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COH: Vigilantes

Chapter 1: In Pursuit of the Rikti.

 

            “We’ve found them,” said Danyel as he looked up at Cherry from the long-range radar. “They’ve landed on a planet in the Terrain sector, Earth IV.”

            Captain Cherry of the Vigilantes looked back and nodded. “Set a course then, warp 4,” she said to her sister, and pilot, Valentine. “Estimated time till arrival?”

            “About 2 hours,” Said Valentine.

            “Make it so,” Said Cherry.

            Cherry and her crew formed a popular galactic jack-of-all-trades group known far and wide across the galaxy. They’ve been involved in anything from planetary defense, to playing music in bar mitzvahs.

Aboard the starship ‘Nimrod’, they travel the galaxy doing all sorts of heroic deeds, as long as the price is right. Cherry doesn’t usually like to use the term ‘heroic deeds, because heroes don’t charge cash like she does. In fact heroes don’t usually add hidden charges either.

But right now, this was personal. She knew the Rikti were no good, but she never imagined they’d pull a surprise attack on her homeworld, Matronia. Matronia is one of the biggest empires in the known galaxy, and with a clever plan, the Rikti tried to take them apart by attacking Amram, the capital city.

No one knew where the Rikti came from, but when the ships landed, thousands of Rikti came pouring into the star ports, taking the people completely off guard. No one was alerted until they had gotten deep within the capital, and went after the Grand Patriarch himself.

The Grand Patriarch is the ruler of all Matronia, and his word is law. And in Cherry’s opinion he’s a complete asshole, who she has the unfortunate pleasure of being related to.

While in the area, the Vigilantes had received a message from Matronia, saying the capital was under attack from unknown invaders. Cherry, who happens to care about her homeworld, went off course and back to Matronia. They had arrived an hour later, to find chaos in the streets of Amram. She first went to the palace to find Rikti already inside. After a long battle inside, the Vigilantes were able to secure the palace, and saved the Patriarch’s life more than once.

Matronia was able to drive the invaders out. The Rikti used teleport systems to recall their remainder units. In the end the Patriarch thanked the valiant efforts of the Matronian army, and told the Vigilantes he never asked for their help, because they didn’t need help from such a pathetic group.

After a long and heated argument between the Patriarch and Cherry, he thanked them for saving his life by allowing them to leave the palace alive, and with all their pieces intact. Still, Cherry loves her country, but hates her grandfather. Which brings them to their pursuit of the fleeing Rikti.

“Hey sis,” said Danyel.

“Humm?” said Cherry.

“I’m picking up another signal, a distress signal. It’s coded in Rikti format. It’s the standard auto signal that a downed ship uses when it’s in need of assistance, and it’s coming from the planet.”

“Meaning that a Rikti ship must have crashed there some time ago. And either they haven’t turned off the auto signal, or don’t know how.”

Cherry smiled and said,” I’m sure they don’t know how. Do any of you guys know how to turn off ours? No? There you have it. Regina, can you give us any info on the planet?”

“I’m on it,” said Regina as she typed on her computer. “Tylar sent me the info, just now. It’s a size 3, habitable, population over 4 billion, and technology level at around the equivalent of Matronian star date 500.”

“I see, so we’d best try not to upset the locals with a battle on the surface.”

“I’m also seeing something odd. It seems that we’re not the only outsiders here. There are many strange signatures showing up in the data vault.”

            “You’re right, I’ve sensed many psionic signatures as well. It seems as though we’re not the only ones here with the gift.”

Cherry is a very powerful Psion like her mother. Her mother is a psion who can manipulate energy around her, and Cherry is a telepath psion. Telepaths channel into the minds of others, and can also move matter with their minds. Cherry’s power allows her to dominate her foes and bend them to her will. She has also grown powerful enough to lift her opponents into the air and toss them like rag dolls. So far, she’s been able to lift and throw things the size and weight of a minivan.

Cherry was supposedly supposed to have very little psi power. Before she was born, her mother was unknowingly exposed to a strange material called Tristadekium. The raw material reacts in different ways when exposed to anyone psionic. In Cherry’s case, it caused a genetic mutation, which amplified her powers greatly, but with some odd side effects. She ended up being 4’11, which is odd because typically Matronians are very tall. Even the shortest Matronian known stands at 5’10. She has tan, Hispanic-looking skin like her father, natural red bangs with short, bobbed black hair, and her eyes are 2 colors, silver and dark green.

“It also says many magical and arcane items originated from this planet as well.”

Danyel looks up at her and says,” What? Magical gifted as well?”

“So it seems.”

“I suppose if the flow of Mana comes here, there should be many wizards as well. Might be worth visiting then. It may be interesting to exchange information with a new group of wizards.”

Danyel, like Cherry is gifted, but with the gift of Magic. The doctor said if Cherry was her normal height, she would be as tall as Danyel, 5’8. Danyel has short, messy, jet-black hair, but is fair skinned like his mother. Cherry notes he has the Psionic gift as well, but he had told her that psionics are for ‘mental’ folks like her.

Danyel has already mastered all kinds of magic, from the elements, transfiguration, curses, and alchemy. He also posses unique ability to create magical items. This is unique because tampering with potions, and other various items leads to short lifespan of wizards who think they know what they’re doing (Danyel’s favorite famous last words are,” Don’t tell me how to do my job, I know what I’m doing.”).

His abilities made him one of the highest-ranking wizards in the Universal Arcane Society. He was very glad to accept the post, meaning he could finally leave the Galactic Arcane Youths. He was young then, but he hated wearing the uniform because they had to wear a colorful emblem that sported the acronym.

“Don’t forget our purpose here Danny,” said Cherry. “We’ve got to drive these Rikti bastards back where they came from.”

“Yea I know. But we definitely need to check this out afterwards.”

“After we clear out the Rikti, we will. Promise.”

----------------------------------------------------.

“Captain,” said officer Isaac. “I’m detecting a strange energy reading from the planet’s surface. It’s opening an energy rift in space”

“A rift?” said Cherry. “Interesting, they may be using that as an escape route. We know Rikti quantum technology exceeds our own, but from what we do know is it takes a great energy source to create such a rift.”

She pondered this for a moment, and wondered how they had gotten the energy resources to create a rift in space. She had a hunch, but it was best to ask Danyel about these things.

“Hey Danny, is it possible to harness magical items and convert them to pure energy?” she asked.

“Depends on the object. Things of a high magic capacity can do such things if the technology can handle it, and other various factors I won’t go on explaining… What are you suggesting?’”

“The Vindicator weapon. Could they use that?”

“You know, I wouldn’t doubt it. As a matter of fact I think that’s exactly why they stole it in the first place.”

Cherry knew it couldn’t be helped. During the invasion, the Rikti threatened to vaporize the hospital, unless the weapon was surrendered to them. “ I believe you are correct. And now they have their own personal gate back to the borderlands.”

She knew something would have to be done, and since Matronia’s leader wasn’t exactly on good terms with them, they couldn’t ask for backup. They also bordered the Terrain lands, but the terrains would prefer not to enter Matronian space unauthorized by the Patriarch. ”Well ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t the first invasion they’ve had in Matronian space, and it most likely won’t be the last. What I’m suggesting is an assault on the downed Rikti ship on the planet’s surface. They could still use this place as a beacon back to Matronian space. On top of that, this planet is very vulnerable to a full scale Rikti invasion. I will take a unit to the surface, while Valentine and Regina will take care of things out here in space. I want reports on any strange activity out here. They’re most likely recovering from the recent defeat, so we still have plenty of time till they regain their forces. In the meantime, I will need to assemble our elite ground troops-“

Suddenly, someone comes to the bridge in his boxer shorts and a ragged muscle tee shirt. He is untidy, scruffy, and a bit smelly. He yawns loudly and belches right after. He has a remote in his hands and clicks it on the main screen. The display instantly changes to a college football game as he walks to a seat. “Good morning buck futters. Anything new?”

“KAYAIN!” yells Cherry. “Change that back now!”

“Oh, something important? Can I at least see the scores?”

Kayain, the best fighter of the Vigilantes, was always trying to find new ways of annoying Cherry. There were no limits to the lengths he would go to annoy her, and anyone he’d ever met. Kayain, standing at 6’4, long blond spiked hair, a handsome face, with gray eyes, and muscles all over his chiseled body.

It always annoyed her that he always had to put on a show for everyone. It annoyed her that he could be so charismatic and charming. And to Cherry’s utmost annoyance, he was extremely good looking and she couldn’t stay mad at him for long.

Cherry took a deep breath and tried to calm herself,” Kayain.”

Kayain looked at her and grinned,” Yeeeesss?”

“You remember that little chat we had a couple of days ago when I said never to turn on football during emergencies?”

“Kind of. I was more focused on staring down that cute shirt of yours.”

Another deep breath,” Well, I had mentioned never to turn on the sports channel of any kind when I’m in here.”

“Well that’s kind of unfair.”

“Unfair!? How the hell is that unfair?”

“Cause unless you’re standing on a couple of phonebooks I can’t see you in here.”

Cherry cracked her knuckles and said,“ Kayain I’m about to-“

“HA! I’m just joking. You know I love you.” He said as he blew a kiss at her.

Cherry however was hoping he would explode into confetti if she wished it hard enough. She folded her arms and said,“ Kayain, I’m not joking, please be mindful of that in the future.”

“I know, I know, I just can’t see you in that humongous Captain chair you sit in.”

“Regardless, this is very important. I can’t stress how-“

Then, a woman came in wearing the same kind of raggedy looking muscle shirt, and no pants. She too had a remote, and changed the monitor to Sponge Bob Square Pants. “Oooh! I haven’t missed anything have I?”

“DIANA!” Yelled Cherry, “CHANGE THAT BACK NOW!”

Diana nearly jumped out of her skin,” OH! Hi… boss. Didn’t know you were here… that chair and all.”

Diana changes the monitor back and walks over to Danyel.

“How many times Di,” Says Cherry, “How many times do I have to tell you guys about the monitor? And where are your pants?!”

“Well, you see, it’s laundry day. And I also had hot, sweaty sex with your brother last night too. Must have just forgotten all about it.”

Diana was what most people called open minded… but Cherry had a better word; simple-minded, much like her brother Kayain. Both, Diana and Kayain were part Q’Hagian, and most Q’Hagians don’t mind being seen in their underwear, because their sight was different than normal light vision. Q’Hagian sight is does not require light, because their eyes are used for seeing energy. They see energy that gives people and objects an aura like quality. They can tell moods, dispositions, and even sometimes emotion from the aura they see. The energy they see can shape a person to show them what people look like in the light, to form a type of normal light vision.

What annoyed Cherry even more was, both her and Kayain are the best fighters in the Vigilantes. Diana is happily married to her brother Danyel. She is 6’2, beautiful face with blue eyes, short bobbed brown hair, a body that supermodels would kill for (including Cherry, but she’d never say so), and she’s extremely flexible. Some people say her looks are the only reason Danyel likes her, but he claims to see much more than just her nice figure. Danyel said he enjoys her cheerful disposition, her personality, and her warmth. When he had said that to Kayain, he called him a fag.

What Cherry hated the most was when Diana would talk so bluntly about her and Danyel’s love life in front of her. She was very keen on the ‘need to know’ basis

“You know what?” she said while leaning forward. “Just for that you are banned from using this unit for cartoons, and any other kind of entertainment.”

“What?! No fair!”

“That’s final! You can’t seem to obey even the simplest of orders. So you’re going to start loosing privileges.”

“Yes I can,” said Diana indignantly. “You just never appreciate what I do around here!”

“And what exactly have you done around here,” said Cherry as she raised her eyebrow. “And I’m not talking about how many beers you can drink in twenty five seconds.”

Diana had to think for a moment. She said,” Well, I, uh… I cooked your birthday cake!”

“And I said thanks for it. But really, did it have to be an erotic cake? I mean I didn’t feel right cutting that cake…”

“See? I did something!”

“I mean something that benefits the team! Did you finish all the paperwork I gave you?”

Diana looks suddenly nervous and says,“ What?! Oh, heh, heh. Yea! I finished it! I finished it good! Yup, everything’s fine and dandy!”

“And if I look in your room I won’t see a bunch of papers shredded will I?”

“NO!” she said as innocently as possible while Cherry’s gaze seemed to bore a hole in her head. “No… no… Ok, define shredded papers.”

Cherry sighed and rubbed her temple with her thumbs. She said,” Diana. You are still not allowed to touch this at all. No excuses! Hand over that remote.”

“HA HA!” Laughed Kayain, “You got scolded! What a looser!”

Diana stuck her tongue out at him as Cherry said,” That goes for you too Kayain.”

“What?! Aaw, come on!”

“I mean it! And if I catch any of you doing it, you’ll have janitorial duties on the gym bathroom for the next star year!”

They both cringed at the thought as they said,” All right…”

Cherry explained the situation to Kayain and Diana. They responded with their usual blank stares,” Now Kayain, I want you to get the crew ready, we’re going down to the planet’s surface. Tell Tylar to get the gear ready, and then get your medical supplies from Ami. And you Diana… You do your thing.”

Diana smiled and said,” I’ll get the bubblegum!”

Nobody is sure what she meant, but Kayain nods and says,” Yea, I’ll get the guys… Think we’re going to be there long?”

“That’s undetermined Kayain. You never know. But after we’re done Danyel would like to visit to see about the wizards who live there. I myself would like to find my fellow psions there. Why do you ask?”

“Oh no reason… just wondering if I should pack my beloved Mr. Cuddles.”

Cherry held back a smile and frowned instead, her special frown she saves just for him and said,” Yes, Kayain. You should pack Mr. Cuddles.”

“Good, I’ll be off now.”

Deep down, Cherry hoped that that ratty looking teddy bear of his would accidentally get vaporized in some kind of dangerous mission.

“Danyel, you’re in this one too,” Says Cherry. “So get your stuff and let’s get moving.”

“Sis?” said Valentine.

“Yes?”

“Do you think it’s possible I could join you guys?”

“If the situation calls for it,” Cherry smiled and said,” I know you’ll get bored without any action, but I trust you as second in command.”

Valentine perked up and said,” You got it sis.”

“Alright ladies and gentlemen, I must go prepare for combat. I hope to see you soon after.. Oh, and V?”

“Yea sis?”

“Remind me to order a new chair”

----------------------------------------------------

Kayain and Diana go see their brother Tylar, the genius of the family. He’s the Vigilante inventor and lead researcher.

Some people call him the modern wizard of Technology. The man could create things from various household items that could make even MacGyver blush.

Tylar is much different from his siblings. He’s a less outgoing, charming, and a big time nerd. He’s about 6’2, long blonde hair, handsome face, and blue eyes covered by his nerdy glasses, and very skinny to boot. A guy like Tylar who lived with a guy like Kayain, tended to get bullied every now and then. But on the plus side, Kayain always beat up other bullies who tried to pick on him.

“So, you’ve come for your equipment have you?” Said Tylar. “What happened to Mr. I-Don’t-need-your-crummy-inventions-because-I-have-a-dumb-sword? Humm?”

“Knock it off,” said Kayain. “I’m not here because I want to be. I’m here on a rescue mission. Rescuing my sword that is.”

“Humm, yes, so I heard. Bad luck for all of us it seems.”

“Bad luck for you too?”

“Yes, I seem to be fresh out of all my necessary supplies. I’ll be short on supplies until we can get to a facility that sells what I need.”

“Yea, yea, boo hoo for you.”

“Kayain, that means we’ll be under equipped out there.”

“So?”

Tylar sighs and says,“ Oh yes, silly me, I forgot you were into the whole punchem-in-the-face deal. You know sometimes you remind me of those little toys that just punch till their heads pop up.”

“Is there something wrong with that?”

“No, no. Just figured you’d want a weapon this time. That’s just me daydreaming that you would actually think without your fists.”

 “Daydreaming about me, eh? You queer. I told you I just need something for the team, and I don’t care if it’s equipping the entire team with Viagra,” he said as he smiled. “Ok so maybe I do care about that. Now what have you got?”

“I have a couple of Jump-suits made for the team.”

“Jump-suits? What do they do, besides look tacky.”

“They’re modified body suits that allow the user to leap incredibly high, using inertial reduction technology. It slows your inertia as though you were in low gravity.”

“Cool, so we can out maneuver our enemies on the ground.”

“Exactly.”

“Can we rename them?” asked Diana. “Jump-suit sounds generic.”

“What’s wrong with the name? It took me all of 3 hours to come up with something good. You know it’s like a double entendre, it’s a jump suit because it makes you jump high, and it’s also a jump-suit style… oh, you’ll be laughing about that later.”

Kayain shook his head and said,” Tylar… what have I told you about that whole being funny thing? Leave the funny for me. Don’t bother, for all our sakes.”

“Oh. Right.”

“So where are these tacky Jump-Suits?”

“Well, as it just so happens I have a very stylish Jump-Suit.”

“What? You can’t make a jump suit stylish!”

“Ah, but I did, my dim witted sibling. Observe!”

Tylar opens a curtain and reveals a few black, custom designed suits. Each is shaped in the fit of someone’s body.

“Wow!” said Diana. “Gotta admit little bro, they are pretty stylish.”

“I had them adjusted to fit some of the crew members. They were incredibly difficult to make, and very time consuming. So handle them with-“

“MINE!” says Kayain as he grabs one with spiked spalders. “Black and yellow, those are my colors.”

“Yes, that one’s yours. I thought that might tickle your fancy.”

“Hey dude, don’t you go tickling my whatever…”

“Ooh! This one’s mine!” Said Diana.

“Actually that one’s not yours.”

“Oh? Who’s is it?”

“Well its-“

Kayain looks at the tag and sees the name Ami written on it and grins broadly.

 “But you made it my favorite color, Purple.”

“Violet actually.”

“Same thing,” she said while waiving her hand dismissively.” Wow, this one is sexy! And they’re skin tight too, really gonna show off my sexy body.”

“Well… I suppose you can have that one. But for heaven’s sake please change in the bathroom!”

“We also need medical supplies. We’re going to see-“ Kayain grinned again and said,” Ami. You wanna come and say hi? Humm? You haven’t said hi to her in a long time. She asks about you sometimes. She can get, you know, lonely.”

Everyone knew Tylar had the biggest crush on Ami, and always ragged on him about it.

“I suppose… I mean I need some chemicals, and she has it… Might as well go down and at least say hi while I’m there. Nothing else. Really.”

Diana smirked as well and said,” Well, let’s get going lover boy. Don’t wanna keep Ami waiting do you?”

“I don’t know what the bloody hell you’re talking about! Let’s just go now!”

----------------------------------------------------

Inside Ami’s medical quarters, Diana played with various instruments, and Kayain was messing with a thermometer.

“Hey Ami,” he said to Ami who was in the next room getting equipment. “Does a recital thermometer mean it’s for when you sing so much you get feverish?”

“That’s not ‘recital’ that’s ‘rectal’” She called out.

Kayain spit it on the floor and rushed to wash his mouth as Diana nearly toppled off her seat laughing. Tylar merely shook his head and walked over to the supply room.

“Tylar,” said Ami. “Haven’t seen you in a long time. I was beginning to think you were avoiding me. Or maybe you just didn’t like to talk to me anymore.”

Ami was a Matronian from Amram. Another characteristic of Matronians is the wide spectrum of hair and eye colors. Ami had a dark violet shoulder length hair, and the same colored eyes. Like Tylar she was also a child prodigy, she graduated from college at the age of 13 with a major in biochemistry. She learned everything she could about medicine, regeneration, longevity, and cures for all kinds of diseases.

Long ago, there was a reward for the capture of Cherry’s father, Rolando, and Ami was with a group that hunted him. She was only supposed to be a field medic, but when they ran into rival bounty hunters, they decided to attack her as well. Rolando was nearby when he heard the commotion, and saw her and her team dieing on the floor. He quickly helped them, fully aware that they were supposed to be hunting him. In the process of saving them, the bounty hunters came back and captured him. Ami and her team felt the need to repay him, and rescued him. They promised they wouldn’t turn him in after that, and Ami still felt she owed him more. She has been in the Vigilantes since it started with Rolando, and doesn’t plan on leaving until her longevity runs out.

“What?! Oh no I’d never-“ He saw she was smiling at him, very kindly. “I mean, you know, I’m always busy and whatnot. I have a big project I’m working on at the moment. Huge project. Very… big.”

There was an awkward silence between them, then finally Ami said,” I know you’re busy most of the time, but you could just come by on your off time. We haven’t finished our last game of Chess.”

Indeed, it was still laying in her room, unfinished. Tylar had stalled to properly think of a series of outcomes for the possible number of moves he could do in the time. Of course he’d never say that he did that.

“Yes, well I do apologize for that. And you’re right, I should take a little time off. Because as they say,’ All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ I promise, we’ll finish the game and get in a couple of games of Pokemon too.”

“That’ll be good,” she said casually. “I have a new deck I’d like to try out.”

“Oh really?” said Tylar, also trying to sound casual. “Well I’d like to see that too, how about after our mission?”

“That sounds good! After we’re done, assuming there’s no serious casualties.”

“Indeed, if all goes well, then we’ll just hang out like we used to.”

“All right then, I’m gonna hold that on you.”

“Capital! It’s a date then!”

“A date?”

“I mean, umm…”

Another awkward silence between them. The silence was broken though, not by either of them, but by Kayain and Diana’s laughter and hooting. Kayain had snuck up behind Tylar, and de-pants him, underwear and all. Ami blushed and looked away, stifling a giggle. Tylar, horrified, reaches as fast as he can to pull up his pants, trips, and falls on his face. Tylar frantically tries to orient himself and pull his pants up while Kayain and Diana are doubled over laughing.

“YOU BLOODY ARSEHOLSES!” He yelled. “I’ll get you back for this if it’s the last thing I do!”

After he gets up and has his pants back up, he proceeds to kick Kayain on the floor. Kayain is laughing to hard to notice Tylar’s wimpy kicks.

“Hoo, that never gets old!” He said as he tried to stop laughing. “Hey Tylar, your pants are still down!”

“What?” he said as he looked at his pants. “They are not! I have them all the way up and-“

Kayain grabbed his pant leg and pulled it again, this time ripping the rims. Tylar’s pants fell down once again.

----------------------------------------------------

“Kayain’s right. That never gets old.” Said Diana as the 3 of them went down the corridor.

Tylar, fuming, said,” I hate you both, and I hope you die of arse Chlamydia.”

Kayain thought it was funny when Tylar insulted him. Tylar had been sent to college at a young age because of his intelligence. The college was in a Terrain planet that had people who spoke British English. Being young and impressionable, he started to speak English like them. He never seemed to break that habit and always spoke like that from then on. The accent he brought only seemed to encourage Kayain’s behavior.

“Hey, if I didn’t do that it would have been very awkward lover boy. So if you think about it I did you a favor! You seriously aren’t any kind of romantic. Hey Di, remember-” Kayain made a mocking voice of Tylar and said,” Oh Ami, I would love to go on a date with you… What’s that you say? Pokemon? How romantic!”

“Shut-up.” He said as he ground teeth together.

Diana giggled and put on a mocking voice as she said,” Oh Ami, I want to show you my huge ‘project’!  Let’s go finish our chess game, and sit close by the fire while playing video games!’”

“SHUT UP!” He said louder between his teeth.

“Is there a problem here?” Said Cherry from behind.

“Heeey, babe! We were just, you know having a conversation with our bro, and he’s just mad because he tried to impress Ami by pulling his pants down.”

“THAT WAS YOUR FAULT!” he said furiously.

“Sad part was, she wasn’t impressed at all,” said Kayain with a wicked grin.

Cherry immediately knew that Kayain had humiliated Tylar in front of Ami, again. She wanted to laugh, but was disciplined enough to hold it back. Instead, she frowned and said,” Kayain, your behavior was appalling, and you’ve got beaker scrubbing duty for the week when we get back.”

“What?! Oh, No, no no! I can’t do that! I’ve got to, uh… got to wash my hair?”

“I’m not asking you on a date Kayain, I’m telling you what you’re going to do.”

“Oh yes!” said Tylar.

“Yes. That means you have to do whatever he says for the rest of the week, at 2800 hours every day. Tylar, we need a few more things before we leave, help me find them.”

Cherry walked off, and Tylar followed flashing an evil grin at Kayain.

“You heard her! You have to do whatever I say. Oh and there will be no need for safety gloves.”

Kayain, cursing under his breath continued to the equipment room, where the team waited. There were 5 of them sitting around playing cards.

The ground troop consisted of 9 people. Cherry, Kayain, Danyel, and Diana were leaders. The others were each uniquely talented, and survived the longest out of Cherry’s previous units.

“Humm,” Said Lu Bu. “Tell me again Biggs, does the big fat lady on the Q beat the big fat man on the K?”

Lu Bu is an Orc from the Orcish homeworld of Aarrg. One might find this a strange name for a planet, but in Orcish culture it was the noise that the first tribe leader made when he was naming the planet. He was a great chiefton who united the clans, and his speech went along the lines of,’ And this world shall be named- Aaarrrg!!” That was the point when he slipped and fell into a burning tar pit.

Lu Bu has a fondness for Matronians. During a political dispute over territory (the ones that involved a lot of guns), with Matronians and the Half-Dragons, Lu Bu was found under Dragon control. He was cyberneticially enhanced to withstand all types of Matronian weapons. Rolando was there on the field when he saw this warrior fight. He took pity on him and killed those who were controlling him. Lu Bu came to his senses, and joined the Matronians against the hated Half-Dragons. Later on, he also found out that one of the Half-Dragons had stolen his manhood, and from that day forward, he vowed revenge on that Dragon who stole it.

Lu Bu loves carrying more weapons then he’ll ever need, and always uses them all. He joined Cherry out of respect, and with his cybernetic enhancements, he's proven invaluable.

“Aye,” said Biggs. “I told ye a thousand times! In the alphabet the Q comes after the K! So yes already!”

Biggs, the trigger happy Halfling is their ranged weapon specialist. Biggs is also the youngest member of the team. This doesn’t however stop him from getting drunk, going to strip clubs, and ordering a big-kids meal at the Jack-In-The-Box.

Biggs’ most noticeable and disliked feature is he likes to pretend to be catholic. He’s really not, but he likes to hand out pamphlets to people and patronize them. Little is known about Biggs' history, because most of his childhood was spent in a drunken stupor. They do know however that he is somehow related to someone very important in the Halfling society.

“Oh,” said Lu Bu. “And who’s the wise guy on the big J?”

“Tha’, would be the Jackoff,” said Biggs. “Ye don’ want the Jackoff, cause he’s a complete Jackoff.”

“Please don’t remind me of Jacking off… I miss that so much.”

“Biggs,” said Kat. “Don’t lie to the man, we’re already out of decent competition with you always cheating anyway.”

Kat O’ 9 Killian was a special mage; special in the fact that he passed his wizarding exams after 12 tries. In the wizarding community, there are schools, and colleges. Some schools are devoted to specific magic, while others are universal. Kat had failed his high school wizarding level tests several times, and then failed his college level 12 times. It's not that he doesn’t know magic that well, it's just that he doesn’t test well. When it comes to testing, they had to clear out all civilians for 10 miles to test his fire spells. What Kat had neglected to tell his teachers was that he was blind, and he couldn't read the proper spells correctly. This lasted till his 12th attempt, when they finally gave him a sight spell. Again he got it wrong, and he created a floating, metallic eyeball. It kept flying away, so he had to attach a chain to it, and animated the chain. He then decided to keep more animated chains and become a chain master. Not an ideal wizard career, but he puts his skills to good use for Cherry.

“Cheatin’!?” said Biggs. “I’m no’ cheating ya bastard! I canna help it if I gets five aces!”

“I’ve never heard of the ace of dog turds,” said DeVall

DeVall is a psion like Cherry. DeVall can manipulate energy matter with his mind, creating blasts of fire, ice, and energy. But he hasn't had the time to master his technique, because he puts off studying with Cherry for playing his MMORPG. Sometimes, he's the DM when they play Dungeons and Dragons, and he devotes most of time to that as well. Cherry peels him away from that and sends him on missions, hoping he'll learn with harsh experience.

“Tha’s only cause yer a newbie! Ya don’t have any real card playin’ experience like I do!” said Biggs.

“I have twenty one, and I win,” said Solo.

Solo Salongo, a mechanist by day, and his alter ego Ango becomes a Ninja by night.

Solo is part of the Salongo clan; the most popular and widely known family in the galaxy. Energetic and eccentric, they always get things done, and with the Salongo spirit. The Salongos originate from Spain, and most usually travel with an acoustic guitar player to play them serenades as they fight for justice. The leader of this bunch is none other than the mighty Sancho Salongo. Who is so powerful he has a natural acoustic music that appears wherever he goes. Cherry's father had once saved Sancho's life, long ago. He was so happy, he named him an honorary Salongo, for him and all his decedents. It's a little known, and dark secret as far as she's concerned. Cherry would prefer not to have acoustics playing while she does things.

“Ack! Fer the last time the game is Poker, not Blackjack!”

“Alright ladies, listen up!” said Kayain. “We’re going to the surface of some backwater planet to get me my sword back!”

“Um… Kayain? Wasn’t the mission to fight Rikti as well?” Said Diana.

“Details,” He said. “There are Rikti bastards down there. If you see ‘em, blast away! I will be keeping my score. The one with the least kills buys the beers!”

“Eh? What’s going on now?” said Lu Bu.

“You remember my weapon was stolen?”

“Yea, I liked that weapon. It talked nicely to me.”

“Well we think we know where it is, and we’re going to get it now.”

“Aye? So ya say we can bus’ some heads while we’re down there eh?” asked Biggs.

“Oh yes, Indeed!” said Kayain. “You guys will be part of my killin’ squad! And as you know we- Yes Solo?”

“Do we know for sure the weapon is down there?”

“Yes we do!”

“Oh… how?”

Kayain raises his fist and says,” Cause this said so!”

He backs off and says,“ Good reasoning!”

“So what other details do we need to know besides kill everything?” said DeVall.

Kayain thought about it for a second and said,” Humm… details. I really hate details but if you insist on knowing details, I did your mom last night if it helps.”

----------------------------------------------------

Tylar was a bit of an optimist when it came to projects and missions. Cherry could also detect a hint of arrogance. She supposed that was a family trait in him.

“So what will you be needing this time?”

“We don’t know what we’re up against. We’ve dealt with these Rikti before, and they use energy weapons, teleport matrix systems, energy blades, and psionics.”

“I see. Well I can do the energy weapons. I’ve already anticipated it in your jump-suits. They come equipped with many features, such as: resistance to all kinds of damage, inertial reduction, communicators, and optional cup holders.”

“Cup holders?”

“Male outfit only I’m afraid.”

“Tylar… you know about my need to know basis?”

“Yes?”

“I don’t need to know the details on that.”

“Ah yes, very well then.”

“This sounds good and all. Can you explain the damage resistance?”

“It’s simple. There’s no way I can negate an attack completely without you lugging around a huge two thousand pound generator on your back, so what I have is a resistance. Basically it will just hurt like hell if they hit you.”

“Sounds nasty. Better then being dead though.”

“Indeed. And about the inertial reduction, just kick off the ground and you’ll go very fast upward.”

Cherry looked a bit skeptical and asked,” This isn’t like your failed flight suit is it?”

“Oh no, no, no… I mean we found Lu Bu after he was nailed to the sky. I believe the old chap rather enjoyed the experience.”

“That’s not reassuring Tylar. Have you tested this suit?”

“Of course I have!”

Cherry stared at him and he faltered a bit.

“Well, theoretically I have!” he said.

“Theory is only good for two things Tylar, no good, and good for nothing. I’m a strong believer in Murphy’s Law, and I want facts.”

“Yes, yes, of course! I mean I did run a trial on the beginning model long time ago.”

“And the results?”

“Euphoria.”

“That’s good.”

“With slight case of head implosion.”

Cherry stops walking and narrows her eyes at him.

“What…”

“No worries though! I fixed that major problem a long time ago as well, see? As a matter of fact I’m wearing the updated jump suit under my lab coat. Observe!”

Tylar jumps in the air and touches the ceiling.

“See? Nothing to it!”

“Yea I saw. But you haven’t tested it out in the open now have you?”

“Not exactly. We haven’t been anywhere we could test it and I was rather hoping-“

“That we would be your guinea pigs for your little jump suit, right?”

“You sure know how to make a convenient idea sound bad don’t you?”

Cherry puts an arm around Tylar and says,” Tylar, let me tell you something… Imagine this: I go out there with your jump suit on, I jump in the air, come down and shatter every bone in my body. Basically you’ve turned me into a boneless pile of organs and muscle that needs to be scooped up in a shovel. Ok? You still with me Tylar? Good. Now imagine my long and painful trek to recovery in the regenerator ok? That’ll take me a good five days, yes?”

Tylar nodded a bit nervously.

“Ok, now imagine what’s going to happen to you after I am fully revitalized.”

“I see pain in my future.”

“Yes, and lots of it. As a matter of fact, after all your pain will supposedly be over, I’ll have Ami do some surgery on my foot to remove it from how far I’m going to plant it in your ass. Got it?”

“You can be very convincing… Well here’s what I can say. I guarantee you that you will not shatter every bone in your body unless you think this thing can handle skydiving without a parachute.”

“It’s a start, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt since you’ve had no proper testing area.”

“Thank you. Now please observe as I use this to leap to my lab.”

Tylar jumped forward and clotheslines himself with a pipe sticking out from the ceiling and falls flat on his back.

“Are you ok?” asked Cherry standing over him with her arms folded.

“I’m. Fine,” he said gasping for air.

Cherry picks him up and he catches his breath.

“Ow, I was seeing stars for a minute.”

“Maybe jumping in the halls isn’t such a good idea eh?”

“Apparently not.”

“One more question Tylar. Did Kayain really pants you in front of Ami? I mean underwear and everything?”

He turns red and says quietly,” Yes…”

“Oh, shame on him then,” said Cherry politely.

“Thanks. You know you’re the only one who never laughs at me when that kind of stuff happens. Thanks again.”

“Aaw, forget about it. I don’t approve of Kayain doing such things to my team mates. Now run along and get your stuff. I’m going to get a drink here in the lounge.”

“All right, meet you there.”

Cherry closed the door to the lounge and waited until he was out of earshot, and laughed,” Right in front of her!”

----------------------------------------------------

Tylar and Cherry come in to the hangar and hand out the equipment to everyone.

“Alright men, did Kayain tell you about the mission?” Asked Cherry.

“Aye, Cap’n,” Said Biggs. “He mentioned something about how ya always wear a blue thong during missions.”

“Wait! I didn’t-“

“Kayain. I’m not very happy with you at the moment. So don’t say anything.”

“Sheesh… I was just going to say it’s actually pink.”

“Kayain you’ve got lab duty for 2 weeks now.”

“AAAW!”

“Now down to business folks.”

Cherry explained the situation and the imminent danger of another full scale Rikti invasion, and the need to recover the Vindicator weapon.

The weapon itself holds powerful and unique magic. It was forged with the soul of a selfless Wizard who gave their life in creating it. The weapon then chooses someone to bestow their power to, and grants them incredible abilities. Most wizards are elite in 1 specific school, and the user gains total control over what the wizard was best at. Kayain’s weapon for example allows him to manipulate fire, and bend it to his will. With the weapon he is immune to any kind of fire, whether it be mundane fire, magic fire, or psionic fire. Kayain could command fire better than any wizard or psion could imagine. In addition, he gained the ability to regenerate his body from the heat around him, and he could dodge oncoming attacks at incredible speeds.

But now his weapon was gone, and so is his mastery and immunity to fire. The only thing that remained was his ability to regenerate. Kayain didn’t mind so much, because he had disciplined his mind to ignore physical pain long ago.

“I have a question Captain.” Said Lu Bu.

“Yes?”

“Can we go now? I’d like to get to twisting someone in half now.”

Cherry smiled. Lu Bu had always brought trophies from battle to show off. He sometimes stringed ears from his enemies and made a grotesque belt. Cherry however didn’t want to discourage him from being an efficient killing machine, and was usually pleased to see his trophies. Rikti however have no ears, so he tried to string up their battle armor. Cherry put a stop to that quick.

 “Yes, Lu Bu, we shall go now. But what will you bring me this time? Last battle you only killed one hundred equipped Rikti Warriors."

“Please don’t remind me of that shame Captain. I promise you no less than a thousand this time. And I will bring back their leader’s head as a trophy you can hang above a fireplace. But first I will wear it as I slay his minions, and maybe to garden my tomatoes as well.”

“Excellent.” She said. “I would expect nothing less. Ah, Valentine, are you ready?”

“I sure am, are you guys?”

“Oh yes, indeed!” Said Kayain with a grin.

“Alright, I’m going to drop you guys off as close as I can without attracting to much attention. The rest is up to you guys.”

----------------------------------------------------

During the flight, Kayain and Lu Bu were having a conversation on transcendence through the use of football, chips and beer. Biggs was preaching to DeVall and Kat. Solo had switched personalities to Ango, and was trying to hide in plain sight with a blanket over his head.

Cherry walked over to Kayain and pulled him aside for a few words with him. Kayain knew this was never good.

“Kayain, I want you to use your brains now and think hard,” she said. “Think back when I mentioned about staying focused on missions.”

Kayain responded with his usual blank stare.

“I can see the lights are on, but no one is home,” she said while crossing her arms. “A few missions ago, we were in big trouble and you were off making a beer pit stop. You remember that?”

“Kind of. You said something like ‘we need your beer’. And I didn’t have any so I went to get some.”

“No Kayain I had said ‘we need you here’.”

“Well at least we weren’t short on beer now were we?”

“That’s not what we need when we’re under fire!”

Kayain smiled broadly as he said,” Ah but who was it who came in the wrong way and ended up being behind the enemy?”

Cherry frowned and said,” Yea, yea, I know you made a big mistake and saved us in the end but-“

“Yea and who single handedly beat the base commander with beer bottle in hand?”

“I know what you did Kayain! But that’s not-“

“And who’s brilliant blunder saved you from having to get past five, count em’, FIVE security walls? Not to mention the force shields in the hallways, and deactivated all the traps because of some case of mistaken identity?”

Cherry gave her special frown and said,” You really want me to say it don’t you? You honestly want me to say it for your own pleasure of totally annoying the hell out of me?”

Kayain put his hand to his ear and said,” I’m sorry I can’t hear you over the sound of your teeth. Try and scrape them a bit less when you tell me, who’s you’re daddy?”

Cherry gritted her teeth and said,” We KNOW you saved us, Kayain, now shut the hell up!”

“Right. Now tell me how much you love me.”

“KAYAIN!”

“Ok, ok. I’ll assume that shout means you love me, and acknowledge how superior I am to you.”

“What I am trying to tell you is I don’t want you getting distracted again.”

“You mean you don’t want to be saved again.”

“NO! That was dumb luck! It won’t happen like that again!”

“How do you know?”

“Because it’s just dumb luck in the first place!”

“You know you’re really hot when you get angry?”

She closed her eyes and her eye twitched as she said,” Kayain.”

“Sup.”

“This is what I’m talking about, you’re getting distracted again!”

“I tend to get distracted easily, like when I’m… you know, doing stuff.”

“Kayain, quit staring at my chest and look at my face!”

“Oh! Heh heh. My bad.”

“So,” she said with a wicked smile on her angry face. “In order to keep you focused, I’m forbidding you from certain rights and privileges during the missions.”

“Like what?!”

“Like no sex.”

“YOU’VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!”

“And no kissing, or touching of any kind… not even yourself. And you know what I mean.”

Kayain was mortified. He couldn’t think of anything witty to retort at her.

“But! But! I,” he thought for a moment how to get into Cherry’s head. He knew if he played her game, she would give in eventually. “All right then, FINE. I can play your little game, and I’m going to win too!”

"Kayain, this isn't a game."

"Ha! You don't wanna make it a game cause you know I'll win."

“Oh I doubt it. You’ll be desperate to get the mission done as soon as possible.”

"Wanna make a bet of it?"

Cherry knew Kayain loved to rival with her. And Cherry couldn't resist being his competition.

"All right, we'll make it a wager. If I win, you have to... oh, I know! You have be my personal spa for the rest of the month. That includes back, neck, leg, and body messages. It includes washing and massaging my feet.”

“Sounds kinky. I get to rub your body. I like this.”

 “It also includes doing my nails, and shampooing and styling my hair. And getting me that green stuff on my face with the fruits on my eyes. You must also go shopping with me and try on everything I tell you to."

"Oh ho! Now that sounds like a good ol’ fashioned testicle shrinker. So I’ll be your personal slave for a month basically."

"Yup."

"Does that mean a sex slave as well?”

“No, but you get to carry my purse in public, buy me feminine deodorant and use it yourself, and then you can also do my underwear shopping.”

“Ugh! I can’t go into the women’s underwear section! They always make me feel unwelcome when I go there! Like I’m some kind of pervert!”

Cherry rolls her eyes and says,” Gee, you a pervert? That’ll be the day.”

“Well, I have something even better! If I win, what we're gonna do is this: First, I'm gonna set up a nice little set. Next, I'm gonna get my super special perverted camera with zoom function, and high definition pictures. Then, I'm gonna have you take pictures for me. You’ll be wearing a very sexy outfit too.”

“You want me to pose for you. That’s it? I assume there’s a catch to this.”

“Oh there’s a catch all right,” said Kayain as he reached inside his bag and pulls out nothing. “You’ll be wearing this.”

“That’s nothing- Oh.”

“Na, they’re sexy clothes. Just completely invisible.”

“Always a catch isn’t there?”

“And, I know how camera shy you are, so you're gonna be posing and doing sexy photos for me!"

She knew he was a complete pervert. She also knew about his hidden stash of pictures he had of girls he caught in the shower. Long ago she found out his secret and prevented him from ever getting voyeur shots of her.

Another thing was their beliefs. Matronians tend to frown on public nudity and are very conservative about that. Q’Hagians are much more open about it and show nudity even on public television.

Cherry thought about this. Either way, she thought, we're both still trying to humiliate each other.

"Ok, we'll have it that way. Looser gets humiliated. And when you crack, I'm not making it easy for you."

“You’ll see, I’m unbreakable, like a man of steel. You won’t break me!”

“Steel, sure. More like aluminum foil.”

“Aaw, that’s low… Hey, what about an emergency situation?”

“Like what?”

“Like… errr, say someone kidnaps the team, and they hold a ransom saying the only way they’ll let them go is if we have kinky sex on tape and send it to them.”

Cherry tried to stop herself from laughing, but only smiled instead. She rolled her eyes and said,” Yea sure, if by some weird phenomena that happens, then we’ll have kinky sex and record it.”

“Ga’damn, I love loopholes in my favor.”

TO CHAPTER 2 >

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