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Karren Gaunt

(Exalted Sidethread) Karren Gaunt's Week Off

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Time: 1st day after fully cleansing the moon.

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Place: The planet below

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Nestled midway along the gently-curving horn of land that framed North Point Bay, the creatively-named town of North Point was a quiet place, too far north to be conventional resort and too small to support anything more than a strictly local fishing and logging industries. It was a place for young people to dream of escaping to the city from and old people to retire to from the city.

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There was a bit of excitement not too long ago when a 80 foot long shark threw itself on the nearest beach and turned into one of the legendary Lunar Exalted before heading inland without so much as a word to the locals, but combined tavern wisdom was that they never hear from the imposing woman again. After all, there was that big to do on the moon and all the rumbles of that going on. No, little towns like North Point didn’t get visitors like that. And heads nodded wisely into their beers in the simple assurance that tomorrow was going to be the same as today and yesterday and all the days before.

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Sometimes tavern wisdom was wrong though. The big lunar was coming back. And she intended to stay for a while.

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Karren Gaunt stepped onto the concrete of North Point’s airbus depot and grinned a big predatory as the rest of her fellow passengers scattered respectfully around her to greet friends and relatives or head outside into the town proper. Hefting her sheathed weapon and duffle bag full of luggage over one shoulder, she made long strides for the ticket counter, 7’2 of dark-skinned Amazonian leaving whispers of ’is that her?’ and ’why did she come back?’ in her wake.

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The big lunar ignored the chatter beyond offering an amused ’I got my eye on you’ at the most outrageous of the whisperers. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked down at the clerk, stifling a chuckle at the way he was trying to avoid staring at anything disrespectful and apparently having trouble deciding what disrespectful was in this case. “Hey. My face is up here. Need some information about your town,” she opened bluntly.

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“Yes, Ma’am?” he responded nervously, a trace of sweat dripping down his face, “I… I will help you however I can.”

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“Good. I want the name of a good hotel in town. I want the name of your best watering hole. Annnd,” she finished, holding up third finger and leaning down at the man, a predatory smile on her face, “I want your name, so I know who to toast if I can find a good time tonight.”

“Ummm. Ummm… Ah, Yes. Ma’am,” stammered the poor clerk, gaze torn between her face and her chest. He earned a point or two of Karren’s esteem when he swallowed the confusion and answered her questions.

“The Widow Margret runs a bed and breakfast on the north side of the town, the Northern Lights, Ma’am. I can recommend the Black Boar Pub, much as others say the White Cub Bar is good, too. It’s, uh, new. The White Cub that is, and I haven’t been..,” he got out before clearing his throat, “And my name is George Pib, Ma’am, not that it will required that you toast me for…”

“Oh, quiet you,” interrupted Karren, straightening back up, “I’ll toast whoever I want to toast. Stop cringing inside. I get enough of that at work, and I don’t want to put up with it this next week and a half, George.”

“We’ll work on that,” Karren answered with a roll of her eyes and shift of her burdens to a more secure resting place, “For now though, and this goes for all you eager eavesdroppers in here, my name is Karren Gaunt, but you will call me Karren. Mrs. Gaunt was my Mother, Incarnae bless her soul wherever she ended up, and Ma’am is what people I trust with my life get to call me. I, am on vacation after keeping your moon from getting dragged into the underworld by a pair of uppity gods. I intend to enjoy myself, and see no reason why I can’t share the joy. We nice and shiny on that understanding, people?”

Mumbles and nods from the watchers and listeners, some of it suspiously close to bows.

“Heh. We’ll work on that, too. Right. You said the Northern Lights was a place where I could rest my head, George?”

The big lunar waited for the nod before turning on one booted heel for the door and streets beyond, “Right. In that case, see some of you in the White Tiger in an hour. I’m feeling lucky about that name, what can I say?”

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Karren took in the exterior of the White Tiger, unmindful of the gathering dusk and the heavy clouds above that threatened rain in the coming hours. Looked nice enough. Nothing you’d look twice at in a first rate space port, but better than she had expected. Whole town was nice in a low key way. At least judging from the streets and the handful of people she had encountered between the station and the bed and breakfast and here. The big lunar had even had a chance to change into her ’good’ grey tank top with the insignia of the Void Swimmer on the back to go with her camouflage pants and black boots. Luggage and Yachiru was stowed away under a bed. She was beyond ready to see what these people were like once the alcohol started flowing given enough time to get the digital and old-fashioned rumor mills grinding. If the place turned out nice, might give the rest of the Circle a call.

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Karren grinned, brushed a lock of red hair out of her face, and pushed open the door to the White Tiger, still chuckling inside at the convenient coincidence in names.

Not bad, she conceded as the noise of voices fell away to whispers and curious stares. Cozy without being cramped. A nice well-stocked bar. Patrons that looked almost more curious at her being her than afraid. Still, once you’ve jumped in the water, you had to swim. Stupid to do otherwise.

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“Heeeey! Guess word of my arrival proceeded me. Never would have thought that could happen,” joked Karren, planting her hands on her hips and giving the entire bar a theatrical once over before focusing her gaze on the proprietor, “Barkeep! What do you have in beers? I want to start slow.”

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There was a silence and a split of attention between the lunar and the barkeep before the man, older than Karren but sounding downright differential, “Well, Miss, er… Karren. We do have a locally-bottled draft beer. Better than a lot I’ve drank over the year.”

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“Oh, really? I’ll take a bottle and a seat at your bar. I have the first of many evenings to kill and the good people of North Point to see if you’re all worth meeting and greeting. I’ll be taking questions on a one-for-one barter basis long as the asker isn’t a professional reporter,” Karren shot back, the big amazon claiming a seat and sitting down with her back to the bar and facing the patrons with a gleam in her eye, “At least until I get too bored or too drunk to want to do that anymore and burst into song. I’ve been told by the brave that I’m pretty bad at that despite Luna’s other abundant blessings.”

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The smirk turned sardonic at the ripples that made in the whispers and the discrete pictures that followed, resting her elbows on the bar and giving the collective bar a ’alright, whose first?’ challenge by her very posture. The smirk barely shifted when the barkeep pushed a cold bottle into her hand, heavy with dark, liquid gold. Well, symbolically heavy in the very best way.

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A pull on the bottle confirmed her hopes. Oh. Yes. There would be fun.

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The electronic buzz surrounding the massive Lunar's arrival at the White Tiger had finally started to die down after an hour or so of holding her court among the locals. Truth be told it was how he had found her. The majority of the Dawn's Wrath crew was fairly well known for their exploits in and around the world, but this was the first one that had come and made noise.

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Say what you want about the noise travelling circles of Exalted made, it was more than a little difficult to track down if there was nobody around to hear it. Karren Gaunt had all but sent up a flare.

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Hiring a transport of his own, Cygnis Methis had maintained a relatively low profile as he traveled from shuttle port to North Point. Well, as low a profile as any of the Solar Exalted possibly could maintain when they were accompanied by angels whose ties to their associated elements were plain to see.

The moment that the transport came to a stop, opening its door to the short line of waiting mortals, the electronic social media scene erupted into activity. His arrival had been noted. Cygnis Methis stepped up to the stairs down an out of the transport. His lovely Dragonblooded associates before him. Looking out over the assembled onlookers, he triggered his raiment.

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His very clothing had made of the stuff of the immaterial. Strands own magnificent fate had been woven together with the radiant light of his anima banner with tools and pins of starmetal and orichalcum. There was no other like it in this world or the next. It was his. Forged of him and for him by a Crafter of the Twilight Caste, his clothing was as much his signature as his pearlescent blue and purple skin.

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A half thought caused the light that made up the visible threads of his finery to shine brightly. They had dimmed before, when he wished to be low key, and had only a tiny portion of their glamorous light. Now there was no such restraint and the glory and the magnificence of a garment truly worthy of the Solar Exalted was made manifest.

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"Let's go say hello" were his words to his escort before they disembarked from the transport and started making their way towards what was at one point a sleepy little bar and what would now become the hot spot for months, or years to come. They could thank him later.

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"...And that's why void flight without a space suit is awesome only *after* you throw out the idea of up and down," the big Lunar concluded another of her stories with, going to take a pull of her latest drink when she discovered, horror of horrors, that it was all but empty. A half-turn away from her much larger audience and a waggle of the depleted bottle got the barkeep digging for a replacement, and Karren smiled. She'd been doing that a lot this evening. North Point was all right in her humble opinion.

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"So, Mr. Kent, right? My turn to ask a question now that I've answered yours," she commented teeth bared, "Judging by your jacket you work with lumber, what do you have in the way of large game up in these parts? I might try my luck later on this week."

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"Well, Miss Karren," the man began, using the compromise title the big Lunar had surrendered to 6 bottles and a half hour ago, "We have plenty of deer and the occasional elk much as you, er, we need to be in hunting season to get a license for 'em."

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"What about things with claws? Any of those left or is the local god of the woods too pansy to keep those safe and sound?"

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Shocked silence followed by a clearing of the throat. "Ah. Er. There are some polecats and wolves in the planetary reserve near-by, but they haven't bothered any of us last few..."

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Mr. Kent trailed off and the rest of the bar started whispering again as what seemed like an early sunrise started glaring through the window from up the street. Karren's smile became a frown and the frown a scowl as the babble picked up in notes of 'another exalt', 'no, five of them!', 'six!', 'coming here.', and general babbles of 'oh my incarnae'. Poor Mr. Kent and the nearest circle of listeners remained dead quiet though, watching the previously affable but intimidating amazon of Lunar become just plain intimidating. Her teeth showed, and not in a good way, a noise much akin to a predator's growl escaping her throat. The bar's mortal patrons and owner froze, silent as a grave. Not all of Karren's stories had been amusing anecdotes.

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"Oh, for Luna's sake, I swear if these idiots want to cause me trouble on my oblivion-touched fraking vacation..! You. Hang onto my drink when the barkeep gets it," she commanded to the hapless Mr. Kent, eyes narrowed to golden slits, "And the rest of you, keep down and away from the windows if anything starts. I can't promise being able to take a fight out of town if they want one."

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She stomped out the door and into the street, spotting Methis and his retinue with very little trouble thanks to the man's garb, if man he was. "All right, you. The light show is very impressive. You have my attention," she declared, one hand on her hip, the other up by her face as her finger sprouted chitonous talons in reflection to her anger, a red flush in her dark cheeks, "Now who are you and what do you want?"

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Methis looked over the amazonian shapechanger in front of him. Under most circumstances he would have to exert some level of effort to spot one of Luna's Chosen, but this one was fairly cavalier in her use of abilities.

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As Daesari and Myna took their positions out in front of him and off to the side, Isolde stood behind him. Their aspects were plainly apparent, Daesari's fiery red hair, Myna's a vibrant purple, and Isolde's all but sprouting leaves.

"Miss Gaunt, I presume. I am Methis, recently of Nexus VII, and as for what I want, well... That depends entirely on whether we're talking mattes of business or pleasure."

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"Call me Karren," the big Lunar countered, expression softening a smidgeon, "I like the blue. Don't get a lot of that in this part of the 'Verse among the chosen if your entourage is a sign of anything."

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She chuckled and cracked her neck, talons evaporating into motes of light as she stepped back from the brink, "As for business or pleasure, I'm on vacation for the next ten days and plan on getting as shit-faced as the good bar White Tiger can manage tonight. Business? I'll give you a few numbers. A fight? I've had my fill lately unless you're planning on hurting the good people of North Point. Pleasure? Heh. Yeah. *That* I'm willing to talk about."

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"I don't suppose you'd mind turning the light show down a bit and coming inside? Easier to talk with a cold drink in your hand and a seat under our butts," Karren offered with a wave at the bar, a predator confident and at ease on her chosen ground, "Might even give me the names of your bad ass crew as things go where they go tonight."

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The raiment he wore added to his own personal appearance to such a degree that he was nigh indistinguishable from one of the gods of legend, radiant and awe inspiring. When he dialed it back, he did not seem to be holiness incarnate, but was still the pinnacle of human aesthetic perfection.

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"Then, Karren, we can be friends. As you no doubt know, your Captain is expected to meet with me sometime between now and a couple weeks from now and in the meanwhile it seems I have some time on my hands. I'll gladly join you here and as you say, we'll see where the night goes."

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His escort made their way inside save for Daesari, the Fire aspect, who remained by his side.

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"That is, of course..." Methis smiled an award-winning, knowledgeable smile. "Assuming you really are up for it. By the time I'm done, this sleepy little bar will be the hottest spot in the system and there won't be a person on this world that won't know who we are. Can you dig it?"

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