The skirmish was over. The flames of the small but impressively furious struggle between the forces of the Cultists and the troops of the SSC and the USK having burned themselves out in the hour after they began. In doing they left behind a landscape that was fittingly enough, considering their location: a graveyard of the dead and dying.
Crashed shuttles smoldered in trenches they had torn through the well tended ground; suits of power armor, their metal rented or sliced cleanly through by the forces they fought lay sprawled over broken graves and the chewed up dirt of the fields outside of the cemetery’s gates. The coffin itself a molten ruin, its edges still glowing faintly in the Partially incinerated hull of the shuttle the cultists of Naga had attempted to flee with before a well aimed shot from the SSC prevented them from making off with that which was too valuable to allow to be lost to hostiles. The Cultists themselves were gone, either dead or taken off running after the mortal injuring of their minister, the man that was known as Holf having been carried off, his face and throat blown cleanly open. Gargling what could have been curses as his body was dragged away by the undead earth drakes, followed closely by the remaining members of his forces as they retreated.
The black mask of the woman grasped in a death grip in his hands, the last vessel of the cultists had taken the chaos that had erupted with the deployment of the minefield in the upper atmosphere to its advantage, rifting out of the atmosphere amongst bursts of flame and metal.
And as the first light of the rising sun to the planets west began shining across the torn hills of the cemetery, illuminating the wreckage and bodies strewn about, two figures entered the dying battle zone.
"Truly a gruesome sight, Chassavo." Said one of the figures to the other. He was a young royal fire drake in gold and white armor. "Although I suppose we shouldn’t have expected anything less when the Draconian are involved." Leo continued, motioning towards a pair of corpses, one holding a blood spattered helmet, a look of terror on his face with a bullet hole in his forehead. The other corpses' head nothing more than a pile of flesh, bone, and grey matter. "It appears as though the inhabitants of this graveyard took part in the battle as well, corpses far older than these lie amongst the bodies of the soldiers." Leo drew attention to another corpse, nothing but bone and decayed flesh in tattered, dirt covered clothing, in its filthy claws was a soldier's arm. "Kane and Necrosis were here." Leo said as he returned his attention to Chassavo
"Those two?" The Time drake said, looking over the bodies and wreckage strewn about. Paying note to the large numbers of corpses that had seemingly erupted from their graves and lay across the landscape, most of them seemingly attacking both factions’ dead troopers in some way shape or form, their rotting and tattered clothes caked with dirt and smelling of rot. " Zeit Preserve us, not those two... " He knelt, taking in some of the smells in the air and noting the footprints in the dirt. Looking at the armored forms of the soldiers around them with quick glances. "There are others too." He said, noting several cultists that lay near them, their bodies riddled with gunfire. "Their positions are different... they don’t look like they were attacking each other at all." He went to one and knelt beside it, "Who are these people?" He lifted a section of Coat on the figure and uncovered a plate of shoulder armor, a painted yellow and black eye staring up from its surface.
Leo growled at the sight of the symbol. "The eye of Apophis, a mark worn by draconian cultists...they must’ve been after our thief as well..." Leo stopped and sniffed the air. "I smell hairspray and alcohol here... Echo was also involved...they must’ve been working together to capture our target."
"Hmm." Chassavo snorted as he stood up. Shoving the body over and covering the symbol under its bulk. Panning his head and sniffing the air, "Yeah that’s him… There’s also a hot copper smell, like burning blood. Can’t tell where that’s coming from..." He looked at Leo. "Do you think they managed to get whoever they were after? Lot of chaos by the looks of everything, they could have grabbed her and ran off while things were dieing down..."
The wind blew through the graveyard past a couple of mausoleums, blowing away the smell of death and bringing a new scent to Leo's nose, a smell all too familiar and unmistakable, a smell that made Leo shiver with dread.
"I smell Naga."
"I’m not sure how...but I’d know that smell anywhere" Leo answered, following his nose and turning to the mausoleums, his claws already engulfed in white hot flames ready for combat. His gaze set at the two tombs at a tall, inhuman form shrouded in shadow standing quietly between them, its golden eyes, it's only visible feature, watching the drakes amongst the corpses.
"He's there" Leo said silently, a growl slipping through his words.
Chassavo followed, drawing his blade. The Temporian mechanisms expanding its side blades with the sound of gears whirring. The odd hybrid of soul shard and versus tool on his chest glowing a powerful green, the energies transferring to his blade in visible streams. The Blade appearing to be covered in transparent green flames. He follows Leo’s gaze and in the shadows between the mausoleums, he spots the figure standing there. He growls lowly, infuriated with the Creature that stood before them.
"I see him." He replied, leveling the blade at the figure. Forming a swirling sphere of green water in his free hand.
Leo growled "I’ll rush him, be ready for when the devil's soul shard is exposed, go around and stick to the left" Leo ordered quietly, The flames in Leo's hands began to shift and expand, forming two long blades of intense heat over his fists as get got in position to charge.
Chassavo only nodded, assuming a striking stance. His blade held at the ready, the sphere of water forming around his hand into a blade like form. "I'll be ready... don't go getting yourself killed Leo..." he mutters silently.
Leo dashed for the mausoleums, his blades ready to strike at the dark form.
Chassavo followed, taking off at a sprint for the left side of the Figure, dodging the graves and bodies as he went. His Zeit blade held close to his body at a striking stance, He prepped himself for a temporal shunt when Leo managed to get the figures attention and get his Guard down.
Before the two drakes could reach their target, the form calmly turned and disappeared around the side of one of the tombs, forcing Leo to a sliding halt as he reached the mausoleums in confusion, looking around for the enemy that was lost amongst the shadows.
Chassavo likewise slid himself to a stop, putting a foot on an overturned gravestone to bring himself to a stop before he could get to the twin tombs. His blade still held at a defensive stance, looking around like the royal drake was. Searching out the shadow drake amongst the large number of shadows that were cast by the light of the rising sun on the battle torn landscape. "Where'd he disappear to?" he called to the Fire drake.
“He's gone..." Leo replied, shining his blades into the darkness in search for the form.
"Ehh..." Chassavo grunted as he regarded the fire drake as he looked into the darkness between the two damaged mausoleums, drawing back his lips from his teeth with a slightly repressed snarl. Concentrating and time shunting over to where he was in a burst of Green flame and Static, his blade still held at the ready in the still quite possible chance of a sneak attack. "Is he back there Leo?" He asked as he stepped up to where he was, chancing quick glances around the cemetery.
Leo sniffed the air.
"The smell is beginning to fade. He's gone, at least for now..." Leo brought his blades deeper into the darkness of the tomb, shining light into the shadows and illuminating a coffin on a stone slab. "But he-" Leo started to say before he noticed a shape dash behind the coffin, rattling the box and its contents slightly in the process.
Heh..." Chassavo said. "I suppose that’s some amount of good news-" He stopped mid sentence as the royals flames illuminated the shape as it dashed behind the coffin that lay within the tomb, taking a reflexive step back when it shook and Rattled the long dry bones that lay within it. "What was that?" He asked the fire drake in a whisper.
"I’m not sure...but it looks human by the heat it's giving off..." Leo replied silently while cautiously moving into the mausoleum.
Leo made his way to the shaking casket to investigate, his blades ready to strike in case of danger.
As Leo made his way up and around the casket, his ears tuned in on an unlikely sound for the land of the dead: breathing. It was close to him, so terribly close to him, and intuitively he could imagine it was just on the other side of the casket, which sat atop a pedestal of carved hands, as if the hands were cradling the body within that deteriorating wooden box.
As he reached the coffin he turned to make sure Chassovo was ready for whatever happened next.
Following some gesture of reassurance from his partner, Leo’s blades burned brighter as he came about the corner, ready to strike-
-only to find nothing. The aisle between the coffins in the mausoleum was bare, leading to a momentary confusion on his part as he glanced up rapidly towards Chassovo and then back down at the aisle. He looked more closely, and could in fact see the footprints in the dust. Someone had come this way, that much was certain; there were tiny droplets of blood along with the footprints, and as he glanced back at the footprints, he again traced them to here. Here there was some strange scuffing on the floor, and here the footprints stopped.
Still though, he could hear breathing.
Chassavo took a step forward, Curious at that which had apparently stumped the royal. Walking in a careful tread around the Back end of the coffin to look down the aisle, his Zeit Sword held half at his side. Following the Path of the footprints and dripped blood roughly to where they turned next to the coffin and stopped. "Hmm." He muttered, half to himself, his ears. This was much like that of the fire drake, cocked and alert as the sound of the breathing seemed to emanate from apparently nowhere. It troubled him. "There’s someone there..." he said half deductively to the royal. Speaking to himself a little more then he was to Leo.
Carefully he stooped down. Motioning for the royal to keep quiet, gathering a fist full of dust in his claw. With a Flick of his wrist he tossed it over the Area the breathing was emanating from, and then reassumed a defensive stance. Waiting for the dust to settle and show them more of what lay there, assuming of course that it was physical enough for the technique to work. He thought to himself.
Leo watched quietly, blades at the ready.
The dust settled slowly, and in its own way, the trick worked; but hardly in the way had Chassovo expected. It settled peaceably onto the ground, and for a moment, all was quiet as the grave. Chassovo paused in disappointment for a moment at the lack of an outline appearing.
Then, their quarry coughed, and in an instant a flurry of activity began. Someone had been lying prone beneath the coffin, which was suspended little more than two feet off the ground by those ponderous stone hands, and now was rolling out onto the far side, scrambling towards parts unknown.
It was at this same juncture that behind their backs, a shape rose to its feet, or to a position similar to that. Leo paused as the figure emerged from under the coffin, his first thought was to try to stop it but something seemed off about this form. He gave chassavo a quick glance to see what he might do.
Chassavo glanced first in the direction of the first figure. Then pivoting around in the direction that the sound of footsteps and the appearance of prints running from the tomb, giving a glance at the fire drake with a look of Alertness. "Leo!" He said quickly. "You deal with the new one..." He took a leap onto the Coffin. , already pursuing the first Figures rough direction. "...I'll follow the first. Contact me if you need me..." He took another leap, this one landing him outside of the entrance of the mausoleum entrance, following the footprints and blood spatters.
Leo gave Chassavo a quick nod and fell to all fours, his blades extinguishing as he began his chase after the second figure, quickly closing the gap between them.
Chassovo's quarry darted out into the red sky. The sun was rising slowly, and the fog was beginning to be cut by the day's rising light. He could see the figure stumbling through the early morning light, narrowly avoiding the tombstones and stepping on bodies with almost as much frequency as they avoided them. They were running low to the ground, and on times it almost seemed that they were running on all fours.
Leo's quarry, on the other hand, stood perfectly still.
Chassavo paused for a moment as he followed the progress of the figure, yet he kept moving fast enough to keep it within his range of sight in the early morning fog. Tracking its quick, if not particularly smooth progress through the graveyard, he sheathed his Zeit staff on his back and took off across the torn landscape after the figure.
As he ran, he glimpsed the timelines that continuously flowed around them. It was a natural ability of his people, and it was one of his traits that had carried with him into his new, if not much taller and scalier form. As he did, the landscape shifted, becoming blurred and grey in its tones, but all around him, there were streams of colors, timelines of individual people and the multiple branches that represented their hundreds of choices. Most were dark, he saw. Those were the lines of the dead. While others were still lit, but visibly growing dimmer, the streams of the freshly dead or lingering that lay across the field. But of his Quarry there was no stream to be found, only the faintest of glimpses of color that stretched off in the Direction they had followed.
"So it is the thief." Chassovo thought to himself, and then made himself run faster after them.
Unfortunately for his quarry, she was tired, and he was dead. Combined, these lead to a less than thrilling chase on the part of the pursuee; Chassovo didn't feel fatigue quite the same way she did, and she had, after all, had a rather late and long night.
Leo had made an attempt to grab the form on contact but passed through, appearing on the other side of the non-reactive figure like it didn’t exist. He quickly re- evaluated the situation and after a few quick slashes through the form to be sure, ran after Chassavo and his true target
Chassavo in the meantime had maintained his pursuit, finding quickly that he was closing the distance between himself and the thief at an increasing amount. This was something that admittedly surprised him. Even more so surprising then the ragged breathing he heard drifting back to him. Indeed it appeared that the fleeing figure had not escaped the conflict that had occurred without taking injury themselves, if the blood trail they were leaving behind them was any indicator. Presently rhea Time drake wished to end the pursuit, more for the figures sake of health then his own. Concentrating and making a short temporal shunt some ways ahead of the figures path. Appearing further in front of her in a burst of green flame and static. "Stop!” He called out in a tone that could have been concern, raising a clawed hand. "Please, hold on." Chassavo said, raising his hands in the air in a non threatening gesture.
It was at that moment that they began to understand that their quarry was not just injured. She was far, far from well.
A thin mixture of blood and tears ran like finely watered paint down her face from where her eyes had once been; her clothes were stained with dirt and blood, and torn severely in several locations, and as she crouched there they could see blood trickling from a black and purple wound in the lower regions of her leg. The pain should have been substantial, and if her unnaturally contorted facial expression was any indication, this was still the case.
She paused there for a moment, before abruptly looking over her shoulder towards where Leo remained at a safe distance. On seeing the woman's disfigured face, he abruptly began to question the effectiveness of two people trying to stop one from running when there was so little cover around them...
...and as she turned her face forward again, her gauntlet's plates began spinning slowly, with a manner to them that was eerily reminiscent of a cat's tail when its attention has been taken.
Chassavo Tensed as he saw the device on her arm seemingly cycle up to speed, Metal plates spinning with seemingly no devices driving them. He grasped the handle of his staff, debating weather or not she would force him to draw it. "Wait..." He said again, raising his free hand. "We're not here to be hostile miss... We're just looking for someone. We think you’re who we're looking for... the Names Chassavo.” He finished, trying to get conversation started.
As for the Bald Woman, she was panicking. From the timeline, she could tell that there was a drake in front of her; a drake who had additionally just shunted itself in front of her.
Only one drake came to mind that fit those criteria.
She could feel another creeping up behind her, and as it did, she was panicking. She was blind, and she was crippled, and there he was. He had waited all this time, just to get her while she was down.
Slowly, lips peeled back into a toothy snarl, a silent snarl, as she regretted a few key choices that had gone on this evening.
Leo moved closer to the woman, claws open, ready to restrain her to prevent anymore harm on herself while she was distracted by Chassavo, he silently stepped forward, ready for whatever she might try next.
Chassavo tensed even more as he saw the expression on her face change from the wary look of exhaustion and restrained paint to an almost primal snarl as she turned her attention back towards him. If he could have guessed it was his presence that had changed her mood to such a degree. And she looked coiled to strike.
"Frick..." He cursed silently to himself as he gripped the handle of the staff on his back. "Wait..." he said as the device on her forearm cycled up faster, drawing the staff. It was making its usual Ticking sound. Taking a glimpse of the semi hidden timeline of the woman crouched before him and seeing that she ment to strike him with whatever weapon she had, he knew it would hurt if it struck true. It would hurt like hell. "Wait!!" He called out again; the tension in his voice apparent as his staff cycled itself up, shifting into its sword Mode. "We're not who you think we are, wait!!..." he said, nearly at a yell.
----TO BE CONTINUED----
this takes place after the events of Dark Rendezvous part 3 and a project between LordNagaetros, CommodoreHorton, and Tenebraesrising.