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7/12/3030-7/13/3030


Jack Yorke looked at the small hand cart his employer brought onto the cargo hold of the Dawn Voyager. There were three items there; one was for digital storage, one seemed to be a canister of gas, and the third was a set of explosives. The more he thought about them, the more confused he got. He glanced at Lloyd, who was pacing back and forth in a corner of the hold, speaking into a communicator.

"What's this stuff for, boss?" BOB-5 asks, walking in.

"Lloyd says it'll help us with the Risir issue."

"Hmm... if he's thinking what I think he's thinking..."

"Depends," Lloyd says, walking over, "Is it overly complicated to try and throw Risir off track?"

BOB-5 gives a metallic sigh in response.

"You're going to be infiltrating Risir's personal ship," Lloyd says.

"Remember what happened last time we tried something like that?" Yorke says.

"Hopefully, you learn from your mistakes. This time, you're going to need two teams. I'll give you a pair of breaching capsules, so you won't need to concentrate on defending the Dawn Voyager. Or your main entry point, since you can use the fact that it's really just a hollowed-out asteroid to hide it near an airlock tunnel. At any rate, one team will go after the life support, seemingly intending to blow it up."

"With something that small?" BOB-5 says.

"As Duster pointed out, this is a rather obvious feint. Clearly meant to distract his attention from the team going for the mainframe to download data relating to the Keys. What he won't realize is that the mainframe attack is also a feint, distracting him from the life support team's actual goal of releasing the contents of that canister into the ventilation system."

"Let me guess, tracking nanos?"

"Got it in one. These will let us extrapolate which of his dig sites are actually related to the Keys by comparing it to our own data."

The Dawn Voyager crew made their way around the room making their last preparations for the upcoming mission. Everyone was working to the best of their ability, whether it be checking magazines, cleaning their weapons or examining the plan that Yorke had created for the mission.

BOB-5 casually walked up to his captain, slugging his D-49 over his shoulder. "Anything else you want done before we head? Going after life support ain't going to be easy after all and we're bound to attract plenty of those fuckers. Not that I'm complaining, thugs and insects always tend to make some nice target practice."

"Just be careful on this one. We're going in on this one alone and I'd hate to see ya fall behind in there. You have be getting a bit slow in your old age by now." Yorke laughed as did his robotic companion.

"Well now I just have to make sure my Human teammate doesn't forget his skin ain't exactly bullet-proof. By the way, how do you think the others will do on their part?"

"Har-Bak's going to be leading the other team on their way to reaching the mainframe. I'm trusting that he'll make sure that the others at least stay in line and don't mess things up for us."

"If only it were so easy, Yorke." Bob remarked as he began walking away towards his locker. "Well, we should be ready to head off soon. See ya around, captain."

Risir's Ira work in sync aboard the Fera'Tarn, effortlessly working as one to perform maintenance on the ship. They remain eerily silent, leaving the docking port where Risir's prized ship stayed peacefully docked silent, with the exception of the humming of tools or an occasional cough. The silence is...unusual, for lack of a better word.

This brief moment of piece is shattered in an instant.

Two Ira guards look in worry as Har-Bak and Roar-Ree quickly sprinted through the entry way. The Lupinus engineer leaped, slashing the throat of one with his claws while firing his pistol into the head of the other.

Har-Bak quickly sprinted to the other end of the hall, where more Ira started to sprawl out to fight- in Risir's opinion- the foolish invaders. Cradling his ORG-Lancer, the Eurypt quickly ushered over Stefan and Roar-Ree, the latter having switched to his rifle, to group around him.

"Move out quick, guys. We got work to do..."

Basta sprints after her canine comrade, keeping her pistol drawn and at the ready to cover their flank. Due to the size constraints of the corridors, she was forced to leave her trusty sniper rifle behind in favor of her new flechetté pistol.

Well, at least I get to try this new toy out in the field finally, Basta thought as she saw an Ira trying to sneak up on them. Aiming carefully, she fired at the Ira's head, "Lead the way! I'll try to keep them of our tails."

Risir flooded through the ship, looking at the two breach points. One of these was a feint, but he didn't know which. He snapped two shots towards the group of four and two more towards the group of two.

He needed to discern which was the real attack before he brought out his trump cards.

Stefan moved near a crate and covered Basta's area. "Quick Basta move up, I've got you covered!" Basta quickly turned and ran near Stefan's location. "All right let's go!"

The two moved up with Roar-Ree and Har-Bak as they moved through the maintenance area.

A couple of guards were around the corner patrolling the area.

Stefan motions to Roar-Ree, and nods in agreements...

As the pair of guards passes them, the Stefan and Roar-Ree quickly subdued the two. "Check them for anything that may be useful."

Stefan searched his guy and opens a pouch. "Hmm ID Card, may be useful for something..." He puts it in his pocket.

Roar-Ree moved the other guard aside after taking another ID Card

"...and ah ha. A key." He tosses it to Roar-Ree. "Hang on to that."

"Ok we're good to move up." replied Roar-Ree.

Har-Bak nodded, and the group begins to move out of the area.

The party sprints on, finding a locked door.

"Excellent," Stefan says, holding up the ID cards, "These should come in handy here."

"Ya know," Har-Bak says, "For someone who was so untrusting as to only have White Wolf in his mansion, and someone who is so protective of his ship, you'd have to wonder why he needs ID cards."

"To maintain security clearance for these guys?" Basta says, gesturing at the Ira.

"Didn't you learn last time, Basta? These guys are all Risir. Every single one of them is the same being. It's kinda hard to understand, sure, but it's necessary."

"I got it, I got it."

Stefan swipes the ID card, which beeps. The light above it turns green, and a hissing sound can be heard behind the door. Roar-Ree gives a quick sniff with his nose, and tackles Stefan out of the doorway. It opens, and a massive gout of flame rolls out, singing Roar-Ree and barely missing Har-Bak and Basta.

"Thermite," Roar-Ree says, "Smells quite strongly."

"I guess we know what these are for, then," Basta says.

"Oh?" Stefan asks.

"Are you thick? They're traps for attackers like us."

"Dammit."

Har-Bak looks uneasily at the gushing flames as he sets up a mine down the path they just came down. Har-Bak barely flicks out his tail, retracting it with incredible speed. Despite his nimble dodge, however, flames still leap out and narrowly avoid his tail.

"Roar-Ree, anyway you can hack into the ID scanner and deactivate this- or any other traps- so we can get inside."

The engineer nervously shrugs, handing his rifle to Basta.

"I'm not sure, Scorp. I can try, but I can't guarantee it'll work."

The Eurypt nods, steeling his nerve as he and the others took cover. "How long will it take?"

"I'm not sure. I'd only waste about ten or fifteen minutes until we either get through or find another way."

"Then that's what we'll give you."

Basta nodded as she tried to find something resembling cover as she checked her ammo, "I say try to make it ten. I'm not sure how long Risir will wait before he starts to pull the stops on us like last time..."

I hope that Roar knows what he's doing, Basta thinks, I do not want to lose any more fur. There are way too many ways to skin an Altaic in space and I don't want to find them out the hard way.

Leaning the rifle against wall, she balanced it with her tail. Even if she wasn't limited to light weapons and her sniper rifle, she knew that there was no way she could shoulder the kick on that gun. The side arm was her best bet for now.

Risir peeked out of cover, looking at the junction where the last trap was set off. Unfortunately, this was one of the areas where his liking for flame-based weaponry was a hindrance. He, like all Ira'Preja, sees in the infrared spectrum. The massive gouts of thermite-induced flame, therefore, washed out the area and made it hard to find targets.

The fire stopped.

"Got it!" Roar-Ree says.

At that moment, Risir opens fire, trapping the group in a crossfire, coming perpendicular and parallel to the door they had just opened.

"Hey watch out!" Stefan quickly pulled Basta as enemy fire filled the area.

Roar-Ree and Har-Bak went behind some cover, and attempted to fire but were being suppressed.

"Damn, we can't move," said Roar-Ree. "Anyone have ideas?"

Stefan was about to get his rifle, but Basta tugged on him a bit. "We don't another incident on what happened before," said Basta worried if he was going to pull another stunt.

"Yeah you're right," Stefan replied. Stefan looks around the room. "Does anyone have any grenades or explosive shells on them?"

"I do," said Har-Bak. "What do you have in mind?"

"Throw them."

Har-Bak looked at Stefan with confusion. "Are you crazy? A cross-fire like this will get me shredded."

Stefan gestured for Har-Bak to throw them anyway. "Just trust me. Notice how the Ira didn't fire until Roar-Ree shut down the flames? They see in infrared, so it must mess with their vision. The grenades will blind them long enough for us to fire back!"

Har-Bak grumbled, "You better be right, doc. On the count of " And drew four of his grenades, handing two to Roar-Ree. "On the count of three. One." Basta and Stefan prep their weapons. "Two." They pull the pins on the grenades. "Three!" With a grunt, Roar-Ree and Har-Bak toss the grenades in the directions of their attackers, narrowly averting gunfire. The ensuing explosions eliminate several Ira, while disorienting the remainder.

"Everyone inside, now!" Har-Bak shouted as he and Roar-Ree lay cover fire, enabling Basta and Stefan to duck into the room, followed shortly by Roar-Ree and Har-Bak. With a quick press of a button, Roar-Ree slammed the door shut, giving the group a moment's peace. "Good thinking, doc." "Thanks."

"So where did we end up?" Har-Bak asks.

"According to the schematics Lloyd sent us, we're in the power generator," Roar-Ree replies.

"Great," Basta says, "Let's blow this thing and make our job easier."

"No."

"Why not, Roar?" Stefan asks, "It does seem like it'd make our lives easier."

"There are two problems with that," Har-Bak says, "One, we need to get data from the mainframe. Without power, that won't happen. Two, the other team needs power functioning to do their task in the life support."

"Three," Roar-Ree says, "I dug up the specs for the ship from a very obscure section of GalNet. This thing uses a negative matter / normal matter perpetual motion generator. We disable that without a few months’ worth of prep time and this entire ship, along with a light-second radius of other shit, gets sucked into Slip-Space with no way out."

"I vote we get the hell out of this room," Basta says.

"Seconded. How do we get to the mainframe from here, Roar?"

"Through that door and down the hall. Make the third right, then the fourth left, and it's the first door on the left."

"Let's go, then. Weapons loaded and ready; we don't know what we'll be facing out there."

Yorke's voice chimed into Har-Bak's radio chimed as he sprinted to the door of the mainframe.

"Har-Bak, you need to be careful. Risir's been watching us this entire time, probably knows where you're headed."

The Scorp quickly halts Stefan and Basta just as they were about to enter the door. "Got it Yorke."

"Roar-Ree, cover me."

With the Lupinus aiming his rifle into the door, Har-Bak chucked in two ORG-Soundwave mines. He then shoots them, causing the sound waves to emit within the room.

"Let's go, now!"

Har-Bak immediately charged into the room...with nothing inside.

"That's was...underwhelming. Roar-Ree, you hearing any nasty surprises waiting for us?"

"Nope. I guess I'll get started?"

"Might as well, I guess. Basta, help me set up a position when Risir comes."

Basta starts moving what she can so that they can have some cover, "Make a choke point, right? File them in one at a time?" She was learning tactical information from what she considered some of the best.

"Something like that." Har-Bak responds

"Yorke, we're in the mainframe," Har-Bak says into his communicator. After thirty seconds with a lack of reply, he tries again. "Yorke? Come in, Yorke. We're at the mainframe."

"Risir must have put this thing in a Faraday Cage," Roar-Ree says while trying to hack in, "Makes sense, since he doesn't need wireless transmission. Looks like we're cut off from Yorke and BOB-5."

"Try the Slip-Space emergency mode," Stefan says, "In this situation, we need some form of communication."

Har-Bak presses the button, and tries again. "Yorke, we're in the mainframe. If you get this, reply using the Slip-Space channel."

Again, no response.

"Yorke, come in. This is Har-Bak. Risir has us in a Faraday Cage. Please respond on the Slip-Space channel."

"Shit, he must have figured out how to block Slip-Space communications," Roar-Ree says.

"Then we're on our own. Let's make sure to set up properly."

As they finish setting up a choke point, not noticing the camera overhead, a group of three grenades fly in, deploying a large cloud of chaff in an airburst, making a small path between the door and Roar-Ree

"What the..?"

The group hears a whining, and Stefan stiffens in shock. He runs and tackles Roar-Ree out of the cloud a few seconds before Risir discharges a high-voltage electric shock, which spreads out along the metallic chaff like an electric net, grounding itself on one of the small metal spikes on the ceiling.

"The hell was that?" Roar-Ree asks.

"Firing chaff and using the metal as a conductor for a large discharge of lethal or stunning electricity. Terra Prima used it during the later parts of the Insurrection, after we cut off most of their conventional supplies."

"Well shit."

Strange, thought Stefan, why would Risir be using Terra Prima tactics. Unless- aghh snap out of it!

"This choke point is going to be for nothing if they're going to continue this!" yelled Roar-Ree. "We need to find a way to draw them out!"

"Any ideas?" asked Basta.

Stefan examines the room around them. At the same time, the chaff disperses in the area. We probably have a small window before they go for a second attempt, thought Stefan. Think, think....

Who knew working on that Insurrection documentary would have been so helpful? Risir thinks as he brings forward another few canisters of chaff for another strike. Unlike the previous set, these canisters contained magnesium shavings as well. If everything went according to his calculations, the electric shock would create enough heat to ignite the magnesium and burn or blind his foes.

Inside the room, meanwhile, Roar-Ree typed furiously at the terminal, trying to break through Risir's security and transfer the files before the next attack came. He saw something move in the reflection of some of the chaff that fell on the floor, and spins around, bringing his rifle to bear.

"On the cieli..." he starts to shout, and trails off, staring at the object that attracted his attention.

"What's on the..." Har-Bak says, looking up. He then quickly looks away and throws up, seeing the disembodied and clearly still alive head of an Ira, hooked up to what appeared to be nutrient tubes; one of Risir's macabre security "cameras."

Roar-Ree chuckled as Har-Bak wiped the vomit from his chin. "You okay there, buddy?"

Har-Bak nodded shakily, leaning on a wall for stability.

"Sweet fuck, that's fucking disgusting. Risir's a sick shit."

Roar-Ree and the others nodded. Stefan aimed his rifle at the "camera", shooting it. "There, hopefully Risir won't be able to see us anymore."

Just as he said that, another canister entered the room.

"Shit! Hit the deck!"

Panicking, Basta dives for anything that resembles cover. After taking a terrible hit on their last encounter with Risir, the Altaic did not want to take any more severe wounds. It was already bad enough that Risir had forced her to be a specialist, she did not want to die to him.

Clutching her pistol tightly, she shut her eyes and prayed to whatever celestial beings out there to not let her die.

The canister bursts, sending chaff and strips of magnesium everywhere. Risir sends another high-voltage burst through the metal, sending another charge through the room. As he had calculated, the strips of magnesium ignite, washing the room with heat and light.

Har-Bak and Basta hiss with pain, the bright light hurting their eyes. Roar-Ree howls, having caught a long strand of magnesium around his leg, which ignites and sears through his flesh, almost to the bone. Stefan is the only one unharmed, as he had thrown himself flat on the ground. Giving them no more time to think, Risir launches a barrage of three canisters into the room, all of which only contain chaff. Stefan curls up into himself as Risir is about to send another web of electricity through the room.

"Lay flat!" Stefan quickly yelled, and the crew managed to do so just milliseconds before the canisters went off. Roar-Ree looked at the console and cursed. The only way I can save our asses is if I can reach that damned console. Looking down at his mangle leg, he cursed again. "Aw fuck."

Gritting his teeth, Roar-Ree attempted to limp towards the console. C'mon Roar-Ree. Think of anything except the pain. Think of... Nara! C'mon, you still owe her that drink! With a grin, Roar-Ree pushed through, grabbed onto the console, and quickly began to type. "C'mon, c'mon." Suddenly, Roar-Ree saw a beautiful sight. The files and data, ripe for the taking. "Fuck yes." With a grin, despite the tremendous pain in his leg, Roar-Ree searched the files until he found one labeled "Mainframe doors". Quickly clicking a few buttons, Roar-Ree nearly collapsed with relief as the doors slid shut and locked. Just to be safe, he turned and dug up a file labeled "Terra Prima Grenades" and shut them down as well.

His job (briefly) complete, he collapses, thoroughly exhausted. "Just give me a minute, you guys. Also, do I still have a leg?"

"So, you think we can take 'em on, boss? Just tha' two of us?" BOB said as he and Yorke boarded the Fera'Tarn. The halls of the ship were enormous, the ceilings tall and the walls wide, making the two mercenaries feel small in comparison. The two quickly readied their firearms, and searched the perimeter for any Ira before meeting back near their entrance point.

"You think we got this, boss? Just the two of us?" BOB-5 asked, carrying his large Annihilator in hand.

"Yeah, we can. Back there, against the Revnorian...we're a good team." Yorke replied as he observed the area around him. "How far are we from the rest of the team?"

"Pretty far, about on opposite ends. We won't run into them and they won't run into us. Let's hope they can handle it."

"I have confidence Har-Bak is a great leader and that the rest of the team will give it their all. Last mission, even when things were against the odds for us, we still pulled through."

"He, you have a lot more of a positive outlook on things than I do, mate. Let's hope you're right."

"You aren't the most trusting synth, are you BOB-5?" Yorke asked as both continued with the human being less tense about the situation.

"When you get to be around as long as I did. You don't survive just by putting your trust in people, I prefer to be a realist in these kinds of situations." BOB-5 shrugged, "And after the last time we did something like this, I don't intend to have a repeat."

"Fair enough."

The sound of guards passing by caused both Yorke and BOB-5 to snap to attention and move towards the nearest bit of corner. In this case, a small wall as the footsteps began approaching.

Both kept their heads low, but hands moving towards their weapons. Still the small Ira patrol passed by and they had gone unnoticed by the group.

"Looks like our friends on the other side have been getting busy." BOB-5 whispered as both began lifting themselves up. Once again, the halls had become silent as they emerged and began heading down the hallway.

And as they turned a corner, a lone Ira stood there running towards them although clearly not intentionally as it seemed taken aback the moment its eyes made contact. It tried to pull its rifle up before it was hit with several plasma rounds.

"So much for stealth." Yorke said as moved towards the corpse and gave it a poke with his rifle to ensure the creature was dead.

"Eh, I much prefer to blow shit up." BOB-5 said as lifted his own weapon. "Shall we?"

Risir snaps off two shots at the party of two, always from two opposing angles such that they can't shoot back. The captain and the synth... the two best combatants on that crew. This team is likely the distraction. Risir thinks, groaning inwardly, But this is a problem... I'll need to mount an all-out defense against these two. He looks at one of the control panels in his security room. This'll do nicely...

Yorke leans out of cover, launching a spray of plasma rounds at the end of the corridor where three of Risir were. Halfway down the hallway, however, his shots slam into the ground. A stream of curses from the synth behind him tells him that BOB-5 has had the same problem.

Four more Ira arrive, and six shots are fired towards the duo. They duck back around the corner, looking at each other in confusion. Suddenly, they feel pulled towards the corners leading into the hallway. The sudden pull jerks them back, and is all that saved them from taking three bullets each to the head.

"Bloody snake's manipulating the artificial gravity," BOB-5 says, "He can't make it too large in any one place for too long, or his ship will start cracking, but to be able to manipulate it with enough precision to arc around corners... this is some crazy tech. Where the sod did he get this?"

"We can figure that out later, Bob," Yorke says, "For now, we need to survive and complete the mission."

"This motherfucker has some fancy-ass shit. I think Lloyd should reward us with some of this stuff when we kill the slimy bastard." BOB jokingly remarked as he put his Annihilator on his back and readied his Demon pistols. "These'll shred through these fuckin' sobs."

"We gotta make tricky shots for this one, BOB. We need to trick Risir into manipulating the gravity the way we want it to." Yorke ordered as the two teammates prepared behind cover.

"Let's hope the other group is making some progress, Risir's a smart guy. He might figure out what's goin' on soon."

"Best option for the time being is to shoot in intervals." Yorke said peeking out slightly to notice where the Risir's positions were. "Any questions?"

"None, if I get to go first." BOB-5 fired his rounds once more only for them to stop in mid-air before slamming back into the ground. Risir took the chance to fire once more at their positions.

Peeking out of his own cover, Yorke fired off a small burst managing to hit one of the Risir before two of the others turned their attention to him and began firing.

"Yorke, I think it might be working, but I doubt he's this dumb to continue falling for the bait and switch. Think your grenades might be of some use here?"

"Not yet. Still don't know what other tricks Risir has up his sleeve."

"We can't stall here," Yorke says, "We need to get to Life Support. How do we get there without running past these guys?"

"Down this hallway and go right, for starters."

"Let's go, then."

The two fire another short burst at Risir and then sprint down the corridor, heading in the opposite direction of the defenders. They take a right and continue running.

"You know," BOB-5 says, "I find it odd that we haven't seen any security cameras."

"Same," Yorke replies, "I see those tracks on the ceiling for them to move around, but haven't seen the cameras at all." The pair hears a mechanical whirr overhead. "Damn. Shouldn't have had that conversation, or we'd have gotten through without seeing any."

The camera comes into focus, and the pair freezes. "Ya know, Cap'm," BOB-5 says, "I'd've been perfectly fine not seein' tha'."

"Yeah..."

The "camera" was the disembodied and clearly still alive head of an Ira, hooked up to what appeared to be nutrient tubes.

BOB-5 suddenly tackles Yorke, dodging the hail of bullets that had chased them around the corner.

"Bloody 'ell, that's an efficient system. Run, Cap'm. We need to find a more defensible spot."

"Don't have to tell me twice." Yorke aimed his rifle as he began looking down the hallway for any possible escape routes or something that would provide a moment's rest.

He managed to spot another door down the hall and made a dash for it as BOB-5 fired at any pursuers before the system activated once more and caused both nearly to be slammed by a hail of rounds. "Bad idea!" The robot shouted as he ducked down along with his captain.

Still BOB-5 felt the brunt of the rounds as several slammed into his metal coating. Damage was minimal with bits of paint being chipped off and a small dent where a small cluster of rounds had gathered.

Both entered into small alcoves near the door, Yorke's being closer to the door. "Bob, I'm going to need you to cover me!" Yorke shouted. With BOB-5 responding by firing off a small burst of rounds forcing the Risir to take nearby cover.

Opening the door and examining inside, Yorke spotted two guards and several new hallways. One of which would still lead in the general direction of Life Support. Readying a grenade and rolling it across the ground towards the two guards before slamming it shut. But narrowly avoiding as the Risir on their end fired off two more rounds only missing because of BOB's new burst.

Moments later an explosion occurred on the other side. And BOB-5 was still busy keeping the pursuer at bay. "Life support shouldn't be too far off from here."

"Fuckin' finally. I'm getting tired of all this Risir shit."

"On three, we open the door. Wait for a count of five, and jump inside."

"Got it, cap'm"

As planned, Yorke counts to three and opens the door, he and BOB-5 flanking it as it opens. They avoid a hail of gunfire as Yorke starts counting to five.

When he holds up three fingers, they hear a whirring noise as the gunfire starts to slow. At four, the gunfire stops. On five, they dive in and duck into cover, just before the "camera" slides around the corner. The door closes just behind the bunching of needles where the gravity-redirected grenade actually hit.

"Ahahaa! Good kills, mate!" BOB-5 laughed with glee as the Risir dropped dead and the door closed behind them.

"How're we gonna know which one of these halls to go down? We can't afford to split up." Yorke pondered.

"If this ship's designed like any normal one, it should be right down this hall." BOB-5 pointed into one of the many black abysses in front of them. "Life support's gonna be guarded most likely, we should prepare for a fight."

"Turn on your infrared vision, tell me what you see when we get closer." Yorke ordered.

"Aye aye, Cap'm."

"Anything yet, Bob?" Yorke said pointing his rifle are the rear for any surprises hoping to catch them off-guard.

"Nothing yet." BOB responded continuing to scan the area, "Anything from the others, haven't heard from them in a while."

"Nothing on my end either. Maybe they already reached their objective and are just sittin' around and waiting." Yorke said with optimism in his voice, but something caught his eye. Lifting his rifle, Yorke poked at BOB-5's shoulder causing him to turn around.

BOB-5 scanned through darkness and began looking for anyone.

BOB-5 and Yorke continue moving towards the Life Support, turning the last corridor before it. The door was on the right at the end of the hall. As they started moving, however, they get slammed into the left wall.

"What the..." Yorke says, trying to move out and failing.

"I think he changed the direction of the gravity," BOB-5 says, and maneuvers himself to stand on the wall. "An' the bugger did. This hallway's wider than us, so we'll have to get clever to get into the life support."

The group hears footsteps running towards them.

"Think while we fight, Bob. We can use the doorways for cover, but there's not much."

"Aye, Cap. Let's take opposite sides." The synthetic and his captain readied their weaponry, with both getting into prone positions and looking any guards. As the footsteps grew closer, Yorke inserted a fresh clip into his Rail Rifle while BOB had an itchy trigger finger on his Annihilator.

I need to search every inch for those... Risir thought as the footsteps stopped a halt upon turning the corner into the hallway. As he slowly walked in, none noticed the small grey sphere of needles before it erupted, sending painful pricks into the Ira and causing a frenzy amongst the squad. The attackers attempted to fall back before blasts of energy coming from both sides of the hallway tore through them. Only Ira in the back were safe as they fired as the retreated and took cover just outside the hallway.

Another one bites the dust. BOB-5 thought as he pushed himself off the ground and aimed the Annihilator once more. The bodies of the Risir who had previously attempted to reach them were tore apart by the explosion or covered in so many needles it looked like some sort of horrible acupuncture accident. Note to self, ask Yorke to buy me a few of those next time we reach a space port.

"You think Risir would give up on tossing the endless stream of clones our way for once." BOB-5 fired off another stream of bullets to prevent any more from returning once more.

"Can't blame him, after all this is his ship. And we did steal the Key from him. Chances are, he wants to kill us." Yorke lifted himself and allowed for BOB-5 to scout ahead. They could still hear the occasional bits of footsteps rushing across the halls, but then the sound of a door opening and then closing was heard. Still, BOB-5 kept his Annihilator raised for any sort of intrusion.

"Buggers." The synth spat, catching the attention of Yorke. "They went and ran off to life support. Hope you know what that means." His human companion opening his mouth to reply before the sudden change in gravity had once more slammed into them.

Risir glances at the closed mainframe door with amusement. They actually think that’ll work? Well, this is the only way in or out of this room, anyway. They’d need a few dozen Teratons of explosive force if they want to break through the isolating shield set up around the place, so I can just set up an attack here…

Smiling to himself, Risir brought forward several of his camera-heads to keep watch on the door as he spreads an accelerant over the patch of ground nearest the door. He attaches several canisters of chaff and magnesium to the walls, ceiling, and floor using the same manipulation of gravity he’s using to fight off the Synth and their captain on a much finer scale. He uses the same tech to walk up a wall and place a grenade in the mouth of one of his camera-heads, leading a string from the pin into the mouth of another. The first head repositions to be directly over the accelerant patch, while the second moves farther down the hall. He lies in wait, aiming the voltage applicator towards the eventual explosion of chaff and magnesium.

Har-Bak started to swear profusely under his breath as Stefan started to fix Roar-Ree's leg- as much as he could, anyway. The medic lifted him up to the console, and the engineer started typing away furiously on the computer.

"What's wrong with you, Scorp?" Roar-Ree asked, leaning casually back as Stefan started to wrap a bandage around his leg.

"Mutt, you do realize Risir is probably setting up some kind of gigantic blockade to kill our asses soon as we walk out the door, right?"

The Lupinus looked up from his work, the realization hitting him like a brick wall. Basta piped up, trying to be helpful.

"What about trying to make an entrance?"

Roar-Ree laughed cynically. "You kidding? Risir's got shielding up the wazoo around this place. We'd need a shit ton of explosives to break through- which is something we lack."

"Well, shit."

Blinking her eyes a few more times to make sure that her eyesight was back to normal, "Well then, I'm out of ideas..." Returning her attention to the doorway, she shoots a quick look to Har-Bak and Roar-Ree, regretting as she saw the shredded mess of his leg, "We can't just give up though. Is there any other way we can get out of the mainframe Roar?" At this point, she was up for most any plan.

Cutting off the wrap to finish the bandage, Stefan looked around the room. "Roar-Ree is right," said Stefan. "We only came here for infiltration not mayhem."

He got up and picked up his rifle and went towards one of the walls. Roar-Ree, Basta, and Har-Bak looked at Stefan with curiosity as to what he's going to do. Stefan took the butt end of his rifle and hit the wall.

"Umm Stefan, what do you think you're doing?" asked Roar-Ree. "I know that we have to get out and all, but I don't think that just hitting the shielding will help at all."

"Yeah I know,” replied Stefan running to another wall.

"What are you trying to do Doc?" asked Har-Bak.

Stefan, again with the butt of his rifle, hit the shielding. Again the result was the same.

"If there's one thing that I learned," said Stefan. "Shields always have a weak spot somewhere."

Roar-Ree watched Stefan work, then turned to the console. Maybe Risir kept files in here. Scrolling through, Roar-Ree frowned. "Hm." Har-Bak turned at the sound.

"Something wrong, Roar?"

"Uh, yeah. For some reason, the grenades are listed as "active" even though I-oh fuck."

"What is it?" Roar-Ree frantically began to search the files. "Goddamnit. Fucking shit. I'm an idiot. Why didn't I-"

"ROAR-REE!" Har-Bak's yell snapped Roar-Ree out of his panic. "What's the goddamn issue?"

Roar-Ree cleared his throat. "Um, Risir must have some sort of back-up system for his tech. When I disabled the grenades, he switched them back on."

"So?"

"So?!?! It means that he can turn on anything we disable! If Doc shuts down the shields, then Risir will just switch them back on! We're so scre-"

Basta cleared her throat, cutting him off. "Couldn't you just delay him somehow?"

Roar-Ree paused to think. "Uh. Well, actually, now that you mention it, I probably could. Good idea, Basta." Roar-Ree turned to continue working at the console, and dug up the files containing info on the shields. "Alright, we're gonna need to work fast. I'll shut down the grenades and several other systems, and while he's distracted, Stefan goes for the shielding. Alright?" The group nodded. "Stefan, a little further to the left." Stefan nodded, and readied his rifle. Typing quickly, Roar-Ree hit a button and grinned as several largely unimportant systems, including the grenades, shut down, and a series of downloads on info involving the Keys began.

Stefan hit the weak point, causing the shields in the room to shut down. "Am I genius or what?" The rest of the team rolled their eyes, then prepared to move out. Roar-Ree meanwhile, prepared to counter whatever Risir would do to turn the shields back on.

Yorke and BOB-5 stumbled along the wall, still trying to get used to the different direction of gravity as well as the rapid changes in its strength Risir was throwing at them to keep them off balance.

"Bloody snake should know this’ll only slow us down," BOB-5 says.

"I think he’s counting on that, Bob,” Yorke replies, stumbling on yet another sudden shift in gravity. The pair walks towards the door to life support above them, and it opens. The look inside to see a double rank of Risir, one rank holding a pistol and firing while the second reloads as needed. They dive out of the way, narrowly dodging the hail of bullets flying at them. The barrage of plasma shows little to no sign of abating, and neither Yorke nor BOB-5 are able to get more than a few shots in. "Bob," Yorke suddenly shouts, "throw your Annihilator in there."

"You crazy, cap'm?"

"Just do it if you want to stay off the scrap heap."

BOB-5 sighs and throws his Annihilator carbine like a javelin, getting it a large distance into the room, as Yorke dials the power up on his rail rifle. He fires at the thrown carbine, rupturing the antimatter containment. Antimatter and matter annihilate in a massive burst of energy, vaporizing both the carbine and Risir.

"Now let’s get in there," Yorke says while jumping in.

"And what the hell am I going to do for a gun?" BOB-5 asks.

Yorke sighs and tosses him the Rail Rifle. "I want it back. And in working condition," he says, drawing his revolvers.

"You owe me big time, and yer lucky it ain't me D-49 that got destroyed. I love that thing." BOB angrily remarked as he followed Yorke into Life Support.

"Just use the rifle for now, we'll settle it later." The captain replied. "You got the canister?"

"Silly question, 'course I do." BOB replied, opening up his storage compartment and taking out the small but heavy barrel of gas and handing it to Yorke. "Hope you got your gas mask, cap'm."

"Radio the others and tell them we're here." Yorke took the canister and busted a vent open with it before unscrewing the top of it off and letting the contents unleash into the halls of the ship. Jack quickly equipped his mask and readied his revolvers. "Let's go."

Yorke and BOB-5 continued to rush through the halls with once again, the synth taking point, while Yorke was busy on the communicator. "Har-Bak, your group done yet?" Yet once more there was nothing more than static on the other end.

"Still no answer, I'm presuming." BOB-5 announced as he continued to scan the upcoming hallways only to find most were empty.

"Nothing. You think they had trouble on their end?"

"Can't say, but knowing where they were headin', chances are they ran into their fair share of problems. Emergency comms might have more luck here."

"Har-Bak, you there?" Yorke spoke once more as his comms switched to the emergency system. "If you're still alive out there then respond."

"Yorke, holy shit. Is that you? Wait, how did you manage to contact us?" Har-Bak asked as a banging in the background continued.

"That's not important. Me and BOB are on the way out. Your group done too or working on it?" Yorke asked as burst of rifle fire came from BOB that managed to kill one of the Risir in their path.

"About that we've kind of run into a wall. The usual guards and the fact that Roar-Ree got injured." Har-Bak responded.

"Did you at least get started on the systems?"

Some chatter was heard on the other end between the group, before Har-Bak once again returned to the comms, "I'm going to have to report on a negative there."

"Well got on it then. Can't have you all left behind when we kick off. Get Roar-Ree back to work and we could worry about everything else when we're back on the Voyager."

"On it. Roar-Ree get back to work on that console!" Har-Bak said as the transmission cut out once more."

Yorke and BOB-5 continued their journey back to the capsule as the sounds of Risir looking around continued to loom around them.

Sprinting around a corner, Yorke snaps off several shots from his revolvers, killing a few Ira that were pursuing him and BOB-5. Another one fires at him, and the plasma round grazes his left arm. "Come on, Bob, how close are we?"

"Just a few meters," BOB-5 says, firing from his borrowed Rail Rifle and taking out several more. "Just hope the other team makes it."

"Isn't there any way we can help them?"

"Not with these fucks on our tail."

The pair continues running towards their breaching capsule, firing.

"There's a swarm of 'em up ahead, Cap'm"

"You still got that mine Lloyd gave us?"

"Aye."

"Well, here's the plan..."


"Okay then," Stefan says, "Let's get out of here."

"Hold on," Har-Bak says, "You hit them and it says they shut down on that monitor?"

"Yeah," Roar-Ree says.

"Let me check something," Har-Bak says, and fires a few rounds from his ORG Lancer at the wall. There was a metallic clink after they got partway through. "Thought so, you bloody morons."

"Eh?"

"It 'shutting down' would mean it's energy shielding. Considering the quantum energy shield Risir bought way back on our third mission was highly experimental, it stands to reason the shielding is physical. Besides, I've been around the galaxy a bit, and the only energy shielding I've heard of is some asshole's pipe dream."

"So we're still trapped," Basta says.

"Download's complete," Roar-Ree says, "But we're trapped here."

"Send it to the Dawn Voyager over the emergency comm channel," Har-Bak says, "Even if we're fucked, at least the mission's complete."

"Okay then..." the team continues poking around at the room, trying to find a way out.” And it's been sent," Roar-Ree says as the doors open. A barrage of canisters fills the room with chaff, directed by minute fluctuations in the room's gravity to fan out through the room. An electric shock hit Basta, Har-Bak, Stefan, and Roar-Ree, knocking them out.

Risir strolls in, strips them of their weapons, and binds them. He then loads them onto a handcart and wheels them towards the cargo bay. They'll fetch a nice price on the MegaPlex slave markets...


BOB-5 throws the mine behind him, while Yorke throws a pair of needle grenades in front of him. These explode, clearing the corridor of Ira. They charge into the capsule and detach it from the Fera'Tarn, plotting a course to where Lloyd awaited them on Bliss.

They arrive, noticing the lack of a second capsule as they walk towards the Dawn Voyager. They enter the cargo bay, where Lloyd was waiting for them, typing on his tablet.

"They didn't make it back," he says, matter-of-factly, "Risir captured them."

"We need to get them, then," Yorke says.

"No, actually. They're headed towards MegaPlex, likely to the slave markets. I'll instruct them to escape there. They got the data to me, and it's looking like they'd need to head there anyway. I trust your half of the mission was more successful?"

"Minus a feel bruises and bumps, everything went well on our end and we finished our job. The tracking nanos have been set, Risir won't be going anywhere without us having an idea." Yorke responded still partially worried about the others.

"If I may interject, the only real casualty on our side was my Annihilator. Poor thing went up in an explosion trying to clear the way for us." BOB-5 cut-in cradling the Rail Rifle in his hands.

"Good to hear that at least a third of the group has enough competence not to fall prey to Risir." Lloyd began adjusting the brim of his hat while returning to his tablet, "Hmmm. They did manage to at least bring something to the table though."

"So any idea on how the others are going to escape?"

"We'll cross that bridge when the time comes. For now you two managed to stay alive and evade capture."

So just sit tight for a day or two. You'll get your next job then."

"Just sit tight? Two-thirds of my crew is captured and headed to MegaPlex - probably the slave markets - and I'm supposed to just sit tight?" Yorke says, "What the hell, Lloyd?"

"Yorke..." BOB-5 says.

"Hold, Duster," Lloyd says, "It seems our captain doesn't understand the meaning of professionalism. If you go gallivanting off to save your crew, what do you think is going to happen? When you had to sacrifice one of your most potent weapons just to delay less than half of what Risir could throw against you?"

"I have a few contacts. I can pull a few favors, get a temporary team together."

"What contacts? Oeh-Wje can't go off-planet thanks to her government work, your time hiding on Ord Melul means most of your military contacts think you're dead, and Evan Washington and his crew are on the run from the NGLA."

"I'll figure something out."

"No, you won't," Lloyd says, tapping on his pad. The Dawn Voyager’s engines suddenly cut off. "I've disabled all the Dawn Voyager’s flight systems. I will not lose the only competent members of this crew to emotional decisions." Lloyd gets up and stows his tablet. "Payment will be transferred to your accounts, with the amount to cover your debts skimmed out as usual." He walks out of the room, completely unperturbed.

"Bob, can you undo his lockdown?"

"Are you insane, Cap'm? Even if I could, I wouldn't. I'm not stupid enough to try and steal from Lloyd."

Yorke sighs. "I guess we're stuck here, then."

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