2014.02.05 "Don't mind him. He's a jerk."

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"Don't mind him. He's a jerk."

From the lilt in its voice, I can tell that the Orbodun is referring to me. I mentally pause the sensor replay of some not-quite-interrogations, and cast a weakly-glower-like questioning look at my big fluffy partner.

He feigns surprise theatrically, as if gaining my attention was unlikely. "You were ignoring this fine person." He speaks slowly, garnished with elaborate enunciation. Like I'm an idiot. It's pretty funny. I don't laugh.

I shift the gaze up a couple glower notches and regard the poser-class combatant Reptiloid. "Hhhhhrrn. I wonder why." I make a show of ceasing to pay attention to it. Which is false, of course - I merely switch over to watching through the Orbodun's sensors via the battlewiki. How could I stop now, when the show is about to begin?

A quasi-smile writhes and dies on the Reptiloid. "Uh... what?"

Invisible to me, the Orbodun is doubtlessly plastered on a big fake smile. "He means to imply that you are utterly unimportant, and that's why he was ignoring you."

A sneer, and a glint of sour suspicion in the Reptiloid's eye. "Yeah. I got that."

"Good, good. So is there anything I can help you with?"

I see the Reptiloid lock eyes with with the Orbodun, and it feels really odd. Probably because my own face is utterly incapable of looking anything other than hostile, so I only ever get to see defiant challenge guttering in other beings eyes. Looking through the Orbodun's deep brown eyes, though, complex shades of consideration and wonder shimmer down from the Reptiloid's slitted pupil. But still mostly defiance. He's going to be back. "No. Thanks." His naturally hissy dialect makes it hard to sift out the sarcasm, but I'm sure it's there.

The tall Reptiloid stalks away, crossing our local exclusion zone and weaving through the sparse crowd toward the exit. Sniggers in various xenomorphic forms rise and fall until he's gone.

"Any candidates?" My partner is getting good at fast-chat on the battlewiki.

"Too many." I highlight the potentials in the virtualHUD. It's still almost half the room.

"Shit."

I nod, which actually takes too long to be very meaningful at the pace of the fast-chat. "How long do you think we have before the dance?"

"Might depend on how long his buddies laugh at him."

 


 

It takes less time than I would have thought. What's worse, they're terrible at being subtle. Probably a product of being too eager. Or, considering how many of them they decided to drag along, a sign of how nervous they are.

The Orbodun wrinkles his snout. "We can't pretend we don't see them."

"Agreed."

"I'll just be over here, then - waiting to die suddenly."

I flash my fangs with sincere mirth. "Don't make it too easy on them." Then I flash across the impromptu DMZ the locals had evacuated around us, and use my bare talons to drag down the guy with the 'freshly-minted shock-shooter' vibe. He seems quite surprised by the sudden gap in his throat. There's a moment of stunned horror from most of the patrons, with a special "oh shit" effect emanating from the would be hit squad. I take this as an opportunity to literally bite the head of the little assassin-looking person.

Blasts and bolts start raining in, but they're all half-hearted as everybody seems exceptionally wary of how far I can travel. Which makes sense, and also means that nothing actually connects with me. A big, toothy Vega Lizard is wading towards me with a flail, with our friend the poser-class combatant Crocaloid lending cover fire.

Is that aiming I see? Oh, that won't do. Bound off a table, dart around a column, and get my right arm elbow-deep in Mr. Probably-A-Sharpshooter's chest and yank his rifle out of his hands. He went all-defensive, so his aim is lost anyway. The rain of blasts veers to follow me, but the column is between me and most of them. The Vega Lizard adjusts his direction to intercept, but is actually further away now. He needs move boots, or something, if he hopes to actually engage. Maybe he's got something he can throw?

There we go: there's a general surge of patrons towards the door. Let the filtering begin. I thoughtlessly lob the not-quite-dead holy sharpshooter in the direction of the Vega Lizard, and vault a decorative trellis to land on the shock trooper that had been trying to see if one of his three attacks might get lucky. My talons plunge up under his chin and into his brain, and he instantly go slack under me. How many left?

Six shot sail in. Two from that other shock trooper, and one each from those three guys clustered near the middle. But that sixth shot, that got me right in the neck. Ouch. The poser-class went all-aggressive and dove behind cover, just beyond the lumbering Vega Lizard.

I spend my two dice on movement, arcing around the Vega Lizard outside of his flail's reach, and skid to a halt behind cover - next to the defenseless poser-class. Then I effortlessly rip his head off. It spins away with a messy spray, and a priceless look frozen on it.

The floor shakes from the movement of the Vega Lizard, but he doesn't impinge on the cover to try to flail me. He's running away? My ears prick to listen for what else is going on, since I can't check the battlewiki without line-of-sight comms. Yeah, they're all going.

Let 'em. I stride out, nostrils flaring. With fear. Who's left?

"Three?"

Yep. The Orbodun seems to have counted right: three awkwardly-remaining individuals after that bloodbath. "Zaaaark."

"We still a go?"

I snatch out my new low-stealth oversized force blade and flash on its ominously-shimmering blade, and let loose a raspy scream by way of a reply as I start a tripedal charge toward the nearest potential.

"I'll take that as a 'yes' then." I can see the Orbodun effortlessly heave his cumbersome new rifle to his shoulder.

Zark zark zark zark zark zark!

 


 

I blink the stinging fear-laced tears out of my eyes and stare dumbfounded out the shredded remains of the main door. But really staring at the red haze of afterimages burned into my mind. The auto-replay starts in my head as I snap my head to check on the Orbodun. Ouch. I see the swarm of autonomous patches writhing into the rents in his head as I feel my own swarm scurrying over me to cram themselves into my sucking chest wound. I wonder if he's still alive.

Before I got to that first potential, it had thrown itself at me, impaling me with improbably-long claws coming out of where its hands had been. The flash of the Orboduns assault cutting laser distracted clawed X-Human, and illuminated the horrific form of the X-Equidon. I guess that Groten was just a moron too stupid to leave, because the cutting laser revealed the middle of it to be the usual arrangements of meat and bone.

I take a step towards the Orbodun - hey, I walk funny now. Well, funnier. He sure looks dead.

I hacked at the X-Human in a low, flat arc, and it just leaned back out of the way. Casual. It leisurely perforated my bowels in return. The X-Equidon, now in the form of an angry multi-armed shiva, slammed into the heavy shield wrapped around the Orbodun. The bar behind the Orbodun deformed from the forces transmitted through the shield. At least that much of the plan worked. Instead of hosing the angry shiva, the Orbodun scribed a slicing sworl of cutting laser at the X-Human pincushioning me. It leapt away, unscathed.

The Orbodun takes a shuddering breath. Dang, those auto-patches were worth every credit.

Oh, ouch. I stop and lean on a preposterously undamaged table, while the robotic patches crawling through my gut move things around.

The X-Human was waaaay too far away for me to engage. But its impact, and the shove of its departure actually had moved me rather close to the Orbodun. I instinctively spun and leapt at the shiva, waving my Sword Of Overcompensation. It technically parried me, easily, but did so with its own blades - which my super-severance sword slashed through. The little bladelings transformed in midair into horror-hummingbirds and fled. Before they could escape the bar, the door slammed shut. Ah, yes, there was the X-Human, tampering the controls. The shiva angrily punted me and bounced me off the ceiling, while also delivering another thunderous blow to the Orbodun's shield. The Orbodun replied with a sweep of assault cutting laser, which the shiva managed to dance around.

"You conscious yet?"

No reply. I move closer, and drop down to a comfortable crouch next him. And cock my ears, while squinting my little red eyes around the bar.

My "fast" speed did not seem very fast compared to these things, but my move boots let me wade back in close with the shiva, slashing 2-handed with the big sword. That time, it parried me without touching my blade. Then it impaled me through one thigh, pinning me to the floor. Semi-prone. It slammed the Orbodun's shield again. If flickered. Then the X-Human impacted on the shield, penetrated, and left a set of puncture wounds in the Orbodun's head. The Orbodun didn't shoot then - you could see it not assassinated, but building more acquire...

A groan comes from somewhere deep in the Orbodun, then its eyelids tense.

I pause after inhaling, then abort what I was about to say. I think he's replaying his sensor log too. It'll just take a moment, and will mean more than the complaining I've got primed.

I was scared. Real, honest-to-zark "this is it I'm going to die" sort of scared. Pinned down like some sort of specimen, waiting to be dissected. So I went all-aggressive with an enthusiastic chop of the big blade - and took off the arm pinning me down at the shoulder. At about 20:1 speed, I watch the shocked shiva and the rapacious X-human: they exchanged a microsecond of meaningful glance. Some crucial balance of power had shifted, changing everything.

The shiva rammed the heavy door, and when it darted to the side to parry the X-Human, light from outside could be seen peeking through a small rent. The Arm Thing impaling my thigh bent over and casually gutted me, and things went dark. The recording chronometer says just a blink of time passed before I regained consciousness, but a lot changed. The Arm Thing was enthusiastically ginsuing the Orbodun's head and neck. The X-Human was chasing its own leg. The shiva made another blinding-fast move to the door, shredded it, and disappeared. In short order, the unspeakably-fast disembodied leg followed out the door closely pursued by the rest of the X-Human. I quick-rose, and snicker-snacked the Arm Thing through the wrist. The Orbodun slumped.

Both the Arm and the Hand seemed to think that I should be put down, and leapt at me. Amazingly, I managed to parry both by going all-defensive. They pressed the attack, and I stumbled back swatting them aside in a flurry of defensive swings. I dropped to being just partially defensive, and tried a 1-die chop at the arm. I caught it elbow-ish, and all three parts hastily departed out the door...

"Why didn't that freaky arm-blade run away immediately?"

My nostrils flare when I take a relieved breath. He sounds sane. "Maybe they were having fun killing us. Did you take any permanent brain damage?"

The Orbodun shrugs. "Probably."

"Lose any skills?"

The Orbodun actually smirks. "Nope. But still suffering the urge to hang around you, so some sort of mental defect going on."

I'm feeling pretty giddy about being alive, too. "Like you have a choice, ugly as you are now."

"Ooooh! You really are a jerk."

I tilt my head towards a dark corner of the bar. "Think those three-or-so little missionary thingies hiding over there want to be friends with a jerk?"