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All Creatures Great and Small

Episode 03

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#1
CrazyDreamer

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Macloned Olga was large and had been growing ever since the war ended; it didn't take a medical expert to figure out that eventually she'd be too large for a Q-Rhea cockpit. Today she was wearing standard Meltrandi Marine armor and fiddling with the locks on a caution-striped box marked "OLGA CONTINGENCY BETA."

 

It was training day for the flight units. Although they had enough spare Q-Rheas to give Nick his own, Olga had loaned him hers for the day.



#2
Rivel

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Nick gingerly stepped out of the tank and reached for a towel.  After the first transformation, he’d insisted on spending some of his combat pay on a very large sheet of what amounted to synthetic flannel, and, although it barely worked as a waist-wrap, it worked.  Nick’s confidence only went so far, and his modesty had a few hard limits.  Naked in front of a crowd that included people he was positively connected to certainly counted.  Also, this way he didn’t have to repeat the first time of asking Quola and Olga to leave the room while he suited up.

 

He blinked several times as the cargo hold swam in and out of focus.  None of Dwer’s problems had materialized, but Nick’s keen eyesight took a while to adjust.  He grumbled about that as he stepped into one of the enormous changing areas to slip on the combat suit.  Some part of him wondered why he was uncomfortable being naked but completely comfortable wearing a skintight outfit that left nothing to the imagination, but he shushed it.  He’d made a stand, gosh darn it, and he wasn’t about to let good sense get in the way of that.

 

He stood up and his vision distorted, distracting him long enough to crack his head on a crane.

 

“Motherffff---!” he said, hissing out the last few syllables.



#3
Coolhand

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Quola was sat atop her newly painted Rhea, the hot pink and kitten logo making it stand out somewhat from the drab grey of the others. She was doing pre-flight checks with the cockpit open.
 
"One day you're going to tell me whats in that box Momma."
 
She muffled a giggle as Nick hit his head. She didn't quite understand his issue with nudity, though she guessed that was because she was Meltran. She enjoyed clothing as much as the next girl, but it mostly just got in the way as a giantess. Though she had to admit the form hugging Meltran flight suit was rather flattering.
 
*
 
Dwer stood near Nick's changing space with his back respectfully turned. He was wearing a NUNS issue giant flight suit, somewhat less sheer than the standard Meltrandi one. Though Nick was more or less familiar with the workings of the Rhea now this was his first time with the real deal. Dwer was on hand to help with pre-flight and acclimatising to the cockpit.
 
Upon hearing the clang he called out "Your eyes again?"


#4
Rivel

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"Yeah!  Weirdest goddamn thing.  It's like I can hear the fluid sloshing inside them.  Why on earth would the rest of me be just fine, but my eyes are weird?" he asked, massaging his head.

 

He came out, sore but none the worse for wear.  He did some basic stretches, feeling pretty good, generally.

 

"Alright, lets give this a shot," he said, and walked over to Olga's Q-Rhea.  He popped the hatch and clambered in.

 

"Smells like a spice rack in here."



#5
CrazyDreamer

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"Hy'll schow hyu if Hy can chust get dese latches open," Olga muttered.

 

Alexi emerged from the quartermaster's workspace, having been double-checking on supplies for the day's tests. "It's almost as if I had them use locks requiring more finesse than you have when you're in a berserk rage."

 

"But dat's ven it's FOR."

 

"Well, you could probably rip the latches off . . ." He made several gestures in the air, accessing something on his Sari-c. The locks popped open ". . . or any crew member with munitions maintenance or release authority has access."

 

Olga looked at him curiously for a moment, then smiled. "Goot idea." She reached into the crate and pulled out a GA-22 gunpod, which she proceeded to field-strip and clean. Also visible inside the crate were ammo and what appeared to be a belt or bandolier with hand grenades from the old APS-11 Protect Armor system.

 

It all looked too large for Olga, but maybe she'd grow into it.



#6
Rivel

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Nick warmed up the engines, checked the waldos that would give him grip controls, and booted up the interface as the hatch closed over him.  He followed by memory the pattern that would switch enough of the OS over to English, and fiddled with the communications suite.

 

“Hey, Quola, I was wondering if you’d had any chances to look into those names I gave you, a while back,” he said, then resumed the startup procedures.    He took a few steps forward and then posed, robotic hands on armored hips.

 

“Now, this I can get behind,” he said over the speakers.  “Powered armor big or small, that’s the ticket for this Marine.”

 

He tried hopping from one foot to another, and then managed to balance on one foot for a few moments before settling back down.



#7
Coolhand

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Sealing her cockpit Quola keyed the comms, a visual of her helmeted face appearing in the lower left of Nick's display.
 
"I did some digging, theres no records of your man that I or my sources can find via legal routes. Somebody is looking for you, but I couldn't get a name. Oddly theres no record of this Remy outside of military records, my guess is he signed up under a false name. Maybe plastic surgery involved, but thats reaching. I'll show you in more detail later."
 
Her Rhea stood itself up, taking a step forward in case Nick needed to be stabilised.
 
"Maybe get friendly with Miss Natalya? If she's feeling generous she might payroll a proper investigation. Then again, she might not. It IS Miss Natalya."
 
*
 
Dwer gave Nick's Rhea a slap on the hull.
 
"Alright enough fooling around, you two get to the launch ramps and we can out you through your paces. I'll launch after you're clear."
 
Dwer looked over to Olga and laughed.
 
"It suits you."


#8
Rivel

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"I appreciate that immensely, Quola.  I know a few people who owe me favors, maybe I can tap them for some ideas.  I don't want you to put yourself at risk.  For all I know, maybe he just wants to hire me, but I don't trust my luck." he replied, then smiled at her.  "I think I spent it all having friends like you."

 

"You know, I don't know Natalya at all.  Looks like a tough nut to crack, what do you know about her?"

 

The thump from Dwer resounded through the craft, sending Nick stumbling.  He was badly out of practice.

 

"This is embarrassing," he said on the normal com channel.  "I used to live in powered armor suits.  Literally, once, but that was as part of an endurance test."

 

He headed over to the launch ramps.

 

"This is my favorite part," he said, and launched out into the black.

 

Suddenly, he was at floating and at peace.  Old instincts began to flow through him.  He rotated in space, then hit the jets, flipped over and turned around.  He was starting to look like he knew what he was doing.



#9
CrazyDreamer

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Olga shrugged. "Hy'm a liddle schmall for it right now; hyu don' vant to be dere ven Hy'm large enough." She started reassembling it and selected a pair of magazines to fit. "Time for zum target practice." She stomped into the launch bay Nick had stepped through and braced herself against a wall, waiting for the target bouys outside to start lighting up.



#10
Rivel

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Nick looked back behind him, looking for Dwer.  He spotted Olga instead.

 

"Hey Olga, my eyes work fine now, it just takes a few seconds.  Just what do you think you're doing with that cannon?"

 

I'm gonna keep this timeline going.



#11
Coolhand

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Quola couldn't hide her blush at Nick's compliment, she'd always been bad with this sort of talk. She'd had issues getting too close to people ever since the wars end, Kes being one of the notable exceptions. Instead of dwelling on it she moved the conversation along.
 
"I like Natalya, though I know next to nothing about her outside of her file. She and I don't really talk outside of work."
 
Slotting in behind Nick she launched just after he did, keeping pace with him as he grew accustomed to controlling his machine. Her brought herself to a stop beside Nick, her movements somewhat lazy. She was pacing herself, Kes had told her stories about Dwer's exploits during the war and she was expecting to be put through the wringer today.
 
*
 
Dwer's Rhea could be sighted leavaing the hangar roughly one minute after the others, he made a beeline for his wingmen. Nick and Quola's HUD lit up as a waypoint was added 'north and up' realtive to the ship.
 
"Alright" Dwer's voice came over comms, on the Rhea squad frequency "form up and we'll head to the point marked on your nav computers." the point indicated was open space with no remarkable features. "This area is about to become a live fire range so we'd best move quick."
 
Engines flaring he started towards the point, leading the way. "Once we arrive we'll start the day with a little formation flying. I'll be performing increasingly more difficult maneuvers, your job is to follow me as best you can. Get creative if you have to. We'll move on to some static target practice after that and then finish the session with a mock dogfight. Any questions you ask them now."


#12
Rivel

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"Works for me.  Lets give this a shot, shall we?"

 

He fell in line on Dwer's right flank.  He'd spent most of the last few years in bars and clubs, but the other half in space.  Lets see if he couldn't surprise them with what this 'groundpounder' could manage.

 

While on the direct flight, he fiddled with the gun.  He'd heard stories about the neat tricks these Zentran/Meltrandi guns could do, and while he wasn't a repairman or technician, he wondered if anything obvious would jump out at him.  He wondered if the rumor you could open the bore way up and use them as a rocket was true.

 

He also made a note of people to follow up on.  He'd met a handful of people over the years, and had kept a couple contacts from when first got involved in skulduggery.  Also, he'd just sent a rather nice asteroid sample to an avid rock collector who was in the know, and it had probably arrived.  A crystal that had been spinning through space since shortly after the dawn of time was worth a little detective work, wasn't it?

Between scenes, seeing if I can call in any favors.  Or pick up any sidequests requests in a quid-pro-quo fashion.



#13
Rivel

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(bumpin')







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