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Path of Dawn: Part 3 Rated R


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#41 EChatty

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:08 PM

"You're welcome." Lilly said, smiling. "I was just doing my job." She went back to her desk and sat down while the others talked to Cori. It was really none of her business what it was about unless it involved the health of the crew, and then she only assisted Daze and Ariana when they needed it and watched the infirmary when they weren't there.

#42 Mikoto

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 06:56 PM

Catherine nodded absently a couple times as Cori gave the basic intel about the Inculta family and the city they lived in, committing the information to memory for later recall. There was a few moments of silence as she worked through some ideas to help keep her pilot as safe as possible. "There are some things we can do." She said finally. "If you prefer we can drop you off somewhere like Terazed or perhaps with Erica until this mission is over. Or you can still pilot us and provide any more detailed intel-city maps, checkpoints, that kind of thing and you remain aboard the Path. Or we can... or should I say Daze or Dr Lilkamp can temporarily surgically alter your appearance so that you appear to be another random, unknown Inari, human or even Nietzschean then fake your background." She suggested. "Its up to you. I'm not going to order you to risk your life when there's absolutely no need to endanger you." She told him.

#43 EChatty

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:13 AM

Lex left the infirmary while Catherine was talking to Cori, and he went to his own quarters to clean up and rest. He was baffled as to why this Inculta family would be attacking the crew if they were only after the pilot and he didn't believe for a minute that was the case. Unless they thought that the crew was now working with Cori in whatever he did before, which wasn't the case. He sighed and entered his bathroom to shower while he thought on the possibilities.

#44 Balthamos

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:46 AM

Cori thought about it for a moment, "If the person who hired the thugs was specifically after me I don't think they'd have gone to the trouble of attacking the rest of the members of the path or leaving me alive so I don't think we need to take the most drastic course of action. If someone has realised where I am then going to stay with Erica will only put her in danger. I'd say the best course of action would be for me to pilot the path and stay on board. I know the space well enough to keep us out of trouble should we need to. There aren't many hiding places around the planet though."

#45 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

From her seat in the bridge of her recently purchased transport ship, Jake1, Erica's sensors picked up the Saskari Drift ahead of her. She was about ten minutes away and pushing the small ship to its maximum in order to reach the Path.

"We'll make it in time, Jake," she called to her stuffed tiger. He was strapped into his own seat, sitting upright and staring straight ahead. "Cori's going to be fine, you'll see."

Cath had sent her a message earlier that bounty hunters had attacked the crew aboard the drift. Luckily she had still been on the planet where her sister's message had sent her, finishing up her business. Erica was worried sick about Cori, who, according to the message had been injuired and was unconscious. Luckily, everyone else had escaped injury, and Kaytee and Tommy hadn't even left the ship. So far no other messages had been transmitted to her reply...except for a cryptic sentence from Dawn that it might not be safe to transmit any further.

Now Erica was doubly....even triply...worried as she piloted through the blackness of space. So much for telling Cori he'd not be safe if he came with her! She ought to have listened to his argument that he'd rather be with her than safe.

Having left in response to an urgent message from her sister, who she'd not heard from in at least seven years, she was returning with a huge, sealed crate to which she couldn't find an opening for the life of her. The man on the planet who'd been holding the large box had joked that he hoped there wasn't a coffin in there, it was about the right size. He'd told Erica some gorgeous redheaded Nietzschean had dropped it off with instructions to hold it for someone named Erica who would give him a code word. She had, and he'd turned over the box. Erica wondered what the heck Jessamine was up to...why would she have left a box and not waited to see Erica?

Erica had already bought herself a small transport ship, large enough for, say two people, to live comfortably and travel. Certainly not as large as the Ebon Hawk, and the ship wasn't capable of retrieving and storing cargo like the Hawk, but Erica thought it might come in handy for day or weekend trips with Cori. But at least she had a way of getting this strange box back to the Path.

When Erica saw the drift and the Highguard ship docked to the huge structure, she tapped the comm console linking her ship to the Path of Dawn. "Hello, Path?" she said. "Anyone there? Guess who? I'm back!! And I'm heading straight for your cargo bay. I have a ship now!! Can I come aboard?"

#46 Mikoto

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

Path detected the small transport ship approaching and scanned it, detecting Erica's familiar lifesign signature as well as a much fainter second lifesign stored in the back. So she was unsurprised when the ship hailed her a minute and a half later. She used the communication channel to bring up an image of herself on the transport's viewscreen moments after asking Cath for permission. "Greetings Erica. It is good to see you again. You are cleared to land in cargo bay two." It took only a microsecond for the AI to calculate a probable reason as to why the Nietzschean had returned so quickly. "Cori will be fine. He's recovering well and is awake. He's still in the infirmary though." Path added helpfully even as she prepared to open the cargo bay door for the transport ship.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Catherine nodded. "You got it. We'll head for Inaris once you're fit enough for slipstream travel." Beside her Path's hologram appeared. She noted that the AI seemed pleased about something. "Captain, a small transport ship is approaching. Erica is aboard along with another fainter lifesign. She wants to board. I detect no threats aboard her ship." She asked. Cath nodded. "Sure." She was glad to hear she was back. "I'm guessing she'll want to come check on Cori here. I might as well wait for her here to welcome her back." She found herself wondering what the faint lifesign Path had mentioned was exactly. She'd know soon enough as she knew her ship well enough to know she'd be as curious as her captain.

#47 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:32 PM

"Thanks, Path," Erica said, her heart lurching in joy at hearing Cori was awake and recovering. "Here I come then."

After the hangar doors opened, Erica maneuvered her new ship down on the markers in cargo bay two. A couple of the crew members came out from where they'd taken refuge behind some large crates and waved. Erica stuck her tongue out at them. She wasn't that bad of a pilot. Next time they all went skating at the homemade rink, she was going to knock them over.

Leaping from her chair, she ran through the ship and nearly jumped out the hatch before it even lowered all the way to the ground. Her knee high gold boots and sequinned emerald green leggings and vest made it slightly difficult to land properly, but she managed. A bot waited for instructions. "Grab my bags, will you?" Erica said breathlessly, yanking her long red and gold striped hair out of its pony tail. "And don't forget Jake. He hates to be by himself. Thanks!"

As Erica started hurrying through the ship toward the infirmary, taking the corridors and ladders at top speed, she talked to Path. "Hey! I'm sure you've scanned the ship and found the crate in back...I don't know what's in it, my sister left it for me, but can you store it for me? I'll check it out later. And let the galley people know I'm back, please! Right now I'm on my way to Cori."

Thinking more about the Inari she loved than where she was going, Erica didn't watch as she turned the corner to the infirmary. The Lancer trio she ran into, all humans, all tried to backstep before she crashed into them. But it was too late. The thudding as the three men tripped and fell over each other was quite loud, especially trying to avoid sharp boneblades when Erica held up her arms to protect her face.

"Oh crap! I'm sorry!" she gasped, still standing. Everyone forgot she was stronger than she looked.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 03 January 2013 - 11:59 PM.


#48 Balthamos

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:37 PM

Cori promptly forgot that he was injured when he heard that Erica was on a small cargo ship and inbound for the Path. His leap out of bed would have been particularly impressive had his body been well enough to leap at all. Instead ungracefully he slid off the bed with a high pitched whine as his body reminded him that it was indeed damaged and he could not do as he pleased. Reluctantly he was helped back on to the bed by Cath with a lack of sympathy appropriate to the level of foolishness that he had displayed.

Cori could feel his heart pounding in his chest (which fortunately did not hurt). Instead of rushing the most direct route to the cargo bay hoping to intercept Erica on the way he had to make do with imagining her leaving a wake of confused and surprised crew members as she barreled towards the infirmary. He barely had time to wonder why her visit with her sister had been so short, Erica had frequently told him how much she missed her sister, when he heard the sounds of an eventful collision in the corridor outside.

#49 Mikoto

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:25 PM

Catherine helped Cori back into bed when he apparently forgot that he was injured after hearing that Erica was incoming. She didn't blame him for being excited about hearing that she'd returned. Cath herself would be eager to see Josh if they'd been seperated for a considerable length of time. She smiled slightly as she heard the sounds of a collision not far down the corridor outside the infirmary. "That could only be Erica arriving." She remarked with a certain amusement as she walked out of the infirmary and looked down the corridor even as Daze went over to the Inari pilot with a scanner in hand to make sure he hadn't injured himself in his enthusiasm. Her guess had proven accurate as the excitable Nietzschean was standing in the middle of the corridor with three Lancers on the deck at her feet. "Welcome back Erica." She greeted, trying hard to keep her face straight and the amusement out of her voice. "Cori is just inside."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dawn was in charge of moving the large crate from Erica's ship to an appropriate store room. One of the 'bots had taken the cook's bags and was transferring her personal belongings to her quarters and she knew her ship-self was informing the galley staff of Erica's return at that very moment. For her part Dawn placed her hand on the crate and took sensor readings of it. Inside the crate was a cryostasis pod with a lifeform inside it. The material was fairly thick and well-shielded but the results hinted that a sentient being was stored inside.

The power source was limited and the cryostasis pod would need to be connected to the ship's power systems soon to remain functioning. With that in mind Dawn attached an antigrav harness to the crate and carried the pod to the nearest store room, took the pod out of the crate it had been contained in and connected the power source to her ship-self's power supply. Now that she was satisfied that whatever was in there wasn't getting out anytime soon, the Avatar headed towards the infirmary.

#50 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:40 PM

"Welcome back, Erica. Cori is just inside."

Erica glanced up from the spectacle at her feet with a slightly embarassed expression, but also with relief at seeing Cath again and being back home. "Um, I don't think they're hurt," she said, stepping around the Lancers as they picked themselves up trying to regain some dignity. "Come by for pie later," she told them with a wave.

The Nietzchean squeezed her Captain's arm in greeting as she slipped in through the infirmary door. She caught Daze just finishing running his scanner over Cori, who was staring at her looking rather sheepish for some reason. She stared back for a moment, then remembered to breathe again.

"Seriously?" Erica said as she strode towards the bed. She lay a hand on his forehead and ran her palm down his cheek. "I was only gone for a a few days!" Her eyes raked Cori's body taking in the injuries and various stages of healing. Then her hands followed, touching and drawing back when Cori winced, then gingerly and gently probing and prodding as she walked around the bed. "Who did this to you? I'll kill them! No, better yet, I'll torture them and then kill them!"

She blinked back sudden tears and forced them away for now as she sat sideways on the bed. She lay both her hands on Cori's face and looked into his grey eyes, not even wanting to think about how it could have been so much worse. Her thumbs gently brushed his cheekbones.

Erica turned to study their purple doctor, then over to Cath. "He's going to be alright, isn't he? Path said he's recovering." Then she turned to give Cori a stern look, her bright green eyes full of determination. "He'll do whatever is necessary to heal, you can count on that!"

She let one hand slip down to rest on his chest while she entwined her fingers of the other with Cori's. She wanted to hear about this attack and what had been discovered. Then she was going to show Cori how much she had missed him and how happy she was that he was alive, well as much as his injuries could handle at the moment, while trying not to get kicked out of the infirmary.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 04 January 2013 - 10:55 PM.


#51 EChatty

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 09:05 PM

Josh had been a bit wary as the small craft had approached Path, but smiled when Erica asked permission to board. When Path reported to him that there was a faint lifesign in the container on her ship, he frowned a bit. However, since Erica had been given permission to board he figured that whatever it was, it wasn't dangerous. He left the bridge after Erica landed in the cargo bay and went to the infirmary, knowing that was where Erica would head first, and he was right. He had arrived just after Erica evidently collided with several of their crewmembers who had not been quick enough to get out of her way, probably because she had been moving so quickly in her hurry to get to Cori. He waited until she went to Cori's bedside before he walked in as well and stood beside Cath.

When Kaytee heard that Erica was coming back, she couldn't help but smile. The unusual Nietzschean and she were probably the unlikeliest of friends, but Erica was the closest thing she had to a friend and she missed her. She knew that Erica would probably head for the infirmary first thing, so that's where she went, being careful not to walk too close to anyone. She didn't want to accidentally bump anyone and hurt them. When she arrived, she saw that three Lancers were brushing themselves off in the corridor and Erica was sitting on Cori's bed. She went into the infirmary, smiling as she did so. "Welcome back Erica." She said.

Lex settled in his quarters after cleaning up and made out a report of the happenings from the drift. He still had no idea why they had been targeted,but he figured that Catherine would head for Inaris as soon as possible. It was something he would do as well. Once his report was concluded, he went to the messhall and divested the cook of a sizeable plate of food and sat down to eat, ignoring her very curious look when he did so, only smiling politely at her. The less people knew about what he could do, the safer he and they would be.

#52 Balthamos

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 03:31 PM

Cori's sheepish feeling was quickly swept away with waves of joy as Erica came in to the room. His smile looked as if he hadn't seen her in two years not just two weeks. He wiggled and wriggled and squirmed as her hands found most of his external injuries and finally he relaxed when her hands stopped poking and settled on his chest. He fully expected to be told off for getting himself hurt but not so soon. Though he didn't think Erica would have much trouble convincing Cath to take some degree of revenge on his attackers. As she teared he was about to overcome the emotion that had robbed him of his voice Josh and Kaytee joined the group. He settled for finding her fingers on his chest and intertwining them. He shuffled slightly to one side so she could sit on the bed and greeted the others as they came in.

#53 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 05:03 PM

Now that she was in physical contact with Cori and mostly satisfied with his well-being, Erica scooted closer to him on the medbay bed feeling the warmth of his body through the covers. She finally focused on the fact that Josh and Kaytee had joined them. She smiled happily to be back as she shoved her red and gold hair out of her face.

"It's good to be back," she told Kaytee, giving her friend a quick look over to make sure she still seemed at ease with her new-found Nietzschean-ness. "I missed you guys."

#54 Balthamos

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 06:10 PM

When Erica had moved herself closer Cori sat himself up with a little difficulty and helped her tuck her hair behind her ears. He took the opportunity to run his fingers through her hair. He carefully studded her because according to what she told him then she should have been in more danger than he was and as far as he could tell she seemed perfectly fine. He hoped she enjoyed her time with her sister and was a little bit surprised she hadn't tried to persuade her to come back to the Path and join the crew.

#55 Mikoto

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:51 PM

Catherine smiled when Daze assured them that Cori was fine, then stayed quiet while the others reunited with her and got their greetings out of the way. She nodded to Josh in particular after he arrived. "Quite the welcome back I see." She remarked with a hint of amusement. Then she explained to Erica what happened on the drift, what Lex had found out and why they were going to Inaris. As she finished explaining, Dawn arrived. "Dawn?" She asked curiously, wondering why the avatar had come to the infirmary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dawn walked into the infirmary, unsurprised that so many of the organics had come to see Erica as she had always been a popular member of the crew. "Captain." She acknowledged Cath's single word question as to why she'd come. "I have a question for Erica regarding the nature of the life form that she has brought aboard in the cryostasis pod. It's completely self-contained so there is no risk to the ship or the crew from whatever is inside. I've also put additional seals around it as an extra safety measure." Dawn shrugged slightly. "But neither mine nor my ship-self's sensors can entirely penetrate the thick casing around the cryostasis pod so we can't determine what the lifeform is." She turned puzzled eyes on Erica. "Just what did you bring aboard and why didn't you notify my ship-self?" She asked.

#56 EChatty

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:49 PM

Kaytee frowned when Dawn mentioned that Erica had brought a cryostasis pod aboard Path. Well, at least it wasn't any danger, but she also wondered who/what was in it. "I'd like to know that myself." She said, very puzzled as she glanced at Erica. She knew that Erica wouldn't intentionally bring anything dangerous aboard, but it was still puzzling.

Josh waited while Dawn questioned Erica about the cryostasis pod. He was very curious about it, so he hoped she had an explanation about it. He was glad that it wasn't a danger at the moment, but it could be later on if they didn't watch it. He absently put an arm around Catherine while he waited for Erica's response.

#57 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:19 PM

Erica had listened carefully to what Cath told her about the attack and their current plan to head to Inaris. She sighed as she began to process all the information. She'd wanted to visit Cori's homeworld even though she knew it was dangerous for him...and they'd probably never get to go...but here it seemed that was their destination. It sounded dangerous and of utmost importance to check this out.

The Nietzschean smiled at Dawn when the avatar entered. She raised her eyebrows when Dawn said she had a question. As she spoke, using the words 'lifeform' and 'cryostasis pod' and 'no risk to the ship or crew from what's inside', Erica's mouth began to open quite unbecomingly.

"Just what did you bring aboard and why didn't you notify my ship-self?"

Erica could only stare. And she felt all eyes turn on her as well. Normally Erica didn't mind the attention of others, but this time she felt as if she'd done something wrong. She felt Cori hold her tighter, as if to protect her.

"I...," she began. "I mean...," she continued. Finally Erica said. "WHAT?" She slid off the bed, frowning, and began pacing slightly. "There's someone...or something...in the box?" she asked in utter shock. "Ho...ly crap! Dawn, I swear to you, I had no freaking idea. I didn't even know what was in the crate! You seriously mean there was a cryo-pod in there? My sister, she left it for me on the planet...I never even got to see her!"

Erica explained how she'd arrived at the planet after several days of travel, waited in the city for a few days for a message from her sister or for her to show up...and in the meantime decided to purchase a small ship of her own, do some shopping, take in the sights. Then finally a day ago she got a message to be at the mail drop at a specific time. There she gave a code word and the huge crate was turned over to her. The owner had insisted a "gorgeous redhead" had delivered it. Erica hadn't had time to open it before she was informed of the attack on the Path's crew.

"Oh this is just weird," Erica said. "What in the name of Drago did my sister do?" She sighed. Although she was bursting with curiousity, she made a decision that went against her very curious nature. "Well, it's going to have to wait. This attack and going to Inaris is more important. If you're sure it's safe, do you mind if I wait to open it?" she asked Cath and Dawn. "I don't want to add to our current problem. Whatever...or whoever...it is, will be safer in the pod until I have time to deal with it."

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 08 January 2013 - 08:30 PM.


#58 Mikoto

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:22 PM

Dawn nodded. "Yes, its easy enough to leave it for a while." She confirmed. "Its fully secured to the deck and I placed extra seals on it. I also connected it to the ship's central power supply. That'll only cut out if life support to that area does. Even then the cryostasis pod has a power cell that would keep it running on its own for a few days." She glanced at Catherine. "Neither me nor my ship-self have a problem keeping it where it is for the moment." That being said in truth both the AI and Avatar were curious about the contents of the cryostasis pod and even now through the link they shared they were exchanging ideas and methods for safely quarantining the pod on the day Erica wanted to open it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cath was surprised when Dawn announced that the crate that Erica had brought aboard was a cryostasis pod with an unknown lifeform inside. Her first reaction, she guessed, was similar to her ship's in wondering if there was any danger. She was relieved when Dawn assured everyone she had indepentantly put extra measures into making sure whatever was in cryostasis stayed that way until they were ready to deal with it. She was equally surprised when her ship's cook admitted she had no idea what the crate was let alone what was inside. However she believed Erica and trusted her. "All right, we can leave it for now if you want to." She confirmed. "We'll be heading for Inaris in the morning so we're off duty until then. I have a feeling we'll need the rest. It's good to have you back Erica." She would be returning to her own duties soon as she had a few things to get done before their flight tomorrow morning.

#59 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:44 PM

Sitting back down next to Cori in relief that she wasn't to be blamed for bringing the cryostasis pod on board the Path, Erica nodded. It would be good to have the night off...and she was glad to be back, too. "I'll check on the galley later," she told the Captain. Then she glanced at Cori. "Or maybe not," she added. "They'll be okay until tomorrow, I'm sure."

She smiled at Kaytee and Josh, too.

Erica wanted to stay and talk to Cori about Inaris, about finally going to his homeworld. It seemed like it was dangerous for both of them to go anywhere near their homes, so it was just as well they'd found a place to make a home together. And she needed to be with him for a little while, at least...before Daze threw her out so his patient could continue healing.

#60 Mikoto

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 10:31 AM

Time jump: The following morning.

Time Stamp: 9:30 am

Once everyone had a chance to see Erica after her return, Daze shooed everyone but Erica out of the infirmary so that she and Cori could have some time together. The purple doctor had  even allowed her to stay with him overnight so long as she promised to be mindful of his injuries. And true enough in the morning the nanobots had done most ot heir work and Cori was cleared to leave the infirmary and resume duties although he was to take it easy. Daze assured him that while he would still feel a little tender and raw in places he would be feeling much better by afternoon once the nanobots had finished healing him completely. So, after breakfast everyone had taken their positions and prepared to fly to Inaris...

Catherine stood on the bridge, idly holding on to a railing as Cori flew them through slipstream towards Inaris. She was discreetly keeping an eye on him, on the lookout for signs of discomfort or indications that he was piloting too soon after his injuries. Aside from that the trip through slipstream gave her time to think. Daze and Ariana hadn't let her leave the infirmary yesterday without reminding her that she was due for yet another medical checkup. Had it really been three months already since her last one? Cath knew doctors-they'd keep reminding her regularly until she gave in. Maybe she would find a little time for it later. Returning her thoughts to the mission she reviewed what she knew about the Inculta family and how difficult they'd be to reach if diplomacy failed.


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