Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

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Johker
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Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by Johker » Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:24 pm

Twelve Years Ago

It began during spring, at a quiet meadow which lay to the west of the bustling Panzer Head-Quarters. While most everyone would be too busy to drop by a secluded meadow, an eight year-old Cassius lay there quietly in the grass, alone, simple-minded and carefree. Cassius would occasionally slip away to this particular meadow whenever he wanted to be alone for a while. He could lie there for hours and hours and yet not feel bored. There was just something about the quiet seclusion and the peacefulness of the surroundings that Cassius enjoyed.

Today was the first time he'd been in the meadow for almost a month. For some reason, he felt drawn toward the meadow this particular day, like something was beckoning him to come.

Cassius stood up from the rather comfortable patch of grass he had been lying on.

Maybe, he thought, I should explore this meadow for a bit.

And so he did. Cassius began to scour the meadow for any interesting things that caught his attention. He found a few pretty stones and a nice stick which he promptly held in one hand and started to wave around.

This will be my explorer's stick, he proudly proclaimed.

Explorer's stick in hand, tail wagging about happily and humming a playful little ditty, Cassius continued to wander along the meadow, slightly further from where he was used to. Here, he found a dismal little signboard half-buried in the ground. Kismet, read the only visible word on the wooden sign.

Maybe there used to be a place called Kismet here. Or maybe this meadow is called Kismet.

Deciding that this little piece of trivia would be less than useful in the future, Cassius plodded on to find something more interesting. Suddenly, he saw a distant figure in the meadow, clad in white. Normally, Cassius would have ran away. He much rather preferred to be alone than to run into a strange stranger in the middle of an isolated meadow. But this time, his impulses were stronger. Cautiously, he made his way towards this figure, curious to find out who else would be here today. As he neared, he realised this person was merely a child. A human child. Even stranger, she seemed to be floating above the ground.

Unsure of what to do, Cassius simply stared on blankly at her. The girl's deep blue eyes stared blankly back.

"Ummm... Hullo." began Cassius.

"Ah... Hello." the strange girl replied.

"I'm Cassius. What's your name?"

"Uuh... I'm not sure."

"How'd you get here?"

"I'm not sure either..."

At his point, Cassius felt more curious than scared.

I thought we'd been hidden well away from humans. Is she a spy? But this human doesn't look as threatening as any of what the adults said... How did this girl get here? Why is she able to float in the air? Unless...

Taking a few sniffs from the air, Cassius sensed the Ether traces emanating from the girl.

"Oh, you're a Stray. Or a Crosser. I can't remember which."

"Uuh... So what does that mean?"

"It means you're not a human! So we're safe."

"I-I'm not a human? But then what am I? And... what are you? Why do you have an animal's tail? And where am I?"

At this point, the poor girl looked like she was going to cry.

"Oh! Oh no! Please don't cry! Umm... That's too many questions! I don't know which to begin with..."

Cassius was bewildered now. It was good she that she wasn't a human, but even then, how did she get here? What was he supposed to even do with this poor Stray? Cassius searched within his mind for an answer. Was there someone that could help? Despite all this thinking, the best he could come up with was to bring her back to his similarly-aged friends and seek help from them.

One might think it would have been much more appropriate to bring a Stray to an authority figure, an adult, or someone who had some expertise with dealing with such a matter. But Cassius, simple-minded and carefree, did not think of resorting to anything like that. All he could think of was that introducing his friends to this Stray might cheer her up a little more, and then she would not cry. And it was likely due to this simple-mindedness that lead to a rather unfortunate string of events indeed.

But Cassius would have no way of knowing this, and turning to the girl once more, he smiled in the hopes of cheering her up, and spoke.

"Please follow me, Oriole! I know somewhere we can find all the answers to your questions!"

"O-Oriole?"

"Yeah! Since you don't remember your name, I'll call you Oriole. The colour of your hair... it reminds me of the pictures of orioles in a book I once read."

"Okay then, Cassie! You can call me Oriole. I like that name!"

"C-Cassie?! Why'd you have to go and give me a girl's name?!"

The girl, now known as Oriole, broke into a smile. She knew she could trust Cassius.

Tossing aside his Explorer's Stick, Cassius took Oriole's hand in his, and they began to make their way back to the bustling Panzer Head-Quarters, and away from the quiet, peaceful meadow, hoping for answers.
Last edited by Johker on Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:35 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by marcien » Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:30 pm

My name is Oriole... I am now called Oriole! The newborn stray was glad to receive a name. Cassii...uh...urs... Cassie, that's right. Is the name of her first friend. As she held his hand and floated alongside side, she felt a stirring in her heart. Moments ago the world about her was dark and putrid, the decaying atmosphere threatening to swallow up even the tiny speck of hope she had in living. Now a stranger, no, that's not right, he is now a friend, had given her a name, some semblance of an identity, some evidence of her existence in this world.

He was a good deal shorter than her, she realised, so he must have been a child. She was aware that she too, had the form of one, though she was not sure if it has always been like that. According to his words, she was not a human. Who... What, then, am I?

-- -- -- -- --

"A stray!" squealed a boy elephant panzer in excitement, after the eldest girl, Emily - an owl panzer had explained the sort of being that Oriole is. He had begun prodding and poking her while she giggled along with him. A pincer picked him up and pulled him away.

"Ow ow ow, what's the deal, Reina, lemme down..." Rem protested, his large ears flapping about.

"The hell I would, don't touch that, it may be dangerous," said the girl scorpion, keeping her pincer tightly onto her younger brother's collar.

"She's not--"

Cassius was interrupted by Reina. "Yea, Cassius, why did you go bring a stranger into our home? What if it's one of them crazy crossers or reapers? They'll kill all of us!"

"There's no--"

"She must be a reaper then!" proclaimed Jareth, a chinchilla boy. "Reapers can fly, she must have changed into a girl to trick you into bringing her to us."

"A reaper killed my mummy..." whispered a small, shy monkey girl from behind Emily.

"No, that--"
"Ummm..."

"My hands are full now, so Jareth, would you call my dad and tell hi--"
"Her hair colours are changing!"
"Shut up Rem..."
"I'm on it..."
"Wait... no...!"

Jareth found his communicator pulled away from his fingers. "Hey! Owl? What gives?"

"Did nobody understand what I just said?"

The children ceased their quarrel and looked at Emily.

"I wonder if she is wearing anything under her dre--"
"Shut up, Rem."

"Now, Oriole, isn't it?" she turned to the confused stray. "Do you have a crosser?"

"I'm sorry... What is a crosser?" Oriole cocked her head.

"She doesn't... And if she doesn't have a crosser, and she definitely isn't a reaper or we would all be dead by now... There, she's not an enemy. She's just a normal stray, so, don't bother the adults with this."

Struggling free from his sister's pincer grip, the youngest boy bounded towards Oriole. "I knew it! You're a nice stray, aren't you, Oriole? I am Rem, I am an elephant panzer!"

"Ah! I am, umm, Cassie calls me Oriole. I guess I am a stray... Say, what exactly is a stray?"

-- -- -- -- --

After all of the excitement had died down and the children had gone home, Oriole was left alone with Cassius. She recounted her thoughts. So I am dead... But I don't remember dying. Umm, no, wait, I don't remember anything else at all.

"Are you thinking about something, Oriole?"

She is, but could not find the words to tell him. "A lot of things are... talking to me. Umm, so I don't really know what to think, either."

"It'll be fine, I'm sure you'll be able to find a crosser!" spoke Cassius, hoping to sound encouraging..

The pair were walking back out of the Panzer's civilization. Earlier, they had tried bring her into the city, but the sheer number of people around frightened her, so Oriole cried. In the end they did not, so Cassius accompanied her back to the meadows. It was decided that Oriole would stay there and the children would go out there to meet her in the day time.

The night wind blew through the drafts when the pair reached outdoors. Feeling the cold, Cassius transformed into his dog form. Oriole thought that his puppy form was adorable.

"All right, this would be where I turn back..." said Cassius, "See you tomorrow!"

"Okay, good night, Cassie!"

"Good night, Oriole!"

As Oriole watched as Cassius ran back indoors. If I don't find a crosser to link with... I will disappear...?
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by Johker » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:03 am

After bidding Oriole goodbye for the night, Cassius hurriedly made his way back to Panzer Head-Quarters, needing a good night's sleep. It was a school night; he had lessons tomorrow.

~ ~ ~

A few weeks later

Cassius and his friends attended a boarding school that specially catered to the parents that worked at Panzer Head-Quarters. While they worked, their children would be attending classes. Basically, these Panzer children were already being trained to be soldiers, even at such a young age.

On this particular day, Cassius was learning of Ether Weaponry and how they functioned. The class was promised to be given training equipment to get a general feel of how such Ether weaponry worked after the theory lesson. The class was excited to be able to handle anything with destructive capabilities, training weapon or not, and was eager for the theory lesson to end. They became more and more fidgety and unteachable by the moment. Cassius tried his best to listen, but of course, he couldn't stay attentive for long and found himself drifting into a daydream. After what seemed like a tediously long amount of time, the teacher ended the theory lesson and escorted the class to the training room. This room acted as a place for students such as Cassius to go wild with whatever weapons they were given. Moving over to a safe built into the wall of the training room, the teacher punched in a combination code and began to withdraw several Ether weapons. These were just training weapons, less harmful and destructive than the real thing. A pair of training pistols caught Cassius's eye, and he snatched them up before his classmates could. His teacher directed them to a shooting range and gave some brief instructions.

"These training weapons utilize the Ether in a different way as opposed to actual Ether-based weapons," began the teacher, hoping to sneak in a little bit more theory to students. "These bullets won't harm us - if fired, they dissipate upon hitting an Ether being. If it were the real weapon and the bullet hit you, it'd cause quite a grievous amount of damage."

Cassius nodded, and the teacher, content, went off to coach the more unruly students in his midst. For another half hour, Cassius practiced using the pistols, happily shooting at cutout targets. It wasn't long before the lesson ended.

The rest of his school day was dull. Some lessons interested Cassius, some did not. And at the end of the monotonous school day, he decided to pay a visit to Oriole. Going back out to the meadow, Cassius felt something was strangely off. The peaceful meadow was still as quiet as ever, but this time, it seemed to be a sinister, eery silence. Cassius could not find Oriole.

Where was she?

Was the meadow hiding her?

Maybe a meadow monster took her. What would a Meadow Monster look like?


With Cassius's keen Ether-tracking abilities, he was able to move in the general direction of a very faint Ether source. Oriole didn't usually emit such a weak trace, but this was the only lead he had. Briskly walking, Cassius finally came to heads with the source of this faint trace. It was a small figure, laying limply on the ground. The person looked weak. And ill. It was Oriole.

Was something wrong? Could Strays become ill? Was Oriole alright? Cassius did not know. He didn't know a lot. Then, Oriole opened her mouth, trying to speak.

"...C-Cassius..." she whispered weakly.

And at that moment, Cassius knew something was very, very wrong indeed.
Last edited by Johker on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:02 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by marcien » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:10 pm

The few weeks went past very quickly. Some days they would play hide-and-seek (if Cassius was "it", she would be the first one to be found), some days they would play catch (which Oriole was horrendously bad at), some days they would hang around and talk (these sessions she enjoyed, since she was able to learn much from the children), and some days a few of them would just take a nap (and use a very-willing Oriole as their hot water blanket for extra comfort).

This day the sun shone brightly, like always. The day was in fact not very different from the days before, so Oriole did not understand why she felt so cold. Earlier, she had learnt about winter and snow from the children. However, the grass was still green and the trees as lush as ever. Is this, a special kind of winter?

I'm so cold. Emily said, that the sun gives heat. I will go towards the sun. She floated upwards as though reaching for the sun. Because the distance between her and the earth increased, Oriole felt herself trembling and gasping.

Am I sick? I should go to sleep. When Jareth had a flu, he slept for a whole day and he got better. So Oriole willed herself to sleep. She curled up into a fetal position, remained afloat and ...

Huh? Did I wake up? How long have I been asleep for?

No, I'm still not awake right? After all, I can't see anything.

Wait, I'm actually awake. I just... cannot... see anything. Where am I actually? I knew I should have went to sleep nearer to the ground.

She felt a soft shiver through her shoulders. Or was it her arms? Someone is here? Who is that...?

Someone who was kind. Someone who held her hand. Someone who gave her a name.

"... C-cassi-us."

He is saying something to her. Oriole could not make sense of his words. She knew that he was speaking very fast.

"I can't hear you... see you. Cassius..."

More of the of the shivering sensations in her shoulders. Or hands. Legs. Belly. Some more talking. Shouting.

The shivers stopped. ... Where are you, Cassius?

rem reina cassius jareth kyla oriole emily[/hide]
(ahahahahaha i wonder if oriole managed to out-emo jacket's post.)
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by Johker » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:58 pm

"She's fading away," observed Emily bluntly.

"I've read about this. 'Strays require Ether in order to maintain their existence. Once their Ether supply is exhausted, their bodies fade away.'" recited Emily grimly. She sounded worried. Emily had grown quite attached to Oriole over the past few weeks. "We need to save her."

"But... what can we do?" said Cassius, still panting from the run all the way back to Panzer HQ and back to get Emily for help.

"There are two things we can do at this point. One: Find Oriole a Crosser to link with, or Two: Replenish her Ether supply. There's really not much chance we'll find a Crosser in such a short period of time, so we're only left with the latter."

"And how're we supposed do we do that?" asked Cassius, getting more frantic upon seeing Oriole's increasingly weakening state.

Emily closed her eyes and placed her hands to her temples, as if massaging her head would bring some idea to mind. Fortunately, doing so seemed to help produce a crucial memory.

"There's one way to replenish a Stray's Ether supply," began Emily. "I've heard papa talk about working on a prototype of some sort of device that's able to do just that."

"You mean your papa-- I mean, your father works as some sort of scientist inventor guy?"

"Something to that effect, yes. But there's a problem," said Emily. "The device is in his lab, which by now has already been locked up since it's late."

"Can't you just ask your dad to open up the place and let you borrow it for a while?" asked Cassius.

"I don't know where papa is now. He travels around to different areas of the HQ very often. I barely see him."

"What?! Isn't there some way you can contact him?"

"Papa is a busy man. Sometimes it just slips his mind to tell me anything," replied Emily, with just a hint of sadness in her voice.

"So what do we do now?!"

"We break into the lab. We'll get Kyla to help us. I'm sure she'd be more than glad to help us sneak in."

~ ~ ~

Emily made her way back to the boarding school to enlist Kyla's help. Then, she sent Jareth to take Cassius's place in the meadow to take care of Oriole. Cassius, Emily and Kyla then began to formulate a plan. The lab would be guarded by a security guard. By some stroke of luck, it was Jareth, Reina and Rem's father who would be patrolling the area on this night. They soon convinced Reina to let Rem approach their father to act as a distraction, giving the three of them time to sneak past. That was, however, the extent they were able to plan up till. Emily didn't have any knowledge of what the interior of the lab looked like, so this was the most they could prepare for.

So, the four children, Cassius, Emily, Kyla and Rem set off. Soon, Rem's security guard father came into view. The other three children ran off to hide, and Rem gingerly made his way to him calling out to his father in a small voice. And so, their plan was in action. Under the pretense of being lost, Rem's father, flustered that his six-year-old son should be wandering around so late decided to personally bring his child back to the boarding school, neglecting his security post entirely. While this was a good move for a responsible father, it was a bad move for a responsible security guard, and with this, Cassius, Emily and Kyla made their way to the door.

They stared at the locked door and the keypad beside it, unsure of what to do. Emily reasoned that it would be useless to try guess the password, and the three started looking around for an alternate route. Eventually, they decided the best way would be to use Kyla's acrobatic abilities to make her way up to one of the windows, make her way in and open the door from the inside.

"I would fly up there," said Emily, "but there isn't any ledge wide enough for me to land on. And I wouldn't even be able to open the window, since I'd only have wings."

Scaling up a protruding pipe on the wall, Kyla made her way up to a window on the second floor in her monkey form. She attempted to open the window but it wouldn't budge. Kyla clambered down and informed them that the window was locked.

Not about to give up, Cassius had a thought and asked, "Was there a keyhole on the window, or any locks?"

"Umm, if I'm not wrong... Yes, I do remember there being a keyhole facing me."

"Perfect! I know how to make a lock-pick with just a paper clip and some pliers!" said Cassius happily, and began to fish out just those things from the large backpack he had been lugging along.

"Why do you even have those in your bag?"

"Well, the paper clips are in case I need something to clip paper with, and the pliers in case I need to ply something."

"I... see."

Soon, Cassius had fashioned a crude lock-pick out of the materials he had, and gave Kyla some brief instructions on how to use it. It took quite a while, but eventually, the window swung open. Emily then flew up through the window. After a brief period of time, the main door swung open. Now all three children were in the lab, which was an impressive feat considering they were three children. Or perhaps it was just a reflection of the building's poor security measures.

"I've taken the liberty of disabling any surveillance cameras on the flight down. I thought it'd be nice if we weren't caught on tape."

"Yes, that was a nice thing to do. Thank you!"

"That wasn't really how you were supposed to respond... But okay. Let's look around for the device. It looks like--"

"A jellyfish!" interrupted Cassius.

"What?"

"A jellyfish. Like that thing over there," said Cassius, eagerly pointing at a strange metal device left in the center of a table, along with various other tools, mechanical parts and scientific apparatus. The device had a flat circular panel at its center, with a number of lights and buttons embedded all over. From that circular panel were several coils of wire twisting out from the circumference at evenly spaced intervals, resembling tentacles. In essence, it looked like a bizarre mechanical jellyfish, just as Cassius had said.

"That's it! Good job, Cassius! Now we'll save Oriole for sure," said Emily triumphantly as she took the device in her hands. "We'll return this after we're done with it. We don't want Rem's father to get into trouble for this."

"Umm, is there a manual or some instructions for us to follow? It looks awfully difficult to use... and we'll need to know how to use it if we're going to save Oriole and all..." said Kyla timidly.

"Look! The blueprints for it are here as well!"

"Good, let's have a look over it."

As the children poured over the blueprints, it soon became apparent that neither Kyla nor Cassius understood what it meant. Kyla began to dart her eyes around worriedly while Cassius just stared at the pictures on the blueprints. Eventually, Emily spoke once more, understanding the contents of the blueprints. "We have a problem," she began. "We need some sort of Ether source for this machine to use in order to replenish Oriole's Ether supply."

"Oh... Will this help?" asked Cassius, pulling out a pistol from his bag.

"Eeek! What are you doing with a weapon like that?"

"I-it's just a training weapon!! I was supposed to return it at the end of the lesson but I'd forgotten! Please don't tell anyone!"

"Alright, alright, I won't! But how is that training weapon going to help?"

"It contains bullets made from Ether!"

"Oh, I see! With the bullets we'll be able to convert them back into Ether and... it won't be much, but we still can replenish Oriole's Ether supply by a little bit," concluded Emily. Plan successful, the three children made their way back to the meadow, where Jareth would be waiting with Oriole.

~ ~ ~

"Cassius...? Where are you?"

"I-I'm not Cassius! That air-head will be back here with help, I promise!" exclaimed a panicking Jareth. At that moment, Cassius, Emily and Kyla arrived at the meadow with them.

"I'm not an air-head!! My head is really solid, okaaay!!" shouted an indignant Cassius as he approached them. Upon seeing Oriole, however, Cassius's expression changed. He looked serious now. "Oriole! I'm here to save you!" he proclaimed.

From another direction, they heard a pair of familiar voices calling out to them. Two figures quickly came into sight. One was a rowdy-looking girl sprinting towards them in large strides. The other was a young boy looking no older than six-years-old, clutching the girl's hand and doing his best to keep up with her in small hurried steps.

"Emily! Cassius! Jareth! Kyla! Oriole!" the young boy yelled.

"Rem! Reina! I'm so glad you're here!" yelled Cassius in return.

"You were right! Daddy did take me back to Reina at the boarding school," said Rem with a dreamy smile, simply happy that their plan had worked.

"You guys!" yelled Reina equally loudly. "What the hell's been taking so long! I couldn't just sit around waiting for my dad to bring Rem back!"

"Hush, you three. We need to set up the device. Cassius, hurry! Place the device on the ground," instructed Emily, glancing at the blueprints from time to time. "Now, attach one Ether bullet to each node." Cassius did as instructed, and signaled he was ready. "Okay, now allow me configure it for you," continued Emily as she bent over the device, pushing a sequence of buttons carefully. The device came to life, the buttons and lights now glowing. Then, the machine beeped.

*Systems ready for the commencement of Ether replenishment,* announced the device in a robotic monotone.

"Got it! Now, Cassius, attach the nodes to Oriole!" said Emily. As Cassius did so, Emily placed her finger above a large glowing button at the center of the panel, ready to push it. "Alright! Done!" "This should do it!" exclaimed Emily. And she pushed the button.

It should have been a moment of triumph for them. They had just devised a plan to break into a laboratory with nothing more than a makeshift lock-pick and a willing six-year-old accomplice, stolen an expensive piece of machinery with its blueprints, did research on how to operate it and found a suitable Ether source, all to save a friend, a noble and altruistic cause. They should have triumphed, and they deserved a moment of rest after saving their friend, a moment to be happy that everything turned out right before they returned to get a good night's rest. Perhaps they might have went out to celebrate the following morning by having a treat of delicious ice cream and maybe a game of tag or hide-and-seek afterwards. They would compliment each other on being so brave the day before, laugh together and be merry, living out the rest of their lives treasuring the deep friendship they shared with each other.

But it wasn't meant to be.

As Emily pushed the button on the strange device, the ground below them caved in. In an unexpected turn of events, the six children had all been standing over a developing sinkhole in the meadow. Their collective weight was too much for the ground beneath them to hold, which had already been mostly eaten away. For a long, sickly moment, they sailed downwards, deep into the abyss. Their fall was only interrupted by the cruel, rocky rubble below. Cassius gasped as he hit the bottom of the pit and crashed into the pile of rocks below, struck by the pain more than anything. As the already insurmountable odds stacked up against them, it felt as if the situation had only went from bad to worse to worst. Overcome with pain and unable to see in the darkness, Cassius felt overwhelmed and helpless.

Because of this, it was least of all expected that the slightest glimmer of hope should have come from the cold, uncaring voice of a mechanical device. The children heard a beep.

*Attachment successful. Ether levels nominal,* the device crooned.

And perhaps the children might have had a chance of surviving after all.
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by marcien » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:35 pm

Squeaks. Honks. Screeches. Yelps. Hoots. Hisses.

To a normal person, this cacophony of animal noises would have sounded like an extremely annoying (but highly effective) alarm clock. It was a shock to Oriole as well. To suddenly be aware of all of these loud sounds, and crushed by bodies on all sides.

Wait, bodies? Her friends! They are here!
'Cassie!!'
'Oriole!'

Scrambling.
'a-aaah, my feet!'
'Reina get your hard carapace arm out of my face--
'Eeek! Whose finger is that in my shell?!!'
'Oops sorry!'
'Don't eat my tail, Cassius!'
'I wasn't trying to!'
'W-where's Emily...?'
'Up. Flying...'
Oriole! Orio--
'I'm okay, Cassie! Umm, I'll go up a bit.'
'Waaauugh, hot!'
'Sorry...!'

The space they were in was a particular crammed one. Oriole floated upwards till she hovered about a metre above the children. The glow from her spirit body lit up the scene dimly.
Emily, in owl form, flew to a rest on Rem's head.
'All right, at least we're all safe. Sort of.'
'My tail got chewed on!'
'Ori--
'Everyone calm down! All right, no one move, except for Kyla and Jareth. You two, turn into your animal forms.'
'Okay! Turn into--
'NOT YOU!!!'

When everyone was sure they were safe from a pancake death crushed by mutant elephant behind, they calmed down moved into a more discussion conducive position. Monkey-form Kyla sat on Cassius' crossed-legged lap, Reina folding her legs up against her body with half-chinchilla-form Jareth on her knees, Rem sitting crouched in a corner with owl-form Emily perched on his head.
'Umm, so, why are we here?' asked the hanging/floating upside-down from above Oriole.

-- -- -- -- --

'... then, the ground caved in, and everyone fell in, and now we are all stuck?'
'Yes, that is what happened. We should think of how we can get out of here now.'
'Can't we just dig our way out?'
'Hey Oriole. Do you think you could just go up to the surface and see how far down we've fallen? Or maybe get some help?'

-- -- -- -- --

'It's no good. I'm digging but all I'm hitting is rock.'
'Same here. Think we might have gotten ourselves stuck in-between some granite.'
'Guess we'll have to wait for Oriole to come back.'

-- -- -- -- --

'We've had four rounds of finger pepsi-cola tournament, and she's still not back yet.'
'... do you think she may be lost?'
'I-I... hope not.'
'Let's have another round! I want to win!'
'You've won against Em thrice, isn't that good enough?'
'It doesn't count! I know that she let me win!'
'Oh, have I been found out?'
'How sure are you that it isn't just her really sucking at this game?'
'Hey!'

-- -- -- -- --

'C'mon, we shld all just go through this hole here!'
'That hole's only big enough for Reina and you.'
'How 'bout the two of us go through these first and see where we get to.'

-- -- -- -- --

'I'm sleepy. How long has it been?'
'I don't know either. Late, that's all.'
'I wonder how Rem can sleep in a place like this.'

-- -- -- -- --

'Dead end.'
'Hit the rocks again.'
Cassius whined.

-- -- -- -- --

'Oriole's back! I can smell her!'
'Finally!'
'What took you so long?!'
'I took long...?' Sorry... I got kinda lost...'
'I knew it!'
'Did you find anyone?'
'How deep are we?'
'What time is it?'
'It was still... dark when I came back, I think. And I think we're quite deep, I had to go up a lot to get above ground. Um, I can't go into your city to get help! There was some kind of shield there...'
'Oh yea! The shield that's up to prevent blights!'
'But Oriole's not a blight!'
'Of course you're not! The shield probably stops strays too.'
'It's quite strong! It won't melt when I tried to make it to.'
'Make it melt...?'
'Ah! That's right! Oriole is a stray! Can't you blast a hole up?'
'I don't think so! I'm not able to affect physical things, so I can't move the rocks and soil at all.'

'What about Cassius' gun?'
'He HAS a gun?!!'
'It's not that--
Reina dived for Cassius' bag and rummaged through it. 'There! It's a gun all right! Two even!'
'Woah...'
'Yes!'
'It's just a training weapon! It isn't powerful enough!'
Oriole moved closer to take a look at the pistols. 'What's that?'
Cassius showed her.

'Hey... Oriole's touching that gun now isn't she.'
'Ah!'
'That's because it is an ether-charged weapon.'
'It's really heavy though, I won't be able to lift it on my own!'

'... Hot!!' Cassius dropped the pistol to the ground and scrambled as far back as the small space allowed him to.
'... Oriole,' Emily flapped her wings and landed beside the abandoned pistol, 'Did you just charge the weapon with your ether?'
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Johker
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by Johker » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:03 pm

"Uuh... I think so... Some of my Ether went over to the gun," murmured Oriole in reply.

The children watched in quiet anticipation as the gun sat forlornly on the ground before them. It was giving off an odd, unnerving glow. Emily knew better, however. The colour drained from her face, and this might have been noticeable if she had not been in her owl form and her face had not been concealed by her deep brown feathers. Nonetheless, Emily was shocked and fearful of what might happen next. In a flurry of feathers, she swooped down and swept up the gun up in her owl talons, which were very good at grabbing things, and began flapping away from the children on her owl wings, which were very good at flying away from dangerous situations at a great speed.

In this case however, Emily was not flying away from a dangerous situation, but rather carrying it away from the children at a great speed.

As Emily's father was an engineer, some of his mechanical interests had rubbed off on young Emily herself. She enjoyed reading about a great variety of things, but studying the way mechanical devices worked brought young Emily the most enjoyment. Most recently, she had read about the consequences of accidentally over-charging an Ether weapon, how it would then glow from handling too much energy, and subsequently explode.

“We’ve accidentally over-charged the Ether weapon! It’s glowing from handling too much energy, and it’s going to explode!” summarised Emily concisely. Farther and farther Emily went, going away from her friends to save them. She could not fly up to the surface with the rubble blocking the way, so downwards was her only choice.

All the children shrieked out in terror, and Oriole shrieked the loudest of all, horrified at what she had inadvertently caused. In what seemed like a moment of irrational thought, Cassius began dashing towards his fleeing friend and towards the device that was soon to explode, going as fast as his four paws could take him.

In this case however, Cassius was not being irrational, but rather carrying an important piece of information towards Emily, which she needed to hear at a great speed. Often times, what we do read is often as important as what we do not read, and what Emily had not read was a way to stop the explosion, an answer that lay with Cassius.

Cassius was a curious child, and like most children who were curious, he would remember information about things he found interesting. Cassius found explosions interesting. And so, earlier that week when his teacher mentioned the possibility of an Ether weapon exploding, young Cassius’s ears perked up, listened, and remembered. There was to be a safety valve at the handle of the weapon that would dissipate the energy, and the explosion could be avoided completely.

“Emily! Stop! A safety valve! At the handle of the weapon! Stops the explosion!” yelled out Cassius slightly less coherently.

Fortunately, Emily understood, and immediately she landed on the cave ground and began inspecting the weapon. Cassius arrived and began pouring over the weapon as well. Despite the heat emanating from the weapon, they turned the weapon over to locate the safety valve, only realising, to a sickly, sinking feeling, that there was no safety valve located anywhere on this weapon.

“A training weapon doesn’t have the full functions of the actual thing,” cried out Emily upon realising this horrible fact. The threat of an explosion still remained very real, and Emily turned away from Cassius to continue her sacrificial journey away from the children. Cassius saw that there were burn marks on her bird claws from carrying the hot weapon in her talons.

“No, don’t go,” Cassius pleaded, placing one paw on the gun. It hurt to hold the gun in place with his paw, but he had to stop Emily. Cassius had an idea.

“What’re you doing? Let me carry the gun away!” said Emily, frantically trying to fly away with the weapon.

“We’ll fire one shot. Away from all of us. Then the extra energy can get out from the gun and we’ll all be safe!” said Cassius, pointing his nose at the bright red trigger of the weapon.

“Are you insane?! The weapon will just blow up in our faces! Let me take it away!” screamed Emily as she began flapping her wings with greater desperation.

“No! I don’t want anyone to die! It’ll work, just trust me!”

Cassius, determined, placed a second paw on the burning hot weapon.

"Let go!!"

What happened next remains unclear to all. Cassius could have caused an important part of the device to go “click” when the weapon jerked away slightly by the action of Emily’s wings, along with a poor placement of his paws. Or it could have been Emily who caused the same important part of the device to go “click” when Cassius’s insistence at not budging forced her to re-position her talons to get a better grip on another area of the gun.

Whichever it was, an important part of the device went “click”, and that important part of the device was none other than the bright red trigger of the training gun. The resulting accidental shot that fired out of the weapon, miraculously, worked exactly as Cassius had hoped. Against all odds, it missed Cassius and Emily entirely, and went in the safer direction, away from all of the other children, sending the searing heat of the glowing shot deep into the darkness underground. The accidental shot travelled farther away from the children, and the eerie glow slowly faded, segueing into the darkness. Cassius and Emily stared at each other, immensely relieved. Disaster had been averted.

Or so they thought.

Suddenly, a bright explosion erupted in the darkness far away from them. The shot had hit something, a rock surface or a cave wall. The cave grew brighter and brighter, and both children knew that they were not safe. No matter how far the explosion was from them, how deep in the darkness it had occurred, it was a fact that an explosion creates heat, and that heat would rise up towards right where they were. Cassius looked at the burns on his paws and Emily looked at the burns on her claws, and they both decided that being scorched to death by superheated cave air was a horrifying, horrifying way to die. They scrambled to speed away as fast as they could, but their fastest was not fast enough. The shockwave of the explosion hit the children first, shaking them off their balance, followed by a wave of heated air that swept through the entire underground cave.

At this point, it is necessary to point out that two very fortunate things did happen, even in such dire straits. One, the explosion occurred far enough such that the resulting shockwave was not strong enough to shatter bone or kill the children instantly. Two, the resulting pocket of heated air was not hot enough to scorch them to death instantly. It was, however, hot enough to kill them slowly.

As Cassius and Emily slowly trudged their way up back to find the rest of the children, it was evident that they would not be able to survive for long under such unbearable heat. They felt dizzy, and from the darkness eating at the corners of the two children’s eyes, they knew that they would soon pass out. As they reached the pile of rubble where they had begun, they saw the tragic sight of all their friends, lying unconscious on the ground. Hovering above them was Oriole, fearful and weeping.

“You’re safe!” Oriole cried out upon seeing Cassius and Emily.

“...O-Oriole...” Cassius whispered weakly, before his head started spinning and he could no longer stand.

“Help,” said Emily before she too felt weak and collapsed to the ground.

Eyes brimming with tears and filled with the resolve to save her friends, Oriole flew back up aboveground to search for help. She did not know that intervention was soon to arrive in the form of one Palmarr Berry. She also did not know that her friends would be rescued from their predicament, but most of all, she did not know that their rescue would be in exchange for her safety, and that soon, she would be placed in terrible danger once more.

As Cassius lay on the cruel, rocky cave ground, he let out a small whisper to his friend, hoping she would hear him.

“I’m scared,” Cassius admitted quietly.

“Sheer terror,” Emily admitted back in a whisper.

Then, they fell unconscious; swallowed up by darkness. And the two children were silent.
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Re: Oriole & Cassius: Forged by Fire

Post by marcien » Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:59 pm

A young tiger panzer with the rank of Lieutenant had been sent out to investigate the attempted damage to the defensive forcefield barrier panzer outpost.

It was a powerful heat damage.
Not random, but intentional: Not a blight.
Since the video feed did not show anyone: Not a crosser or panzer.
Since the barrier was still in tact: Not a reaper.
A stray blight.
Palmarr could not hide his excitement about this. The highest level of blights, a stray blight. Being able to beat one is an achievement.

'Begin scanning for ether signatures!' He commanded his squad of four corporals.

'Here!' motioned one of them.

The target had esacped in the direction of the Kismet fields, an area with historic importance to Panzers, and now owned as one of the panzers' aboveground properties.
How did a stray blight even get in the area? It couldn't have simply appeared out of nowhere...

It was a slight tremor, but all panzers with their feet on the ground could feel it.

'Lieutenant! Use of an ether weapon nearby has been detected!'

'Where?!'

'Here-

Palmarr sprinted over.

[table][tr][td2]'When was there ever a sinkhole here?!!'

'Uhh... never...?!'

'And there's someone down there with our weapon?!' Palmarr grinned and adjusted his knuckles. 'I'm gonna dig them out!'

'Hey, LT, this is historical site!'[/td2][td]The children were still trapped: warm, stuffy, and about to be asphyxiated.
'Oh no! Uh... Emily's not waking up!'
'Fuck. Is she breathing.'
'A little. Like she's out of breath.'
'Crap crap crap crap we're all gonna suffocate here...'
'I know what! If we all stop talking... I think we will need to breathe lesser air?'
Jareth and Reina sighed.[/td][/tr][/table]
*---BBZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTAAAMMMMMM!!*
-- -- -- -- --

[table][tr][td2]Eeep! Wha- What was that? The jolts of electricity that hit her stung. Is this... making the ground collapse some more? She had better hurry up to get help!

Up. Up. Up up up! Got to get above ground![/td2][td]'Hey, is it me or...'
'No shit it's not just you! Something's wrecking this place with electricity!'
'Oh man, as if we're not hot enough as is.'

A small spark shone overhead. Loosened sand and tiny rocks fell.
'Ou-ouch...'
'Cou-could it be a blight...?'
'Go get the blight, Oriole!!'
'There are rocks falling now?!'
'We have to do something...!' Kyla hugged Emily's owl form protectively and dived for cover under Rem's head.
'Hmmm... Yea, this could work.' Jareth eyed Rem and smirked at Reina.
'All right! That's what we're doing!' exclaimed Reina, who gave Jareth a high-five with a palm/paw.

'Rem, stand up, and to the side!'
'Okay!!'
'Everyone else! Animal form and to the corner!'
'Yes YES! What now!'
'TURN INTO ELEPHANT FORM!!'
'GO!'
'ELEPHANT SHELTER FORMATION!!'
'WWHHHHAAAAAAAATTTTT????!!!!!!'

The children scrambled underneath Rem's (relatively) huge elephant body.
'Now, don't you DARE sit down under any circumstance!'
Rem whined. 'But the rocks, they're painful for me too!'
'Don't lie, you dumbass! Your skin's way too thick.'
'And it is really hot in here! Especially with all of you under my belly...'
'We're sorry, but please bear with it, Rem!' Cassius panted.
'-thank... you, Rem...'[/td][/tr][tr][td2]
Another vibration rocked the ground. She must be getting nearer to the surface. The quaking is more violent than before.

Hurry hurry, up you go.[/td2][td]
As if the one smashing their hole had been waiting, a second blow came, this one even stronger than before.
'Ow-ow-ow-Ou-OUUCCHHH!!' Sand, little rocks and lumps of earth rained upon the young elephant.
'Please... Hang in there Rem...!'
'... Oooouuuuuuuccccchhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiii-----'
'... yes, yes, we know... I'll get you some good bananas when we get back.'
'Oh!'
'What is it now?! Please don't tell us you want to sit-'
'I think I see the moon!'
The view was soon obscured by more raining sand.[/td][/tr][tr][td2]
... And she's out. Wait, there are people all around? A large man looks as though he had just punched the ground.

Oriole spoke, her voice shaking from anxiety and fright, 'Uuuuu... Please... Stop that... My friends...'
'Something came out!'
'A blight...?!!'
'I'll take it!'
Her voice was too soft to reach them, and the soldiers had already reached her.[/td2][td]
'Ouch ouch ouch ow... Oh.'
'What, Rem?'
'No more falling ouchies.'
Cassius crawled out for a peek. '... He's right. I... can see... the sky up there...!' He was dizzy from the lack of air.
A lone football-sized rock rolled into the hole and hit the elephant square in the forehead. He stumbled.
'Ah...! Almost got my tail-'
'Hey! Watch what you are stepping on-'
'--!!!'

Rem closed his eyes and fell to his side, his leg over Reina.
'... You got to be kidding me.'
'He's out cold.'
Jareth and Cassius returned to their humanoid forms and attempted to free the scorpion.[/td][/tr][/table]
'Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh-------!!!
[table][tr][td2]'We got it! We got the blight!'

'Hey... There're voices coming from the hole... Children??!' Not far away from the strange ethereal creature that the squad apprehended, Palmarr stared into his newly excavated site.
'What?! How did children get out here?'
'It's cordoned off, but kids still come out and play here anyway... It's usually safe, so it's fine-'

A grappling hook flew up at his face. Palmarr dodged aside. It laid flat on the grass uselessly.
Palmarr chuckled. 'Definitely a child.' He wound the wire around his forearm.[/td2][td]'That's Oriole!'
'Did she really... run into a blight??'

Cassius fiddled with a gadget on his belt. His injuries and fatigue made it hard for him to get the mechanism right. A grappling hook shot upwards and anchored itself somewhere aboveground.
'I think I am not even gonna bother asking why you have that.'
'I'll... see you... later-' Cassius released the catch on his belt gadget, hoisting himself up.[/td][/tr][/table]
Cassius found himself in the open air, greeted by a big man with bright eyes. An adult! They're safe! But where is Oriole? He looked around him in a frenzy.
Palmarr put his hands around the puppy's shoulders. 'It's all right now, kid. What happened?'
'... my friends! They're... they're down there! ... And... Oriole?!'
'Okay, we'll get them out safe, don't worry,' Palmarr got up and gestured to the other soldiers.
'Yea, don't worry, kid, I'll go down and fetch them!'

As the soldiers gathered to rescue the children and attend to the injured puppy, Palmarr headed for where the stray-blight was.
'You'll pay for this, blight.' He charged his fists with electricity.
'Uuuuu-... uuuhhuu... uu... ...' the small glowing figure cried, emitting a heat wave that overpowered the night chill.
Palmarr readied to punch. A grappling hook wound itself around his arm. 'Wha-?'
A boy propelled himself towards them and flew at the heat-producing stray creature. 'No...! You don't! Hurt! Oriole!'
'Ah, Sir, the boy... he just...' The soldier attending to him followed in chase.
'Oriole... isn't... a...blight...!!'

The warm orange glow in front of Palmarr turned into a pale light blue which enveloped the puppy panzer. The energy coalesced into the two pistols in each of the boy's hands.
Palmarr's eye widened. 'Stop! No, don't do tha-
Cassius fired. Some shots hit the trees, which were set on fire. Others found no mark and simply exploded. One lodged itself the abdomen of the chasing soldier.
'Arrrgghh!!'
Cassius himself, covered in the blue flames, appear to also be burning.
'!!! ... He's lost it!' Palmarr growled. He transformed into his anthropomorphic form, and lunged forward at the boy.

He didn't like attacking a child. No, this was extremely distasteful, and makes his stomach churned.
He threw a punch at an oncoming bullet that was about to make for another of his subordinates. It exploded. His fist felt hot and it burned. Although, it did not match the coldness eating at his heart.
He did not quite understand how this situation came to be. A child whom they have rescued ran to a blight and was now turning on them with a pair of training weapons. But his body was being consumed by the flames and his bullets hurting them.
'I'm very sorry!' The tiger cried out as he delivered a melee blow to the boy's torso.

-- -- -- -- --

The medical team arrived. The children and the soldier who received burns were loaded into hospital.
Amongst the medical team, Palmarr recognised one Fossil Guard. That guard took care of the stray.

... Stray. That was the possibility that he did not consider. What an idiot I am.
It She was... probably their friend.
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