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 Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC

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Payne
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:32 am

Ocean

- Lisa -

After pulling the lever to close the drop bay, Lisa pulled herself to her feet and slowly made her way to the supply crate she'd seen when she entered the airship. It took her a moment to figure out the locking mechanism, but after she'd opened it, Lisa pulled out three water bottles. She re-secured the crate, and made her way towards the back of the airship, tossing Jax a bottle along the way.

Lisa sank into the seat beside Ehlana's, holding up the water bottle for the other woman to take. "Sorry, we don't generally make our prisoners fight for their lives. I understand that cooperation isn't exactly your favorite idea right now, but considering the circumstances, I'm afraid that whatever deal the administration offers you may be the only thing that protects you from your friends."

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

Aegis

- Marcus -

"Hey!" Marcus did his best to look offended at Lenka's comment. "I was only a kid, and I wasn't exactly in the know back then. No one really wasted the time to tell us things about life experiences. They only cared that we had basic necessities."

"Of course, that meant we had to learn those lessons for ourselves."
He continued with a grin. "I'd say the fact that I survived this long is a testament to my intelligence."

He glanced at Luke, on the other side of her, who had made a sputtering sound and now had his tongue stuck out. What was his problem? Marcus raised a questioning eyebrow before shaking his head.

"I don't know that the home actually has a name." Marcus responded to Rise. "It's a remodeled abbey about ten kilometers from the university. The only person of any note to ever go through there is the current caretaker. Apparently, he was a government official during the previous administration."

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

- Keynes -

Keynes chuckled at James' complaining while he served himself up a plate full of dinner. "Well, I boot everything up about once a month to make sure it still runs, but the last actual maintenance was probably four or five years ago."

"You're welcome to bill the administration, but I'm not sure the payment will clear. They're pinching pennies right now."


He had a spoonful of soup about halfway to his face when a snowball hit him square in the face.

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

- Alina -

"I heard that, you old grouch." Alina muttered as she slipped into the room. Keeping her usual mask of calm was impossible at this point, but at least the people around her were trustworthy enough to not make a big deal of how worried she must look.

"I don't suppose you've got another bottle of that laying around, do you?" She asked, gesturing to the whiskey on the table as she dropped into the chair beside Rise.

"Nope." Keynes responded with a grin. "Can't have our fearless leader getting smashed just because it's been a bad day."

"When have you ever seen me smashed?" Alina grumbled in response. For a moment, she was in Jax's arms, being carried back to the bunker like a wet noodle. "Actually, don't answer that." Oh, to be in those arms again. Hopefully, she'd still have the chance.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:41 am

Peterny - Old Guard HQ
- Maxim -

Maxim contemplated Belo a moment as the agent suddenly volunteered to handle Alexei. Belo had never given Maxim reason to doubt his single-minded loyalty to Arusia, so it seemed a promising chance to make sure the job was done right. Besides, he was wary of Kurik going off on his own, not knowing what Alexei might do when backed into a corner.

"Very well," he conceded, nodding. He exchanged a fleeting look with Kurik, hoping that Kurik still trusted him enough not to question his decisions, before approaching Farrington.

"Allow me to assist with the preparations for High Lady Adalia's speech," he said demurely. "It's the least I can do. Evidently, my agents have taken the transition from Arusia to Kaddath more difficulty than I imagined."

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

- Alexei -

Alexei strode down the hall, his body striding sharply and quickly while his mind remained sluggish and confused.

Following orders. That was what a good soldier did. He didn't contemplate the greater ramifications or stop to doubt himself or his leaders. He did what he was supposed to do.

Alexei had always followed his orders, never wavering or disobeying. The idea never even entered his head. He had just put his life on the line for all of these people, not out of any sense of nobility or courage or nationalism. There was a job that needed doing, and he did it. That's what a soldier does.

So why... Why would they tarnish that for him? Why would they take that one constant from his life? Now... now he had nothing.

He stopped, staring down the corridor ahead. Why was he bothering to take off? Just let them do what had to be done and get on with it. He'd always known he was a piece in chess game at play, but he'd always expected himself to be a Knight, at least.

Not a Pawn.

Alexei could hear sounds. Soldiers were probably on their way to apprehend him. He snorted and leaned against the wall, jaw clenched. So that's it then.

Of course, they'd get Nadenka too. Alexei looked down the hallway toward the prison. She wasn't any more guilty than he was. Less so, even. He'd willingly signed up for this. She hadn't.

Spoiler:
 

The sight of her tear-stained face flashed before his eyes. All the sadness she'd been hiding behind a porcelain smile finally broke out.

"How could two of you be so alike, what made fighting so worth it? What makes this fight worth losing life for?" Then tears clawed their ways out of Nadenka's eyes. "Why can't you guys take your life seriously? Why are you guys throwing away your lives?"

"That's what soldiers do, Nadenka," he repeated to the empty hall. "We follow orders, and we die."

"Why can't you think about the ones you will leave behind? What about them? What about me? I'm already broken by outliving one, don't make me outlive another one.."

Alexei walked toward the prison, his feet picking up pace as he moved. Screw it. If he was going to be branded a traitor, he might as well be one then. And if he was going to die, it might as well be for the only woman to ever shed a tear over him.

The door to the prison slid open. The guard turned around to face him, surprised, but a blow to the side of his head sent him sprawling to the ground, unconscious.

"Don't ask questions," Alexei said, deactivating the lock on Nadenka's prison. "Just follow me."

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

Caltha - Bunker
- Lenka -

Rise opened her mouth in surprise at Marcus' description of the home he grew up in.

"Wait, isn't that Lecarde's place?" she asked, looking over at Keynes. "Wow, small world."

It was nice to know that not everyone in the Army they'd had to face during their time on the run had turned out to be amoral or psychotic. Raidon had certainly turned over a new leaf, and so had Lecarde. His desire to help out fellow orphans resulting from the conflicts had been touching to her.

She turned to ask Keynes more about Lecarde when a snowball hit him in the face. Rise gave a start of surprise.

"Alina, you made it!" she said brightly. She got up, intending to hug her former teammate, but then hesitated.

"Uh..." Was it appropriate to hug the High General? Or call her by her first name to her face?

"I'm glad you're here," she said, recovering. "It's nice to finally have a little reunion."

Almost as soon as she'd said it, she felt a pang in her heart. Jax and Lisa weren't here though. Hopefully, they would be back soon. They had to be...

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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:05 am

Peterny - Prison
Nadenka Orlov

"What are you doing? You are going to get yourself killed!" Said Nadenka, even if Alexei said she should not ask any question, but she could not stop herself from asking one.

However, what she knew little about Alexei, she knew something must happened that made him do such thing. She quickly composed herself, "Fine," Said Nadenka, and grab the key of fallen guard, releasing herself from cuffs.

"You lead, I will follow" Said Nadenka.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Peterny - Old Guard HQ
Belobog Volkov, "Belo"

"Sir, yes, sir"

Said Belobog, and he headed to the exit from the crowds that already giving the looks of mistrust at him. Belobog clenched his fists, the thought that the real culprit could be laughing at this situation... it frustrated him.

As Belobog got himself out from the crowded room to find Alexei, Belobog waited for the another man who was given the order to kill Alexei.

"Do you think Alexei is capable of betraying Arusia?" Belobog asked in whisper as he walk.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:15 am

Ocean
- Ehlana -

Ehlana gave the offered water and then Lisa a long look before she took it. She took a small sip even though she felt parched. Re-hydration could take a long time.

"You're right, it's not my favorite idea," Ehlana said. She seemed to be getting some of her snarkiness back, now that her life wasn't in mortal danger anymore.

"So you'll have to forgive my lack of enthusiasm, but your administration hasn't exactly been trust inspiring...," she said, "I won't be jumping at the so generously offered opportunity to betray my country."

She took another small sip of water and crossed her arms and resorted to silence.

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

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
- Kurik -

Kurik caught Maxim’s glance and nodded ever so slightly. He wasn’t sure what the other man’s exact intentions were, but at this point, he would need to make his own decisions. Starting with trying to find out if Alexei was truly at fault here. And being able to work with Belo was hopefully going to make this easier.

With another low bow towards Lady Adalia, he excused himself and left the room just seconds after Belo did.

He found Belo just outside the command centre, whispering to himself.

“No,” he answered, even though the question wasn’t meant for him. “And neither do you, by the looks of it.”

“Let’s go,” he said. “Alexei was supposed to be at that meeting and the fact that he wasn’t worries me. There’s one place I know we can look.”

And without another word, he headed off towards Nadenka’s prison.

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

Caltha - Bunker
- Lenka -

“Oh get over it,” Lenka said with a grin. “You turned out fine. Just because you didn’t have the easiest childhood, doesn’t mean you get to use that as an excuse the entire time.” She rolled her eyes at him, obviously not entirely serious.

When he turned to answer Rise, Lenka turned to Luke. He was looking rather flustered since he just burnt his tongue on the tea. She giggle. Apparently both Luke and Marcus knew how to be a bit klutzy at times.

“You okay?” she asked nevertheless and pushed a glass towards him. “Here, have some water.”

Her attention was then drawn away by the entry of Alina. Lenka was somewhat awestruck. This was the most powerful woman in the country. And she come to have dinner with them. Wow.

---------

- James -

James was about to reply when Keynes was hit with a snowball. That could only mean one thing and true enough, Alina had just entered. She looked worried, but that was no surprise.

Following after Rise, he got up and brought Alina a plate and after a sideways glance at Keynes a glass, pouring her some whiskey.

“It’s good to see you, Alina,” he said and squeezed her shoulder before returning to his own seat. He was never one for protocol, especially not here in a familiar setting with any of the old Aegis group. They had been through too much to let any of those formalities come between them.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:50 am

Caltha - Bunker
Luke Jaron

Luke missed his chance to laugh at what was happening in front of him; he missed the chance to say any word as High General herself showed up to the table.

If Jax did not wake Luke from the darkness, Luke probably have put all the blame on her. It was then he realized that he still had his tongue out and as Lenka giggled, Luke's face turned pink. He felt little embarrassed that she saw that, Luke nodded, "Th-thanks." Said Luke and he drank water from the cup.

It was then he realized that it probably was Lenka's own cup. "Is-is this your cup?" Luke asked nervously.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:02 pm

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
Belobog Volkov, "Belo"

"No, Alexei is not that kind of soldier. I might weaver, but his loyalty to Arusia is greater than mine. That's why he made the hard choices.... Ehlana and I..." Belobog stopped his lips for a second, and he continued. "That's why he was the decision maker..."

Belobog followed Kurik, "Let's hope he did not hear the conversation from that room..." Said Belobog.

There was concern in his voice and a guilt....
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:35 pm

Ocean

- Lisa -

"That's a decision you have to make for yourself." Lisa responded with a shrug. "The way I see it, your people already betrayed you. I doubt they'll take it personally if you return the favor."

"Even so, I do understand that some loyalties run deep." She leaned back into the seat, closing her eyes. "Like it or not, you've committed several crimes in our country. I'm not sure how your people handle things like that, but I can't lie to you about this. Our administration has been seeing a lot of push-back on recent issues. They'll want to make an example out of you. What kind of example is up to you."

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

Aegis

- Marcus -

"I'm not making excuses." Marcus responded as he forked a chunk of meat and stuck it into his mouth. "But the home is a big part of who I am. Even though I'm technically free to leave at this point, I've put it off because I don't know where else to go. It may not look like much, but to me, it's 'home'."

He glanced at the new arrival, and had to do a double take. The High General was sitting at the same table as him? How many stars must have misaligned to achive that? She seemed surprisingly chill though. Lecarde had said as much, but he was never sure what to believe with bureaucratic types.

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

- Keynes -

"It is." Keynes responded to Rise's question. "Actually, Lecarde is currently in the Capitol on business. I could arrange for you guys to get together if you'd like." He directed the question to Marcus, who nodded slightly.

"I'd like that. When Lenka and I skipped town to follow everyone else, I didn't exactly have time to tell anyone where I was going. That's probably a conversation that we should have in person."

"I agree." Keynes said, pouring himself another glass of whiskey.

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

- Alina -

"I agree too." Alina chimed in, swiping the glass from in front of Keynes and downing it in one go.

She slammed it back onto the table in front of him and gestured to the bottle. "Pour it."

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Keynes asked as an amused grin pulled at the corners of his mouth.

She contemplated that for a moment before reaching over to Rise's glass and sliding it across the table as well. "Drinking alone probably wouldn't do much for my reputation." Alina said, putting an arm over the back of Rise's chair. "But having a few drinks with an old girlfriend is perfectly acceptable, right?"

"Now, pour em."
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:22 pm

Peterny - Prison
- Alexei -

Of course, Nadenka couldn't help but completely disregard his orders and immediately start scolding him. Alexei sighed and took her arm, leading her out of the cell. Fortunately, she calmed down quickly and unlocked her cuffs.

"You lead, I will follow." she said.

Alexei nodded and stepped outside the prison, only to see Kurik and Belo making their way down the corridor. Swearing under his breath, Alexei grabbed Nadenka's arm and pulled her around the corner.

"We have to move fast," he said quietly. They were lucky that the Old Guard were preparing to evacuate, or else they surely would have put the bunker into lockdown, and any hope of escaping would have been gone.

They headed down a hallway, moving as quickly and quietly as they could. He wanted to avoid Kurik and Belo, for more than one reason. But if it came down to it... he was ready to fight.

Alexei glanced at Nadenka. He thought, for a moment, how much more difficult she'd made heveryhting the moment she appeared. In a way, she'd compltetely ruined his life.. And yet, he'd be lying if he said he would go back and keep it from happening. It was too confusing to process right now.

There were more important concerns anyway. How to get out of here? The tunnel seemed the best choice. It was possible news of what had transpired hadn't reached any of th Old Guard troops outside, so they might let them through without too much trouble. If he could lift one of the patrol vehicles, he might be able to get them into Peterny and onto a train, or maybe just hide out.

Alexei could hear Kurik and Belo following behind, and unfortunately, they had just passed into a long hallway with nowhere to hide. If they kept going, just past here, they might be able to get through the tunnel and outside. But then, Kurik and Belo might alert the guards and make escape impossible. The best thing to do then... was to stop them here.

"You can heal, yes?" he asked Nadenka, pulling out his batons. "Cause I'm probably going to need some patching up after this."

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

Caltha - Bunker

Rise grinned. So Alina was still Alina. That was a relief.

"Since when did you start caring about your reputation?" she asked teasingly. "But I'll drink to that."

She couldn't help but think about the time she'd had a little too much to drink and made a complete fool of herself doing karaoke for Aegis.

"If I start singing though, cut me off," she said, wincing. Of course, she was no longer jealous about Jax, so she couldn't sing anything too incriminating...

Keynes poured, and they began to drink. Rise kept to food more than drink, but Alina seemed to be pursuing a liquid diet. Not that she could blame her. The stress she must constantly be under...

"Maybe we should sail off together, all of Aegis, and form our own little island nation somewhere," Rise mused.

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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:27 am

Ocean
- Ehlana -

Ehlana shook her head. Would that girl ever shut up?

She found herself disagreement with most of what Lisa had said. While it was true that she didn’t feel any loyalty to Maxim and his plan, just the thought of betraying her country was putting a knot in her stomach. No matter what the Kaddathian government threatened her with, she wasn’t sure if she could ever do that.

If she could believe Lisa, it sounded like the Kaddathian government didn’t really have any interest in the truth, but rather sought a way to make her a pawn to strengthen their position. Well that certainly was even less trust inspiring. Politics. She hated it.

“Believe what you want,” she said quietly without offering an explanation.

“I don’t think your position in the government is high enough to make statements about what they will or will not do,” she said after short pause.

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

Caltha - Bunker
- Lenka -

Lenka recovered from her awe when Luke asked her a question.

“Uhm…no, not mine,” she said and looked around to see where she grabbed the glass from. “I think it was Marcus’ glass.”

“Is this yours?” she turned back to Marcus.

Then her eyes narrowed. “Also you know that’s not what I meant,” she said to clarify her earlier statement. “I was talking about you whining about lack of life experiences and explanations when you were little because no one was around to take care of you.”

“Life generally doesn’t come with an instruction manual.”

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

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
- Kurik -

Kurik threw Belo a few glances as they headed to the prison. He looked surprisingly guilty considering the fact that it wasn’t his fault.

When they arrived at the prison, he could see immediately that they were too late. The guard was knocked out and the cell was open.

“Oh, Alexei,” he murmured. “What have you done?”

This left no doubt, he must have heard or seen something that was discussed in the command centre. Otherwise, he never would’ve gone off the rails so quickly.

“They couldn’t have gone far,” he said to Belo. “I want to avoid alerting the entire complex. Let’s see if we can find them first.”

Kurik knew not all tunnels would lead to an exit. Quickly they headed down the next best tunnel. Eventually they came around a corner, only to find Alexei waiting for them, batons raised.

He stopped. For a moment he was indecisive aware that there were cameras around. This already cost Alexei his reputation. If he failed here, his newly gained influence could quickly disappear. However, he really wanted to talk with Alexei before he tried to kill him.

Kurik pulled out his pair of Sai and turned to Belo. “If we want to talk to Alexei, we have to get rid of the cameras. But it has to look convincing, like it happened in a fight. Any sign of hesitation that we’re not following orders, will mean our necks are next on the line,” he whispered.

“Alexei,” he said and shook his head. “What were you thinking?”
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:21 am

Caltha - Bunker
Luke Jaron

"Oh, really? Thank you, Marcus." Said Luke to Marcus as Lenka told him it's Marcus cup.

Luke felt little confused as he felt disappointment in his heart, but such emotion never made it out to Luke's face as Luke was genuinely grateful to Marcus for sharing cup of water.

Luke refill the cup as a gesture of his thanks, and passed it to Marcus. When Lenka and Marcus continued to have conversation about the life experience and such, Luke smiled weakly.

Especially when Lenka spoke about instruction manual, Luke could not help it, but looked at Lenka. Luke was not so sure why, but somehow he felt what Lenka had said indicated some part of her life she had the time of difficulty.

"It doesn't, but you can make one for your own life. That's why people are different, and interesting. I'm sure you are making a good and fun instruction for your own life, Lenka. And Marcus, too." Said Luke, "And I bet everyone here is making one." Then Luke caste his golden eyes at his tea cup and shrugged, "And I think life would be too boring if it came with all the instructions and answers. Even if I wish I had smoother ride in my life, I am glad that I am here now." Said Luke, looking at everyone and Lenka last.

Then Luke realized that he sounded like really old man; he cleared his throat, trying to avoid any eye contact. He could feel his face turning pink. "I mean, I am really glad that my life led me to meeting you all." Unable to meet everyone's eyes.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
Nadenka Orlov

"Hey, I don't know about the girls that you have met, but you are speaking to a girl who still is a soldier. I won't let you fight alone." said Nadenka. "And don't worry about it, I got your healing covered."

She took a stance to fight the individuals who they had been trying their best to avoid the fight. Nadenka bite her lips; Belobog was scary, but Nadenka's thought was more concerned with Kurik as Nadenka knew nothing about him.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
Belobog Volkov, "Belo"

"He must have heard it...." Said Belobog as he looked at the fallen guards.

Belobog nodded at Kurik's assessment, and agreed with him of what to do. "Yes, let's go."

Belobog draw his pistols as they finally cornered them, "Let me go against him..." said Belobog, stepping forward.

Belobog already knew where the cameras were and it would be easy for him to get rid of it all by shooting them down; however, such act would just work badly for Kurik and himself.

He had to fake it.

Belobog rushed it to his former comrade with his pistols drawn; the cameras would capture Belobog rushing to his comrade with rage.

However, it was Nadenka who met with Belobog's fake rage; she surprised him with her skill as well. "Oh no, you don't!" Belobog's tightened his jaws. This woman was really getting on his nerves.

"Yes, now I think about it, it is all your fault!" Belobog enraged, and quickly pointed his gun at her. But Nadenka quickly swiped Belobog's arm, and gun, that had silencer attached, was fired.

The camera was hit and it broke apart, and then there was another one broke apart by misfired by Belobog. The doctor was surprisingly good at what she was doing, and it caught Belobog off guard as well.

The misfire from Belobog had happened several times though, and Belobog definitely looked mad and he looked like he was going to kill the woman who was standing against his way.

Then suddenly, Belobog quickly distanced himself away from Nadenka, "Done." Said Belobog, as all the cameras were taken out.

The area was now completely out of the sight. It would not buy them long time, but probably sufficient time for Kurik to hear Alexei out. "We don't have much time, Kurik." Said Belobog, and his eyes shifted to his comrade, ignoring the glare from Nadenka's eyes.

Even though Nadenka stared at Belobog coldly, he was surprised by sudden retreat from Belobog, and feeling something was not right, she did not chase in for the attack. If She could tell something was off. Alexei, who probably knew both of them better than her, probably have realized that too.

"What's really going on here?" said Nadenka, her stance, however, was still ready to fight them.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:30 am

Aegis

- Keynes -

"Nonsense." Keynes chuckled as he poured the amber liquid into the two glasses before him. "If you start singing, we'll just hand you something stronger."

"It could probably do both of you some good to unwind right about now." If only it were that easy, but their plans could wait until tomorrow anyway. The Old Guard would know better than to try and send the people a message after dark. Anything they did from this point on would be in the light of day. That would be the only way to earn the trust they wanted.

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

- Alina -

"Unfortunately, as High General, I have to care about my reputation. It's one of the drawbacks of the job." She sighed, snatching the glass from the table and pouring its contents down her throat.

"Okay. That's a good start." She sat the glass down in front of Keynes again and glanced over the dishes on the table. With a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, she stabbed a piece of chicken and moved it to the plate in front of her. "Keep 'em coming, barkeep." Alina quipped as she ripped off a chunk of chicken with her fork and stuffed it into her mouth.

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

- Marcus -

As Marcus turned his attention back to the conversation with Lenka, he glanced at his cup, which was now in Luke's hands. "Umm... Yeah. Right. You can keep it." He began to rise from his chair to go get another when both of them spoke again, their words rooting him in place.

"I didn't realize that I was coming across as whining." He sighed. "And I believe that Luke here is more insightful than I'd originally given him credit for. No offense." Marcus added with a grin in Luke's direction.

He got up and collected another glass before sinking back into his seat to fill it up. "I honestly think I'm better off for the fact that I've had to figure things out on my own. It wasn't intended as a complaint, just an observation. Besides, I've never been the greatest at following instructions anyway." Marcus finished with a wolfish smile. He also made sure to sit his cup on the other side of his plate, out of Lenka's reach.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:58 am

Ocean

- Raidon -

Raidon cast a glance toward the back of the ship where Lisa was debating with the prisoner.

“I don’t think your position in the government is high enough to make statements about what they will or will not do,” the prisoner said.

"No, hers isn't," Raidon agreed. "Mine, however, is. I can tell you that the High General is fair and just to a fault. If you prove yourself to be more than just a nuisance, she'll treat you as such."

He looked up in the mirror at the prisoner, his grey eyes almost as cold and piercing as they were in his days as Chief of Police.

"And I can tell you that you don't have a very long ride to improve my opinion of you. So I suggest you use your remaining time wisely."

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

Caltha - Bunker

- Rise -

Rise stuck her tongue at Keynes, then almost bit down on it in surprise at the way Alina harpooned the chicken in front of her and dropped it onto her plate.

"Take it easy, Alina," Rise said, laughing. "I think the chicken suffered enough."

She took a sip of her drink and looked over at James, offering him a smile before turning to Luke.

"Hey, Luke, have you thought about contacting Ergo to see how your friend is doing?" she asked. He was supposed to be out of harm's way now, but she thought he might still want to check up.

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

Ergo Research

- Kokonoe -

Kokonoe sighed and rubbed at her temples. Getting all the Redcape victims stabilized and transferred to Ergo had been troublesome enough, but studying the virus and its effects was a whole layer of trouble.

"We're lucky only a few people were infected," she muttered to herself. "This could have wound up a nightmare plague."

It certainly hadn't done much to ease the tensions between the Strain Registration resistors and the Anti-Strain faction. That Lev character was getting even more impassioned in his speeches, and it seemed like-

A message came through her com. Puzzled, Kokonoe searched for the message and the intended recipients. All members of the Grand Council, it seemed, but the sender wasn't affiliated with the government.

Kokonoe scrolled down, then froze.

"No..."

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

Peterny - Old Guard HQ

- Alexei -

Alexei grunted in exasperation as Nadenka refused to stay back, but he had to admire a woman that wouldn't let others fight for her.

"Suit yourself," he sighed, managing a worn half-smile.

Kurik and Belo rounded the corner, their eyes accusing. So, they believed this bull too. Alexei stared back, his muscles tensed to strike.

"I believe your people have a saying," he said. "'Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb,' yes?"

Belo drew his pistols and charged them. Alexei stepped forward to meet him, but Nadenka had already blazed past him.

"Damn it," he growled, knowing he would be more hindrance than help if he stepped into the fray now.

Their movements were a blur, with Belo letting off several shots that just missed Nadenka. However, just as suddenly, Belo disengaged and fell into place beside Kurik.

"Done." he announced. "We don't have much time, Kurik."

Alexei's eyes took in the destroyed cameras before falling back to his former comrades.

"So, you're not here to take us in after all," he said, relaxing his guard. "I didn't betray you, but then, I think you already guessed that."

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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:51 am

Transport Ship
- Ehlana -

Ehlana looked up when Raidon spoke. She could see his cold eyes in the mirror and fought to keep her expression impassive even though she felt the hairs at the back of her neck stand up.

She stopped herself from commenting that in the current situation the High General probably wasn’t her primary concern. If she understood the structure of the new government correctly, she wasn’t in a position to make these decision herself. She didn’t know how many among the Council in Kaddath could be trusted or were already turned by the Old Guard. However, she was certain, some of them would have their own agenda.

“Why should I bother?” she finally replied. “You already decided you don’t trust me, which is probably a smart decision.”

At least she was being honest.

“Nothing I say or do now on this flight will change your opinion and I’m not in the habit of kissing up to anyone.” However, her voice didn’t have the same hostile tone that it had in the beginning when they questioned her at Ergo.

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

Caltha - Bunker
- Lenka -

“Oh for sure,” Lenka agreed with Luke. “Life doesn’t need an instruction manual. Where would be the fun in that?” She smiled at him.

“We all work with what is given to us,” she said. “And I’m happy your decisions lead you here, Luke. I don’t think we ever would’ve met like this at the university.”

Completely ignoring her food as she was too engrossed in the conversation, she looked at Marcus and grinned back.

“Well neither am I,” she replied, remembering that they both had disregarded caution and instructions when they decided to join in on this adventure. “And still some good came of it.”

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

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
- Kurik -

Fortunately, Belo didn’t need any more hints as he rushed ahead in a mock fight with Nadenka. Belo did good and to anyone watching it would seem he was intent on killing Nadenka.

“Good job,” Kurik said to Belo and then turned to Alexei.

“I’m not an idiot. I know you’re loyal to Arusia. And I’m hoping your trust in her isn’t misplaced,” Kurik said and watched Alexei carefully. He wanted to hear it from him, look in his eyes to make sure he was telling the truth. “I know Farrington was looking for a scapegoat. You foolishly put yourself in a position to be set up. Maxim had no choice but to give you up so he wouldn’t compromise his own and thus Arusia’s position.”

He was talking quickly now. If anyone was watching the security feed, they would soon send someone to check what was going on.

“This tunnel leads south. When they army attacked earlier, they blew a hole in the tunnel. You can get out through there. The rest of the tunnel is unstable, so it can easily be made to collapse,” he explained his idea.

“One thing…it has to look convincing. Belo and I also can't come back unscathed. They know how good you are,” Kurik said. “We can chase you out, but they will keep hunting you until they find you.”

“Nadenka, can you heal a curse?” he asked while his eyes stayed on Alexei. “It’s risky, but if they think you died from a curse, they might not keep searching as hard.”

He didn't mention that it would also less likely compromise his own position if he had a partial success to show for.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:38 am

Caltha - Bunker
Luke Jaron

"Yup, I am planning to check on him" said Luke, smiling. "Knowing him, he will probably scream at my ears if he is awake, but, oh well, as long as his alive and kicking... that's good."

When the others mentioned about breaking the rules and coming out well, Luke smiled faintly, looking back to his action until now...

"Well, for me, I have broken too many rules..." Luke commented in sheepish manner, "I think some rules are better to be unbroken, but I don't regret on some of the rules that I broke to get here." Luke drank water that Marcus decided not to take.


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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:13 pm

Aegis

- Alina -

Alina shrugged before pulling a piece of the chicken off with her fork. "It's already dead. I don't suppose it will care." Truth be told, she hadn't even realized how violently she'd stabbed it. Her had had been less than stellar, and despite their best efforts, Alina wasn't convinced that even her friends could make a dent in her sour mood tonight.

With a sigh, she reached for another drink, but the sudden buzz of her communicator drew her attention. "Sorry." She pushed herself back from the table. "If someone is buzzing me at this hour, it must be important."

Alina stood and took a single step away from the table before stopping in her tracks. Her legs wobbled, but she somehow maintained her balance on them. The name on the device couldn't be right, could it? Swallowing to push her emotions back down, Alina pushed the button on the receiver.

"Jax?"

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

- Keynes -

At the name, Keynes eyes shot to Alina's back. If Jax was calling her, that meant he was alive, and at least somewhere semi-safe. Hopefully, he'd also have the prisoner with him, and with any luck, they'd finally be able to get some answers.

So far, he'd only found himself asking more and more questions, and that was never a good way to be.

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

- Marcus -

"I'm not sure that rules and instructions are the same thing here." Marcus commented as he buttered a roll and bit a chunk out of it. "I try to remain within the law, when possible. Getting into trouble means risking the wrath of Lecarde, and although he's generally a gentle soul, once crossed, he can be fierce."

"Your comments do make me curious though."
Marcus gestured in Luke's direction. "Exactly what kind of rules do you go around breaking, if you don't mind my asking?"
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:46 am

Old Guard HQ
Nadenka Orlov & Belobog Volkov

"I can... What do you have in mind?" Belobog eyes were cast down, "It means we have to stage Alexei's betrayal..." Belobog kicked his pistols away, pretty far from himself.

"Make sure it looks convincing..." said Belobog, Nadenka looked at Alexei, it looked like she finally understood clearly what's actually happening. "Wait, you mean you are being framed as a betrayer? If you take me, you might not be able to plea for your innocence!"

"I will see to it that he will be forgiven, that's not your concern. You have to make sure he makes it out alive." Belobog gave her a cold stare, Nadenka, not backing away, looked at Belobog's direction. She crossed her arms, "Don't worry about it, I will make sure he will be alive."

Belobog gave sound of 'hmpf', and looked at Kurik. "Let's make it quick" Said Belobog.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:21 am

Transport Ship
- Raidon -

Raidon stared back at Ehlana through his mirror as she flatly refused any attempts to get into his good graces. Then, he diverted his eyes back to the ocean with a snort.

"Honest an direct," he said. "That's as good a place to start as any."

He glanced over at Jax, who was fiddling with his communicator.

"If you're thinking of contacting Alina, don't," he said. "We don't know who managed to sabotage your transport, and I'm starting to suspect we have one or more spies at the capital. If that's the case, they may be intercepting communications in Caltha. If possible, I'd rather be able to reveal that you and the prisoner are still alive on our terms."

Jax frowned. "I get what you're saying. But I have to let Alina now. I can't imagine how she must be feeling right now."

Raidon sighed and shook his head. "Try to make it quick."

As Jax called Alina, Raidon thought of the call he was going to have to make to Arya. He still wasn't sure how to break all this news to her, and the longer he kept quiet, the worse he felt.

"We should be in Caltha soon," he said. "I'll take us into the Grey's private hanger, and then we'll slip in the backway access to the palace."

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

Caltha - Bunker

- Rise -

At the sound of Jax's name, Rise whirled around and scooted closer to Alina. She didn't want to interrupt her private conversation, but she just had to know the truth.

"Hey," she heard Jax said say. She could see him smiling up out of the communicator's screen. For a moment, he seemed stricken with emotion and just simply gazed at Alina.

"I'm okay," he said, "We all are. Raidon wants me to keep things short. I'll explain later. But we'll be there soon. I... can't wait to see you."

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

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
- Kurik -

Alexei's jaw clenched. It was a relief to know that Kurik and Belo had enough sense to realize the truth, but he didn't appreciate the lecture at the moment. Had he been stupid to talk to Nadenka and associate with an enemy? Probably. But it was too late to regret it.

Kurik quickly explained his escape plan, and Alexei nodded his understanding. He had to wonder if Kurik realized he was doing something equally stupid by risking his position to help them. But Kurik wasn't a stupid man. He had to have some sort of plan.

“Nadenka, can you heal a curse?” Kurik asked while his eyes stayed on Alexei. “It’s risky, but if they think you died from a curse, they might not keep searching as hard.”

So that was it. It definitely was risky - for him - but he wasn't about to complain. If Kurik was willing to go this far to help them escape, he wasn't going to complain about the particulars.

"All right then," Alexei said. Nadenka could handle Belo. He walked up to Kurik and nodded. Then he punched him in the stomach and backhanded him with the other arm. While Kurik was on the ground, Alexei gave him a kick in the side - not hard enough to break anything, but hard enough to hurt.

"All right, do your thing," he said, reaching down and helping Kurik to his feet. He took a step back, exhaled, and nodded.

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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:26 am

Caltha - Bunker
Luke Jaron

"Some rules that I broke were really minor ones.... Some rules I broke..." Luke hesitated, his eyes shifting to the direction of Keynes and Alina. "Well, I think it's better I talk about this later... Besides, my struggle isn't something to boast about...  Don't get me wrong, I am glad that I am here. But, how I got here... before I met you all, it's not something I want to talk about... May be, you know, when I am really ready, I will tell you guys more about it." Luke smiled at Marcus direction.

"How about yourself? You both must have broke some rules to get here? Luke innocently smiled and asked, but he quickly found himself casting his face downwards when he felt his eyes met with Lenka's

Just then Luke's bright ears caught the voice of Jax, and he looked at Alina and Rise direction.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:20 am

Caltha - Bunker
- Lenka -

Lenka finally remembered to eat as Marcus and Luke talked. As always, the food was great, much better than at the university.

She was looking at Alina, well staring was more accurate, the conversation at her side fading in the background. She wondered why her image from Alina didn’t align with what she was seeing here and she sighed.

“You okay?” James asked, seeing her glances at Alina.

Lenka shrugged. “You know what they say…never meet your heroes,” Lenka said, her eyes following Alina as she got up to answer her com. “I didn’t expect her to be so…,” Lenka struggled for a fitting word. “…unapproachable?”

James chuckled. “She’s not. There’s just a lot going on with the disappearance of the transport ship, the Redcapes and the opposition she is getting at the Capital. It’s a lot of stress, so cut her some slack.”

He glanced back and felt a slight relief. It sounded like Jax was okay. Finally a bit of good news.

“I know,” Lenka said, “I just can’t help it. You told me so much about her and I see her on TV all the time, but this isn’t what I see here.”

“I know,” James replied. “You’ll just have to be patient and give it some time.”

Lenka nodded and redirected her attention back to her plate. She wasn’t convinced yet, but it was no use to discuss this with James right now.

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

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
- Kurik -

Alexei caught on quickly. Good. Kurik tensed, but didn’t move when the other man attacked him. At least Alexei pulled his punches a little bit.

He grabbed his hand to get up. “That’ll work.”

“The hole in the tunnel is just up ahead,” he said. “Run, so they can see it.”

“Tarukaja,” he cast the spell on himself and then struck the side of the tunnel. Debris came down from this already unstable segment of the tunnel and it cracked dangerously.

He let Nadenka get out ahead and once they were in view of the camera’s again, he began to cast.

“Poisma.”

The curse hit Alexei spot on.

“Belo, collapse the tunnel,” he called back, pointing at the guns.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:40 am

Aegis

- Alina -

"I'm just glad you're okay." Alina sniffed, and reached up to swipe away a tear. She still wasn't quite sure if this was reality or if the alcohol had hit her hard. "You really scared me this time, dummy."

She sniffed again and suddenly felt a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Get your pretty boy ass back home." Keynes words washed over her. "You've gone and made your girl cry."

Alina couldn't help it. The corners of her mouth turned up in a watery smile. "Don't listen to him. He's just jealous of said ass." She elbowed Keynes, but there wasn't any force in it, and she mouthed a silent "thank you" in his direction.

"If Raidon's concerned about the signal, go ahead and cut it off. Now that I know you're all still breathing, I'll be okay." She blew a kiss at the comm and shut it off before turning and collapsing into Keynes' open arms.

"They're okay..." She sniffed, and Keynes let out a sigh. "And I'm getting snot all over your shirt. So not holding it together very well. Sorry."

"I have an almost two year old." Keynes responded with a chuckle. "Your snot doesn't scare me."

"It's just that... I had to keep telling myself that he was okay, but I was afraid to hope for it. Because if I was wrong. If he didn't come back. It would have been like losing him all over again." Geez, when had she become such a wreck?

"And I'm gonna shut up now." She sniffed again. "Maybe alcohol isn't good for me after all. It makes me tell you all of my secrets."

"I'll have to keep that in mind." He chuckled again.

She somehow managed to give him a somewhat annoyed look, but it only lasted for a second before she gave him another squeeze, slipped out of his arms, and tumbled back into her chair.

"Finally, something worth celebrating about this stupid day!"

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

- Marcus -

"Don't let me pressure you." Marcus said, ripping off another piece of bread. "If you're not comfortable talking about stuff, just tell me to lay off. I understand that better than most."

The hysterics on the other side of the room gave him a moment to ponder Luke's question. Had he broken rules to get here? Definitely. Did he regret that? No. If not for the decisions he'd made, he wouldn't be sitting here now.

"I think the worst we did was 'borrowing' a vehicle from the student parking lot when we left the university, which I take full responsibility for." He coughed, a bit uncomfortably. "Speaking of which, I should probably tell someone that we left it near where we encountered the Redcape. I imagine the owner will be looking for it."

"Aside from that, we did skip out on classes for the last two days, but I don't think that will be a big concern, considering the events we've become a part of. I'd like to hope this is 'life experience' to go along with our studies, right Lenka?"
He asked, shooting a grin in her direction.
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:33 am

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
Nadenak & Belobog

"No payback?" Nadenka, ready to hurt Belobog to stage the fight. Belobog nodded, "No payback. Just take care of him. He is the only one left." Nadenka was caught off guard, for the first time, Belobog sounded sincere and he sounded really sad. Nadenka just nodded in response.

Nadenka gave him good punches and a kick and then Belobog played it right to rolled over to his gun. Nadenka qucikly went on and waited for the Alexei to her side.

When Kurik done his part, Belobog fired the gun in the way that it looked like he collapse the tunnel by accident. "That doctor, she really did a job on me." Belobog commented and passed out.

Nadenka came to Alexei's side, helping him out to get out from the collapsing tunnel.

The moment they came out from the tunnel, Nadenka was ready to heal Alexei and probably going to ask him what really was going on.... She wanted to hear from Alexei, from the beginning.

(OOC: Illya, you can have Nadenka casting her spell on Alexei as they get out)
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:17 am

Caltha - Bunker

- Rise -

They were okay. Rise let out a shaky sigh and smiled. Lisa and Jax... they were okay. And they would be here soon.

Then Aegis would really be back together.

"Finally, something worth celebrating about this stupid day!" Alina declared.

"I'll drink to that," Rise said cheerfully, raising her own drink. She squeezed James' hand and smiled.

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

Caltha - Grey Estate

- Raidon -

Alina's private ship settled back into the hangar, and Raidon stood from the pilot's chair with a muted sigh.

"The cuffs will need to go back on," he said to Jax, indicating their prisoner. He wasn't about to let her out into capital unrestrained.

Jax nodded and retrieved some cuffs to put on Ehlana, being gentle but firm. Raidon watched as he led her out, followed by Lisa.

"You all go on," he told them. "I need to make a call first."

He pulled out his com and took a deep breath before making his call. When it was answered, he managed a smile, his grey eyes softening fondly.

"Arya."

[OOC: Payne, you can have Lisa take the group to join with the others. Maybe have Ehlana dropped off at the prison along the way.]

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

Peterny - Old Guard HQ

- Alexei

The Poisma spell struck Alexei harder than he'd expected. It felt like a painful itch was worming its way through his body, and in only a few seconds, he was already feeling weak and lightheaded.

He allowed Nadenka to help him along, giving a last, fleeting look back at Kurik and Belo before the tunnel was sealed behind them.

"Thanks," he thought, never having a chance to get the words out.

Nadenka was ready to heal Alexei, but he shook his head.

"Not... yet," he murmured. "If anyone sees us, they need to think I'm still cursed."

They made their way to the nearest jeep and clambered inside. Nadenka hit the pedal, and they tore away from the base toward Peterny. She kept looking back through the mirror every few seconds, possibly trying to see if they were being pursued.

"I think that's far enough," she said abruptly, stopping the vehicle. "I need to get you healed."

"No, keep..." Alexei murmured, clutching at his chest.

Nadenka huffed impatiently and slid along the seat toward him, placing her hands on his chest.

"Posumundi," she murmured, and a wave a green light washed over Alexei.

Instantly, Alexei felt the pain and weakness withdraw. Groaning, he sat up straighter and shook his head.

"Stubborn woman," he mused, though he wasn't really complaining.

"Now, tell me everything," Nadenka insisted, starting to drive again.

Alexei glanced back, toward everything he'd left behind, and nodded.

"All right..."

[OOC: Nex, you can skip ahead to Alexei having filled Nadenka in on everything. Noin, you can have Kurik rejoin Maxim and Farrington for a debriefing, and then some answers from Maxim.]

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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:59 am

Caltha - Grey Estate
- Ehlana -

The airship landed softly and Ehlana took the last sip from her water bottle before Jax approached her. She sighed internally, but kept her face calm when he put the cuffs on her. It wasn’t a surprise.

Quietly she followed Jax out the airship, looking around curiously. This certainly wasn’t an official building and there was no one to welcome them. She could easily guess why they were sneaking around like this, but it still felt weird.

Darkness had set, but it was still light enough for her eyes to make out many details and features.

“This isn’t any official building,” she murmured quietly. “Where are we?”

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

- Arya -

Arya looked up from her computer when the phone rang. She'd been writing up some reports, getting lost in the numbers. For a moment she didn't even know what time it was.

Her face lit up when she saw Samael's number on the display.

"Samael," she said, sounding delighted. "I'm happy you're calling."

That reminded her, she had some news to share with him as well, but that could wait. She wanted to hear what he had to say first.

-----------------------
Caltha - Bunker
- Lenka & James -

“Right,” Lenka said, looking up. Her expression was a little distracted. She caught on and smiled. “Besides, we miss like what… 3 or 4 days of classes and then the holidays would have started anyways. No big deal”

“Did you hear that?” she asked and pointed towards the others. “The airship is safe. They are all okay.” Lenka looked relieved. The good news lifted the atmosphere in the room noticeably.

“I’m so happy to hear that,” she said and sunk back in her chair, watching the others celebrate.

James smiled at Rise and raised his drink as well. “Finally some good news,” he replied. “Let’s hope they get here fast, so they can get some food and give us some answers.”

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

Peterney - Old Guard HQ
- Kurik -

Kurik kept his eyes on the fleeing bodies of Nadenka and Alexei, wondering for a short moment if he would ever see them again. Then the tunnel collapsed and all he could see was dust and debris. Before that could bring back sad memories, he turned to Belo. The other man collapsed on the ground.

With a sigh, he picked him up and carried the young man back towards the command centre. Maxim and Farrington were still there along with Lorrin and a few others. All eyes drew towards them when Kurik kicked the door open, announcing their presence.

It didn’t surprise him that only Lorrin displayed some worry, while the face of Farrington turned from surprise to impatience. Maxim as always kept his expression neutral and it was hard to guess what he was thinking.

“He’s not dead, just unconscious,” Kurik said and set Belo down. Lorrin walked over.

“You okay?” he asked quietly. Kurik nodded and motioned for him to help Belo. Lorrin kneeled down and cast a Dia spell on Belo. That would hopefully be enough to wake him up as he didn’t look too badly injured.

Kurik turned to Maxim and Farrington and shook his head. “We couldn’t catch them,” he lied. “We managed to confront them briefly in the tunnel, but they got away through an opening. The tunnel collapsed afterwards.” Kurik looked angry, his mimic never betraying his words. “You were right, he did free the prisoner and she got away with him.”

He balled his fists. “If I’d just been a little faster…”

"I did manage to place a curse on Alexei," he added almost as an afterthought. "Even though he got away, he will not be getting far..."
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:47 am

Capitol

- Lisa -

"Thanks, again." Lisa gave Raidon's arm a squeeze as she exited the aircraft. She started to say more, but the words wouldn't come out. There had been a lot of bad blood between them, and now wasn't the time to hash it all out. At least she was willing to take the next step later though. That was progress.

As they wandered through the hangar, she shrugged at Ehlana's question. "I have no idea where we are specifically, but I saw the Capitol building through the window before we landed. So, we have to be somewhere inside the city."

She turned to Jax, who had been more silent since his hurried discussion with Alina in the aircraft. "How about you, big guy? Anything around here look familiar?"

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

Aegis

- Keynes -

At least there was some good news tonight. Keynes settled back into his chair and refilled both Alina's and Rise's glasses. Still, he couldn't help feeling like the other shoe hadn't fallen to the floor yet. There were too many other things going on, too much chaos.

Still, for now, he'd put a smile on his face and try to keep his spirits up for the others. Someone needed to be the rock for Aegis tonight, and Alina didn't seem capable of that right now.

"Every day is another worth celebrating." He grumbled in response to Alina's words, and scooped soup into his bowl. "You're still alive, which means you can make the next even better."

[OOC: Not posting for Marcus because he was somewhat talking to Luke.]
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PostSubject: Re: Genesis Crisis: Resurgence IC   Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:40 am

Caltha - Grey Estate

- Jax -

Jax nodded to Lisa's inquiry. He knew the place quite well, and should.

"It's the Grey Family Estate," he said. "Alina's home."

Their home. He sighed, wishing so intensely that it hurt that he and Alina could just curl up in bed together and forget the rest of the world.

"Come on, it's this way," he said, shaking off the thought and leading them out of the hangar.

It didn't take long for them to reach the palace, and with Jax's security clearance, they were easily able to slip in through the back entrance. Fortunately, this brought them close to the prison sector, where they were able to secure Ehlana on their way.

"I'll be back in the morning," he told her. "I'm sure the Council will want to speak with you right away."

Jax and Lisa turned to leave, but he paused a moment and turned back to her.

"Think about what you want to do here, Ehlana. You can't change what's already happened. But you can still change your future."

With that, they left the prison behind and headed to the bunker.

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

- Raidon -

Raidon hesitated for a few moments, trying to decide how best to approach this situation.

"There's a few things I need to fill you in about," he said. "But first, I want you to know that everything is okay. Everyone is okay."

He could see her look of confusion and took a deep breath.

"Lisa and Jax were transporting a prisoner from Ergo Research to the Caltha. It was related to the Redcape situation. We believe the ship was sabotaged remotely by a spy at the capital. The... airship crashed over the ocean. Lisa, Jax, and the prisoner were fine though. I found them a little while ago and brought them back to Caltha."

He'd averted his eyes while talking, but forced himself to look back at her.

"I didn't want to keep it from you" he said. "I just wanted to make sure I knew the truth before I worried you... and the baby."

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

Caltha - Bunker

Rise beamed at James, feeling giddy with excitement as she tried to finish off her food. But as Keynes refilled their glasses, his words felt sobering to her.

"Yeah, Keynes is right," she said to Alina. "I mean, isn't that what we all fought for before? Isn't that what I've been singing about all these past couple years?"

She looked back at her plate and caught sight of movement down the hall. A moment later, she stood up, her heart swelling. Yes, it was definitely them.

"Jax! Lisa!"

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

Peterny - Old Guard HQ

- Maxim -

Maxim studied Kurik carefully. He'd come to know Kurik very well in their time together, and he knew immediately there was more going on than Kurik was saying. Though, to be fair, that went for him as well.

Kurik explained that Alexei and Nadenka had escaped, though Kurik and Belo had not let them go without a fight. And with the parting gift of a poison curse as well.

"Tch."

Farrington scowled at him. "Yes, maybe that will be enough to kill him. Or maybe not. The woman might still get away too."

He turned to Maxim, his face etched with distaste. "Your agents are quite unimpressive. Apparently, Arusia needs better training for them."

Maxim managed a faint smile as he glanced at Farrington. "On the contrary," he said mildly. "If Alexei weren't trained so well, he would be here right now, wouldn't he?"

Farrington said nothing to that. He merely turned away and forced a deep breath.

"It's done," he said. "It hardly matters at this point. After all, after the message we broadcast tomorrow, our plan should move into the final stage. I expect you both to be there first thing in the morning."

With that, he turned and marched away. Maxim watched him go, then turned to Kurik and Lorrin.

"Please take him the medical bay," he said to Lorrin, then looked at Kurik. "Walk with me?"

Maxim led Kurik out of the room and down the hall to another chamber. When they entered, Kurik could see all the bodies of those that had fallen in the attack stored neatly in preparation for burial.

"I doubt they're bothering to audio monitor the dead," Maxim mused. "I think we're safe to talk here. Now..."

He turned and gazed at Kurik. "What really happened with Alexei?"

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