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'The Apostate' last won the day on July 12 2018

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  1. "Penelope, I trained you for this," he said calmly into his mic. "Dad, I-," there was a silence that seemed laced with sobs of worry. With a sniffle her voice seemed calmer, but no less worried. "I'll see you soon, Dad. I'm sorry." "Don't be sorry," he replied. "Be better. Follow your training." "Let's get moving," Jericho said. He floated, unconcerned with the lack of gravity. Gravity or no, they still had a job to do. He reached out and gripped the ceiling where a conduit pipe ran across its length. There was a creaking sound as his cybernetic hand gripped the pipe and bent it slightly. He straightened himself against the lack of gravity. "Focus up." He pulled himself along the ceiling, 'throwing himself' several feet at a time down the corridor. If he was worried about his daughter, he didn't show it.
  2. "Yes. All of them. You're in an enclosed metal container floating in space, genius." The Apostate entered into the ship slowly behind Madeline, prepping his rifle. "This p-way will lead us straight to the back of the ship, there's a ladder and an elevator. We'll take the ladder down to the cargo and engineering spaces. From ther-..." He paused as he noticed something through the feed as well as his own investigations. "What?" Maddie asked, quietly. "All of these bulkheads were closed when we disembarked, every chamber was sealed." he said. He raised his rifle and took a more cautious posture. "Moxie, begin scans, lock down the Ataraxia. Penny, gear up, get on the bridge and lock it down." "Confirmed, Captain." Moxie's human-like but still obviously digital voice responded over the comms. "Something is awake on this ship," he said in his gruff, no nonsense voice. "We don't leave until it's found."
  3. "They say it's half the battle," Jericho corrected gruffly. "Mox." "Yes, Jericho?" The holographic image of Moxie, the ships AI, appeared before all of them. It had been the first time they'd heard his actual name spoken aloud and if he was bent on keeping secrets, he sure didn't flinch when Moxie called him out. "We're heading over to the 'Snap'. Need to look at something. Keep an eye on things here and make sure Penny is doing her chores." "As you say, Jericho, We will monitor your progress from here," She faded out in a blip of digital pixels. "Do be careful. I've not the time nor the patience to locate another simple minded cretin to keep me properly maintained." "Yeah," he blew her off and pushed off from the wall. "I love you too. Okay ladies, let's get geared up and expect the worst. Air lock in fifteen."
  4. "Disbanded governments are the ones who created the technophage, sweetheart, governments who went on to work in your Houses and your Protectorate, so careful where you throw those stones. The people giving you orders, and yanking your leash are more than likely the same people who wiped out our planet. The Apostates? They just want to get away from all that and live a life they choose." Jericho stepped into the room and looked at the feed, adding his own two cents to the conversation. He squinted at the image, trying to make sense of it. "Now, that's not to say some idiot doesn't go and build something here and there they they probably shouldn't have. Now, if you can get your shit together Madeline and stop praying to invisible, absentee father figures for a moment, why not unfuck yourself and tell us what that is, and why it seems to have you so scared. Because the pieces of something similar are in the cargo hold, and if it's an issue, we need to know." "While you do that, I got something to say." He leaned against the wall and folded his arms, his obvious cyber arm seemed to almost blend in smoothly with the interior of the ship. "Real talk ladies, I don't trust people easily. Certainly don't trust you and I don't expect you to trust me, it's the nature of the verse. As you may imagine Penny and I don't get many visitors, let alone passengers. However, since it's been awhile since I've worked with others, I suppose I have some hurdles to cross and things to come to grips with. Now, I know I ain't the easiest man to get a long with, so I'm willing to extend a bit of an olive branch as a professional courtesy." He passed them each a small gun metal finished card, metal, but light weight and credit card thin. "These will grant you access to the ship. Nearly full access, certain systems will still be restricted to you without my approval but you should have more than enough access to work and crew of four is easier than a crew of two. Let me clarify what this means: this ship is my Earth now. Keep that in mind if you plan on doing something stupid, because if you ruin the home of me and my daughter, well, there won't be much out here in the Black that'll save you from what comes next. Rules are simple: I don't care about who you are, where you're from, or what you've done or who you've done it too. On this ship, we are the center of your universe and you work for us. Your loyalties are to this ship and its crew, first and foremost. Once you you leave and go back to your life your free to do as you please, but here, we look out for each other and that's nonnegotiable." Not one to dwell on words, Jericho looked to Madeline. "So? What do we need to know?"
  5. "Either way," The Apostate spoke with the tone of a disciplined man. "The choice is hers, not ours. Her rank and title mean absolutely nothing out here. If she decides to help us on a little side job, I sure as hell am not in any position to rat her out to her superiors."
  6. "Honestly, Madeline," The Apostate said calmly, despite the shot she took at his integrity. "I was hoping you might want to assist us. After all, the operative word in 'Protectorate' is 'protector'. As a soldier of such, it's your duty to see to it that whomever is responsible for this piracy and slaughter answers for their crimes. Be their victims apostates or citizens, these people don't seem to care overmuch whose life they claim as they rob and steal. I seem to have set my expectations a bit too high." He shrugged, uncaring. "If you'd rather be home, I'll see to it you are there as soon as possible, as were the terms of our agreement. I can look into this situation afterwards."
  7. "Not near as I can tell." He replied casually. "These people seem to need our help more than we need theirs, but are getting all jittery over who the woman on the other side of the glass is. They keep implying that I should tell them, I keep telling them to go ask you... so," he gestured to those waiting. "Could you please put these people minds at ease and introduce yourself so I can get on with my day. I'm on a time table and would like to be out if here before my daughters judgemental, scathing glare burns a hole through me."
  8. "If I minded I wouldn't have said 'go ask her yourself'." He replied. He swept his arm wide, motioning everyone to walk in the direction of the Madeline and stop asking him inane questions. "Unless you need me to show you to the door and instruct on its operation." He looked to Penny, shaking his head. "This is why we don't dock very often."
  9. The Apostate looked back to the glass, twisting his body to face the glass. "Fare. You wanna know who she is? You're grown, go ask her yourself." Jericho laughed, amused. "Yeah, people call me 'The Apostate'... that'll go over great on a Coal world. Whomever is responsible, they had the tools, the talent, and the funding to pull it off. They're professionals, my money would be on Coalition, by the why's are not coming together. Seems a bit too brutal, even for those hard in the paint fanatics. At any rate, if she can find them," he motioned to 'Maverick'. Then he motioned to himself and Penny. "We can probably get your shipment back. Perhaps even visit a little justice on those responsible" "Why don't we back burner the ship for now, if your people are willing to take us on for getting that cargo back, then you can hammer out those details while we're taking care of the job. If not, we can discuss what to do with it."
  10. "I'm afraid they didn't make it," The Apostate said softly. "She was powered down, drifting at [location], when we boarded her, everyone was dead." He took the time to explain the situation, before moving on. "If you knew them personally, I'm sorry for your loss." He moved on quickly. "Look, if you know of me then you know I'm all for a little 'free trade', but I'm not one to strip someone from their livelihood, so if the ship is yours, and you can prove that to me, then I'll return her. If not, then she's mine by rights of salvage, and the we can negotiate from there." "Dad..." Penny nudged him on the side. He raised his hand to symbolize that he wasn't finished. "You set us up with a finder's fee, some supplies. It'll be far less than the salvage money, I can assure you of that. You may also know, that while I understand that a fair deal of piracy happens in our line of work, what I don't appreciate is senseless slaughter. What happened to that crew was butchery, pure and simple. If you're looking for someone to look into that mess, we're available to do that. At a discount, even, considering I'm eager to see those responsible put down." Unlike 'civilized' society, The Apostate did not cover his cybernetic arm with a flesh-like coating to make it appear like a real arm. Thick, synthetic corded muscles contracted and flexed as he folded his arms. One was all natural, but his left, was cybernetic, and boy did it show. That's usually how people 'knew him', he was one of very few people that willing left his cybernetic enhancement exposed. "There was quite a bit of cargo missing, I looked over the manifest. Whomever did it, wanted that and only that. Someone out there knows your operation, and knows it well. Chances are, they might try something like this again."
  11. "No need," said Moxie, in her thick british accent. She seemed like she was designed to be more of a sexy librarian agent than a knowledgeable, helpful one. Any moment she was waiting for her to pull her hair from the bun and do a dramatic hair whip before offering some sort of lewd titles. "Each room aboard the Ataraxia is stocked with three changes of clothing of casual, work, and sleep wear. You will also find undergarments. Jer-," she paused, correcting herself. Not something agents did very often at all. "The Apostate, makes sure most common eventualities are covered. Preparedness is something he excels at." "I've already sent a message to Penelope. She will 'air out', clean, and see that your armor is properly repaired. She is quite the mechanical savant and it will most certainly pass Coalition equipment inspection standards," Moxie offered a very blue, mischievous grin. "It has in the past. Please, take solace in knowing that you're safe and your gear is in good hands. Should you require anything, simply call for me, I will be happy to act as a guide around the ship, to the areas you're granted access to anyway. I've informed the Captain of the ADMs, we'll see what he decides." The Cargo Bay... "Whoooo..." Penny held the armor out away from her. "Girl was ripe. Hot dayum..." "She's a survivor, I'll give her that," Jericho said from a hologram, broadcasting from the bridge. "Can you fix it?" "Can I fix it? Pffft. Can I fix it..." She looked at the hologram where Jericho was glaring at her with his 'stop screwing around' glare. She cleared her throat. "Yeah, I can fix it. She's got a few blown capacitors, which would account for her fluxing power issues, and her scrubbers are shot. Couple hours, tops. Plus thirty to format her helmet's targeting software, once done she can re-calibrate to her own particular tastes, but at the mo', her optics are not looking good. That stealth system may have attempted to siphon power from secondary systems to stay active. Easy fixes, just takes time." "Do what you can. Once she cleans up, I'll get a debrief from her." "Dad?" Penny looked at her father, her voice compassionate, but confused. "Why are we helping her? She's Coalition. She'll sell us down the river and you know it." "She's got a right to live, like anyone else. What she does with her life is none of our business, and we both know her master's don't care either. At the end of the day, we lay our heads down knowing we did the right thing," he smiled at his daughter. "To them we're criminals, but that doesn't mean we have to be villains." "Can I at least delete her playlists and replace them with show tunes?" She flipped the helmet around in her hands, looking for an access port. "No," he smirked. "Although, that would be pretty funny. She gets it back as it was, no practical jokes." "Ugh...," she fumed. Setting down the helmet and hitting the armor with a shot of air freshener. "Lame, but okay."
  12. The Apostate approached, "Put yer damn hands down, I ain't robbin' ya." He lowered his rifle, reaching back and maglocking it to his back. He looked at the scrap she was offering, then looked back to her. "I'm already giving you a ride, Volkov, you don't have to sell me on the idea." With a resigned shrug he thumbed it towards the ship. "Hell with it, load it up." The didn't even get five steps hauling it with them before he added, "And for the record, I don't have friends." Aboard the Ataraxia, Madeline realized that she was in a ship that was... different than anything she'd ever been on before. It felt... 'alive', like she was always being watched and something aboard the vessel didn't appreciate guests. It was alot of gunmetal black finish and dark passageways with incredibly bright white lighting. True to her word she relinquished her weapons and gear. The Apostate took them and locked them in a secure locker in the cargo bay, not far from where she boarded. He handed her a thin metal card with a magnetic strip. "Code is 1452. Only two people know it, you, and me. Good faith, for good faith. You will have your own quarters, washroom, and there is a lounge. The rules are simple, those are the areas you have access to, you try to get into anywhere else without me accompanying you, and Moxie will space you. Simple as that." He took off his helmet and his suit depressurized. Something about him struck her as familiar. "That said, welcome aboard. Take some time, get cleaned up, acclimate yourself, and I'll see about our business once I get us off this rock and a safe distance away. Mox, could you please show Mrs. Volkov to her quarters?" True to his word, once aboard the ship, he stopped using her rank. "Certainly, I've nothing else to do besides the eleven thousand other tasks I'm currently performing that keep us from falling out of the sky," a hologram materialized not fat from where Volkov was standing. She appeared to be a woman dressed in a blouse and a knee length skirt, like a holographic business woman. She was all blue, but solid enough to not be transparent. What skin was showing was latticed with red circuitry that pulsed with light traveling all along her body. "Well, you're in luck. We're on the ground, so take a moment to show her to her quarters and quit acting like you're the only one who does anything on this tub." "Tub? Hmph. Thug." She retorted. The Apostates walked off, leaving the cargo area and heading for the bridge. "Toaster." She took a deep, uneeded breath. For an agent she seemed incredibly sophisticated. "Toaster indeed," she looks to Volkov. "He is right though, try anything aboard this vessel and I will pulverize your body, erase your existence and plug your core into a virtual landscape of torment and nightmares that makes the human concept of Hell seem like the happiest episode of Friendship is Magic." She smiled wide and motioned for the exit, her accent rich and thick. "Please, right this way. I think you'll appreciate your room, we've not had guests in quite some time. The Apostate isn't much of a people person."
  13. "Copy," The Apostate replied. "See you in few minutes. Find a shady spot and hang tight." True to his word The Ataraxia broke atmo like a fireball falling from on high. The Sergeant could see the craft long before it arrived at the landing zone. It didn't match any ship one could find in standard databases, appearing, for all intents and purposes to be some sort of custom job. She was slick though, and way out of the price range for a typical Apostate. With all the usual fanfare of a ship landing, dust and debris, loud engine noises, lowering cargo ramp, the whole nine, Sergeant Volkov saw, for the first time, the voice of the man on the coms. The small lights and displays on his pressurized suit gave him away through the shroud of the landing debris, and his helmet's visor was clear and lit up from the inside. He walked down the ramp with a trained expertise, rifle at his shoulder sweeping left to right in preparation for betrayal. "Volkov!" He shouted, his voice modulated and louder thanks to the help of his gear. He squinted, through the dust and noise. "Sergeant Volkov!"
  14. "Well, you're in luck Sgt. Volkov. We have the means to get you where you need to go, unless you have any pressing medical needs, we can be down there in fifteen minutes to extract you," The Apostate's tone was about as friendly as he could manage on his best of days. Dull, drab, and full of all sorts of 'I really don't care about your problems'. Penny knew her dad though, for all his big talk he was a man with morals and a code, he wouldn't leave someone to die on a planet if he could help it. "Two things you need to keep in mind, Sgt.. First, this is an Apostate vessel, meaning your laws and rank and House amount to absolutely squat to me and mine. Second, you will relinquish your weapons while aboard my ship. They will be returned to you, but I have the safety of my crew to consider in the midst of an absolute stranger who seems to be the wrong side of exterminating a whole lot of people I used to drink with. If my conditions are acceptable, we'll be by very soon. If not, we'll wait. All your shit plus that bunker, which we knew nothing about until you brought it up, will be ours anyway." "Dad!" Penny scolded him with a 'WTF' expression. "Relax," he smirked. "Just being assertive." "Although not wholly inaccurate..." Moxie spoke. "By my calculations..." Penny sat on speaker in the console, muffling the remainder of what Moxie was saying. "Don't encourage him, Mox." "So," The Apostate spoke to Madeline once again. "Do we have an accord?"
  15. "Son of a bitch," The Apostate grumbled. "Will anything go right today?" He sat down and brought up some displays and began sifting through data. "Scattering pattern," he started bringing forward to his thoughts years of military experience. "Indicates it came from the surface. Blew it from the bottom while it was in orbit. Mox, compile a drift chart for the last, say, twenty two hours." "I'll see what comes up, Captain," she replied and the data on his screens began shifting and moving. The parts of the ship were rewinding, putting themselves back together. It wasn't a certifiable way to identify what happened, but it was old trick he'd learned for identifying who was shooting at who. "Clever, Jericho. I see what you're trying to do..." "Yeah, I'm a regular genius," he said dismissively. He sat up swiftly and eyed one of the displays intently. "Hold. Freeze at thirty eight point five." He gazed at the screen as all the pieces came together in a very shotty looking puzzle. It wasn't perfect, but it gave him a size and shape... and a class. "Nope. Shit is not going to go right. At. All. That's a Legionnaire ship... we've arrived after a battle. Chances are the colony is gone... but what the hell did they have that could destroy a Coalition ship?" "Dad!" Penny ran through the p-way, up to the bridge, spreading her arms wide to catch herself on the frame of the bulkhead. "Dad, distress signal! It's coming from the surface!" "I know," he spun around in his chair. Scan the surface, I want to know the extent of the damage and some semblance of what the hell happened here. Penny, keep working on the wreckage, I want answers about that and we need answers here too. This whole sector is going to shit, I swear." He pressed a button on the console. "This is the independent trading vessel Ataraxia, picking up your distress beacon. Anyone down there?"
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