Hello Star

From the Story Arc: The Essence of Life

Previous Story in the Arc: Down The Rabbit Hole by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Next Story in the Arc: Playback: Malfunction by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

(posted Sunday, March 21, 2010)

As she travelled through the base Star was positive that this was a fully functioning Council base; the corridors were obviously well used and Star passed several rooms, office and workspace mostly, which also look like they were well used but there were no signs of anyone who could use them. The lack of people was slightly concerning; the last thing that she wanted was another dead end.

Since the incident in Steel Canyon, there had been more set-backs than seemed progress. Jokers Ace had died - taking whatever information he had with him - then the Rikti invaded and, while that must have impacted upon the Council as well, the death of Joanna stopped the search in its tracks. Though frustrated, Star understood and approved the reasons behind this decision, if you are investigating possible infiltration you want at least two people involved if only to ensure their investigation is beyond suspicion. However, it did give the Council several months ensure any connection that could be traced from Jokers Ace back to them was long gone. The investigation was right back at the beginning, with little to indicate where to start. The only thing they knew for certain was that Ace had been interested in kidnappings and so Shadowstar had arranged for details of all science related kidnapping to be relayed back to them.

In the end though, it was coincidence that led them here. If they hadn’t been travelling through Talos Island and happen to hear about a kidnapping that had taken place nearby and then trailed the escaping Council to here...

While it still could be ‘just’ another kidnapping but something told Star this wasn’t the case. If it had been, why would the Council have hidden this place so well? Add that question to the fact that the guards they had seen were all carrying Quantum weapons and something wasn’t quite right. This base was well hidden and the seemed to be set up to defend against Kheldians – Star had no doubt that this was the place, now they just had to find something to prove it.

Coming across yet another deserted room (this one looked to be sleeping quarters) Star concentrated on Nightrayne. {Have you seen anything yet, comrade?} she asked.

{Yeah,} came the excited reply, {there’s this big assed room ‘ere wit’ all sorts o’ fancy equipment. Loads a doors off it too - that Doc’s bound to be in ‘ere somewhere.}

{Are there any guards around?}

{A few, most of ‘em have Quants as well – but they ain’t noticed me. Goin’ to check out a few rooms.}

Star sent unspoken approval to Nightrayne and had one last look around the barracks. There was nothing of interest here; the room held 10 beds, all of which looked like they hadn’t been used and the rest of the room was tidy. Moving further up the corridor, Star reached a crossroads. As each branch looked the same - and still held no signs life - she picked a direction at random and headed to the left.

She’d gone only a few steps down the corridor when Nightrayne contacted her again.

{Found ‘im! ‘e’s over ‘ere, Star . Only a couple a guards too.}

{Understood, I’ll come over to you.} Star turned and started heading back the way she’d come.

Star was passing the empty barracks when Nightrayne contacted her again, {Star, we... ah... could ‘ave a problem, Arakhn’s ‘ere.}

{Arakhn?} While Star hadn’t met that one before, Arakhn’s reputation was well known - she was dangerous. {I am heading your way, comrade. Stay away from that one.}

{ Damn straight. I ain’t going near ‘er. She didn’t notice me though, too busy talkin’ wi’ some folks. Star, this has to be the place – something has to be going on here.}

{Yes, it does.} Star agreed, heading back down the corridor towards the path Nightrayne took. {I will be with you shortly, comrade; find somewhere safe to wait and stay away from Arakhn.}

{I’ll jus’ go wait by t’ doc - an’ don’t worry, careful’s my middle name.}

This surprised Star as she wouldn’t have necessarily named Nightrayne ‘careful’. {Can we release the scientist without alerting Arakhn?}

{Yeah, I think so. Looks like she was pretty busy and there’s only about five guards around—wait, there’s more comin’ in.}

{Wait for me, comrade, I’m nearly there.} Star thought as she walked down the deserted corridor, past the guard post.

{No worries, Star, I ain’t going anywhere, but there’s definitely something goin’—Oh crap. They’ve seen me.}

Star ran two paces forward and threw herself into the air, transforming into a Hulmanim as she did so. The transformation had barely finished before she sped down the corridor, twisting around the corners with all thoughts of stealth pushed aside. She could feel Nightrayne struggling, the exertion and a growing sense of panic added to her urgency but conversely helped Star stay focussed – calm and measured, that would be her response to these Council, they would be met with calm, measured and totally overwhelming force.

Another corner loomed ahead and Star could feel that Nightrayne was just beyond it. As Star turned the corner, seeing the large room open up ahead of her – it was a large room, with what looked like several exits off of it – a single burst of gunfire caught her attention and she both saw and felt Nightrayne, who’d just broken free from a group of soliders and was moving towards her, crumple to the floor.

The soldiers turned to stare at the shooter, who was standing off to one side, and taking advantage of their distraction Star struck. The first to be hit was the one soldier who was carrying a weapon; he became the focus of Star immediate wrath. Two bolts of energy, released in quick succession, impacted him and he crumpled to the floor as Star turned her attention towards the rest of the room.

“Another one! Begin pattern Jaeger.” called one of the soliders.

Star saw that there were perhaps another 10 soldiers here; she had drawn the attention of most of them but others were still moving towards Nightrayne – thankfully though, the Council soldier had not used a Quantum weapon against her.

{Comrade Nightrayne. You are able to fight?} Star asked as she quickly took in the room – it was too low to manoeuvre properly in this form and her Ruktur would not be able to take these soldiers down quickly enough which left just the one option.

{’m... good to go, Star.}

As she transformed back into her humanoid form, Star could see Nightrayne attempting to rise and, despite the protestations, she could tell Nightrayne was hurt. Gathering her energies around her; Star strode forward to meet the oncoming soldiers, determined to finish this as quickly as possible. The soldiers had split into two groups and both were rushing towards her. Star moved so as to intercept one group first and, as soon as she judged the group was close enough, she sent out a wave of energy, throwing some back and stunning the rest. Throwing a bolt of energy into the midst of them, scattering them backwards, Star turned back to the other group. These were a lot closer but that was of no matter, they would fall soon enough; of more concern was the injured Nightrayne who was struggling against the soldiers attacking her.

Gathering herself again, Star moved to meet the closest solider, sending a bolt of black energy into his chest and knocking him backwards, she then turn to face the second solider who was, unfortunately for him, attempting a powerful rather than fast attack. She had more than the time she needed to reach towards him and—

{Hello, Red Star. You’ve no idea how good it is to finally see you again.}

The thought echoed within Star’s head with a pattern she hadn’t felt in such a long time; a pattern she thought she’d never feel again and certainly never expected to feel here. Star turned and saw her, standing not twenty meters away and smiling. The form was different, of course, Star had never seen her within a human host before but still there was no mistaking her. It was S—

The kick from the solider slammed into the side of her head and Star tumbled backwards onto the floor. The pain flaring in her head cleared away the shock she felt and she tried to rise back onto her feet but another blow, a punch this time, sent her back down to the floor. Stunned, she tried once more to rise but the reign of blows kept pushing her back until she found herself lying down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling light and with words echoing in the air around her.

“... what to do? After you’ve taken them to the laboratories, clean this mess up – and bring me the one who decided to shoot at them.”

“As you command.”

Star was watching motes of dust dance in the air as the footsteps approached her and then a figure appeared above her. The figure was a Council soldier who looked down at her and raised his booted foot off the floor. The dust motes spun in the around the soldier and caught her attention as he brought his boot down until it became too big, hiding the motes and eclipsing the light until it filled her vision and then everything turned black.