Some days ago a group of Iyesgarthians had tried to ‘free’ Ardul. They’d crashed the building and tried to convince her to go with them. Since that failed attempt, the trio of rebels had been housed and taken care of but now, now it’s time for some truths.
The three Iyesgarthians, all blonde like Ardul with giant grey / black wings that rise over their heads and drape to the ground, are seated in the room that was secured for them. Hunter had decided that’s the best place for them, and Kaji had been asked to attend as well.
After all, the youth might have questions and provide insight to all this.
Ardul is there, a silent figure in the corner. She’ll not say anything unless instructed by Hunter. Something that seems to concern Gretchen, Marcus and Ioan.
Arms folded in front of him, Kaji leans against the wall as he looks at the winged trio. He’s dressed in his usual garb, with his compacted spear/knife strapped to his right thigh and his plasma blade hilt clipped to his belt at his left. He’s not sure where to even begin with questions, but he’s curious to hear their side of things. It’s just a relief that they don’t have to end up fighting every Iyesgarthian that comes out this way looking for Ardul, but he wishes that attacking wasn’t the default ‘greeting’ from them. Then again, given what’s going on with their world/kingdom/whatever, he supposes he can’t blame them.
The young necromancer glances over at Ardul before looking back towards their guests and the Wolfen, waiting.
Hunter hasn’t really wanted to do this, but the first free Iyesgarthians they’ve met definitely require attention, so here he is in his trademark red coat.
He doesn’t waste any time either, the grey wolfen. No sooner has he settled himself than he looks up at Gretchen and says. “How did you avoid being made into nanite zombies?”
The three Iyesgarthians show a lot of interest in Kaji as he stands there, their eyes dropping to that cylinder on his belt and back up to him. But it’s Hunter settling in front of them that draws their attention.
Ioan’s and Marcus’ feathers ruffle in agitation – Hunter and Kaji have seen Ardul’s do that, but never so pronounced. Gretchen just returns the look and takes her time in answering.
“We … don’t know, actually,” she finally answers. “We received the same treatment as the others, we were one of the first groups to do so. And … it just didn’t take.”
“I have a question. What have you done to our Knight Commander?”
Her eyes flick to Kaji. “And what are you doing wielding one of our weapons?”
To his credit, Kaji doesn’t look anxious with the extra attention. He does frown a little once Hunter gets the ball rolling, the response to the question not making much sense to him.
“What, you mean like…you just have some kind of immunity to it?” How’s that work? Not that he’s an expert in nanotech.
Puffing his cheeks out a bit at the question they turn towards Hunter, he manages not to roll his eyes, however he does blink when Gretchen glances back in his direction and has a question of her own for him. He remains standing where he is, smiling crookedly. “I asked Ardul how to make one.”
“She got sprayed with Nanites. I prevented her from returning to Hyfil with them.” They’ll know that name he is sure even if Kaji does not. Of course what Grechen is really asking is ‘why does Ardul defer to you and call you lord?”
But surely she can put two and two together.
“If you were captured and infected and it did not take, then why are you not dead?”
Marcus grunts from his position at the table and he looks at Kaji, eyebrows rising “And she just showed you how to do it?” Kaji should realise that what the Warrior is really asking is whether he went through the process to create it.
“Some form of immunity, yes.” Gretchen nods “As I said, we were one of the first groups and from what we now understand, the nanites are new technology. How much do you know of our history?” That’s to the two of them. Hunter might be able to guess what she’s going to say. Maybe.
“Hyfil…” Ioan spits the name out like a blasphemy. “Horatio’s toady more like it.”
“Princep Horation, Ioan,” Marcus corrects mildly. “Either way, that you stopped her returning is a good thing …” he says to Hunter, clearly not happy that she defers to him though.
“As to why we aren’t dead. We’re not stupid,” Gretchen continues, waving the other two to silence as she does. “When we worked out that we weren’t as affected as the others, we pretended and used the secret passages that are reserved for the royal family, to escape.”
Hunter makes a noise that is kind of like a growl, clearly thinking on that answer. “You’ll forgive me if I find that a bit convenient.”
It is indeed awful convenient for them and means he has no good way of knowing for sure that they’re not compromised. There are times he wishes for a good tech but he only knows one who could handle this and he is about a thousand miles away.
“I know a little. Ardul has mentioned some of it to me, but why don’t you take us through the relevant parts.”
“Well, no. We had to go get the pieces for it,” Kaji says, making a bit of a face.
He knows that he hadn’t really been very familiar with wherever Ardul came from, and even with the bits of information he’s gathered from their most recent dealings, he still doesn’t know a whole lot. Slowly he shakes his head. “Kinda the same as Hunter said, maybe even less,” he admits.
Peering at the three, he fixes his attention on Gretchen again. “Are you guys the only ones?”
“So she made you stand the Trial, did she? That sounds like her.” Marcus says, a slightly fond tone to the words. “How long ago was she infected with the nanites?”
Gretchen nods again and takes a breath. “There was a project that started before Nina’s father became Princep. It involved technology, implants, that allowed Soldiers to work together as one big thinking machine…” That should gel with what Ardul told Hunter when this all began. “… When Nina’s father became Princep, it was fairly advanced but it became clear that the implants were leaving the recipients brain dead. Unable to think for themselves. It was stopped.”
“From what we’ve been able to piece together, that project was never really stopped and it evolved. The implants shrunk down to nanite technology. We were one of the first groups to receive it. So we think there were some problems with it.”
Kaji’s question gets a quirk of the Iyesgarthian’s sergeant’s lips. “No. We’re not. We’re not many, but there are more than us.”
Hunter nods slowly. That matches more or less what he’d been told and answers a few questions. It DOESN’T answer how the Iyesgarthians got their hands on the technology they clearly melded their own efforts with but these three may well not know that. There are a few other interesting matters though…
“She was infected a couple months ago. The nanites compromised her badly enough we had to seek magical medical help.” And shock therapy. “How did you know how to find us and what did you hope to do? Clearly you knew where she was and knew something of who might be with her.” Him and Kaji both.
Kaji tries not to make another face at the reminder of the trial. It had not been a fun experience, and he’s pretty sure his was atypical if only for the unusual focus crystal he’d ended up with. Hunching up his shoulders to keep from shuddering, he instead nods as Gretchen goes ahead with explaining things.
That does sound familiar, although no less pleasant. Linking people’s brains together is a terrible idea. The face he makes is for a completely different reason with the reminder that the project was supposed to have been stopped and instead became what it is now.
“How’d you get here? You guys don’t seem fond of…magic, but isn’t that what opens the Rifts..?”
“Magic …” That’s what Ioan hears and he glares at the Wolfen in response “Is that how you bound her to you? She wouldn’t have willingly changed her fealty from Princep-elect Nina …” My, they’re a loyal lot.
“It took a while to work out what was going on. Some of us elected to stay ‘inside’ and observe.” Gretchen speaks up, giving Ioan a quelling look. And she means, spy. “Horatio, damn his black wings, has control of a portal to this planet. It was when he started sending his blackguard through that we knew he thought he was on to something. So we followed.” That was dangerous and even though they seem to be accommodating, Hunter is right to be concerned.
“Once we were here, it was a matter again of observing and … honestly, news of a winged woman in silver armour soon reached our ears. We’ve been watching her for a week or so.”
“She’s our Knight Commander. The Princep-elect’s sworn companion. We were going to return with her and make plans to find Nina and failing that … overthrow the black-winged Horatio.”
“And no, young Fledgling, we aren’t fond of magic but there are a couple of devices on Iyesgarth that operate to open Rifts.” she shrugs. It’s technology of sorts.
Marcus coughs from behind Gretchen. “Overthrow the black-winged Horatio and free our brothers and sisters from their servitude.” Do …. they have a way to do that?
“Yes.” Hunter says flatly looking at Ioan a look. “The same black sorcery your own people developed to rob people of their minds. I just got finished telling you she got dosed with nanites. Why would I need magic to what they were going to do to her anyway?”
The red-coated wolfen (red coated interestingly even as hot as it is outside), sighs. “So you don’t know where Nina is. The last set of assassins implied that Hyfil or Horatio had her.” Which they might but Hunter suspects that IF they did there wouldn’t be any debate on that point. They’d be using the woman as propaganda.
Ioan’s charges against Hunter prompt an eyeroll from Kaji. “Oh my gosh, are you not listening?” he mutters as the Wolfen clarifies.
He nods thoughtfully at the mention of other ways of opening Rifts. Still a bit unfortunate considering what they’ve ended up using it for, but that goes both ways for anything, nanotech included. The necromancer sighs.
“Yeah…” he nods as Hunter speaks about Nina. “Not sure whether they were just lying to get Ardul to cooperate or if that’s true.”
“I’m listening…” Ioan’s wings rustle in agitation. “Those nanites should have bound her to Hyfil and not you … ” Clearly, they aren’t aware of all the machinations that are occurring with the nanites.
Gretchen shakes her head “As I said when we found you…” not when the Iyesgarthians were disarmed by the pair. “… we haven’t seen Nina in a while. If Hyfil or Horatio have her, she’d be executed publically for treason or they’d be using her. She’s either fallen or in hiding somewhere.”
Marcus shifts, nudging Ioan to be quiet, and looks at the pair before him “From what we could work out, she trusted you two. You …” he inclines his to Hunter “… particularly before this all happened. We have reason to believe that Hyfil is leading a force to this world. To find Knight Commander Trasinger certainly but possibly to do more. Will … you help us?” His eyes float to Ardul, who’s still silent not far from where Hunter is sitting. “We might be able to restore her….”
“I have a fairly good idea where he is.” Hunter mutters. “But he’s sure to have people with him and I’m not really sure that I want to just try gunning him down. It’s a town and it would put a lot of people at risk. Plus he might have other tricks up his sleeve involving the civilian populace.” Beat. “I would.”
The wolfen falls silent. Restore Ardul. That… might be necessary sooner rather than later. He glances at Kaji to see what other insightful questions the young man might have.
Having Ardul in her…well, maybe ‘right mind’ isn’t exactly the case, but her actions have still been somewhat compromised- would probably still be most ideal. Kaji glances from the other Iyesgarthians to Hunter, meeting the Wolfen’s gaze.
“…I’m surprised that no one else has been concerned or up in arms about a potential invasion from them. Or have they just been that discreet? Is everyone affected by nanites being forced to side with this Hyfil guy? And is there anyway to neutralize them, like… I dunno, make a disrupting signal or something?” His understanding of nanites has been highly on the fictional side before all this. It’s still a bit weird for him that there are things like that happening around here now.
…and yet despite this, having a light saber is completely acceptable.
Rifts Earth is a big place and the way Rifts open and close, dumping creatures and who knows what else here – it’s perhaps not surprising that an invasion force from Iyesgarth hasn’t raised any alarms. Of course, there’s been less than a handful of the Iyesgarthian’s seen here and all of them have been after Ardul, or Hunter.
“Every one of the military who didn’t swear fealty straight away.” Gretchen nods “And even then, many of them have received … treatment. Horatio isn’t the trusting sort – maybe he’s afraid someone will do to him what he did to Nina and her Father.”
Behind her Ioan and Marcus exchange looks “We … might have come into possession of some research that neutralises or inhibits how the nanites work. We’re not Scientists or Med Techs so much of it doesn’t make sense and we’ve not really had anyone to test it on.”
But Hunter does. There’s the Bloody Winged warriors they have detained elsewhere. Apart from Ardul.
“I have some subjects you can try it on.” Hunter mutters. The big reason, really, that he’s not worried about an invasion is that earth is, really, invaded many times over every year and mostly it doesn’t notice. There’s so much chaos, so many great factions at work here, that you’d need a truly overwhelming force on a multiversal scale to even try it and the powers that be wouldn’t allow that.
Still it could be local trouble if they don’t shut it down.
“When you’re ready that is.”
Kaji’s more concerned about the whole nanite angle. Brainwashing people into submission could very well shift a lot of things if that came into play, and in a way it ran parallel to what was going on with those poor soul-harvested people the year prior. His world’s been halved and quartered despite Rifts allowing for travel elsewhere. You couldn’t simply catch a plane to the West Coast anymore (not that it seems like a very nice place to go to now), or take a trip to Japan. So yes, an invading army of anything sounds like all sorts of bad news when you’re restricted to one coastline.
“Well, there are sciencey people around, so maybe someone can make sense of it…” He looks at Hunter, blinking. “Oh, that’s handy too.” Saves them the trouble of having to go hunt someone down.
Gretchen nods and looks to the other two. “Then we shall. Test what have that is. If it works, we might be able to replicate them, if we have the right people and facilities.”
“What are you planning to do with us, Ardul and about Hyfil, if you know where he is?” she asks Hunter and Kaji. “We would fight, if you will allow us. We want to free our people and … ” she sighs “… if we had her, restore Nina to the Throne.” That’s a catch they’ll have to work out.
They certainly don’t seem to have anything else to add at the moment. They’re concern for Ardul is still evident though.
“That remains to be seen.” Hunter says standing. “Lets test your cure out and make preparations. I’ll decide whether or not I can afford to trust you later.”
He’s blunt about it, Hunter, but he has to be. He’s not sure he CAN trust them with this mind altering nano-agent in play. This could all be a long con. He hopes it’s not but… all the same.
“Now, let’s go see about your… cure.”
He has to prep the prisoners. So he’ll be back.
Given the nature of the situation, Kaji doesn’t blame Hunter for being wary about these Iyesgarthians. He nods in agreement with the Wolfen, looking back over at Ardul and then the other three once again.
“If this works, then maybe we can help Ardul. We’ll work our way from there,” he says. “What do you think?” This he asks the Valkyr who’s been standing in the corner in silence.
Ardul shifts as Hunter starts to move, looking at her compatriots for a moment and then to Kaji. “If my Lo– Hunter deems it best, then that’s what we’ll do, Kaji.” She’s … more herself. Perhaps because Hunter hasn’t tried to speak to the nanites in several days. What will happen when he tries to again?
They won’t be able to cure her until they have Hyfil’s location at least.
“If there’s anything you need, Kaji, I’ll be with my Lord…” she slips again as she turns to follow the Wolfen out.
Kaji will probably not long after, leaving the trio of Winged Warriors to worry some more.
Hunter and Kaji question the Iyesgarthians in their custody that claim to be unaffected by nanites.
June 08, 2411