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- Flashes of light. Acrid smoke. The cries of wounded and injured. The aftermath of a battle gone horribly wrong. The Second Expedition, intended to establish a new colony on a mineral rich, verdant world had ended in bloody failure. The Path had set up shop around the planet between it's initial location, and the Expedition. With a shortage of military ships, the Expedition fleet crumbled when Pather Crusaders attacked. Fleet Commodore Sara Riley was, for all intents and purposes, a practical woman. She fought well, and hard - but the Pathers were just too numerous.
- With her flagship, the Conquest-Class *ExoTech Industries Vessel Ludd's Left Shoe* disabled, near the tail end of the battle, Sara resigned herself to her fate. The civilian ships had escaped. That's what mattered. But she, and the crew that had survived the ship's flux core cutting loose ... would either die in the hulk of this disabled ship, or be captured by the Pathers. The clang of docking clamps and the thump of breaching charges blasting through external airlocks answered the question.
- It wasn't long before power armored marines, clad in armor decorated with hymns, luddic symbols, and more, were on the bridge. Sara had escaped injury - most of her crew, had not. Resistance was futile. They'd just catch a gauss round to the gut if they resisted. Despite the grimness of the situation - she was going to make the best of it. Her crew needed medical attention. And perhaps, she could bargain to earn their freedom.
- [8:42 AM] Mazian:
- Gruffly, two of the marines gestured for her and escorted her through the broken, damaged hulk of her former flagship, through the airlock, and into a shuttle. From there ... to a Prometheus Mark Two. No doubt to see the Pather Crusader in charge of the fleet. With her jaw set, she resigned herself to whatever may come. She had to make the most of this. No matter what.
- Doors hissed as the marines escorted her to what was more like a church than an office - then left. Sara had been searched earlier, and was left with barely more than her clothing. Now she faced the back of what looked like a woman. "So you're the Pather that knocked out my fleet."
- Pather fleet doctrine and tactics dictated sudden, overwhelming force. Overkeyed ships and withering torpedo strikes.
- Egypt Carroll was far from a typical Pather. Her ships were by and large tooled to outlast the foe, resource efficient hulks of ablative armor with stringent and streamlined logistics. Her tactics were brutal and conservative, willing to retreat in a blaze of torpedoes, broken ship hulls, and flares ...
- Only to strike again days later, flush with hastily assembled reinforcements.
- Her pride was the strike groups of brave lasher crews, weaving and hammering the flanks of her foes with a brutality and speed usually reserved for wolf packs.
- This was the woman who knelt in prayer on her bridge, only rising as the power armoured marines knelt and brought their gauntlets knuckles to their helmeted heads in respect. They wore the death masks of Ludd, whitish-yellow skull helms, with leering green eyes. A malformation of the corrupted nanoforges that churned out early domain power armour en masse for the Luddic cause. Almost prehistoric sensors and rangefinders created the dull emerald glow.
- Egypt rose, her clothing plain and practical. She was a woman of average height, and somewhat advanced age. Her late forties, by the look of it. Her dull brown eyes had the cold harshness of a fanatic, but the maternal warmth of a woman of God. Wreathed with commendations and laurels, her lush brown skin beaded lightly with sweat. The bridge was hot. It stunk of ozone.
- The Mk. 2 had been running hot on flux for much of the battle, aggressively posturing and taking hull fire as it drove a wedge in between the Conquest and its support craft. Duelling the larger ship and falling off while Colossi hungrily circled its flanks.
- Egypt inclined her head respectfully. "And you, the Moloch who coveted the mineral wealth of the faithful."
- [9:23 AM] Mazian:
- The respect was mutual. Barely. After a moment, Sara nodded towards Egypt. Her expression was neutral, set in stone. There was no outward animosity here - differences aside, they were both fleet commanders. Professionals, from two very different worlds. She had no reason to lash out in anger - at least, no logical reason yet. And if she did, it would just doom her crew to terrible fates.
- It was hot. But it was cooler than her ship, with fires still raging in many internal spaces when the Pather marines had boarded. The smell of ozone was barely noticeable, given her own bridge had smelled the same not too long ago. She'd noted that her flagship had been able to deal some measure of damage, no doubt the Mk2 would be requiring some fairly extensive repairs. A grim note of satisfaction warmed her heart.
- "Just trying to earn a fistful of credits. But that doesn't matter much, now."
- " The fact that you didn't order your marines to put a gauss round in to us after you boarded speaks volumes, so I have a measure of trust towards you. I will be blunt. My crew is injured, some critically. They need medical treatment. I am willing the bargain for their safe return to a neutral port and medical treatment with ... what few resources I have left." There's a despondent note in her voice, but Sara remains standing proud, chin held high.
- It would do no good for her to rue her defeat now. She could do that later, whatever may come. "... Up to, and including, myself." She adds, with just a little waver in her voice. She was dedicated to her crew, and would do anything to see them safe again. It had been her mistake, overconfident and bold, that had led to her flagship being split from it's escorts and defeated. It was up to her to see her crew taken care of.
- [9:47 AM] 12 Ante Meridiem:
- "The blind grasp for credits, thirsting endlessly for wealth. It drives them only to destruction and ruin." Egypt delivers the statement solemnly. She seems the type of preacher who speaks not of fire and brimstone, but instead calmly decries the evils of technology and industry with a firm passion.
- She looks 'out' of the bridge windows with a dispassionate air, observing the wreckage of disabled civilian vessels, and the sheer carnage the torpedoes had wreaked on the Conquest. It had shattered under the barrage, the sheer force of Ludd's hammer too much for it to bear.
- With a dismissive brush of her hand, Egypt waved away the marines, who rose and backed out with a slight incline. Their gauss rifles, pitted and short barreled with heavy use and ruthless stripping-down to the barest essentials, were held in a traditional Luddic salute.
- The airlock closed behind them with a hiss.
- With the bridge cleared of staff, it held a silent, calm air which seemed almost serene. The lack of limited AIs and battle reports buzzing and querying each other endlessly left nothing but a soft hum of electronics, and the gentle hiss and creak of the environmental controls.
- Egypt approached the shackled Moloch slowly, tracing one of her gloved fingers along her jaw, eyeing her up with and approsing glace. The woman had a plain beauty to her, with a long, dark brown braid over one shoulder, and tanned features. Cloth and braiding common amongst Pathers and Moderates alike adorned her vacuum suit.
- "I may not be a butcher like many of my brothers and sisters. But I am no ... 'soft touch.' You have sinned. And the only path available to you is penance and redemption."
- She crosses her arms, and fixes Sara with an impassive stare. "All shall find Ludd over the coming months, or break under His hammer." Her voice is firm, threatening. The tinges of Arabic dialects that persisted over millennia leaving lilting inflections on every word.
- [10:03 AM] Mazian:
- "I see."
- Two simple words that said everything. Her voice went from neutral to ice cold, cutting the air like a knife. Egypt's explanation had been fairly clear. Her crew would submit to the Pathers, or die. And so would she. There had been a measure of hope that this Crusader saw things different - perhaps they would get medical treatment, and be seen to. Maybe. But their lives would be that of slaves. Death would have been preferable for many, and now she regretted her decisions. The fate her crew laid solely on her shoulders. Her mistakes.
- Those emerald eyes of hers burned with passion and fire. Anger at the Crusader before her, barely restrained. If she were perhaps a measure less professional, less seasoned, then she would lash out. But she remained calm, collected. Barely. Anger made her muscles twitch, the implants in her head telling her data - things no human would know at a glance, usually. By now, a long moment had passed. Sara needed it to collect herself. With a low breath that swelled her bosom, she spoke again.
- [10:03 AM] Mazian:
- "Then they will at least receive medical treatment. They are useless to you dead." She coolly replies, those green eyes of hers tracking Egypt as she walked. The Commodore herself was tall - six feet or so. Muscled. Heavy plugs decorated the back of her neck; she used to be a marine, by the signs. Despite the rugged edge she had, Sara held a full bosom, easily a D cup, and ample hips. She could have any man she had set her eyes on, for sure.
- "And I imagine it's not wrong to assume you have something in mind for me, as well." She continued. She very well knew that her options were limited. Some pather marine might take her for a battle wife. Or she'd be condemned to a number of other menial, degrading tasks. Or slavery. The pathers were ruthless. Merciless. She expected no mercy - and have given none in the battle. Intermingled with the wrecks of her own ships were at least a dozen Pather vessels. An eye for an eye.
- She took some faint, bitter satisfaction that those crews had met the void's tender embrace. It would be her only satisfaction for a long time, she felt.
- [10:20 AM] 12 Ante Meridiem:
- The Pathers didn't attract those with weak wills or lack of conviction to the higher echelons of their leadership. And Egypt was no tame woman. She placed casually, like a predator, in Sara's blind spots as she took in the results of the battle.
- Through numbers alone, it had been an inevitable result. But the primitive technology of the Pathers should have extracted a much heavier toll on them. Wrecked frigates and a handful of colossi spewing atmosphere were all the expeditionary fleet commodore had to satisfy her ego.
- "They will be well cared for," Egypt states abruptly, rankling slightly at the sight. Hundreds of the faithful had found their end here. But they would be buried in consecrated soil on New Langford, at least. A solace to their souls, if nothing else. "And once you welcome the embrace of Ludd, you shall find yourself well cared for in turn."
- There was a soft hiss, and a prick in her lower back. Egypt, her arms still crossed, paced in front of her, with a hypo, half drained, still swirling with a pinkish-red liquid. The dull glitter of nanites was apparent within.
- When she spoke next, it was with a confident, seductive purr, as the liquid began to do its work. It was a cocktail, of course. Implant dampeners, libido enhancers. Mild narcotics. Hallucinogenics.
- "Of course, it is much easier to find Ludd's joyful embrace with one of His faithful to guide you ..."
- [10:29 AM] Mazian:
- Sara most certainly did not expect what just happened. For a moment, she was stunned. A poison? Was she to die here, now? No- her implants flickered, spewing warnings, and then blanked out altogether. The lack of stimulation was shocking, and a low, quiet fear began to spread through her. She knew what was in her veins, now. Nanites. Insidious in nature. She had no idea of their purpose, but then a low heat suffused her body from her erogenous zones, flooding her core and reminding her of the unsated need that plagued all spacers.
- And her vision shimmered. Faintly, at first. Narcotics and hallucenogenics went to work in lock step. Sara's reality distorted faintly, and the woman before her grew more attractive, beautiful, even. She had a certain charm to her before, but now, her reality was shifting, changing. By the moment, Egypt seemed like more of the Seraphim that the Ludds preached about. It took her active work to maintain her anger, for her thoughts to not drift into a sea of drug-induced delight.
- She tugged at her cuffs. Muscles tensed, green eyes full of hatred. So that trust had been a mistake. Bitter regret stung. "I will never serve your madman of a prophet." She spat the word at Egypt. But her defiance wouldn't last, not with the drug cocktail in her. Already, it was starting to wane. She wasn't going to be resistive for very long.
- "You'll regret this. You'll burn in the fires of a Ludd-Damned star for this!" She raged, angry, testing her cuffs again. She was strong. But not strong enough to defeat steel unfortunately. Reality shifted again, and again, and again ... twisting, turning. Thoughts slowed. Simplified. Open to suggestion. Egypt really was beautiful. An angel, come to offer her salvation...
- From that perspective, it must make a lot more sense, how those miners covered in slabs of environmental suits could stay sane. When even rudimentary VR sets and a dose of drugs like these could make even the cramped barracks seem like heaven.
- Here and now, as the bridge shimmered and blurred, Egypt's face broke into a small, cryptic smile. Many used the Hammer of Ludd liberally, choosing to bathe the foe in flame ...
- But the Word of God can only flourish when His mercy and forgiveness is used in equal measure. She reached to her side with a gloved hand and began to turn the valves on her vacuum suit, a sharp hiss accenting each release. Egypt pulled firmly, and peeled herself out.
- Her underclothes were soaked with sweat, heat resistant black mesh wrapped her generous bust, and a similar, boyshorts style pair of thermal dissipative compression pants. The scent hit Sara roughly, and softly all at once.
- First, the rank odor of unwashed spacer male. Then the heavy, deep, earthy spices of a woman who lives off of extended Luddic foodstuffs, seasoned in excess ...
- She has a body that is lightly plush, with a mild gut, and brawny arms. Her underarms are flush with dark body hair, and a snaking bush works it's way up from her compression shorts. She approaches, a considerable bulge filling out her undergarments. Most of it appears to be from her testes, bulging them out and looking almost the size of swollen apples, each ...
- Sweaty and tousled, she smiles at Sara gently, motioning to the ground. "Kneel, Moloch. This marks a new beginning for you, in service to Ludd ..."
- Sara's drug-addled mind realized exactly what what was happening, but it was hard to argue with the results. In fact it was hard to argue or think at all with the damnable heat in her loins disrupting her every little thought. Now she faced what her mind perceived an angel from the skies, strong, caring, and harsh in equal measure. There was a certain measure of awe in her mind.
- Even that smile did terrible things to Sara's expanded consciousness. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful. Stunning. Egypt herself was so much more than she'd orginally though - enlightenment didn't come easy, it seemed. The shockwave of emotions that swept over her were immense, overwhelming for a moment - but they settled firmly on the sinful side. Arousal. Deep, heated, and unrelenting arousal burned in her loins, in her core. A desire to serve and be part of something more.
- [2:13 AM] Mazian:
- Those emerald green eyes, now full of wonder and delight at the sight before her, watched eagerly as Egypt peeled herself out of her voidsuit, and all was revealed. Not quite all ... but enough to set Sara's mind alight with her new role. What hit her was an awfully familiar smell - unwashed body odor, thick with masculine scent. She knew that well from her time in the marines. A shower was a luxury, when you were on deployment for days on, entombed in powered armor.
- Then there were spices. Deeply traditional - some vague memories of home hit her. Her mother had been a luddic, well. An ex-ludd. The Church was hardly forgiving to such souls, and so, she had moved to the Core. Tibicena. Things had happened, and Sara was the result. These were all just vague recollections, though. Sara was far too busy taking in the sight of Egypt's body, still ... tense, but perhaps, in another way. Desire and delight tingled at every sight, espically, admittedly, the untrimmed bush that was only vaguely contained by the boy shorts.
- Sara kneeled at her command, gazing up at the woman with need in her eyes. Oh, it had been so long...
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