Long time no see
Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:11pm

Axel's flight across the Gulf had given him time to think. The explosion, watching his life's work go up in flames, running from the was all very reactive. Reactive, out of character, and yet he also knew intuitively that it was the best thing he could do.

He reflected on the past couple of years, and the thought of Damien magically turning manure into gold for a day brought a smirk to his face. The mage's ploy had worked perfectly, allowing him to pay off the Freelance Reploids' debts, and sending the bank on a wild goose chase looking for nonexistant thieves. Damien took the organization over, and Axel quietly stepped aside.

He'd roamed the world following leads, chasing down clues, and encountering one dead end after another. Exalt and Ixshaim had intended to use their Genesis Modules to reinitialize all life on Earth--global genocide--and start a new world order with Reploids at the top. Axel had thwarted the easy plan with the death of Exalt, and in order to successfully override Earth's combined life, Ixshaim would have needed to kill off a third of the life on Earth. Such a feat would leave a paper trail, or a body trail, or something. But after four years of fruitless searching, Axel finally had to call off the hunt. It was possible, after all, that she no longer lived. Or so he'd hoped.

Using records he'd recovered from Dr. Cossack's ruined laboratory nearly a decade earlier, he put the final pieces together of the puzzle. Xenoprobes were intelligent machines designed to seed dead worlds with life, but Axel by himself obviously couldn't get there. Star charts, propulsion systems, and the prized Quantum Inverter were the final pieces. With these plans, Axel had commissioned the construction of a jumpship capable of crossing interstellar distances in weeks, instead of millennia. He thought he had it all figured out, until that email.

"Trying to run off without saying goodbye? You're not a very good brother, are you?"

That's all it said, and it had sent a chill down the normally unshakable Russian's spine. He doubled security overnight, personally hired Sonmura Stravinski to trace the source, but none of it mattered. The email was untraceable, and his private army had joined the rest of his employees in death. Ixshaim was waiting for him to make his move...waiting for him to spend all his resources...then kick out the capstone and let it all come tumbling down.

"Well played, you sooka svoloch1," he grumbled behind his helmet. The desolate landscape of the Mephistophelese crash site loomed ahead. A broken, blackened wasteland amidst the slightly less broken, less blackened wasteland that was the Free Zone. Instead of being dead earth though, this had become a lifeless scar. It would be milennia before anything would grow here again.

"Lovely night for an evening flight, Commander," Demios's voice crackled over the comm.

The direction of the signal appeared on his HUD, and as he looke din that direction the glint of something reflecting off moonlight caught his eye. His HUD brought up a zoomed-in image, and seeing Demios brought back a lot of memories. He reminded himself that they were no longer necessarily on the same side. It was entirely possible that Demios had been hired to eliminate him.

"I'm surprised you're one of the first ones here," Axel replied, cautious but taking care to sound amicable. "There's no profit in this mission, after all."

"Well, there's profit to be had in the most unlikely of places. In fact, I'm using this little excursion as an excuse to try out a new bit of battle tech. You'd probably like it."

"I bet," Axel said, as he cut his thrust and descended on repulsors, shifting back to combat armor twenty feet up and freefalling to the ground. He landed about a dozen feet away from Demios, the two sizing each other up. Axel honestly wouldn't have been surprised if Demios raised his arm and fired upon him. He really hoped it didn't come to that...hoping that Demios was still on his side after all these years. Axel didn't get any sort of negative vibe off Demios though, and having long ago learned to trust his instincts, allowed his guard to relax.

"So...Who else do you think will show?" Demios broke the uneasy silence, and Axel was forced to chuckle.

"Honestly, I don't know," he answered with a shrug. "Everything is...just...ponyi pizdets2 lately. You answering the call and being here means a lot, old friend. Thank you for coming."

If Axel suddenly put on a tu-tu and did the dance of the sugarplum fairy right then and there, Demios probably wouldn't have looked more taken aback. "Uh..yeah, don't..mention it..."

Axel chuckled in spite of himself, and clapped a hand on Demios's shoulder as he walked past. "And I'm not your Commander anymore, Demios. It's just Axel now. Broke, homeless, and a fugitive from justice. I may as well be a cheap shluha vokzal'naja3 now."

"Yeah whatever that means. Alright I'll bite, what are we doing here anyway? What's going on?" Demois asked, looking around at the desolate wasteland. "I assume you have a plan, at least."

Axel knelt and picked up a random piece of junk, turned it over in his hand, then tossed it back into the pile. "Sort of. You remember my zhopa4 of a sister? She sabotaged my life's work. I have no direct evidence to support it, but it's got her style all over it. I don't know if this is about revenge, justice, or closure, but it's time to find that huesos and put her in the ground forever. We find her, we kill her. Simple."

"Who are you and what have you done with Axel?" Demios asked drily, smirking at the uncharacteristic response.

"The Xenoprobes were not built simultaneously. Dr. Cossack built me first, then built Exalt based off my design. Ixshaim was in turn based off Exalt's. Data on one Xenoprobe can be used to track the next one," Axel said, ignoring the snide remark. "Somewhere in this wreck is Exalt's body. Or at least part of it. We can use a scan of my body to find Exalt's remains, then use a scan of Exalt's remains to find Ixshaim. I have no idea how we're going to find Ixshaim of course, but with the data to program into a scanner, we'll be one step closer."

Demios clapped his hands together and rubbed them. "Well, guess we'd better get to work, huh? You've got family to kill."

NRP: it's almost like riding a bike...

1 Traitorous bastard
2 (loosely) FUBARed
3 cheap train station hooker
4 asshole

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