Sunlight streamed in through beaten metal slats into the room, one of the five bedrooms on the small spaceship. The beams striped the twisted sheets on the bed, bolted to the metal floor like all the fixtures in the vessel. The room itself was an equally genuine mess, clothes everywhere, coupled with scattered and rumpled posters that had slipped their tacks. The owner of the room was up, hurriedly shifting through his pile of clothes in nothing but a rumpled byaerhide robe.
The figure bore features a cross between feline and reptilian-backswept, straight horns crowned the man's head, a dark brown mane festooned with glinting rings running down his sturdy neck. He briefly halted his search, stretching and cracking his back before laying cobalt eyes on a stitched shirt, decorated with traditional lengths of animal teeth. He raised a exaggerated eyebrow, kneeling down and picking the shirt up. He moved his blunt muzzle close to the garment and treated it to a sniff, discerning if it was fit to wear. Deciding it was, he pulled the shirt on over a gray-brown hide, streaked with lines of charcoal.
He followed this up by hitching on a pair of trousers laden with pockets, buckling a thick belt, before shrugging on the finishing touch; a brown jacket, tasseled and weatherbeaten. The man then proceeded toward the door.
Forgetting to watch his footing momentarily, he tripped over a spare belt and rolled onto the metal surface.
"Crap," he muttered, but Lyvakk remained unfazed, his good mood undamaged. Unhurried, he rolled back onto his clawed feet, languidly standing up and moving to slide the metal door to his room open.
The hallway was dimly lit from the old lights, and the metal walls were marred with rust, brown water stains and dents. Rails ran along the walls at waist height, broken by only four doors, one leading to the kitchen, the others to bedrooms. A final door led to the ship's bridge.
Even for a Strike ship-the smallest of Aepok's spaceship class-the Strikeflier was small, slightly dwarfed even by the rest of its kin on the lot.
The ship made up for this by being low-slung and sleek, despite its boxy, older outline. It's plating was lacerated with scars, running down and across nearly ever available surface, marks of hundreds of battles from across the Strikeflier's three hundred year life. The ship was banded with dark red, accented in many places by lines of gold, blue and black. Sheets of new metal plating had been smelted and bolted across more damaged areas, creating lighter patches that flashed brighter in the sunlight. The currently sheathed wing blades, narrow and daggerlike, bore stained tips, the hue one that Lyvakk had often compared to dried blood.
Lyvaak found himself puzzling briefly over the cause of the ship's many scars as he mozied down the hallway, whistling a little as he slid open the kitchen door.
He entered, a burst of enthusiasm entering his step, breezing past one of his friends, hunched over the kitchen table. Lyvaak made for the pantry, thinking of toast and throwing out a greeting to Byre.
“Rise and shine, friend,” He retrieved bread and then jelly in short order, starting the toaster with the same languid energy he had harbored all morning. “Slept well, I hope?”
Then again, maybe 'friend,' was too strong a word to use when it came to the ties between Lyvaak and Byre, who let out a irate grating noise at his salutations.
"Humph," he growled, peering at Lehvahk past the jutting horns that sat upon his thick brow. The look in his pink eyes was sour and moody. He was not particularly tall-Lyvaak easily had more height, but his Morian teammate was easily bulkier. Much like Lyvaak, he had opted for his regular garb.
In Byre's case, this was a tanned leather vest over a thin undershirt and leather trousers, hemmed with fur, ending just above his hooved feet.
"Do you have to be so loud?" Byre stared down at the mug he had been previously hunched over, glowering at it. Lyvaak picked up the bitter waft of black coffee.
Lyvaak tilted his head and grinned. ''Well,'' he drawled slowly, ''Why shouldn't I be happy? Every day can be special.”
Byre raised his eyes to the ceiling in exasperation. "Not to me,” he intoned flatly.
"That's right," Lyvaak snorted, popping toast into a old beaten up toaster. "Because you can't see the joy in anything, for the god's sakes."
This prompted a growl from the pilot. Gripping the back of the chair in one hand, he stood up and glared at him. It was a mildly menacing display courtesy of Byre's superior bulk, seeming especially large in the Strikeflier's narrow, small kitchen. Lyvaak winced a little, then cleared his throat awkwardly, gaze skittering to the door.
As it turned out, Fearon chose this moment to enter the space. Lyvaak, in one swift move, swept up his raw breakfast and hastily beat an exit, sidling around Fearon and out the door.
This was not hard to do in light of Fearon's remarkably thin and bony stature. Brief surprise flashed across the swordsman's narrow muzzle and sharp facial features.
Byre glowered and took a step after him, causing Fearon's wide orange eyes to snap to him.
“Ah, just what do you think you are doing?” Fearon stated edgily, suddenly going tense. His slate blue draak scale armor, worn loosely over a long sleeved blue shirt and flush black pants, clinked slightly in response.
“Nothing,” Byre sniped after a moment of silence.
“....Nothing.” Fearon repeated this in a tone that indicated he believed not a word of it. The sea green swordsman eyed Byre beadily. “It sure seems as though you were intending to chase after Lyvaak and-”
“And what? Give the wrench a reminder that I am stronger than him?" His tone was dark, showing that the pilot wasn't joking in the slightest. “Can you blame me?”
"Yessss....” Fearon responded in a long, sinister hiss, curling his extremely long tail over his back. The yellow stripes at the tip seemed to vaguely glow in the dim illumination of the old overhead lights. “I can.”
“Our chances of encountering utter, all consuming destruction and possible doom today,” Fearon began to tick numbers off on his long, gangly fingers. “Are increased by quite an immense margin if one of our number is incapacitated.” He ended his sentence with a stare delivered through narrowed eyes.
“Not to mention,” Fearon hastily added, before Byre could make to shove past him, raising a long forefinger as he spoke. “We are supposed to be a team. If you care to remember that little fact?”
Byre glared at him a moment, then his tensed shoulders relaxed. Tentatively Fearon edged past him, not entirely sure if the Morian would decide to brawl with him in Lyvaak's place. He began to shift through the overhead pantry, running a careful gaze over his options, looking for telltale signs of neuroworm infestation.
Fearon was sure he had felt something trying to crawl through his black mane. Even if he had not seen anything when he had looked, the twitchy swordsman had still taken preemptive measures.
I'll certainly not allow reinfection now.... he thought drolly.
"Do you see my point?" he bit out, slightly unnerved by Byre's silence and the hooded stare that the Morian pilot was treating him to.
Despite himself, Byre felt the disapproval start to get to him, although he kept his face expressionless.
After the short reply, Byre turned and strode out of the kitchen. Fearon reminded standing in the same spot for a few more moments, eyes on the doorway. Abruptly turning back to the pantry, Fearon snatched out a bag of jerky. Then he plucked the remaining piece of toast out of the toaster, gingerly holding it between the claws tipping his forefinger and thumb.
Having done all of this, Fearon set out to find Lyvaak.
As the one that had been elected leader, despite the paranoid swordsman's protests, he supposed it was up to him to make sure that Lyvaak ate.
Fearon still had no idea what had inspired the others to put him in this position; he was paranoid, neurotic, often feeling that his bird-boned frame was one good blow away from shattering into pieces.
He was fast, for sure, excellent with his twin, narrow runeblades.
Still, this hardly seemed enough to Fearon.
and yet, when Somra and Lyvaak had proposed it, Fearon had accepted. They had been of the opinion that Fearon had the most common sense and decent amount of brains, leading to him being an appropriate candidate.
Therefore, despite his many misgivings, Fearon had agreed. A part of him had conceded that it was for the best.
After all, the rest of them were not nearly careful enough.
Lycaak had made it to the bridge in what seemed like four seconds flat. It was certainly a unwelcome shock to Somra when the Aurian ran to hide behind her.
Somra's golden hide, laced with intricate black tattoos, was dusted in bomb dust. Her small top and flowing, slit legged skirt was dusted too, gray against heather brown. The Afrasian had been working with the source, a compact bomb, and had been heavily focused on the task. So much that Lyvaak's sudden action had caused her to fumble with the bomb, causing her to nearly drop it.
"Lyvaak!" she snapped. Her red eyes flashed furiously as she rounded on her teammate, who had pressed himself against the wall. Lyvaak flashed a sheepish grin in response. "You nearly caused me to drop this thing!"
"Errr....sorry?" Lyvaak suggested weakly.
Somra snorted in irritation and tossed her waist length silver hair back over her right shoulder. Her feathery tail twitched slightly in mild agitation. Then she answered the question sharply and with a hint of mockery, though her words lacked venom. "Or it could have exploded, numskull! You can't count on a explosive being a dud!"
Lyvaak straightened and ran his fingers through his braided hair, the rings within it clinking. “Yes, well, we all nearly make mistakes. In my defense, I was a little in need of a emergency hiding place....”
He kept going, Somra flaring her nostrils. She twitched her large, pointed ears-the trait, along with lacking horns, that marked her as female.
“You really can prattle on forever, can't you?”
Lyvaak gasped in faux hurt. “Prattle? You wound me, m'lady-”
He was cut off when Fearon entered the bridge; a long, rectangular space lit by a row of barred overhead lights. Cords and wires festooned the ceiling, some twisting down to wrap around the two gunning stations, wires caressing the targeting reticules and the gunning seats. A narrow table sat between the gunning stations, bearing no chairs; purely meant for tactical meetings during battle.
“Well.” Fearon eyed Lyvaak and held out the toast, tearing into his jerky. “You seem to still be...unscathed.”
Lyvaak accepted his breakfast from the twitchy swordsman and stuffed it into his mouth. “Yeah,” he mumbled past the toast, still managing to maintain his smile. “I'm hard to kill.”
Fearon let out a eerie laugh, pausing in devouring the jerky. “Oh...” He narrowed his orange eyes, a look accompanied by a creeping grin. “Hard to kill? I know the feeling...”
The announcement was met with a brief, uncertain silence that almost seemed to border on eerie. The moment broke when Fearon abruptly snapped back to attention, finishing off the jerky with a few more snaps of his narrow jaws. “Now...once Byre joins us, it's off to the Fringe....”
Somra hooted. “The Fringe, the Scavenger's Causeway, Salvage Heaven, so many names for it.” Her red eyes glinted. “We find a big enough haul, we'll be rolling in coin.”
Fearon stretched out his back, a corresponding look of glee on his face. “Oooh, yes...I do love my gold...” He unconsciously rubbed his palms together.
Their mutual musing was broken by Byre's entrance, punctuated by the heavy fall of his hooves. The pilot paused briefly, canvassing the bridge with his pink eyes.
He grunted, marching past Lyvaak. “Eh...sorry,” he muttered.
Lyvaak rolled his eyes. “Accepted. You could be a tad more enthusiastic-”
“Don't push your luck,” Byre growled. He had reached the front of the bridge by now, easing into the primary pilot's seat; the bridge windshield sat before him, taking up half the bridge walls on either side.
Fearon slithered up to the copilot seat, his hands flicking a switch on the dash. A holoscreen flickered to life, bearing a map, details etched in flickering, glowing red lines. He sidled into the seat, curling his lengthy tail up over the backrest.
A second interaction with the dashboard brought up a blinking, holographic radar for the swordsman; he then pressed a pattern of buttons, summoning a communications screen.
For his part, Byre absorbed all of this tangentially, even as he turned the Strikeflier's key in the ignition. He was rewarded with the wonderfully guttural roar of the powerful engine coming to life. His stout, navy streaked tail swept from side to side in building anticipation. He laid his large hands upon the controls, flexing his fingers against the grips.
The steering console was mounted upon a dashboard littered with blinking lights, gleaming switches, and small levers. This scene was mirrored above his head on a metal pane, attached to the roof by thick bolts. Byre glanced from side to side, briefly analyzing the sky through the bridge windows. The tall panes of thick glass, supported by black beams, sat on both sides of him and Fearon. They met directly before them, overlooking the red-railed observation deck before running into the Strikeflier's long hood.
It seemed to be a fine enough day, at least. Relatively clear, the sky above them blue and largely cloudless. The few clouds present seemed to be scudding fairly lazily, indicating little wind.
A perfect scenario for salvage, at least if it held until the crew found a possible score.
Fearon seemed to be thinking the same, from what he said next. “Take off,” he eyed the dome of the sky with trepidation. “If these conditions hold true out on the Fringe, it will reduce our chances of complete and utter disaster by a thousandfold.”
Byre growled, rankled by being ordered around, but nonetheless hit the pedal. “Don't get too comfortable giving me orders, shrimp.”
He received a blistering, albeit brief glare for his trouble. Lyvaak let out a bay of amused laughter from behind them, where he and Somra had settled into the gunning seats.
“You two fight as though you are married.”