((Previously in REKT: Beyond The Edge...
Brom, Buck, Feb, and Farelo jog to the end of a corridor and enter an elevator. Feb quickly punches the button for one of the lowest floors. "Kinorvan has been a problem for months," he explains. "He used to be my best man. We smuggled kwiisa, paid off kakiroris, and grew the Minas Maniri from bandits in the Hole to what it is today. I always gave him a good cut - a choice part of the spoils - but it stopped being enough for him. Kinorvan started wanting half the command - but I knew what was coming. Those loyal to me told me of his plans - he planned to overthrow me. He had so many loyal to him by that point that I couldn't kick him out without the gang shooting itself to pieces. So I demoted him - but only half the gang accepted it. The rest decided he deserved to be the only leader of the Minas Maniri. He rules through persuasion and false promises - promises of wealth and glory. He knows how to become popular, but he lacks experience and has little ability to lead."
"And now?" Brom asks, as the elevator comes to a stop. The doors open; the group exits, Feb Keshor leading the way.
"And now he's building an army," Feb Keshor mutters, hoisting his weapon. "He's making friends across the station, tricking fools into believing his lies. He's been trying to win over the FMU. I have contacts there, though - they've never fallen for it. Well... until today, it seems. Now they're dealing with him, instead of with me."
Buck finally understands why it felt like the place was brewing for a civil war, back when he was getting his beer and chips. It's because it is.
Caleb places the crate on the coffee table and takes a seat, making a hand signal to his Frank and Saoirse. They bow their heads slightly, acting subservient, and begin unpacking the spiderbot. "I'm Cole," he begins coolly. "The Lavloxeri division of the FMU sent us with this combat robot to trade for one of your prisoners, Kaquyu Adopan. They seem very interested in her."
"Shh! Quiet!" Vynkor motions for Sukava to zip it.
Footsteps sound in the far corridor - along with a swishing, slapping sound, like something being dragged.
"What is it?" Sukava whispers.
"Well, if you'd shut up..."
A fysarian guard shuffles into the room, half-dragging a hiltorel woman behind him. Kinorvan nods in approval. "Here is the prisoner. Kifin - put the prisoner next to the table."
The guard, Kifin, nods, and throws the girl roughly to the floor, giving her a kick for good measure. She lets out a weak, quiet yelp at the blow, but makes no attempt to defend herself.
"Kaquyu Adopan," Kinorvan announces, waving his pistol with a mocking flourish as he scoffs, "Adjutant to 'Queen' Edibetso's third prime." Then, to Kifin, he adds quietly, "You're dismissed." Kifin nods and exits.
Fireteam Beta looks the girl over with a questioning eye. She's stark naked, covered in grime, and she reeks of shit and piss. She's clearly been tortured at some point: her skin is spattered with her own blood, dried and dark blue. Old wounds on her sides still ooze, although most are smeared with some kind of orange, foul-smelling goo - probably discount stopgap medigel. She appears malnourished and weak; her thin arms shake and she winces with pain as she tries to prop herself up on one arm, looking over her surroundings.
"Ah ah ah," Kinorvan says, sounding particularly smug. He points a pistol at the girl's head. "Don't move."
The girl doesn't look like she has the slightest intention of trying anything. In fact, she looks terrified.
Feb nods distractedly as they take a corner to their left. "Kinorvan's the only one I want. He's kap'shik. If I can make that obvious to his followers, we don't need to fukc them up. They're good boys, mostly, just misguided. They know how to get things done."
"If his men will swear loyalty to you after Kinorvan is dead, we can instead focus fire on him!" Brom offers. "He'll be dead before he can open his mouth!"
"No." The tone is firm. "You hang back until I need you. Now, shh... we're coming up on them now."
The group hears talking in the distance - both in fysarian chatter and human speech. The words are indistinct, but as the little group creeps through the long, narrow hallway, they get close enough to make out a familiar voice - one with a horrible Irish accent.
Buck and Brom glance at each other, their expressions sinking into a mixture of bewilderment and despair as they share the same thought: "Oh no... It's Beta."
Vynk and Suki sneak ahead through the shadows, getting close enough to watch - and at this point, they can clearly make out the faces of Beta, sitting there on the couch.
Caleb looks back at the girl. "She's already beaten half to death. Can she even speak?" Louder, "Adopan? Kaquyu Adopan?"
The girl slowly turns her head in the soldier's direction with a sullen expression on her face, but says nothing.
Febivo Keshor storms into the room through the northern doorway, holding a huge, bulky pistol. He seems quite angry. "THE FUKC IS THIS SHIT?" he roars. Another group of fysar and squid enter through the door on the west side of the room, weapons ready. The situation suddenly becomes a lot more tense. Feb and Kinorvan point their weapons at each other. "The FUKC do you think you're doing, Kinorvan?" he roars. "You think you're handling FMU business too now, is that it?"
Kinorvan seems angry and defiant. "It's going along perfectly well, too, Keshor." He glances pointedly at Caleb and nods towards the spiderbot, as if saying, "Set it up already." To Keshor, he says, "You're interrupting an important trade deal."
The two gangsters step back from each other, circling cautiously. Around the room, guns bristle, pointing every which way.
"Trade deal? The fukc I am," Keshor spits out. He looks like he wants to rip somebody in half. "FMU isn't supposed to trade her, they were supposed to pick her up! No gifts, no bullshit - And who the fukc is this?" He levels his pistol straight at Caleb's face, finger on the trigger. "Kinorvan, where the fukc's Beckstein? And why the fukc do these mercs still have weapons on them?" Clearly, he's not fooled: he knows that Beta is still partially armed.
"I..." Ses speaks up, visibly trembling. "I... I let them through, at... at Kinorvan's orders."
"Oh. Oh, that's good," Keshor says with an exaggerated nod. His voice drips with sarcasm. "I'm glad we have reliable people here that know how to fukcing follow protocol." In one swift motion he turns his pistol towards the bhezian and fires with a thundering flash of yellow light. Ses crumples to the floor in a lifeless heap, his brains spattered over the crates behind him. "Can't even find good fukcing guards these days."
Kinorvan adjusts his grip on his pistol. "You didn't have to kill him. Ses was a good kid."
"He was high off his ass on black flake while he was supposed to be on guard duty! He brought these guys in -" here Keshor growls, gesturing at the REKT crew "- without even checking them for weapons!"
The younger fysar shakes his head. Despite his best efforts, it's obvious he's nervous. "What does it matter if the kid was a little high? I say let them have their fun. As long as they get the job done, who cares?"
"EXCEPT THE JOB ISN'T FUKCING DONE!" Keshor roars. "Open your fukcing eyes and actually look at them, you kap'shik kalaki! You see that pack on her back, all the wires going into her head? What the fukc do you think that is, if not a PSI weapon? Are you actually telling me these pen'dekos look like FMU to you??"
Caleb takes the opportunity to speak up, addressing Keshor. "Okay, just who are you, and what the fukc is going on? We ARE from the FMU. They sent us to get Adopan after Beckstein got killed the other day, and we're supposed to be meeting the leader of the Minas Maniri!"
Keshor's dark, beady eyes widen, his mouth contorting in a perfect expression of flabbergasted incredulity, apparently at Caleb's audacity. "'Killed the other day'? I fukcing talked to Beckstein this morning, kansha. If you came from FMU, you should know that the leader of the Minas Maniri is Febivo Keshor Mikiikah!"
"More than half of the Minas Maniri follow me, Keshor," Kinorvan states quietly, with cool confidence. "Your methods are old and crude. You're obsolete now. You just don't have the guts to face it. Everything you do is an act - you'd rather be offworld on a fancy ship than here with us."
Febivo declines to respond, and instead turns to the squid that entered with him, jerking his head in the inmates' direction. "Farelo, scan them."
"Yes sir." The hiltorel quickly and carefully traces a path around the outside of the little standoff. When he gets close to the inmates, he pulls out a device and holds it out in front of him, watching the readout carefully.
Beta's squad members wonder if they ought to protest... but then, they don't have anything to hide.
But that's where they're wrong. After a moment, the device begins beeping. In the span of an eyeblink, Farelo darts forwards with incredible agility. Frank jerks back in surprise, but Farelo is far quicker: he's already retrieved a small electrical device out of a pouch on Frank's upper leg. He holds it up to the light, examining it for a moment, and then tosses it to Keshor, who catches it effortlessly and examines it with a practiced eye. "They're bugged, Feb - every one of them."
Bugged? But how? Who could have planted bugs on them? The four inmates glance at each other, confused - and suddenly the realization hits them: The only time it could've happened was as they were being patted down as they entered Daneelo's place.
Feb's face twists with rage. "HONAL! MIKAAN!" With these two words, half the weapons in the room (in both camps) are suddenly pointed at the REKT squad sitting on the sofa - who leap to their feet, weapons free: Nilo with his lash, Caleb with his pistol, and Frank with his ... darts. Saoirse waves her hands around but doesn't look like she's actually armed.
But Febivo isn't done. "You thought we wouldn't grep the bugs on you, eh? You're not FMU! Who the FUKC are you working for??"
Caleb looks Feb Keshor in the eyes and utters what is probably the biggest fib of his entire life. "We did think you'd find them, actually - we were counting on it! Kinorvan himself hired us just for this job, knowing you'd be foolish enough to try and take back Minas Maniri by force. We weren't here to spy on you - we were here to distract you! What you don't realize is that Kinorvan has held all the cards this entire time!"
Keshor takes his eyes off Kinorvan for a moment, looking confused - but then the confusion leaves his face, and he's back to his usual stony glare. He's certainly not buying it. In fact, he's just about to speak, but Kinorvan beats him to the punch.
"And I was right," Kinorvan says calmly. "You go on and on about 'order this' and 'discipline that', but when it comes down to it, you're a fossil, Keshor - a relic of the past. You're so stuck in your ways you can't see what's sitting right in front of your face."
"That's a load of crap," Keshor mutters. "Absolute hy'sa - nobody would believe that shit."
But then, as Kinorvan goes on, Caleb can tell that the rest of the aliens in the room are starting to wonder again - wonder if maybe Kinorvan is holding all the cards. "Times have changed, Keshor - it's not about being the best fighter anymore, or leading an army. It's about alliances and morale, friends in high places." Kinorvan grins; his sharp teeth glisten in the dim light. "And you, Febivo Keshor, have all the charisma of a garbage scow."
Keshor growls, grinding his teeth. "It's hy'sa, every word of it, and you know it! You're just trying to save face!"
"Then how did these people get past the guard that you murdered? I didn't expect you to actually kill Ses, though - no, no no no - you've outdone my expectations with that. Febivo Keshor: The leader that kills his own soldiers because he's having a bad day. People aren't leaving you because I'm stealing them. They're leaving you because you're just that kap'shik at earning their loyalty."
And loyalties around the room are certainly beginning to waver. Once again, the room is a regular stand-off - with more than half supporting Kinorvan. Keshor's not stupid. He realizes that he's losing ground, and he tries desperately to regain it before it's lost. "Really, Kinorvan? You think I believe that these spies and thieves are your people? Are you conducting trades with yourself now, and planting bugs on them? I fukcing know you can't see that far ahead!" Then, to his troops, "Shoot the intruders. We'll sort out the eshana with Kinorvan afterwards."
"If you kill them," Kinorvan interrupts, loud with warning, "My men will take you down before you can blink."
"And if they move," Keshor growls back, "we'll kill them."
Ah, good old Mexican standoffs. It's nice that they're back in style.
Alpha: Should appear as enemies with Beta and Kinorvan. Supposed to not know Gamma. Supposed to be allied with Feb Keshor. Actually allies with Beta and Gamma, and enemies with Minas Maniri. Not supposed to let anyone know they're from Tartarus.
Beta: Should appear as enemies with Alpha and Feb Keshor. Supposed to not know Gamma. Kinorvan knows they aren't from the FMU and will probably shoot them later. Actually allies with Alpha and Gamma, and enemies with Minas Maniri. Not supposed to let anyone know they're from Tartarus.
Gamma: Enemies with Minas Maniri and allies with Alpha and Beta. They have no idea what's going on, really.
The following takes place over the course of about thirty seconds.
The room is tense. Feb and Kinorvan are staring at each other, scowling - they could spring into action at a moment's notice. Everyone in the room - REKT and gangsters alike - seem to realize this; they keep their weapons primed and ready, only waiting for the signal to begin.
Caleb and Saoirse come to a silent agreement as to their course of action through purposeful nods and subtle finger signs. Frank and Nilo are regrettably left out of the loop.
Vynkor cuts a piece of cloth from her stolen pants and makes it into a facemask. She recognizes the black flake and doesn't want to breathe any of it in by mistake. Sukava just watches broodingly.
In his dark hallway, behind Feb Keshor's men, Yuuji closes his helmet softly and seals it tight. He's more than ready for things to get messy.
Brom and Buck stay put. They don't have any plans on getting involved. Not yet. Buck is thinking about screwing with the gravity, but can't find anything to hack. The gravity generators must not be anywhere nearby.
Suddenly, without any warning, the two competing gang leaders split, rolling to the side as they unload their pistols at each other. Feb, demonstrating incredible agility and intuition, manages to emerge from this initial confrontation unscathed as he dashes through the crates to the back of the room (effortlessly dodging a stab from Nilo), while Kinorvan shouts in agony from jagged graze wounds to the chest and face before shouting, "KILL HIM!" But his words are near meaningless: the room has already erupted into chaos.
"KILL THE FUKCING INTRUDERS!" Feb shouts to his crew, leaping over a couple crates at the back of the room. "I'LL TAKE CARE OF THE TRAITOR!"
With one powerful push, Saoirse and Caleb topple their sofa backwards and leap into cover behind it, trying to get as far away from the majority of Feb's men as possible. As they go, Caleb grabs Frank by the collar and drags him along. Frank lands awkwardly upside-down, but Caleb's forceful pull narrowly saves him from being stabbed to death by Farelo, Feb Keshor's hiltorel goon.
Plasma rounds, bullets, and laser trails trace their paths every which way with an ear-shattering cacophony. In the western hallway, Yuuji's weapon gradually spools into action; bars on the sides begin to glow bright green as the weapon charges. Any second now... if he's not too late. One of the gangsters in front of him is already starting to fire at Beta, narrowly missing Nilo (setting the chair aflame instead), while the others are preoccupied with shooting Kinorvan's revolutionaries. Kinorvan's gangsters return fire, desperately trying to get into cover - Saoirse watches as one of them gets mowed down in his frantic attempt to get away, stumbling and lying motionless in a pool of greenish blood beside a nearby table. The vast majority of Kinorvan's crew, however, is obediently focusing their fire on Feb Keshor, who is now hopelessly pinned down behind the crates in the northeast corner. Kinorvan is nursing his wounds behind a crate to the east - right near Vynkor, who is just
pulling out her stolen pistol to shoot out the nearby light when a shout calls out over the din:
"SPIDERBOT! FLASHBANG, NOW!"
Vynkor doesn't even have time to react; she flinches, and her shot goes wide. A chorus of agonized fysarian screams erupt from all around as a blindingly bright light fills the room. It's unfortunately just in time to conceal the gory results of Yuuji's triple plasma bomb from view, as two of his targets disintegrate into ludicrous gibs from a dead-center, point-blank hit. Yuuji can't see a thing, either. In fact, the only group lucky enough to still be able to see clearly is Beta, who knew to close their eyes. Even Nilo, who jumped over the back of his chair and got into cover behind a stack of crates, can still see clearly.
Near-silence falls for a few seconds as everyone tries to come to their senses and take cover, with the only sound being the incessant chattering of Feb Keshor's radio.
Peeking out, Saoirse sees Kaquyu Adopan, Adjutant to Queen Edibetso's Third Prime, cowering under the spiderbot's table.
Vynkor creeps forwards into the room, taking up a position behind a stack of crates. She's in a well-lit area, but not presently visible to anyone.
Meanwhile, the fysar in the VR unit near the doorway finally seems to realize something is going on. He removes his VR helmet, seeming completely unaffected by the flashbomb and chattering in an annoyed, high-pitched voice: "Kakiih? Kwifan moshae dara? ... Kakiih af kalaki kinabi?
" As he surveys the smoking carnage around him, his jaw drops. In a small voice, he whimpers: "...Lakviin?
Feb Keshor, sounding triumphant, calls out, "My reinforcements are coming, Kinorvan, and the FMU is sending backup too! You've really
fukced up this time!"
"Did I?" Kinorvan shouts back, incidentally sounding a little preoccupied with his wounds. "Or did you?
My army on the floors above are massacring your kap'shik
loyalists as we speak!"
" Feb Keshor roars; the crack of a gunshot and a bullet puncturing Kinorvan's crate echoes in the air.
Saoirse leaps to her feet, waving her hands, and tries to put a stasis field around Feb, but Feb anticipates it (implying his vision must be slighly less impaired than everyone else's) and throws himself to the side while returning fire; the round misses Saoirse, but it's enough to cause her to miss. She stasis-es the wall instead.
"KILL THEM! MOSIN VIKNAE!
" Feb orders emphatically.
The gunfight begins anew - but more haltingly this time, and with significantly deteriorated aim. Farelo, still standing nearby, tries to fire at Saoirse, but she ducks behind the couch.
The surviving member of Feb's western squad realizes first that Yuuji has betrayed them, and second that he's covered in the gore of his former comrades. He lets out a wail of fury - a poor decision, perhaps: it immediately paints him as a target to Kinorvan's crew. Yuuji rushes out to stab him to death with his electron sword, but he's already retreating (along with a lot of gunfire). As he reaches Feb in the back corner, throwing himself painfully into cover, he spouts a whole torrent of fysarian chatter, at which Feb begins roaring about "kap'shik Mokila mavirarii", before shouting orders to kill Mokila's men, too.
As the din gradually escalates, and as Frank spies Farelo approaching, Frank shouts in desperation, "SPIDERBOT! DEFEND ALL HUMANS!" The effect is immediate: the little spiderbot gives a little happy chirp and salutes with one of its forelegs as it turns and focuses its rapid-fire dual minicannons at the oncoming squid. The first few shots meet their mark (to Farelo's woe), but the hiltorel is a surprisingly capable warrior and manages to dodge many of the rounds, which scorch the ground all around him as he dances about. Realizing there's no hope of him destroying the spiderbot, he retreats, chased all the way to the back of the room by the bot's gunfire and that of Kinorvan's men, before Saoirse traps him in a bubble.
A wounded fysar throws himself into cover just around the corner from Vynkor, pulling out a small medkit and ripping off some bandages with his long, sharp teeth. He wraps them around his arm, his hands shaking violently, but calms as he notices Vynkor - mostly out of confusion. "Who the fukc are you?
" his lips mouth, but he says nothing aloud, and instead finishes patching his arm and takes aim at Feb Keshor again. Vynkor has no idea who he is or even really what the hell is going on.
Yuuji starts taking fire from Kinorvan's overzealous crew - most of it completely misses, but a bullet ricochets and gets him in the upper leg. He winces, letting out a muffled, pained grunt, and jumps back into cover behind the doorway. At the same time, another of Kinorvan's zealots, armed with a grim-looking knife, dashes forwards past the couch, completely fixated on killing Feb himself.
Nilo gets shot in the lower back with a lasgun, tracing a burning, searing path through his suit and skin. Spinning around, he realizes he's been hit with "friendly fire" from one of Kinorvan's half-blind cronies. In retaliation, Nilo hits him with a -2g field, lifting him up into the air, kicking and screaming as he smacks into the ceiling. In the process, he also lifts up a bunch of black flake from an open crate, which scatters on the ceiling, spreading dust.
After a number of rounds are sprayed in his direction, Caleb decides to abandon his allies; he dashes to greener pastures in the southern side of the room, closer to Kinorvan's fysar, who ignore him completely. In the meantime, the spiderbot is defending brilliantly, spitting out masses of tiny fireballs at anyone that would dare attack its present owners. It hasn't even moved from its crate, but is starting to draw some ire from both sides of the Minas Maniri conflict.
Feb remains crouched behind his crate, taking occasional blind potshots at Kinorvan himself. Beside him, his badly-wounded goon has moved closer to Farelo, and seems mostly focused on killing Saoirse and Frank. Fortunately for them, his aim is presently so bad that he manages little with his lasgun other than setting the front of the couch ablaze with tiny flames. Saoirse hunkers down and glances at Frank, who looks positively panicked. Behind them, the little spiderbot spits an angry torrent of fireballs at their new foe. The new foe ducks behind cover.
"THEY'RE ALMOST HERE!" Feb cries out. He lets loose a fairly sinister, half-crazed laugh. "IT'S OVER, KINORVAN!"
And now, at long last, VR-guy seems to have figured out what's going on. Spying Kinorvan slouched next to a crate only a little ways off, pulls out a plasma pistol and shoots him in the chest. Kinorvan shouts for assistance, agonized, and tries to raise his weapon - but can't in time; another two rounds blast him, wounding him critically. This paints VR-GUY as a target of massive priority for everyone else in the room - a bit unfortunate for him, as he doesn't actually have any cover to speak of.
Perhaps more importantly - if either Feb or Kinorvan dies, the surviving one will probably quickly put down any remaining resistance - and then "take care of" the REKT survivors.
Things just keep getting worse.