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V is for Virus (Maelion/Rave)

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Tegaea Alcori"], @[member="Ashin Varanin"]

Endor. Such a peaceful green orb. Inhabited by the posively cuddly Ewoks. Who incidentally had not so long ago managed to steal a Venator-class Star Destroyer from DeathWatch! There ought to be a holovid about this delightful little episode that had to be seen to be believed.

However, the occupants of the small, compact starship that burst out of the shimmering tunnel of hyperspace and approached the moon, transmitting the appropriate codes to the Fringe defence fleet - undoubtedly it would go up the chain of command until they eventually got clearance - was not here for the teddy bears.

At the controls sat no one else than Moira Skaldi, accompanied by her fellow HRD Maelion Liates. No useless words were exchanged as the transmission was sent. Moira knew that the moon was home to a Fringe laboratory that created biological and chemical weapons, probably also Sith alchemical products. Not so long ago she had paid it a visit along with a Rebel squad. Defeating two forcers had been most satisfying, alas no live strain of the Gulag Virus, which supposedly had been stored there, had been recovered.

However, today Moira was not here for the blood of organics and intergalactic terrorism. There was a time for that and a time for...'diplomacy', much as she disliked it she understood the game. No one could ever accuse the HRDs of not grasping opportunities. Through her acquaintaince with Velok, who still had not resurrected, so perhaps he was truly permanently dead, she had learned of a very skilled alchemist connected with Fringe called Rave Merrill. They had a proposition for her - and by extension for the new empress of the unknown regions, probably soon the conqueror of the weak and stagnant Protectorate, Ashin Varanin.

It involved the creation of tools of organic extermination. Tools long forgotten and once the bane of an entire planet, even forgotten by the Protectorate that had fought a great battle there.

Moira never forgot.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
@[member="Moira Skaldi"] @[member="Maelion Liates"]

The compact starship was granted clearance through Endor's orbital defenses, culminating in a landing pad built into the Endor terrain in such a way as to maximize defensive potential and minimize getting stepped on by Gorax. Moira would recognize the facility she had so recently helped to raid. No guards stood watch, though automated defenses abounded.

Inside, Rave would greet them professionally for one so young, her hands still dusty from surgical gloves. She had been party to Velok's suspicions about Moira, but suspicions did not a datum make. She tended to meet important guests in an observation deck, overlooking a massive surgical bay where a half-dissected Akure Leviathan writhed.
 

Maelion Liates

Terminatrix
Character
@[member="Rave Merrill"] @[member="Siobhan Kerrigan"]

Maelion walked beside Moira as they exited the ship and headed into the cunningly concealed facility. There their host, Rave Merrill was waiting.

Maelion approached and extended a hand to the other woman. It was always wise to be mindful of how organics behaved. There might be time for a revelation later in this discussion, but for now they were Anna Comnena and Nalia Alderana, humans here to do business.

Of course Rave knew about Moira, and probably had heard of Maelion, so the disguises were just lip service.

“Thank you for seeing us, Ms Merrill,” Maelion said politely.
 

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Tegaea Alcori"], @[member="Rave Merrill"]

The facility was well-concealed, the automated defence systems, both visible and hidden, expertly arranged. Cold blue eyes scanned the room into which they were led with interest, noting the half-dissected Akure Leviathan. A most interesting specimen. Moira had a particular way of talking and in her dictionary interesting meant she really liked something. One could imagine the beast tearing some of those annoying forcers apart.

Like a certain ceiling-dropping one. She approached their host, looking so young in years and yet a powerful alchemist in her own right. Moira did not understood how the Force worked, but she recognised its power and science was the cause of her existence. Organics were inferior, but a chosen few managed to rise above the mass of vermin.

Presently the Fringe was a faction of organics she could moderately approve of. Why? They were doing their part to extirpate inertia in the Galaxy.

She gave Rave a polite nod. "It is a pleasure to meet you. I have heard many impressive things about you, Ms. Merrill," eyes briefly flickered over to the beast lying upon the surgical table. "A very professional installation. Thank you for agreeing on such short notice. I am certain we can do business efficiently together." Of course the pleasantries were a bit of a game. Moira was known to their host from Velok, and in any case had recently been here. Maelion might be less well travelled, but had more than piled up her share of corpses and headed Omega Pyre for a while.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
@[member="Maelion Liates"] @[member="Moira Skaldi"]

"Ms. Comnena, Ms. Alderana, welcome to Endor." She looked down through glasteel at the half-vivsected Akure Leviathan, the ultimate symbol of Imperial alchemical mastery. This was a stunted sample, only twenty metres long and barely mature. A reminder, if they needed it, that the galaxy's monopoly on alchemy currently lay not with the Sith Empire but with the Lords of the Fringe.

"I, too, prize efficiency in my old age," she said with no hint of irony. "You come highly recommended by our mutual friend from Rhommamool. Tell me about Denon."
 

Maelion Liates

Terminatrix
Character
Maelion watched the creature thoughtfully for a moment.
“Denon is under control by the Protectorate. Much of the damage and neglect has been cleared, but I intercepted something interesting the other day. It would seem that not all the zombies died out. It would seem as though there are still zombies on Denon. We are interested in the potential of these creatures, as I am sure you are as well. We would be happy to provide you with assistance in recovering some subjects and other data…in return for favourable access to anything you discover….”

A rahkghoul-like plague which infected its subjects but left them with some higher mental skills was useful. Finding a way to control this self-perpetuating army was…magnificent, if it could be done. Both Archangel and Rave wanted it for different reasons, but they did both want it.

@[member="Rave Merrill"] @[member="Siobhan Kerrigan"]
 

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Tegaea Alcori"], @[member="Rave Merrill"]

"The Denon zombies are highly evolved for their kind. They do not require nourishment, only spread the virus, and possess a form of tissue regeneration. Possessed basic tactical reasoning and the ability to use weapons systems, given direction by a...hive mind creature of sorts," Moira spoke up. "The Protectorate maintained a research facility to gather data with samples, but even if they knew about the surviving specimen they would not utilise the potential properly."

Sometimes organics were just too inflexible. 'Exarch' Kerrigan had been capable of great ruthlessness, but in the end was just a crude brute governed by emotions. A self-perpetuating army of zombies, driven purely by the imperative, would be beautiful. The hive mind - Subject Zero - had maintained some sort of psychic control over the undead, binding them together into an efficient force that existed only to perpetuate itself, a rational goal.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
@[member="Maelion Liates"] @[member="Moira Skaldi"]

"I have a number of unmarked sample-collection vehicles," said Rave. "Making it through Protectorate space to Denon and then the undercity should be relatively easy. And -- purely out of the goodness of my heart -- here are some more samples of the Zerek Strain, since I'm sure you've found uses for the ones I sent you earlier."

A nameless servant presented a briefcase of vials.

"I assume you have more concrete locational data for me than simply a planetary radius? Time is of the essence."
 

Maelion Liates

Terminatrix
Character
@[member="Rave Merrill"] @[member="Moira Skaldi"]

Maelion tilted her head to the side. Something which never changed, human or machine.
“I do have a more concrete location, Ms Merrill. Ironically, it is right under the Protectorate’s nose, a devastated sump area below the main power where the zombies are thriving and continuing to expand. It is a very dangerous area both from the creatures and the environmental hazards. I assume you have no problems dealing with this?”

Maelion and Moira were supremely confident as they were immune to zombie bites and to most effects of the pollution and ruin down there. However, Ms Merrill had the Force, so that likely offset matters.

Maelion took the briefcase. The deal had been struck.
 

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Tegaea Alcori"], @[member="Rave Merrill"]

"We are sufficiently familiar with the ODF/DSF units and their patrol patterns to infiltrate the area and avoid detection. The local security forces regard it as a 'no go area' and avoid it, it is reasonable to assume they send edited reports to central command and avoid looking too deeply," Moira added after Maelion had outlined the situation. It was the classicel principal-agent problem. Better to submit glowing reports and in return get a bigger office and a larger budget.

Pollution, all the piled up waste from a darker Age, was no problem to them. They were no longer human, so the zombie bites should not affect them. Rotted skin could be replaced. She gave a nod as Maelion accepted the briefcase. The bioweapon would prove most...useful. To employ it was a beautiful thing.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
The data appeared consistent with a rational opportunity. Forthwith, the intrepid party of altruists departed for their respective vessels and made their circuituous way to Denon, deep within Omega Protectorate space. The rendezvous point was a public landing facility, a reasonable walk away from the power station whose underpinnings sheltered that most fascinating and repulsive of creatures.

No, not a native of Soledad. A zombie. More to the point, quite a few zombies.

The alchemist had come prepared, brother of the zombie snogger that she was. A basic suit of environmentally sealed duraplast armor protected her as she and her alchemical knife descended from the unmarked ship to meet her new friends.

@[member="Moira Skaldi"] @[member="Maelion Liates"]
 

Maelion Liates

Terminatrix
Character
Maelion and Moira were waiting when @[member="Rave Merrill"] arrived. Although Rave certainly knew they were HRDs, or at least was pretty sure, there was no point being careless. Thus Maelion wore a suit of regular combat armour with breathmask and environment suit. Just because the toxins and vapours did not destroy an HRD didn’t mean they did not damage their human exterior.

Maelion carried a MK1 bolter, all the special ammo types, a sword, blaster pistol and numerous grenades. It should be more than sufficient.

“We have detected no patrols in the target area,” she greeted Rave.

@[member="Siobhan Kerrigan"]
 

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Tegaea Alcori"], @[member="Rave Merrill"]

No one was there to bother them at the platform when they landed. Doubtless the undead would gree them down in the power stations, located in a dilapidated and polluted area of Denon. Smog filled the air, so thick that it was advised to wear a breathing mask, and toxic vapour rose up into the sky, which though it was by no means close to night was gloomy and uninviting. There was the gust of a wind, the superstitious might think they heard a howl in it, perhaps the calls from the dead souls who cried out for justice, or the dead call of the Unity.

Or something similarly dramatic. Moira was likewise clad in battle armour made of duraplast along with a breathmask and an environmental suit. She carried a Mark One Bolter, the older variant designed for a hard punch, along with a disruptor pistol and a compact flamer - in case they encountered large zombie contingents - along with explosives. Besides, she and Maelion were living weapons themselves.

"I shall dispatch probe droids. They will be our eyes and guide us," she spoke softly. Said droids were small, spherical automatons with a sophisticated sensor and communications package, resembling the ones a certain Zabrak Sith, who possessed the great power of being able to survive being cleaved in half and falling down a bottomless pit, had used on Tatooine, and possessed miniaturise weaponry. The two HRDs could uplink to the probes so that they would be able to see what they were seeing in real time.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
@[member="Maelion Liates"] @[member="Moira Skaldi"]

"Commendable efficiency," said Rave, social chameleon that she was, and followed the terminatrices (word of the day!) down into the bowels of Denon. The power station whined and clanked on a level with them, and they descended below the noise until a susurrus of zombies replaced the sound of progress. Or what the Protectorate called progress, anyway.

Zombies could also be considered progress, in this day and age. Sample kit at the ready, she hefted her SRR-01. The assault rifle's secondary barrel was an entechment-powered paddle beamer, suitable for paralyzing mortals and zombies alike.

And yes, she had made entechment technology available to her new friends, on the off chance they would find it interesting.
 

Maelion Liates

Terminatrix
Character
@[member="Rave Merrill"] @[member="Siobhan Kerrigan"]

Her new friends would indeed find it interesting. Entechment would speed up the processing procedure greatly, and vastly reduce the power necessary to operate the system. It was a boon both ways.

Now though, they had to focus on more immediate troubles. Deep in the bowels of Denon they found their first target.
These zombies had evolved even further then when Maelion had been here before. Now instead of mindlessly death charging them, they stayed in cover and fired blasters or sluggers from the shadows. Those shadows were moving as the word went out and more zombies began to swarm….

This time though it was no Protectorate lackeys which could be scared off, but three talented and fearless explorers.

Bolters proved their worth immediately. The explosive rounds turned the zombie’s hiding places into death traps, and soon the first group had withdrawn…for the moment.

“We should acquire samples,” Maelion stated for Rave’s benefit.
 

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Tegaea Alcori"], @[member="Rave Merrill"]

In the blink of an eye the Zombies were upon them. They had already been more advanced than their common brethren during the Omega Pyre purge, but clearly they had grown more intelligent in the interim. As Moira knew, existence was struggle and those who failed ended up evolution's losers, so the purge must have given them incentive to adapt.

Hiding behind wreckage and in the ruins Zombies first bombarded them with a hail of blaster and slug fire, some even tossing grenades into the fray, one of which Moira grabbed and tossed back, blowing up a few of the undead who were firing behind a speeder, while the shadows moved in the darkness, circling and swarming them. In other words they were smarter than a certain death charging former 'Exarch' of Eriadu.

This, admittedly, did not mean much.

Bolters roared as explosive rounds blasted their cover into pieces, when the fiends came close Moira switched to buckshot, rounds being banged out at a fast rate on close distance before using the gun as a scythe against a zombie who pounced on her from behind. Grabbing the creature in mid-air by the arm she smashed it onto the ground. The remote droid hovering in the air came flying over as the undead creature jumped up, still eager to turn her even though its arm had been broken, unleashing a powerful voltage of electricity of such strength that, though the creature could not feel pain, one of its legs momentarily paralaysed and it fell down, a net being thrown on it as Moira stomped on its hand to break it, though it viciously tried to claw and slash at her with its claws and teeth.

Salvoes of blaster and bolter fire continued, then the creatures retreated into the night, hissing and screeching with venomous anger, though they left in good order, some even taking care to grab the guns and ammunition their permanently dead brethren had left behind. Moira's eyes flashed for a moment as a probe droid transmitted an image of more creatures at an abandoned factory further away. Pieces of undead tissue, body parts cleanly cut off with a blade, vanished into sample containers as she began collecting.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
@[member="Maelion Liates"]@[member="Moira Skaldi"], with apologies

When it came to dishing out personal quantities of death, Rave did not rank among the terminatrices. The SRR-01's heavy blaster bolts smashed into assorted zombies, but her heart wasn't in it. She just didn't have that kind of destructive potential. Not unless there were test tubes involved.

Test tubes! Wonderful things. Slinging the rifle around to her back, she began stuffing undead tissue into sample containers. Fingers, it transpired, fit well; so did halves of tongues, expertly bisected with her Derriphan's Eye. She paused, contemplating the zombie virus on the knife, then grinned and sanitized everything. That could go for later.

"That was anticlimactic," she said, "but I could use more samples. Assuming I'm reading your unrelenting yet somehow dispassionate ferocity correctly."
 

Maelion Liates

Terminatrix
Character
@[member="Rave Merrill"] @[member="Siobhan Kerrigan"]

Maelion glanced at her. “More samples are necessary. All information shall be acquired,” she stated flatly. She wasn’t really one for abstract discussions.

On they pushed, deeper and deeper, aware they were being shadowed by a horde of ghoulish creatures, all watching them hatefully from the shadows.

It was as they entered a long tunnel like a subway that their attackers decided to charge. Coming from both ends of the tunnel in the dim light they opened fire and pressed forward to consume the intruders.
Maelion sought cover behind a barrier of fallen rubble and opened fire one direction whilst Moira held the other side back. This would be the true test….
 

Moira Skaldi

Paperclip Maximiser
Character
@[member="Rave Merrill"], @[member="Maelion Liates"]

Deep in the - for puny organics such as those the Protectorate called its 'small elite groups' these days - foreboding tunnel, where the whiff of death was still rank and skeletons, from which alll flesh had been ripped off ages ago, devoured by the vultures and wild beasts, the zombies attacked. Some of the mangled corpses showed signs of having been ripped apart by explosions, perhaps they had used grenades to spare themselves from being transformed. Either way the undead charged with reckless abandon and Moira brought up her boltgun to fire.

The explosive bolts were barked out of the weapon and smashed into the first line of zombies, the explosions ripping them into chunks of flesh, and as some of the undead came in closer the HRD grabbed her scatter gun as well, her weapons barking like the dread wolf Fenris as durasteel pellets and explosive rounds were hammered out. However, the zombies were not so foolish to base their entire tactic on a death charge and switched gears as it became clear that the tunnel was like a chokepoint and she was too fast in evading them for a charge of the light zombie brigade to work. Thus rather than riding boldly and well - and stupidly, one might add - those zombies who had stayed in the rear began lobbing in grenades and opened up salvoes of blaster fire, crimson and viridian bolts streaking through the air towards her. Moira moved fast, very fast, running, rolling, leaping as zombies came in close to ram her boot into the head of one in mid-flight and then finish the creature off with a scatter gun blast to the head, blowing it off, swiftly spinning to fire into the air when suddenly out of a hole in the cob-web covered ceiling more zombies pounced upon her. One fell right upon her and viciously tore at her face with its sharp claws, pummelling it. Fortunately she did not feel pain and so while she was driven back a bit she shook her head as if trying to throw an insect off then head-butted the creature and, as it reeled from getting hit by a living tank, grabbed it by the shoulder and hurled it across the tunnel into the wall, plucking a plasma grenade free from her gear belt while it flew and tossing it after the creature.

Zombies caught in the blast screeched in terror and rage as the hot energy consumed them and they were ignited and Moira advanced ruthlessly, guns blazing as more creatures fell before her, using her bolter as a scythe when they were too close. Again the zombies tried to pull back, then the wall behind her was blasted by an explosion, the shockwave catching Moira and throwing her into the air. The Terminatrix spun in mid-flight and the bolter barked, zombies being blasted into final death, with her landing upon her feet behind a barrier of fallen rubble. There was no reprieve as another grenade was tossed her way and she quickly caught it, throwing it back. She was fortunate in doing so, since as the explosion revealed it was ion. Pieces of her skin had been shorn off by the attacks and revealed the metal beneath it, they were learning and adapting.

Good. Otherwise they would not be worth of the effort. As she mowed down another group of chargers she was hit by an ion blast and fell. Slowly Moira pulled herself upright, but she had clearly been damaged by the hit. She only just got clear, impaired in her functionality, as she was, when grenades assailed her position. Charging forward she scythed zombies with her boltgun, as one swung a vibroblade down upon her in an aggressive blow she grabbed its arm and one motion not only broke it but ripped it off, then as the zombie bared its fangs in an expression of rage and pounced at her, trying to tear through the armoured plate covering her neck with teeth and claws, bashed its head so hard with its own arm that it got smashed and turned to jellie.

The path ahead of her was littered with destroyed and mangled zombies. Boltgun and scatter gun discarded amidst the flood she brought forth her flamer and, as the creatures closed in, with the assassin droid standing seemingly motionless, she brought up the weapon and a stream of burning heat shot out of its nozzle, zombies shrieking and screeching with rage as they were caught by the cleansing flames and incinerated, Moira advancing slowly as she depressed the trigger, the flames engulfing the immediate area before her and bathing it in fire.

As the ranks diminished in face of the flames and the creatures began to pul back she she lowered the weapon and instead produced a vibroblade, gathering samples by ridding fallen zombies of body parts. Fingers fit in well into containers, so did ears and tongues from their mangled, mutilated bodies. Her free hand still held her boltgun, firing off rounds when she saw something move in the shadows.
 

Velok the Younger

When I Was A Young Warthog
Character
@[member="Moira Skaldi"]@[member="Maelion Liates"]

Rave did not have this kind of combat acumen. Not in this setting, anyway. Her assault rifle clicked empty, leaving her with little option but to turn on the second barrel with its enteched power supply.

Quickly, she realized she should have done that in the first place. Its needlepoint paralysis beam did nothing to Moira or Maelion, but zombies flopped about, partially or completely paralyzed.

She took the time to gather further samples. Just because the terminatrices were treating this as an orgy of Illyric destruction, there was no reason not to pursue the mission's ostensible priorities.
 
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