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Forums > Sci-Fi Roleplay Forum > Echoes of the Past (Always Open)

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WELCOME TO

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Now I've been tossing this idea around in my head for a while and thought, why not? Why not turn my own little passion project into a group forum rp? So here it is.

Now there may be some confusion for some people who remember this being called Dead Galaxy, after much deliberation I decided to change up the setting into what the original had intended to be. This is Echo's of the Past

Now that's out of the way, let me introduce you to the more detailed specifics of Echo's of the Past:

This rp is intended to be pretty much always open in both senses of the word, as in you're always welcome to join and the story is pretty open-ended, there are some large mysteries to uncover, some villains lurking in the shadows waiting to strike, however a lot of the plot will be driven by you lot and your actions!

Now unlike some other sci-fi rps here EotP does have a somewhat specific lore to it, especially in the starting phases. A lot of which is explained in this here group EotP GROUP!.

Before I actually go into this any further. PM ME before dropping into EotP. For the sake of consistency and giving you a good experience here I would like to know your character and just make sure it fits right.

For character creation, if any of the races inspire you at all, feel free to make someone for one of these species. If a faction excites you, absolutely jump on into it and get creative. Or if nothing there excites you, but the concept still does feel free to toss a race my way and we can discuss integrating them right in.

A minimum of at least a paragraph per post would be wonderful, just to ensure that everyone has something to reply to. Another of my intentions with this sci-fi rp is to try and keep it as open as possible to newcomers so I'll be writing quick summaries of each of the different plots and links to their respective parts so people can easily find a way to jump in and discover a plot they like.

Plot-wise, a lot of it will be generated by you the players, where you want to go, what you want to do. However within this, you will all be working towards uncovering the overarching mysteries behind the revenants, the precursors and their echoes and in general the abundance of stellar entities floating around the galaxy.

Aside from that little introduction, I'm so glad that you've shown interest and most importantly while here. Have some fun.

“Hey, lizard, you ever feel like these tools weren’t meant for you?” It was a scathing comment cast almost haphazardly across a concrete floor that was illuminated by the sharp contrast of fluorescent lights that strung across the ceiling in rows that Ko had made the task of counting every once in a while from his workstation. Speaking of which, the turbine in front of him was actually almost done. He’d tore it apart from top to bottom three times now and missed the structural instability twice, which in turn made his coworkers shove more teasing words in his direction than normal.

“Ever felt like you could overcompensate more than that?” a familiar female voice rang out in the exact same level of scathing, if not more. Dripping with anger, the voice seemed to lower itself to a whisper, floating between his ears and asking a very important question, “There’s a forklift behind that guy. I could rip him a new one pretty damn easy.” Pausing to take a breath, the Tyranan removed a protective cap from his head and leaned back against his toolbox. The corners of his mouth twitched down slightly as he considered the offer by his AI, Scarlet, who hung on a rather thick and somewhat heavy necklace about his collar. He couldn’t see anything good come of hospitalizing someone, especially if they could trace it back to his AI in some way, “Well?” Scarlet pushed, her voice becoming impatient even with Ko. His frown grew a little more as he wiped his forehead of the mild grime he’d accumulated over the past three hours of putting the turbine back together, and furthermore, the past eleven hours of mechanical repair.

“Bad idea.” the younger reptilian spoke, fighting his body as a yawn threatened to overcome him. Though he fought hard, he lost that battle and his mouth opened wide. Painfully so, it stretched to the point that his eyes began to water slightly. From the floor where he sat, he gazed up at the turbine again and counted the steps he’d have to take to finish it up for the night, “I like this job.” his voice was low, though there was something about it that came across as mildly androgynous sitting right in the midrange. It was a trait of his species that tended to not waver that much. His comment instigated bickering from his artificial companion.

“No you don’t. We need to find you one that doesn’t have assholes like that on you every day,” He only grunted in response, which faded into the same sort of sound he made standing up again. Everyone else stood with their heads well above the mounts for the turbines, but even at its lowest capable height, Ko could only reach the very top with his head. The tools absolutely weren’t made for him or anyone else of his kind, and it got mildly frustrating when a pneumatic driver threatened to rip his forearm apart or he had to hook an aluminum tube onto the end of a wrench to give himself leverage on a bolt. Even then at times, he would lift himself off the floor before managing to break the bolt.

Scar didn’t try to push it any further as the rather small reptile placed his hard hat back on and began to finish the turbine up again. Despite the fact that he could barely fit his hand comfortably around the grip of the driver, he still managed to hold it steadily and put the last remaining reinforcements on it. He was not going to test it tonight because really he didn’t have the time. He’d just do that tomorrow. After ten minutes of checking everything, the notably short reptile took his hard hat off and placed in back on his toolbox. Surprisingly the same coworker who’d essentially told him to get out didn’t respond to Scar’s comment. Must have hit deep. Maybe she’d sent him something particularly scary. Ko had stopped keeping up with that sort of thing and would rather not become an accomplice to any of the illegal threats Scarlet had made in recent years.

Making his way to the exit, he stopped by the registry kiosk and looked over the simple hand shaped podium and the screen behind it on the wall. He pressed his palm to the glass of the hand print reader and waited as it scanned. The outline of a hand and five fingers was comically larger than his own digits and he found himself smiling lightly. It was a quick process that took no more five seconds to complete. A passive electronic chime emanated from the screen and Ko’s name appeared on it for a moment left aligned. There was some space on the right where a last name would go, but Ko didn’t have one, so the right side of the screen always had an uncomfortable space. It read:

Ko ____

Clocked Out

Registered hours: 11.75 hrs.

Next work period: 23.25 hrs.


“Logged.” his companion replied, letting him know she’d marked down the next time that he’d need to be at work. Despite her constant aggressive protection, he really was fond of Scar. The straight forward and overbearing attitude was something he couldn’t typically produce himself and oftentimes, and no one of his own species that he knew tended to be that way either. All just sort of self contained people. It was refreshing, especially to have that sort of intensity on his own side. Maybe that’s why he never returned the Effervescence 3.873.9.2 to the store. He still lightly cringed at the very thought of that store.

Stepping out the sliding glass doors into a fairly damp night, the reptile took note of how the yard lamps cast a piercing blue light over the puddles on the worn concrete platform he’d been assigned. His platform was elevated, like the layers of one of those public parking garages. Above him was another, and below him was another, seeing as he was on the third level. They were all almost exactly the same aside from the unique cracks and dents in the concrete and aluminum shops hosted at each level. The only platform that was any real form of different was the very top one five stories up. On that level, the massive steel beams that held and reinforced each platform came together and held up a large roof that diverted any rain water off to the sides of the platform stack. This of course didn’t keep the puddles from forming on each flat by humidity alone, and he did not succeed in keeping from splashing his pants as he made his way to one of the three elevators for that stack.

The elevator was considerably taller than he was and the call button was even with his eyes. Lifting a palm, he slapped the button passively and began waiting while considering again the consequences of putting a forklift into the backside of someone. Definitely a hospital visit. It was probably a good idea to try and avoid doing that. Or at least try to avoid letting his AI do that to someone. Again, the edges of his maw curled downwards slightly.

Eventually a digital bell rang out as the elevator raised into the bay. As it did so, the cabin slid upwards visibly behind a set of metal mesh guards designed to keep you from falling to your death. A secondary ding rangout at a lower pitch letting Ko know that the cabin had stopped moving. This was proceeded by the metal mesh sliding downwards vertically, creaking along the way. The Tyrana grimaced lightly as sound pierced his ears. As the guards finally reached the bottom of the cabin, he stepped in and made quick work of jamming the one
button assigned to the ground level. Miraculously, the meshes made it to the top in what seemed to be double the speed of what they’d lowered at. Abruptly, the elevator jolted before beginning its descent at a steady pace.

Through the metal mesh tube that the elevator skimmed downwards within, Ko got to look out at the platform beneath his, and observe a definite lack of lights. The one below it had none as well. It looks like he was the only one who’d stayed that late again. In the cold damp air, a small plume of his own breath emitted out the end of his maw. It was a sigh of relief because this meant he wouldn’t be having to deal with other workers in the showers, which all in all was something he hated to deal with to any degree.

“You shouldn’t stay so late, you know.” Scar’s tone had softened up a little and showed more concern than it had previously. The second platform crossed his viewing level and the first came into sight. Still no lights.

“Almost caught up with rent.” he assured her as the cabin settled itself on the ground in a jerky manner reminiscent of when he’d first stepped into it. As the bottom platform’s meshes slid upwards, the reptilian mechanic stepped out and continued on his way towars the main building, “After that, I can slow down.”

“And you can find another job.”

“Yeah.” He wasn’t going to lie, she had pinned him pretty well when she said he didn’t like the job. Mechanic work was nice and all, and he didn’t care about the tools being built for those larger than he was, but he really disliked his own coworkers. Hardly a day went by without him getting alienated from the otherwise humongous mechanics who could more often than not throw around turbines with their bare hands. He avoided arguments for this reason alone. For related reasons, he often avoided entering the showers if anyone else was present.

The main building stumbled into view at the same rate that the four foot three inch reptilian could walk casually. Approaching it, Ko pushed a heavy steel door open and stepped inside. Greeted by a hallway, he made short work of navigating a related set of hallways that branched off from that. On the way to the lockers, he passed by the office. It was a sealed off room with reinforced glass on three sides where receptionists would deal with various workers. He never dealt with it because he didn’t want to have to speak to someone sitting even higher than the counter, which was about even with the top of his head. That would just be cannon fodder for the teasers.

Giving it only a passing glance, Ko moved on to the locker room. Wholly abandoned, rows upon rows of two feet wide by six and a half feet high boxes with reinforced steel doors and hinges stood. Right in the middle of each door was a letter followed by three numbers. The Tyranan mechanic navigated to his, spotting the term K389 in relief against the metal way too high for him. On the opposite side of the hinges, a hand print scanner similar to the one at the shop was mounted. You couldn’t get to the internal lock unless you broke through the biometric device, and that would set of a pretty ear bleedingly loud alarm.

He pressed his palm against the glass surface and waited until he heard a mechanical click. Removing his palm, the door swung open and he was greeted with a black backpack that was comically large for him. They really didn’t make bags small enough for him around here. He would have ordered one online, but considering this next paycheck was going to be first that put him ahead of his debt in a couple of months. He hadn’t gotten around to it. Plus shipping was a pain in the ass.

Dragging the bag out and onto the floor, Ko set out a new pair of clothing for himself. His normal clothes. Along with it, he set out a plastic sack for his dirty clothes. After this point, he looked around in a somewhat worried manner, beginning to feel the tips of his ears burn in mild embarrassment, “Is there… anyone around?” he asked, finding his view wasn’t good enough.

“No one on the cameras.” Scar replied. Ko sighed, visibly slumping for just a moment, before standing upright again and grabbing the zipper of his coveralls. These had been tailored for him as part of a set of laws aimed towards non-discrimination, but they still cost him a pretty penny to make. Slipping out of it, he was left wearing nothing but his undergarments. Removing those, he folded everything neatly into a stack and placed them within the plastic sack. That went into the backpack and then out came a towel and a bottle of body wash. Despite the fact that no one was around, he was still surprisingly embarrassed about himself, and in the relatively unassuming light of the locker room, he hurriedly made his way to the showers around the corner.

The showers were in an open format with a few different stalls that each were large even for larger species. Aside from the stalls, there were also two communal showers that consisted of a very wide open spaces of small teal tiles, evenly spaced drains, and juxtaposed towers that allowed for four nozzles to poke off in opposite directions. Ko would have used the stalls were it not for the fact that the knobs were frustratingly high up. Even on the very tip of his toes, he wouldn’t stand a chance against the height of them. So he was stuck to the open area. Picking one of the two, the reptilian entered and found a nozzle towards the corner. Around the edges of the communal area were various benches and other places for the workers to place their stuff. Picking the nearest one, he placed his towel neatly down and then moved on to the chosen nozzle.

The water took just a moment to warm up and he wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of cold liquid that contacted his skin and he couldn’t help but jump away from it. He made a small sound of surprise that seemed to entertain Scar, whose laugh vibrated up Ko’s neck and made him shiver lightly. He hadn’t removed the AI necklace, but that was okay, it was pretty sturdy and a little bit of water for a fact would not harm it or any of the electronics inside.

“You’re never going to learn are you?” Scarlet giggled, heckling him about the various times he’d already done this. He continued to ignore her as he stuck out his palm to feel the water as it warmed up. Eventually it did reach a temperature that he found to be pretty comfortable. Stepping under the pouring liquid, he shuddered at the warmth that immediately coated his entire body. For just a moment, he leaned forward and balanced his weight against the tower with the top of his head, allowing the scalding stream to run down his back in something between bliss and mild pain. His mind became lost in this emotion or rather lack of for quite a bit longer than he had intended to. The sound of someone clearing their throat caught his attention in a hell of a way.

Jerking upright, he turned to the entrance of the shower with a bewildered look on his face. Even through the warmth of the water that now ran over his head, he could feel the tips of his ears burning wildly. His eyes adjusted to the scene in front of him after a moment and he saw… nobody.

“Hop to it, Chief. Sun’s already down.”

“Right...” This was one of those moments where he despised Scarlet royally. He huffed audibly and felt her laugh ripple up his neck in response. She was right though, he was spending way too much time standing there. The ends of his mouth curled downwards a little as he huffed again in defiance even though he was going to do exactly what she had suggested. As he turned around, he could hear and feel his tail strike the water on the floor behind him.

The next ten minutes were spent lathering the bodywash onto himself and rinsing. Once he finished, he made sure to take the moment to enjoy himself in the water. The knobs creaked slightly as he turned them tight. The lack of water flow and the sound of it on tiles made his ears rings for just a moment before the sound faded back into oblivion. Taking the bottle with him back to where he’d left the towel, he became breathtakingly aware of the lack of sound aside from where he could hear his own footsteps on the floor and his own slightly heavy breathing from the humidity.

Taking the towel and unfolding it, he began to press it to his body methodically, making sure not to miss any of the built up moisture, especially where it had been shoved under some of the scales about his shoulders where they became heavier, as well as the thighs. This was a finicky process that occasionally became mildly painful. Truth be told he should have left the scales alone, but he didn’t wanna leak water into his clothing later on, even if it was just a little. The scales thinned out to nothing really but softer skin in many places, especially around the stomach and neck. These areas were considerably easier to dry.

“Can I hear some music?” he asked suddenly as he finally decided to stop letting the sound of him rubbing himself be the only thing he heard. Scarlet didn’t interject any comment this time around but immediately began to play from his evening playlist. As he walked out of the shower with his towel hanging off of one arm and his bodywash in the other hand, he felt the rising intro of a song begin to play through the vibrations on the back of his neck. Starting low, it rumbled up to a crescendo before dying out in an ambiance. Before the ambiance could get too stale, a simple melody drowned out in reverb faded in.

Back at his locker, Ko folded the towel into the plastic sack and then placed the bodywash back into the pouch he’d retrieved it from. The music had faded back into an ambiance before a single clap played and a step further the melody came back in clearly with a simple 4/4 melody. It was pretty baseline EDM that he tended to enjoy simply because it was easier to listen to than most other genres. The song continued to progress into more complex drum patterns and variations of the melody as Ko began to dress himself. Undergarments first, and then pants. They were a bear of black skinny jeans that hugged to his form, followed by a gray t-shirt that he’d bought a size or two too big. It had long sleeves too that flowed over his hands. He honestly couldn’t complain though. Next was a scarf that was in a darker rust color. This piece of clothing was incredibly too large for his size and threatened to east up his entire neck, and along his back, it flowed halfway down his legs despite being wrapped properly around his neck. The last piece of the puzzle was a wide brimmed black hat he’d found somewhere. The brim was particularly wide and he found it to be pleasing. Socks came next, followed by a pair of black sneakers made for his species with more padding towards the front of the foot.

There was a mirror on the inside of the locker door and as he stood staring at himself, he could again feel himself becoming slightly embarrassed but what he didn’t notice immediately was the smile that had crept onto his face. He really was pleased with this appearance.

“You’re awfully happy.” Scarlet commented with a snicker picking fun at him.

“H-huh?” he was caught by surprise at the comment, and felt his burning ears find a new higher temperature.

“I could hear that purring from here. You have every reason to be happy with your appearance.” Ko had a hard time responding to this, but appreciated her immensely. Instead, he found the nearest camera and stuck his tongue out at it. The smile didn’t fade. Scar wasn’t terrible. Not terrible at all.

For the first time since he had started working that morning, the Tyranan felt legitimately happy. He figured he might as well get something to eat before heading home. Hell, he might even try to get into contact with some old friends of his. He’d finally be able to after getting ahead with his housing debt. He knew another Tyrana too, though he never really felt the need to be around them, but, maybe. Maybe maybe.

“Thinking about Rhet again?” Okay maybe he was lying to himself about past relations with that Tyrana, but a fresh start could have been in order.

“Yeah. Any open cafes at this hour?”

“You know the one by the park. You really should get ahold of them again. Never know when an off-planet job might catch their fancy, and then it’ll be too late.” She was right again, and he knew it, though he didn’t want to focus on the bad.

“Guess I’ll have to steal a ship then,” by now, he was on his way out of the building and on his way to the cafe, feeling considerably more energized than before.

“I like the attitude, Chief, but you might wanna work things out before that becomes a necessary contingency.”

Their conversation faded into nothing as Ko set himself into the thralls of the city, navigating through the damp air by memory with no accompanying conversation other than what could be derived from the melodies of the various electronic tracks Scar continued to rumble out through the actuators of the necklace. His journey took all of about forty minutes of walking until he finally found the quaint cafe sitting on a concrete pad along the concrete path through that part of the park. The park itself was huge and had a legitimate ton of variation depending on what sorts of nature you tended to enjoy. His personal favorite was the area that this particular cafe had been situated in. It was a huge grass clearing with one concrete path leading through it. On either end, the path wrapped around into the trees, and along it were several benches where those walking the paths could rest. His favorite thing actually, was that there was nothing in the sky above the park, so you got a good view of the stars. Thankfully airspace restrictions had been put in place to prevent the area from having anything built over it. Would have ruined the place. If Ko was being honest with himself, he was hoping that he’d meet Rhet out here, and share some form of reconciliation. Maybe some rekindling. He could get his hopes up as long as he didn’t have to face past mistakes.

The cafe itself was a rarity as far as the young mechanic could tell. It lacked many of the conventional technologies of the day and age. And while the preparation of food hadn’t changed much, they kept everything pretty simple. In the years he’d been coming there, the only piece of technology they seemed to have ever updated was the point of sales to be able to accept the digital currencies. Which was fine by him. He didn’t need to get robbed again.

Walking into the store, he was greeted by the overwhelming smell of coffee beans and the sound of dishes being clinked together. It hit some nostalgic part inside of him and he found himself smiling as he crossed the empty space on the left. Everything was still considerably larger than he was, but he really didn’t mind here. At the counter, he waited for an attendant to take his order, and finally one of the two came over from behind the other side from dealing with another customer and addressed him. He had never seen this attendant before. Must have been a new hire. They eyed Ko with a certain level of disdain that wasn’t addressed for a moment.

“Uh… we don’t sell coffee to ki-” the other attendant, someone who had seen Ko many times had followed up behind the new one and upon hearing them begin to call the reptilian a child, placed their hand over the new hire’s mouth to literally shut them up. The small reptile’s smile faded into a somewhat bothered frown. He wasn’t feeling so hot about his outfit anymore.

“Who here looks like a kid to you, Kid?” Scar’s voice raised in annoyance.

“Sorry about that!” the more experienced attendant exclaimed, visibly blushing, “He’s new here, he’ll figure it out.”

“Sure he will.” The superior attendant eyed the hire in a pretty piercing way and moved back to the other side of the counter area.

“Er… Sorry. What can I get for you?”

“The usual.” Ko answered shortly, trying to avoid speaking to them as much as possible. The other attendant heard and waved idly with their hand.

“I got it.” they said, muttering to themselves a little.

At the point of sales, the new hire rang up the coffee and danish that Ko generally got. The payment went through immediately, to the hire’s surprise, “That’s not supposed to happen… hey is this supposed to go through that fast?”

“He’s got an AI. It’s good.”

“Oh… Have a good evening.”

Ko took the coffee and pastry with him and left a little quicker than he’d come. He knew it was a mistake, but he didn’t like it anyway. It wasn’t the first time, and he doubted it would be the last time. His species kind of stopped growing taller early on and he was on the somewhat shorter side even then. Outside, he really became aware of the chill of the night air and the mild breeze that got underneath his shirt. He enjoyed it compared to the feeling of wearing a single piece of thick clothing that was meant to protect him from stabs and burns. Scar resumed his music as he made his way into the grass, searching for a spot that didn’t have anyone nearby. He did find one eventually, situated near the sidewalk on the opposing end of the clearing.

“Figured you might appreciate something slow.” it was still EDM, but the tempo was slowed down. He recognized the intro immediately as a favorite ambling track of his that he often listened to in order to settle down and relax after work. Setting himself down in the grass, the reptile made short work of biting into the cheese danish. Followed by a sip of the coffee which was exactly like he enjoyed it: Stronger, but not not without some sweet. A small exhalation escaped his maw as he slumped, looking out over the rest of the clearing, which was mildly lower than his spot. From here he could see various large buildings some ways off on the outskirts of the park. The majority of the windows he could see were dark and it reminded him that majority of people were getting ready for or were asleep.

Pondering over this, he found himself idly eating and drinking to the thought of sitting forever. He could have done it too. He had essentially a day off. He could probably even sleep in that spot to and no one would care. In fact, he felt he might. Scarlet wouldn’t let him sleep too long, so he was fine. Finishing off the last bite of the danish and setting the coffee down next to himself, he leaned back and removed the hat. With his head set in the grass, he placed the hat on his chest and shut his eyes. He figured it wouldn’t take long to fall asleep, and it wasn’t long before the soft embrace of rest met him in the middle.

”Erm … hi?”

The first thought that dashed through Cas's head as he scanned the faces of several awestruck office workers, was that this moment couldn't get any more awkward. Now staring at the slightly disheveled insectoid, their expressions didn't come close to being indicative of his day.

So far this day he’d been shot at by two different groups of masked soldiers, jumped from a moving vehicle and just now had been sent through the window of a random office complex.

At least it was better than yesterday.

Something that was entirely lost on the office workers as they starred aghast at the slightly bleeding kid who was dusting themselves down in front of their shattered window. At least shocked silence was something Cas could work with if they kept it up long enough then he could be out the door and away into some alley! All he needed to do was stay a few more days on this planet until he found a way off! It would be so simple and all he needed to do was reach that door.

The office wasn’t terribly big, or at least this room of it wasn’t, something for which the little insectoid was all too grateful for. It was inevitable that someone, somewhere in this room was going to scream or call security, he just needed to be on his way before anyone could do that. That was if no one had tripped a silent alarm already.

Still, he thought to himself, the day hadn’t been all that bad, he’d still managed to meet up with some of his “friends”. It didn’t really matter that none of them ever talked back to him, that was alright, so few people in his life had so he was used to it and besides, he was happy to do the chatting anyway. After all who else would he share all of his experiences with?

“Well … I’m sorry for conducting such an impromptu tour of your office, but I must say, while this is a lovely place, I really should be going.

As he gingerly pushed the door closed behind him, he could already hear someone beginning to talk into some sort of communications device. No doubt calling some form of group that he’d much rather not be around when they showed up. At least that was one positive thing about the lot of them being rather apathetic, none of them tried to help. Something that only ever ended up slowing him down and causing more troubles later on down the line.

Just as he’d gotten halfway down the corridor, someone in the office screamed and instinctively before the sound even had the chance to cut itself off, he was running.

He didn’t need to wait around long enough to see a gunman come barreling through that door, that image had already been seared into his mind so many times that he could practically see it when he slept. No, now he just ran.

At least there was that to thank them for, he’d gotten very good at running these last few months, much fitter too. Of course, it helped that there were enough rich idiots leaving enough money lying around for him to get good meals too. The very same money he was saving up bit by bit to buy his way onto a ship out, where too didn’t really matter, so long as it was away from Scion. There were rumors too about which ship was heading for the remotest regions, he just needed those few more days.

And hey, he’d get to see more of the galaxy that way, he could see his friends in their natural habitat rather than some cooped up tank. What an adventure it would all be!

That was all he really wanted, after all, just a bit of adventure, well, that and the freedom to go where he wanted. For all his running and hiding, he was still a kid, a kid who was wanted by a great number of very powerful people, but a kid nonetheless.

So Cas ran, he didn’t really have much of a plan of where to go, merely that where he was heading wasn’t here and right now, here was the only place he didn’t want to be. Anything in the way of leaving he pushed aside, and those he couldn’t he simply ran straight through, knocking aside several very indignant workers in the process. Afterward, many of them would describe the scene as a young Tri-Abol blasting through their work as if his life depended on it. A statement that Cas would disagree with strongly.

His life did depend on it and it depended on him getting as far away as he could.

“Ya know, I really wish more of these places were more accommodating to runaways! Why could no one build in a handy fire-exit when you needed one?”

Exit!

It was such a small word, but one that brought such joy to such a little creatures life. Screeching to a halt, he turned and changed course. Moments later being forced to a standstill once more. Automatic doors, it was a pain but he had to wait for them. Those few precious seconds bringing his pursuers closer and closer.

Swoosh!

The sound of the two sheets of glass sliding neatly open was a very pleasant sound, something that was mostly lost on that kid. He was more preoccupied with being grateful it was two fewer panes of shatterable material he was being thrown through.

“Oi, kid, what are you doin?”

They had got here a lot faster than he had expected them to.

“Erm … yes … well … it’s a long story, not one you need me to recount, I’m sure you have more pressing matters than hearing the tale of a street urchin.”

“I think I’d find how a street urchin ended up entering in through a third story window exciting.”

“Well, I never said it was a boring story, just a long one.”

Why couldn’t they just hurry up? He was stalling for as much time as he could, but there was only so long that he could keep people occupied with his movie level grade comebacks for so long. Thank the stars most officers he’d run into were so starved of non-threatening situations they were willing to prolong it.

“If it’s that long then I’m sure you’ll enjoy telling it to me on the journey back down to the local station. You’ll have as long as you need then.”

“Well, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable wasting police time and -” He glanced behind himself, just for a second and sighed in relief. “Why don’t you ask them?”

Cas threw himself sideways, enhanced muscles screaming at him to just give them a proper break, just for one. Not that he listened, he had to move, to get out of the way of the small metal caps hungry to tunnel their way through his flesh.

To his side, someone screamed, a horrible brief scream that gave way to choked gargling.

Hands slamming on the hard pavement he pushed himself upwards and started to run. Legs and heart pounding with the strain of movement.

Every muscle pushing him just that bit harder to get away and no matter what, not looking back. He never looked back, it was easier that way.

Behind him, someone discharged a pistol.

Sometime in the past, he’d have closed his eyes, screwing them tightly shut, thinking that in some way, this would make the bullet just go away, or the pain less painful. Now he just ran, eyes wide open on the road ahead, forever searching for a way out.

Increasingly further back, more gunshots sounded. At least they hadn’t hit the policeman in the first volley, that bought him some time.

Enough time to pick a side road and not look back.



It was later, how much later he didn’t know, just that he’d been running for a long time and his feet were beginning to hurt like hell through his chitinous exoskeleton. Yet here he was, in the one place he could still relax in. Where he could still share a friendly conversation.

This cabinet was his favorite of all of them. Here in the sprawling Locuarium filled full of curiosities, most people wouldn’t even dream of being able to see in their natural habitat and the right equipment were some of the smallest creatures of them all. But as he stepped in through the small door sealing the room and light off from outside light he could be alone with them.

It was a while before his eyes adjusted to the darkness, but that was fine, he had as long as he wanted, or at least until his stomach forced him outside. But now as they had he could see them properly, tiny crystalline creatures the size of his hand, each of them glowing softly in all the colors of the spectrum. The wings always took his breath away whenever he saw them, for such a decorative part of the body they were such marvels, so thin you’d sometimes believe they weren’t even there and yet the patterns that ran over them were all as radiant as the stars they circled. And when they drifted past each other, their translucent bodies overlapping their inner glow sparkled like all the colors of the rainbow.

Yet for all this beauty, he knew they weren’t the “best sight” in this place, they weren’t the biggest, nor the most deadly, or even the most intelligent and certainly not the most inspiring and yet he still loved them. Loved the way they floated about aimlessly, bouncing from place to place without a plan, just enjoying their freedom. And they survived, each day living through another potential threat just trying to wipe them out.

Gingerly as he placed an outstretched palm onto that sheet of glass he could instinctively feel their simple pleasure at another day spent hopping from one floating hunk of rock to the next.

“Hey guys … and or well gals too I suppose - “

He didn’t have to talk out loud, he didn’t need that in the slightest, but no-one else here was going to talk back, they never did. So once again it fell on him to fill the void, push back that harsh silence, that lack of any contact which meant more than anything else that he was alone.

“So … how’s it going then?”

“That good? How about you Tay? How’s life with Myrra been? Has she been treating you right? Olly not tried to steal your food like last time?”

“Hey Jas, between friends I gotta ask, just without the others, who's your favorite? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone, you can trust me.”

“Me? I guess my days been
For a moment he paused in his ramblings, pondering the invisible question and how best to answer it. After all, what could he say here that he couldn’t say of any other day? Maybe the weather? Then again he’d been too busy to properly notice that, not raining he guessed. Wasn’t like they knew what the weather was anyway.”

“I got thrown through a window today… but don’t worry, I’m a tough little thing, it didn’t stop me, I still managed to get up and run afterward. They haven’t caught this creature yet … not that I’d be coming back to tell you if they did…”

“Well … I’m sure if it was the cops I’d be let out in the end … dunno how long that’d be … if you’d even be alive … if any ride outta here could be grabbed.”

“Dunno if I’d even be allowed proper freedom … might never get to see the stars again … up close! I mean I know I could see them from the ground like they’re in the sky and all, but they’re not here are they, up close? Well I know they couldn’t be this close, that’s silly of me, but like … closeish?”


He coughed slightly, unsure of how to go on, it wasn’t often he made himself this vulnerable and the creatures entombed within these walls were the only ones he was ever even close to open with.

Yet just as the silence was about to wrap its cold tendrils around Cas and try as it always did to seep into his veins he felt a small thud against the glass. Not the sort of thud that ever signified that the glass was going to break, or that something was ever actively trying to break it, more the noise of something aimlessly bashing into the edge of another surface.

Looking down in surprise he saw it, a tiny creature, smaller than a lot of the others had made it’s way over to the glass and was now pressed up against his palm or at least as close to that as the glass would allow. Miniature eyes seeming to gaze up comfortingly at the uneasy kid, wishing him to feel better.

It took a few seconds for a faint grin to carve its way onto the edge of Cas’ lips, but no matter how hard he tried to fight it, the smile came all the same. Just being near these creatures and their adorable little antics, brought such a simple enjoyment in life with it he found it intoxicating.

“You’re all such beautiful little things … when I grow old enough, I’ll have one of you with me, well probably not one of you but I’m sure it’d be one of your cousins. And not as a pet! I wouldn’t do that! You’d be a companion, well … first I’d need to find a way of keeping you with me … maybe a container of sorts …”

“Yeah, I know … I’m rambling … but you know how it is… Well, I don’t know if you do actually, but I hope you do …”

“Anyway!”

“Can’t have me sitting here wasting your time, or have the others think I’m playing favorites, which I totally am, by the way, you guys are the best. But I gotta go say to some of the others, I promise I’ll be back!”


It was during those last few sentences that the room had lit up slightly, a glow from the now ajar door flooding into the room, spreading its tendrils outwards in a battle to reclaim that particular room from the dusk it had comfortably sunken into.

“Hey kid … you alright in there?”

The question, while perfectly reasonable, especially when looking at it objectively - that of a random slightly beat up kid chatting away to himself in a darkened room - was not one Cas was in the mood to deal with right now, he had his other friends too see.

So he did what he always did in these situations, tell the truth in the most infuriating manner possible.

“As okay as you can be when on the run from an empire that wants you dead. At first, I thought the day was going pretty terribly, but then I did manage to experience a rather lovely office as I was thrown through a window, that really did help to bring it up a notch.”

With nothing else really to say, he practically danced around the older person before not quite legging it down the corridor in that half run, half walk people mostly used when they wanted to be somewhere else fast, but didn’t want others to think they were actively making an effort. All the way down to the building's centerpiece, the void tunnel.

He always marveled at this place, the many hundreds of entities that propelled themselves across that dark seemingly empty space, how uncountable they seemed to be all cooped up in that tank.

Somewhere, faintly in the soupy darkness nearing the far corner, he could see the faint darker shadow of a Kobol. That creature always interested him, such a lonely little thing, well - it did chose it, always sulking away in the corner over there. Then again their whole species were a bit funny really.

Unlike almost all their cousins, they could change the color of their bioluminescent glow and even where over the body it appeared and yet almost all of them chose not to apart from when it came to feeding. It had been proven that those things had higher brain functions than that and yet there they stay, hiding in corners, moving only when they need to eat. Tragic, really.

Gingerly he leaned back, the tip of his head barely resting against the bottom of the glass, it was the best he was going to accomplish and even he would’ve felt embarrassed enough to stand there on tiptoes to lean against it more.

“Hey buddy! Why don’t you come over here…”

“Hey, I know you can understand me - I remember reading it in a book! Well, a rather old one, I haven’t been able to get any new ones lately ya’see, but … you look lonely back there.”

“We’re all angry at something buddy, regret quite a bit too but - you were waiting for them?

“Hey! Hey! Don’t be so worried, I know it’s weird and probably not who you were expecting, but well … it’s something right?“

“Yeah you can come a bit closer if you want, take a look. See! I’m not … well whoever they were, but … I’m close … right?”

“Right?”


Just then he noticed people staring, which wasn’t unusual by itself. People usually stared at the kid yammering on to random space monsters, what was strange is that no-one was looking at him. Instead, they all had their eyes turned to the side in silent terror.

He didn’t need to look, he could already guess exactly what their eyes were locked on, he’d seen the look too many times before and yet that little twisted curiosity squirreled away within that Kid looked anyway. Eyes slowly turning to see that glint of artificial light reflecting off hard plastic firearms.

That small, helpless kid watched the pistol raise slowly as if through treacle and knew without a shadow of a doubt that he couldn’t dodge this one, not quickly enough to properly get out of the way. They were going to hit him somewhere and then he would never make it out.

Cas silently screamed.

Blam.

The two figures looked up into the gaping maw of a creature, far bigger than anyone in that room slamming its head into the glass which suddenly seemed so fragile, so thin. The vast body propelling itself repeatedly against the small divide, its every feature lit with a glow that pulsated with a white-hot fury.

And Cas ran.

He didn’t need anyone to tell him, just that wave of emotion which told him to get the hell out of there.

Just as he rounded the corner, he felt something bite him in his bottom right arm.

Cas didn’t stop to think, in fact, he didn’t stop at all, enacting a very similar scene to one he’d just played out a few hours ago, only this time he had a slight buzz in his arm. That little tugging nag which demanded him with ever so faint words to look at it. To give it the attention it wanted.

He didn’t stop running when he left the building, he didn’t stop running when he rounded the street, didn’t stop when he saw the park, didn’t stop as he saw the treeline and hammered towards them, swerving off that concrete path and onto the grass.

With eyes so locked on the ultimate goal, he didn’t even notice the hazard until it was there staring him in the face, or more rather lying beneath his feet.

“Bugger … Bugger … Bugger

For the little lizard slumbering peacefully in the grass he'd find his day interrupted by a small Tri-Abol, clearly small enough to still be a child. Their skin was a light purple and only covered by a thin and extremely worn pair of jeans and what looked to be a padded jacket, which upon further inspection would reveal itself to be a patchwork mishmash of materials, haphazardly thrown together in an attempt to protect the arms from the worst scrapes and bumps.

Not that it had protected his lower right arm. A small patch of fabric had been torn away and a shallow tunnel had nicked away a small channel of skin and chitin. It seemed in all the adrenaline this kid had totally forgotten the missing flesh and bone.

Moments later, one probably unanswered question would be answered as two masked Tyrana’s thundered into view, both carrying hard plastic firearms. The taller of the two held a pistol while the slightly smaller carried an SMG, both of them wearing clothing totally and utterly devoid of any markings or insignia, which by itself probably spoke more volumes than any gang tattoo ever could.

“Erm … hi?”

In the deep crevices of his mind, Ko felt like he was covering the entire gambit of the collective intellect of known life. Aside from the random things that he knew he didn’t know, but still felt like he did, he also visited many memories. Among them, a face came to mind. A familiar one accompanied by the sound of mild background chatter mixed with the occasional passing car on the road. He also felt a mild warming sensation on his face that he instinctively knew was the afternoon sun. The owner of the face in mind, Rhet, was leaning against him, halfway between a cuddle and sitting correctly, with Ko’s arm wrapped tightly around, hand cupped at the shoulder. The brownish green Tyrana wriggled against Ko, making themselves more comfortable. He could feel their purring lightly vibrating against his chest and it made him smile.

“I’m glad to have you...” Rhet’s voice whispered from somewhere, a slightly higher pitched voice compared to Ko, with something notably sweet to it. Calm and understanding, he couldn’t help but enjoy even the mildest utterances of his partner. Each word played back to him as though it were rehearsed, yet it all felt so real to him. He had a hard time convincing himself it wasn't real as he replied.

“I’m not going anywhere.” they conversed in these short, terse sentences, more often than not allowing complete silence to fall between them. They always understood each other in this silence, reserving speak for when something absolutely needed to be said. He really did love Rhet. Or at least he tended to think so. He wasn’t sure what to call it, having never really found himself wanting to look for someone to love.

“Good. I need you.” Ko felt a small guilt hang over him at this, as he didn’t want to admit to codependency. Though… Last time he hadn’t said anything. Maybe… this could go differently.

“I… I need y-”


The dream was interrupted by Ko being essentially punched in the ribs. His first moments of life were accompanied by a sickening lack of air as the pain rolled in and he gasped for a second, instinctively rolling over. After just a second, he spit onto the ground, looking up to see the insectoid kid standing over him. The figure was particularly odd to him. A child, and… hurt. Scarlet began to jump his ass for stumbling over Ko, but interrupted herself as she noticed something.

“Hey, Kid, what’s wrong w- Wait whoa… Whoa whoa whoa, what the hell is that!? Two armed people heading this way!” Ko’s head’s darted in the direction that the kid had kicked him from and his ears promptly flattened as he made out the advancing Tyrana. This prompted probably the first direct and serious response from him in quite some time. Ko was entirely in the moment after seeing the guns. Surprisingly, he didn’t freeze.

“Oh for #$%&$ sake.” He exclaimed, suddenly angry. Shoving his feet under him, he stood to his full height, which likely measured up to around the same as the insectoid kid. His next movements were rushed. He snatched his hat off the ground where it had fallen off his chest, and his backpack where it had been laying on the ground by his side. In a matter of seconds, he’d entirely packed his camp up and, despite having just woke up again, ready to move.

Ko grabbed the purple Tri-Abol by the obviously not shot arm and jerked him towards the woods and told him to “Run!” The trees were only about fifteen feet away and that amount of space could be covered somewhat quickly if you were packing it. Had Cas looked back, he would see that the sand brown Tyrana was following not far behind and keeping pace pretty easily. Ko’s species had a tendency to form lean and dense muscle, giving them an athletic advantage over a lot of other species. The hope was to get into the trees before the assailants opened fire again, but Ko had his doubts. In any case, you couldn’t shoot and run at the same time, so they had that advantage.
As they sprinted through the woods, Scarlet’s voice sounded over the harsh breathing of their need for oxygen, asking a question that Ko himself had been dying to ask as soon as he realized they were trying to kill this kid.

“What did you do to them?” She asked. While it was a curious tone, it also held a rather obvious amount of stress and came out angrily, heavily emphasizing the do part of the sentence. Ko didn’t say anything, as he focused on running and figuring out a plan of escape. They needed to get into the city again at some point soon. He knew his way through a lot of the underground substructures and could get them out nearly half a mile from his apartment. He needed to grab some stuff. He’d been planning for this sort of event for a while and it was too late to turn back on it now. From there, he had somewhere they might be able to lay low while he finalized the last parts of his plan.

“I’ve got a plan.” he mentioned to the kid, dodging around a tree in his way. At least he hoped he did, “I can help you. Too late to separate myself.”

Light was just beginning to dawn over that metal planet, or more importantly dawn over the side on which that gigantic megapolis was situated. The beams of light being caught by the tips of those towering spears of crystal known as skyscrapers and scattering it down in all the colors of the rainbow towards the expectant citizens below.

Those swirling, dancing beams of light were just one of the many wonders to behold in that vast fake system. Uncountable numbers of ships flowed around each other like water, merging together and running past each other in a vast dance, some unknown force directing their movements, players in an unknowably large game. Vast megastructures, Dyson swarms, starforges and thousands of interlocking orbital habitats all so vast and yet beautifully fragile. And in the center, their raw, natural power overshadowing anything else that monolithic artificial system had to offer were a pair of gigantic stars, forever circling one another like a pair of lovers, held apart by some invisible and yet utterly unbreakable force.

Then from that eddying swarm of life, a ship detached itself, turning from what seemed to be silently agreed upon lanes and carving out its own path.

“Luxury transport vessel - you’re leaving H-02 and beginning a descent along an unauthorized path, please state your identification code and await inspection.”

Inside that quite frankly spacious craft, its single occupant, a rather lavishly dressed female sighed deeply, letting out a short burst of frustration aimed at herself. Slowly she pushed herself upright and having given the ship, something that looked closer to a mobile penthouse than an actual ship, a lingering, wistful glance, she turned back to the comms.

“Identification code, SU1-S00-PT … you know Talisa, you really need to get around to installing some automatic identification code on this thing. What's this, the fourth time you've tried to pull me over this month?”

There was a pause on the other end as the woman, now identified as Talisa revived the communication, followed by an even longer one as she took a few moments to roll her eyes. “Cap, I've installed one four times now. You keep changing it alongside the rest of that bloody thing. All the effort that went into building you a custom fighter for you to change it all two days later, really - “

”Can you really blame me? It's not like Union fighters are the lap of luxury.”

Talisa's smothered giggle bubbled over the intercom, holding back her reply until she's finally swallowed the soft laughter. ”You do realize that it wasn't supposed to … awh, you know what, nevermind. If I was like you, I'd probably play around like you do. Do you want an escort down or …?

The captain grinned softly, looking back into the ship's interior for a second. Eyes roaming hungrily back towards her sofa, it's surface perfectly tailored to be the comfiest thing she could ever sit on. “As much as I'd love some Gestalts to come escort me home, both you and I know that Dayne would be having words the second I touched down.”

“He does like his complaining doesn't he?”

The woman grinned properly, returning the laugh for the first time. “Heh, yeah he does. Sometimes I think he gets off on it.”

“Speaking of beings like me, how're the recruits? I'm gonna be seeing them for the first time today and well … how much do they know?”


For all the jovial, comfortable tone of their conversation there was a note of genuine concern in her voice as Talisa popped her next question. “I dunno June, I heard they're an interesting bunch though, dunno what that actually means though… you ready for all of this?”

For the first time June sounded properly unsure of herself, almost like she considering turning back now and abandoning the whole ordeal in front of her. “I … I’m not sure… I’ve never had anyone relying on me before and now .. six of them!? What do I do if one of them dies on me? If …

There was no further explaination needed, both knew the exact moment in question. “Hey, come on June, it’s gonna be okay, look just … this time will be different, okay? You’re stronger now, we all are. It won’t go the same way. Someday we’ll reclaim our real system and when that day comes, they’ll be watching us.

June didn’t reply, there was nothing left for her to say, instead, all she could do was silently turn the comms off and thank all the stars that no-one could see her face.



It wasn’t the largest landing pad where the ship touched down, nestled in on the roof a reinforced bunker, having seemingly carved out a place for itself among the forest of antennae and emplacements. Waiting below were five figures, one human in a deep blue uniform, flanked by four slouched robotic figures, each painted over in colors to match the hue of their human counterpart. When the ship’s door finally slid aside it revealed a rather bleak interior, with only a single female sitting inside at the ship's controls.

Turning slowly she raised herself up to her full height if nothing else the woman who looked to be in her 30s was tall, clearly over six foot. It made for quite a stark contrast against the waiting entourage, practically dwarfing the lot of them. Then again everything about her looked different to the environment she now stood in, her uniform was the color of the void, one that seemed to suck in all light around it and drain it of color, one that seemed utterly contradictory to the mop of silvery hair which looked like a poor attempt had been made to cut it short. And covering her left eye was a metal eyepatch, bolted on over her face.

For a few moments the two humans locked their three collective eyes and gazed at each other, the silence deepening as the noise from the ship's engines died down. Suddenly the man rushed forward to wrap the woman in a hug.

“It’s good to have you back June.”

She nodded, her voice low and husky. “It’s good to be back Dayne.”

Dayne's voice was barely above a whisper as he replied, as if his lungs could hardly believe he was talking to one of his friends again. “You didn’t have to do this.

There seemed to be the faintest hint of humor in her voice, but unlike her previous conversation it was tinged with a small hint of bitterness. “That’s a damn poor lie and you know it, it’s not like command was gonna give me any choice on the matter.

A binterness which wasn't lost on the smaller man, who grimaced ever so slightly. “Yeah, ain’t that the truth … hey! How’s Talisa?”

“Oh ... we didn’t get much of a chat, but last time I got a proper talk she was enjoying herself up there … eugh … how long’s it been since we properly met up together?”

“Too long … Not properly since …”

The two trailed off into a slightly uncomfortable silence, only to be broken after a few seconds as Dayne coughed slightly. With rather more enthusiasm for a different topic than would usually be deemed neccisary he popped a question. “Shall I take you down to them?”

Unlike Dayne, June didn't seem to share the same passion for this new topic as he did, it was with great reluctance that she actually nodded her head along with the plan. “Yeah … I guess so.

The walk down to the room was a silent one, not the comfortable sort friends should be sharing after reuniting, but an oppressive one, the sort brought about by regrets not mentioned. The sort brought about by such a deep-seated frustration and silent screams that no voice could be put to it anymore.

Eventually, the six of them reached that room, it wasn’t a big room by any stretch of the word, just big enough that a small number of people could train comfortably enough, which really was all it was needed for. Additionally, it had the most important factor of being as far away from prying eyes as possible. The hard concrete of the walls hidden away under a layer of colorful blue paint, a large difference from the more gunmetal grey corridors outside. The chairs too were quite diverse in their design, apart from being set out in two small rows facing a single chair at the front each of them seemed to be different in shape, size and comfort.

There were two others already there, one sitting in the corner having an animated conversation with himself while another, a much smaller female was seemingly stuck between choosing two chairs, having gone for both at once.

Has she really been this bad when she’d first started?”

Groaning slightly, June pulled up a seat and began to wait for the rest to turn up, if these two were indicative of the rest of the group, she’d got a long way to go.




Cas had stumbled as he hit the sleeping lizard but had not gone down, something for which he was infinitely thankful for. Being on his feet was good, legs could carry you away much faster than dragging yourself along via your arms ever could. He’d learned that through experience, one he really didn’t want to repeat anytime soon.

Yet what gave him pause from simply belting on off again was the voice which emitted from the now quite wide awake figure below him. Whatever voice he had expected to come out of that, it certainly was that of an angry AI berating him for not looking where he was going.

“That? Oh … just some friends, I do believe they’re trying to give something to me. It was a bad joke, but he had to make it, if nothing else it helped him to keep sane, to know that whatever was going on, he was still him. Even down to what could be his last moments. It was a petty meaningless victory, but a little victory for himself nonetheless.

Then a hand was on one of his arms, pushing him forwards, giving a command he didn’t need to be given twice.

Run.

He turned and once more fixed his eyes on the treeline. This time there would be no sudden obstacles in the way, his legs carrying him that short distance and out of immediate danger. Just as a single bullet slammed into a tree trunk inches from his skull. Yet he never looked back at Ko, Cas never looked back, he couldn’t.


In fact, Cas didn’t even know that the lizard was sprinting alongside him until a few seconds later when he caught a glimpse of sandy brown skin flashing by alongside him. For a moment he almost slowed down in surprise, blinking slightly to reaffirm that someone was actually beside him.

Blankly he glanced at Ko as the two of them thundered through the woods, dodging out of the way of any tree in their immediate line. There it was again, that automated female voice, which unlike the two of them, sounded distinctly like it had breath to spare and it was angry Whoever this mysterious helper was they seemed to have an AI buddy somewhere, not that he could see it just yet. Eventually, he managed to rasp out a few lines of explanation, each sentence broken up by desperate gasps for air. “Oh … I’ve done plenty …. Of things … but the worst … was that I … ran.”

Even with all of this, there was one more surprise left to come. One that brought hope and suspicion with it in equal helpings. “A plan!?” … Just who … the hell … are you?”

Ko didn’t answer the question directed at him instantly as he focused on running beside the Tri-Abol kid. His body didn’t seem to limit him that much and he kept pace pretty fine, though his face was beginning to show the very beginnings of fatigue. Scarlet spoke out this time, her voice seeming to have lost some of its edge, speaking firmly, “Someone you can trust.” was her answer. Just as quickly as she had finished, the reptilian commanded the trio, his voice, roughed up by the heavy breathing.

“Left!” he commanded, cutting left directly afterward and expecting the insectoid to follow. Where he was going, and where he’d scoped out several times before, was a small and empty clearing surrounded on all sides by dense wooded area. To one side, the area between the trees and the asphalt of the city was considerably thinner than some other places. It would be a good place to recuperate momentarily and enact a plan. As this spot came into view in the dim light of early night, the light brown reptilian came to a halt, “Stop… stop here.” he managed, bending over with his hands on his knees. Breathing heavily through his mouth, Ko could feel the way that his heart thumped violently in his chest and cursed himself for not taking the time to do more cardio. He had the strength, but not the endurance. He remained in this posture until his stomach decided to seize and as it did so, he turned away from the insectoid and vomited into a nearby bush. A light brown consistency. He silently cursed himself. He’d have to eat something else now, not having had a chance to digest the danish and coffee. Unknown to him, his knees had been trembling slightly as his stomach ached from the process, and as he stood again and began moving towards Cas again, he nearly fell, his knees buckling a little. Catching himself and forcing himself to once again stand firmly, he took off his backpack.

“We’re off the direct path. They will be searching for us. We need to make our advantage and get out before they can search here.” He set the pack down and seemed consider the area for just a moment. Pointing to the least densely wooded side of the clearing, he confirmed the direction the city was in, “That way.” While he spoke calmly, there was a particularly stressed look in his eyes, like he’d known this sort of thing was going to happen to him all along and was just now being proved right. Crouching down, he opened his backpack and brought out his coveralls, tossing them in the Triabol’s direction, “Put these on, give me your clothe-” interrupting himself, he took his hat off and threw it down in front of the kid, putting his scarf on top.

“Hide your face.” He concluded, before digging into his backpack again. As he did so, scarlet addressed the situation accurately.

“Hate to break it to you, Kid, but those don’t seem like the kinds of friends you wanna have. Do all your friends shoot at you when you try and cut playdates short?” It seemed she was one for jokes as well. This time it was obvious, the voice was originating from around the Tyrana’s neck, projected out of a black metal mesh band around his collar, “Don’t worry though, we can help.” It was at this moment that Ko pulled a handgun out of his bag. It looked mildly crude and was made out of colorless industrial plastic that just seemed to look a little translucent with triangular support structuring all over it. The handle was notably smaller than most weapons, but the rest of it was still the normal size, with a notable weight at the end of the muzzle. It seemed to be put in place to account for recoil. Loading a magazine into it, the reptilian chambered the first bullet and then produced a holster that strung around his waist, hanging the weapon just above his tail with a spot for two other magazines on the right side of the waist. Quickly pressing two full magazines into those spaces, he latched them shut and pulled his shirt over the belt. Placing the Tri-Abol’s clothes in the backpack, he zipped it back up and stood, pulling the pack against his back again and looking towards the kid.

“I’m Ko, by the way.”

For the people running beside him, the ease with which Cas kept up his steady gait would be indication enough that this kid was extremely used to running. Whoever he'd offended, he had been running from them for a very long time. Yet even when the ai gave him an answer to the question he'd practically demanded an answer for that kid didn't look sideways, eyes locked permanently of the area of space in front of him. The only sign he'd listened at all was a slight chittering noise Tri-Abol made with their teeth, usually when they were thinking about something. The chittering in itself was something that those around the galaxy said used to make up part of an ancient language for those beings, now lost to time and the stars.

It was a few seconds after the command that the insectoid actually turned, blasting past Ko and Scarlet, before suddenly spinning around in surprise, practically falling over as he did so. After that little slip Cas decided to push himself slightly harder, forcing himself to try and catch up to Ko even with the quite decent headstart. Yet again as they reached the clearing for a few moments longer after the suggestion to stop had been given that kid kept on going, only just managing to halt before the edge of the clearing, although this time he wasn't so lucky as to stay on his feet. In one fluid motion, he went down, tumbling head over feet, when suddenly he found a footing and bounced back upwards, almost giving the impression that the whole thing had been intended all along. Turning back to his new companion he decided to hold off on giving his latest clever reply while the man was vomiting up into a nearby bush.

Still, the moment Ko had finished he fired away. "Trust ... well that's a commodity that runs rarely these days. Haven't seen anyone peddling that in well ... I don't think I've ever seen someone trying sincerely. An' well running alongside me does not bring with it the same level that you're asking for, but I guess we could say ... reach an understanding of one another?" It was almost with an air of curiosity that he trailed off to watch the lizard reach into the backpack and toss a set of overalls towards him, almost not getting what it was that the other was planning to do for a few seconds.

Yet as the light of understanding dawned within his eyes they flickered back up towards Ko, wide in surprise. "Wait ... wait... wait ... you want me to undress here? In front of a stranger? Can't I like ... ya know, just put the overalls ... and hat on? I ... errr..." He continued to stammer on for some time, clearly utterly embarrassed by the whole idea, despite there being armed gunmen chasing directly after him. The only point he seemed to even remotely cheer up was when that Ai hanging around the lizard's neck shot a joke off at him in return for the one he'd made before they'd even properly started running. "Just the ones who throw the worst parties."

After a few more seconds of frantically looking around for a way out, he hurriedly threw off his clothes, doing his best to be moments away from putting the next piece on before divesting himself of the current one. In the end it was a very embarrassed, but now disguised kid that stood before Ko and his Ai partner. Every so often he'd look down towards his new clothes and tug at them slighly, almost in amazement that he was wearing something that not only roughly fit him, but was also not practically worn through.

"Cas ... the names Cas ... so what's the plan now?"

The AI got out a response well before Ko as able to as he continued to check his person, “Well it’s a pleasure, Cas. We’ve been planning for something like this for a while. Contingency plans are Ko’s forte. I'm Scarlet by the way. You can call me Scar.” The young reptile slung the backpack back onto his person, and stood straight again. Missing his hat, it was obvious to see his scowl where it turned down at the edges of his maw, matched with a pair of ears pointed straight back to really sum up his look of mild annoyance as he scanned the clearing again. Aside from the way he frowned, his face was rather smooth with a certain lack of scales on all but the top of the head and a gentle complexion overall. His two blue reptilian eyes darted from the woods to Cas, and his frown lifted a bit as something clicked in his mind.

“We need to get underground first. Then we need to get to my house before they ID me and find my house. Then we’re going to stop somewhere I know we can get help. There, I am also going to see about getting off-planet.” he said, beginning a walk towards the direction he’d specified earlier. His ears rotated as he did so, moving to scan for incoming noises, “Once we’re in space, we can see about kicking your friends in the teeth."

This seemed to excite Scarlet immensely, who asked in a joyful tone, just loud enough for Cas to hear, “Ohhh, does that mean we’re following endgame procedures?”

“I’m not safe on this planet anymore. Organizations like that don’t exist on this planet and I just got tagged by one. Yes. We have to leave.” His tone, though softer in enunciation, was notably more serious now. He turned to look at Cas once more before moving forward again, “I have first-aid at my house too. We can treat your arm.”

The young little Insectoid looked quite a sight, their new clothes bundling them up into a practically unrecognizable ball compared to the scruffy little street urchin that'd been standing there moments before. Not only that but the sleeves due to the nature of there only being two of them, each had two sets of arms popping out the end, fingers seeming to intertwine with each other and lock everything into a tight bundle. Still out from that little bundle of clothing and limbs two little eyes could be seen peering out, eyes that seemed for the first time in a while to light up with excitement, not the deer in headlights appearance they'd taken on for so long. "You got it Scar!"

Even though his voice was muffled it was clear that the kid was in his own small way quite enjoying the whole experience. Something that was almost entirely down to being able to properly chat with someone who wasn't trying to kill him or would actually talk back. "Off... planet ..." He seemed to mull the words, turning them over and over in his mouth before returning to his response with glee. "Once we're in space we can keep moving, they can't follow us forever. Their reach isn't infinite!"

The insectoid watched the two converse and pulled the scarf tighter up over his face as he listened. The feeling of the fabric there was strange, but comforting, it had been so long since anyone had given him anything to wear than even with all the circumstances behind it he was still willing to treasure it.

Yet before Cas would be able to respond the sound of booted feet began to be heard slowly wafting in from nearby in the woods and if that wasn't worrying by itself, for those of sharp hearing it would be quite clear there were more than two people, quite a few more in fact. At least six, all charging around in the woods, their sounds and muffled radio chatter growing ever closer.

Then nearby someone fired, sending a spray of bullets slamming into a tree only a few meters within the treeline.

Ko’s heart sank once again as he heard both the sound of firearms discharging and bullets striking the trees around him. He didn’t seem to be struck, but adrenaline was running high enough that it would make sense just to check and make sure later on. Although that wasn’t where his mind was settled. Instead of thinking about something so far away, the reptilian drew his pistol and discharged three evenly spaced shots into the direction he’d heard footsteps in. It was suppressive fire. His instinct told him to run, but he wanted to pin them down first. As the last shot rang out, Ko replaced the gun and turned and ran, making sure to pull Cas along with him if the insectoid hadn’t already started pumping his legs.

“They haven’t seen us yet,” he managed as he came up beside the kid, “When we’re out of here, don’t act… act conspicuous.” And that was the plan. Once they were out of here, they’d try to blend in with the crowds. Sure it was getting into the early morning, but that didn’t mean the activity died down by much. It was the city life after all. They could use that to their advantage, then get down into the underground public transport system. They wouldn’t be using the trains, no. Ko had long ago gained access to the maintenance tunnels for them, and even more so, any real subsurface infrastructure he wanted. He remembered spending months scrounging up all the methods and the backdoors and the universal codes. It was unbelievable how many security systems had enforced emergency codes that would open up. When all was said and done, he’d probably sell them to some local online.

Between his ears, Scar’s voice hissed out in something between contempt and amazement, “Idiots are using shortwave radios! Guess it pays to be cheap. I’m going to monitor them. You just keep running.” Scar didn’t have to tell him twice, and she also didn’t need to tell him where to go. It wasn’t long before the trees thinned out and the familiar concrete and asphalt met them, illuminated, unlike the sidewalk and woods of the park, in a haze of both light blue and warm orange light posts. True to Ko’s own words to himself, there were plenty of people roaming around still. This was the middle of the city after all. They didn’t pay mind to the Tyrana or the Tri-Abol who burst out of the woods. Between his ears again, the AI laughed at another success, “Ehehehe!… One of them is carrying a phone. What a complete idiot. All their radios are going to be receiving white noise for a while.” Sure enough, somewhere off in the woods, the familiar sound of white noise was blasting out loudly.

The reptilian allowed himself a small smirk as he nudged Cas and made his way across the street in a somewhat hurried way, though at no more than a jog. “Let’s go to the other side of the block.” he said, “There’s a hotel. We can get a taxi and ride to the subway.” He wasn’t that worried about the aggressors. They’d bought themselves some time. As long as the radios were putting out that much noise, the gunmen wouldn’t approach. That left them to either leave the radios behind, which was a major tactical disadvantage, meaning they couldn’t split up, or they could take the time to fix the issues. It was highly unlikely they’d suspect that one of them was carrying a mobile phone until a lot of time was wasted.


“Have you seen this, Hund?”

“Seen wot?”

“Look.”

“Ey whoa, wot’r those. Haven’t seen anythin’ like tha’in’a while.”

“I don’t know. That’s a lot of armed personnel for one kid. Not to mention-”

“Noh’ supposed t’be any private militia active here, aye. Wha’ could they be after wit tha’ kid… Huh, I think I might jus’ recognize one’a’them.”

“Yeah?”

“Yea… Remember tha’ AI came askin’ fer some background files tha’ one time?”

“Odd request by an AI, I will say. Doesn’t support acting alone. What are you saying?”

“You goh’it, don’t think they’r alone ‘t’all. Had my eye on tha’ Tyrana as th’owner for a’while.”

“Oh? Think they’ll come here for help?”

“Noh’ my guess t’make. Give ih time. But. If they do. You gonna extend’a helpin’ hand?”

“I might just leave that one to you, Hund. From my experience, dealing with that AI has been mutually beneficial. We’ve always gotten what we gave back in one way or another. But, I’m not the violent one between us.”

“Aye. Keep on th’ network. Dig out what y’can. I’m gonna see abou’this lizard.”

“And the port?”

“Ah, screw it, I’ll geh’back to’t.”

“Disappointed customers.”

“Aye, it happens.”

Another ten minutes passed before Tilly came stomping down the hallway.

Her long legs ended in a pair of slick knee high boots today. Heavy, but comfortable and flexible to wear for pretty much anything they’d throw at her today. They must have heard her hurried footsteps and known she was approaching before the doors slid open with a prolonged hiss to reveal her appearance. A white tanktop hung loosely on her toned figure, and it was paired with whatever pants she had found most suitable for today’s occasion. The word butch came to mind at a first glance of the towering female, but that face was unmistakably female with a soft curve of the chin and small nose. Right now, frustration was unmistakably written all over it, with lips pursed and bold brows furrowed until they nearly met in the middle.

“Hi. Are we late? If we’re late I swear it’s not my fault.” was the first thing that came out of her mouth, aimed at all and any of her peers that had actually managed to arrive in time, they were more than likely all waiting for her late ass to show up. She normally wasn’t anywhere near flustered like this, but she did somewhat care about making a good first impression at the people she was going to spend a lot of time with from now on. Even some of the most mundane tasks like putting makeup on were difficult now when she and her ‘friend’ didn’t agree. And sometimes, even when they did.

The discomposed woman lingered some time at the door, taking a moment to rub liberal amounts of irregular eyeliner out of her blodshot, left eye. The other eye was naked still, because she had given up altogether when a certain something poked her eye with the brush- with or without intention she didn’t know. ”I told you I didn’t need any help.” she muttered under her breath.

Barely had the sound of bullets being discharged even finished ringing out across the clearing before that little insectoid was bolting off, scurring in opposite direction as fast he could. It was a bit of a stilted run, his arms not really in the same positions they normally would be to balance him out, but the low profile, head tilted down bolt was still there. Even as he knew Ko was returning fire behind him, some compulsion forced him to keep looking forward, his body unable to look backward at those fighting behind him.

He still did care about the odd pair that was protecting him, something that was shown by the concern in his voice as the others drew level with him. "You two okay?" He didn't really need a verbal answer, just the pounding of feet beside him to confirm that infact, yes these two were okay. That was a relief after all, he hadn't gotten more people killed trying to protect him.

As he listened to the request he giggled slightly, an odd sound for the kid to make certainly and yet the request had been in some small way humorous to him. Blending in was something he was both quite good at and utterly inept at doing so. Physically he could move along like anyone else on the street, going along with the crowds, using his small stature to ensure that others got the least amount of a chance at seeing him as possible and yet he was never quite able for those around him to look 100% normal. Quite probably due to the way he so commonly held animated conversations with himself, having had no one else really to talk to, it was a habit he had yet to divest himself of. "Sure, I'll do my best not to be conspicuous, or as inconspicuous as a four-limbed creature in a two-limbed shirt can be.

In the end he would still listen to the instructions given out as Ko nudged him in the direction needed for the two of them. Stumbling along across the street in an effort to remain as inconspicuous as possible, while also keeping up with the hurrying lizard. "S..sure! If you say so.



It would be quite a sight that would greet Tilly, immediately in front of her was a slightly small and unmistakably more feminine girl who was sat astride two seats, her hands firmly clamped down on both. In the corner was a male, as tall as Tilly, but far more gangly, who despite looking far more organized with his clothing than many of the others, was still engaged with a very lively conversation with thin air. Every so often a sentence or an invisible reply would be punctuated by a wild hand gesture, something that only seemed to add to the display.

Two others, both male were sat, almost nervously in seats close to the edge, a task that rather seemed impossible to avoid considering the size of the room meant that it was comprised of almost nothing but edges. There was nothing startling about the first one, their appearance being rather drab in comparison to the rest, creating a rather dour look. Something that was only exemplified by the dark, serious nature of his steely blue eyes, both clearly visible under his buzzcut, if there was anyone who was ex-military out of the group, it was him. The other could only be described as what you'd get if you simultaneously charged through a rack of punk and rather mundane clothing and just worn the result.

The only person who seemed to properly react to her entrance was the one it was very clear who's opinion mattered the most. The single golden eye swinging itself around to not quite glare at the new arrival, for a few moments that gaze locked onto Tilly, silently judging her. For a few seconds, it looked as if that judgment was going to be an altogether negative one, something that would be a rather crushing blow for her first moments. Then like a storm blowing past before it can even properly settle her expression lit up in welcome. [/color=goldenrod] "Tilly was it? Its good to have you, both of you and you needn't worry, you haven't kept me waiting, I've had more than enough entertainment already with those that made their way here. The names June by the way."[/color]

She paused for a moment before waving to several of the remaining chair. [/color=goldenrod] "Here, please take one and no matter your disagreements, please do try to take one we do have a limited number after all." [/color]

A slight hesitation followed in which that strange uniform seemed to suck in even more of the colour around it, during which the look on their tutors face would give away all that it really needed to, she was as unsure about the situation as the rest of them. "And Tilly? Don't worry too much, you'll learn to control it in time, it does get better.

The trip around the block was not a long one, and Ko, as he jogged, took note of the way that the buildings changed shape. Slightly ahead of Cas, his tail waggled back and forth in time to his strides. From an outsider’s viewpoint, his strides were confident and not at all the ones of someone who was running from gun wielding maniacs, nevertheless, he took the first chance got to glance back and make sure that Cas was still in one piece. His eyes glanced up and down quickly, stopping at the side of the body that had been shot. Something akin to a light grimace crossed his face momentarily in the dim light as he turned to face forwards once more. He’d check that arm soon enough. The outfit wasn’t showing signs of any serious bodily fluid leakage, though in the lighting, it would have been hard to tell from the grease stains. Although, the kid wasn’t showing too much wear. Ko on the other hand was beginning feel the side effects of lacking cardio pretty well. He wasn’t quite suffering, but his lungs were showing wear. He laughed inwardly at the thought that that kid had probably been running all day long. They two would be finding out exactly how long Cas had been running soon enough.

Ko and Scar lacked the resources to establish connection to the abundant surveillance systems in the area. Sure, getting the cameras from his apartment complex had been easy, but that was particularly small-scale. About three quarters of the way down the block, an opening in the buildings showed itself to the group to their right. It was an alleyway with no lighting in it except the ambient rays cast by passing vehicles on the road outside, accompanied by the echoing of chatter as the occasional passerby on the sidewalk passed by on the other end. The chatter was notably louder than it had been on the sidewalk they’d earlier been dumped out on. They were drawing nearer, and if the ears listened carefully, there was a faint but constant thumping of EDM in the distance. This was the noise of a nightclub that Ko was familiar with only in a vicarious and superficial nature. He’d never been inside. The reptilian’s ears swiveled to catch the noises as he slowed down and made his way into the alleyway.

“This way.” he whispered, calm as ever, moving into it. Maybe he was lying about the nightclub. Maybe he and Rhet used to frequent as a break from their busy lives.

Inside the alleyway turned out to be more humid and warm than the sidewalk. Moving further within, this proved to be the product of a heat vent embedded in the wall. The mechanic, knowing the area well, recalled the laundry mat on the other side, and actually cherished the warmth a bit. He moved carefully down the length of it, beckoning for Cas to follow until he was near the end and stopped to glance outside for a second. A passing car momentarily cast a light into the alley as it passed by, bathing the edges of Ko’s person in a yellow halo that made his details fade to a nonexistent black. With the car past, the reptilian stuck his head and looked around momentarily, his back pressed to the building firmly. Briefing Cas, he whispered back again, “Hotel is to the left.” he glanced back, judging the insectoid again, but this time around, he seemed to soften his gaze a little. He legitimately felt bad for the kid even though his own life was now postponed possibly indefinitely.

“How long have they been keeping you?” he asked, a tone unlike his usual cool and level attitude slipping through. It was soft and selfless, “How long have you been running?”

A molluscoid corvette speeds through the starry blackness on a search for some unknown mission. Sky Devourer up head Diabolos signed to his cremates in the safe waters of the corvette Typhoon as it soared through the inky blackness. Shall we ready weapons sir? First Mate Achos signed to Diabolos. Yes, report to Weapons Officer Vitalus and tell him to ready our point-defense and missile systems, we'll need everything that we can get The Typhoon entered the gas clouds as Systems Technician Zephys jetted over to Diabolos, Sir, our sensors have been dampened by the gas clouds he signed to Diabolos. Slow our speed, cautious now Diabolos signed The last thing we need is to be surprised by the beast, The ship slowed it's speed as it continued its flight path. Suddenly, a massive translucent beast loomed over the Typhoon Quickly now! Ready weapons! Diabolos signed urgently as he began signaling commands Firing Chief Obitus! Ready our missiles! Fire on my mark! If that thing sends any projectiles our way, I need you to destroy them before they hit our ship! Understood sir, the Point Defense Firing Chiefs signed to him. Full speed ahead! Fire at will! The small corvette blitzed to the back of the beast. Fire at will! Missile streaked up to the creature's sensory organs and detonated in the supple flesh. The beast roared silently in pain and began diving, determined to destroy these insolent creatures. The Typhoon rocketed upwards as it moved to avoid the Sky Devourer and turned sharply to attack the dorsal side of the beast. It began to fire more projectiles into the Sky Devourer as it twisted and turned to buck the corvette off, but the Typhoon wasn't having it. It fired more projectiles at the creature as it made a sharp downward arc to the creature's ventral side. The corvette banked left as it tried to stay on the underside of the beast and fired lasers into its vulnerable underside. The beast roared again in surprise before twisting and executing a barrel roll to face the Typhoon. It opened its jaws to rocket way, but before it could do that, the corvette fired a missile straight into the beast’s open maw. The Sky Devourer closed its mouth, but not in time as the projectile entered its gaping maw. The Sky Devourer seemed to swallow, and the side of its neck ripped open. It convulsed some before going limp; dead in the gas clouds. The Typhoon silently began gathering its vital fluids and hard chitin, valuable items on the market, before disappearing once more into the inky blackness of space.

Cas ran. That was one thing he was truly good at in the end and the one thing he was thankful to them for. If they had done nothing else for him, which to his mind, they hadn't, they had at least given him a body good enough to run as far away from there as he possibly could. This body could keep going as long as he could possibly need it too, or at least long enough to get away from any of the fools pursuing him. It seemed the institute at least didn't want people noticing exactly who it was that was sending the mercs, a small mercy if there ever was one, it meant at least he didn't have to see any of the Highborn. He'd only caught a glimpse of one of those in action once and for a few days afterward he'd never managed to sleep, those things truly scared him more than most things.

The arm that had suffered damage was beginning to twinge, even through the adrenaline and enhanced body he'd received it was beginning to hurt. Not strongly, but still a dull throbbing pain which raced its way up and around his body. Still he had no idea really what he was going to do about it, probably what he did with all wounds he received which were to tie a bandage around it in an attempt to staunch whatever bleeding was occurring. That or he could attempt to ask one of his two new "friends" to help him out with it, not that he knew if either of them was capable of doing so, or for that matter, he didn't really know what either of them could do at all.

That'd go down on his checklist of questions to bombard them with after the three of them reached a quieter spot.

Something that they indeed seemed to be reaching, the constant rhythmic of the nightclubs music notwithstanding. In an odd way it was a rather comforting noise to the little insectoid, the dull background noise of a peaceful street drowning out the simple silence of nothing happening. All in all it was quite the lullaby, those odd moments where he knew that he could just enjoy an evening, that he didn't have to worry for just a night about a flash of metal waiting just around the corner. He could simply be what he truly was- a little kid wanting to explore the world and see its sights. A soft comfort that was only compounded by the warmth of that little alleyway, it was a place he wished he could have found earlier and without any chase going on. A place where he could have simply come and relaxed, where even the thin fabrics up until so recently he'd been using to cover himself.

Cas would gingerly follow Ko to the end of the tunnel before waiting there, while the lizard checked the perimeter. In those few moments that the passing car bathed Ko in light the little insectoid thought that his new helper had a rather striking "heroic" silhouette.

"How ... long ... There was genuine surprise evident in his voice, something that seemed to even bleed over into his reply, Cas struggling for a few moments with pulling together just how long it had been. "Uh ... a long, long time really, I don't know the exact time, but long enough that it seems just like life now ... but for before that, since I was born I think? I ... don't really know anything more than waking up there and well ... eventually running...

There was no witty remarks now, just a tired kid who'd never known enough peace in his life to understand anything other than the stress of constantly running.

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