"Cut all power. Then get to the bridge. We have company..." ARDEN sat at the small skiff's controls, staring at a vid screen. Three, his Engi partner and fellow federation soldier was in the engine room, hopefully powering down what systems he couldn't manually override from his current position. Moments ago he had spotted a rebel cruiser, easily identifiable by the bright gold color of its hull, drifting on low forward through the system. He wasn't sure how the sensors hadn't picked up a ship in such close proximity, and he had only seen the enemy ship by dumb luck, but if they were lucky it hadn't spotted them either.
Three shut down all systems and ran all necessary systems on low power, there was a barely audible hum of the ship instead of the louder noises which were common. Three stood in the doorway it moved over to the second sensor pad, Three tapped a few things out on it. Then looked over at Arden. "There is nothing wrong with our sensors that I can find." Three spoke, the tone of it's voice somewhat metallic and without emotion, though for some reason three sounded somewhat feminine. Three's hair quickly morphed into the same style as Arden's as always happened when they were in the same area.
The ship continued it's slow crawl across the vid screen, leading Arden to believe they were still in the clear. He pulled a star chart up on the nav controls and began studying them, glancing back to the video feed occasionally. There were three inhabited planets in the system, one of which was totally under Rebel control. Of the other two, only one was a civilian planet. Hytha, the remaining planet, was a gas giant surrounded by mostly automated space stations. These stations sent out mining drones to the planets rings, where they collected hydrogen from the ice the rings were made of. That was likely the reason for the Rebel's presence. "Not many choices here."
"Any choice is better than no Choice Arden, You showed Three that." Three spoke once more, it's tone neutral but that very statement obviously was profound to three in fact it began looking at specs on each planets. Three never voiced many opinions unless it pertained to anything technical or mechanical. Three shimmered for a moment more green before settling to it's regular color. "The Rebel ship is not slowing, Three believes it to be a scout ship." Three spoke once again, almost always in third person.
"Well, this being a recruitment mission, we're going to have to go to both of the inhabited worlds. We have meetings on both according to the contact list." Recruitment missions were actually nothing more than glorified pick-ups. In rebel controlled systems people who wished to join the federation had to be very careful. There were channels a person had to get to, certain people planted among the populace that had ways of getting word to Federation HQ about possible candidates. A list was then compiled and given to a small crew of two or three people, who were tasked with making contact. "Our best bet would be to wait to go to the rebel controlled planet until after we've picked up the others, that way we have back up if something were to happen to go wrong." Arden stated, thinking out loud."But I feel as if we should wait until that rebel cruiser is out of range to move." There were no obvious marking or tech on their ship that would give them away as being federation soldiers, but a search of the interior of the ship would likely not end well.
"It is always wise to avoid conflict when one can. Right Arden?" Three asked looking to its captain as he thought both aloud and within. Three had no effects on their vessel, only spare clothes. Three began to input the direction, angle and speed they would take to the first planet. Then Three put in the second planet, pulling up any specs on either to see if any of the information had changed, pulled up maps of where the contacts were and chose where to land their vessel. Three always tried to be productive, it got restless in a quiet way if there was nothing to be done. Three had even been working on their tech so it might not be so easily recognized as federation. "Flight path, and landing input are entered. Refueling station chosen, resupply area marked on the maps. We are ready but for the ship Arden." Three spoke shutting down the panel it had been using. Three turned to watch the ship and captain, waiting for the next request.
Three, as always, had taken care of the logistics while he monitored the situation. The rebel ship had turned its course away from them, apparently interested in something near one of the hydrogen mining stations. Once it had entered the rings Arden swiped his hands across the controls. They came back to life instantly. "Three, please bring all systems back to full power. That ships sensors should get scrambled by the ice rings, I think we're clear."
"Yes Arden." Three replied and walked back down to the engine room, there it began it's work only a few breaths had been taken before everything was running full power and Three was doing a check on all systems, including back up and emergency. "One hundred percent operable, Arden. Network shielding in place, everything is secure." Three reported in a somewhat detached tone, as it continued to monitor the ships systems, both electrical and mechanical. Three was the perfect Technical and engineering master, even if it lacked personality or at least emotions for a personality.
With all systems green, Arden pushed the thrusters to mid forward. They would reach the first landing in approximately twenty minutes. During that time Arden pulled up the same info Three had gone over minutes ago. Silen, the planet they were to land on first, had limited rebel influence. The police force was a mix of rebel soldiers and career policemen, while the government itself was free of any rebel control. According to reports, the government of Silen and it's populous had already been somewhat xenophobic, and the planet was populated mostly by humans. The planet itself was a mix of rugged tropical mountains and rain forests. Aliens were not prohibited from traveling to the planet, or from conducting business there, and so the rain forests had become a favored destination for wanted federation supporters. Their first marked landing was in the middle of one such rainforest. Rebels periodically sent out light patrols in the hopes of running across some of these undesirables, meaning that a confrontation was possible. "Three, take the helm please." Arden stood and walked to his personal chambers, pressing his back to the wall as the Engi passed.
"Aye." Three responded, it had found that Arden liked responses. Three took the seat and kept an eye on all controls, it did not question Arden, nor did it have anything else to report. So while Three was in the cockpit area it began to adjust a few things. Three was always doing something, unless Arden wanted company and then Three attempted its best to be companionable. They had a somewhat shared past and Three respected that very much.
In his room, Arden walked up to the back wall, which looked like a plain bulkhead. Running his hand along a seam between two metals plates, however, caused the wall to push forward and split, revealing a weapons rack. In the bottom there were two drawers which held his ionized weave combat clothes. One set was full armor which he would not be using on this outing. The armor didn't breathe well and wearing it would be insufferable in the tropic clime and would also weigh him down. Instead he opened the second drawer and removed a simple looking tan shirt and darker brown pants. They would be easier to wear and would offer some slight camouflage on the forest floor. After changing, Arden pulled on a utility belt. The belt had spots for his personal communicator, a 3d mapping device, a combat knife, and holsters for his two hand blasters. He filled the spots on the belt, then retrieved his laser rifle. The laser rifle had a variable scope with low to mid range settings and a electromagnetic muzzle, giving him increased accuracy. Finally suited up, Arden walked back towards the bridge, where Three was probably beginning the landing sequence.
"Thrusters angling, shielding stable and holding at current temperature, Cabin configuring pressure to align with Planets. Currently thirty eight percent, alignment with planets atmospheric pressure. Sending the landing code... received... reply incoming... permitted. We have descended past the second layer into the breathable spaces of this planets atmosphere. Shielding holding and retracting. Thrusters adjusting and manual controls fully engaged. Landing site will be reached in three minutes Arden. All systems green, sensors show no activity out of daily life suggested for this planet. Cabin eighty four percent aligned. Hold onto something Ardon. Landing in Five, Cabin alignment complete, landing gear out, Two, Landing complete. Welcome to Silen Arden, landing complete all doors still locked. No damage taken." Three always spoke out loud everything she was doing and seeing. It was a quirk, but she quickly tapped commands on the controls pulling up a vid screen to sync with the planets network, pulling up all current statistics and new information. They would be able to pass this information on to the rest of the federation when they also brought the recruits. Three stood then and faced its captain. "Shall I get my rifle as well Arden? To accompany you." Three asked watching his face intently her body shimmered and then almost seemed to ripple, her green glow getting a little more green then usual for the temperature and pressure change they experienced. She didn't ask if she was going with him, she had always gone with him.
"Of course. The probability of confrontation is low, but it's better to be safe than sorry." He looked at the vid screen, which currently showed the exterior of the ship. "Are we sure authorization went smoothly?" There was no one outside the ship, but it was habit for Arden to check and recheck most things. It had saved his life plenty of times.
"Yes, check." Three pulled up the action in question for him to look over for himself. Then walked to it's own personal bunk. Three merely walked into the room and its own weapons panel opened. Three took off its outer, big working shirt, slung the strap over a shoulder let it rest against its back and pulled the big stained shirt back on covering it. Three closed up the panel and returned to Arden. "Everything is prepared." Three told Arden once again its focus on its captain.
Arden quickly checked over the bandwidth activity a short time before and a short time after the authorization process. There had been some chatter beforehand, but it was short and was likely just a civilian ship's landing request. Their computer systems had the ability to detect comm chatter by picking up on fluxing signals. However, giving it the ability to decipher those signals would require hacking into a comm tower. On missions such as these that was rarely needed, so that feature had been excluded. Satisfied that they were still mostly anonymous, Arden walked to the air dock and pressed the hatch release. The doors slid open quietly. "All right, let's move out." After a cursory glance outside, giving him one final danger check and allowing his eyes to adjust to the bright tropical sunlight, Arden stepped out.
Three activated the security measures of the ship, before following Arden out. Scanning the surrounding while Arden's eyes adjusted, Three took a protective stance until he was prepared to lead again. It had its hand on the rifle under its large shirt that was not closed. This was a common maneuver Three carried out, on these missions.
The pair stood on a raised platform. Once they exited it would cycle with a lower platform, allowing access for the next inbound ship, and would simultaneously hide their ship from any airborne eyes. Ahead of them, a short stairwell led to a cargo elevator that would carry them the twenty feet down to the main platform, where they would board another elevator. This elevator would take them down to the administration building where they could exit to the street. Arden looked around, spotting armed guards stationed in intervals along the walls, possible escape and entry points, and security cameras. For a smaller star port it was remarkably well guarded. If things took a turn for the worst getting back to their ship would be no small ordeal. Satisfied that he had the layout of the upper platform, Arden motioned to three, then walked to the elevator. They walked to the next elevator and through the similarly guarded admin building without incident and arrived on the street in short time. "Our first contact is the communications officer for this planet. Name undisclosed." Arden glanced up and down the street. "We're supposed to make contact at a place called The Sunken Trunk."
Even though the city had a population of roughly five thousand, the trees, hundreds of feet tall, could be seen on all horizons, a tidal wave of green, ready to swallow everything below it. The streets, devoid of trash and other debris, were choked by dirt and dust. Hover cars glided past kicking it up in plumes, creating the illusion of smog or exhaust from old earth combustion vehicles. Well maintained buildings made of concrete with wooden roofs lined the street on both sides. Shop signs reflected sunlight up and down the street, begging those passing to stop in and spend some credits. People walking by carried their firearms openly, likely to defend from the planets jungle predators, or to defend against thieves that surely appeared with the night.
Three directed Arden towards the building, it had taken a map while their ship was landing. Holding a small object in its palm that looked roughly like the old world miniature disk. Three had the image of the town from above, logically the town was laid out, like most towns all over the galaxy. Three's hair stayed in the same manner as Arden's despite the crowd of people all over. Three was aware there were no others like it in this town, and that the people who live here had obviously not seen many of what it was.
Upon reaching The Sunken Trunk Arden motioned for Three to wait. He stepped inside and looked around. As he thought there were no organisms other than humans in the establishment. Aliens probably didn't spend much time in public places here for fear of domestic issues stemming from the planets noticeable xenophobia. Arden doubted there would be a problem if Three was with him, so he stuck his arm out the door and motioned Three in, then walked behind her to the bar, where he sat and ordered a whiskey and soda. Whoever was supposed to meet them probably had received a list of code words and would initiate the contact. "Three, I think it would be wise for you to say as little as possible while we're here."
"If you think it wise, Three will." Three said softly, it still had no emotion in its tone as it spoke, it sat on the stool. Three did not order anything to drink, Three had been told not to speak. Three kept its hands away from the rifle not that the rifle was very noticeable at all. Three as it always had spoke of itself in third person. Seeing itself more as an item than a being with free will. Three only made choices when pressed, otherwise Three let Arden take control of most things.
The two had been in the bar for nearly an hour. Arden had drank little more than a quarter of his glass. He was contemplating actively searching out faces in the hopes of finding their contact when he felt a heavy hand land on his shoulder. His hand twitched towards his blaster but stopped when a voice called out loudly. "Cousin! I thought you would be stuck on Hoathe for another cycle! It is good of you to visit, but you should have sent word!" Hoathe.... Call word ICE. Reply is... Arden stood and turned, coming face to face with a man a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier. "Well you know me, I like to get lost in the void now and then, I haven't even been near a holo terminal in months!" Arden greeted the man as he would a brother, giving him a warm hug and a friendly pat on the shoulder.
"Well, shame on you. You should always make it a point to let your cousin Rossul know how things are going." The man motioned for them to follow him, and walked off to a secluded table in the back of the bar where they were less likely to be overheard. Arden stood and followed him immediately, leaving his drink on the bar.
Three had stayed seated until they moved to a table in the back. It took a seat where its back would be against a wall. Three said nothing watching the two humans interact with each other. Three then turned its attention away from them and to the rest of the building. All the while monitoring the ship and their surroundings with its little device. Three kept an ear on the comm chatter, not wanting to be caught unaware. She had no emotion against the dirty looks she got, she sat upright without fear, she simply was there with a job to do.
Arden sat in silence for a moment, studying the corner of the bar they now occupied. Satisfied that no one was paying them an undue amount of attention he began conversing with "Rossul". "What's the situation." Arden asked. Rossul spoke in a low voice, mindful of nearby people. "The recruit was forced into the forest a week ago after a sweep by the police force." The man shrugged, "Apparently they found contraband in his flat. Personally, I think they caught wind of him being a federate supporter and planted evidence. After a week out there, I'd be surprised if he's still alive." Rossul shook his head then shrugged. "But, if he happened across one of the small groups of fugitives, and then they managed to avoid the patrols...."
Arden thought for a moment before speaking. "Is it worth checking out?" Rossul again shrugged. "That's up to you. The forest has some damned nasty critters. Some of 'em big as a hover car. If you think you can handle that, you might come across one of those groups. Any one of 'em has people that have a reason to join the cause. It's just a matter of findin 'em. You'll have rebel patrols to watch for too of course." The large man pulled a personal communicator of his belt and checked the time. "You should probably sleep on that though. It gets dark in an hour and the rainforest isn't somewhere to be at night. Follow me, you can sleep at my place.
At Rossul's house Arden lay on a bed in a spare bedroom, formulating a plan for the next day. They had ate upon arrival, then Arden had requested that Three stayed in the same room as him, and the two had retired for the night. "There's no good way to search a forest with two people..." He thought aloud.
"Why try to search a forest if we can simply let those in the forest find us. There must be some sort of look outs, scouts perhaps or spy's. To warn the others of danger. Let them find us. Sleep Arden, You have idea's in sleep if you remember them long enough to use them of course." Three spoke softly its voice sounding metallic and as if there was a slight echo on its words. Three closed it's eyes and laid still, the glow always present still rather green while on this planet dimmed as the Engi obviously slept.
Arden's thought some more before drifting off to sleep. A plane had half formed in his mind. The sleep he got was undisturbed by dreams, and he awoke feeling refreshed. As soon as he awoke, he checked his weapons. First he took the laser rifle and laid it on the bed, removed the electromagnetic barrel, and checked it for cracks or other wear. Arden had done this before his weapons were stored aboard the ship, but he had learned early in the defense force that if you didn't fail y our weapons, they wouldn't fail you. Arden replaced the replaced the barrel and moved on to his hand blasters. The barrels slid out, the the lock, leaving the stock bare. He checked each individual piece of both guns silently, holding each up to his eye in turn. Satisfied he reassembled then and put the in their holsters.
Three did the same to it's rifle. Then waited for Arden, "Arden, We must eat." Three spoke looking toward the door. It did not look more rested or less either. Three looked the same almost always except for the change in its Glow, and the way it always changed its hair to that of the person it focused on the most.
"Agreed. And gather supplies for the forest." The smell of eggs and some type of meat set Arden's mouth to watering. Breakfast was his favorite meal of the day, and he usually had to work of a good bit of extra calories each time he ate it. Today however, he was sure the trek through the woods would more than take care of that. "Smells amazing..." Arden stated as he left the room and walked to the steps, his focus stolen by the promise of a good meal.
"Sounds... you mean smells and it smells like meat." Three spoke as it followed Arden out of their shared room and into the eating area. Three kept itself quiet the moment they had reached the living area's, Arden had requested its silence and Three was complying.
As they entered, Rossul waved at them. "Good morning, comrades. Looking forward to your expedition?" The chair Rossul occupied sat before a table laden with food, some of it on plates and platters, some in bowls. Portions of it had already been stored in small containers, likely meant for the them to carry on their trek. "Come, sit and eat. I have information for you while you dine."
Arden sat at the table opposite Rossul's large frame, already eyeballing a plate of meat, which he suspected was responsable for the heavenly aroma he had been smelling since coming awake. "Thank you for the meal." The seat he had chosen had already been set with a plate, a bowl, silverware, and a cup of what appeared to be coffee or its like.
Three sat to Ardens left at the table. It made it's figure more solid, more human like for Rossul's sake. Three often let it's image be somewhat unclear around Arden because Arden didn't ask for better clarity. Now however Three made itself clear and feminen, Still keeping Arden's hair style. Three got a plate and put only carb laden items upon it. Technically Three didn't need to eat but human's found it comforting if it did eat. Since the planet was zenophobic Three was trying to be as human as possible. Three waited for cue's from Arden.
"As it stands," Rossul began, "We don't have a solid location on our hopefull recruit." As he spoke he pulled a cube from his pocket. After setting it on the table, Rossul tapped the top of it, causing it to light up and display a topographical map of the city and the surrounding area. "We know patrols have been sighting heavily here, here, and here." As he spoke, his finger pointed first to a local mountain, then to a swamp on the opposite side of the city and twice as far out, and then finally to what looked to be a small lake about three miles north of the swamp. "These would be your best starting points I believe."
Information was information, and Arden was glad to have even a place to start looking. Trekking through the forest would not be easy, as they would need to go on foot for the sake of stealth. It seemed as if they would be walking most of the day. "Makes sense." Arden replied, waiting for more information.
Three picked up the food, put it where it's mouth was and closed it's mouth around the food. Three didn't chew, three was basically made from small machines and energy. The food was disassembled and used to keep up the energy output. Three finished it's plate listening and calculating odds in it's head. Three didn't like to be idle so it picked up a few of the empty plates and took them to the kitchen area to clean. That was a human thing to do.
"The rebels stationed on this planet are equiped with the typical rebel arms loadout." He tapped the cube again and an inventory list popped up in place of the map. "A typical squad has four riflemen equiped with long rifles similar to the laser rifle you brought in yesterday, and a hand blaster. Their rifles are more powerful, but less accurate at range. Each squad also has one sniper and one heavy." Another tap on the cube changed the hologram again, this time switching it to a surveillance
video recording of a squad walking past the front of a shop. "The sniper will be equipped with a long range laser rifle, modified with a magnifying barrel, and a hand blaster. The heavy will have a railgun or a gatling laser, with a combat shotgun as a back up."
Arden eyed the video closely, taking in as many details as possible. As the video played on loop he picked out strategy related details first, such as the fact that the men and women in the squad were wearing normal combat armor. As far as he could tell he couldn't see any ion dampening pads woven into the material, which meant that his laser rifle, equipped with an overcharge core, would kill any of them with a single well placed shot. Arden had leraned that you could tell alot about a soldier by the condition of their gear. Their weapons seemed to be well kept, meaning that that particular group of soldiers were likely well disciplined and knew how to handle themselves in a fire fight. Each gun appeared to be clean and well kept, and he could see that the charge gauges on each laser weapon blinked full. The only thing that bothered him about any of the information he had recieved was the magnifying barrel. When equipped with that mod, a weapon was forced to further focus the beam that laser weapons emitted, allowing the user to set the beam to be more powerful, allow for a longer range shot, or anywhere in between. Generally the longer the range, the weaker the shot. The problem was that there was no way to know until the weapon had actually been fired. The heavy units could be a problem too, but one that Arden had dealt with before, and so didnt bother him near as much.
Three had finished the dishes and returned to the table. It made a decision and pulled out it's small silver disc from a pocket. Then Three tapped it onto the cube and got the video feed directly on it's own device. From there Three took the silver disc back into it's hands and began to focus the loop, clear up the image, sharpen the contrast, and start doing calculations on armor and weapons. As well as gender and general attributes of the humans carrying them. Arden might not want all the information Three was getting but Three genuinely enjoyed just doing things and being busy.
After watching Three download the video to her personal device Rossul picked the cube up off the table and stowed it in a pocket on his shirt. "The only other things you'll have to worry about are the beasties that inhabit the surrounding area, and the possibility of being confused as rebel scouts by the people you're trying to find." As he spoke, the large man took sips from his mug, which Arden had decided was not coffee, but was instead some blend of tea, likely made from local flora. "I can't help you with the fugitives, but I can give you an idea of the claws and fangs you'll face. And of em', the worst is definitely what locals call a Tabber." Rossul pointed over his shoulder at the wall behind him, where a huge skull with two rows of teeth hug on pegs. "Despite it's adorable name, these animals are twice over deadly. They have razor sharp teeth, are slightly bigger than a hover car, and move as quick one. Their fur somehow refracts the light around them and makes them damned hard to see, and they're some of the stealthiest sons'a'bitches i've ever seen." He pointed to his stomach and ran his hand up to just beneath his chin. "They have thick armor of some type from here to here, and it's damned near impenetrable. The best way to take em' down is to shoot them in the face, right between the eyes." Rossul put a finger on the bridge of his nose directly between his eyes to drive his point home.
"There are also very large insects, but they make very distinct buzzing sounds and they are easy to avoid. If you do get stung though, the venom they secrete will shut down your internal organs, starting with your nervous system." Rossul grimaced slightly, "A hunting budy of mine came upon a hive a while back. It was ugly business."
"Are these Tabbers territorial or are they nomadic?" Arden didn't fancy running into one of these beasts and wanted as much information as possible.
Three was making note's on it's personal device of everything Rossul told them of the planets creatures. There was no terminal's Three could access to find out more from their position and so it simply stood and walked over to take measurements of the Tabber skull for Data. Arden had asked Three not to speak and so she wasn't uttering a single word. Three was very good at taking orders and following them. It sometimes made Arden upset. Not now though it seemed.
"Nomadic." Rossul shrugged. "They roam wherever they can find food, though when they have younglings, they have been known to linger in the same area for months."
"I see." Arden turned his attention to Three. "We'll need to keep a special lookout for these beasts, I don't look forward to meeting one or the complications one could create." After asking Rossul if he had any more information and getting a shake of the head indicating no, Arden finished his plate of food and stood. "Thank you for the food and the information." He headed back up to the room, where he intended to gather his gear before departing.
Three had nodded it's understanding and input the last data it could about the native creatures. Before also heading upstairs behind Arden to grab the supplies it had left behind. "Should we get supplies for if we run into these beasts?" Three questions as it gets it bag and straps it on. "Three has made calculations of some possible routes those men may travel, on top of the information Rossul provided." Three informed Arden.
"Good thinking on the routes, as far as the Tabbers go," Arden was silent for a moment as he thought, then he shrugged and continued, "According to Rossul, our rifles should be enough if we have good aim." He strapped his weapons to to a travel pack that had been left in the room for him and returned dowstairs, where some food had been set aside for them to take on their trip into the forest. Quickly, he took half of the food and stuck it into his pack, bid Rossul a farewell, then turned and walked out of the front door, where he stood quietly waiting for Three.
Three followed and took the remaining food. Though it still didn't technically need it, Arden always left her a share of all things. He was a good man, it was why Three liked him so much and was so loyal to him. Three nodded thanks to Rossul without speaking yet again and left the house standing next to Arden, waiting. "For the Tabbers... Three can be bait, Arden is a better shot than Three." Three spoke softly so no one could over hear it. It was the best calculations Three had been able to make.
Arden grinned. He had expected Three to say as much, ever ready to throw herself into the jaws of danger. Usually however, Arden did whatever he could to keep others out of danger as much as possible. So far, he had only lost one recruit when rebels had ambushed Arden, Three, and four others as they left a contact's hideout on a busy comercial planet. Somehow information had been leaked, leading to the rebels discovering its location, which allowed them to set up a killzone outside the front door of the home. The first one out, Resh, a Slug and talented weapons system specialist, had taken a direct shot to the head. He had never stood a chance. The rest of them had had to fight their way out, facing down three squads of rebels. Arden and the others had barely made it out, fighting through city streets to the starport, doing their best to avoid civilian casualties while battling with the rebels. "We'll deal with that if it happens, Three. For now let's focus on finding our recruit." Arden pulled out his mapping device, quickly marked the three likely contact points, then began walking down the street. "I would say our best starting point would be that mountain. Mountains have caves, and no known mapping devices will pick up on caves until you're almost directly on to of them. Logically, it's the best starting point."
"Would there be a public map available of these mountains? Perhaps we could find an available terminal with the correct information? We could pose as Tabber hunters." Three offered perhaps the more information they could get the easier the search would be. Three always opted to try and get more information whenever possible. The only two things she ever seemed to really push for was either information and things she needed for the ship. But if Arden didn't like Three's idea then it would drop it and they could go immediately to the mountain.
"I don't think posing as Tabber hunters would work... we're not well equipped enough." As he thought, Arden scratched his chin, a habit he had picked up from sitting at a control panel while in space, where tapping the panel could cause any number of catastrophic system failures. "But maybe if we say were cartographers looking to map out some of the cave systems..." Arden gazed at his mapping device. Though it was small, it automatically stored whatever mapping data it acquired on their ships onboard systems. With their ship docked at the station, their story would appear legitimate to anyone with any suspicions once he explained how it worked. A person could even detect the hyperlink between the devices, if they were so inclined, with some guidance from Arden.
"A better, more plausible plan." Three said liking his idea better then the one one it had come up with. With the information Three had at it's disposal Three could easily pass them off as cartographers. "We should purchase a few things to make it believable, then begin immediately on the search" Three postulated as they stood on the street. She spoke softly so as not to be overheard. She was still under orders not to speak out loud in public. She was already aware of the humans and their glances and many surreptitious glances and whispers about her.
Quickly referencing the map they had downloaded from Rossul, Arden found a survival gear shop. They would likely get questioned about the use of whatever they bought, but some small white lies would easily take care of any suspicions. "There, three blocks up, then a right, and two blocks down." Arden pointed on the holo map, "The store is called Oswuld's Outfitters. They should have what we need." Motioning for Three to follow as he put his mapping device away, Arden began walking at a pace similar to everyone else, taking care to not look around too much. Curious people were often more likely to be remembered, and Arden liked to stay very, very forgetable.
Three said nothing but followed him obediently, as Three was only the mechanic and he was the captain. Three could work hard, and often did good work, but on machines. Three did hope however that this trip was without any real incidents unlike the last time. Three had not liked the gunfights they had been in last time.
As the pair arrived at the doors of the shop, which were styled after Old Earth western movies saloon doors, Arden took a quick look around. He checked his map then looked up and down the street, then checked his map again, seemingly making sure he had the right place, while in actuality he had been checking to make sure they hadn't been followed. "This is the place. What supplies are we looking for?"
"A compass specific to this planet, rope, belays, pins, climbing hammers, Rations. Everything else is either helpful or extra weight." Three spoke ticking off the list on it's fingers like it had seen human's do before. Three was trying to act as human like as possible, though Three was very clearly not human.
"Hmmmm... I think that I will follow your lead on this one. You should be able to field any questions they may have." Arden patted his pocket, where his credit stick was safely tucked away. "I'll just act important and pay. Or if things get out of hand I'll step in and handle it. I'm sure you'll be fine though."
"Three was instructed not to speak to humans on this planet. Should the order be circumvented?" Three posed the question. This would be directly against that order if it were in charge of supplies. Three needed to be sure it was allowed to talk to get the amount of things they needed and the correct items they needed.
Arden nodded, "The supplies were your idea and I know you've already listed them out to yourself." Arden pointed into the shop, "Besides, a shop owner is very unlikely to turn down the kind of business we're about to give him, no matter who or what it comes from." Arden pulled his credit stick out, "Also, with me paying, he'll likely think you're just my underling and you're under my orders." He dropped the stick back into his pocket. "I'm sure it will be fine."
"Understood. Three will do Three's best." Three said with a nod of it's head. Three seemed to glow for a moment a little brighter, but the brightness lasted only a moment before it returned to it's normal dim glow. In that time however Three walked forward into the store, the dimness of the interior did not slow Three down like it usually did Arden, instead Three went about gathering the supplies they would need that Three could get on it's own. Only a few things the clerk would have to get from either the back or just from behind the counter.
As three went about gathering the supplies she deemed necessary, Arden wandered the shop, hoping to come across some antique navigation gear. He had always been interested in how old Earthers, his ancestors, had used such simplified tools to navigate Earth's surface so accurately. Sextants, a simple compass, even paper maps, even if they were mere reproductions, instantly caught Arden's attention. This shop however, didn't appear to have even a crude reproduction. Slightly disappointed he kept perusing the stores wares, acting interested in things here and there.
Once Three had gathered the things it could get on it's own, Three then headed to the counter and laid out the items to be seen clearly and separately. "We require a planet specific compass, Four dirt containment units, A first aid kit, and one small container of oxygen. If you would please." Three stated as It stood in front of the counter. Three was not trying to be intimidating, but three stood as 'tall' and 'normal' as it could. Also Three was maintaining eye contact with the human behind the counter, even if Three adopted the hair style of the man immediately, Three was trying to make certain they got all the equipment they would need. Three did not need oxygen but in the off chance there was an accident at either a high altitude or in a cave it was detrimental to have a back up air supply for her Captain, Arden. Who did need oxygen to survive. Three had grabbed two sacks and two of everything so there was an even load between the two of them, Though Three could carry it all if Arden so desired. There wasn't enough to really hamper them however and it should prove just enough to be helpful without weighing them down.
"Going into the jungle, eh?" The shop keeper inquired, in a neutral manner. "Why would you want to go out there?" He asked as he turned from the counter and began gathering some of the things the Engi had asked for.
"My superior has been hired as a cartographer, We need the proper tools to get us across the land to make a proper map of the area suitable for the employers. Much of these tools need to be planet specific to each planet we find, as needs people to do such work." Three offered a logical reasoning to both questions the shopkeeper had asked. The less Arden had to speak the better. It made him seem more important. The more vague the information as well the better. Three stood completely still but for the glow that shifted slightly across the surface of Three's visable parts.
The man laid a small oxygen tank on the counter along with the dirt containment units. "Just you two, no guard?" He raised an eyebrow, as he asked the question. "You know we got some pretty nasty beasties out there ya?" He now spoke with his back to Three as he began putting together a first aid kit.
"We have been told, such as the Tabbers but there is no need for others. We are good cartographers." Three stated, as it checked the containment units and oxygen tank. Three finished it's inspection and waited patiently for the shopkeeper to finish their order. Three would call for Arden to pay then as well as pack their things. Three would take the extra gear to leave Arden the least hindered.
The shop keep finished putting together their first aid kit, offering a final piece of advice. "Tabbers have terrible sight, but their noses are superhuman," he looked to Arden, obviously assuming Arden the leader of the expedition, "If you're being chased, hide yourself in a tree, they'll never find you." With that he finished putting together the first aid kit and then looked Three straight in the eye. "One moment please, we keep our compasses in the back." With that said, the shop keep disappeared through a door behind the counter. A few minutes later, just long enough to make Arden uncomfortable, the shop keep returned, bearing what appeared to be a microchip in his hand. "Just plug this into whatever mapping device you have and it'll work as a compass for this planet."
Morga walked along the street, her shift was over at work. She of course didn't have any plans and since Raymore couldn't afford to pay her overtime she couldn't just hang out at the shop all day. She didn't really have a home she just hopped around from placed to placed. Ray was nice enough to let her use his shower when she needed it and keep her belongings in the dufflebag she had slung over her shoulder. Hers had gotten a tear in it the other day so she figured on buying a new one. She knew of a survival store just around the corner that carried heavy duty bags. That was where she was headed. It wasn't as if she had any place to be. Her entire future was a big empty whole of nothingness and she pretty much hated it. Skirting around the corner her bag thumped against the back of her legs. The shop came into view and she smiled slightly. Entering it quietly she noticed she wasn't the only person interested in gear. Lowering her aviator hat slightly she ducked down and aisle and wandered around looking for what she needed.
Arden stepped forward, taking the chip and sliding it into a small opening on his personal mapping device. "Thanks." As he put the device away he pulled his credit stick out with his other hand, offering it to the shop keep so he scan it and receive his payment.
Taking the credit stick, the shop keep quickly ran it underneath a scanner and handed it back. "If you're mapping won't you need a data cube to store all the data you'll collect. That's gonna be a good terabyte or more of data."
Arden shook his head, "That's unnecessary. My mapping device shares a direct hyperlink with my ship." He tapped the device, "Whatever data this device collects is automatically sent to my ship, where it is stored on the onboard server."
The shop keep whistled quietly, "That's some set up. You must do pretty well for yourself." He shook his head, just thinking of what something like that would cost. "What system you come from?"
Arden was quickly tiring of the man's questions, but he didn't want to be rude and raise suspicion, or make himself more memorable than was needed. "From a mining colony in the Hades Cluster." Arden gave the man a polite smile then turned motioning for Three to pick up what was on the counter. "Thanks for everything. Have a good day." He walked back out to the street, where he stood and waited for Three to join him.
Three had stayed silent as Arden and the Shop Keeper spoke. Three gathered the items and loaded the bags they had just purchased, evenly... sort of, distributing the goods they had bought. Three slung the heavier pack over It's shoulder and carried Arden's pack until he was ready to claim it from Three. Three noted when the female walked into the shop and after a quick check noted her harmless and benign. Three left the shop behind Arden, wondering if they would head out immediately or not, Three's glow brightened when they got outside of the shop, minutely and Three's hair changed back to that of Arden's style.
Morga picked a large military style duffle bag with tons of pockets and headed to the checkout. The cashier eyed her carefully as he rang her up, she paid quickly and hurried out the door. Morga wasn't quite paying attention to where she was going and ran smack into Arden, she fumbled with her new purchase but was able to hang onto it in the end. "Oh I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention. Sorry, so sorry!"
Arden had his personal communicator out as he was waiting for three, going over some ship diagnostics, and mentally creating a list of systems and stations that needed tweaking when he felt a bump from behind. The communicator was knocked from his hand and landed at his feet. Expecting three he turned around to see what the problem was, only to find a striking woman standing there, offering an apology. Caught off guard, Arden forgot about his communicator and could only mumble a quick excuse me as he stepped aside to allow her to pass.
"Oh you dropped your... thingie..." Morga stooped and picked up the device and offered it back to the man she had so rudely bumped into. "I really am sorry, I'm usually so good about watching where I am going but I just bought this bag and my old was is ripped so I need to switch it out. Hey you're that man from the shop." Clamping her hand over her mouth she blushed deeply. "I never talk this much."
"It's ok, I shouldn't have been standing in the middle of the sidewalk like that." He took the communicator and quickly scanned the casing for cracks. Finding none he stashed it back in it's pouch on his belt. "And ya, I was in there. My names.... Arden. And you are?" He had paused, unsure whether he should give her his real name, but then he recalled the video of the patrol and decided that she was most definitely not a rebel soldier. Giving her his real name would probably be fine.
"Morga, my name, it's Morga." Glancing down at her bag she frowned slightly. "Where are you headed if you don't mind me asking?" Morga hefted her full duffel bag further up on her back. It was growing uncomfortable on her back as she just stood there, motionless. She needed to transfer her things over to the new bag.
Arden pointed in the general direction of the forest he could see at the end of the road. "We're cartographers. we were hired to map out some of the cave systems that are in the forest." Arden felt bad about lying to this woman, but it was necessary to protect his and Three's true identities and purpose.
"Oh... interesting... Well I guess I should let you get back to it." Morga nodded her head as she stepped around them to head to the nearest bench which was just down the road a few feet. Taking her duffel bag off her back she began switching her items into the new bag, arranging them obsessively.
As the girl turned to leave, Arden made a impulsive decision. "Wait. Can I talk to you for a minute?" They were here to recruit, and even though this girl was not on their list, it wasn't unheard of to recruit random people. Arden would, of course, have to figure out how to reveal their actual reason for being here, but he figured that he would see how she reacted, and interacted with Three first. If she was xenophobic, he would find a way to leave her behind. If she wasn't he would try to figure out how to recruit her.
Morga looked up from what she was doing and shrugged her shoulders. "If you dont mind me finishing what I'm doing while you talk. I need to finish while I still have the light." She pointed at the sun before continuing to stuff things in what appeared to be random pockets but to her it was a very strategic organization. Glancing back up at Arden she smiled. "What's up?"
"Well, I was thinking that we might need an extra hand while we're out there. Everyone's been telling me about these Tabber things and how vicious they are. You know, safety in numbers. You'll receive compensation of course." He neglected to say exactly what the compensation would be purposefully.
"As a local your guidance could prove useful." Three spoke up a little suddenly, to back up what Arden had said. Three could see what he was doing, whether or not it was safe... was up to him. Three did wonder what a pretty human woman was doing with such a large bag and according to the contents... wondered why she was homeless as well. "Three must purchase more supplies if we are to add one to the group." Three said turning to Arden to inform him. Three's hair kept shifting from the woman... Morga's hairstyle, to Arden's. It just mattered who Three was looking at. Each time three's 'hair' changed it's internal glow also brightened then dimmed slightly. The effect rippling across it's 'skin', if the woman didn't like Aliens this would let them know.
Morga turned her attention to Three and her eyebrows raised in surprise at the changing of her hair. "That's so cool..." Morga smiled and zipped up the pockets of her now full bag. "I guess I could come along. I've really got nowhere else to be. My job here isn't very important. Thank you for the offer, that's very kind." Standing she slung her new bag onto her back and tossed the old one into the nearby trash can.
Arden smiled, "Great, then could you accompany Three back inside the shop for supplies. I imagine you probably have some already, so you guys should coordinate on the purchase." He took his credit stick out of his pocket and handed it to three. "I'll stand here and wait."
"Yes sir. Miss Morga?" Three nodded to Arden and took his credit stick, carefully tucking it into the breast pocket of the shirt Three wore. Then Three motioned that Morga could go first back into the shop. "Do you require anything for your guns? Or do you have any climbing gear?" Three asked to try and guage how much they would need to also outfit Morga for their travels. Three didn't both to try and figure out what Arden's plans were. Three simply followed the orders he gave it.
Morga nodded her head gently. "Energy cells for my guns and I've never had any climbing gear. I'm not even sure what I would look for to be honest." Leading the way back into the shop she glanced around but didn't really know what to look for so she waited for Three to lead the way from there.
Three knew what was needed now and went to where it was kept. Belay pins, rope, harness, and shoe spikes to name only a few things. All rather lightweight, Three then headed to the counter again. "Sir, We need another small oxygen tank please. We have hired a local who may aid in our mapping needs." Three said putting all of the items on the counter and awaiting the shop keeper.
The shop keep nodded his head as he turned to retrieve another tank. "Good call, another gun could mean the difference between life and death out there." A moment later he sat the tank on the counter. "Anything else, or are you good to go?" He asked, his gaze catching both women's eyes in turn.
"Energy cells for her blasters and we are all set." Three said looking the man straight 'in the eye', adopting his hairstyle immediately. Three shimmered for a moment before it settled it's glow once more. However Three turned and handed the tank to Morga. "For your bag, might as well load it up while he retrieves the final items."
The man walked to the end of the counter, pulling out an energy core from the wall, and then removed four cells. He brought them back and set them upright on the counter after sliding the core back shut. "Well then, that brings the total up to 573 credits."
Three handed over the credit stick and while paying took everything off the counter and handed it all over to Morga. "We must hurry we are losing valuable time to begin our mapping with." Three said accepting the stick back from the merchant. Three then lead the way back outside and to the waiting Arden. With Three's small mission completed, Three gave a short accord of the price for everything and returned the credit stick. "We can depart at any time." Three stated nodding at Morga.
Morga took the items from Three and stuffed them into there rightful places in her pack before following her back out onto the street. Arden was roughly in the same place they had left him so they rejoined him and she waited to leave this dreadful place she had called home for so many years.
Arden nodded as he turned to leave, waving the two women to follow him, and promptly ran straight into someone behind him. "So sorry. I didn't see..." His voice caught momentarily as he registered the hard face of a soldier and the men and woman standing behind him. "You there." He continued quickly.
"Watch where you're walking fool." The larger than average man growled menacingly. He stood a couple heads taller than Arden and carried a laser rifle slung comfortably across his back. A hand blaster hung low on his right hip, his hand already hovering over the grip. Likewise, the soldiers behind him also were ready to pull their weapons. They were obviously highly trained. "I could shoot you on the spot for assaulting a Federation Officer."
Arden, appearing cowed, back away three quick steps and offered a bow at the waste while simultaneously offering a muttered apology. Hopefully, they would buy his act of being a simple civilian and move on without causing any problems for Arden's small group. They couldn't afford a confrontation here on the street.
The man harrumphed and seemed ready to move on until he spotted Three. "What have we here?" He walked over to stand next to Three, quickly looking her over with a sneer. "Dirty alien. What is your business here?" When Arden tried to speak to give an explanation of their business, he was quickly silenced by one raised hand palm out, and the unmistakable warning of his other hand gripping his hip blaster. Silently, the squad leader stood waiting for a reply from Three. Arden could feel a knot grow in his stomach.
"Three is quite clean sir. Three is an interplanetary vehicle maintenance service associate sir. Three had to stop to repair the Vehicle Three maintains, to continue to the destination that the Captain of Three's ship previously set course for. Three had to buy a few supplies as well so Three was just leaving the store sir. Three apologize's for any inconvenience Three's presence may have caused sir." Three spoke looking ahead the entire time and not at any of the humans addressing it. "Three asked these natives to take Three to the shops Three needed." Three spoke softly, under pressure Three could be very... alien indeed. Three showed no emotion, it kept a neutral face, even Three's voice was devoid of emotion. The glow that was always present was slightly dimmed in case the humans would feel threatened by it.
Morga glanced back and forth between her two companions and decided to keep quiet. They were obviously keeping their true identities and reason for being there a secret for a reason. Morgan stared at the ground as the officers grilled them, her hands clasped behind her back.
"And your ship is docked in this city?" The officer glared Three down, apparently trying to intimidate her into making a mistake with her story. He had a feeling that there was more to the story, but he couldn't grasp what exactly didn't seem right. "And it's been checked and passed security?"
Arden still silently by, his head still down, doing whatever possible to not draw attention to himself. He was confident that Three could talk her way out of this. This was not the first time they had been in this position. It was a hazard of the job, and always would be. If he had to, Arden would open fire on these men, but only if there was no other option. For now he was content to let Three handle things.
"Would you like the landing confirmation serial number sir?" Three asked not wavering, though it's 'skin' rippled as a hot wind blew over them all. "Three will give sir all the information sir needs. Just ask." Three offered, after all Three's voice didn't exactly convey emotion because Three didn't have any. Three stood and did not waver at all, after all Three did have the numbers to give for their ship. If a scan was run on the ship it had been programmed to pop up as needing repairs. It was a standard thing, Three often used on hostile planets that they visited.
"Hmm. Not necessary, just conclude your business and get the hell off my planet." After spitting at Three's feet the sergeant signaled to the rest of his squad, and they moved off as one, falling into synchronized step naturally. After a few moments, they rounded a corner and were out of sight. With their disappearance, the tension eased from Arden's shoulders and he stood straight. "Good job Three. Luckily, they went the opposite direction we are headed. Let's go." He turned and started walking. They needed to get out of the city quickly to avoid any more patrols that might want to stop them and inquire about they reason for being planet side.
Three nodded it's head, the sort of hostility Three just faced was a normal occurrence. Many of the planets they were sent to on their missions were xenophobic in some way. "Please follow us." Three said to Morga, before following Arden. Three also contemplated a hat. A hat might help cover up the fact that it was a different species, also keep it from being confronted quit so much by local authorities. That would cut down some of the length of the missions.
As they walked along Morga stewed over what had just happened. She waited until there was no one around before pipping up. "Are you hiding something that I should be aware of?" Her voice was quiet but stern as she spoke. She'd trusted them when she'd agreed to go along on this trip, she was comfortable going in blind.
The question was expected, though Arden hadn't quite figured out the best approach in revealing the answer. He doubted his normal speech would go over all that well on someone that he had literally bumped into minutes before, and to his knowledge had no desire to join the federation. Probably, just revealing the fact that they were Federation agents would send her running for the nearest authority. As far as he had gotten on the topic, planning wise, was waiting until they were actually in the forest, but near enough to the town that if she did decide to run and tell, she would be able to return in relative safety and they would have time to vanish into the woods. She had forced his hand however, and that was obviously not going to happen. "We are not welcome on this planet, or any Rebel controlled planet in the universe for that matter." He slowed his pace a bit in order to drop back next to her so he speak to her more intimately, but more importantly, more quietly. "We are recruitment agents for the federation. We suffered terrible losses during The Blitz and are on a mission to recruit both soldiers and skilled laborers." He quieted as a pedestrian strode by them, likely a civilian going to or from work. Once the man was well out of earshot he continued. "If the rebel forces stationed here learn of our presence, we'll be tortured and executed, and you most likely along with us."
"Three would be dismantled. Or sold." Three piped up as well, only once it was certain there were no human's within ear shot. Three did it's best to stay out of Arden's business, when he was conducting it anyways. Three had slowed it's pace minimally so as to not outdistance the others of the party. Three was unsure of how Morga would react to these details and was currently running a few algorithms based on the knowledge it had gained from their short time together.
Morga crossed her arms over her chest and frowned slightly. She thought over every word they both had said. She wasn't worried about being caught so much as why they hadn't been honest from the start. At this point in her life, if she died... she died. She wasn't afraid of it or hiding from it. She'd been alone for so long it didn't really matter. Glancing up at Arden she finally spoke after several long minutes of silence. "Why weren't you just honest with me from the beginning? Hiding something like this isn't the way to go about earning my trust." Glancing at Three she knew she couldn't be mad at them they were just doing at they were told. "I mean..." Another civilian walked by and Morga gave a slight pause until they were gone. "I've never favored one side or the other, I've always stayed out of it not really paying attention. You couldn't know this but I've been waiting around for years for my life to change, that's why I agreed to come. I'd like it if you could be honest with me from here on out." So that settled it. She wasn't going to run off to the authorities and tell them about what Arden and Three were doing, she was completely fine with joining them.
With a grin, Arden nodded. "Of course, but you must understand, in our line of work caution is nearly always the safer path. When making contact with someone there are... protocols to follow..." Arden hated the rules and regulations, but also realized that they were there to protect Federation agents and soldiers. "Though I don't always follow them to the T." After once again checking to make sure they weren't being watched, he pulled his personal communicator out, tapped a couple buttons and held it out. "Please put your fingers on here starting with your thumb, following in order to your pinky. This will allow your personal history and other relevant data to be sent to me. In the event of your death any next of kin will be notified. If none can be found we will take care of any funeral costs and rites." Arden looked her full on in the eyes. "This also indicates your willingness to join our cause and the understanding that I am your superior officer and am to be obeyed at all times."
"I have no next of kin." Morga took the communicator from him and placed her thumb on it to start with as he continued talking. "Obey you?" Morga's eyes darkened slightly at the thought of having to do everything he said whether she liked it or not. "Excuse me?!" Glancing around she made sure she hadn't spoken too loudly and then walked further ahead so that they were shielded by trees. "So you expect me to be a brainless pawn." It wasn't a question as much as it was a statement and it angered her.
"Hardly," Arden countered. "I value the ideas and intuition of all of my crew. However, in some situations, combat for example, I need to know that if I need something done, you'll do it without hesitation." Arden was the captain, and he needed to know that he could issue an order and have it followed quickly. Though he rarely ever actually needed to issue such orders, when his crew was in a life or death situation he would not hesitate to take control of the situation. It was after all what he had been trained for. "Honestly, I'm not very strict. Outside of common respect and following FedCom regulations, I'm not a demanding officer. The only other thing I ask of my crew is that you protect your mates as you would your own brothers and sisters." Arden watched Morga to see her reaction. "So now's the time to decide if you're in or out, there is no middle."
"Arden gives only necessary orders, for best results." Three offered up, Three was vaguely content by knowing they had gotten at least one recruit on this particular mission, in which the entirety of their mission was recruits. A job done is a job well done, after all. Three had also moved along with them out of the way and leaned against an object. Three had noticed when people/humans were in groups they always made themselves comfortable in some fashion and since Captain wasn't and Morga wasn't, Three would play that role. Three had it's own orders from Arden after all to fit in among the humans.
Morga glanced back and forth between the two before she finished placing her fingers on the screen. Once she was finished she handed the com back over to Arden and crossed her arms over her chest. "I've never been around a lot of people so it's going to be a huge adjustment." Morga seemed unsure of herself but she had literally just sealed her fate so now she was anxious.
Arden nodded,"I'm sure, but on the plus side, most of the people we recruit have been in hiding and so have been in seclusion for some time. So you'll at least have that in common with them." He pointed over his shoulder at Three, "And then there are those that have never been around different races or spent their entire lives in captivity." His failure to elaborate on which Three was was completely purposeful. If Three wished, she could divulge that information herself. It was her business and would give the two something to talk about that might help Morga feel more comfortable. With that business out of the way, thankfully with a positive conclusion, Arden turned and once again began making his way out of the city.
Three said nothing and simply followed Arden, a few paces behind but clearly with him. Arden had, had to teach Three mostly all it's knowledge on human behaviors. Whether he actually taught Three or if Three had simply observed and picked it all up was the same to Three. "Come Morga we have much distance to cover today." Three offered looking over it's shoulder at Morga, Three wondered what variable would change in their mission thanks to having Morga along, certainly favorable seeing as she was a native to this planet in particular. Seeing as she had just been recruited as well she should help gain the favor of those they sought to convince and transport back.
"Well that's... sort of a relief. Does your crew all seem to get along fairly well?" Morga asked conversationally as she walked along beside Arden. Knowing that most of his crew was like her made her feel a bit less on edge but it was all still new territory so she wasn't sure how it all would go.
Arden chuckled at the question, his thoughts returning to one of his first missions. A Mantis female had challenged his leadership capabilities for two weeks straight after her recruitment. He had nearly been ready to jettison her during FTL travel, she had gotten on his nerves so bad. Eventually, she had calmed down after a couple of fire fights, and then had been reassigned and given her own unit. They had parted on friendly terms, wishing each other the best of luck. "Not always right away, and on rare occasions, not at all. But we are fighting for every beings right to be in this universe, and to think and act however they wish, within the law. It's not illegal for a being to feel or believe any certain way, even if it inconveniences another being. I take that very broad belief, and apply it to my ship and crew." Arden motioned to Morga, "You could hate me, and I could hate you. But as the CO, it is my duty to ensure that I am doing everything in my power to ensure your safe return. That includes issuing orders that maintain a balance of being effective and still being safe, within reason. I expect my crew to follow these orders with the thought in mind that I don't have the luxury of being biased." The group was well into the forest now, and though he was keeping an eye out for any predators that might hear them, Arden spoke freely in normal voice. "Though we may disagree on any given thing, and might even hate each other to the core, the loss of a single crew member has the potential to completely expose the remaining crew to annihilation." The area they were in was heavily wooded, and as Arden walked he noticed that there was a buzz that was getting increasingly louder, so he stopped and quit talking, trying to pinpoint the direction of the sound.
"To the north east, it is moving slowly, but steadily, Sir." Three clarified for Arden by also pointing in the direction with it's arm. "Closer." Three then clarified just in case the previous statements had not been clear enough. Three was indeed analyzing the sound, Three had also pulled out the smaller blaster to better protect the group should something dangerous come through.
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