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 Season Three: The Malignant Seven

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Better Alex



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PostSubject: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:37 pm

Main Branch of Episodes:
Spoiler:
 

Space Cops

Spoiler:
 


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:37 am

Episode One: Once Upon A Time in Space Mexico

Our tale begins in November 3284, with a motley crew of outlaws. Led by a young man named Eugene Hawkins, this crew included black midget mechanic "Popeye" Jones, an acciptrid assassin calling himself Ben Turner, and viridian pilot Charles Barkley. As they dined in a bar on the planet Inez, an East Asian fugitive wandered in, looking to book passage of the planet. Calling herself Noriko, she attempted to proffer the services of Captain Hawkins and his ship. In the midst of negotiations, a bounty hunter charged in calling out Charles and firing his gun wildly. The crew snapped into action, kicking over tables for cover while Ben expertly gunned down the assailant. Noriko, using a special tool of her own design, hacked into the man's cyberized brain and incapacitated him. She stole all of his money before the crew dispersed, and she agreed to meet them at the spaceport. The spacecraft Blackbird took on her crew and cargo and got underway. Aboard, Noriko met the other members of the crew: "Doc" Wade Rog, a Neanderthal physician, and the ship's AI and quartermaster Marvin Silver.
They made their way through the stars to the planet Driand, a hothouse world with a dense atmosphere; the upper air is thick but breathable, with small floating towns lofted about on enormous aerostats. But the surface-level air is toxic and unbreathable. The Blackbird parked in orbit, and the crew descended in a shuttle to the floating city of Laredo. Captain Hawkins acquired a delivery job, but was forced to wait while the cargo was prepared for transport. While they waited, Ben and Noriko drifted off to the impoverished outer ring of town, seeking some mob contacts and simple jobs. They were hired by a pair of Fenian Daggers to help them break into a jail and lynch a man suspected of beheading two of their fellow mobsters.

The next night Ben, Noriko, and Popeye scampered off to the local town jail, where they rendezvoused with their Fenian companions. They initially successfully entered the jailhouse and Noriko entered the station officer's cyberbrain to give them an edge in bluffing their way past him. They retrieved Prisoner #24601, Jason Glass, and set him into the prep room to be transferred. But the ruse failed when their drunken Irish cohorts slipped up and a fight broke out. In the end, several prisoners escaped and part of the jailhouse burned down. Popeye intended to murder Glass as per the contract, but Noriko convinced him to relent. Glass was escorted to the ship to become its new "newbie" crewman. His skills with an energy blade, and his renown as a bounty hunter against space pirates were welcomed.
Meanwhile, another job came up. According to local news, the Dearborn Mining Company held most of the mining interests on the planet's surface, but they were in the midst of a hostile takeover by Drake Industries, a subsidiary of the conglomerate McGrady Corporation. An ongoing riot down in the surface mines was making trouble for both sides, but primarily for the Dearborn company, as human miners were on strike and alien slaves took arms to resist their corporate masters. After sending negotiating teams to both mining companies, Captain Hawkins signed contracts to send his crew down as mercenaries to put down the miner's strike. The night before the big day, Hawkins and Noriko bonded and talked about their lives. He confessed that he never knew his father, and was intent on trying to find him. She revealed that she was a fugitive for having stolen sensitive technology that allowed her to rapidly and easily mind-hack people and machines. They agreed to help each other.
In the midst of this, however, their package arrived. The Captain, in his foolishness, opened the box. Thus revealing a large, powerfully-built military robot rigged with machine guns and a grenade launcher, calling himself XATM-092. They reached an understanding, whereby the robot would go with them to their mercenary work and acquire combat data.

Hawkins, Popeye, Barkley, Ben, Jason, and '92 left the next morning for the planet's surface. Noriko refused, citing previous troubles with the McGrady Corporation. However, she did hack into both companies' databases and provide the ground team with technical support, information, and hacking equipment. The Doc stayed up in the city as well, not willing to get involved in combat. Noriko took time to follow up on a lead to narrow down possible fathers of the Captain. The ground force broke into the main mine facility, and encountered an armed guard. Initially discussing the situation, and feigning joining the rioters, two armed robots activated and castigated the guard for slipping information to them. They charged him, intending to self-detonate and kill him. Popeye, Jason, and '92 burst into action and defeated them before they could harm the guard, who agreed to guide them to the riot's leader. They had to get to the bottom of this whole thing.
But, upon descending into the bowels of the mines, they were ambushed and their guide was shot. The mercs scrambled into action, taking down their assailants. The miner's leader, a sinewy shrike calling himself Raspail, strode forward with his hands up, trying to negotiate. Jason, living up to his nickname "Psycho", snapped and began duelling Raspail. Charles flew into a raging frenzy and charged forward with his steel greatclub ready to crush his enemies. The robot fired on the other miners, blasting them with grenades and raking them with machine gunfire. Captain Hawkins and Popeye implored them to cease fire and calm down, but it was too late. Jason gutted Raspail just before Charles Barkley threw him aside and bashed the alien's skull in. Only Popeye's attempts to soothe him were successful, and Barkley's rage subsided. He embraced his friend and dropped his club in seeming shame. Jason claimed the spoils: Raspail's crystal sabre.
At the back of the chamber, only one alien remained alive. An emaciated cassiopeian stood before a large, floating silvery-black orb and laid his hands on it. Attempts to talk to him and get his attention were to no avail before Jason sat down and spoke to him. The alien, apparently completely blind, implored Jason to touch the sphere, and he did so; but he was struck blind after a flash of visions. Popeye did the same, and received the same fate. But for all the trouble, they saw wondrous sights of the galaxy's every coordinate, the landscape of Earth's moon, and the figure of a strange pale man. When they asked the alien what the strange hallucinations had been about, he explained that they were religious visions given from the Great Healer, which he believed to be the space messiah. When they pressed him further, he revealed that the messiah he spoke of was none other than the famous deceased doctor David McGrady.

With their threats eliminated, and '92 unresponsive, the team decided to take the blind cassiopeian back with them along with the strange artefact. Carefully securing it into a crate, they hoofed it back to the surface and departed, though not before the Captain dealt with a suspicious State Security officer. Arriving via shuttle back to the floating city, it was made apparent that '92 was angry due to Noriko's invading his mind, and using him to hack into various installations. The violating of his self disgusted him, and he refused to have anything to do with the crew.
Noriko, meanwhile, broke into a hospital with Ben acting as distraction, to steal medical equipment and synthetic eyeballs for the two blinded men. Doc Wade performed surgery to give them their sight back, and did extensive testing on the new cassiopeian crewman. Popeye talked to him personally, and came to know much about him. The alien used to be called Nydass, but he rejected the name now and preferred "Paul", and revealed that he had been an acquaintance and adventurer alongside Dr. David McGrady during the infamous Unthor plague incident and several subsequent classified occurrences. His experiences with David, combined with an apparent near-death experience, had a stark effect on his perceptions and he came to believe that David was a messianic, saintly figure who worked wonders and committed suicide as a sacrifice for the sins of all intelligent beings. He seemed firmly committed to finding David's body and bringing about a Second Coming.

The Blackbird departed, after the crew collected their money, en route to Nausicaa to deliver their package. Noriko showed Eugene her findings, and revelation that a deceased Army sergeant, Ned Pepper, was the most likely candidate to be his father. After some time of travel, they docked with the Orbital Defence Station Maginot, and were greeted by Vice Admiral Penelope Beaumont. The admiral received the robot, who then spilled the beans about having been tampered with. The Captain lied about Noriko's involvement, covering for her, but admitted to using XATM-092 as a tool. Admiral Beaumont angrily charged them with various crimes, and pressed the Blackbird into service as licensed corsairs to redeem themselves. They were given license to hunt, capture, detain, or destroy space pirates in the region, and would be evaluated in a month's time. XATM was assigned to accompany them as an official military observer and combat specialist for the corsairs, much to his infuriation.
The Captain descended to the surface, to meet with his mother, along with Noriko and Popeye. The meeting didn't go well. His mother confirmed that Sergeant Pepper was Gene's father. She admitted to fooling Pepper into not using prophylactics and lying about using contraceptives herself in order to use him to get pregnant. Eugene reacted angrily and she slapped him. The young captain stormed out, fuming, while his mother sobbed. The crew quietly slipped out and returned to the ship. Hawkins and Noriko looked for more answers to their questions, intent in finding the truth about Pepper.

Meanwhile, far away in the Sol System's asteroid belt, a clandestine group of operatives and agents were assembled under the direction of General Xander Vox. The group was composed of Agent Adrian Lancore, a teenager named Eric, Silver Team's Sarah Sterling and Krokken Fraugg, and the Catholic priestess-assassin Marceline Creed. They were placed under the command of starship Captain Henrietta Daniels and her husband, Commander Damien Daniels. The group's sole, mysterious goal: to find the people who stole a valuable artefact from the mining world Driand, and return the object to government custody.
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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:05 am

Episode Two: Liberty and Kidnap For All

The Blackbird crew continued on to Keystone, seeking answers. Noriko made an appointment with Governor Meshcheryakov. When the ship arrived in the planet's orbit, they chose to dock at the Seraphim Grand Space Resort. Constructed by business tycoon and information broker Alexandria Jensen, the Seraphim Grand housed one of the most luxurious resorts in the Outer Colonies, with a full-size shopping mall, a resplendent casino, two indoor water parks, and several five-star restaurants alongside a dance club, Alexandria's personal art gallery, and four 3,000-room five-star hotels. A veritable orbital entertainment city, the Seraphim Grand played host to numerous visiting dignitaries and travellers with a large docking bay. The resort was designed in the shape of a stylized roulette wheel, with a central tower housing Alexandria's penthouse suite and office. It was a marvel of engineering and a publicity darling, and had been a boon to Keystone's economy for over two decades. It was often said that the planet's economic recovery after the devastation of the Keystone Incident was in no small part due to the presence of the Seraphim Grand.
Almost immediately upon striding into the resort, they caught Alexandria's eye. They were asked to be received in the tycoon's office, and responded with quizzical interest. They had heard of this information broker and his extensive underworld connections. While himself legitimate, Alexandria--formerly known as Kaayla--had welcomed criminals and sellswords to mingle in his clubs and resorts, and sold information to the higher bidder. Some said that he sold mercenary contracts--even assassinations--and dabbled in theft and kidnapping. On the surface, however, he was an enormously successful real estate magnate, hotelier, restaurateur, and retailer of cybernetics.

The crew, arriving in Alexandria's spherical glass office room, were greeted magnanimously and told that they had unwittingly done their host a favour. In bringing Charles Barkley, they had shown him an exotic alien he had never seen before. Viridians so rarely made their way to the old Terran colonies. In turn, he gave them a favour. He passed along a contract he had been hired to broker; the crew of corsairs seemed willing and able to get the job done. They accepted warily. The contract was for a mysterious but renowned research scientist, Dr. Seilon, and they were tasked with two things: first, to capture relatively unharmed the CEO of Varnes & Co., the fifth-largest pharmaceuticals and medical equipment company in the Galaxy, and to ransack the company headquarters for information that could be incriminating or damaging to their reputation. It would be an extremely dangerous contract, as Varnes & Co. was located in Buffalo, New York on Earth and was known to be well-defended by advanced technology and hardened guards hired from New York street gangs. The crew was informed by Alexandria that they could be equipped properly for the situation--for a price. His personal requisitions team would provide all that they needed, and bill them later. But he did give them a gift: a case of his finest wine, on the house. The crew departed and decided to have some fun at the casino. All except Jason; he inquired about his personal spacecraft, which had been stolen on Driand, and had likely been driven to some wretched hive of scum and villainy. As it turned out, it was docked at the Seraphim Grand. Jason was escorted by a cadre of four security toughs to get the spacecraft back and find who stole it. They didn't have far to look, as the thief was fast asleep in the cockpit. Jason unlocked it and wrenched the man out, beating him senseless; he checked if anything was awry, and noticed that the man had been perusing the ship's internet to look at child pornography. They took the thief to the interrogation room and beat him mercilessly, torturing him for information, before Jason executed him by beheading.

The next day, Captain Hawkins and Popeye and Noriko descended to the surface to keep their appointment. They were greeted at the Sarful Regional Spaceport by the Governor's  valet, "Jeb" Smitherson. A rambler prone to long-winded yet obtuse observations of his surroundings and the world in which he lived, Jeb filled their ears during the entire ride from Sarful to Port Glimmercoast, which had become the new capital city of Keystone. They were received warmly by Governor Meshcheryakov, who regaled Eugene on his father's exploits and leadership. The Governor called Pepper a man akin to a brother, and treated Eugene like a long-lost nephew. He told him that if he was in the area and needed anything, all he had to do was call.
They left the next morning, with Earth as their destination. It took a couple of days, filled with planning the mission and smoking weed, but they reached the planet and parked in orbit. Earth was protected by the most sophisticated orbital defences known to man, and defended by a large garrison drawn from the most elite units. And unlike other worlds, no aliens were allowed on Earth's surface. Any person found to be harbouring them would be tried for constitutional crimes, and the alien would be summarily executed. This generated unique challenges regarding Ben. Paul remained in the dark, even though he desired to go to Earth to see Brazil. The Captain wanted to handle one thing at a time.
Using elaborate disguise techniques, false identification, and custom software to spoof bioscanners and fool inspectors, they smuggled Ben down to Earth along with their equipment via space elevator. They took a train from Virginia to upstate New York, lodging at a hotel in Buffalo while they fine-tuned their plan. The following night, they struck.

With Noriko's expert mind-hacking and the swift assassination skills provided by Jason, they dealt with the front desk guards. Noriko planted a looped video section into the security cameras, making it seem as if nothing had gone wrong. Popeye scampered downstairs to see what sabotage he could concoct. Jason and Eugene went onto different floors to cause a ruckus and distract security while Noriko snuck into the server room and steal the company's sensitive data. Meanwhile, with the combination of planted thermal sensors, an array of mobile spy bots the crew released into the building, and a connection to the public satellite network, Ben and 092 set up a roost on an adjacent building. Ben skilfully sniped Varnes guards while 092 watched his back. The plan was going smoothly, and soon they would be able to go the top floor and kidnap Varnes himself.
But downstairs, while Popeye began to plant explosives, he overheard through the door the deep, warbling voice of what must have been the building's security manager, and another guard. They had detected Noriko's loop, noticed other traces of movement, and began to counteract it in order to see what was up. They alerted the guards and sent them to investigate the break-in. Popeye planted a bomb on the door and blew it, killing the guard. But the security chief survived, and stepped out from the smoke and shadows, revealing himself to be a condarian dressed in a fur-lined trenchcoat and broad-brimmed sombrebo, with robotic arms flicking out to bring four guns to bear: two laser pistols, and two magnum revolvers. Carmen Santana called out the pygmy saboteur: "I might not see you, small one, but I can hear your every movement!" Popeye seemed to surrender, throwing him his backpack full of explosives. He then flung a last-ditch wildcard: his cybernetic eye, filled with a small amount of high-powered explosive. The grenade went off, but set off the plastic explosive too. Popeye ducked away as Carmen bolted up the stairs, and the basement erupted into flame. Popeye ran as fast as he could, after escaping the blast, trying to follow the alien mercenary. But to no avail, as Carmen hopped on an elevator and went to handle the situation upstairs himself.

Eugene had become injured, and was desperately trying to survive an onslaught of guards while Jason traipsed from floor to floor, incapacitating guard after guard with his swordsmanship. When they were alerted to the new threat, they tried to warn Noriko. Jason rushed upstairs, seeking a worthy opponent and Noriko's safety. He duelled Carmen but was felled by numerous critical gunshot wounds. Just as Noriko had finished downloading the data, the alien crept up behind her and knocked her out. He took her hostage and boarded his special hovercar, controlled by the AI Duncan. The car had just barely escaped a missile duel with 092, and severely damaged the building on which Ben had made his roost. Popeye and Eugene just managed to stabilize Jason and sent him to the roof; a helicopter was scheduled to pick them up. The two then confronted Varnes and his guards. They let him take them to the roof, and Jason turned the tables. After killing the two guards, they had their prize, and they made their escape. Just in time, as the Varnes and Co. headquarters collapsed amid fire and explosions.
Noriko, meanwhile, was taken by Carmen to the nearest Varnes office in New York City. As it turned out, the safehouse was simply a sales and trade contracts office, and its security chief was wholesale unprepared to interrogate a prisoner. Carmen injured her, blowing out her kneecap and scorching her with a laser, in the course of attempting to wheedle information out of her. She revealed nothing they didn't already know, and in tampering with her portable hard-drive they accidentally destroyed it--but not before it sent a burst transmission to the nearest holonet sat and uploaded all of the sensitive data to the internet. She was treated for her knee destruction, just in time for the office to receive a call from Popeye and Eugene demanding her back. They planned a prisoner exchange, to take place the next morning at Liberty Island. His work done, and his check in the bank, Carmen departed to his spacecraft and ate beet soup.

In truth, the crew planned to keep Varnes hidden and safe with Ben, who would overwatch with his rifle, while Jason would be in disguise as Varnes. They would make the exchange, and Jason could kill them afterwards. Meanwhile, Noriko had sent discreet communiqué to Alexandria asking for aid and giving him a copy of the stolen data. Alexandria notified some of his informants on Earth: a lunatic mercenary codenamed Highball, a strung-out single mother and assassin named Francesca, a valiant and honourable policeman named Lorenzo, and a doctor of literature and strongman-for-hire known only as Dr. Bilanovic. They assembled in the Statue of Liberty itself--in actuality, the 6th reconstruction of the statue--and waited. The morning of the 24th of November, the exchange began. However, the guards quickly figured out that Jason was not Chris Varnes, and it escalated into full-scale fighting. Noriko limped off to hide while Jason duked it out with guards, Highball and his team leapt from the woodwork in a dramatic flurry of blows, and 092 slaughtered a dozen guards with his machine guns. In the end, the guards were dead or incapacitated and the two teams were victorious. However, Eugene had crept off and tried to use their helicopter for support; he was woefully unfamiliar with helicopter controls and wound up crashing the aircraft into the Statue of Liberty. Eugene avoided death at the last moment by bravely leaping fifty feet from the chopper to the ground, but shattered his leg on landing. After the debacle, everyone fled.

In the painful journey back to Virginia and returning by space elevator to the Blackbird, Eugene's and Noriko's injuries worsened. Back onboard, Doc Wade recommended amputation for Noriko and a long period of rest and inactivity for Eugene. Popeye would become Acting Captain in the meantime. Ignoring Paul's pleas to stay a little longer, they jumped to the planet Lonnel, the home of this mysterious Dr. Seilon and his government-funded xenobiology lab. They handed over Chris Varnes, and learned somewhat of Seilon's reasons for wanting this man destroyed. Varnes was to be tortured and murdered, it was assured, for having a hand in Seilon's ruined childhood. Before departing the desolate world, Seilon revealed a small monument to be placed his newest facility extension, a statue of the greatest man he'd ever known: Dr. David McGrady. Paul was in awe, and believed Seilon to be an unwitting evangelist of the new Davidian religion.

They took their leave, and proceeded back to Keystone and Alexandria's resort. The crew had questions that needed answering.
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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:44 am

Gaiden One: Galactic Lampoon's Vacation, or: Celeste Beaumont's Day Off

Meanwhile, Supreme Marshal Celeste Beaumont was hard at work on Earth, toiling without rest. As Chairperson of the Joint Military Staff, she was considered the professional head of the entire Union Armed Forces, and the chief military adviser to the government. Her work took her long into the night--as did her fears. Constant sexual harassment from State Sec golden cow William McGrady tormented her. One morning, after spurning his advances, she found a dead chicken and a note implying McGrady had broken into her home. She responded, after a moment of panic, with sending a servant catering a grilled whole weasel--the McGrady sigil--to William's office the next day. But to her horror, McGrady murdered the servant and had him disappeared. She poured her time into her work to the point of mental exhaustion, and she began drinking excessively. After passing out during a staff meeting, Chancellor Maximilian ordered her to take a vacation in mid-November 3284.

She took a tour with her personal guards, Valerie, Melody, and Alexandra, first to see her mother at the ODS Maginot. At first acrimonious, the meeting calmed as Admiral Beaumont and her eldest daughter reconciled over their actions. They then went down to the planet Nausicaa to see her young brother Artemus, who was around fifteen and soon would be sent to a prestigious private academy in the Inner Colonies. Upon arrival, Celeste was struck by the circumstantial evidence implying a sexual relationship between Artemus and his caretaker, a young woman naval officer. But Admiral Beaumont was naively ignorant of it, and so Celeste said nothing. The vacationing general left the next day for Keystone to go see her sister.

Back on Earth, General McGrady was seeing his psychiatrist and pondered his boredom. In the years since leaving his field work for command and staff positions, he had become bored. No action, no fight, no excitement. He had delighted in his political games against General Vox, but these had mostly subsided after the debacle on Luna ten years before. The doctor recommended he go on vacation, do something new and exciting. Perhaps a dangerous hunting trip, a safari on a far-off world. McGrady decided to take his wife and kids with him, and go somewhere he'd never been before: Keystone. He departed post-haste.

Celeste met with Governor Meshcheryakov at his governor's mansion in Port Glimmer, but collapsed from an epileptic seizure soon after. She was placed on bed-rest for several days. When she came to on the 22nd, she awoke to the fanfare of General McGrady's arrival. After a wave of shock and horror, she ate dinner with the governor, Aurora, their children, and the McGradys. Beaumont reluctantly went on a hunting expedition with the McGradys, deep into the mountains of Sutherland, near Samabama. They hiked for several days through the woods, once coming across a few travellers on the trails--seeing in the sky some burning debris, which would turn out to be the after-effects of the Battle of the Seraphim Grand. There was good tyrannosaur hunting in Jacobson's Hollow, so they ventured there.
However, William disappeared for a couple days while some mysterious animal attacked their porters and guards, draining their blood. Celeste hunted for it, to no avail, but did find William in ragged furs, enjoying the wilderness. She had her suspicions that he had been killing them, but had no evidence. Nevertheless, she cut her vacation short. Having reconnected with her family and reconciled, she was now not as burdened by guilt and stress.


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:09 am

Episode Three: Seraphim Grande, or: He Wore A Yellow Jacket.

Completing their contract brokered by Alexandria, the crew of the Blackbird left the planet Lonnel with puzzling questions. Who was this strange person? Why had they become so powerful in their line of work? What was the nature of the substance Popeye had obtained, that InSpire? All was hoped to become clear upon their return to the Seraphim Grand. What they were met with, instead, was a rambunctious gathering at the resort. A dozen or so large yellow-painted spacecraft were docked at the casino, along with a few other vessels including a government transport. The yellow ships were identified as belonging to the Yellow Jackets, a violent gang of space pirates. Upon docking, the Blackbird crew almost were involved in a serious altercation in the hotel lobby with a few of the Yellow Jackets. Popeye and Eugene defused the tension, however, and they proceeded on to the main area.

Alexandria answered some of their questions, reintroduced them to Highball--looking strangely dapper as Alexandria's new security man--and offered a long-term contract to be his retainers, as it were. Captain Hawkins held a hard line and said he'd consider it. In an attempt to sweeten the deal, Alexandria let them have some casino games on the house. He did, however, seem agitated at the presence of so many space pirates. The Yellow Jackets, while not outright violent yet, had been causing a ruckus and scared away several patrons from the casino. The resort's security team was on high alert, and Alexandria recommended caution from his new guests as well. Hawkins, Jason, and Popeye headed back down to the casino, along with Charles, and played a few games. Almost immediately, however, Popeye noticed something odd at the high-stakes blackjack table. He went over to take a look. Back in Alexandria's office, Noriko broached the subject of her being a secret member of the crew, her run from the law and the McGradys, and her skilled services as a computer hacker.

Popeye joined the blackjack game and saw that one man in a slick yellow blazer was intimidating all the other players. He won game after game, until Popeye showed up--fearless and defiant--and won a round. The man, his dark hair slicked back long, greeted him openly as the crew chief of the Yellow Jacket squadron parked at the resort, and admired the pygmy for his panache and bravado. Not many would look him in the eye and play against him without fear. He invited him to his personal VIP lounge for a private game. Popeye bemusedly agreed, but asked Noriko up in the office to patch into the room's camera feed.
In the room, the pirate leader stated the terms: a simple game of liar's dice, no money at stake, just for fun. Six dice each man, standard strict rules. He then brought out twelve teenage children, bluffing that they were his 'cheerleaders'. He placed six on his side of the table and six on Popeye's and had his guards stand near them. He then ordered one to cut the cameras. Up in Alexandria's office, the feed went black. Highball and others were ordered to get down there and see what was going on. Noriko began to worry, and scrambled down the elevator shaft to get into the ventilation duct leading to the VIP room.
The game proved to be not so simple. The stakes were indeed high, for anyone who wasn't a psychopath. If one of the players lost a dice, the guard would kill a child corresponding to the player's side of the table. Popeye and the pirate each lost one, then Popeye lost two. The tension was palpable, and the pirate showed no signs of letting up. He wanted to see Popeye squirm, and taunted him about his friend. When pressed on the subject, the pirate opined that they'd tracked Charles Barkley and planned to take him out in revenge. "No one," he said, "but no one just leaves the Yellow Jackets and lives. My boss will pay a pretty price for his branches." At that, Popeye sprung into action. He launched special capsules with his slingshot, making one guard slip and another stick fast to the floor. He kicked open the door and beckoned the kids to run. Some did, but some were gunned down by the pirates. At that signal, a group of six Yellow Jackets swarmed Charles Barkley while he was busy at the slot machines, and raked him with automatic fire. The casino descended into chaos as people fled in terror, stampeding out of the doors; Charles was engaged on all sides by hostile gunmen. Jason rushed over, and though his beam sword was ready, his heart was not; torn within whether to slay these foul murderers or to avenge his family and join them in striking down Charles. Alexandria's security people started firing on the Yellow Jackets, both in the room and near Charles.

Popeye fired an incendiary charge at the pirate leader and bolted out the door, trying to find Charles. The melee near the slot machines had become carnage, with Charles bashing a man's brains in, Ben shooting another, and security trying to calm everyone down. As Jason cut one mercenary down and prepared to strike at Charles, a voice called out from the fleeing children: "Papa?" said a girl's voice. He turned and saw his long-lost daughter, now a woman grown at sixteen, and looking horrified and traumatized. They rushed to embrace, but a shot rang out and she was struck by a stray bullet. As she crouched, injured but not dying, Jason flew into a rage and cut down another pirate. Charles ran out of pirates to kill and turned his frenzied fury upon the security men. He crushed several before Popeye rushed to his defence and soothed him with calming words. Charles, savage and murderous, then eased up and looked at the room with shame in his heart written upon his face. Jason returned to his daughter's aid as Charles limped away back to the Blackbird. Another time would come, but for now his daughter's health was paramount. After putting her in the infirmary, he received word: Noriko had snuck down through the vents and captured the grievously burned pirate leader and dragged him away, and now he was in containment a floor below. He ran to meet with Highball and a surviving security guard. Torturing and beating the pirate, they found out that Jason's daughter had been one of several child sex slaves captured and traded by the Yellow Jacket, and while this man had bought her a few years ago for his personal 'enjoyment', she had been kidnapped by a viridian matching Charles' description. Jason was sure of it now, and was disgusted by Charles' crimes. But even more, presently, he was furious as this burnt pirate before him: he had gambled with a little girl's life, for fun, and now he was going to pay. Jason gutted him, but not before the man sent a transmission to all of his people to begin an attack.

Meanwhile, the brutal gunfight and brawl had expanded well beyond the casino into the hotels and other parts of the resort. Soon the halls were alight with gunfire and stained with blood. The Yellow Jackets mostly retreated to their ships and began to disembark. Jason made sure his daughter was under guard and receiving medical treatment before scrambling to the dock to get in his space fighter. He was going to lead the way if this was turning out how it was seeming. Indeed it was, as the yellow pirate ships rocketed away and let loose salvoes of missiles on the resort. Noriko, Highball, and Alexandria were in the top office on the end of a spire in the centre of the station when the attack began. Explosions rippled through the compartments, obliterating whole sections at a time. Popeye and Marvin mobilized the Blackbird for a fight and engaged with pirate ships twice their mass, outnumbered twelve-to-one. But with Jason's space fighter on their side, they gave the pirates a run for their money. Noriko used the station's comm systems to hack several pirate ships and send them careening towards the planet at full burn. But one ship loosed a "casaba" missile while detonated a directional nuclear warhead, vaporizing half the station and gutting its communications and reactor systems. Realizing the station was 'sinking', Alexandria activated the escape pod--containing the office--and steered it around the battlefield. Popeye bravely rammed another ship, cleaving it in half, but permanently damaged the Blackbird in the process and destroyed its main weapon. Ben and 092 sortied out in Ben's space fighter and conducted a near-suicidal boarding of a disabled space pirate ship and took it by bloody force. Alexandria's pod docked with the same ship and assisted in taking control. Noriko piloted it and used it to take out most of the other pirate ships. But, in the knife-fight ranges, some pirate craft got off a few good shots and managed to destroy Jason's fighter; his own escape pod was captured by the pirate ship, the only one that survived the initial scuffle. Then, the ship's reinforcements arrived--another dozen spaceships, armed to the teeth. Popeye prepared the old ship for a last-ditch suicide run, preferring to go out in a blaze rather than go quietly. The Seraphim Grand resort went down in flames, a dramatic backdrop to the standoff.

Just then, another reinforcement arrived: Alexandria had sent out a distress signal, and the Central Galactic Navy roared into battle. Battleships and cruisers, far larger than the pirate ships, and armed with thousands of missiles and dozens of high-powered lasers, made short work of most of the pirates. The flotilla, commanded by Admiral Penelope Beaumont, won the battle. One pirate ship under hostile control was spared: the command one, where Jason was in the process of breaking out of his pod and cutting down all opposition. A Navy boarding team helped him--by running across him and staying out of his way--and allowed him to take the bridge. In a close duel, Jason slew the ship's captain and claimed victory. He conversed with one of the Navy boarders, an old comrade of his, and vowed to stop roaming, take care of his daughter, and do whatever he could to hit back at the Yellow Jackets. His personal vengeance against Charles had to be put aside.
As Popeye saw the fleet of military vessels, he took Charles and escaped on an escape pod to the planet's surface. It was an arduous experience, trekking across wilderness and nearly being attacked by a T. rex, being saved and given directions by an aristocrat and his hunting guide, and hiking to the town of Samabama for rescue. It was there that he sought medical attention for Charles, looking up a small clinic ran by a known alien specialist--himself an alien stranded here by self-exile, whose code of honour obligated him to help whomever needed it. Popeye took Charles to the clinic, but scarcely avoided attack by a Yellow Jacket ground team. He killed one assailant and blew the other in half with bomb. The graal doctor, annoyed by this violence, demanded that the pirate be treated as well and brought them all in his clinic. He revealed himself by degrees: a graal veteran of the Soviet side of the Great War, who had been a combat medic. He now dedicated himself to saving lives, even those of humans for whom he held a racial grudge. Popeye rigged the clinic with traps while the doctor, who revealed his name to be Razvann ra Enrayr, worked long into the night to save lives. The trapping proved right-minded as they were attacked by more pirates the next morning. In a tense fight, their enemies fired RPGs into the building, spurring Charles and the graal doctor to counterattack alongside Popeye. While most of the pirates were dispatched, Charles took even greater injuries and the clinic burned down. Popeye had called for help, and it arrived not long after the stressful battle. Ben piloted a shuttle and demanded that they all get the hell out of there. With nowhere else to go, and his home demolished, Dr. Raz shored up with Popeye, hoping to do some good yet still.

Meanwhile, with the Blackbird destroyed and unusable, the hulk was scrapped. Captain Hawkins, Noriko, Ben, Doc Wade, and the AI core of Marvin Silver were temporarily housed in their captured pirate ship. Marvin was built a new body, and Captain Hawkins gave as clear an explanation he could for the situation. Admiral Beaumont recognized his good work as a corsair and released him from his obligations; they were all pardoned, but still chastised for harbouring the infamous murderer, rapist, and pirate Charles Barkley. Eugene bluffed an assurance that Charles and Popeye were missing and assumed dead. The battle robot XATM-092 was decorated for his role in the battle and released from any obligation to the Blackbird crew, returning with Beaumont to her ship. Hawkins was allowed, under prize rules, to keep the pirate ship as his own. He painted it bright pinkish-red with black-flecked "battle scar" paint where it had been struck in combat, and named it the Strawberry Fields. Now ready with a new ship, a new body for Marvin, and new crew member, they set off for some well-earned R&R: Alexandria, grateful for their help, had offered them free tickets to the Galactic Martial Exhibition, an enormous trade show with a wrestling championship and martial arts tournament as spectacles. An event for which Alexandria was a major sponsor. But they wouldn't be going with at least one of their hitherto crew: Jason departed with his daughter, his sword, and bittersweet parting words with Noriko, who had grown attached to him. She had been as if a lover to him, but they both were apprehensive of letting their walls down and their emotions through. The Strawberry Fields, less one, departed Keystone once again.

Such was the Battle of the Seraphim Grand.


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Sun Oct 11, 2015 3:50 pm

Gaiden Two: I'm a Motherfucking T-Rex


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:49 am

Episode Four: For A Few Gangsters More

Somewhat exhausted by the preceding events, the crew of the newly-minted Strawberry Fields departed for New Tejas, the capital world of the Banat. New Tejas' own capital city, Brazos, would serve as the host city for the Galactic Martial Exhibition: a week-long festival with trade shows for guns, knives, archaic weapons, military vehicles, and high technology, along with theatre, a three-day open-invitation Mixed Martial Arts tournament, and the Galactic Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship. All to be capped with with a grand finale: a no-holds-barred, no-rules exhibition fight between the winner of the MMA tourney and the GWF heavyweight champion. It was to see this immense spectacle that the crew flew to New Tejas, requiring some serious rest and relaxation.
Almost immediately, they were beset with new stresses. As they boarded a bus for downtown Brazos, the ship was broken into by an alien thief. With black plumage, red trim, and a slippery temperament, the acciptrid thief known only as Thrush was infamous for his unpredictability. Just earlier that week, he had stopped a slagbeest donkeyshow through stealthy and violence, and had murdered the event's patron in cold blood just to rob him. He had hocked the kuhn businessman's stuff and was looking to jack a ship. Noriko was supposed to be alerted if any trespass occurred, but she had not accounted for Marvin's treachery. Feeling miffed over his inability to touch the mysterious orb in the cargo hold, and resentful of the crew for perceived mistreatment, he allowed Thrush access and asked him to touch the orb in exchange for the ship. Thrush refused, prompting a brutal fight in which he destroyed Marvin's body but not before Marvin broke his leg with a cudgel. Noriko was then alerted, and the bus wheeled around. The crew warily moved to corner the thief, but found nothing. Only for Popeye's newfound scent--a gene mod he grafted in during transit to Space Mexico--and Noriko's near-brush with death did they find him. Once caught, he confessed to the crime but told the truth of Marvin's mutiny. Noriko shut the AI down, and Captain Hawkins reluctantly let Thrush join the crew. He had let Popeye and Charles aboard under similar circumstances, and hoped this would pay off as well.

They hit the city then, enjoying all the sights and shows.
Noriko wandered into a technology fair, seeing some new weapons designed by the famed Hellfocker Corporation and its subsidiaries, new computer technology, and new materials tech being demonstrated. But one lone booth caught her eye--one in the corner, with one attendant no passers-by. She walked over to it and inquired upon the vendor. The man simply beamed up at her and handed her some bizarre religious literature, and asked her to contact a mysterious intermediary. Noriko walked away befuddled, putting the pamphlet with the phone number in her pocket. But her spirits lifted when she found a prospective client--a man wanted to swindle the planetary branch of the Central Galactic Bank, and needed a program to hack into its notoriously tough computers.
Popeye, meanwhile, trained Charles to compete in the MMA tournament, to blow off some steam. Over the next couple of days, Barkley stomped the competition. Until he came up against a large black human with golden limbs and a bushy red mane: Siegfried "Butcher" Metzger, an infamous space viking who not only purported himself to be an accomplished singer, actor, and martial artist, but believed himself to be the reincarnation of legendary Germanic hero and dragon-slayer Sigurd. Popeye served under him once upon a time, and knew Siegfried's deadly secret: he was over a century old, and just as powerful as he looked. In the final bout, Charles went toe-to-toe with Metzger, and lost. Barkley was put into a coma, and had to be saved from death by Dr. Razvann, the only expert on viridians in the entire stadium.
Noriko provided the virus and its self-destructing code to her client, and acquired a nice commission fee--as well as a percentage. She later placed the phone call, getting in touch with a mysterious woman calling herself Geraldine; this benefactor offered her a chance to do some real good taking down the system, if she could complete a test: break into and steal from Siegfried Metzger. She and Ben went out for dinner, but she accidentally consumed a strong hallucinogenic spice and had a strange drug trip. Ben helped her back to their hotel, where she babbled incessantly about her new job. Ben told Popeye, and Popeye told the Captain. The next day, Thrush happened upon Noriko discussing with Ben and Popeye her plans, and wanted in on the score. But Noriko rejected his help, causing him to leave abruptly. The crew plotted together in earnest, settling the matter before going to see the GWF Championship.

The stadium was packed, an open-air coliseum with pyrotechnics, holography, and other spectacles alongside the lead-up matches between lesser wrestlers. But it came time for champion Frank Angel to put on the greatest show of his career. As the bloody wrestle commenced, the Strawberry Fields crew watched from a skybox with Alexandria and his guest of honour--Frank's cousin, Kurt. Captain Hawkins told the crew that he had been in contact with a prospective job broker, and left early to meet him in his own skybox. This patron turned out to be none other than John Patrick McGrady, eldest son of infamous politician Shannon McGrady, and chieftain of the Fenian Daggers--an unprosecuted, uninvestigated open secret. McGrady, however, was genial towards the crew and offered them a job with a fat payout, and even special favours for Noriko. He revealed to her that her mentor, Alistair Cameron, had still been working for them and had gone dark, and he knew of his location. The job itself was couched in enigmatic terms: a complete photo record of some ecology on a dusty Orionese planet, but no prior information on what they would be photographing--Alistair had gone to this world as a scout and technology advisor, but had suddenly dropped out of all contact a few months ago, along with the rest of the previous mission. If they could find out what happened to them, so much the better, and so much the bonus. Hawkins took the job, assured of its ease.
But just as this was going on, the stadium was rent by screaming. Frank had won his fight, but announced his intent to retire. Siegfried burst from the stands, hurling a man to his death, and castigated Frank. The two fighters came to an understanding that their fight would still occur the next day. Noriko and her undesirable accompaniment would make their move then, when the warlord would be ashore.

The next day, the great exhibition match began. Siegfried's shuttle landed, unloading the Viking and his entourage, including a new attendant: Thrush. Noriko and her cohorts snuck aboard after dispatching its guards. They hijacked it and headed up to the golden station orbiting the planet. They docked near Siegfried's golden tower, and attempted to bluff the defenders there; but a keen-eyed guard in heavy powered armor saw through their clever wiles and then tried to detain them. A gunfight broke out, and in the gruelling aftermath, two of their own lay injured or dying. The armoured defender blasted Captain Hawking through his chest with a lightning gun after Eugene leaped in front of Noriko, and badly burned Doc Wade. They then slew the armoured warrior, who held a silver key. After patching up the doctor, they attempted to resuscitate the Captain. But it was to no avail. Scorched, with a hole through his torso, oozing blood inside and out, Eugene died in Noriko's arms. Wade put him in the shuttle, and stayed there himself while Noriko, Ben, and Popeye ventured to the nine towers surrounding the central golden control tower. The door to enter Siegfried's tower could only be unlocked with nine keys, each keyhole being wrought of a different material matching to a key held by one of its defenders. Though arduous, and bringing Popeye into contact with people he had thought he'd left in the past, the trio defeated their opponents and retrieved the keys. Assembling again, they unlocked the door, but not before they discovered the headless body of Doc Wade in the shuttle.

Meanwhile, down on the planet, the great fight was well underway. The great arena was set up, the same that had served the MMA tournament and the wrestling championship. It was packed with teeming thousands, all eager to see who would win: the black viking that has dispatched the viridian, or the legendary wrestler. Siegfried and Frank Angel grappled and tossed each other around the arena pit, locking their physiques into a stalemate. One would grab the other, hoist him high, and the other would wriggle out and grapple the first. But Siegfried seemed unfazed by even the strongest of Frank's blows. At last, however, Siegfried escaped a grapple and seized Frank. With a deft strike to his head, he rendered Frank insensate and tossed him over the edge of the ring. The defeated wrestler was hauled away to a hospital, comatose. Siegfried sang an aria, loudly, to celebrate his victory as pyrotechnics roared around him. The crowed was mixed with cheers and hisses equally,


Meanwhile, above, another epic battle was beginning. The trio stormed the golden tower, opening its great gates with their nine keys of precious metals and gemstones. As the gates slowly creaked open, a familiar face stood before them. A man-like bird of black and crimson plumage, wielding a gun, stood on a pedestal and tossed their doctor's head across the floor. A grim taunt. Popeye opened with an explosive pellet from his slingshot followed by a canister of tear gas. The villain was too skilled and leapt into the air, gliding from the cloud of gas towards Noriko. He dealt her a savage blow with his shotgun, but she countered with a shot from the Captain's explosive rocket gun. Ben and Popeye joined in the melee, and in the end Thrush went to the floor in a pool of indigo blood. Ben cut out his heart and stamped it into the ground.
They proceeded the great treasure hall, where they disarmed some traps. Electric shock ones, which was easy for Noriko, followed by dangerous swinging blades that Ben and Popeye had to disable by hand. They stole some of the key treasures: the Tarnhelm, capable of rendering its wearer invisible; Gungnir, a spear that can pierce any armor; and Faffenschild, a richly patterned round shield that could block flames, acid, and electricity. They had only one great treasure to go: the broken sword of Siegfried's father, held safe in Siegfried's own throne room. After loading up duffel bags and backpacks with gold, gemstones, silver, platinum, and electrum, they departed to the highest chamber.
Popeye drew up the plan: he set up one floor below, planting explosives. Noriko shut down air and life support on various floors, taunting Siegfried into bending the knee to them. But he refused, and challenged her to a fight. Reluctantly, she would go to the top floor with an invisible Ben to confront him. As Siegfried sang and hefted his hammer about, he noticed Ben with his keen senses and magnetically retook his helmet. Once invisible, he stepped forth to strike. Popeye blew the bombs, ripping out a large central part of the throne room. Siegfried leaped down, unhurt, and removed the helmet, challenging now Popeye as the 'prodigal son' of the gang. Noriko and Ben struck at once, she pouncing from above with the spear in hand and Ben firing several shots from his rifle. Noriko held fast to the spear as Siegfried laughed madly and deeply at the challenge. She wrapped her arms around his neck, grappling the mighty Siegfried. He hurled his great maul at Ben, knocking him unconscious from sheer impact force. She overloaded her tool, bursting his brain with shocks and frying his cybernetics. Blinded and with numbed arms, he shifted his weight and hurled her against the wall. He then charged her, head-butting her chest. For a moment, her heart stopped, but only for a moment. Though she took hefty pains and cracked ribs, she struggled through to consciousness. Her knife, held out at her attacker, flicked upwards and gouged out his eye. She slumped to the floor, utterly exhausted. He rebooted his cybernetics, and plucked out the knife with his eye speared on it. He handed it to her, imploring her to rest, and acclaiming her as a true challenge. He returned to Popeye, who detonated another explosive. Siegfried fell through a fresh hole into his gold treasure hoard, cracking his body on the ground; with his magnetic glove, however, he hurled himself back up. Standing steady, but battered and beaten fairly by his foes, he conceded and told them, "You have passed the test."

Then taking his throne, folding out from the wall, he sat and convulsed and his mouth gaped open. A strange voice trickled out, a woman. The same woman Noriko had spoken to, who had given her this task. The voice explained that Siegfried was a pawn of hers--a high-level pawn, but nonetheless a pawn--in a great game to discredit and destabilize the Central Galactic Union. In collusion with various criminal elements and communicating with traitors within the government and remnant governments of the conquered alien states, they hoped to bring about a coup d'etat. She revealed Siegfried's whole backstory: he had been the child of unwitting incest between a warrior and a wealthy heiress, who had been separated at birth. While passing through the planet Keystone, the mercenary Sigmund had lain with Linda, daughter of John Wednesday, the governor. But Governor Wednesday found out and challenged Sigmund to a duel with swords. Despite being skilled, and possessing a well-crafted beam sabre, Sigmund lost; Wednesday broke his sword and killed him. Linda fled from the planet, giving birth to a son, who she groomed to be a great mercenary. Siegfried Metzger became a legendary pirate and warlord, who has died many times, but was made alive again through the power of science and pure will.
After this, Siegfried spoke as himself and revealed his ambition to slay the "World's King" and "plunder his halls of power" to become the new warlord of Earth. A mad dream, the heroes thought, but one that would allow them to profit off the chaos. More directly, Siegfried sought to make an alliance with other gangs to defeat the Yellow Jackets. He apologised for the unfortunate deaths of the team's Captain and doctor, but provided a way to bring at least Eugene back to life: using the same technology that has sustained him, they could revive him. After feasting them for their fighting abilities, he hired a temporary pilot for them, and sent them on their way.

To Earth. To Brazil. To Sao Paulo, to meet the mysterious men who could raise the dead.


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:49 am

Episode Five: The Boys From Brazil

The crew prepped for their departure for Earth, with the ship captained temporarily by Popeye and piloted by a new hire, the famed corsair Lord Albert Alexander, heir to the Earl Alexander of Tunis and Caledon, a Terran nobleman. Prevented from military service due to his blatant narcissism, he plied the space lanes as a mercenary pirate-hunter who joined merc bands as a freelancer. He became inordinately famous and consequently demanded a high price. One that was paid by Siegfried, to honour the crew's dead captain; the viking implicitly held it that they would owe him. On December 11th, while the crew were making last-minute tunings and checks, the Valhalla sent them a distress signal from near New Tejas' second moon. Popeye and Albert sped the Strawberry Fields over there, and joined in a quick skirmish against a band of Yellow Jacket marauders. With Albert's expert piloting skills, Noriko's electronic wizardry, and Popeye's engineering, the ship was pushed to its limits but managed to win out. Siegfried messaged them, considering the debt paid, and the two groups even.
They departed the next day, heading once again towards Earth. However, when they reached there a few days later, the world had bolstered its security. Already among the highest levels of orbital defence and security in the Galaxy, the Terran orbital guard placed even stricter holds on incoming traffic. Space lanes were clogged, stations were full, and the Strawberry Fields was waylaid in customs for a week. Captain Hawkins was kept on ice, and the crew planned out their course of action. Then on the 22nd of December, the crew was allowed to descend via space elevator onto Earth. Doctor Razvann remained aboard with the injured and still-comatose Charles Barkley. Paul and Ben donned convincing disguises, and Noriko fooled anyone with her mind-hacking who believed otherwise. Paul brought with him his orb, in a large crate; he demanded to go, and Nori and Pops felt honour-bound to help him find closure. Paul seemed to be guided by visions and dreams...and secretly, so was Noriko, who had touched the sphere too. Ben donned his usual disguise, the cartoonish stereotype of an Earth ethnic, which drew strange looks but no violence. The crew descended down to Lima and sought to board a train to Rio and then onto Sao Paulo.

Meanwhile, also in orbit, a spaceliner was coming into dock. On this liner were a strange pair: Maximilinee Angseth Lavoie and her companion Harmon Garza, whom she referred to as "Cheeto" or "Fuckboy". Their intentions were a mystery, but their boisterous nature drew attention from a fellow passenger or two: one of them being a dour man with dark hair with a pink stripe in it, but otherwise youthful, and the other an eight-foot tall blond giant with a crooked grin. The ride to Earth was almost unstable, but they docked and departed in good spirits. As it turned out, they all descended down the same elevator to Mombasa, and boarded the same plane. It seemed they all had the same peculiar destination: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. By the time they arrived, it was Christmas time, and most of the city was winding down for the holiday. Public transit would have to wait until the morning, so they were all holed up in a hotel. Max had brought a truck with her, arriving via a cargo jet, so she decided to drive her own way. The pink-striped man, calling himself Seth, chose to stay until the morning. The giant man did the same, shadowing him and even buying an uprated hotel package for the passengers. The authorities all seemed to step out of the giant's way, and not because of his intimidating size. But at the hotel, the man joined Seth with a Christmas gift: a finely-wrought katana and a challenge. He revealed himself to be Adrian, a State Sec agent who had been on Keystone during the crisis of 3280. He revealed also that he had learned of Seth's involvement in the Keystone Incident, and heard he was a crack sharpshooter and fighter. A former special forces soldier who had fought in the Great War, even. Adrian, presenting himself as a mere State Sec field agent, wanted to challenge him to a swordfight, and threatened to kill everyone in the hotel if he didn't. He left to give Seth a head start; the samurai assassin chose instead to leave the sword and walk away. This was not his mission; he had business in Sao Paulo. Soon after, he tried to hole up in a cheap motel; he got only a few hours of sleep before Adrian tracked him down and burst through the room. Seth took the madman on a merry chase, losing him down an alley and into a dive bar; he wrangled a scooter out of the barkeep, falsely promising to fulfil a favour. He simply took the vehicle and left, only stopping at a diner to get food the next night. Max and Cheeto drove on through the next couple of nights to reach Sao Paulo, where they too had business.

Meanwhile, some days earlier, the crew had arrived and Popeye took them to the cathedral to meet a friend. Inside they saw the cardinal-archbishop, Cynthia McGrady, giving a sermon on the triumph of the human race. Feeling uneasy, they approached her after mass; it was Christmas Eve, and the building was thronged with her flock. The crew revealed themselves; Paul was unmasked as an alien, and a dedicant to the new Davidian faith, castigaing Cynthia as a demon or fallen angel--a devil in red who preached hate. She received them coolly, except for Popeye; her assistant, Marceline Creed, recognized him as a former operative of theirs. Thus they revealed some of Popeye's background, which even he had forgotten in the crumbling labyrinth of his broken mind; he has been birthed or cloned, alongside several other black, white-haired pygmies, to be secret operatives of the Society of the Holy Word, a group of Catholic radicals who were dedicated to National Humanist ideals. They used terrorism, assassination, and intimidation to achieve their ends, covertly, and to the public they were an interstellar prelature with a largely lay membership and an elite segment of priestly leaders. But at some point, Popeye went rogue and struck out on his own; he retained contact and connections with the SHW, but as he wandered the galaxy his mind and memory drifted. Mental instabilities made him into a mercenary drifter, and he came to know many infamous space pirates and gangsters. He also was responsible for some terrorist acts which inadvertantly killed thousands of people, the guilt for which he bore every day. Then one day a few years ago, he came across Captain Hawkins and joined his crew. And now he was intent, just as much as Noriko and Ben, to bring Eugene back to life. Spilling their story before the Cardinal, the crew hoped for the best; the results were bittersweet. Cardinal McGrady agreed to subject Eugene to the revival process, resurrecting him; but he would be tried for his sins before a "court of the soul", with her as vicar to deity and exercising the right of judgement.
But as they descended into the basement, to the cathedral's vast underground laboratory complex, Paul wandered down a corridor. Noriko followed him, and Marceline tracked them to see what they were doing. Paul came across something strange: a lab room dedicated to one subject, a man suspended in a growth tank, with tubes jacked into him. Paul walked in, and fell to his knees in supplication, carrying his hovering orb behind him. The door to the tank was inscribed "DAVID 2: JAVIER". Paul reached up and pressed the button to awaken the subject; Marcie burst in, gun at the ready, and Noriko poised to defend Paul. Then they watched in amazement as Paul's orb, which they had obtained from that mining planet two months ago, burst into a gas and then into a liquid as it formed around the tube-man. The liquid in the tank drained, revealing him as chocolate-skinned, shock-white hair, but otherwise identical to the deceased doctor David McGrady. He burst to life, gasping for air, his eyes wide, and he stared at the trio. Marcie called for her boss, who rushed to the scene; she tearfully greeted him as her brother, while Paul prostrated before him as if before his lord and master, while Noriko just looked confused. Cardinal McGrady revealed only that this was a project long in the making, the perfection of technology devised by David and experimented on by the McGrady Corporation and its business partners, the same tech that would restore Captain Hawkins to life. They had recovered David's corpse from the moon all those years ago, and now they had brought him back to life. The appearance was different, a modification demanded by his 'growers', and he had both artificial and real memories blended in him to heal damage to his brain by a bullet. But, asserted Cynthia, his soul was David's. Immediately they began to speculate on the orb's role; was it some alien technology artefact, a cosmic holder of memories? Or was it truly metaphysical, a conduit for his soul? Paul knew where he stood, as did Cynthia. The skeptical Noriko was less convinced of the spiritual connotations of their suggestions. They were all relocated to a villa in the north side, awaiting Eugene's imminent resurrection, at Cardinal McGrady's expense.

Finally, by December 30th, these disparate elements coalesced upon Sao Paulo. Seth arrived and ditched his scooter, surveilling the city and lodging up in a motel. He planned to infiltrate the cathedral and investigate its goings-on, seeking mysterious technology as her his master's instructions. Max and Cheeto arrived and began to harass the people in the city; none moreso than Cheeto himself, whom Max constantly abused. They ran across "Mr. Pink", Seth, again during their own marauding; tension and awkwardness abounded. Ultimately, they both tracked the comings and goings of those dwelling in the Cardinal's north villa. Seth broke into the building and set up covert surveillance. Max and Cheeto shadowed them, watching them depart the house for the cathedral on New Year's Eve.
Captain Hawkins was resurrected in a quiet ceremony in the Cathedral nave, with his crew in attendance. Cardinal McGrady proclaimed him a new Lazarus; he seemed confused and disoriented, and didn't know everyone around him. Hallucinations afflicted him and he saw Noriko and Ben with fear and suspicion. A tense standoff led to Noriko's flight from the Cathedral; Max surprised them and offered to help Ben track her down--unbeknownst to them, Max had been hired by the Yellow Jackets to hunt down and capture Noriko, and transport her to them for questioning. Meanwhile, the Cardinal had her doctors examine the Captain after they calmed him down; within hours, they determined that his mild psychosis meant that he was not fit to stand as a witness, but his past actions would be judged in the Cardinal's tribunal inquisition. With Popeye nominated for the Captain's defence, he called various witnesses to testify as to his moral character. His mother, present via a holographic videophone, had unkind things to say and chastised Eugene for his rudeness--a point against him in Cardinal McGrady's eyes. Nori and Ben weren't there to testify, so Popeye called Jason Glass over videophone instead; Jason stated the Eugene was a good man, who went out of his way to help him when his life was going awry, and had reunited him with his daughter after years of separation. At last, she asked Popeye himself for his testimony; Pops told the truth--Eugene wasn't perfect, none of them were, but he had tried to be the moral centre of a band of outlaws, and had only killed a man once, in self-defence, and had regretted it. Cardinal McGrady decided her verdict: provided the Captain make a confession and penance, he was clean and free to go. She had judged him worthy of grace, in her eyes. Captain Hawkins was ecstatic, and knelt in tears before the Cathedral's altar.
In the meantime, Ben and Max sought out Noriko throughout the city. Max reported a bomb threat to the police, tipping them that someone fitting Nori's description may have brought a bomb to the train station. The police put the city on lockdown, making it difficult for her to get out of the city. Encountering Cheeto, she was perturbed by his strangeness--and her reported her last known whereabouts to Max. Noriko hitched a rid, unbeknownst to the driver, to Max's truck. She quietly finagled her way into the cargo container and, spying the VW hovercar, hid inside with intent to hotwire and steal it to escape the city. Max entered in the section just then, having heard some odd noises; she called for Cheeto, who came in guns blazing, injuring Nori and damaging the car. Max strode up to the car and, using a strange device in her cybernetic arm, blasted the window open and sent shards of glass into Noriko's cybernetic eyes. Ben fired upon Cheeto, hurting his leg, and told Max to stand down, while Noriko scrambled blind out of the vehicle and into Ben's arms. A tense Mexican Standoff led to Max revealing her original intent, and promising to forgo her original contract if they bribed her. Ben agreed, having the capital himself to pay her off. Max escorted them back to the Cathedral, but not before having Ben fake the appearance of "Mr. Pink" through a disguise, and tipping the police to new developments that implicated "Mr. Pink" in the bomb plot, rather than the Asian woman. The police then searched for Seth, making his escape difficult but manageable for a man of his skills, and throwing the trail off of Noriko.

Back at the Cathedral, Eugene greeted Noriko and had some fleeting sense of recognition, and asked her what she had helped him discover before his death and resurrection--she told him that she'd found out who his father was, and he was tearful in remembrance. He proclaimed his intent to give up the mercenary trade after their next--and last--job. With Ben's advice, he cautiously accepted Max and Cheeto into the crew as added muscle. He told Noriko that he'd help her find her mentor, as a favour for her having helped him find out his father's identity. Albert Alexander left, having done his job, imploring them to spread his name and fame. Popeye was offered the Strawberry Fields, but he refused; he wanted to become a condottieri in his own right, and endeavoured to remain with Javier, Paul, and Cardinal McGrady on Earth to find out who he was, as his memory was fragmentary and faded from his years of mental illness and the fast-paced lifestyle of a space outlaw. The rest of the crew packed their bags and headed off. In a tearful goodbye, Eugene and Ben hugged and bade good luck to Popeye, now separated from.

They departed the next morning on the train to Peru, to return to their ship. It was the first of January, 3285. A new year had dawned.
"Let's get out of here," Ben said, "away from these...boys from Brazil."


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:47 am

Episode Six: The Last Flight of the Strawberry, or: Here Be Dragons

The crew of the Strawberry Fields set off on one last job--the photographic record of a little-explored planet far in the Outer Orion arm, called Chios. They were to be paid handsomely, and Noriko decided to stick with them with one incentive: her mentor, whom she had believed was dead or disappeared, was secretly still working for the McGradys, and was on Chios. He had gone dark after the exploratory team dropped out of communications. The Strawberry travelled through jump gate after jump gate to the furthest reaches of human-inhabited space. At their last stop-over, the crew acquired a pair of rugged all-terrain vehicles, a team of horses, and survival and surveillance equipment; more importantly, they bought a hyperspace jump frame, a device that could be rigged to the exterior of the ship to allow it to independently make hyperjumps. At last they arrived at Chios, on 11 January 3285, and deployed a shuttle to land near a lake on the central-west continent dubbed "Afrisota".

Meanwhile, Popeye and Javier were instructed by Cardinal McGrady to go to the same world, independently, and retrieve biological samples and recover some artefacts. She revealed to them what was there, something that had been kept secret from the mercenaries--and it seemed to Javier that it could change the world and realise David McGrady's dream of conquering death. Conversations between the three led to the planning of an expedition; but attempts to implore his old colleague Dr. Seilon to join them were fruitless. And the requested presence of State Sec officer Adrian Lancore went south as he revealed at last his complicity in David's death, and the culprit's identity, and was shunned from the Cathedral by a furious Javier. Cardinal McGrady put in one last call--to her brother, and acquired a Stormguard security detail led by General Brian Kessar himself. Their expedition departed on 8 January, on a lightly-armed special operations frigate.
All of this was being watched by distant eyes: Seth reviewed his camera footage and reported his findings to the Yoritomo clan bosses, who decided to dispatch a team to the planet to retrieve the artefacts before other groups could.

At Chios, the crew landed and scouted out the area. The initial findings went awry as they were engulfed in wildlife stampede. Captain Hawkins was mildly injured, but otherwise they were in working order and the next day they set out on a convoy north to find the last known location of Noriko's mentor, while observing and recording the wildlife. The animals were all reptilian, mostly with slender, anteater-like snouts, though the largest herbivores had broad, flat snouts; they all had six legs, though a species of wolf-sized predators only walked on four, using the other two as grasping "arms". It was surreal, yet familiar, bearing a resemblance to a Mesozoic Earth. Midway during their drive, they had to fend off an attack by large river predators. Tension ran high.
At last, after four days, they came to a stop in a coastal mountain range, but not by choice. A gunshot rang out, pinging off their truck, and the Captain ordered a "wagon circle" for defense. But Noriko was unperturbed--she instead stood up and yelled out, "Alistair! It's me! It's Matsuno!" Scouting with cameras revealed the presence of a sniper rifle on a far ridge. Roughly half an hour later, while the crew was still discussing what to do, a man came out of the bushes in a ghillie suit, with neck-length red hair and a scraggly beard. He introduced himself as Alistair Cameron, and greeting Noriko like a long-lost daughter. Mentor and protege were finally reunited. But the happiness of the reunion did not last long--Alistair began to talk excitedly about work he was doing. He was the last survivor of the original mission, and had been surviving in the wilderness for six months on his own. Maximilinee was rather less than impressed, and balked at his ruggedness. He guided them, in Max's truck and Noriko's Jeep, to a steep, rocky rise, where he said he'd found something strange. Something new, a discovery that could change the world.
He led them up the rock face, over the threshold to a gully, and showed them.
A vast, grey reptilian creature with six legs--easily a hundred feet long--shifted slightly. A dozen creatures, half its size, became obvious as they stared down in disbelief. Noriko asked what they were and Alistair simply replied, "Dragons," prompting Noriko's to utter a flat "what" aloud. A horse-sized creature of glinting red colour turned its head and stared at them. Then in their minds they heard, reverberating as if inside, "What are those things?"

Noriko was startled, the others were stunned into silence, and Alistair was calm and replied in his mind, "Tell your elder to speak with us"--strangely communicating with the young dragon. She got the attention of the largest of them, the hundred-foot long grey beast. It craned its neck and slowly lumbered towards them. Most of the crew backed away slowly, while Noriko remained with Alistair. They engaged in a long conversation with the dragon elder, joined by the shimmering red young-adult, told entirely through their thoughts. The dragons, it turned out, were naturally telepathic and had arrived in their current place a couple centuries ago, having fled the other continent across a channel while being chased and attacked by a race of red dragons. The young one was the granddaughter of a red dragon female that had fled with them, and had wondered often as to who she was and why she was red, while the others were grey. The humans communicated that they were not there to hurt them, just to observe, and it came known that Alistair had "spoken" with the elder before while observing them and making notes. They dragons asserted, too, that their ancestors were gods who had travelled the stars and set the planets in motion, and that certain relics were under guard by them. These, it seemed, were the strange silver-black orbs the crew had seen before with Paul. The dragon elder held some understanding with the human researchers that some degree of mistrust and violence had happened in both races' past, and they hoped to avoid such horror in this contact scenario. He allowed his ward, the red dragoness, to go with the humans to learn from them and act as an "ambassador" between the races and to learn more of her roots--as the humans communicated their desire to go across the channel and observe the red dragons too, to get a complete record of the wildlife. The elder warned them, however, of the red dragons' penchant for violence and domination. The crew left with the red young adult, nicknaming her "Ruby" and they launched upwards to dock with the Strawberry Fields. Alistair went with them, to wash and resupply, but he said that he would stay behind to keep observing them; some of the crew expressed the desire to see this through, while Noriko, Max, and Cheeto wanted to just get the hell out of there.

Noriko's lonely thoughts took a sharp direction towards extremity, and she moved to isolate and capture the dragon, with Doctor Razvann's help. She shot at Ruby with a dart gun and tried to lock her in another chamber, while Max confronted her loudly. The dragon caught part of their thoughts, and ran away to another part of the ship, feeling betrayed. At the same time, Razvann incapacitated some of the command crew with sedatives, so they could commandeer the ship and jump to lightspeed--with Ruby as a specimen. However, Noriko went to him to implore him to cancel the action, while Alistair intercepted her and fought her.
Then an alarm blared, detecting a new vessel incoming fast, roaring from behind the planet's moon. The cameras showed that it was a couple hundred meters long, blazing fast, and painted in a garish yellow with black stripes. The Yellow Jackets had arrived.

A hailing frequency linked the Yellow Jacket ship, captained by Grace, a female commander who happened to be fanatically devoted to the gang's chieftain, with the Strawberry Fields and they began to negotiate. The pirates demanded the custody of both Noriko and Charles Barkley. Eugene bluffed that they did not know of Noriko's whereabouts, but they did have Barkley with them, who volunteered to surrender himself to end their conflict. They both landed on the planet to parley, but the situation quickly became tense and unravelled into violence. Charles fought back after the tables began to turn against the pirates, but he was cut down and slaughtered by the pirate queen's personal cohort, Mohar. Secretly, Max contacted them and told them where to find Noriko, at their shuttle. As she saw the pirates closing in, Noriko walked outside and surrendered, asking the pirates to end the fight. Grace did so gladly--ordering her ship's crew, who had hacked expertly into the Strawberry Field's systems, to deorbit the craft and launch their missiles at the ground targets. Alistair and Ben managed to escape in a pod and landed on the planet nearby the shuttles. But the Strawberry had seen its last flight, and burned up in re-entry.
While all of this was going on, another vessel arrived in the system: a scientific mission led by Javier Creed and Popeye and accompanied by General Brian Kessar of the State Sec forces along with his personal guard detail, as well as a full research crew. They cautiously appraised the situation and moved down to assist in rescuing the now-marooned mercenaries as the pirates lifted into orbit with Noriko in tow. With her treachery unbeknownst to the crew, Max took Chito with her to the State Sec ship above. Eugene and Ben reconnected with Popeye and began to scheme on how to retrieve Noriko. The trouble was, the pirate queen promised the death of her captive if any attack followed.

And, as if summoned by magic--but in truth summoned by Noriko's belated distress signal--a familiar and aggravating figure arose from the darkness of space: Siegfried Metzger, Viking army in tow, ready for a fight.


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:45 am

Episode Seven: Götterdämmerung, or: In the Hall of the Mountain King

As the crew of the downed Strawberry bemoaned the capture, yet again, of Noriko, Popeye resolved to do something about it. He was launched from a missile tube aboard a kitbashed boarding pod, racing towards the Yellow Jacket cruiser. With flight preparations underway, they were ignorant of the little pod sidling along their vector and grappling with them, smashing through the hull. At the same time, Noriko managed to snap out of her drugged delirium and incapacitated a guard, taking refuge in a stasis pod as the klaxon blared to prepare for a jump. The cruiser snapped away from realspace, shuddering along to arrive near the planet Nyx. Popeye and Noriko managed to link up partway through the ship, killing or neutralising several pirates before being confronted by Grace's personal bodyguard Mohar, the shrike who had slain Charles Barkley. Popeye wasted no time in bombing the man in the face with an incendiary pellet, and with Noriko making their escape in a lifepod. They seemed to be on their way to safety on the planet below when a missile exploded near them, breaching their pod's thin hull and sucking them into the blackness of space. Desperate, they called their pursuers to rescue them. But just as the Yellow Jackets neared them, they were blown out of the sky by a flurry of laser blasts; a green, slender ship pulled up and rescue them from certain torture, the Green Hornet captained by the corsair Kit Parsons. He took them down to the planet to get to safety.

At the same time, the crew of the former Strawberry Fields boarded the Valhalla, along with General Kessar, intent on finding Noriko and fighting the Yellow Jackets. Javier and most of the State Sec team and science team stayed behind to observe and study the dragons, while Ruby followed along with the others to Siegfried's ship. A strange conversation was held where Siegfried stood in awe of the dragon, and told of a prior experience he'd had with their species on the same world--he had known not if it was the same place, but he was sure of it now. He offered the young adult dragon a chance to see the galaxy, to train with the ways of man's fighting, and learn how to hone her abilities to protect her clan. She agreed and became Siegfried's ward, knight, and noble steed. He also spoke to General Kessar, presenting him with a tapestry telling his life story and gifting him his father's recently reforged beam sword--Siegfried believed Kessar would be the hero to purify him and his family of their miasma. Kessar strangely accepted. Chito joined them, but Max refused--she needed a vacation away from these twits, and took leave to parts elsewhere. Siegfried put out contacts to try to uncover Noriko's location, especially through Jack Jensen and their network. After a day of searching and sifting through mountains of data, she was sighted on Nyx and the alert was given to Siegfried. They departed to find and rescue her from almost certain death.

On Nyx, Popeye and Noriko were taken to a cantina in the Nyxian Underdark--a massive underground city--by the corsair, who promptly sold them out to Solomon Lazar, chief of the Yellow Jackets. A scuffle ensued in which Popeye was grievously injured, several of Lazar's men were killed or wounded, and Noriko was knocked unconscious. Popeye voluntarily gave himself up and took Noriko's hacktool in exchange for her being left alone. Lazar accepted and they took flight in a truck shortly before police and medevac arrived. Popeye was just barely saved from the brink of bleeding out. Noriko was hospitalised and then interviewed by Detective Crane of the legendary Silver Team about her experience. He was leading an interstellar police investigation into the Yellow Jackets, who were believed to be public safety threat due to the incident at the Seraphim Grand. Soon after he departed, however, a Yellow Jacket assault team struck the hospital and captured her. At the same time, Siegfried and his companions arrived and quickly launched their rescue operation. In a brutal shootout at the hospital, their contact was killed and Hawking was grievously injured. And yet, Chito proved himself a cool-headed shooter in a fight. Assistance came in the form of two Silver Team operators: Crane himself and his partner Snake, rappelling in. They searched the hospital but discovered no trace of her, concluded that she was seized shortly before the police response to the raid. Noriko was taken to a safehouse, but separated from Popeye; she was brutalised by her guards and then forced to agree to help them learn how to use the stolen hacktool and write software for them. Such was her infamy as a hacker and thief. Popeye was similarly forced to build a replica hacktool--but his knowledge is a clever ruse, and he instead devised a bomb to escape.

Siegfried and his companions cooperated with the local police to search for Noriko and Popeye. This dragged on for a week, all the while Ben and Chito were anxious. Finally, through criminal contacts and informers, and good old fashioned intimidation, the local SRT traced the kidnap victims to the Yellow Jackets' likely stronghold and planetary headquarters: a partially hollowed-out enormous stalagmite containing a manorhouse and garage. Siegfried, riding atop Ruby, General Kessar, and Silvers Crane and Snake planned the raid in the twilight hours of January 21. Forty special response police along with over two hundred of Siegfried's mercenaries provided the manpower. Kessar planned a bold move to strike at other Yellow Jacket safehouses in the city, as a distraction and as a hard strike on the criminal gang. Meanwhile, Kessar himself and his L9 guards, along with the two Silvers, Ben, Chito, Dr. Razvann, and a few SRT police, would raid the fortress itself. Flying in hovercraft, they silently eliminated the outer guards and struck through the windows and the front doorway. The battle in the manorhouse was intense, with tear gas filling the house while gunfire raged all around. Several policemen were killed, and one L9 was grievously injured. After Kessar brutally executed a gangster, Razvann confronted him about their warrior pasts and castigated the General for his reckless violence. They proceeded into the lower level of the fortress.

At the same time, Popeye put his plan into action. While Noriko was being moved and prepped for transport out of the fortress, guards came to Popeye's room. His bomb blew the door apart and slew the guard. He ran out and turned down a hallway, coming face to face with a pirate who picked him up and disarmed him. Noriko was carried away and while Popeye tried to intervene, it was to no avail. The raiding police caught up with him and stormed the halls. However, they discovered that Solomon Lazar was fled with Noriko and the hacktool. Siegfried's hovercraft, after picking up Ben, Kessar, Chito, and Popeye, gave chase. They sped through the city's jungle of buildings, out the far end of the cavern, and into the planet's noxious open air; the chase took them to the nearby spaceport, where Lazar had hurriedly boarded his escape rocket with Noriko. Siegfried, in a rage, took the controls from the pilot and flew upwards vainly towards the rocket. The hovercraft spun out of control and plummeted to the ground. While Siegfried temporarily regained control, it went sideways again and crashed into the ground. Almost everyone inside were flung bodily. A police medevac helicopter arrived soon to retrieve them, with Siegfried boldly refusing aid. Chito was badly hurt, as was Kessar and an unconscious Ben. However, the police rather roughly threw Ben into their vehicle and neglected immediate aid to staunch his wounds. By the time they arrived at the hospital, it was too late. Popeye and Chito heard drearily before being carted in that the blue avian alien had died on arrival, bleeding internally. Ben was dead.

Later, they came to and heard on the news of the terrible tragedy: after they'd given chase, the Yellow Jackets had dynamited several of the colossal stalactites in the Underdark, dropping them like rock-bombs on the city of Erebus in the cave. Destroyed buildings, falling rocks, and massive fires caused smoke to choke the cavern. Over four hundred thousand people died, mostly through smoke inhalation. Crane spoke to them, debriefing them on the situation and vowing that the Silver Team would not rest until these terrorist pirates were brought to justice. He offered Popeye leniency until the Pirate War was over--having deduced Popeye's previous crimes and piratical past. They left on ambiguous terms. Popeye then obtained his own ship; Eugene joined as his first mate, with Chito aboard to help out. They set out to hunt pirates and become enormously rich, while still on the lookout for Noriko. Dr. Razvann departed their company, having had enough of pirates and mercenaries; but during transit he was captured by the Security Service and sent to Dr. Seilon's alien lab. However, he came to find that it was no mere xenobiology laboratory, but a secret training ground for resistance fighters--which Razvann gladly agreed to join. At last, the good doctor felt like he was doing the right thing.

The mountain halls of the Yellow Jackets had been crushed, and they were declared terrorists--on the run, now, their days were numbered.


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:11 am

Episode Eight: Shadow of Kolossen

For nearly six months, the companions went their own ways and searched the reaches of space for their friend, all the while fighting Yellow Jackets and other pirates. The great Pirate War was well underway, but had turned sharply against the hornet-themed villains. Such disparate mercenaries as Teardrop the biker, Highball and his crew, Jason Glass, Carmen Santana, Albert Alexander, and the "Flying Chips" merc band: Francisco "Frito Bandito" Lazaro, Garcian "Dorito" Ramirez, and the anonymous alien "Ruffles the Muscle", all joined in the lucrative business of hunting terrorists. "Jack" Jensen became a major backer of these mercenaries, pursuing relentless revenge for the bombing of his precious space casino. The Fenian Daggers and other space pirate gangs were given temporary clemency as the government hounded the Yellow Jackets to the ends of space and back.

During this, Solomon Lazar kept Noriko in his spacecraft as they hurtled along, stopping only briefly to connect with other Yellow Jacket ships for resupply, constantly keeping on the move to prevent capture or discovery. She built programs and trained him how to use the hacking tool, and ran through scenarios leading up to his master plan: a series of bank heists culminating in digitally swindling the Central Galactic Treasury. It was bold--insane even--but could destabilise the galaxy if it worked. Even Noriko was uncertain as to if she had the skill to pull something like that off. But Solomon was insistent on the plan. She in turn schemed, and planted a computer virus into his mind, with a specific trigger.
On June 3rd, they stopped at the docking ring at the space habitat Rothstein 1 in orbit of planet Kolossen. It was supposed to be a simple heist: Lazar and his strike crew, dragging Noriko along, incapacitated the security with mindhacking and took the tram to the bank office. The plan went awry after Lazar began executing hostages and killed the manager after taking the computer codes from his mind. The police arrived and besieged the office, and the Air Force orbital patrol blockaded the Yellow Jacket ship. At the same time, Noriko's tracking nanites synced with the satellite network around Kolossen, and broadcasted her location to the Space Police. Silver Crane called Popeye to notify him as per their agreement, and they moved in. The Yellow Jackets called in aid from their fleet as the siege continued.

Silver Team deployed agents with the mercenaries Popeye Jones and Chito to sneakily infiltrate the bank while Silvers Crab and Bat distracted the hostage-takers. Popeye reconnoitred the building while the teams stacked up to move in. In a flash, the Yellow Jackets mistook some movement as hostility and the siege erupted into a firefight. Silver Bat was shot and wounded, and the others swept in for battle. After the carnage, it was found that Lazar had once again slipped away with Noriko, into a set of maintenance shafts leading out to the tramway. This time, he had nowhere else to go, and Pops and Crew chased after them. As the pirate lord and his captive fled, he slew the security at the tram with his mindhacking prowess, prodigiously causing them to writhe in brain-bursting agony. At the docks, he was confronted by several Silver Team agents, but deftly incapacitated them. Silver Wolf was compelled to dance to exhaustion, and Silver Snake collapsed dead from a brain aneurysm. He boarded his ship and took off as the pursuers arrived--Popeye swiftly diverted course to his ship and gave chase. The Yellow Jacket fleet burst onto the scene, firing missiles, causing the Space Police to call in aid from the Navy. The event cascaded into an enormous space battle: a Space Navy fleet popped into orbit, followed by pirates allied to the Yellow Jackets, and then a bevy of mercenary corsairs. The tide turned as Siegfried Metzger's battlestation Valhalla arrived, zapping pirates out of the sky--but this too reversed as Yellow Jackets boarded the ship and fought a bitter struggle for control. Despite Siegfried and his stalwart champion's best efforts in the hallways, the pirates seized the command centre and slammed on the thrusters. Siegfried ordered all hands to abandon ship as it rammed the habitat cylinder.

As the battle raged, all watched in horror as the captured mobile battlestation collided with Rothstein-1, shattering the hull and venting the atmosphere and population into space. The colony erupted into flame and exploded, killing over a million people. Metzger, his new champion, and his dragon Ruby escaped alive, as did many Vikings, but the devastation had been done. Aboard his craft, Lazar celebrated the slaughter, pounding down a bottle of rum. But this was the trigger: Noriko had implanted a virus into his mind, and when he slugged the booze he suddenly went mad and began shooting his crew before seizing and collapsing. Noriko was released from her bonds, took her captor's weapon, and shot him in the head. She took control of the ship, locked it down, and called Popeye. The old crew captured and boarded the Hornet's Nest, killed its crewmembers, and found Noriko. She had finally defeated her foe, and rejoined her friends. After a few hours, the battle wound down as the Yellow Jackets and their allies were all either destroyed or captured.
Afterwards, the victors were called to assemble at the docking station on Rothstein-2, presided over by Admiral Lamar Cranwale, the commander of the Government forces. He commended for their efforts, but then immediately ordered the arrest of known or suspected space pirates and gangsters.

In the coming weeks, many of them were given executive clemency or had their cases dismissed for lack of evidence. Popeye Jones was put on tribunal and sentenced to five years, but would be paroled after six months in a plea deal by his lawyer. The others went their own ways--Eugene handling Popeye's ship for to duration of his imprisonment, and Chito went off with his old pals in the Flying Chips. The over four hundred pirates that had been captured were subject to a dispute but ultimately were tried in a special tribunal of the Interstellar Criminal Court, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

The battle was won, and the Pirate War was over, but the Galactic public would always fearfully shudder in the shadow of Kolossen.


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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:12 am

Gaiden Three: Riker's Island

On 30th October 3285, the Silver Team received new orders. The members of the sub-unit codenamed Kaleidoscope Group were gathered by acting leader Silver Dragon to be briefed. They were to be sent to the planet Sicon to investigate the disappearance of a government official, George Renaldi as well as the emergence of strange and violent behavior. The team assembled consisted of Silvers Bat, Bear, Crab, Fox, Penguin, and Wolf. Already things seemed suspicious to Wolf, who confided in Fox that he’d heard of Renaldi—the deputy director of the Bureau of Colonial Affairs—and wondered by such a big fish would be snooping around so long in such a small world. Sicron, as it turned out, was a single-city colony world with less than 700,000 people. It had little industry outside of small silt-mining facilities and some manufacturing plants. A very small colony in a very big galaxy.
The team disembarked from the Silver Menagerie aboard the Silver Ark, the premiere hyperjump-capable craft used by the team for quick-reaction voyages. The team arrived on the morning of October 31st. They deployed via shuttle to the city’s airfield and took their own vehicles into town. They had been briefed on three major points of contact in the city: the administrator Richard Johnson, the Security Police Chief Jacob Masterson, and utilities inspector Fred Luger. The group split into three pair and took three routes: Bat and Fox, Bear and Crab, and Wolf and Penguin.

Silver Bear and Silver Crab went straight into the center, crossing through burned and rotted sectors of the city. They drove past scenes of police brutality towards strangely-acting civilians, bizarre violence, and carnage. They stopped at a street corner where a man lay on the sidewalk, dead and flayed. A child walked up to the corpse and plucked off a ragged chunk of flesh and held it out to them. Silver Crab spoke to the kid, who offered it in trade for a piece of gum. The kid just stood there, chewing his gum while Crab analyzed the flesh—determining that the body had been rotting there for a couple days, and had been murdered through some catastrophic injury. They drove off, the kid still staring at them. They arrived at the center, at an enormously tall tower capped with an observation dome for the administrator. An eerie feeling couldn’t be shaken as they left the parking garage for the tower lobby, so Crab locked their car down with armor and electrical shields.
Meanwhile, Fox and Bat took a wide turn through the city’s outskirts towards the police station and jailhouse. They passed through other scenes of dilapidation and arson. Fox undertook some investigative research into news stories, articles, anything she could find about what had afflicted the city. About a month prior, a large earthquake was reported but no further investigation had been done, and then a wave of cases of catastrophic mental disorders began to pop up. The timing was uncanny, but they seemed unrelated. Cases of dementia, psychosis, fugue, depression, and antisociality rose, commensurate with a crime wave of arson, cannibalism, rape, and murder, as well as a spike in suicides. Especially strange and violently public suicides. They drove across an abandoned, collapsed factory and noticed several raggedly-dressed people ambling around it. Next they drove through a lonely, sparse section of the city—largely intact, but almost devoid of people. They saw a group of four nude mimes performing at the corner, three painted in red, one painted chalk-white. Fox used her peculiar powers and read the white-painted one’s mind, and sensed his distress. Then she tried to read the minds of the red-painted ones but encountered only static and a strange sense of predatory anticipation. The white one made some off-move and the red ones pounced on him, beating him nearly to death. Bat pulled the car over sharply and blared his sirens; two red ones bolted, but one remained to bite at the white one. Fox held the red assailant fast, grappling him with her mind, while Bat rushed up and pistol-whipped him into unconsciousness. He called the local authorities, while the white-painted man groaned in pain. A black van arrived shortly, and out poured a team of light-blue shirted paramilitary policemen—their uniforms were the sign of officers of the Security Police, feared as the State Sec’s secret police. They arrested the white-painted one and executed the red-painted man. They then inquired as to whom Fox and Bat were, and received them coolly. They offered nonetheless to take them to Col Masterson. A brief incident with the apparent ramming of a person, but their immediate disappearance struck Bat with an inquisitive revulsion of this place. Fox remained immersed in her attempts to gather more data about this city and its strange occurrences.

Arriving at the station house, they saw both blue- and gray-shirted State Sec personnel moving in and out, and trucks of prisoners being taken to the citadel-like jailhouse. Col Masterson was standing out front, smoking and stressed. He received the Silvers warmly, more relieved at their presence than his patrolmen, and admitted his confusion at the events and his lack of understanding. He’d been a recent addition to the city’ administration, as the local police had all disappeared around a month ago. He’d tried his best to maintain order and investigate the strange violence, but it was quickly overwhelming them. The Silvers questioned him on the disappearance of Deputy Director Rinaldi, but Masterson apparently knew little about it—but Fox could peer in his mind, and saw that he knew more than he was letting on. His lieutenant, Frank, blurted in with appeals to the classified nature of the topics being discussed, for which he was castigated by the now-evasive Masterson. As he walked away, Fox read his mind as well, and caught references to a ‘school’. When Masterson was questioned, he earnestly admitted he’d never seen any school in the city—but he gave them directions to Rinaldi’s last known location: some facility outside of the city, presumably the silt mines. He also directed them to the prison, to ask upon some of the saner inmates who had perhaps some better understanding, through experience, as to what was going on throughout the city.
As they did so, Crab and Bear met with Administrator Johnson. He was pensive, clearly daydreaming of better times when he’d just taken command of the city, but also extremely evasive. He claimed to know little about the strange events, but that “we’re looking into it” and “a task force is handling it”. He was evasive about Rinaldi, the crime wave, the earthquakes, everything. When Crab pressed him, but blurted out that he was just a figurehead, the State Sec people and the engineer Fred Luger were truly running the place, and he felt that he had said too much already. He reached into his drawer for a gun, and prepared to shoot himself. Silver Crab talked him down while Bear confiscated the pistol, making him sit down and ease up—he was upset, he was stressed, but the Silver Team were going to investigate where State Sec would not, or could not, and clear up the whole situation. Crab and Bear left and tried to get a list of the officers tasked with finding Deputy Director Rinaldi, but they could find none in the city records. They were directed to the State Sec HQ on the planet for more info. As he left, Crab noticed that same boy from earlier staring at him from the outside window of the building. But it was too late, he was already turning down the hall to the parking garage; he still couldn’t shake the eeriness of that kid. What was he doing down here? They unlocked their hover car and fluttered out into the street. And then a dark shape came crashing down, bouncing off the hood of the car to slump onto the road below. It was the body of Administrator Richard Johnson.

Silvers Crab and Bear swiftly landed to check the body. A pair of grey-shirted security officers arrived at the scene, inquiring on the man’s death and the coincidence of their presence. Crab showed him an infochip with the data from his sensory recorders, demonstrating Johnson’s suicidal tendencies and erratic behavior. The security men released the space cops to their duties and secured the corpse. The Silvers drove off, heading to the State Security office.
While all this was going on, Silver Penguin and Silver Wolf drove out to the southeast quarter to see Fred Luger, the chief inspector of utilities and lead architect and urban planner for the city. They crossed through scenes of carnage and violence, dilapidated buildings, and milling bands of homeless people. They almost struck a kid on the highway, shaking Silver Wolf—who believed he’d hit a crowd of children. Shaken by his apparent hallucination, he slumped into the side seat while Penguin took the wheel. They drove into a much cleaner part of town, with a small commercial district, a large green park, and an all-glass arched building with “CITY UTILITIES” etched into the front panel. They parked the hover car and walked in to meet with Fred Luger. They were greeted by a chipper receptionist who told them to wait a few minutes; Wolf and Penguin both spied that same kid standing—nay, floating—outside the building at the second-story window area. Just staring at them, chewing his gum.
They went into Luger’s office and met with the man—bald, slick-suited, but haggard and clearly devoid of sleep. He greeted them coldly and they questioned him about the ongoing investigations, the violence in the city, the reports of seismic activity…and he flew into an anger, indicating the file cabinet of seismic readings from the surrounding area. Nothing significant, certainly no earthquakes like people had been reporting. Wolf pried through the files while Penguin talked with the architect about the spiraling situation in the city. Luger finally snapped and tossed a stack of secret files to Wolf, rambling about research facilities, government conspiracies, and psychic research. He indicated an installation south of the city, a large bunker, where this was all located. The reports showed page after page, week after week, of reports of mass hysteria, disorientation, psychosis, dementia, sporadic outbreaks of mass violence, arson, and other bizarre behavior. But no contamination in the water or air, no significant changes in food supply or dietary rationing, nothing to precipitate it. He revealed that he truly ran the city behind the scenes, and claimed that it was a support facility for a secret government-funded research facility for psionic phenomena. The latter of which Silver Wolf scoffed at, and called him insane. Luger admitted to an apocalyptic apathy about his city and denigrated to Penguin’s hope of saving the people there, before tipping them to a witness in the city prison who might know much more about the inner workings of the facility and how it linked to the chaos engulfing the streets: the first person imprisoned for such gruesome and brutal violence, librarian Stephen Stanley.

The other two groups converged on the prison-fortress. But as Penguin and Wolf drove through the streets, they saw a great outburst of carnage that reached deeper than it had just hours before. Dozens of people sprung out of the woodwork and began fighting each other viciously, with knives and guns and clubs, their teeth and nails, savagery taking hold. They all started to go mad, many of them lighting themselves on fire. Within minutes, the fighting escalated to a full-blown riot with hundreds of people killing themselves and igniting the corpses into flame. The two cops, even the experienced Wolf, was shaken and horrified. They ground to a halt as a woman in a black veil and gown strode in front of them and pointed menacingly to the prison a few blocks away, hoarsely whispering “Go. Find Him,” as a dozen emaciated people lit themselves ablaze and fell like a row of dominos in the direction, blocking intersections. They pelted forward, but came to another blockage of dead and fighting people. Wolf became enraged and tried to intimidate the madmen into ceasing their murderous rampage. Moments later the woman appeared in front of him and pointed at him while dripping liquid on her clothes. He unveiled her face, revealing her scalp missing and her cranium naked and bleeding. She then ignited herself and moved to embrace him. He backed up and stepped onto a manhole cover, his firearm levelled at the advancing psychotic woman. Then the bombs went off—dozens throughout the city, blasting away chunks of building, sending shards of glass everywhere, and one erupting from the sewers. Penguin watched in terror as Silver Wolf was blown to smithereens by the bombs, and his head landed in front of her with a wet slap, scorched and staring with horror forever etched on his face. She quickly returned to the car and sped on, contacting the other officers with a cry of “Officer down! Bear and Crab, rendezvous at the shop half a block west of the police station.”
There they met, with Crab and Bear shocked by the swarms of dead and burning bodies, watching as the rag-tag few policemen engaged in open street warfare with the horde of psychotic rioters. They discussed their findings, and the strange repeated sighting of the brown boy with dark hair. They had seen him again during the riot, walking calmly as people burned and died all around him. Crab opined that the kid was touched in the head, with some sort of PTSD. They agreed to take one vehicle and get to the police station as quick as possible. Arriving, however, they saw that it was swamped with violence. It had become the last redoubt of the struggling State Sec troopers as insane rioters flung themselves from all directions, some brandishing weapons, and the prison exploded into a riot of its own. A policeman sat crouched near a hydrant, hoping no one would notice him. Crab calmed him down and eased him into his car, telling him he’d be safe. They then proceeded into the building, linking up at last with Bat and Fox and combining their strange experiences into a more coherent picture of horror and chaos that was gripping the city. They moved on to speak with Stanley.

The man was held behind a glass partition, in a locked steel cell. They questioned him, with Sarah hanging back a bit at Bat’s warning that it was unwise to pack them all into one room. Stanley told them of his atrocities and violence, barely believing his own deeds, but then seemed to spasm and convulse and babbled about psychics and the occult, the mystical and pseudoscientific. He then blurted out a name—“Riker”—as the one responsible for his madness before crushing his own windpipe. The man’s strange behavior had left more questions than answers. In the midst of his rant, his own guard burst in with rifle blazing before being incapacitated by the officers, unnerving them all. They began to filter out and plan out their next move. Sarah was struck by what had been said, recalling the name faintly. But as she was talking to Bat and Crab about this, she then suddenly disappeared from view, vanishing as if by magic. Crab rewound his sensory recorder and detected that the boy from earlier had walked up to her and squeezed her finger—and then in a flash of blue light they disappeared. They could scarcely believe what they were seeing on the playback. They rushed outside, and found the kid standing at the entrance, taunting them and offering his help—if only to prove their helplessness. Bat attempted to intimidate him with his firearm, but it was to little avail. Their primary vehicle was destroyed, presumably by rioters, and the frightened man from earlier was burnt to a crisp.

The boy, calling himself Jay, taunted them and told them where to go to find out what started this situation. Only half-believing him, but with their only lead, they took him into their custody and sped south to a hillock. A cave was built into the hillside, adjacent to an otherwise desolate airstrip. Landing a hundred meters away, they hiked up to the cavern and entered it. They were greeted by an enormous hangar door, locked electronically. This was the mysterious ‘facility’ in the outskirts of the city. A door opened to the side, and the Silvers bolted to corner the person of interest—a frazzled, panicked janitor. He offered to help them out, talking about people down below going crazy. But Silver Crab rebuffed him and ordered him to give them the keys and leave to shelter in their car. He began to do so, but then stopped in place. When he resumed movement, he acted strangely, as if in a psychedelic trance. He hallucinated things about the Silvers and fled in terror. Crab quickly seized the keys while Jay mysteriously disappeared. They searched for him and Bat located a peculiar sound behind the metallic janitorial door. The team moved to it and opened the door, entering a dark hallway. The door shut behind them. In the dim light they saw Jay walking along the ceiling and the shadows drifting to conceal him as he moved. Bat slinked to the end of the hallway, while Crab and Penguin swung around a lit corner. Penguin blasted with her freeze-ray, and chilled a man to death who was bolted, legless, to the floor and gagged. He had been place there deliberately by someone. Penguin was horrified, but Crab moved on to explore a closet. Bat opened the elevator and was met by Fox, behaving and speaking stiltedly. He snapped himself out of his stupor, and knew he was seeing a hallucination. The team reconvened and walked back the way they came—only to encounter a gaggle of security droids blasting flame in the cavern, making it a dangerous way to leave.

They resolved that their best bet at cracking the case, finding Renaldi, and figuring out what was going on in the colony lay further into the facility. They took the elevator down to the next floor, an office block. While Crab poked around in another storage closet—and brushed off his own hallucination—Bat and Penguin inquired upon the office workers. Bat was forced to break a manager’s fingers to get more information, while Crab genially talked at one of the office workers to get some phone numbers and details about the place. It turned out the facility was a boarding school, sealed off and independent from the outside world as long as it was sufficiently supplied by shuttlecraft. They had no knowledge of what had happened above, and went along as normal. The children were “special”, while the Silvers surmised had to do with the alleged psychic sensitivity they had. Their researchers and teachers believed them to be mediums or “sensitives”, though the Silvers were skeptical. They called the school administrator on the hard-lined phone, who was revealed to be Fred Luger himself, before descending down the nearby staircase to the basement level. Luger implored them to get a handle on the situation, and make sure that whatever had befallen the dead janitors would not occur to the other staff.
The team came across a large utilities and power-control level, with an accompanying security barracks, armory, and observation room. The team poked around, ascertaining what was what. Crab and Bat skulked off to the large two-way mirrors that constituted the obvious windows of the observation room, whose doors were locked. Bashing one open, they snuck in and Bat found several guards asleep. One was roused awake and confronted him with a weapon drawn. The two held tensely before Bat opened fire, causing a shootout joined by Silver Bear. After subduing the man, with Crab’s powers of persuasion to assist their violence, they found that the other guards were inexplicably comatose. Crab heard a strange noise, however, and wheeled behind the others to see a languid man with black hair and a rough beard slinking away. He followed the man, asking after his intentions. The man merely said that his name was John Baboon, and he was a staff member who hid but now had to get back to work, and quickly left through a door after speaking to Crab.

At the same time, Fox awoke. She groggily came to and saw that she was stripped of her armor and weapons, and instead had a grayish-purple jumpsuit on. She retrieved her boots and her silver balls and tried to slink out of the peculiar room she was in. It looked all the world like a boarding school’s bunk beds. She stumbled across a room with four older teenaged children—who she performed telepathy on. She discovered that they were strangely knowledgeable about the violence in the city, and were indeed gloating about the possibility of escaping their current place. They noticed her, however, and chased after her. Her mind swam, from half-sleep or from induced hallucination, and the hallway morphed in her eyes into a forest, Fox tripping over vines and roots. She was snapped out by a sharp pain at her back, as a bolt of flame crashing into her. Alarmed by the teenagers’ powers, she ran until she found a door, flinging it open psionically, and dashed into a stairwell. She went up and down it, desperately trying to reach any of her teammates. Bat answered, and ran to find her while Crab was talking with the alleged Mr. Baboon. They met near the living quarter’s level, and found their way to the infirmary on the classrooms level. Bat noticed Jay among the children, but said nothing. Instead they swiftly moved to get Fox some medical treatment, and dispatched some nurses to check on the incapacitated security guards. They reunited with the team, and communicated with the chief of security—an otherwise unremarkably State Sec lieutenant they had spoken to at the police station, who had tried to conceal the existence of the facility. They were aware that things were going to hell in the city above, and they moved to secure things in the school. As a last resort, they would try to evacuate if it was shown that the facility was completely compromised. The Silvers were convinced that it was, as they had enough evidence to connect Jay—or James—to the bombings in the city and the mysterious deaths and incapacitations of the adults in the facility. But when Crab showed Fox the video image of the mysterious Mister Baboon, she confirmed what he had feared: the man was Riker. The face was unmistakable, even with his beard, and she remembered where she knew the name. He was on Luna with her, when she was known as Akeelah, where they were experimented on by the state to make use of their alleged psionics.

The team was preparing to check on the unconscious men, and Crab looked in the break room, taking note of a strange object, when the bunk room exploded into a sudden torrent of flame. The comatose men were burned to a crisp, along with the nurses. As the team was trying to figure out what just happened, one of the power capacitors exploded into sparks and shrapnel. Crab put two and two together: Jay’s knowledge of chemistry, his trickster motives, and the reports from the staff of his problem-causing behavior. The kid, James, had planted bombs and sought to destroy the facility, perhaps in conjunction with this Riker fellow. Fox detected a blip of a psionic aura heading down the stairwell, and she chased after it. The team followed suit, rushing past a crude explosive device and ducking around it. Crab caught the brunt of the explosion, set off from the motion of the running Silvers, and was temporarily concussed and deafened in one ear. The team came down into a sub-basement with a panel of tubes and wiring, a large empty holding tank, and a control desk. The psionic aura disappeared around the desk…and then vanished with a flash of light.

But in scanning for the presence, Fox detected yet another: a normal person, cowering behind a bundle of tubes near the far wall. The team called out to it, Crab imploring the person to step out and be calm. The police were here, and here to help. Bat took over the interrogation duties while Crab and Bear explored down another stairwell into a large, roughly-developed cavern and tunnel. The tunnel was lit all the way down, and signs pointed to it leading to a service elevator for the hangar. Bat and Fox, meanwhile, calmed the terrified man and discovered that it was a disheveled George Renaldi, the man they had been sent to find. He divulged the information they sought: this was some arcane facility ran by State Sec for studying ‘sensitive’ children and cultivating psionics, which Renaldi didn’t believe in or understand, and he was the appointed inspector for the facility. He was the liaison between State Sec and the Colonial Bureau, and had charge of ensuring State Security interests in colonies such as Sicron were being taken care of. This facility was one such area of interest.
Renaldi was of the opinion that security had been thoroughly breached, and he had a duty to activate the fail-safe shutdown order. The team debated whether to allow him to do so, or to simply evacuate. Penguin and Crab searched the computer controls to find that this was the holding area for Riker, who had plainly escaped in the confusion and madness infecting the facility and the colony. Renaldi convinced them to take Bat with him and use his keycard to activate the failsafe, and he would join the rest of them in the hangar to evacuate. The team agreed, and most of them hoofed it down the cavern tunnel to the service elevator—Crab made a last-minute set of phone calls to Fred Luger to update him on the situation, and to call for support from his mechanized walker aboard their freighter. Renaldi and Bat went back up a floor to the control room and Renaldi activated the device: an orbital weapon with nuclear drop pods and kinetic impactors designed to destroy the facility, the city, and the main airfield with complete annihilation. Bat was furious, and dragged Renaldi upstairs after harassing him for concealing the information. He radioed the facility security chief, who instructed them to simply get out from the top maintenance shaft; the office, classrooms, and livings quarters had all been bombed, and many students and staff were already dead. He implored them to flee.

Bat and Renaldi followed up on the heels of a fleeing group—whom they found dead in the cavern they had originally entered through, everyone looking like they’d torn each other apart with their bare hands. The flame-spewing robots were shut down, and the hangar door was open. The other Silvers arrived at the back end of the hangar and linked up with Bat and Renaldi. Crab retrieved his mecha and promptly arrested Renaldi and placed a neural scrambler on him, sending him with Bear for safekeeping. Fox and Penguin approached the shuttle in the hangar to see if anyone was alright. Crab was able to see with his mecha’s sensors that there were a few people on the shuttle. Just then, the security chief scrambled down from the shuttle and moved to simply close the hangar door—whom Bat neutralized and arrested, retreating to a safe distance near the mecha. Fox and Penguin called into the shuttle, asking for those inside to come out and show themselves for security reasons. The door started to close and engines warmed up. Fearing the worst and acting fast, they both flung themselves through the door and into the fuselage. They were presented with Riker and his gang of psionic teenagers, menacing them—though one of them lay dead, a victim of Riker’s cultish insistence on obedience.

Fox tried to calm everyone down and defuse the tense situation, telling Riker she only wanted everyone to get out safely. Even if she had to leave with him, she just wanted to stop the bloodshed. But Penguin took the opportunity to ready her tranquilizer dart gun, which caused Riker to react. In a flash, he felt along her veins psionically for her heart and squeezed it, contorting the blood inside until she had an embolism. She collapsed, gasping for air and shuddering with a heart attack. Fox reacted, flinging her silver balls at him. A tense standoff of powerful psychic minds ensued, both trying to incapacitate the other yet unable to, and the teenagers standing aside in awe.
Having threatened to fire, and having seen through his scanners—and the team monitors—Penguin’s death, Silver Crab engaged the MASER cannon of his large machine walker, and blasted the wings off the shuttle, crippling its ability to make a quick takeoff. With time running short until the orbital weapon deployed, he had to do something to stop the threat of this apparent terrorist. Riker surrendered, shutting down the aircraft’s engines and lowering the doors—he realized that if he kept going, they were all going to die. Himself; the children for whose fates he was concerned; and perhaps the only person in the world who truly understood what he had been going through. As a show of goodwill, perhaps as a bargaining chip for the kids’ safety, he used his power to feel inside Penguin’s heart and jump-started it, bringing her back from the brink of death. He did the same to the dead boy he’d slain, though the child’s mind would be forever devastated.

Bat rushed forward to assist in arresting them after Fox announced the resolution to the hostage situation. While one of the kids, Anthony, castigated Riker for his submission, Riker spat back that the boy was unwilling to be responsible or do anything about it. He told Anthony to put his hands up and surrender too. The boy appeared to do so, appearing at the doorway about to walk off the shuttle, and Bat tied his hands together. But Anthony smirked, smarmed, and blasted a ray of white-hot lightning from his mouth, arcing from his tongue to Bat’s chest, knocking him cold. Fox moved to incapacitate Anthony, dazing him while he tried in vain to slay her by attacking her mind. With the threat removed, Riker formed a bubble of force and lifted himself and the other kids out of the shuttle, ripping its canopy away, and set down in front of the police, surrendering himself peacefully with the provision that the kids be unharmed. Fox took Bat and Penguin and they piled them into their remaining hovercraft and sped away, followed closely by Crab in his mecha with Renaldi and Bear. They managed to get just outside the effect radius of the orbital weapon when it struck the facility. Far in the distance to the north, past the swamps and forests, the city erupted into nuclear flame as a second sun burned it to vapor. The Silvers called for EVAC and returned to their freighter, with the VIP in hand and safe, the terrorists neutralized, and their ringleader under secure arrest. The colony below was annihilated, and despite Renaldi’s pleadings, the children were alive. When he next suggested killing them, Crab simply retorted that unless he was going to take the gun and do it himself, he could sit down and shut up. Crab wondered what had become of the violent child, James; but they never found hide nor hair of the boy ever again.

The team returned to the Silver Menagerie for debriefing. Penguin had to attend in a wheelchair, Bat was scarred and pained, as was Fox. Crab and Bear were startled by the horrific events. Wolf was killed in action. The commander Silver Dragon took their videographic and written reports and inquired about the prisoners. Riker was hauled before them for questioning, and he divulged his full story: he had been part of a program to breed psionic commanders, which became a program to breed psionic assassins after funding became sparse. The program, ran by Fred Luger, was taken over by William McGrady’s branch of State Security and renamed Project Seraphim. Riker was the only survivor he knew of, though he suspected others might have lived, and he had been pressed into combat as an assassin and saboteur on the home front during and after the war. The breeding and training program had been terminated after an accident on Luna during which the last remaining subjects were apparently killed—a little Arabic girl named Akeelah, who Riker had sensed was the original identity of Sarah Sterling, Silver Fox. He further described that the program had been restarted as Project Lacrimosa several years later, on Sicron, with a large budget and a goal of creating more psionic ‘sensitives’ through forcible enhancement with nutrition and cybernetics. The plan was only partly a success, and only really took off when they noted that Riker, who was housed in the same facility, boosted their potential significantly when he dreamed, like he was a beacon and they were transceivers. He was forcibly kept in a waking-dream state, and such it remained until a month ago. He awoke, and a terrible psionic shockwave roiled into the city, causing hallucinations and madness in people who were being unwittingly altered by the program for future breeding purposes.
Renaldi indicated that he was assigned to survey the facility every so often and report on its security, and he had decided that the program would probably have to be shut down about a week ago, when the janitors went insane and started killing each other. Only through the aid of Silver Team was he able to survive and activate the facility’s fail-safe system, and secure the area. Silver Dragon could hardly believe it, opined that the State Sec program was insane, and that Renaldi was responsible for over half a million deaths for no reasons. Dragon further suggested that their tampering with the food supply had caused the degenerative madness in the populace.
Then, a knock at the door sounded, presenting an average-sized man in a jet-black military uniform, with a chinstrap beard, long curly black hair, bright green eyes, and a scar across his chin. After apologizing for his lateness, and mentioning he had received the preliminary reports, he asked for the detailed report of the incident and asked if any further data was recovered. Dragon feigned that the reports were still being processed, and he would get it to the man by the end of the day. The curly-headed man introduced himself as General Xander Vox, Director of Republic Security; he placed Renaldi under arrest and escorted him out. He asked about the other prisoners, and wanted them in his custody by the next day, after a thorough interview by the Silver Team. He pointed to Riker, who lied and said he was a surviving staff member named John Baboon. Vox shrugged, and thanked Dragon for helping to capture Renaldi in a criminal act. With hope, further projects of such illicit and corrupt nature would be halted. He thanked the other Silvers for their help in the matter, and departed.

Dragon looked at everyone and sighed, asking, “Well. What did we learn, Team?”

Crab leered around and said, “I don’t know, sir.”

“I don’t fucking know either, Adam. I guess we learned not to do it again.”


Last edited by Better Alex on Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:37 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Season Three: The Malignant Seven   Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:55 pm

Epilogue: At Space's End

With the great and deadly Pirate War concluded, the Yellow Jackets were annihilated. Their many associates scattered to the stars, disunited and harried by the forces of the allied pirates, corsairs, and mercenaries. Many pirates who had fought against the terrorist Yellow Jackets were given brief reprieve and were allowed to be privateers so long as they attacked the Yellow Jackets and their allies. However, a time soon came for a reckoning.

Noriko was relaxing in her rehab spa-clinic, along with her newfound lover James Staunton. One day in late December she received a videophone call from none other than Siegfried Metzger. While she reacted with hostility, he laughed it off and told her that he'd received an invite to a new luxury spaceliner's maiden voyage. He'd gladly pay for her ticket, and a ticket for her friend, if she'd come and meet him as he knew a few "like minded people" would be there too. She reluctantly agreed. At the same time, Popeye was paroled from prison for good behaviour, and found that he too had given sent an invite to a conference aboard this new spaceliner--all from a mysterious sender named AJV.
Others flocked to the ship too, from across human space--Yoritomo Manzo, Jack McGrady, mercenary Maximilinee, and a dozen space pirates and warlords. It was to be the largest and most luxurious spaceliner yet built, designed to ferry freight and people within a star system. The MSV Galactic launched on its maiden voyage in the Channing system, travelling from planet Devon to the colonised moon Tintagel, orbiting a gas giant. It was to be a simple, calm voyage. Thus it was set as the meeting for a shadowy cabal: those invited were brought into a conference chamber, in which stood a giant blond man and his master--a black-clad man with tumbling, curly coal-black hair and bright green eyes. State Sec general Xander Vox. He presented to them an unwavering ultimatum: give up their freedom and life of piracy and join together to act as corsairs, or they would be executed. Most agreed, but there was one catch: one of their number must submit themselves to public humiliation and trial for their crimes. John McGrady was chosen, filling General Vox with much mirth. With sadness in their hearts, freedom-loving pirates Yoritomo, Popeye, and Siegfried reluctantly agreed to the compact. Noriko watched from nearby, invisible.
Afterwards, Siegfried sat with Noriko and his cohorts and fumed. After a long silence, he gave her an offer: someday, they would undo this great shame, and she would be instrumental in the breaking of their shackles. They would play their roles until then, but in the shadows they would build towards their insurrection. Before leaving the ship at the end of their voyage, she found Eugene and apologised to him for hurting him--and erased his memories of her with her hacking tool.

Far away on the planet Chios, Javier Creed had toiled these past six months with his team to research the mysterious dragons. He had uncovered, through his strange psionic powers, an untapped history and mythology--revealing the origins of this reptilian race in some ancient spacefaring precursors, and the civil war that had split the dragons apart. Long ago, some of them had come into contact with some relics, buried remains and ruins of the ancient race, which were psionically active. The strange silver-black orbs, exactly like those that had been found on various worlds, were among such relics, spurring Javier's theories about the precursor dragons. Psionic awakening was interpreted as religious experience, and they were driven out by their red-scaled brethren for perceived madness. Red and grey dragons had slaughtered each other over their beliefs. Javier had learned much of this also from two renegade red dragons. Through a little bit of espionage and a little bit of theatre, Javier appeared before the red dragons in their own nest and home, presenting his knowledge and converting them to the faith of the grey dragons. The grey dragon chief spoke to Javier, and revealed to him their prophecy: one day, an outsider with the soul of a dragon would come and bring them to the stars to join their ancestors. The dragon chieftain believed that Javier was this dragon-born messiah.
At year's end a new spacecraft appeared in orbit, Siegfried Metzger's golden sloop. The two spoke on videophone about Javier's findings and the strange prophecy of the dragon-born. While Javier thought the prophecy to be lunacy, Siegfried believed it. He told Javier of his run-in with the dragons before, which he scarcely believed to be true until he had seen them again, and showed him Ruby clad in her golden armour, trained in the ways of human warriors, a revelation that mankind could indeed uplift the dragons. The space Viking told him one last thing: the end of the age of pirates was upon them, but a time would come when such men and women would rise again not as criminals but as liberators.

The prophecy of the dragons was but one part of the coming apocalypse.
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Season Three: The Malignant Seven
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