Previously on BWB, everything went to shit. The party have lost everything: their ship, their budding crew, most of their equipment, and they've got the scars to prove it. To make matters worse, they're stuck on an Ark called Endriga, which is under quarantine in the wake of a foiled bioterror attack from the mysterious organization known as the Spurned. With barely anything to their names, the party are left to explore Endriga and try to find a way off it, if possible.
To blow off some steam from their predicament, the party have decided to sign themselves up for some holo-arena missions, in the hopes of earning some money in the process.
It doesn't take you long to find the holo-arena, being well signposted amidst the large, wide open streets of Endriga's upper city. The Vermillion Fountain, as it is known, is a large, dome-shaped building with several arch-shaped windows, making it resemble some sort of colosseum. It seems to be a popular destination, judging by the amount of advertising around it and the small queue you have to endure in order to enter. You notice a prominent ad near the entrance promoting the biannual Trial of Champions, with a 5000 florin reward promised to the winning team. The date listed is the day after tomorrow, with more details provided on inquiry.
The inside is quite luxurious and even decadent, a large, circular room with several alcoves and offshoot rooms. It is decorated in tones of red and gold, with a variety of lavish services being provided, including a bar area tended to by expensive-looking waiterbots painted to look like they're wearing tuxedos. There are also several screens around the room projecting what is currently happening in a holo-arena, usually fights of some sort or blinker races. There is also an area where you can place bets, as well as another for general inquiries, past which is a room labeled 'Contestants Only' covered by a red curtain. Finally, separate from the main atrium where you are now is a gambling hall, with seems to have a selection of slot machines, roulettes and other such games commonly found in casinos.
You notice that most of the clientele here are rather fancy and upscale, dressed in appropriately swanky gear. In your state, you ou stick out like a sore thumb among the various patrons, and some even give you looks of disdain.
Teal smiled in some seemingly twisted satisfaction upon seeing the upper crust react the way they did and addressed the team bolsteringly:
"Hah! Seems like we've hit a timing, guys. Imagine the queue if the quarantine was off"
Expecting Pyrite or one of the other normal-sized ponies of her party to take place in the queue, she does not move from her spot on the earth pony's back, for now.
Pyrite shuffles in place in the line, looking around a little. He's not too keen on the odd looks he and the others get, and rubs at his neck uncomfortably. >>695941
"Y-Yeah, I guess you're right. T-There's some luck left, yeah?"
The looks of disdain are given right back as Veta hobbles in, shaking out some pills and swallowing them without a drink.
"Alright, let's relax for a bit. Maybe making other people's day as shit as mine will help me feel a bit better."
Veta finds a place to sit for now, letting Pyrite do the line standing for now.
"Good grief…this is going to be murder to get used to."
With the off-beat metallic clanking of my back and fore hoofs sounding off, i head over to the inquiries area, cracking my neck as i enter.
"Been a while since i used a holo-arena, wonder if i still have that avatar o'mine."
Teal looks at the video projected and ponders about the skill level of the ones presented, comparing them with what was usually going through the mills of her hometown arena.>>695943
"Exactly! Gotta stay positive. When you have your leg being hacked away, you don't look at the geysering wound - you look for nearest element of surrounding that you can put one in an enemy with!">>695944
"Oh, you'll do wonders, Veta, I'm positive about that~. You have an artist's spirit. My theory is that it's why you're feeling so down most of the time. You just need a place to shine!">>695945
"Oooh! You have one at the ready!? That's superb! Say, what is it like?" - Teal asks, flying around Riky giddily, like a happy little breezie girl.
Veta looks at Teal like she's the biggest bullshit peddler she's ever seen.
"Yeah, sure, clearly the thing I went to a damn school for isn't where I shine. Why didn't I think of that? You're a friggin' genius…."
Teal doesn't let the Diamond Dog's negativity get her down.
"Oh, just wait and see. You may've been on the bad side of things lately, but holo-arena is where it's at. That and you don't have to worry about patching up your allies when it's over. Not to mention the "enemies" being fine afterwards too. It's meant to be fun, Veta!
Pyrite offers a bit of a giggle in response, before patting Teal's head- as lightly as the clumsy stallion can manage, of course.
"What, bein' in a holo-game?"
"Hmm.. a bit like one o'those cryo pods, get yerself hooked up t'the game and ye can move and fight like normal. There's some feedback t'things like bein hurt, but largely ye can keep goin like nothin' happened, at least 'till ye run out o'hitpoints."
You head over to the inquiries desk, tended to by a bubbly young mare with a white mane kept in a neat bun. Behind her, you can see a billboard keeping track of teams in the Trial of Champions, as well as a list of names. "Hi there!" she says cheerily. "What can I do for you? Here to sign up for the arena?"
Teal giggles at being pat mid-air, feeling her whole body go down a few breezie-meters as the patting occurs.
"We're gonna do great. We've hit the bottom, so now's the time to get back up!">>695950
"Yep~ Wondering what you portrayed your VR self as. Did you try different ones or did you go with what you first created? I heard a lot of ponies actually go with the latter."
Teal expects Risky to give her official stamp of approval and all that, but bristling with excitement she speaks up nonetheless:
"Yep! Get us a spot right there, girl! We're here to play and we're here to win!"
"Y-Yeah, I hope so. I didn't expect all 'a this t' go… B-But, maybe it'll start t' get better.">>695951
"Yupyup. How does this work?"
"I know what fun is. And it sure as hell won't be fun when I have to get back to real life. Before it was for two reason, but now I have a third," she retorts, lightly tapping her bum leg with her cane.>>695951
"Yeah, sure, why not."
"Hmm.. far as i can remember i went with meself as the player, not one fer fiddlin' with dials."
"That and, maybe i hoped some fan o'history recognized the once 'terror of open space'.">>695951
"Aye, that we are, four spots fer me and me crew." i reply
"And that's where prize money comes in! We'll have fun, win and get you such a nice replacement that you'll forget it's one in the first place!">>695954
Teal looks at Pyrite confidently, grinning:
"Oh, Pyrite. Did I ever lie to you?">>695956
"You sure are rocking the boat with the pirate theme, Risky - and I'll admit, if that's the what you've been meaning to get, it's not a bad way of handling it. Shifting between here and battles amng stars - striking the hearts of fans and real foes alike. Hell, maybe there's already someone at the audience remembering you and wishing you had come here today?"
"It's simple, really," she answers. "You sign up, then we create your virtual self. It can be what you look like now, or something else entirely. Then, we plug you into the VR state, and you're given a challenge to complete for real money. The challenges can be anything from team fights, to puzzle solving, clearing out a dungeon… Well, that's all there is to it really. We do have other services available here at the Vermillion Fountain, but this is the main attraction. We have the big tournament starting soon as well, but that might be a bit advanced if you're a beginner. The teams are of five as well, so if you're here as a group you'd need to find an extra person.">>695953>>695954>>695955>>695956
"Awesome!" She beams and digs in the desk for a moment, passing you each a datapad containing a bunch of legal jargon, requiring you to fill out all your details - name, signature, date and place of birth, current occupation, bank details, contact details, even your favorite color. "We're VERY thorough," the attendant explains. Risky and Teal, already being in the system, are not required to fill all this in.
After this step, the attendant, whose name is Capoeira, leads you through the red curtain and into the Contestants Only area. The room is panelled with fake wood decor with golden filigrees, making it look both ornate and somewhat tacky. There are many alcoves at regular intervals, each containing someone lying on a bed of some sort. They are all wearing elaborate headsets consisting of a rectangular visor, metal framework around the head, and wiring connecting to where the temples are, leading to a monitor nearby. "This is where the magic happens," Capoeira explains. "The unique headsets are what connect you to our virtual world. Please note that while you are in this state, you will be comatose in the real world, although sudden stimuli will disconnect you from the VR experience."
Capoeira then points out a strange, slightly sinister looking device at the far end of the room. It is a tall, white steel chamber, much like a fridge, but it reminds you more of a coffin. "This is where you, and all your relevant possessions, will be scanned in before starting your mission. If you wish to create a virtual persona, this step is not necessary. Would you like to appear as you are, or create a persona for yourselves?"
Veta gives an annoyed sigh.
"It doesn't matter how great the replacement is. It still isn't the original….">>695958
Veta has a slight silence as she fills the paperwork out, perhaps being used to filling out papers like this.
"Ugh, fine, I'll make one, if only because I hate looking in mirrors even more than before lately."
"Well, far as i know i should still have me old persona, right? Might as well keep it as is."
"As fer me weapons.."
grabbing my PEW with my claw from my back, i place the weapon into the chamber. "There we go, might as well update the old gear."
Teal flies off Pyrite, given he might need to take the procedure and addresses the whole party:
"Oh, I guess I should take this step to warn you, guys. I'm going in as someone you haven't met yet. Not many connect the two of us in the first place and I think I actually like it this way. Point is though, you might get surprised, so heads up on this one.">>695959
"Say that to Risky. She likes her legs like she likes her starships: mounted with deadly plasma."
"N-No, I guess ya haven't. I'll keep trustin' ya, Miss Teal." he says, attempting to ruffle her mane.>>695958
The stallion slowly fills out the datapad, down to the favorite color- blue! After finishing it up, he he looks over the mildly intimidating-looking device, and shrugs a little "I think I'll be fine with how I look, Miss. Jus' step on into it if I wanna look like me?"
"Someone we haven't met? Well, alright. I imagine you'll still recognize us, so it's no biggie!"
"Speakin of, that crash blew through the meetin time o'that mechanic, gonna have t'hunt 'im down again."
"I'm not gonna give up on that hoof cannon and no blasted ship crash'll get in me way!"
"Well good for Risky, but doesn't exactly help me out."
Pyrite doesn't do much more than request a shield for himself. Something akin to the old one!
"Atta, boy" - says Teal amiably, probably looking a little comically, having her mane ruffled by the giant stallion. She doesn't shy away from it though.>>695963
"I guess you are right in this regard. Maybe. Teehee.">>695965
"You've fit some awesome machinery in your arm and it seems to have been working wonders for you so far. Quite the reliable combat medic you are. Think of this as an opportunity to change for the better. Reckon you could do something even better with this one. I'll leave it to the salesponies to convince you with their wares though. If you're one to believe with your eyes only, you'll see in no time.">>695964
"That's the sprit!" - Teal seems happy that the captain is showing enthusiasm as well, pumping her foreleg up - "Nothing stopping us now!"
"Alright then, take a gander!" She hands you a datapad with a 3D rotating model of a pony on it. There are quite literally tens of thousands of options to choose from for your race, body type, colors, hairstyle, starting gear, personality, etcetera. After some tinkering, you manage to recreate yourself in-game, albeit with all your original limbs and no limp.>>695960
As you open the scanning chamber, you insert the PEW into a slot on one of the walls. Capoeira closes the door and inputs something on the monitor, and after a minute of whirring and bright white light shining through the cracks, she hands it back to you. "Here you go! It should come through on your persona now.">>695962
The interior of the scanning chamber is cold, bright white and uncomfortable. You are made to stand in a neutral T-pose while inside, which is made difficult by your prodigious size, and a white light passes over you from top to bottom and on all sides. On a monitor on the inside of the door, you see yourself being rendered in real time, eventually loading a perfect recreation of yourself.>>695966
At your request, Capoeira also loads in a shield for you to use, although it's not quite the same as your old one but close enough to be comfortable for you.>>695959>>695960>>695961>>695962
"Okay, final step." Capoeira takes each of you into a different chamber, hooking up a headset for each of you. It takes her a while to find one for a Breezie, but she manages to dig one up eventually from a dusty old closet.
"Okay, so since some of you have experience and some don't, there are two missions that I'd recommend for you here."
"First of all, there's a straightforward 2v2 fight. You'd be loaded into an arena, split into teams and made to duke it out. The last one standing wins for their team, and gets 500 florins. The other team… doesn't. Great for trying out VR for the first time, really. Helps you get used to it."
The other option is quite fun. It's a heavy combat simulation. Your mission would be to get into a manor belonging to a mob boss. He would be heavily guarded, and your mission would be to take him out of the picture. If you manage to complete the mission by killing the target, it's 120 florins for each of you. If you kidnap him and fight your way back out though, it's 150 each."
Pyrite whinnies uncomfortably through the entirety of the process, but doesn't struggle much.
He listens to both of the options, and hums a little bit at the second one "I think I like that one more. I dunno if I wanna beat m' friends up, virtual 'r no."
"I don't really mind eiher" - Teal respons to the attendant and her teammates alike - "I'll go with what you guys prefer."
"Well now, that first option's quite the proposition! five hundred florins fer scrapping with the crew? Sounds interesting.">>695965
"And with no sign o'brimstone, actually winnable! What do ye think, Veta? fer old times' sake?"
Veta has an odd look on her face, as if there is a conflict of emotions vying for who gets to be on the surface, as she stares at the VR avatar of herself.
"Whatever is fine….">>695971
Veta can't help but finally laugh at that little bit.
"Sure, why the hell not."
Teal seems intrigued by this development.
"So… do you mean to compete against each other or rather team up against me and Pyrite here?">>695969
"There is a reason why VR is used by soldiers to train in this way with one another, Pyrite. Getting to see things from another perspective lets you see the strengths and weaknesses of your allies better. It's a valuable lesson. One that you can employ later on when the need to protect them really comes."
"Oh… I guess that makes sense. A-And, it doen't actually hurt them none, right? It's all harmless stuff?" he asks, tapping his hooves together a little "And, I wouldn't mind bein' paired with you."
"Well, last time we fought it was against each other.. got me good then.. but aye, i can work with veta, all good practice, after all."
"Possibly. Sounds pretty fun, to me."
"Looks like brawl it is then!"
You get yourselves settled and strap on the headsets. You feel a small jolt from the wires connecting to your temple area, but apart from that no discomfort, apart from not being able to see just yet. You hear Capoeira flitting about getting everything ready.
"Teams set, personas pre-loaded. Just need to choose a map. Hmmm… Ooh! I know! You'll like this one!" She taps something into a datapad.
"Okay, all set. I'll just go over the safety procedures. Please keep your limbs, tails and/or wings inside the chamber at all times. If at any time during the simulation you become disoriented… well, there's nothing we can do about it. Hmm… Nothing we really need to worry about as far as allergies go. Alright! Let's do it!"
You hear some beeps and boops, followed by a whirring sound. Capoeira giggles giddily. "Here we go! Activating simulation in 3… 2… 1." You hear the clunk of a lever being pulled, and you feel a sudden jolt.
The next thing you know, you find yourselves standing on a white sandy beach straight out of a postcard, with lush palm trees, crystal clear waters and some tourist-y huts nearby as well. Looking down at yourselves, you find yourselves much as you are, only with slight differences. Risky has her eye, horn and leg back, and Veta has both her arms and no limp. The most drastic difference is the pony standing where Teal should be; instead of the Breezie you know, there stands a deep purple Saddle Arabian mare, holding a kite-shaped bracer and wearing a glowing necklace of some sort.
Risky and Veta are standing on one team, while Pyrite and "Teal" (VR name: Jalila) are on the other team. This is indicated by a glowing blue icon above the teammates' heads, only visible to allies.
"Okay, start whenever you're ready!" Capoeira's voice booms out from seemingly nowhere. "Take a moment to adjust if you have to. Remember, you're on camera!"
Veta looks at her limbs, giving herself a moment to bend her good leg and clench a fist with her now non-mechanical arms. She smirks a bit, then looks over at Teal and Pyrite.
"Alright, so who you wanna take out first?"
looking back at my still mostly intact avatar, i feel a pang of regret at the memory before facing the two, pulling my PEW free with my magic.
"Aha! Well now, best t'start things off right!"
swinging my PEW to overcharge, i arc a beam of energy across the both of them!
[1d10] Overcharge 2, Pyrite/Jalila>>695978
"Ye already know what pyrite can do, so go fer the other one! Somethin' tells me we're in fer a surprise with her."Roll #1 7 = 7
Pyrite wiggles around uneasily inside the chamber uneasily as they get it set up, and lets out a loud yelp when he's jolted by, well… something!
When he comes top, he looks around the arena with a bit of surprise. His surprise only grows when he finally sees… a Saddle Arabian? It takes him a few moments, before he says "…T-Teal? That's you, right?">>695979
"A-Already? C-C'mon now!" he shouts, shoving Teal Drop out of the way to soak the blast himself.>Protect (Instant, Automatic) on Jalila
He rushes towards Risky, shouting "S-Sorry!" at the top of his lungs, before slamming into her like a werecking ball>Slam: [1d10] (Crits on 8+)Roll #1 7 = 7
>Pic related is Teal, just w/o wings. In case you haven't checked it out on her sheet.>>695974>>695975>>695976
"Sure thing. Let's give that a shot" - Teal grins in anticipation as she hears the affirmation of the in-party rumble.>>695977
Teal, now as Jalila takes a little trot around and stretches, checking out the coordination of her VR self. Takes a glance at her party members as they ogle her in a new fashion as well.
"Looking good, Pyrite… so, Risky, Veta, you ready to take a hard beating? Something tells me the audience is gonna enjoy the show tonight"
She takes a moment to check her equipment manifestations and uses her catalyst, in this case a necklace, to bring forth some ammo for herself and Pyrite alike.
"Now, let's have fun, shall we~?"
>Gotten Rust's approval to roll for preparations now, before the actual fight starts, as rolling for homing magic/arabian alchemy/healing bonds would take a long time now and an immeasurable time when I'm equipping the whole party.
>Hence, just rolling what happens before the fight now, as critfails can be healed with healing bonds regardless.
First success homing magic/arabian alchemy on Pyrite.
Second success base homing magic on Jalila.
Second success arabian alchemy homing magic on Jalila (yes, it's not affected by recharge)
Then, leaving off with healing bonds potion.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #3 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #4 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #5 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #6 10 + 2 = 12
To sum up:
Pyrite gets 5 homing magic shots to attack with.
Teal gets 3 and 2.
"Alright then, work for me." She opens up her VR inventory menu, using some starting currency/starter materials/her credit card to purchase the stupidest, most idiotic cosmetic she could.
>Cast Mold to 'make' a Ugandan Knuckles head and put on her avatar to try and make Pyrite and Teal distracted via laughter
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"Oh, that is, Pyrite~. Like what you see?"
She chuckles, then commands the summoned magical energy projectiles to go over to Pyrite.
"Here. I'm allowed to have my teammates partake in it. Quite the piecing together that took, but I felt pretty good about it so far. When you feel like attacking them, just think, wishing for them to attack. It'll do the trick."
Seeing neither her captain nor the medic waste time in getting to them, she shifts swiftly to a battle stance, yelling:
"Here they come. Brace yourself!"
That being said, she commands all the magical projectiles to strike Risky, while she rushes forward, charging Veta with her shield.
>Homing Magic attack on Risky, instant
>Basic meelee weapon attack on Veta
[1d10]Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #3 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #4 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #5 10 + 2 = 12
/ Roll #6 5 = 5
"W-Well, uhm… y-yeah? Ya look really pretty, Miss Teal. N-Not that ya don't normally!" He says, flustering nervously. He takes a chance to look over the floating orbs curiously, listening to the best of his ability and trying to take it all in. "S-So, think of it, an' it works, right? Works f'r me!"
The PEW shakes violently in your hooves before unleashing a bolt of plasma at your opponents. Pyrite jumps in the way, taking the blow for his teammate. He takes heavy damage, but is not deterred. In retaliation, he charges into you, knocking you off your feet. You quickly pick yourself up, ready to keep fighting, but take the full brunt of a magic missile volley.>>695980
The bolt of plasma hits you mid-charge, but you power through it and ram into your captain, bowling her over. Rattled by the attack, Risky gets back up, only to get taken down by a barrage of magic missiles from Jalila.>>695981>>695984
After conjuring yourself and Pyrite some floating orbs, you unleash them in a barrage at Risky, felling her.>>695983
You try to pull up something ridiculous to wear, but only end up giving your persona a vaguely disturbing horse mask that is clearly meant to look like Celestia, but looks more like the Sun Princess after suffering a stroke.
>Risky is at 0/4>Jalila is at 6/5>Veta is at 5/5>Pyrite is at 0/4, holding due to Protect
Seeing Risky go down, Veta puts her Diamond Dog digging to use as she digs into the virtual arena. Digging under Pyrite, she tries to yank him half-way into the ground, just to try and inconvenience him.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
After the pummeling from a barrage of arcane missiles, i try and get myself back up.
"Ye blasted madmare! What kind o'persona is
[1d10] RecoverRoll #1 10 = 10
Pyrite knocks Risky off of her hooves, staggering a little at the end of his charge, but remaining standing nonetheless. He whirls to Veta, trying to ignore the plasma burns on his shield, chest, and arm, before pouncing on Veta and trying to catch the diamond dog in a headlock… which looks pretty silly as an earth pony, honestly.>Grapple: [1d10+1]>Homing Magic (Instant): [1d10], [1d10]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
/ Roll #3 4 = 4
"Nice going, Pyrite! Taking the blow like a hero~"
Jalila swishes her tail, staying behind Pyrite and clutches her amulet with her free hoof:
"Now, let me return the favour, shall I? Care for a healing touch, big guy?"
>Expending the Arabian Alchemy Healing Bonds on Pyrite, instant automatic
Having rejuvenated her trustful steed, the elegant Saddle Arabian calls forth another volley:
>Arabian Alchemy Homing Magic
"That was a great shot, Risky, if I ever saw one. I see you're not fazed though? Good~ Give it your all, girl."Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
Pyrite tries to focus a couple of the orbs on Veta, mumbling a quick "S-Sorry, sorry."
You dig into the sand, popping out in front of Pyrite. Before you can do anything to him, he grabs you and puts you in a powerful headlock.>>695988
You eeffortlessly pull yourself back up, shrugging off the blow and readying yourself to keep fighting. You feel as if you could do this all day.>>695989
Your homing magic shots go wide, but you manage to grab Veta as she pops out of the ground, putting her in a headlock.>>695990
You summon 5 more magic orbs to surround you in a neat little arc.
>Risky is at 5/3>Jalila is at 6/5>Veta is at 3/5, grappled>Pyrite is at 0/4, holding due to Protect
Pyrite lets out a relieved-sounding whinny as the healing magic spreads over his body. He flushes a bit more from all the sweet talk, and would shuffle around and kick the floor were he not busy putting a dog in a headlock. "T-Thank ya kindly, Miss Teal."
The stallion, without much of a way to use his shield this close up, just opts for haphazardly chuck Veta at Risky, and letting off a couple more homing bolts, one at Risky and one at Veta.>Dogging the Captain with Veta: [1d10+1] (+1 Grapple)>Homing Bolt (Instant): [1d10] Veta, [1d10] Risky
>Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
"A polished one for sure. I'm glad you appreciate it~"
Jalila eyes Risky, seeing her back and ready. Her eyelids close a little as she extends her hood forward, commanding the first two bolts to attack her… but the three remaining ones freeze in mid-way to the unicorn. One could see the look of content, yet intrigued pondering. Instead, the three remaining shots turn towards Veta, as Jalila comes slowly closer to Risky.
"Now, I could have sent all that your way… but I don't feel like it. I don't feel like staying behind Pyrite's back this time either. You can see that in plenty action movies and it's rarely appealing. Let's do it like the big girls do, shall we~?
And having said, that, instead of charging another volley, she lunges forward to grapple Risky!
>Homing Magic, instant, 2 shots on Risky, 3 on Veta.
Grapple on Risky
[1d10]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #3 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #4 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #5 10 + 2 = 12
/ Roll #6 6 = 6
"Tch, think ye can just shove me over, eh? Fine then, try t'hit me!"
Galloping forward to meet you, i extend my hoof's talons and leap forward for a hook!
[1d10] MeleeRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
Veta tries to roll her weight around so her and Pyrite just keep rolling around on the ground so neither of them get hit and, hopefully, regain dominance in the grapple.
>>695996>forgot to roll
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
You throw Veta at Risky, sending both of them toppling into each other like bowling pins. One of your shots goes wide, but the other hits Veta as well, leaving a smoking mark.>>695994
Risky and Veta crash into each other, courtesy of Pyrite. While they're down, you restrain the captain while unleashing another barrage of missiles into them both.>>695995
You pull out your talons, only to be greeted with the full brunt of Veta to the face. You barely even feel the flurry of missiles firing on you both.>>695996
You only find yourself soaring through the air, colliding headfirst with your captain. The barrage of magic missiles doesn't help much either.
>Risky is at 0/2>Jalila is at 6/5>Veta is at 0/3>Pyrite is at 9/5
It's a sad state of affairs you're in. One Golden Company job has led to another, which has led you to finding yourself on an Ark called Endriga. You would have left the Ark well behind you by now, were it not for a snag: recently, the terrorist organization called the Spurned attempted to launch a bioterror attack by releasing a deadly virus into Endriga's population. The plan was foiled, but unfortunately for you and all other prospective spacers, a strict quarantine has been put in place, with all major spaceports on the Ark being shut down and a blockade being set up around the Ark for its own protection. No one can get in or out, yourself included.
You are in Endriga's upper city, the most affluent part of the Ark. You know that the lower city is a lawless dump, ruled by unruly mobs and gangs, while the undercity, at the very bottom of the Ark, is even worse. Currently, you find yourself in a fancy Chineighse restaurant called Happy Garden. According to a Golden Company mission you have taken, you must deliver a data package to a high profile celebrity: Astral Echo, a well known singer-songwriter renowned for her eccentricity and for her network of connections. The message said simply to rendezvous at Happy Garden and await contact from "Ronsin and Adalbert", who will know who you are.
Happy Garden is a rather upscale, expensive restaurant. It has traditional Chineighse decor, with red and gold designs and neon dragon motifs on many of the panels. Many of the typical waiterbots, rectangular, hovering contraptions with tubular arm appendages, have also been decorated in traditional colors. There are tanks of fresh fish and lobster on display, presumably for the carnivorous, and a holoscreen on one wall quietly displaying the local news, currently discussing the aftermath of the foiled bioterror attack. The customers here seem rather fancy, making you stick out somewhat.
As you wait, the restaurant doors slide open, and a pair of Diamond Dogs walk in. They are almost identical in every aspect, save for their hats and metal gauntlets: one's hat is black while the other's is white, and one ears a gauntlet on their left while the other wears it on the right. After scanning the clientele, the two focus on you and nod silently in greeting, making their way over to your table. "Miss Ahln, I presume?" one of them asks.
Carrie trots about, somewhat awkward in such an upscale setting, but none the less keeping her composure. This is buisness, no social norms are keeping her from one more job on a path to get out of here and back on her quest.
"You presume correctly. And you must be Ronsin? Or Adalbert. I really can't tell."
She says this somewhat smugly, desperate to loosen the tension of this affair a bit.
"I'm Ronsin," the one who greeted you replies.
"And I'm Adalbert. Charmed, ma'am."
The twins take off their hats and sit down at your table. One of the waiterbots hovers over to you after a moment, handing you and the two Dogs datapads with the menu on it, consisting of typical Chineighse food, although described to make it sound much more fancy than it really is. The drinks too are standard fare for a restaurant: alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and other such things besides. The waiterbot silently places water glasses along with a bottle before floating off. Seems you only have to select your preferences on the menu for it to be processed.
"So, with introductions out of the way, let's talk business," one of the Dogs says. Even with their introductions, you can't tell who's who. The other reaches into a satchel and pulls out a smaller datapad. "Here's the datapad that needs to be delivered to miss Echo. It's for her eyes only, so don't activate it. What's on it isn't your concern. All you have to do is get it to her."
"Of course," the other says, "there is a catch. As impressive as that Pseumion bit of tech of yours is, this ain't gonna be an easy in-and-out courier job. Else we woulda done it ourselves."
The Dogs look around to make sure no one's looking, then lean in conspiratorially. "This is urgent, miss Ahln. Our employer, he has eyes and ears out there in the stars. And he's heard the Spurned are gonna be on the move soon. The foiled attack, that was meant to be step 1. There's gonna be another attack soon. We don't know where, and we don't know when, but we do have a hunch."
"Unfortunately, miss Echo's a hard mare to reach. Fortunately, she's on Endriga right now. She's going to be doing a concert within a month. Some big charity ball event. What better place for those scumbags to strike?"
"Which is where you come in,"the other Dog says while his twin puts in an order. "Or rather, the team you'll be needin'. We've… run into some Company members here on Endriga that'll be able to help out. You'll need a team to make sure miss Echo makes it out of that concert hall alive. Now, we can get one of y'all tickets into the concert, but our hands are tied as for the rest of 'em. Try and meet miss Echo before the show, if you can, and give her this datapad. Then stick around, make sure nothing happens to her."
"You'll be paid, of course. Our boss is generous like that. And, we can get you transport off of this rock, if you don't want to stick around here. Which I imagine you won't. We're spacers too, you see. We've got places to be as well."
"So, what do you say?" Ronsin asks, or maybe it's Adalbert. "You in?"
As soon as Carrie is handed the datapad she is entranced with it, it's nothing like what she saw in her sheltered life in Pseumion. More up to date. Or less. hard to tell.
She responds firstly on their comment about her Pseumion history.
"Rare that someone recognizes a Pseu piece. Rarer that you find one outside of a bunker. If you boys don't mind, how'd you know so quick? Done your research on me?"
She says, knowing well that she isn't going to do this with a simple nod. She'll take all the info she can get. Use every resource as well as she can.
She then responds to the urgency.
"Sounds like it must be. Considering how much intel you just dropped on me. Can't say I know this Echo girl well. But I'm sure I'll be able to pick her out. The famous have a tendency to be attention grabbing."
Finally, she responds to the concept of this team.
"A team? I generally work alone. Just needed to turn jobs as fast as possible, never bought into comradely or whatever. Though the way you describe it, doesn't seem possible to do this alone."
Her eyes light up at the offer of transport away from here.
"See, you two get it. We've all got places to be, ponies to find, guns to steal. What's the point of an infinite universe if you stay in one place?"
She smiles, a rare, genuine smile.
"I'm in. I look forward to a lasting relationship with the Golden Company"
She says, glad she read those books on how to act at a job interview.
"Could say we have," one of them replies. "Like I said, the boss has eyes and ears. And his ears have ears, for that matter."
In response to your query about Echo, one of them types away on a datapad, bringing up an image to show you. It displays a young bat pony performing on a stage, wearing a strange, colorful set of robes that make her look almost alien. Eerie, visceral images are projected behind her, giving her an unearthly atmosphere. "Like you said. Ain't hard to miss." He then shows you another photo of her out of costume, giving the camera a disapproving glare. It looks like a paparazzi shot. She has a medium blue coat, a lilac mane and intense green eyes. "If you spot her off the stage. Tell her who sent you, and she'll know what to do."
"If a fight breaks out, then yeah, you'll need a team to sort the mess out," says the other. "It's almost certain the Spurned will try something at the gig."
As you accept, the two return the smile at the same time. "We knew you'd come around, ma'am. Now then, as for the team, we have a couple of fellow mercs in mind."
On the same datapad, he brings up a group of four profiles, showing an image of someone with some details on them.
The first one shows a fierce-looking pegasus mare with a tan coat and a red mane. She has a robotic arm, and is leering at the camera. It looks like a mugshot.
>Name: Risky Hooves
>Age: Unknown, believed early to mid-40s
>Company mercenary for: 6 months
>Previous occupation: Pirate
>Criminal record: Extensive
>Threat level: High
The next one shows a diminutive Breezie with a dark red coat. She looks friendly, but intense.
>Name: Teal Drop, alias Jalila
>Age: Unknown, believed early 30s
>Company mercenary for: 6 months
>Previous occupation: Freelancer merc.
>Criminal record: Moderate
>Threat level: Very high
The third is a mean female Diamond Dog in a lab coat, with a pair of robotic forearms. She is giving the camera a withering glare.
>Company mercenary for: 6 months
>Previous occupation: Physician
>Criminal record: None
>Threat level: Low
The last one is an abnormally large earth pony with a big goofy grin, wearing what looks like riot armor. He looks completely out of his element in the lineup.
>Company mercenary for: 6 months
>Previous occupation: Ark Guardian
>Criminal record: None
>Threat level: Low
"As you mighta guessed," says Adalbert, "these fellas all joined up about the same time. Been on quite the adventures from what we've heard. Really been through the wringer, especially recently." He and Ronsin exchange a look. "They're here on Endriga now. Not really sure where, but we do know that they got released from hospital today. I'd suggest trying with the holo-arena or the Company base if you're gonna go track 'em down now."
"Say," one of them asks, "ain't you gonna order anything? Heard the food here's pretty good. It's on us this time."
She chuckles at the offer.
"Maybe, what do you suggest?"
She says this, a bit aloof in the thoughts of this upper crust of Endriga. It's nothing like she's seen before. With this job maybe being a way into a contact that would be a huge help towards finding her loves, things are looking up. Again, Carrie smiles.
"Well, if you're paying I suppose I'll stay."
They look at each other. "Can't go wrong with a good stir fry I suppose." He shrugs. "Up to you really."
"One other thing. We're trying to look out for the mercs here. We've done 'em wrong in the past. Was just business, but our hands were tied. You know how it goes. I think it'd be best not to namedrop us when you find 'em. Might not like us pokin' in their business."
"So, as for the pay. Like I said, we've got a way to get you and the others outta here. Thing is, it ain't gonna be easy either. It'll require some elbow grease from everyone involved, I reckon. So, let's talk about money for now. For this job, we're considering about 800 for each of you. Open to negotiation though. They've done right by our boss in the past, so he owes 'em one. What do you say to that price?"
"Also," the other Dog adds. "If you have any other questions, now's the time. We're countin' on you to relay all this to the rest of your team."
"I'll ask the waitress."
She says, a little unaware of how high scale dining works.
"I don't have any questions, sirs. I'd like to get this job done and continue our mutually beneficial relationship as soon as possible."
Ronsin blinks in confusion. "You just have to select what you want on the menu, ma'am. Ain't rocket science."
"Well, on to a more personal matter…"
Adalbert reaches into the satchel again and pulls out another datapad, pausing to check again that no one's listening in. "We got some news you might be interested in. 'Bout Pseumion. Looks like they're gonna be moving warehouses soon." He shows you a long list of scheduled flights, highlighting one. A cargo ship called the Karaboudjan
is scheduled to arrive at a place called Kafrene Station, in the middle of an asteroid belt. It looks like a very remote location, ideal for Pseumion to conduct their experiments. Pulling up a list of other locations the Karaboudjan
has been to, you start to notice a pattern as you recognize some of the names: they are all Arks where you know Pseumion to have outposts. "They're on the move," says Ronsin. "Might be plannin' something big. We ain't gonna get involved, but if you're still up for that big heist of yours, this might be a good chance. Once you and the gang get out of here, you might want to consider hitting this ship up. Might be somethin' worth looting, if you can get to 'em. I understand you don't have much love for those Pseumion bastards, so this could be an opportunity for you." He hands you the datapad with the Karaboudjan
's routes. "Here, you can hold on to this. Consider it a token of good will."
Making an attempt to fight Pyrite and teal, i try and push Veta off of me to stand back up.
"Of all the… How'd ye manage t'throw
veta at me?!"Roll #1 9 = 9
A little taken by surprise at first, Teal, in the guise of Jalila nonetheless chuckles, commenting:
"Nice one, Pyrite! Bet some didn't see this coming… sure helps in a fight to have that."
Having gotten a hold of Risky, the Saddle Arabian tries to get something going for the audience, even if it meant not being terribly effective. Namely, a version of a horse-on-horse suplex. Sort of.
>Basic attack in a grab
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"I-I dunno! I-I jus' sorta did!" he shouts, looking around nervously>>696331
"T-Thanks! I-I jus' sorta did what felt right…" he says, scratching at his neck. Despite it being a holo arena, the stallion can't really kick someone while they're down, so… he waits.
Veta just lays there, though moves to at least get off of Risky.
"Alright…where's the log out button on this thing…."
Pyrite blinks as Veta turns into… a shark pony? She changes right back, so it must by a little glitch
You manage to crawl out from under your ally, getting back up and refusing to give in so easily. As you do so, however, Jalila grabs you and throws you to the ground again, but you shrug it off easily.>>696331
As she gets back up, you grab Risky and suplex her. She is not phased by your attack and gets back up easily, although she looks worse for wear.>>696332
You take a moment to catch your breath.>>696333
You flop over onto your belly and contemplate your existence for a while.
>Risky is at 3/2>Jalila is at 6/5>Veta is at 0/3>Pyrite is at 9/5
As Veta contemplate said existence, she takes a moment to look at Pyrite not doing anything.
"Well? C'mon, get it over with so I can hit up the bar or something…."
"I can tell by fightning with you, Risky - you're not one to give up. That's a good thing. If the enemies facing you get the same idea, that is great."
Jalila, holding Risky in a restrained position tries to take a hold of her head and smash it into the ground.
In a quiet tone, she whispers:
"Veta's feeling not like it though. I reckon it's nearing time to end it, whaddya think? "
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"I-I… I-I dunno, Miss Veta. I don't like hittin' folks while they're down… Maybe we can jus' log out, 'r somethin'?"
"I don't know how! I don't know this VR crap!" She spouts back with some fire finally. "Just kill me so I can feel some form of release until I wake back up to my missing arms and bum-fucking-leg!"
Feeling the feedback from being thrown onto the ground again, i grit my teeth and glare at Teal's avatar.
"I'm not finished yet, ye blasted showpony! Ye may 'ave built yerself the perfect fighter but if that plan o'yers was t'beat me down like some punchin bag i'm not havin any of it!"
"Those two can log out fer all i care, ye can't just bruise me pride and wiggle out o'the beatin like nothin' happened!"
despite the pin, i try and smash my head back into Jalila's muzzle!
[1d10] HeadbuttRoll #1 6 = 6
Pyrite winces a little bit, and folds his ears back. He squeezes his eyes shit, before slamming her with the shield >Slam: [1d10] (Do I need to roll?)Roll #1 6 = 6
"You are taking this a little too seriously, I'd say. It is just VR, Risky. As for my plan… well, I did have one, but it's hardly that. Reckon you needed a letout lately."
At the talk of logging out and finishing the fight early, a HUD appears in your vision. "End mission? Y/N" Both buttons are hovering in your field of view; it seems that you could reach out and select an option to end the fight early.>>696339
Risky manages to dodge your attack and counters by headbutting you. You see stars for a moment.>>696343
You give her a rage-fuelled headbutt, knocking her backwards and stunning her.>>696344
You hit Veta with your shield, knocking her backwards. She doesn't react much.
>Risky is at 3/2>Jalila is at 4/5>Veta is at 0/2>Pyrite is at 9/5
"Tch. too seriously.. Me pride's all i have left, Teal!"
"Lost me ship, half o'me limbs, the use o'magic.. What else besides a Pirate's pride do i have left?">>696347
Hopping backwards, i brace my PEW with a hoof and overcharge the chamber.
"T'keep what pride's left, i'll fight 'til ye finish this!"
[1d10] Ocercharge 1
"So c'mon then, Teal! Quit yer stallin and Fight
!"Roll #1 4 = 4
Veta does have one reaction.
"I said kill me, not toy with me, dammit!"
Her snout wrinkles up in anger as he slams a fist into the Y. Once she has her bearings after leaving VR, she tries to let herself out of the chamber, likely falling over as she forgets to deploy her cane due to a mix of the VR and the bumleg being so new to her now.
Pyrite frowns a little when Veta blinks out, slamming the Y button as well. His heart wasn't in that last bit. The stallion hops out and, after picking himself up (he fell over, due to the disorientation) he3 catches up to the Diamond Dog, and says "I-I'm sorry, Miss Veta."
Jalila recoils, stepping back after being hit. Afterwards, however, she smiles.
"You have your future left, Risky. And I got into this brawl with you all specifically to help with that. While sharing hoof blows with you is fun and I'm glad you landed me a solid, my plan was to just what this team needs to succeed more. Can hardly do that, being away in shadows all the time. It's given me insight. I thing I've gotten a hunch as to just what is gonna do the trick. Hence, as far as the intention goes, I've already gotten what I wanted. As for the fight though…
Jalila dashes forward, sweeping one of her backelgs across Risky's, as to cut her balance, as she's doing the overcharge.
>mostly fluff, due to Risky's pending critfail, but have a roll nonetheless. I hope a roll a 1 and get hit.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Veta picks herself up shakily, not looking directly at Pyrite, but gives a very low growl at him. She hobbles off somewhere. She didn't know, nor didn't care where, but she just wanted to get out of this place.
The PEW shudders and backfires, blowing up in your face. You think Jalila gets you as well, but you're not quite sure. You pass out for a moment, coming to after a second, finding yourself flat on your back. A flashing red warning appears in front of you. "USER DEATH IMMINENT">>696349>>696350
You ram the Y button with the force of a thousand suns. Everything goes white, and after a second or two, you find yourselves back in the contestants' area in the holo-arena. You feel slightly groggy as you look around, seeing Capoeira monitoring your progress nearby, wearing horn-rimmed glasses. "Take it easy," she warns. "You'll probably be a little dizzy after that. Are you alright? Look a little down in the dumps.">>696351
You manage to trip her up and knock her flat on her back as the PEW misfires, scorching her severely. A little broken heart icon appears above her.>>696352
"Hey, where are you-" Capoeira calls out to you, but you ignore her and make your way over to the arena's bar in a haze. A bartender bot floats up to you. "How may I serve you?
>Risky is at 0/1>Jalila is at 4/5>Veta is offline>Pyrite is offline
"Well, I'm sure glad in those situations there are these icons to tell you when the fight is over. I'm getting out, gotta chase the dog, though I'm not if it won't bite me. I'll be waiting on you on the other side, Risky. We're fightning the longer fight together, after all, and I reckon I may need your input on what is to come."
That being said, Jalila logs out.
Pyrite frowns a little bit, and heads back to grab Veta's cane. As he does, he passes by Capoeria. >>696353
"U-Uhm… stuff like this always makes me feel sorta… I-I don't like hittin' downed folks." he says, before shrugging "T-Th' arena was nice, though. That was kinda cool.">>696352
Pyrite returns a few moments later, and hands her her cane. He doesn't seem to know what to say, though
Actually, adding that Jalila would first get over and offer Risky a hoof to get up before logging out.
"There are holes in your style, but you fought well, captain. Reckon it's the situation that's throwing you off balance more than I did. About to fix that though. Glad to have had the chance to square off with you."
Veta props herself against the barcounter, not wanting to sit down and deal with getting the cane out again.
"Gimme your biggest, strongest, cheapest drink."
As she puts the order in, she grabs her bottle of pain killers, shaking out more than two or three right now.>>696355
As Pyrite comes up to Veta, he can see her shaking out some pills. One…two…four…seven…more than a handful….
even with the muted sensation i still feel the wind knocked out of me. Unable to recover and left lying on the floor, i meet Teal's eyes for a moment before looking away, my previously withering gaze fading away.
accepting her hoof after a moment of hesitation, i look away, grumbling as i log out.
"M-Miss Veta? Ya really shouldn't take that many pills at once."
"Yeah, I know." He gaze remains on the pills, though she has a more steely gaze as she shakes more out as she awaits her drink.
Capoeira nods understandingly. "I hear a lot of folks say that. I see how it can be a bit daunting. You just have to remember, it's not real."
You join Veta at the bar as she orders herself a drink. You feel a little out of your element next to all the fancy-looking customers.>>696354
You help Risky up before logging yourself out. It takes a second to readjust to your normal, pint-sized body.>>696357
" You watch half-heartedly as the robotic bartender extends its many spidery limbs and begins preparing an elaborate whiskey-based cocktail. It finishes fairly fast, serving you a bright red concoction that seems to fizzle slightly. "One Scorcher, as requested. A house special. Not for the faint of heart. Enjoy, sir.">>696358
You log out, your vision fading to white. When you come to, you find yourself back in the contestants' area in one of the pods. Next to you, you can see Teal getting her bearings.>>696354>>696358
"Well, that was certainly something." Capoeira trots over to you with a datapad. "A rather… one-sided fight, if you don't mind my saying so. Still, a fight is a fight." She holds the datapad up and a blue beam passes over Teal, scanning her. She then punches something into the datapad, presumably transferring the payment. "All done," she says with a smile. "I hope you enjoyed your time here! If you're ever keen for another mission, we're always open."
"W-Well, stop." he says, holding her hand lightly, yet firmly
pulling myself out of the pod with my talons, i look at my replacement leg and broken horn again and sigh.
"Aye, that it was."
with gritted teeth, i trudge past the breezie down the hall, looking for that bar we passed earlier.
"I need a drink.."
At being called a sir, Veta gives an annoyed sigh and shakes nearly the entire bottle out.>>696364
Just as she was about to swing her arm, it only jerks enough that a pill or two fall onto the floor.
"Oh c'mon, Boyscout! I'm the doctor here, and I know exactly how to treat myself. And the best treatment is about 2000 cc's of alcohol and enough pills to take you down three times over. So let go and let me do this one teeny, tiny thing and hope I don't fuck it up like everything else that's happened to me so far."
As she wakes up, Teal does a little, practiced motion with her whole body - evidently acquired habit from all the times in VR. Hopping down from the pod and taking flight, she turns towards Capoeira as she speaks and responds boldly with the confidence of a veteran at work:
"By the time these guys return here, I'm gonna whip them into shape like you wouldn't believe it. Thrashing them today was the first necessary step. With the right tools, mindset and training, they're gonna rock this stage. They just don't know it yet."
She tilts her head towards Risky as she continues addressing the same mare:
"Though some may be close than others. And look forward to our return."
That being said and having checked the account, she flies away, catching up after Risky at a moderate pace, respecting the distance for now.
"W-Well, I think you're wrong. W-We jus' got unlucky, but that doesn't mean ya need t' go an' overdose on pills. I-I uh, I'm not really a motivational speaker, but… I don't wanna sit here an' watch as ya kill yourself."
You make your way towards the bar, already finding Veta and Pyrite sitting there. Veta seems to be trying to quite literally drown her sorrows.>>696366
You shake out a worrying amount of pills from your dispenser. The bartender bot clasps its two primary arms together. "The price for it is 12 florins.
You see Risky and Teal approaching the bar, having presumably wrapped up the session.
"Let her have it, Pyrite. At least some. You remember your first hardday of training? How your muscles sored all over and you wished you could just take a bath and scrub it away? Well, that's Veta in pain right now. Least something close. Bartender, let me have what the lady over here is having" - she says that, if for companionship and finalizes the payment for her and Veta. She sits not directly next to Veta, letting Pyrite, who was talking her up until now and Risky, who's closest here to her, have the priviledge of encircling her. She sips her own drink slowly though, mostly watching the development for now and wishing to stay sober.
"S-She wants to overdose on pills, Miss Teal! I can't jus' let her have it!"
"I said let her have some. Not all."
"Like, remember the highest number she's took at once so far and let her have a bit over that. I reckon she's built some tolerance at this point."
Seeing the pair at the bar, i manage a grin.
"So, ye plan on startin the drinks without yer captain? Ohh how cruel!"
sliding up to the counter, i eye the drink Veta picked up.>>696366
"Hmm.. Knowin you that's the strongest they've got.. I'll take one too, then!"
"Yes it does!" She yells at him with a snarl, finally looking right at him. Her gaze was angry, but there was an equal amount of hurt to it.
"I have three ponies, plus myself, with permanent injuries! There is a pony laying in a coma! The rest of the crew, and a cat, are dead! You hear me?! DEAD! All on my fucking watch!"
Her breathing is extremely heavy right now.
"I'm supposed to be a damn doctor; I'm supposed to be saving lives! Instead, everyone is dying around me, and there isn't a FUCKING THING I COULD DO!!"
She slams a fist, causing some pills to fall to the floor while more are crushed/broken in her robo-grasp.
" Some of the bot's arms fold away, replaced by much smaller, Breezie-sized arms which quickly get to work making a tiny version of the same cocktail. It passes the dangerously fizzing drink to you, scanning you for payment. "6 florins will be charged.
The drink itself is unbelievably strong. They must put some sort of chili in it judging by the faint burning aftertaste. You're pretty sure that a high enough dose would be enough to kill someone.>>696374
" The bot goes through the same elaborate procedure of preparing the mean-looking drink. "That will be 12 florins.
"Please remain calm,
" the bartender bot drones. "Do not attempt to instigate violence, or the authorities will be contacted.
" You notice a few people looking over in your direction, put off by your outburst. One or two move to another seat to give you a wide berth.
"I'll take at least part of the blame for that one. I thought I thrashed their control panels enough, as to let us escape. My caluclations were incorrect. You're a doctor and a damn good one. Without you, we wouldn't have made it here. You've done your part. Everyone you've treated was just fine. I don't think it's in the doctors' must-do list to treat others while being unconscious after a crash landing. You think anyone's blaming you?"
Teal takes a sip.
"Also, screw that cat. Never liked him anyway."
Hearing this, what passed for an average mood evaporated as i fire back
"I'll not have ye take the blame, Dog!
"What happened was mine
to take fault fer, If i woulda kept me eyes on drivin and not mouthin off t'those two everyone would be alive!"
"So if ye've got grievances fer any
o'that mess, take it up with me, the one who killed them!">>696376
rolling my eyes, i transfer the payment through the tablet.
"We're workin out some problems, won't turn t'violence just yet."
"We all messed up! If I'd shot better, we woulda gotten away less messed up! W-We can't go blamin' each other, though, it's not healthy!"
"Let 'em. And tell them to bring an ambulance so they can haul my useless, dead ass out as my final disservice.">>696377
"Yeah. I'M blaming me, because it was my fault for being careless enough TO get knock out-fucking-cold like I did."
She exhales and slumps over, head whacking against the bar rather hard.
"If I wasn't out, I could've saved them. I KNOW I could've saved them….">>696378
"Well I've already taken it! The fact that I'm alive and they're not is just as much blood on my paws, if not more than on your hooves. Since, you know, doctors are suppose to SAVE people!">>696379
"I'm not blaming anyone except myself, Boyscout. Now please," what organics are left of her body shakes as she feels around for her drink, "stop patronizing me and just let me have this release. My life's been terrible for almost thirty years now, and this is basically all those years crammed into that one moment."
"Aye, if the rest o'the crew were on the field then sure, it'd be yer fault. But crammed int'a ship sent flyin by the captain the fault shifts t'me fer not keepin em safe. Ye can't heal ponies when yer part o'the crash, a crash I
caused. Events outside o'yer control took the wheel, and the lot o'us were along fer the ride."
"Well I wanna get off this agonizingly wild ride…."
"And leave us without a nurse? Ye know how rough i play out there, who's gonna patch the scratches after i scrape meself up?"
Veta looks up, finally resting her chin on the counter, though looks like she had herself a brief cry.
"An autodoc? Another doctor who is younger and sprier than me? Maybe Teal; I know she's pretty good with a knife."
At the poor attempt to humor herself, she picks her head up enough to take a drink finally, letting the pills clatter onto the ground.
"Bah, it'll take too long t'get em up to speed, I'm a needy patient after all. Not too many doctors'll waste time tryin t'bring the same pony back from the brink o'death every other day."
"Can't say I know much about this uh, Karaboujdan. Although the pattern is predictable. Something is expect at least one ship to be running. But one I assume is new… fascinating."
She glances around.
"I've decided I'm not hungry. Discussions of pseudofacist militaristic organization I use to affiliate with just spoils the appetite."
"Fair enough," says one of the twins.
"If you're gonna go searchin' for these four troublemakers, you might wanna start lookin' around the Upper City, near the hospital. That's where they've just been released from."
"Now, remember what y'all are up for: find Astral Echo at the charity concert, make sure she receives the data package and make sure she gets out of there in one piece. If you do that, we'll pay you, and we'll also work out a way for y'all off of this rock."
"And whatever you do," the other Dog says, "don't tell them we sent you. Don't think they'd take kindly to our meddlin', given their past. Ain't exactly on speakin' terms."
With that, you bid them farewell, gather the data package and info on the Karaboudjan routes, and leave the restaurant to try and track down the four missing agents.
The search takes up the majority of your afternoon. You check at the hospital to confirm they have been released, then hit up the local Golden Company base to ask if they've been spotted, which they haven't. You then scour some of the local points of interest: a local arms dealer and junk trader called Macduff with ties to the Company, as well as a well known motel/bar called Jan's Corner. None of them offer any useful information.
You decide to check another important landmark in the Upper City. Endriga's holo-arena, known as the Vermillion Fountain, is a popular destination for gambling and drinking, and well as an easy way to make a quick buck from virtual competitions. You approach the affluent, dome-shaped building, taking note of the arched windows which give it an appearance much like a colosseum. There are also several advertisements for a competition to be kicked off the day after tomorrow: the biannual Trial of Champions promises 5000 florins to the winning team. Further details are provided on inquiry within.
The interior of the Vermillion Fountain is luxurious and flashy. It is decorated with red and gold hues, with several services being provided, including a gambling hall, several screens showing a variety of VR missions, an alcove for placing bets as well as for inquiries, and a bar tended to by fancy-looking waiterbots which have been painted to look like they're wearing tuxedos.
While most of the clientele here are upper class, you spot a cluster of figures drowning their sorrows at the bar: a unicorn with one eye, two robotic legs and a broken horn, a larger-than-average earth pony in battered riot gear, a mean-looking Dog with robotic arms, and a tiny Breezie perched on the earth pony's shoulder. They fit the images you were shown well enough, although they all look absolutely miserable.>>696386
The drink scorches your throat on the way down. It's a good hurt.>>696386>>696387>>696379>>696373
You see a figure enter the area, causing some of the other patrons to give them a wide berth. She is a crystal pony carrying an expensive-looking piece of technology. It looks like a weapon of some sort. She seems to be heading in your direction.
Unable to think of a response to say back to that, Veta gives a defeated sigh before drinking more of this really strong drink. She doesn't give the new figure a proper look over as she tries to drink her misery away at the moment.
Space pirates, not ocean pirates!
Carrie trots up calmly, knowing she's found her targets.
"You all don't look the type of gamblers or purveyors of overpriced drinks."
She says, casually sitting next to the large earth pony.
"What brings you ruffians here?"
She says, half invested in an answer
"And what would it take to get you moving again?"
She inquires provocatively.
Pyrite lets out a sigh of relief as she seems to listen to Risky in some sense, and gives Risky a thankful, though slightly forced smile.>>696619>>696618
Pyrite cocks his head to the side a little bit at seeing the new arrival, and looks her up and down. As she approaches, he gives her a curious wave "H-Heya there, miss. N-Not t' be rude 'r nothin', but… uh, what're you?"
"H-huh? Ruffians? Well, I don't think any 'a us are really troublemakers." he says, scooching over to give her a bit of space. The second question catches him a little off guard, and he lets out a confused whinny "Move again? Are we gettin' kicked outta th' bar?"
She blatantly misinterprets the question, replying:
"What, you've never seen a Crystal Pony? I know we're rare, but not that rare."
"Naw, I've never seen one. I'd heard 'a somethin' like that, but I'd never seen any."
"Hmm. May have misinterpreted my co-workers a bit."
She says to herself mostly.
"Oh I'm not kicking you from the bar, feel free to sir here and drink until your cutie marks fall off. But if you wanna make some money and get off this glorified asteroid I could use some help. And you all look perfect for it."
As you sit down, one of the bartending robots turns to you, a hovering, rectangular machine with a screen showing a list of prices. It has several pairs of arms with a variety of bartending equipment attached. "May I take your order?
"Oh… Oh!" he says, blinking "Well, you'd need t' talk t' Cap'n Risky 'bout that." he says, pointing to the mare sitting next to him. "Uhm, I'm Pyrite, by th' way. IT's nice t' meet ya, miss."
Satisfied with the progress on Veta so far, Teal does not push further for now. She does monitor her, however. As the newcomer approaches, the breezie raises an eyebrow, measuring up the crystal pony. She holds on the glass of scorcher in her hooves more strongly as Pyrite decides to move about.
"Well, you certainly don't look like you've come here to spectate. If you've wanted to slip through the quarantine's gates just so, I reckon you wouldn't have asked us, weren't you looking for a team. Our ship's down right now, though from the sounds of it, you're not interested in us breaking through the blockade, are you?"
"If I say nothing, will you charge me for loitering?">>696629
"Ah, will do. My name's Carrie, Pyrite. Lovely to meet you."
Her head turns to the breeze she didn't notice, a bit confused at first.
"Oh! A breezie? I've never seen one face to face. Though I'm sure you get that a lot."
She admits, slightly embarrassed at her ignorance.
"My name is Carrie, and judging from how quick you deciphered my motives I'm sure you'd rather I explain what offer I have you all rather than continue the formalities?"
"Nice t' meet you too, Miss Carrie!">>696632
"Well, I suppose. Teal an' Risky seem t' have a better head f'r this than me." he says, with a chuckle
Teal returns the facial expression, before responding:
"Quite. Reckon we're alike in that fashion. Never considered that a drawback though in my line of work.. you've got an interesting piece of tech right there. Size alone would make an earth pony proud."
She chuckles good-naturedly at the latter query, adding:
"Oh, you've given me but a few hints. I'm not omniscient. I only figured you wouldn't be asking for anything openly shady in as grand a place as this holo-arena. That and I'm fine with you, taking time. Please, take a sit and make yourself comfortable. Looks like the night's young for some.
"That and the name's Teal. Glad to meet you, Carrie."
As the conversation goes on, Teal glances a few times towards the exotic gun owned by Carrie, scrutinizing the possession, though not impolitely so.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"No charge, sir. …I'm sorry, but I cannot accept tips.
" It seems to be a bit buggy. Might be for the best if you don't order.>>696636
You examine the weapon. It's a cannon of some sort, but it looks like no weapon you've ever seen, even with your experience. It might as well be from an alien race.
"Wonderful then. Now I have an employer who has reason to believe that popstar and eccentric.." she produces a datapad with the same image the diamond dogs showed her "… "Echo" may be in danger at her show this coming month. My employer would also like to get whatever is on.." she produces another datapad "…this datapad to her safely. Complete this mission for me and I can assure we all get payed and get out of here. You need any more details than that?">>696637
"Sir? I'm a- Ah, it's probably broken anyways."
"Admiring it? I know, she's gorgeous. Pseumion Light Gauss Cannon Mk. VII. I saw more of these growing up than I did breezies or stars, that's for sure."
Teal rests her back against Pyrite's neck and lowers her eyelids, as she looks at Carrie and muses over the hot drink:
"How quaint… this hardly seems illegal and yet, your employer prefers to have you ask some strangers directly, instead of posting this job on the Golden Company menu, which we would've gotten to eventually. The danger comes only in a month. Meanwhile, the part dealing with delivering the datapad to whoever on this planet seems like a trivial matter for someone who can offer getting ponies off this it while the blockade is still up. Either you or your employers have some ulterior motives in this, Carrie, don't you~?">>696639
Teal seems happily intrigued:
"You seem to come from an obscure part of the world. Haven't heard that name, I'll admit, and I do dabble in tech as a calling. How did you end up here? Reckon you can tell we haven't had the prettiest landing. Contrary to you, I assume?"
"Uh… huh. Did ya come from somewhere that made an awful lotta weapons, I guess? I ain't never seen a gun like that b'fore." he explains, scratching his head a little.>>696640
Pyrite tries to remain as still as possible for Teal, to keep from shaking her about too much. "Ulterior motives? What like? Is what we're doin' g-gonna be illegal?"
"Now that is the fine line that separates you and I. I would have never thought about this job like that. I would guess they don't want any buzz about this theoretical attack on a celebrity going around. Would be bad for business if Echo just hired some professional security.>>696640>>696641
"I don't really have a place I call home. Not for a long time at least. I grew up in a, uh, less than supportive environment and one day left it. From then I've been planet hopping. Til' I ended up here just in time to get hit by the quarantine. Now I'm stuck looking for any job that'll get me off. So far this is the only one offering."
looking up from an attempt at setting a straw into my drink, i fix the new pony with my good eye.>>696638
"So, ye wandered int'the bar here t'seek us
out fer the job."
"And whats this about danger? Must be quite the threat t'hire a pack o'mercenaries fer a concert.."
"Oh, so ya traveled a bunch? That's kinda neat!"
"My employer speculates that this attack is from the Spurned. I don't know too much about this end of the universe but I know the Spurned are nothing to joke about.">>696644
"Not aimlessly, I've been looking for things. My own treasures.
"Mmm… I reckon she has plenty of that to suffice for theory. What with the recent Spurned bioterrorist attack, I reckon none would blame her for hiring additional set of hooves. Meanwhile, you were the one that brought up getting us off the planet. It is illegal, after all. Can you blame me one for doubting shady, yet convenient business like this?"
Teal winks. Despite the words, she maintains a relaxed attitude.
"You did offer to answer questions. Well then, I reckon there's at least one. Who are your employers? Makes one wonder whether the ones offering the deal can go through with it."
She nods at the story provided afterwards, seemingly satisfied with the explanation.
"Oh! What sorta treasures?" the stallion asks, wiggling a little in excitement. The mention of the Spurned causes his colt-ish demeanor to die down a little, though "I-I don't know much 'bout them either, but what I've heard hasn't been good."
"Aha, there we go! Now that's
a threat worth hirin 'ruffians' fer."
"So." i start, taking a swig of my drink "How're we going t'go about handing off a tablet t'the client? Ye make it sound like we can't just wander up t'her and give it."
"Golden Company. Big, reliable jobsource for mercs like us. This is legit, clean work.">>696647
"Another one of these" she says, in reference to her imposing weapon "and uh, a business associate.">>696648
"Well, GC says they can only provide one of us with a ticket into Astral Echos show. I imagine that pony will be delivering the data and the rest of us keep a perimeter. At least, that's how I would do it."
"Oh, you're from the Company as well?"
Teal seems to ponder the answer a little, before answering in regards to the latter parts:
"Mmm… alright. If you say so. As for how it's supposed to be done, I have no qualms. Reckon it'd do us good not to be distracted by the show anyway. The coming month is quite away though. Got any plans in the meantime? I heard there's the holo-arena tournament going on. Interested in joining us for a try? Would let us get used to each other as working partners, I reckon."
"Well, I hope ya managed t' find that stuff!" he says, offering a smile in response
Teal seems to ponder things.
"Hmm… say, Risky, have you ever been to a VR tournament before?"
"Not exactly from, just somewhat associated. A temporary business partner?"
She looks at you quizzically for a moment after your second comment.
"A… holo-arena? As in holograms? How, uh, does that exactly work? Can't really hit the intersections of lights."
Veta sits up, having nodded off for a moment in her depressed, buzzed stupor. She groans, more at the realization she's still alive than having napped on a bar counter.>>696907
She looks around and sees the new person, then back to everyone else.
"Okay, we're not trying to kill each other, so off to a better start than we have been. You are…?"
"Aye, if we're stuck on this blasted station the lot of us might as well make some florins while we're here."
"Carrie. Carrie Ahln, a representative on behalf of the Golden Company."
She says, with inorganic, rehearsed tone>>696906
"No, although simulations were a part of my younger years, I never did compete in them."
She blankly stares for a minute, wrapped up in her past
"Can't really think of how you could…"
"Ah, I see. Mmm… yes and no. It's virtual reality, meaning they upload your consciousness to the holograms, somewhat. These can hit each one another. In other terms, it's a different way of training. Judging from your muscles, you've been quite busy practicing out of it. Not saying that's not the most important part. However, VR lets you in on possibilities you don't usually consider. Lets you have a go at situations that are borderline or even potentially lethal in a safe way. Care for a try?"
"Bah, haven't stepped in VR since me younger years, still have the avatar t'prove it, too."
"Hah! Possibilities I don't consider? Look, might hate Pseumion, but it's not like they didn't give me military grade emergency trainings. I'd like to see if this Holo-Tourney or whatever can surprise me."
She says, clearly cocky after your compliment
"Aye, good to see you again among us, Veta.">>696909>>696912
"Now that's the thinking fit for a captain, I reckon. Always on the lookout for opportunities… but yeah, if that's the case, I reckon I should provide a little insight, then."
Teal takes a deep breath before engaging again:
"See, VR tournaments are not quite the regular team vs team fights. Far from it. The ones behind making the project usually make use of all the tools at their disposal and create something short of a different stage or even small world for citizens to compete in. The tasks provided can vary greatly. While many involve combat, a surprising lot does not."
She takes a sip of her scorcher, lubricating her throat somewhat.
"That's why I reckon I'm gonna switch out my current VR persona, Jalila. VR tournaments are not quite about the raw power. There's little more for me to learn from using her either. I've been thinking of a makeover since a good few days before I joined up with you guys, so I reckon it's just the right opportunity."
"Oh…well alright then. Nice to meet you, I guess?" Veta slumps a bit and rests her head on a hand/paw.
"If you're here to tell us what to do, can it wait until after this headache?"
Teal meets Carrie's spirit with a welcoming smile:
"Well, I reckon you shall find yourself fitting in just right. I reckon this kinda attitude is just what we're need of right now. Say, what's the scope of your abilities, Carrie?"
"I shouldn't be, but I'm pretty sure the lot of you had something to do with not making it so. Especially boyscout."
"Sure, just don't have it for a month.">>696916
"The scope of my abilities? Hmm. Well, the life I've been hoofed over has revolved around training. Whether it's aiming this satellite of a gun"
She says, gesturing to her darling PLGC-7
"-Or, as you mentioned, my natural mass helps put more power in a buck. Other than that, Pseumion taught me how to act in the professional realm, or, as I've noticed it as, lie horribly."
She thinks for a moment.
"I think that about covers it. I also have a passion for flowers, but that was more something Katie did and I appreciated."
"Ah, so it's not all just bashin' skulls, is it? Sounds like we'll have a chance after all.">>696917
"As i said, ye can't just leave yer best patient to rot, can ye? Hippocratic oath, or somethin'">>696918
"So a sniper o'sorts, then? Not bad at all, we're in need'o somepony t'cover our flanks from range."
"…yeah, sounds great." She groans again and rubs her eyes.>>696919
"No, that thing is just a bunch of outdated ethics that we waste a few minutes of our lives saying so we can get our degree."
"Sounds like a lovely set of skills. Long as we don't have to engage in fights in any overgrown pony-eating Petunias, heh. I'll admit, I was outta rotation for a few weeks, but I think they've gotten the floral motif done not so long ago. Hence, we're fine and dandy. I reckon Pyrite could use some serious firepower to back him up while Veta's making sure we don't pay bills in clinics other than her own and Risky's making new foes for life and leading us from the front. Seems like a balanced composition to me, if I ever saw one.">>696919
"Oh, you'd be surprised. I remember that one time an underdog team in the form of a team of sheep harlequins took the first place outta nowhere. Now that was a day… yeah, now that I think about it, I reckon I shall make use of something more… veratile, myself."
First part meant to refer to >>696918
"Yep. Big guy's taking his job serious even outta battlefield. Guarding you, if need be, even from yourself. Guess that's why doctors have others from their profession check them out, even if they have the skills required to do so on their own. One can't really handle all the luggage themselves. You're a prime example, Veta. You're an awesome medic, just… not fully a combat medic, I suppose… yet. I think I see what you're in need of though. This simulation's given me some insight. Before I shoot, I reckon I shall ask - did you ponder about that matter yourself, maybe? What is it that you can make yourself more steady under fire, that is."
"Not exactly a sniper, but sure. I have a decent bit of range. Everything at Pseumion is designed to be able to take out ships, and you usually can't get that close.>>696921
"Hah. Sound like you all have enjoyed eachothers presences before."
She says with a tad bit of snark
"Whyyyy? I haven't been nice to the guy once, I don't think. Thought he'd be the last one of anyone to try and stop me."
Veta sighs, not able to get a grasp on what goes that dense head of Pyrite's.
"Oh yeah, cause the healing isn't nearly as rewarding as the hurting……god, that sounded just awful to say. Not morally, just sounded very stupid."
"You betcha. I mean, I wasn't part of everything, working on the side for the most part, but from what I've had a chance to glimpse, it's a fun lil troupe. If only a few weeks' old. I feel like I should pay a visit to the other groups over at the Golden Company, just to get a feel for what they're like. See if this happy ragtag squad's the norm. Judging by the versatility of the missions offered, I reckon it may well be so."
"Comes with being part'a the crew, ye pick up quick on how yer shipmates fight. Though these day me strategy's 'draw fire 'til Teal gets the drop on em'."
in between another drink i elaborate. "Can't seem t'make it through a fight without gettin pummeled, shot'r blown up, but if takin a beatin means me crew keeps goin it works out."
"Oh, he's just wicked inside, Veta. He does that knowing the kindness burns your soul inside" - Teal winks at the doggo cheekily. She doesn't seem to mind what Veta says later - "Don't think for a second you're any less vital to the squad than any of us. That being said, what I feel you need is a proper weapon. Something to fall back on. You're a good medic and a clever girl, but I feel like you're lacking the tool to support you proper. Guns&roses, Veta. You've been able to sweet-talk things, but the former of the two helps. What do you think?"
"Don't feel bad I do tend to steer things this way."
Afterwards, she rests her muzzle against both of her hooves, as she adds in a somewhat contradicting part:
"I do press for having strong, independent captains though. Knowing you're somewhere out there, being able to handle things without me and not die while at it hella helps concentrate on my solo assignments. And that's crucial when working on our common survivial, I'd say.
"I'm beginning to actually think that…." Veta thinks over what Teal says about weapons and such.
"Well, maybe, I guess. Though I don't think my sweet-talking has been all that great. It just got me punched in the face a lot, last time I checked."
"Aye, which is why i need t'find some better way o'holdin me own. Ye can't rely on the crew fer everythin
, need t'be strong enough t'handle a brawl by meself, ideally."
"Mmm… you know, usually, I'd just propose us girls doing some good ol' shopping. Helps lift the spirit, for sure. I'm down for it if you are. However, given the circumstances, I think I have an even better idea. See, it actually ties to what I've mentioned to Risky about getting the VR persona swapped. A certain archetype caught my eye that I've been meaning to try out eventually ever since. That is, a hardlight construct manipulator. Meaning, in a VR simulation, me and the party I'm in wouldn't be limited to the weapons we choose at the beginning. I plan to try out a lotta positions outta my tech wishlist. If you're not sure what do you -exactly- want right from the get go, I can get you a ton of nice stuff to try out. From cryoblasters, to incendiary grenade launchers, to portable siege lasers. You'll be able to take your time seeing what suits your style and once you decide, we'll simply track it down and buy it here in the city. What do you say?"
Veta just stares at Teal, blinking as she tries to make sense over everything she was just saying. As she keeps talking, Veta puts her head back down on the counter and rubs her head where she feels it hurt the most. When the question came, Veta just gave a thumbs up, not sure what to say nor what the hell she just explained to her.
"Ah, I reckon you just need a change of perspective, Risky. Gotta go back to the roots to see anew, if you know what I'm saying. That or, eh, just gotta get us together on a few more missions. Order some, blast others, the usual. We're still relatively fresh. We'll fine in no time. And this VR tournament is just what I feel we're in need of now..">>696933
But she goes with it.