Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:02 AM
He paused on a ridge, under cover of some thick cedar shrubs, and looked down at Keldabe. The city and the plains had looked better. Over there was the dimple of sick grass where the old Death Watch had detonated a tactical nuke. Look another way, and there was the scar from Hadrix's orbital bombardment. And of course the civil war had only ended recently; smoke still rose here and there.
"Better days," he said under his breath, and turned to vanish into the woods.
Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:26 AM
There were tell tale signs the ship was there, the slight distortion of the image, the depressions in the grass around its landing gears. Hidden to stop people stumbling across it, not to stop those looking for it. There was only one person who would come looking for this ship, and he knew her well enough to know where to look.
Posted 14 November 2017 - 01:22 PM
It hadn't been long since Monroe died. It had been even less time since his leg and ribs healed, but it had been time enough. Through the woods the Mantis prowled, on what felt like his tenth patrol for stragglers who refused to accept Ra's victory, even after Mia left this world. So far they'd called him cultist, the lackey of a tyrant, and one or two actually called him the dar'manda. Whatever final insult they flung ended up being for nothing when he'd killed them. Mandalore needed to heal, and it could not do so with any remnants of the disease that had afflicted it scurrying around in some desolate cave, hiding like cowards.
This forest was ideal a place as any to hide, and so he searched, unaware that he was approaching Mia Monroe's vessel, and Connory. As he walked, WESTAR-35 cradled in his arms, MF-44 over his shoulder, he found himself caught in reflection.
The last time he'd been anywhere near Keldabe he'd lost an arm, and found a son, which in retrospect was more than a fair trade, but the carnage inside MandalMotors was etched into his mind. He still wondered when the death of children quit bothering him, when that revulsion had suddenly disappeared, and the pint-sized corpses falling to the ground with a blade in their back became just another casualty of war.
Maybe he'd been a better man once upon a time, or maybe he'd just been naive.
Along with him was Nita Quez, sister to Lyanie who'd rescued his niece, ward, and their compatriots after the pack of children ransacked a supply convoy and destroyed a tank. He still needed to find some way to truly thank her. But that was for a later time he supposed, right now he and Nita had a job to do, and he was more than happy to do it.
Edited by Silas Mantis, 14 November 2017 - 01:22 PM.
Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:05 PM
In the end, he didn't find the Liberty's Veil because of dogged search or special insight. For all their years together, Mia had become an enigma to him, a black-box decision-making process, when she'd torched half his homeworld. Maybe even before. No, he found the cloaked ship's landing site by retuning his lifeform scanners to pick up everything, not just human-sized critters - and then beelining for the uniform blank spot. A cloaking device obscured a cross-section of the forest's life-web. In short order he'd decloaked the ship and gone inside.
The Veil was a retrofitted Mon Cal medical sloop, and the first comprehensive stealth ship in centuries. Every ship that used the holy trinity of stygium cloak, thrust trace dampers, and gravitic modulator was a derivative of a derivative of this boat right here. More importantly, he and Mia Monroe had called it home for many years.
And even more important than that was the navicomputer log.
She'd had a child recently, by all accounts, maybe aboard this ship. He threw in the automated medbay logs without viewing them, and pulsed them offworld with the navigational data. Right now, anything nearby would be detecting a complex old ship coming to life, transmitting something heavily encrypted, decloaking-
Well, let them come.
Edited by Connory, 14 November 2017 - 02:07 PM.
Posted 14 November 2017 - 06:43 PM
Quez and Mantis had begun to become tied, in a way, by the seed that was her elder sister's bond with Preliat's late wife, and the care given to the woman's child by Nita's own clan and Nita herself. It was with the P-71 repeating crossbow in her arms that she'd taught the Mantis girl to attain a stillness and calm that made a marked improvement to her aim, before moving on to the more ancient weapon, the original bow, and a progression of smaller and smaller game until they were stalking rabbits, making cleaner kills, and less noise overall. How does a Mando in full beskar'gam move with a nigh-silent step? Practise. Being small helps.
Nita, all of five-foot-four out of her 'gam, was a steep contrast to the approximate foot that Silas Mantis had over her out of his, at a guess. Her armour was built from pieces of her mother's own that were split between herself and her sister, and her own suit that had changed as necessary as she grew. On her in addition to spare magazines for her repeater was a knife gifted to her by her brother, courtesy of the kriffing forcer that had taken him away from his clan; she would feel conflicted about it if not for the fact that it never seemed to dull and had other useful features.
Nita felt just as at-home in a forest as she did out of one, and appreciated the lack of chatter from her companion as she scanned with her eyes amongst the trees and other dense vegetation, and listened for telltale or out-of-place sounds - though how much was out of place with the civil war having just concluded was very little. A bird of some sort caught her eye a moment, then something in the opposite direction caught her attention at the corner of her vision, and her head snapped towards it. Her eyes narrowed.
"Chtt," she sounded out the side of her mouth, to draw Silas' attention to the sudden appearance of a sloping nose that brought to her mind the bill of a duck, which she had tilted her chin towards to point it out, "ship."
Least she thought it was from what she could see. She didn't know near as much about them as her sister, and didn't at all know Connory.
Edited by Nita Quez, 14 November 2017 - 06:43 PM.
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Posted 15 November 2017 - 04:19 AM
Edited by Mia Monroe, 15 November 2017 - 04:25 AM.
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Posted 15 November 2017 - 10:12 PM
For a moment he didn't believe Nita Quez, not due to any doubt of her honesty, but because he'd run the scans. Yet she was right, a ship was coming to life. "Damn hut'uuns." Silas muttered as he turned towards where the ship was beginning to decloak, rolling his shoulders as his eyes narrowed into a harsh glare underneath his visor. "It's too late to run now." He snarled, waving for Nita to follow after him as he began rushing towards the ship.
He wasn't expecting much, some injured fighters scrambling away to lick their wounds, maybe a force sensitive it his luck was particularly low today, or high depending on how he thought about it. Regardless, Connory would not at all be what he was expecting.
Even with the war at a close Silas' blood still ran hot. Some of the Liberator's followers had been forgiven by Ra, and were allowed to serve the true Mand'alor, others had run or continued to fight, but regardless of what they did or who else forgave them, he did not. He would never. Sprinting through the trees, the vessel came into the Young Wolf's sight.
"I do not see any kind of guards, or people. Do you?" Silas questioned Nita, assuming she'd followed after him quickly enough to be in earshot of his inquiry. Looking back and forth he saw no signs of Mia's forces, only the ship and the trees. It seemed clear that no one was there to face them from the exterior, if that was the case they'd try and head inside, but it never hurt to have a second pair of eyes confirm. He'd have hated to step out of the trees only to catch a bullet in the throat.
Posted 16 November 2017 - 03:02 PM
Retorts welled up as the recording wound down, but in death, Mia had captured the last word impeccably. Connory bit back a snarl. Wasn't much to be done except grab the case she'd mentioned, make sure the transmission finished, check the ship's sensors, and either torch it or fly off. It didn't feel like home anymore - no, it did, but perverted and twisted and ugly.
On the other hand, if he burned the ship, she'd be right about him running away.
He settled into the pilot's seat, dropped the unopened case on the other chair, and flipped the next few wakeup switches. The Liberty's Veil was unarmed; its survivability boiled down to good shields and great stealth, neither of which were active. Prudence suggested rectifying that as soon as possible, but the Veil was an old and jury-rigged boat. Finding security would take a few minutes.
Visual inspection didn't reveal anything odd in the surrounding forest, and the tough glasteel viewports futzed with his helmet scanners just like the hull. After a minute or so, he coaxed the Veil''s sensor suite to life and gave the area a look. No obvious threats in the air, nothing closer than Keldabe traffic...
...but on the ground, there were two humanoids, darn close. Other sensor modes picked up concurrent metal deposits and electronic signatures. Mandos.
Edited by Connory, 16 November 2017 - 03:17 PM.
Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:01 AM
"Come on come on come on..."
The cloaking device and the shield generators slipped back into gear. As the device's control panel lit up, Connory fired the repulsorlifts. The Veil bounced twenty metres in the air and vanished. Trees rustled and waved like feathers. Connory aimed for a cloudless patch of sky - to leave no wake - and gunned the engines.
Edited by Connory, 19 November 2017 - 10:02 AM.