//Patrol Fenrir to Border Station, I have passed wayport Gamma. No activity. Proceeding with next leg of the patrol.//
Hunter Greymane is working again. The grey furred wolfen mercenary is piloting his bot again – something that amusingly looks like a large, aggressive, heavily armed version of… himself.
The Gunwolf is really a sight to behold. Fully twenty six feet tall and bristling with silver plated claws and railguns and all manner of other armaments. It’s stature, and intimidation factor, is why Hunter gets hired for this kind of thing. While no mans land, Richmond is still occasionally patrolled to sweep for violent undesirables… and no one wants to deal with this.
You can hear it coming from half a mile away. It’s not subtle either.
“–Wait, wh-what was that?”
The story Felipe had been telling only moments earlier is cut short as he comes to a halt in his tracks. Being pretty aware of his surroundings, he’s very sure he isn’t hearing things. If he is, then he has to re-access himself whenever he has the time.
His grip tightens around the strap of his bag, pulling it taut as he turns to look for his reptilian traveling companion. “…I’m sure there was something. Pegi, I’m not going crazy, am I?” A pause is held before he adds hastily, “Please say no. No, Felipe, you’re not going crazy.”
Something that huge is a bit difficult to miss, especially when there’s nothing to obscure it from view. Pegi bumps into Felipe when he suddenly stops, moving to grab his shoulder so he won’t get knocked over, a gesture that speaks for how often such a thing happens between them.
“…why Pegi say that? Felipe not crazy. Crazy Man is crazy,” she states as if this is supposed to be an obvious fact. Then she lifts a hand, pointing up the slope of a small hill just ahead. “But that no sound like Crazy Man.” Her eyes narrow, and she moves a little closer to Felipe, bumping against him. Being taller than him she can catch enough of a glimpse of what approaches, but even then she’s not quite sure what it is she sees.
The gunmetal grey assault robot stomps into view shortly enough. It is, as Pegi noted internally, hard to miss for her. It’s also hard for the pilot to miss them what with thermal vision, lidar and whatnot. So it is perhaps not surprising, even if it is very alarming to see the bot angle toward the lizard woman and her companion. It’s headed in right for them now. It might crash through a wall to get there.
Bumped not only once, but twice. Yes, Felipe is used to that happening on a daily basis.
“Okay, so I’m not crazy,” he says with some relief. That kind of honesty helps. “But whatever it is, it may be good to leave right now…” Their timing must be off, or at least his, because when he says this the noise grows louder. “What– ”
Pegi is already reaching for the handle of her axe, her other hand pulling Felipe back. She has her doubts in that she’d be able to do anything against something made of metal, but she knows she wouldn’t be able to outrun it very well, not with only one good leg.
“Felipe run!” she directs, giving the man a shove to help get him started. She makes an effort of doing so herself, hopping as she tries to gain better purchase with her metal replacement leg, the slightly curved blunt piece that was attached from her knee digging deeply into the dirt as she pushes off, lurching along. Now that the gigantic metal creature can be fully seen, she has her doubts that she’d be able to do much to stop it, but she’ll fight tooth and claw to give her little brother a chance if she has to!
People… do tend to run when Hunter comes stomping down the lane in this thing. Or stomping through the lane as the case may be. What’s left of a wall shatters as his bot’s right foot comes through it, sending masonry everywhere.
The grey wolfen piloting it feels bad about scaring people on the one paw. On the other… well… a lot of the people here are pretty damn violent and when they run they tend be running for a reason.
The ion cannon on the right arm charges and he fires a warning blast a hundred meters out. “Halt.” His voice comes over the PA.
The doctor hardly has time to react. As soon as Pegi tells him to run with that forceful shove, he finds his point of view turning, flipping, righting itself in a blur to catch the reptilian warrior charging the mechanical thing. Strangely, his feet automatically start heading in the opposite direction the very second he gets up. They’ve done this before; whenever trouble arises, he finds himself taking a backseat to Pegi’s defensive maneuvers.
But this isn’t something they’ve come across before.
The thought of Pegi going up against that quickly forces his brain to regain control of his actions, muscles tensing as he skids in the dirt. “Pegi!!” Just as he’s about to turn, the cannon blast flies out. Felipe’s arms shield himself instinctively, knees buckling as he drops back down to the ground, yelling back at the reverberating voice of the machine. “I won’t! I won’t, just don’t hurt her!!”
Amber eyes widen at the shock of light that bursts from the metal monster. Immediately after she sees it fire, Pegi turns, fearful for who it might have targeted. It’s only hearing Felipe’s desperate pleas that she can allow for a small amount of relief; little brother is safe!
Turning, gritting her teeth as it strains her to try moving so quickly, she however ambles as fast as she can back to where Felipe has collapsed. She whimpers a little as her left leg nearly gives once she comes about again, but she stubbornly keeps herself from toppling over. The axe still clutched tightly in her right, she moves her left arm to sweep up Felipe and hug him close, protectively.
“No hurt little Felipe!” she growls defiantly, but Felipe can feel her trembling. She’s scared of the huge thing, but perhaps even more fearful that she wont be able to protect the man she’s claimed as her brother.
The robot strides up to within about twenty five or thirty feet away and comes to a halt. The chassis settles. There are… so many weapons on this thing. The ion gun on the right arm. Dual railguns on the left. Rocket pods hanging off the flanks. Laser emitters on the chest and head…
So many weapons.
“Identify yourselves in the name of the Arcane Republic of Vesper.” The voice is booming. It’s a standard line. Hunter isn’t from Vesper, he isn’t one of their soldiers… unless they pay him. Today they’re paying him. So that’s the line. From the looks of it, he’s kind of doubting these two have anything nefarious going on… but… bad news comes in all sizes.
From his perspective, Pegi’s movements are violent, hard on a softer body like Felipe’s once he’s within close proximity of the warrior who’s staked her claim on him. He gasps, barely noticing his legs aren’t touching the road anymore, his own arms struggling, clutching onto the arm that keeps him close.
Her trembling doesn’t make him feel any better, but it does make him realize that his heart is racing faster than it normally does. Fear has its effects. All of those weapons? Not helping.
Swallowing at the lump forming in his throat, he can’t do anything about the one that has settled at the pit of his stomach. As far as he can tell, it seems the robot isn’t going to try doing anything else to them. It would probably be good to say something to keep things as they are. “My name is Felipe Usnavi,” he states through his waning pallor, voice rattling slightly at the end of each sentence he musters. “I’m a doctor who only means to travel through the area. With Pegi.” As he says this, he tentatively pats Pegi on the arm a few times to comfort her.
Her own heart pounding hard against her chest, its sound all but dominates Pegi’s hearing. There are creatures of a size that dwell within the swamplands, and her clan has taken some of them down, but she’s not heard of anything made of metal that shot rays of fire, at least nothing so big! The traders that had come by had told her things resembling metal men, but this looked like no man!
It’s likely that Pegi can’t even identify that half of those things on the armored behemoth are even weapons. Her glare however futile as she feels it may be is stolidly fixed upon the thing’s head, and she hugs Felipe a little tighter despite his attempts to comfort her.
“Pegi go with little brother Felipe! We go to Vesper!” she shouts, as though trying to rival that of the loud voice that comes from the mech. Poor Felipe. “This Vesper here?” The Crazy Man Clancy did not tell her they had giant metal monsters!
The snorting laughter from the cockpit is transmitted over the open mic. “Vesper? This is Richmond and you will never find a more wretched hide of scum and villany.”
There’s a hissing sound from the bot a minute or so later and then something drops lightly to the ground behind it.
It’s possible that neither Pegi nor Felipe have seen a wolfen before. Compared to the bot, he’s downright tiny but he’s still nine feet tall, grey furred. There’s a sidearm strapped to his right thigh and one of his arms is clearly cybernetic. A brown leather duster flaps at his side and under it he’s wearing some kind of light armor.
“A doctor huh?” He starts to walk forward, moving on a slow approach. “And what on earth are you two doing passing through Richmond of all places?”
Ears ringing from having front row seats to Pegi’s yelling, Felipe squints. He also finds that it’s getting harder to breathe within her grasp. “Uh, Pegi?” He taps her arm again. “Pegi, too tight. A little too tight. I need some air…!”
No matter how many times she’s done this to him, he somehow manages to stay focused on the mech. It’s not every day he sees one, but having it appear out of the blue is never not surprising. But the reveal of the pilot is…mildly better than what they were dealing with earlier. No, he’s never seen a wolfen before, but if he’s able to hang around with a bipedal reptile warrior, then this should be no different.
His body slackens, a foot trying to touch the dirt in order to maintain some form of dignity. “Oh, you know,” he replies, the shaking slowly fading off as he shrugs. The shrug isn’t very convincing. “Checking in. Helping people heal.”
Scowling at the laughter, Pegi at least seems to hear Felipe’s concerns as she does slowly loosen her grip, simultaneously lowering him so he can properly stand. She however keeps her arm over him, the grip on her axe tightening, but it remains unraised for now.
She peers at the wolfen, brow furrowed, but she tenses no more than she has already been. And since it seems that he’s addressing Felipe, she’s content to let the man respond in turn for them. He’s better with words anyway, but she meanwhile keeps an eye on the mini-furry figure of the big metal one.
The wolfen eyes the man, then the lizard, then the man again. “Helping people heal. Here.” He lets that sit for a moment.
“You might want to not mention that in Vesper. People here are not well liked by… kind of anyone. For a variety of reasons. Still, I suppose being a doctor is as good a way to not get shot as any.”
He pauses again. “You can call me Hunter. I’m on border patrol here. What business do you two have in Vesper?” That’s also addressed to Pegi whom is not of a type that he’s seen around here before.
Felipe’s brow furrows at the pause. “By normal means, I mean,” he explains, catching onto what the wolfen says about that. “The old-fashioned, tried-and-true methods passed on from generation to generation.”
Now he’s starting to sound like himself. Border patrol, he thinks. That makes sense. Especially around here.
Running a hand through his short, unkempt hair, the doctor huffs a brief sigh. “…You know not many people have access to healthcare, right, Hunter?” he counters, more rhetorical than an actual question. “My business is pretty simple: I’m gonna see if anyone needs medical attention over there. With any luck, we may be able to buy Pegi a new leg.” There’s a flat look. “And from what I’ve seen so far, people’ll try to shoot you either way.”
Talking is good. And so long as the wolfen isn’t inside the metal thingy, he can’t step on or incinerate them. Pegi is willing to relax a little more as Felipe gets to talking. She can tell that he’s getting a handle on himself because of it.
The young saurian lets her hand drop away from the doctor completely, but she still remains close, her eyes never straying from the one who introduces himself as Hunter. She does smile a bit at the name, perhaps finding it amusing. When Felipe explains their case, she nods vigorously. Yes, that had been the plan.
“Felipe go help people, Pegi do trade! Vesper sound nicer than Dogwood.”
“I meant more that the people here are criminals and revolutionaries rather than people don’t like mages. Mages are liked well enough in Vesper. It is after all a city run by magi. Revolutionaries not so much. I spend a good chunk of my day shooting at them.” Well sometimes. Some days. Today’s been quiet on that front.
“Well for you I’m sure Vesper would be nicer than Dogwood. I doubt you’d be welcome many places in Dogwood…” Being, you know, visibly not human.
The pilot glances back at his bot, then to the pair, then to his bot. He sighs. He could leave them to make the rest of their way to the border but…
… there’s a good chance they’ll be waylaid along the way.
“Right. What if I were to give you two a lift?”
Feeling the weight lift from his body, Felipe rolls his shoulder, flexing his arm, hand, and fingers out of habit before switching. “Well. Since you put it that way.” Better mages than revoluntionaries and their ilk any day. It’s something he’d rather not deal with again any time soon.
He frowns, though, thinking about how vastly different Vesper is from Dogwood. “…I figured as much. Last thing I’d want to do is take Pegi up there.”
After glancing away from Hunter to make sure everything is on his person, he blinks. “A lift?” A quick look is shot back the wolfen’s way, then up at Pegi. “Can that thing carry more than one person?”
She’d heard that Dogwood wouldn’t be the best place to visit, and while she couldn’t quite understand why, she trusted both Felipe and her newest friend Clancy’s judgment. Slowly Pegi slings the axe back over her shoulder, following the wolfen’s glance back towards his oversized ride. She blinks as well before looking at Felipe.
“It look big enough!” she says, almost seeming excited at the prospect of being carried by the big thing. It’s much better than being shot at or crushed by it, after all.
“Uh, yes. Tends to be. And yes it can’ It’s gonna be a biiiiit tight with your friend there.” He says friend. Hunter wouldn’t ever suspect ‘sister’. Who would? Especially coming down from the north. It’s honestly a little surprising that Felipe is traveling with a D-Bee at all. People coming from the north don’t tend to like them.
In any case Hunter motions to the other two and takes them around to the back of the bot where the entry hatch opens and a ladder extends.
Ah yes. Ladder. It’s not really made for folks with peg legs. Hopefully Pegi can manage. “Up you go.”
Their sibling relation is a very long story — probably one for the road, maybe, since Hunter has gone from being ‘the guy who almost killed them due to a brief misunderstanding’ to ‘the guy who’s just doing his job patrolling the place.’
Giving Pegi another glance, he can’t help but let his the corner of his mouth twist in response to her growing excitement.
“Eh, I’m small enough,” Felipe admits to Hunter, adjusting his bag strap again as he follows him to the robot. He watches the hatch open with interest, inspecting the ladder. “Hmm. Think you’ll be okay with this, Pegi?”
Pegi had taken a very long and meandering route up from the swamps. The traders she’d accompanied took their business to smaller settlements before they’d ever head to the main cities, but she and they had parted ways nearer the mountains. From there, things did get rather complicated for they all happened one after the other, but if Felipe wished to tell it, he was certainly most welcome to. It was part of how he’d gained a reptilian sister, after all.
Her heavy, uneven gait follows the other two as they make way towards the mech. She looks up and up at the hatch and the ladder that comes down from it, head tilting. Ooh. That’s interesting.
“Pegi try!” she says, looking eager to do so. Moving closer to the ladder, she grips the rungs in front of her, testing it before she lifts her right foot onto the lowest. Glancing down to make sure it’s firmly placed, she then pushes up, reaching for the next with her clawed hands. Felipe can at least attest to her arm strength as she hauls herself up, plants her foot, and repeats the process.
Screech. Screech. Scraaatch. That’s the nose that the outside of Hunter’s bot makes. Eventually everyone makes it up, though and the nine foot tall wolfen squeezes past his passengers to the pilot’s seat in the cockpit. Which as it turns out is in the chest, actually.
“There’s only one other seat, so one of you will have to stand or sit on the floor. I’ll try not to jerk it around too much though.”
Clawed hands fly over controls. A female computerized voice calls out system statuses. “Reactor online. Sensors online. Weapons online. All systems nominal.”
And then the bot lurches into life. It’s actually a much smoother ride than it looks like from the outside but there’s still some up and down to it. “Sp you’re looking to open an old fashioned medical practice mmm? You might be in luck. The Restorium always needs actual doctors. Mostly they got magi and priests there but some folk are allergic to magic and others are immune to it. So I’m sure you’ll be able to find work.” He casts a look over his seat. “Might be a bit less lucky about the leg though, unless… I don’t suppose you’re a mage or a psychic are you there Pegi?”
Unlike the two larger bodies, Felipe could have wedged himself comfortably in a corner of the cockpit with his bag gathered into his lap. But no, he’s going to take the other seat. The odd pair of siblings seem to think alike in this regard, each ready to give up a seat for different reasons. Since he’s the smaller one, he doesn’t always win these petty battles.
“Whoa,” he breathes as he watches everything inside turn on. He’s never been in a robot before, so this is pretty overwhelming. Still, he manages to answer Hunter’s question, sitting back as the vehicle moves. “Well, it’s more like a temporary stop, but yes — it never hurts to have a regular practitioner on hand, right? But if that’s where they need the most help, then I’ll go there, stay for a while, and then move on.”
Pegi seems perfectly happy with standing behind the seat, her chin practically resting atop Felipe’s head as she looks over him at, well, everything. She grips the sides of the seat with her hands. “Who that?” she asks, head jerking up to look around for the source of the disembodied voice. So many unfamiliar words being spoken, but it’s still exhilarating watching everything turn on and then feeling it all move beneath them.
“Pegi not crazy!” she snorts.
“Thaaaaat was the computer.” It’s a good thing that Pegi won’t see him turning down the radio. Well she will but she’s not going to know that’s what he’s doing. This one seems… what’s the polite word for it… low tech.
The HUD then comes to life, overlaying a lot of information on the screen as he swings them onto a bearing that’ll put them on the main road and headed back toward the north side of the Petersburg Bay. Which isn’t Vesper but they can catch a ferry.
“Hold onto your hat…” The throttle goes up. And the bot starts really moving.
“Where are you two from, if you don’t mind my asking?”
Felipe grips onto the bottom of the seat with one hand, clutching his bag to his chest with the other. This is probably something he will never get used to. Ever. “Hold onto your hat is right,” the doctor quips, snorting after the initial boost in speed passed.
He falls silent shortly after that, visibly making up his mind as to what he should answer with. “Up North.” It’s a vague reply, but it works.
With the way Pegi oogles everything, it’s more than obvious that she’s unused to such technology. Her crude armor and weapon aren’t just some strange fashion statement. All the better is it for her to be standing behind them than sitting where she might be in better reach of buttons and levers.
“Ohhh!” she exclaims, grinning as they pick up speed. She’s having fun, at least. “Pegi come from swamps! Where Hunter from?”
“Lazlo. Far, far away from here…” Lazlo is in fact well north and on the other side of the mountains. And practically a world away. But if he’s covered it in this thing then he’s covered it in style, safety and air conditioning.
And that third thing really makes all the difference.
“Watch the switches there. Don’t wanna arm my missiles accidentally. At this speed we’ll be on the north side of the Petersburg Bay in a bit over forty minutes and you guys can catch a ferry from there. No fuss, no muss, no me scraping you off a paving stone later because someone decided they didn’t like the cut of your jib.”
Lazlo. That’s a place he’s not familiar with at all. “Is that even on a map…?” he asks, mostly thinking aloud at this point as he eyes the dash and the HUD.
“Forty minutes– what the heck,” Felipe then adds, glancing back at Hunter with astonishment. “This is convenient! Having our traveling cut down to mere minutes is amazing!” He’s honestly fine with catching the ferry after all of this is done, and will probably be sad that they won’t have another opportunity to hitch free rides in giant robots whenever they want. And he totally agrees with that last bit. “Psh, you said it.”
It’s certainly not a place that Pegi’s heard of either. She sounds impressed, and supposes that’s why she’s never seen such things as Hunter’s robot before.
“We go fast!” she laughs. It would have taken them the better part of, if not more than a day to have gotten there on foot, mostly because she couldn’t walk as fast as she’d like. Seeing Felipe as he is now cheers her considerably.
“Quite fast.” It’s understandable really. Most people haven’t seen tech like this. Large places like Vesper and Dogwood are unusual concentrations of people and power.
Odds are good that before the week is out this will be far, far down the list of wondrous things Pegi has seen.
Hunter just hopes that the city doesn’t eat them. It does sometimes.