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The HOPE Project


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Morph wriggled a few feet further, turning up the dial on her head lamp as she made her way through the piping. "Oh, jeez..." she muttered, spotting a dirty great crack in one of the smaller capillaries, leaking oily fluid onto the floor. "Well, that makes sense..." she said to herself, grabbing her intercom. "Nova, there's a whacking great hole in here. Do me a favour, and try to start her up?"
"Roger that." There was a gurgling, a splutter and the oil spurted out of the pipe, the liquid going everywhere, including all over Morph. She shook her head, in exasperation, not even bothering to try to slough some of the gunk off herself.
"Yep, this would be the issue, turn it off, turn it off now." she said into the mouthpiece. "I think I can fix it though, give me a second..." she picked through her tool belt and grabbed something that looked a bit like a toilet brush in one hand and a small welding torch in the other. Jamming the brushy end into the crack, she started to clean it out so she could mend it properly. Grabbing a piece of scrap metal from the floor, she covered up the hole and started welding the edges. Over the intercom she heard Thally's voice.
"Come in, Captain, mayday!"
"A little busy here, Thal, what's the problem?"
"Just got a call from three ships down, HOPE are out on the raid."
Morph swore under her breath. "We can't actually move, Thally. And why didn't Cyan warn us if they were coming? Never mind. Just shut up a minute." Morph wedged herself up the pipe with her boot on the metal keeping the crack shut, running her welding torch around the edges. "Not enough time..." she growled. "Ok, all hand on deck, stash the stock. Hide everything. We might have to play a little game."
"Roger that." Val chimed in over the intercom.
Morph continued her repair work. Once the metals appeared to have bonded she heard a metallic crunch somewhere behind her and she kicked the wall in exasperation. "Why is it that the minute one thing gets fixed on this floating shoebox, something else decides to break?" she murmured to nobody in particular, making her way backwards out of the ship's pipes until she was halfway out. Someone, by the heft of them, probably Val, kicked her in the shin.

â??Whoever just tripped over me, well done, thatâ??s the third time today,â? Morph yelled. Without warning the inside of the shipâ??s wall gave out a deep clunk and then a horrible crunching, scraping noise which sounded like glass on metal, causing everyone, including Val, to put their hands over their ears and groan. Moprh grabbed a spanner and slammed it into the side of the wall. The noise subsided. There was a brief silence, a light ping, and the Morph called, â??Right, Nova, try the engine now.â? The red head fumbled for the key, slashed it through the scanner and put her thumb on the keypad. The motor spluttered for a moment, and Nova crossed her fingers. Then after a few seconds of earnest coughing the engine started properly.
â??Oh, fantastic, Morph!â? Nova said, delightedly. She patted the dashboard. â??She hasnâ??t been right for days, and I couldnâ??t seem to find anything wrongâ?¦â?
"That's because your claustrophobia stops you going any further than a couple of metres into the belly of this thing." Morph said, backing out of the pipe and standing up. She stretched herself out while Nova replied,
"I'm not claustrophobic! I get separation anxiety if I'm too far from the dash for too long," she countered. "Besides, I'm no use to you stuck in there." Morph rolled her eyes at the pilot.
"Whatever, Frenchy. We're set for now. I think we've got a dodgy valve, though, so keep you eye on it. You know, figuratively speaking." There was a heavy knock on the door.
"HOPE!" it barked. Morph gave a quick look around the ship. Everything appeared to be hidden. The only people in the galley were herself and her Pilot - god knows where everyone else had gotten to. She made her way over to the door and opened it with a pneumatic hiss. Two men stood in front of her, one Asian and, to her instant but imperceptible relief, one dark skinned man who she knew very well indeed. This would be why Cyan hadn't been able to warn them, then. He was on patrol.
"How can I help you, officers?" she asked, allowing them entry into her ship. Her home.
"We've had some reports of trafficking ships in the area. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?" asked the unfamiliar officer in a tone that more than implied his suspicion.
"No, not at all. What about you, pilot? Heard anything?" Morph asked Nova.
"Pirates? How dreadful. No, sir, nothing of that sort here. We have legal cargo." Nova replied, feigning a convincing English accent. Cyan looked at his partner and said, "I'll go and inspect the cargo while you speak to the Captain."
"I'll take you!" Nova suggested, getting up from her seat in the cock pit and leading Cyan, who pretended that he didn't know the way.
"Would you like to take a seat, Officer..."
"Akiko. Officer Akiko." He took a seat around the galley table.
"Officer Akiko. Would you like a cup of coffee? It's disgusting." Morph offered. She didn't like having strangers on her ship, and she liked even less having to be hospitable, but she'd learned through experience that it was always better to act as if she didn't mind them there. Hostility always aroused more suspicion.
"No, thank you. Against regulations." Akiko replied, with a halting gesture. Morph sat down opposite him. With her hands under the table she surreptitiously felt around for a very specific button.
"So, do you have any leads, Officer?" she asked him.
"Well..." he said, hesitantly, "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but we've had reports that the Aguamala is docked around here somewhere." Morph feigned shock and awe.
"Really? That's... well... I don't know what to think!"
"I know, it would be a big catch for me. I'm... I'm a bit new on the job." Morph faked a smile.
"Really? I couldn't tell." She pressed the button and there was a very loud explosion from somewhere outside the ship. Officer Akiko jumped up, smacking his head hard on a light fitting.
"Son of a... tell my partner I've gone to check that out!" he yelled, pulling out a plasma-arm.
"Of course." Morph 'promised', opening the door to let him out, before shutting it again, and locking it from the inside. After a few seconds, the whole crew walked into the galley.
"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we plant bombs." Morph said, sitting back down again, resting her boot-clad feet on the table.

[i]O.O.C: And there's the set up, guys. Everyone is on board for a ship's meeting, so we can get cracking on this bad boy! :)[/i]

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Thally sighed and made her way back to the galley, a sawed-off shotgun holstered at her hip and a monofilament blade tucked into her right boot. She arrived before anyone else, and sat opposite Morph. "Captain, I have a question."

"Yes, Thal?"

"Was the bomb needed? I mean, he probably would have left without even a whiff of this ship's identity." Thally cocked her head and plucked a regular seven inch serated blade from her left boot and began using it to clean from underneath her fingernails. "Not only was he a complete newbie at his job but also an idiot."

"Blunt as usual... and not wrong, either. The bomb got him out of here, didn't it? I'm sure we all wanted that."

"Yes, you're right." Thally shrugged. "I suppose I should be grateful he's gone. At least I didn't have to shoot him."

Morph's eyebrow raised. "How uncharacteristically kind you're being. Why for?" The captain eyeballed the knife in Thally's hands, watching her closely.

"Innocence. Or perhaps ignorance. They really are one and the same in this particular case." Thally responded in a rather nonchalant manner and shrugged her right shoulder. "I much prefer not to harm innocent people. Our dear Officer Akiko seems to fit in with that rather appropriate concept."

Morph snorted. "As much as I'm inclined to agree with you, if he had discovered anything he would have had to die."

"Of course, Captain." Thally smiled and held her knife up in the light. It gleamed bright and sharp in her hands. "I am simply expressing my relief in not having to kill. He really was kind of cute, and for all we know he might have been just an honest guy pulling a nine to five just like the rest of the general population."

Morph rolled her eyes as Val entered the room. "So, he was 'kind of cute' was he? What am I, chopped liver?" he quipped as he sat down.

"Last time I checked, yes." Thally retorted jokingly with a smile on her face.
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[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]Nova blew out a stream of pale smoke from the cigarette between her lips as she entered the galley, letting Cyan out she nodded to him and shut the door turning on the others there and rolling her eyes at Val and Thally.[/color][/font]
[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]"Oh god, would you two just screw it off?"
The looked at her, both glaring, holding up her hands she moved to the table flicking ash into an empty cup before leaning foward and placing her hand under her chin. She was less than interested in what was going on, but even more than less interested in watching Val and her cousin play ring around the rosie with each other. Sighing to took another drag on the stick in her hands and huffed as she suddenly found in snatched away from her and put out with a soft hiss into the damp cup.[/color][/font]

[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]"How many times do I have to tell you-"
"I got it Morph, but we all have our ticks, yours is just being in a bad mood."
"And yours is pushing my buttons."
Nova shrugged with a small smirk as Thally and Val simply watched with amusment.[/color][/font]

[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]"So I take it we're in the clear for the time being? I mean he was an idiot."
"We just went over this Nov."
"Thanks for the heads up Thally, didn't know cause let's think, oh that's right I wasn't here."
Val gave off a snort of laughter at the two gaining their attention, causing Nova to lift an eye brow his direction.[/color][/font]

[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]"Don't even start Paul Bunion."
He stopped and frowned at her for a moment before they all looked towards Morph as she cleared her throat.
"Can we all stop acting like morons for one moment? We do have some small problems if no one noticed? Like how they were tipped we were here in the first place and lets not forget, our ship is almost busted to hell and back."
Nova took a deep breath and crossed her arms on the table waiting for the rest of Morph's speech.[/color][/font]
[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]"Once everyone else gets here we have a few things to go over before we leave port."
Heaving another sigh Nova turned and leaned back against the table, pulling out a crused and deformed pack of cigarettes, pulling one out she lit it and sucked in a lungful exhaling it slowly.[/color][/font]

[font=comic sans ms,cursive][color=#000080]"Nova!"
She didn't respond, simply reached around and dropped the lit cigarette into the same up with another hiss and sighed as she tilted her head up and stared at the ceiling. [/color][/font]
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[size=3][color=#b22222]Arsenic washed his face in the mirror then toweled off. He aside from his normal attire of jeans and t shirt that was always just one color this day it was green and black steel toed boots also put on his energy ballistic vest, filling the pouchs with ammo and other odds and ends. He walked to the lockers and pulled out a long beautiful sleek energy rifle, slinging it behind him. On his right hip he attached his holster carrying a plasma pistol he had spent years designing for himself. Granted he also tweaked it as new things came out but it had never failed him. He filled the pouches on the thigh holster as well then stuck a long serrated knife into the sleeve located on the back of the holster. On his other thigh he attached a two and a half foot machete and a sharpening stone. [/color][/size]

[size=3][color=#b22222]After doing a quick double check of everything and running a functions check on his weapons he turned off the lights and headed down the hall. Granted he knew he would most likely not come across any fighting today he was always prepared for hell on earth to break out. [/color][/size]

[size=3][color=#b22222]He just had walked in right as Morph had mentioned something about using bombs then get on to [font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Novocaine[/font] for smoking. [font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Thalidomide and Valium were also present along with Cyanide. He gave a brief nod to Cyanide who returned the gesture before making his way around the table to a stool that sat against the wall. "Captain" He gave another nod as he made eye contact with Morph who just gave him her normal look. He pulled his energy rifle from behind him as he sat down in his normal spot. It had a great angle on the door giving him a perfect line of sight without hitting anyone if they suddenly jumped up. [/font][/color][/size]

[size=3][color=#b22222][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]"Well good day military man" Arsenic's eyes went to [/font][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Thalidomide and just gave his normal nod. He never really spoke at these meetings unless it was important and if he did he tried to keep it as short as possible. Thalidomide and Valium quickly went back to conversing with each other as Novocaine began flicking her lighter, the sound obviously starting to wear on Morph's already short nerves. Those two were always fighting about something whether important or not. [/font][/color][/size]

[size=3][color=#b22222][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]He adjusted his rifle in his lap and leaned against the bulkhead hoping the meeting would be over soon so he could continue his normal schedule of things to do[/font][/color][/size]
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Morph eyed up her crew, jaw clenched. "As I was saying... that was close. Too bloody close." she placed her booted feet back on the floor. "Cyan, I need to know who tipped them off. It could have been random, but you all know me well enough to know that I don't really believe in coincidences. Whoever it was, they need a warning." She looked at Arsenic. "You'd be able to sort that out for me, wouldn't you." It wasn't a question so much as an order.

"Nova, you need to take better care of this junk heap. It's saved our arses pretty consistently, but it won't keep doing that if the engine falls out. If the motor splutters, tell me. If the steering jams, don't just hope that sort of problem goes away. Log it. I need to know about every dodgy gear change and every rocky landing. Every issue is like an injury. Usually a metaphorical band-aid will do the job, but if I don't catch problems early they only get worse, and you know that."

She turned to Thally, "I get that violence is kind of your schtick, I get that, I do, but tone it down a little, yeah? You know that, tempting though it may be, we can't kill HOPE officers. Even though they're scum of the Earth. No offence, Cy. Now, I need you to chart us a course to Japan. I want something quick that won't absolutely murder this glued together bit of rubble we call a ship."
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"Right-o, Captain." She stood from her chair and tucked her blade back into her boot. "I only need a few hours. Would you like me to look over some of our recent job offers as well? Perhaps we can earn some easy cash to fix this sad little boat while we're at it."

"Fine. Cross reference the charts. Land us any gigs that look like easy money. I expect all that to be done by dinner time in a few hours. And one more thing?" Morph smiled. "You're cooking dinner tonight. I'm feeling like Mexican."

"Of course. But I cooked last night, too. Any special reason?"

"I've decided you're the ship's cook now. Think of it as a compliment. Everyone loves your cooking. And you love to cook." Morph smiled. "Now get your ass in gear and do what I pay to keep you around for."

"Roger that, Captain." Thally smirked. "How do burritos and dessert grilled cheese sound? I can get it started by eight o'clock or so."

"Wonderful. I will see you then."

Thally walked out of the galley, and into the corridors of the ship at large. She had a lot of work to do, as well as some shopping. "I do so hope that HOPE is just jumping at shadows. Otherwise things might end badly." She wondered out loud with a slight smirk on her face. Looking down at her hand, she flexed and clenched it tightly. "I think a new body is in order... It seems like combat is about to get real heavy real quick..."

She walked the distance to her quarters, and the door hissed open. Her jellyfish greeted her, doing their thing in the tank. "My pretties need fed, don't they?" She commented. Traversing her room, she smiled as she pulled a long black box from the refridgerated shelving under the tank. She plucked several dead rats from the box, and plopped them into the tank.

The jellyfish converged on them, rather like a swarm of pirahna. It was like a feeding frenzy as the jellyfish attached themselves to them and began disolving the tissues in order to digest them. "Yes, my lovlies, eat and be merry." Thally watched the jellyfish feed for a few minutes before she sat at the terminal in her room. The monitor flared to life, displaying several e-mail windows and charts. "Time for work..." she muttered.
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[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic nodded. "Captain" He was always formal around her in front of the others and was known to always use everyone's full name instead of their nickname. He didn't uses Morph's though when he was talking to her in private. He gave a nod to Cyanide, who already knew he needed to find the name of the person that tipped HOPE off and send it to Arsenic along with the location so Valium and himself could pay the person a visit. He walked down to his quarters and began his normal routine finishing at the normal time.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]He sat down on the bed knowing that dinner would not be ready till later and pulled out his machete along with the sharpening stone. He slowly dragged the stone along the blade, the room quite save for the grinding noise as he spent the next thirty minutes sharpening the blade. [/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Suddenly a faint knock came to the door outside his shop. "Nick its Nova let me in I am out of smokes." Arsenic stared at the door for a second. "Unlock" The voice activated lock unlatched and the panic room style door swung open as Arsenic walked out of his room shutting the door to his room before setting the machete and stone down on one of his desk. He pulled out his back at set them at the small table then walked over to one of the cabinets and pulled out an ash tray. Novocaine pulled up a chair lighting herself one in the process before looking around the room. "Clean and perfect just like always. How long did it take you to scrub all the rust out of here and get it like this?" [/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic took a drag off his. "A year." Novocaine nodded. "Well you did good" Silence passed between them as Novocaine finsihed her cigarette then stood up pulling several out of the pack. "Do you mind?" Even though she knew that he was just got to nod his head she still asked. Like always Arsenic nodded yes and watched Novocaine leave and the door shut behind her and lock back into place. The girl was a damn good pilot but was constantly pushing Morph to the point where she was likely to rip out her intestines and whip her with them.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]He stood back up and grabbed his machete spending another thirty minutes on the blade then held it up to the light before sheathing it and cleaning up the bench and starting on his serrated knife making sure to work carefully on the teeth. He took his work back into his room and brought the moniters to life. After putting in his passwords he selected one screen to bring up the channel for Cyanide to pass long any information while the others scrolled with specs.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Unfortunately dinner would be a little while longer then normal due to the fact [font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Thalidomide probably hadn't started yet but it was fine he could find himself something to do in the meantime, granted all he ever did was grab his food and bring it back to his cabin. "Music" Suddenly the room came alive with "Symphony of Destruction" as Arsenic began doing maintenance on his energy rifle.[/font][/size][/color]
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Morph eyed up the remaining crew in the galley and shook her head. "You know what your jobs are, get on with them. We need to get moving sooner rather than later." She stood up and walked out of the galley. Instead of going straight to her own quarters she passed Nova in the corridor before muttering the override password and entering Arsenic's room, closing the door behind her. She watched him work, the music blaring too loud for him to have heard her come in uninvited. "Still listening to this crap?" she yelled over the loud, loud music, a rare smile on her face. He turned around, knife in hand.

"You know better than to sneak up on a man with a weapon in his hand." he said, raising a brow at her. She chuckled.

"Dirty." Arsenic gave her a look but he smirked a little. "How's my sauer looking? The trigger has been seizing lately, and that's never a good sign." Arsenic threw her Sig Sauer over to her and she caught it deftly. She checked it over, took the mag out and tested the trigger. It slid smooth as a hot knife through butter. "You legend." she said appreciatively.

"I just cleaned it, Morph. If you use a gun like that on the beach you can't expect it to work properly. But thanks."

"I wasn't talking to you, I was talking to my gun." Morph joked. She didn't joke often, but this was the one room where she felt she didn't have to be quite as acerbic as she was with anyone else. She flopped back on Arsenic's bed, and rested her eyes for a moment. "You know those days when you just want to kick people?"

"You mean every day?"

"Yep. That day." she said, sounding exhausted. "Sometimes I think of giving up. Selling the stock, the ship, the weaponry. Retiring."

"No, you don't." he said, bluntly, "You'd get bored in five minutes and develop casual middle-class kleptomania." Morph stared at the ceiling. He was right, of course.
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[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic actually truly smiled. "Besides you would miss all the good times" Morph nodded. "Yeah your right" Arsenic shot a look her way that Morph caught and returned. "And the times that keep you up late at night." Morph's eyes narrowed. "And what if those weren't so great?"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"You wouldn't keep having them now would you?" He heard a slight growl escape Morph's lips. She did that when he had beaten her, something that really pushed her buttons. [/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"And what if I was to put a stop to them?"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]The weapons snapped together as Arsenic finished. "You would probably kill everyone here due to the stress"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Morph's face went to a frown. "I seriously doubt that"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic gave another chuckle. "I don't" He heard a slight movement and saw that Morph had picked up the picture on the table beside his bed. If it had been anyone else they would have been shot right then and there. "It's getting close to that time again isn't it" [/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]A silence filled the room before Arsenic answered. "Yes it is" [/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Morph but the picture down and rolled over to her stomach as He light a cigarette and turned in the stool to look at her. "You get me a drink" [/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic poured her and himself a drink then sat back down taking a sip as she did.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"This reminds me of that day when I first found you"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic nodded. "It actually is the same thing that we did drink when you convinced me to come aboard"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Morph gave a small snicker. "Wasn't that hard considering you were completely drunk out of your mind. Hell you couldn't even stand up"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"I still managed to get my gun out...somewhat" He only shook his head as his thoughts went back to that day.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"Onto the floor and Val had to carry you aboard. You slept the whole day passed out in this room back when it used to be one of the cargo holds"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic took another drink then left out a laugh. "That was the most comfortable thing I had ever slept on"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Morph's eyes narrowed again when she realized Arsenic was making another stab at her. "The most comfortable thing you ever slept on?"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic shot her a challenging look. "Care to refresh my memory?"[/size][/color]
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Morph snorted. "Did I mention that I'm covered in engine gunk? If that works for you in any way you are a creep." she indicated her ruined t-shirt. "Also, I'm exhausted, man. It's been tough. Today was a really hard day." she cracked the bones in her neck. [i]Yes,[/i]the quiet voice in her head that knew better than to speak too often said [i]It's been a VERY hard day. You deserve a little slip. Consider it a work out.[/i]

"Do you ever think about the fact that when we first met, you were just nineteen?" Arsenic asked, with an odd quality to his voice which Morph took an instant disliking to.

"No, I don't." Morph said, slightly more angrily than she either intended or expected. She wasn't hugely happy about any referral to her age. It always felt to her like condescension. He looked at her as she just glared at the ceiling.

"You know I don't mean anything by it, don't get touchy." Morph almost laughed.

"Have you met me, Arsenic? I was born touchy, and I will die shouting at people to do their jobs or face the toecap of my boot. In fact it might be the shouting that finishes me off. I'll be ninety nine and give myself a peptic ulcer or something." She looked at him, and felt the tiniest hint of a shudder through her body, one that was far from unpleasant. He saw the look on her face and downed the rest of his drink, walking over to his bed that she had so ungraciously hijacked. He sat at the edge of it as he thought that it would smell of engine oil and rust for ages. And the lotus oil she used in the tips of her hair. And the weird pineapple smell that always seemed to follow her, for reasons that nobody knew. She wasn't a scented bodywash kind of woman. Girl, really. She looked at him and sat up straight. She smiled, ever so slightly awkwardly. "We're a pair of silly people." she muttered, not sure whether she was talking to him or reminding herself.
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[size=3]Valium had sat patiently in the meeting area, waiting for everyone else to make their leave as he mulled over things that had been discussed, or more specifically what hadn't been discussed amongst them all. Questions arose in his mind and answers seemed to be few and far between to this ever rising tide of inquires that threatened to drown him if he didn't stem it somehow. He would have been lying to himself if he said that what was going on between him and thally didn't bother him, and it only seem to get worse as time went on. He was more than willing to work out something with her, find a middle ground where they could start anew. But, she seemed more intent on fighting him and dismissing the whole thing, it constantly baffled him and always seemed to be a frustrating en devour with her. He had been ready to go after her, to try and talk to her one more time to day and at least broach the subject once more and try to make something happen, but he decided against it as he realized how flustered he already was just thinking about it.

He instead decided to focus on other things, he needed to think about something else so he could clear his mind and try to relax just a little bit. He decided to head back to the farther reaches of the old ship, passing through a few pneumatic doorways before reaching the room that they had converted into a sort of makeshift gym area. It was a way for everything to get some exercise during the long journeys, even though at this point Valium had to improvise on weight sets for his size and strength. He laid back on the bench that he had to reinforce to support his body and lifted the steel bar and the weights he started his regiment. The task becoming so routine, it gave him time to think about what was going on. Valium was one of the only people on the crew that had a more, flexible job and he put everything he had to good use. He let his mind wander then, knowing he had his best ideas when he let his focus fad from the subject on hand and let it finds the answer for him. Valiums primary job on this boat was to be the muscle, to be the go to guy for when things got violent, but that implied more than just being the strongest and combat savvy. It almost meant he needed to be smart, he needed a way of thinking to make himself a step ahead of the next problem they would come up against. It was something him and Nick could get behind and actually work on together, they were one of the best teams for that and both had common connections and both had their own connections to get their job done efficiently and quickly.[/size]
[size=3] [/size]
[size=3][b]"I wonder if we he is contact Mengsk, maybe Carmen would have a lead that we could follow. Iâ??ll need to think about it more; maybe Nick has a better idea.â?[/b] He still kept pressing away, with the lack of poundage, all he could do was reps and he was nearing 125 at this point and he still had several more to go before he started to feel the ache. He pushed out ten more before setting the bar back down and sitting up on the bench as he leaned into one of his hands. His mind quickly started to wonder again, and this time into a place it shouldnâ??t go as he suddenly started to think about Thally again. This time his mind drifting to a more, risqué time between them, in a small place just like this in a time long before. His mind trying itâ??s best to maintain the rational though, to keep him calm and cool but his heart beat furiously. And his gut instincts were some of the best anyone could find, his instincts were always right and he always regretted not taking its advice. He was sold then, standing up he removed the weight off the bar to keep from buckling it and then cleaned his hands before starting his walk through the ship. He was making good progress until he was suddenly hit with a smell he knew all too well. He quickly realized where he was standing; looking at the door he couldnâ??t help but think about what was going on behind there. He had been in Arsenics room dozens if not hundreds of times, but he always felt odd going in there. It was like walking into a whole other world, the pristine nature of it all and how well maintained everything was, it was always awe inspiring and slightly creepy to Valium. It also always put him in a constant mindset of how dramatically different their worlds were. Whereas Nick had converted his quarters into almost a mobile commander center, and an armory of guns of all kind, Valium fell into more of an older degree of fighting. He enjoyed the face to face conflict, whether it was with his fists that he wore custom made Brass Knuckles to fit his dinner plate sized hands. Or carrying around machetes that were about the size of a knife in his hands, but the one weapon he truly enjoyed using above all was a mace he had spent almost 3 years crafting from multiple parts and metals. He had only ever had to unveil it once, but it had given him such a chill when he held it that it was impossible to forget. His mind steeled then, the urge fading away as he knocked on the door, three taps, one tap, four taps, and two taps. It took a few moments but the door hissed open, Valium pushing his way into the smaller room forcing him to slough just a little bit more than usual.[/size]
[size=3][b]â??Hello Nick, Captain.â?[/b] He nodded his head to both, a great big smile on his face as Arsenic simply gave him that cold look that he gave everyone. Only his eyes told a story, and it was a vague one at that, Morph gave him the obvious look of annoyance with a slow blink to further strain the point.[/size]
[size=3][b]â??How is everyone right now? Are we enjoying ourselves? How about a cookie?â?[/b][/size]
[size=3][b]â??Why are you asking me about cookies? Arenâ??t you supposed to be working on something?â?[/b] Morph said in her normal way, her body told him a story that many wouldnâ??t have seen. The way she propped herself up, the way her shoulders were hunched and the way the muscles moved in her face, it always told him far more then she would ever say to him. [/size]
[size=3][b]â??I thought I was, I have a few people that might be able to help us with some leads for our run in with hope. I need Arsenic to go over some other choices; it seemed like a good idea. Or I could roll around on the ground for a couple hours, thatâ??s always, fun.â?[/b][/size]
[size=3][b]â??You canâ??t even fit on the bloody floor, let alone roll around. â??[/b][/size]
[size=3][b]â??Damn, my plan is flawed! I guess I can only talk to Arsenic then.â?[/b] He did his best to put on a boyish smile, it wasnâ??t so easy when you could clearly see his vibrant art work under his collar and his arms decorated in ink. And he was the size of a car, but that was a fact he was willing to ignore for now.[/size]
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Morph forced a smile that looked more like a grimace.

"Right... I'll be off, then." Her fatalistic side said to herself that this was clearly a sign that they were treading dangerous ground, and she was inclined to agree with it. "I'll be in the Underbelly." She got up and walked out of the room past Val, without looking either of them in the eye.

She pulled up a hatch in the floor and dropped down inside it, landing like a cat 9 feet down. She looked around the cavern full of pipes and wires and let out a strangely relieved sigh. Down here always felt a little more like home than anywhere else in the ship. She never wanted to be a Captain. She didn't like being in charge, she didn't like having to coordinate everything and everyone. It wasn't as if she had great people skills. It stressed her out. This was what she loved. Mechanics. Electronics. She liked knowing that she could take this whole ship apart piece by tiny piece and put it back together again, exactly as it was before. She walked through the twists and turns of the Underbelly, reconnecting random wires as she went. It was a good place to get other thoughts out of her mind. Unwelcome thoughts. Thoughts about Arsenic, about moles, about anonymous tip offs. She needed to be here from time to time, to let her mind wander. It was like meditation for the mechanically minded.
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Nova's footsteps echoed as she walked back and forth across the room, her coffee in one hand, her cigarette in the other, he sipped and puffed again and again til she was out of botth, and than started again with a fesh cup and fresh smoke. She stopped as she heard a few doors shut throughout the ship and sighed. Flopping down in the pilot seat she pinched the bridge of her nose. Sometimes things were just to much. From the drama of the crew to the drama of the real world out side of this flying tin heap, she sometimes couldn't tell which was which. Running a hand through her hair she opened the window to her left and let the cool air rush it, blowing her bangs back and giving her some fresh air. Sighing again she closed it and stood heading back towards the galley, upon entering she could see that everyone else was gone now, walking into the kitchen she opened the fridge and began to filter through it, trying to find something or another to eat. She stopped as there was a slight tapping from the door way. Turning she saw Val shaking his head at her.
"Your something else."
"What are you doing here?"
"Just got done talking to Arsenic and Morph."
"How can you talk to him? He's weird."
Val laughed out loud making her smile slightly. He was one of the only people she could talk to and she enjoyed hearing someone on this thing laugh from time to time.
"I wont argue there, He is a strange one, but you have to admit, he knows what he's doing."
She scoffed and returned to rummageing through the ice box pulling out the makings for something or another.
"You know Morph made Thal the cook right? You can always-"
"I can cook for my self thank you, my cousin does not need to do everything for me."
She turned towards the stove, her next sentence to low for anyone to hear.
"She already gets everything."
Shaking her head she flipped on the gas and put a frying pan down, pouring a small amount of oil into the bottom she watched as the heat made it ripple, once she was satisfyed with the tempature she tossed this and that into the pan and stirred it for a few moments before adding some chicken stock and cream. Once done there was a small pan full of beef tips, rice and cream sauce. She sat down and placed a small bowl infront of Val.
"I'm not hungry, thank you though.
"Val, with your size you should be eatting every hour, or is it my cooking isn't good enough for you?"
"It's not that, Thally just made food not that long ago and it was amazing, so I kinda ate to much of it you see and now-"
She stood and simply shook her head.
"You dont need to explain, I'll just take it to my room and eat it there."
She picked up the bowl and moved out of the kitchen back to her room before Val could say anything else. Setting the bowls down on her desk she flopped onto her bed, ignoring the way it screeched and protested against the action, burying her face in her pillow she squeezed her eyes shut and sighed. After a few moments she sat up, combined the bowls together, lit a cigaretter and began to eat, loooking over the maps her cousin had given her, getting ready for what ever Morph might throw her way.
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[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic walked into the galley as Novocaine left and sat in the seat across from Valium. Like whenever he left his room he was dressed for hell to break lose.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Valium leaned his bulk forward resting his elbows on the table. "Alright lets get this started. I got a few people that.." He was cut off as Arsenic raised his hand.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]He looked around then pulled out a small little handheld that he had connected to his computer back in his room. He pulled up the information that Cyanide had sent him regarding the people that had tipped off HOPE.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Valium's eyes went wide. "There is no record at all?"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic shook his head back and forth. "No"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Valium scratched the top of his head. "Well I guess we better tell the captain" He chuckled at the look Arsenic gave him. "Your right we will wait. She has got enough on her hands right now."[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"We will give Cyanide more time." He stood up and went to the fridge then sighed seeing nothing in there. He heard Valium let out a chuckle. "Nova took the last of it"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic sat back down lighting a cigarette as he did. He slowly puffed on the cigarette as a long silence passed between them before Valium broke it.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"You know you should try talking more. Open up a little"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic narrowed his eyes at Valium . On the occasions that they spoke this would always come up. Granted he knew Valium was just trying to help and would keep trying to help like the giant teddy bear he was.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"Get to know the rest of the crew more. Maybe then they wont stare at you like your..." He quit talking and smiled as Arsenic pulled his casually pulled his pistol out and aimed it at his head then held up his hands. "I am just saying"[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic let out a small smile as he watched the green dot of the laser bounce on Valium's head then reholstered the pistol as Valium let out a laugh.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]"Well its time for me to go." Valium knew that eleven out of the twelve months Arsenic would never pull the trigger. It was their little inside joke.[/size][/color]

[color=#b22222][size=2]Arsenic watched him leave before standing up and began strolling around the ship before stopping at the bridge. No one was present at the moment which was fine. He sat in the seat a little off to the ship from Morph's chair and kicked his feet up on one of the consoles staring out the window as he lit another cigarette.[/size][/color]
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Having walked all through the guts of her ship, Morph felt around for the flap in the ceiling the would open into her own bedroom and slammed it open, pulling herself through, and popping out beside her bed. She sat on the floor, feet dangling through the hole, for a little while. She wasn't all too sure what she planned to do with herself. Her brain was buzzing full of work stuff, but this was one of those days when she really didn't want to deal with the practical aspects of her life. Sometimes it was just better to ignore it and sleep. Being a pirate always seemed like it should be glamorous and exciting, but in reality it was just hard, and required a lot of planning. And it wasn't just work that messed with her head. She just didn't have time to think about anything else.

She picked herself up off the floor and sat at her computer. The screen was fuzzy and green for a second before flickering to life. She typed "Blue Cabral" into a search engine and scrolled through the different articles, seeing if there was anything new or interesting online about the Prime Minister. Nothing caught her eye, so she closed that window and searched instead for Marie Cameron. A few pictures of a little girl with freckles and frizzy mouse-brown hair popped up, but nothing exciting. She scrolled through articles she's read a hundred times, headlined with words like, "missing" and "the search continues". Clearly it didn't - the last article was from a year and a half ago, and it included a digital image of what Marie Cameron would look like now. Morph snorted. The "photograph" showed a still-frizzy but no longer freckled mess with too-high cheekbones and thin lips. "Blindingly inaccurate," she muttered to herself. She turned the computer off and flopped on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Everything was fine. Everything in the world.
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[center][size=4][font=georgia,serif][b]beyond mending.[/b][/font][/size][/center]

[size=4][font=georgia,serif]What I spent years on building, someone waltzed over in no time at all. One moment I had everything under control, the next moment it turns out it was all an illusion. Crow's explosives and sudden disappearance would have left enough of a mess to clean up even without this constant feeling of someone standing right behind me laughing over the efforts I make. I had to pull a lot of strings to land on the inspection team for the Aguamala without arousing too much of a suspicion. Some of them have only loosened, but a whole lot have probably snapped way beyond mending. From the moment I took notice of this spontaneous action my mind has been plagued with questions. There are many hows, but one question sticks out most.[/font][/size]


[size=4][font=georgia,serif]Names race through my head â?? each one as improbable as the next; plans of how to find out the truth are hunted down by a sense of failure creeping in my veins; doubt starts bleeding its way through my body, and my entire being is working overtime. What did I miss? How could this happen?[/font][/size]


[size=4][font=georgia,serif]My first stop after â??checking on the explosionâ?? is the Clymené, the wreckage of an airship used as some sort of a bar. The name fits the joint â?? being the name of the Greek titan of, amongst other things, infamy â?? and is an obvious stab at the Helios, Selene, and Eos centres the government set up as part of the Hyperion quarter. Where the large, impressive centres are respectively, a HOPE torture dungeon, a high security prison, and a â??reinstatement centre,â? the Clymené serves as the main hang out for most of the free outlaws in London. The majority of the crooks, both big- and small-time, are either smugglers or traffickers. Nobody here trusts each other, but itâ??s more of a family than most of these scumbags will ever have.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=georgia,serif]It takes only one step inside the rusty ship for me to feel the tension. By now everybody has heard of the inspection on the Aguamala. Word travels fastExplosions apparently travel even faster. Nobody pays extra attention to me, apart from those who recognise me behind my disguise. Plague Pox is a nobody here, and I use his anonymity to check around the place.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=georgia,serif]Some prominent faces are missing in the crowd today. Many have probably either also set off, like the Aguamala, or have gone into hiding for the time being. As relatively safe as the Clymené is, with its passwords and sensors, HOPE has eyes and ears everywhere. My contact is Ratette . Everybody calls her that, at least, though not to her face. The name we use when speaking with her is Ginger Cannon. Maybe itâ??s actually her unfortunate real name, nobody knows. She is, however, the first â?? and often last â?? person you need to go to for any kind of information about whatâ??s going on in and around the Fog. Her clothes have a sharp smell that fits her character. While she speaks, her yellow eyes keep taking up everything that happens, always in search of the latest news â?? new faces. She is one of the very few who recognised me straight away, but she doesnâ??t seem to care much either way. The ink around her collar bone neatly says â??Money Talksâ?, which for her turned out to be a very efficient motto to live by. The rest of her rules are said to be tattooed under the aforementioned phrase, but nobody dares to confirm that rumour.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=georgia,serif]â??Iâ??m working on it, Pox.â?? Of course she knows why Iâ??m here. I nod something of a confirmation and she continues. â??All I have right now are some rumours.â??[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=georgia,serif]â??Anything is helpful right now,â?? I answer, trying to sound less desperate than I feel. Suddenly her yellow eyes look straight into mine and I am reminded vividly of how she got her nickname.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=georgia,serif]â??Well, Pox.â?? She stops for effect, moving the tip of her tongue over her bottom canine teeth. â??You best sit tight and prepare for a shitstorm.â??[/font][/size]

[center][font=georgia, serif][/blockquote][/font][/center] Edited by Boo
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OOC: I'm going to indelicately time skip a tad, because as much as the expositional character setting stuff is useful, we need to get along with the action. She we're going to skip to landing in Japan. Awesome.

Morph woke up with a start as their clunker of a ship nudged into the dock and bumped into the mooring bay. "Novocaine!" she growled into the intercom at her nightstand, "I am going to kick you in the ******* face."
"Yeah, yeah, go ahead. I've been flying all night, it's 4am, cut me some slack." Morph shook her head. She was too tired to be amused that Nova's accent was stronger when she was tired.
"Well you can stay here and get some beauty sleep. The rest of us don't have time." Morph stretched herself out and gave herself the luxury of one last yawn before slamming her hand down on the alarm that would sound throughout her ship, waking the whole crew. "Wakey wakey. If I'm up the rest of you will be." She just rolled onto the floor and wriggled into her clothes - a pair of shredded and oil-stained jeans, a tshirt with several holes in and her battered to hell boots. Standing, he regarded herself in the mirror and snorted. "Mama needs new clothes." she told herself, realising how much of a ragamuffin she looked. She tied her dreads back off her face with a band and walked down the corridor, knocking on every door on her way. "Up, up, up." Nova walked past her, eyes dark and smelling like she'd been using a giant ashtray as a bath. "Except you, you're off duty for the day. You deserve... aside from the bumpy landing." Nova just proffered a choice finger before going into her room and slamming the door.

Morph stood in the galley as her tired and tetchy crew filtered in. "Yeah, I know, it's early. Deal with it." she said severely.

"Now, our gameplan while we're here is to get our hands on T-17 and botox. Both are in very high demand right now, and it's cheap here, so we'll make a fortune selling it on. I have two contacts here, Mayuko Takanawa and Sakura Otomo. The issue is, these women are serious rivals. If one knows we've spoken to the other they will refuse to supply us, but they don't necessairly have any stock. I am going to have to split us up. Thally and Val, I want you in underground Tokyo. You'll have to play it by ear and feel out where Takanawa is. If anyone asks, you're from a ship called the Califa and Val, have fun playing Captain. Nick and myself will find Sakura Otomo. If you can get anything else, that's fine, but concentrate on the T-17 and botox. Any questions?"
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