Late morning sun creeps through the blinds in the bedroom. Upon a neatly arranged desk, tomes of various subjects lay open with sticky pads of notes adorning the pages. Paper notepads and journals intermix with tablets and a laptop. On collapsible table against the wall, an arrangement of medical and magic devices sprawl out on the smooth top surface. The Sword rests against the corner of the bed between the nightstand in its ornate scabbard. Sebastian's ethereal forms crouches next to the bed near a figure underneath the covers. "Morning, dear."

A slight stir accompanies a halfhearted grumble. A playful smile opens on Sebastian's mouth. "Come on. Time to get up, dear. You know if you just lay in there sore for much longer, I'm just going to get Sotalia to come in here with a potion or two."

The blankets retreat and reveal a disorganized mess of silvery blue hair with a pair of violet eyes peering through it. "No..."

Sebastian grins slyly and lifts a brow with a flit. "No, what?"

A delicate hand grasps the edge of the covers tightly and guide the sheets away from Aristespha's face. "No, I'm getting up, Sebastian."

A warm smile spreads on Sebastian's face and he hovers to a seat on the bed next to the stirring Aristespha. "Well, you are moving a lot better today, dear. No curses in Evuukian I couldn't understand so far."

Aristespha gradually rises from the bed, righting her torso up on top the bed carefully and fighting a grimace. "I still can't believe I'm this sore STILL."

Sebastian angles his eyes away briefly with a sympathetic grit of the teeth. "Well, you did go all out on Bach with sword fighting. And... You were really conservative with the magical healing yesterday for yourself."

He stares with a tinge of concern at Aristespha. She releases a long sigh and rolls her eyes. "A proper medical mage shouldn't be their own patient. You are suppose to reserve healing magics for your party unless you are in dire circumstances-"

A hard, eye wincing cringe seizes her statement. She feels along the back of her nightgown and reaches for a particular spot in the middle of her back between the shoulder blades. "Of all the spots for a muscle ache... Argh..."

Sebastian places his elbow on his knee, props his head up on his hand, and covers a smirk. "Can I at least have her get you a fresh cold pack?"

Determined defiance bolsters Aristespha's self-reliance as she carefully stretches her body out from under the covers. "I can get it myself. I just need to stretch out, take some regular aspirin, and tough it out for another day. It's just a few spots that are still painful."

She works herself upright, rests her feet upon the floor, and gently flexes a number of troublesome spots with mixtures of grimaces, cringes, and winces. Sebastian's ghostly figure slides next to her and smiles warm and lovingly at her. "Okay, dear. You know I'll do what I can for you. Even when you completely overexert yourself by beating up my brother."

Aristespha playfully rolls her eyes and fights off embarrassment with a self-aware smirk. "Well. I couldn't help myself. I can actually get an attack through and hit your brother, repeatedly. Unlike someone who'd only let attacks go through when he felt like placating my ego..."

She eyes Sebastian with a sultry smile and perks an eyebrow. "For absolutely ulterior motives."

Sebastian jokingly crosses his arms and shakes his head with a dismissive sigh. "I would NEVER let you win for such thing as ulterior motives."

He looks into Aristespha's eyes with a charming smile and a soft tone. "That was just your natural talents shining through."

The two gaze at each other for many moments. Aristespha laughs softly biting her lip. "Gods, how that still works on me I'll never know."

Sebastian lifts a brow at Aristespha with a smug smirk. "How WHAT works on you?"

Aristespha snorts and rolls her eyes. A melodic digital chime rings out into the room. Both Sebastian and Aristespha spot the aetherphone on the desk. Sebastian flies over to other side of the room examining the phone. Aristespha leans forward in preparation to stand up. "Who is it, Sebastian?"

Sebastian snaps his head up in surprise. "It's Nash, dear!"

Launching from the bed and initially stepping forward normally, Aristespha's motions quickly stiffen and grow more awkward as she travels across the room. The lingering sore spots on her body bluntly remind her of their existence and make the transit difficult. She grasps hold of the desk chair, pulls it out, and splashes onto it. A quick snatch of the phone, she presses the answer button and places it to her long ear. "Nash! Grant me one moment. please"

Aristespha taps the hold button on the phone screen and scans around the area for Sebastian. She locates him at the door, gazing at her and waiting for her. A pain tinged sigh escapes her and she pushes aside her pride to smile meekly at Sebastian. "Tell Sotalia to mix up a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory with a the weakest magical muscle relaxant potion. Use the topical delivery salve. Bring the adhesive gauze pads."

Sebastian nods slowly with a wink to Aristespha. "Will do, dear."

He floats through the door. Aristespha settles into the desk chair and takes a calming breath before pressing the hold button off on the screen. "Sorry about that. So, how's your morning been, Nash?"


Thin beams of bright sunlight weave through the thick forest canopy and project upon the sparsely littered forest floor. As clouds pass overhead, they mask out scattered silhouettes onto the leaf and brush covered ground. Deedri walks expediently through the trees, occasionally stops to pick up another large seed. She halts her progress and waits, scanning the area. Modoran steps out from behind a tree and waves with a smile to Deedri. "We are not being followed."

A long sigh of relief escapes Deedri and she manages a small smile of contentment. "Oh, good. Thank you so much for helping me. I just need a break from... Well... ALL of it."

Modoran glances back down Deedri's path and nods slowly with a sympathetic eyeroll. "I know. Gods, I know. I have to take breaks all the time."

He strolls up pass Deedri and squints ahead. "I'll admit I felt a bit bad dodging the camera crews before. But now... Not so much."

Deedri twists her mouth and catches up to Mordoran. "Well, stealth is your profession, so I understand. And, I really can't blame you. Especially, lately."

A thought tugs at the corner of Modoran's mouth and he faces Deedri with a perplexed lift the brow. "Do you mind if I ask a personal question?"

With a quick fluttering blink, Deedri perks up and carefully watches Modoran. "You may ask, but I can't say if I'll answer."

Modoran nods and tilts his head inquisitively to the side. "Why did you ever sign up for something like this? I have to be honest, you really don't fit in with the rest of the team."

Deedri's eyes flit wide as the statement startles her. Her expression saddens as her ears droop down and her posture sags. Modoran puts forth a comforting smile and gazes at Deedri. "That's a GOOD thing, Deedri. The rest of team are belligerent ASSHOLES! I've worked with plenty and these are some of the most brazen ones yet."

An uplifting spark lightens Deedri's mood and she struggles to express her satisfaction against cautious humbleness. "Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that..."

She averts her eyes away from the scrutinizing stare of Modoran. For a few moments she evades, but smiles tightly and allows her carefully modest thoughts out through her lips. "But, they have proven... Needlessly difficult. Very often."

Modoran sways his head from shoulder to shoulder and accepts the response. "I will agree with you there. So, again, why did you sign up for this show of all things? You're a medical mage. Surely, there's better places for you to work?"

Deedri sighs long and slowly shakes her head. She manages to keep a smile upon her face. "I'm a medical mage from a very low end school. The program is accredited and very good, but the school isn't really prestigious or well known."

She lowers her head as she walks next to Modoran and clasps her hands down on her apron. "After so many applications and interviews, I couldn't manage to get hired on by any group or company after graduation."

Modoran continues to watch Deedri and thinks about her story. "No one? No one wanted a medical mage?"

Deedri's shoulders drop lower and she shrinks her stance slightly. "All the nice paying positions either wanted more years of experience than I could provide or a license from a top ranking school. I could always get a job via placement by the school and eventually pay off my loans... But, I... I didn't want to think I worked so hard to not progress that much at all."

She draws in a long breath, straightens up, and puts forth a smile as she glances to Modoran. "Watched the last season's finale of the show, saw the announcement for applications, and applied. I got accepted and here I am. If nothing else, I'll at least pay down my loans a good deal and my mother won't have to worry about me."

Modoran stares forward at a distant break of the treeline and chuckles to himself. "Wow. Well... I applied for very similar reasons, too. So, don't feel bad."

Deedri's furry ears quirk up and she turns her head to face Modoran with a genuine inquisitiveness. "Really? I don't want to be rude and pry too much, but would you tell me your reasons?"

With a brief grin to Deedri, Modoran scratches the back of his head with tinges of embarrassment leaking out his demeanor. "Sure. It's only fair. Um... Well, I'm pretty unemployable in my homeland."

Deedri treads the next statement with a great deal of care and understanding blatantly apparent in her tone and face. "Because the demand for your skills and abilities changed and people got really superficially picky?"

Modoran laughs, shakes head of white hair, and grins slyly as he crosses his arms. "Surprisingly, no. There always someone that wants someone to keep an eye on someone else, or acquire... misplaced items. It's actually for more political reasons I couldn't get any more work... After a particular incident."

A wave of discomfort creeps across Modoran's body language and he keeps his head forward with a weakening grin. Deedri studies Modoran, dons a cheerful smile, and faces ahead. "It's good to know that I'm not the only one that was out of work and had no great prospects. It's actually very comforting."

The unease fades and Modoran smiles with nod. "Same here. Well, the show is crazy, but they pay."

He leans his head over and questions Deedri out of the corner of his mouth. "I have to ask, too. Do you really like that bell you wear around your neck?"

Deedri contorts her face as she contemplates an answer. Eventually, she sighs, pulling the corner of her mouth. "Initially, I thought it was really cute, but I'm a bit over it at this point. Unfortunately, Samantha keeps on making me put it on when we do anything official with the rest of the outfit."

A sinister grin creeps onto Modoran lips and stares forward. "Want me to relocate it for you?"

Deedri ears flick up, she stiffens her posture with a gasp, and bites her lip in eager thought. "Um... I don't want to cause you any trouble... But, unfortunately, I think the crew may have a few spares."

Modoran chuckles darkly as he narrows his gaze forward. "I'm curious how many spares they got."

He squints and pans a scan of the treeline perimeter ahead. "Looks like a clearing of sorts ahead. I'm guessing. The lighting looks strange though."

Deedri focuses her eyes in the direction that Modoran faces and excitedly rushes ahead. "No way! This is amazing!"

Modoran blinks momentarily and then speeds up to keep pace with Deedri. The two reach the forest edge and stop to survey the scene. Within a massive clearing, in the middle of a moat of tall grasses, a colony of protellow plants tower high. Thick trunk width vine stalks sway as a passing breeze tugs the huge broad leaves. Atop each plant, at least one massive circular flower reflects shades of yellow, red, blue, purple, or white. As the protellows shift to the winds, tufts of colorful pods reveal themselves from the imposing outline of the botanical monstrosities. One protellow in the middle rises above the rest. The meter thick base stays perfectly rigid against the passing gusts and the stalk barely tremors from the force of its dozens of sun blotting leaves pulling against it. Deedri gazes up in awe. "I can't believe it! I knew it was large from the distance, but this is absolutely astounding!"

Mordoran cocks his head to the side and eyes Deedri in sheer bewilderment. "What am I looking at here?"

Deedri steps forward with a skip in each step. "It's a protellow patch! Or, technically, a colony."

After a double-take, Modoran points to the largest protellow and hangs his jaw agape. "That's a protellow?! That thing is at least... three... four times the size of the thing that hit Chad's SUV!"

With a careful approach, Deedri reaches a hand out to a much smaller protellow just over her height and examines a leaf with her claw-tipped fingers. "It has to be very old. I wonder what variety these are. Protellow genetics are just fascinating. So much variety in one ancient genetically engineered plant."

Modoran wanders forward staring up in amazement, trips over an exposed root, but instinctively balances himself upright. "Whu- Look at the roots on this thing. Wait, are those... potatoes?"

Deedri aims her wide-eye gaze down onto the ground and kneels close to the spot. As she digs into the dirt with her hands, Modoran drops down to his knees and assists in shoveling the dirt away. After a minute, the two expose a large network of tubers within a patch of loose soil. Deedri grins ear to ear after her examination of the find, plucks a tuber right out of the ground, eagerly eyes it, and halves it with swift bite. Modoran's expression blanks as he stares in confusion. Deedri happily consumes the tuber, but eventually notices Modoran's bewilderment and fights her embarrassment. Modoran glances down at the nest of tubers, pulls one off the bundle of roots, inspects it with a shrug, and bites a chunk off. He chews it for a moment, dons a pleased expression, and nods to Deedri. "Not bad. Surprised they have that much flavor."

Deedri smiles again, reaches down, and plucks more off the root clusters. "I know! My mother has recipes for protellow tubers, fruits, seed pods, stalks, leaves, flower petals, and well... Just everything using the plant."

Modoran twists a few tubers out and presents them to Deedri in his hands. "How does your mother know so much about cooking these plants?"

Deedri briefly averts her eyes with a bite of the lip and sighs. "Well, we were pretty poor and lived really far in the outskirts. So, you had to make due with what you had. Thankfully, there were a bunch of protellows in the area and I'd always go foraging with my mother."

Modoran nods with a gentle smile and studies the growing pile of tubers resting upon Deedri's apron. "So, what are you going to do with all of these?"

With quick scan of one of the nearby larger plants, Deedri points a claw tip out to a colorful tuft around a collection of pods. "If we could get a few of those and a one of the big leaves, I think we might have the rest of the ingredients for tuber wraps at the house."

A gleeful grin swells up Deedri's face, but briefly pauses as she eyes the area and sighs. "But, we really need to gather some of the more alchemical and medicinal parts before we go back."

She stares up at a tall, nearby protellow, slips off her apron onto the ground with the tubers, and stands up to walk over to base of the plant. She flexes her clawed fingers and digs her toe claws into the dirt through her new toed boots. "What we need is near the top. There's usually a few fluid sacs that contain a few useful reagents. It's been a while, but I think I can scale this one."

Modoran snaps his head to Deedri, up to the distant top of the protellow, and tries to glance back to Deedri. "If you need to get something from up there I can-"

He traces the length of the wide protellow stalk up to witness Deedri powerfully ascend the stretch of massive vine. With an impressed smirk, he steps up to the base, speaks some incantations with a few gestures, and scales the plant slowly with magical energy flowing to his hands and feet.


A faint drone of technology echoes in the large office. Bits and pieces of computing electronics liter the area and intertwine with paperwork and books. Across from a row of large flat panel monitors, Nash and Harvos sit opposite from each other at desk. Nash rocks back slowly into his chair and groans in sync with the creak of his chair as he idly shakes his head. Harvos props his head up with his arm as his elbow rests upon the desk. He briefly entertains peeking his brown on black eyes at the displays and turns his head away with a long sigh. He turns his chair, rests both elbows on the desk, and grabs hold of his tall horns in defeated frustration. "I need a break from reading this incident report."

Nash wanders his focus to a screen on his desk, taps a few buttons on a keyboard, and slouches back into office chair with a squeak. "Oh gods, yes. This just beyond fucked and we haven't even cracked open the rest of the bullshit they were trying to hide in those servers."

Document windows close out on the large displays to reveal a plain computer desktop. Harvos shakes his head with a distant stare. "I still can't believe they had a server rack hidden in the old stairwell. Still running and connected to system. And it's full of decatalogged data."

Nash tilts his head forward with a quirk of an eyebrow. "You're amazed about a server rack and not the boxes of paperwork they had stashed in there?"

Harvos sits upright and shrugs his broad shoulders underneath his jacket. "Well, to be perfectly honest, my department is fairly desensitized when it comes breaking into old buildings and finding dusty paperwork. We usually don't find working computing equipment."

Nash searches his mind in thought and nods in agreement. "Huh. Yeah, point taken."

With a squeal of his chair, he leans forward from his recline, draws in a long breath, and grumbles. "Fuck. It's only Monday my week is already shot. This is going to take all my spare time to comb through these systems."

Harvos releases his horns, twists his mouth, and squints his eyes in bewilderment at Nash. "The amount of effort they went to. They preserved the data, took the effort to sneak it some place they could quietly seal away, and still kept it active enough so the database integrity checks wouldn't fire off alerts."

Nash shakes his head slowly and blinks a few times in a daze of thought. "I know. The nodes were connected, so the system watchdogs could still generate all the checksums. So no system degradation alerts would clue anyone into what was going on. All this hidden for over a decade."

With gradual slide of his chair, Harvos plants his feet firmly and stands up tall in a body stretch. "Have you updated Aristespha?"

Nash rolls out from under his deck, spins the chair, and throws himself forward. "Yesterday. Gave her the quick summary of what was happening. Wish I could give her more, but between this discovery and the hornets nest of higher ups her report stirred... I have to figure more of this out before I even have anything that I haven't told her yet."

Harvos finishes the last of his stretches, pauses sharply when an idea flies to the front of his mind, and glances to Nash with an epiphany. "Ten years ago... Ten years ago, my predecessor's predecessor retired from the department abruptly a few months after a major accident... Somewhere near that area but not this site..."

Two exchange a long distant stares. Nash breaks the silence firmly palms his face as his frustration vents out. "Oh, gods DAMMIT! I bet you anything they used that to shade out this whole place. I- I- Fuck! That make sense. Why does it have to make sense?!"

Harvos nods and gazes at Nash with a grumbling groan. "And, how many have kept their silence for all these years? I believe we may need to have a nice long conversation with one particular Dr. Dawkins."

Nash blinks hard at Harvos and radiates reluctant and conflicted agreement with him. "Oh, shit. Well... Before we plot any more upsets in the house of The Grand Library, can we at least get some lunch?"

With a few steps and quick grasp of the door handle, Harvos opens the office door and dramatically gestures outwards to Nash. "After you, sir."

The two exit the office, and Nash locks up behind them. They walk through the large hallways of activity, between groups of students migrating between closes, and around the gatherings of last minute study sessions. They travel down the main stairwell and exit out into one of the main walkways of campus. Once Nash chooses a direction, Harvos eyes him with a knowing smirk. "Ah, the good old Wall Street today?"

Nash shrugs nonchalantly as he continues his pace. "Well, I'm buying two half liters. I was hoping you could keep me from drinking one of them."

Harvos grins with a flash of mischief. "Just one?"

Nash returns an equal grin. "That's the spirit."


Sotalia digs into the refrigerator, slides items around, and eventually clears a path for sport drink from the very back. She quickly twists the cap off and tilts the beverage into her mouth. With a release, the refrigerator door drifts back to close. Sotalia steps out from the kitchen area next to the dining table and wipes the sweat off her forehead with the towel around her neck. "I'm still waiting for you to teach me those spells, Bach."

Bach lifts his head off the couch seat cushion to peer over his sprawled out self to glance at Sotalia and settles his head back along with the rest of his body. "In time. You still haven't got that fireball optimized as much as you need to."

A brief glare from Sotalia narrows upon Bach, and she rolls her eyes with a sigh. "How optimized does it have to be?! There's only so much you can do with ONE spell."

Bach reaches for a pillow on the back of the couch, stuffs it under his head, and contorts his face. "Well, it's not so much optimizing the spell as it is practice for you to handle magic flow better..."

He notices Sotalia's lift of a brow and tries to avert his eyes away. "Listen, before I teach anyone a spell that has the potential of slicing matter to near microscopic pieces, I want to make sure that person is prepared."

With a frustrated groan, Bach pulls himself up to face Sotalia and stops abruptly the moment he meets her eyes sooner than he expects. Sotalia stands next to the couch, crosses her arms, and glares down. Bach sighs with pinch of the bridge of his nose and gazes right at Sotalia. "You have to understand, the regular disintegration beam is dangerous enough and that spell keeps the destruction away from you. The D-Ball contains that destructive force in a carefully crafted ball that doesn't want to stay a ball."

A wave of honest concern fills Bach expression as he faces Sotalia. "I don't want to haphazardly hand that knowledge off and you get hurt because I forgot to detail or didn't factor in a variable. It's something I came up with on a whim and got REALLY luck with figuring out... And not rendering myself a pile of... disorientated atomic matter."

The glare fades from Sotalia and she tugs at the corners of her mouth as her expression warms up to an agreeable smile. She uncrosses her arms, places her hands on her hips, and sighs. "Fine. I understand. But, can we try optimizing some other spell. I'm can believe I'm saying this, but I'm getting bored of fireballs."

Bach lowers his head back on the pillow and nods with a smirk. "Oh, yes. There's a few others that would be good practice."

Sotalia grins slyly and struts away. "Good. I'm thinking the freeze beam next time."

A nervous chuckle manages to free itself from Bach. Moments later, a series of alert chimes ring out simultaneously into a rough chorus around the house. Bach and Sotalia retrieve their aetherphone and search through notifications. Sounds of movement come from the hallway as Cideeda wanders into the living area. "Looks like a bounty alert for the area from the local guild."

Sotalia slowly drags her finger up her phone screen to scroll through the alert text. "Strange that's a healthy bounty for someone not considered armed and without any kind of special precautions."

Sebastian floats in the room from the hallway with Aristespha and Dretphi following behind. "Check out the arrest record and you'll see why."

The group collectively skips through the lists of information and arrive to the arrest section in near unison. Bach's eyes flit open in surprise as he reads the charges off the list. "Holy. Shit. How much money did this guy run off with?!"

Dretphi's stoic demeanor waivers to shock as her mind totals the financial amounts her eyes perceive. She slowly shakes her head and cover her mouth lightly. "This bounty is minuscule to the funds stolen. Amazing."

Aristespha stiffly walks over to the couch chair with Sebastian hovering near, eases herself into the seat, and reclines back with phone in constant view. "Says he may be heading to the Amaranth Valley area or further. I'm guess he's trying for the Perimeter Weird Zone."

Sotalia perks a brow and chuckles to herself in a snide cadence, as she settles herself into the stabilized magical energy chair at the end of the couch. "Ha, an illusionist! Well, that explains a lot. That's the only type of person I figured would be stupid enough to think they could pull this crap off."

Scratching her chin, Cideeda nods a few times and narrows her eyes in contemplation. "That would make sense. I know a few cons and scams you could do to manage some of this, but you have to have some kind of ability or serious help to pull off anything as big as these."

Bach pushes himself up to seat on the couch with the pillow behind his back and observes Sotalia. "Don't care much for illusionists, Sotalia?"

With a dismissive eye roll preceding a waving gesture, Sotalia laughs wryly. "There's nothing wrong with illusion magic. I'm sure those that focus in it and practice it exclusively find rewarding jobs in the marketplace-"

She lip bites down a reflexive chortle and stifles a snort. Bach slowly turns his head back towards Aristespha and Sebastian with an inquisitive brow lift. Sebastian shakes his head with a quiet sigh and Aristespha rolls her eyes and mouths to Bach. "I'll tell you more later."

Cideeda places her phone back in her shorts and shrugs with a toothy grin. "Hey, if nothing else, it might be a good payday if we find him. We've had to hunt down worse to get far less."

Aristespha nods to that sentiment and twists her mouth with some apprehension. "If he's an illusionist, I doubt he's going to walk around looking like his picture in public. But... If he goes too overboard hiding his face, he may be easily detectable with mage sight. Well, something to keep in mind."

Bach angles his back around and glances over to Cideeda with spark of curiosity in his voice. "You all have had to hunt down worst?"

Each tail flick ushers an old memory rising up into Cideeda's mind and she leans against the hallway archway with an amblivaent expression. "Oh, we've dealt with a range bounties. The typical scum of the earth that make you question why there was an Alive option. The hard luck cases. And all in between."

Dretphi slides her phone in her pocket, rests her hands on her hips, and smiles at Bach. "We prefer Alive only bounties. Others tend to be dangerous, morally uncomfortable. Alive bounties tend to be negotiable, workable. Often will surrender before fighting."

Sebastian ethereally laughs and snorts with a faint echo when he drifts next to Bach. "You never know what you'll run into, bro. There was one that was happy to caught. Oddly happy."

An awkward silence hangs in the room as a wave of embarrassment moves through and reveals uncomfortable sore spots on egos from past injuries to pride. Sebastian eyes the playful unease with a sly smirk. "Oh, don't play dumb. None of us will ever forget Leen."

Groans of old frustrations and reflective sighs fill the living room, as Bach surveys the reactions. Cideeda fails to suppress an amused smirk as she gestures her hand out. "I thought it was so weird he kept mentioning how loose the restraints were and only stopped when I tightened them."

Bach's interest piques and he pans a gaze across to everyone and eventually settles on expressing his confusion to Sebastian. "Okay... I'm obviously missing something."

Sebastian shrugs his ghostly form with his arms out with an ill-humored grin. "Well, Leen was a special case. He was an alchemical psychedelics abuser that fried his mind a long time ago. He's a bit wild but ultimately harmless. Unfortunately, he figured out how to escape the facility that cared for him. And well, he learned he really had fun escaping, evading, and getting captured. So, he kept on doing it and getting really good at it."

Sotalia glances over with a twist in the corner of her mouth. "The facility guards nor the local police could catch him anymore and he refused to go back until someone caught him."

She rolls her eyes and sighs with brush of red hair over a horn. "So, the guild has been called multiple times over the years to send a party out to get him. We were in the area at the time he escape a few years ago and bid on the job."

A snicker escapes Cideeda as covers her mouth and eyes Dretphi. "I will never forget the grin on his face when you carried him over your shoulder back to the campsite after he got loose."

Dretphi crosses her muscular arms and contorts her expression between bewilderment and annoyance. "He kept asking, Again."

Aristespha leans over towards Bach with a smirk. "Sebastian was his favorite of our group. He liked how Sebastian wanted to talk about what he wanted to talk about."

Sebastian sighs long and grumbles. "Gods forbid I decide to put those psychology classes to use and quite literally talk him down... From a tree."

Bach blinks a few times as his brain processes the situation and imagines the antics. "Wow. That must have been something else. Whatever happened to him?"

Cideeda gives a toothy grin to Bach and chuckles. "The facility got smart. Started charging bounty hunter groups to capture Leen as a training exercise."


Off to a side of the backyard, behind the two-story house, Veevi idly fidgets and impatiently waits for Chad to walk up to her with a box behind his back. Chad struts up next to Veevi with his trademark white smile and scans his eyes around briefly to note where all the cameras are before proceeding. "Veevi. For whatever our next mission will be, we need to have you at the ready. You are showing promise as an adventurer, but I think I can provide something that will help you immediately."

He presents the case to Veevi, places a hand dramatically on the latch, and opens it with a slow flair. Off near the back sliding glass door, Modoran, Deedri, Tassilda, and Trakenthin observe from a distance. The gathering watch with neutral expressions, unamused. The group directs their attentions towards the box in Chad's hand. Squinting and narrowing eyes attempt to determine what's in the box. Excitement floods Veevi's face. She completely fails to contain her giddiness and grins brightly to Chad. He gently motions the box to Veevi and she reaches a sharp nailed hand inside. Moments later she lifts up her hand, gripping a shiny new laser pistol. "I've always wanted to fire one of these!"

An immediate silence briefly eliminates sound as shock, abject terror, and absolute bewilderment compete for all the faces in the area, save Chad's and Veevi's. Trakenthin's expression blanks as one brow hikes up and one eye cringes to a narrowing squint. Tassilda covers the gasp from her mouth in wide-eyed horror and manages to only blink her blue on black eyes blankly. Deedri visibly pales as her posture stiffens from fright and lower back. Modoran reflexively swears in a dialect of evuukian and struggles to resume another language. "... ... Oh, fuck this."

He swiftly reaches a hand out to the handle of the sliding glass door, silently glides it open, and slips partially in looking back to the rest of the group. Deedri snaps out of her stupor when she feels the fast, repetitive tapping from Modoran's finger on her shoulder. She glances over and watches Modoran signal her and the others to follow. "But, they might need me in case of-"

Two gray skinned, long nailed hands grip Deedri's shoulders firmly and rotate her aburptly to face the house's back entrance. Tassilda leans close to Deedri's ear as she enthusiastically propels Deedri forward. "If they need you, we'll probably easily hear the screams of help inside."

Trakenthin slowly shakes his head and grumbles to himself as he follows Tassilda. Deedri, Tassilda, and Trakenthin file into the house and Modoran gently slides the glass door back shut. Samantha blinks to an astonished grin, hugs her clipboard in anticipation, and glances over to Gerald. "Are you getting this?!"

She examines the empty spot next to her and searches the area. Eventually, she spots Gerald taking refuge behind a large charcoal grill. Gerald detaches the monitor display from his camera, balances the camera upon the top of the grill, and adjusts the aim using the display while squatting behind cover. Samantha looks toward Chad and Veevi, stares back to Gerald, and scurries prone on the ground behind a concrete planter near the grill. The rest of the camera crew adopt similar tactics and quickly assume cover where ever it resides. Veevi nearly hops in place with the pistol in her hands. "I can't wait to shoot it!"

Chad grins boldly, nods, and points out to the fence row across the yard. "I set up some cans and bottles for you to use as targets. I figured you would want to get some practice in the second you got it."

Veevi's pink eyes widen and she pulls a sharp grin across her lips. "I definitely do. What do I need to do?!"

Chad places the box on the ground nearby, pulls a power pack out, and holds it to Veevi. "Well, first, you'll want to load it."

Veevi removes a hand from the pistol, grasps onto the power pack, and shifts her focus between it and the pistol. She cutely, coyly squirms and pleadingly eyes Chad. "Could you show me how to load it properly? It's my first time with something like this and I don't know what to do."

Bravado flushes over Chad and he holds his hands out. "Not a problem. Just watch carefully, I'll demonstrate-"

An alluring gaze from Veevi finds contact with Chad and she softly speaks. "Well, I was hoping to do it, but with a little... hands on guidance from someone... far more experienced."

A sly grin creeps across Chad's lips and he nods confidently. "Oh, I understand. I wouldn't want to take away from your experience."

He wraps his arms out to either side of Veevi, gently supporting her hands, and guides her through the motions. "Now, you turn the pistol this way. Line up the pack up to the bottom of the grip. And, just push it in until it clicks."

With Chad assistance, Veevi slides the power pack in with a click and the pistol's status lights flicker to life. Chad takes Veevi through the arming steps and lines up her first shot to a tin can upon a fence post. He removes his hands from hers around the pistol and steps back with a grin. "Now, that should be lined up. Just gently squeeze the trigger when you are ready."

The wind dies down, the tension wafts within the stale air, and Veevi holds the pistol shakily. She jerks the trigger and a wayward green beam cuts through the air, centimeters above the tin can into the grassy hill behind. Veevi squeaks and her short-haired tail fluffs up from surprise. "Oh! Wow!"

After the initial flush of excitement washes over her, she glances timidly back with a flutter of her eyes, and strokes back her pink hair. "I'm so sorry. I just got nervous and a little too excited. Could you help line up the shot again, and show me what you meant by squeezing the trigger."

The sly grin upon Chad's face grows more bold and he reaches his hands out behind Veevi's. "Of course. What leader would I be without taking time to help my team members?"

Chad moves behind Veevi, lowers his head above her shoulder, and eyes the sights of the laser pistol. His hands over hers direct the aim of the barrel and line up a shot. "Now, look through the sights. Both the forward and the rear sights should line up and be over the tin can."

Veevi closes one eye, stares down the sights, and gradually nods. "They are."

Chad's hand grips over Veevi's hand and he rests a trigger finger over hers. "Now, I'm going to squeeze the trigger, just feel the pressure and learn from how much it takes."

The trigger slowly actuates, pivoting closer to the handle. After a few moments, the trigger engages with a click, and a beam green projects out, squarely onto a tin can. With a bright green flash, it jumps off the fence post in a faint trail of smoke onto the ground. Chad gives his trademark smile and confidently speaks. "And, that's how its done. I think you might have some natural talent."

A sly, sinister smile peeks out from the corner of Veevi's mouth. She slowly eyes Chad's strong arms around her and glances back to his confident grin. With a flexing motion, she lifts her head up and back into Chad's shoulder. She rolls her shoulders onto his chest, presses her back firmly onto his torso. With a few slow, purposeful shifts of her weight, she seductively catches his gaze using a sultry smirk. She perks her ears, resumes her stance forward, and flicks her tail to travel up between Chad's legs. She returns to her coy exterior, and aims the pistol at a new target. "If it's not too much trouble, could you help me shoot a few more cans just to make sure I have the hang of it?"

A brief shift in her tone alludes to her previous demeanor. "And, I want to pull my weight for the next mission. So, if it's possible, could you give me lessons in tactics and other useful adventuring knowledge... later tonight?"

Chad blinks hard out of his stun, thinks very briefly, and dons bold, ear to ear grin. "Of course, Veevi. We can practice all day with the laser pistol. And, I wouldn't be a proper leader if I didn't take time to relay vital knowledge to such a beautiful and promising adventurer like you."

Samantha lifts herself off the ground, keeping her attentive stare upon the Chad and Veevi. She directs a loud whisper off to the side towards Gerald. "How good is the night-vision on the bedroom cameras?"

Gerald pauses moment in thought as his eyes mentally flip through an inventory of equipment specs. "High resolution with IR booster."

The eager anticipation plasters a wild eye grin on Samantha's face. "After this, run a test recording."

Through the glass of the back sliding door, Trakenthin quietly observes the events and turns away. Tassilda sorts through the refrigerator and perks a brow at Trakenthin. "Anything going on?"

Trakenthin pauses a moment in thought, glances back, and shakes his head. "No. I hope."