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The Wrecking Belles

Discussion in 'FanFic' started by Danger Rose, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    These are some of the stories about my Infinity Characters. I still have to add the Flamestrike and Wotan stories.
    https://wreckingbelles.wordpress.com/

    I'm working on something different for this season. I'm making four lists (2 Vanilla Haqq, 1 Qapu Khalqi and one Hassassin Barham) using miniatures I've had for a while but neve got to paint. I don't like playing with unpainted minis, so it's a way to force myself to paint and use those minis I've had neglected for so long.

    I'm almost done with the prologue, but I'm waiting for the ITS Season 9: Treason Booklet to read the background of the season, and adjust my narrative to it.

    I'll start posting the new stories as soon as I have the minis ready for action (so far I already have one of the Vanilla Haqqislam lists and the second one in a 98% completion.)
     
  2. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Inspired by @Errhile and @Kathara_Khan's Dramatis Personae of their wonderful The Avalon Chronicles, I decided to post a bit of the Background and description of my Wrecking Belles.

    Haqqislam Anti-Contraband and Anti-Counterfeit Agency Unit Foxglove

    Originally assembled to bunch a group of Odalisques considered by the Academy as “Potentially Troublesome”; and ship them to a Spaceport where they wouldn’t cause trouble; Unit Foxglove soon found themselves the protagonists of several high-profile busts, with extensive collateral damage, earning the nickname “Wrecking Belles.” To minimize the legal and administrative processes that started piling up because of their antics, the Deputy Director of the Agency assigned them to investigate claims of a Cube Smuggling Ring, an urban legend with no credible source.

    The Desert Duchess

    The Wrecking Belles worked undercover, as a Private Security group, attached to any Qapu Khalqi ship that would hire them. Their investigation hit the Jackpot when they joined the Desert Duchess; an old Haqqislam Assault Carrier retrofitted to be a heavily armed freighter. Commanded by Captain Nazeem “Bull Shark” Barakat, the ship served as main base for Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC; a front company for Captain Barakat’s clandestine squadron of Cube Jaegers. The ship also housed a Nomad Phoenix Reanimator Engine with capacity for four simultaneous resurrections; and a host of 300 LHost Storage Pods. The discovery of Captain Barakat’s illegal enterprise; and an unexpected betrayal at the hands of their fifth member, Mauve Typhoon; cost the Wrecking Belles their life, and their Cubes were stored for sale on the Black Market.

    The Assassin and the Snake

    Fortunately for the Belles, two independent investigators were also undercover trying to bring down Captain Barakat. Agent Valentine, a Husam Spec-Op who posed as a Ghulam Hacker, and the retired Janissary Rattlesnake, who was working for Hassassin Barid Shadow Fox. Agent Valentine resurrected the four Wrecking Belles and with their help she and Rattlesnake brought down Captain Barakat, but were unable to stop him from erasing his ship’s logs; bringing the investigation to a dead end.

    With the cooperation of Sireen Barakat, inheritor of her father’s ship and Letter of Marque, the Wrecking Belles with Agent Valentine are on the hunt for the rest of the Cube Smuggling Ring, while helping to preserve Haqqislam’s Interests and the Pursuit of Knowledge.

    Current Roster:

    Regina Berger [Apple Pie]: (Age: Real-38/LHost-25) Born in Tombstone, USAriadna; Regina is strong willed and stubborn. She’s a “by the book” type who doesn’t like when rules are bent or broken. She’s known to give warning shots, to give opponents a chance to surrender; which, unsurprisingly, rarely works.

    She married Sheik Duman Al Dagher, heir to a very influential Merchant Family; when they began doing business with her father, a prominent Arms Dealer in USAriadna. She was enrolled in the Odalisques Academy, to increase her “status” and try to take away the “Atek” stigma off her.

    Although she tries to hide it, Regina does have a vain streak; and refuses to wear glasses, even though her LHosts all end with Myopia when adjusted to her looks.


    Theresa Maxwell [Obliterette]: (Age: Real-36/LHost-25) A child of the Caravansary, Theresa has always been rebellious and a thrill seeker. Quick-witted and very perceptive, she can usually analyze and predict outcomes on the fly; and act according to her sharp analysis; which makes her seem brash at times.

    Born from a family of space pilots, she was to be sent to a military academy when her family found out she had been fraternizing with members of a Space Pirate crew. This didn’t sit well with Theresa, who ran away from home. But a close brush with death at the hands of the Yu Jing Imperial Service, made her reconsider her life choices; and her family shipped her to the Odalsiques Academy instead.

    Theresa tends to be overly critical and a perfectionist, which makes her a rather difficult person to work with in teams.


    Helena Slater [Doc Starlight]: (Age: Real-47/LHost-21) At the same time cheerful and cynical, Helena is a resurrectee with a very turbulent past. Originally a Medical Doctor with a promising career, she became part of Dr. Theda al-Bey’s Cube Research Program; which researched Cube tampering to obtain information form uncooperating subjects. Such an unethical program was funded by Equinox. The Hassassin Govads took down the Program, although, Dr. al-Bey was never captured. Helena was resurrected; and, in exchange for her cooperation, she was given a clean slate, but forbidden to practice medicine ever again.

    She entered the Odalisques Academy, figuring that since she had been resurrected in a younger body, she could well take advantage of that fortuitous development. Despite her best or feeble efforts, depending on who you ask, Helena sometimes shows sadistic tendencies, which go form funny to downright horrifying. She has an aversion to Mental Health personnel and gets really offended when her mental stability is questioned.


    Aurora Numina [Battle Charmer]: (Age: Real-35/LHost-25) Calm and collected, Aurora can be described as a leaf in the wind. She’s the third of five daughters of Supermodel and Fashion Tycoon Rebelle. While not aesthetically disadvantaged, she was always considered the “ugly duckling” of the siblings; which she compensated for with a charming personality; that placed her ahead of her sisters, and opened the door to the Odalisques Academy.

    Aurora does have a mischievous side, and she rarely enforces order, despite being the Squad Leader of Unit Foxglove. However, when she decides to get serious, she has full support of her teammates.

    She was the one who shot Sireen Barakat’s father; which makes her uncomfortable around her Commanding Officer; even though he was trying to kill her and her teammates, again.


    Teri Valentine [Agent Valentine]: (Age: Real-??/LHost-27) Nothing is known for certain about Agent Valentine; mostly because her file is under Husam jurisdiction, and she revels in playing the “Woman of Mystery” role. It is known that she began her career as a Hafza Operative, before being recruited by the Husam.

    Completely amoral and terrifyingly pragmatic; Agent Valentine will easily settle for the most violent way to deal with a current predicament; as long as it’s the most expedient way. While she works with Unit Foxglove, she’s an Independent Operative. She usually answers to the Hassassin Barham and missions from the Man on the Mountain always take precedence.

    Agent Valentine is the engine that drives the Wrecking Belles, and Sireen Barakat’s greatest benefactor.
     
    #2 Danger Rose, Jan 19, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  3. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: Prologue


    The Ilik Al Fundaq Asteroid Station served as relay station for the Caravansaries carrying goods through the Wotan Gate. As such, almost any product could be found and bought at wholesale price, if you knew where to look. Obliterette sat on top of a makeshift stool made from an empty ammo crate, enjoying a mango smoothie; as she watched Apple Pie strut out of one of such shops.

    "Looks like someone found a combat bra that fits." said the blonde Odalisque handing another mango smoothie to the beaming brunette.

    "Three, actually." replied Apple Pie taking the luxurious beverage. "I even found one for that evening gown-"

    **"Wrecking Belles, report to HQ ASAP"**. interrupted Alguacil Ashley's voice through their comms. Both Odalisques checked their wristbands to acknowledge; and confirm that Doc Starlight and Battle Charmer had done the same. As they turned around a corner of the maze-like market, a distracted Ghulam bumped face first into Apple Pie's chest.

    "Whoa, careful there," said Apple Pie with an embarrassed smile, until she noticed that the Ghulam had fizzled out; and in her place, was a Bakunin Reverend Custodier. The lilac eyed yellow mask, and dark purple with yellow trimm robes, brought a chill down Apple Pie's spine. The last time she had been in front of a Custodier sporting such colors, was in the bridge of the Desert Duchess, next to Sireen Barakat's father. The Custodier deleted all of the ship's logs right before she escaped; bringing the Wrecking Belles' investigation of Captain Barakat's Cube Trafficking Ring to a dead end.

    As Apple Pie reached to grab hold of the Custodier; she felt the cold barrel of a Boarding Shotgun in her abdomen. Before Apple Pie could react, the Custodier shot her at point blank range, bringing Apple Pie to her knees.

    Quick on the uptake, Obliterette kicked the weapon out of the Reverend, but was shocked by an Electric Pulse on her lower back that dropped her on top of Apple Pie. A small humanoid Rem made a rude gesture and fled with the Reverend Custodier, both activating Optical Disruption Devices.

    "Command, Obliterette of High Commander Barakat’s Retinue, here. I have a fleeing Reverend Custod... Son of a Camel!" she said noticing that her comm was offline. She quickly raised Apple Pie's hand, noticing that she had also been isolated. She unceremoniously dropped Apple Pie's hand, eliciting a yelp from the sprawled brunette underneath her.

    "Are you ok? I half expected your intestines to be all over the street." said Obliterette getting up and helping her friend to do the same. Apple Pie's dress was ripped to shreds in the midsection, exposing the Odalsique's muscular abdomen, with some bruising and a gunpowder tattoo where the barrel of the shotgun burned her skin. While all Odalsques where enhanced with Subdermal Armor, Apple Pie's uncanny resilience was simply unbelievable.

    "Hurts like hell," replied the amazonian brunette looking around. "Not as much as Kitty's rockets, though." she said remembering the time the aformetioned Wildcat; of Intruder Midnight's Crazy Cats; shot two Heavy Rockets at Apple Pie square in the chest, bullseying both of her breasts. And while all she got from the experience was a burned top and bruised breasts; it still ranked #1 in the 'Top Ten Most Painful Moments' of her life.

    "Weeell, I suppose Doc will have to do a Cube-Probe on you." said Obliterette, shrugging dramatically.

    "Don't you dare!" hissed Apple Pie, instinctively covering with her hand the spot in the neck under which her Cube rested. Considered an urban legend, and featured in numerous conspiracy theories and works of Fiction, 'Cube-Probing' was, supposedly, a last-ditch effort to retrieve information out of suspects. In Fiction it always worked. In reality, it was an extremely unreliable and highly illegal procedure; and the reason why Doc Starlight lost her Medical License.

    "Then how are we going to get evidence of the Yellow Masked Custodier?" replied Obliterette in frustration. The last time they ran that description of a Reverend Custodier, the reply of the Observance was that no such color scheme existed and to have a nice day. "It's not like someone is going to hand us a data card with a video of what happened." she said just as a statuesque redhead placed a data card in her unsuspecting hand.

    "We got everything on our security camera outside the bar." said the woman pointing at a cleverly concealed camera less than twenty paces from them. "I overheard you work with High Commander Barakat; tell her the Kum troublemakers of the 606th send their regards."

    "Thank you!!!" replied Apple Pie effusively, and making a mental note to bring the whole squad to that bar in the nearby future.

    "Come on, they're waiting for us at the base." she said pulling a still dumbfounded Obliterette by the arm.

    ---***---


    After sending their comlogs to Engineering for repair, Apple Pie and Obliterette lost no time in finding the rest of the Wrecking Belles and giving a full account of the events that transpired at the Market. Without hesitation; Doc Starlight, Battle Charmer and Agent Valentine dragged Apple Pie and Obliterette to a vacant meeting room and swiftly inserted the data card in the nearest console.

    "That definitely looks like the one that immobilized me and Rattlesnake." assessed Agent Valentine nonchalantly. "At least now we have something to give to the Govads for analysis."

    "Boy, she did a number on you." said Doc Starlight examining Apple Pie's abdomen. "You're gonna be sore for days."

    "Gee, thanks Dr. Obvious." replied Apple Pie, intercepting Doc Starlight's probing fingers, before they could touch her tender skin.


    The door of the meeting room hissed open, and a flustered Sireen Barakat stormed into the room not too pleased. "There you are!" she said in an exasperated tone. "What part of ASAP did you not get? I have-“

    "Don't get yourself worked up over them, High Commander." replied a familiar voice from outside the room. "After all, the Wrecking Belles excel in disorderly conduct." said a tall and severe looking woman, who despite looking at least 60, still looked imposing in an Odalsique's uniform.

    "Deputy Director Eda, what a pleasant surprise." said Battle Charmer as melodiously as ever; while all the other Odalsiques slowly sat down, looking like panthers ready to strike. Agent Valentine studied carefully the Deputy Director of the Anti-Contraband and Anti-Counterfeit Agency. No other person caused such animosity in her Odalsique friends; apart from the Desert Duchess' First Mate, Rattlesnake.

    "Save your charming disposition for someone who will fall for it, Aurora; I'm here to make sure the Director's orders are received and executed to the letter." riposted Deputy Director Eda. "You are all being transferred to Baoshen Spaceport in Oberon-IV; " she said waving her hand and digitally sending each Odalisque a copy of their new assignment's briefing.

    "But, that's in Human Edge!" said Apple Pie after reading and rereading the location of Oberon IV and not believing what she was reading.

    "Precisely." replied Deputy Director Eda with a shark-like smile.

    "But our investigation-"

    "Is closed." replied Battle Charmer in a calm and soothing tone. "I suppose it's because the Cube Smuggling Ring was broken. No more Contraband..."

    "No more jurisdiction." finished Deputy Director Eda. "You have your orders."

    Apple Pie, Obliterette and Doc Starlight were about to protest, when a faint signal from Battle Charmer stopped the three Odalsiques from making a fuss. While usually lax in terms of rank, Battle Charmer was the Official Squad Leader, and always took over whenever the team had to deal with situations that required 'diplomacy’.

    "Oh, and please try not to wreck Oberon IV;" said Deputy Director Eda as she walked out the door. "It's still mostly a Yu-Ying Territory, and the last thing we want is an interplanetary incident."

    "What's her problem?" asked Sireen once Deputy Director Eda was away and the door was shut.

    "She's still bitter we’ve never been Court Martialed." replied Battle Charmer losing her usual smile. "But sending us to Human Edge was low, even for her."

    "That's my fault." said Agent Valentine lazily raising her hand. "Oberon IV is the crash site of the 'Zariguella Galvanica,' a Nomad ship. Before crashing, it detected a signal coming from Oberon IV similar to the one detected right before First Contact with the Combined Army in Paradiso."


    Agent Valentine waited for the information to sink in. "To make matters worse, several key individuals in Oberon IV have been mentioned in the leaked B4CKDOOR extracts as traitors working for the Combined Army. I've been assigned to deal with them, so I requisitioned the Desert Duchess, and also you." she said to the assembled Odalsiques. "Sorry for hindering your investigation, but this is a matter of Human Sphere Security."

    "As usual." replied Obliterette with enthusiasm. "Will we ever get a 'Heads Up' when you plan things like this?"

    "And have Apple Pie or Doc Starlight botch it with their terrible acting? Not a chance." she finished to Apple Pie and Doc Starlight's protests and Obliterette's roaring laughter.

    "But, what about the Custodier?" insisted Apple Pie unable to let go the issue. "This is our first breakthrough in two years, we can't let her escape!"

    "What Custodier?" asked Sireen honestly missing something, but concerned about Apple Pie's pleading tone.

    Battle Charmer turned the monitor to face Sireen. "The one who worked with your father. The one that so thoroughly erased the Desert Duchess' logs; and left us in a dead end." she said with a pained expression. Battle Charmer was the one who had shot Sireen's father during the takedown, and she never felt comfortable talking about their investigation of Captain Barakat's Cube Smuggling Ring.

    Sireen lost no time to activate her comlink. "Get me Colonel Zahir, of the Djanbazan Division." While she waited, she copied the file to her own comm. "Colonel, we have two or possibly more Nomad fugitives in the Station. I'm sending you a surveillance video of one of the suspects. The Nomads are probably Cybermasked, so place all your units at the gates on alert." After a pause, she thanked the Colonel and proceeded to wake up High Commander Envihon to present the same case, and ask him to mobilize Govads to reinforce the Station's gates.

    "Thank you, boss." replied Apple Pie.

    "I'll give a copy of this to Holly and Ashley, to see what they can come up with." said Sireen with confidence. Alguacil Ashley and Mobile Brigadas Holly were both instrumental in Sireen's dealing with the Nomad Nation; and such reliable friends that Ashley was the Desert Duchess' Second Mate, and Holly was Sireen's Field Lieutenant of choice for most missions. "If she's still here, we will find her." she said patting Apple Pie and nodding to Battle Charmer. "Now, go and gear up. We're going to Human Edge, so get all the provisions you might need."

    ---***---

    Reverend Custodier Lucrecia dos Santos came out of Ilik al Fundaq’s Sewer System making a hard examination of her life choices. Contemplating her soiled clothes, she even considered staying aboard the Don Peyote would have been an improvement. Before she had time to curse her luck for drawing the short stick and be assigned this mission, he comlog picked up an encrypted transmission in Chinese. “What now?” she said in exasperation as a small force of the Yu Jing’s Imperial Service was approaching her current location.

    She opened the Haqqislamite Security Network to see the BOLO with her grainy profile picture. “Mierda!” she said recognizing her previous encounter with the busty haqqislamite giantess; which someone had obviously recorded. The translation of the Yu Jing feed was not encouraging. The team had picked the Haqqislamite Alert and decided to go ‘Reverend Hunting,’ instead of whatever it was they were doing in Haqqislam’s Station. And they were getting closer really fast.

    Panicking, she opened a secure line to her Extraction Force. “Where the hell are you?!?”

    “Right here.” Came the reply from behind her; making her jump and forcing a scream out of her mouth. The man was impeccably dressed, tall, and; Lucrecia knew; muscular behind those fancy clothes. His purple hair ended in a ponytail and his immaculate beard framed the roguish smile which, combined with his frame and aggressive nature, was the basis of Captain Nazeem Barakat’s call sign.

    “Bull Shark!” said Reverend Lucrecia flushing furiously behind her mask.

    “Come, Amnesia, it’s time to go home.” said Captain Barakat taking his coat off, and gently placing it around the Reverend Custodier.

    “Your coat will get dirty.” replied Lucrecia soothed by Bull Shark’s reassuring tone and the use of her callsign, the codename she made for herself being the best in the Undersphere at erasing records, and memories.

    “Since when have I been afraid of getting dirty?” answered Captain Barakat just as two TAGS, an Anaconda and a Ramhorn, flanked them and moved ahead to meet the Imperial Service pursuers.

    “Isn’t that a little ‘Overkill’?” said Lucrecia as the firefight started.


    “Not much of a choice.” said Captain Barakat with a shrug. Being ‘Dead’ had its inconveniences in the Human Sphere; one of which was hiring outside the Undersphere. “Now, let’s get you out of here.” he finished as the Ramhorn blew into pieces. “Oops, guess your rescue just got a TAG more expensive, hehe.”

    “Urgh.” Said Lucrecia rolling her eyes.
     
  4. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 01. Arrival


    Baoshen Spaceport was nowhere near as big as any of the other similar Haqqislamite facilities; and while it was the only one in Oberon IV, most of the flow of goods consisted in the importation of foodstuff, machinery and workers for the Tesseum mines; and the exportation of minerals and metals, including the valuable Tesseum; although nowhere near as much as the ammount being extracted at Planet Dawn.

    So, it came as a huge surprise to Customs Chief Eren Isler that a five Odalisque Anti-Contraband and Anti-Couterfit Unit was transfered to his Department. As he read and re-read all the incidents this ‘Unit Foxglove’ had been ivolved with, he pieced together that these had to be the infamous ‘Wrecking Belles’. Even in Human Edge, the tales of those five troublemakers were known to Haqqislam Customs Officials. ‘At least you’re not in charge of the Wrecking Belles’ has been the solace of Administrators who have had to deal with their share of rowdy Bashi Bazouks, incorregible Yuan-Yuans or psychotic Druzes in their Commands.

    What scared him the most was the five-year gap in their file. Starting with a report of them being presumed MIA, then their reappearance three years later; and then, their attachment to a Qapu Khalqi Ship that was sent to Paradiso; only for those two years’ worth of operations to be redacted as well. This, added to the rumors of an armed conflict in that System, gave him a knot in the pit of his stomach. Oberon IV was unofficially a Yu Jing territory, and the local Imperial Service kept a watchful eye over the Haqqislam controlled spaceport. And now he had five reckless and dangerous Operatives set loose somewhere near Southeast Terminal, if their last report was accurate.

    He wracked his brain, trying to think how he may have had offended Deputy Director Eda al-Atrash; but the old harpy didn’t need much reason to be terrible. More than likely, she wanted to get rid of these ‘Wrecking Belles’, and inconveniencing him was just collateral damage.

    **”Sir, an explosion was reported close to Hangar 347D…”** came the voice of Nina, his secretary, on his desk’s intercom.

    “Southeast Terminal” he finished hanging his head. “Numina, report.” he said to his comlog at the appropriate channel. “Operative Numina, report.” he repeated when no answer came. *Sigh* “Battle Charmer, report!”

    **”We’re answering a BOLO from Haqqislam Intelligence, sir. I sent you a copy in our previous report.”** came the melodious reply, amidst what clearly sounded like rifle fire.

    Chief Isler opened the file on a holo screen. Sure enough, there was a ‘Be On the Look Out’ for one Salwa el-Saleem; wanted for suspicion of Terrorism and High Treason. The picture of the young woman, not older than 25, seemed more like a person from Accounting, than a terrorist and a traitor. Then again, stereotypes rarely applied in those scenarios. “Numin- Battle Charmer, there was a report of an explosion near your current position.”

    **”That was a Tsyklon Sputnik Remote, sir. We had to neutralize it.”** came the voice of the one who insisted on being called ‘Apple Pie.’ **”Our suspect must have contacted Nomad Mercenaries for extraction.”** she said right before the communication cut back to gunfire.

    ‘Nomad Mercenaries?’ thought Chief Isler, pondering whether or not he really wanted to know. “Very well, keep me posted.” he said in his most authoritarian voice.

    **”Yes sir!”** replied a chorus of lovely voices.

    —000—

    Obliterette moved into position and came face to face with a second Tsyklon Sputnik; which lost no time shooting at her with its built-in Feuerbach. “What gives?” she said annoyed. “I swear I shot that thing down.” she said unloading her Spitfire on the hapless Rem.

    “Well, Miss el Saleem was taken to the back of the building across the tarmac.” replied Apple Pie “So unless you take it out, that ride will be interesting, to say the least.”

    “I saw an Engineer behind the Remote.” replied Agent Valentine matter-of-factly.

    “Well, take HIM out!” replied Obliterette crouching while she reloaded her weapon.

    “I’m good, but not THAT good.” riposted Agent Valentine with a chuckle. She then suddenly shot three times in a different direction. “Girls, I saw another one.” she said in an unusually tense tone.

    “Another Tsyklon?” said Apple Pie moving forward, and trying to get a better approach to their target’s current position.

    “Another Yellow masked Custodier.” replied Agent Valentine creating a tense moment of radio silence. “This one had red eyes, instead of violet.”

    Obliterette shot down two Riot Grrls that placed themselves between the Odalsiques and their target. “Two of them. So, we can rule out the ‘Lone She-Wolf’ theory.”

    “I can’t believe, I’m saying this. Can we concentrate on the Haqqislamite Traitor to the Human Sphere?” said the ever ‘Bound by Duty’ Apple Pie.

    “Hey Bombshell, I can take her out for you.” said Ouroboros, the Yuan-Yuan. “I landed close to where she is and I can take a shot with some positioning. But it’s gonna cost you a date.”

    “Deal!” replied Apple Pie making all the other Wrecking Belles’ jaws to drop. “Take the shot big guy!”

    “He’s only using a Chain Rifle,” she whispered to her stunted partners. “And besides, the target is protected by three Riot Girls. As soon as they start shooting, he’s going to go to ground and play dead, just like he always does.” she finished with a wink.

    With a primal roar that made everyone in the vicinity jump, Ouroboros climbed a ladder on the side of the building. Impetuously, he jumped the last stretch and brought out an AP Rifle with the inscription ‘Stormy’ on its side. Unfazed by incoming fire from the rest of the Riot Grrls protecting Salwa el-Saleem; Ouroboros unloaded his rifle on the terrified woman, who shot back at him, but missed by a wide margin. “YEAH, BABY!” he said on top of the building raising his arms and doing a dance with an agility unexpected for his huge frame.

    With their contractor dead, and the Reverend Custodier long gone, the Riot Grrls simply surrendered, very willing to cooperate against their so-called leader, who abandoned them without hesitation.

    “What is wrong with you!?! He’s as big as a house!!!” roared Apple Pie at the Riott Grrls, on the verge of tears, while being held back by Obliterette and Agent Valentine; neither of which could stop laughing at Apple Pie’s predicament.

    “Chief Isler, this is Battle Charmer. The target has been neutralized and collateral damage has been minimum-”

    And as soon as she said this, the ceiling of the hangar where the broken Tsyklon Rem laid gave in, and a chain reaction of explosions engulfed the area in a wall of fire.
     
  5. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 02. Rivals


    "KOALAS!!!" Out of context, it could probably be the weirdest last word in human history. But for Apple Pie and the rest of the Wrecking Belles, it was probably the most terrifying word ever uttered. More than once in their career Apple Pie, Obliterette, Doc Starlight and Battle Charmer have been lethally hugged by an HT-14 Running Projectile, also known as CrazyKoalas. And while this time they were inside an armored vehicle, the explosion and subsequent somersault of the aforementioned vehicle where not exactly an enjoyable experience.

    Apple Pie woke up upside down, spread eagled, and praying there were no hidden cameras inside the van. She turned herself right-side up, and made a quick survey of the situation inside the back of the vehicle. She noticed two of the Riot Grrls did not make it; and the third Riot Grrl was unconscious, but had a pulse and was breathing, at least. The moaning and slow movement of Battle Charmer, Doc Starlight and Obliterette, let Apple Pie know that they were at least alive.

    "Driver's dead." said Agent Valentine from the front passenger seat, her voice shaky for a change. "Head count back there?"

    "Two Marks out, one down, but alive." replied Apple Pie going for the rear door and finding it jammed. "We're all operational." she said giving a push to the jammed door, then foregoing any subtlety and giving it a hard kick. "Doc, see what you can do for Miss Ramirez." she said pointing to the still breathing Riot Grrl. She then moved out, unholstering her submachine gun, and scanning the area for hostiles. Wherever CrazyKoalas were deployed, there were either Massai Morans, Rems, a TAG or a combination of them not far behind. Apple Pie was quickly joined by Agent Valentine, who had a stream of blood framing the left side of her face.

    "Are you O.K.?" said Apple Pie reaching for one of her belt's pouches and giving Agent Valentine a Tac-Foam sponge to stop the bleeding in her forehead.

    "I'll live." replied Agent Valentine ripping open the package and pressing the sponge to her wound. "I called in for reinforcements. Holly is on her way."

    "Thanks." Apple Pie skimmed the landscape. They were wedged between an Office Park with several buildings and a factory of some sort. A very clever place to set a trap, remote enough to avoid unwanted attention, and full of nests for snipers. As the rest of the Wrecking Belles came out carrying the unconscious Riot Grrl, Apple Pie noticed a glint from one of the opposite rooftops. Then she noticed the long robin's egg blue ponytail flying in the wind, and the rocket launcher aimed at them. Apple Pie's Emerald eyes widened, as her mouth compulsively shouted the name of their next assailant, "KITTY!!!"

    The Wrecking Belles scrambled to the nearby structure, which turned out to be a Power Plant. As they got in, two heavy rockets finished blowing up the armored vehicle, and Apple Pie could swear she could hear Kitty's annoying laugh. "It's Midnight, or at least his Crazy Cats." she said unnecessarily stating the obvious to her friends. In Flamia Island, Sireen Barakat's Sand Cats had several brushes with Intruder Midnight and his Crazy Cats; a Corregidor Jurisdictional Command Mercenary force, with ties to the Black Hand. All the times any of the Wrecking Belles had suffered a CrazyKoala hug, it had been one of Midnight's Moran Massai, Jubba or Malakai, seeking the infernal little buggers at them. The aforementioned Kitty, and her Heavy Rocket Launcher, also had a torrid history with the Wrecking Belles. From bulls-eying Apple Pie's breasts, to incinerating the whole team; Kitty has been singlehandedly responsible for several of the Wrecking Belles' mental scars. Not that the Belles where claiming to be innocent victims, Agent Valentine alone has shot Kitty dead more times than the poor Wildcat would have wanted; most of the times with Viral Rounds. This deadly dance, has made their relationship with the Crazy Cats 'Complicated'; especially during the Flamia Island Campaign, in which they found themselves allies and working side by side.

    Suddenly, the sound of heavy machinegun fire broke Apple Pie's musings. "That sounds like our artillery." she said as Obliterette and Agent Valentine went out the side of the building to take a better look.

    "Yep, Ashley just said 'Hi' to Kitty with the TR Rems." smiled Obliterette.

    Alguacil Ashely was Sireen Barakat's most trusted friend and Second Mate of the 'Desert Duchess.' An extremely versatile woman, who could take command of a mission as easily as she could lend support as Sniper, a Forward Observer, or, as in this case, as a Hacker. "Are we late for the party?" she said through her comlog.

    Before anyone could answer, the Power Plant became covered in smoke. Smoke tactics in Corregidor were a staple of Jaguar Operatives; and by the sound of the footsteps, a coordinated group of them was trying to cover the front and right-side entrances, while trying to stay clear of the area where Obliterette and Agent Valentine were securing the flank. Apple Pie's heart skipped a beat. Usually, the Jaguars didn't work in coherency, and when they did, it was sure because Sr. Massacre was leading the squad. Battle Charmer noticed Apple Pie's fangirlishness taking over the amazonian brunette, and proceeded to poke her in the ribs, making Apple Pie squeak and flush furiously.

    Outside, an electronic screech and Obliterette's subsequent string of curse words gave everyone a distraction from Apple Pie's squeak. "What was that?" asked Apple Pie trying to regain her composure.

    "Blit got 'Isolated'" replied Agent Valentine while sending a shot from her Viral Sniper Rifle into the Office Park. "Huh, they brought a werewolf." she said nonchalant.

    "McMurrough." said Apple Pie and Holly in unison.

    **"The One and Only!"** came a deep growling voice through Holly's comlog. **"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to rip your head off"**

    "Son of a bitch!" replied Ashley sending one of the TR Rems at McMurrough and swiftly bringing him down. "I'm going up, for a better position. Sand Wasp was with us and she's down too."

    "Don't worry ladies, you're joining her real soon!" said Sr. Massacre from around the corner.

    "Shut up, you clown!" replied Obliterette shooting her Nanopulser at Massacre, two Jaguars and the Moran Malakai.

    "Shit!" said Apple Pie intending to move out and help; but coming to a halt at the sound of several Chain Rifles cocking.

    "That's right, 'Thunder Thighs'; quedate quieta and we won't have trouble." said one of the Jaguars, while Apple Pie mustered all her Odalsique Training to try and remain unfazed by the comment.

    "It goes both ways, my dear Pedro." replied Battle Charmer cocking her Light Shotgun.

    Outside, Obliterette got shot by the Wildcat Lieutenant, who got herself filled with holes by the only remaining TR Rem. The other one laying with a heavily wounded Sand Wasp on a nearby rooftop; both previous casualties of McMurrough's rampage.

    "All right, time for the Chimi *bleeeeep*ing changas...

    What the *bleeeep*?

    Are you *bleeeep*ing me? What sort of Mickey Mouse, Children's Tale is this! McMurder tore that woman's head off and you didn't censor that! What the *bleeeeep* is wrong with you people! *Bleeeeep*ing NeoMillenial Snowflakes. You're *bleeeep*ing my Vibe here. *Bleeeeep* *Bleeeeep* Holy *Bleeeeep*ing sh-"

    Agent Valentine's shotgun thundered and sent Sr. Massacre to the floor. "Shut the *bleep* off." she said with amuesment.

    A Bandida that had infiltrated the room shot at Agent Valentine with her Boarding Shotgun, but Agent Valentine's armor held.

    "Hey!" replied Doc Starlight unleashing her Nanopulser on the hapless Bandida.

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold your fire!" said another of the Jaguars. "Pedro, put the Chain Rifle down!"

    "I'll get you for that, 'Chicken Legs'." said Pedro, earning a slap in the back of his head from his companion.

    "Dammit, Pedro! We just got Massacre back from his Back-Up Cube. You wanna be the one to tell the Boss that we lost him again?"

    Pedro slowly lowered his Chain Rifle; while Battle Charmer held the hem of a livid Doc Starlight.

    "Yes, Pedro, you don't want Agent Valentine's finger to slip on the trigger of that shotgun." retorted Apple Pie, still sore for his comment on her thighs.

    "Now, now, Apple Pie, let the gentlemen state their terms." said Battle Charmer in her ever-melodious tone.

    "We're taking Massacre and the Riot Girl." said the Jaguar in charge. "You get to walk."

    "Hmmm, I'm afraid we cannot comply," replied Battle Charmer. "Miss Ramirez is a witness in a High Priority case in Haqqislam's Justice System. We cannot simply hand her to you, after witnessing how you fried her two friends." Battle Charmer lifted her hands amicably. "How about this, you get to take back all your wounded without retaliation from us. We keep the single Riot Girl. You will have plenty of opportunities to try and take her out again, once she's in the Circular on her way to Bourak." she finished amused by the horrified faces of Apple Pie and Doc Starlight.

    The Jaguar leader gave Battle Charmer a shark-like smile. "Challenge accepted." He the lowered his Chain Rifle and took a more relaxed stance. "Get Massacre out of here." he barked to the only Jaguar who survived Obliterette's Nanopulser attack.

    "What about his 'Regeneration Power'?" replied the Jaguar. "Can't he activate it and walk away?"

    "He already did and it didn't kick in." replied Doc Starlight without taking her eyes off Pedro. "That's the problem with Bio-Regeneration, there's a forty-five percent chance that it will cause more harm than good."

    "Right," replied the lead Jaguar, giving his subordinate a Death Glare. The Jaguar and Pedro picked Massacre and carried him to the back where Kitty and another Wildcat were coming down the building. While their helmets were blast shielded, their body language told Apple Pie that they weren't too happy with the deal the Jaguar leader had just cut with Battle Charmer.

    "Hide her well," said the Jaguar leader to Battle Charmer as he carefully picked the Bandida's body. "It won't get easier for you in our turf." he finished walking away with such a self-confident stride, that Battle Charmer found no reason to reply. She was sure that he meant every word, and that nothing she could say would faze that man.

    "What is wrong with you?" inquired Doc Starlight, with an accusatory look at Battle Charmer.

    "I have to agree with Doc, Charm. That was foolish!" said Apple Pie equally upset. "They are going to tear us a new one in Outer Space."

    "Oh, I'm quite aware." replied Battle Charmer unable to suppress a grin. "That's why I'm improving Miss Ramirez's deal. Sireen has a new Iguana TAG that desperately needs an Operator. One that can pilot it while wearing Heavy Armor..." she finished giving an affectionate slap on Doc Starlight and Apple Pie's cheeks; and enjoying their change of expression as the penny dropped.
     
  6. theGricks

    theGricks Well-Known Member

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    I hope you don't mind me breaking in here, but with this branching out, will we see another set of characters for this years campaign and not the Wrecking Belles return?
     
  7. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Oh, I don't mind at all! I actually had a whole plan for this Season, in which the Wrecking Belles were separated and sent all over the Human Sphere Data Tracking, but a friend of mine began a Themed "Campaign" which consists of several Showdowns taking place in a planet in Human Edge (Oberon IV). So I adjusted my stories to fit that Narrative Event.

    Unfortunately, getting the other participants to write their side of the story has proven more difficult than hearding cats. But the plan was all along to tie this with the next BoW Campaign (when we thought we were going to Svalarheima).

    Now that they say we're going to Dawn next Campaign, I might have to change the plan just a little bit more.
     
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  8. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 03. The Date


    “Well, how do I look?” said Apple Pie modeling a long sleeved, scoop topped, wine colored shirt; complemented with a black pencil skirt that ended right above the knee; and a golden sash that accentuated her hourglass body shape.

    “Like my grandmother.” Replied Doc Starlight mercilessly.

    “Are you wearing a chastity belt under that?” commented Obliterette flatly, barely looking up from her holobook.

    “Thank you, ‘Peanut Gallery’.” Replied Apple Pie blowing them a kiss, and turning to Battle Charmer and Agent Valentine who were absorbed in a game of Xiangqi. “Adult opinions?” she asked the duo; placing her hands on her hips and noticing that Agent Valentine had Battle Charmer in a very tight spot.

    “I’m not talking to you,” replied Battle Charmer in mock anger. “Because of your date, I’m stuck with ‘The Beast’ here, instead of curb-stomping you.”

    “Well, lucky me!”

    “It’s a cultural thing, Regina,” said Agent Valentine putting Battle Charmer in triple check and eliciting a desperate cry from the usually composed silver-haired Odalisque. “Haqqislam is a lot more relaxed when it comes to sexual relations and dating outside marriage. It’s the same reason none of us really understood your reaction to your husband taking a second wife.”

    Apple Pie blushed, still stung by that development. While the Wrecking Belles were working undercover on the Desert Duchess, Apple Pie’s husband, Sheik Duman Al Dagher, had been 'romantically involved' with a Funduq Sultanate Revenue Administration Agent; and, adding insult to injury, they got married the day after Apple Pie had been declared 'Dead'. During the Wotan Campaign, Apple Pie and Obliterette had been Resurrected by Haqqislam's Government, instead of in the Desert Duchess; which meant their 'Dead' Status had been overturned. This event triggered a personal feud between Apple Pie and her husband concerning Apple Pie's involvement in the Wotan Crisis, which escalated to divorce threats, but was brought to a halt when Apple Pie hired Alexander De Andrexia, 'The Weasel', to handle her end of the affair. In an unexpected turn of events, her husband's Lawyer convinced him to cease and desist, pay De Andrexia's Fee, and give Apple Pie room to clear her mind.

    Despite her husband's infidelity, which didn't seem to be a problem to any of her natural born Haqqislamite friends, Apple Pie never felt the need to 'get even', and start an Affair herself. And ever since she lost a bet to Ouroboros the Yuan Yuan, and was bound to have a date with him, she had been neverendingly teased to seize the moment by her more carefree friends.

    "Look, if you don't like him, don't do anything." continued Agent Valentine while Doc Starlight took Battle Charmer's place in front of her. "But neither your husband, nor any of us for that matter, will think less of you, or judge you for that matter, for having fun today."

    "I might do something terrible to you if you don't have fun." said Doc Starlight wagging a finger at Apple Pie. "On general principle."

    "Is that so?"

    "Look, the guy is huge, but you've seen him in combat. He's strong, he's extremely fast, and has enough stamina to keep up with us; and that is no small feat, for a guy so big. And I speak for all of us when I say, if it had been any of us, we would've given the guy a chance."

    "And why don't you go instead?" countered Apple Pie, flabbergasted by Doc Starlight's rather praising description of Ouroboros the Yuan Yuan.

    The cold stare of her fellow Odalisques was answer enough.

    "Am I missing something?" said Agent Valentine quick on the uptake. "You're all looking at Regina like she was an Aquila Guard."

    *Sigh* "Odalisques' Honor'," replied Apple Pie. "None of them will accept being 'Consolation Prize'." Defeated, Apple Pie went back to her room in silence. When she came back, she was sporting a tailored black wrap shirtdress with matching ankle boots.

    "Now THAT's an Odalisque." clapped Doc Starlight.

    Obliterette rose from the common room's couch and walked to her best friend. "Be yourself," she said fixing Apple Pie's wavy hair. "Don't feel forced to do anything you don't want to do..."

    "Yes mom," replied Apple Pie with a smile.

    "And please, do try to enjoy your evening."

    "I will."

    "And please don't kill him, remember he doesn't have a Cube."

    Apple Pie made a mock hurt expression, but before she could say anything, her comlog signaled that the cab was downstairs. While they were stationed in Baoshen, the Wrecking Belles agreed to share an apartment. Accommodations close to the Spaceport's grounds, as they found out, were scarce and either prohibitively expensive, in terrible conditions, or both. She boarded the cab and gave the driver the name of the restaurant where she was supposed to meet Ouroboros. According to the small entry on Maya, 'Daydream' was described as a very exclusive restaurant, with dishes only for the adventurous. So, Apple Pie was bracing for an exotic dinner, composed of Lord knows what crazy dweller of the deep oceans of the Human Sphere...

    When she was a teenager in her home planet Dawn, Apple Pie spent two years in Merovingia, studying French and Russian. In those years, she had had her share of wild parties; but even then, she had never woken up completely naked, in a strange bed, and not knowing how she had gotten there. With a jolt, she looked around the small bare room, which looked like any of the cheap motels all over the Human Sphere. She was alone and her clothes where nowhere to be seen. She immediately tried to control the rising panic, and assess her current situation. She was on a third or fourth floor, judging by the view of the only window in the room, and in a part of town she didn't know.

    She didn't have her Comlog, but her Subdermal Chip seemed to be in place in her left hand. That's when she noticed that her nails were not polished, and were not cut the way she had cut them. She went to the mirror, terror rising, but the reflection was that of the green-eyed brunette she had always been. The sudden calmness was short lived, however, when she noticed her usually muscular abdomen was flat, and no longer had the tattooing of the Boarding Shotgun shot she received. Moreover, her usual myopia; consistent side effect of the Hecatec LHosts not adjusting properly to her DNAprint; was completely gone. This was not her LHost!

    Without warning, the door busted open, making her jump and instinctively cover her voluminous breasts. Obliterette entered the room looking fiercer than Apple Pie had ever seen her, Spitfire sweeping the whole room. "Clear!" said the blonde Odalisque not relaxing, and pointing the gun at Apple Pie. "We are?"

    Apple Pie wanted to say a lot of things to her best friend, but understood. She slowly and just barely showed Obliterette her index, middle and ring fingers stretched to look like a W. An extra precaution to identify a team member, in case one of them was ever Impersonated. The question was always uttered, but the answer was always silent, the W of the Wrecking Belles.

    Throwing the gun on the bed, Obliterette rushed to her friend and held her in a very tight hug, cursing unintelligibly between sobs.

    "I think I'm a crime scene, Blit."

    "Shut the *bleep* off!" said Obliterette not letting go.

    "Ok, now I'm really scared."

    "You should be," said Agent Valentine entering the room, Rifle in hand. "You've been missing for nearly a week." she finished as unnervingly calm as if she were discussing the weather.

    "WHAT?!?!?!"

    A short nervous breakdown, several cups of coffee, a CSI inquiry and forty-five minutes later, the Wrecking Belles were on their way to the Desert Duchess. The trip had been mostly silent, broken only by small details of what had transpired. Obliterette explained how Ouroboros called concerned that he couldn’t reach Apple Pie’s Comlog; which escalated into a full panic, when no one could locate Apple Pie’s signal, even from orbit. Agent Valentine then hounded the Cab Company until they found the cab Apple Pie had taken. It was then that they confirmed and abduction had taken place; the cab had been abandoned, had evidence of an internal struggle and the discharge of a Nanopulser.

    The next terrifying days were spent keeping all Haqqislamite forces in Alert, and none of her friends had any significant sleep. Sireen Barakat pulled every single string she had at her disposal; even reaching out to Intruder Midnight, who not only assured her The Nomads had nothing to do with Apple Pie’s kidnapping, but offered to help in any capacity his team was allowed. It wasn’t until the sixth day that the GPS of Apple Pie’s Subdermal Chip began to transmit again, and the Belles stormed the Motel where they found her.

    Back on the Desert Duchess, Apple Pie was emotionally greeted by a relieved Sireen Barakat, who seemed to have had even less sleep than the Belles. She was then taken to the Med Bay, where Lebetine Viper, the Duchess’ Ackbar Doctor, Doc Fatimah and Doc Starlight did all sorts of tests and scans on Apple Pie’s body and Cube.

    “Well, we can safely say it is YOUR Cube,” said Lebetine Viper; placating Apple Pie’s biggest fear, that she was a Copy, and not the Original.

    “Why do I sense a ‘But’ coming,” replied Apple Pie seeing the look on Lebetine Viper’s face.

    “The Cube’s Upload Counter is higher than what we have in your Medical File,” said Lebetine Viper evenly. “Your consciousness has been uploaded nine times since the last time we have on your file.”

    “Nine times?” Apple Pie felt panic rising inside her. “How come I don’t remember anything. How can six full days just not register? What happened?”

    Doc Starlight held her friend’s hand. “You were drugged.”

    “What?”

    “This body has traces of Radhilol; an anesthetic no longer in use, precisely because of the severe Retrograde Amnesia it causes,” offered Fatimah, looking at the holoscreen with Apple Pie’s results.

    “Atek…” said Apple Pie, trying some humor, more to diffuse her anxiety than to try to be funny.

    “It’s a drug that knocks you out and makes you forget what happened several hours previous,” replied Doc Starlight catching up on Apple Pie’s rising anxiety, and signaling Lebetine Viper who nodded appraisingly.

    “But why…” Apple Pie’s mind was racing, she felt confused, frustrated, angry and scared at the same time.

    “The Magpie Council…” said a feeble voice in an adjacent bed.

    “Rita, you’re awake!” said Fatimah rushing to the young woman’s side and adjusting the dosage of her intravenous feed. Apple Pie recognized the only surviving Riot Grrl they had taken into Protective Custody aboard the Desert Duchess.

    “It’s better if you just get some rest for now,” said Lebetine Viper, but Apple Pie was not having any of it. She had to see things through, especially since she couldn’t remember anything.

    “Who is this Magpie Council?” she said forestalling Lebetine Viper by raising a hand.

    Rita looked straight at Apple Pie, her raven black hair with pink highlights plastered to her face due to profuse sweating. “They’re a Rogue Conclave of the Observance...” she said laboriously. “They’re always on the run from the rest of the Conclaves… and are set for extermination by the Black Hand…”

    Now everyone in the room was paying attention. So far, the Doctors had been concerned with Rita’s wellbeing and fighting an abdominal infection she had caught from a piece of shrapnel; so, no one had interrogated her beyond medically pertinent questions. And Rita herself barely answered with one or two words.

    “We thought they were all dead… We thought, the one that approached us was a poser.” continued Rita feeling a little better, as Fatimah fed her meds for her fever intravenously. “There’s three of them that always work together; Stratagem, Verity and Amnesia. We assumed the ‘Stratagem’ that we met was not the real one because she came to us alone. She wanted an escort to move a VIP out of Human Edge. Then you showed up and busted us, and then The Black Hand busted you and us; so, I figure, she was the real deal.” Rita then looked straight at Apple Pie and continued her story. “What happened to you has their fingerprints all over, chica. I’m form Bakunin, so when I tell you that Verity is one sadistic, psychotic bitch, you can believe me she’s worse than what you could possibly imagine. I’m sure they wanted to know how much you know about them.”

    “But I don’t know anything!” protested Apple Pie. “I just learned the name of their Conclave and their callsigns from you!”

    “Oh, I’m sure they know that now,” replied Rita with a frown. “I’m sure Verity got that out of you on day one. And if only half of the things I heard about her are true, I really pray to God that you never get those memories back…” she said falling back and resting her eyes, just to immediately start snoring.

    An inconspicuous Fatimah moved slowly out of sight dropping some empty ampules on the nearby disposal bin. “She needs her rest, and so do you,” she said a little defensively.

    Apple Pie felt drained, for some reason, her muscles ached and she felt nauseous all of a sudden. “Did you get all that, Boss?” she said getting up, and guessing that Sireen and the rest were listening in from the Duchess’ Bridge.

    “Loud and clear, Regina. We’re going to get those bitches and hang them out to dry.” Replied Sireen on her Comlog.

    Apple Pie headed for her room pondering on the recent developments. Her quarry had hunted her instead. She felt useless, angry and stupid. If it hadn’t been for Rita Ramirez, the Riot Grrl, she would have had been abused and not known any better. Her quarry was smart and resourceful; so, she had to up her game.

    Sireen looked at the oppressive darkness of Outer Space. Ashley and Holly were at her side. She was already pondering their next course of action.

    “Resurrection Capability is not a common thing,” said Holly a little unnecessarily. “They have to have a Base of Operations right here on Oberon IV.”

    “Or a big enough ship, similar to the Duchess,” finished Ashley, pensively. “Outhacking a Reverend Custodier is beyond our scope, so we have to be smart about how to flush them out.”

    Sireen sighed into the Ceramite glass of the Viewscreen. “Send a report that the Riot Girl Rita Ramirez died in our custody three days ago,” she said turning around. “They think we don’t know anything about them. Let’s keep it that way.”

    “It will also take some weight off Miss Ramirez’s shoulders,” complimented Holly, guessing Sireen’s plan.

    “You’re looking for big ships. No excuse is too feeble,” said Sireen addressing Obliterette, Battle Charmer and Agent Valentine. “When this was about my father, it was just business. You needed my help, I complied. But this…” She paused to make sure everyone could hear her. “This is personal. They just MADE it personal.”

    The hardened faces of the Wrecking Belles told her that they completely agreed.
     
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  9. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 04. The Kyakhtan Connection

    "Corvette Hulong is not answering our calls," informed Marissa, the Comms Operator in an enthusiastic tone.

    "Well, isn't that convenient," replied Sireen Barakat with a grin. "Ok. Holly, your Squad will take the Target in the Med Bay; Apple Pie, your Squad will take the one in the Armory. Should both of them be Decoys, both teams converge on the Bridge and bring the house down."

    **"Roger!"** replied Apple Pie and Holly in unison on the Bridge’s speakers.

    Apple Pie fastened her crash webbing and loaded her Submachine gun with a red-taped, Shock Ammo magazine. She then checked that her Data Pack was fully charged. Two weeks after she had been abducted for six days, and then left naked in a hotel room by the Reverend Custodiers of the Magpie Council; a Pay-Per-View video hit Arachne on a site called ‘Brawling Beauties,’ in which Apple Pie had been forced to fight in skimpy clothes, against a masked woman by the name 'Bonika Bonecrusher'. While Apple Pie didn't remember any of it, the existence of such a humiliating video made her blood boil. Fortunately, Intruder Midnight came to her rescue and pinpointed the source of the video to a Lady Sun Wei; leader of a minor Yu Jing gang who had been flourishing in Human Edge through Illegal Gambling, Prostitution, and Drug Dealing. The fact that this Lady Sun Wei was in both the Nomad and Haqqislam B4CKD00R list of Traitors, was just a welcomed bonus.

    The Wrecking Belles had been monitoring the movements of Lady Sun Wei; and decided that the best time to strike was when she was in orbit. Twice a week, she would meet with ships carrying Contraband; and supervised personally the drop of the cargo in Pods that would bypass Haqqislam and Yu Jing Securities. It had only been a matter of patience and timing to get her with her pants down. Right now, she was aboard a Modified Corvette called 'Hulong;' and upon the Desert Duchess' approach, she had cloaked her Comlog's signal, and generated two decoys, spreading the three signals to strategic places inside the ship.

    The red light that signaled that their Boarding Pod was ready for launch, brought Apple Pie momentarily out of her rumination. Obliterette gave her a concerned look, that she returned with a weak smile. She had been very withdrawn since her abduction; mostly because she was uncomfortable not knowing anything about her ordeal. In the video; which had taken her three attempts to actually watch in full; she had been pitted against a stronger opponent, better dressed and sporting Taser Knuckles. She held her own, but got shocked on two occasions, which her opponent used to humiliate her by tearing up her skimpy clothes; which, she deduced, was the point of the whole thing.

    To her credit, Apple Pie had gone berserk after that; and beaten the living daylights out of Bonika, cutting the show short. The video ended with a large live audience booing, while Apple Pie ran angrily towards them, loudly stringing insults and curses; before being blasted with Adhesive Launchers, to the crowd’s amusement. Not being able to remember something like THAT, was eating her away; and filling her with an overwhelming feeling of dread, concerning what else had she been put through.

    The Boarding Pod torpedoed its way out of the Desert Duchess and bore a self-sealing hole on the Hulong's side. Turret Spider made her way out first, under the protection of her camouflage. The Wrecking Belles came out second, with Obliterette and Doc Starlight alternating being on point. Just as Sand Wasp and the Two Total Reaction Rems were setting a perimeter in the Armory, a group of Kazaks made their way into the room.

    Immediately, Apple Pie noticed something was wrong, not only because they were being received by Ariadnan forces instead of Yu Jing’s; but also, because unlike the super-efficient, and highly professional shock troopers she knew the Kazaks to be, these men came in guns blazing and shooting randomly; and becoming easy prey to the TR Rems and Sand Wasp's Heavy Machine guns.

    ["What the hell do you think you're doing, Tovarich?!"] asked Apple Pie in exasperation, in a very decent Russian accent.

    [“One, two – you’re on top!”] replied the only surviving Kazak, before being shot down. Which was enough to let Apple Pie know that something was very wrong.

    **"Squad Two, move with care, these men have been drugged."** came the voice of Fatimah on their Comlog.

    "That's becoming a trend, here on Human Edge." replied Apple Pie irritably.

    A gunshot and a muffled curse, told Apple Pie that something had happened to Turret Spider. "Spider, report!"

    "Got shot, but I'll live." replied the blonde Al 'Hawwa Hacker, pinned behind a console and unable to access it without getting shot again. "Unfortunately, I can't check if our signal is the real one."

    "We're on our way."

    Doc Starlight rained a hail of bullets on the Ranger that had shot Turret Spider. When she gave the 'All Clear,' Agent Valentine accessed the console.

    "There will be no need for that." said a severe looking middle aged Asian woman, immaculately dressed and with her hands behind her back.

    "Lady Sun Wei." asserted Agent Valentine at the same time the console corroborated the fact.

    Apple Pie stepped forward pointing her Submachine gun at Lady Sun Wei; pondering what the next course of action should be. While she felt she had all the right in the Human Sphere to shoot the woman who had been profiting from her captivity; she also wanted to get the Reverend Custodiers of the Magpie Council, and this criminal could be a link to them…

    "I see you have accepted my offer." said the Asian lady with a roguish smile. "I hope Reverend Margarita didn't mess you up too much-"

    The Submachinegun burst barreled through Lady Sun Wei’s abdomen; bringing the aghast woman to the floor. "You shot me! Stupid Ariandnan cow. How dare you!!! You know who I am!!! What I'll do to you!!!"

    "Thanks to, Reverend Margarita, was it? No, I don't." replied Apple. She silently watched as this complete stranger, who seemed to know her and her place of origin, died from the damage the Shock Ammo did to her internal organs. She then proceeded to activate the Data Pack and collect another piece of the B4CKD00R file; and then took out her knife and carved Lady Sun Wei's Cube out of her body.

    “She’s all yours,” she said handing the Cube to Doc Starlight. “Can I count on you?”

    “Of course you can, my dear friend,” replied Doc Starlight with a shark-like smile none of her friends had seen before; but of which, none was particularly bothered at the moment. “I’ll have everything she knows by the end of the week,” she said placing the Cube in a small vial and pocketing it in one of her belt’s pouches.

    “Good.”

    Apple Pie holstered her weapon looking once more at the body of someone who met her, and she couldn’t remember. That is so *bleeep*ed up, she thought to herself. “Team One, this is Team Two. Target Neutralized.”

    **”Roger that, Team One heading out.”** replied Holly in her Comlog.


    ---000---


    Doc Starlight sat alone in the Med Bay, looking exhausted. She rubbed her neck while waiting for the rest of the Belles to answer her call. After three days of interrogation and Cube Scanning, she had finally found answers. But she really wished she hadn’t.

    “What have you got Doc?” said Apple Pie in a Sports Bra and running shorts. Doc Starlight noticed that her new body was starting to take the toned shape her old one had.

    “How’s it adjusting to the Subdermal Armor?” replied Doc Starlight, deflecting the question and touching Apple Pie’s nascent abs, with complete disregard for personal space.

    Apple Pie stretched her right arm and balled her fingers into a fist, making a faint ripping sound as she tensed her muscles. “It’s still a little stiff,” she said doing the same with her left arm, and having the exact same result. “And I feel like I gained 40 pounds.”

    “Yeah, well, the Set wasn’t exactly top of the line.”

    “I know. I’m amazed you actually found one. I thought I was going to have to wear armor like Agent Valentine.” Apple Pie arched her back, making an even louder ripping sound. “I wonder why she never accepted having Subdermal Armor installed on her.”

    “Because I’m a normal human being, not a monster like you lot,” said Agent Valentine walking into the Med Bay; and referring to the Odalisques inhuman resistance to pain, which allowed them not only to endure the Subdermal Armor Bonding Process, but also to keep on fighting, despite receiving otherwise incapacitating damage.

    “Dammit! We’re the last ones!” said Obliterette entering with Battle Charmer, both dressed in casual clothes.

    “Right, first thing first;” began Doc Starlight clapping her hands. “Charm, lock the door. Val, make a bubble around us.”

    “That serious?” said Apple Pie with concern. In all the years they’ve been working with Sireen Barakat and the Sand Cats, they had never had the need to confer in absolute secrecy.

    “You tell me,” began Doc Starlight looking deadly serious. “This recently departed piece of shit, which no human will ever miss, was not really a Yu Jing citizen, but a mother*bleep*ing Haqqislamite.”

    Doc Starlight waited for the expressions of surprise and disbelief subsided before continuing. “Not only that, she was no little fish either. Meet Dr. Jaleela al-Rahim, gifted Neurobiologist, Specialized in Viral Weapons, and founding member of Cinder.”

    “The Equinox Cell…”

    “Of which I was a part of,” finished Doc Starlight shaking with anger.

    Battle Charmer placed a tender hand on Doc Starlight’s shoulder. Despite Doc Starlight’s more psychotic traits, Battle Charmer knew how much Doc’s work for Cinder haunted her; and how badly she wanted to keep that dark part of her life, in the past.

    “I don’t have concrete evidence, but Cinder is operating with, or as a Black Laboratory of Praxis. You may have heard the name…”

    “Blue Moon,” finished Apple Pie anticipating Doc’s answer. The elusive final costumer of Captain Barakat’s Smuggling Ring. A Company that, in Haqqislam, vanished into thin air when the evidence gathered by the Sand Cats, with the help of Intruder Midnight, reached Haqqislam’s Judiciary System.

    “So, the Magpie Council…” inquired Obliterette, still dumbfounded by the News.

    “Hired goons. And we will have to go through them to get to Blue Moon,” sighed Doc Starlight.

    “Fine by me,” replied Apple Pie defiantly.

    “We have to be extremely cautious,” said Agent Valentine, still digesting the information. “We cannot risk a rift between the Nomad Nation and Haqqislam; not with the stakes as high as they are.” She walked closer to the fried Cube, looking at it with disgust. “We’re going to have to work in the shadows. With Surgical Precision and Hassassin Lethality.”

    “Yeah,” replied Doc Starlight. “Especially because the man running the supply operation, of which Dr. al-Rahim was a part of, is Sireen’s father.”

    “That’s impossible!” said Obliterette punching the table.

    “Captain Barakat is dead, we killed him; his Cube was destroyed!” said Battle Charmer quite certain; after all, she had been the one who killed him.

    “Another Copy, a second Cube, I don’t know; but believe me, Dr. al-Rahim’s memories place him at the center of it all.” Doc Starlight stood up from her chair; feeling as old as her real age was, and not how her LHost looked. “I have locations, ships, names, and supply lists. It’s big. Maybe too big for us alone.”

    “We will have to do for now,” said Agent Valentine matter-of-factly. “Don’t forget, The Combined Army is also out there.”

    “Code: Infinity” said Apple Pie with finality. “We will fight it in the shadows.”

    “For not being trained or even paid to do this, you sure are enthusiastic about working for the Hassassin,” replied Agent Valentine with a smirk.

    “When will we tell Sireen?” inquired Battle Charmer quite sure of the answer.

    “When we have hard evidence,” replied Apple Pie. “I assume the Old Man on the Mountain will want to know about this too?”

    “Oh, we don’t make a move without reporting to the Hassassin. Like Doc said, this is too big. Someone has to take over if we fail,” finished Agent Valentine with that steely determination in her voice, which said that was her last word on the matter.
     
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  10. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 05. Ladies Knight

    To compile all the information that Doc Starlight had gathered in her interrogatory and Cube Scan of Lady Sun Wei's Cube; the Wrecking Belles agreed that the best place to keep all the data secret and plan their course of action was Agent Valentine's room. Apple Pie and Obliterette sat cross-legged on Agent Valentine's bed; extremely distracted by all the Hiya Choppy! Merchandise. From bed sheets, pillows, at least four plushies of different sizes, desk lamp, note pads, Data Cards, Styluses and assorted collectibles; the room looked like a Shrine to the fictional chibi Pig.

    "All gifts from old boyfriends," said Agent Valentine unconvincingly. "And make nothing of it!" she replied to Apple Pie and Obliterette's teasing grins.

    "Hey, pay attention! I spent all night doing all this work, and I demand it to be appreciated!" said Doc Starlight, slamming her hand on the holoscreen, and making all the files to scatter.

    A short fit and some more friendly ribbing later, Doc Starlight finally had her friends' attention. "Ok, we know that Cinder is now a Praxis Black Lab, and Bakunin is waaay out of our Jurisdiction," she said dramatically marking a big X over the Bakunin Mothership pic. "However, we also know they're associated with these three," she said zooming a pic of the three Reverend Custodiers with matching purple robes with yellow trims and the yellow Custodier Masks; the only difference, apart from the height, was the color of the lenses in each mask, the purple and green that they had met before, and another one with bright red lenses, that none of them had seen. "And that must mean that they are trying to stay off the Black Hand's radar..."

    Upon looking at the Red-Eyed Reverend Custodier, Apple Pie shuddered and tensed. She couldn't remember anything of her time as the Reverends' captive, but she was feeling a primal need to run away. Obliterette placed a hand on her thigh and squeezed gently, bringing Apple Pie's attention to her.

    "You OK?" she mouthed, and Apple Pie nodded silently.

    “...so, we might have to eventually head for Planet Dawn; somehow." finished Doc Starlight bringing Apple Pie fully back into the meeting.

    "Wait, what? Dawn?" she said blushing, as she gave herself up on not paying attention.

    Doc Starlight grabbed a plushie and threw it at Apple Pie, to Agent Valentine's horror, and oblivious to Apple Pie's previous state of unrest. "Yes Regina, I just said that we can't get to them directly, but we can get to their providers," she said pointing out at some grainy pics of some very Russian-looking men. "Somehow, these thugs have been working with that Yu Jing Gang Lady Sun Wei was running. They send ores and metals to Cinder, and the Gang sabotages their competitors here in Human Edge."

    "So, on top of going against the remnants of an Equinox Cell, we have to contend with some renegade Bakunin witches, some Yu Jing Gang, and probably a Rodina Mafiya. Isn't that nice?" commented Obliterette, while Agent Valentine gave Doc Starlight a noogie for mistreating her precious plushie.

    "Don't forget Sireen's father," said Doc Starlight, nursing the top of her head. "I still don't know how he fits into all this."

    "Someone has to do the connecting." said Agent Valentine looking at the displayed files. "I bet he's the one bringing all these upstanding citizens together."

    Apple Pie stretched on Agent Valentine's bed and moved closer to the edge. "So, what's the plan?" she said hanging her long legs on the edge.

    Doc Starlight smiled a toothy grin and moved the files out of view, leaving only the pic of a coaster reading 'The White Peacock' in Chinese. "Weeell, my not so esteemed colleague used this Night Club as storage and distribution center for the Bakunin Drugs they imported," she said bringing out a pic of the location. "Maybe we could bring in the owners, you know, for interrogation." And as Doc Starlight said it, she brought up two profile pics that read Zhou Dong and Zhou Tian. "These two 'Momma's Angels' are the rest of Sun Wei's Triad. We bring them in, and their Operation will be crippled."

    "Sounds like a plan." smiled Apple Pie.

    "Ladies Night! Woooo!" finished Obliterette raising her arms.

    ---000---


    The music at 'The White Peacock,' a string of Aggressive Electronic Music with accompanying Enhanced Reality Visual Effects, dominated the three levels of dance floors. A vibrant clash of light, sounds and colors that made it particularly difficult to see beyond a few paces. So, when Agent Valentine landed on a table, unconscious, the only people who could have bothered were so drugged, they barely registered the body on their table.

    Obliterette, nearly paralyzed by fear, opened fire at the Heavy Armored Knight of Santiago swiftly advancing towards her. As the bullets of her Spitfire bounced feebly against the Knight's Armor, she realized she had run out of room; and was now against the railing out of which Agent Valentine had been propelled. The Knight of Santiago brought his impressively large broadsword and cleaved Obiterette's Spitfire in half, barely missing the blonde Odalisque’s hand. With mechanically enhanced strength, the knight stroke Obliterette's temple with the pummel of his sword, sending her down the same way Agent Valentine had gone.

    "This is insane!" said Doc Starlight, weighting her options. "How do we stop them?"

    "We don't." replied Apple Pie loading her Submachine gun with a blue-taped magazine, full of Armor Piercing Rounds. "You buy me time, while I go around and shoot them in the back."

    "Shoot them in the back? The 'Honorable' Apple Pie?" quipped Doc Starlight raising an eyebrow.

    "I'm being practical," snapped Apple Pie defensively. "Now go and try not to get killed!"

    Doc Starlight sighed and went out to meet a second Knight of Santiago and a Magister Knight. She opened with a very stylish Butterfly Kick, that the Knight of Santiago stopped by catching her foot in mid-air; only to then kick her into the ceiling. As Doc Starlight hit the floor, the Knight of Santiago stomped her head on the ground; bringing the brief encounter to an end.

    Another Magister Knight walked by the Zhou Brothers' dead henchmen, and cuffed both men, slamming them against every wall he found on his way. Battle Charmer felt her cheeks turning red. While it had taken them the best of three hours to get close to the Zhou Brothers, get them to buy them drinks, and have them drunk and ready for an easy taking, while at the same time having to endure the awful music selection and tacky light show; these PanO Brutes just showed up busting skulls and making a gigantic mess.

    "Excuse me!" she said loudly and menacingly, without losing the melodiousness of her tone. "Those men are under arrest, by the authority of Haqqislam's Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Contraband Agency!"

    With lightning speed, the first Knight of Santiago brought down his sword on Battle Charmer; who parried with her Rifle. The shock of the blow made her breast jiggle, and she didn't fail to notice the Knight's attention diverted to them. "Like what you see?" she said with effort, avoiding the advance of the terrible blade. The Knight's lenses flared red and he swung his sword sideways. Battle Charmer barely blocked the attack with her Rifle but was sent flying to a wall by the strength of the attack.

    The Knight raised his sword, tip pointing at Battle Charmer. "Those men are under OUR custody now. Stand down."

    Battle Charmer stood up trembling. "If anything, this place and its Citizens are jurisdiction of the State-Empire of Yu Jing, with whom Haqqislam has a Cooperation Treaty concerning Contraband and Counterfeit," she said stalling for time. Her weapon had been rendered useless, and quite possibly, couldn't hold another strike. "PanOceania, has no authority here," she finished with a smile.

    "We answer to a Higher Authority," boomed the Knight of Santiago, and Battle Charmer could swear he was smiling under his helmet. "One with Universal Reach. Now stand down."

    "Only if you promise not to break into prayer." replied Battle Charmer sliding to a sitting position and accepting defeat.

    Apple Pie tiptoed around the built-in Bar on the second floor, trying to outflank the Knights of Santiago. As she was turning around the corner, she heard a familiar voice.

    "I said, I'm Field Marshall Sireen Barakat, Haqqislam High Commander, and I'm waiting for Hexaedron Agent Indira Scott!"

    "Last warning!" replied a Crusader Brethren, pointing his Combi-Rifle straight at Sireen's chest. "Drop the weapon, and drop on the ground-"

    *Ping! *

    The shot hit the Crusader Brethren on his helmet; and even when it dented it, the shot didn't penetrate. Still, Apple Pie now had the Knight's full attention.

    "Back off from my Commander!" she barked at the Crusader Brethren who was starting to aim at her. She shot another salvo, hitting the Knight squarely in the chest, leaving similar indentations on his armor, but not causing any harm. Apple Pie cursed silently, and promised herself to have mayor words with Mako, the Gun Shop owner who sold her those supposedly 'Armor-Piercing Rounds.'

    The Knight stood down and seemed to be listening to his Comlog. He slung his weapon and raised his palms. "We have what we were looking for," he said at Apple Pie, then, turned to Sireen Barakat. "Agent Scott won't make it tonight. She says she will contact you in her usual way." he finished acidly and turned around to the far exit.

    "What are you doing here?" inquired Sireen astonished.

    "Drug Bust gone terribly wrong. You?" replied Apple Pie, equally surprised.

    "Emergency meeting. Something big is stirring in the State-Empire," said Sireen a little cryptic, and rubbing the back of her neck. Apple Pie knew that tic. Sireen had been handed Top Secret information with Human Sphere repercussions. And whatever it was, it was big enough for her to consult the Hexahedron.

    "Where are the rest of the Belles?"

    *Gasp! * "They're getting their asses kicked by PanO Knights!" replied Apple Pie, turning around and running back as fast as she could. She found Battle Charmer making Ice Packs with table cloths, while Doc Starlight pressed her nose to stop it from bleeding. Soon, they were joined by Obliterette and Agent Valentine, both with bruised faces and looking worse for wear. "Where are the Knights?" she asked sheepishly.

    "Gone." said a husky voice out of nowhere, that made them all jump. The Thermo-Optical Camouflage dramatically turned off, and the curvy shape of a female Hexa appeared next to Apple Pie. "You're losing your touch, Regina," she said patting Apple Pie's shoulder. "Last time, you discovered me easily; though, word on the street is you were roughed up by Reverend Verity and joined the Underground Female Wrestling Circuit?" she finished waltzing around Apple Pie and cocking her masked head to the side.

    "What do you want, Agent Scott?" replied Apple Pie coldly, recognizing the voice of the Hexa behind the mask. The last time they had met, Apple Pie had also been surprised of how well-informed Agent Scott had been; and she was still unsure whether she liked the Hexa or not.

    "Just doing a Public Service," replied Agent Scott with a shrug. "Field Marshall Barakat, your Intel is indeed accurate. There is an Uprising in the Yu Jing Empire; the Japanese are Seceding."

    "What?" said Obliterette in disbelief and surprised to see Sireen Barakat.

    "First Flamia Island, then the Wotan Gate, followed by the Backdoor Crisis, and now this." said Agent Scott placing her hands on her hips. "Either Humanity has suddenly gone more stupid, or some people are playing a very dangerous game."

    "Can't we go with 'Stupid'?" pleaded Sireen Barakat, knowing well that the terrifying alternative was more likely.

    "Hardly. Also, your father seems to be on the move."

    Time seemed to stop for Apple Pie, her green eyes wide as saucers. Similar reactions were written in Doc Starlight and Obliterette's faces. Battle Charmer's mouth became a slash and Agent Valentine barely twitched the muscle in her temple.

    "My father's dead." snorted Sireen, before catching the Odalisques' reaction to the news.

    "A Back-Up LHost, then." Agent Scott raised her shoulders. "Or maybe a Clone. Who knows with those Bakunin Freaks. Anyway, he's back in business and profiting from the latest armed conflict in Japanese territory." Agent Scott threw a Data Drive at Sireen, who deftly caught it in mid-air. "Your father is dangerous, and I have my plate full. Your Odalisques got him once. And they seem to be on his trail anyway."

    If looks could kill, Agent Scott would have been turned into a pile of dust. Quick on the uptake, she pressed both hands on the lower part of her mask. "Oh, they didn't tell you..."

    "No, they didn't..." replied Sireen Barakat, eyes narrowed into slits and shooting daggers at her Wrecking Belles.

    "Oh well, you better sort it out elsewhere; the ISS is almost here."

    "Indira, wait!" said Sireen remembering her conversation with the Crusader Brethren. "Why did you sent message that you couldn't make it?"

    Agent Scott laughed in her husky tone. "Because I was never here..." she said activating the Thermo-Optical Camouflage and disappearing from sight.

    "To the 'Duchess,' now!" said Sireen barely controlling her anger. "You have a lot of explaining to do, and no one gets to sleep until I'm satisfied!" she said storming out, followed by the beaten and bruised Wrecking Belles.

    Finally, Apple Pie had made her mind, she didn't like Agent Scott at all.
     
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  11. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
    Warcor

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    Finally finished reading through all of it, and I like the style a lot. I really enjoy the dialogue, and the part with Massacre had me laughing out loud and making the people in the train look at me funny.

    There's one point where you need to improve, and it's pacing. You should try to split the lines more, so you don't end up with a paragraph like this:

    If you split that into three paragraphs, we can better read Starlight's (can I call her Starlight? It sounds like it would make her pissed off) lines and it gives you a chance to better describe the pictures she's showing and the squad's reaction to them.

    Other than that, awesome job. I so want to see these ladies whoop more butt.
     
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  12. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Thank you very much for the good advice. I'm already putting it in practice going over the next instalment.

    And Doc Starlight won't mind what you call her as long as it's not a variation of Psychopath, that really drives her bonkers.
     
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  13. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 06. Above and Beyond

    Customs Chief Isler sat motionless looking at all the data gathered by the Odalisques of Unit Foxglove. Kidnapping, Cube Tampering, multiple counts of Illegal Search, Trespassing and Assault and Battery were among the criminal acts, he summarized, they had committed to collect all those names, places and connections.

    It all started when several ships filed complains about unwarranted searches by the Wrecking Belles; and he offered them the opportunity to justify their actions before taking any administrative measures. "That will teach me never to ask you ladies anything ever again," he said pinching the bridge of his nose.

    Obliterette sighed, she had seen that look in superiors before and it was never a good Omen. "Chief, I know it looks bad, but we've never been so close to getting these bastards."

    "If I got it right, until recently, you didn't even know which 'Bastards' you were supposed to be getting," replied Chief Isler with a wry smile. "Now, don't get me wrong," he said forestalling Obliterette's retort. "Believe it or not, I was a Hafza once, and I'm no stranger to Special Operations."

    "A Hafza?" said Battle Charmer in honest surprise, echoing the silent shock of her teammates.

    Chief Isle smiled widely at the Odalisques' astonished expressions. "I suppose you are the Husam?" he said looking straight at Agent Valentine.

    "And here I thought my performance as an Odalisque was perfect." replied Agent Valentine with a small nod, clearly impressed.

    "Oh, it's nearly pefect!" countered Chief Isler.

    "May I ask what gave me away?"

    Chief Isler hesitated for a moment, then decided to share his assessment. "You're the only one not obsessed with being addressed by your Call Sign."

    "That's not enough, most Odalisques don't even have Call Signs."

    "No Odalisque would dare pull any of the things these ladies did, unless they were working for a Higher Authority." emphasized Chief Isler wagging an admonishing finger. "It was just a matter of elimination." There was also the fact that Agent Valentine gave Chief Isler the impression of a cobra ready to strike, a Husam trait, but one shared by other types of less trained psychopaths, so he kept that one to himself.

    "We could be working for Field Marshall Barakat." said Obliterette smugly and folding her arms, feeling a lot more relaxed with Chief Isler.

    "Hardly." replied Chief Isler sitting equally relaxed in his chair. "She has become too 'High Profile' for her own good. Do you really think her coming to Human Edge has gone unnoticed to the Admiralty or the Sultanate? The only reason I haven't heard anything from them must be precisely because someone form Hassassin Barham has suggested them to keep things quiet. Just the fact that such a prominent Official came all the way to Human Edge to chaperone five Odalisques was the first Red Flag."

    Agent Valentine rolled her eyes and smiled, glad that her Farzan Master was far away in Bourak. Despite her training, she had to admit she had become sloppy; partly because she had really become fond of Sireen Barakat and the Sand Cats, who treated her as a member of their little family, but mostly because she had become emotionally attached to the Odalsiques of Unit Foxglove; they were resilient and crazy enough to follow, and most times, lead her to Hell and back.

    "And speaking of Red Flags, I hear you have skipped both appointments with Dr. Reed, Miss Pie?"

    Apple Pie shuffled uncomfortably in her chair. "Sir, with all due respect, I don't remember anything of my, uhm, kidnapping. I think it's a waste of time and resources," she said stubbornly.

    Chief Isler sighed. While digging a bit deeper about the Wrecking Belles, it came to his attention the staggering number of times their Cubes had been Re-Hosted. He didn't know what that could do to a person's Psyche but figured that it was inherently linked to the Wrecking Belles' reputation for wanton destruction and disregard for proper procedure. On top of that, there was the problem of Apple Pie being originally a USAriana 'Atek'; which more than likely gave the Amazonian brunette a need to prove she was as tough as, or tougher than the rest of the 'Connected'.

    "Miss Pie, I don't doubt your mental fortitude, but as long as you're a part of my Department, your well-being is important me. Dr. Reed is an excellent Psychologist..."

    Doc Starlight snorted but was quickly hit in the back of the head by Battle Charmer. But Apple Pie seemed to share Doc Starlight's sentiment. Chief Isler sighed dramatically. "Very well, you leave me no choice." he said with finality, bringing out his side arm from his desk and placing it on the table.

    "Summary execution?" said Doc Starlight apprehensively. "I know we're in Yu Jing territory, but geesh!"

    "Here's what I believe," replied Chief Isler ignoring Doc Starlight's comment. "You came to Human Edge looking for these so called Backdoor Traitors and bumped into the Equinox Cell that had been hiring Sireen Barakat's father; the man who kept you Cubed for almost three years. You also found out he's still active and at large but can't pinpoint his location."

    "So far so good." acknowledge Obliterette not quite sure where Chief Isler was going; or how in the name of The Prophet he had gotten access to their Classified Files.

    "But two unforeseen circumstances have complicated matters for you. This Bakunin Rogue Covenant kidnapping Apple Pie and doing Allah knows what to her; making things more personal than they already were and forcing you to ruthlessly disregard Due Process and Code of Conduct."

    "And the second one?" asked Apple Pie curious to what other unforeseen circumstance could they have overlooked.

    "That Deputy Director Al-Atrash is counting on you to live up to your bad reputation." he said bringing up a transcript of a transmission from Bourak, in which Deputy Director Al-Atrash inquired about rumors of Illegal Searches by Anti-Contraband and Anti-Counterfeit Agency Personnel on Baoshen Spaceport and surrounding areas. "This is a small Outpost in a tiny planetoid of Human Edge, News travel fast if you know where to ask."

    "That insufferable witch!" uttered Battle Charmer losing the melodiousness of her voice.

    “She’s just biding her time, waiting for you to inevitably make a huge mess here so she can finally get rid of you all once and for all.” It hadn’t been to hard for Chief Isler to gather intel on Deputy Director Al-Atrash’s animosity towards the Wrecking Belles.

    Even before they entered Sireen Barakat’s patronage, they were reckless and troublesome to their local bosses wherever they were transferred. Heck, just in the few months they have been assigned to Baoseh Spaceport, Chief Isler has had an increase in incidents and paperwork which not only annoyed him, but also piqued his curiosity enough to look more deeply into these 'Wrecking Belles'.

    "So, for the sake of your Mission, I'm overlooking your criminal behavior and shrugging off the complaints..."

    The Wrecking Belles sighed in relief. So far Chief Isler had been nonintrusive to them, and Obliterette had joked that he was a clueless pencil-pusher. She was now eating her words and having a newfound respect for her superior.

    "However," he said holstering his weapon and putting on his armored vest. "From here on, I'll join you in the Field."

    "But, Sir!" began Apple Pie.

    "No 'Buts,' Miss Apple Pie," countered Chief Isler emphatically. "This situation has gone beyond 'Just Business' into the realm of 'It's Fucking Personal'. I've seen that in the battlefield enough times to know how it ends. And if you won't go to the Psychologist for your evaluation, then I'll do the Performance Review in the Field."

    Apple Pie looked at him fiercely in the eyes. From what little he kew about her, she was the one who usually enforced the rules and kept the others in check. But since she had been so severely compromised, it seemed that the Wrecking Belles no longer had that anchor to hold them back. Her lack of an answer, worried Chief Isler, but he had dealt with troopers with PTSD in the past, it was just a matter of patience and earning her trust.

    "Now, go and grab your gear, we have at least two hours." he said checking his watch to avert Apple Pie's gaze and defuse the tension.

    "Grab our gear?" said Obliterette feeling she missed something.

    "Two hours?" said Apple Pie equally confused.

    "The 'Tiger Leap' is docked at the Suborbital right now. It's schedule to leave in two hours, final destination Dawn."

    "WHAT?" chorused the Wrecking Belles as one and dashed outside Chief Isler's Office blaming each other for not keeping tabs on the Departure Schedule.

    Chief Isler shook his head smiling. He opened a side panel on the right-side wall and extracted his Hafza Helmet. It had been a long time since he had been on the Field. This might be good for him.

    ---000---

    "Holy Shit!" said Chief Isler as he darted to Doc Starlight's position, while narrowly avoiding getting a bullet in his head. "How is she?" he said looking at a trembling Agent Valentine, who was sporting Second Degree burns in her face that compromised her eyes.

    "I pumped her full of Thetradol. At least she won't feel pain." replied Doc Starlight. "I'm not supposed to be near a Medikit..." she said apologetically looking at her banged-up First Aid Kit. She had stacked it with Single Use Combat Drug syringes and other Basic Field Wound Dressings.

    "It's all right, Doc." said Chief Isler taking out a Tac-Foam sponge and applying it to the wound on her dislocated shoulder to stem the bleeding. Doc Starlight barely whimpered as he fixed her left arm into a sling, a testament to the purple-haired, petite Odalisque's resilience.

    The search had begun as expected; with the usual complaints, threats and restraining of the rowdier elements. But when Captain Rugen finally lead them to the to the Cargo Bay, they were received with Sniper fire. The shot would have killed Doc Starlight, but thanks to her quick reflexes, only shattered her left shoulder.

    Unfortunately, the High-Velocity Round also pierced a steam pipe and the scalding vapor hit Agent Valentine squarely in the face. Two Total Reaction Rems with HMGs they had taken as backup started a firefight with the Sniper, while Apple Pie, Obliterette and Battle Charmer went after the fleeing Captain Rugen.

    "Sir, Captain Rugen went up a small corridor," said Apple Pie through her Comlog, and Chief Isler liked that she had actually stopped and reported.

    "Proceed with caution. Wait, stand by." he said as Nina, his Secretary and Rem Controller, sent him a pic of the assailing Sniper.

    "That's a Maakrep Tracker!" said Doc Starlight in astonishment. "The Combined Army is here!"

    Chief Isler did not hesitate. "Nina, zero in on my Comlog and Apple Pie's. We're gonna need Extraction in 5."

    **"Yes, Sir."** came the voice of Nina, in her usual efficient tone.

    "Apple Pie, take out that Traitor to the Human Sphere and return to your position, you will be better able to defend your extraction point from there."

    "Roger that, Sir."

    Apple Pie didn't need to be told twice. She whipped out her Submachine Gun and loaded a Shock Ammo Magazine. The hallway led her to a Comms Center with a Computer Terminal.

    "Send them down here NOW!!!" roared Captain Rugen at some henchman somewhere else inside the ship. As he noticed Apple Pie framing the door, the color drained from his face.

    "You!" said Captain Rugen in horror. "She said she would dispose of you! You're supposed to be dead!"

    Apple Pie's expression of confusion was plainly visible to Captain Rugen who furtively looked at the Terminal's screen and saw something he liked.

    "You don't remember anything, do you?" said Captain Rugen with an immediate change of tone.

    Apple Pie remained motionless but still pointing the gun at him. "No, I don't." she said coldly, her knuckles whitening in the grip of the Submachine Gun as she realized where this conversation was heading.

    "Well, it's better that way, although a real shame." he said with a mocking grin, looking again at the screen. "Reverend Verity spared no expense with you." he said clearly stalling. "Those Razorhead Piranhas she used on you were probaly the most expensive cargo I smuggled-

    Apple Pie squeezed the trigger quite sure she didn't want to hear any more. A lateral door busted open and two Daturazi entered the room. The powerfully built Morats lunged at Apple Pie, who jumped back trying to deal with them in the hallway. The closest Daturazi was sporting a serrated blade meant to be as painful and damaging as possible; and Apple Pie really needed to restrict their movements if she was ever to survive the encounter.

    She managed to reach midway of the hallway with her strides, but the Daturazi were still advancing and attacking simultaneously. Instead of wide swings, they were striking in thrusts, that Apple Pie barely managed to dodge and parry with her Combat Knife. The lead Daturazi raised his serrated blade and Apple Pie seized her opportunity and shot him squarely in the chest. The bullet pinged and ricocheted.

    "Aw, come on!" uttered Apple Pie in exasperation. As the blade missed her ample chest by millimeters, Apple Pie let out an undignified squeak, which seemed to amuse both Daturazi.

    A shot thundered and the closest Daturazi fell on the ground with a newformed hole in his forehead.

    "I'm evening the odds for you." said Obliterette holstering her pistol and grabbing her Spitfire again.

    "Thanks!" replied Apple Pie who parried the second Daturazi's retaliation and shot him squarely between the eyes.

    "Sir, this is Apple Pie. Mission accompl-

    Apple Pie felt the shots shatter her right hip. As she hit the ground ungracefully, she managed to see her new assailant. A Nexus Operative, Human, and most probably Sepsistorized. Before she could raise the alarm, Obliterette fell next to her.

    "Got shot in the gut, spine too since I can't feel my legs." said the blonde Odalsique matter-of-factly.

    Without warning Battle Charmer landed next to them. "Noctifer... on the Port side..." she said laboriously, sporting several shotgun wounds in her chest and nursing her bleeding right hand.

    Apple Pie crawled towards her firends. "Sir, we're surrounded. We can't hold our- OOOWWW!!!"

    The Nexus Operative had considered it fun to shoot Apple Pie in the buttock. Which infuriated the Amazonian brunette. As she turned around to unleash her Nanopulser, the floor around them exploded and caved in.

    "Son of a Bitch!" shouted Apple as she hit the floor; her hip and buttock burning in pain.

    "Hakim, get us out of here. Nina, signal the 'Desert Duchess' to blow that ship!" said Chief Isler while doing a head count.

    With the help of Doc Starlight, he began to patch the wounds of the Wrecking Belles; as the Haqqislamite Boarding Shuttle disconnected from the ‘Tiger Leap’

    "I promise I'll see Dr. Reed." said Apple Pie feebly as he pressed several Tac-Foam sponges in her hip.

    "Thank you."

    "No, thank you, Sir." she said holding his arm. "There was no escaping that one..." she said with tears swelling in her eyes but not quite dropping.

    Chief Isler nodded. "It's what Hafzas do, my child."

    "Aaah! You stabbed me!!!" said Battle Charmer in a high-pitched voice.

    "I just saved your life, you big baby!" replied Doc Starlight, making both Apple Pie and Chief Isler laugh.

    "You lot will be out of commission for a few weeks," said Chief Isler taking off his helmet and cleaning the sweat off his forehead.

    The Wrecking Belles groaned in jest, making him smile.

    "Sir, the 'Tiger Leap' has been destroyed." reported Nina bringing him a cup of coffee.

    "Thank you, Nina. Now, let's get these ladies to the Hospital."
     
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  14. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 07. Memories

    There is one inescapable truth to being an Odalisque, you become High-Maintenance. Most people believe that it's just because of I-Khol and other beauty products, expensive clothing, Saloon visits, Gym Memberships and Spa Treatments; but Odalisques are more than pretty faces and well-toned bodies.

    While Subdermal Armor has Self-Repairing Capabilities, bones must be mended, guts must be repaired and sometimes, vital organs must be replaced; all the while scar tissue must be either completely erased or, at least, kept to a minimum. This raises an Odalisque's Medical Insurance Premium to indecent levels; and why Odalisques are encouraged to make the jump from Bodyguard, to Concubine, to Wife of a wealthy individual.

    Fortunately for Apple Pie, and by extension the rest of the Wrecking Belles, she was married to the wealthy individual before she became an Odalisque. Unfortunately for her, since she was kidnapped, one of the Security Measures taken by her husband's Estate was that any transaction she made, would be notified to her husband. So, when she was checked in at Baoshen's Military Hospital, Sheik Duman Al Dagher took his personal Corvette and jumped Circulars like only the filthy rich could.

    "You didn't have to come." she said with a smile and unwilling to let go of her husband's arm.

    "You should have told me." replied Duman with concern.

    "What was I supposed to say? 'Boo, I was kidnapped, repeatedly tortured to death and drugged, but don't worry, I don't remember a thing'?" she said a little defensively.

    Duman sighed. He knew better that to raise to that bait and start an argument he wasn't going to win. "Well, believe it or not, I love you and I don't want you getting hurt."

    "I'm an Odalisque." she said deadpan.

    "You know what I mean." he replied giving her a kiss on the crown of her head.

    The door to her room opened and two Nursing Assistants came in wheeling a transparent Pod full of a green hued fluid; followed by Apple Pie's Attending Physician and Nurse.

    "Good morning, Regina. Ready for your Scar Removal Treatment?" said the doctor waving at the Pod.

    "Does it have to be a whole tub, Dr. Kaba?" said Apple Pie raising an eyebrow. "I mean, the scars are just here and here." she said pointing to the surgical scar and the several gunshot wounds around the area.

    "This Enzymatic-Regen-Vat is the latest in Skin-Restoring Treatments." replied Dr. Kaba with pride. "Your husband brought it straight from Bourak.”

    "And set up a steady supply for the Hospital, for a good price." finished Duman with a wink. Apple Pie gave her husband an affectionate elbow to the ribs. The consummate Businessman, never a bad time to strike a deal.

    "Your partners are all using it right now." continued Dr. Kaba. "You wouldn't want to be the only one who couldn't wear a bikini, would you?"

    That sealed the deal for Apple Pie. She unrobed and let the Nursing Assistants place ear and nose plugs and hand her a Respirator.

    “Sir, you will have to wait outside!” said Nurse Ella who just now noticed Duman in the room.

    “It’s all right,” replied Apple Pie with a dismissive wave of her hand. “He’s my husband. There’s nothing here he hasn’t seen already.”

    Duman was about to say something about the scar in Apple Pie’s buttock but thought better of it.

    Apple Pie climbed the Pod and dipped her right foot, getting goosebumps as the liquid tickled her sole. She finished submerging herself in the enzymatic fluid that kept tickling her whole body and surrounding her with bubbles.

    That's when it hit her...

    Suddenly, hundreds of fist sized fish with serrated teeth bit chunks of flesh off her naked body. Apple Pie thrashed with all her might, but her swift assailants pinched and tear her to the background of her underwater screams.

    After what felt like an eternity of agony, she was pulled out of the water and thrown unceremoniously on the cold metal floor. She could hear the sobs of the young woman whose place she had taken in her tormentors twisted game of physical and psychological torture.

    "Not so tough now, Perra?" said one of the three Reverend Custodiers whose sadism went beyond anything Apple Pie had ever witnessed.

    That's Purple-Eyes, Stratagem.

    "She did withstand the Neural Rack."

    If you call being electrocuted to death, twice 'withstanding.' Also, duck Green-Eyes.

    The Green-Eyed Masked Reverend got whacked on the back of the head by the Purple-Eyed one.

    "Yeeeeah," said a High-Pitched voice. "She was quiiiiiiite feiiiiisty."

    Red-Eyes, Verity. The Show Runner. In the little time Apple Pie had been with them, she learned to loathe that annoying voice.

    The Red-Eyed shape moved closer to Apple Pie's face. "Oh goodyyyyyyy! The cow stiiiiiiill looks feiiiiisty!

    If my arms and legs weren't bound I'd...

    Wait. I'm not bound!

    Apple Pie mustered all her willpower and despite her multiple wounds, she lunged at her tormentors and pummeled them to the ground. As she stroke and kicked the shapes, a strong pair of arms held her tight.

    The Sin Eater!!!

    Panic rose as she tried to get free.

    Not again, not again!

    Apple Pie headbutted the Sin Eater with the back of her head, making him release her. She looked around for the closest exit, hoping it wasn’t locked.

    Where's the girl? I can't leave without her.

    More shapes gathered around her and tried to restrain her.

    Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

    A sharp pain in her right thigh told her she was being drugged again.

    "Son of a Bitch!!!"

    Swiftly everything went dark.

    The first time Apple Pie had died, her team had been ambushed by Captain Barakat's men and gunned down. She clearly remembered the pain of the shots, but also the pain of a blood-starved heart going into arrest, how her body refused to follow her commands, and the tunnel vision which has been described as 'The Light' by those having Near-Death Experiences for Centuries.

    When she was Resurrected for the first time, all those sensations and feelings lingered for the first few minutes after Uploading. She remembered how she tried to get up and fight back, shaking like a lamb, feeling nauseous and unconsciously sending her hands to wounds that were no longer there.

    As the years went by, and dying and resurrecting became more common for her, she got used to waking up after a death brushing off the symptoms. So, when she woke up feeling like her head had been drilled with a Jackhammer, she was quite certain that dying was not involved.

    "How do you feel?" came the voice of Doc Starlight as she flashed a light on Apple Pie's eyes.

    "Like a Dogbowl Ball." replied Apple Pie. "I think I had a flashback."

    "More like a psychotic break." said the purple-haired Odalisque while gently hitting Apple Pie's left knee with a rubber hammer.

    "What?" said Apple Pie trying to incorporate and her headache amplifying for her effort.

    Doc Starlight slammed the much bigger Apple Pie back to the supine position, not doing any favors to her headache. "You went full 'Berserk Mode' on Dr. Kaba and her crew. The poor Ghulam never stood a chance." she said while bursting into a giggling fit.

    "That's horrible!" replied Apple Pie mortified and sitting in her bed again. "And cut that out!" she finished taking the Reflex Hammer out of Doc Starlight's hand and whacking her on the head.

    "Help, Berserker on the loose!"

    "That's not funny!" said Apple Pie feeling even worse.

    "Yes, Helena, that was not prudent. Please go back to your room." said Dr. Kaba who appeared behind her and comically pointed the way out.

    Apple Pie saw the Doctor's face and noticed the remnants of a black eye and a bruised lip that had been partially treated.

    "I'm terribly sorry Doctor. I didn't mean to..."

    "I know, Regina." replied Dr. Kaba soothingly. "But I do have to ask, has this happened before?"

    "No," began Apple Pie, but suddenly remembered the video of her Cage Match, where she pummeled her opponent until she could no longer move. "Well, there was one time, but those were strenuous circumstances. I was still captive when it happened. I've never behaved like that before, I don't even remember all the details of that time."

    "Regina has never been that violent." said Duman sporting a hospital gown, a heavily crooked nose and his eyes looking like those of a racoon.

    Apple Pie gasped and sent her hands to her mouth. "Oh, Boo! I'm soooo sorry!"

    "You're an Odalisque, Cupcake." replied Duman with a smile. "If you couldn't take on a man my size I would be really worried."

    Duman had a point. While most Haqqislam men were shorter than Apple pie, who was 6 feet tall, her husband was nearly a head taller, at 6' 7"; and of a rather muscular frame. The fact that he was also a great dancer, really swept her off her feet.

    Until he took a Second Wife, then things were never the same for her. And remembering that small detail, somehow made Apple Pie feel a little less sorry.

    "Besides, Dr. Kaba here is already scheduling me for Surgery."

    "For which you should wait in your own room." interjected Dr. Kaba stamping her foot and pointing at the door for the second time.

    "Right," said the Doctor now that they were alone. "Have you had mood swings, insomnia, tremors, increased heart rate-"

    "You're awake!"

    Obliterette barged in and hugged her friend, while Battle Charmer and Agent Valentine waved from the door. Dr. Kaba looked at the ceiling and Apple Pie could swear she was praying for patience.

    "If you need someone to talk to..." said the blonde Odalisque holding her friend's head between her hands.

    "You will be the second," replied Apple Pie unable to restrain herself and thoroughly enjoying how Obliterette's face alternated between confusion and shock.

    "She got here before you did." said Apple Pie nodding at Dr. Kaba who was giving Obliterette a Death Glare.

    "Oh, right. Sorry Doc. We'll be on our way." said Obliterette taking the hint and heading out the door.

    Dr. Kaba sighed dramatically. "Well, at least we know you have a good Family Support Structure." she said looking at the door, waiting for it to burst open again. "I remember being quite emphatic when I told them to wait until my say so to visit you."

    "Yeah, sorry about that, Doctor." replied Apple Pie a bit sheepishly, but feeling extremely grateful to have her husband and the Wrecking Belles with her.

    "Well, it's too early to call this PTSD, but given the magnitude of the ordeal you must have gone through, I'm referring you to Dr. Alport. He's an excellent Psychiatrist and has plenty of experience with POWs."

    "Thank you Doctor." replied Apple Pie weighting her next words carefully. "With my Odalisque friends serving as Bodyguards, when could we reschedule my Scar-Removing Treatment?"

    "By the Prophet's Steed, Regina!" said Dr. Kaba horrified.

    "Doc, do you have Military Grade Cube Scanning Protocols in your Comlog?"

    "The Basic one, why?"

    Apple Pie offered her neck. "Please, scan my Cube's Upload Count."

    Dr. Kaba hesitated for a moment then complied. She waved her wristband over Apple Pie's Cube and opened a Holoscreen to look for the information.

    "Allah be merciful!" she said in horror as she read the number of times Apple Pie had died and been Resurrected. "That's impossible! The cost alone!"

    "Is no problem if you don't rely on Aleph."

    "But that's illegal!"

    "Very." said Apple Pie trying her best to look non-threatening. "Doc, of all those Uploads, only nine were caused by my kidnappers. I'm remembering some things, but I need more. These people are doing the same to others, coercing Cubed Citizens to work with them, and forcing Ateks into slave labor."

    The color drained from Dr. Kaba's face and she took a few steps back, recoiling from Apple Pie.

    "People without my training are suffering what I went through and more. Please, help me remember. Help us bring them down for good!"

    "But your Psyche..."

    "Will not be more messed up than it already is, and I already have an appointment with the Psychiatrist."

    The next morning, Dr. Kaba brought the Pod to Apple Pie's room, questioning her own sanity. The Wrecking Belles were dressed in full gear with the exception of Apple Pie, who was still wearing a hospital robe and nothing underneath. Kaba tried to appeal one last time to the Wrecking Belles' better sense, but Apple Pie was dead set on going through the deed.

    Apple Pie put on the ear and nose plugs and set the Respirator in her mouth. She then unrobed and went into the Pod, telling herself that whatever happened, it wasn't real.

    The flashback of the piranhas returned, and gave way to more memories of unbearable pain and maddening anguish; of humiliation and despair; of trading places with people she didn’t know, to spare them the horrors she was forced to endure; of the monstrous beings she was revolted to identify as human; and the one place they used to do inhuman things...

    Apple Pie emerged from the pod, only to collapse in a heap of sobs. Obliterette held her tightly, speaking soothing words between her own sobs; while Battle Charmer did her best not to tear up, and console Doc Starlight, who couldn’t bear to watch her friend in such a state.

    “…Amber… witch…“ said Apple Pie feebly between sobs. “The… ship…” she said trying to cling on to that memory of one of the times she was thrown in a cage to fight for her life; where she managed to read the name of the ship in the leaflets people were leaving on the floor. “It’s… the Amberwitch.”

    Agent Valentine opened a line of communication and relayed the ship's name to Chief Isler, who alerted the local Qapu Khalqi forces; and Sireen Barakat, who then opened a secure line and sent word to Barid Shadow Fox, Agent Valentine's Immediate Superior and Intruder Midnight of Corregidor.

    Cinder had been operating in the shadows for far too long, it was time to shine a light on them.
     
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  15. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    Treason: 08. Routine

    "The Captain is coming!"

    The crew of the Hungry Caterpillar groaned collectively. Captain Morgan was a short-tempered man; and their prolonged stay in Baoshen Spaceport made him angrier than usual. The men quickly picked cards, turned off Comlogs and gulped the last of their improvised supper.

    "Stupid, incompetent, piece of shit!" said Captain Morgan coming down the metallic staircase. "Three cycles, three fucking cycles!"

    Captain Morgan strode to the Boarding Hatch on the side of the Cargo Bay. It was meant to be used only in Deep Space Boarding, but since he had been forced to wait and lose money, he found it fitting to make the Inspector crawl to the ship.

    A soft double tap signaled that the Inspector had reached the hatch and Captain Morgan signaled the closest hand to open the hatch. A high-heeled red boot made its way out of the hatch, contouring a long leg all the way to mid-thigh, followed buy the other leg and giving the men a clear view of an open leg thigh-high skirt, the same color of the boots, overlaying a shapely bottom that nearly occupied the whole hatch.

    The long-legged brunette finished her descent with an entrancing grace that kept the whole room’s attention fixed on her. When she turned around, everyone noticed she was wearing a red sleeveless crop-top with a giant silver star in a blue circle. A few noticed that she was wearing red opera gloves. Only two of the men noticed she was wearing a red AR-Enhance Mask. And of those two, only one actually noticed she had big, expressive green eyes.

    "As-salaam 'alaykum," said the Amazonian brunette with a faint accent Captain Morgan couldn't quite place.

    "Peace be with you, Ma'am," replied Captain Morgan in a soft gentlemanly tone none of his men had ever heard before.

    "I'm Regina Berger, your Customs Inspector, and I deeply apologize for the delay." said Apple Pie extending her hand and flashing a radiant smile that seemed to light the whole room.

    "Oh, don't worry about it." replied Captain Morgan jovially taking her delicate hand and shaking it with tenderness.

    Captain Morgan then lead Apple Pie through the Cargo Bay, offering her information on every single container. Most of them were filled with ores on their way to Yu Jing.

    "That's a full load!" said Apple Pie scanning the last of the ore containers. "This trip will be very profitable."

    "Barely, Ma'am," replied Captain Morgan crestfallen. “Things are not looking good for the State-Empire. With the Japanese uprising and all."

    "Japanese uprising?" inquired Apple Pie in a curious tone with a hint of concern.

    "Oh, you probably haven't heard, Ma'am. The Japanese revolted against the Yu Jing Empire."

    Apple Pie gasped "No!" she said in shock.

    "Oh yeah. They are claiming territories all over the Human Sphere. But Yu Jing isn't taking it sitting down."

    Captain Morgan leaned closer to Apple Pie in a conspiratorial way. "They say Kuraimori is a lake of fire."

    "Oh dear!"

    Apple Pie moved closer to a last container, one that was not on the Ship’s Manifest. "And where is this one going?"

    "Oh, last minute addition, Ma'am." said Captain Morgan with a sheepish smile. "We're taking this one to Dawn."

    "I see." said Apple Pie sweeping her Comlog on the Datalog of the Container. "And who got you this side gig?"

    "A fella' from Rodina, Peter, he said his name was."

    "Pyotr Gorelov?"

    "You know him?"

    "Open the container and stand back." commanded Apple Pie with a steely tone and stepping 20 paces in front of the container's door.

    Captain Morgan did as he was told and Apple Pie unleashed her Nanopulser on the content of the container.

    "What the fuck?" said Captain Morgan in astonishment.

    "Shasvastii Spawn-Embryos." said Apple Pie not taking her eyes off the container and shooting her Nanopulser yet again.

    "What?"

    "Illegal Cargo." replied Apple Pie sternly. "Pyotr Gorelov has been smuggling them with people desperate enough for the extra money and dumb enough no to ask questions."

    "What?"

    Apple Pie opened a holoscreen and sent a holocard to captain Morgan's Comlog. "Should Pyotr try to contact you again, call this number immediately."

    "Yeah, sure..."

    "And try not to engage him directly."

    Apple Pie took a folded card that read ‘From the Wrecking Belles with love.’ and pressed her lips to one of the corners leaving a kiss print. She then folded the paper, attached a Tracking Beacon and shoved it into the container.

    "Right. Now, you have two choices," she said closing the door to the container. "You can take this to Dawn and risk getting killed by whoever is expecting it there."

    "Or…?" asked Captain Morgan not too fond of that first choice.

    "You do me a personal favor and jettison this thing halfway to the Jump Gate." finished Apple Pie flashing her radiant smile.

    "So, I'm not in trouble?"

    "Well, sort of," said Apple Pie shrugging. "If you do as I told you and call if Pyotr contacts you; and you steer clear of Dawn for the time being, I suppose you should be safe."

    Apple Pie skipped back to the Boarding Hatch and turned around to face her captive audience. "Thank you very much for your cooperation."

    A chorus of pleasantries and platitudes began but were swiftly interrupted by Apple Pie's Comlog.

    "Yeah, I'm finished here." she said to her interlocutor.

    "Another cargo of Pyotr's Shas. Same as the last four. He’s getting desperate." She said turning to face the assembled men.

    "No, we don't have to blow the ship up. I took care of it." she said with that same radiant smile that now horrified the clueless crew.

    "No! They're good men." she said climbing back into the Boarding Hatch. "No, they're not Sepsistorized. No, I did not shoot any of them, come on!" she said crawling back in and giving the men one last view of her rear assets.

    The Boarding Hatch closed behind Apple Pie and, as if a spell had been broken, Captain Morgan started barking orders, beginning with telling the men to send the Dawn Container closer to the Cargo Bay doors, and to secure the rest of the Cargo.


    ---000---


    Apple Pie strode through the Terminal dictating her latest report. Ever since they started giving priority to their hunt for the Equinox Cell Cinder, their scheduled inspections at Customs were beginning to stack. So, to avoid further interference from Deputy Director Eda Al-Atrash, the Wrecking Belles decide to split up and even do some overtime to get things back to a manageable level.

    In the last week, they had identified several Cargo Containers with Shasvastii Seed-Embryos; all heading for Dawn. They were all commissioned by a Pyotr Gorelov, a Rodina smuggler with a criminal record as long as Apple Pie's legs, but who didn't fit the profile of a 'Traitor to Humanity'. But Apple Pie had learned the hard way to expect the worst from shady people.

    Checking her Comlog, she noticed it was half past Midnight. If there was one positive to the excess work, was that she didn't have much time to sleep. After taking her deliberate dip in that vat of liquid, that brought back most of the memories of her Ordeal, Apple Pie preferred to sleep as little and go to bed as tired as possible; not giving her mind time to concoct nightmares she didn't want nor need.

    She walked into a Café-Bar she frequented on her way back to the Space Elevator. A small, cozy place with the most atrocious beer Apple Pie had ever tasted; but lately she had been grateful to drink anything.

    "Hello Jiang" she said greeting the owner of the establishment.

    "Miss Regina! Looking lovelier than ever, I see." replied the middle-aged Asian man serving a large mug of Apple Pie's usual beer.

    "It's the I-Khol, Jiang." said Apple Pie taking a large swig of the Yu Jing beer and shuddering. "Blegh. If I take it off, I'll be a lot less attractive."

    "Miss Regina, I don't think you could look unattractive even if you went to Bakunin and turn into Lizard Woman." answered Jiang making Apple Pie spit beer all over the counter in a burst of laughter.

    "I'm sorry..."

    "No problem." said Jiang cleaning up the counter with a rag he seemed to have produced out of thin air. "Made you laugh. You look prettiest when laughing."

    "I wholeheartedly agree." concurred the familiarly gruff voice of Chief Isler.

    "Boss! What are you doing here?"

    "The usual, Mr. Eren?"

    "Yes please, Jiang." replied Chief Isler sitting next to Apple Pie.

    "Are you following me?" insisted Apple Pie not willing to be deflected.

    Chief Isler smiled. "Apple Pie, I've been keeping tabs on the whole team's Comlogs ever since that incident. Extremely useful for your Performance Review; you ladies have been busy." he finished showing Apple Pie a holomap of Baoshen and the location of each Wrecking Belle. Obliterette was in route to their apartment, while Battle Charmer and Agent Valentine were already there.

    Apple Pie noticed that Doc Starlight's location was static in an area Apple Pie wasn't familiar with. "Where's Doc?"

    "Oh, she's at Hakim's Apartment. Guess the flyboy will got lucky tonight." replied Chief Isler turning off the holomap.

    "Oh?" Apple Pie raised an eyebrow.

    "None of our business, Pie."

    "Oh no, no, no, no. You can't drop that bomb and leave it at that!" answered Apple Pie after taking another swig of beer.

    Jiang passed by the counter with a cup of black coffee. Chief Isler took his time adding sugar and taking a sip, despite Apple Pie's inquisitorial stare.

    "There's not much to tell," he said savoring his coffee. "They got along at the Hangar. Story says she was taken by Hakim's Tea."

    Apple Pie snorted loudly. "Doc doesn't even like tea."

    "I bet." replied Chief Isler sipping his coffee again. "Still, she's been visiting the Hangar every day for the last week. I suppose Hakim finally plucked the courage to ask her out."

    "Yeah, we seem to be getting rusty." said Apple Pie finishing her mug of beer and signaling Jiang for another round.

    "Not rusty, overconfident. And you got the rug pulled out from under your feet." Chief Isler finished his coffee and also signaled Jiang for more. "It's not your first time, though."

    Apple Pie sighed. "None of us expected to be betrayed by one of our own. We didn't know Mauve Typhoon’s ties to the Druze Society. It cost us our lives. And you’re right, we should have learned from that!" she said resting her forehead in her left hand. "Shit, I feel like such an idiot. I was careless, I should have been ready..."

    Chief Isler pressed his hand on her shoulder. "Nobody is ready for something like that. No amount of training can mitigate the despair that comes with being helpless and alone."

    Apple Pie gave a hard look at Chief Isler. His grey eyes seem to gaze her innermost thoughts, his expression stern.

    "You've been..."

    "Twelve years ago. I won't share details, I'm sure you understand..."

    Apple Pie nodded vigorously. "Yeah, I do."

    "Suffice to say, I have no love for the Hexahedron." he said sipping his new cup of coffee. "Which brings us to the -Why am I here-"

    Apple Pie gave a hard look at her Boss. So far, everything they summarized of him had been dead wrong. What they all assumed was a stressed-out Administrator, was actually a weary Combat Veteran and an amazing Tactician.

    "I have to admit, I'm impressed by you." said Chief Isler taking her out of her musings.

    "How so?" replied Apple Pie drinking more of her beer.

    "I expected you to be obsessed with the case. To be honest, I was expecting you to knock down my door and cause a fuss for asking you all to take care of the Routine Inspections."

    "I'm not a violent person." said Apple Pie sipping some more beer, unable to decide if she should feel complimented or offended.

    Chief Isler raised his cup of coffee. "I'll drink to that."

    "I figured it made no difference if I got upset. Tracking the Amberwitch falls in the hands of others; and we still have our duties." Apple Pie said with a shrug.

    "Yes. I needed to see firsthand how much you were compromised by your Ordeal."

    "Yeah, your 'Performance Review', I remember." said Apple Pie a bit bitterly.

    Chief Isler smiled again. "Like I said. I'm impressed. You are an incredibly resilient woman, with an unbreakable sense of duty."

    "Well I don't feel resilient, nor unbreakable..." replied Apple Pie trying to push away the memories of the times she laid broken and humiliated under the boot of Reverend Verity.

    "I understand perfectly." replied Chief Isler reassuringly. "But the fact remains, you're getting back on your feet, despite what happened to you. I on the other hand, decided to bury my head in the sand and took this desk job to run away."

    Apple Pie finished her beer and once again signaled Jiang for another. "Please don't! I don't want you to feel bad, it's enoug-"

    "Feel bad? You've inspired me Apple Pie!" interrupted Chief Isler with a sincere smile.

    "To see you rise above adversity has made me want to do the same."

    Chief Isler stood up from his chair taking Apple Pie's hand.

    "Boss, no matter how attractive you are, I'm already married and am not into that Haqqislamite Poligamy." said Apple Pie clearly taken aback by Chief Isler's move.

    Chief Isler roared laughing. "I'm not doing a Marriage Proposal, I'm asking you to let me join Unit Foxglove."

    "Come again?" said Apple Pie completely astonished.

    "I'm asking if it's ok with you for me to join your Unit."

    "I don't know what to say, I mean you're the ranking officer..."

    "Who wouldn't dream of pulling rank for something like this."

    Apple Pie's mind was racing. Having a Hafza Operative in the team would be a great addition. His versatility would be really helpful, especially coordinating with other Units; the one glaring flaw Apple Pie had known her team had for a long time. Then again, he wasn't a Spring Chicken, and he was a 'He'; which would make things a bit uncomfortable if they needed to share space.

    "Well?"

    Apple Pie bit her lip. This was a development she didn't anticipate.

    "You'd lose your Rank."

    "Which is why I'm asking my future 'Unofficial Team Leader' if she would accept my transfer."

    "We have a bad reputation."

    "Of doing what is right and getting in trouble for it. I can live with that."

    "We die a lot."

    "Not on my watch. I like my body and don't want an LHost, no matter how alluring yours are."

    "You're a man."

    "Not much I can do about that. I can Holoproject as a woman if needed, just don't make me do the talking."

    "You're old!"

    "Ouch. And that didn't stop me from saving your behinds that time we faced the Combined Army."

    Apple Pie guzzled down the last of her beer. "I must be out of my mind. It would be an honor Chief Isler." she said extending her hand.

    "Eren," replied Chief Isler shaking Apple Pie's hand. "And thank you."

    "But if you come with us, who will take your post?"

    "I've been training Nina to be my replacement. She's more than qualified and quite eager to get the promotion."

    Apple Pie stopped in her tracks as the penny dropped. "You've been planning this for a while, haven't you?”

    Chief Isler smiled roguishly. "From the moment I assessed your 'Reputation' was ill-earned."

    Apple Pie narrowed her eyes. "Conniving. You will fit right in."

    "Come on, I'll escort you home."
     
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  16. stevenart74

    stevenart74 Well-Known Member

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    @Danger Rose . . .

    Finally had the time to "Binge-Read" all of the Stuff. . .

    Excellent Reading Material (very good for ANY kind of Infinity-Related Fan-Fiction) and I daresay VERY useful too for some excellent "R.P.G. Side Plot-Hooks". . .

    I will say to check in with @Golem2God for some Background Pieces that are written for its Player Character "Past Fluff" and maybe discuss in detail what could be an interesting "Joint Plot" for our Roleplaying Campaign. . .

    If You don't mind I will consider 100% Official Canon ALL that is described pertaining the "Sand Cats" history (even if our "Minotaurs Game" will start very early BEFORE even a mere hint of Flamestrike's Troubles are even plotted !!). . .
     
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  17. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
    Warcor

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    It's official, ladies and gentlemen: Yu Jing beer sucks :D
     
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  18. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    In my defense, it was originally "Terrible Beer from PanOceania" and "Tortured by the ISS"; but given the recent developements, and sensibilities, I made the Executive Decision of exchanging those two. I feel all the Factions have enough of a Dark Side to be harmful to any character in any given story. Uprising was a light shed on Yu Jing's Dark Side, but to me, that doesn't mean the other Factions are only Paladins and White Knights, not even my beloved Haqqislam. Heck, read Raoul Spector's fluff and tell me that's not messed up.
    The guy holding Raoul Spector hostage? That was our Sultan, ladies and gentlemen. A guy so corrupt, he wasn't voted out of office, he was deposed! And Powerful enough not to accidentally brutally stab himself in the back 27 times while shaving.
     
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  19. DaRedOne

    DaRedOne Morat Warrior Philosopher
    Warcor

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    I was mostly pulling your leg. You made a 'Yu Jing beer sucks' joke a little while after I made a 'Yu Jing beer sucks' too. Maybe Jack and Apple Pie have the same tastes for beer?
     
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  20. Danger Rose

    Danger Rose Sand Cats Tactical Security LLC

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    I had forgotten about that! And they definitively must have the same taste for beer, both being Americans (USAriadnans)
     
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