Rousseau’s is a pub for the lack of a better word. And the food is good. It’s here that Hunter and Ardul had said to meet and the pair have been there for a while, as evidenced by the food on the table and the mugs of drinks by their hands. There’s food for Kaji too – who’d arrived not long ago, probably with an adoring entourage.
If one being could be classed as an entourage.
He arrives just in time to catch part of the pairs conversation.
“Gretchen and Ioan want to know what happened at that shrine.” Ardul is saying to the Wolfen, as her thumb rubs over the mark on her hand. Whilst she seems clear of the effects of the nanites, there’s differences about her. One of the biggest is that her wings are … basically … the same colour as the Wolfen’s fur. Not the grey/black they once were. “I wasn’t sure what to tell them…”
“I only wanted to find out what more they knew about Nina … and what was meant by her loosing her name.”
“I’m sure they do.” Kaji’s entourage has been minus her own entourage because Penelope was with Hunter and Ardul BEFORE he showed up. The dryad has literal leaves woven into her hair, presently vibrant green. Actually everything about her looks vibrant if someone less glowing than in spring. Not that either Hunter or Ardul will know that.
“What did you tell them?” She asks.
Hunter is leaning back, sipping on a drink and repeatedly drawing and holstering his gun in elaborate ways. He is, at the end of the day, a gunfighter. And he’s pretty damn good at it.
Happily working his way through another plate of food, Kaji pauses to wash it down with some cider as he glances at the others while they converse. He begins to nod a bit, stabbing at the food on his plate for another mouthful, watching Hunter’s gun tricks for a bit, positive he’d drop it if he ever tried something like that himself.
“I was wondering about that too, actually- how stuff went. I mean, obviously things worked out…” he says, looking between Ardul and Penelope.
Ardul smiles fondly as Hunter ‘plays’ with his guns. Playing isn’t exactly the right word though. Maybe … practicing. “You’re very good at that, you know …” She knows he does but she likes to tease a little. And that’s something that’s been missing in her interactions with him since the nanites infected her.
Her wings lift a little in almost a shrug at the question from Penelope. Not only have they changed colour but it seems like they gleam as the light reflects off them. Feathers … shouldn’t do that.
Kaji gets an apologetic look but the blonde responds to Penelope “What am I supposed to say them, Penelope? That your God burnt the nanites from both of us but took as a follower because I requested he help you?” That might answer at least some of Kaji’s questions. But is that what caused her wings to change as they have?
A pair of wolfen enter at the back of Rousseau’s and sit on the opposite side of the room. Male and female. They notice Hunter – he’s hard to miss – but don’t particularly pay much attention to him, preferring to get food and drink. These are clearly more ‘advanced’ wolfen. More like Hunter, less like the tribal type commonly found around these parts. Hunter nods to them in greeting and keeps spinning his gun.
Sophia is watching Kaji, of course. She looks like she might lay his head on her lap and hand feed him if she could figure out how to get him to agree to such a thing. Not being able to think of a way, she contents herself with mooning, a bit.
“Yes? What would the problem with that be exactly?” She looks to Kaji and back to Ardul. “Do people on this world not believe in gods?”
Kaji chews thoughtfully as he studies Ardul. It’s like her feathers are made of metal or something. If he were sitting next to her he would have pawed at them a bit in his curiosity.
He tries not to frown as the Valkyr gives a bit more details on just what had happened, although he can’t say that he’s entirely surprised. Dealing with gods are better avoided, if all those myths he’s read are taken into consideration.
When he looks over at Sophia he blinks and then passes over a plate of fresh bread, his attention drifting briefly to the two Wolfen that enter before he looks to the women.
“I think it’s more the concerns about the strings attached with asking said gods for help,” he points out, brow arching.
“This world?” Ardul looks at the Nymph who’s still making doe eyes at the youth and just sighs “My people … are not easy with these things. Magic doesn’t really exist on my world, not like it does here and for the most part – we’ve evolved technologically to explain it.” It had been a challenge when she got here and magic still makes her uneasy.
Kaji might be able to paw at her wings. He’ll find them soft still, but somewhat … cool.
“They would not be pleased that your Lord cleansed me of the blight to have me show my wings to him …” They’d see it as trading one Lord for another. Which also doesn’t start to address the breaking of her vows to Nina and the kingdom.
“And it’s not like I asked for a boon for myself, Sophia. It was for his follower that I made the request, or her own request.” There’s an apologetic look to Penelope.
“Be that as it may, they spoke somewhat of Nina and what they think Hyfil has in store for her …” She looks over as the Wolfen enter and her brows rise. She hasn’t seen many like Hunter at all. “Friends of your, Hunter?”
“Never seen ’em before.” Hunter says finally holstering his weapon. “Not ever wolfen knows every other.” He smirks.
“You did not and I do not know why my Lord took the opportunity to mark you but…” Penelope shrugs. “Sometimes he works in rather mysterious ways.”
This has never been said of a god ever before.
Sophia takes the bread and breaks it before taking a bite. “Is this Hyfill any danger to my Kaji?”
Her Kaji. Hunter snorts and is about to say something when a band around his shoulder suddenly begins to glow light blue. Something looks like… writing around it. He suddenly doubles over in pain.
Oh, right. He keeps forgetting that Ardul and her people have this aversion to magic, which still makes no sense to him when they’re willingly hanging around in a world like this. But then if they’ve got it in their heads to straighten it out through technological means, that just makes it sound a bit like the CS. Although from what Kaji knows of the CS, they probably wouldn’t like the Iyesgarthians just because they weren’t actually human.
“Aaand sometimes they just like to have people in their debt to call on later,” he comments as he slathers butter on some bread that he helps himself to. He makes a slight face at Sophia’s referring to him as ‘her’ Kaji, but before he can have a bite of bread, Hunter’s doing something weird. Or rather his armband is. Was…that not just armor or something?
“Wh-whoa, Hunter?! What’s going on?” he shouts, scrambling to his feet.
Ardul had been stranded here and couldn’t return. Now that there is a way, given everything that’s happened, she doesn’t want to. That might have a lot to do with the band that she wears on her arm.
“Hyfil, Sophia? I believe so, yes.” Kaji likely won’t thank her for that. “I believe he is a danger to many on this world. They have technology that will make the population mindless drones, loyal to the Iyesgarthian throne.” Or perhaps, something worse. “It’s why we’re going to sto–”
The glow on Hunter’s shoulder has Ardul turning sharply and she’s reaching out to catch the wolfen as he doubles over. “Hunter…” her stormy grey eyes fix on the two wolfen who entered not long ago. She suspicious but she doesn’t say anything just yet.
The two wolfen get up and rush over. “Hey, old timer? You okay?”
Hunter shakes his head, doubled over with pain and apparently unable to speak.
“Sleeper sickness.” The female says. She looks up at Penelope and Kaji and Ardul. “I can help him. Let me.”
The wolfen woman gets a small autoinjector out of her belt and presses it against Hunter’s arm. There’s a hiss of injection and the glow starts to fade.
“I’m okay. I’m okay…” Hunter says as the pain eases. He knows Ardul and Kaji will be worried for him.
Sophia isn’t. She’s more worried for Kaji.
“Sleeper wha?” Kaji looks at the two Wolfen as they approach and offer help. He steps back to give them room, glancing at Ardul before looking over to watch what the female Wolfen does. This is all new to him for sure.
At least once Hunter begins to look less in pain and is able to speak, he looks a touch relieved. “You sure? What was that about?”
“No!!!” Ardul is moving as the auto-injector comes out but she’s too slow and they inject Hunter before she swipes at them, trying to knock the device away. “Hunter!” There’s been too many times that they’ve caught like that.
Nearly drawing her energy blade, she turns as Hunter speaks. “Are you? What was in that thing … ” that’s to the woman “And what do you mean Old timer? He’s not that old…”
The male wolfen steps in front of Ardul as she draws her blade. His hands are up, placating. “Easy, easy. She’s trying to help.”
The woman stands too, leaving Hunter doubled over and down on one knee. “He’s… um… those bands. They’re only from first generation wolfen refugees on this planet. Bio-ware markings used as identification and health monitoring devices. They malfunction sometimes. We call it Sleeper Sickness. The injector releases a chemical cocktail that causes the implants to temporarily deactivate.”
The… first generation wolfen? Hunter had said they arrived – well, crashed – here during the dark ages. Two hundred plus years ago.
“Ardul??” The Valkyr’s actions if not her shout surprise him, but the other Wolfen’s already stepped between her and his comrade as treatment is administered. Kaji stares a bit before slowly looking towards the Wolfen for their explanation.
“First generation..?” He doesn’t know a whole lot about Hunter or his people, but he looks at Ardul to see if any of that makes sense to her. “There’s no way to…fix it? Or update it so it doesn’t happen?” Remove it, even?
“Step … back.” Arduls voice is low and she’s already position herself between Hunter and this pair, crouching to check on the Wolfen who’s her partner. Kaji’s voice makes her blink and the Valkyr gives him a quick look. “That’s how they got me …” she explains “… and they’ve been targeting Hunter…”
They. The Iyesgarthians. Not the Wolfen.
The other Wolfens words start to register and Ardul looks to Hunter “Is it true? Are you one of the First?” He … hadn’t told her. Does … he know?
The two wolfen step back, exchanging a look. Penelope moves to stand next to Ardul. Supporting if not actually threatening violence. Hunter slowly picks himself up. Whatever just happened clearly hurt quite a great deal.
“In a manner of speaking.” He says, some pain still in his voice. “I was quite young and placed into stasis shortly after the crash. I woke up a couple centuries later in Lazlo.”
“Most of the First still alive were in stasis.” The other wolfen male says to Kaji and Ardul. “Hence ‘sleeper sickness’. And… no, not to our knowledge. Or perhaps I should say not ‘with’ our knowledge. The ancient wolfen had technology even more advanced than this world at it’s height. We can’t remove or repair it.”
“I’m alright, Ardul.” Hunter says quietly. “Though thank you.” For protecting him.
Understanding colors Kaji’s expression at Ardul’s explanation as he looks grimly between her and the Wolfen. But the Wolfen seemed to know what was going on with Hunter and it was fortuitous that they happened to be here when this episode occurred.
“Oh…” he replies once the other Wolfen responds to his earlier questions. That does put a damper on things. “But if not on this world, something might exist on another world. Although pinpointing one would be the challenge.” But it was still a possibility.
“Maybe we should all sit back down again,” he suggests.
Penelope gets a look of thanks and Ardul starts to relax, sure that Hunter hasn’t been effected by the nanites.
“You … never said.” she answers quietly, bowing her head to the other Wolfens. “Please, accept my apologies for threatening violence and share a cup with us.” Her wings move though, gleaming slightly as the light catches them.
Hunter can answer about finding the tech. Maybe that’s why he was looking for things when she met him. She’s … not sure if the tech can be found.
“Our food is here, and I’m sure your friend can tell you more if you need to. But no apology necessary. Enjoy your evening.”
The wolfen couple both bow in a particular way that Ardul might have seen Hunter do before and head back to their table.
Hunter finds his seat and rights it, before reclaiming it. Penelope glances to Ardul and smiles before turning to her own seat.
Sophia, Kaji will find, is clinging to his arm, almost breathless. It’s really hard to tell if this is calculated or if she’s actually like this. It might also be hard to tell which possibility is worse.
“It’s… not something I bring up often. And it is, as you might guess, part of why I was scouring old wolfen ruins when we met.”
Hunter takes a drink to steady himself and looks over to Kaji. “I’ve not found anything yet that’s… accessible that would do the trick. I might be able to find something on Atlantis, but…”
Smiling wryly at the two Wolfen, Kaji nods at them before starting to turn- and finding a Sophia’s been on his arm. Well, he’d been a bit distracted after all. With the crisis averted, he pats her reassuringly, trying to direct her back to the table and her seat. And maybe claim his arm back.
“Atlantis..?” Oh, right. That’s a thing around here. Sort of. He reaches for his mug again to drink the rest of his cider.
“What about through rifts? Like when we went looking for plasma blade components?”
Ardul returns the bow and takes a seat next to Hunter. She’s unnerved and jumpy and knows it not good. The sooner they deal with the Iyesgarthian threat, the better. She hopes, anyway.
“It’s not something you bring up, ever …” Ardul murmurs turning her attention to her drink but Kaji’s next question has her looking at him “You mean like the ship we found the crystal for your sword? The haunted one?” That hadn’t been pleasant at all.
“Where is this, Atlantis, Hunter?”
“East of here, in the ocean. It’s not a place we want to go.” Hunter mutters to Ardul. They don’t like… well, it’s a good place if you’re not human which Hunter isn’t. But it’s still rather dangerous for anyone who doesn’t have a particular kind of mindset or doesn’t belong to a particular subset of megaversally powerful species.
“We could certainly do that Kaji but it’s helpful if you know where you’re going. If you don’t you’re as likely to wind up in Dyval as in some place you want to be. And there are LOTS of places you don’t want to be out there.”
“There’s always Artemis.” Penelope suggests.
Sophia oooohs softly. “That might…” She looks at Ardul and then stops. “… maybe not.”
“Y-yeah….” Kaji says, his eyes drifting towards the table at the reminder. The ship venture would have been a lot better without all that creepy business, and while he doesn’t think there are 999 happy haunts housed in him, he doesn’t care for adding any more.
Slowly he nods at Hunter, lifting his mug and then lowering it when he realizes he’d emptied it already. “Kinda figured that, yeah. But it couldn’t hurt to ask around at least.”
Penelope and Sophia’s suggestion draw a flat look from him. “What’d I say about being indebted to gods?”
That’s the second time Penelope has mentioned Artemis to Hunter and Ardul’s brows furrow. Another god to begin with is a mark against that idea but if it will help Hunter, can she object? “I don’t like it but if you want to try this Artemis, Hunter, you should.”
She’s got a bad feeling about it but … well, she’ll think on it when the Iyesgarthians are dealt with.
“I’ll think about it.” Hunter murmurs. He doesn’t want to commit and with good reason. Kaji’s logic is sound.
“Now… I’m okay. Why don’t we get a bit more food and enjoy the evening.” Soon enough they’ll head back into danger, or it will find then. But now… they eat.