks around at those who are out here, now that she doesn’t have to worry about George running off again. Her attention pauses upon Magewyn first, amber eyes blinking before she looks towards Ardul and Hunter, somewhat guardedly, although they had brought her little brother home in one piece. That’s about the least to be said, anyway.
“Ardul,” she says, nodding to the winged woman and then to the wolfen. “Hunter.”
“Pegi.” Hunter nods to the woman and to Ardul to acknowledge her. She is a bit late but he hadn’t particularly been going anywhere.
At the voice Magewyn’s eyes turn to Pegi. She cants her head and her nostrils flare. “You’re not of the village.” The tone is one of confusion. The suarian magus had not expected to see another of her kind here that was not from her village.
Hunter’s ears tilt toward Magewyn. That’s the first thing she’s said in hours.
Also that cat is huge.
“She hasn’t said anything?” The blonde Valkyr settles next to Hunter, eyeing that cat with wary eyes. It is huge and for all that Ardul is warrior and a Knight, predators like that seem to like things with wings … So she’s careful.
“Is that a companion, Pegi?” She asks quietly but looks to Magewyn as the magus speaks “This is Pegi, Magewyn. She is a friend of the Doctor who accompanied with Hunter and myself. Pegi, this is Magewyn…”
She doesn’t try to explain, not yet, how they all know each other.
Ardul’s question towards her coaxes a bit of a smile and simultaneously eases a bit of the tension. “George is George. Felipe named him!” she says, almost proudly at that as she scratches the cat’s head. Lifting George over a shoulder like an overgrown baby, the Saurian turns to better regard the other Saurian. She tilts her head as Ardul offers the confused one explanation.
“Ah! You know little brother Felipe? Pegi thinks he mentioned you.” She bows her head, supposing she should show some respect towards a clan head. Her lack of part of a leg and a big cat over a shoulder make a bit difficult to do anything more.
“Your brother… yes…” Magewyn’s voice is somewhat distant, enough that Pegi might suspect that something is wrong, or has recently been. “Felipe. The one who was… the spirit’s vessel. Though the last time I saw him ‘he’ was a very fetching Saurian she…”
If Felipe hasn’t mentioned that, it may well be news. That he was, you know, recently a saurian woman. The memory is enough to make Hunter snort. That had been one of the more amusing parts of that trip.
“George, mmm?” He is not surprised Pegi’s brother named the thing.
“That’s as much as she’s said since this morning.” Hunter murmurs to Ardul aside.
“George…” Ardul shakes her head as Pegi hugs that cat like a baby. “It never fails to amaze me how the beings on Rifts Earth make the most dangerous of things their pets. George there looks like it could fillet Pegi without blinking an eyelid and yet seems happy as it is.” She murmurs to Hunter, giving him a sidelong look at the snort.
“Maybe Pegi will get her talk about what she saw. We’re in desperate need of information.”
“Magewyn’s village was attacked, Pegi. Hunter and I rescued her but she was badly injured. We were hoping to find out more about what happened. Would you … help us? Please?”
“Pegi came to tell people here Felipe is resting. Had to carry him home the other day!” She snorts. “Always being busy. Had to take George so he not sleep on Felipe.” Or chew on his head.
The Saurian looks back at Magewyn, nodding although she looks unhappy about that reminder. “Yes,” she grunts. “Little brother come home. Smell funny.” And of course she’d made him explain what had happened. But her upset shifts into something more in concern when Ardul speaks up again. Pegi looks at them, scaly brow knit beneath the bone helmet she wears. With her uneven steps she turns herself about, moving closer to the older Saurian.
“You feel better? Do you know what happened?” she asks.
Mageyn’s eyes narrow to near pinpricks and for a moment – a very long moment – she doesn’t answer. Hunter and Ardul have tried asking her specifically what happened but she hasn’t been able to talk about it. Not to them.
“Something… came for us. It came to the holy place. Our hunters disappeared when they went. Hours later the hunters return but… wrong. They try to take others. We fight. They scatter into the swamp… and surround us.”
Her breathing has quickened. Her eyes are not seeing anything here in this room at this time. They’re seeing something else.
“And then it came. A huge hall on two legs. And the black shelled bug men…”
Ardul glances at Hunter as Magewyn speaks, this is more information then they could gather. Admittedly, Magewyn had been gravely injured and it’s possible she blames the pair for what happened.
“The Hunters were implanted with mind control tech, Pegi.” The blonde says quietly from the side. She doesn’t move to join the Saurians, just adds the scant information they have “It overrode their personalities and connected them together mentally. I haven’t had chance to examine the tech we found in detail but it was certainly effective.”
Silent save for the soft rumble that would amount to George’s purring, Pegi listens as Magewyn relates what had happened. What the other Saurian describes is troubling indeed, frightening, even, but that’s something Pegi won’t admit. It’s apparent enough as it colors her expression, her worried gaze glancing towards Hunter and Ardul before she looks back at Magewyn.
Slowly she lowers the big cat to the ground, pressing his rump down with a hand as she murmurs, “Stay.” Then she moves closer, reaching for Magewyn’s hand, wanting to will some support as she could. Mind control..? It truly is a scary thing to think of. Others of her kind made to fight their own, not by their own will, but someone else’s. She’d be mad if she weren’t so worried for Magewyn right now.
“…and then…?” she prompts the other Saurian hesitantly, reluctant to stir such terrible memories.
“We fought…” Magewyn almost sobs. “When we saw we couldn’t win some of us tried to hold them back while the rest ran. Many were taken. Some made it into the swamps where the hunters were still waiting.” There’s another long pause. “I don’t know if they made it out.” Another pause. “I should have died…”
Hunter blows out a sigh. That much he had suspected but it’s horrifying to hear. Then Magewyn starts speaking again.
“One came out of the walking hall in black armor. He went into the village hall and took many of our relics from the sacred places. Then they all left.”
Those relics, Pegi may or may not remember, are all bits of Wolfen technology…
“We searched for survivors as best we could when we returned.” Ardul says quietly to Pegi. “We didn’t find any. That doesn’t mean there are none, just not where we looked. The swamp is a big place, after all.” The blonde is hopeful that there are some survivors and they’ll return to the village soon.
“Was the one in black armour the one with wings like mine?” The blonde asks, pitching her voice to be as soothing as possible. Magewyn had mentioned that when they collected her from the burnt out village.
“…no. If you die, no one would know. And they who come against you not be repaid,” Pegi growls lowly, even if she looks like she might cry herself. She continues to hold onto Magewyn’s hand. It’s not a pleasant feeling, helplessness. She knows it, being young, not yet a full-fledged warrior. But she knows it must only be amplified for one who leads an entire village. There are those of her kind who would think it more honorable to die with the rest, but others would take it as an afront upon their people, no matter the clan.
Pegi glances back at Hunter. She’d thought that they had gone to take care of whatever items and remnants of his people as he claimed were there. “You not know who they are? Who come and take those things?” Her tone isn’t accusatory, but she figures a Wolfen would know who would find interest in his tech.
“Yes… wings… Wings like a bloodhawk.” Which is interesting. Blood hawks aren’t… feathered, per se. They’re definitely avian but not quite like Ardul. So… nomenclature unclear.
“I have a guess, but only a guess.” Hunter rumbles quietly. “Whomever it is, they’ve very likely been doing the same to others across the continent for the last five years or more.” Possibly much more, it just… depends.
“Bloodhawk…” Ardul murmurs, unconsciously moving closer to the Wolfen. She’d need to see the being to be sure, but Magewyn had described something akin to Iyesgarthian Commando previously. Ardul could just be jumpy because of the attempts on Hunter by her own people, though.
“A guess is better than nothing, Hunter. It might give us somewhere to start looking. I somehow don’t think it’s the Xiticicks doing this directly. It feels more like they’re pawns, moved like pieces across a chess board.”
Pegi seems horrified to hear that it’s gone on for so long. Five years is half of her life already. She looks carefully to Ardul. “…know them?” The winged woman wouldn’t have asked such a specific question if she hadn’t suspected something. Pegi herself isn’t sure whether to be angry at the two or not, but she knows she can’t blame them. They had wanted to stop something from happening. At least, Pegi had thought they had done so when they’d taken Felipe. Something else is going on and she’s not certain she understands, but she knows it definitely needs to be dealt with.
At her feet, George raises his head, growling as though sensing the Saurian’s distress. Pegi pries one of her hands from Magewyn’s to brush over the cat’s head.
“Whoever they are, must be stopped. What they do with what they take? What do they want? Do you know?”
“Too many questions.” Hunter shakes his head. “But I do know they’ve been using wolven computers to link their… victims. Possibly control them remotely.”
Living beings, turned into computer controlled puppets. And if they’ve been doing it for years, possibly quite a lot of living beings.
“It may have something to do with Ardul’s homeworld. Not that we have any way to check right now. All I know for certain is that they wound up headed south, deeper into the swamp. Maybe looking for more targets. Maybe just to hide for a while. I doubt they’ve gone away though. They’re looking for Wolfen beacons, same as I am.”
And that means there’s a greater-than-zero chance that Hunter will run into them again as he keeps looking.
“Only what I’ve seen, Pegi.” Ardul answers, watching Magewyn as the older saurian seems to settle.
“The tech we’ve found, whilst based on Wolfen tech is familiar to me. A derivative work, maybe. I have some to examine before I can begin to hypothesize.”
“Given we haven’t seen or heard from them again, I’m going with ‘hiding in the south’.” The blonde says dryly before looking back to Pegi “This is why we were so concerned about the Sacred Place. It calls these things to them and they leave little alive behind.”
“Are you able to help Magewyn recover?” They might ask Pegi for more help later as well.
Too many questions, perhaps, but questions are all that Pegi has, and the two seem to know at least a little more. She’d yell at them, but they’ve been trying to find out what’s been happening too, if she’s understanding things correctly. Trying to keep from blurting out things, the young Saurian thinks, frowning as Hunter mentions that their quarry may be further south. She looks unsettled by that, or rather the implication that they might yet strike again, but then that’s understandable considering that her own clan dwells in the swamplands. It may be a broad expanse of swamp, but having whatever these things or people around and attacking other Saurian clans is no reassurance.
“…has Hunter found more?” she asks, drawing her hand away from George as the cat seems to settle again.
At Ardul’s question, Pegi looks back at Magewyn, sadly. “…Pegi not doctor. …but maybe Magewyn need to see her kind, near…” If they’d said she hadn’t spoken until just today when she’d seen Pegi… “Pegi try helping.”
“I’ve found a lot of them over the years. They keep… turning on. Long story. Hundreds of years old wolfen tech reactivating. Someone or something is making that happen… and I think they’ve been showing up to them when I haven’t gotten to them first.” Certainly he’s come upon places that have been… emptied. He’s never understood how or why until recently.
“When I find another I will let you know. In the mean time I need to see about repairs and ammunition for the Gunwolf. If you want to stay with Magewyn I’m sure the staff will let you.”
He glances to Ardul. He’s on his way out now.
“I think it will help if you stay with her for a bit.” Ardul smiles to Pegi, the hard planes of her face softening as she does.
“Maybe you can tell her about how you found George … and why on earth you keep him near you.” That still amazes the blonde. Taking predators as ‘pets’.
At Hunter’s glance, the blonde slips her arm through his and raises an eyebrow. They’ve both got to work to do, but they’re going in the same direction. “My afternoon is yours, Hunter.” Sort of. “Take care Pegi. I’ll check in on Magewyn in the next day or so.”
Pegi likes stories, but in this case she has little patience. At least, this moment. But she looks grateful at Hunter’s assurance that he’d tell her when he found another one. Not if. When.
She nods, shifting her weight to her good foot almost absently so she can hook George with her metal one and pull him back when it appears he might follow after the pair. “Pegi will do that, then. Next time, George, you can make friends,” she says, the latter to the cat who stares after Ardul. Nodding after them, she moves to seat herself beside the quiet Saurian, the big cat clambering up beside Pegi to try draping itself over a shoulder.
Ardul and Hunter are at the Restorium checking up on the wounded Saurian they'd brought in and come across Pegi.
August 03, 2410
Felipe Emilio Corazon Usnavi