Condition Green!

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<crfh> would waiting be evil or non-evil?
<Loweko> Unknown at this time.

Part 14: "...I might have been mistress"

Pride and Prejudice

High Earth Orbit Docking Bay 29, Board Command Station Funky Horror.

Funny, thought heckler. Hundreds of safety seals in the average airlock, even more in the average docking bay, and what do people waiting for the things to pressurise look at? The little green light on the door.

Kinda like life sometimes, he supposed. Well...okay, maybe red/green was oversimplifying matters a hell of a lot, but when you were on the front line of the front line of the whole damn mess, and when the other side was the bunch...oh, about time. Those things seemed to take longer every time he had to wait for one.

There was a hiss, and a ping, and heckler grinned as the thought of Destiny suddenly sprang to his mind as the door shot upwards

"Mol...good to see you back. The Admiral not here yet?"

"heckler."Mol nodded and stepped through. "He'll be along later."

"Understood. And....welcome aboard, ma'm."

It was, thought the Dragon, a masterfully precise scene out of Hornblower. The friendly officer welcoming the the charming young lady to his ship. No honour guard? What a shame. She'd always had the Board pegged as just the type for stormtrooper brigades, but this place looked just like a much smaller version of an airport's arrivals lounge.

She murmured something courteous and polite instinctively as she stepped through the pressurised portal (ignoring the blast of air), facial muscles looking slightly off in the station's artificial gravity but still the perfect Green mask of diplomatic grace - hiding the outer edge of a painful cold rage that could have frozen mountains...and might, just.

Because it etched and bit into her very soul to see this thing and all it represented to sit up here, revelling in it's superiority and aloofness. To just float here while the Board preached benevolence and silent authority...

She'd known the Board routinely tossed around equipment that made her own marvels seem like tinkertoys. Known it, but hadn't really wanted to acknowledge it...and she'd admitted to herself long ago that her efforts to subvert the Board were really motivated by envy as much as the desire to expand.

Well, she'd expanded, and faced the Board in it's lair...and found that everywhere were the quiet reminders to Boardie and outsider alike that you were most certainly on their territory, and had been all your life, even before you'd set foot in their hallowed HQ.

The Dragon's burning gaze stabbed at the huge eagle-and-globe logo stencilled on the far wall and inlaid into the floor of the antechamber, echoing the massive versions painted on the interiors of the station's primary hangars, and behind her MolTARE nodded inwardly at the real reason they'd picked a secondary bay. The Primaries had the logo superimposed over the usual cast group portrait, and that might have been difficult to explain.

Beneath it was the usual...check digit? Call sign? Whatever CRFH meant. The Dragon could appreciate a logo like that, and cold experience told her why it existed. Down "below", it was a secret badge, a mark of recognition. Up here...well, here it was power. The pure, raw, unadulterated power of people who clearly didn't just play by different rules, but wrote the rulebook for everyone else. It was unnerving, and rankled even more than the rest of this monstrous...temple to the Board's opinion of itself.

Until, in a tiny instant, she realised what it was.

A calculated gesture to impress a visitor.

She smiled.

* * *

"Tangent..." Toxicfrog peered into the small elliptical shaft and called down it with hands cupped around his mouth. "It's not that I mind you hiding in there, but if an alert sounds and I have to ready my missiles, the autoloader's gonna go through you."

* * *

"Guys, it's not so much the poking I mind..." said himi as he paced around the group of Boardies who'd been watching the monitors with him. "It's the insult to my intelligence. What, pray tell, are you hiding under that cape, Starlock?"

Damn! thought the mage who'd clinked when he walked.

"Ahhh, a custard grenade. And...another custard grenade. And...aha, it's one of the Armoury's standard flamethrowers, the Holy Fire models..." himi pointedly removed the entire apparatus from the bundle Starlock had been smuggling it in, which looked like a backpack-mounted vacuum cleaner, and pointedly sniffed at the heavy fuel tanks. "...with a suspiciously sugary smell. And then...oh look..."

The mage at least had the grace to look embarrassed as the oldbie removed the custard mortar and raised an eyebrow. " that a whipped cream firehose I spot? Pat, put the cattle prod away, if CPOK can't do it neither can you..." Thank heavens DC isn't up here "...Joshua, I didn't even know a rocket-propelled poke could exist...A gatling model, Para? Are these things even allowed aboard?"


"Hrmmmmm, Para?"

"CG said I could..."

"I see. And this, unless I miss my guess, is a prime example of the P-8000 MEGA-POKINATOR..." himi held the gaze of Joshlamont, who'd dug it out of the archives, and squinted down the device's long "barrel", noting the rifling. "I thought Hayasaka had publicly stated anyone caught using one of these on a newbie would have it inserted in them?"

"Hayasaka flippin' built it!"

"Yes, well...I appreciate the desire for a little...shall we call it state-sponsored revenge? But I don't think Ratheran would approve."

"Why'd you think CG handed the stuff out?" muttered Tcher, noting himi hadn't noticed the kiloton of silly string he'd packed into his scythe.

"You're no fun, himi..." said Paradoxon as he spun the barrels on his rotary monstrosity.

"Be that as it anyone here not carrying what I'll tactfully call a "hazing device"?"

Grzaer hesitantly raised a paw from the back of the crowd.

"Good. Have mine."

* * *

Funky Horror Command Deck

"Dear me..." said Shenalia, leaning idly on a console and rearranging his cloak, the panel lights pockmarking it with tiny flecks of colour. "...did we forget to mention the huge great space station we keep up here? Tisk, tisk, tisk. How remiss of you Fleet people."

"Well, we always assumed she knew about it..."Jordanis waved a paw idly from his hammock, half-strung in the usual nexus of flat-screen monitors. "I mean, it's hard to hide those shipyards in Ireland, and Merida's always mentioned in the signal traffic we allow her to intercept. Yards and launch bases tend to suggest we launch to something."

"No, no, no, Jordanis, you made a tiny mistake there. Her worldview might be able to handle a satellite up here...but this place?" Shen smiled and turned to watch the starscape outside the "windows." "No,I can imagine her going over every report she's read, every rumour she's discounted, every piece of information about us that seemed too strange to be true in that warped mind of hers..." The elf half-laughed. "She'll be crediting us with raising the dead and feeding the five thousand next."

JJ coughed slightly and tried to avert his eyes from the RESPAWN status monitors. Or, for that matter, the little green light that was as much data the Command Deck needed to know about the station's recycling systems. "Shen, she does know about the ships. We know she knows about the BIP, and it wouldn't be too great a leap of faith to piece it all together."

"She has to know to piece it, first. Even in her most pessimistic dreams I'll bet she never credited us with being that powerful." The laugh this time was so low as to almost be a sniff. "She expects a powerful mastermind directing her minions from some throne somewhere, and she's found this, instead. Oh, that must be a bitter pill for someone like her to swallow."

There was silence for a second as both parties mulled this over for a while.

"Heh. You won, in your warped little way. Even if she backstabs us this time she won't dare go after us again. I bet you're sniggering into your tassels."

"More than that, Shen. She's the first person from..." Jordanis thumbed out the window in general way of indicating the comic, the world, & what have you " actually ask to be shipped up here." He wryly smiled at such a vindication of his colleagues' theories for how to handle CRFH. "Let's face it, Shen, 'smug' wouldn't even begin to describe some of the stuff bouncing around right now, even without the paranoia. She can credit us with whatever she wants, but it's nothing on what Spec want to see happen to SKID with her aboard."

* * *

Funky Horror Lower Central Core Automated Manufacturing: Workshop 23A

"Bingo!" said Hayasaka as she held up a "blessed" light particle laser scavenged from ShadesFoxx's decidedly gothic spare parts caches. "Right...Archer, hit the quartermaster's bunch on the Fleet capitals and find me the smallest power relays going...Spam, can your power cell just hand out another 10 megawatts or are we gonna hit voltage trouble?"

"Power requirements for stated upgrades are tolerable, but not preferential."

"Archer! Better make it a side-order for one of Dag's microreactors, then...And after that we open you up, little tin-can, and plug in a nice...Tangent! Get out of my offcuts bin!"

* * *

"Where's the Green?"

Grazer looked up from checking the chocolate sauce seals on his modifications to what himi had given him. An orange...? You couldn't poke a newbie with an orange! Now, take a class-eight fluid pump from, say, a fuel injection line on a standard Board fighter engine and hook that to some chocolate sauce and you'd get a poking system worthy of the name, but just an orange?

"Hhhmm?" The speaker wasn't someone he recognised, but Grazer hadn't been around long enough to make the connection between the spiky yellow hair and the packed lunch.

"Me Flax, you Grazer, me wanna know where evil bitch, chop-chop?"

"We're about to run into her. Stand in the queue if you wanna poke."

"Yes, I've seen the queue, which BAY..." Flax sighed with relief as Grazer got the hint and indicated an exit from the arrivals "terminus". "...right, thankyou..." He skidded off at high speed, desperately hoping he'd make it to the lift-cum-light-railway used to get around the huge hangars before everyone else did, since he was going to really spoil their fun...

He did, just, and staggered to a halt in front of a surprised heckler and his worryingly laconic new friend.


"Hello, Hazel. We meet again. I'd twiddle my mustache but you're needed rapidly, bit of an incident. Heckler, you're being hijacked."

"Flax, what...?"

"Never mind that..." The half-demon waved the pair back into the lift and stuck his POST into the override slot as he hit the Priority button, and the Dragon's heat leapt as she heard him utter a pair of thoroughly welcome words. "Speculation Deck."

Looked like the reception committee wouldn't get their fun just yet.

* * *

Deck Zero again...

She's behind me, isn't she?

"Sorry I'm late, I had to chat to some people..."

Eeeyep. "Hi Mari."

"Hi. Just...curious about a few things..."

"Well, um, ask away." Ahayweh glanced at her surroundings again, caught between the desire to get this over with and go somewhere else, and the ever-present hunger for new things the Board always wanted to bring back from talking to their creator.

"Yes. Were you planning to join Omega and Shen's crusade to bring My Name unto the Script Kiddies?" Not a trace of irony in that voice. Not a trace...

"Well, uhm, not really...Archer was dropping hints, but it's not my thing..."

"Good. Because you'll be needed up here in a day or two."

"Ah, right...should I take notes or something?"

"Nope, you'll remember it. But, ah, make sure the script kiddies are the only people getting bashed, Ahay..."

Well, that made sense...sorta. The Board's anti-evil measures did tend to, well, splash.

"...check who the Dragon drags in before she does something draconic. I mean that bit."

And that made entirely too much sense.

"Oh, and since she was asking Silver earlier, and he was a bit rushed, when Flax finishes plotting revenge and such do get CG to talk to her for a bit before I can get down there. I do need to check how she's getting on."

Ahayweh tilted her head sideways. Erm...eeep?

"That's everything."

...and how.

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