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T.I. S2 E05: A Friend in Need (FB)
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A freebuild for the Galactic Imperium. Bit of a shorter episode this time.
About this creation


20th Febrary 2097
Regentis
Qoter

The wind was picking up in the capital of Qoter, as if bad weather was on the horizon but never quite made it over. Dustin Vorn pulled the rough beanie lower as a pair of police officers past by. He glanced at his companion, Risa Donovan, who had her hood so low it was a miracle she hadn't walked into someone yet. Still, they had been doing it for almost a year now. They'd both gotten use to avoiding the troops.

They walked in silence and let the noise of the city fill their ears. Dustin had always liked the bustle of places like this. His time in Knightborn had proven that, and Regentis was much the same. Workers and shoppers flit in and out of stores, their intentions the only worry in their minds. Dustin exhaled deeply as his thoughts trailed. At least their days were more normal than his and Risa's were.



They'd just left Tank's apartment, the trauma he'd been through still fresh in their minds. Tracks was gone, and One had returned and all those that Dustin and Risa had called their companions during that brutal skirmish below ground were weary and broken. And the pair of them could do nothing. Nothing but hope they were coping with the situation.

Tank hadn't been home, of course. Dustin had tried calling his comlink, but he hadn't gotten a thing. The news had told them that he was alive and, for the most part, uninjured, but beyond that they could only guess. Still, they'd written a message and left it with the building receptionist. Hopefully Tank'd pass it on to the Eris and the others as well. Hopefully...



They walked for ages more minutes before taking a seat on a nearby bench and just watched the people pass by. It seemed surreal how normal the city was, despite the reappearance of One and the near destruction of the planet. But despite the huge amount of tourists, well-wishers and celebrators, everything else seemed fairly standard. People had things to do and jobs to finish. Best to leave the planets worry to someone else.

Risa: "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Dustin turned and met her eyes with a smile. She grinned back and turned back to the city.

Risa: "Reminds me of Knightborn."
Dustin: "Certainly does. You didn't see too much of Regentis while we were here, did you?"
Risa: "Not so much. That wooden behemoth took up most of my time."
Dustin: "Well hey, you bested it in the end."
Risa: "Nah...He could've gone a few more rounds."



Her words faded as her face softened. Dustin smiled again. He could tell what was going through her mind; he had the same thoughts himself. Thoughts of a life without constant worry about being recognised, a life of forging fake ID's weeks prior to leaving a country. It all seemed a distant reality now. Uek, damn him, had built his throne far too high up. Neither of them could even get close now, neither had an inkling of what his future plans were and neither had any chance of stopping him.

Dustin let the anger bubble. One day...one day...



His satchel begun vibrating furiously as his comlink began to ring. Risa whipped her head round anxiously. She mouthed "Tank?" and her eyes gave away the rest. Dustin nodded and removed the com link, standing and moving inside a nearby alleyway to answer the call. Whoever it was, he didn't want anything leaking out to the public that could draw attention to themselves. Risa moved over on the bench and kept her hands relaxed, her highly trained eyes acting as lookout. Once he was out of public earshot, he answered the call.

Dustin: "Hello?"
Voice: "Finally! It's a right pain to get a hol' of you two, never sitting still."

Dustin grinned as he recognised the voice. No confusing that gruff tone.

Dustin: "How ya going Sal?"
Sal: "Fine, fine. Now, where are the pair of you? Can I talk?"
Dustin: "Regentis. Feel free to talk freely. Line is secure."
Sal: "Same here. Alrighty, I would've told you this earlier, but I couldn't get your com. Glad you remembered that little trick."



Dustin nodded, recalling the lesson Sal had drummed into him years ago. 'In the field, get a new com every three weeks.' Simple, but it meant that if there was anyone skilled enough to hack his or Risa's coms, all they'd get where eventual dead ends. Of course, Dustin kept the number the same, wherever possible. Didn't want to risk Sal or Tank calling a random bystander and introducing them to the hidden game behind the galactic background.

Dustin: "Certainly did. Anyway, what's so important. Nothing bad I hope."
Sal: "Quite the contrary. It's an offer I know the pair of you can't refuse."
Dustin: "Hmm...knocking Uek off the top rung?"
Sal: "Eventually. What do you know about his little project?"
Dustin: "Only what you told me..."



Sal nodded gravely. Of course, he had told Dustin and Risa about his re-encounter with Adam Ferris, formally known as the leader of the Core. That had included Uek's plan to infect Qoter with an Ossilium plague. The pair had had felt sick for days knowing that, Risa especially. With the fall of Knightborn on her mind, the idea of another potential outbreak had only doubled her depression.

Sal: "Good, cus that's all I really have to go on as well. But listen, I've been in contact with Brody H-"



Dustin's face lit up as he recognised the name. Brody Higgins, the medic of his squad, the one that had helped keep him sane after Firelight. All of a sudden, thoughts filled his mind about the man with the robotic leg. How was he doing? Where was he? Was his small talk still laughably awkward? The questions, oh the questions.

Dustin: "Crutch! How's he been?"
Sal: "Fine. Alive. In London. Not much else really. He's changed his last name to Walker. That's about it."
Dustin: "Uh...you sure?"
Sal: "Pretty much. Anyway, Crutch said that Uek'd need a boat load of Ossilium to get the job done, so he's been tracking it down through as many smugglers as he can find."

Dustin: "Oh..ok. Yeah, right. Ok."
Sal: "Anyway, one of the biggest smugglers is someone who goes by Ygrid Vohilla. Alien lass, no personality, that kind of thing."
Dustin: "So you two would get along."
Sal: "I wouldn't think so. I stole her shipment list. A shipment's leaving Earth on April 21st from a shuttle yard in Germany. My question is, would you two be interested in tagging along?"



Dustin thought about asking Risa but discarded it. He already knew her answer.

Dustin: "What do you think?"
Sal: "Told ya you couldn't refuse. Will you have any trouble getting back to Earth?"
Dustin: "No idea. Apparently Risa can get us a ship but it could take a while. Apparently it's...complicated."
Sal: "Right."
Dustin: "Yeah, but regardless we'll have to stay on Qoter until closer to the day. After all, nobody travels across the planets for a quick visit and leaves within the hour. Besides, we'll use the time to prepare. Anyone else in this little venture?"
Sal: "Yep. Strum, Blaze and Rose. All three have agreed and we'll rendezvous in London. I'll send through the address. It's Crutch's place."

Memories swirled as Dustin recalled the names, thankfully mostly positive ones. The Core had been filled with monsters, but even monsters could have many sides. His thoughts turns to Rose, one of the only few Australians in the London branch of the Core, other than himself. She had been particularly memorable.

Dustin: "Roger. So seven in total? Seems a bit familiar, doesn't it?"
Sal: "Old habits lad. I've told Crutch you're in already. Just wanted to pass it on to you."
Dustin: "Didn't think to tell us first old man?"
Sal: "Like I said, hard to get a hold of you. But I knew you'd say yes."
Dustin: "Of course you did."
Sal: "Anyway. See ya then lad. I'll be in touch."



The image of Sal disappeared and Dustin's face broke into a low grin. He chuckled briefly to himself. Finally, an opportunity. Perhaps it wouldn't be enough to take Uek down...

But it would hurt. Dustin knew from experience how angry that'd make him. And that just made it all the sweeter.

He turned and strolled back out the alley, a bounce to his step. He eyed the streets carefully, moving his eyes back and forth to check for observers, before stepping out, eager to pass on the news to Risa. He turned to face the bench....



...to see a woman with her head in her hands, tears streaming through the cracks in her fingers. Very little sound broke through, but Dustin heard the whimpering. Something was wrong. Very very wrong.

He flung away his smile and sat next to her, wrapping his arm round her shoulders, questions on his lips.

Dustin: "Risa! Risa, what happened?! Look at me, are you alright? What's going on?"



Risa raised her head and Dustin saw her eyes. They were crimson red from an onslaught of sadness. Her nose was dripping and her eyes wouldn't stop crying. She was shaking from head to toe. He felt his eyes go wide. The last time she'd been like this was in the ruins. But...this was different. It seemed more personal, somehow.

She opened her mouth, closed it and opened it again. When she spoke, her voice was a whisper obscured by a shaky throat. But her words held more weight than Qoter had buildings.

Risa: "T...Tane's dead."



Those words alone seemed to defeat her, as if saying it aloud had confirmed it. A fresh wave of tears welled up and she plunged her head downward again. Dustin, for his part, went still as the memories swirled. Tane? Cameron Tane? The Commander of Knightborn, the one that Uek had taken over from, of course. Had the injuries he'd taken been too much for him?

He gulped down the phlegm that had risen in his throat and spoke again, his arm gripping her shoulder tight. There was shock in his heart, certainly, but he had barely known the man. His only concern now was Risa. That was it.

Dustin: "What happened."
Risa: "I...I called his address...I figured that...well, he should've been out of hospital...and being here...it, it reminded me. "
Dustin: "Alright..."
Risa: "Some woman answered...I asked for him and...and she said that...that..."
Dustin: "Risa? It's ok, we don't have to talk about it."
Risa: "No...no. She said that her apartment was brand new and that...that the old one burnt to the ground. Tane...he'd been inside...they found his corpse days later, b...burnt to a crisp. She said...bad wiring, or something..."
Dustin: "I'm...I'm so, so sorry Risa."



Risa met his eyes again and Dustin felt his own eyes begin to water. She was...she was distraught and ragged and...broken. This seemed deeper than Knightborn. This wasn't taking every on her own shoulders, it was more like...like...

Like when he'd lost his Mama, when Sal's bullet punched through her gut. That feeling of complete emptiness. Who had Tane been to her? What was she hiding? For the first time since they'd met, Dustin realised that he hadn't been the only one keeping things locked away. Risa had a whole lot of secrets of her own.

Risa: "I...its...the worst part is that no one noticed. Apparently there was a report, or something...I mean, we were on the run. I...I'd assumed he'd be alright...and I was wrong...."
Dustin: "Do you think it was foul play?"

Risa gulped and wiped her eyes with a sleeve, leaving them red and worn. Of course she did, Dustin thought to himself. In their field coincidences were few and far between.

Risa: "I...I mean...it's the kind of thing Uek would do...I know first hand how well that Collective woman can spread a fire..."
Dustin: "And it would have stopped any issues when Tane returned."
Risa: "Exactly, exactly. And Havok knew Tane almost as well as I did..."
Dustin: "But?"
Risa: "But...well, I don't know...sometimes bad things just...happen...for no reason, and you've got no way of knowing...but still...he was like a father to me."
Dustin: "Risa..."
Risa: "He died Dustin...he died believing I was a criminal, that I'd murdered my whole team...and I can never tell him the truth...I can...I can never say goodbye!"



A fresh wave of tears began poking through her tired eyes as her hand began to tremble. Her thoughts were spinning, and wild, yet focused around a single fact. Tane was dead. And that was inescapable, leaving only the dead feeling of hopelessness behind.

But Dustin had never been the type to give up easily. Not after the Skarr. Not after Firelight. Slowly, gently, he gripped Risa's hand and met her eyes with a comforting smile. A genuine smile. He had to comfort her, perhaps now more than Knightborn. Tane had obviously been important, but the reasons didn't matter. Only the woman in front of him. She mattered.

Dustin: "Hey...Look, it sounds like rubbish, but it'll be alright. Everything's going to be ok..."
Risa: "I...I know...but if it was Uek...then he really has taken everything from me!"
Dustin: "Trust me when I say I know what that feels like. But hey, I turned out alright. At least, I hope I did."

Risa chuckled slightly through the tears as she met his eyes.

Dustin: "And besides, even if it wasn't Uek who took Tane, it's time we send that monster a message."
Risa: "What...what do you mean?"
Dustin: "That call? It was Sal. He's got a job for us, intercepting Uek's Ossillium shipment in a few months. I don't know about you, but I think it's high time we put some hurt back on him. For everything...and everyone. What do you say?"



Her nose sniffled and her arm rubbed away more tears, but a low smile broke through the face of mourning as more memories slowly filled her mind like a reservoir. Her eyes were both soft and focused at once, and Dustin smiled as he awaited the answer he already knew was coming.

Risa: "I say we fight."
Dustin: "Bam! That's what I like to hear!"
Risa: "Ha...shut up Dustin..."
Dustin: "Sorry, can't be helped. Now c'mon. Let's go. You need a drink and plenty of rest. We'll start training once...once you're ready. That sound alright?"
Risa: " Yeah...yeah. Sounds good."

Dustin beamed as he offered her a hand. She took it, gripped it tight, and pulled herself up from the bench. Her breathing was heavy, her eyes dry, but a gentle smile sat comfortably on her lips. It suited her a lot better than the constant frown she used to wear.



With one last wipe of her eyes, Risa straightened and began walking, Dustin a step behind. He knew she was still hurting. Mourning took its toll, no matter what opportunities opened up. He knew that she'd need a while. But she'd given him time after the Skarr had taken Brom. He'd give her time, and her space, now. He had to. She deserved it.

But he wouldn't leave her. As she'd said almost two months ago, they were tied together now, tied by the bonds of bloodshed and betrayal. They were a part of one another now. They had to be, if they wanted to survive., if they wanted to keep fighting. And when one went down, the other would pull them up. That was the way it worked now. Dustin's thoughts went to Brom again, remembering the years they'd spent together. Brom had understood then. Risa understood now. A true companion that you can trust your life upon.

And as Dustin watched Risa walk down the city street, her hands in her pockets and her thoughts in pieces, he realised then, if it came down to it, that he would do exactly what Brom had done for him. Risa was worth his life. She was worth his sacrifice.

"Well...that's a cheery thought." He whispered to no one. He hoped it wouldn't come to that. And hope was the one thing that could never die.






Comments

 I like it 
  May 28, 2017
nice work!:D
 I like it 
  May 23, 2017
Excellent episode! The ending was awesome! Excellent
 I like it 
  May 14, 2017
Pretty sure it was Uek... it does seem like his style! Go get him guys! Great episode.
 I made it 
  May 8, 2017
Quoting --R.K. Blast-- Nice episode. A bit shorter, but that's fine, although I was expecting a cutaway at the end to focus on somebody else. I must say, the set didn't seem as detailed as your usual builds, but still, overall a very enjoyable one. (And nice Tank references too!) And that last couple of lines about hoping he'll never have to give his life for Risa sound rather foreboding! 5 points! --Blast--
Thanks R.K.! Yeah, this set was a pretty simple as I've been pretty busy at work as of late. However, I thought I'd get this episode finished as my next episode'll be pretty major!
 I made it 
  May 8, 2017
Quoting Stuart Lucas Good writing again, tying up some loose ends, setting up some new action... always a pleasure to read your episodes!
Thanks Stu! Glad you like it!
 I like it 
  May 8, 2017
Nice episode. A bit shorter, but that's fine, although I was expecting a cutaway at the end to focus on somebody else. I must say, the set didn't seem as detailed as your usual builds, but still, overall a very enjoyable one. (And nice Tank references too!) And that last couple of lines about hoping he'll never have to give his life for Risa sound rather foreboding! 5 points! --Blast--
 I like it 
  May 8, 2017
Good writing again, tying up some loose ends, setting up some new action... always a pleasure to read your episodes!
 I made it 
  May 7, 2017
Quoting Traykar the swift Nice episode. I'm going to try and start from the beginning of your series, as some of the things mentioned were lost on me. Sorry.
All good, glad you liked it regardless! I'm actually putting together a timeline now, so that should streamline the process a little.
 I made it 
  May 7, 2017
Quoting Jack Brickton Awesome part Wolff! A little shorter than usual but just as good as always. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Thanks! Yeah, next episode will be longer, not to worry.
 I like it 
  May 7, 2017
Nice episode. I'm going to try and start from the beginning of your series, as some of the things mentioned were lost on me. Sorry.
Werewolff Studios
 I like it 
Jack Brickton
  May 6, 2017
Awesome part Wolff! A little shorter than usual but just as good as always. I can't wait to see what happens next!
 
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