Ardul finally has time to look at the implants she’d retrieved from the droned Saurians. They’re different to Iyesgarthian tech but they’re familiar enough. Either they’ve incorporated Iyesgarthian tech or Iyesgarthian tech had evolved from something like this.
She isn’t sure and that’s part of what she’s trying to find out.
Sitting at the table in their apartment, the blonde has tools spread around her as she works at the piece in her hand. On the table next to her is the implant they took from the human that tried to attack Hunter in Sarens Rest a few weeks ago.
“What do you make of this. I recognise this styling…” she glances up to find her companion “… but these components look more like your tech.” Wolfen tech.
Hunter places a hand on Ardul’s shoulder and leans in to examine what she’s looking at. “They look like a primitive adatation of quantum state processors from our cruisers, yes.” Definitely wolfen tech and more advanced computing than perhaps was wommon Iyesgarth. The grey furred gunfighter is wearing a simple shirt and shorts in the summer heat. No reason to have his coat on or his weapons. They are, at the moment, quite safe in their hosue.
Or well as safe as such things ever get. Safe as houses hasn’t meant the same thing since the coming of the rifts.
Are they safe there? Ardul had been subjected to magically attacks in her last place. Physically she’d been quite secure but that hadn’t stopped someone invaded her dreams and raising more whip like wounds on her back and shoulders.
As the clawed hand touches her shoulder, the blonde Valkyr smiles slightly before turning her attention again to the controllers. “These here are Iyesgarthian communications chips. They’ve integrated them amazingly well. I’ve been running the programming through my suit but it’s not been able to interpret it.”
Taking up the implant they’d recovered from Sarens Rest she compares them. “We don’t have anything advanced as your processing, so I’m thinking that someone has used our creation and adapted to work with yours. It’s effective whatever they’ve done…”
Quite without thinking, she rubs her cheek against the furred hand on her shoulder.
Hunter chuckles quietly and scratches her shoulder as she rubs her cheek against his hand. “It may be that they had to switch to a more advanced, more wolfen, programming language when they did. Your translation software may not know what it’s looking for.”
The advanced processing is probably what made the networked drones possible but even so the nano-technology at the heart of this horror remains something he doesn’t well understand. “If they’re still using Iyesgarthian technology I’d wager there’s at least one Iyesgarthian involved, though.”
“That’s nice.” Ardul murmurs as Hunter scratches her shoulder. They’ve grown … comfortable … together over the last few months. Familiar even. “That’s what I was thinking, that or a newer version of our language but … there doesn’t seem to be many similarities at all. Do you have a translator we can try?”
“The nanites though, they’re all ours. They subjugate the will of those they infect.” she says at the same time he makes his observation. “I agree. I’m just not sure who. Nina’s Uncle or one his coterie would seem likely but …”
Turning in her chair to look up at the wolfen, wings shifting in consternation as she thinks on the matter “What is a Bloodhawk? The description that Magewyn gave us of the winged being sounds a lot like an Iyesgarthian commando.”
Hunter’s hand leaves Ardul for a moment and he goes to his own stack of things. He comes back a few moments later with a cylindrical device the size of a large handheld battery. “Try this. Not sure it’ll work but it’s a communications computing core I salvaged a while back. It might be able to make something of whatever mess of a language they’re using.”
The question of a bloodhawk has Hunter frowning. “They’re large alien birds. Well, sort of birds. Common far wast of here. They’re hunters and pretty vicious ones. They’re featherless, and their bodoes are a deep crimson color. Hence the name.” Doesn’t sound like an Iyesgarthian, unless it’s one modified or changed in some fashion.
Ardul touches Hunter hand as it leaves her, sighing lightly. The device catches her attention though and she takes it, spending a few moments hooking it up to the implant. “I really could use one of my techs right now. I’m good with our equipment, but I’m not an adept.” she murmurs, watching the display as it ‘handshakes’ and starts to run the source code. “This will take some time to do, but it’s doing … something…”
Leaning back, finding the Wolfen to support her, the Valkyr considers Hunters words. “Magewyn said wings like a bloodhawk, but described a being in black armour. When she first told me, it sounded like one of my kind but now… I’m not sure.”
“It’s possible, I suppose, that they’ve captured more than one species and have adapted them … with the implants and who knows what else. What do you think?”
“Possible. They’ve done a lot of that it seems. The real question is why would this person be in armor and seemingly giving instructions and collecting artifacts? It’s also possible that this person volunatrily joined them… or… maybe is somehow Iyesgarthian. Hard to say at this point.”
The wolfen strokes Ardul’s shoulders a bit and watches the device do its thing. “Tell me a bit more of your uncle? Does this sounds like a plan of his?”
“They might be a volunteer.” Ardul agrees quietly, leaning in as Hunters hand runs over her shoulder. “That’s a more likely scenario, given the tech that I know will leave the recipient a brain dead drone.” She doesn’t comment on whether they might Iyesgarthian. They might be. They also may not be. Magewyn had been quite injured when they found her and it’s possible that her recall wasn’t all that good or what she saw was seen through a haze of smoke and pain.
“Nina’s uncle?” the blonde falls quiet, rubbing her cheek against his hand again. She doesn’t like talking about Nina’s uncle, it stirs up too many memories. He was the one responsible for the scars on her shoulders and back – not that he put them there personally, but it was under his instruction.
“The Princeps brother. Second in line to the throne till Nina was born. A gifted scientist and strategist, when he was young he led the team that was doing this research.”
“Nina was born late to the Princep. He was well into his fifties when she came along. I suppose Prince Gerard, the brother, thought he might actually have a chance at the throne till then.” She shakes her head, looking up at the Wolfen, grey eyes stormy. There’s pain in them, the pain of remembering what had been done to her and what had happened to her beloved Iyesgarth.
“Nina’s uncle yes.” Hunter says, correcting himself. He listens quietly, considering. “So, brilliant, but destined always to be second to someone. Sort of a storybook character the way you present him. Still, I can see how an ambitious man might be frustrated.”
There’s another long pause. “How did he get enough support for the coup? Palace revolutions are dangerous business.”
It’s an easy enough mistake to make. Nina’s uncle might have been Arduls. Nobility is often related and Ardul is in line for the throne, if a long way removed. So he might well have been her uncle in one or another. “Isn’t it the way of younger siblings?” she asks quietly, rubbing her cheek against his paw once again. “He had his flaws but he kept them well hidden. Removing himself from day to day Palace life.”
“He moved when the Princep died before Nina was formally installed. No one expected it and he took her, myself and her strongest supporters captive and claimed the title for himself.” She lets out a long breath and looks at the Wolfen. “Prince Gerard had his own force and he moved quickly, removing those who could do anything, leaving the rest of the court reeling. They loved Nina’s father and with no one to turn to, they turned to him.”
“Nina and I were being taken to be executed when I escaped. I believe the others had been disposed of before that. I don’t know for certain, information was in short supply.” But jailors do talk and often they like to taunt.
“He still had to have some base of support. People he knew would push for him.” Hunter says quietly. “Though you may not know of it, if he spent that much time quietly building it up. Still, he had to have a cadre of officers, officials, upset scientists… people Nina’s father had angered or who felt they would do better under someone with a different set of priorities. Some of those priorities may be here, on Rifts Earth. This… experiment here has clearly been going on for a while.”
The wolfen turns his palm up and scratches the blonde’s cheek and jaw.
Arduls quiet for a moment as Hunter scratches along her jaw, thinking his words over. “I’m sure you’re aware that it wouldn’t be hard to find those who were disenfranchised. It’s not possible to please everyone, all of the time. Still, you’re correct – he had to have had a base – and there were those who publically questioned Nina’s fitness to rule.”
Her wings move restlessly as they discussion presses onward, moreso when Hunter talks about the experiment here. “There must have been those who were part of the team that was disbanded. Most of them would have been young men and women at the time. Most of them held some position within our political or military structure. If he had kept them … disenfranchised, I think that’s the word … most of them would have been able to support him. Removing Nina’s top supporters, would have made it easier.”
“I’m sorry, Hunter. I can go through what I recall of the history and what I was told after I was taken prisoner.”
“How long do you think this experiment has been going on? Our research was disbanded fifty or more years ago.”
“I’ve been tracking wolfen beacons and their mysterious reactivation for at least five… so at least that long. Possibly longer.” Five years is plenty long though. Long enough to discover things on this new world, integrate them and try to make sense of them.
“The real question in my mind is whether or not this group – if they are Iyesgarthian – has any contact with your world. Assuming some of them were Nina’s uncle’s supporters, are they acting on their own? You mentioned yourself your world doesn’t really have magic or the technology to easily move through rifts. Coming here might have been an accident after all.”
The grey furred wolfen moves a bit closer, hand on the wing to still it.
“Five years isn’t all that long, really. Not when you consider how long some of these projects take.” Ardul murmurs, grey eyes watching Hunter, although they have the look of someone thinking. “The Rift technology isn’t widespread, no, but we did have visitors from other places. We aren’t complete primitives…” she’s teasing a little, her wings stilling as his hand settles on it. The edges of her wing curl over to touch his arm as her grey eyes catch his again. “… You’re calming me …” it’s an observation.
“The Rift that bought here was opened somehow. I don’t have the tech, neither did Nina but who’s to say Gerard doesn’t? I still don’t know how I came to be here, except there was a weapons fire and there it was, dragging me through.” She’s still thinking “I think it likely that some of my people are involved and have joined forces with another race. One that probably visited Iyesgarth about that time. There was at least one delegation that Princep Paulo received.”
Of course it might not be the delegations that he received. How many others visited the planet undetected?
“Of course I am.” Hunter murmurs quietly.
“Rifts open randomly, that’s their nature.” Hunter explains. “Earth is a very magic rich world, so they open more often here but where they connect? Up to the whims of fate. It could have just been chance that brought you here.” Then again, perhaps not especially if someone tried to develop the necessary tech. It can be done he knows, it’s just very, very difficult.
And not a little bit dangerous.
“Delegation from where?”
“Thank you…” Arduls wing moves, more gently, under Hunters hand, wrapping around him and drawing him just a little closer.
“I know that. It might have been a fluke that it opened when it did but given everything we’ve discussed, I’m trying to be a little more open minded.” Not that she’s closed minded there’s just things that hadn’t occured to her to think of.
“Nina and I were on progress when they arrived, so I never got to see them. The reports that were given and that I read said they were from ‘Abravis’. According to one of Nina’s cousins, they were tall and muscular as a race and rather warlike.”
“You’re welcome.” Hunter says quietly. He doesn’t mind moving close and takes the opportunity to calm the other wing.
“Abravis isn’t a world I’ve heard of and I’ve heard of many of them. So that’s not immediately useful. Still we’ll keep it in mind if the name comes up again. Or the description though tall and warlike describes a great many things.”
Arduls other wing stills and the blonde looks at the Wolfen, grey eyes thoughtful. “The cousin, Victoria, mentioned they wore unrelieved black and that they were very imposing. For my people to note such a thing, means they were very imposing indeed.”
Glancing at the implant as Hunters device works on it, the blonde sighs “I’m sorry I’m not much help when it comes to our side of things. Maybe we should set that trap for one of the Cyborgs. Maybe we can retrieve information from a working unit.” That’s going to be dangerous, but it might be worth it.
The translation of the code on the implant is still running, though Hunter will see it’s more successful than Arduls suit was. It’s going to take several iterations to decode it, but they might make something of it soon.
Covering Hunters hand as it sits on the arch on her wing, the blonde offers a small smile – it’s enough to soften the harsh planes of face… just enough. “That’s … soothing…”
Hunter chuckles and runs his clawed hand along the wing’s ridge. “I’m glad you find it so.” Both hands have claws, though the one obviously feels different than the other being entirely mechanical. There are pseudo-biological systems that can be fitted to more accurately replace living hands, but they’re more expensive and Hunter seems to have made his mechanical one faster and more accurate anyway.
“It’s good to know. For now we’ll just have to wait. We’ll bait one out if the opportunity arises.”