Frontier: The Highest Wall

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Darkstriding
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#37 » Nov 01 2016 07:11

I vote for exemplar too but I agree with TauMan, Na'deem shouldn't stand and try to fight these enemies if they out number him in less than favourable terrain, he should fall back to try and find somewhere better to engage. We should hope that Nel finds Na'deem faster than those unidentified aliens.

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Calmsword
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#38 » Nov 01 2016 02:57

Voting will be considered up to the reboot of ATT this coming wednesday with a the results once we get back.

Clarifications: Ahead of him was the river, across that dense woods. The beach lay behind him, trees with multi-jointed branches forming a dark canopy at its edge.

There is no place to run. Either jump into the river and flee or face the things in the woods- specificity in responses will be considered (doesn't shoot ect.)
~Good Hunting

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#39 » Nov 01 2016 08:21

I'm with TauMan for this one. Exemplar, but not opening fire. Find a good place to hide near the escape pod if any.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#40 » Nov 16 2016 10:16

First post since the new site- I miss some of the old artwork and the 'white' background, but a lot of the shortcuts are appreciated... off topic- ahem:

Vote outcome: Exemplar of the Selfless Cause

Na'deem crouched within the pod, fighting the growing fear rising up like bile from his stomachs. He was alone, likely outnumbered by an enemy that had already slain dozens of his people. There would be no reasoning and Na'deem would not sully his honor with surrender.

He glanced over to the river and chided himself with thoughts of retreat. He would have to unclip his armor to swim, something he had never been accomplished at, leading to a chase that would merely prolong a brief life running into a wilderness he had neither the supplies nor the training to survive.

Na'deem held his breath and dared another look into the forest. Facing his enemy was the only option.

The tree trunks were a deep crimson with pale blue vines that grew thickly, intertwining with one another endlessly so that they covered the earth in an impossible tangle. No thing could cross such difficulty easily or quietly which meant he'd at least have a chance if he stayed in the pod.

Another call rang out, closer, a clicking sound, guttural this time from the treetops. Na'deem pointed his snub nosed pistol up and at the canopy. It was a pathetic gesture and he felt foolish doing so. The forest seemed to be breathing, pulsing with alien hostile life. A shadow passed between two trees, drawing his aim but he didn't fire.

"One is never alone" Shas'Ui Hu'dai's voice stirred up from his memories. The Shas'Ui had trained them tirelessly but had always been supportive even if he demanded perfection. "You are never 'one', you are always the 'many' with all those that follow the Greater Good."

A friendly chime emanated from the escape pod breaking his concentration. He bent, momentarily forgetting his fear, replaced with hope. The pod's rudimentary data console was responding to its signal being answered. Help was coming, soon.

"Thank the Aun."

A loud clicking, soft and terrible, rose from behind him.

Na'deem turned and saw the alien as it slowly, effortlessly, rose from the water. It was serpent-like, green mottled scales dripping with water and running in rivulets off baroque, matt-black armor plates around its long chest. Four arms, lithe, each held a blade, cruel and twisted.

It regarded him with wide, red and silver flecked eyes from its arrow like head and made a grotesque smile, revealing row upon row of curved teeth, many gilded with gold and silver.

For a moment, Na'deem and the serpent regarded one another, the only sound was the rush of water splashing against the alien's torso and the chime of the escape pod. Each waited, predator and prey.

It snapped its jaws and charged.

Na'deem fired, almost dropping his pistol. The double-charge pulse rounds exploded in the loose soil of the riverbank. It would have never hit but the serpent changed course, its entire body spiraling up and over, corkscrewing around Na'deems shot and striking at him with its upper pair of arms.

Na'deem fell back, tripping over himself, and falling flat on his face getting a mouthful of sand in his mouth. He gagged but didn't wait, pushing with his free hand into a roll away just as the serpent struck, burying a thin crooked blade where his torso had just been.

Twisting he fired again but the alien seemed to vanish, dodging the shot, appearing beside the pod. Na'deem could see its full body now, a long sinewy two-meter long tail with scales that flexed with sharp horns.

It reared back and opened its jaws in a deafening screech. Na'deem almost dropped his gun, covering his head and stumbling away. Pain exploded in his right ear, as though the eardrum had ruptured. He had to get away.

Na'deem was running blind, past the bank and into the ingrown trees. The serpent was still screaming as he ran. His hooves tripped over roots and loose soil forcing him to almost crawl. Na'deem never saw the second alien drop down from the trees.

Na'deem felt knives strike over and over against his carapace, his arms, his face. Blood splattered across over his eyes, blinding him. A rib broke against the impact of the enormous alien's body. He shouted and yanked the combat blade from his belt and struck outward into empty air. A fist cracked against the back of his skull and he almost passed out.

"For Kel'shan! For T'au!" He roared, his words slurring. He lunged backward but only slammed into a tree.

Dazed he fell to his knees. Wiping blood from his face he looked around and saw both serpents now, their tails interlaced obscenly as they regarded him.

Na'deem raised his knife at them, "I defy you, scum!"

The aliens twitched back and forth and began a strange kind of purr that was both mocking and threatening. He stood, hating them.

"Come, fight me! Cowards!"

The aliens opened their mouths, strange dual tongues slipping in and out from between their fangs as though tasting the air. They both rose higher, coils supporting them as muscles bunched up underneath their scales. About to strike.

"That's it." He fell into a fighting stance, if he was lucky he could take one of them.

Then the alien on the right's head exploded in a flash of blue plasma.

*


Nel shifted target to the remaining alien but it was slithering up a tree and away before she could take the shot. Brak'a had not even twitched as his two powerful claws gripped the tree trunk. She gave him a squeeze with her legs and he dropped down, barely needed to recover before bounding toward the stricken Shas'La.

Slowing down, Nel shouted down to him, "More are coming, Shas'La, let's go!" She reached out with one hand, the other keeping her rifle up and ready.

He was pitiful, wounded, and seemed as terrified of Brak'a as he was of the two aliens. Judging by his unit markings, he was a Kel'shani from one of those enforcement cadres that had arrived last season. In short, he was entirely out of his skill-set this deep in the wilderness. Still, he had sense enough to trust her, stumbling forward and took her hand. With a grunt she lifted him off the ground and onto Brak'a's saddle.

"Hold on!" She shouted.

Another squeeze set Brak'a off with a burst of speed down the riverside. She felt the Shas'La's hands clutch around her as a whimper escaped between clenched teeth.

Something whistled by her face and Brak'a instantly darted back into the trees. Nel stole a glance behind her but saw nothing as more hissing ballistics chased them, chewing up the ground and trees around them

This part of the woods was dangerous with the overgrown tangle-trees everywhere. Brak'a knew this too and soon he was leaping from trunk to trunk. The Shas'La's grip tightened and she swore she could hear him mumbling from random different sio't meditations.

A tree exploded before them, raining splinters into Brak'a's face and Nel's. She felt blood on her cheeks and a roar from Brak'a said he'd been wounded as well. They weren't going to survive an escape if she didn't think quick...

Through Boldness: Nel has an extra pistol, a few grenades, together with Brak'a and a wounded Na'deem they could probably take the remaining enemy.

Exemplar: Nel has a smoke grenade, it'll hurt, but she can hold onto it as it forms a cloud about them and hopefully mask their escape.
~Good Hunting

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#41 » Nov 17 2016 03:47

Through Boldness, Victory. They will not outrun the aliens forever, besides, they have weapons, so they may as well give it a shot! :D

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#42 » Nov 17 2016 04:06

I vote for Exemplar. They're outnumbered and almost certainly outclassed in close quarters, and Na'deem is badly wounded. Making a hasty escape gives them a higher chance of surviving long enough to pass on the extra intel they have to the rest of the Tau.

So I'm going with Option 2: Action: By now the other pioneers must have got word of the crash and be moving nearby. Nel signals for any available assistance to cover her escape.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#43 » Nov 20 2016 09:39

Calmsword wrote:Exemplar: Nel has a smoke grenade, it'll hurt, but she can hold onto it as it forms a cloud about them and hopefully mask their escape.


Yes, have to go with Exemplar since help is coming and she has a wounded Na'deem with her. One advantage is that she is more acquainted with the terrain than the enemy, although the enemy can move through the tree tops. Still they don't know terrain as well as she does. Also she really doesn't know how many enemy there are, one for sure but how many more.

Knowing the terrain Na'deem uses it to foil the enemies attempts to follow them.

FYI: Smoke grenades work by throwing them and waiting for the cloud of smoke to become large enough that it blocks line of sight. Trying to hold on to one (painful or otherwise) while moving would only leave a small trail of smoke. Just enough smoke for the enemy to follow.

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#44 » Nov 20 2016 09:31

Examplar. I would think Na'deem is combat ineffective at this point of time and is likely to end up as a liability (slowing Bra'ka down, being an extra consideration for Nel etc) rather than an asset in a fast flowing fight.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#45 » Nov 23 2016 11:06

Tauman: Maybe the smoke grenades of the real world, not at all the case in 40k... amongst a race of technocentric aliens. Which is why I think Tau grenades will have aspects to them more like this:

http://www.ecbc.army.mil/news/2014/ECBC-Demonstrates-First-Prototype-Multi-Colored-Smoke-Grenade.html

Exemplar

A trio of loud thuds against her shoulder guard almost knocked her off Brak'a. She held onto the big alien's harness but dropped her rifle, forced to watch it spin and disappear into the encroaching foliage. Na'deem held on, both hands now around her waist.

"Ufa'cha!" She yelled to Brak'a. Bra'ka leapt upwards with a snarl, just as the aliens barrage engulfed where they had been a heartbeat before. Nel felt the thrill of speed, keeping her eyes open as Brak'a arched above the canopy, dazzled by the naked sun in the sky. For a moment she was weightless.

Then Brak'a's body stretched and twisted and they were falling, fast.

Below, three aliens searched for where their quarry had disappeared to, long serpent bodies coiled about the limbs of the trees when Brak'a crashed back down, smashing into one of them. Brak'a's meter wide mouth snapped around the alien's midsection, jolting the alien from the tree while the other two thirds of its body coiled about the trunk. All three were showered with oily black viscera as the alien was yanked apart, arresting Brak'a and the two Firewarriors descent enough to survive the rest of the fall to the forest floor.

Nel felt something pop sickeningly in Brak'a's left leg but the faithful Yo'shi rebounded from the fall and began running in a new trajectory. One that Nel recognized and new Brak'a was going to try to get them home.

Yet he was already limping and getting worse. They wouldn't be able to outrun the enemy now. Nel reached into her utility satchel on her hip and yanked out a chaff-grenade. Brak'a had sacrificed without question to save them all, Nel's own was never doubted.

Igniting the fist-sized can, she held onto it rather than throw it behind her. The miniature grav-motivator within vibrated millions of times a second, blasting out jets of multi-spectrum smoke clouds that seemed to distort reality itself as light bent around the rapidly expanding gas. Her scream of pain was muffled in the billowing chaff as her fingers broke from the centrifugal force. She could hold on for only a few seconds but it was enough. She let the chaff-grenade go, knowing that Brak'a would appear as a quickly disappearing smudge across the forest.

***


Brak'a roared, the sound deafening within the mountainside cave. Nel didn't stop pressing until she drove the Yo'shi's bone back into its socket. With a wet squelch, Brak'a's leg jolted into a defensive twitch and he began licking it. Nel straightened, pushing a wisp of hair from her face.

She sighed, "You would have broken it had that Sslyth hadn't slowed us down."

"Sslyth?" Nel turned and looked at the Firewarrior they had saved. She had laid him out against an outcropping once she had secured the cave. She'd kept his carapace on, filling the jagged holes in it with regenerating foam from her med kit. She had used liquid skin on the wounds on his face and arms, and the armor would keep his broken bones from moving too much but he had lost a lot of blood.

"That's what they're called. Sslyth. Probably Rift-pirates."

"Scum..."

"I'm sure that many are, certainly all those I have come across. But, I am sure one or two of them seek universal morality and will one day see the light of reason." The wounded Firewarrior laughed before clutching his chest in pain.

"You are too kind to those who would kill us."

"It is not a kindness, only faith." She sniffed, her fingers touching the prayer beads on her belt. U'do had told her that the off-worlders seemed to be intolerant of aliens, enacting censor of alien communities in the cities.

"Sands..." He groaned, "You're hit!" He pointed with a weak hand.

Nel checked herself then saw three finger-length barbs protruding out of her shoulder guard under her cloak. Her left hand broken, she had to twist to unlatch the section of armor. Holding it up, she recognized the Sslyth 'needles'. The color of pearl and shaped like an insect's stinger, a small bladder on each was still pulsing as it pumped poison ineffectually.

"It's like being injected with fire, then ice, then nothing. It doesn't kill you, this is a slaver's weapon." She tossed the shoulder guard away. "My name is Shas'La Nel."

"Shas'La Kel'shan Na'deem. I am the First and last of my team."

"Tell me all, brother."



HAPPY THANKSGIVING! (more later)
~Good Hunting

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#46 » Nov 25 2016 01:44

Thank goodness Na'deem, Brak'a and Nel made it out!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#47 » Dec 11 2016 04:53

Hello friends! Hope the holidays have been treating you all well. Sorry for the lag, I'm in the process of moving, getting sent to Scotland and... It's that time of year.

Here's a quick Dramatis Persona/local to keep everyone up to date and to help with decision making-

Fo'tan: A world on the fringes of the Empire that borders the So'lai Rift (know to the Imperials as the Perdus Rift)
Homestead R-22: The furthest settled location on the planet Fo'tan.

Shas'O Kel'shan Vra'datha: The highest ranked Firewarrior and chief military leader on Fo'tan.
Shas'La Kel'shan Na'deem 'First of Horizon Team' and sole survivor of the investigation of Homestead R-22.

Shas'Nel Kay'lek: Fireblade of Fo'tan Cadre "Stone Dance"

Shas'El Fo'tan Soo'nar Ga'rah: The highest ranked Fo'tani Firewarrior.
Avar'an Nel: A So'lai Pioneer

Sslyth: A mercenary race that fell to Slannesh long ago often seen in service to pirates and Dark Eldar.

Chapter 2


Shas'El Ga'rah looked out on the verdant forests below, stretching from the twinkling ribbon of the Great River with its volcanic black shores all the way to the distant snow capped mountains thousands of kilometers away. This was Fo'tan as it was meant to be, wild and without method beyond the competition of nature against itself.

"Fo'tan is free." She said, touching the cal'tan wood carved totem that anchored the three braids together. It was a reminder of many things and she knew its surface by touch alone. It centered her, like Sio't beads or the hymnals of purpose, reminding her of what was most important.

As darkness smothered the sun the night sky revealed the cosmos above. The red and gold stars of the So'lai Rift billowed like smoke against the black. Another reminder, this one different, of the constant threat Fo'tan and the people who lived here faced.

She turned to the work at hand. The Command Hub for Sector Five code-named 'Overwatch' was a broad disc nestled onto an outcropping of rock. Each level was packed with Tau'faan of every Caste as the Fo'tan cadres continued to gather. Overwatch wasn't meant to support these kinds of numbers and acclimating was proving to be an unexpected difficulty.

Looking down into a communications pit, she watched as Shas'la shared couches or huddled in collectives over displays, sharing the tight quarters as best they could.

"Shas'La Rars'm?" every conversation and commotion quit instantly. All eyes turned to Ga'rah, respect and maybe awe reflected in them. She focused on a youthful Shas'La who had yet to fully grow a service-topknot. He stood, a fist over his heart.

"Yes, Commander?" He said, too loudly. The Firewarriors around him took painful steps back, forming a space about Rars'm that made it almost look like he was now in a spotlight.

"This is not a common bazaar, Shas'La, and I am not your Commander."

The Shas'La looked like he might lose his last meal and bowed with such speed he almost slammed his head into the terminal. "I am sorry, Sub- Commander!"

She let that settle with everyone before continuing, "What is the status of Orbital Six?"

"Orbital Six," He glanced at the nearest terminal, "The Fringerunner uncoupled with it twelve rai'kors and is heading toward out position. Orbital Six's Superiority-Fighter squadrons are flying escort."

She nodded, "And Kor'Vre Oko't?"

"She has relinquished her post to the Kel'shani and leads the formation." Ga'rah smiled. That meant that she had made the emergency requisition and the transport ship Fringerunner was loaded with Orbital Six's auxiliary plasma generators.

"The transport has priority gold, notify me when it lands."

"Sub-Commander?" This from a face she did not recognize.

"Speak."

"We are getting a tight-beam from the First Covenant."

No audible sound was made but a ripple of what Ga'rah recognized as distaste rippled through the bridge-room. "Divert the transmission to my quarters." With that she moved toward the exit.

Passing through interlocking blast doors that all but sighed open and disappeared into walls and the ceiling, she was joined by her lifewards in full combat armor and snub nosed pulse carbines. They bore the unofficial Sept symbol of Fo'tan stenciled on their chest plates and the bone paint of her hand on their helmets. Each of them were veterans, survivors of countless engagements to keep the planet and its star system safe. Each of them were sworn to ensure her safety even at the cost of their own.

As they shadowed her deeper into Overwatch, past the curved ivory fio'tak panels and giving way to the yellow stone of the outcropping the number of beings within the base only multiplied. They made a path for her though as best they could. Reaching a sloping ramp that branched from the main thoroughfare she was suddenly joined by Fireblade Shas'nel Kay'lak who stopped her procession. He bowed.

He was enormous, already standing a full head taller than her without the heavy-plate armor he wore, Kay'lak was the embodiment of the Fire Caste. Scars covered almost every inch of this exposed flesh with traceries of scars. He grew no scalplock or topknot but had an impressive beard that spilled down to his waist, streaked with silver through the black.

"Kay'lak, you look tired." His chuckle was like distant thunder.

"Sub-commander, only the flesh tires, my spirit sours with news of recent fortune."

"The Spear Fields?"

"They are completed."

"Ahead of schedule, that is unprecedented."

Kay'lak smiled and bowed, "Purpose is what motivates us to exceed projection, and it is purpose that makes us determine our own fate." He said, making the subservient hand gesture in 'recognized authority'.

She rejected it emphatically with a hand, her voice dropping, "I am not Shas'O."

Kay'lak pressed, "You are his successor. No one on this world would place a Kel'shani over you, not one."

"Yet, he is Shas'O." She edged her voice with fire, "The chain must never be broken. I am Sub-commander. Make all know this, I will not allow further confusion."

Kay'lak grimaced and bowed, "Sub-commander... Your will, my hands."

She put a hand on his armored shoulder and left him standing in the hall. She continued to her quarters, a cavern near the foundations of the facility. Her lifewards took up position around the only entrance.

Inside the room was about the size of a troop carrier, furnished with simple furniture and a personal console.There were no windows, just the fusion burned egg smooth surface of the chamber. She touched the blinking receiver and turned toward the swirl of photons that quickly formed the face of Shas'O Kel'shan Vra'datha.

The Kel'shani was at least a decade older than her with the blocky tattoos his Sept's Tau'faan so readily printed onto their skin. A silver thumb sized augment parted the skin on his brow that probably fed information directly into his brain. All of it must have been upsetting because Vra'datha was enraged.

"Greetings, Shas'O." She nodded respectfully.

"Why am I hearing of the loss of a transport now, almost a dec after such an incident?" He roared.

"There has been data corruption across the networks since the Kel'shan Coalition achieved orbit. That many ships in orbit is something the Fo'tan grid was never designed to manage-"

"Spare me your excuses, El Ga'rah! I am told team Horizon was lost assisting your Cadres in investigating some kind of homestead."

"Homestead R-22, Shas'O, that is correct, all my Cadres are assisting in relocating while the Kel'shani take positions in the central Colony."

Vra'datha rolled his eyes, "Kel'shan is but one world in our Sept, Shas'El. Juur'jo, Yulk'a, V'kal and many many more comprise this Coalition. I do not see your insistence to imply some great division between the Tau of your world and the Tau of our Empire."

"We are all of T'au."

"You sidestep again. Fo'tash will be a part of Kel'shan Sept, Shas'El, you will see that."

"Perhaps, Shas'O, but that decision has not yet been reached by the Council of the Highest. Until then, my cadres remain under the specific jurisdiction of the Fo'tash'ar'tol. That is why when the discrepancy was detected a Kel'shan Coalition transport was given priority rather than a shared response."

Vra'dath sat closer to the holo-projector so that his body seemed to grow in her room, glowering over her. She did not flinch. She respected the warrior before her but she would not let him bully her. He seemed to deflate slightly.

"I am concerned about my warriors, Shas'El. Trace evidence suggests the transport exploded. "

She breathed, ensuring her face remained the mask of calm. "Possibly equipment failure, I would suggest your Earth Caste technicians communicate with ours to augment all your vehicles. Fo'tan suffers from turbulence and volcanic particulates which can bypass filters if they are not properly aligned."

"Is there any chance of recovery?"

"I have teams searching for survivors."

Vra'dath nodded, then, without a word, ended the transmission and plunged the room into darkness.

And in the dark, the Shas'El touched her braid again and found the carving. All of this, must be, for the Greater Good.
~Good Hunting

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#48 » Dec 14 2016 03:56

Na'deem woke before his eyes opened, his sense of smell overwhelmed by a foul odor and the sensation of being lifted. His eyes opened in time to see Bra'ka, Nel's riding creature that she treated more like a comrade, opening his massive mouth filled with razor sharp teeth over him.

"Ahh! Stop!" He put his hands up, palms out, but Bra'ka was set. With a quick jerk of his head he spun Na'deem around, sniffing intently on his utility pouch. Na'deem reach inside and tossed the high-protein bar at the creature who greedily picked it up with a tongue as long as Na'deem's arm.

"By the sands!" Na'deem wiped gobbets of saliva from the front of his armor. "You're disgusting!" Bra'ka paid him no mind as he wrapped himself around the snack and munched happily.

Na'deem looked out at the mouth of the cave and saw Nel. He had explained the events as best he could. His team had been ambushed, the homestead massacred and his attempts to warn Colonial Command was unsure save the brief conversation with Shas'El Ga'rah. At the mention of Fo'tan's former Fire Caste leader Na'deem had withdrawn herself, insisting he focus on healing and sleeping while she kept watch.

His wounds were closing, his healing factor accelerated by Nel's expertise, but they would leave pitted and slashed scars from the alien attacks on him. He had never heard of the Sslyth but if they were from the So'lai Rift regions then it was just another vile species to hinder the efforts of the Empire.

Checking himself, he saw the largest rent in his chestplate was also recovering as the fio'tak crystalline layers reformatted themselves. Through the seeming miraculous technologies of the Earth Caste, a Firewarrior could retain optimal equipment standards indefinitely.

He joined Nel after a while, breathing in the mountain air and squinting in the morning sun. She was standing at the edge of the cliff, a piece of glass in her hands that she was using to catch the light.

"How are you feeling?" She said, not turning around.

"Better, Shas'La, thank you."

Nel chuckled, "I don't want to offend your warrior's spirit but you may refer to me as 'Nel'."

"I... You are unorthodox it seems in all things."

"I am of the Pioneers, Shas'La. Rank is a formality of the Cadres, on the frontier things are different."

Na'deem thought about this, looking out at Fo'tan's forests below, the endless sky. He thought of his team, the Firewarriors he had become an adult with, had served with and now survived. This was the first time he had been alone in his life without the familiarity of comrades. Things were, indeed, different on the frontier.

"What are you doing?" He asked, trying to ignore the rising feeling of panic and loss. He would deal with such emotions when he was debriefed and when the aliens were punished for their crimes.

"I'm looking for Jen'jee."

"He is out there? Why not simply raise him on the comm net?"

"It doesn't work all of the time and I don't know if the Sslyth have learned to slice past our encoding."

That made sense, Na'deem thought. A sudden twinkle, kilometers away, winked up at him. "There!"

Nel turned and smiled, "Good eyes, Kel'shani." She aimed the glass to catch the sun and flashed a signal back.

"It's Jen'jee," she confirmed, "Looks like the rest of the Pioneers are regrouping at the mouth of the Sda'k river. From there they'll probably push for Benefit near the coast and begin the fight-back."

"We should regroup with them, there will be safety in numbers." He couldn't keep the excitement from his voice. Reconnecting with more of the Pioneers would be better than the two of them alone in the mountains. The feeling of rejoining a collective was strong.

"You will need to adapt, Shas'La. Risking a descent will leave us open to further attack. Last time we were lucky, the Sslyth confused by our arrival. Brak'a is healing but I wouldn't trust him to be able to perform as admirably as he already has."

Na'deem wanted to say that Brak'a was a non-sentient and therefore should perform until the reptile expired but he knew this would only insult his savior. He deflated, watching the winking signals of Nel's comrade, "Then what? We stay up here until they find us?"

"Of course not..." Nel chewed her lip then looked up at a neighboring mountain, it's peaks layered in white snow. "There is a listening post on Peak 4-08. From there we could contact Benefit, get a transport and rendezvous with the rest of the Fo'tan in the region. I'm sure even your Kel'shani Shas'O will have come up with an idea by then to deal with these raiders by then."

CHOOSE

1. Through Unity, Victory: Press for the Pioneers massing at the river but risk scaling down the mountain and effectively doubling back through hostile territory.

Goal: This is the last part of the piece to regroup with the Pioneer teams in the region.

2. Precision of the Skilled Hunter: Risk the mountain climb and get to the listening post.

Goal: Potentially fast-track the journey back to Benefit station.
~Good Hunting

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#49 » Dec 14 2016 08:45

I pick 2. Precision of the Skilled Hunter. This is Nel's backyard and Na'deem should listen to her advice.
It'll also probably be easier for any extraction to happen at the listening post compared to the jungle.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#50 » Dec 26 2016 12:10

2. Precision of the Skilled Hunter

The mountain gales were so strong that Nel and Na'deem were forced to walk alongside Brak'a using the creature's bulk as a windbreaker. Snow wisps flew in their faces and collected around the borders of their armor plates and it only got colder as they climbed. By the time they had crested the first mountain ridge, Na'deem could no longer feel any exposed skin save numbing cold.

Nel, by contrast, did not seemed bothered in the slightest. She walked behind him, helping him before he could ask, but otherwise was silent, every now and again helping Brak'a when his leg slowed him or taking quick looks at the horizon. There was no enemy that Na'deem could see, but when it became too painful to turn his head he bent his head and put his faith in Nel. By noontide they had reached a cleft in the mountain that jutted out of the snowy banks like black wedged teeth.

"I can go no longer..." Na'deem said, crouching low and leaning against a boulder.

Nel chuckled, "Is Ke'lshan such an easy planet that you can just stroll up a mountain, a flower in your braid?" She removed a small plastic tub from her belt and bent it in half, tossing it down next to Na'deem. It began to glow, emanating a delightful heat.

"I am not from Ke'lshan Prime." He held his hands over the thermal tube. "My home was Orbital Four."

"No mountains?"

"No mountains. No rivers, no rocks, no vka's aliens or-"

"Do all Kel'shani despise aliens?" Nel interrupted. Na'deem looked up at her, mouth open, old teachings and cautionary lessons slowly drifting up from his childhood.

"No, of course not, all are equal."

"Many Kel'shani that I have met believe Brak'a, for example, to be some kind of tamed animal. That we Fo'tani are somehow returning to the dark ages." She gently scratched beneath Brak'a's chin who exhibited a low growl that was not unpleasant. "They regard Brak'a poorly."

Na'deem raised his hands in apology, "It is always fear and pain that comes from the alien, Nel." Calling a relative stranger in the informal still bothered him. "It is hard not to disrespect those who hunt us."

Nel smiled, looking out on the vista below. "This, amongst so many other reasons, is why we deserve to forge our own path." She sighed and Na'deem felt as though he had fallen into opposition with the Pioneer without even knowing it. "Fo'tan has always found comfort in our alliances with other species. Before the swarmfleets, our spaceport was renown amongst even those beyond the Empire."

Na'deem gritted his teeth. "It was Kel'shan Sept who bore the weight of the Y'he so that Fo'tan might be spared if I recall the Histories, lest you forget."

"To which Fo'tan is forever grateful. But that does not mean we can share your disdain for other races."

"We do not need you to, but understand the risk we know exists."

Nel nodded, looking into Bra'ka's eyes. "The Yo'shi are proud, honor-bound and understand the Tau'va more than most." She looked at him. "Come, Shas'La Na'deem, let's go." She stood, as if such small moments of stillness could rejuvenate her. Na'deem was not made of the same substance.

"Please, Nel, a few more rai'kans, I am so cold." He hated himself for complaining.

"Standing, climbing, these actions will-" Bra'ka roared, leaping up. Nel dropped into a roll, her carbine appearing in her hands even as a beam of energy stitched the bolder behind her, disintegrating.

Na'deem shouted and turned, pistol up and firing. It was a pair of Sslyth, circling around the lip of the cleft and using the rocks as cover. Plasma from the Firewarrior's pulse weapons created a firestorm of exploding rock which the Sslyth easily avoided while their return fire consisted of the same flechette weapons and a weapon that shot beams of negative light, erasing all it touched.

Na'deem crawled and fired, doing his best to try and form a firing line but quickly realized he was alone. Bra'ka was bounding away, probably frightened, Na'deem concluded bitterly. As for Nel, she was slowly making her way upwards out of the cleft. "Help!" He cried.

"Cease your fire, Shas'La!" She commanded and Na'deem instantly stopped before his brain could question 'why'.

The Sslyth turned away from him and focused on Nel. Na'deem watched as the Sslyth worked through the cover, hemming Nel in. A final blast from the Sslyth energy weapon erased the rock behind Nel. She went down with a scream of pain. The Sslyth moved into the expanding clouds of atomized dust, their secondary arms pulling blades out.

"Nel!" He rose, firing at their backs.

Both darted in opposite directions, turning back on him with snarls of perceived annoyance. The one holding the energy weapon aimed at him, the barrel building in a destructive light aimed straight at Na'deem's chest.

Then Bra'ka was amongst them and all was blood and bodies.

*


Na'deem picked his way through the two dead Sslyth. He felt like he was going to be sick as he saw Bra'ka wiping bits of flesh from his teeth. "Nel? Nel, are you alright?" He couldn't imagine what he would do without her, lost in the mountains, with

The dust cleared before him and Nel was standing, brushing of the dust of the explosion. "Yes, Na'deem, I'm unhurt." She looked up at him an grinned, "Kauyon tactic. You should have stayed down."

Na'deem laughed and hurried to Nel, helping her up, "I thought you were dead!"

Something warbled from the torso of a Sslyth. Na'deem turned as Nel checked the many pouches on the disembodied alien. Pulling out a long cylinder, she examined it. It was silver with a red crystal that pulsed and yipped with static.

"A communicator." She held it as if it were a bomb.

Na'deem took a step back, "What do we do?"

"Through Boldness, victory" - Attempt to open the comm's device and potentially learn more about the enemy?

"Exemplar of the Selfless Cause - Toss the communicator aside and double time it to the listening post.
~Good Hunting

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Denirosek
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#51 » Dec 26 2016 06:01

Using the communicator would only reveal their position to the enemy and there's a very small chance of uncovering the Sslyth secrets anyway. Exemplar all the way.
Prosper, as Tau shall.

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CmdrCASh
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#52 » Dec 26 2016 10:19

I'm going to go with 1. "Through Boldness, Victory". Their value to the greater good in the long run can be more than just three combatants, but any intelligence they can gather on the enemy.
I'm not too worried about exposing positions since they have just been engaged and the enemy already knows they are there anyway.
Ka'ash Sept

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Calmsword
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#53 » Jan 03 2017 02:47

"Through Boldness, victory" - Attempt to open the comm's device and potentially learn more about the enemy?

"Exemplar of the Selfless Cause - Toss the communicator aside and double time it to the listening post.

One of the reasons why I love choose your own adventure in this format is that, every now and again, you get a tie. The last few entries have been skimpy and I apologize- the holidays hit me pretty hard and work doesn't seem to recognize christmas or New Years. I'm writing this on my way to Scotland- I hope you enjoy:

Nel took a breath and thumbed the switch. Communications, across the known universe, were based around the idea that when someone picked up one end there was someone on the other. Her and her unit had fought Sslyth before and they had never been this aggressive, this driven. Even if it meant her life and the life of Na'deem, she needed to at least try.

A wash of strange, jarring, static emanated from the red crystal that vibrated in her hand before the device seemed to narrow on a clear channel.

A voice spoke, a deep baritone and definitely not Sslyth. "Ubi sunt, xeno?"

Nel looked at Na'deem who's eyes widened. He knew better than to speak and quickly signed with his hands in mont'sia; "Gue'la." Nel nodded then tapped a panel in her collar. Unlike Shas of the First Spheres, Nel did not have didactic memories programmed into her interwoven cybernetics as a crechling. Instead, Fo'tan engineers programmed internal smart-libraries into warrior's armor which she accessed now. The information flowed from her armor and into her mind.

"Ubi sunt, xeno, respondio! The words echoed in her head and she understood them just as she responded in Gue'sia.

"We have found the quarry." She said, the guttural language difficult to reproduce but not impossible when prompted subliminally from her armor. "We have engaged."

There was a beat then the other spoke, some of the translations offering multiple interpretations, "Bring us their head/parts and receive bounty/sustenance. Were their any survivors like before? The Tau still do not/cannot know that we move even now to cut/tear/obliterate their connection to their orbital defenses."

"No survivors... We understand. Their bodies will be offered."

"We?"

Nel frowned, had she made a mistake?

"My unit-"

"Since when does a Sslyth care for more than itself, what is your name/rank/title, xeno-scum/feces?"

Na'deem reached for the communicator and threw it off the cliff, "We need to go, now!"

Nel couldn't agree more.


*


They reached the listening station just before dark, panic and desperation helping them ignore the cold, Brak'a keeping pace behind them. A drone pylon, jutting out like a solitary white tooth from red stone, activated as they entered scanning range.

Pilot lights and diods brightened in response to their proximity, illuminating a smooth path to the listening posts front door sculpted from the mountain rock. The building itself sat on the summit, a round structure covered in antennas. The door opened and they walked into a brightly lit single chamber with computer screens that were slowly coming to life.

"We made it!" Na'deem said, his teeth chattering. He almost collapsed over a terminal screen, his features brightened by its blue light. Nel was more cautious, eyeing the terminals dubiously. She worked her way through banks of terminals, checking the shadows, just in case.

A drone detached from it's dock above them and lazily hovered to eye level. "Greetings, Shas'faan, I am the custodian of this facility. How can I assist?"

"Greetings, Kor'vesa, we need to contact Shas'ar'tol, emergency stance." Na'deem said eagerly. All anxiety and fatigue seemed to have lifted from the Shas'La in the presence of technology. It had the exact opposite effect on Nel. Machines could ultimately fail or, worse, revert to whatever Fio programming rather than act appropriately in a situation. She patted Brak'a who tilted his head at the drone and growled.

The drone drifted closer to Na'deem but kept one of its optical mounts trained on the Yo'shi. "Understood, Shas'La."

Nel watched Na'deem's hands leap across floating keyboards. He spoke without looking at her, "We can get a signal to anyone on the planet. After that the whole Colony Defense Grid will kick in, nothing will be able to get through that, especially not some pirates." Na'deem was emboldened, proud even. "First, we lock the door!"

He pointed and depressed a panel. The outer door behind Nel shut and locked. "Now we don't have to worry about being ambushed anymore." Na'deem laughed. "After this, I'll request a transfer to a defense silo, nothing sneaks up on a defense silo." Two more blast doors slid into place, the symbol of Fo'tan emblazoned in the center. Na'deem's good humor seemed to falter for a moment at the sight of the colony's emblem.

"How much time will it need?" Nel asked.

Na'deem looked at her then back at the drone. "Well, Kor'vesa?'"

"Peak 4-08 Listening Post has a dedicated plasma generator which will need a single rai'kor further to reactivate."

"Reactivate?" Na'deem said. "Explain."

"I received visitors in the noontide of this day." Nel felt the scales on her spine suddenly tingle, as if she were being watched. Almost simultaneously, Bra'ka began to growl.

"Who?" Na'deem said, reading data off the screens.

"Us." The voice came from everywhere, a soft female's.

Nel raised her carbine and pistol in opposite directions as eight figures stepped out from thin air in sparks of silent electrical sparks. Na'deem fell back off the stool, Bra'ka stepped forward protectively. All but one was wearing older suits of XV-15 armor, each a patchwork of armor plates cannibalized or worn down to the matte fio'tak subsurface. Each of their bust cannons were spinning and aimed directly at her and Bra'ka.

Her brain could barely register what was happening but Bra'ka was ready, stepping forward, his talons clicking on the flooring.

"Jaa'ja! The eighth pilot stepped forward in mustard yellow armor that Nel couldn't identify. It was bulbous and moved lithely forward with a fusion blaster mounted on the left arm. The domed helmet blossomed open to reveal the speaker, an elderly Shas, who glared at Bra'ka and shouted again, "Jaa'ja!"

Bra'ka's legs folded and he sat on his rump, confused. Had there not been so many weapons pointed at Nel she might have laughed. Instead she lowered her weapons. The pilot turned to her. Nel could make out the personal markings, the rank insignia. It was Shas'El Ga'rah, the former Commander of all Fo'tan Cadres.

"I apologize." Nel bent her knee, hands outstretched in supplication. The rotary cannons ceased.

"Unnecessary, Pioneer." The Shas'El glanced at Na'deem who was hoisted up onto his hooves by a pilot. "We were surprised when the listening post started coming back online. Is that Shas'La Na'deem?"

"It is, Shas'El." She did not look up, her cheeks hot with embarrassment. Shas'El Ga'rah was a living legend amongst every Fo'tan, not just the Fire Caste. Across the Perdus Rift, the Shas'El had lead elite teams deep into the wilds of the unknown, disrupting the enemies of the Empire. But when the Shas'O had become ill and suddenly passed, she had been recalled to take his place until a Kel'shan Shas'O had taken charge. It had enraged the Fo'tan colony to say the least.

Ga'rah put a gauntleted hand on her shoulder. "Stand, Pioneer, who is your companion?"

Nel stood and looked at Brak'a who was entranced by Ga'rah. "His name is Bra'ka."

"Se'lo, Bra'ka" the Yo'shi shook his head and stood, dazed.

"I considered my years as a Pioneer some of the most fruitful on my path to Tau'va." Ga'rah said, never breaking eye contact with Bra'ka until she was satisfied. "It was by far the most straightforward." Her helmet closed around her again and she walked back to Na'deem.

"Shas'El, an attack is coming-" Nel called after her.

"Yes, we know." Ga'rah said, her voice modulated through her suit. She stopped at the terminal Na'deem had stood next to. Two of the stealth pilots dragged Na'deem back. "There have been attacks all around the Colony Hub including the loss of team Horizon... They are closing the noose."

"Shas'El, I am First of Horizon-"

"My condolences. To find you both here will make things more difficult. I hope you can understand what you are about to witness." The Shas'El made a gesture and a holographic image of the planet leapt from several projects to light up the center of the chamber. Nel saw indicators of the Colony Hub, several of the larger communities branching outward from it and a dozen highlighted diods that represented outposts like this one.

"Kor'vesa, secure a channel to Beacon."

"I obey." The drone warbled. A moment later a spot closer to the Hub began to pulse, the image expanding to take up the entirety of the projection. "Channel secured."

"Fio'Vre Reg'am?" Ga'rah asked.

A moment later; "Yes, Shas'El, we are still here."

"The enemy?"

"As predicted, they have sent a kill team to destroy the Beacon."

"Have you monitored their communication?"

"There does not seem to be very much, we suspect direct audio exchanges or something more elaborate as the attack has been coordinated." Recordings sprang up in mid-air showing hunched over figures leaping through roiling black clouds and fire.

"That's them! Those are the things that attacked us!" Na'deem shouted.

"Silence." Ga'rah said with barely a whisper. The stealth pilots cuffed Na'deem, spinning him around and pressing him against the wall so he could no longer look.

The Fio'Vre continued, "They have already advanced through two security zones and will soon be upon us."

"Are you prepared, Fio'Vre?"

The Earth Caste team leader's voice swelled with pride, "For Fo'tan, Tau'va and honor, my team is ready to commit all."

Ga'rah touched her chestplate with her fusion blaster. "Ko'vash Tau'va."

"Ko'vash Tau'va, Commander!"

The line cut off.

The blinking diod titled 'Beacon' vanished. Nel watched as the planet 'zoomed' outward again, providing a full planetary view. From this angle she could now see a mote of dust that was the Ke'lshan fleet in orbit near the southern polar defense orbital.

"And now we see if all that has been sacrificed was for a reason." Ga'rah said, seemingly to herself. Nel searched the map, seeing no change.

"Anomalous readings detected..." The drone said. A swirling wormhole appeared on the map. "Analogous transdimensional gate formation is being registered just outside Fo'tan gravity well. Alerting Shas'ar'tol-"

"Negative, Kor'vesa, you will not warn anyone." The drone bobbed in the air current it floated on. A light changed color in Ga'rah's optics that was quickly matched by the drone's own equipment going dark. The disc fell gently to the ground, it's simple intelligence overwhelmed.

"What is happening, Shas'El?" Nel braved a question.

Ga'rah did not look at her. "What must be done."
~Good Hunting

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Calmsword
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#54 » Jan 08 2017 07:44

Captain Zadu Reyot watched as the physics separating reality from the immaterium were ripped apart by the Gargoyle's geller field, allowing the Gothic Class Cruiser through the yawning maelstrom of a warp gate. There was a moment that everything darkened as the glow globes dimmed and the logic-stacks crackled with electricity. A servitor died from feedback, the lobotomized human gurgling as it swallowed its own tongue. techpriest rushed forward and began cutting it down.

Zadu ignored the incident. He had been plying the stars since his birth, hand picked by the Reyot family to join thousands of others on the pride of the Dynasty's fleet, and such casualties were commonplace. As the plasma engines rumbled into life, sending quakes through the decking, he knew that a few dozen slaves in the enginarium would be reported as incinerated.

"The warp gate recedes." Mumbled the Navigator, her eyes empty black pits and the control collar on her neck heavy with chains in the gauntlets of her handlers. "We return to the Galaxy."

Zadu dismissed the mutant with a hand while he kept his other two on his twin blades on his belt. War was coming and while he may never face the enemy on the front, the mighty cannons of the Gargoyle were his to command and with them he would burn entire cities to slag.

Out the high framed viewports he saw the prey-world, hanging in space that swirled with blue nebula. The Gargoyle had only ever skirted the edges of the globular cluster the filthy xeno Tau called home and all of it was stained by strangely vibrant gas clouds to which, every now again, birth new stars in tranquil nurseries.

He growled, his torn lips pulling back over his pointed teethe. The wealth of the Empire was known throughout the Segmentum. Unlike blessed Emallag, the birthplace of the Dynasty, and the seven worlds his people had colonized, the Tau enjoyed abundant resources and hundreds of habitable worlds while other species starved and were forced to compete with one another for scraps. Joining the cursed Empire was always an option, like the loathsome Kroot or the pathetic Formosians, the Dynasty would never stoop so low.

"Captain, generatorium is hot."

"Ignite void shields..." He moved to his command throne and sat. The Dynasty was not ready to topple the Empire, but first blood would be against this colony, the claw driven in by the Gargoyle and his will in the name of the Mother. "Full scan, I want targets of opportunity."

"Yes Captain." Another crewman called. Zadu could sense the excitement from his crew, his family. Their minds throbbed like a physical thing, brushing against his mind.

"We have several transports off the prow moving toward the southern pole of the planet. Looks like their fleet is in high anchor."

"All ahead full." There was an instant increase in the decks vibration. Shalor and his vanguard forces had been thorough in their communication. They had found the relic and had moved into the next phase of wiping out Tau settlements in the region, herding the Tau into positions of defense as they tried to counter what they believed might be slave raids.

All the Tau had was a single capital ship and a handful of picket ships. The twin polar defense orbitals would be dealt with easily enough. All this would have been more than withstand a pirate incursion, but the Gargoyle was no a pirate vessel.

"We are your doom." He whispered to the world before him.
*


"Take evasive action!" Shas'O Vra'datha wiped thick, dark, blood from his face with the back of his hand. Those Tau'faan that hadn't been thrown from their seats were yelling situation updates as the holo-image of the First Covenant flashed grey across a dozen points.

"Deck three is venting atmosphere-"

"Juntas side batteries are offline, recovery drones assigned!"

"Security teams have engaged enemy warriors and confirm we are being boarded!"

"How did they board us?"

Vra'datha grimaced and began stabbing the holo keys in the arms of his command chair. "Keep it together!" he bellowed, "Seal off the central deck-zone, vent deck three." He didn't look at the Shas'La he'd commanded and, to her credit, the Kor'La did not hesitate. Every invader and Tau'faan in deck three of the cruiser was violently decompressed.

He would offer thanks to the Ethereals and beg for forgiveness from the dead if they survived through this.

Looking into the combat screens projected ahead of him, he saw the human city-ship bearing down on them. Vra'datha had never seen a vessel of such size outside of archival footage during the Iron Hammer war a century earlier. They were nightmare constructs, larger than anything in the Kor'vattra, with weapons that while cumbersome, could annihilate whole squadrons with a single volley. They were the avatar of human psychology and Gue'la barbarism and it was rushing to obliterate First Covenant.

The analytical part of his brain tried to reason with the events that had exploded into being barely six decs ago when the Gue'la had translated into real space. Since the Lithesh War, the Empire had adapted to the Gue'la ability to leap across entire sectors of space by setting up early warning networks interlinked by hundreds of satellites scattered across planetary systems. There had been no warning.

He could only deduce that the loss of team Horizon had been in engaging a Gue'la sabotage team.

But it made no sense! The planetary defense nodes were all over Fo'tan. It would have taken a planetary assault to create this kind of disruption.

"Where is the blasted defense network?" He roared, prioritizing requests for assistance to the nearby orbital that had remained strangely silent.

"The Azo'ka and Ul'an are requesting commands, Shas'O!" An officer called.

"Gue'la city-ship is closing!"

Exemplar of the Selfless Cause: The First Covenant is the only capital ship in the system and it will take days, if not weeks, for support to arrive from Kel'shan. Any means to slow this Gue'la vessel will mean more time for the Kel'shan and Fo'tan cadres on the planet to organize a defense and evacuate the central colonies, even if it means the First Covenant and all it's picket ships are destroyed.

With Patience, Understanding: The enemy knows too much about the Tau defenses and without a planetary defense network or the orbitals, the Shas'O will be able to buy only a few decs with the slimmest chance of victory. However, if the First Covenant withdraws into the atmosphere it can attempt a regroup with the planetary forces.
~Good Hunting

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