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Daireem - Lanus
7/16/2007 11:21:55 PM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
leaving lanus--scapino out

The building had collapsed along some kind of architectural fault line, making a bowl out of the roof.  Still, it was the tallest in what was left of the city, most of which had given way to toxic rivers and radioactive glaciers.  There were some terraformers, large blimps spewing streams of nanotech.  They balooned out swollen in front of a early radioactive dawn.

The Bravos only made it barely possible to exist in the Alpha reality, no more, so the aristocrats could profit from the indentured servitude of those desperate enough to sell the remainders of their lives for the chance to buy a home for their children in the new toy universe servers.

Whatever, a classic story, he'd heard of the same thing played out on dozens of different worlds.  He flattered himself into thinking he'd done his share of sabotage in leaving.

Scapino: [speaking into mic built into nose plug/atmosphere filter] Baiden, you there?
Baiden: copy.
Scapino: how long?
Baiden: sunrise.  your augs have you covered for pollutants, right?
Scapino: yeah, i don't know. we'll see.  scapino out.

He was wearing his suit, black with blue seams, and the patches of color his lord had insisted on having worked into the microfabric, to mark his status as a jester. And to mark him as harmless, so he could wander through the servers at will, as long as he didn't leave the planet on any of the realities.

Now he was about to leave the planet.  That was okay, though, because his lord was dead.  He had killed him.

Not dierectly, of course.  The genetics they had put into him made violence impossible.  But the genetic safeguards couldn't prevent him from learning his lord's  business secrets, and inviting the victims of his largest betrayals, past and future, to a court's entertainment, and then politely informing them of the contents of his master's secret files.  Nor could the safeguards prevent him from giving them the codes to the weapons cabinet.

He hadn't enjoyed watching it, because now it meant the stakes had been raised, and when they caught him this time it wouldn't mean dragging him back to his lord's court to perform acrobatic stunts on a laser trapeze, and sing ballads to the political cronies that surrounded him.  

He had to get off-world.  His only belongings, other than the blood-money the merchants had given him for his betrayal, was a case of musical instruments, containing a mandolin and a clay flute.  The mandolin he could actually play, the flute contained a Corman-Falee  Beam Saber.  He found that, with concentration, he could get beyond the genetic prescriptions and wield it, as long as he didn't think too much.

Baiden was an arms dealer, and one of his lord's enemies who had orchestrated the attack.  Part of Scapino's payment for the job had been his freedom and passage to the Blizzard system to see about some rogue paralell world technology from a scientist he knew lived there.

As the sun rose, and with uncanny timing, Baiden's ship rose into view over the lip of the building with it, Scapino wondered which, if any, of Baiden's promises he intended on keeping...

7/17/2007 1:24:36 AM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

Baiden: Oh, no.

Baiden had just eased his MTR-82 Spacehawk through the first two of three port rings in Lanus's outer atmosphere.  They had obligingly turned green as a signal for them to pass after they had undergone scanning for biological, and then electronic viruses.  The last ring was security.

Scapino:  what?
Baiden: we're screwed.

Baiden didn't look scared, but Scapino doubted it was possible for an orc to look scared under any circumstances, much less one with an 11mm JINXES P330 railgun and a Lanus Arms pulse rifle slung across their shoulders and chest.

Scapino had always thought it strange that an orc arms dealer would drive such a poorly armed ship.  Considering some of the firepower he toted for his clients, he could probably do more damage shooting out of the cargo bay doors than with the ships 40mm gauss cannon.  He hadn't even looked in the cargo bay.  Baiden had hinted that it was mostly long arms weapons, possibly some grenade launchers.  Things were fine with security as long as they didn't get boarded.

Scapino: we aren't going to get boarded, are we?
Baiden: yeah.  we are.
Baiden: My dimensional visa says I was in Bravo to see Yersbieu. They know he's dead. They'll board us for questioning, they'll scan your DNA and find the proprietary signature in your code...

Yet another thing Scapino had to take care of, find a good genetic surgeon, break the protein chains that would identify him as a criminal in every major port, much less one where he was known as Lord Yersbieu's missing jester.

Scapino took a breath and stared at the flashing red lights on the ring.

Scapino: Let me talk to them.

Hey Claudius...
You killed my father.
Big mistake.

Dominion Master
7/17/2007 11:27:52 AM

Level: 25
Experience: 65000

Total Posts: 689
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

The computer screen shows a security checklist. Every last item on it--including nuclear terrorism--is marked red. Somebody was in a hurry to get this guy flagged.

Kris: Hey Ash, could you go hold this guy, make sure he doesn't try to break for it? I have to get his visa logs because the checklist is decked out. Probably a bug anyway.

Ashley sighs.

Ashley: Fine.

She climbs into a pod nearby, which is really the detachable cockpit capsule of the security force's standard issue starship. A hatch closes behind her, and the green light on it turns red. Kris can hear the ship eject from the cramped space station. He broadcasts on several channels in an attempt to hail the cargo ship. It responds a moment later.

Kris: Please stand by, we have complications. Thank you for your cooperation.

He picks up a cordless phone handset and hits *22.

Kris: Hey Mischa. I've got a guy waitin' to get out of orbit here, and he's flagged for everything we have.
Mischa: Ugh. Yes, that's Elliot's doing. What's the visa?
Kris: 5645-7263-9945-13.
Mischa: Hang on a sec.

Kris looks at the security feed. Ashley's ship is floating silently on the side of the security ring opposite the cargo ship.

Mischa: He was one of the last people to be in Bravo to see Lord Yersbieu.
Kris: Uh, who's that?
Mischa: He was a big shot in the Bravo server, but I couldn't really tell you what he did.
Kris: Okay, what's the big deal?
Mischa: Well, he's dead now, for one.
Kris: Oh, great. Hang on.

He pulls the handset away from his head and hits the comm button to Ashley's ship.

Kris: You are weapons free. If he tries to break, kill 'im.
Ashley: What'd he do?
Kris: Killed some guy in Bravo, probably.
Ashley: Slag. Are you boarding?
Kris: Hang on, I'm on the phone with ground.

He releases the comm button.

Kris: Mischa, are we sure this is the guy, or are you just stopping everybody that's visited Yersbieu lately?
Mischa: Just stopping everybody. Elliot took the liberty of marking everybody that's seen Yersbieu for everything.
Kris: Is he ever going to get fired?
Mischa: Don't count on it. Anyway, you can either send a boarding team or send him back down to the planet.
Kris: Alright. I'm sure he's getting restless. Out.

He hangs up the phone.
7/17/2007 1:02:22 PM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

Kaiden is repeating the same orcish curse word, over and over.  Scapino is looking out of the Spacehawk's cockpit window at the edge of the portal ring curving away into the red light reflected in the window.  He could see his own bizarre reflection, and the orc, who was sending storms of nervous-smelling orc breath through the cockpit  from his nostrils.

Scapino: This tub still have the wiggle room?
Kaiden: Yeah, but...

The wiggle room featured prominently in many of the stories Scapino had heard Kaiden tell his drinking buddies when he was toasted.  it was a combination false wall and secret airlock, mostly so the orc could smuggle himself into secure civil zones, prior to small-scale pillaging.

Scapino:  Route my audio through the cockpit terminal.   they have to think its coming from the ship.  I need goggles.

In the wiggle room, Baiden had stowed three ralinian crystals, as dangerous as they were valuable, made from a molecular bonding across alternate universes.  No wonder Baiden hadn't wanted him to see the wiggle room; the orc had been holding out.  They were both probably dead now anyway.

Scapino had just squeezed himself out of the secret airlock when the security starship detached from the ring.  The acrobat flattened himself out of the line of sight.  Even with the goggles, the low pressure made it feel like his eyes were going to explode.

The ship seemed stationary so Scapino jumped from the cargo ship to the outer surface of the security ring.  He had counted on it being held in place by a stability field, and turned out to be right.  The surface moved slightly when he landed, but nothing that would be noticeable from the ship.  Since cables might be visible, he was doing this act without a net.  he wished he knew where the security feeds were coming from, but he would just have to move slowly and take his chances.

Scapino was used to low-grav movement.  Yersbieu had had court scientists set up local distortion events in the upper stories of the grand hall, to do otherwise impossible stunts.  Scapino had been close to death more times than he could count after crippling accidents from these performances, but the court doctors had always patched him up after a year or two.

Kaiden: We're being hailed.
Scapino: [inverting himself, and walking on his hands slowly along the safety rungs running on the outside edge of the ring, keeping his body out of view from the capsule and ship].  Go ahead and respond.  Make sure you feed my audio through the hailing channel.
Kaiden: copy.

AFter a few minutes, the jester had worked himself over to where the ship was floating on the side of the security ring.  He could see the back of a woman's head and a screen with the ship's visa numbers in red.

Swinging himself closer to the inside of the ring, to be invisible to the ship, Scapino crawled carefully until he found the edge of a station porthole. Red lights inside the station flashed in slow synch with the ones outside. He saw a man inside the station put down a phone and walk over to a console almost directly below where Scapino was crouching.

Baiden [over headset]: channel open...
7/18/2007 12:13:18 AM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out


Scapino tapped out a series of instructions into the palm of his suit, and had the miniature computer built into the lining loop that seven seconds of audio, distorting it according to a randomization algorithm he had coded while chanting.

The chanting was annoying. Nasal, insistent, maximally disharmonized tones.  Scapino could hear Kaiden moaning in the background, as if in pain.

Kris: Spacehawk class Punchbowl, I'm afraid we're going...
Scapino:  Lanus security, this is Bureauthean delegate vessel Punchbowl, requesting permission to board.
Kris:  Punchbowl, repeat last?
Scapino: Punchbowl requesting to board.  Our delegate needs non-electronic documentation of his visit to the planet, appropriately stamped with seals from Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie dimensions...

All this time the chanting had been on its loop, like a demoniac form of circular breathing.  Scapino decided that the grinding sound coming over his earpiece must be teeth.  He could see, through the porthole, the man's knuckles turning white.

Kris: Punchbowl, please await.

Kris cut off the audio from the cargo ship and took a deep breath.  That monotonous drone of a voice, the wheedling chant...

Kris: Hey Ash, what does the station have on
Bureauthean delegates?

In the starship, Ashley turns to an access screen, types something into her palm.  Her eyes widen in terror at what she sees.

Ashley:  Kris, do not let them board!  Do not set foot in that ship!  

Scapino hadn't made up Bureautheans.  They were a real proselytizing cult of bureaucracy-worshipers, who would travel systems in search of the religious ecstasies new forms of needless paperwork could provide.  They believed that entropy and waste were the natural course of all systems of information, and once the true purpose of any human endeavor was completely lost, then the inconveniences and complications would reveal prophetic wisdom, the true meaning of which would be unrevealed until mis-transcribed a hundred hundred times, etc...

Scapino had met one of them who was a friend of Lord Yersbieu, and had nearly gone mad memorizing his voice, and that of his companion who had merely chanted.

Bureauthean delegates were rare, but commonly acknowledged by experts to be the most annoying sentient beings in the system.  They could singlehandedly bring automated bureaucracies on civilized planets to a stand-still by endless transcription and verification orders.  

Kris took one look at the data Ashley was sending him and sent a message to the cargo ship saying that their request to board had been denied, and they were immediately to leave Lanusian airspace.  As Ashley had instructed, he sent their ship's computers the most complete documentation of free-travel and governmental endorsement they had at the station, with alternate appendices and variations.  

In most cases this was supposed to keep the delegates occupied until they were far enough away that their existence, and all record of their travel, could be erased from the stations computers, since Bureauthians were commonly known to re-follow any paper trail they had left on their journeys, endlessly re-verifying and documenting auxiliary forms of verification, all the while chanting and moaning and rubbing things between their fingers.

Scapino flipped himself back onto his hands and started the walk around to Kaiden's Spacehawk.  The man in the station was warning them that they would be destroyed if they did not leave the station immediately.  Passing the starship, Scapino saw the woman, upside-down from his point of view, activating weapons.  He moved faster.

Back in the cockpit, Kaiden was crying.  The arms dealer piloted through last ring, which had turned green now, and lifted them into space.  

For a long time, neither the jester nor the orc say anything.

Kaiden:  If you ever do that voice again, I'm going to kill you.
7/19/2007 12:22:10 AM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

Missiles exploded around the Spacehawk, extra ions blurring vision as the four VZ48 Hunters lunged down again and again in strafing runs.  Kaiden yelled and slathered up at them, madly shooting his railgun up into space.

Scapino felt safe for the first time in years.  He and Pelia, a halfling researcher stationed at the sky-fill orbiting Lanus Alpha, sat on a nearby slagheap doing powerful and dangerous drugs.  

They were jostled as the the Fighters pounded the nearby Punchbowl and its store of armaments into the soft bed corroded metals the cargo ship had landed on.

Pelia: what are you going to do if he...nevermind.
Scapino: if he what?
Pelia:  I was going to say survived.

The orc, who had been thrown off his feet in an explosion, was enveloped in a ball of flame as the ship's ammunition and oxygen exploded.  

Scapino had known Kaiden wouldn't survive.  He'd given the orc the same drug he and Pelia were now sipping in their tea, a Liavorian crystal-fungus that causes fits of irrational violence combined with a sense of omnipotence and invincibility.  Scapino's safeguards made him mostly immune, and Pelia was a halfling.

Scapino had refused to fly with the ralinian crystals, a reasonable enough request considering that in hyperspace travel they were known to drag ships into alternate dimensions from which there was no escape.  Kaiden had slammed him against the wall of the cockpit and threatened to shoot him.

Pelia, who Scapino had known for decades, was from the space colony Sunset.  The halflings formed a set of that civilization dedicated to exploration and research.  Due to small populations and high requirements for technical competence, the Sunset halflings had integrated most of their sciences into one discipline, which their children studied from the time they could crawl.

Unfortunately, the new science became too inclusive and encompassing, and the scientist like Pelia began incorporating things like philosophy and art into their experiments, violating rigid guidelines set up to protect objectivity.  

Pelia had been one of these, and had been exiled from the colony to conduct experiments on the Lanusian garbage-cloud.  As a design project, it was unique in being the worst example of waste management for a planet in any known system.

Useful to Scapino was the fact that the disgraced sunset researcher was one of the few people in the universe who knew about or had access to a backdoor into the Delta server.  Pelia had, early in her research tour, found out that those managing the dump were shifting the most dangerous of the industrial residues to Delta, used by both Alphas and Bravos for transport.  The atmosphere in Delta was, of course, far more toxic than the published reports indicated.  She had reported this to the Sunset colony and they had ordered her to remain quiet.

This, Scapino, had explained to Kaiden, was the perfect place to hide the crystals, since the Lanusian government would keep anyone from looking too closely at the site. They could come back later with a ship that had a dimensionally-reinforced hull.

One of them had to go with Pelia to hide the crystals, and one of them had to stay with the ship.  If Kaiden had gone with the crystals, Scapino would have tried to steal the ship.  Since he decided to stay with the ship, Scapino doped Kaiden with irrational-violence-juice, hid the crystals, and then had Pelia report the Punchbowl engaged in illegal salvage activity around a privileged area.  Scapino hadn't been lying about the backdoor into the Delta reality, nor about official Lanusian sensitivity in the area.

Pelia punched Scapino.  

Pelia: why did we kill the orc?

Scapino: because he helped me.  That means I owed him, which means I owed the person he works for.  That's where he was going to take me.  This way, I'll be in a better bargaining position.  His boss is a powerful crime lord: my ex-Lord's biggest enemy.

Pelia punched Scapino again, then looked at him.  Already the remediatory drones were picking over the ashes of the cargo ship, reading for chemical signatures.  In the distance there was a lighthouse, flashing pale blue, warning the work ships away from particularly deadly materials.

Scapino:  Because if I don't go to him, they'll just hunt me down.  And this way I have time to go see HIS arch-rival, who is a Baron from a Gekel moon.  I'll offer to work for him as a spy after I get pressed into service by the crime lord, Lord Yersbieu's enemy.  In exchange, he helps me disappear.  

This time Scapino dodged the punch.  His head was starting to hurt, even through the fungus.

Scapino:  c'mon. let's go see if any of the guns still work.
Hey Claudius...
You killed my father.
Big mistake.

Dominion Master
7/19/2007 1:20:33 AM

Level: 25
Experience: 65000

Total Posts: 689
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out


Chaig Vorlose slams his tankard of original Crocop-import beer down on the bar and looks at the oversized device attached to his wrist. It is informing him that a contact has been lost.

Chaig: Slag! About time!

He looks at the bartender.

Chaig: Gimme a bottle, and buy everyone a round on me!

He raises the tankard to everyone else in the bar, downs it, tosses it on the bar, grabs the bottle, and dashes out before the bartender can realize he didn't pay. He makes it to his DDR2 Cliffjumper starship and blasts off as quickly as his excited body can manage.

That foul orc Kaiden is finally dead!

He makes it out of Kote's atmosphere and slams through hyperspace, arriving in the garbage cloud above Lanus in mere seconds. While the ship automatically makes a stealthy approach--can't attract the attention of the security forces, of course--he slips on a space suit and screws his bottle of beer into the tube he patched into the suit. The ship touches down and he's already jumping out.

The junk heap that was the Punchbowl is a sight for sore eyes. He approaches it, sipping the beer.

Some blighters are already digging through the garbage! This means war.

Chaig: HEY! YOU!

Assuming this is a void, he assumes they can't hear him... But they look up at him. Slag.

Chaig: This is my garbage! I've been waiting for this guy to bite it for ten years!
7/19/2007 3:22:47 PM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

Scapino felt incredibly safe and happy.  Pelia was his friend, probably his best friend ever. He didn't know the stranger who had just drawn a Lern 42 Blaster and trained it on his chest, but he seemed nice. Besides, Scapino was a master criminal. He could get out of anything.  

Chaig: This is my garbage! I've been waiting for this guy to bite it for ten years!
Scapino: Hey, no problem.  We're just researchers, you know, we live up there...[he pointed vaguely up to the lighthouse] we saw the crash.

"Crash?" Chaig asked, eying the missile craters suspiciously.

The cargo from the punchbowl had been mostly incinerated, except for a blast-proof locker of long arms weapons, Barrett M82A1s, some defense carbines, with an assortment of blasters thrown in. These Pelia had arranged in front of her in a semicircle.  Grinning, she would pick one up, nibble on its stock, and set it back down.

Scapino: crash, yeah.  Looks like he was smuggling weapons.  Well, enjoy.

Both the elf and the halfling were wearing Lanusian-style compression suits, with the breathers and filters in front under a face-visor.  They moved like they had spent a good amount of time in artificial gravity.  The elf's face was bright green with a network of blue lines.  From his eyes Chaig guessed he was doped on something.

"C'mon Pelia," Scapino said, turning his back on the Blaster, "Let's go back over...there...why don't you lock those guns up in that EXPLOSION-PROOF box and we can go...call some people."

The halfling didn't move.  She was playing with a pulse rifle, flipping the fire mode switch back and forth.  Chaig would have stopped her, but the rifle was actually pointing at the weird guy in the jester suit.

Scapino, with his hands, mimed using a com unit, hiding, and then one ship flying by and blowing up another ship with ion cannons.  

Chaig didn't see the miming, but the elf had forgotten to switch from the common channel, so he had heard the sound effects.

Chaig: You're not planning on calling the Lanus base to send more Hunters  to blow up my ship, are you?

Actually, that was just the beginning of what Scapino was planning.  He imagined that he could repeat the same trick, endlessly, using one ship as bait, calling the Lanusians to exterminate them, scavenging the ship, then using it as bait for the next attack.  He and Pelia could have split the profits.  But then the stranger figured it out.  Scapino hated mind readers. They were the one enemy who could outwit his trickery.

Scapino:  ha, ha! um, no.  

The acrobat began to feel a suspicion that things weren't going smoothly.  It was difficult to think.  

Time to turn the magic on.  He turned back to the scavenger, hailing him on a private channel.

Scapino: [using a different voice] Look, I'm with the intergalactic vice squad, we have a seriously twisted halfling over there who could go violent at any time.
Chaig: I thought you were researchers.
Scapino: Cover story.  Listen, you help me talk her down, we can let you walk away with, say, one third of the cargo.

Chaig raised his blaster from the elf's chest to his head.

Scapino:  Things will be fine!  stay calm, I'll get the halfling to give you your guns.

Scapino turned back to Pelia and switched to a private channel.  He was walking towards her slowly, with his hands raised.

Scapino: Pelia, listen, we have to convince this guy you're psychotic. I want you to fire a shot over my right...

Pelia fired the pulse rifle, taking off the ring finger from Scapino's right hand.  Scapino, when he realized what had happened, bent down to look for his finger.  He felt like someone standing close to him was in incredible pain.

Then he was somehow mask-down on the junk-heap, and unable to move.  He could see the sole of the stranger's boot.

At least it was my right hand, Scapino thought.  I can still play the Mandolin.
Hey Claudius...
You killed my father.
Big mistake.

Dominion Master
7/19/2007 4:33:43 PM

Level: 25
Experience: 65000

Total Posts: 689
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

Chaig sucks another swig of beer through the tube. Mmm-mmm. He diverts his attention back to the crazy lady holding the pulse rifle. He points his blaster at her and looks at the guy who is now face-down in the junk pile.

Dang. He has half a mind to shoot the girl, but in a moment of clarity, he realizes he's drunk out of his gourd and maybe he has misconceptions about what's really happening.

He bends down near the guy on the ground.

Chaig: Did... did your finger just get shot off?
Scapino: I think so.
Chaig: Did you just say you think so?
Scapino: Yes.
Chaig: Okay, good. Because I'm really, hhreally drunk. So, do I shoot the psycho chick?

He looks up and sees she has put the pulse rifle down and is now tapping on a bullet's primer with her finger. She seems to be getting frustrated that it's not firing.
7/19/2007 5:46:39 PM

Level: 1
Experience: 0

Total Posts: 19
RE: leaving lanus--scapino out

Scapino:  No, that's Pelia.  Don't shoot her.
Chaig: [looks skeptical]
Scapino:  She's not crazy.  That was just a clever ruse.  She's on an extremely psycho-active crysto-organic life form that causes irrational violence and lack of coordination.  But don't worry.  I'm an acrobat.

Scapino picks himself up and launches himself at Pelia.  He lands about three yards away, visor first.  Pelia waits for him to get up, then goes over and examines him.  She grabs one of his hands, the one with the missing finger, and pulls him roughly back to where Chaig is still standing with his blaster aimed.  She's strong for a halfling, Chaig thinks to himself.

Pelia:  I think he's been shot.  Let's get him up to the lighthouse.  The suit's leaking pressure and oxygen from the finger...

Chaig lowers his blaster, shrugs, and starts to follow them.  He would have a visual on the two ships the entire time, but they would be invisible to security sweeps.  

Scapino screams from the pain in his hand, and tries to get to his feet.  Pedrolina punches him in the side of the head, and commences to dragging his inert body across the heaps of broken metal.

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