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  1. Gunnar 'Einherjar' Torenson Role: Techie " Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, strike like a thunderbolt." Name: Gunnar Torenson Cultural Origins: West European (German) Personality: Rebellious, antisocial and violent. Clothing Style: Nomad Leathers Hairstyle: Short cropped Affectation: Mercenary tattoos What Do You Value Most? His word. Feelings About People? Despises almost everyone. ("Maggots." is his favorite term for the public at large.) Most Valued Person: No-one (Somewhat of a nihilist, Gunnar barely values his own life. It's mostly simple cussedness that keeps him going) Most Valued Possession: A photo of himself with an old flame. (Yes, he's still got a touch of the big hearted romantic in him. Well hidden, and very scarred.) Family Background: Pacifica Combat Zoners Childhood Environment: In Pacifica, learning to fight and survive. Family Crisis: Family were wiped out in one of Pacifica's innumerable gang wars. Life Goals: Save an old flame from prison. (A matter of honor as much as romance.) Current Employment: Works alone, a self-employed jack-of-all trades Techie. Main clients are Solos and combat types, wanting weapons fixed or upgraded. Gets most of his supplies through scavenging combat zones, but has attracted the notice of 6th Street, who want him to work for them. Attributes - INT 7|REF 6|DEX 6|TECH 8|COOL 4|WILL 6|LUCK 6|MOVE 6|BODY 8|EMP 2 (5) Skills - Role Special: Maker: 4 (Field Expertise 2, Upgrade 2, Fabrication 2, Invention 2) Awareness Skills [INT]: Concentration [WILL] 2, Conceal/Reveal Object, Lip Reading , Perception 4, Tracking Body Skills [DEX]: Athletics 4, Contortionist, Dance, Endurance [WILL] 4, Resist Torture/Drugs [WILL], Stealth 4 Control Skills [REF]: Drive Land Vehicle 1, Pilot Air Vehicle, Pilot Sea Vehicle, Riding Education Skills [INT]: Accounting , Animal Handling, Bureaucracy , Business , Composition, Criminology, Cryptography, Deduction 4, Education 3, Gamble, Language (German) 4, Language (Street Slang) 2, Language (Spanish) N/A, Library Search, Local Expert (Pacifica) 3, Science, Tactics 2, Wilderness Survival Fighting Skills [DEX]: Brawling 6, Evasion 4, Martial Arts, Melee Weapon Performance Skills: Acting [COOL], Play Instrument [TECH] Ranged Weapon Skills [REF]: Archery, Autofire, Handgun 5, Heavy Weapons, Shoulder Arms 5 Social Skills [COOL]: Bribery, Conversation [EMP] 2, Human Perception [EMP] 2, Interrogation, Persuasion 2, Personal Grooming 4, Streetwise, Trading, Wardrobe & Style 4 Technique Skill [TECH]: Air Vehicle Tech, Basic Tech 4, Cybertech, Demolitions 3, Electronics/Security Tech 3, First Aid 4, Forgery, Land Vehicle Tech 3, Paint/Draw/Sculpt, Paramedic, Photography/Film, Pick Lock, Pick Pocket, Sea Vehicle Tech, Weaponstech 4 Equipment – Light Armorjack Body Armor(Modified with Duraweave inlays) (12SP), Light Armorjack Head Armor (SP11), V. Heavy Pistol (4d6): Custom Smartlink, Concealable, Ammunition(Standard x50, Armor Piercing x20), Techtool, Computer, Agent. Fashion: Leathers (Bottoms x 1, Jacket x1, T-shirt x5, Boots x 1), 3x light tattoos. Cyberwear (23/50 HUM) – Cyberarm(left) with:-Big Knucks (Heated mod – applies mild fire status),Techscanner, Subdermal Grip; Neural Link; Right hand Subdermal Grip Hit Points – 45 (Seriously Wounded 23, Death Save 8.) Home/Lifestyle - Gunnar lives in a lockup (cargo container) on the edges of the Pacifica combat zone. It ain’t much, but it’s home. Sort of. At least for now. Workspace: A mess of blueprint paper, tools, and odds and ends of junk that may or may not be useful. Inventions of Note: Custom Neural Lock Smartlink – Acts as a smartlink modification but also is keyed to a particular neural link pattern, without which it simply will not fire. Bio: Gunnar Torenson has never known an easy lesson in his life. Born and raised in Pacifica, his family scrounged and scraped a living in the combat zone. He took to two things well – building and repairing devices scavenged by his family, and violence. His intellect helped him with the first, and his size and ferocity with the second, and the young man could well have become a fixture in Night City’s underworld if not for the murder of his entire extended gang family, including his first girlfriend, by a rival gang. Losing his taste for the backstabbing paranoia of Night City, Gunnar left what was remaining of his home and travelled, signing on with whatever merc group would have him and fighting in brushfire wars and corporate struggles all over the world. His skills at weapon maintenance, security and demolitions stood him in as good a stead as his aptitude for warfare, but his poor people skills and violent, rebellious attitude have inevitably led him back to Night City, minus an arm and all out of second chances... Psychological Profile: A life of harsh conflict and hard knocks has made a hard man. Gunnar has no time for weakness or sentimentality, his concept of 'warriors honor' the only check on his violent temper most of the time. He despises weasel words and people who pretend to verbal cleverness, preferring straight talk amongst allies - deception is for enemies, after all, and the surest way to get on his bad side is to play games with him. He is not, as people have found out to their shock and dismay, merely a violent thug however. His technological skills and his delight in setting intricate mechanical or electronic booby traps display a subtlety of thought that is not at all obvious when speaking to the man, and his lifetime of war has left him with a solid tactical grounding that many street-raised edgerunners may lack. Enemies/Problems: -Kingsly, the government official – During Gunnar’s travelling mercenary days, he crossed paths with a Fixer by the name of Kingsly Horowitz, a weaselly man with a tendency to play both ends against the middle so long as it benefited him. Gunnar caused him a severe public humiliation after a deal went sour and the big Techie lost his temper and beat Kingsly until he pissed himself in front of an entire bar. Nowadays, Kingsly has moved on to a different kind of Fixer work as part of Night City’s political machinery. Has three friends who might conceivably help him get even. Kingsly isn’t likely to risk direct confrontation again, but will almost certainly try to backstab Gunnar indirectly if he gets a chance. -R.C, the boosterganger – R.C. ‘Arcee’ Koontz, street enforcer and up-and-comer of the 6th Street Gang. Him and Gunnar just don’t like each other: like a more explosive mixture of oil and water. Can throw himself and 1 close friend at Gunnar. Confrontations between them invariably turn violent. Only the fact that 6th Street want Gunnar working for them keeps RC from being able to get the traction to off the big techie, but it's only a matter of time. Quirks: Cigars. He's always got one in his teeth, though it's not always lit. Maggots. If you've not seen war, if you're not prepared to shed your own blood to see the enemy bleed, if you think you can benefit from violence with clean hands and are better than him because of it, if you'd rather lick the boot than rip the leg off - you're a maggot. Deal with it, and be better. Anger Issues. He's got them. Morose and sullen most of the time, when poked this bear will turn vicious. And no, his bark is not worse than his bite. Brotherhood of battle. Einherjar has a lot of time for those he's shared a battlefield with, even those on opposite sides - so long as the conflict is now past. Mercs and veterans, if they can prove their bona fides, tend to get some slack.
  2. I'll be bowing out - for reasons I shall not air here. All the best with the new site.
  3. Sitting in the shade, Steve had removed his boots and socks, followed by the coat, jacket and shirt, leaving himself wearing just a part of old-fashioned trousers that ended just below the knee. They were reasonably light and practical to swim in, though he had trunks underneath too if need arose these would do for arsing around in the water on on the beach. Sighing as he straightened, glad to be feeling the breeze take away some of the heat of the day, he heard Bastion call out and turned, grinning... well, piratically. His torso was desert-tanned and adorned with tattoos - most of which had a military theme - along with more than a few scars showing up pale and twisting against the taut bronze of his flesh. He was large bones overlaid with solid functional muscle, a warhorse in his prime. "Not one like yours, lad." he rumbled with a laugh. "I can't heft boulders around. Bear that in mind, eh?" "I'll take it easy on ya." Bastion grinned. "Go long!" And he sent a long pass, mindful of his strength so the pigskin didn't end up in Tahiti or wherever. It was an almost lazy flick of his arm, but the oval ball soared through the air practically the full length of a pitch, arcing high over the Marine's head. "Cheeky bastard!" Steve swore, already running like hell. He was notably fast on his feet even on sand - fast enough that he was able to get under the dropping football and catch it, though he had to slide the last half dozen feet to do so. Bastion cheered as the blond man rose, holding the ball aloft like a trophy. "Nice catch!" Bastion yelled. Steve dusted the sand off his breeches and grinned, shading his eyes with one hand as he measured the distance between them. He knew how to throw - playing pickup games in the Middle East with some U.S. troops had been one aspect to an enriching cultural exchange - but he wasn't sure about throwing well at that distance. Fuck it, he mused. Worse that can happen is I look like a twat, and I already showed up to a tropical island sweating my tits off. He took aim, squinting against the sun, took a few quick steps forwards and let fly. The ball arced back towards Bastion, the distance looking decent though the accuracy was not so comforting. "To you!" Steve called back, watching as Bastion ran to get under the pass.
  4. Steve rumbled with laughter as Emily went from distressingly sober to sloppily drunk mid-sentence, though he did ensure that she still had her footing, braced against Bastion though she mostly currently was, as he removed the second drink from her hand and took a swallow to test it. It was a sweetish cocktail, which made him grimace a little, but this was for science so he endured. "Hey thas'sh'mine." Emily protested, grinning up at the well-built Brit even as her hand tested the firmness of Bastion's shoulder and found it not at all wanting. "D'you Shtormer guys all get ripped n'shit?" She asked, peering up through her lashes at Bastion as she leaned on him. With effort, she focused on enunciating her thoughts coherently. "Like, were you ninety-pound weaklings before and then 'bam! muscles for miles!'?" "Pretty much the same as I used to be, looks-wise." Steve shrugged as he took another swig from the glass he'd appropriated. He felt the familiar (though not lately) haze of alcohol interacting with his brain, then took a third swallow, draining the glass. "Cheeky vintage, that." he nodded approvingly to Deezy. "Though you definitely want to lower the dosage. Two mouthfuls for a pleasant buzz is a bit strong. Lets see how quickly we sober up and I'll let you spike me a real drink."
  5. "We could play a round or two of 'feed the starving genius', I suppose." Steve laughed. "Personally, I think she'd end up with food inside there with her." "As for my plans - pretty undefined right now. Technically I'm still a serving soldier, but being a Stormer means they can't actually deploy me right now. No government wants to be the first to open that particular can of worms - Stormer soldiers who can wipe countries off the map are pretty much a U.N. nightmare scenario." "Person of Mass Destruction, that one opinion piece said, I remember." Deezy nodded. Steve made a face, remembering the MSNBC 'Special' on high-profile Stormers and how it had focused a segment on his abilities. It had just stopped short of becoming a scaremongering piece. "Yeah. Not the best thing I've been called on a Friday night." He shrugged as the odd group made it's way back into the main body of the party. "Still, opinions are like arseholes - everyone's got one and most of them stink."
  6. Steve grinned at the eccentric girl in the huge suit of armor. Not just at the sight of her small head poking out from between the massive shoulder plates, but also at her cheerfully dizzy manner. She seemed an almost classic mad-inventor trope come to life, though he reminded himself that someone who could work up a rough suit of power armor just for a party could probably, with funding and time, make a battle-ready one. Or any manner of weapons of singular or mass destruction, for that matter. He'd read reports about those Stormer who seemed to have enhanced intelligence and analytic skills, and whilst Kyria possessed a modicum of such enhancement Deezy seemed to have so much of it that it kind of... spilled out everywhere. "Party's fine, luv." he assured the hostess with a smile. "Tell me, do I want to be standing nearby when the Death Blossom happens?" Deezy's face screwed up cutely in exaggerated thought. "Define 'nearby'. I'm pretty sure the far side of the island is probably... maybe... possibly safe." she said, then grinned like a kid at Christmas. "Great." Steve replied dryly, rumbling a chuckle then as Emily linked arms with him and Bastion and started tugging the two large men in the direction of the main party. "Making girls jealous? Well, sounds like juggling grenades in a thunderstorm, but if we can survive that we might survive the Death Blossom." He looked at Deezy as she wrrr-klomp'd alongside him. "That armor is completely bananas." he said, unable to stop from chuckling further. "How are you even going to eat or drink in that?"
  7. Steve grinned a little, matching the toast and shooting back the tequila with the lack of grimace that spoke of a lot of time in bars. "The U.N. got pissy enough about me causing a continent sized fogbank. If I make it start raining men they're really going to go spare." he said, his voice a good-natured rumble as he held his glass out for a refill. "The MOD are calling me 'Einherjar' - obviously playing off the whole 'warrior / Norse / thunder god' thing while trying not to attract the wrath of Disney. I like 'Weatherman', though - it was Bastion's idea." Emily smiled at the younger of the two impressively built men, then at the older, who winked at her. "Though if you want a codename other than Sea Witch, you could go with Siren. How's your singing voice?" he asked with a piratical grin as she refilled his glass.
  8. "Does that apply to your parents? Mine? Your friends and their parents?" Steve replied soberly. "Who decides? What happens when some Stormer as strong as you gets pissed because you killed his favorite mundane humans and returns the favour?" When Bastion didn't immediately answer, Steve sighed. "Simple solutions are for simple problems. Trying to solve complex human problems with simple solutions is how the worst shit in the world's history gets started. Take a look at the last century. It all starts with 'Wouldn't it be great if everyone did what they were told for the greater good' and ends up with concentration camps, genocide and gulags." Glowing blue eyes stared at the surf. "Strikes me that if you want to build something better than humanity did, you can start by avoiding the same daft mistakes. Make brand new ones, for a start. Be better, not just stronger." He was silent for a long moment. "I've been thinking a lot about that myself. Maybe I shouldn't be answering to a government, either. I'm watching my people right now, watching them like a bloody hawk for any sign they're going to try and use me as a WMD for some bullshit political end. The Storm changed my life too - can't just think like a Bootneck." He glanced at Bastion again, sympathy in his tone. "You've had it rough. Don't let that define you, or that arsefaced Colonel might die, but he'll die being right. And arsefaced Colonels don't deserve to be right. They talk a lot of shit about Stormers, but even if we're not human, we're still people too. Losing sight of that would be sad." The tall soldier stood, stretching a little, then looked back up the beach a moment before regarding the younger man. "I'm going to go and mingle with that crazy mob up there. Could use a solid man on my left to make sure that loon in the powered armor doesn't step on my feet." he said with a grin. "Want to tag along?"
  9. "Society's laws are for society." Steve said after a few moments reflection. "Don't know about 'human', but right now 'society' consists of whatever social group you want to be with." "F'r instance, I'm a soldier. Was one for well over a decade before the Storm. When I joined the Royal Marines, I agreed to abide by the rules of that society, which themselves exist within and apart from wider society." He took a long drink, then belched impressively. "'Scuse me. Soda always gives me the wind. Anyway - Civvies don't have to abide by the laws I have to, like not talking to journalists without several layers of authorisation, and in some cases I don't abide by the laws they have to: for example, if you work in a bank it's generally not considered a legal defense to kill someone just because your boss tells you to." "Now it sounds to me-" he pointed a finger of the hand holding his bottle at Bastion. "That you got screwed over. Your folks got screwed over. So now you're looking at your old society, reading the fine print and thinking 'what's in it for me?' and 'why should I play fair if they don't?' Which are both reasonable questions, no doubt. And questions most men ask themselves sooner or later. You've got to add the third question, though: 'What society do I want to be part of, if any?'" The friendly, weather-tanned features were sober as they regarded Bastion. "So what it really boils down to is 'What do I want to do and who do I want to be?' If you want to raise horses, then look at what steps you need to take to do that, and make it happen. Want your folks to get their life back? You can't throw rocks at that problem, but you can figure out how to make it happen. Me? I'm looking to try and help people out while serving my country. There's monsters out there in the wild places, once people like you and me who went crazy with the power on the night of the Storm and ain't coming back. There's cities in ruins, people without clean water or infrastructure. There's countries like goddamn China who are likely press-ganging every Stormer in their borders to weaponise them for the Glorious People's Army. At which point they'll likely start flexing..." Steve frowned, staring at the ocean and taking another swig of root beer. "The world's in a shit state - the first thing blokes who can move mountains or summon hurricanes need to do is try and not make it worse for everyone."
  10. "Tch." The older man shook his head slightly. "Trust the Yanks to overreact in a crisis." His smile was good-natured, his tone dryly humorous. He regarded the muscular youth then, his smile fading a little. "I'm sorry about your farm, Bastion. That's a bloody mischief, and no mistake. My mum's side of the family are dairy farmers up in Somerset - cheese country - and they've been doing that a long time too. Used to go spend school breaks up there helping out - and I tell you, I wish they were horses. Bloody cows are quarter as smart and twice as stubborn." "As for whoring... Yeah. I guess that is a way to look at it." Steve said with the air of a man considering the word. "I'm not here for that. I've already got a job, though I'm pretty sure Queen and Country have no bleedin' clue what to do with me. I'm just here to meet folks and see what this Nova Corp thingy is all about." He sat quietly for a few minutes, then an idea apparently occurred to him. "You'd think the sodding U.S. government could have set your folks up on another horse ranch somewhere. I mean, it's not the same as the old family steading, but it's something at least. I dunno, but if anyone tried that shit back home there'd have been merry hell to pay." He shook his head. "How did they get to your folks? Spun them some nightmare scenario?"
  11. "Steve." the other man said with a smile, twisting the cap off his root beer, then clinking the bottle against Bastion's. "Though I'm going to consider asking them to change my callsign to Weatherman now." He took a pull on his drink, staring out at the ocean. "As for why I'm here - you look like a lad with a lot on his mind who turned up to a Halloween party just to sit down the beach. I can understand that a bit - all that back there is a lot of noise, excitement, people with powers and strange red-skinned half-naked birds and a crazy-eyed girl in powered armor..." "And pirates." Bastion said with a hint of a smile. Steve nodded sagely, raising his bottle in acknowledgement. "And pirates. And it's a lot, like I said. You seem a bit like me - sort of bloke who prefers to sit quietly most of the time with a friend or two, but you don't really know anyone here. I've been at plenty of shindigs where that's the case." Steve took another drink. "So now you know me. At least enough to sit and drink without a lot of fussing about. Or you can say 'Ta, but nah, Steve. I'm good by myself, off you toddle'. And no harm will be done."
  12. "Nice to meet you Donald - and it's just Steve the pirate today." the tall man with the desert tan and the irises that softly glowed as though backlit by lightning said to Donald with self-deprecating grin, offering a hand for the younger man to shake. "'Einherjar' is a name I'm still not used to. It's like a new pair of boots - pinches and chafes." He shook hands in a casually brisk way, one-and-done, then turned to 'Darth Mask', smiling amiably. "You could always go posh - end it with a q-u-e and call yourself 'Masque'." he said to the Sith Lady, offering her a hand in turn. He radiated a laid-back, just-plain-folks ease which was a contrast to the lightning-wreathed figure that had been seen fighting a giant ice monster or the stern, businesslike pictures of him in military fatigues that had adorned the media for the last couple months. He stepped back as Kyria introduced herself, turning to shake Davian and Ryan's hands and the end of one of Deezy's makeshift bolters, then grinned as Aquama'am made her entrance. Showy, but the fun kind he mused, studying the water-controller. Some of these people he'd read files on - those that had files at least. Others were very much mysteries. Like the young man who'd stepped through a portal then stalked off down the beach. Steve had been around the block once or twice, and had been a young man himself once. That youth (he disliked the term 'kid') had the look of someone who wanted to be here - for whatever reason - but wasn't sure how to proceed, especially in a crowd of adult superhumans all being fah-bulous. Steve could relate: the Palace had been more a proud moment than an uncomfortable one for him - after all, meeting one's sovereign as she praised his valor was pretty much on the bucket list for most serving members of Her Majesty's Forces. But the swanky parties were a little much for a man who was, at heart, more of a 'beer with his mates' sort than a 'stand around seeing and being seen' sort of guy. Even Kyria, social butterfly and people person though she was, had found the London party scene to be overmuch at times, so she'd been happy enough to come with Steve to Portsmouth to sit and have a drink with some of his old unit - who naturally were charmed by her and loudly proclaimed that she was too good for Steve and must have taken a knock on the noggin during the ice giant fight. That night had gotten a little raucous, and Kyria had learned the lyrics to songs with catchy tunes but that were best not sung in polite company (like all the best soldier's songs), and had been adopted as somewhat of an unofficial mascot by the Commandos. Now, though, she was excitedly greeting all the new Stormer faces, so Steve quietly ambled off towards where his keen nostrils detected food and drink. = = = = = = Sebastian was staring out over the ocean, his back to the palm tree and eyes squinting against the sunlight on the waves when he became aware of the soft sound of someone walking on sand nearby. He glanced up just as the large figure in outlandish pirate garb settled down a few feet away with a sigh, heedless of the sand getting on the fancy long coat, and also looked out over the view. "It's a lot, isn't it?" the pirate with lightning eyes said quietly, holding out a hand with two still-capped bottles cold enough to be dripping condensation down their sides to the young brooder. "Wasn't sure what your poison was, so I brought a Coke and a root beer. You choose: I'm good with either."
  13. "You're joking." Steve 'Einherjar' Nord, Colour Sergeant formerly in Her Majesty's Royal Marines and currently in Her Special Air Service, stared at Sir Cecil with a mixture of amusement and disbelief. At least at first - the amusement was fading somewhat as he realized that, yes, indeed, Sir Cecil was serious. Over by the patio window, Kyria hid her grin by staring out at the grey, dismal October day. England had some lovely countryside, but all those lush green hills seemed to require a lot of work with the sprinkler, so to speak. Summer this year had been a case of 'blink and miss it'. "It's a golden opportunity: most of the Stormers in the free world will be there, and possibly some from other nations too, using the occasion to do a little recruiting and scouting of their own." Sir Cecil was 'the man from the Ministry'. Officially he was a mid-level bureaucrat in the M.O.D, but unofficially he was the British government's man in charge of all Stormer related matters. He oversaw the collection and analysis of intel, made sure briefings were read by senior military staff as, well as by the Prime Minister, and spent a lot of time getting to personally know the U.K's small selection of Storm-enhanced. Word was that there was going to be an official 'Department of Enhanced Affairs' or some such, and when it was set up, Sir Cecil would be in charge of it. He preferred a light touch - treating people with courtesy and dignity. Technically, he could order Steve to attend the party, or at least arrange for orders to be so issued. But for a bureaucrat Sir Cecil was a definite people person, presenting himself as a reasonable sage advisor whom it would be wise to heed, rather than a martinet who expected his orders to be treated as the word of God. A lifetime of dealing with powerful, often mercurial people in the corridors of power translated well when it came to dealing with really powerful, often mercurial Stormers. Steve and Kyria liked him - Kyria jokingly calling him 'Uncle Cecil', which the Man from the Ministry took in good humor. "Hmm." Steve sat back in his chair, regarding the briefing paper and the invite that had arrived, courtesy of the Home Office. Kyria, being a private citizen, was free to come and go as she pleased. Steve on the other hand, being both a serving soldier and currently a focus of international concern due to the scope of his abilities, was somewhat more restricted. "Says here it's private land?" he looked up at Cecil, who nodded as he sipped his tea. Like most of their informal briefings, this was being conducted as a simple Sunday afternoon visit for a cup of tea and a chat at the pair's house on Hereford base. "Exactly. The Cook Islands are loosely tied to New Zealand, but this particular bit is owned lock, stock and barrel by private interests. Nobody to get irate about a living WMD wandering around inside their national borders. You've even been personally invited by this Davian fellow." Cecil explained as Kyria came over from the window and draped herself on the arm of Steve's chair, leaning on him as she peered at the satellite picture. "Looks sunny." she said with only a faint emphasis on the second word, but Steve glanced up at her with a slight smile, then shrugged as he looked back at Cecil. "Might as well save myself argument. I'm outgunned." he said with a grin. Kyria nodded, affecting a sober expression, then kissed him on the cheek as Cecil smiled. "Excellent. I'll send word to this Nova Solutions and arrange a time and place for your 'lift' - that teleporter fellow I believe will be doing the honours. Have fun, get to know your fellow Enhanced, and get some Pacific sunshine in October. I'm rather jealous." Sir Cecil smiled as he gathered his briefcase and coat, shaking hands before leaving. Steve and Kyria saw him out, then wandered back into the lounge. "What the hell am I going to wear to a sodding costume party?" Steve asked, almost plaintively. Kyria grinned as she hooked her arms around his neck. "It's a private island. I guess you can wear what you like. Or not wear what you like." she teased, waggling her eyebrows. 'Einherjar' snorted, giving her a kiss. "That's all I need - some Stormer's cellphone video of me starkers on the internet to go along with the half-naked ice monster footage." "I still think you should do that Playgirl photoshoot." Kyria giggled. "If you're worried about it affecting field work, you could wear a balaclava and nothing else. Trust me, they won't be looking at your face- Eep!" she squeaked as Steve smacked her backside firmly. She pouted, theatrically rubbing her rump. "Big bully." she said accusingly, then gave him a shark-like grin. "Got another one in ya?" "Focus, we've got work to do." Steve said, affecting an aloof demeanour. "Can't have Einherjar and Valkyrie showing up in shitty costumes. And anything viking related is out - I'm not sweating my bollocks off in leather, fur and chainmail in a Pacific summer." "Zombies?" Kyria suggested, bouncing up and down on her toes as her arms went back around his neck. "Vampires? Vampire zombies?" Steve sighed and picked her up, heading towards the bedroom. "Wait, what are we doing now?" "Searching for inspiration." Steve rumbled as he carried her down the hallway. "Really? Feels like you're inspired in all the wrong ways, Mr 'We've got work to do'." The lovely redhead made a half-hearted attempt at struggling. "Help! Oh help! A big brute is carrying me off to have his wicked way with me- Oh! I've got it! Pirates!" Steve stopped, considering for a moment, then nodding. "Yeah, that'll work. Good pirate costumes, though. No 'pirate stripper' costumes." "Oh, it'll be awesome." Kyria grinned ear to ear, then poked Steve in the chest. "Now keep moving." "But we've got the inspiration now." Steve deadpanned. "Wouldn't you rather have a nice cup of tea?" A pair of surprisingly strong hands grabbed him either side of his head as the slim woman squirmed around so her legs were now scissored around his waist, her deep blue eyes looking into his glowing pale blue ones. "No." Kyria growled, not-quite-playfully. "I would not." =========== Right on time, Davian thought to himself as, ears still ringing from Deezy’s concussive display of pyrotechnics, he turned to see Ryan’s portal to Hereford, England open… and disgorge a pair of pirates. Not cheap, thrift store pirates, or slutty bikini pirates, or ‘pirate-like’ costumes. Nope. Pirates, a villainous rough-looking pair indeed, though Kyria’s beaming smile at the sight of new people (and, let’s face it, Deezy’s costume) did a good job of reassuring Davian that this pirate lady, whilst she might cheat at cards, probably wouldn’t set fire to the place afterwards or stab too many people on the way out. Brown tricorne hat, a russet-coloured coat with a dark red shirt beneath, and well-fitted brown leather pants tucked into knee-high boots were finished off with a baldric from which dangled a sword and pistol. With her flaming red hair loose under the hat and her blue eyes sparkling with mirth and excitement, she was a sight to behold. As was her companion, dressed in a long crimson-lined blue naval coat which looked, from the bloody hole over one breast, as though the wearer had liked the look of it so much they’d murdered the poor previous owner. Under that grim, stained garment a white shirt was worn under a short jacket adorned with three braces of flintlock pistols, mounted cross-draw fashion down Steve’s broad torso. Crimson pantaloons were tucked into fold-topped boots, and a baldric similar to Kyria’s supported a sword that was more butcher’s cleaver than elegant rapier, as though someone had taken a broadsword, roughly hewn a foot from the blade, then stuck it on a basket hilt meant for a different type of blade altogether. Whereas Kyria’s outfit was mostly clean, as though this was her first cruise on the high seas for plunder and booty, Steve’s outfit was smoke-stained, patched, spotted with what could only be hoped was fake bloodstains, and altogether terrifying. This pirate, in contrast to Kyria’s, would not only casually staple card cheats to the table, he’d then pillage, plunder and set fire to everything around him before carrying off any women who hadn’t already run away. A black bandana was tied over Steve’s head, from under which his faintly glowing electric-blue eyes squinted in the Pacific sunshine, taking in their surroundings at a glance before regarding Davian, Deezy and Ryan with a friendly nod. “This’d be the party, then.” he said to no-one in particular, grinning at the three Nova Solutions people. “Steve Nord, this is Kyria Stormborn.” He rested the heel of his left hand on the hilt of his bastardised cutlass as he offered a lazy touch of his forelock to them in salute. “Permission to come ashore?”
  14. October 5th, 2019 "Nant Ddu?" Kyria asked over the headset as she looked at the brochure and at the map on the back, pronouncing the name of the place to rhyme with 'aunt do'. Steve was likewise going over his briefing package, which included the same colorful brochure advertising the getaway spot and it's facilities. "Close." Colonel Hatcher called back. "Two d's together in Welsh is pronounced as 'th', and the 'a' sound is a bit flatter on the first word, rhymes with 'pant'." The reason they were speaking loudly, even over headsets, was due to to the fact they were sitting in the belly of a huge twin-rotored Chinook as it thundered its way across the countryside. Further back in the compartment were two dozen members of the SAS and some large pieces of scientific-looking equipment. "Whitehall paid off the owners and the staff are getting paid leave - so we have the run of the place. The Beacons are officially an emergency zone right now - all civilians have been gently ushered away and we've got some Terries maintaining the perimeter." "It has a spa. With a pool, jacuzzi, gym... ooh, 32-carat gold body wraps!" Kyria nudged Steve. The Colonel smiled slightly as Steve shrugged. "It'll do. I mean, it's not up to the high standards I've become accustomed to." deadpanned a man who'd slept aboard tight quarters on naval warships, shared a bunkroom with twenty other snoring Marines, and on at least one occasion fallen asleep in a shallow cave in the middle of the Afghan highlands. "I'll make do, though." "Sadly, the spa services will be limited." Colonel Hatcher said dryly. "We will have use of the pool and other amenities, though. I'm fairly certain that administering gold body wraps is not a skill currently in demand in the 22nd, or indeed the Territorials." "So other than 22nd and the Terrys, who can we expect on the ground?" Steve asked as he flipped through the package. "The best minds we were able to scrape together." Hatcher acknowledged. "Leaders in the fields - medical doctors, neurologists, biochemists, along with physicists, head-shrinkers and, of course, a lot of civil servants to write reports on the reports that are being written." His tone was even drier at the last statement. "All very useful and necessary, I am sure. Kyria, just a word for you since Colour Sergeant Nord knows this already - the civvies cannot order you around. God knows they will try, but they cannot. Technically, and please understand this is a formality for your protection, you are attached under my oversight. Keep that in mind, don't lose your rag with some pompous egghead and throw him over the Fan." The Colonel smiled at her. "Just play along with any reasonable request, if you would." "I'll try." she said with an air of doubt as to whether she could, then shot him a winsome smile in return. He chuckled and sat back in his seat, and Kyria leaned against Steve's comforting bulk and studied the briefing package. The release of her hospital records combined with a PET scan at the base had revealed that Kyria's brain was, quite literally, a new one. Though she had knowledge of a lot of basic things, she had no memories, even suppressed or hidden, to provide emotional context for that knowledge. This likely explained her mercurial, tempestuous nature as well as her emotional openness. The Storm had taken a woman in a coma and turned her into a brand new woman, and though Kyria did wonder who she had been before, she was more interested in who she was going to be next. Or now. Steve appeared less changed, at least physically, so far as the tests over the last two weeks had determined. His blood work, like Kyria's, showed elevated compounds of various hormones and other elements not yet fully quantified. New cellular structures were apparent, but their purpose was unknown yet - hence the commandeering of a comfortable remote getaway spot to allow the leading minds in their fields to poke and prod the two enhanced people. An excellent physical specimen before the Storm, they hadn't really been able to test the limits of his changes in the quarantine bubble - though this morning he had celebrated freedom from the bubble by going for a long run with the Hereford base lads - and running them into the ground, maintaining a sprinting pace without slowing or tiring for the full ten mile run. Soldiers being soldiers, the PT sergeant had told him to run it again for being a smart-arse, which he did. At least by the end of the second run of the course he had worked up a healthy sweat and was breathing hard. Emotionally and mentally, he was much the same. A little sharper, perhaps. He was aware of an increase in his sensory acuity and that was roughly it. He didn't feel unstable, or any different from the stoic self he had always been. Which was a good thing - Kyria clung to that solidity over the endless days in quarantine, drawing some strength from the way he just endured, with good humor, their predicament when there were times she wanted to kick out the airlock door and scream. Though their initial physical attraction to one another had not diminished in the slightest, they had at least mastered the art of not trashing the house in their frequent liaisons. In addition, they just enjoyed each others company, moving from just the affectionate teasing and verbal sparring of their earlier days to a deeper level of appreciation. There was still a lot of the teasing and verbal sparring, mind you. It was just not the whole cloth of their relationship. There was another reason for their advanced assessment being carried out in the middle of a large mountainous national park, too. Steve's other ability, namely being able to control and harness the weather, was not something anyone wanted experimentation on whilst he was on a base near a town. That, as much as the pair's more physical gifts, needed to be assessed, and quickly. How great was his scope? How fine was his control? Was the weather a blunt instrument in his hands, or could he only harness existing conditions? And finally, perhaps most worryingly: if he used his gifts, would it upset weather patterns elsewhere or was there some built in limiter on the knock-on effect? As the Chinook started its descent, Steve glanced out of the window at the fancy-looking buildings below and the small crowd of uniformed and non-uniformed people who were gathering at the edge of the landing field. Well, he supposed, they were going to find out.
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