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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/1535687-An-RPG
Rated: 13+ · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #1535687
Were going to try to do a campfire, but roleplay at the same time.
[Introduction] Okay, I had sort of started this idea in my campfire, Serenity, but now I'm going all out. This campfire takes place in the future and we are the crew of a ship that we use to... well, steal stuff with. Some of us have strange abilities. All of us, are characters. See, the way a RPG (Role-playing Game) goes, is you make a character, with attributes (both good and bad), that later end up affecting the story. Their is always a GM, or Game Master, who is in charge, and makes events happen. (The game master alone knows all your secrets, like "my evil half-twin cousin lives on this planet" or something like that. And if you are going to do a major plot twist, you have to get the GM's permission. Also, according to whatever attributes you have, the GM can make things happen. Say your character is a little stingy. They go out to buy parts for the ship, and come back with something really cheap that craps out when your only half-way out of the atmosphere. Or say your character is allergic to something, and they are in the middle of a hold up when the thing they are allergic to turns up. Their holding a gun.... Boom. Instant story telling.) Most attributes are minor, or some are major. (major meaning they are a big part of your character and turn up often.) Do what your character would do. Even if its betraying your friends.

---
No cursing, sex, or graphic violence
You have three days to add
Be creative with your character
Have fun!

(I will be both the GM and a character, so if you have any plot questions, just email me.)
Name: Nikko Reth

Age: 18

Appearance: Nikko has black hair that falls around his face and is always sticking up somewhere (but in a good way). He's an even tan, 5'8", and all around good looker.

Clothing: Wears a leather jacket T-shirt, long sleeve shirt, fingerless gloves, jeans and converse. (considered sort of retro since its not like the futuristic space stuff.)

Status aboard the ship: Captain. Amazing pilot. (Can do so many twists and turns that even the other guys feel dizzy.)

Assets

-Allure (minor): He is a very attractive individual, and has a way with the opposite sex.
-Friends in low places (major): Knows all the people who work the street... and the skies.
-Fighten' type (major): Even though it may not look like it, he has a mean left hook, rest be assured.
-Lucky (minor): Lady luck seems to smile on him, seeing as he's always in some sort of trouble, but gets out alive.
-Smooth talker (minor): Has a way with words, so he can make you believe that he really did get invited to this party, and that you must have just forgot to put him on the list.

Complications

-Proud/Ego (major): Nikko has sort of an ego, and if you try and tell him he's not cool, he'll knock your lights out. (Even if your the president)
-Dead Broke (minor): Whenever he gets his pay, he spends it all very quickly. On stuff thats needed, and stuff thats, well, not.
-Deadly enemy (minor): Just as he has a lot of friends, he has an awful lot of enemies too.
-Overconfident (minor): He doesn't even wear a flack jacket or any armor under his clothes, which most people do, because he just doesn't think that he'll actually get hit with something bad.
-Hooked (major): Is addicted to a drug known as Dark Sun. It enhances your abilities, and makes you feel pretty darn good, but if you don't take it you go down the tube.
A Non-Existent User
Name: Jark-un

Age: Arbitrary. His people are outside the stream of time, and he can more or less choose his age. Generally appears aroun the age of 19 to early twenties/

Appearance: His chosen state is that of a 5'11" male that is strong, yet unimposing. His hair is collected into a braid that runs down the front of his right shoulder and is indigo. His eyes are like a prism, reflecting back a dazzling array of colors, as per his wishes.

Clothing: Anachronistically, he chooses the clothing of a dark ages Buddhist monk, a simple kimono that is made to give maximum flexibility and lightweight for speed. He also wears wooden sandals, quite an oddity.

Status aboard ship: Weaponmaster (While not in charge of the ship's weapons themselves, he leads away teams and is in the front of any kind of conflict man-to-man He is also in charge of teaching his crewmates how to stand up in such a situation.)

Assets:
Shape shifter(Racial): Jark-un's race, the Lorelai, are a race that exists for the most part outside of the dimensions that humanity can perceive. They can alter their physical appearance at will, as their appearance is one of the minor facets of their actual being.

Yojimbo (Minor): As the chosen watcher of the earth kind, Jark-un grew quite a fancy for the Japanese culture, and it reflects rather obviously on him

Path of the Blade (Major): Jark-un disdains the use of technology and fights only with a blade. The fact that the blade is made of his own essence and able to pierce any substance in the known multiverse is beside the point.

Warrior (Minor): Always where the fighting is thickest. ALWAYS. Is also not above provoking combat for the sheer delight in it he takes.

Immortality (Racial): Simply cannot be killed. He may be banished for a time to his own dimensions where he rests and heals, but he cannot be killed on the material plane. Perfect for suicide missions.

Complications:

My Honor is my life (Major): Speaks for itself.

Altruism (Major): In emulating humanity he's picked up on our knack for self-sacrifice and executes it at bizarre and sometimes completely unreasonable times. 9"I'll save you from that Frisbee!!!!")

Otherworldly (Major): Not a human. Ellicits distrust as he is obviously different due to the aura of power he gives off. Also not completely keen to human social patterns.

Relic (Minor): His love of Japanese culture causes him to act like he was back there. Which he's not.

Unity of Self (Major): Has an inner peace that others around him can sense and automatically hate for their own inability to attain it.

Disdain (Major): He simply is more or less a god on earth. And he lets you know it. All the time.

Nikko bit his lip in hesitation.

Then he finally threw down his runic cards, causing the whole crowd around the table to go roaring with laughter. The man across the table reached his hands and pulled the pot of credits towards him.

"Wait." Nikko's voice caused the man to stop. "Double or nothing."

After the crowd cheered the man consented to a redo.

Nikko looked his cards over again and again. He'd been dealt a better hand than last time, but by the way the man was betting, he probably had a much better hand.

One of the girls who was a waitress at the bar they were in put a drink down beside him and whispered in his ear, while slipping a card into his hand from behind the chair.

"You owe me for this one." She said, her hair lightly brushing his face.

Nikko smiled as he saw the card.

"Well?" The man asked.

"You first." Nikko said.

"Alright." The man had a smug look on his face. He let down the cards and the crowd oohed and cheered.

Nikko nodded. "Nice hand. Almost unbeatable..." He put down his own cards and another collective gasp came from the onlookers. "-the operative word here being, almost."

The man started swearing and Nikko swept the credits into his bag, then made to leave the bar.

He tucked a couple credits in the shirt of the girl who helped him as he passed. "Thanks, Katie." He whispered as he did so.

Nikko stood and straightened his back, breathing in the polluted air of this second class world. The weather was warm and the night stars almost invisible through all the smog.

Weak street lamps lightened up the alley to a certain degree. But only so that you could see a few yards ahead of you. Most people weren't out at this time of night.

He counted and walked at the same time, a skill he had verily developed over the years.

He'd won 523 credits. Not bad.

A few blocks away he stopped across a dead end alleyway, the figure of a person leaning against the wall barely able to be seen.

"You got the dough?" The person in the shadows asked in a rough voice.

"You got the product?" Nikko said, making sure the money bag was held tight against him.

The voice, obviously male, laughed. "Of course I do." He stepped out of the alley to reveal a portly man in a tacky suit. "2 milligrams of pure DS." He held out a syringe.

"How much?" Nikko asked.

"Eh... its pretty nice quality... I'll take... three hundred credits."

"What? For two milligrams? I could get six somewhere else for cheaper!" Nikko cried.

"Then why aren't you buying from someone else?" The man asked, then smirked. "I'm the only one who will still sell to you in this part of 'verse, seeing as you have quite a bounty on your head."

Nikko sucked in air and frowned. It was overpriced, for sure... but he needed it.

"Fine." He said, counting out the credits and handing them to the man in exchange for the syringe. Nikko looked the liquid over, while the man recounted the money.

Finally the man seemed satisfied. "Nice doing business with you." He said.

"Doing business. More like a rabbit getting swallowed by a snake." Nikko muttered under his breath.

The man looked up. "What?"

"I said that if you weren't dressed so poorly, I would have given you a shake." Nikko said, referring to shaking hands. He put the syringe in a pouch in his jacket. "I'll see you 'round, Niles."

"Yea." The man grunted. "See ya."

Suddenly two men jumped from the nearest building and landed in front of Nikko.

Nikko turned to see that Niles was blocking the other exit.

"Sorry, but the bounty is worth so much more than just purchases." Niles held his hands up. "Its not personal... just business."

Nikko sighed. Yeesh. He couldn't trust anyone around here!

He put his fists in front of him as he prepared for combat.

The two men laughed and pulled out guns and knives.

"Try to keep him alive." Niles said, once again leaning on the wall, now picking dirt out of his fingernails with his own knife. "He's worth more that way."

Nikko looked around hurriedly, trying to assess the situation fully.

One of the men approached him slowly, knife in hand.

The guy had to be at least twice his size.

The man took a swing with the knife at Nikko's leg, trying to maim him. Good idea, except it left him unguarded.

Nikko dodge the knife and brought up his knee, slamming it against the mans face. The he pushed him back, giving himself a little more room to move.

The other thug was laughing while the one that had made the first attack held his bleeding, broken nose.

"Raugh! Thats it!" The man lunged forward, slashing in erratic, frenzied motions.

Nikko dodged two lunges that went for his head and then finally delivered a round-house kick to the mans face, knocking him to the ground.

"Oh, come on." Niles said, annoyed. "He's just a kid. This shouldn't so hard."

Nikko turned to face him. "I'll deal with you after I finish off these little pansies."

"Pansies?" This time it was the other thug. "Pansies!? Its time to be pulverized, punk!" The man charged at him like a raging bull and Nikko, unprepared, was knocked to the ground.

He took in a sharp intake of breath and he lifted himself up of the floor. Yeesh. Was that guy a man or a rhinoceros?

He looked up to see two guns pointing straight at him.

He glared at Niles but slowly and reluctantly put his hands up.

"Gigs up, Nikko." Niles said.

"What... your going to turn me in to the authorities?" Nikko asked, skeptical. "And you think that they'll just give you, a known criminal, the reward?"

Niles looked concerned for a moment but then his features flashed back to anger. "They better, if they know what's good for 'em."

"Hah!" Nikko laughed. "What are you going to do? Send Fluffy and Mr. Tinkles after them?"

The guards growled, but Niles held them at bay.

"If you want to do that, fine. You can be my cell mate." Nikko said, looking up at the shadowy figure on top the nearest building. "But, if you want to live... I suggest you leave right now."

Niles laughed. "And who's going to stop me?"

"I am." A voice came from behind thug number one, as well as a sword through his chest. The man fell to his knees, and then to the floor, revealing Jark-un, samurai sword in hand.

The second thug attacked, and was taken down by the swift and graceful movements of the aliens martial arts.

"Stay away from me." Niles said, pulling out a blaster and edging against the wall.

"Sorry." Nikko said, his arms crossed. "But you cheated me, and now your outnumbered."

"W-what do you want?" Niles stuttered, his trigger finger shaking dangerously.

"I want my money back."

Niles threw the pouch over to him and he caught it.

"And the rest of your stash, too."

"What?! The rest of my-"

"Hey, your the one who said no one else will sell to me here." Nikko shrugged. "Just give it."

Niles looked like a tomato his face was so red. without lowering his blaster he pulled out a small box and threw that to Nikko as well.

Nikko opened it to see four small vials filled with Dark Sun. This should last him for a while...

He closed the box. "Alright, now leave."

"Theres no way I'm turning my back to you." Niles growled, looking from Nikko to Jark-un and back.

"Fine." Nikko said, his hands on his hips. "You can leave walking backwards."

Niles didn't seem to like the idea very much at all, but since he didn't have a choice, he complied. Once he reached the street he ran.

Nikko sighed and dusted off the box, then put it in his pack.

"Did you really have to kill them?" He asked, nodding towards the two motionless bodies on the floor.

"Why not?" Jark-un asked.

Nikko shook his head. "Yea, why not." He mimicked in annoyance under his breath, searching through the thugs clothes to see if he could find anything useful.

"Well? Did you get our next client?" Nikko asked, turning once more to Jark-un.

"Yes, I did." Jark-un said, quite simply. "While you were squandering your time playing games and buying harmful substances, I found our new client."

"Yea?" Nikko asked. "So what's the deal? Snatch and grab? Revenge against some business rival?"

"I'll explain on the way there." Jark-un said, heading in one direction.

"There? As in the clients place of residence?"

"It would appear so." Jark-un said, annoyed.

"But we barely ever talk to our clients more than once, let alone at their house..."

"Everything will become clear once we arrive." Jark-un said. "Trust me."





A Non-Existent User
Name: Gazelle

Age: 16

Appearance: Long auburn hair usually in a braid, dark jade eyes. Three long, thin scars running down the length of her back, not that anyone sees them on a regular basis.

Clothing: She is usually wearing a simple gray-blue tunic and black leggings. She wears practical flat shoes, though they are warm and good for any kind of weather. If she isn't wearing it, she always at least carried a navy blue sweater with her. Her ears a pierced three times each, and she wears a brooch with an aquamarine stone, a gift from her father to her mother, passed down to Gazelle when they died.

Status on ship: Head of Patrol (Security officer). She's in charge of security on the ship and night guard watches. Rarely ever sleeps.

Assets:
*Religious: She might be one of the most religious people on board. Talks a lot about faith and spirit and things like that, but not enough to make anyone want to strangle her or something.
*Quick- witted: she's able to come up with suggestions and ideas seemingly out of nowhere.
*Charming: She could get you to buy ice cubes in a blizzard. She can usually get ahold of anything she needs.
*Devoted: Once she starts something, she sticks to it and won't let it go.

Complications:
*Paranoia: She may look like an uncaring stern faced individual, but if there's anything to worry about, she'll worry. She just does a good job of hiding it.
*Trust: she has a hard time placing complete trust in others, and once you loose her respect, you won't get it back.
*Hopeless romantic: This can be either good or bad, but it's a complication. She's never known real love, but she's always wanted to.

They met with the client, and after about twenty minutes departed, started to head back to the ship.

"Dude, that guy is a psycho." Nikko ranted as they left. "Didn't I tell you that we don't take clients who are crazy?"

"Well, we need the money, don't we?" Jark-un asked.

"Yeah." He grunted.

Nikko was frowning and silent the whole way back. He wasn't sure if he could do this job. Well, sure, he could do it... but could he live with it?

Nikko rapped his knuckles on the metal door of his ship.

"Password?" A voice came from behind the door.

He shook his head, but was still smiling. Gazelle had computer monitors that showed almost every inch of the ship, so of course she could see them.

"Monkey's." He said.

"Negatory."

"Password?" Nikko asked.

"What? Your supposed to give me the password."

"No, I was guessing password as the password."

"Oh..." Static came through for a moment, as he seemed to have slightly stumped her. "Um, no. Thats not it."

"Don't make me knock down the door again." Jark-un said.

"You do, and you'll get to spend a nice little vacation back in your own dimensions." Nikko threatened, turning to Jark-un for a moment then back to door.

Normally, he wouldn't play like this with people, but he sort of liked her.

He put a finger to his chin. "Aha! Romano and Juliet!"

"Its Romeo... but close enough."

The door slid open and they walked in and it shut behind them.

"I really don't get why you like that story." Nikko said as he walked down the hallway into the "kitchen/living" are of the ship. Other than their rooms it was the only place they could all fit together comfortably.

"Because its romantic." Gazelle said, half-dancing down the hall.

Nikko stopped and looked at her. "Gez... they both die. How is that romantic?" He continued on walking.

"The story's romantic." She said in the old story's defense. "And Romeo couldn't live without Juliet, so he killed himself. He was willing to give his life for his girl."

"That just makes him an idiot. If it were me, I'd stay alive and take out whoever killed her." He said as he took off his pack and jacket and set them on the table.

"Ugh. You are such a guy." Gazelle said as she took her spot in the kitchen.

"Thanks. Now... down to business." He put his fists on the table and looked at his friends. "I don't feel... I don't think that we can do this job."

"What is it?" Gazelle asked, curious. They usually never turned down jobs, as they were slightly harder to find these days.

"A baby smuggling ring."

"Ugh! Thats awful!" Gazelle cried. "We are not going to smuggle any babies." She crossed her arms.

"No, we aren't."

"But we said that we were going to take the job." Jark-un said. "Mr. Reggio is a big play in the stellar mafia. If we go back on our word-"

"He'll send goons after us. Big deal." Nikko threw up his hands. "Not like thats not happened to us before."

"We shouldn't mess with this man." Jark-un said.

"Well then you shouldn't have asked him for a job." Nikko cried.

Something sparked behind Jark-un's eyes for a moment, then he looked down. "I was just doing my job, Captain."

"Yes, well we're not doing this job. Understood?" Nikko glared at him.

A moment of tension, then Jark-un spoke again. "Completely." He turned, "I am going to my quarters." Then he walked down the hall and disappeared in the shadows.

Nikko just couldn't understand that guy sometimes. I mean, how could he be so cold?

"So... we should be expecting some unwanted company?" Gazelle asked, seeming a little nervous to break the silence.

Nikko sighed and sat in his chair. "Yeah, but not for a little while. It'll take them sometime to figure out we're playing them."

"Hey... your bleeding!" She cried, jumping.

"Huh?" Nikko looked down and saw a rip in his jeans and a small line of red. "Oh. Funny, I didn't even feel it till now."

He must have actually been cut a little when Nile's goon had slashed at him.

"Do you need a bandage or something?" She asked, already staring to fuss.

"Pft. Nah, its just a scratch." Nikko grabbed a tissue from the table and pressed his against his leg.

Gazelle put her hands on her hips. "You know, I'm not always going to be around to fix your clothes."

She was usually the one to sew things back together after scuffles.

"I fear the day." He said, trying to act dramatic.

Gazelle rolled her eyes and took her seat, seeming to finally relax a little.

"What was he thinking? Going to the Reggio's?" She asked.

Nikko shrugged, continuing to dab at the small wound. "I have no idea. I don't think he totally gets this dimension. That-" He tossed the tissue and it landed in the trash can. "-or he's just sadistic." He shrugged again.

"So... how was security on board?" He asked, looking up at her.

"Nothing really... oh-" Gazelle laughed. "-well some punk kid came by, tried to get in-"

"What'd you do?" Nikko asked.

"Activated the electrical forcefield." She said, trying not to laugh. "At a low level of course, still, he came with a bowl cut and left with an afro."

"Hah, nice." Nikko yawned.

He pulled out the box from his pack and overlooked it for a moment. This should last him some time...

He took the syringe out of his pocket and put it in the box, then closed it and put it in his pack again.

Gazelle was frowning now.

"What?" He asked.

"You know what."

"I'm fine. Really." Nikko said smiling as he stood.

When he made it to the hall Gazelle was their to intercept him.

He suddenly found themselves very close to each other, because their wasn't a lot of room in the walk-ways.

Nikko found himself momentarily breathless, feeling her close to him and smelling her perfume.

"I worry about you." Gazelle said, looking up into his eyes.

Their heads came a little closer, and Nikko opened his mouth but then closed it.

"You don't have to." He said, his infectious grin back on his face. He lightly grabbed ahold of her hand and put something in it.

She held up a silver locket with swirly designs. "Nikko-" She seemed entranced by it.

Nikko shrugged. "It was just something I picked up from a vender, thought you'd like it."

"Like it?" She was ecstatic. "I love it!"

Nikko scratched the back of his head. "It, uh, opens too."

She opened it to reveal two places to put pictures.

"Thanks so much!" She hugged him and he suddenly went stiff.

"Uh, no problem." He said, struggling to breath.

She may be tiny, but this girl had a serious grip.

He was finally released as she went back to looking at it.

"Well, I'll see you in the morning." Nikko said.

"Okay, 'night." She hovered in the hallway, her eyes glued to the small piece of jewelry.

Nikko set down his pack by his bed when he reached his room.

He wasn't sure why, but whenever he was around her... he just felt... different. I mean, he pretty much fell in love with every pretty girl he saw on the street, even if it was only for a moment. But it wasn't the same around her... He tried to act his normal, cocky, womanizing self around her, to make sure she wouldn't notice. But he wasn't sure if she was falling for it.

Nikko sighed as he opened the box and set it down on his bed. He took the syringe and stuck it into his left arm.

He sucked in air as the needle pierced his skin. This was always the worst part. But he could already feel the drug doing its work.

He shook his arm and put the needle back in the box, then put it in his secret hiding place in the wall.

Nikko glanced at the Bible that Gazelle had given him a while back. It was still sitting on his nightstand.

His hand hovered over it for a moment, but then he just turned out the lights instead of picking it up.

There was no way a God as good as Gazelle said He was would find the time to deal with someone so messed up as himself.

No, he was on himself.

"Your the one man show, Nikko." He said to himself, then he shifted position. "Good for you."




A Non-Existent User
Gazelle sighed. She knew a lot of things. She knew that two plus two equals four. She knew that she and Jark-un would probably never get along. He challenged her too much, not in the good way. He challenged her faith, her love, her way of living.

She knew that she would always love her God. She knew that Nikko wouldn't. She also knew that she would always love Nikko. She had never once seen Nikko open the Bible she had given him, only the flash of the needle before he used it to drug himself. She hated Dark Sun, and if she didn't know it would completely destroy the Nikko she knew and loved, she would have taken it from him long ago.

Not that he couldn't always get more.

She knew she should go do something to distract her from these thoughts before they could send her into a frenzy of paranoia. But before she did, she clasped the locked around her neck and said a quick prayer for Nikko.

Nikko thought he heard a noise outside his door. It was still dark, so he figured it was in the middle of the night. He opened it and saw a shadow passed by the living room.

He walked in and gagged.

The room was filled with the stench of blood, and a lack of blood there was not.

Nikko's mouth dropped open in horror. The room was destroyed, and he could see two bodies on the floor.

"Gazelle!" He cried, kneeling beside her, and lifting her head into his lap. "Gazelle..." He opened her half-clasped hand and found the locket in it, as well as a small cross, both wet with blood.

Who had done this?

"Over here." An otherworldly voice caused him to turn.

There was a masked figure, standing in the shadows, a knife in his hands.

Nikko let Gazelle's body rest on the floor and he stood, defensively. "Who are you? What have you done?!"

"I only ever gave you what you wanted." The voice said.

"What? Why the heck would I ever want this? I- I never want this..."

"You love her." The voice laughed, and Nikko growled. "But you love me more."

"I could never love anything like you." He cried.

"Oh but you do." The shadowy figure said. "You use me all the time. You need me."

"I don't know what your talking about, but I don't really care." Nikko said, his voice filled with hatred, as he grabbed a knife he carried hidden in his boot and lunged at the figure.

This thing had taken everything from him!

Surprisingly, it didn't move, or try to protect itself, and he plunged the knife into it. The figure fell to the floor and Nikko tore off the mask.

He stopped in shock. It was him! It was himself.

Suddenly the knife wasn't in the body anymore, but in his hand. He dropped it, shaking.

"The blood of your friends." He looked down and saw that the other him was gone. The shadowy figure was now across the room. "Is it worth it?"

"No!" Nikko's upper half rose quickly out of bed. His breathing was coming in short, quick gasps and he could feel the sweat on his body. He looked around the room and swallowed. It was just a dream. Just a dream... a hallucinogenic side affect of Dark Sun.

He took in a deep breath and lay back down.

He couldn't sleep.

Nikko looked over to the Bible on his desk and he turned on the light and picked it up.

He flipped through the table of contents, just seeing a bunch of names.

Wasn't this supposed to be about someone named Jesus? How come his name wasn't mentioned? And who was Mark... and why should he care?

He opened the first chapter.

"Genesis." He said out loud. He certainly knew that word...

"In the beginning..."

-----


He heard a knock on his door. He just grunted and rolled over.

"Nikko, its almost noon!" He could hear Gazelle's voice behind his door. "We are sort of in a need of a captain here!"

"Huh?" Nikko lifted his head off of the bed, confused.

"I said, its almost noon and you need to get us off of this planet unless you want Roland Reggio's goons to catch up!"

"Uh... I'll be right out." He said, rubbing his eyes.

"Ugh!" He heard Gazelle storm off as he picked up the Bible that was laying next to him.

He must have fallen to sleep while reading it last night...

The whole ship shook, and thats when Nikko realized they were moving.

He was dressed and on the front deck in less than a minutes.

"Is someone shooting at us?" He asked as he pulled a jacket over his head.

Gazelle hopped out of the captains seat and sat down in the weaponeer's one. The cabin shook as they were hit again.

"I would take that as a yes." He said, sitting in the familiar seat and grabbing hold of the wheel.

"Yeesh, Nikko, I didn't know you were-" Gazelle paused as she was sort of thrown back into her seat and held their by gravity as Nikko sped up. She gulped. "-such a rock. I mean, I thought you would have woken up once we started going more than fifty."

"You kidding? Fifty is like walking to me." He said, turning the ship to the left sharply, causing one of the pursuing ships to blow up as it hit a boulder.

"Well, it looks like Roland figured us out faster than we thought." Gazelle said through her teeth, firing a small round at an oncoming missile, causing it to explode before it could hit them.

"Yeah, I guess." Nikko made the ship launch twenty feet in the air. "Hey-" He looked at the other weaponeer's seat. "-Where's our own little bottle of sunshine?"

"I don't know." Gazelle said, shooting a net that caught another of the ships and caused them to crash. "I haven't seen him since last-" she paused again as Nikko did another crazy move. "-night." She finished weakly. She looked a little sick.

"Just hold on a second." He said, looking in the mirror back at the last pursuing ship. "We'll be home free in no time."

"Uh... Nikko-" Gazelle began worriedly. "-were uh, heading pretty fast out of the atmosphere here."

"Yeah?" He asked, only making them go faster.

Flames were starting to appear on the windshield.

"And if we go too fast, and don't make it-"

"Just one more second-" Nikko said, more to himself than anybody else.

Suddenly he turned the whole space ship around, and they entered space backwards.

"What are you doing!?" Gazelle clung to her chair as they spun.

Their pursuer made it out of the atmosphere only seconds after they did. Too bad for them Nikko was already aiming his guns at them.

The last ship exploded into tiny pieces.

"Yes!" Nikko punched the air.

"Huh." He started to breath a little slower. He turned back to Gazelle. "You were saying?"

A Non-Existent User
Gazelle shook her head. "Nikko, this is why you are the captain, and I am Head of Patrol," she said. Nikko glanced at her. "Why? Because you're too chicken?" Gazelle glared at him, but his easygoing smile made it hard for her to be angry or even mildly irritated with him, so she gave up.

"Because you are way too overconfident," she stated. "I mean, we could've died ten times in the last few minutes the way you were flying this ship!" Gazelle was trying to calm her thumping heart, a sure sign of her paranoia acting up again. Nikko kept her gaze, holding it with his eyes.

"But we didn't," he stated. Gazelle gave an exasperated sigh. Were all captains like this? He chuckled. "Gazelle, you know I wouldn't let this ship crash. And I got rid of all those guys on our tail," he reminded her. For a brief second Gazelle let herself think dark thoughts to Jark-un, wherever he had gone.

Her brooding and Nikko's trying to assure her were interrupted by a small but urgent beeping. Gazelle fumbled in her pocket for her small metal transmitter. "Dang it," she muttered under her breath before meeting Nikko's gaze again.

"Looks like you've missed one. Our security barrier on level One has been breached. And it's not one of our men."

Nikko frowned as he set up the ship to fly on autopilot. "I don't think that's anyones man."

"What do you mean?" Gazelle asked as she unhooked her seatbelt.

"I mean I think that our friends the Reggio's are into something other than just baby smuggling. Nothing human could have latched on to our ship at those speeds." He met her now wide-eyed gaze.

"You mean... those mutation things that the army put out of commission?" At his look she bit her lip. "Please don't tell me thats what it is."

"Alright." Nikko said, getting up from his own seat and pulling out his blaster. "I won't tell you."

Some of the lights flickered as they left the cockpit. "Well, at least we know where they are." He looked at the lights that had flickered. "Level one, generator room, section A-2 I think..."

Gazelle was following close behind him as they started down the hall, and then into the small elevator.

Nikko hit level 1 and the elevator doors closed and they started to go down.

The lights flickered again and the elevator stopped for a second, but then it started up again.

"Heh, good thing we didn't get stuck. You know what they say about taking an elevator during a fire." Nikko said, smiling at Gazelle, who looked like she might pass out at any moment.

The door's opened and they stepped out into the generator room.

Nikko stepped out quietly and Gazelle followed hesitantly.

The lights were flickering a lot more down here, and Nikko could see some sparks coming from some loose wires.

"Ugh." He looked over one of the cable boxes. "They better not have screwed with my system." He said, annoyed.

Nikko turned on the sight on his gun, using it as an extra source of light.

They continued through the many obstacles of the room.

"Oh no." Gazelle gasped, and he aimed his gun in the direction she was.

There was a set of slightly bloodied up samurai robes on the floor.

"Well, I guess that explains why Jark-un wasn't helping us up top." Nikko said, leaning down to get a closer look.

"He'll be okay... right?" Gazelle asked nervously.

"Oh yeah. Anything below the heart is only a couple of hours in his own dimension."

"Uh... Nikko?" Gazelle said, taking a step back.

"Yeah?"

"The wall." She whispered.

Nikko looked at the wall about a foot away from where he was kneeling.

The word UP was written in blood.

He looked up just as something jumped down from the upper cables and tackled him, knocking the gun from his hands.

Gazelle screamed.

Nikko flipped the mutated creature off of him.

"Ugh, these guys stink." He wiped his nose as he stepped back with Gazelle, while the creature got itself together again.

They resembled pale humans, but with extremely large jaws with protruding needle-like teeth. And claws. They had been created by the government, but were deemed too dangerous to control. The only ones in known production were the protectors of the self-proclaimed "king" of the universe. Or those that belonged to mobsters...

"Ow." Nikko looked at his arm, were his shirt had been torn by the monsters claws. "Hey!" He called to the creature. "Uncool."

The thing growled, as saliva dripped from its mouth. It started pacing, a little bit hunched over.

"Okay..." Nikko looked at his empty hand. "No weapons. I guess we'll just have to finish this the old fashioned way, huh?"

"Nikko-"

"Gazelle, get in the dumbwaiter." He whispered behind him.

She did what she was told but only closed the door half-way.

Nikko looked it straight in its slit-pupil eyes, a way to engage it, and cracked his knuckles. "Bring it, stinky."

The creature growled then ran towards him and he dodged it, causing it to slide into the wall, a foot below where Gazelle was hiding. She screamed causing it to turn its attention towards her.

"Nuh-uh." Nikko ran into it and did the tackling himself this time. "This is between you-" He grunted, his hands on the creatures jaw, trying to keep it away from biting his neck. "-and me."

Nikko let out a yell when the thing brought up its claws and slashed at his chest. The thing picked him up by the throat with one hand and slammed him to the wall.

He brought up his legs to try to keep the creatures other hand from getting to him, since his hands were otherwise occupied trying to help him from getting strangled.

Suddenly a foot long spine emerged from the monsters arm. It was like their sword.

"Hey-" Nikko using one hand to reach into his pocket. "-I thought I said, no weapons." He coughed.

The creature lunged the sword towards him and moved his head, causing the spine to get stuck in the wall.

He used the opportunity to plunge the knife he'd grabbed from his pocket into the monster.

It screeched and then released him, itself falling to the ground.

Nikko knelt down and twisted the knife before pulling it out.

He took in a deep breath and looked up to see that Gazelle had climbed out of the dumbwaiter and was slowly approaching him.

"Hey." Nikko smiled. "You wouldn't mind... you know, fixing this for me?" He pulled at his torn up shirt.

Gazelle laughed and launched herself at him, pulling him into a hug.

"Ugh." She backed away, still laughing. "They do smell."

"Now lets go get these looked at-"

"Their fine, its just sc-" He grunted as she touched one of the wounds. "-scratches."

"Uh-uh. C'mon tough guy, I'm going to bandage you up and theirs nothing you can do to stop me."

"Fine. Lets get rid of stinky here first."

They both struggled to pick up the creature and dragged it into the space lock.

When the door shut they opened the outer door and the body was sucked into the vacuum of space.

Upstairs, Gazelle had Nikko sit on the table while she put some bandages on his chest.

"There." She said quietly as she put the last one on.

She touched his head, close to his hair, to look at the small scratch there.

Nikko felt that feeling again, whenever he was this close to her.

She paused, only a few inches from his face and they just looked at each other for a second.

"Uh, I brought you another shirt." She coughed, reaching back and handing it to him.

"Thanks." He said quietly as he slipped it on.

When she bent over he saw the locket he'd given her dangling from her neck, along with her usual silver cross.

He shivered as he remembered his dream. A lot of deja-vu seemed to be happening today.

"So... I guess we better get back to work." She said, starting to head towards the monitor room.

"Yeah." Nikko looked down and touched his chest softly, over where he had been hurt.

He looked on as she left, and sighed.

What would a girl like her want with him anyway?

She was a good person. Religious. Everyone liked her.

He'd always acted like all the attention he got from other girls made him feel great. And in some ways, it did. But with Gazelle, it just wasn't the same.

He sighed, thinking about where he'd even be right now if it wasn't for her.

How gently she had put on the bandages.

Nikko shook his head as he slowly got off the table and headed into the control room.

Why had she even stuck around for so long?

He switched off autopilot and sat in his chair.

Nikko looked over to where she would sit, when they were taking off, or landing, or when she just felt like it.

She had decorated her side of the wall. Pressed flowers hung in strings, and she had a small wooden cross pinned up. Along with some pictures that she'd taken.

Nikko looked at the one of to two of them smiling together. It had been taken at her first birthday celebrated with them.

He let out a breath that he hadn't even realized he was holding, and turned back to looking out the window.

Outer space. In some ways it was beautiful. In other ways, it was dark, cold, and empty.

And Nikko wondered how much of his inside was now being reflected before him.

A Non-Existent User
Gazelle wished her heart would stop thumping. It's over now, Nikko took care of . . . whatever that thing was, and you're both okay, she told herself. The image of the blood in the A2 generator room flickered in her mind and she forced herself to think other thoughts.

She was glad Nikko always took bandaging like a man. She couldn't recall any time when she had seen him even flinch, let alone moan or cry like some of the men she'd patched up before she'd met Nikko and Jark-un. That was always good, because if he had ever showed any pain, Gazelle might not have been able to bear it.

It was called sympathy pain, when you feel like you're experiencing the same pain as someone you are close to. Gazelle had only ever had it happen once or twice between her and Nikko.

As the two were about to enter the control room, Gazelle spoke. "I should probably go make a round. We don't need any more of those on board today," she said. Nikko nodded. "be careful," he told her. Gazelle nodded, and glanced at him for only a moment or two longer before turning and heading back down the corridor.
"Anything?" Nikko asked through his headset.

"Uh... nothing yet." Gazelle's voice came through. She sounded a little shaky.

"Are you sure you don't want me to-"

"I'm fine, Nikko. I only see one capsule... so I think the one you took out was the only one."

"How's she doing?" Nikko asked, checking a couple gages on the front board.

"Well, that thing ripped out a couple cables, knocked a few cuplings loose. But I think she'll make it." He could hear the smile in her voice.

"Take good care of my baby." He said.

"Always. Hey, I'm going to sign off, getting some static interference."

"Alright."

"Gazelle, out."

---

Half an hour later Nikko could see the planet of Teriset-2 on the horizon.

Nikko reactivated the communications.

"Gez? We'll be landing in about ten minutes, so you better get up here."

"But I only have a couple more things to fix." She said.

"It can wait. From my readings we have everything we need to land. Nikko, out."

A few minutes later and the cockpit doors slid open and Gazelle sat down in her seat and buckled up.

"Um... aren't we sort of, like, wanted on Teriset?" She asked.

"We're sort of wanted, like, everywhere. Besides we need to do some more repairs to the ship." Nikko said as he flipped a switch. "Because, personally, I wouldn't want to be around if cabin pressure or the artificial oxygen decides to funk out and we're still flyin' this baby in space."

"Agreed." Gazelle conceded. "Is Jark-un back?"

"According to the heat sensors you installed, no. He's still gone."

A beeping indicated someone from the planet was trying to contact them.

Nikko put his headphones back and winked at Gazelle.

"This is Teriset-2 ground control to unknown space craft. Please identify yourself."

"Derian's Moon to Teriset-2 ground control. Admission number: 4439820206. Requesting permission to land." As he said this Nikko slid a card through a small slot in the console. It was another stolen thing, of course. It made them appear to be a different ship. At least as far as records went.

Only static came through for a moment and they both held their breath. Then they got the response.

"Roger, Derian's Moon. Keep at your course and you'll be in our landing space."

"Roger that, ground control." Nikko pulled off his headphones and smiled. "Piece of cake."
A Non-Existent User
Gazelle had to admire Nikko for his smooth talking ways and ability to pull things off miraculously. Gazelle would merely have landed stealthily without anyone knowing, or not come at all. But NIkko was right, they did need to fix things and it could get pretty ugly if anything went wrong.

She watched Nikko land their ship with ease and as he breezed out into the landing space. Gazelle grabbed her navy sweater and hugged it tightly, just in case it was cold, or if she would need it for a disguise. You never knew on these planets. Well, at least they weren't in the Political sector.

She hastily followed Nikko outside and made sure the ship was secure for them while they would be out and about, casting suspicious and disapproving looks at the landing space hands, who looked no better than common thieves.

Gazelle wiped off her hands once she finished securing things and turned to Nikko. "Where to now? I don't think we need any new parts," she asked, and held her sweater tightly as a breeze swept across the landing space.

"Well, we just might need to get our stabilizer looked at. It was a little bit off on the landing." Nikko said, leaving the docking area and heading into town.

"I thought our landing was great." Gazelle conceded.

"Yes well, you weren't the one flying it."

"But, I didn't see or feel anything wrong." She said.

"We bumped once, when we were about twenty feet through the atmosphere." Nikko said.

"Uh, Nikko... thats just a bump. You know, turbulence?" She laughed, no doubt finding his complaint quite ridiculous.

"I don't bump." He said, fumbling around something in his pocket. "Nor do I miss. They obviously launched the mutant in the pod before I shot them. Maybe even before we entered space."

"Nikko... its okay to mess up every once in a while."

"Not for me it isn't." He murmured, checking his data pad to see the status of their ship.

"Nobody's perfect." Gazelle said.

"Don't I know it." He said under his breath.

"What?"

"Nothing. Here, we should look in the general store for some more supplies. I think I may have nearly depleted your source of bandages." He smiled at her.

"You sure did!" She said. "And we probably need to get more sewing materials. I swear your clothes are more patches than actual clothes."

Nikko shrugged. "What can I say? I can't keep people off of me."

He laughed when he received a punch to the shoulder after the last comment.

"Ooh, this is pretty." Gazelle had stopped to look at a flowing blue dress in one of the stalls.

"Here, you can look around." Nikko handed her some money.

"Really?" She asked.

"Yeah." Nikko shrugged. "Just look around for a little bit, we can meet up in, say... twenty? Just make sure you buy the sewing stuff."

"Okay." Gazelle said, turning back to the clothes.

Nikko wound his way through the busy streets, not really looking for anything in particular.

In the middle of the square was a fountain, and a little boy was throwing a coined half-credit into it. He made a wish, then left with his mother.

Nikko sidled over to the fountain.

There had to be at least 5 credits or something in there...

As he looked in the water finally settled and he could see his own reflection.

Is this what he had come to? Even just the fact that he had entertained the thought.

Besides, if he took the money, their wishes might not come true...

"Pft. Wishes." He shook his head. He'd wished for a lot in this life, and never got it.

What would throwing some money in a fountain do for him?

"Just make me more broke than I already am." Nikko said to himself as he left the fountain.

He looked back, just once, the hope in his eyes there for a moment, before he turned and left.

No, wishing wouldn't do him any good.

He was on his own.

He had used to take pride in that. Nikko, the lone wolf. The one who doesn't need anyone else.

But now it didn't seem so great.

Nikko pulled an apple from his pocket and was about to take a bite when he saw something move in the alley before him.

He took a step closer, and cowering behind a box, was a child, probably only six or seven years old.

The little girl looked up at him fearfully, her rags hanging loosely on her emaciated form.

"I'm not going to hurt you." He said, and then slowly kneeled down so he was at her level.

"You hungry?" He asked, holding out the apple.

She looked at him warily for a moment and then took the fruit.

"Its all right, you can have it." He said.

She hesitated one more moment and then started to eat it voraciously.

"What's your name?"

"Allie." She said softly. "What's yours?"

"Nikko." He said.

Allie frowned, her brows coming together. "That's a weird name." She finally said, resuming her attack on the apple.

Nikko laughed. "I wouldn't say so."

"Why not?" She asked.

Nikko paused. "I... don't know. I guess because its mine."

"Where are your parents?" He asked.

Allie looked down.

"Oh. Mine aren't around either." He said.

"But you seem to be doing pretty well. How do I become like you?" She asked.

"What?" Nikko asked, shocked.

"How do I be like you?"

"You don't. You don't want to be me." He said harshly, standing.

"Why not?"

"Because-" Nikko sighed. "-because I'm not a good person."

"I think you are." Allie said.

"You don't even know me." Nikko shook his head.

"I don't need to know you." She said simply. "All I know is, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I think that makes you good."

"Well if one good deed replaces a bad one than I still have a heck of a long way to go."

"Do you have any more apples?" She asked.

"No."

She seemed sort of sad.

"But I do have some credits." He smiled when she looked up at him, her eyes sparkling.

Her eyes bulged as he put about two hundred credits in her hands.

"That should buy you some warmer clothes, and food for a while. Just don't-" He paused, then smiled and ruffled her hair. "-don't do drugs. Ever. And if you have the chance of education, take it."

Allie nodded. "Okay."

He walked her out of the alleyway.

"Thanks!" She cried, hugging him tightly across the waist, and catching him off guard.

Then with only a look back she skipped down the street, a whole new person.

"Wow." Gazelle's voice behind him made him jump. "I had no idea you were so good with kids."

Nikko ruffled his hair, trying to get back in the groove. "So... you get anything?" He asked.

"Yeah. I bought the dress, and the sewing supplies, plus the bandages." She smiled.

"Hey, the circus is in town, want to go?" He asked.

"To... the circus?" She laughed.

"Well, its more of a faire than a circus-"

"I'd love to." Gazelle beamed.

"We can't spend too much time there, cause we have to get back since Jark-un could materialize any moment, but, yeah."

They bought a bag of cotton candy to share, watched the juggling act, and finally sat down on a bench.

All of the lights and colors from the scene seemed to play back in Gazelle's beautiful eyes.

She shivered, despite her sweater. "I forgot how cold it could get here." She laughed.

Nikko thought for a moment and then pulled off his jacket.

"Here, you can wear this."

"But, aren't you going to be cold?" She asked.

"Nah. I could survive on Gaeia with worth weather then this." He smiled.

She put it over her sweater and snuggled into it.

There was silence for a moment as they just sat there, watching the hubbub of the faire around them.

Gazelle turned to him. "Thanks... for the jacket."

Nikko just nodded.

Suddenly he felt her hand on his and he turned to look at her.

There was something in her eyes that hadn't been there before.

Nikko wasn't sure how to react, and Gazelle didn't seem quite certain either.

Their heads gradually came closer.

His lips were about an inch from hers when loud popping sounds made them both jump.

Nikko laughed as he saw the fireworks against the new fading light.

"I haven't been to a faire in ages." Gazelle said, leaning her elbows on her knees and looking wistfully at all that was going on around them. "Not since-" Her throat tightened and she closed her mouth.

"Your parents loved you... huh?" He asked.

Gazelle smiled. "Yeah. And I loved them." She sighed. "But the good thing is I'll see them again."

Nikko looked down. "Yeah."

What about him? What would happen after he... died? Was reading a book enough to get him to heaven?

"What about your parents?" Gazelle turned to him, interested. "You don't really talk about them much. and I haven't seen any pictures-"

"My parents-" Nikko stopped, then looked up at her again. "My parents were great. My mom loved to cook, and me and my dad would hang out. Play sports." He looked down. "Normal kid stuff." He finished quietly.

"Hey, we should probably get back to the ship. Jark-un has to be back by now." Nikko stood from the bench and gave her a hand.

She hesitated for a moment, then finally took it.

"We should probably get him something. Otherwise he might get pissed that we went and had a party without him." Nikko smiled.

He went over and bought another bag of cotton candy, this time for Jark-un, while Gazelle stood a little ways behind. Thinking over what she knew to be true, and what she knew to be lies.




A Non-Existent User
Gazelle did not know what to think. She knew three sides of Nikko, which was more than the average person had.

There was the sweet side of Nikko, the side that had showed itself when she saw him giving his apple and credits to that little girl. Gazelle could see how hungry she was, and how she adored Nikko and admired him for this one good deed he had done for her.

Then there was the small side of Nikko that Gazelle was sure showed that he loved her. It was coming out more and more often, it seemed, and she hoped that it would grow and that they could go farther than how they had been at the faire, their lips so close it was almost unbearable.

And last but not least, there was Nikko's dark side. The side that contrasted with her every being, with all that she was made for in the eyes of her God. Oh, if only Nikko could accept God. This side of Nikko was the one she was frightened of, and the one that she feared would increase, sadly. Dark Sun had always been an addiction for Nikko, and she wished she could rid him of it forever. She didn't appreciate that he would lie to her about his parents, though it was understandable why he would.

Gazelle sighed. There was nothing she could do but follow him back to the ship- it was getting darker now, and no one wanted to be out in the dark streets of Teriset-2. She shivered again, remember stories shed been told, and hurried after him, trying to keep close, as if he could protect her from the advancing shadows.
A Non-Existent User
A sound like a whip resounded through the ship, as the aether snapped, and reality groaned under the stress. A bulge appeared in reality, the dimensions seemed strained, and the borders of objects shifted. Loose papers flew around as a gust spiraled around the bulge, and then it snapped.

Jark-un’s kimono fluttered softly as he stood. He was back, and flustered about his previous inglorious defeat by the mutant.

“Let’s fight in my world and see if you’re so tough…” He muttered as he made his way to the ship’s bridge, cursing again as his sword caught on the side of the narrow passageways. He always asked Nikko why the ship was so damn small.

Finally he reached the bridge. It was empty. Jark-un stared around, irritated, then reached out with his otherworldly senses. First, he realized they were on a different world, Teriset-2. Second, their ship was damaged. Not surprising considering their flight. Third, Nikko and Gazelle were out…at

“A faire…?” He whispered, bewildered. He couldn’t understand the human desire to go and see these “oddities” as if there was something special about them. He’d conjure a Raveling from the rings of Ortupet-5 and show them what a REAL oddity looked like.

He sighed to himself, and decided he might as well relax. He lowered himself into the captain’s chair, and prepared for a long wait. His eyes flittered around the bridge, searching for something to ease his boredom. He looked at each of their stations. His was plain, decorated only with some Japanese paintings that were authentic; he had had them commissioned himself some thousands of years ago. The only thing adorning his desk was a simple book made of bamboo paper. “The Tale of Genji” it said on its front in the now archaic Kanji of the Japanese language. But it was not the title that drew his attention; it was the name beneath it. Lady Murasaki. He turned away as tears stained his eyes. He’d become too emotive over the years, and that was in his past. The very distant past now. His eyes roved past Nikko’s empty space and over to the gaudy space occupied by Gazelle. Gazelle. He softened his expression again as his eyes roamed over the pictures. He wasn’t in any of them. There was her, her with her parents, and her with Nikko. And that was his plight. Her and Nikko. Finally his eyes met the one thing that would always keep them apart. The cross that stood in the center of her possessions. Him. He had had quite a laugh when she gave him a bible, like he didn’t know what was in it, like he hadn’t seen it all, like he hadn’t known him. Him. Yahweh. He was in charge of earth, he was their “god”, and he was Jark-un’s superior. Jark-un bore him no ill will, in fact quite the opposite. Yahweh had been one of the greatest of the Lorelai, and he had taken his position as god quite seriously. Yet now he was gone. As Mankind began their quest to the stars, they drifted further and further away from their god, and in time, he disappeared. Jark-un had not seen Yahweh in nearly a thousand years. Her belief in him forever separated him from her. How could she ever see him as something other than an abomination? A false god? The antithesis of everything she believed in?

“How could she ever love you?” A serpent-like voice whispered in his ear. Jark-un snapped up in an instant, sword in hand.
“Your very existence stands against everything she believes. What are you going to tell her? That her god is dead? That I killed him?”

There were no words, only action. The katana sliced the air, and was met in mid motion by a rapier, procured by the other man from the aether with which to fight.

“No. You didn’t kill him. You could never kill him. Lucifer.” Jark-un spoke haltingly, his words blurred by his anger. “And you’ll never destroy me.”

Lucifer. The rogue Lorelai. The God gone wrong. They were meant to be guardians of good, to show the people of the universe the way to truth and enlightenment, but not Lucifer. He had perverted their ways, and took pleasure in corrupting the people.

Jark-un’s knee swung up, connecting with Lucifer’s groin. He rolled with the blow, coming up back on his feet, sword once more at the ready, and grin still straight.

“You have potential. I could use someone like you.” He said through his crooked grin. Jark-un’s sword did his answering for him, barely being deflected by the thin rapier. The fighting continued, both keeping pace with the other, blow for blow. Their fight took them by the entry way, and at just that moment Nikko and Gazelle returned. Gazelle gasped, and Nikko reached for his Knife.

“NO!” jark-un yelled at him, as he ducked beneath the blade, and ripostled with a kick from his wodden sandals that connected with Lucifer’s jaw. “This foe is far beyond either of you.”

The crooked grin was back, and Lucifer stepped back and bowed.

“My time here is done, now I’ll let you explain to her what you know about me, what you are, what you know, how you love her, and then. I’ll let you explain to her what happened to her God.” He said, and from Gazelle’s multiple cries of surprise and Nikko’s confused glance, he knew that they had heard too. Lucifer disappeared with the same reality warp that had brough Jark-un in, and Jark-un slumped to the floor, defeated.

“I think…I might have some explaining to do.”

“Yeah you do, It’s about time you told us both Jark-un. What ARE you?” Nikko spouted, obviously flustered.

“I…I’m a god. But not such a one as you think.”

"You are not a god." Gazelle said shakily as she took a step backward. "There is only one true God."

Jark-un sighed. "In human standards, one could call me a god. I'm... what you would call an angel."

"Who was that!?" Nikko cried.

"That was Lucifer."

"You mean-" Nikko paused. He hadn't read the whole Bible so far, but he'd gone far enough. "-the devil!?"

Gazelle was very pale. "What did he mean when he said what happened to my God?"

"When mankind turned to space travel, they began to feel that they had no need for a God. They were the gods. And now He's disappeared."

"He hasn't disappeared! I can feel Him, every-time I pray." Gazelle said.

"I don't believe it either." Jark-un said, brushing a strand of hair out of his face. "He's just taken his presence away from man because they rebelled against Him. Its happened before."

Nikko swallowed. If Jark-un was an angel, or demon, or whatever... then that would prove the existence of Gazelle's God. But Lucifer had said something else. "-how you love her-"

The words made him twinge.

Never in a million years had he thought that Jark-un would have feelings for Gazelle. He'd never shown them! He-

Nikko sighed and leaned against the wall, his hands rubbing his brows.

"Well? Now what?" he asked, looking between his companions.

"I promise that I never meant either of you any harm-" Jark-un said. "-and I ask for your forgiveness for hiding the truth from you."

Gazelle nodded. "All-right. I forgive you."

He looked up into her face and she smiled.

"Fine." Nikko said after a few moments of silence. "You can stay onboard the ship. Here." He tossed the bag of cotton candy at Jark-un. "I'm going to get us off this planet."

He pushed past his friends and went into the cockpit.

He put on the headphones and contacted ground control.

"Derian's Moon requesting permission to leave airfield." He said, his voice flat and emotionless.

"Roger, Derian's Moon. Permission granted. Have a safe flight."

Nikko tore off the headphones and threw them aside, not even bothering to reply with a "roger".

He started up the booster engines and got them off the ground.

He pushed the levers and made them go at speeds most people wouldn't.

He couldn't help it. Going fast was a way to let out his anger. When he was flying the ship... that was the only thing he felt he could control in his life.

About twenty minutes later they had left the planets atmosphere and entered the vast black known as space.

He set a course for their next planet arrival and put the ship on autopilot.

Nikko slumped in the chair and sighed.

He looked over at Gazelle's wonderfully decorated side and Jark-un's old school oriental.

His seat was in between theirs. Was he in between them?

Ugh! How could this be happening?

She couldn't be in love with Jark-un... right? He was like a trillion years old for Pete's sake!

But why would she like Nikko, anyway?

Nikko sighed and got up from his chair. He wasn't sure if he could give her everything she needed.

Ah, who was he kidding? He didn't deserve her.

Nikko left the cockpit and headed to his room.

He saw the Bible on his desk and in a rage picked it up and threw it across the room.

He sat on his bed, tear's gathering in his eyes.

Nikko grabbed the box with the vials of Dark Sun and injected himself with some, the put it back in the wall. He needed it pretty much everyday.

He was worthless.

He was just a waste of freaking space.

He was pathetic.

He... wished he had never been born.




A Non-Existent User
Gazelle was flustered. This was almost too much to take in. God had disappeared? What did that mean? In a way it was a tiny bit predictable, only as far as the fact that a lot of what Jark-Un said never made any sense to her.

So God had disappeared. Gazelle refused to believe this. She wouldn't bring it up anymore, because doing so would most likely cause a debate between her and Jark-Un in which she might feel the urge to break something. And the other man who'd been on the ship was the devil himself? Gazelle was impressed and surprised when Nikko blurted it out. Had he been reading her gift after all?

Nikko. Their ship was flying at the fastest speed t had been in a long time, something she knew Nikko only did when he was angry or upset. Lucifer's words echoed in her head. "Now I’ll let you explain to her what you know about me, what you are, what you know, how you love her, and then. I’ll let you explain to her what happened to her God.” Was he . . could he actually be saying that Jark-Un loved her? Her? Gazelle blushed. Up until recently she had assumed she was nothing more than Head of Security and perhaps a friend. So what was wrong with both of them? Or was she the problem?

Gazelle was determined to get to the bottom of everything.
A Non-Existent User
Jark-un stared listlessly at the ceiling of his cabin. He hadn’t moved in almost three hours, just laying and staring. HE had no will to move.

“Why did I even try to get away from it all?” He whispered, Lucifer’s sneering face still burned into his mind. He had nearly lost everything he had fought so hard to keep today. Lucifer could have killed them both in a heartbeat had he willed it, and Jark-un couldn’t of saved both them and himself from his power. Suddenly, Jark-un bolted up and started thrashing about his room.

“WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT IT ANYWAYS?” He roared to no one in particular. He knew he wasn’t the equal of Lucifer, whose power had always been second only to Yahweh himself. And while Lucifer had undoubtedly been refining his power, Jark-un’s was on the wane. He drew his strength from those who believed in him and the tenets he stood for. He was a relic, where now were those who believed in honor, courage and the way of the sword? Would there not always be evil for Lucifer to draw on? And even now he saw the discord that his words and sewn between the crew themselves. Or rather, felt it, as his stomach fell about to his knees as Nikko took the ship into a nosedive and the artificial gravity struggled to compensate. He imagined him in the bridge, brimming with anger at JArk-un, taking the ship through death-defying maneuvers at speed anyone would be amazed by, accompanied all the time by he-

Jark-un sighed deeply. He had allowed himself to be attracted to her. Now he was going to have to pay the price for it wasn’t he? In the neighboring cabin he could sense her confusion, and from the bridge spouted a fountain of anger and hatred that could only be Nikko. He rubbed his eyes wearily, wishing for a moment that he could just die, cease to exist on the spot

then who’d be there for them? a voice in his head spoke, one that had lain neglected for quite some time The only one that can protect them from him is you

“BUT I CAN’T! He’s too great for me…” He snarled back at the voice.

A pale ray of light shot out from Jark-un’s fingertips. It flew around the cabin manically, before finally settling before Jark-un and taking the shape of a white heron holding a Lotus bloom in it’s beak.

“No, no you can’t. But who else can find the one who CAN? IF Lucifer has returned, it means death for all the galaxy if no one stands against him. Who is more aware of the death of mankind’s spirituality then you, who have seen your friends die out as their faithful waned? You who are so weakened by that very fact?”

“But Iam not Yahweh…Who else can stand against that devil.”

“He is not the devil. Was he Satan, you would be right. No one could defeat him. But he is only a slim imposter of the prince of darkness, and for that you should be thankful. For yes, only your master COULD save you from him, but this is a foe that you can combat. You and your friends.” The Heron replied in a high lilting voice, though it was faded as though there was a great gale between the two of them.

“So I am to face a foe I’ve never been able to defeat when my powers have never been weaker?”

“Every man has to face their demons sometime, Jark-un, yours just happen to be flesh-and-blood ones. And you’re not alone. You’re friends will not desert you, and the master is on your side.”

“So he is not gone?”

“Let us say he is…away, but he wills you to do this, and we both know that his plans always come to fruition.”

“Were it that I could understand them. It’s like some puzzle, a haiku wrote most cryptically. But very well. I will stand against him, alone if need be.”

“Gather followers for yourself. Do good wherever you go, and people will believe in you. Just don’t go down the path of darkness and make them think you a god. For there are none of those Jark-un and if you do that you will be no better then Lucifer himself. You need supporters, not followers.”

At that moment, the cabin door opened. An extremely distraught Gazelle stood there, looking in at the bizarre seen.

“You’re talking to a bird…?” She asked, clearly puzzled. Jark-un first turned to the bird and said:
“I think it’s time you left Mireyou.”
“Yes, yes, time does wear thin doesn’t it? Until next we meet Jark-un. Go with honor.”

“Go with honor. He repeated back as the Heron stretched it’s wings and flew straight out the window into open space. Jark-un watched it for a moment, then turned back to Gazelle.

“That was Mireyou, another of my kind. He was my partner when we watched over Japan, and while I was taken by the beauty of the people, he chose to instead imitate the beauty of the place itself. We are two of the last of our kind. Most have died as their followers waned. But anyways, you came to ask something?”

“It said we weren’t fighting the devil…But I thought Lucifer WAS Satan?”

“Lucifer is the Devil’s name, yes, but that wasn’t him. He is simply a follower of him, who revered him so much that he took his name.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“We’re going to fight him.” JArk-un said simply. Gazelle didn’t seem surprised at all.

“About what he said about…About you and me…Was it true…?” She asked, stuttering as he had never seen her before. He thought quickly on how to answer.

To some a lie is kinder than truth, but is it not he who said the truth will set you free?

“Yes.”
[Hey guys! Welcome our newest crew member! *drumroll* Bum Bum Bum Bum!]

Taiah Name: Sara

Age: 16

Appearance: Sara has long brown-ish blond hair and green-grey eyes. Her hair is usually messy her face almost always has black smears from grease and oil. She is a small girl, standing only 5 feet even and the baggy clothes she wears makes her seem even smaller.

Clothing: She wears baggy camo-cargo pants usually filled with tools and other 'necesities.' She has to hold the pants up with a belt tied around her waist. She wears a close fitting short sleeve white t-shirt with many smears from oil and grease.

Status aboard the ship: Engineer

Assets

-Handy (major): If anything's broken, she can fix it. If she doesn't have the right tool, she'll think of some way to get the job done.
-Stealthy (minor): Despite being weighed down by tools, she can move very quietly and hide in small places.
-Listening Ear (major): Being a very quiet person, she is very good at listening to others, whether it's personal problems or orders being given.
-Poker Face (minor): Her face gives none of her thoughts away, even those that specialize in reading people have a hard time seeing what she is thinking.

Complications

-Shy (major): She can't talk to others easily and gets tounge-tied at the simplest words. Even if she's talking to people she knows.
-Suspicious (major): Hard to gain her trust, very easy to lose it. She suspects everything of being a lie and if it is, she will rarely ever believe the person that told the lie. (there is a reason for this)
-Humor (minor): Little sense of humor, and rare smiles at jokes.
-Sneaky (major): Since she's shy, she has a hard time asking for things, so she steals them instead.

-----------------------

Nikko walked across his room and picked up the Bible, dusted it off and took it back to his bed.

He sighed and sat on his bed, and opened it to a random page.

It was talking about warning people not to hang out with those who were hot-tempered. Obviously Gazelle had missed that part...

Gazelle. He thought he'd had everything under control. But in all truth he didn't have a hand in anything. She'd probably be better off without him anyway. But he couldn't make his feelings go away. Maybe he should... apologize?

"For what!?" He threw up his hands. He hadn't done anything wrong. Right?

Oh well. Women were irrational creatures.

And yet impossible to live without.

Nikko left his room and went into the on-board greenhouse. He walked down the isles, trying to figure out which to take. Finally he stopped at a plant with rose-like flowers. She'd like these...

He picked one and headed out.

"Um... hey." He said, practicing. "Uh, I just thought I um..."

"Ugh." Nikko shook his head. He'd just have to wing it.

He stopped as he heard her voice, coming from Jark-Un's room.

“Lucifer is the Devil’s name, yes, but that wasn’t him. He is simply a follower of him, who revered him so much that he took his name.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“We’re going to fight him.” Jark-un said simply.

“About what he said about…About you and me…Was it true…?” He heard her ask.

"Yes."

Nikko snapped the flowers stem because he was squeezing it so tight.

He shook his head and laughed. Yeah, like he had actually ever had a chance. He shouldn't have bothered trying.

He threw down the flower and stormed back down the hall.

Augh! Could his life honestly get any worse?

Nikko stopped in the kitchen when he saw Gazelle's techno-gadget blinking.

According to this, they had someone else on board.

"Great." Nikko rolled his eyes and pocketed the device. "If its another of those mutant things they better watch out." He thought. He wasn't friendly to intruders on normal occasions, not to mention when he was in such a state that he might kill something just because it was annoying.

He checked the device again, and headed towards the engine room, passing through the generator room on his way.

He stopped when he saw that the things that had been damaged during their encounter with the last visitor. He frowned. It was... fixed. No one on board knew how to repair stuff that well.

He looked up as he heard a noise in the room.

It didn't sound as heavy as one of those mutant things... in fact it was barely a noise at all.

Nikko pulled out his blaster and took a step forward.

As he got closer he could see a small form, crouching in the shadows.

"Out. Come on." He said, motioning towards the figure.

And out stepped a young, fairly petite girl, with baggy clothes and a dirty face.

He frowned and lowered the weapon, assessing that she wasn't a threat.

"I don't remember offering boarding to anyone." He said.

"I snuck on."

"Obviously." Nikko rolled his eyes. "How?" He asked interested. Gazelle had the best security systems he knew.

She paused, not seeming comfortable with talking. "I rewired a couple of things."

"So it was you who, fixed all the stuff in the generator room?"

"Yeah."

"Hmm." He put his hands on his hips. "Interesting. You do realize however, that I'm going to have to kill you."

"You wouldn't."

"How do you know?" He asked. "I could just push you into the air lock, hit the button and foosh! No more intruder."

"Because Nikko doesn't do things like that."

"What?" He paused. He took a step closer. "Do I know you?"

She averted his gaze. "I knew this was your ship. Your kinda famous on Teriset-2..."

"How did you know this was my ship?"

"The death hawk? Um... because it had a hawk with red eyes painted on it..."

"Really gotta think about changing that." He muttered, more to himself than the girl. "So... you snuck onboard, and did some repairs, thinking that that would make us want to let you join our crew."

"Yes."

"Well good job." He smiled and extended his hand. "We've been in need of a good engineer. This thing is more tape and paperclips than it is ship."

She hesitantly shook it.

"What's your name?" He asked.

"Sara."





An awkward silence fell over the two, Sara looked around uneasily. She wasn't used to being confined in a room with one person when that person wasn't giving some kind of command. She looked at the engine, frowning at its condition. It was a disgrace to engines everywhere. It was dirty, smoking, inefficient, falling apart, dirty, and seriously falling apart. Sara even saw something she could fix with a simple metal plate to separate two things. The only thing wrong was...she didn't have a plate.

She looked around the room, now ignoring Nikko, for something she could use. Her eyes settled on a blaster in a holster on the thigh of a certain captain of a the crew she just joined. It was made of very durable materials, she could use that for many things.

'How do I ask him for it though,' she thought, 'Mind if I use your gun to fix the engine? Who in the universe would trade their gun for an engine anyway?'

Sara's internal battle continued as she tried to think of a way to ask when Nikko spoke up.

"Well I have stuff I need to do, you do whatever it is you do," Sara panicked, she needed to ask him. She took a few steps toward him, he stopped and turned around, "What? You need something?"

"No," she said quietly, shaking her head slighty. She mentally slapped herself. Nikko turned around to walk away again.

Sara pulled out a wrench from her pocket, it seemed like it was about the same weight as the blaster. She quietly walked behind Nikko, reaching slowly for the gun with one, preparing to drop the wrench into the holster with the other. The motion was smooth, the wrench left her hand as soon as the gun left Nikko. He continued walking as Sara turned back toward the engine room.

She quickly took the gun apart, looking at all the pieces. 'Once I use them, he won't be able to ask for the gun back,' she thought.

She looked back at the engine, sighing, "First, I have to clean it," she said to herself as she picked up a few rags that were on the floor.
A Non-Existent User
Gazelle had decided what to do- the answer to all of their problems. She knew it as soon as she left Jark-Un's room, feeling a weird sense of assurance that she could still fight for her God, and had seen the crushed flower on the ground. With shaking hands and heart pounding, Gazelle picked it up and twirled it around in her hands. Nikko. Nikko. She squeezed the flower in her hand and then ran to her room.

She was going to jump ship.

Gazelle knew that this was all her fault- she was the wedge between Nikko and Jark-Un, and it would only get worse if she remained. She couldn't live with herself if she had destroyed their acquaintanceship, and the only way to stop that from happening was to take herself out of the equation. Gazelle entered her room and hurried around immediately.

First, she sat down and wrote a note. She could write nothing more than "I'm so sorry. I love you." Her eyes teared up and she couldn't write anymore. She wiped her tears away but it didn't help, since more followed, and threw on her sweater, even though she knew it wouldn't help much in space, and grabbed some equipment, heavy sobs tearing at her throat. She knew no one would hear- Jark-Un in his room down the hall and Nikko at the wheel.

Gazelle snatched up a metal bag and strapped it on, checking her map for where they were exactly. They were only a few leagues away from another trading planet, Weathercock Station 4, and she would be able to survive the plunge into space long enough to land there. She programmed the coordinates into the metal bag and knew it would set its course there once she left. Gazelle also took out another little device, which would release her signal on the tracker that had been placed on every crew member.

The Head of Patrol took her note and the flower and flew to the control room, praying Nikko wouldn't be there. He wasn't thankfully, and Gazelle plugged in the tracker device. She pressed a few buttons and her signal was erased, leaving only Nikko's and Jark-Un's. She gave a last forlorn look at her side of the room before taking down her larger cross and setting it carefully on Nikko's chair, along with the note and the disheveled flower.

She took a deep breath before leaving the room. Gazelle knew that her security device would beep, signaling that some human entity had left the premises of the ship. Maybe Nikko would piece it all together- find the tracker device and see that she was gone, and find her things. Hopefully she would be able to get the docking door closed behind her, but if not it would surely signal to Nikko that she had jumped ship.

With a final whispered goodbye to her favorite ship- her home- Gazelle turned the metal pack that would lead her to safety on and then opened the docking door. The force of the darkness and the utter emptiness ripped at Gazelle and, in a matter of seconds, she was sucked out of the ship and hurtling into the crushing darkness, fumbling for the door that she couldn't grab. One word died on her lips as she fell farther and farther away.

Nikko.
Nikko yawned as he headed up to the bridge. It was a good thing to have found a new mechanic. But he needed to tell Gazelle that she had better take a look at her security systems, seeing as someone got in.

He looked around. Where was she, anyway?

He went to her room and knocked. "Gez?"

No answer.

"Look, if your mad about what happened before... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been so hard on you and Jark-un." He sighed.

Nikko pressed the button that opened her door and found her room empty, a note on the bed.

He snatched it up and read it quickly.

"Dangit Gez!" He crushed the paper and ran to the bridge.

According to the system, they were missing one of their "outer-space" gear.

"Everyone report to the bridge, now." Nikko said through a microphone.

He shook his head as he saw the cross on his chair. What the heck had she been thinking?

Jark-un and Sara where there in an instant.

Jark-un looked at Sara then raised an eyebrow at Nikko.

Nikko rolled his eyes. "Jark-un, Sara. Sara, Jark-un."

"Where's Gazelle?" Jark-un asked.

"She jumped ship."

"What!?" Jark-un cried.

"Now listen." Nikko said, trying to get everything under control. "With the pack and the amount of oxygen she took she could only have made it to one place." He pulled up a virtual map and pointed to a place. "Weathercock Station 4."

"Isn't that the center of villainy and scum in this galaxy?" Jark-un asked.

Nikko frowned at him. "Yes Jark-un. Because she couldn't have picked a better place to run off to." He said sarcastically.

"We can make it there in less than five." Nikko said, even though for a normal person it would usually have taken fifteen. "When we get there, we'll dock in a shady side, get Gazelle, and get out of there. If you run into trouble, use your-" He reached to grab his blaster and found that it wasn't there.

"What the-" He looked around. "Where's my blaster?" He looked up between the two of them. Sara averted his gaze.

"Why'd you take it? Give it back."

"I can't." She murmured.

"Why not?" He asked.

"Because I took it apart to fix the engine."

Nikko put a hand to his face.

"Don't you have a spare?" Jark-un asked.

"No."

"What? What kind of space-farer has only one blaster?"

"The kind the doesn't expect it to be taken and used to fix the engine, okay?" He growled, glancing at Sara. "It doesn't matter. I have a knife, and once we get back on board, we'll stop at the next planet, pick up the necessary parts, and she can put it back together."

"Alright, you guys ready?" Nikko asked. "Lets go."

----

About ten minutes later they reached the station and Nikko slowed his ridiculous speed, and pulled into the most discreet dock available.

"Just remember-" He paused before he opened the bay door. "-be quiet, be fast, and please don't draw attention to yourselves."

He opened the door and they walked out into a hall, people going this way and that.

Already one could tell that they were in a shady place. And this was just the beginning.

"Okay, split up. If anyone finds her, use the communicators."

Nikko walked through the hall and went into an elevator, going to main docking station.

Here was where the real party was. Gangsters, mobsters, and all around bad guys, drinking, gambling, and dealing right in the open. This place was owned by them. The authorities gave up on it long ago.

Nikko passed by tables of people playing games, and shook off the girls that attached themselves to him, heading to where the schedules for flights were.

Suddenly out of the crowd he spotted a familiar blue sweater, backing away from a couple of guys.

He shook his head and stormed over to her.

"Whatever your selling, she isn't buying." Nikko said, grabbing Gazelle by the arm.

She seemed incredibly alarmed to see him.

"Why don't you let the lady speak fer herself?" One of the men said.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know you wanted to say something." Nikko said.

The man growled but his buddy, who seemed to have the brains, called him off. "If you ever get bored of him, you know where to find us hun." He said, then they both left.

"Nikko!" Gazelle cried, staring into his eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"What? Did you really think I'd just let you leave? I payed you for a month of service and it isn't up yet." He smiled.

She grabbed ahold of him and started crying. "I'm so sorry. I just-" She sniffed. "- I didn't want to be a wedge between you and Jark-un, and-"

"Gez." Nikko took her by the shoulders. "You weren't being a wedge between anything. Jark-un's just weird. We practically never get along anyway." He shrugged, smiling."

Gazelle wiped her face and smiled.

Nikko grabbed his communicator and spoke through it.

"Got her. Where are you guys?"

"Second floor. Meet you at the ship." Jark-un said.

"I'll be there." Sara's voice came through as well.

"Who's that?" Gazelle asked.

"Our new mechanic. I'll explain later." He said, guiding her through the masses.

When they reached the floor they had docked in it was surprisingly empty.

He had a bad feeling about this.

But what where they supposed to do? They needed their ship.

They turned a corner to find Sara and Jark-un, being pointed at by a dozen guys in blasters.

"Hands up." One of the men yelled.

"Great." Nikko rolled his eyes, but complied anyway.

The crowd parted and a young woman walked through.

Nikko's eyes widened as he recognized her.

"Vayle?" He asked.

"Surprised to see me?" She smiled. She looked over his friends, her eyes ending on Gazelle, who was standing very close to Nikko.

"I really thought you had better taste in women." Vayle said.

"So did I." Nikko growled.

"You know her?" Jark-un asked.

"Oh, he didn't tell you?" Vayle asked. "Nikko used to be my b-"

"Oh come on. That was like a million years ago." Nikko rolled his eyes. "And if you remember I was only doing it to get at your father, and his big stack of stolen bills. And I got away, too."

"Yes, he wants those back." Vayle said, her eyes flashing.

"I'll bet he does." Nikko said.

"Sara?" Vayle asked suddenly.

Nikko looked at Sara, along with everyone else.

Sara looked down.

"What are the chances, killing two birds with one stone. My fathers been looking for you. Come here." She ordered.

Sara started to comply but Nikko's hand stopped her. "What are you doing? You don't have to listen to her."

"Yes, she does, actually." Vayle said, crossing her arms. "She's one of our slaves. She ran away recently."

Nikko looked at Sara and saw the hurt in her eyes, then turned back to Vayle.

"Well she isn't anymore." He growled.

Vayle paused for a moment. "Fine, then may I propose a deal?"

Nikko just glared at her, so she continued.

"I'll let her, and the rest of your little friends go, if you come with me." Vayle said.

Nikko sighed. She was out for blood, if not something else.

"Fine."

"Wait! Nikko, what are you doing?!" Gazelle cried.

"I'm saving your skin." He said quietly, leaning closer. "Just go."

"No! I'm not leaving you! You came back for me, Nikko! You came back!" Tears were once more streaming down her face, but Jark-un had already started pulling her towards the ship.

He and Jark-un exchanged nods.

He could hear her cries even after the doors shut.

"Take him to my room." Vayle ordered, and they did so.

----

Nikko looked around the posh room, his stomach tingling.

He'd done all he could have for his friends. He'd done the right thing.

He kept repeating that in his head. They were safe. It was the only thing keeping him from running out of the door.

"You look like your doing well." Vayle said, taking off her jacket and putting it on a chair.

"Wish I could say the same." He said stiffly.

"You could." She said, getting closer.

"I wont." He said.

She flicked her hair back, and got closer still, until she was up against him and he was against the wall.

"I know you used me. But I have to admit it was enjoyable." She said, kissing him on the neck. "Now I'm just returning the favor."

He grabbed her hand, that had started to move up his chest, and held it tight.

"And then?" He growled.

"Then I'll sell you to the highest bidder." She wrenched her hand from his. "There's about a dozen people in this station alone who have something against you."

"Can't wait."

She kissed him again, this time on the lips.

He bit her lip and she backhanded him across the face.

"You are so stupid, Nikko." She cried, backing away. "I will get what I want. I always get what I want."

She called in a guard and Nikko was grabbed by them.

"You can think about it in a holding cell. Maybe a little thought will change your mind. Besides-" She said as he was being pushed out the door. "- its not like you can make it to long without Dark Sun."
A Non-Existent User
No. No no no no no. None of this was supposed to happen! Gazelle was supposed to take herself out of the picture, leaving Nikko and Jark-Un to stay friends and partners. But Nikko had to come after her? Why? Why didn't he see that this wasn't working out and she could fix it?

And to make matters worse, Nikko was gone now. He had given himself up to some ridiculous girl so that she could seduce him, or worse- kill him. Or sell him to someone who would.

If Nikko truly loved her, he wouldn't do this to her. He wouldn't come bring her back to him only to be taken from her again. Gazelle wouldn't let it happen! She was about to launch herself either at Nikko to drag him away with her somewhere or onto this Vayle chick, to keep her from taking Nikko.

Gazelle was tensed, ready to spring, when Jark-Un's strong hands wrapped around her shoulders, comforting but unrelenting, dragging her away from Nikko as he was being dragged away in the opposite direction.

Gazelle didn't even register the tears rolling down her face, and struggled feebly against Jark-Un's strong pull. "No! I'm not leaving you! You came back for me, Nikko! You came back!" she cried. "NO! NIKKO!" They reached the ship and Gazelle merely fell to the floor when Jark-Un let go of her, sobbing uncontrollably. They could have left Weathercock, but neither Sara or Jark-Un lifted a hand to start the ship. Gazelle suspected they were downhearted about Nikko as well, but they couldn't be as traumatized as she.

When Gazelle's sobs resided some, she raised her blotchy, red and tearstained face to her two companions. "Sara," she breathed. "Vayle said you were her servant at one time," she said. Sara nodded in response and Gazelle turned to Jark-Un. "Jark-Un, please," Gazelle hiccuped and sniffed. "Please, let me go and become one of her servants- it'll work out, please, we can save Nikko," she suggested, her eyes full of this one ray of hope.

Jark-Un looked as though it could work, but he might not be willing to try. "Please, Jark-Un, we can work something out! Nikko doesn't have to die!" she hiccuped again and threw herself at Jark-Un's feet, her hair and the floor muffling her next words. "Please, please Jark-Un," she pleaded. God, please- anything to save Nikko. "Please, please- please let me save Nikko . . ."

Nikko sat on the ground, his back leaning on the wall behind him.

He was so freaking twitchy! Not to mention the headache, the nausea, the chills...

"But thats okay." He said out loud. "Because your friends are safe."

He groaned involuntarily. "At least they better be. Or someone's going to pay for all this."

But someone was paying for everything. It was him... and he wouldn't have it any other way. He'd done bad things in his life, and it would kill him if his friends were hurt for his mistakes. Although taking all this punishment might kill him anyway...

He took in a deep breath and leaned his head back.

It wasn't like he could just go on like he had forever. It was bound to catch up. And it HAD.

He'd never felt so bad in his entire life.

But that was just physically.

Other than that he was actually okay. Maybe for once in his life he'd actually done the right thing. His friends were going to live, that was all that mattered.

Sure, he missed them. He missed them like he hadn't even known was possible.

But he probably wouldn't be alive long enough to miss them for long.

Sara was free, Jark-un could fly the ship and carry on with whatever crazy quest he believed he was sent on, and Gazelle...

She'd have a life. That was what was important. Jark-un would keep her safe, and hopefully her experiences with Nikko would... teach her not to go for the "bad boys". Because it wasn't worth it. He wasn't worth it.

What they'd given to him all those years... he hadn't deserved. But it had given him the best life he could have imagined, considering his screwed up beginning.

He hadn't deserved Jark-un's friendship, or Gazelle's.

But maybe that wasn't the point. According to Gazelle, nobody deserved to be loved, or forgiven. But there was someone out there who loved everyone deeply. Even including himself.

So maybe, letting them go, giving them freedom and a new life. Maybe he'd done something good.

The thought brought a small smile to his face.

He stood and walked over to the intercom and pressed the button.

But he hadn't fixed everything yet.

"I'm ready to go back." He said.

The door opened and someone came to take him back to Vayle's room.

Back inside he sat on a chair, Vayle across the room, her arms crossed.

"Look, Vayle. What I did to you wasn't right." He looked down. "I used you, just like you said. But it wasn't all fake. I really did have feelings for you. And I still do, even if there different."

"If your doing this to try and get off easy-" She said.

"No, I don't deserve to get off easy. I just want to apologize." He sighed. "In truth I was jealous of you."

"Me?" She seemed really surprised. "What? The money-?"

"No. Well, maybe the money a little bit. But... you had a family. You were happy. I wasn't. So I thought, hey, while I get the cash I might as well have a little fun. Try to make someone else as miserable as I was. Misery loves company, I guess."

"Nikko... you have more of a family than I ever did."

He looked up, confused.

"I never knew my mother, and my father gave me everything I ever asked for just so he wouldn't have to deal with me." Vayle looked down.

"Guess appearances can be deceiving." Nikko murmured.

"You got that right." Vayle smiled a little bit.

"So... I don't expect you to forgive me or anything but-"

"Nikko, I already forgave you. " She said, causing him to look up in surprise. "When you left, it hurt. I tried to hate you. And for a while I did. But when I saw you again... and how you cared for your friends, it all sort of went away." She paused, shaking her head. "When I saw you and that girl... it reminded me of us, I guess. We used to have fun. Remember all those times we just laid on the ground and looked up at the stars?"

He nodded. "Yeah."

"My father used to tell me it was just a waste of time. But truthfully, I liked doing that so much more than shopping, or giving orders." She paused. "I treated Sara as a slave because being the mean girl was what I was used to. Almost what I groomed to do. All I really ever wanted was a friend. But I was afraid no one would like me. So... I made them not like me, I guess." She shook her head and smiled. "Pretty ridiculous, huh?"

"Not really." Nikko said. "I mean, I'm the one who takes drugs because I'd rather not exist. No one wants to be lonely."

He got up and walked over to her, sitting next to her.

Tears had started to slide down her face as he put his arms around her. "I missed you." She sniffled.

"I missed you to." He smiled, remembering all the good times. "I have to admit I was surprised when you jumped me today though."

She laughed. "I'm sorry about that. I don't know what I was thinking."

"Sorry I bit you."

Vayle laughed again. "I deserved it."

"There's someone else we need to say sorry to, though." He said.

"Who's that?" She looked up.

"Jesus?" He smiled.

"There isn't any forgiveness for people like me." She murmured.

"Don't say that." Nikko said sternly. "Because if there isn't hope for you than their sure as heck isn't any hope for me."

"I've... never prayed before." She admitted.

"Want to do it together?" He offered.

"I guess it couldn't hurt." She said.

"Dear God, please forgive us. Because you of all people know we need it. If you really are always watching, then I guess lying wont do me any good, so..." He sighed. "I'm sorry. For all the crap I've done in my life. For hurting others, in an attempt to make myself feel better, and... for-" He coughed nervously. "-throwing the Bible."

Vayle at him when he said that and raised her eyebrows, then closed her eyes again.

"I'm sorry too." She said. "For ignoring what's important, and for being an all around bossy, pushy, bi-" She paused. "-uh, jerk."

There was a minute of silence.

"Is that it?" Vayle asked.

"I think so." Nikko said. "Besides if He can forgive us for all the mean stuff we've done in our lives, I'm sure He can forgive us if we messed it up."

"So... now what? What about your crew?" She asked.

"I can contact them. They can't be too far away. Jark-un flies like there's a speed limit or something." He smiled.

"You can come with us, you know." Nikko said.

"I don't think I can face Sara." Vayle said, looking down.

"I think she can forgive you." He said.

"Really?" Vayle smiled as she looked up at him.

"Really. Besides, she took apart my gun to fix the engine, so she kinda owes me a favor."

They stood.

"With my money you guys won't need to use blasters for engine parts." She said.

"I can imagine."

All of a sudden he found himself kissing her, but since she was kissing him back he couldn't determine who had started it.

They pulled apart and she smiled and looked away nervously. "Just like old times, heh."

"Yeah."

The door opened and a bunch of armed men came in.

"Really like old times." Nikko murmured.

"What are you doing?" Vayle demanded.

"We have orders from your father to bring the prisoner to him." A man said, and other men came and grabbed Nikko.

"My father isn't here." She said.

"Yes he is, he arrived about an hour ago."

"Oh no." She whispered. "Well... tell him I'm not done... interrogating."

"I'm sorry, but I can't disobey a direct order." The man said.

"Not from me, either?" She threatened.

The man seemed to reconsider. "You can have... five minutes." He motioned and everyone left the room.

"Nikko you have to get out of here." She said. "I think if we can get you to the escape pod then-"

"No." Nikko said.

"What do you mean, no? He's going to kill you!" Vayle cried.

"You remind me of someone." He laughed. "Besides, if I've learned one thing its that one day or another I'm going to have to pay for all the stuff I've done. Better to get it over with now than have someone I care about hurt."

"You don't need to be the hero." She said.

"Trust me, I'm not."

The men had come back and they began to push him out of the door.

Vayle followed.


A Non-Existent User
OOC: sorry for shortness. Only have an hour xD

Jark-un was truly confused. He’d never at been at such a loss. Nikko was gone, and Gazelle was begging for him to go and die to try to save him? Yeah, well, he was stupid like that.

“We’re going.” He said. Gazeele shrieked and jumped up, throwing her arms around him. Jark-un panicked and threw her aside, wiping the place where she had touched him. She stared up at him, confused. Jark-un could only shrug and help her to her feet.

“You just surprised me is all…” he offered as a lame explanation as he drew his sword and headed to the doorway.

“Where are we going?” sara asked as she followed him out into the station.
“Nikko lived here once. He got on the wrong side of a criminal overlord in these parts-“ He turned into a dark back alley. “His hideout was aroudn here somewhere…” Jark-un walked up and down the alley a few tiems, searching for something that the others couldn’t see.
“Jark-un…” Gazelle started just as Jark-un yelled in surprise.
“it’s right here! But I don’t know how to get in…” He pointed a thin crease in the wall that indicated a secret passageway.
“I can get us in!” Sara stepped forwarda and ruffled around in her pack for a few seconds before pulling out some rediculous device Jark-un hadn’t ever even dreamed of. She set to work on the door and had it open in quick order. Two grunts stood on the other side, surprised by the door’s sudden failure. Their surprise with that was soon equaled by their surprise of their swift death at Jark-un’s hands, his sword cutting the very wind itself in his rage.

“Let’s go.”
Name: Vayle Armada

Age: 17

Appearance: Midnight black hair cut in sophisticated layers to her shoulder blades. She stands about 5’6’’ feet tall with skin the color of pale gold and expressive eyes of cool gray. There’s a thick burn on the inside of her left wrist.

Clothing: Vayle wears the latest, most expensive clothing in fashion. She prefers dark tones and is often seen in black, which has become her signature color. Typical attire is a v-neck body suit with three-quarter sleeves, black knee-high boot with narrow soles, and a tailored red and black cheogsam-style jacket with hidden compartments inside.

Status on Board: Communications and Ship Backer (a semi-secret between herself and Nikko)

Assets:

Polished (major) Because of the way she was raised, Vayle comes off quite cultured and sophisticated, wearing respectability like some people wear comfortable sneakers.
Intelligence (major) She has a sharp intelligence that can pick up new things quickly. She also has a photographic memory.
Observant (major) Any good actor is observant, and she's been an actor a long time.
Wealth (minor) Raised with it and has a mind for making it in any given situation.
Languages (minor) Knows at least five languages fluently; it is a hobby.

Complications:

Masks (major) Vayle learned early that her father or their social circle did not welcome emotions. She plays the parts that everyone expects her play, hiding her true feels underneath.
Authority (major) She’s used to be in command, using cruelty and meanness to keep people in line and distant.
Stubborn (major) When her mind is made up there’s almost nothing that can stop her.
Explosive (minor) Vayle has a long fuse, but once that’s been used up she explodes.
Foul-mouth (minor) She has a tendency to curse because she knows it is unlady-like behavior; she’s working very hard to quit.
Thievery (minor) Learned to pick pockets and locks at an early age; she’s an expert.

_*-*_


As Vayle took the back position behind Nikko and the bodyguards she couldn't help but think of how horrible things had turned from one moment to the next. This is suicide, she thought viciously, tightening the gripped of her hands folded behind her back. Of all times, Nikko chose now to face the consequences of his actions. In the past, the Nikkp she knew would have taken the first exit to save his hide. Now, she would have to save them both from disaster.

The spartan hallways were long and narrow, a maze that would confuse all who were unfamiliar with the layout. And it was designed exactly for that purpose. Even the most prepared could not memorize or duplicate the interior to try and rob the great Amarda stronghold. It would make escaping for them all the more difficult.

These were the trained thoughts running through Vayle's mind, circling around the one she didn't want to think of most - the heart-wrenching visual in front of her. Nikko, who man she wanted to hurt as she had been hurt not that long ago, stood in chains about to meet the darkness of her father's wrath. Vayle thought that she should be thrilled. No one had ever treated her so cruelly. No one had made such a fool out of her feelings.She had been humiliated and played. And a small part, deep inside, wondered if all that had transpired moment before the guards interrupted them had been a game of his part.

However, none of that mattered for she most wanted to free him, hold him like they used to, and tell him everything would be okay. Please, God, let everything be okay. I know I'm not your best of the faithful, but help me save Nikko for death.

The guard flanking Nikko's right pounded his meaty fist against the main door twice before earning permission to the entrance. The male, regal coming from across the run sent shivers down Vayle's spine. Somehow, however foolish, she had hoped the guards were lying. Now, catching a glimpse of his sharp, passive face Vayle knew it wasn't a dream.

"Bring the prisoner forward," her father ordered without looking up from his stack of papers.

Pulled him roughly off the ground, the chains biting his wrists, and started him to march for the door when Vayle stopped them.

"I'll take him in," she said sharply, giving them both a look that could freeze them to statues. The looks on their faces became ill, but they dutifully followed the order of their mistress and walked ahead of them.

Vayle treated Nikko roughly and with a sense of boredom as he knelt before her father.

Her father, a man expecting she would show a bit of displeasure towards the thief, was satisfied to see the prisoner pushed to the ground on his face with Vayle's boot at the center of his back. She respectfully gazed at her father, masking her fear, and presented her "prize" to his judgment.

"This is him, Father." Vayle dug her boot a little harder into the center of his back. "This is the one that stole from you and played us both like puppets."

The head of the Armada family looked down at the mere boy with contempt. The money that had been stolen didn't touch a fraction of his entire stock. But the mere suggestion that the scoundrel thought he could have taken from him tested his nerves. His sharp grey eyes, so very much like his daughters, went cold as were his words when he spoke to the prisoner.

"You've taken something from me."

Nikko laughed harshly, the cut on his mouth from earlier had been opened, leaving a blood film coating his teeth. "Yes, I did. I don't have it now, but I can get it back for you."

Her father stepped out from behind his stately desk and approached Nikko with quiet, efficient steps. He gazed down at Nikko with his hands in his pockets. "It is not just currency I speak of, Mr. Reth. You've also taken the tarnish to my company's name and the name of my daughter." He leaned forward so he could be eye to eye with Nikko. His gravelly voice was as lethal as a blade. "How do you propose with handle that, Mr. Reth?"

During the confrontation, a small pick "accidentally" fell one the pockets inside her jacket and snaked its way down to Vayle's boot, falling conveniently into Nikko's capable hands. Slowly, quietly, Vayle prayed that he worked to get himself undone.

"Your humiliation deserves only one punishment: Death. Can you persuade me differently?"

Nikko shook his head, trying his best to conceal his free hands. "No, Mr. Armada. I did the crimes you've charged me with. I deserve the punishments you think I deserve."

Mr. Armada gave a barely readable nod to his daughter, watching her as she picked up the fully-loaded gun on his desk and trained it to the back of Nikko's head without hesitation. Lethal methods were what made Mr. Armada and his company so fierce and feared. He never showed mercy, never even thought to consider it. Not even for a reformed man.

"Shoot him, Vayle. Or I will." He walked back behind his antique desk. "We have other tasks to look after."

Vayle pointed the gun to the back of Nikko's head, her grip trembling slightly. She needed him to look up and understand. She needed him to have all the information and grasp the way she felt. Suddenly, the gazes clashed. With only four seconds to telegraph her plan, she hoped that Nikko could still decipher their old code or they would both be killed.

Nikko saw what was about to happen, and responded accordingly.

His hands free, he twisted upward, grabbing Vayle's gun, and grabbing her around the waist.

Mr. Armada stood in surprise.

"Don't call the guards, or else your only daughter will be splattered all over your room."

Nikko moved himself and Vayle towards the Armada's own private elevator.

"You won't make it out of this station alive." Her father growled.

"I guess we'll see, huh?" Nikko and Vayle entered the elevator.

"And you are going to pay for this."

"Your probably right." Nikko said. "But not today." He hit the button and sent the elevator down.

He released Vayle and handed her gun back to her.

"You didn't have to be so rough." She said.

"Neither did you." He smiled at her. "So, do you have a ship?"

"Yeah. Its on the fourth floor... which we just passed." She said, looking at the glowing numbers.

"Oops." They stopped at the third floor. "Oh well, one floors not bad."

They ran out of the private elevator and into the crowds.

They could see his guards everywhere, but so far they hadn't seen them.

Nikko was heading towards the higher class docks but Vayle stopped him and turned them in a different direction.

"Your ship isn't being protected?" He asked.

"Not by people. I just wanted something my dad couldn't track, so I could actually get a little breathing space."

"I like the way you think." Nikko smiled.

"If you liked that your going to love this." She returned the smile as they got into another elevator.

When they got out on the third floor they didn't look like themselves at all.

Nikko had blonde, curly hair, and was wearing casual space clothes, while Vayle was a red-head with freckles.

"This is like, the coolest device ever." Nikko said quietly in Vayle's ear as a bunch of her fathers goons passed them.

"I know right?"

When they reached the ship Vayle turned off the cloaking device and they returned to normal.

She typed in a code and they both got in.

"Not bad." Nikko said, looking around as they headed into the cockpit.

"Not bad." She retorted. "What does yours run? 350 max?"

"Well, its supposed to run 360, actually, but I can make it go faster than even the inventors thought possible."

"I can imagine." She repeated the same words he'd said only a few minutes earlier, when they had been alone in her room.

Nikko sat in the passengers chair as she started to undock the ship.

He'd taught her a lot of his flying tricks.

"Ready to leave this hunk of junk?" She asked.

"Most definitely." Nikko replied, putting on a headset and typing in the number to call his ship.

"Guys? Anyone there?" He frowned.

Vayle looked at him. "What?"

"Their not answering." He said.

"Uh... could it be that their not gone?" She said.

"What?" Nikko looked up and put a hand to his face when he saw that his ship was still docked. "Idiots! Why would they try to save me?" He cried.

"I think they could probably say the same thing about you." Vayle said.

"We have to get them." He sighed. "Let me try one more thing first."

He pulled out their personal communicators that they rarely ever used and called them.

"Guys?"

"Nikko?" Jark-un's voice came through.

"No, its God." Nikko rolled his eyes. "Why the heck are you guys still docked?"

"We thought you-"

"Well I'm fine, okay? But you won't be if you don't get out of their soon. Where are you?"

"Where are you?" Jark-un retorted.

"I'm in space, in Vayle's ship. You guys fly, and we'll dock with you."

"We?"

"Look, I'll explain later, just get out of there, okay? Nikko out."




Finally his friends had gotten on the ship and they left the horrid station. A few minutes later Vayle docked her ship with the Death Hawk.

Everyone on his ship looked extremely surprised when he and Vayle entered.

"Nikko! How did you-" Gazelle's face was red from her recent tears. "Why is she with you?"

Jark-un drew his sword.

"Guys, chill!" Nikko held his hands up. "I know her, she's okay."

"If you know her then why did she act like she wanted to kill you?" Gazelle said, her hands on her hips.

"Because she did." Nikko sighed and held his stomach. "Can I please explain all this later?"

Gazelle looked at him worriedly.

"I'm fine." He said. "Jark-un, can you fly the ship for a while? Set a course to the Haloset system."

Gazelle made move to follow him, but Vayle did at the same time and they got in each others way.

"Watch it!" Vayle said.

"Seriously, cut it out, or I am kicking you all off at the next planet." Nikko said as he made his way down the hall.

When he got inside his room he leaned against the door for support and closed his eyes.

He needed to take Dark Sun. He'd spent too much time without it and now he was going through withdrawal.

But he had to stop taking it! It was killing him.

But this felt like it was killing him faster.

He held tightly to the covers of his bed as he sat there, trying to resist the urge the take it.

Nikko let out a cry of pain. Dangit this was hell. Cuts and blaster wounds he could handle, but here he was falling apart over lack of freaking medication!

He felt like his body was going to explode into a million pieces.

He stumbled over to the secret compartment where he held the drugs, and injected himself with some.

A few minutes later he started to feel a little better. Physically, that was.

But he was mentally beating himself so hard he could almost feel it. Or maybe that was just a side effect.

There was a knock on his door and he sighed.

"Come in." He said, putting his hand on his face.

Vayle walked in, and hovered by the doorway for a moment, then went to his side.

"Are you alright?" She asked, sitting on the bed and putting her arm around him.

"Yeah." Nikko sighed again. "If you call being the most pathetic being in the universe alright."

She didn't say anything, but he could tell she wanted to comfort him.

"I can't stop taking it." He shook his head. "It would kill me."

"I know." She said quietly.

"Ugh." He stood and kicked wall. "I guess I probably deserve it."

"Look." Vayle said, standing and touching his face. "You've made mistakes. We all have. But your a good person."

"How you can you, of all people, say that?" Nikko shook his head. "After what I did to you? Leaving you?"

Vayle looked down. "Well, we're together now, right?" She looked back up at him.

He didn't say anything.

She locked her cool grey eyes with his. "I risked a lot for you. Did I make a mistake?"

"No."

She smiled and kissed him. "I didn't think so."


The kiss was shocking in its electricity yet familiar like pulling on an old comfy sweater at the chill of winter. Still, Vayle found herself hesitating, holding something back from him. She told herself that things were happening too fast - she needed to slow everything down. However, it was the tears of a frightened girl that she couldn't keep out of her mind's eye.

This was unfamiliar territory, taking into consideration another person's feelings. What she felt for Nikko was... undefinable. But Vayle didn't know if she could risk that part of herself again, especially for someone who might belong to someone else.

They pulled apart, away from each other enough to look into each others eyes. Part of her wondered - did he see it? See me hiding? Does he understand why I'm doing this?

Shaking the thoughts away, Vayle stepped back and continued on as business as usual. "How much do the others know?"

"Enough." Nikko looked away, laughing without humor. "Maybe too much."

Vayle nodded once. "Then I'll help you kick it."

Nikko gave her an unbelieving smile, shaking his head at her tone. "Take charge Vayle, all the way." She chose to see it as a compliment.

"You sticking around?"

She chuckled under her breath as she glanced around his room. It was sparse but seemed to fit his style.She imagined the rest of the ship looked the same. Oh, how life had changed. "It looked like you could use someone in Communications."

"Maybe. Just as long as you understand I'm captain."

"Never would have thought differently."

"Vayle..."

"Nikko..."

The laughter in his expression made her heart race, remembering a time when life wasn't always a battle. She leaned into him, preparing to steal another kiss, when a brisk knock sounded at the door, sending them apart once more.

"Nikko, we've got a problem." There was a slight pause. "You might want to bring her with you."
A Non-Existent User
Gazelle had mixed feelings about the new addition to their crew. How could Nikko bring her with them after all she had done? Kidnapping Nikko and almost killing him and God knew what else on her father's ship.

God. Gazelle sighed as she sat in her room. God wanted them to be forgiving, not seven times, but seventy seven. But Nikko hadn't even come to God? So why should he forgive Vayle so easily?

Sitting here in her room would not help the situation anyways. The girl picked herself up and went to the cabin, where Jark-Un sat steering while Nikko was off doing whatever it was he was doing. Probably with Vayle.

"Hey Jark-Un, what do you know about Vayle?" she asked. Hopefully he either couldn't tell she was jealous or he wouldn't hold it against her. As Jark-Un started to speak, Sara entered, grim faced. "We've got visitors," Jark-Un sighed. "Go get Nikko."

Sara turned to leave, but Gazelle put a hand on her shoulder. "I've got it." She walked the distance to Nikko's room praying silently. She could hear the two talking from inside and could feel the sorrow settling upon her.

She knocked. "Nikko, we've got a problem." She paused, trying to hear them. "You might want to bring her with you." Emphasis on her. Gazelle wasn't sure she could deal with Nikko and Vayle catching her alone, so she headed back to the cabin and knew he would take the hint.

When the two of them arrived, Nikko was all business. "What's going on?" Gazelle didn't turn to look at him.

"Seems at though daddy wants his prize back."

"Ugh. Seriously?" Nikko put a hand to his face and sighed.

"What?" Gazelle asked, seeming shocked and confused at his reaction.

"Nothing, nothing." Nikko said, sighing again, but moving past her and sitting his chair.

"Jark-Un, I need you to bring up the camera's on the back of the ship. Gazelle? Get us ready for light speed. Sara, you should go to the engine room, make sure everything is workin' alright. Vayle? Double check that your ship is safely docked with ours, we don't want to lose it." He said all of this very quickly, naturally, while getting strapped in and putting on his communication device, as though he'd done it every day of his life.

Everyone hurried to go to their stations, and soon it was just himself, Jark-Un, and Gazelle, sitting in their usual places.

It felt normal... comfortable.

Nikko didn't know what he would have done if they hadn't found Gazelle at the station. Kept looking, he supposed.

Jark-Un had brought up the visuals to show that their were about five ships following theirs.

Nikko pressed a few buttons on the control panel and readied the weapons system.

"Set a course to the Firestone system." He commanded.

The order was quickly executed by Jark-Un.

"Are you sure you know what your doing?" Gazelle asked.

Nikko snorted. "You kidding? We've had to do this after almost every job." He smiled at her.

She wasn't smiling back.

"I mean, you know, taking her with us. Are you sure we can trust her?"

"Course! I taught her everything she knows."

"Thats what I'm worried about." Gazelle said quietly, almost unheard by anyone else.

But only almost...


The situation washed over Vayle like the ice cold tide. The truth, unfortunately, never seemed to soften reality. Deep down Vayle knew she was unwelcomed on the ship. Only Nikko seemed to want her around, and even that need for her presence was somewhat tangled with their turbulent past. Redemption, maybe. Could she honestly say she wasn't partially there for the same?

As the crew's comfortable chatter continued, she pulled herself away from the shadows of the doorway. Now wasn't the time to question. Now was the time to act.

Running along the passages of the ship, Vayle twisted her hair up in a knot to keep it out of her line of vision. Recounting the way from their near escape earlier in the day, she followed the mental map right back to the dock of her ship. Stripping off her cheogsam jacket, she made quick work of the system check.

What a fine mess you've gotten yourself into, Vayle. You know Father doesn't like to be humiliated.

Frustrated, Vayle quickly put her ship with a diagnostic test. Her fingers went through the commands like musician played the piano. She didn't want to consider the consequences.

He'll kill them to gain his honor back. Can you honestly live with their blood on your hands?"

Her heart began to pound like a piston as she worked the controls. Suddenly, Vayle pulled her fingers away as she realized she was shaking. Lost of emotional control was not something she was used to. This was not an experience she wanted to experience again.

Undock the ship and return to Father. Absently, she rubbed the burn on her wrist with her thumb. Flashes of pain and shame flooded her system. His punishments are harsh, but it will spare the others bloodshed.

"Yes," Vayle whispered to herself as she mind formed a plan. "Yes, I can end this-"

"Everything secure?"

The sound of Nikko's voice cut sharply through her thoughts. In the back of her mind Vayle knew she was breaking her promise to him. But had their places been switched she knew he would of gotten a kick out what she was going to pull off.

Vayle pressed the button on the intercom. "Yes, captain. Everything is secure."

Quick and efficient, Vayle bypassed the command's security to override central control. As a precaution she engaged the locks on her little ship just in case the others got whiff of what she was doing before she had time to set her plan into motion.

I'm sorry love. But I had to do this to keep blood from falling. The crew will not die because of me.

The confirmation prompt appeared on her screen asking if she wanted to override the controls. Hesitating but a moment, she pressed yes. Within moments she had control of the main ship.

Forgive me, Nikko. I had no other choice.
A Non-Existent User
Gazelle was not at all happy with their circumstances. And it was evident to everyone else on the ship. What in the world was Nikko thinking? She knew they couldn't trust Vayle. Somehow she knew that the new addition to their team would be nothing but trouble. She'd already enlarged the distance of the chasm that separated Gazelle and Nikko, and now the entire ship was in jeopardy- as well as everyone on board- because of her.

In Gazelle's opinion, that was not the kind of help they needed. But, of course, no one asked. They were preparing for a chase, an attack, a few deaths. Though she blamed Vayle for their situation and didn't want to do anything that would help her, she strapped into her seat and started the process for lightspeed. There was a lot to do in the sequence, and they had no time to waste.

She glanced up, but quickly lowered her face. It was just her and Nikko and Jark-Un, just like old times. She sighed. If this was the old days, she would be charged up on adrenaline and excitement, happily taking out orders that Nikko or Jark-Un gave her, praying to God for their safety and justifying her love of this thrill.

Gazelle was dragged out of her thoughts but something glaring out at her from her lightspeed phase. Her eyes widened in surprise as something jumped out at her. Recovering quickly, Gazelle pushed another sequence of buttons. What was going on? Vayle. Her eyes narrowed as she reached this conclusion. Then they widened.

"Nikko..." She said, looking from the glowing button to her friend. "Vayle's ship just... ejected."



Nikko put his hand to his lip, not saying anything.

"Should we stop the command for lightspeed?" Gazelle asked.

He knew how hard that must have been for her to say.

God he loved her...

"No." He said, after a few seconds.

Both Gazelle and Jark-Un looked at him.

"I thought she might do this." He couldn't help but smile a little, much to both of their confusion.

He'd seen it in her eyes, just like in her fathers quarters. They'd always had a way of exchanging information with only a glance. They weren't meant to be together, simple as that. Perhaps before... but not now. She didn't want to get in their way.

Nikko gave some orders, just to make sure they didn't think he'd lost it.

"Continue on the command, just connect me to her ship first. And tell Sara to buckle up."

Jark-Un spoke into the microphone for Sara, while Gazelle grudgingly yet obligingly typed in the buttons to connect Nikko. He put on his headset.

There was a slight crackle of interference, and then she answered.

"...I had to." Vayle's voice came through.

"I know." Nikko said, looking down.

There was a slight pause.

"Your father might still believe that I held you against your will. You should be able to escape too badly a punishment." He said, readjusting his intercom.

"You may have stolen money from him, but he isn't an idiot. And if I've learned anything from you, its that you can't run forever." He could hear the laughter in her voice.

Nikko shook his head, but smiled. "Well, you know what they say about hanging with the wrong crowd."

He could see Gazelle looking over at him, wondering what they were talking about.

"Nikko... we're about ready. You'll lose connection." She said quietly.

He nodded.

He knew it was coming, but it was still a tad hard.

Nikko cleared his throat. "Good luck."

"You too, love."

Jark-Un looked at him and he nodded again, and the next moment they were thrust against their seats as they hit lightspeed.




The engine room was a sanctuary for Sara. She hadn't left ever seen Vayle cam on board the ship. It was the only place she felt safe. Vayle had done her share of abuse towards Sara and it wasn't easy for her to forget it.

"Buckle up back there," she heard over the intercom system in the ship. Buckle up? That only meant one thing, light speed. Sara looked at the engine, doubt showed clearly on her face. Would the engine be able to handle light speed? She would get her answer soon.

She sat down in the only seat outside the engine room just as they hit light speed. After the initial shock thrust her against the seat, the force against her lessened. The ship balanced out, once the force against her was small enough she was able to move around. Sara stood up, looking at the engine working hard to keep the ship moving at the ridiculous speed it was. Just by looking, Sara knew it wouldn't last long.

She let out an exasperated sigh, she felt like slapping Nikko, "How could he allow the engine to get in this shape?" she asked herself. She was now glad she had taken his blaster that time, she would take more stuff if she had the chance. Maybe that'll teach him to appreciate his ship.

The engine was working too hard, it sparked, sending angry lumps of dangerous light toward Sara. Uh oh, she thought. She hurried to the intercom system, only to find it broken. Damn it Nikko, she thought in a rare spat of anger.

She ran towards the front of the ship, hearing the engine set off more sparks. If they didn't stop soon, the entire ship would blow. The ship lurched, causing Sara to lose her balance. She stumbled into the bridge, landing face first in front of Nikko.

"Whoa there, calm down Sara. What is it?" He asked. At first Sara looked at him as if he was completely crazy. Did he not just feel the entire ship lurch? The she remembered why she ran up there.

"Engine...might blow up soon," she said, quieter than she should have, partly because of nervousness, mostly because she was embarrassed.

"What was that?" He asked, leaning closer to her.

The ship lurched again, Sara could almost feel the pain it was going through. Once again, her rare anger showed itself. She grabbed the collar of Nikko's shirt and pulled him close.

"The engine is going to blow up if you don't stop this ship!" She yelled in his ear. Loud enough for the other two of the crew to hear. Before Nikko recovered from the assault on his ears, they were already canceling the light speed.

Nikko shook his head to get the ringing out of his ears.

"Ahem."

Everyone was looking between him and Sara, who suddenly seemed timid again.

"Your new here, so I can forgive you." He said, typing something into the navigation system. "But my ship does not explode." His eyes flashed at her dangerously. "If you want us to drift to the next planet then we can." He motioned towards the nearest planet to them on the screen. "We're not being followed anymore so we can have some down time. Now." He looked at her again. "When we reach N1.7 I'll give you the credits for all the necessary repairs, and then you will rebuild my blaster."

Sara looked away.

"Good." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I'll be in my cabin."

He left everyone looking after him.
A Non-Existent User
Gazelle let out a sigh and sat back in her chair. It had been a long day, or at least it seemed that way. There had been so much going on, and suddenly it had stopped, and it left Gazelle feel wiped and light headed.

She was glad Vayle had left, but now everything was in shambles. As Sara had said, the engine might blow up. Gazelle couldn't help biting her lip and thinking of what would happen if that was to be true- there'd be no choice of anyone getting out alive.

Now Sara was in trouble with Nikko, Nikko was being moody, and everything to do on board was left to her and Jark-Un. She massaged her temple and glanced over to her friend. "Lovely day, hasn't it been?" she muttered sarcastically, purposefully not watching Nikko's retreating back.

She felt old for some reason, and could see the same feeling etched onto Jark-Un's face.

Gazelle stood and stretched for a moment before saying to both Sara and Jark-Un, "Well, I had better make some rounds before we get anywhere. See if there's anything else damaged or other unwanted stowaways." she said. "Watch the ship and make sure we land without dying, preferably, since our oh so valiant captain seems to have no intention of doing so himself." she told Jark-Un.

Without another word she left, leaving Sara and Jark-Un to themselves.

Gazelle pulled out her communicator and was hesitant before pressing a button and speaking, with the smallest hope that Nikko might have his on. If he wasn't shooting up on Dark Sun. "Nikko? You there?" she asked softly.

Waiting a few moments with only her echoing footsteps sounding around her, she frowned as no reply came. He must have it off or he isn't listening.

Gazelle hoped he wasn't already heading for his stash of Dark Sun, because she still had a tiny wish that he might one day kick the habit.

But she knew that after a while without it he was probably going to start suffering from not having his usual dose- and she didn't even know what happened then. So she supposed she could live with it if it meant he could stay the same boy she knew him as. Her Romeo.

The ship quaked again, sending Gazelle sprawling across the floor and her communicator skittering down the hall. As if turbulence wasn't enough, the lights when out around her, leaving her in total abysmal darkness.

The terror that struck her then and made her want to cry also reminded her that there were worse things on the horizon than Nikko's addiction.

Like death by blown up engine.
A Non-Existent User
“Miss Gazelle, are you ok?” Jark-Un’s voice rang out through the communicator.

“We hit a little turbulence, we should have the power back up in a few seconds……..That better?”

The small diagram of the ship on Jark-un’s workstation blinked green once again, indicating the ship was in at least nominal condition again.

“Yes. Everything is fine.” She replied, before terminating the link.

Jask-un sighed theny, the rubbed his eyes with his hands. Begin around humans could be so exhausting sometimes, and while it was well within his power to pull Vayle out of the aether and slam her back onboard the ship, he just didn’t feel the inclination to do it. After years of adventuring, it seemed his friends were falling apart around him. The already great tension between Gazelle and Nikko was multiplied by the appearance of Nikko’s old lover, a flame it seemed had refused to die out.

Speaking of Nikko and tension…

“Watch the ship. I’ll be back shortly.” He ordered the timid little girl. Honestly, he hoped he’s be back quickly, since the girl seemed about as able to run the ship as the wooden sandals he was walking on.

Jark-Un glided down the corridors, turning quickly into the dormitories. His own door stood ajar, and the oriental paradise that was inside was quite tempting. Next was Gazelle’s room. He’d have to be deaf to miss the sobs. He’d be back here.

Finally he reached the door he was looking for. The captains door. Jark-un knew what he would find before he even entered. Once he forced the door open, his suspicions were confirmed.

Nokko’s room was usually quite tidy, the orderly captain keeping it in order just as surely as he did the ship. Not so now. Jark-un walked in on Nikko thrashing his own room. Searching… Searching… searching desperately for something. And he wouldn’t find it.

“Who let you in here?” He demanded angrily.

In response, Jark-un reached into his tunic, and dropped to the ground a small box, a box that brought a glimmer of recognition to Nikko’s eyes.

“Dark Sun. As addictive as it is deadly. Better men have been destroyed by it. Even my people have met their end at it’s hand. Nikko, Gazelle loves you.”

Nikko actually looked somewhat shocked at the statement, a fact Jark-un completely ignored.

“Now, we do not read minds, so I do not know if you love her in return. I’m giving you back this box. But know, that if you love her, that you should use this on yourself before you pick up another vial of Dark Sun.”

Jark-un pulled the shorter of his two swords from it’s scabbard and placed it on the ground on top of the small box.

“Know that I will help you, if you but ask for that help.”

Nikko gaped, looking from Jark-un, to the knife, to the box, then back again. Jark-un turned on his heel and walked back out of the door, sealing it on his way out. He stood for a moment outside the door, leaning on it’s frame. He suddenly felt very tired, as if standing up to Nikko had taken all of his strength. It was not that he feared Nikko, the human lacked any real way of harming the immortal Jark-un after all, but that didn’t make it any easier to stand up to your friend, especially one that embraced you as Nikko had the odd alien that was Jark-un.

Finally, he regained his composure, and went back down to the beginning of the row of dormitories. His room beckoned him with it’s soft light and pleasing art, but he knew that there was one more thing he had to do before he rested.

Jark-un stood in front of Gazelle’s door a long, long time. Her sobs slowly grew more and more desperate, and Jark-un’s heart broke to hear it. Yet, he didn’t know if he could bring himself to enter and comfort her, he didn’t know if his comfort would be of use. Jark-un didn’t fool himself. He knew Gazelle didn’t share his feelings for her, and he wasn’t sure if entering would do more harm or good.

At last, he keyed the portal, asking politely for entry. He stood there waiting for a few minutes, and finally turned to leave when a weak voice bade him enter.

Gazelle was a mess. This wasn’t particularly surprising to Jark-un, but he was still surprised to see exactly how depresses she had become after the days events. Tear lines ran down her cheeks like rivers, her hair was matted and ruined, and her eyes were bloodshot. Jark-un sat on the chair in the room, facing her without getting too close.

“Tell me what’s wrong.”


OOC: I swear. One smart remark about me being so fast, and I swear I'll be out of here :p
The pain that radiated through Vayle’s body threatened to take the breath out of her. She was too weak to survive another strike. The muscles in her forearms shook until, finally, they gave out. Vayle fell forward onto to the hard metal floor. Within moments two of her father’s guards held her up underneath both of her arms, propping her up enough so she could see his face.

The anger brewing in the eyes she saw in the mirror everyday frightened her. Yet, she stood as tall as she could, even as red stained the floor beneath her feet. All she could do was face him head on. And pray.

Her father slowly approached her, lifting her chin up with the tip of his finger. During her punishment, he had left her face alone. There were less likely to be questions that way. Still, she knew he could see that she was still fighting inside, that she had yet to surrender to his power. No matter how much she feared her father, she refused to let him be the one to break her.

If there was one thing she took away from her time with Nikko it was that.

“I do not know where I went wrong with you, Vayle. I gave you the best of schools, the finest of clothes. I’ve treated you like the heir of my empire.” He gripped her chin when she tried to turn away. “I even forgave your dalliance with that boy. And this is how you repay me.”

“You treated me as your puppet. I’ve hurt the people I care for because of your empire.”

He scoffed. “You take no responsibility?”

“I take it all. It was my choice to act as I did. But I no longer need your approval. I will no longer have my strings pulled by a man who cares more about money than humanity.”

Her father’s gaze hardened. He was surprised by her declaration and in many ways so was Vayle. She had never spoken to him in such a manner. It was liberating.

Regally, her father dropped his hand to his side and walked back behind his desk. That was his position of power, she thought absently. He would feel more in control there as he gave her his final judgment.

“You no longer wish to be under the Armada influence.”

“Yes.”

“Then Vayle, I will give you exactly what you wish for.” He took an old piece parchment from his desk drawer, and with a relic fountain pen assigned his name to the bottom as well as the family seal. The paper was placed on the company scanner, and immediately sent to all in communication range. “As of this moment you are no longer my daughter or heir to Armada Inc.”

Vayle felt her heart fracture at her father’s words as the door to her gilded cage was finally unlocked.

“You no longer have access to any of the Armada connections, supplies, or credits. As you leave this ship, you must leave behind any Armada materials that are currently in your possession.” The hard line of his mouth turned into a dark smirk. With a brief signal, he ordered the guards to drop her back to the floor. “You’ll return to that thief I presume.”

Vayle fought the pain to rise to her knees. The back of her shirt was now torn to shreds. Wisps of hair coated the side of her face. She knew she looked less than refined, but tried to call upon her training to meet her father as an equal.

“No, I will not.”

The sudden arch of his brow made her want to laugh. “Oh? What will you do with your time now?”

“I plan to prove myself by a decent human being for once.”

Vayle slowly pushed herself back up to stand on her own two feet. She walked to the door with deliberate steps. Hesitantly, she turned back to the man she had admired once. The man she had always hoped would be proud of her one day. A lonely, pathetic man, she could see that now.

“I forgive you, Father.

He snorted, picking up a stack of papers from his desk, thoroughly dismissing her. “I give you one month on your own before you came back here, begging me to reinstate you.” He waved her away. “You have twenty minutes to depart, Vayle. And do not even think of using the Armada name.”

Biting down on her bottom lip to keep it from quivering, she held her head high and walked out of the corridor.

Vayle felt different. She had a new life now in freedom. Freedom. She would prove to Nikko and all the others that she was worthy to be a part of their crew.

She would make herself proud for once.

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