Far into the future, across the stars and through the darkness, our story begins…
The Earth you know is gone. Humans fled the dying planet in search of a new home. What they found was a galaxy in the midst of a war for survival.
Under threat from an overwhelming evil, the denizens of the galaxy begrudgingly worked with the outsiders to help turn the tide of the war.
The fearsome threat known as the Reavers were beat back to the fringes of the galaxy. Time passed and they became little more than a scary bedtime story. The galaxy, as a whole, moved on.
Your story begins with an awakening. A single defining moment in your life. The birth of your Soul, a spirit that mirrors your true self. Through battle and the forging of a bond, you both become stronger and capable of great feats.
It is your time. Show the galaxy how strong your bond is. Fight back the darkness.
Post by ✯Star Sheriff BRANDO✯ on Nov 4, 2019 14:50:07 GMT
Rhomi shook the foam out of her face and clenched her fists before pulling her arms into her chest, her personal selected action that served as an all clear signal. Just like that, Deryn's shock absorbance measures deactivated, and she plopped softly back into her seat. "Damage report, Pard?"
"Significant, Rhomi. Hull Integrity 93% Compromised. Primary systems all red. Secondary systems all red. Tertiary systems all red. Quaternary systems orange. Recommending transposition to Canopy Partition for repairs."
Rhomi sighed and looked up at the blank cockpit canopy above her at an awkward angle. No holo screens, no lights. Deryn was a glitchy muffled voice bound to fade out any minute. Yet that same canopy was the only thing protecting her from the harsh desert outside... Sure, it was breathable, but damn if it wasn't hot. "Sleep tight, Pard. Just leave me the survival kit before ya head out, yeah?"
"Acknowledged, Rhomi. Survival kit deploying..." A panel on the other side of the pilot's chair from the fridge nudged, as if something was trying to break out. Unfortunately, even the drawer system appeared to be jammed.
She tried to pull it open with her hands, to no avail. It wouldn't budge.
"Error detected, Rhomi. I cannot deploy the survival kit..."
"Yeah, I can see that..." Rhomi called up her sword and used it as a lever to pry the drawer open. Instead, the adulterated Caledbri cut clean through the panel. Rhomi sighed again. If that was how it was going to be, then she might as well just chop it open. This would all regenerate in the Canopy, anyway... "Sorry 'bout this, Pard, but I gotta live, yknow?"
The Star Sheriff hacked at the panel and the surrounding space, effortlessly slicing through the titanium until the sides of the drawer were exposed, the mechanism finally liberated to open up all the way. Inside was a pristine survival kit, custom assembled by the Regulators rather than standard Alliance issued.
Everything was unmarked. But considering what happened with that Union pilot, he probably figured she was working for the Alliance anyway. Plausible deniability wasn't going to do her any good here.
Rhomi pulled the kit out and transposed her sword back to whence it came... It was time to get going. "Thanks fer the hard work, Pard. Now rest on up so's I can call ya when yer all done!"
Her surroundings began to glow a bright blue as the distinct crystalline song of the Threshold Core started up somewhere deeper in the Steed's chassis, and the back of her mind. Rhomi got down into a crouch, knowing full well what came next.
Deryn vanished in a bright flash, leaving the Star Sheriff suddenly exposed to all of the desert's elements. At least there wasn't a sandstorm, but Garth, it was hot...
Rhomi immediately fell from midair, the space where the fighter was now empty, and landed palms and knees into hot dune sand. She yelled out loud at the heat as she jumped back to her shoes and wrapped her scarf around the lower half of her face.
Great. It was a desert, she was in a track suit, and had beer all over her... well, she'd had worse, so there was no point complaining. So now, all she had to do was check that other wreck and see if that Union space jockey wasn't dead or anything... And if he wasn't, figure out what to do with him...
Post by Tetsuko Ishida on Nov 5, 2019 22:25:16 GMT
Pain filled every cell, every fibre of Tetsuko's body. Pain, heat, and nausea. As consciousness returned to her, she was relieved to have survived. But such relief quickly turned to an intense, splitting headache, and an overwhelming desire to puke. However, she was upside down, and she had already emptied her stomach copiously all over the inverted ruins of her cockpit.
=This has got to be the third-worst way I've ever woken up...=
Moaning, she disentangled herself with some difficulty from the emergency-impact webbing which had sprayed her, entangling her in her cockpit seat and acting as a form of shock resistance. No doubt without it she would have had her bones liquefied on impact, the speed she had had been plummeting.
Finally tearing herself free, it was obvious that this Omni-Mech was a complete write-off. Still, as they used to say during Arch-Wing training, any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.
Kicking at the emergency release hatch, its bolts finally blew, and blinding light and the scent of smoke and arid winds entered her tiny, webbing-and-puke filled space. The fresh air at least freed her nostrils of the burning smell of her own effluence, but was replaced instead by the burning smell of the crash.
Coughing, she weakly crawled free of the mangled cockpit, her eyes nearly half-blind from the red sun over head. Fortunately, as a sturdy Vessel, her eyes slowly adjusted to the harsh light. She scrabbled along the hard, burned earth, scrabbling towards the sand dunes, some partly-glassed from the heat of her mech's impact. The smoothness of the glass was deceptive, she knew. If she touched it, it would both burn and cut her.
Finally, after a minute, she managed to stand, the desert wind billowing in her hair, which somehow was still securely tied back with her trademark white ribbon.
Shading her eyes, she looked around, and saw...nothing, very much. The only smoke was the pillar behind her, from her own craft. Either the Alliance spy had not crashed, or maybe they had crashed much further away than the visible horizon?
As she scanned the dunes, she was surprised to see a small figure in a garish blue scrabbling towards her.
A local? No. The blue suggested Alliance affinity.
=A young girl was my adversary?=
She snorted in incredulity. Impossible. No normal girl could possibly handle a dog-fight like that. Then again, she had tried spinning, and that was a good trick.
She reached for a side-arm, but found her holster empty. In her haste, she remembered, she had taken no weaponry with her, and the smashed, burning junk behind her was unlikely to serve her now on the planet's surface.
She looked around, but could see no obvious, usable emergency equipment. All she had was on her person, and that was very little indeed.
Turning back, she faced her approaching foe.
Surrender, Tetsuko-sama. It is shaming, but it is better to be a chained wolf among your enemies than a mad dog they put down.
Tetsuko nodded curtly, acknowledging her soul's advice.
Still, by the looks of things, as the girl drew closer, she didn't seem in ship-shape either.
=Are we...both stranded here?=
The possibility began to occur to her that both she and her enemy were now stranded in a desert, with few to no supplies.
=This...was not how I imagined my day going when I woke up this morning.=
Post by ✯Star Sheriff BRANDO✯ on Nov 9, 2019 9:18:12 GMT
Omni-Gel: The single most important commodity out on the Rim. Without access to the benefits of civilization, you had to rely on the things you could carry, preferably in some sort of knapsack. Basic medical supplies, food, water, and basic survival tools. Most folks came with OmniBands, although depending on the planet, your connection to the holonet might as well be non-existent. In such cases, then, the greatest use of the Omni was its standard storage of survival manual apps... and its micro-fabricator, which could print out nearly any handheld tool with sufficient amounts of Omni-Gel.
Which was why in some regions the powers didn't have much reach in, one would find entire towns made of local materials either assembled with tools made of Omni-Gel, or if the Omni-Gel supplies were generous, made of an amalgam of local materials and Omni-Gel.
Rhomi's survival kit came two canisters of Omni-Gel, enough to fabricate two tools to use on-hand at any given moment. If they needed more, the Omni could just smelt them back into Omni-Gel and print out whatever was needed at the time. Alternatively, just use that one tool... the second canister could serve as backup in case the first was lost for some reason.
None of this was on her mind, of course. Maybe it would become handy later on, but for now, it was important to link up with that pilot. After all, she was doing this mission not for any personal reason. Some sort of... professional courtesy and whatnot.
As it turned out, the pilot was understandably banged up. And contrary to Rhomi's early references, turned out to be a she rather than a he. How about that!
"Understandably, both of you aren't in the best condition," the platinum knight stated, floating behind her. "How would you approach this?"
"The simplest way, really!" Rhomi raised her hand and waved, before calling out to the pilot. "Hey! Ya still alive over there?"
The knight nodded, apparently in approval, as the Vessel neared her opponent.
"I got some Medi-Gel if ya need it!" She hollered, walking around a patch of glassed sand to get to her destination. The last thing you wanted to do was get your feet spiked by jagged semi-molten sand...
Post by Tetsuko Ishida on Nov 9, 2019 16:02:21 GMT
The approaching alliance girl was...shorter than Tetsuko, which was rare, and also in much higher spirits.
Seeing that the girl wasn't even pointing a weapon at her, Tetsuko reluctantly lowered her hands. She could probably attack and incapitate this girl, but then what? Hold her as a prisoner? She didn't have the means to do that either.
It was an odd situation, and for once there wasn't anything she could remember from her extensive training or experience that could be of use.
=Someone should really add a chapter to the Navy Officer's Manual for situations like these.=
"Ah...thank you. Yes, I could do with some Medi-Gel." She admitted awkwardly. It was required under Intergalactic Law for captors to provide medical treatment where needed to their prisoners. Did this mean she was accepting captivity as a POW of the Alliance? She rather hoped not.
Accepting the proffered gel from Rhomi, she awkwardly sat down on an unblasted patch of sand, and began applying the gel to her many cuts and burns.
"Do you have any water, or supplies? I'm afraid I don't even have any capsules of Omni-Gel myself." She explained, wincing as the Medi-Gel sank into her flesh. The damn stuff always tingled when applied.
"Do you also happen to know where we crashed? I'm afraid I blacked out during the descent. We could be...anywhere, really. I don't even know the planetary geography of Darce, so I hope there are settlements beyond the Starport."
It was beginning to dawn on her, that she might really, really be in trouble, and actually quite desperately need this strange girl's help.
An ironic reversal of fortunes indeed Tetsuko-sama. But do not be too ashamed. The Buddha often makes the absurd happen, to test our flexibility.
Rummaging around, Tetsuko was able to find one half-empty pack of Spacer's Gum in a breast-pocket. She offered the minty-fresh stick of gum to Rhomi. It was literally all she had.
"I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of repayment. Um." She swallowed, her dry throat beginning to hurt. She really needed some water.
"I'd really like a sip of water if you have some."
It was going to be very, very hard being this humble. Maybe she could grab the girl's weapon...
No. Better to be humbled than dishonorable.
The Samurai's words were harsh and to the point. Appropriately chastened, Tetsuko bowed her head, in both submission and thanks.
"I am in your hands. Commander Tetsuko Ishida, unattached Naval Officer. Serial Number 31-05-32. I formally request that we uh...team up. I guess."
Tetsuko sat awkwardly, as the chirpy, frontier-speaking girl made her position known.
It quickly began to dawn on Ishida that this girl might not, in fact, be a commissioned Alliance Military Officer.
Her blue uniform wasn't exactly standard, and there was something slightly...off about her appearance.
Post by ✯Star Sheriff BRANDO✯ on Nov 11, 2019 14:17:25 GMT
Rhomi pulled the unmarked survival kit out of her knapsack and popped it open, reaching for the canister of Medi-Gel and handing it over. It was a generous size, but they shouldn't let that fact lower their guard. Once that can was empty, even the slightest cut could end up bloating into a lethal infection.
Of course if push came to shove, she could always just fabricate another canister within her Partition and transpose it, but well... hot deserts weren't the most conducive to meditation. At the very least, she'd have to wait for nightfall.
The pilot having finished, the took the canister back and slipped it in place. What else did the survival kit have? Two canisters of OmniGel, of course. There was also a mini condenser. Runs on microfusion cells, condenses about six potable litres a day from a standard humidity atmosphere. In short, good enough for two people in a temperate biome. The humidity of course affected its efficiency, which meant that the sooner they found a cooler biome, the better... did such a thing even exist?
Well... survival kit aside...
Rhomi reached into her pocket and pulled out a can of Fizzy Friido. "Still ice cold!" she tossed the beer over. Of course nobody told her that alcohol had a dehydrating effect. If anybody did, she most likely forgot about it since, after all, she liked a good stout drink every now and then.
She dug deeper into the survival kit and found... "Looks like we also got two days' of rations 'ere... the condenser's all we got for water, so we'll have ta find a place with more humidity... If we're lucky, we could run into a moisture farm." Not very good odds considering there was nothing out here. Maybe a cave would have better humidity, if they found one? "As for where we are, uhh..."
Rhomi tapped her Omni to check for reception. No such luck. Deryn was the one with a dedicated onboard hotspot she could use. And of course the Allied listening post had listening equipment. Nothing to tightbeam those intercepted transmissions. Copies were instead sent on physical media to hide from any potential counter-listening stations.
This of course meant that unless they were within a few miles of the Spaceport, there wouldn't be any holonet access.
She swiped around. "No buoys in range, so the holonet's no good. Fer mappin, all I've got is a sonar scan. Prolly the same as yers." At least they weren't stuck navigating my line of sight. It could help plot their next moves, instead of randomly guessing, but they really needed to find food and shelter.
Her eyes brightened as the pilot offered a stick of gum. With a quick bow of thanks, she grabbed it and quickly undid the wrapper, popping the minty strip into her mouth.
The pilot introduced herself with a deep bow. Rhomi, not much of one to think about how to approach people from different cultures, figured mirroring it was the best thing to do. "Rhomynia vch Danwyn. RIDERS Deputy. Or y'could just call me BRANDO." Technically, she didn't have a serial number because she wasn't even enlisted... but all things considered, her callsign would do.
The RIDERS could theoretically deputize anybody. And so long as they didn't revoke that deputy holocard, then they could go around calling themselves deputies. Which was useful for keeping some sort of semblance of a presence on a planet.
Rhomi held out her hand for a shake. "Pleased ta meetcha, Commander Tet-Sue-Koh!" Badly mangled pronunciation. "Glad t'know we got each other's backs fer this 'ere Bad Box we're in right now." She looked around. Sand dunes all around, except for what looked like the top of a mountain to the... south...? Maybe? She checked her Omni. Yeah. South.
She zoomed out. Nope. No moisture farms on the sonar's hundred mile radius. In that case, the first order of business was definitely finding a place where they could condense water with higher efficiency. Like a cave. Maybe they could find a cave...
Post by Tetsuko Ishida on Nov 11, 2019 17:54:21 GMT
"Row-min-ya...Roh... Deputy Brando it is, then." Tetsuko said, with flushed cheeks. It was a little embarassing that the younger girl had performed better at the often-times awkward task of correctly pronouncing a foreign name on first hearing it. Still, a RIDERS candidate eh? She thought they were supposed to be some sort of frontier-justice organisation, similar to the hated VANGUARD.
What was she doing on a Union world?
She badly wanted to interrogate Rhomi now, but was aware that their current circumstances were more pressing, and, anyway, she didn't have any leverage to gain military intelligence. Instead, after confirming Brando's theory with a sonar scan of her own, she had to concede that they only really had one way forward.
"I vaguely recall this planet has frequent, but often very short, and very cold nights. I'm not sure when night-fall will fall however, and it may in fact be more difficult to traverse than the day." She added. "It is my estimation that, lacking any other clear course of action, we should scavenge or manufacture some basic shading material into a crude umbrella, and then travel the 28 leagues to the nearest point of elevation."
Remembering her survival training from her academy days, Tetsuko remembered that mountains were good both for finding moisture, shelter, and places from which to set off distress signals, not to mention getting clearer connections through the ionosphere. Any rescue mission was bound to head there to look for them, as soon as it was feasible to do so.
Then again, maybe it would be better to stay by the crash site?
Shading her eyes, she checked the temperature and background radiation levels on her Omni-Band. Within tolerable levels for now, but who knows for how much longer? She really didn't want to develop a bad case of skin cancer, or worse, dehydration.
Opening the cold can, she almost gacked when she tasted the beer. It was cold and refreshing, certainly, but alcohol? In this environment?
She reluctantly and stonily faced poured the can out on the sand.
"No alcohol, Deputy. For either of us. It will only kill us faster."
Such an amateur mistake forced her to re-assess her strange fellow traveller. How did an obvious rookie like her fly that well? Fight that hard?
It was all rather strange.
"I suggest we should begin our exodus as soon as possible. If we are approaching Midday, the full noon sun may cook us. If we are approaching Nightfall, the freeze may kill us. Eiher way, our time is short."
So saying, she quickly used a little of her precious remaining Omni-energy to manufacture a basic head-cloth, which she quickly affixed in a crude fashion over her hair and around her neck.
"I suggest you do the same. You are almost as pale as I, and I am sure our skin will burn very easily as it is."
Without further ado, she set off, trudging uneasily through the sand and dust in the vague direction of the distant mountain. 28 leagues, or a hundred miles. They were never going to make it, unless night fell and somehow was survivable.
Either way, it was going to be a long walk.
She just hoped that this Brando girl wasn't the type for chit-chat and small-talk.
The Buddha always says, bad things come in threes. No ship, no supplies, and no luck.
Post by ✯Star Sheriff BRANDO✯ on Nov 20, 2019 14:21:06 GMT
Rhomi scratched her head in a bit of embarrassment. Sad as she was to see that Fizzy Friido go, there would be other cans in the future. She'd meant for it as a peace offering, of course, but if it was just going to drain the fluids out of whoever received it, it was probably for the best that they share a couple cans once they got to a moisture farm or something.
Tet-Sue-Koe explained that they had to travel 28 leagues, which... the last time Rhomi even heard that measurement was back when she was getting tutorials at the Castle. She'd long forgotten what it meant, aside from 'really far away'.
Following the Union pilot's lead, she went for one of the OmniGel canisters next, and printed herself a sheet of lightly coloured polymer... stuff, with a handle. A stiff makeshift umbrella. Not quite cloth, as the kit lacked OmniWeave, but it would do for their purposes. Besides, she already had a scarf and hat, so this was fine. Slinging the knapsack across her back, she held the umbrella in between them as they began their trek.
It hadn't been ten minutes before the Star Sheriff opened her mouth. "Say, Commander Tet-Sue-Koe. How'ja end up flyin patrols all the way out 'ere? Ya look more like a civilized-type, I reckon."
The obvious answer was reassignments, but Rhomi wasn't really familiar with Union policies...
As to why she started talking at all, it was because she just couldn't take the silence. Oh sure, the occasional sand gust would make for good sound, but she was the kind who always found quiet awkward. She just had trouble doing small talk is all. As a result, those things tended to be more awkward, as she would prefer to talk about things of substance.
Given she didn't have much to start a conversation with, this was certainly a step up from "how's the weather?". Which was pretty obviously dry, dusty, hot, with winds that didn't help at all.
But surely, something needed to fill the void in her ears, at least until they got to the nearest mountain.
And if anything, there really wasn't anything personal about their fight. Some folks took it personally. Grudges, for sure. Stuff like the Union murdered their parents, or the Alliance used some sort of fancy shmancy unfair political sleight of hand to magically declare control over their planet.
For Rhomi? It was a job. A job that happened to dispense justice. At the very least, she was sure the Union also had some sort of frontier justice policy. And really, how much worse could you get than going judge, jury, and executioner on an outlaw? RIDERS did that a lot depending on their interpretation of the Act. It'd be hypocrisy to say she was any better. They probably just had different approaches to achieving the same end.
Maybe if the Union killed family or friends, then she'd take it a bit more personally... but given enough thought, that didn't make much sense either. It wasn't like that specific person would kill that person... right? Ah, but that was enough navel gazing for now.
For all that, she might even make a friend on the other side, odd as that sounded...
In the distance, the sand and sky just seemed to stretch endlessly across the horizon. That mountain would surely be welcome.
Post by Tetsuko Ishida on Nov 23, 2019 23:42:14 GMT
Rhomi's voice was as irritating as she had feared it would be. It had been ten minutes, she supposed, which was a small miracle. She could tell she was going to have a migraine before they made it to the mountain, and not from the heat.
Trudging with some difficulty through the sand, and keenly aware that her hastily donned pilot-suit, designed to endure the subzero vigours of space, was actually something of a sweat-trap on this boiling rock, she briefly wondered if stripping down to her skivvies wouldn't be a better idea, if she didn't also know that her pilot-suit was good at absorbing radiation too, and nothing would give her skin cancer faster than running around in her bra and panties beneath a Type-II Star.
"I wasn't flying patrols." She answered. She supposed she shouldn't be sharing military information with a potential enemy, but she was irritated and hot and rather doubted this pint-sized elfling could pass on any relevant or strategically vital info anyway. "I was being transferred. This was a waystop."
She continued on, trying to focus on the horizon, but the shimmering desert heat made it hard for her to accurately judge if they were in fact, moving forwards. She looked down, and was reassured to see a trail of foot-prints in a straight line. She turned around, walking backwards for a few paces, ignoring Rhomi for the moment. She had only opened herself up to further questions, but if she must talk, she would pace out her answers. Stop them from running out of breath too soon. And really, time was something they had in abundance.
After a few more minutes, she continued. "I happened to be looking out the port-window. I saw your ship leaving as mine was preparing to de-orbit. I grabbed an Omni-Mech and gave pursuit."
After a long beat, she added one more sentence. "I was reckless. But I felt compelled to engage."
Rhomi soon filled the air with more words, but Tetsuko waved it aside. "We can talk more in twenty-minutes. We have to...pace ourselves."
She was already finding breathing hard. The young girl seemed to be handling it better. Maybe she just had more energy? It was a mystery Tetsuko didn't have the mindpower to engage with. Surviving this first day was going to take everything. Who even knew if there would be more than one day, or how long it might take them to find them?
She had been wildly optimistic before, she knew. A remote outpost like this probably didn't have much in the way of search and rescue transportation, and for all she knew she could be on the other side of the planet, heading in the wrong direction to the base.
But she couldn't give up.
Finally, after three hours of exhausting trudging, she sat down in the shadow of an overhanging dune, calling for rest.
"I admit. I'm not used...to this level of sustained exertion." She opened the veins on her still-suit, drinking the salty, recycled sweat that it had absorbed from her body. Recycling your own urine and sweat was a standard, but ultimately short-lived, tactic for survival out here.
"You want to talk? Lets talk. I can't remember the rules, but perhaps discussion on...non-military, non-political matters might help." She admitted with reluctance. She still felt uncomfortable opening up to someone her training and conditioning taught her to mark as an enemy. But she remembered that old saying, "walk twenty-five leagues in my shoes" and had to concede they were both attempting to do just that.
"I am thirty-two years old. I was born on an industrialised ocean world called Neo-Kyoto, primarily Nihonese in culture. My family has little history, but we know we have been fishermen, fishwives and star-sailors for as long as any can remember. My favourite fish dish is Nigiri. My main forms of recreation are fighting practice, with the katana, as well as meditation, tea preparation, and uh..." she reddened a bit at this confession. "Playing holographic role-play novels."
Don't tell her the titles, Tetsuko-sama. She doesn't need to know -that- much.
=Already with you, Samurai.=
"Have you seen any birds? Animal life? Insects? Plants?" she asked, in between taking sips of recycled sweat and answering Rhomi's more trivial questions. She was anxious, and trying to stave off a sense that things were more desperate than they had initially seemed.
"This desert has to have some life. Some signs of something besides ourselves and endless sand. Right?"
She sighed, looking out herself at the completely empty void that surrounded them on all sides. How...isolating. Just her and this...girl.
"Any idea how far the sun has dipped, or risen? Might help us judge the time untill nightfall."
Post by ✯Star Sheriff BRANDO✯ on Dec 15, 2019 16:30:42 GMT
Rhomi nodded at the response. At least Tet-Sue-Koe wasn't actually reassigned to this sandball. A more civilized-type like her was probably more comfortable over more highly trafficked worlds. Still, the fact that their fight started because of the pure coincidence that her erstwhile-technically-present opponent just happened to be staring out a high orbit window while she just so happened to be flying by...
What were the odds, right?
Ah, but just the facts. That was fair. She was about to ask more, but was preemptively cut off. Clearly, this Union lady took things plenty seriously. That and probably because talking too much too soon was a waste of saliva, and moisture. As the pilot turned around to seemingly check their footprints - perhaps to see if they'd changed directions rather than going straight ahead - Rhomi reached into the knapsack, opened the survival kit, and switched on the condenser.
It wasn't likely to get all that much vapour, but the longer it was on, the more water it would have when they eventually needed it, right? Unlike Tet-Sue-Koe, she wasn't dressed in a spacesuit. Because, well, she didn't roll that way. She wasn't a combat pilot by any means, which was why her definition of 'dogfight' was close in on her opponent, convert to CQC mode, and duel her opponent in close quarters motion-capture combat.
In short, the same thing she did on the ground.
Deryn instead served to shuttle her from world to world. Perhaps, if Sir Lloyd's errantry team had lasted longer, she would have learned more about the finery of the dogfight, the 'joust', as they called it, and become a legitimate combat pilot. As things were, the only suit she had with fluid-recycling systems was her combat suit... and this technically wasn't combat.
The jump jets would be useful, but only insofar as they actually had a destination to jump to other than "straight ahead". Its weight was negligible due to its powered nature, but it was made primarily for personal combat. Environmental survivability was a distant second priority. As such, its many combat-oriented features made it somewhat cumbersome for harsh, long treks like this.
Her Projector did have a blueprint for a survival suit, but upon closer inspection, the crash must have banged it up enough that it was stuck rebooting over a few hours. In short, she was stuck in this blistering hot desert with nothing but her clothes, hat, scarf, and a plastic umbrella. Yep. Better have that condenser on the ready. And yep, better shut up for a while before talking again.
The silence lasted for another three hours.
The two sat down at the foot of a particularly large dune, its shadow long enough to give them a reasonable respite, at least for now.
Tet-Sue-Koe immediately started to drink some of her recycle fluids, while Rhomi checked on the condenser. The digital readout put it at just under 63cc. She checked her Omni. Humidity was at 5%. She flipped the condenser and read some of the fine print. By 'temperate', it meant 60%. So six litres at 60% humidity over the course of 24 hours...
Math. MATH! Whatever!
The point was, at 5% humidity, it only produced this much water in three hours. Sure, it would probably go up after the sun went down, but she forgot how long the daytime lasted here.
Rhomi tapped on the release button, and the condenser, which looked none too different from a cylindrical canteen, hissed as it separated the measured drinking cup from the rest of the machine. She took a few moments to stare at that. 62cc. A large mouthful. She was pretty sure she'd lost more than that in this time. But a little water was better than no water.
She opened her mouth wide and poured it all in.
It wasn't cold. But at least it wasn't hot. It was water. And it was delicious.
The Union pilot finally took the opportunity to talk. Rhomi sighed in relief. At last. The silence was broken.
Even then, she understandably wished to restrict the discussion to non-military, apolitical matters. So then... personal things. That was fair. "Works fer me," Rhomi said.
And so, Commander Tet-Sue-Koe shared who she was. A water cityworld girl of 32 years from a Union colony called Neo Kyoto, which, if her understanding of Basic was any good, meant there was an original Kyoto from somewhere. Probably a country back on the Terran homeworld, or maybe even an earlier colony?
The culture was "Nihonese". Was that a Terran planet then? Huh.
Presumably due to how the planet was mostly water, her family was deeply involved in the fishing industry. And astrogation. The sea and space. Two things that people liked to connect to each other, interestingly enough.
Of all the fishy things she ate, her favourite was something called 'Nigiri'.
A bulb lit up in Rhomi's head, her face lightening up when Tet-Sue-Koe mentioned enjoying a good fight, along with what was likely a 'weapon' she called a katana. "Is that a sword?" she blurted out. Please be a sword!
Oh, but she also enjoyed meditation. Meditation. And tea preparation.
Now Rhomi only prepared tea because she learned it at home. And because Cletus liked it. So if nothing else, it was good practice. Meditation was also something she did daily. And now she wondered if the "Nihonese" culture was one of those who could reach the Canopy. Unless of course their meditations were different...?
"What's a role-playin' novel? Is that like an RPG?" Like an RPG. But more uh... literarily inclined? Snore...
When that was over, Rhomi figured it was her turn. And as a fair exchange, she'd stick to the same subjects. "I just hit eighty a few months ago. I was born on Avalon. Y'know, that place with all the apples. Culture's, well... Annwynaidd's what we call it. My family..."
The Star Sheriff squinted for a while as she tried to find the words for it. "They're nobility. Knights in shinin armour n' sky castles n' all that... Fer fish... I had salmon steak once..." Tough call. "But what I really like is wyvern steak from somethin I hunted myself!"
Ten years. That felt like such a long time ago. And it would probably be for the rest of her life. It wasn't like she was going back to Avalon any time soon, what with the way she left...
"I'll settle fer apple pie, though. Apple pie is good. Fer fun, I spar swordfights. Huntin's great too, if I can find a nice place fer that... Hang out with buddies... heck, I'll have a romp while prospectin in a tungsten rush! Meditation is more a discipline than fun, but it helps keep me from gettin' rusty." At entering the Canopy, that is.
"My fav'rit games're hack n slashers! Just get in there, pick somethin ta hit 'em with, n go wild!" She swung an imaginary sword with her hands. "But RPGs are purdy intrestin too..."
She trailed off...
Perhaps wanting to change the subject, Tet-Sue-Koe asked about the local life. Was there anything out here at all? Even bugs? "There was a funny sinkhole kinda thing a couple miles back. Thought I saw some mandibles or somethin stickin outta the middle n chewin the air. Not too big a thing... reckon the sinkhole'd be like... bout this big." She traced a platter-sized circle in the air with her fingers, each painting out half a circle. "Prolly lives on whatever poor critter falls in. Nothin else though... I mean if somethin like that lives 'ere, it's gotta be eatin somethin."
Worst case scenario was that it didn't need to eat that much at a time and could hibernate for centuries. Not a fun idea.
The follow-up question made her climb up the dune to get a better look at the sun behind it. "Well, it's a couple degrees lower'n noon." Her stomach grumbled loudly, affirming that it was indeed past lunch time. "But I reckon the days here gotta be longer, cuz it don't look anywhere close ta 1500 hours." She tapped against her Omni. "It's either that, or we fought around breakfast time."
Either way, it meant that there were going to be more daylight hours - and scorching heat - ahead. "Ain't seein that mountain yet either..."
Talking with the strange, youthful Alliance Officer proved...entertaining enough. While sharing her personal details with an enemy was perhaps an unusual way to kill time, and might be construed as fraternisation, it was nonetheless something that was keeping her senses sharp, and her honour as an officer more or less intact.
Even if it did lead to a few embarrassing revelations.
"A sword? Hah, ah my uncultured friend." She said with the smugness of someone who understood the value of Glorious Nippon Steel. "The Katana is the greatest single weapon ever designed by man. Folded a thousand-times, it is vastly superior to any other melee weapon in the galaxy, including those awful vibro-blades. I have tried to train with my sword every day since I received my first commission, twelve years ago."
She sighed wistfully. "Perhaps such pride sounds like boasting to you. Truly, though I wish I could show you at least some of the forms. It is both weapon and art-form."
Aware that her boasting might be taken the wrong way, she was grateful that they had moved into slightly more...civilian areas of conversation. She was surprised at the younger woman's ignorance. Her time at the Academy had led her to believe that it was she who was the backwater rube, not being aware of the sophisticated entertainment subcultures that permeated the more urbane areas of the galaxy.
Still, if this girl's accent was anything to judge, she was from even more distant and untamed backwaters than she. Perhaps the girl had grown up on a world that still made use of rustic, pre-industrial farm equipment, and had no electronic entertainment culture to speak of?
As the woman explained her origins, she was even more convinced of this. Knights? Castles? It sounded even more primitive and feudal than some of the most remote planets she had visited in the Union. The Alliance was clearly archaic if she represented the sort of people they enlisted as officers.
"Ah, you hunt? A worthy past-time. Though I have not had the luxury." She nodded in approval.
"I am not familiar with this "wai-vern", but I have heard the name of the beast before. Wait, you mean the winged thingy from Mana-Tales of Fantasy XXI?"
She then remembered this girl had no idea what RPGs were.
"Don't tell me such things are real..." She gave a re-appraising look. If this girl could down a giant winged lizard, she must be a formidable hunter indeed.
A Wyvern is a dragon, Tetsuko-sama. Kin to the divine beast that animates my spirit, and by extension, yours.
=Thank you, Samurai.=
The conclusion of the conversation left them rested, but no closer to finding food. The "sink-hole" did not sound particularly promising, and was likely a dangerous de-tour.
Re-examining their circumstances, Tetsuko took the time to try to surmount a yet higher dune. Surely that mountain wasn't that far off.
"We will simply have to keep walking, while we still have strength. I fear we may have to conserve what energy we have left, if we are to survive here at all." She said with renewed grimness. Still, the short break had rejuvenated her spirits a little, as well. Enemies or not, this Rhomi was...not a bad sort to have, if one had to have a pard- a partner in this situation.
"I'm sure once we're over the next du-" She felt something shift beneath her footing, and with horror she could feel the whole face of the dune she was on begin to slide along with her.
Looking down, she found herself increasingly being carried by the sand's tide, towards a dark, gaping hole.
"Ahh! Help!" She yelled, as she felt gravity pulling her towards the abyss....
Post by ✯Star Sheriff BRANDO✯ on Jan 10, 2020 8:29:01 GMT
Perhaps it was the presentation, and the image-evocative way in which she described the process of forging a katana, however brief it was. But the idea that you had to fold this steel a thousand times - she didn't even understand what 'folded steel' meant - had a certain romantic flair to it. Perhaps this was to improve the quality somehow. It was hard to say how this worked, of course.
Not that the Faesmiths of Caerfyrddin did any better at explaining their processes. Some vague allusions to molecular purification were thrown around, but that didn't really explain anything either. For all Rhomi knew, that must've been their way of folding the Caledbri. While some would argue that understanding the forging process at least at the basic level was something a noble should know, Rhomi preferred to delegate such expertise and focus on stress testing the weapon.
If it chopped clean through the training dummy, then it was good enough for her!
Hence, it wouldn't be surprising to see her fists clenched in barely contained excitement, eyes apparently covered with stars as she pictured what training with such a weapon could be like. "That sounds fantastic! If things pan out, maybe we could even spar sometime!"
Rhomi nodded to confirm that she did indeed hunt. "I mean the last time I hunted was like... 15 years ago or sumfin, but I remember it like yesterday!"
Then Tetsuko brought up the wyvern from one of those really popular RPGs. Which was pretty accurate in design, all things considered. "Yeah, jus' like that! I only played a couple a those, since Reign of Racofire is more my cuppa, but the ones I seen looked 'bout right! The King keeps em in a big ol' huntin preserve along with other game critters."
She couldn't make the same suggestion as sparring, though. In the first place, it wasn't like she was ever going home. Best to cherish that last hunt. It probably was her last... for good.
Things turned back to the subject of getting out of this desert alive. And with the Omnis' sonar scans indicating that the mountain was still far off, that meant having to keep going. That was fair. They'd already had a bit of a rest, and it looked like the sandstorm had let up. She took a moment to examine the survival kit again. "We gots a couple ration bars in 'ere. Reckon we could probably hold off on them till we find the mountai-"
Tetsuko yelled, about the same time the sand made a noise different from its usual grainy shifting. It was more of a rumbling tremor. That was bad.
Rhomi looked up to find the entire dune collapsing in on itself and sinking into a surprise sinkhole, with her new pardner going straight down the drain. She zipped up the knapsack and jumped in, grabbing at her hand. Never mind that with the whole dune going down, she should have secured herself first. As soon as they connected, they both fell down into the darkness below.
A surprisingly wet darkness... As soon as her entire body was submerged, instinct kicked in and she swam up to the surface, treading as she switched on her Omni's light to find any sign of Tetsuko...
Suffice it to say, this was an unexpected surprise, but it was no guarantee that this water was safe to drink. Well, at least the kit was waterproof. Maybe if it had some chlorine tablets in it, they could fill their canteens as much as possible before proceeding... assuming this was water at all.
But first, Rhomi had to find her. She couldn't have fallen far...
Post by Tetsuko Ishida on Jan 11, 2020 0:20:31 GMT
Coughing fiercely to expel the sand from her lungs, a bedraggled Tetsuko clawed herself free with frantic desperation from the sand-fall that had brought her...here. A vast, smooth set of tunnels seemed to stretch like an underground hall, illumination coming from thin cracks in the earthen roof. This part of the desert at least, seemed to rest on very porous and soft soil.
Shaking her bedraggled hair, and lamenting how much of a mess she must look right now, Tetsuko weakly called out in the gloom.
"Hello? Rhomi? Are you here?"
Her voice echoed, causing the tunnel to shake and vibrate a little, trickles of sand pouring through hairline cracks above.
It was obvious that this whole area was unstable, yet how such a tunnel had come to be in the first place was a mystery. Pulling herself free with a burst of effort, her foot now sank into the damp, muddy surface of the base of the tunnel.
Loose sand above and quick-sand below, a precarious position indeed.
"Damp...wait...water?" She mused softly to herself.
Despite the danger, this situation might in fact be an improvement on their previous dire straits. The cooler air down here also suggested there was running water, perhaps even something drinkable?
Whispering softly in the void, Tetsuko was relieved when she finally found her erstwhile comrade. Enemy or not, she didn't want to have to navigate this sort of place alone.
There is no shame in knowing your own weakness, and working together to overcome it.
"Do you have the kit with you?" She asked, reaching in the grey darkness, finding Rhomi's hand, soft, small, but reassuring.
"Ah, foolish, to follow me down here. But...thank you, anyway." She admitted, glad the darkness hid the blush in her cheeks.
"This tunnel doesn't seem natural. Too smooth. A primitive form of aqueduct or reservoir perhaps? But we didn't see any civilisation anywhere..."
Racking her brains, she concluded that the tunnel must extend to some deep water source under the mountain they had been heading towards. Which meant that if they went the other way, it would take them to civilisation.
On the other hand, they didn't know how far it would be. They did know the mountain would have water, though. Perhaps safer to continue heading in that direction...?
"This place seems quite unstable. We should talk quietly, and move carefully."
Holding on to Rhomi's hand, they moved uneasily through the sinking, cloying mud. She followed Rhomi's blue eyes. It was increasingly hard to maintain any illusion that this woman was an enemy combatant. They were both humans, or humanoids at least, in a dangerous situation. Distrust was a burden she could no longer afford to carry.
"Can you see more clearly in this gloom? The light is poor, and my homeworld's moons were often obscured by smog. No natural night-vision on Neo-Kyoto."
Having no other choice, she chose to follow Rhomi's lead, and let the shorter girl lead the way.
"I will follow you. My life is now in your hands, more than ever."