The Western Marches of Dogwood and the Western borders of Vesper eventually give way to the Appalachian Mountains. Or, in Rifts Earth, the D-Shifting mountains – peppered with Dimensional Stone now the Rifts have come, they are constantly changing and dumping all nature of creature onto this world. It’s to the farthest south western border that Baldur has been sent with a contingent of Taniguchi bannermen. He’s to meet a group of psi-stalkers who are coming in from the mountains and escort them to the Taniguchi manor.
There’s a certain amount of pomp and circumstance associated with the meeting – Natsuki is negotiating trade agreements with them and it’s important they put on a ‘show’.
As Baldur and the Taniguchi bannermen near the meeting point, they can see an awful lot of dust being kicked up. Baldur might recognise what that is from his time in the war. Something is fighting.
A certain Native American demigod has taken up residence for the foreseeable future in Vesper and she’s been out wandering, exploring her territory and getting a feel for the state of things. It’s been many years since she was last in these parts and quite a bit has grown or changed and then there are these mountains where things are always changing and being a creature born of chaos, it appeals to her.
A good fight is also something that has always appealed to Jesana and so when her keen vision catches the signs of one in the distance, she approaches for a closer look. Low to the ground on all fours in her coyote form, the demigod might be easy to miss or dismiss as not something to worry about, especially amidst a battle. A keen eye might notice that she’s coming closer and not at all wary however and that this coyote seems to be quite interested in whatever is going on.
Diplomacy certainly isn’t a strong point for Baldur, but an escort mission isn’t something he’s completely unfamiliar with. But this isn’t quite a simple escort mission, and so the fully converted cyborg can’t help but wonder for the umpteenth time whether this was a job he was cut out for. Of course, failure’s not an option here. He’s come to really like his employers and wouldn’t settle for doing any less than what they expected to be done.
Even if it means meeting with Psi-Stalkers.
“Look alive, gentleman,” Baldur murmurs, bringing a fist up to signal a halt, his orange-hued optics staring out into the distance where the dust clouds rise like a fog. “Might have some trouble ahead. Eyes peeled, we’re moving in. Take it slow.”
He looks to a couple of the accompanying bannermen nearest him. “See if you an get a better look of what’s going on- do not engage.” No sense in charging in blindly, nor getting any of these men needlessly hurt, although if the Psi-Stalkers they were meant to meet are involved, then they might have to assist.
Strange as it might sound to Jesana, coyotes are a rare thing to see out here. There’s more chance of seeing a stray D-Bee then there is something like her.
As she crests as ridge, she can see it. A band of six Psi-Stalkers, bald heads tattooed and the tattoos glowing, going hand to hand with three monstrous demons. Errr… two now. One just dropped to the ground, like a withered husk.
Each of the psi-stalkers is carrying a wicked knife and, it might surprise her, that they aren’t stabbing at the demons. They’re slicing shallow cuts in the creatures hides, ones that ooze sticky black icor.
For Baldur it’s a case of needs must. Since Natsu’s return from Vesper, she’s been ‘confined’ to the Manor or the Guild House Trent Factory. She never goes anywhere without Vos, a psi-stalker she’s contracted as her body guard. She couldn’t risk this trip – Connor Trent would definitely try to steal her back if she did. So with that and the constant concern that Connors people will launch an attack on the manor, he has to do this.
“Sir!” One of the bannermen that has just return from his reconnaissance. “Six psi-stalkers are engaging three demons. Hard to say if they’re winning but they’re engaging hand to hand.”
What will Baldur decide to do?
Hard to say what side Jesana would take upon approaching most battles..however.. she is no friend to demonkind and that is one of the rare absolutes about the woman. She’s aware of the lack of coyotes in these parts but is counting on or at least hoping the random shifting of the mountains will explain her presence.
After She pauses to consider the way the Psi-stalkers are attacking, it seems a bit strange, the coyote shrugs and leaps into the fray. Her claws can slash at demonhide a lot easier than they can stab anyway. Snarling, she hurls herself at the nearest demon, claws extended to rake against the creature’s side.
It’s been downright upsetting that things have gotten knocked out of all sorts of whack back home. Baldur would’ve much preferred to stick by Natsuki, whether he’d still been considered her bodyguard or not. Just his luck that his employer gets all the weird admirers and such, but he can’t argue at her having Vos at Natsuki’s side in such times, although had he or anyone else known, maybe he wouldn’t be as useless for such security either.
Right now he’s focused on the battle ahead, for he’s got no doubt in his mind that such is what they’ve come to find. Baldur looks over as one of his scouts returns. “Six on three don’t sound like too bad odds…” he murmurs. “Although demons’re demons, and well, how big are they?” He doesn’t wait for an answer as he glances back at the rest of his men.
“We’re moving in- I want three groups, one to flank each side and one with me, the other two stay back and watch for any reinforcements of any kind. The rest of you- guess it’d be rude to jump in uninvited.”
The orange light of an optic winks in and out in just that before he turns, pulling the brim of his hat down a bit as he turns and heads onward. He pulls a pistol from its holster, twirling it absently in that anxious manner of his. He’s not aiming to be sneaky about his entrance, he doesn’t want to cause alarm to the Psi-Stalkers.
“Hey-!” he shouts once they’ve come into visible range, but there’s an awkward pause as a …wild dog? comes leaping out to attack one of the demons. The cyborg blinks. “Um. Yeah, is this an open party or invite only?” And in case the Psi-Stalkers don’t understand his slang- “You guys got it covered or should we jump in?” Because who knows how these Psi-Stalkers do things! Maybe this is some kind of rite of passage or something- he has no idea and no one gave him a handbook!
As Jesana and Baldur draw near, they’ll see a wild, almost gleeful look on the psi-stalkers faces. Each time they attack the demons, they seem to … grow stronger. One of the demons swipes obsidian claws across one of the psi-stalkers stomachs – creating furrows and causing blood to flow but not disemboweling him. Both of them might think that nearly impossible given the bald headed men aren’t wearing a lot at all. But the proof is right there, in front of them.
All six of the psi-stalkers fall on one of the demons, and if Jes is using her magic, she’ll sense them draining it. It weakens and then starts to collapse, still fighting but its weakening. There’s almost no physical injuries on it.
The demon Jes leaps for, turns at Baldur’s call, a trio of scratches on it’s side from the Coyote – her claws haven’t done as much damage as she might expect, but those psi-stalker knives, sure are. It tries to shake the ‘dog’ off and leaps towards Baldur.
What she’s catching glimpses of, along with what she feels is enough for Jesana to keep her own power drawn tightly to herself as she claws at the demon. The demigod is a bit surprised by the lack of damage but not shocked, most demons are pretty powerful. She does wonder about the knives though, are they powerful relics on their own or is just the psi-stalkers draining the demons that are causing the most damage to them. At the very least she figures she ought to be a distraction to the cursed thing.
The arrival of Baldur and his men aren’t a surprise either though the robot himself is. She’d known someone was up there but wouldn’t have expected someone like him to seem in charge. It catches her interest but now isn’t the moment to really wonder about it, instead she uses the demon’s attempt to shake her off to put force behind her leap for the second one’s face, aiming to take out it’s eyes or anything that looks like eyes anyway.
Flinging a wild gesture back at the bannermen that he’d had accompanying him- which really doesn’t much seem to signal anything except maybe a ‘stay back’ (he’s so not used to giving orders) as he swings up his gun as the demon leaps at him. That’s pretty much invitation enough for him, and if the Psi-Stalkers complain about having one less of a meal, he knows the perfect retort. Of course that all depends on how things go, and right now Baldur’s more intent on not getting mangled.
It’s probably a good thing that the other demon seems pretty well handled, as Baldur’s attention’s been abandoned on the rest of the battle in favor of dealing with the one coming at him, and he doesn’t hesitate to fire off shot after shot as he brings his other hand ’round to slap the hammer down in a quick but steady rhythm between each squeeze of his other hand’s finger, his feet propelling him back to try and keep ahead of the creature.
“-crazy dog, get outta there!” he shouts as once again the coyote launches itself at the demon, and he ceases shooting lest he accidentally hit the thing. Do Psi-Stalkers keep pets? He’s not starting some feud over a dead dog but he’ll be more upset if the move costs him depending on how effective his shots had been.
The second demon is down before Jes can leap. The psi-stalkers looking slightly crazed as they turn as a group to the last remaining demon, though one of them gives the Coyote a piercing, hungry, look.
But first things first ….
Baldur’s bullets all hit, penetrating the hide but barely making the creature stop. It roars, a noxious breath washing over the robot (he might be thankful right now that he is one and can’t smell that). Saliva drips from a fang, landing with a splat on the shirt that covers his shiny metal, dissolving the fabric.
Six vicious looking knifes, slice the creatures hide again and as the icor starts flowing, the demon just starts to fade.
Is it Jes’ imagination or do the psi-stalkers look even more healthier than when she first got here?
As the demon lands on the ground, one the tattooed men grunts at the robot “Good shooting. But it’s even better eating…” Six sets of eyes turn to the Coyote. All of them with a hungry gleam to them.
Oops. Jesana’s attempt at an impressive leap backfires and she ends up in a tumble of fur and legs in the grass though she’s quick to regain her feet with a panting laugh at her mistake. She’d noticed the hungry look as well as heard Baldur call her a dog and quickly switches form as the battle draws to a close. A tall, lean human with sun bronzed skin and long shiny black hair takes her place. She wears a short white bucksin skirt with matching boots and a vest open in the front and just barely enough for modesty’s sake. Fang, antler, bone and bronze make up her jewelry and serve as the handles for the obsidian knives liberally strapped to her person. Keen black eyes sparkling with amusement turn upon the group and then Baldur specifically for a moment. “Coyote, Rusty.”
She grins and saunters forward with a measured stare at the Psi-stalkers. “And I ain’t on the menu boys..unless you wanna bite off more than you can chew.” The demigod’s grin widens. If she’s worried there’s no sign of it. None at all. “Besides, I come with a big side of eternal indigestion.” She watches the demons fade with interest for a moment then looks back at the others. “So, we gonna exchange pleasantries here or keep fighting?”
In retrospect, he should have used his energy-based gun. It’d be a poor argument to say that he’d failed to take the demon down just because he preferred the feel and sound of the pistol. Baldur jumps back as the demon halts but inches from him, and even though he doesn’t really feel the resulting as that acidic saliva falls on his clothing, he still reacts accordingly. “Yeaauuugh, gross!” …okay, maybe that’s not quite the expected reaction, but reasonable all the same.
By then the Psi-Stalkers have the demon covered, and the cyborg ceases his flailing to look at the body of the thing as it starts to fade. He twitches a little in something of a shiver, feeling an odd tingly feeling, his M-Null installation reacting in correspondence to the nearness of the magical feeding. It probably would go unnoticed under normal circumstances, but at this range, even without him being directly targeted, there’s an odd void of a distinct separation from the flow of magical energies, and it’s Baldur-shaped. It’s a bit difficult to really place, and depending on the assembled parties, possibly might not even be noticed if their focus is elsewhere.
“Didn’t anyone tell you not to play with your food?” Baldur says, shaking his head as he jams his gun back into its holster. He throws a glance back for his bannermen, then swings his attention towards the coyote-turned-woman, optics brightening slightly and then flickering into a duller glow. “Huh.” Magic. Greaaat.
“Guess you ain’t with them then, otherwise they wouldn’t be makin’ the wrong kinda hungry eyes at you. Well, my business is with them, and the fightin’ looks about done.”
There’s only barely of flicker when Jes turns into a woman and the big psi-stalker grunts. “We won’t need to fight, little one. You will just be drained and my brothers will eat well for a long time. You are … potent.” He smacks his lips and gives the Coyote a long hard look. She might wonder just whether they could do it. “But you helped and we have just eaten well. Leave her brothers, we have a meeting to get to.”
He turns back to Baldur and inclines his head “I am Cseh. Leader of this group.” That’s to both of them “You are our escort for Miss Taniguchi?” to Baldur.
Jesana knows what they are and knows the risk but.. she is what she is and luck and chance and risk are the spice of life. She might have left her humanity behind long ago, for the most part anyway but she is still alive. She grins and nods her head respectfully. “I’m Jesana. It’s a pleasure to meet ya’all.” And since she isn’t being eaten or captured, it really is. Though she can’t help but wonder what the odds are that she’d get free eventually.. someday.. inwardly she sighs at the knowledge that far more likely her Father would come.. after a few centuries of her suffering to drive the point home and then the rest of eternity would be spent with him holding it over her head. Perhaps.. it would do well to be more careful around these folk.
“And I thank you as well.” Jesana makes a gesture of respect towards Cseh. Maybe some of the demigods thoughts were clear enough on her face for the leader to understand that she’s thanking him for urging her to caution even if that isn’t what he meant to do exactly. Caution is not a word usually in her vocabulary. That done Jesana turns to look Baldur over with obvious interest. Something.. there is something about .. him? Strange. For when she looks at the robotic man she definitely thinks “him” instead of it but she is keeping her power on a tight leash at the moment.
The cyborg is glad that he doesn’t have to step in. Magic or not, letting a lady get eaten or sucked dry or whatever it is these Psi-Stalkers do just wouldn’t sit right with him. And sure as Cseh had said, she did mean to help.
“Baldur,” he replies in turn after the lead Psi-Stalker and Jesana introduce themselves, the cyborg giving a slight tip of his hat. “That’s right. These’re some of my men, and I have two more squads keepin’ an eye on our flanks in case any more demons decided to wander on in.”
Glancing between them, he then looks back at Cseh. “Ready whenever you are. Your people all….fed and set to go?”
“You are welcome.” Cseh rumbles to Jesana, bowing his head slightly. “Should you wish to travel with us, we would welcome the assistance of such a fearsome warrior.” Around him the other psi-stalkers are forming up. “We are ready, Cseh.” Their tattoos might be almost glowing.
“Let us be gone then, Baldur. We will run …” Run? Can they keep up with the trucks? Possibly.
Accompanied by bannermen from the Taniguchi House, Baldur sets out to meet a group of Psi-Stalkers on Natsuki's behalf with only minor complications.
February 06, 2411
Appalachians, Old Richmond