After their guests had departed, Ardul sought Hunter out in their room. She understood his reluctance to share his technology at the moment but there were other things she wasn’t sure on.
Wearing a light, sleeveless tunic and leggings, the cuff that the grey winged blonde wears stands out against her pale skin. Hunters cuff, the one that he gave her to mark their relationship. As her fingers circle it, it makes more sense to her now why… he did what he did.
But still, she’s curious.
“Ioan and Gretchen have a countermeasure delivery system that I think will work. A mixture of darts, propelled from a weapon and an aerosolised version. The Restorium was able to synthesize what they’d created.”
Making her way across the room, she starts tidying the few clothes she has, folding and putting them away.” How… are you feeling?” she asks mildly. “No side effects from the other night at dinner?”
Hunter has a small portable console set up on his desk. The screen is displaying several windows of Wolfen script, something that the grey canine has not taught his companion to read quite yet. It’s also hooked up to a small sphere the size of hunter’s fist which is pulsing several colored lights.
“No real side effects other than a small headache whenever I talk to Kazue. She’s… annoying.”
It’s mostly the way she talks about time. Clearly she’s a being able to manipulate it and one not fully integrated into the time stream.
“Have we been able to test the countermeasure?”
Ardul hadn’t meant with Kazue but she smiles a bit at that. The only way she can deal with Kazue is to almost … ignore … her which is difficult when the fox-like creature keeps pulling her into things. “I know what you mean and I’m not sure what to do about her. She worries me. I feel like I’m working to a script that only she knows.”
She had meant when the other Wolfen had to stabilise him.
“I have not, no. But I saw the test data that Ioan and Gretchen had, they’ll be testing it one of the prisoners we’ve kept, tonight. I believe it will work, Hunter but it’s not without risks. These nanites have been altered to work with our physiology, I believe … they adapt.”
As she moves, there’s a slight a metallic sheen to her wings as the light catches them. “What is you’ve found over there?” she’s nearly done with her tidying.
“That makes sense. I think the nanites may have been adapted from Wolfen terraforming devices. They’re designed to modify biological forms to create preconditions for life ahead of Wolfen colonization efforts. Or they were. The tech is a few hundred years old at this point. A sufficiently advanced civilization, such as your own, might have been able to alter their function.”
It’s a bit more involved than that. They were likely reverse engineered and combined with Iyesgarthian technology but still…
“Right now I’m scanning for any ship-beacons. If Hyfil is looking for Wulf fire crystals, it’ll have to be on one of our downed ships…”
“That’s true, we might have, but I have to wonder where we got it in the first place. It’s not like we were adventurers across the worlds.” The Iyesgarthians, whilst they held the tech open Rifts didn’t use it often, preferring to stay put on their world for the most part. “If it wasn’t so serious, I’d say you were preparing me for yourself…” It’s a tease but there’s concern behind the lighter tone.
“Fire … crystals? I confess I understood only part of what Kazue was saying but the connection to the Wulf, you seemed to understand.” Ardul finishes up her tidying and moves beside Hunter, hand running over the shoulder where the bio-ware markers had shown up.
Hunter chuckles lowly but there’s not much mirth in it. He taps a few times at the console and then pushes his chair back to look up at Ardul. Whatever scan he has running will run in the background.
“The Wulf used crystalline technolgy to amplify their psychic power. Their ships shielding and weaponry, as well as their personal weaponry, was based on using their psychic abilities.” Which as he had previously stated, were all very burny.
“When we were allied, we had some of it installed on cruisers participating in a sort of crew-exchange program. That’s the only way I can think, short of having actually found some Wulf that Hyfil could get some. And I haven’t seen many Wulf here.”
“They did?” Ardul rests against the table as Hunter peers up her, fingers tracing his shoulder a little. “And you think this is what Hyfil is after? This crystalline tech?” She thinks on that a little, not sure if she’s actually met a Wulf herself. “Just because you haven’t seen many Wulf here, doesn’t mean that Hyfil doesn’t have one. He, or Horatio, have Wolfen tech after all. Whilst the chance is slim, I don’t think we should rule it out.”
But it seems that they’re back to hunting for Wolfen ships again, at least for the next little while. Knowing the scan will take a bit, the blonde doesn’t ask what he’s found. Yet.
“You didn’t tell me you were a First Generation …” she finally broaches the matter that’s been playing on her mind for a while.
“It’s… not especially something I like to tell people…” That he’s a three hundred year old Wolfen from space. That he is one of the first of his kind to arrive and be stranded on this world. That he understands a universe most people have no conception of.
“I think if he actually HAD a Wulf he wouldn’t be targeting a technowizard to try and understand their tech. And he probably wouldn’t need to hunt for it either. That’s assuming what Kazue told us is true.” It’s possible but Hunter thinks it unlikely.
“Does it… bother you that I did not?
“I can tell you don’t like telling people.” Ardul answers mildly. “I think that what Kazue told is true, though there’s reasons she’s told us only part of the story. It won’t hurt to check your ships out, at any rate. If Hyfil had a Wulf, I think we be seeing someting different. But we have to move on this quickly though, don’t we? After all these months of waiting, it’s all happening.”
Does it bother her that Hunter didn’t tell her? Ardul shakes her head at the question, pale locks falling over her shoulders. “Not … particularly. But I am curious about you, Hunter. More about the man I’ve tied myself to.”
Hunter stands up from his chair and pushes it back under the desk. “What is it you wish to know?”
It’s hard to know what to ask when ‘everything’ is literally an option but Hunter clearly doesn’t want to just begin to regurgitate his life story. He is, though, more than willing to address the parts she’s most curious about.”
Ardul watches Hunter as he moves, letting her hand drop to her side. “I … I’m not sure what to ask…” she concedes. Everything isn’t a bad thing to want to know. “How long have you … been awake? That would be a place to start and … why? Did you choose to do this? Or did you need to?”
Three hundred years. It’s a long time. And she’s not sure how it all happened.
In some ways it makes sense why he holds to old customs.
“Twenty years, more or less.” Hunter says, now moving to lean against the desk himself, which does bring him a bit closer. “I was placed in stasis with a handful of others shortly after we crashed here. It was a move to preserve survival critical resources on a planet in turmoil. I wasn’t awakened until centuries later. We found that our pods had been moved to a settlement that had become a city, but by the time we were, no one knew how to safely bring us out of stasis-sleep. It took… a long time for someone to puzzle that out again.”
And that was twenty years ago.
“As to what I chose… chose what, do you mean?”
“Twenty years… So you’re not all that old after all…” Ardul smiles up as Hunter gets a bit closer, letting her touch his arm again. The band on her arm flashes in the light – Hunters band, the one that he gave her.
“You crashed. I think I’m asking if you chose to embark on the journey in the first place. Or were you born in space?” It’s not clear to her how the Wolfen organised these things.
With her hand on his arm, the Valkyr is serious – when is she not, really? “You seem … to have adjusted to having awoken after so long. It must have been very different for you …”
“Ah, my parents were both Naval officers. I was born on the ship. We crashed when I was quite young. I was a bit over ten when I was put into stasis…” Which would make him thirty ish now.
“I’ve had a long time to adjust but I’ve spent my entire adult life on this planet. So in some ways it hasn’t been much of an adjustment.”
In some ways native, but old enough to remember a world beyond this one and have some good idea of what it all means.
Ardul wonders if Hunters parents survived the crash or … she doesn’t ask though. He might offer that information if he thinks it is relevant. “Was that usual, then? For children of the Wolfen to be born in space? My mind is whirling about living life aboard a ship … like that.”
Thirty-ish, isn’t all that old. She’s about that herself. Then again, Ardul hadn’t spent three hundred-ish years in stasis.
Her wings shift, just a little, and they gleam again. Are they still feathers? It’s hard to tell at the moment.
Are they still feathers? For that matter, is Ardul still Iyesgarthian? Or did the nanites modife her physically enough that she no longer genetically is? And if she isn’t… what IS she?
“Disciplined as you might expect aboard a naval ship. There were some children but not many. I learned, as all children do. There was school. But also learning of the Navy. It’s something of a generational institution among my people in many cases.”
“I found it all quite normal… but then I would…”
They look like feathers and as her wings move, so do they. But there’s a definite sheen to their texture. What //had// the nanites done when they started to change her? Rewritten her DNA to be … something else? Or is it just physical?
“Normal is what you’re used to…” Ardul smiles and takes Hunters hand in hers. “You would find it strange, I think, to grow up in a nest, high in the peaks. And to learn to soar before you can walk.”
“Is that why you search for your ships? Do you know what caused you to crash?” At ten, he might not have been aware of what was happening. At least, not to that extent.
“I look for signs of my people. The ships that wound up here were all of one fleet. We encountered a deep space ley line storm that destroyed some of them and sent the others here. They arrived in upper atmosphere without power and…” Hunter shrugs and sighs.
“Well you can guess the rest. I’m mostly looking for survivors. People who might have been sent into cryo like me. But these were warships and destroying our military technology so it can’t fall into other hands is… always a good idea.”
“Well that explains your cruiser in space, then…” Ardul murmurs, tugging Hunter a bit closer as they talk. “Three hundred years ago, as I understand things, is about when the Rifts arrived here. I wonder if the storm you encountered was related or if it was just a freak accident.”
“But that also means that some of that fleet might be strewn across other worlds, doesn’t it?” If so, maybe that’s how Horatio got his hands on some of the tech. Perhaps.
Hunter will see her shiver then as the skin on her cheek seems to shimmer – from the alabaster colour to a sleek grey colour and back again “Is it cold in here all of a sudden?”
“Possibly yes. Even probably. And I’m given to understand that the events were linked and that a great many of them took place across the galaxy. Well… across the three galaxies but that’s another tale for largely another time.”
Hunter notices and cants his head slightly. He puts an arm around Ardul’s waist and draws her closer.
“That was… interesting. What did you just feel?”
“Three galaxies?” Ardul doesn’t argue and lets Hunter draw her near, gazing up as she shivers a little more. “You can tell me that tale one night when it’s hard to sleep …” Her eyes are still that cool grey colour but she’s not quite as serious as she was.
“What was interesting? I … felt a chill, really. Like an icy wind had blown over me. It ran through my body … ” At least Hunter is warm and that seems to help, but he can see the flicker of colour as it runs down her neck, over the scars on her shoulders and down her arms.
“Something happened to your skin…” Hunter murmurs, chasning that patch with his hand at least for a little bit. He’s watching it closely. The changes to the general texture of her skin he’d noticed before but this is the ifrst time he’s noticed it actively happening. It’s concerning.
“But yes Three Galaxies. All of them linked and related.”
As Hunters hand connects with the patch, it’s interesting. It’s cool to his touch and it’s … solid, almost like armour. The effect doesn’t last long and soon it’s just Arduls skin – not quite soft, not with the trials she’s been through.
“You’ve mentioned that before … the change.” she murmurs, looking up and seeing his concern. “It doesn’t hurt, it’s just cold when it happens…” Even though the nanites are gone, whatever they did to her is still in effect. They didn’t stop them soon enough. “I’m … changing aren’t I?”
“Changed might be more accurate…” Hunter murmurs. “I’m not sure if it’s ongoing…” It could be this is just a persistent side effect of whatever happened to her and not a continually evolving thing… but the reverse could also be true. Even with the nanites neutralized it’s still possible that they set into motion processes that are self sustaining.
“I’m not sure what’s happening and that worries me, but I’m glad it doesn’t hurt.” That she can physically feel a chill is… interesting, especially considering she did not when the changes were occuring.
“I’ll visit the Restorium, I think. See if they can tell me what’s going on.” It’s … not likely, really. Biochemistry and that type of medicine is very specialised and with the Rifts, there was a lot lost.
When the changes were occuring, she was in the thrall of the nanites. They could have easily suppressed her response to the side effects. “If I’m changed, I’m changed. We’ll work it out, or I will at least. There’s little be done now, I think…” That might be famous last words, after all – what could possibly go wrong?
“Do you want to do more planning tonight? All our guests are gone …” for the first time since she’s entered the room, the blonde places a kiss on the wolfens cheek.
“If we can think of more things to plan. Otherwise…” Hunter smiles and returns the kiss on the blonde’s cheek. He strokes her wing fondly and lets her lean against him. He very much appreciates her company in times like these. These being all times, really.