Hunter is out in Saren’s Rest. The town, for all it’s wild and often lawless nature is pretty safe for him. What he’s doing at the moment is… seeing to his bot. It makes sense. It’s several million credits worth of hardware. It’s expensive and more or less irreplaceable. And he’s garaged it with Meg, the premier mechanic in Saren’s Rest. She’s known to be reliable, but he had wanted to look in and make sure.
Taking Ardul out to see how she handled the public in a non tense situation was a bonus. Ever since she got sprayed off with Nanites she hasn’t been quite herself. There is… sadly not much to be done about that.
At the moment the grey wolfen is just examining the armor on his bot. It’s pristine. Meg has even had it washed regularly. Well, he is paying her to store it so that’s considerate of her. The silvery armor is bright enough for Ardul to see herself in.
“She almost looks better than when I have her.” He mutters to Ardul.
Ardul is inspecting the bot, staying close to Hunter – being attentive – as she does. It’s been a while since she’s seen the wolf-bot and she’s impressed with the care that’s been taken.
As to the Valkyr, her behaviour has seemed to even out a bit though she still calls Hunter ‘Lord’ at times.
Sometimes she takes a single knee, like a Knight would – which makes sense. Ardul is a Knight and the nanites have rewritten her loyalties towards the Wolfen.
“I wouldn’t say that, Lord.” the blonde murmurs “She hasn’t seen any action in the time she’s been here. I think you’re being hard on yourself …” She wonders if the Wolfen misses patrolling with the bot. Perhaps that’s something they could rectify.
Perhaps he does. He is a mech jockey at heart. But they’ve been doing other things and his firepower isn’t quite useful against their present enemies yet. Though it might be in the near future.
“Hunter.” The wolfen absently corrects. It’s a losing battle. She continues to call him Lord. It might be hard coded into her by this point. The wolfen pats the leg of his bot and turns to head out of the shop.
“We’ll take her out again some time for some of that action. If you can stand being cooped up in her again.” The wolfen smirks a bit as they emerge into the light. He doesn’t pay much attention to the winged shadow that falls over him. Out here, that can be anything. He’s lived in places like this for so long it doesn’t even occur to him to look up.
“Yes, Lord. Hunter.” She uses them interchangeably but he might right that it’s hard coded into her by this point. Those nanites had done a lot more than just try to control her, they had tried to rewrite the core of her.
“If I was a different type of woman, I might be jealous of her …” Ardul murmurs, giving Hunter a sideways look as he pats the mechs leg “But I don’t mind being cooped up with you as long as you don’t complain about feathers everywhere …” She catches the smirk and a wing, fans out to touch his shoulder.
The winged shadow has her tensing for a moment, as her head tilts up cautiously. It might be Iyesgarthian but the ruler of Sarens Rest is known for his wings and she can’t really tell from the shadow that she saw fleetingly.
Hunter smirks back, stepping forward as Ardul looks up. She looks up just in time to see a pair of Iyesgarthian’s desending. One plants his booted feet into Hunter’s back and sends him sprawling. The other lands next to Ardul and lights her plasma sword. Both have mottled white and grey wings with the feathers painted or dyed red at the tips. Both have their faces concealed beneath featureless grey masks. But both have bare arms and Ardul can see an identical tattoo on their arms. These were Nina’s royal guard.
“Knight Commander Trasinger! Stand down and return to Marshal Hyfil with us. This is an Alpha Priority command.”
Override code directed at her nanites. Now they find out how well Hunter protected her.
As the Iyesgarthian’s descend, Arduls blade is already flaring to life. She’s too slow to put herself between them and Hunter, but as he sprawls, she does just that – wings flaring.
“Leuitenant Judd, Leuitenant Phillip.” For a moment, she’s shocked as she recognises them – even behind the featureless grey masks that they wear. That would stand to reason given her position with Nina – in many ways, these might have been hers to command.
What might shock them is that she actually questions that. The nanites should have responded immediately but they’re slow. “If my Lord commands it, I will do so…” she finally says. Not disagreeing – it’s just she recognises another authority.
But … with these being royal guard, where is Nina… Do they have her? Or have they just been … compromised?
Hunter rolls rather quickly not his back. The other two haven’t attacked yet. They’re expecting Ardul to obey and… yes, they do seem somewhat nonplussed when she does not.
“Your Lord has commanded it. Lord Marshal Hyfil is your Lord.” The wolfen behind her rises, slowly, weapon drawn. He’s aiming and moving slightly to get a better angle to aim. Lieutenant Judd turns in place to track him, keeping his weapon in a defensive guard.
“If you will not come.” The female says. “We will force your compliance. You MUST return to the Order.”
“Ardul, you are under no circumstances to go with them.”
“The Order?” Ardul blinks, sensing Hunter moving – hearing him move, more than any connection between them. “My Lord has not commanded it. Yours has.” she says simply, plasma blade still blazing in her hand.
When Hunter speaks, the blonde nods and moves to square off with him – reducing the angles at which they could be attacked. “I decline your offer to return with you, Leuitenant Phillips and I suggest that you can’t force my compliance in tact.” Hunter is totally going to roll his eyes in a moment – Ardul really doesn’t want to kill her people.
“The Order of the Bloody Wing. We serve the Iyesgarthian Throne…” Nina’s uncle. Is Nina captive? They said she was, but Ardul hasn’t seen her thus far. “You are to return and serve the Iyesgarthian throne, according to your oath, Knight Commander. You are not released from your oath.”
It’s like they know her. They’re hammering at her since of honor. The two start to spread into a combat position. Hunter tenses, continuing to match Judd’s movements.
“We will not ask again, Knight Commander Trasinger. Honor your promises.”
“There is no such order.” Ardul responds. “Princep Nina’s guard had no such thing. You serve the usurper and I will not return to him.” They are most certainly beating on her honour and the oaths she swore. But she’s sworn another one since that time as well.
“My oath was to the Princep Nina and the //lawful// heir or holder of the Throne. It is now to my Lord Hunter. He is now my Leige …” She’s struggling a little, the nanites haven’t quite rewritten all of her. There’s the core that makes Ardul, Ardul.
If they were to invoke Nina or produce her, the blonde would struggle a lot more.
“My Lord. What is your command?” she asks the Wolfen. “Stand down, Leuitenant Judd. I am still your superior.” She can try, can’t she?
Hunter narrows his eyes, watching the other two. He doesn’t think they’ll leave and he knows that she doesn’t want to hurt them. It doesn’t look like they’re going to have a choice…
“Attack.” Hunter opens fire. His first two bolts are deflected away by the plasma blade and the armor the Iyesgarthian is wearing. Both lunge forward, one at Ardul, one at Hunter, spinning their blades with the practiced ease of someone what Ardul has personally trained.
Ardul doesn’t think they will leave and it’s fortunate they haven’t invoked Nina. If they had, this would be a very different discussion. Well, somewhat different.
At Hunters command she sighs but doesn’t hesitate, stepping inside the spinning blade, trusting her armour to bear some of any blows that are landed and sweeping the legs of Phillips, trying to knock the woman down before the fight really begins.
Hunter’s assailant blurs past Ardul, wings beating to launch her forward in an assisted leap. He gets caught off guard by the wolfen’s cybernetic arm coming into play much faster than expected and landing a solid hit. Now Hunter plays for space while the Iyesgarthian tries to lock him down where he can’t bring his weapon into play.
Phillips takes the hit in the legs and tumbles, but comes up as Ardul trained her to. Her blade lashes out low, aiming at the knees. While Adrul might be trying to disable, Phillips seems perfectly willing to maim. Perhaps Hyfil wouldn’t balk at the chance to modify the woman some more.
It’s not that Ardul doesn’t want to hurt Phillips – well, she doesn’t if she can avoid it but she knows that fights are rarely fair. As the other woman rolls up, the blonde isn’t there, having kept moving //past// her and positioning herself behind the other Iyesgarthian.
The blade barely misses her, and there’s scorch marks on her armour. Still, Ardul intends to finish this as quickly as possible – there’s no more time for talking besides, Hunter ordered the attack.
As the momentum of the swing has Phillips turning, the winged blonde sweeps own blade down … on Phillips sword arm. It’s a risky move and not one that should be expected. Ardul might have learned a few things in her time here.
Judd grunts as the blow from Hunters arm connects but he’s solid and strong. That shouldn’t surprise the Wolfen. The plasma blade spins and then hums in again, this time targeting his wrist … trying to sever it.
Hunter brings his metal arm up to catch the blade on the forearm and not the more fragile wrist. The high durability alloy sparks and glows as the plasma sword bites into but does not sever it. His weapon comes up under it and he fires four times. He’s empty now and he knows the other man is armored. Hopefully that did something he can use.
Ardul’s strike also impacts armor – which will not surprise her – but the force of it throws the the sword from the woman’s hand. She grabs Ardul’s wrist and scrabbles at her belt for something. It looks like a medical injector. There’s probably no doubt in Ardul’s head what’s in it.
If Hyfil might consider modifying Ardul more, it makes him less of an Iyesgarthian than he should be. Not that they don’t use advanced technology to aid their injured – but this type of approach … it’s not how the avian people think.
Or they didn’t.
Judds extinguishes his blade as it bites into Hunters arm, pulling the cylinder free and trying to disengage from the Wolfen. He underestimates how fast Hunter is, though and grunts as the shots hit him, the armour absorbing a lot of the impact. But not all … there’s rends there and the gunfighter can see them as Judd turns away, his fist rounding trying to punch and get some space to renew his attack.
With her sword arm arrested, Ardul doesn’t try to fight but her grey eyes widen as she see’s the cylinder Phillips is reaching for. This … isn’t good.
With a bit difficulty, the blonde reaches for the pistol she’s taken to wearing with her off hand and brings it up Judd’s unprotected head, squeezing the trigger as she does.
That all takes precious moments though – ones that Judd can use to her advantage.
Hunter lashes out again with his mechanical arm, directing a gut punch to exactly the place that he’d shot several times. He might be able to crack the armor between his wolfen strength and his augmented arm. It’s built more for speed than strength but, well, speed kills.
Phillips brings the cylender down onto Ardul’s leg. She hadn’t been dressed for combat so Phillips figures her former commander won’t be armored. Her thumb goes down onto the button moments before Ardul shoots her. She falls away and the cylender falls to the ground… but did it inject her? Or did Ardul stop it in time?
//Crack// Judds armour splinters as Hunters fist impacts with it. The winged man grunts again, his fist colliding with the side of the Wolfens head – perhaps ineffectually as he deals with the pain and the fall out of that blow.
Ardul cries out as the cylinder hits her thigh, even as Judd falls to the ground … blood pooling around them. “… Lord …” she manages to grate out, looking at the cylinder in Phillips lifeless hand.
She might have been in time… But it would have been close, either way.
Hunter grunts as he’s punched. It’s not a bad punch. It’s just not a jaw-breaker. His is. He follows up with an upper cut and then a thump on Judd’s back to flatten him. He won’t be moving. Despite the fact that the fight has taken place in broad daylight in the open street in front of a shop it hasn’t drawn anything other than a few looks. Saren’s Rest is just that kind of place.
“Ardul!” He looks over toward her. What had happened. She doens’t look hurt and he didn’t see.
Phillips is dead at Arduls hand and Judd is down and out. Neither Iyesgarthians would have expected that, neither would Hyfil. These were some of the best. The question is, does Hyfil know what’s happened or will he be waiting for the two to arrive with the blonde.
The others have had some form of visual recording devices that transmitted their actions in almost real time.
“She … ” the blonde takes the cylinder from Phillips hand and hands it to the Wolfen “… was going to use this, Lord.” She hadn’t but it was close and Ardul shudders. She really didn’t want to have the nanites neutralised again. Or experience what they might have tried this time…
Hunter has a big gouge out of his arm that’s going to have to be repaired. He takes the injector in hand and crushes it with a simple squeeze of his fist. “She didn’t though. Are you okay?”
Now that he’s closer he looks her over. There’s blood on her but none of it seems to be hers. She’ll be bruised but… probably okay physically. Psychologically? That’s another question.
“What do you want to do with him, Ardul?” That he’s asking might get an interesting response. The nanites were not made to create beings with free will.
“She … didn’t…” Ardul rubs her thigh. Phillips had been so very, very close. The blonde is bloody and bruised, hair a mess. She’d been lucky the plasma blade hadn’t connected with her at all.
“I’m … okay. Bruised but the blood … is hers.” Psychologically? Hunter will find out. So will she.
“Whatever you want, Lord …” comes the immediate response as the blonde blinks and glances at the downed Iyesgarthian. “We can question him and find out if Nina is alive and in their custody. And … maybe we can use him to gain access to Hyfil.” But, she’s clear – it’s really up to Hunter. Those nanites have certainly had an effect.
Hunter nods and leans down to pick up the unconscious Judd. There’s a lot of places to stash someone you don’t want to go anywhere. Saren’s Rest is more empty than inhabited by volume and there’s always the underways, which are a bit more dangerous but much harder to get out of.
“Come on.” He says quietly. “Lets get out of the open and see to ourselves.”