Post by Steinerman on Apr 24, 2012 23:30:28 GMT -5
"You're snoring again."
Vesper Sheridan opened her eyes and shot a mock glare up to the front seat and the driver of their vehicle. Thomas Saint returned fire with a knowing smile and a wink of his eye in the rear-view mirror before returning his attention to keeping their vehicle (a plain four-door off-road covered jeep, painted grey) on the highway.
"A woman needs her beauty sleep. And I don't snore." She muttered before a yawn overtook her. "Isn't that right, Aya?" She questioned of the woman seated in the front passenger seat. The dark skinned woman had been extremely quiet since they'd left the boat, and now she simply shrugged once, not bothering to reply vocally.
The three Outcasts were currently traveling over the Zailleon highways with their companion, Sceptus Contra. Whom she was still somewhat unsure of how to treat. He'd aided them greatly on their sea voyage, and they had express orders from their commander to aid him in whatever way they could. But Vesper still was a little unsure of what to do, especially considering his age. And her usual cheery manner seemed to have very little effect upon the lad.
She cast a glance over to him, sitting on the far end of the second-row seat, leaving a seat's length in-between them. "So, given any more thought as to where you'd like to head? We're sort of aiming for one of the busier crossroads in the highways, right now. From there we can head just about any place you'd like."
Last Edit: Apr 24, 2012 23:30:42 GMT -5 by Steinerman
While certainly something he had been acclimating to, all the traveling had begun to put Scept on edge. Never getting a good night's rest and in a new location every night, the days were beginning to meld together. With an arm hanging out a window of the jeep into the baking wasteland heat that dominated much of Zailleon, he grimaced as his eyes scanned the vast stretches of uninhabited land. Vesper's question was an important one, the boy knew, but it didn't make him want to answer it anymore.
He'd not been particularly exact with his directions so far, telling them simply to head west for a while. Truth be told, Scept himself wasn't exactly sure where he need to go. The notes and partial map he had were vague to say the least, and the most definite directions he had were the cravings in the back of his mind to head west. He didn't know exactly where he was being pulled to, though he'd had more than a fair guess for a while now.
While for some reason he couldn't seem to get himself to part ways with these people, Scept was certainly getting a little irritated at his continued company with them. A bit of human interaction wasn't too bad, though... No, he'd only be with them as much as he needed to. No need to make it too easy for them, either. With more than a little bit of a smirk in his voice, he responded unhelpfully, "Yes."
Post by Steinerman on Apr 26, 2012 22:31:41 GMT -5
There was an angry growl from the front passenger seat and Aya shook her head sharply. Obviously annoyed by Scept's succinct response.
Vesper eyed the other woman apprehensively, her expression pained. Aya was quiet at the best of times, and patience was something the woman had in great supply, so Scept shouldn't have been getting to her like that. Vesper had an idea of what was driving the other woman to the edge, but she dared not speak of something so personal with Scept in the vehicle.
She caught Thomas shooting a cautious glance sideways as well. He'd picked up on the tension emanating from the other mercenary, "Chill, Aya." He ordered steadily, a wry smile upon his lips. "No need to take out your frustration on the kid."
"He's BS'ing us." The dark-skinned woman hissed angrily. "He doesn't know where we're going anymore than we do. And I've got better things to worry about than following some kid the Alpha wants looked after."
Vesper winced again, "Aya," she responded gently. "Sceptus has a lifetime of experience telling him to distrust us, and not many reasons to give us a chance." She grinned warmly at Scept, "So we must give him reasons to trust us, biting his head off for no reason isn't going to help."
Scept's tongue curled in his mouth at the conversation. What was wrong with these people? One of them acted like they adored him, another like they loathed him, and the last like he wasn't there, primarily. He suddenly felt very uncomfortable located in the corner of the car, surrounded by all three of them. Shifting in his seat awkwardly, he tried to decide the best course of action; he felt liked he was being played for sure.
On the one hand he didn't want to reveal more than he had to just yet, but on the other hand the woman in the passenger seat unsettled him to say the least. She would probably continue to be obedient, but... Thinking about the alternative didn't make him feel that great, even if it was only abandonment out here in the middle of nowhere. Scept grunted internally; they win this one, he supposed. "How far are we from the crossroads?"
Post by Steinerman on Apr 27, 2012 13:15:13 GMT -5
Vesper readied herself to answer when Thomas cleared his throat loudly, clearly annoyed by Aya's behavior. And did she detect a certain amount of annoyance directed at her as well? Perhaps, she wasn't sure. But his voice carried with it a definite edge as he spoke, "Alright, it's been a rather long ride, so we're all tense, and tired."
He cast a glance into the mirror and locked his eye on Scept for a moment, "We're not far from the crossroads, about fifteen more minutes."
To his right, Aya had lapsed into a sullen state, eyes downcast. "I want a transfer, sir. This operation isn't working out."
Thomas grimaced, "Request denied, I don't have anyone to replace you with at the moment." He snapped back. This wasn't going nearly like he'd planned, he reflected. Scept wasn't comfortable with them by a long shot. And though she didn't realize it, Vesper was probably putting the young man on edge. She didn't realize that her almost insanely cheerful personality could do that to people. And now Aya was acting up, which he hadn't seen coming in the slightest. Maybe at the crossroads they'd have a chance to stretch their legs for a moment, get some air and calm down.
The teen wasn't sure what was worse; that Aya had requested a transfer, or that she had been denied? He was still pretty confident in his dislike for these people, but that woman was frightening to say the least. Scept released a hardly audible groan this time, his face quite sour now. How had he ended up here with these people? It still didn't make any sense to him, and he was tired of feeling like a fish caught up in a huge net. The thought that these people might be hired off by the Taron Magi had occurred to him several times now, and that gave him the most trouble. He was searching for a major magical artifact after all.
The battle waged within him once more as to whether this had been a mistake or not, and again Scept shifted restlessly in the seat of the jeep. He hated the idea of giving them anything, but he also wasn't ready to watch the woman in the front seat go absolutely berserk. He directed his attention and voice to Thomas, confident the man would know he was being addressed; that eye of his seemed to know too much already. "I'll tell you where we're going when we stop."
Post by Steinerman on Apr 28, 2012 11:52:14 GMT -5
Thomas nodded his head to Scept's reply. The air inside the vehicle was taught with frustration and anger, definitely not good for building trust. Of course Scept wouldn't tell them anything more for a while. In his mind, he momentarily crossed Scept off his list of things to try and handle, that left . . . Aya.
"Aya, what do I have to do to stop you from exploding in the next ten minutes? I swear, the deeper we go into Zailleon, the worse you're getting." He asked, his voice tired. He had a feeling he already knew the answer, and it wasn't really something that he had any control over.
"You could explain why the ship's late, why there's been no contact with it, and then you could get me a direct comm unit so I could yell at the Alpha for ever sending my husband out on such a crazy mission." Aya growled back at him. Behind, Vesper winced again. Thomas merely sighed, as the answer was roughly what he'd been expecting.
He mulled over his options for a few seconds, then nodded his head. "Alright." He replied.
Aya's eyes widened in surprise. "Really?" She questioned.
Thomas nodded, "Really." He replied evenly. "Right, everyone, we're taking a quick break before the crossroads, as I don't want Aya going beserk and shooting us all in the next minutes." He belatedly realized that probably wasn't the best joke to make. He knew Aya wouldn't actually harm them, but Scept probably didn't.
Quickly he took the nearest off-ramp and parked their vehicle on the dirt. Then, just as quickly, he turned off the vehicle and pocketed the keys. "Right, break-time, stretch your legs, everyone. Aya and I need to have a chat." With that, he got out of the vehicle and walked several dozen yards off, the shorter Aya jogging to catch up.
Still inside the vehicle, Vesper shrugged once. "Well, I guess a few minutes out of this car isn't a bad thing." She said brightly to Scept.
Last Edit: Apr 28, 2012 12:17:13 GMT -5 by Steinerman
The boy's sour expression remained intact as the vehicle came to a stop, muttering in response to Vesper, "Yeah, or not, if someone's just going to go ballistic." He opened his own door and slid out of the vehicle quickly, landing quietly on the ground and immediately walking in the opposite direction of wherever Thomas was going. The man had spoken exactly what was on his mind, and it didn't make him feel any better. He didn't know what kind of sand Aya had gotten in her eye, and he didn't really care; Scept had every intention of enjoying this break from their company for as long as possible.
Approaching a hill slightly off the side of the road, the young mage sat down and crossed his legs, taking in the view of Zailleon fields that stretched around the highways. Closing his eyes, Scept constructed a small, spherical time bubble around himself, big enough for himself comfortably. Time inside his own personal field would now be sped up, and perhaps the short, five-minute stop would last a half an hour for the mage. Unless someone else decided they'd squeeze inside too, he'd have a nice bit of peace for the first time in what felt like forever.
Post by Steinerman on Apr 28, 2012 13:21:34 GMT -5
Vesper also exited their vehicle, then took in the area with a sweeping glance. Thomas and Aya were off in the distance, Thomas as still as stone, Aya throwing up her arms incredulously, obviously furious. Vesper had known that Aya's husband was currently MIA, and she'd easily guessed that was the reason for the small woman's sudden hostility. Though a hardened killer, Aya had rarely ever shown such violence towards her allies.
In the opposite direction, Scept was sitting atop a small hill, an aura of magic surrounding him. For a moment she considered going up and talking to him, but something in Thomas' behavior from earlier told her it would be a bad idea. So she simply hopped up onto the hood of the jeep and leaned against the windshield, eyes closed, body taking in the bright sun.
Several minutes later, she heard the heavy footfalls of Thomas' approach. "How'd the talk go?" She questioned without opening her eyes.
"About as expected. She's furious that she was kept out of the loop." Thomas replied tersely.
"She should be," Vesper nodded her head once. "You and I both counseled Robert that he should have sent her on the mission with her husband. We knew how she'd react to such a separation as that."
"Yes, we did. And he shot us down, with good reason, I might add. Can you imagine her cooped up on a sub with four of those things? They'd either drive her mad or convert her." He sighed, "Oh well, she's mollified for now. How's the kid?"
"He's off on the hill, probably glad to be rid of us for a while." Vesper replied with a confused frown.
"He's not used to someone so insanely cheerful as you. I think you make him tense, trying to figure out what your angle is." Thomas shot back, his tone lighter now.
"But I don't have an angle . . ." Vesper groaned dramatically. "Honestly, are people everywhere as paranoid? I grew up in a place where being nice was the thing to do."
Thomas chuckled as he easily trotted up the hill towards Scept. "You're just weird. The rest of the world is as nasty as me!" He shouted back down to her. In response, she waved one of her hands dismissively.
Thomas now turned his attention to Scept, "Alright, Scept." He called out, hoping his voice would carry through whatever magic the boy was using. "Crisis averted. Now you and I need to have a chat about our destination."
The boy sat for a long while, completely alone for what felt like the first time in eternity. The Taron Magi had always pressed on him the need for meditation and concentration, but he found himself seldom using either one of those. They also said it was the reason he could only last for a short time with his spells, and that without endurance he might burn himself out. While he disagreed on the necessity, as he had grown a little bit, though, the practice had become more enjoyable and relaxing. He needed to think clearly if he was going to deal with these people. If he didn't play his cards just right then who knew would might happen. With all this in mind, though, Thomas' disrupting his focus made him jump slightly.
As the sound waves from his voice struck the chronosphere, they sped up to the same rate as everything else inside, becoming clear for Scept. Opening his eyes, the mage shifted the size of the bubble to envelope both of them comfortably so they could speak. Without standing up, Scept spoke with more reserve than usual, a side-effect of sustaining the magical field as well as the recent meditation, "We're headed to the Lightning Temple, I think." He almost winced at saying it aloud, all the while wondering if it had been a foolish thing to say. He thought about apologizing for the delay but thought better of it; he had nothing to apologize to this man. Still, he added for good measure, "I hope that's all right."
Post by Steinerman on Apr 28, 2012 23:05:03 GMT -5
Thomas eyed Scept oddly for a moment before shrugging once. "Knowing our destination would have been helpful, it might have even headed off Aya's little tantrum. Then again, maybe not. Her anger's been building for the last week." He replied.
He was silent a few seconds more as he considered the new information. "But, knowing before hand would have helped me gauge what we're going to need. Do you want to go into the temple itself? Or just get into the vicinity? The thing's a bloody sand-dune, by all accounts. I'll probably have to call in some specialists for that."
There was no simple way around it: he had no idea. Even saying that they were headed toward the Lightning Temple was just a guess, though he seemed to feel more and more confident about it as they got closer. Scept hadn't really thought about what he would do once he got to the temple, hoping only that he'd know what to do when he finally got there. He inhaled deeply and tried his best to keep the uncertainty off his face; he'd simply have to decide. "No, just the exterior of the temple." He hoped that would be the case anyway. Just to try and put Thomas' concerns aside, though, he added a lie he hoped might come true, "I know what to do once we're there.."
It would do no good to have the man call in another dozen of mercenaries to come all the way out here. The less he caught the attention of this organization the better; maybe they would just forget about him when all this was done. Maybe.
Post by Steinerman on Apr 29, 2012 23:42:06 GMT -5
Thomas eyed Scept thoughtfully for a moment. He'd caught a glimpse of uncertainty in the young man's face, though just a glimpse. Perhaps it wasn't anything, obviously Scept was unsettled merely due to the odd companionship. Thomas would readily admit that the Outcasts were an odd bunch, it was even in their name.
So he finally nodded slowly, "Right, then to the outskirts of the Lightning Temple we go. I'll have back-up on standby, in case we need it. Our unit was initially based here, and we still operate a training ground near the jungles. Should be able to get a chopper to the Temple in case things get dicey."
He tried not to let onto the fact that truthfully he could have far more than one helicopter aid them, if need be. The nearest facility could send out four helicopter gunships to the temple, in case something went dicey. Thomas got the feeling that Scept didn't really realize exactly what unit he'd run into.
Robert always liked to say "small, tight-knit group". But once you took in all of Robert's connections, friendly relations with other mercenary units and certain syndicates, and favors owed. The amount of power the Outcasts could draw on was, while not massive, certainly substantial.
Oh well, Thomas thought. Sceptus had his secrets, and the Outcasts had theirs.
"We'd better get moving while the day's still young." He said with wry smile, turning to head back to the jeep. "Aya's promised not to shoot anything, at least for the next few hours. Though I feel bad for my boss when he sees her next." He added on, his tone sarcastic.
Last Edit: Apr 29, 2012 23:43:01 GMT -5 by Steinerman
Scept offered the older man a nod, slowly standing up straight and releasing the magical field around them. To an outsider, the conversation of half a minute or so would have passed in a moment when seen through the time bubble's wall. Turning toward the jeep himself, the young mage descended the small hill and climbed back into his seat, pausing only to check that death was no longer written across everyone's face. He had no idea how much longer it would take to reach the temple, but he hoped it wouldn't be extraordinarily long. They might not make it there in one piece.
Thomas snorted as he realized that Scept wasn't looking forward to getting back into the vehicle. "Lighten up a little, kid." He said lightly as he and the others got back into the jeep. "We're not all heartless killers out for money." He shrugged once as he pulled the vehicle back onto the highways. "I mean, sure, I'm pretty heartless, when it comes down to it. But Aya here? She's a freaking teddy bear in disguise. Got a husband, and a kid too. Little younger than you, actually."
Across from him, Aya rolled her eyes and sighed loudly. "This is your way of getting back at me for being a twit earlier, isn't it." She stated with exasperation.
Behind her, Vesper chuckled. "Thomas Saint always pays his debts, Aya. You know that."