The trip back from Dinosaur Swamp had been routine if somewhat cramped. Pegi, Felipe and their patients had been dropped off somewhere suitable and then Hunter had gone off to get some ‘rack time’. Which is to say, he’d gone to sleep.
It’s early afternoon now and the wolfen is just coming back into the inn he’d checked into when they got back. He seems to have some kind of arrangement with the proprietor of this particular place because he hasn’t seemed to pay and no one seems to bat an eye at his asking for anything at all.
The wolfen is dressed in some kind of sleek, moisture wicking shirt and pants that don’t quite cover his paw-like feet. He’s clearly been out running. Ordinarily he does this in the morning but, well, he’d slept in.
It might be a side benefit from riding shotgun but Ardul had awoken considerably earlier than the Wolfen. Like most soldiers she’d used the journey back to get what sleep she could.
When Hunter comes in, she’s sitting in the corner of the taproom, armour distributed over the table in front of her or propped on the floor. She’s polishing it, piece by piece, meticulously and it looks like she’s been doing repairs as well.
Dressed in a soft linen tunic and matching pants, the Valkyr shows signs of their last encounter – not badly, she heals quickly, but they’re still there. Scraps and scratches on her face where the debris had caught her.
As the wolfen enters, her grey eyes light on him and she smirks slightly. “Well good morning, Hunter.”Good morning. Afternoon. Whatever it is.” Hunter gruffs. His fur is matted but only slightly. Keeping the moisture off him is the point of the getup he’s in right now.
“What is it you have there?” He leans over, seeing her armor. At least he doesn’t smell much. “Any luck hunting down a power source yet?” There’s only a small chance of that but he figures he’d ask.
Ardul just smiles at the greeting and moves her armour around on the table, making room for the Wolfen to sit with her. “Just my armour. It needed some minor adjustments after that last encounter and I like to keep it clean.” Which is likely to draw attention to her, sometimes in the most unwanted of ways.
After all there aren’t many winged women with gleaming silver armour in this part of world.
“The calibration on the power field was slightly off, delivering more power to the left side, leaving my right more exposed.” she explains as she polishes one of the vambraces and sets it down. It looks like the only piece left to do is the helmet. “Not really, though one of the vendors I spoke to before we left sent a message. There might be a trading post that could have something. I was going to see them, later this afternoon.”
She’s not hopeful either, but she’ll check it out.
“What about yourself? Anything new?”“How does it work?” He’s genuinely curious. He’s not really seen her armor do anything. He knows it’s powered but he doesn’t know what the power does, whether it’s fortify the metal, project a field or something else. The only thing he really knows for certain is that it’s the same power tech her sword runs on. Potent. Small. Sort of on the exotic side though.
The grey furred wolfen moves over to sit down and examine the other vambrance. It’s got a decorative… something or other. Or at least he assumes that projection is decorative.
As he sits, Ardul cants her head and considers him carefully. She knows he’s interested in tech – she’s seen his Wolfen equipment. “For the most part, it’s just armour but with these emitters…” she indicates several small ‘sensors’ on the surface of the pieces “I can create an energy field to enhance the armour quality.”
The projection that Hunter is looking at is decorative, it’s the sigil of the Princep of Iyesgarth.
“With this control” she indicates the gauntlet “I can adjust that field and make it expand into something like an explosion. It’s not something I like to do often, even back on Iyesgarth, as the power source needs to time recharge. But it’s proved useful down in Clearwater when we were swamped by demons and I needed to get a couple of me.”
“Will you tell me about your tech? You seem to have a bit of it and know how to use it.”“It’s old. Very old. I could explain the scientific principles behind it but…” Hunter shrugs. “Not much point to it unless you mean a specific device. When the Wolfen first came to Earth it was in scattered arrivals over hundreds of years. Sometimes whole sectons of ship crashed after being ripped apart in a rift. My people had a lot of tech. Mostly they salvaged what they could and let the rest to rot. Sometimes, though, people moved off or died before that could happen.”
When Hunter finishes, Ardul touches the projection on the vambrace that Hunter is looking at and smiles sadly. “That’s the sigil of the Royal House of Iyesgarth.” It’s a stylised set of wings with a coronet set over them and one diamond offset to the right. “The sigil on my armour is the personal sigil of the heir to the throne. The kings advisor had the Kings personal sigil on theirs.”
“I gathered your Tech was very old. Even though the tech here isn’t anything to sneeze at, the Wolfen tech seems … more advanced.” Ardul murmurs as she considers his words. “The tech that you have, do your people develop it now or is it all that you have and you repair it as best you can?” Of course, he could also be finding it in the wrecks he’s been investigating.“They’re relics. Keepsakes. The tech my people use now is broadly similar to the tech that you can find anywhere else.” Which makes sense. There are only so many ways to build a laser or a set of armor out of available resources and most wolfen are integrated into city states here in scattered groups much like the wolfen here in Vesper. If there is a nation of Hunter’s people out there, he’s never found nor heard of it.
“Which isn’t to say they’re not handy. They-”
Hunter cuts off as a man with dark, lank, shoulder length hair steps in, eyes scanning about. They settle on him and as he makes his way over there’s a certain aggressive swagger to him.
“Don’t look now, but here comes trouble.”
“I thought that might be the case.” Ardul nods in understanding. “Did you need specia—-” Looking over as Hunter cuts off and she looks the dark haired man over. “Friend of yours?”
Without seeming to make a fuss, she cleans her armour off the table, making sure it’s all stacked neatly on the floor beside her. No need to let anyone else get too close of a look at it. Not until you know who they are.The man – he’s quite tall really – stops in front of Hunter’s table and eyes both him and Ardul.
“Hunter.” He grunts. There’s an accent to him that Ardul can tell isn’t local. “New woman?”
Hunter snorts and eyes the man back. “What do you want, Jack?”
“You ‘n me got some unfinished bidness.” Yes, he pronounces it ‘bidness’.
“I thought it was pretty finished when I left Redscale.” Hunter replies. “Besides, the authorities frown on ‘business’ here.”
“I knows…” Jack grunts. “‘s why we’re gonan do it discete like. ‘less you want somethin’ to happen to blondie here.”
That makes Hunter snort again. “Try it. I’d like to see how far you get before she bends you in half.”
Ardul smiles pleasantly at the tall man and inclines her head. “Perhaps he’s a new man for me….” she says mildly, leaving her hands on the table and wings furled tightly.
The mention of unfinished business has her eyebrows rising and she looks at Hunter, questioning that. They can discuss what that means … after. “The name’s Ardul, not blondie and I’m sure trying to hurt me isn’t a good idea.” It’s all said very mildly but there’s an edge of steel to it. She’s quietly confident that ‘Jack’ will have problems.
“Why don’t you take a seat and we can discuss this civilly, Mister …. ” She’ll try diplomacy at least.Jack looks as though he’s going to spit. He thinks better of it and just laughs. “She’s got a purdy mouth on her don’t she Hunter.”
Hunter just quirks a wolfen brow and watches him dig his hole deeper. “I’m working here Jack. I don’t care what you’re doing here, I settled up with you a while back.”
“Aw now that just ain’t neighborly Hunter. And after I done come all this way to see you. You might want to consider my offer at least. Cause if you don’t show up at the old mill south of town in two days at noon, some unfortunate things might happen to the folk of live near there.”
Hunter’s eyes narrow and Jack looks at Ardul, smirks at her really. “Be seein’ you later…”
He turns to sort of amble off. Swagger off, really.
Ardul gives Jack a look that would have her recruits and junior soldiers quaking in their boots. Pity the man doesn’t know her. “I take it, that’s a ‘no’ then?” She settles back in chair and watches him carefully.
Thankfully he’s not long there and the Valkyr lets out a long breath. “Interesting friends you have, Hunter. You don’t need to tell me, it’s a long story, right? They always are. This sounds serious though if he’s threatening innocents. Want to tell me a long story?”“No, not really.” Hunter says scrubbing his face. “But I’ll tell you a short one. You’ve seen me fight outside my bot before, yeah? I’m what you might call… quick.”
He is too. Quick and accurate and if she’s seen him right he can empty the cylender on his revolver inhumanly fast. Fast enough to make it sound like a single shot.
Ardul would smirk at that answer but it’s not really a laughing matter. Gesturing to the barkeep, she orders two drinks. Strong ones. She thinks they might need them.
“You are, yes. One of the quickest I’ve seen, if not the quickest.” Her eyes drop to his arm briefly at that but rise to meet and hold his gaze. “Not just quick though. Accurate as well. Very accurate.”“I spent a lot of time travelling far west of here where a certain class of people fancies themselves… mmm, almost warrior poets. Artisans of the gun and masters of the quick draw. Lots of folks get augmented to make a name gunfighting. Some of the nastier ones supplement it with banditry and since there isn’t any central authority out there, no one can do much about it unless the nasties in question really upset someone.”
Hunter frowns and leans back. “Jack ‘called me out’ in a town a few years back. I put him down, and then I put most of his ‘crew’ down. They went down a bit… harder. Jack’s been obsessed with revenge ever since.”
“I’ve heard tales since I’ve been here.” Ardul answers, listening carefully as Hunter explains. When their drinks arrive, she slides one over to the Wolfen and sips at hers.
Brows drawing down into a frown, her lips thin as his story progresses. “I’d say you didn’t put him down hard enough.” the words are severe. “So he’s calling you out again to give you a taste of what his crew got. Doesn’t sound like he’s going to take no for answer. Are you going to accept?”“Not if I can avoid it. Last thing I need is to be arrested for murder here in Vesper.” Hunter snorts. “This isn’t the West. The law enforcement doesn’t helplessly shrug at gunfights because it can’t do anything else. Word gets out to the Justicars they can and will come down on me.” Hunter’s been rather helpful so they might come down nicely but he’s certain he’d be arrested. That might, indeed, be the whole point of the setup.
Ardul considers that, watching the Wolfen as she sips her drink. “Fair call. And given what you’ve told me, I’m not sure he would give you the chance to fire on him. Ambush would seem more like the play, there.”
“Still, it sounds like he’s going to start hurting people. That’s not something that I would let go unstemmed if I could avoid it. How //are// you going to handle it.”
The blonde isn’t worried for herself. If Jack decided to try and hurt her, she’s sure she can hold her own and then some.“Well he said people who lived near the old mill south of here. Can’t be that many of those so it seems the reasonable thing to do is to go find them. If he’s smart he hasn’t already kidnapped them and alerted the Justicars.” Hunter pauses thoughtfully. “I’m not entirely sure if he’s that smart… I might want to let the Justicars know what’s going on. Of course if nothings happened I’m not sure what they can do, but sitll…”
Nodding thoughtfully, Ardul thinks on that before adding her own thoughts. “On Iyesgarth, each province had their own militia to deal with local disturbances. Not all the militia were part of the standing enforcement force, they could be pulled from the population when needed. Perhaps the Justicars might be persuaded that you would be a temporary asset in this matter.”
She’s not sure exactly how law enforcement works here. All she knows is that, for the most part, it seems successful.
“Even if nothing has happened, advising them of a potential issue would seem advisable. And when you go to warn the locals, I’ll come with you.”“Oh good.” Hunter smirks. “Maybe I will get to see you break Jack in half.” It seems like he’d find that amusing.
The wolfen pushes his seat back. “Well, looks like I’ve got a long day coming up. I’d best go get changed.” And armed. Just in case.
“You might at that.” Ardul waggles her brows at Hunters comments. The blonde does have a sense of humour, really. “There’s something rather pleasing about being underestimated … ” Yes, given the chance the blonde would happily break the troublesome Jack in half. If only to teach the man some manners.
“But I wouldn’t want to deprive you of any pleasure, Hunter.” Stretching, she bends to gather her armour “I’ll get myself ready and meet you back here.” With any luck, there won’t be any flying cyborgs to bother them …