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Complaints wanted, Inis Truesight

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Since everyone else is doing it, and my thread about it was on the old forums.

Inis is undergoing changes, and thus, some of these stories, as well as parts of the records and text are dated; her snowflakeyness has exploded exponentially and I am trying to cut it all back, before it gets out of hand. Especially since she ended up being a super psychic cruiser killer thing as well.

Flavour text

She is very tall, at least six foot three inches.

She has bright cyan hair,reaching halfway down her back, most of it is tucked behind her ears.

Her skin is a very pale pink, almost white, with dark curves and lines cutting across it, spreading from her torso, on her left hand, five of these lines meet, forming a large scar.

Her eyes are a vivid purple.

She is wearing a small crystal necklace, it is a bright, electric blue


Medical Records:

Medical Record:

Inis Truesight suffered large scale burns in her youth, from a laser pistol, though she has long recovered from this, such harm could have left underlying mental instabilities, tending towards paranoia.

She also suffered injuries from a natural hazard on Stormswrath, an electrical storm; she was sucked into the centre of a Class four storm, leading to significant skin and eye damage, which is irreparable. The skin damage is minor, her skin is very pale, with darker lines running across it, this causes no detected problems to Miss Truesight, though it does give her quite a striking appearance, as well as a lower than average self-esteem.

The eye damage is much more serious, the energy inside the storm caused her eyes to over develop Cone and Rod cells, making them hyper-sensitive, as such she suffers discomfort when exposed to normal light levels without sunglasses, much the same to a normal person in a spotlight.

This also makes her susceptible to Laser and high-power energy discharges, as well as Security Flashes and medical penlights. Energy or Laser discharges near her can cause major discomfort or pain, when directed away from or towards her; they can cause a synaptic overload, causing her to lapse into unconsciousness, temporarily. FLASHES WILL CAUSE SEVERE DAMAGE TO MISS TRUESIGHT'S NERVOUS SYSTEM

It is recommended that, if Miss Truesight is in a patient room, to dim the lights, to ensure that she remains comfortable, and to not use penlights to look into her eyes.

Inis Truesight is on watch for signs of Anorexia Nervosa, and Anorexia Bulima. Regular checkups every hour, and at arrival are recommended.


Security Record:

Security Record:

Inis Truesight has, thus far, achieved a very good standard of work, her natural instincts to protect less able people, allowing her to do what other officers might find distasteful. Her medical training is also an advantage, as she is able to stabilise any injuries that she encounters, whether they be prisoners, other officers, or civilians. She is very confident in her ability to fight, she is well trained in hand to hand combat, though she has little weapons training beyond basic ballistic ranged weapons. These skills come at a cost, however, the damage to her eyes is severe, and she has to wear high level light dampeners, such as a welding mask, to use Laser weapons, High-power Energy weapons, or flashbangs with any degree of usefulness, as the bright flash of these weapons can cause her serious harm, even through sunglasses.

Criminal Record:

Inis Truesight has committed no offences to date.

As a foreign national, Miss Truesight cannot purchase alcohol, nor can she hold a Head Position.

It is Illegal to apply an Implant to Miss Truesight, due to it being a breach of interstellar law.


Employment Record:




Inis Truesight was born in Cevalon city, in the year 2540, the Capital city of the former New British Empire planet, Stormswrath. Her parents worked in the biological science research centre, in Cevalon, one of the three major research facilities based in the capital. She grew up with her older brother, Gollentar Truesight, despite an age gap of five years, they were very close, and always watched out for each other.

In school, Inis was fairly unremarkable; she had average scores in most lessons, with a preference for Physical Education and Biology. She was often commended, however, for interceding in disputes around the area, often putting herself in harm’s way to defend a stranger who was being assaulted or robbed. These attitudes lead her to become very skilled in hand to hand combat, though she prefers peaceful solutions. When she was 15, she tried to stop a mugging and was shot with an Laser pistol, though she managed to drive the attacker away, she passed out soon afterwards from severe burns to her left arm and torso. After three weeks in hospital, she had made a full recovery, the victim that she had helped turned out to be a medical officer, called Delindivar Starbreeze, and he did his utmost to give her the best treatment.

Starbreeze and the Truesights remained good friends for many years after the incident, when Inis went to college to study Law, and Anatomy; she was in the same class as Delindivar’s nephew, Sarin Karek, who was a valuable friend through out her college years. Gollentar had left College the year before Inis joined it, specialising in logistics and accounting, he went on to become a Quartermaster for Nanotrasen.

After college, Inis went to University, studying Law, advanced first aid and basic medicine. She achieved good scores in her subjects, despite her occasionally not appearing for lectures, so she could go to the beach and watch the construction of the Wrath Cannon, the most powerful orbital defence ever built on Stormswrath. It was during the last of these excursions that Inis got lost in the mists, stumbling along the shore for several hours, during this time, during this time, clouds were gathering over the Misted Sea, lightning arcing hundreds of miles from cloud to cloud as the storm grew in intensity.

Inis first knew something was amiss, when the mist began to move more and more quickly, sweeping sand along the ground, then massive crashes of thunder began to echo across the sea. Inis began to panic, running through the mists, trying to escape, or find shelter. She was too slow, however, and the storm quickly engulfed her. She had crouched down in the shelter of a large boulder, hoping to wait out the storm, which was quickly approaching a class four storm.

The boulder Inis was hiding behind began to rock in the wind, lightning striking it constantly, and blasting waves of energy across Inis, as she cowered beside it. Eventually the storm was at its full strength, and the rock that had provided Inis with shelter, was wrenched from the ground, and her with it.

It wasn’t until many hours later, when people could leave the storm shelters, that it was discovered that Inis was missing, along with five others. Massive rescue operations were launched, the research centres more than willing to test their technology as Geneered Stormhawks, hypersonic aircraft and robotic gyrocopters soared over the devastated landscape, tracking life signs and heat signatures.

Of the six missing people, five were found, of those five, two were dead, obliterated by lightning, or smashed against buildings, another was crippled, a lightning strike close by had burnt his right arm and leg away. Another was unharmed; she had hidden from the storm in her cellar. The last of the five was Inis; she had been hurled from the eye of the storm into the Misted Sea, if the workers on the Wrath Cannon had not seen her immediately she would have drowned. Her exposure to the storm had permanently damaged her eyes and skin, her eyes had changed colour form a dull, olive green, to a vivid, almost florescent purple, and her irises had become ragged and torn, making her eyes especially sensitive to high light levels. Her skin had become very pale, almost white, a stark contrast from the deep tan she had had before, her skin was also covered in sweeping curves and lines, caused by the tumultuous energy in the heart of the storm, the lines crossed in many places, but, on her left hand, where five of them cross, there is a large, ridged area of scar tissue.

It was several months before Inis was let out of hospital, despite her protestations that she was fine, after she was released she returned to university to finish her courses, earning 82/100 on her Law degree, 93/100 on her advanced first aid course, and 67/100 on her basic medical degree. After receiving her results, Inis immediately applied to join the Stormswrath Defence Force, but her application was turned down, she didn’t have enough experience. She was however, given a counter offer by Nanotrasen.

Nanotrasen, eager to get closer relations to Stormswrath, due to its mineral deposits, offered to give Inis a job as a probationary Warden, citing her combat and medical skills as being useful for Security Personnel. Inis agreed immediately, this was the sort of experience that would get her into the SDF, after packing her belongings, and saying goodbye to her friends, she left the planet on a Nanotrasen ship headed to Aurora Station.


Additional stories with Inis involved:

The officer grimaced as she zipped the cuffs shut around the thief’s wrists. She had managed to subdue him after a short struggle, leaving her with a long, shallow cut down her right forearm, and a split lip. Thankfully, her body armour had protected her from the first desperate stab as she had run the criminal to ground. She brushed her long cyan hair away from her sweaty face as she pulled the thief to his feet.

The thief himself was relatively non-descript, average height, short, mousy brown hair, a hard to remember face. He had tried to snatch a woman’s handbag, then knifed her when she wouldn’t let go. The officer had left two comrades to help the woman, while she chased the thief.

“Bitch! Le’ go of me!” The thief yelled, pulling on the restraints. The officer frowned and took him by the arm, leading him out of the alley he had ran into. She stopped; she had heard something behind her. The officer turned to see three people emerging from a door at the side of the alley, armed with automatic weaponry. They quickly raised the weapons, pointing them at the officer. The officer shoved the thief behind her, and turned, pushing him before her, and they opened fire. The officer jerked as bullets rained onto her back. The firing stopped, and the three shooters ducked into cover to reload.

The thief stared at the officer in shock as she dropped to her knees; her hand went to her belt, taking out a small key, which she pressed into the hand of the thief, with bloodstained fingers. She gave a short, spluttering cough, spraying blood down her front. “Run…” She said weakly, and slipped sideways to lie in an expanding pool of blood.

The thief ran, rounding the corner just as the shooters emerged to finish him off, two bullets streaked past him as he escaped round the corner, clutching the key to his restraints, with tears of fear running down his face.

The three shooters moved up, next to the downed officer, “Move her. Now! We need to get out of here,” One of them said quickly, slinging his gun across his back. One of the other shooters nodded, and scooped up the unconscious officer, “Some of the bullets got through her armour, and she is bleeding pretty bad.” He said, putting her across his shoulder. The three of them quickly backtracked down the alley, going through the door they had emerged from, “We can treat her on the truck, but that guy is going to warn someone, we need to move.”

The room they had entered was a garage, they had quite obviously been living in it for a while, there were empty snack wrappers littering the floor, and three rough cots had been set up in the corner, in the centre of the room was a plain white van. The shooter carrying the officer went into the back of the van, while the other two went into the front and started the engine. The garage door slid open, and they drove off.

Inis gave a quiet, pained groan as she woke up. She was lying on her face, and the floor was moving, her arms were restrained behind her back, but that wasn’t what she was concerned about. Her torso felt like it was aflame with agony, and there was a peculiar heavy sensation in the left side of her chest. She could just about hear someone else moving around in the darkness, when a bright light blasted her retinas.

The shooter gave a yell of shock as the officer spasmed on the ground, before grabbing her and holding her down, eventually the spasms stopped, and he continued staunching the bleeding from her back. She began to move again, so he slapped the back of her head and growled at her, “Stop moving, girl.”

Inis froze as she heard the other person speak; she could feel them doing something to her back. She gave a short cough, and felt something splatter against her lips, she opened her eyes a fraction, in the blinding light, to see specks of red on the floor in front of her. At that moment, the other person poured some chemical onto her wounds; Inis shrieked in a blaze of agony, and blacked out from a sudden blow to her head.

A few hours later

Varan Truesight was just sitting down in his armchair when his PDA beeped from across the room. Frowning, he stood up and walked across to it, there was a notice on the screen, /New message received/. Varan sighed and pressed a few buttons on the touchscreen, then blinked in surprise as the PDA informed him that it was a video message. He walked back to his chair, sat down and played the message.

The picture was grainy, but Varan could make out a darkened room, with a chair in the centre, he thought there might be someone sat in the chair, but he wasn’t sure. He saw some movement in the corner of the screen, someone moving in the darkness, then the dull rasp of a light switch being flicked on. Varan looked back to the chair to see that it contained a young woman, with very pale skin and long cyan hair; she was wearing a bloodstained police uniform, though the armour appeared to have been removed. She was cuffed to the arms of the chair, and she seemed to be unconscious, there was blood on her lips, though her chest still rose and fell with breath. On her lap was a small cardboard sign, it read, “Hello, Uncle.”

Varan was shaking with anger, and fear, as another sign was put in front of the screen, “We will be in contact, have money ready” The video ended.

Varan felt sick, and shaken to his core. He turned towards the door, and shouted, “Amy! Get up here!” He dropped the PDA on the table and stood up as a woman walked in quickly, “I am here…” She said very quietly, her hands were shaking slightly. Varan took a step forwards, and hugged her tightly, “Thank god you are safe,” He whispered. Amy looked at him, “Has something happened?” She asked. Varan hesitated for a moment, “Your cousin…Inis…” he shook his head and pointed to the PDA. Amy walked over to it and carefully picked it up, replaying the video. After a few moments, she gave a cry of shock, and nearly dropped the PDA. “Oh Gods…” She whispered, “Oh Gods, oh Gods, oh Gods…”

Varan took the PDA from her and set it down on the table, “Go round and get Savar, and Kiera, they deserve to know.” Amy nodded quickly and ran off. Varan picked up his PDA again, and began searching through his contacts page; a glint of rage flickered in his eyes.

After a half-hour, Amy returned, leading another two people, a man who, like Varan and Amy, had bright green eyes, and a woman, who had grey eyes. Both were very pale as they approached Varan. He held out his PDA to them, and stood up, moving to stand near the edge of the room. Within a few moments, the man let out a short gasp, and the woman clapped her hand to her mouth, both of them looked close to tears. The woman turned to Varan as the video ended, and snapped, “What are you waiting for?! Start collecting funds, this is your fault!” Amy flinched at the harsh tone, and stepped backwards into a shadowed corner. Varan said quietly, “Kiera, you know as well as I do, less than a quarter of hostages are returned alive, we can’t give into them, if we do, we may never see Inis alive again,” Savar slowly dropped the PDA onto the table and said quietly, “If they kill her…We can bring her back, Kiera…You know we can,” Varan shook his head, “No.” Kiera glared at him, “What do you mean, no? She is our daughter!” Varan spoke again, “I have messaged the archives, both the Centres, and the Corporations, Inis’ genetic back ups were wiped, three hours ago.”

The phone rang, everyone fell silent for a moment, before Amy picked it up, “…Hello…” She held it for a moment, then flinched, and held it out to Varan, he took it. “This is Varan Truesight, what do you want?” Varan set the phone to loud speaker, “We want credits, nineteen million, one million for each year of your niece’s life.” “How do I know she still lives? You could have killed her immediately after that video, I already know you wiped her back ups.” There was silence from the phone for a moment, “Very perceptive of you, I see you live up to your reputation, it does not matter, however, you will bring the money to the place I decide, and you will not contact the police, I will know if you do.” Varan barked down the phone line, “She will be at the drop point, alive, if you know me as well as you say you do, then you know I have the connections, and the money, to call down a starship on your location, and if I do not see her there, I will not hesitate to do so.” “I suppose the deal is set then, Truesight, Your niece will be at the swap point, alive, you will deliver the money, or she dies, and her body will be destroyed. We will be in touch.” The phone clicked off, and began droning, Varan replaced it on its stand. He turned to face the rest of the group, “I will begin collecting funds, Savar, I need you to go through Inis’ contacts, see if there is anyone who might be able to help us, we can’t go to the police, any mobilisation from them will be noticed, if need be, I can hire mercenaries for the job,” Kiera glared at Varan, tears streaked her cheeks, “And what job is that? You are going to give them their money, and get Inis.” Savar turned to Kiera, “Kiera…They won’t give her back… She is a threat to them, the only thing we can do is fight them, try and rescue her.” Kiera glared around the room, and shoved past Amy, nearly knocking her over, as she stormed out. Savar turned to Varan as he steadied Amy, “I will go see who I can recruit…If this ends badly…” With that point, Savar left after his wife.

Inis woke suddenly, though she kept her eyes tightly shut, she had moved, now she seemed to be sat in a chair, and her arms were strapped to some thing in front of her. The pain in her back was muted now, though she still had a heavy sensation in the left side of her chest, and it was harder to breath. She opened her eyes a fraction, then opened them fully when she saw that she was in a dimly lit room.

Across the room from her, there were three people, two men, one Tajara, she couldn’t tell the gender, they looked over at her as she pulled on her restraints, “Ah, so she is awake,” Said one of them, stepping closer. He was quite pale, with short, dark brown hair, and a plain face, Inis stared at him in shock, “You!” She shouted, pulling harder on her restraints, panting heavily as she found it harder and harder to breath. The man nodded, “Me,” The Tajara walked forwards, then looked towards the third man, hissing, “We need some thing to send to herrrr Uncle, to demand rrrespect.” The third man nodded, sitting down in a chair in the corner of the room, before raising a warning finger, “Remember, she is worth more intact,” The Tajara nodded, and looked at Inis carefully, he noticed a dull blue glow at her neckline, “Ah…Jewellerrry” He hooked a claw underneath the amulet’s chain and flicked it upwards, so it lay against Inis’ throat. The amulet was a vivid, electric blue crystal, hung on a fine silver chain, surrounded by plastic fittings. The Tajara purred, “Pretty pretty.” He reached for the amulet.

A bright flash of blue shot from the amulet, earthing against the Tarjara’s hand, igniting it. The Tajara threw himself back, yelling as the fire spread up his arm, “Smiles is on FIRRRRRE!” He began slamming his arm against the wall in an attempt to put out the blaze. The third man stood up calmly and took a fire extinguisher from the wall, activated it, and sprayed it over the Tajara. The fire went out immediately as the water smothered it. The Tajara made an angry spitting noise, not dissimilar to the sounds of the water on the flames. He glared at Inis, she smirked slightly, her amulet still lying against her neck. Smiles lunged, slashing her across the face with his claws, cutting three deep gouges from her cheek, Inis screamed. Smiles retreated out of the room, mreowling his misfortune.

The first man picked up a pair of insulated pliers, and carefully lifted the amulet off, over Inis’ head, placing it in a small cardboard box on the table in front of her. The third man quickly sealed up the box, and took it out of the room. The first man placed the pliers down, and walked in front of Inis, “So, you do remember me?” He took a small knife from his belt, and placed its point against the back of Inis’ hand. “You really screwed up our operation, didn’t you? How you even recovered from those wounds I dealt you, I have no idea, let alone how you managed to get off that shuttle without passing out from loss of blood.” He slowly began twisting the knife, applying a small amount of pressure, Inis’ other hand clenched shut, and her face went slightly red. The man began applying more and more pressure to the knife, watching the pain grow in Inis’ eyes. Her whole body shook as the tip of the knife scraped across a bone; the bleeding cuts on her face were forgotten now.

After five minutes of the silence, the knife hit the desk under Inis’ hand. The man let go of the knife, leaving it sticking out vertically from the back of Inis’ hand. He undid the closest strap to her hand, allowing her wrist to move. He carefully took hold of her thumb, and smallest finger, and jerked them upwards, pulling her hand up the knife. Inis couldn’t help herself, she screamed.

Varan waited impatiently in his living room, he was waiting for some people to arrive, and they were already late, he suspected that they had run into trouble at Customs, he thought, the only non-corrupt department on this godforsaken planet. He heard a parcel fall through his letterbox, and frowned, before walking to the door.

The package was a plain cardboard box, unlabelled, Varan’s heart gave a jolt, it must be from the kidnappers, He took the package and carried it into the living room, he could hear something rattling inside. He set the package down on the table, and carefully began to take off the packing tape. He hesitated for a moment, and then opened the box carefully; the inside was filled with a gentle blue glow. Varan’s breath caught, and he slowly took the amulet out of the box, there was a letter with it.

Mr Truesight

This caused my compatriot quite a lot of trouble, if you fail to meet our demands, we won’t kill you niece, well, not right away, we will send her to you, piece by piece.

Have the credits, at the centre of the Ostern wastes, I am sure you know where that is, two days from now, at midnight.

Mr West, Mr Crimson, Mr Smiles.

Varan carefully folded the letter, and put it on the table next to the box, The Ostern wastes…

The Ostern wastes was where, during the War of the Gods, the Followers of the Storm had sacrificed hundreds, if not thousands, in a macabre and horrifying attempt to draw the attentions of their mythical leader. On orders from the House of Electorates, the Devastator, his old ship, had dropped a particle beam on the site, during the war. An entire region reduced to glass, to erase the horrors of war. Rumour had it, you can steal hear the spirits of the priests, chanting their obscene rituals and hear the screams of the dying prisoners.

Varan was sat, staring at the amulet in his hand, running a single finger across the smooth crystal, when the doorbell rang. He heard Amy open the door, and some talking, and soon an entire troop of people marched into the living room.

The first one was quite aged, looking almost as old as Varan himself, though his head was still black, he wore a mixture of black and dark grey clothes, with an empty holster at his waist, though the bulge under his jacket made Varan suspect that Customs weren’t quite as attentive as they should have been.

The second one was younger, and shorter than Varan and the first man. He had dark brown hair, and a very cold face, with a large collection of scars, he wore red and black clothes, similar to those Inis wore as her uniform, he also had a holster halfway down his leg, containing a rather old, ratty looking pistol, but Varan could see that the focusing crystal at the end of the barrel was brand new, and the trigger looked well-worn.

The third one was a woman, the shortest of the four of them, she had dark purple hair, and was barely shoulder height to Amy and the two men, she was wearing a plain blue T-shirt and jeans, though she had a tool-belt slung over her shoulder.

The last man was only a few inches taller than the woman, and his skin was darker than the rest of them, he had dark brown hair, almost black. He was wearing a long black trenchcoat and had a rather angry expression on his face.

The four newcomers, and Amy, sat down on the collection of chairs and sofas in Varan’s living room. Several of them looked both surprised, and shocked, to see the amulet that Varan was holding. Varan slid the paper across the table towards them, without saying a word. They took turns reading it.

The first man spoke, in a thick Russian accent, “So this, you want us to go to this place, and get your niece, da?” Varan took a deep breath, “Yes, I am willing to provide equipment, weapons, money, hell, even orbital support if I have to.”

The First man nodded, “Da, da, how much you paying me, hmmm?” The purple-haired woman glared at him, but he took no notice. Varan responded, “Thirty thousand credits, after Inis is safe.” The man rubbed his chin, “I suppose that will do,” He conceded, it was a generous offer. The second man spoke, “We will need to know the location of this…Ostern? We will be at a disadvantage; they might expect something like this.” Varan nodded, then opened his mouth to speak, but paused as a jangling noise echoed from the corridor, getting louder, “Here is your equipment, and guide,” A tall man walked through the door, his head brushing the ceiling of the old house, he was carrying three large rucksacks, which he set down on the table, he was wearing a forth. Varan made a gesture towards the rucksacks, and the four people began rummaging through them, pulling out a dizzying amount of equipment.

The first man quickly snatched up an odd, elongated assault rifle, as well as a small pack of grenades, while the woman grabbed a thick dossier, with the lettering across the front, VTOL C74 Skyhunter. The second man collected various knives and survival supplies, along with one of the assault rifles. The last man snatched up a pistol, then opened his trenchcoat and began pulling out various plastic components, slotting them together, within a few minutes; he laid a fully assembled sniper rifle on the table. Varan looked at it, then at the man, “Oracle 3525? 7.92? What sort of scope?” He man ran his hand over the rifle before responding, “Class three scope, twenty times magnification.”

The first man snorted, “You won’t get that many shots with that, da? The plastic will deform, an expensive toy,” The last man shrugged, saying, “It gets the job done.”

After the supplies were dolled out, Varan did a quick check to see who had what.

The first man had collected an assault rifle, two spare power cells for it, three packs of grenades, and some basic survival supplies, his personal revolver and a knife.

The second man had his pistol, two pistol magazines, an assault rifle, three power cells, a backup pistol, and a field medical kit.

The woman had taken a pistol, and five spare magazines, as well as the dossier, and a medical kit.

The last man had his rifle, two pistols, a combat baton, and two spare magazines for his pistols.

The first man examined his assault rifle, “Now, Cristof has seen many weapons, but this one is strange, it has no magazine, just a power cell, and it fires projectiles? Da?” Varan nodded, and slid a paper across the table to the man, he read it, “The 792 Hurricane, rail weapon, well that explains the weight…400, or .600, that is useful…” The other man looked at his assault rife with renewed interest. The woman waved her dossier at Varan, “You have one of these?” She grinned greedily, “Where?” Varan gestured over his shoulder, “Out the back, I got it from a military contact; they thought it was disarmed, it wasn’t.” The tall man gestured for her to follow him, and they left to go examine the craft.

“So, who is that tall guy, you said he is our guide?” Lysanuh asked, leaning his sniper rifle up against the side of his chair, Varan nodded, and answered, “His is my nephew, Gollee, Inis’ brother, don’t worry about him slowing you down, he works with the special operations section of the Defense Force.”

Inis blinked in the harsh light, as the door to her cell was opened. She was been lying on a small, wooden cot in the corner of the filthy room; her right hand had been crudely bandaged, though there was still a slow seepage of blood into the crusted dressings. Crimson entered the cell, and walked over to the cot, where Inis lay, pretending to be asleep. He stood over her for a moment, before reaching down towards her right hand, his favoured way of waking her had been to dig his thumb into the wound whenever she passed out. Before he could reach her hand, Inis pushed herself out of the bed, towards him, her good, left hand clawing at his chest harness, trying to get a grip on one of the two, ornate knives that were there. Crimson took a smooth step back, catching her hand easily, before using her momentum to twist it behind her. He held her there for a moment, listening to her cry of surprise, shock, and pain; before shoving her roughly to the side, knocking her head first against the wall, and to the ground. Inis lay on the floor in a heap, panting and gasping; it took her several minutes to recover from the exertion. She slowly climbed to her feet, bracing herself against the wall, before launching herself at Crimson again.

Crimson neatly sidestepped the ill-planned attack, smoothly drawing one of the knives from his chest harness, and with a swift, quick motion, laid open the muscle of Inis’ upper left arm. Inis stumbled at the blow, with a strangled yell of pain. She turned again, and dived at Crimson’s legs, trying to knock him down. He made no attempt to dodge the attack; instead, as he went down, he turned, so he was looking at Inis’ back, and slipped an arm around her throat. Inis stopped moving immediately when Crimson began applying pressure to her neck. With his spare hand, Crimson gripped Inis’ wrists, and twisted them behind her back, before wrapping a zip tie around them. He let go of her throat.

Standing up, Crimson gripped Inis’ long hair, and pulled her to her feet, ignoring the cries of pain, he gestured to the door, from which West and Smiles had been watching, and West walked forwards, and wrapped a dirty strip of cloth around the wound on Inis’ arm, halting the flow of blood. Crimson began to lead Inis out of the room, keeping his grip on her hair.

He pulled her back into the room she had first woken up in, and strapped her into the chair in the centre. Inis glared at him, and noticed, with a slight thrill, that she had managed to split his lip, a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless. Crimson noticed her gaze, and brought his hand to his lip. He looked at the blood impassively, then turned and went to the table along the back wall. Inis strained her neck, but she couldn’t quite see him, she could, however, hear the sounds of metal on metal as he sifted through a large array of tools and devices.

After a moment, the sounds stopped, and Inis heard him straighten, and walk back towards her. When he was stood in front of her, she saw that he had picked up a pair of pliers. She looked at him, and he looked back, then he said, in a conversational tone, “Your friend reacted to this quite well, time to see if you are the same. I am sure the Followers won’t mind one missing finger,” He pressed down on the back of Inis’ left hand, stopping her from moving it, and then took hold of the fingernail on her left ring finger, with the pliers. Inis’ muscles strained as she attempted to pull her arm away, but she lacked the leverage. With a sharp tug, the fingernail was pulled out, with a dull sucking noise. Inis’ breath caught in her throat, and her pupils dilated. Crimson put down the pliers, and took out on of his knives. He placed the edge of the knife just below Inis’ second knuckle; he turned to look at her, “If you scream, I will take a second finger,”

The knife clicked as it tapped the table, Crimson carefully lifted the knife, flicking the blood of the blade, before glancing at Inis, she had turned even paler than usual, and her lip was bleeding from where she had chewed it. He picked up the severed finger, placing it to the side while he wrapped a clean cloth around the stump of her finger. Once that was done, he lifted the finger again, and slipped it through the fittings of a copper chain, which he hung around Inis’ neck. “You did not scream, unexpected, that is enough for now,” He turned and left, closing the door behind him, leaving Inis in darkness. Her head slowly tilted forwards and she hung in her restraints, unconscious.

Emilia dug her finger into her ear and rubbed it around, “Everything sounds odd here,” At that moment, they were 100,000 feet in the air, travelling at Mach three. Gollee shrugged, subtly checking that his seatbelt were still secure, “Different air composition, sounds waves are more compressed here, you will get used to it in a few hours, but you won’t be able to hear as well as an augment,” Much to Gollee’s discomfort, Emilia turned fully around in the pilot’s chair at this, “The hell is an augment?” She asked, not looking at the controls. Gollee gestured towards the flashing control panel, “Do you min…The contr- Oh fine, augments are the people who get themselves genetically altered to fit the planet perfectly, like Inis. They aren’t especially common, not many people like altering themselves that drastically, one of the most basic things the augments do is have their ears elongated to a point, it helps them pick up higher pitched waves.” Emilia nodded, seemingly satisfied, and turned back to the controls; Gollee gingerly released the death grip he had had on the sides of his chair.

The jet gracefully swooped in for a landing, the landing pad sparkling blue as ions ricocheted off of the surface from the thrusters. The jet itself was a heavily armoured avian-like craft, with three laser turrets mounted at various points, and a large rail cannon mounted under the cockpit. There was an assault door mounted at the back, closed at the moment, as well as two of its four thrusters, with the other two being mounted on its wings. The craft itself is a dark, iridescent green, while its thrusters glow a faint blue. It had a bulky, armoured section between the cockpit and the passenger bay, containing the micro fusion generator, according to the dossier.

The other three members of the team were waiting, just off of the landing pad, carrying their equipment. Once the jet had landed, and the men were certain that Emilia wasn’t suddenly going to fire up the thrusters again, they moved round the back of it, and entered.

Once inside, and once they had stowed their packs in the various spare seats, Gollee brought them all into the passenger bay.

“We are going on a flyover of the Ostern wastes, there is normally one every day, and this time we are replacing the normal craft, that way, we won’t be suspicious. We are looking for anything out of the ordinary.” He said, looking from person to person, Emilia was picking at her nails.

David spoke up, “And out of the ordinary is what, exactly?” There was a murmur of agreement from around the bay. Gollee nodded, and said, “Anything structured, the Ostern wastes was subjected to a heavy bombardment, over one hundred years ago, burned the place to glass, it was declared uninhabitable to humans by the government at the time. Any structures, or any patterns we see out there, were likely made by the kidnappers; they have to be holding my sister in the area.”

Emilia frowned, “If there is a flyover everyday, there must be some sort of threat there. Mind telling us?” Gollee sighed, clasping his hands together, with his forearms placed across his thighs, “The Ostern Wastes is close enough to Cevalon for the Followers to attempt to send raiders, either in ones, or twos, across the Wastes, the flyover has to find and eliminate any followers, the sheer size of the Wastes prohibits any real ground action, so we rely on our air superiority to protect the place.” Cristof nodded, and said, simply, “Sounds good, lets go, maybe we can catch a few of your Followers too, da?”

West tipped the bucket of water over Inis, and she woke up with a spluttering yell. West looked at her coldly, then smiled, “You have a visitor,” He gestured towards the door.

In the doorway stood a severe-looking woman, wearing what looked like plain farmer’s garb, but Inis could see that the fabric was much higher quality than the ordinary. The woman had grey hair, tied back behind her head, and she wore a necklace of some grey metal. She looked over at Inis, with a calculating eye. “I remember this one; she has some value to us. The Followers will be willing to barter.” Smiles grinned broadly from the shadows behind Inis, “Hearrrr that? Walkerrrr? Meet yourrrr new ownerrrr.”

The woman’s face stayed impassive, “No agreement has yet been struck, abomination, we are willing to offer five million for the priestess.” Smiles bristled at the insult, but he kept his claws concealed as West responded, “Her family is offering nineteen million credits, you will have to beat that, or we might run into…Problems,”

The woman frowned, “Nineteen million credits? Who precisely is paying this ransom? That is not street money.”

Smiles dug his claws into the back of Inis’ chair, before replying, “The esteemed ex-admirrrral of the Devastatorrrrr, and currrrrent leaderrrr of the metal marrrrket. Varrrran Trrrruesight, This is his niece.” The woman didn’t respond to Smiles, instead directing her attention to Inis, she took a swift step forwards, gripping Inis’ jaw with her left hand and twisting her head around, examining her face. “She is an augment…That makes it difficult to ascertain that what you say is true…” The woman took a small picture out of her briefcase and compared it to Inis’ battered face.

After a few minutes, the woman smiled, released Inis’ face, and straightened, turning to West, ignoring Smiles completely, “It seems that you are correct, though, after those heretical augmentations it is hard to tell, this is Inis Truesight, having her as a hostage will benefit the Followers greatly. I assume the normal procedures have been undertaken?” Smiles nodded, and surreptitiously placed himself between Inis and the woman, “All genetic backups of this one have been wiped, Smiles made sure of it.”

The woman looked at Smiles, and nodded once, despite the distasteful curl on her lips, “We are now willing to offer thirty million credits, on delivery to a secure location, we will provide additional guards to ensure you reach the designated location, they will arrive in a few hours.”

The Skyhunter arced gracefully through the sky, at two hundred feet; it was startlingly close to the ground, but that was necessary for what was happening inside.

“We have ground-pen radar, a recent upgrade to the systems, David, or Cristof, get it online and scanning, chances are they are underground,” Gollee pointed towards a console at the side of the passenger bay, and David walked over to it and began bringing the systems online.

“Contact!” Lysanuh called, he was sat at one of the windows, “Big dust cloud about…Two, three kilometres east,” They all lurched to the side as the jumpjet went into a high velocity turn and swung around to face east. Gollee shaded his eyes from the sun and stared at the cloud. “Looks like... What the hell…” he turned to Emilia, “Track their path, I have never seen the Followers move in numbers like this, a single buggy is rare, but five…” He turned back to the windscreen and stared hard at the vehicles.

After a second, David swung around in his chair, “Got it, their path has them intersect a buried structure, definitely man-made, I can see the rooms,” Gollee nodded, “Emilia, please activate remote control of the underside X-rays, you use the rail cannon, we need to take them out, especially now we have seen them,” Lysanuh and Cristof moved to each side of the cockpit, near the remote controls of the two unlocked X-ray turrets.

Gollee took a breath, “Take them out,” The roar of weaponry was immediate, two of the buggies exploded into ash and smoke instantly, another one was blasted into shards from a hypervelocity rail shell. The two remaining buggies swerved towards the rapidly decelerating Skyhunter and opened fire. The crude projectiles and energy blasts spattered off of the Skyhunter’s armour, as its lasers opened fire again. Two small puffs of smoke signalled the end of the brief skirmish, all that remained of the Followers were ash clouds and the scattered remains of the blasted buggy.

The woman scowled at the voice coming through her headset, West glanced over at her, from his seat, “What is it?” He asked, he had been playing cards against Smiles, and losing. Taking advantage of his distraction, Smiles proceeded to check the cards on the table, before slipping a few up his sleeve. She glared at him, “The government patrol spotted and destroyed the team that was on its way, we are on our own.”

Smiles shrugged, putting down his cards, “We can send those thrrrree we hirrrred to take herrrr, so long as we get paid firrrrst”

The woman sighed, “It seems to be the only option in this case, I doubt this little base you built yourselves will stay undetected much longer anyway, we need to move her,” She wirelessly sent thirty million credits to the one-use account Crimson had set up.

Emilia set the Jet to hover, while the five of them moved into the passenger bay to review their findings. David had brought the scan of the underground structure up on the console; it clearly showed several rooms imbedded two metres below the surface of the glass, with a concealed tunnel to the surface.

“How are we going to get Inis out of there? The moment we are detected, they will kill her.” Emilia said, sitting on one of the chairs in the passenger bay, Lysanuh shrugged, “That is if she isn’t dead already,” Gollee looked at Lysanuh for a moment, then started in surprise as his phone rang. He quickly answered it, he had it linked to Varan’s home phone, so he could hear any new messages the kidnappers sent,

“Someone else has their eye on your niece, a thirty million credit eye, unless you can beat their price… I am afraid you will be getting these messages for a long time… And they won’t be as polite, and civilised as we are.”

“I can up to thirty eight million, twice your first price, just don’t hurt her,”

The phone clicked off and Gollee threw it across the passenger bay, forcing Cristof to duck to avoid being hit. Gollee clenched and unclenched his fists, “We wait until they try to move her, then we take them out while they are mobile. It is all we can do.”

The three gunmen were strapping on assorted pieces of body armour when West entered the room, leading the woman and Inis. The woman was holding a thin plastic lead, which ran to a collar around Inis’ neck. She was almost dragging Inis forwards. When the woman stopped behind West, Inis leant against the wall; she was barely able to stand. The gunmen loaded various pieces of equipment into a buggy and the woman climbed in. She pulled harshly on the lead, causing Inis to stumble and almost fall. One of the gunmen caught her, and helped her carefully into the buggy. The woman turned to stare at the gunman, who looked away quickly. After a few minutes, the buggy was loaded up, and they left through the concealed tunnel to the surface.

West, Crimson and Smiles met up in the central room. Crimson nodded, “The money has been transferred, we are clear to leave, Varan would never have paid us, he would send a team to recover the girl, smart man.” West nodded and pressed a finger against his headset, “Starship Fractal, you are clear to jump us, I repeat, you are c-“ The three of them disappeared in a flash of blue light.

The Skyhunter settled down on the glass plain about two kilometres from the underground structure, the team hurried out of the passenger bay as soon as the thrusters shut down, spreading out over the area between the jet and the structure. David and Cristof concealed themselves in slight indents in the glass, almost invisible from the structure. Lysanuh climbed to the top of one of the surrounding dunes, an inevitable formation from wear on the glass, and sighted his rifle down towards where the scans said the tunnel opened up to the surface. Gollee moved up another dune, closer than Lysanuh’s and took out a pair of binoculars. Emilia activated the cham-coating on the Skyhunter, but kept the thrusters hot, in case she was needed.

All five of them listened quietly as the roar of an engine echoed across the plain, seemingly from nowhere. After a few moments, a buggy drove out of what had looked like a small indent in the glass; it was loaded to capacity with five people. Both Gollee and Lysanuh focused their scopes on the occupants, it was difficult to see them through the dust and smoke the buggy generated.

Gollee spied a flicker of blue on one of the passengers, and focused further, the person was hunched over, pressed into the back of the buggy, her face was obscured, but her hair and skin tone was unmistakable. “She is there! This is our chance!” He shouted over his radio, and took aim with his rifle.

The buggy closed on Cristof and David, and Cristof threw a grenade in front of it. It detonated, forcing the buggy into a sharp turn to avoid the blast. Too sharp, the buggy rolled over as it tried to avoid the grenade, throwing it’s passengers across the glass. One of the armoured men ht the ground head first and stopped moving. The other two were thrown clear and quickly climbed to their feet. The woman and Inis, pressed into the back of the buggy as they were, stayed in as it flipped, becoming trapped underneath.

Gollee David and Cristof fired on the two dazed gunmen, high calibre bullets scything them down, blasting off large chunks of armour before sprays of blood stained the glass. The jet decloaked and lifted off, accelerating towards the crash, Gollee, David and Cristof hurried towards the smoking buggy.

There was a hacking cough from the buggy, “Stop… Right there!” The woman called to the three men, who slowed. The woman had pressed a large muzzled pistol to Inis’ temple. Inis had been knocked unconscious by the crash, but she was better off than the woman. Inis had been pressed far enough into the back of the buggy to stay intact, the woman, on the other hand, had been caught up in the twisted wreckage, several of the warped metal struts had impaled her against the side of the buggy. “Any closer, and she dies, and we don’t want that, do we?” Gollee, Cristof and David stopped. The woman smiled, there was blood on her lips, “Good, now drop your weapons!” After a moment’s hesitation from the men, the woman jabbed her pistol into Inis’ head, eliciting a short groan. The men carefully placed their rifles and pistols on the ground, and stepped away from them. The woman smiled cruelly, and turned her pistol towards the men, when a loud crack echoed across the plain.

The woman’s head detonated, like a rotten melon hit with a stick, all three of the men looked around at the dunes, to see Lysanuh sliding down one of them, discarding his partially melted rifle. Turning back to the wreckage, the three of them began trying to extricate Inis from the wreckage, but it was no use, the roll had twisted the frame too badly. They turned and watched the Skyhunter land about twenty metres west of them, and Emilia hurried out, tool belt over her shoulder.

Emilia kneeled down next to the wreckage that held Inis in place, and quickly began cutting chunks out of it. After a few minutes, a hole a foot across had been made, and together, the men managed to pull enough struts out of the way for Emilia to ease Inis out of the hole.

They hadn’t been able to see from afar, but Inis was in a bad way. The crash had not only knocked her unconscious, but it had also snapped her leg backwards. Cristof hurried to get a stretcher from the jet, while Emilia and David applied what medical supplies they had to Inis’ multitude of wounds.

The injuries they had seen from afar had only been a fraction of the abuse Inis had suffered in the twenty hours she was missing. After getting her back to the jet, a comprehensive medical scan uncovered significant internal injuries, bullet shrapnel, on top of her extreme physical injuries. Her left upper arm had been lain open by a serrated blade, her right hand had been impaled by the same weapon, she had a bullet lodged in her left lung, which had completely deflated, and was beginning to wither, her left ring finger had been severed, then hung around her neck like an obscene trophy.

As soon as they were on board the jet, Emilia ran into the cockpit, and started up the engines, bringing them back to Cevalon at top speed, Mach 15. They were decelerating and landing outside Cevalon General within three minutes of breaking the hypersonic barrier.

Inis’ injuries were extreme, but not lethal, though she was in surgery for five hours to remove her ruined lung, repair her kneecap, and remove the shrapnel. A cloning patch was placed over the stump of her missing finger, of Mars Confederation designed.

The next day.

Inis sat up in the bed, leaning against the pillows, her face was still badly bruised from her ordeal, but she was conscious and aware. Stood around her bed were David, Emilia, Cristof, Gollee, and the rest of Inis’ family. Lysanuh Dilgan had left early in the morning; he had said he had something he needed to do.

“I will be back to work soon, Gods willing,” Inis said lightly, looking around at the relieved and happy faces around her, though some worry and anxiety was still present, Inis’ lips were almost blue, and she was breathing hard, they were still waiting on the clone vat to produce a new lung for her, and until it did, she had to survive with one, and medicine. Kiera looked like she had been crying, “Did they get them? The people who took you?”

Inis shifted uncomfortably, “They got the people who took me hostage…But not the organisers, they stayed in that…Place… In the Ostern,”

Varan frowned and leant closer, “There was nobody left in that structure, we made sure of it, after checking it, we followed the standard procedure and bombarded it, no one inside survived,” Inis’ face brightened slightly, and she nodded, before glancing down at her missing finger, Savar noticed, and said quietly, “It will grow back in a week or so, the technology is quite new, but nowhere near untested, it will be fine,”

Inis nodded, “I suppose so…” She said reluctantly, then looked over at the door as it opened, a doctor entered, he spoke, “The cloned lung is ready, you must leave,” Varan sighed and straightened up, “Alright, everyone, lets go, get well soon, Inis.”

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Savar turned as the doorbell rang, having just walked into his living room to sit down and relax for a while. This must be the visitor my daughter Inis told me about, he thought. He walked out of the living room and over to the door, where he stopped and looked through the peephole. He saw a small, nervous looking woman standing outside, definitely the person Inis had told him about. Savar unlocked the door and pulled it open, smiling. “Hello,” He said, examining the woman. Everything about Savar seemed to accentuate how very different and out of place this woman was. Savar was only six feet tall, which was quite short for his planet, but he still towered over his visitor. His broad shoulders heavily contrasted with her slender frame. His hair was short and brown, but hers was long and dark, almost raven black, and hung loosely around her shoulders. Savar's tanned skin made her look even paler than it already was. She had her hands clasped in front of her, and Savar could see that they were quivering slightly. He also noticed that her right hand, and from what he could see, her right leg, were completely mechanical. She seemed almost petrified when he opened the door to greet her. Hesitating for a moment, she finally said, “H-Hi, I a-am Janet,” in a voice so quiet Savar had to strain his ears to hear her. He nodded and said, “Ah, yes, Inis told me you would be coming to stay for a while.” He took a step back, allowing entrance through the doorway. “Come in, please, sit down.” Janet nodded quickly, then nervously walked into the house.

After Janet had sat down, Savar went to get her something to drink, while his wife, Kiera, came downstairs. Like her husband, Kiera was also quite short for the planet, standing at only five feet ten inches, though she was still quite a bit taller than Janet. Her short, dark brown hair was showing signs of aging, with a few grey hairs here and there, and she had a deep tan like Savar. after the three of them had settled down in the living room, and Janet had taken a few sips of tea, they began to talk.

Kiera smiled, sitting opposite Janet. “Inis told us you would be coming, we have gotten a room ready for you. You can stay as long as you need to.” Savar came back into the room and nodded, handing a cup to Janet, who smiled weakly, “T-Thank you... b-but I d-don’t want to be a b-burden,” Kiera smiled and leaned forward. “You won’t be a burden," she said. "It will be a pleasure to have you stay. We don’t get many visitors other than family,” to which Savar nodded again, content to let Kiera talk. Janet held her cup in both hands up near her face. “Thank y-you,” She murmured, eyes glancing downwards. Kiera glanced to see what Janet was looking at, but couldn’t see anything. “Our pleasure, you just stay there, I am sure you are tired after your journey.” Janet nodded, and took another few sips from her cup.

Savar sighed and stood up as the door bell rang. “I’ll get it, you two ladies stay here,” he said as he walked out of the room. Kiera leant forwards, clasping her hands together and putting her forearms across her knees, “Inis told us what happened, stay here as long as you need.” Janet nodded and looked up, smiling slightly. At that moment, Savar came back into the room, followed by a tall, red-haired woman who appeared slightly younger than Janet. She walked at a brisk pace, her lively eyes constantly shifting their focus. Kiera smiled brightly. “Caylais! We weren’t expecting you," she said, "you should have called!” Caylais smiled and dropped down onto the sofa next to Janet, “I wanted to surprise you, and...” Caylais paused before saying, “...I heard you had a guest,” Janet shrank back into the sofa slightly, still holding her cup in front of her face. “Caylais!” Kiera scolded, “You are scaring her,” Caylais smiled and looked over at Janet, who was still pressed back in the chair, stunned by the unexpected intrusion. Caylais reached an arm out and put her hand on Janet’s shoulder, “I am sure she is less fragile than you think,” Caylais said softly. “I-I am okay,” Janet said, her voice still very quiet. Caylais smiled and took her hand off of Janet’s shoulder as she leant forwards again, getting back up off of the sofa.

After the four of them had finished their drinks, Caylais took Janet on a tour of the house, the loud and excitable red-head showing off her family home. “Down there is the kitchen and the dining room.” Caylais indicated down the first corridor away from the living room, then she started walking to the stairs. She smiled and said “Better show you to your room.” Janet nodded, but said nothing as she followed Caylais up the stairs. At the top, Caylais indicated a number of doors with an exaggerated sweep of her arm. “Four bedrooms, and a bathroom. Now... You are probably in my old room. I have my own house now,” Caylais smiled and walked to the third door and opened it, inside was a large, but quite plain double bed, a chest of drawers, a wardrobe and a desk." On the desk was some stationery, as well as a few pieces of electronics, and on the windowsill above the bed was a vase of fresh flowers, which Janet decided was placed there by Kiera. Caylais smiled and continued. “Yup, my room, a bit plain, but certainly the best one in the house.” Janet nodded, and smiled weakly before walking into the room and taking a look around.

Inside, she saw that there was also a bedside table on the far side from the door. On it was a small lamp, and under it was a stack of old books and magazines. Caylais gave a small sniff of disapproval and said, “I see they took my posters down.” She shrugged. “Probably for the best, they weren’t exactly current anyway.” Janet sat down on the bed and skimmed through the stack of books and magazines. The books varied from fiction, to autobiographies, to scientific texts, and many of the magazines were science journals. Janet glanced at Caylais and asked, “These are yours?” Caylais stuck her tongue out and nodded. “Not just a pretty face," she replied playfully. "I work as a neurosurgeon at CGR, that is, Centre for Genetics Research." Janet nodded, smiled, and carefully stacked the books and journal back in their original places, then stood up. “I-If this is your r-room... one will be your p-parents room... w-who has the o-other two rooms?” Caylais smiled, and led Janet out of the room. “Well, one is Inis’s. Since she works off-planet, she doesn’t own a house here, so when she visits, she stays here. The other is Gollee’s, he works off-planet too.” Janet nodded and followed Caylais out of the room.

As Caylais guided Janet around the house, she showed off various aspects of the sizable building; Janet was particularly interested in both Savar and Kiera’s studies, which held a wealth of files and textbooks on the subject of genetics. “Y-Your family must b-be rich to have such a large house...” Janet said, as Caylais led her back downstairs. Caylais shrugged, “Not especially so, this is a colony world still, so land is cheap, and we have a lot of people contributing.” Caylais gave a short laugh, “You should see my Uncle’s house, he is the rich one, his house is a couple of miles away. Mine is just down the way from here.” The two of them returned to the living room where Savar sat, looking at his PDA with concern etched on his face. Caylais walked over to him and asked, “Something wrong?” He sighed as he looked up. “Well, Inis is coming home sooner than expected, she had a bad time of it soon after you left,” he said, nodding to Janet. “She is coming for a few days of rest, and by the sound of it, she has had quite the ordeal.” Both Caylais and Janet looked concerned. “D-Did she say what it was?” Janet asked. Savar shook his head, saying, “No... but she will probably tell us when she gets here tomorrow...” He glanced between the two of them, “How about we get some food, Kiera just finished cooking a lovely roast.” The two of them smiled and stood up, making their way to the dining room.

After dinner, Janet excused herself to get some rest, citing that the journey had been rather arduous, though Caylais managed to extricate a promise to go to the beach before she left the table. Once upstairs, Janet spent an hour or so skimming through the books that the family had provided for her. Then, after taking some medication to reduce her persistent headache, as well a prescription sleep aid, she climbed into bed and feel asleep.


In the morning, Janet awoke to a gentle tap on her door. “I will have breakfast ready in a few minutes, you can have some if you get up soon,” Kiera called through the door. Janet smiled groggily and said, “O-Okay, I am g-getting up,” She slowed pushed herself out of the bed, and after putting on some fresh clothes, she went downstairs. In the dining room, Kiera and Savar were already dishing up the food; scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, hash browns, a full old-English breakfast. The three of them sat quietly at the table eating for a while, before conversation began to pick up. “Did you sleep well?” Kiera asked Janet, smiling. Janet nodded. “Y-Yes, thank you..." she said, then looked at Savar and asked, "What time w-will Inis get h-here today?” He rubbed the side of his chin and frowned. “Hmm... well, I think she will be here by lunch; she called Varan to pick her up from the space port... considering the speed he drives at, she will probably be here about an hour before lunch.” Kiera smiled at this, saying, “It will be good to see her again, she hasn’t visited since last month.” Janet nodded and ate her food more quickly. In between bites, she asked, “S-She told me that y-you two are scientists?” They both nodded. Kiera leaned forward. “And she told us that you are a geneticist, I think. Is that right?” She glanced at Savar, who nodded. “Y-Yes, I'm a g-geneticist... i-it's good work...” Janet stammered, looking down at the food in front of her. Savar frowned. “Are you alright?” Janet nodded slightly. “Y-yeah, it is just...” She made a dissmissive gesture with her hand. “I mean... it d-doesn’t p-prove I'm good at anything... it really just m-means that I can p-push buttons, and h-have an expensive p-piece of paper to c-certify it.” Kiera put a hand on Janet’s shoulder, looking concerned. “It does mean something... It means you devoted yourself to helping people. That is the most noble, and meaningful, thing you can do. Look at Caylais, she can do a thousand things, but knowing how to fix a genetic deformity, that isn’t one of them. She can help the living... but only you can bring them back if she fails. You may not help people as often as she does, but you are just as important.” Janet took a deep breath and nodded, Kiera smiled and leaned back into her chair.

After breakfast, Savar brought down some of the research data from his study, so Janet could look through it. She spent several hours leafing through the documents until the doorbell rang. Kiera answered the door, and two people came into the living room. First came a tanned, grey-haired man, wearing scruffy, crumpled, yet expensive-looking clothes. He was tall compared to Janet, probably standing around six feet high, but he was still considerably shorter than the woman who came in after him. She was very tall, at least six foot three inches, with very pale skin, even paler than Janet, and it stood out against the deep tans of the rest of the people in the room. Her hair also made her stand out, it being a deep, cyan blue, and reaching all the way down her back. Janet smiled faintly, “H-Hello Inis,” she said quietly. Inis turned and smiled at her. Janet was shocked to see that Inis’s lip was split, and that she had the fading traces of blackened eyes. “W-What happened t-to you?” Janet asked, staring at the injuries. Inis grimaced and reached up to touch her lip. “I had a disagreement with someone,” she said softly. “All sorted now... how are you coping?” Janet shrugged, looking up at Inis from where she sat, “B-Better... your family i-is lovely.” Kiera and Savar smiled at this, but the second man only grunted. He turned to Inis and said, “Good, good, but Inis, you shouldn’t downplay your own needs all the time. I swear, if I come across the guy who hit you...” The man made a quick, violent gesture, causing Janet to flinch. Inis gave him a stern stare, and said, “Uncle, now isn’t the time, and I have already told you, I am fine, it was dealt with.” There was silence for a moment, before Savar said, “Well, Janet, this is my brother, Varan, Inis’s Uncle.” Janet nodded and stood up as the man extended a hand. She took his hand, and was surprised when he brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it. He chuckled. “Pardon me for my old ways, never could get around to adapting to modern courtesies,” he explained. Janet blushed, and let her arm drop when he let go of her hand. Varan nodded to Savar and Kiera. “Well, guess I'll be going.” He turned back to Inis and Janet, and smiled at the two of them. “Inis, Janet, you two stay safe, alright? I don’t want to have to come and scoop you up out of the sea or something.” Inis made a dismissive noise, and said, “Like you would be able to swim faster than me.” Varan smiled, nodded to them both, and left. They heard the door shut behind him.

Janet smiled as Inis sat down next to her and leaned back in the chair. “H-How have you been?” Janet inquired of her. Inis looked over and smiled, “Pretty good, barring the disagreement. I took a week off work after that, though Gordon wouldn’t let me out of the apartment for the first two days, too worried that something else might happen. It took a day to travel here... and here I am, for three days.” Janet smiled slightly, then asked softly, “A-Are you truly o-okay? It looks p-pretty bad...” Inis nodded, looking slightly uncomfortable. “It is a lot better than it was.” Changing the subject, she asked, “How about you, feeling okay?” Janet nodded. “I-I have some m-medicine... to help with t-the headaches... and s-something to help me sleep...” Inis smiled faintly. “Don’t worry; the headaches should fade in a couple of days...”

Kiera looked up with an expression of mild displeasure as Savar bustled back into the room with a first aid kit. Inis groaned and covered her face. “Dad, you aren’t going to be able to do anything, I have already cleaned up these cuts, Gordon has and a doctor has, they will heal when they heal,” she sighed in exasperation. Savar looked at Inis stubbornly. “It isn’t going to hurt to take a look is it? At the very least you could take some painkillers, I don’t know how you eat with your lip cut open like that, though it isn’t like you eat enough as it is.” Inis shot him with a fierce glare, but he didn’t back down. Instead, he came closer, crouched down in front of where Inis was sat. He seized her chin and pulled her head from side to side so he could inspect the healing wounds. Janet looked on in mild amusement as Savar forced Inis to swallow some painkillers despite her protests, before applying some medicinal cream to her lip and around her eyes. When he had finished, Inis pulled her head out of his grip and said, “I knew I should have waited for them to heal before I came home...” Kiera made an amused sound and sat back in her chair as Savar replaced the first aid kit.

“Right... now that that is dealt with...” said Inis, giving her father an annoyed glance, which he returned a smile, “...we can see about getting you up and about the city.” Inis looked over at Janet, who appeared quite wary about the idea. Kiera smiled and said, “Caylais has already made Janet promise to go to the beach with her today, she should be arriving soon.” Inis nodded, then looked at Janet again. “Did you bring a swimsuit with you?” Janet shook her head. “I d-didn’t think to...” Inis shrugged, brushing her hair back from her face, where it was sticking to the ointment. “There are plenty of shops at the waterfront, we can get you one there, they are sure to have one that suits you.” Janet blushed slightly, looked down and nodded. At that point, the doorbell rang again, and Kiera went and let Caylais in.


The three of them soon left the house, wandering down towards the coast. It was an easy two-mile walk, as the land around the misted sea was quite sparsely developed; the development having only really started after the near constant storms had finally been silenced. It took the three of them nearly an hour to reach the beach, and another thirty minutes after that were spent in shop after shop as Caylais attempted to find the swimsuit that suited Janet best. The three of them then walked down onto the beach. It was relatively empty for it’s size, as they had decided to go during normal working hours. As they approached the water, Caylais ran ahead, wearing a red and orange swimsuit, complimenting her hair, so she said, while Janet hung back slightly with Inis, slowly approaching the sea. Inis was wearing her dark blue swimsuit, while Janet had gone with Caylais’s suggestion of a black and grey swimsuit, matching her hair. When she reached the water, Caylais immediately dove in, swimming rapidly until she was fifty metres out. Janet watched with mild confusion. “I-Isn’t it c-cold?” Inis smiled and shook her head. “We are in the planet's tropical zone, the water is nice and warm.” Inis suddenly took off, running towards the water. Janet hesitated for a moment, then ran after her, following her into the sea.

Though Janet wasn’t anywhere near as good at swimming as Inis or Caylais, the three of them spent over half an hour in the water, before Janet admitted to feeling quite faint. By this point, the beach was slowly beginning to fill up with people, and several boats had cast off from the nearby slipways. The three of them decided to go up to the waterfront and get some drinks so Janet could rest for a while. As they walked along the waterfront, a group of four men was walking towards them, the three women altered their path, but the other group angled back in on them. “Hello there, ladies,” the leader of the group said with a smirk, as he and the three others halted in front of Janet, Inis and Caylais. Caylais stared at him, unimpressed. “Yes? What do you want?” she said, rudely. The man looked vaguely irritated; he and his three friends shifted position slightly, blocking any path to the sides. People who were passing nearby only glanced over, and went past hurriedly. “It is dangerous to walk around alone, I am surprised you three don’t know that,” the man said threateningly, taking a step forward. Janet had turned very pale, glancing around herself at the surrounding men. They weren’t as tall as the natives; she guessed that they were likely off-duty employees of some corporation.

The man stepped even closer to Caylais. Leering, she drew her arm back to slap him, but one of the others seized it. “Hey!” she cried as he pulled her over, wrenching her to the ground. the men laughed and advanced forwards, but stopped when they heard a voice behind them. “What, exactly, do you think you are doing?” The leader turned around to glare at the newcomer, a massive man, towering over all of them, with corded muscles running across his arms and neck. “Piss off!” the leader snapped at him. The newcomer ignored him, and glanced between the four men, until he saw Caylais kneeling on the ground, with one of the men twisting her arm. Instantly, the large man lunged forwards, seizing the unfortunate assailant by the shoulder, spinning him around, and slamming a fist into the side of his face, which gave way with a cartilaginous crunch. The man dropped instantly, letting go of Caylais as he did. The other three men roared in rage and leapt at the newcomer, driving him back as he fought off their attacks. Inis rushed into the fight, lashing out at the backs of the men, while Janet helped Caylais to her feet and led her away from the melee.

Inis drove her foot into the back of the knee of one of the attackers, knocking him down and making him vulnerable as she drove kick after kick into his stomach. The large man grabbed one of the last two men by the front of his shirt, ignoring the attacks of the last man, and hurled him down onto the beach, a good ten feet. The man landed flat on his back, gasping like a fish. The last man took a step back, glancing around, to see that out of his allies, he was the last one standing; one was unconscious in a small pool of blood, one was being beaten to a pulp, and the third was too winded to fight. The man turned and ran. Inis finally relented from kicking the man she had knocked over, and he too scrambled to his feet and ran off as fast as he could.

Inis looked over at the large man and smiled. “Gollee! Good timing, how did you know we were here?” Gollee shrugged. “I came back for a day, since I heard we were all here, Savar told me that you had gone to the beach, so I came to meet you, I had no idea you would have gotten into a fight already,” Very gracefully, he walked over to Caylais and Janet. “Caylais, are you alright?” he asked seriously, looking her over. She nodded, noticeably subdued. Gollee sighed, then looked at Janet. “I don’t believe we have met, thank you for helping Caylais.” Janet nodded quickly. She was very pale, her eyes wide with shock. “N-No p-problem,” she stammered, staring at the ground. Her hands were shaking slightly. Inis walked over to her, putting an arm over Janet’s shoulders and hugging her slightly, “It is over now...” She looked at Gollee. “Gollee, this is Janet, she is staying with us for a while, she is one of my friends.” Gollee nodded. “An honour to meet you, Janet, I apologise for this..." he said softly, gesturing at the detritus of the battle. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen often, I promise you.” Janet nodded again, then turned to Inis and Caylais. ”I-I think I want to go b-back now...” Inis nodded, as Caylais poked at the grazes on her arms, wincing. “That might be for the best.” The four of them started walking back towards the town. Janet, who was now quite exhausted, was being partially supported by Inis.


When they arrived back at the house, Savar and Kiera met them at the door. Savar took Janet from Inis and led her inside to sit down, while Kiera fussed over Caylais’ injuries, covering them over with bandages and ointment. After she had finished, she glanced between Inis and Caylais. “What happened?” she asked, checking Inis for injuries. Caylais shrugged. “Some thugs... Gollee and Inis dealt with them.” Inis nodded and said “I didn’t do much, Gollee did most of it.” Kiera glanced at Gollee with slight suspicion, then begrudgingly said, “Thank you.” Gollee nodded, not saying anything. After Kiera was satisfied that Inis wasn’t injured, the four of them went into the living room, where Savar was giving Janet a cup of tea. Janet looked up as they entered. “A-Are y-you all alright?” she asked, sipping at the tea, her hands still shaking. Kiera nodded. “They are fine.” The six of them filled the chairs in the living room. Caylais was still checking her wounds. “If you keep looking at them, they won’t heal,” Kiera scolded. Caylais sighed and settled down into her chair. Savar looked at Gollee. “It was a good thing I sent you down there...” Gollee shrugged. “These three could have handled it, I just helped.” Janet shook her head sharply. “I-I wouldn’t have b-been able t-to help... If you hadn’t s-shown up...” Caylais nodded in agreement. “I don’t think we would have stood a chance. Sure, Inis knows how to fight, but I don’t and Janet doesn’t, and I don’t think even Inis is good enough to hold off four guys.” Gollee looked mildly uncomfortable at the praise. Savar noticed, and changed the subject. “Any idea who they were?” he asked Inis, who shrugged. “Not natives, I would guess they were corporation employees, looking for someone they could bully.” Caylais raised an eyebrow at the word bully, but stayed silent.

“Well, after all that unpleasantness, you could all do with a good meal,” Kiera said, standing up. The four of them nodded. Kiera smiled. “Well, the stew I was cooking should be just about finished, if you all come through to the dining room, Savar and I can dish it up.” The group stood, and made their way to the dining room to sit around the table. Inis smiled. “It is lucky Sarin or Delin’ aren’t here, we wouldn’t have enough chairs if they were.” Gollee nodded, and said, “Mhmm, well, I am only here for the day, I have to be back at Central for tomorrow.” Caylais made a disappointed sound. “Shame... We only see you once a month; they won’t give you any more time off?” Gollee shook his head regretfully. “Nope... I only get two days off a month, and I have to spend one in transit to get to and from here.” The conversation stopped as food was brought through by Kiera and Savar, who were carrying trays laden with bowls, bread and condiments. The stew was a thick, meaty broth, filled with chunks of cooked meat and large cuts of vegetables. Savar had also brought thick slices of homemade bread, which went perfectly with the soup. The conversation meandered around, going from work, to politics and many other things. Kiera placed her spoon down, and turned to Gollee. “Now, Gollee, do you have anyone yet?” Gollee looked up, confused. “Pardon?” Kiera sighed. “Do you have anyone special, I mean. Caylais has Sarin, Inis has that... foreigner. Do you have anyone yet?” Gollee turned slightly red, and said, “No,” before looking back down at his food. Kiera sighed again, and then Inis said, “Mother, can you just drop this, for once? You are the only one that cares.” Kiera stared at her daughter for a moment, before continuing to eat.

There was an awkward silence after that, which no one seemed inclined to break. After the stew was finished with, Savar dug some ice cream out of the freezer. The six of them moved back into the living room, eating their ice cream. After finishing, Caylais stood, said her goodbyes, and went to leave. But before she turned to walk out the door, Kiera said sharply, “Gollee, escort her home.” Caylais laughed. “Mum, I can look after myself.” Kiera stared at her, then gestured at the bandages on her arms. “Obviously you can’t.” Caylais looked shocked for a moment, then opened her mouth to retort, but Gollee put up his hand to stop her. “Caylais, it is fine, I could do with a walk.” Caylais glared at her mother for a moment, then nodded, and walked out, Gollee in tow.

Another period of silence ensued, but this time it was Janet that broke it. “Y-You have a n-nice family, Inis...” she said quietly, placing her empty bowl on the coffee table. Kiera and Savar smiled broadly at this. Inis replied, “Thank you, but... I have never really heard you talk about your family. What are they like?” Janet flinched as though struck. “M-My family isn’t as nice as y-yours...” she said, looking down. Inis quickly stood up and moved next to Janet, hugging her tightly with one arm; Janet leaned against her, head bowed. They sat there for a moment, before Janet looked up, “I-I don’t t-talk to them much... except for L-Laura... my sister... she's the o-only one I've k-kept in contact with... she is n-nice, y-you might w-want to meet her...” Inis nodded, and Janet picked up a small cup of tea that Savar had just brought in, taking a shaky sip. “I-I think I need to go get s-some rest... I-I am really tired from the b-beach...” Inis nodded, and let go of her. Janet stood up, said goodnight to the other three, and went into the corridor and up the stairs.

Savar, Kiera and Inis remained seated in the living room. Savar began to question Inis about Janet. “You haven’t really told us much about her, just that she needed a place to stay and recover. What happened to her?” he asked, clearing up the bowls. Inis hesitated for a moment, then said grimly, “She tried to commit suicide.” Savar stopped what he was doing instantly, “What?!” he exclaimed. “Why would she do that? She seems like such a nice girl!” Inis nodded. “She is, but she is... fragile... her boyfriend of a couple of months left her for someone else. When she heard, she drank a lethal dose of tranquilizers.” Kiera looked shocked. “I knew there was something about her that was off... how long ago was this?” Inis shrugged. “A week, no more.” Savar sunk back into his chair, bowls still on the table. “That would explain the headaches...” He looked at Inis sharply. “What part do you have in this?” Inis sighed. “I saved her, with help from a friend. I found her just after she drank the tranquilizers. I managed to flush them from her system.” Kiera nodded, smiling slightly with pride. “She has come a long way in a week, she is quite resilient.” Inis nodded at this. “She is, though she doesn’t believe it herself. The side effects of the tranquilizers should fade in a few days, though the mental trauma will take longer.” The three of them exchanged looks, and began to clean up the living room and the dining room.


In the morning, both Janet and Inis were woken by Kiera rapping on their doors, calling them to breakfast. The two of them met up in the corridor, before going downstairs together. They found Gollee already downstairs, eating quickly, and the two of them sat down next to him. “I have to go soon, my flight back up is in three hours or so,” he explained. Inis sighed, and Janet nodded. Savar brought them each a plate loaded with pancakes, he pointed to a tray in the middle of the table, “Sauces are there, along with sugar, etcetera, provided Gollee hasn’t had it all.” Gollee smiled at him with a mouth full of pancake. The other two sat eating, as Gollee had already finished and was waiting for them. After they had all finished, the three of them went back upstairs to play on Gollee’s old gaming system, though Gollee beat them resoundingly every time. Once he stopped playing himself, Janet managed to beat Inis several times at some sort of strategy game. In what seemed like a very short amount of time, it was time for Gollee to leave, so the three of them walked to the door, where Savar and Kiera met them.

“You are leaving then?” Kiera asked, standing beside the door. Gollee nodded, collecting a small suitcase from beside the stairs. “I will be back for another stay next month,” Savar smiled, “Always nice to have you around. Too bad you can never stay longer.” Gollee nodded again, and opened the door. “Tell everyone I said hello.” He turned to Inis and Janet and nodded to them, “Inis, Janet.” Inis waved while Janet smiled slightly. Gollee nodded to his parents and left.


After the two of them had freshened up, Inis and Janet left the house again. Inis was determined to show Janet as much of the city as possible while she was here, and they started by going to a shopping centre via bus. They arrived a couple of hours before lunch, and set off to see what they could find. Janet had previously expressed an interest in the technology that was available on world, so Inis led her through the shopping centre, until they found a section devoted to the three research centres that practically ran Cevalon. The shops contained a virtual cornucopia of technology, from advanced genetically modified animals, to shelf after shelf of electronics.

Inside one of the stores, Inis stroked the beak of a Stormhawk. It tilted its head towards her hand so she could reach it better. “I always wanted one of these,” she said wistfully. “Never could afford it though, and I wouldn’t have anywhere to put it.” Janet was leafing through the notes on the Stormhawk’s cage, her eyes alive with interest at the modifications, “T-These are s-simply some amazing m-modifications, not immensely d-difficult, b-but in a direction I don’t think anyone could h-have expected.” After a while, she moved over to look at the electronics section, which had products ranging from advanced processor units, to entire self-contained personal AI units. Janet muttered to herself, “I-I don’t know how t-they make money from these p-prices...” She looked over at Inis, who was still standing near the Stormhawk's cage. “W-What else do these c-centres do?” Inis turned around and smiled. “Companies pay them to upgrade technology, that is where their money comes from. This stuff is just to advertise what they can do, so the prices are low.” Janet nodded, collecting a few items from the shelves before taking them over to the cashier.

After Janet had bought the items, the two of them headed back into the main shopping centre. Janet was looking for something for Laura, but the two of them stopped at a café first. The two of them ordered a drink each, as well as a small, cold lunch. They took their food over to a small table and sat down, unwrapping the sandwiches. Inis took a bite out of her sandwich. “Mmm, beef and cheese. What about you?” Janet took a cautious bite out of her sandwich, hesitated, then smiled, “E-Egg salad.” The two of them quietly ate their sandwiches, along with the rest of their food, before setting off again. Eventually, Janet found a camera with a built-in directional laser microphone and universal recorder for Laura. Inis, however, didn’t buy anything, but she did go into a few different shops, talked to the managers, then left, smiling. After a another couple of hours, they boarded a bus to take them home.


They arrived back at the house about an hour before dinner. Janet swiftly stowed her purchases upstairs while Inis helped Kiera with the food. The four of them sat down at the table to eat a large meal of spaghetti bolognaise. Savar turned to Janet as they ate. “How is your headache?” Janet smiled and said quietly, “B-Better, thanks, I w-won’t need to take any m-medicine tonight...” The other three nodded and smiled, then Kiera said, “Janet, we got some letters for you while you were out.” She slid three envelopes across the table to Janet. “I suspect one of Inis’s friends told them.” Janet nodded, picking up the letters. “P-Probably Kimberly...” She glanced at the names printed on the envelopes and froze, then said, very quietly, “L-Laura… A-Aaron… D-Dad…” Savar glanced across at Inis in confusion. She shrugged, and then said to Janet, “You don’t have to open them if you don’t want to.” Janet looked up, and smiled slightly. “I-I want to…” Inis nodded, and Kiera handed Janet a letter opener. She opened Laura’s letter first, and read through it, then smiled sadly, put it to the side, and picked up Aaron’s letter. Janet hesitated for a moment, then cut it open, and read it. She glanced over it and turned slightly pale, but she put it on top of Laura’s letter, and then reached for her father’s. The hesitation was longer this time, but eventually she cut the letter open and read it. She let out a short gasp and her eyes filled with tears. She stood up, dropping the letter. “I-I need to g-go get some r-rest, g-good night,” she stammered, and walked quickly out of the room. Inis jumped up out of her chair and followed her, while Kiera snatched Janet’s father’s letter up off of the ground. Her eyes scanned it.

To Janet:

I heard about what happened from one of your "friends". I'm surprised you know what those are, considering what an ungrateful little brat you are. Suicide by poison, eh? I guess you didn't have it in you to do something like that the honorable way, with a gun or a rope. Swallowing a bullet is a lot more respectable than swallowing some damn poison. What made you think of suicide in the first place, huh? Always running away from your problems, just like when you were a damn kid. Do you have any idea the amount of time and effort and money that went into raising you, but of course you don't appreciate the sacrafices I had to make. All you do is think about yourself, and to hell with what everyone else needs. Even now, I have to sit down and write a goddamned old fashioned letter to your unappreciative ass because you're on a special paid vacation on a tropical paradise. I never got a paid vacation for raising you, I never even got a fucking thank you. Maybe I should have just given you a gun when you were a kid, you would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. You're a disgrace to my name and your mother's. If she had known you were going to turn out like this, maybe she would have gone through with the abortion.

Your father, Gerald.

Kiera’s eyes widened and she passed the letter to Savar, who read it and swore. “Gods, if I get my hands on this man he will regret that he was ever born!” Kiera picked up the other two letters and read them, her hands shaking in rage, she read Laura’s first.

Dear Janet

A friend of yours, a Kimberly Riden contacted me today. She told me what happened. Janet, I'm worried sick about you! She tells me you're staying with the family of another friend, I hope they're taking good care of you. Listen, Janet, I don't want come off as scolding, but doing something like what you did is never the answer. I know the kind of pain you felt, I've felt it many times before. But you can always talk to me about anything, no matter what. I get scared for you when days go by and I don't get a call, you're the only thing I think about. You're my sister, and my best friend, and I love you. I'll always love you, no matter what. Please, call me as soon as you can, I've written how you can reach me on the back of the letter.

Love, Laura

P.S.: If you get anything from dad, please, don't read it. You know it won't be anything good.

Kiera’s outrage faded somewhat at this letter, and she carefully folded it and put it back in its envelope. Then she opened Aaron’s note.

Dear Janet,

I am so sorry for what I did to you, and I wish you the best, I don’t know if you want to see me again, but if you don’t, I promise you will never see me again, I never wanted this to happen, and I will do anything I can to help you recover from this.

Yours, in hope, Aaron

Kiera slipped the note into the same envelope as Laura’s, then she took them upstairs, while Savar stored Janet’s father’s letter in a folder, before locking it in his desk.

Upstairs, Janet was lying on her bed, with Inis sitting in a chair next to her, a hand on her shoulder. Janet was lying with her face in her pillows, her whole body trembling as Inis tried to calm her down. Kiera carefully laid the two letters on Janet’s bedside table, and then sat on the side of the bed with her hand on Janet’s back. Janet flinched at the contact, but remained silent as Savar came upstairs, his face tight with anger. Inis looked at him, confused, and he motioned for her to come out of the room. Inis followed him out, and asked quietly, “What was in that letter to do this?” Savar stood silent for a moment, his hands clenching and unclenching. “Her father is not a good man. That letter…” He shook his head. “…I have locked that letter in my desk, I am considering launching a lawsuit for what was in there.” Inis’s eyes widened, and then she said, “It was that bad?” Savar dropped his desk key into her hand. “Go take a look for yourself.” He walked into the room and sat down opposite Kiera, running his hand through Janet’s hair as she lay on the bed, trembling.

When Inis came back upstairs, her skin was flushed with anger. she stalked back into the room, and sat in the chair at Janet’s bedside. Janet had finally sat up, with the encouragement of Savar and Kiera, though she still shook, and her face was streaked with tears. She looked up at Inis as she walked in. “I-Inis… d-did you j-just…” Inis nodded, placing a hand on Janet’s shoulder. “I read it, Janet. We can use this… we can use it to make sure he can never contact you again, you will be safe from him.” Janet hesitated, staring down at her hands in her lap for a moment, before looking up again, eyes brimming with tears. “B-But he is one of t-the only family m-members I have…” Kiera placed her hands on the side of Janet’s face, looking straight at her. “Janet… He doesn’t deserve you, he isn’t worth the air he breathes. You are a wonderful girl, and nobody should talk to you, or treat you, like I think he has…" She paused for a moment before continuing. "He... used to beat you… didn’t he? I can tell by how you flinched when I touched your back…” Janet took several, quick, deep breaths, then closed her eyes and nodded, tears running down her face. “Why did you never tell anyone?” Savar asked quietly, placing his hand on her lower leg. Janet shook her head sharply, “I-I got out… L-Laura helped me... h-he stopped bothering me o-once I had gone...” Savar nodded and stood up, then said, “I am going to take that letter to the district station, from there they will be able to load a cease and desist order to Biesel, that should stop him contacting you.” Janet said nothing as Savar walked out.

Kiera and Inis sat by Janet’s bedside for over an hour, before her trembling slowly stopped, and her breathing slowed to a steady rhythm as she drifted to sleep. They sat for a few minutes more until they were sure Janet was asleep, before quietly leaving to go downstairs. The two of them cleared the dinner dishes from the table, where they had been left over an hour before, then sat silently in the living room for a few minutes before Savar returned. When he did, he sat down heavily in his chair, and looked between the two women. “The Superintendent is going to file an order to Biesel for that guy to cease communicating with Janet. I don’t know if it will stick, but it is something.” He hesitated for a moment before asking, “How is she?” Inis and Kiera looked at each other, then Inis shrugged. “Better," she said, "but that wasn’t what she needed right now. At least she already knew that he was bad news, it will make it easier for her to get over this as well.” Kiera nodded in agreement.


It took another day for Janet to regain the ground that that letter had cost her. In the morning, Kiera took Janet’s breakfast to her, in her room. Janet was withdrawn and pale, and she ate little, but as the day progressed, and with encouragement from Inis, Savar, Kiera and Caylais, she came downstairs after lunch, sitting quietly in the living room. Caylais even had one of her colleagues come over to check Janet’s mental state. The psychiatrist confirmed that Janet was stable state of mind, and should recover quickly.

When it came to dinner, Janet sat at the table with the others, though, again, she ate little; she did, however, get more involved in the conversation, and even smiled at a few jokes that Savar and Caylais made. After dinner, Janet sat in the living room with the family for an hour or so, then retreated back upstairs, claiming tiredness.

The next morning, Janet came downstairs on her own for breakfast, much to the relief of Kiera and Inis, and she participated much more often in the conversations going back and forth.

Inis smiled and pushed her empty plate towards the centre of the table. “Janet, I was thinking we could go to a pub for dinner tonight, have a meal, a few drinks…” Janet nodded. “I-I would like t-that.” Inis smiled again, then said, “I will see if Caylais wants to come as well.” Inis stood up, picked up her plate, as well as Janet’s empty plate, and took them through into the kitchen. Savar looked up from his second helping to ask, “Did Nanotrasen give you a deadline on when you need to be back?” Janet nodded, then looked down. “I-I need to be b-back tomorrow… I w-will need to l-leave tonight…” Kiera nodded sadly. “Inis needs to head back tonight as well, at least you can go together.” Janet smiled slightly, and sipped at her drink.

Inis and Janet spent the hours until lunch choosing what to wear. Inis decided on her warden's uniform. “This should stop us getting any unwanted attention,” she said as she put the jumpsuit over her arm and walked out of Janet’s room to her own, so she could get changed. Janet decided on a plain blue and purple plaid dress, and then the two of them walked downstairs for lunch. Caylais arrived a few hours after lunch, wearing a red and orange floor-length dress, much to the disapproval of Kiera. The three of them sat down and discussed which pubs, or bars, to visit, before they settled on one that was quite close by, and that both Inis and Caylais knew quite well. After this, they spent a few hours playing on Gollee’s game console, before heading out.


The three of them walked into the Green Dragon, and went up to the counter to order. Janet looked at the menu for a while, while Inis and Caylais ordered their meals. She finally decided on a Garin steak, which both Inis and Caylais highly recommended. The three of them selected some drinks, and headed to a table to wait for their food. Much to their chagrin, both Inis and Caylais found that the rings on their fingers did not prevent the drunkards amongst the crowd looking at them hopefully as they passed.

The three of them settled down at a table near the corner of the room, a reasonable distance from the bar counter, and sipped their drinks, watching the crowd ebb and swell as time passed. At several points during the night, a few men, rather drunk, wandered over to their table to test their luck. One of them even attempted to pull Caylais from her seat to dance, but a swift gesture from Inis and a scowl from Janet put an end to that idea. Their food arrived after about half an hour, and the three of them ate quite quickly, despite the number of people coming over to talk to them. After they had finished, the three of them stood up, and began to move as a group through the crowd. Janet was dwarfed by the men in the crowd, but with Inis and Caylais standing on either side of her, she felt quite safe. They spent a few hours chatting and drinking, before they had to leave. Caylais to go home before she got too drunk, and Inis and Janet had to head back to the house to collect their things. They left the warm, crowded bar for the dark, cool streets as they made their way back to their homes. Inis and Janet left Caylais at her door, before heading back to Inis’s parent’s house. Once they had arrived back, Janet got changed while Inis packed their things, then the two of them said goodbye to Kiera, who made a fuss over them. She made sure that they each took a significant amount of food with them, citing that neither of them was eating enough. Savar loaded their bags into his car, and the three of them drove off towards the spaceport.


Once they had arrived, Inis and Janet were quickly processed by the customs officials, though one of them got really worked up about Inis’ amulet. Fortunately, the matter was resolved in a timely manner. They said goodbye to Savar as well, who managed to extract a promise of another from both Inis and Janet, and the two of them boarded a space elevator capsule. The spaceport and surrounding area swiftly accelerated out of sight as they shot upward at immense speeds. Inis stepped forwards into the orbital station as the doors opened, pulling Janet along with her, so they wouldn’t be caught and crushed by the mass of people trying to get onto their capsule. Inis glanced at the impatient horde with disapproval. “You would think they would at least learn to wait their turn.” Janet nodded quickly, staying quite close to Inis, as people rushed past. The two of them headed up through the station, gravity lessening with every step. Eventually, they reached their flight, and were directed into their seats. They buckled in as the transport ship's engines began to warm up. Inis pulled her legs up onto the chair, and Janet closed her eyes and put rested her head on the back of her seat. In a matter of a few hours, they would arrive at Central Command.

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Jennifer started away from the window as soon as her headset began to emit static, she shouted at Inis, “Move!” Inis half turned from the window, her arms twitching. “What? Why?” Jennifer grabbed her arm and half-dragged her down the corridor. “The station just went up, that means a lot of radiation is coming our way! We are only a light minute from the station!” Inis started running, “Where are we going to go!?” Jennifer glanced around, desperately searching for a shielded door. She paused, swallowing, then darted forwards, opening a wide purple and silver door. The room inside was spartan, with bare metal walls and floor. Jennifer quickly dragged Inis inside, before the door shut.

Inis blinked in the darkness, “What are we going to do?” Jennifer pulled back into the corner, wrapping her arms around her knees, “I don’t know...They should send a rescue party…Right?” Inis nodded uncertainly, “They will know what happened, they will come for survivors.” Jennifer nodded quickly, looking worriedly around the room, her hand goes down to her belt, about to reassuringly run her hand over the multitude of tools hanging from it. “I...My belt...I left it in the lab…” Inis stood up, tremors running down her legs, “Do we have time to go ge-” Inis was cut off as the lightbulb dims to nothingness, plunging the both of them into darkness. Jennifer groaned, “No...The radiation overloaded the SMESs… The power…” Inis hurriedly sat down as her limbs began to twitch more violently. “We are trapped...No….No….Jennifer, it is happening again….” Inis tried to hold down her spasming legs, her face contorted with pain. Jennifer crawled over, “Shit!...Uh...Crap! I dropped the sleep toxin!” Jennifer took hold of Inis’ head and tried to hold it still against the spasms that were spreading through her.

Inis slumped to the floor, violent convulsions spreading through her torso as her nervous system shorted. Jennifer held her head still against the attack, but with only one hand she couldn't cover her ears against Inis’ agonised scream as her back arched and twisted.

Gollee looked up as the corvette shifted, the course change large enough to be noticeable even with the anti-gravity plates. Gollee taped the side of his helmet, opening a channel to the pilot, “Why have we changed course?” A response crackled back, !#I just received an official redirection order from Tau Ceti, there was an unknown detonation near a Nanotrasen space station, we are the closest ship capable of responding, I think your training mission has been scrubbed, Commander.#! Gollee frowned, “How long until arrival? And the conditions?” !#Five minutes at this speed, though we will need to decel before we arrive, give it seven, and conditions are radiative, I am getting large gamma and X-ray readings#!

Gollee looked around the passenger bay, where he had been confined with his team for several hours now, half of them were dozing in their seats. Gollee leaned sideways and slammed the palm of his hand against the wall. A chorus of groans and muttering filled the bay as the dozing team awoke. He waited a moment before addressing them, “Training's been scrubbed, There was a detonation at a civilian station, we are the closest ship capable of responding.” The team straightened in their seats, their faces grave inside their helmets. Gollee’s second spoke up, “Sir? Do we know the state of the station? The crew?” Gollee shook his head, “No, we do not, Kàyla, I want you to lead one of the two exfiltration teams, we need to search the station, or the wreckage, as quickly as possible.”

The team quickly assembled their equipment as the ship began to decelerate. Gollee’s headset crackled again, !#...Sir, you are going to want to see this.#! Gollee stood up, pressing the airlock access, before stepping through into the bridge.

The Viewscreen was almost empty, traces of debris cluttered a section of space, just to the left centre of the view port. Gollee’s hand tightened on the airlock frame, “Gods, is that it?” The pilot nodded, “Aye, the radiative signature is massive…” Gollee tapped a button on the console, and the viewscreen changed to the infared spectrum. A deep red haze filled the section of space, highlighting the traces of matter in a stark white glow. Gollee pressed an armoured gauntlet to his helmet, “Scan for any sign of escape pods, anyone inside that blast radius is dead.” The pilot tapped a few keys on his console, eliciting a hum from the AI systems. After a few minutes, the system let out a loud beep, Debris trail detected, on right ascension 02h15m09s ...Confirmed. Gollee nodded, “Please follow the debris trail, it may be large enough to have held survivors. Can we get a blueprint of this station and it’s facilities?”

The system hummed again, then a holographic display of a space station, along with several seperate sections, flickered into being in the centre of the bridge. Almost all of the image was flashing red, baring a small western section of the main station, and two of the outposts. Gollee spun the image of the station around with his finger, “This section would not have been able to sustain life…” He said regretfully, “But the outposts…?” The pilot nodded, “Setting a course for the outposts, be advised, the debris was headed in that direction.” Gollee nodded, the left the bridge.

Once Inis’ seizure had ceased, Jennifer crept back into the corner. She had barely managed to curl up when the entire station shook under a massive impact. “Shit!” Jennifer yelled, “Shit!” The two of them were thrown about as a massive tremor ran through the outpost. A horrible grinding sounds emerged from the disposals outlet in the corner, followed by a cloud of smoke and dust as the pipes collapsed, compressing the dust out of the pipe. Inis breathed in a lung full of the pollutant, before emitting a strangled cough, shielding her face with her sleeve. Jennifer covered her own face, and crawled over to Inis, “Stay low...That dust will kill you!” She wheezed, pulling Inis towards the corner. “Come on, if we stay in the corner, we should be okay…” The two of them curled back into the corner, the dust settling on them, their rough breathing and hacking coughs the only noise in the confining room.

“Sir, we are approaching the asteroid containing the three outposts. It looks like it was hit by some of the explosive debris.” Gollee peered out of the viewscreen, a large section of one of the outposts had been struck by debris, and obliterated, a scant few rooms were left, and most were venting atmosphere. “Take us to the other two.” The pilot nodded, and the corvette drifted past the devastated outpost, travelling south along the asteroid.

A large sprawling outpost emerged, roughly half way down the asteroid, a quick scan of the outpost revealed several heat signatures in the dock of the outpost. “Take us in, we need a closer look,” Gollee ordered. The pilot complied, and the corvette edged in closer to the dock. Gollee leant forward, focusing his gaze on the shuttle dock.

Three seared bodies lay still in the shuttle dock, their thermal signatures were fading, and there was no sign of a heartbeat. Gollee sighed heavily, “Scan the rest of the outpost.” The system hummed, a moment later it chimed, no more thermal signatures detected, areas are shielded. Gollee taped the viewscreen, “Dock us.” The pilot nodded, and Gollee touched the side of his own helmet, “Kàyla, take Samuel, Jacob, Liza and Nathan and enter this outpost, it is the largest.”

!# Will do, commander.#! Gollee nodded to himself, watching the two hatches link together, followed by five armoured marines rushing across. Gollee spoke over his radio again, “We will be back soon, we need to check the other outposts.” !# Alright, sir.#! Gollee turned to the pilot, “Take us to the southern outpost” The Corvette glided away from the airlock, drifting further south.

“No...Nonono….” Inis muttered, her arms had began to twitch and judder again. Jennifer groaned in dismay, “No...Not now...It will stir up the dust again…” Inis gritted her teeth, tremors were beginning to run across her back. “I...I can’t stop it...Gods...This hurts…” Jennifer slowly reached into her pocket, taking out a small metal cylinder. “Inis...Turn your head…” Inis gave a low groan, but turned her head away from Jennifer. Jennifer whined very quietly, and raised the cylinder, tears dripping down her nose. “Sorry…” With a sharp jerk of her arm, Jennifer brought the cylinder down on the back of Inis’ head, her spasms stopped instantly. “Shit! Shitshitshitshitshitshit!” Jennifer pressed two fingers to the side of Inis’ neck, dropping the cylinder. After a few moments she found a weak pulse, Jennifer gave a sob of relief.

Releasing her grip on Inis’ neck, Jennifer scrabbled at her other pocket, pulling out a translucent blue mask. With a deft twist of her fingers, she attached the end of it to the cylinder, before pressing the mask side to Inis’ face with her shoulder. Resting the cylinder in the crook of her right arm, Jennifer twisted the valve with her left and only, hand. Jennifer watched Inis through a haze as her chest slowly rose and fell with the clean oxygen. Jennifer smiled slightly as her head rolled back and darkness closed in around her.

Gollee gritted his teeth as he examined the crew manifest that Nanotrasen had messaged to his HUD. Inis Truesight. He turned and slammed his fist into the wall, denting the metal badly. “Sir!” One of the marines exclaimed. Gollee grunted and clenched his fists around his seat. Gods… How am I going to tell Mother...And Father… Their little girl...My sister...Dead… Gollee felt his eyes fill with tears as he contemplated the events. He would never be able to go home...Seeing their accusing stares...Knowing that he hadn’t been fast enough...

!# Sir! We are at the southern outpost, scans don’t show any heat sources. I would guess that this outpost wasn’t used all shift, no shuttle here either#! Gollee touched the side of his head after a short pause, “Any shielded areas?” !# No sir.#! “Move to the damaged outpost...There must be something there…”

Gollee looked down at his hands as the craft pulled away, Come on...Inis wouldn’t just roll over and die….

The two women lay in the corner of the room, Jennifer’s limp hand still pressing the mask against Inis’ face. Jennifer’s face was ashen, and her chest barely rose and fell, drawing in slow, weak breaths of the dust and smoke clogged air. Neither were aware enough to notice the rising temperature.

The corvette slowed as it approached the damaged outpost, scanning booms extending. A swift scan showed several rooms were still air-filled, despite the immense damage to the rest of the outpost. Gollee leant forwards on the back of the pilot’s chair, “Scan for heat signatures...Now!” The pilot flinched and jabbed at the thermal scan indicator, flicking the viewscreen into the infrared spectrum.

Large sections of the rock into which the outpost had been built glowed cherry red from the dispersed heat of the impact. The sealed rooms were slightly brighter, but in particular, two faint yellow marks were visible in the westernmost room. Gollee muttered under his breath, “Survivors...Get us there! Now! That room is beginning to absorb the heat of the impact.”

The corvette lurched as the pilot spun it around, bringing it’s airlock close to the internal door of the sealed room. He quickly activated an airlock funnel, which sprouted towards the door, sealing around it, to prevent any atmospheric leakage. Gollee slapped his hand against the side of his helmet, “Exfiltration team! In the airlock! Into that room! NOW!” A heavy clutter of metal on metal echoed through the small craft as the marines piled into the airlock, Gollee swiftly followed them.

Thick grey dust billowed out of the room when the door hissed open, Gollee manouvered his way to the front, then stepped into the blacked out room. For a moment, the room was as silent as a tomb, then a ragged cough echoed from the far corner. Gollee switched on his headlamp, and he almost sobbed with relief. Lying in the corner, unconscious, but alive, was the thin form of a blue haired girl, and a bleary-eyed woman coated in dust. She was pressing a air mask to the face of the other. Gollee could see that her throat was badly inflamed. A swift gesture from him had one of the marines step forwards and scoop up the woman, she was almost unconscious, and didn’t resist the armoured marine carrying her out of the dank room. Gollee crouched down next to the other woman, and gently slipped an arm under her neck, and a second under her knees. With a smooth motion, Gollee stood up, his enhanced strength causing the slight woman to seem weightless. Without a word, he retreated through the airlock, followed by the remaining marines.

The woman carried by the other marines was placed in an oxygen tent, her ashen face gaining a slight tinge of pink as her breathing strengthened. The blue-haired one that Gollee was carrying was placed straight into a sleeper, her respiration was much steadier than the other’s.

Gollee taped the side of his head as he carefully administered some medicine through the console, “Take us back to the middle outpost, we need to pick up Kàyla.” !# Aye, sir.#! The gravity shifted slightly as the corvette got underway.

The crafted glided back down the asteroid as the woman inside the oxygen tent spoke, “Inis….is she alright?! Is she alright!?” She tried to push herself up, but her strength failed her and she slipped back down in a fit of coughing. Gollee reluctantly left the sleeper and went over to her, “Inis is stable, Miss…?” Jennifer smiled weakly and shielded her mouth with her hand, “Hynes, Jennifer Hynes, thank the Gods… Who are you? How did you get here so fast?” Gollee sifted through a supply of medicines, selecting a syringe of dylovene, “Miss Hynes, thank you, without you, she would have died. Our craft was the closest to the station when it detonated, so we were redirected to help.” Jennifer’s eyes slid over his armour, focussing on his left shoulder pad, which had a small emblem of a large, hawk-like bird, superimposed over a iridescent lightning bolt.

Jennifer gave a short gasp, followed by another, racking cough. “Stormswrath...You’re from Stormswrath…” Gollee blinked inside his helmet, gently pressing the syringe against Jennifer’s arm. “Yes, we are Stormswrath Defence Force marines, Ma’am. I am Marine Commander Truesight.” Jennifer’s eyes bulged with shock, “Inis’ brother!” Gollee nodded once, and returned to sit next to the sleeper as the corvette began to decelerate.

Kàyla herded several other survivors back into the ship once it had docked, she turned to Gollee, “They took cover in the core room, Commander.” She glanced into the sleeper and her eyebrows rose, “Who is that? Sir?” Gollee gave her a pained smile, “My sister.” Kàyla took an involuntary step back. “Gods…Sir… Is she alright?” Gollee smiled again, his eyes were strangely bright, “No, no she is not. She needs better medical care.” Kayla nodded, then turned to direct her three survivors into seats.

Gollee reached up to his ear, “All survivors collected. I don’t give a shit about sovereignty, Inis is getting care at the naval hospital at Tra’ha.” !# Whatever you say sir, I am sure the survivors won’t mind, considering we just saved their arses.#!

A deep click ran through the corvette’s hull as it linked with the military station, after a moment, a green light flickered on above the airlock, and Gollee almost shoulderbarged the door open, hefting Inis in his arms as he almost ran down the corridor. Two ordinary soldiers tried to halt his advance, just to be knocked aside by the armoured behemoth. Forcing open another door, Gollee sprinted down a final corridor, before arriving at the emergency bay. He swiftly bulled his way inside, laying Inis down on a medical bed, while doctors clustered around him.

“Symptoms?” “Injuries?” “Situation, update,” “Get out of here, we have her now,” “What are her injuries?” Gollee was buffeted by a clamour of voices, all calling for attention. Inis’ bed was yanked out of his grasp with a concerted effort by the staff, and he was bustled out into the lobby, to face the two soldiers from the docking area. “Marine! Stand do-” The soldier’s eyes bugged as they locked on his right shoulder pad. “Uh...Sir!” The soldier saluted hurriedly, Gollee glared at him, “There are injured on my ship, go get them brought here.” The soldiers hesitated, glancing at each other. “Now!” Golle roared, stepping forwards, his armored form towering over the two soldiers.

The unfortunate soldiers turned pale, and ran back towards the docking area, eager to escape the enraged marine.

Gollee stared after them for a moment, then sank down into a welcoming chair, holding his head in his hands. He didn’t look up as Jennifer was rushed past him on a rollerbed.

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