Yorke knocks on the door to Oeh-Wje's quarters on the Dawn Voyager and opens the door, walking in and glancing around, seeing a bed and racks upon racks of toroids.

"Shitslicer ammo," Oeh-Wje says, "Anything you wanted, Captain?"

"Yeah. Lloyd's going to give us an assignment, down in the cargo bay."

"Better move, then," she says, walking with Yorke out the door. They step into the elevator and ride down to the cargo bay. They descend to see the ramp opening and Lloyd striding in.

"Has the Corpse recovered?" she asks as the elevator slows.

"Aye," Yorke says. The two walk to meet Lloyd in the center of the cargo bay, Oeh-Wje looking nervously at his featureless face.

"Easy job for you today," their employer says, "But important. Should also boost your importance in the eyes of the other Handlers."

"Oh?" Yorke says, intrigued.

"There's a BCA Handler's Conference on Bliss. You're my bodyguards."

"So that's what that mesa was being hollowed out for," Oeh-Wje says.

"Yeah. Here's the coordinates; entrance is at the top of the mesa. Try not to pick a fight with the others present. Your job's to beef up security at the entrance while the Handlers talk inside the mesa. Don't let them get in; it's difficult to talk while annihilating armies. Here's a guest list." Lloyd hands Yorke a tablet and walks out.

"Black Eclipse, naturally," Yorke says, reading off the tablet, "A bunch of other groups I haven't heard of... and Hayashi Toro? Well, we'll at least know a couple folks. I'll get the rest of the team together."

Reaching around his communicator and heading to the main hall, he speaks, "Har-Bak? You there? Need to ask you to do something."

In the background of the was sound of rounds hitting the ground and a few curses being shouted before an answer was heard, "Yeah, I'm here, Yorke. Might want to give me a bit more warning rather than spook me while I'm working."

"Yeah, I'm sure that drinking and looking up nudes over the net is real work for him." Oeh-Wje remarked opened the door of the ship where she and Yorke climbed aboard.

The crew of the Dawn Voyager had assembled in the living room of sorts within the ship. Basta was messing around with the drinks stand trying to make a small citrus drink for herself and crew, non-alcoholic of course. Har-Bak & Roar-Ree appeared to have trying to play chess, with the wolf-like creature laughing as the scorpion threw the board in frustration. BOB-5 and Stefan had just remained in silence.

Yorke and Oeh-Wje walked into the room, catching the attention of the crew. Walking to the center of the room with Oeh-Wje standing a few feet behind him, the captain spoke.

"Lloyd gave us a new mission. The BCA is havin' a meeting and Lloyd choose us to be his security team. Now as exciting as that sounds to all of you. We're representing Lloyd here and the Dawn Voyager itself here. So look sharp, wear appropriate gear for the mission and maybe we'll turn a few heads."

"In the opposite direction." Bob snicked at his comment. "Well then, I suppose I'll get myself a nice shining before we head off."

"Also, if any of you were intending on bringing formal wear. Remember by BCA standard. Formal wear will mean combat gear, but try a little to spruce up. We can't have our engineer smelling like wet dog. No offense, Roar-Ree."

Basta took a sip of her new concotion before deciding that it's not any good, "Well, it's a good thing you said that Yorke, for a second I assumed I'd have break out a little black dress and a pair of heels." She mused sarcastically. "Rifle, pistol, or both?"

"Both. If all goes well, we might get a bit of respect from the other BCA teams." her captain replied before replying, "Now you in a dress would be something to see."

Basta gave a laugh, "Not on your best day Yorke. Other than making a good impression, is there any sign that we'll have to get our hands dirty?"

Yorke shook his head, "As long as you all play nice with the other mercs, it should be all good. That goes for all of you, no picking any fights."

"Fine by me," Basta replied, setting her glass down, "Just tell me where to stand and what to look out for and I'll be good."

BOB spoke up, "We even know what this whole shindig is about?"

"All I know is that it's a Handler Conference." Yorke replied, "I'm sure that if Lloyd wanted us to know, he would've filled me in. Everyone get ready, we'll head out in an hour."

When Basta returned to her quarters, the first thing she did was to make sure that her rifle and pistol were fully loaded on ammo. If I've learned anything, it's to make sure that you're always ready for a fight.

After making sure that her outfit for the Conference was ready, she made sure her door was locked before pulling out a small wooden box that she had brought with her from Ord Melul. Opening it, she sighed as she looked at a pair of sapphire earrings and necklace that her mother had given her. Mom always believed that a woman should always have one set of matching jewelery.

Taking the necklace out of the box, the altaic handled the necklace, feeling a pang of guilt. Even though she ran away from home, she had made sure to bring the jewelery with her as a sign of home.

I should call...I didn't even say goodbye when I left. They deserve to know that I'm doing okay. Maybe they'll be proud of me even.

Setting the necklace back in, she sets the box on her bed as she goes to get washed up, "When we get back...I'll call when I get back..."

About a half-hour later

The crew steps out of a shuttle onto the top of a mesa, glancing around.

"Black Eclipse inner circle, A bunch of guys I don't recognize, some Ira that aren't trying to shoot us for once... Yeah, pretty much the guest list," Yorke says. He takes a glance at the rest of the team, and swiftly turns to Roar-Ree and Basta. "And holster your weapons, damnit, we're not trying to start a fight."

"They look plenty nervous around us already," Roar-Ree says as they sheepishly comply.

"You do have something of a reputation," a voice says. The crew turns, puzzled, to see a Skeever female walking towards them. Noticing their puzzlement and wariness, the Skeever sighs. "Right. You haven't seen this body yet. Hayashi Toro, at your service."

"Why're you a Skeever, Toro?" Oeh-Wje asks, "Don't think CyberAug would find much of a market there."

"You'd be surprised. They've grown desperate after what you lot did to 'em. 's also why these guys are nervous. From what I've gathered, you're the first BCA crew since the Scouring to kill a planet."

"And they just keep on moving like nothing happened. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were sociopaths," Oeh-Wje replies.

"You mean they're not?"

"Ha ha. Very funny," Yorke says, "And why aren't you nervous around us?"

"Well, not only have I worked with you before, but I'm also nigh-immortal thanks to the Kovacs Device. Even if you kill me here, I can always get a new body and murder you back."

"If I've done it once, I could probably do it again."

Oeh-Wje let out a laugh. "Key word in that is probably, Corpse."

Toro smirked, turning around as she guided the crew towards Lloyd. "If you honestly think you can Scorp, I wish you the best of luck."

"Bug, I wouldn't take 'im up on 'at challenge." BOB warned, to the amusement of all.

As Roar-Ree and Stefan started a conversation in whispers, Yorke joined in on the conversation. "What've you been up to since the last we met, Toro?"

"Oh, y'know- little of this, little of that. Haven't been dead for awhile, there's a plus."

"How'd the testing for those Chlorin body enhancements go?" Har-Bak inquired.

"Quite well- mass production started bout a week ago. Should've seen the look on some of the Scorps there though- that PMC company's out of a job now."

The crew finally arrived to a stairway, heading downward into the hollowed out section of the mesa.

"Lloyd's down there. He'll send someone out if he needs you, though that's not likely. We're probably just going to loaf around here until they stop talking."

Roar-Ree looked around, somewhat confused. "So, can I ask why we're guarding Lloyd?" The rest of the crew looked at him confused.

"Roar-Ree, he's our boss." Yorke replied.

"Yeah, I get that. But he's like a super powerful genius. Why would anyone be dumb enough to attack him? Even then, couldn't he just slaughter them himself?" Oeh-Wje spoke up.

"Because have you ever tried to have a discussion while killing people? It's fairly distracting." Roar-Ree paused to think, then responded,

"Oh, that makes sense. I guess that's worth missing out on date night for." Har-Bak looked at Roar-Ree, surprised.

"You got a girlfriend, runt?" Roar-Ree looked back at Har-Bak, somewhat insulted.

"Yeah, the Niso. I mention her all the time."

Har-Bak shook his head, "No, you don't!" Roar-Ree considered firing back, then shook his head, deciding against any further arguing.

Stefan, at the mention of girlfriends, frowned. Roar-Ree noticed. "Oh, sorry Doc."

"...It's fine, Roar-Ree." BOB turned and looked at Yorke.

"So, Cap'm, do we got ourselves a defensive plan, or we gonna lollygag around?"

"Well, let's not shoot anyone we don't know on site this time around. BOB, Har-Bak, and Oeh-Wje, you'll be our main defenders. You may not have your weapons out, but anyone with eyes can see them and how intimidating you guys are, hopefully that'll make them think twice about fucking with us." Yorke replied, analyzing the area in front of him before turning back to BOB.

"What'a 'bout the rest of 'em?" BOB asked.

"Basta, Stefan, and Roar-Ree, you guys stay more back and guard the entrance. Basta, you'll be our look out and sniper as usual, see if you can find a vantage point. Let's get into position everyone."

"Aye aye, captain."

"What part of 'you're going to loaf around until something happens' did you not get?" Hayashi Toro chimes in.

"We're here for defense, though," Roar-Ree says.

"Look around you," Toro says, "And tell me what you see."

"A bunch of people standing around and talking?" Yorke says.

"Exactly. Have a plan in mind, but don't get to positions until something happens. You'll make Lloyd look bad."

"So what, we just chat about stuff?" Har-Bak says.

"Exactly, Scorp," Hayashi Toro says, "For example, let's take that cockiness of yours."

"Of mine?"

"Yeah. Tell you what - we do some VR matches after this. Fight to the death, your conditions. One real-world hour. Actually, I'll do that with all of you."

"We betting anything?"

"Sure. Har-Bak, Roar-Ree, Basta, and Stefan - beat me once and I'll buy you a drink. Oeh-Wje, Yorke, and BOB-5, you need a majority win. Otherwise, you're buying me drinks."

"You got a deal."

As they shake on it, an alarm starts blaring.

"Well, shit." Oeh-Wje says as everyone on the platform draws their weapons, "Didn't think anyone would be brave enough to strike."

A wave of breaching capsules crashes into the opposite side of the mesa and open in unison, sending out a massive horde of Skeavers, outnumbering the defenders before snapping shut and withdrawing to gather more soldiers.

One capsule stays, however, and out of it slinks a Skeaver with cybernetic limbs, a black cloak, and a crossbow. Nero moves carefully though the battlefield, firing his crossbow at the defenders and searching for an entrance.

Peirce wants me to assassinate the Handlers in the conference, he thinks to himself, This will be difficult, but retribution for the Terracide will be welcome.

By chance he looks to the sky, and spots an approaching shadow. He dives out of the way, and the figure slows before landing. He sees an Altaic female, also with heavy cybernetics, wielding a Revnorain Kinetic Staff.

"You again," Nero says, baring his fangs.

"For the last time," Atea says, pointing the staff at him. After a brief pause to stare each other down, they move to kill.

"Can never catch a break now, can we?" Yorke said to himself as he lifting his Rail Rifle at the nearest Skeaver only to be beaten to the punch by an excited cyborg.

"And here I was thinking that we'd just be taking bets on how drunk and how much of fool the cat or dog would make of themselves." BOB-5 joked as the pointed the rifle to another foe and cutting him down with another stream of rounds.

Grabbing the nearest member which happened to Basta, the captain spoke, "Basta, I need you behind that bar. Grab your rifle and look to help out any of the others or start taking out as many as you can. Roar, I need you to stay with her and make sure nothing seeks up. Can you do that?"

The Lupiness nodded and followed the feline towards the bit of cover.

"Bob and Oeh-Wje, you're with me. Look for cover and start moving forward with the other security forces, on my mark. Kill anything that leaves those capsules and Bob, only use your launcher when you absolutely need to and no one else is on the line. Har-Bak, keep an eye out for Stefan and keep him close."

Stefan fired into the incoming horde of rodents and as he walked forward to the group of Skeavers along with the other teams. They realize that doing this is suicide, right? They're already on the brink yet they treat their lives like they were nothing.

Feeling a large hand on his shoulder, Stefan turned to see his crew mate Har-Bak turning and then proceeding to pulling him out of the way of Skeaver that wanted to bisect the Human. The creature hissed as Har-Bak used his tail to impale the creature, before tossing away its convulsing body.

"Try thinking a bit more clear headed here, Doc." The Eurypt spoke as he brought the medic behind a small wall. "Yorke wanted us to stay in somewhere safe for the time being. He wants us to advance slowly upwards as we rip them all a new one."

You know, I'm used to the occasional bar fight, Basta thought as she lept over the bar and used the barrel of her rifle to sweep away the glasses and other drinks, but I managed to stop them with a shotgun warning shot and stern words. This something completely different.

As Roar-ree jumped over the edge, Basta called over the radio, "You think that maybe Lloyd would like to know that his conference is currently under fire?"

Yorke radioed back, "You really don't think that he knows already? Lloyd and probably half a dozen other of the Handlers know."

"He has a point." Roar said crouching under the bar, "Now get shooting and show us what you're made of cat."

Nodding Basta took note of where her allies were. Toro took a bit, but the Skeaver had better equipment and appeared to be muttering to himself. Readying her shot, she line her scope up with a Skeaver attempting to approach Stefan from the side, "Dammit Doc, get your head in the game!"

A nearby gunshot sent Basta ducking for cover, only to see it had been Roar who fired. Pulling herself together she pulled the bolt, and lined up another shot, priortizing a Skeaver who was getting too close for comfort.

"Guys," she radioed, "How many damn pods are we looking at here? Cause if I'm gonna die, I'd like to know that we at least had a fighing chance."

"Each wave only outnumbers us 50 to 3," a voice says over the radio, "This'll be easy." Basta looks around, only now remembering that each of the other Handlers had brought their respective elite teams with them. These forces were also making a perimeter and firing back, keeping the Skeavers at bay.

"Yeah," another unrecognized voice says, "We're the best of the BCA. Remember last conference?"

"When what, half the other mercs in the galaxy came against us?" the first voice replies, "Now that was a fight."

"Keep your chatter to the private comm channels!" a third voice comes through, "Keep this one free for coordinating. Railgun team, launch the Synths towards the rear!"

On command, a small barrage of shells flew towards the back of the Skeaver lines, opening up partway to reveal small squads of miniature lion-shaped synths, with plasma-heated claws and teeth. They started to tear into the Skeaver's rear, forcing them into a two-front battle.

"See, Cat," Oeh-Wje says, peeking between the bottles of Anat'Ara, the only liquor at the bar, "It's not as bad as you think. Medic, on your left!"

Oeh-Wje fires her Shitslicer as Stefan turns and fires as well, shredding a small Skeaver squad that tried to flank them.

"Let's hold defensively," Yorke says, "Don't want anyone trying to be a hero and getting injured. Again."

Nero swipes his plasma-heated claws at Atea, who ducks under them and snaps her Kinetic Staff at Nero's side. The Skeaver jumps over the blow, and brings his crossbow up at Atea's face. She quickly moves out of the way, and an explosive bolt shoots past her and hits one of the lion mechs, destroying it.

She then closes the intake vents on her shoulder and brings her palm up, facing it towards her foe. He knows that stance, however, and rolls out of the way of the plasma blast. Seeing her opponent moving, Atea quickly twists her Kinetic Staff, shooting out the energy-absorbing filaments the weapon was known for. Having recaptured the energy from the plasma shot, she quickly points the other end of the staff at Nero and fires.

Nero whips his cape up as a defense; after his first few encounters with Atea, he had altered it so that it reflected infrared light. The beam skitters off the fabric, saving Nero's life but killing several of the Skeavers coming out in the second wave. He releases the limiters on his strength and lunges as fast and as far as possible, extending his plasma blade out as far as it could go, intending to disembowel his foe.

As he witnessed first hand the efficiency of veteran BCA operatives, Har-Bak felt completely and entirely useless. He glumly cut down Skeavers left and right, and Stefan took a break to look at him on concern.

"You alright there, Har-Bak?"

Before he could answer, a trio of Skeavers sprung from cloaking and lunged at them. Just as suddenly, a Niso cyborg leaped in front of them- slamming his pistol into the neck of one with enough momentum to break it and double tapping the other in the chest. He then sprung off, and shot an entire squad before he landed.

"Look at these guys, Doc. They're so much fucking cooler."

Before he could continue, his comms activated. "I need a demolition expert over here- several pods have landed, and they appear to be equipped with drills."

"I'll be-"

Just as Har-Bak interfered, two different Eurypt- twins, male and female- appeared. Wielding what appeared to be a double-barreled rocket launcher, they launched a flurry of explosive projectiles at an unprecedented speed towards the pods. With a loud explosion, the pods were reduced to scrap metal.

"That's fifteen for me!"

"No, fourteen- the one on the right got hit by my rockets."

As they continued to squabble, the twins shot down pod after pod mid-air. The male gave a backwards glance at Har-Bak.

"Don't worry, new guy- still plenty of fish left to fry for ya."

Roar-Ree looked around excitedly, firing at the massive horde of Skeavers on all sides. "Hey, Basta, I don't have to worry about accuracy! Why can't all our enemies attack in massive groups?"

Basta shook her head as she lined up another shot. "I think you're looking at this the wrong way, Roar-Ree. There's too many targets." She turned to see Roar-Ree distracted by some of the BCA mercs.

"Roar-Ree, focus!" He resumed firing. "Sorry, I was just looking for something."

"What could you be looking for right now?"

"Another Lupinus!" The answer only perplexed Basta further.

"What? I thought you said you were the only smart one." Roar-Ree paused to shoot a trio of Skeavers before they could kill a Skakkian merc.

"Well, I'm the only smart one I'VE met. There's probably a few other ones. There has to be!"

Basta managed to land a headshot on a Skeaver. "Well, that's great, but if you could focus more on the battle in front of us, that'd be better." Roar-Ree nodded, and turned back to the battle. "Fine, but if you spot any Lupinus, let me know."

"Chances of there being another fuckin' mutt here are zero, Dog-Bark. Keep your attention on the rats like Cat said." BOB commented as he mowed down a squad of Skeavers with a single magazine.

"Also, how many of these fuckin' things could there be left? We nuked these fuckers to near extinction! I think I'll collect me a Skeaver skeleton when this is all done, gonna be a fuckin' artifact."

"Looks like you're the one who needs to focus, Bob." Roar-Ree snapped back through his radio.

"I already got my next shot lined up, boyo." BOB angled his rifle upwards and readied his grenade launcher as another set of capsules launched down from above. As the door blasted open to one of them, the robot quickly shot out an explosive right into the capsule, containing the blast and killing all Skeavers inside.

Nice one, Bob. You still got it. The synth thought to himself as he turned his attention to the next capsule in the line-up and fired upon them alongside his teammates.

"Firing stability increased by 30%," Hayashi Toro says while mowing down Skeavers, "Ocular implants need improvement, input lag noticeable." The next wave of pods crashes down, discharging the troops within. "Well shit..."

Out of the pods lumbered what appeared to be synthetic Skeavers, which charged the BCA defenders in another wave. These got farther than the biological Skeavers before being killed, but the defenders still held out.

Atea sidesteps the attack and swings her staff horizontally, aiming at Nero's head. The Skeaver ducks under the blow and swipes at the Altaic's abdomen. Atea breaks off her attack and leans over the blow, planting her fist into the ground and using that as a pivot point to move her body up and over the burning blade. She brings her foot down in an overhead kick, but Nero catches the strike. Releasing the limiter on his arms, he throws her by the foot, launching her halfway across the mesa.

"Heads up, more of them!" yelled a merc. Stefan and three other mercs took cover behind a barricade and started to suppress them. "Hey someone bring up a turret here!" yelled another merc. A human and Eurypt merc came rushing to their location with a spare barriade.

A couple squads of synthetic Skeavers started rushing to their location, and several sniper shots lighted them up. "Good eye Basta," complemented Stefan. Three skeavers fell dead to the rounds, causing the rest to fall back and take cover. The Eurypt finished errecting the second barricade, and began mounting the turret on top.

"Hey, grenade launchers on my mark!" yelled Stefan. Three of the mercs nodded and prepped their launchers. The Eurypt started giving suppressive fire on the heavy turret, killing nearby skeavers rushing to the area. Stefan and a couple of mercs aimed the launchers at an angle. Another rush of skeavers came near the area. "Fire!" A barrage of grenades shot up in the air, and started to rain down onto the skeavers.

One lucky synthetic skeaver managed to outrun from the barrage and headed towards the barricade. Stefan quickly took his out his Bower and fired at it. Shot after shot, the skeaver started slowing down and didn't relent until it was a couple feet away from the barricade.

"Fuck off!" Stefan shot at its legs, and gave a coup de gras to the severely wounded skeaver.

Yorke and his small team continued moving forward along with the rest of the BCA members. Despite mounting casualties, the Skeavers either continued to hold their ground, while others who were either more bold or just plain suicidal rushed their way towards the groups.

One jumped towards BOB-5, claws at the ready before getting several rounds pumped into body forcing it to the ground.

"Alright, then. Guess the rats are still a little pissed about the whole destroying their homeworld." Before the group continued moving forward as a screech was heard behind them.

The Skeaver which had previously attacked BOB-5 had re-gained its footing and once more attacked, but this time landing on the synth's back and began clawing at 'his' armor.

"Fuckin' hell, get this thing off of me! I like my shell being clean and not covered in rat shit."

"Then stay still." Yorke said aiming his firearm trying to avoid friendly fire and nailing a shot and blowing out the Skeaver's heart. Its eyes went big before it slipped off the robot.

"Couldn't you have made a more clean shot there?"

"Not unless you wanted a round going through the side of your head, bot." Oeh-Wje responded as she followed Yorke's lead who was finishing off a small cluster of Skeavers with a Needler grenade.

"Guessing they are still a tad bit pissed at you all for blowing up their planet."

"Its nothing something I'm proud of, but it was either that or Lloyd would be getting a video of us getting executed right about now." The human responds being careful where he steps to avoid any living Skeavers that might be looking for a surprise attack.

Basta quickly rolled her eyes, "At least you don't have to worry about Skeaver guts getting in your fur..."

BOB snapped back, "You say something cat?"

"More shooting, less arguing!" Yorke called over the radio, ending their debate.

Re-focusing, she shifts her aim to the Skeavers attacking a cluster of other Altaics. A minor twinge of guilt hit her as she remembered that she had to call home after this. Picking off a few, she hoped they'd notice her good work.

She didn't get to see as her shoulder was yanked. Spinning, she found her face to face with a Skeaver. Dammit Roar! Before she could cuss the canine anymore, she received a right hook across the face, knocking the wind out of her.

Cringing in pain and taking deep breaths, she returned with a knee to his groin, causing the rat to double over in pain taking advantage, she drew her pistol and fire a round into his head, sending him to the ground. Grabbing her rifle, she ducked back down, "Dammit Roar! You trying to get me killed?"

"Last I checked, I can't shoot all the damn rats!" Roar snapped back.

Holding her jaw, she grumbled in pain about Skeaver blood not coming out of her fur as she reloaded her rifle.

"Bring more of the Panthera Coilguns up!" a BCA merc shouts, "Let's fight their synths with synths!" Obliging, several beings aim their coilguns at the advancing Skeavers, launching several barrages of canisters at them. The canisters open in midair, dropping small squads of the miniature lion synths into the fight.

This new line of offense tore through the Skeaver lines, now mostly robotic. The BCA defenders rallied against the new foe and pumped shot after shot into the onrushing wave. The pods seemed to have stopped falling; this massive hoard seemed to be the Skeavers' last strike.

Atea kicks off the ground, propelling herself on an intercept course with Nero, who was sprinting towards the opening. The Skeaver saw her coming and drew his D-25 and fired off several shots, attempting to keep the Altaic at bay. This attempt was in vain, and she simply used her Kinetic Staff to leech out all the energy from the bullets and aimed the laser at him.

He deflects it with his cloak again, and leaps to the side to avoid another spread of filaments. His pistol gets caught in the web, however, and is rendered useless. He brings up his crossbow to fire, but the Kinetic Staff knocks it out of his hands. Atea twirls the staff, bringing the filament end towards Nero. Reacting on instinct, he lunges forward and extends his plasma blade, impaling the staff. He grabs the other end and releases his limiter as Atea lets go, throwing the staff off the mesa.

Atea takes a combat stance common to Altaic martial arts, din of battle drowning out the whine of the intake vents on her shoulder. Nero takes a Skeaver combat stance, blade out and pointing at his foe. After a moment, the two charge into their fight.

"We've got them now!"

Har-Bak sighed in relief as the hoard of Skeavers started to dwindle- it was a slow process, but he could see the rats faltering.

Before, they'd been ruthlessly charging at the BCA employees- trying to use numbers to overwhelm them. What happened now, however, was that several sought cover from the debris. The rats shot from cover, and a pitched battle began to take place.

"We need a team to flank them now! Finish this fight!"

Har-Bak watched as several BCA employees aimed the Panthera Coilguns and fired. These projectiles swerved, and collided into the Skeavers. Robotic lions launched out, flanking the Skeaver Pirates and clawing viciously at their target.

"There we go! We got 'Em now!"

"Kind of disappointed, I'll admit- figured they'd put up a better fight."

"Don't get east yet, there's plenty more out there.". Yorke said on their communications, and Har-Bak covered the robotic drones as they tore into Skeaver ranks.

As Roar-Ree laid covering fire, he grinned. Despite everything, he realized he...enjoyed combat every now and then. The Skeavers were tough, but this battle began to feel more and more like their last hurrah. The Skeavers attitude in this battle had shifted, their psychotic bravado falling into reserved cover fire.

As he focused on laying down fire, a bold Skeaver managed to sneak it's way around both Roar and Basta, priming it's blade to strike. Basta turned just in time to see it pounce at Roar-Ree, and yelled,"Roar-Ree, watch out!" Roar-Ree quickly turned and caught the Skeaver's arm before tearing into it's throat with his claws. Briefly shocked by her normally quiet companion's brutality, Basta returned to the battle at hand, with Roar-Ree also returning cover fire.

"We've got the goddamn rats pinned!" BOB yelled over the radio as the mercs slowly but surely forced the Skeavers back.

"How about we finish this fight already?" Har-Bak responded.

"There aren't much of them left, just keep it going team!" Stefan yelled as he loaded anothr magazine into his rifle.

"I love a good fight, but shootin' down these fuckers is gettin' tedious as all Hell! Couldn't they have saved these runts for another Altaic ship or something else more interesting?" BOB remarked as the Skeaver numbers dwindled down, Basta scoffing in response to his comment before looking back into her scope.

"Just tryin' to lightin' up the mood a little, Cat."

Nero jabs forward with his right arm, plasma blade hissing through the air. His right leg also shoots forward, slightly extending his reach. Atea, predicting the blow, brings up her left arm and nudges the trajectory out of the way as she goes into an overhand chop with her right. Nero twists and retreats out of the way, and her cybernetic limb slams into the mesa. Seeing an opening, he strikes forward with his left fist, cybernetic speed moving faster than the unaided eye could process. Anticipating his foe's destruction, Nero's lip lift in a savage snarl.

Atea pivots on her right fist, dodging the blow. She catches Nero's wrist as it stops, and uses gravity to torque her body into a throw, slamming her right palm into the side of his face as her feet touch the ground. Building more force, she whips her torso up and slams Nero into the side of his breaching capsule. Milliseconds afterwards, she fires the plasma canon built into her right arm without closing the intake vents, firing in a continuous beam. After a few seconds, she cuts it off, having melted both Nero's face and his breaching capsule to slag. She stands up, only to suddenly collapse.

She looks at her left leg and presses it gingerly, wincing. With the adrenaline gone, the bits of flesh and blood she had left were stating to scream in protest. She looks around, seeing no remaining Skeavers, synthetic or otherwise, and fires a quick plasma burst at the sky, sending up a flare to ask for aid.

Yorke taking notice of the kneeling feline ordered Stefan to make his way down to Atea. Walking up to Atea, he noticed the mangled corpse of the Skeaver next to her. Before his eyes glanced over to the wound.

"You knew this one?"

"What makes you say that? And yeah, I did."

"The fact that you went a little overboard on the whole killing part of the job. Just don't move too much and my medic should be able to make some of the pain go away."

"Not a whole lot that I can do, but just make sure that he knows what he's doing." Looking towards the rushing medic and getting his kit ready, she smirked. "Eager isn't he?"

"Just doing my job. Plus its not often these days that I get to treat something of this caliber, but I'm sure I'll do just fine." Stefan began getting his equipment out and administered a dose of morphine to the injured Alatic. "You're going to feel some pain, just be sure if you're really light-headed."

Seeing that she was well attended too, Yorke switched over to his communicator, "Everyone else alright?"

"Me and Basta are doing just fine. Was thinking about having drink though, till I saw the stuff they were serving. Who the hell drinks this to a conference?"

"That would be Harah," Lloyd says, ascending the steps, "In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea for Jaya to put his Ira'Preja team in charge of drinks."

"No shit," BOB-5 says.

"Looks like you had an eventful evening, though," Lloyd continues, looking around at the dead Skeavers littering the mesa, "Surprised no one tried to make an Anat'Ara molotov, though. That would have been interesting."

"'Interesting' is one way to describe it," Hayashi Toro says, the guttural growl of a Skeaver's voice underscoring his speech, "I've been on both the giving and receiving ends of those, and I know which I prefer."

"No surprise there," Arndh Becal says, noticing Atea as he emerges from the mesa. "And what the hell is she doing here?" he asks, "Don't remember any of us sending her an invite."

"I'd like to know that too, Yorke," Lloyd says.

"I didn't invite her. If anything, I thought you would've invited her considering our track record." Yorke replied.

"As far as I'm concerned your group has proven adept at defending. No need in wasting spare resources on another guard. Although, it does appear that she did take out one of the more notorious Skeavers. So good on her."

"The fucker that took down the station right? Neo or something like that. Single-handily ripped through the security forces and caused the entire chain of command to collapse within hours of making landfall." Toro spoke up as the Alatic thanked Stefan for the medical attention.

"Nero," Arndh replied, "Also, it looks like you missed out on some of the synth killing, Yorke. Afraid of losing to my boys?"

"It was more important to focus on the portion of the enemy that heavily overwhelmed us. The synths were a threat, but if we had others like them on the job, we might as well keep the Skeavers off your back."

"Good enough for me. Arndh, one of your kids was responsible for the cameras, right?"

"Yeah. I'll send the footage."

Arndh walks off, heading towards his men. Lloyd's tablet beeps, and he pulls it out to check. "Well shit," he says, "Looks like there's a planet-wide travel ban for the next three weeks."

"What?" Yorke says, "Why?"

"They didn't like our rodent friends crashing the meeting, so there's going to be an investigation."

"The BCA has clout, right?" Hayshi Toro says, "Couldn't you make exceptions here?"

"No. If we use our clout for things like this, it'll become less effective. Best we only use it in an emergency."

"In that case, mind shooting me, Bob? I need to get back to my ship, and that's not happening in this body. The device is on there, so we can keep our bet."

"Sure thing," BOB-5 says, bringing his pistol up to Toro's face and pulling the trigger.


Hayashi Toro sat at a bar table, six glasses in front of him. He was in a clone of his original, unaltered body - a lean, Japanese human male.

"You guys seriously need some work," he says, looking at the beings sitting next to him. He'd challenged the entire Dawn Voyager crew to a month's worth of VR combat. For most of the crew - Basta, Stefan, Roar-Ree, and Har-Bak - they only needed to defeat him once. The other three - Yorke, Oeh-Wje, and BOB-5 - needed to win a majority of the fights. Toro won against the former four, tied with Yorke and Oeh-Wje, and lost to BOB-5 by a single match. "Tell you what. I've worked with you guys a bunch, and I kinda like most of ya. From now 'till the travel restrictions end, I'll give you some training."

The group agrees, though Basta still looks glum.

"What's wrong, Basta?" Stefan asks, "You've been like this since we got back from the mission."

"It's the travel restrictions. Because of those, I won't be able to make it to my mother's funeral."

And with that, the conversation died.