Gia let out a low whistle, "Well, HELLO."
Steelclaw did not exaggerate -- spread out beneath her was a wide view of the new Pact facility -- "Fort Trinity", they called it. The fortress held some delectible tech but had gone dark after the great tragedy in Maguuma razed the core of the Pact fleet. Word from Steelclaw's sources was that most remaining forces had relocated to camps bordering the 'Wastes in an effort to recover their missing comrades and stay the tide of mordrem forcing their way west.
In the meantime... it was all just sitting there, nigh abandoned, amidst the confusion.
Gia bit her lip mischieviously and flicked a glance at the cube floating next to her.
It shuffled its parts in response.
Gia nodded and grabbed the railing on the starboard side of their rusted airship with a great steel gauntlet -- softly, to minimize clanging -- and lowered herself over the side of the hull. She dragged a pair of goggles down over her eyes and dangled for a moment, squinting at a partially submerged tunnel just under the pier. Hitting the submarine entry point wouldn't even be the the most difficult maneuver she'd pulled tonight. The young woman grinned and gave a two-fingered salute to the floating cube before letting go of the railing, dropping like a lead weight before tugging the cord on her backpack and unfurling a rickety glider. The glider jerked her body out of freefall and she barely skimmed the water as she made her way through the tunnel, the cube following close behind.
Inside, her boots found purchase on the rim of a docked submarine. Metal on metal clanked and scratched as she clamored up the dome. She froze at the top, eyes darting about the partially-submerged alcove. Apart from a few dull reverberations, all was silent. Gia playfully bumped a gauntleted fist against the chassis of the little cube, knocking it off its hover-point briefly.
"You did good, Bits. Now for the hard part."
The cube corrected its position and whirred toward the heavy door ahead of them. It tilted a quarter turn in the air, unsheathing a beam of light and scanned the locking mechanism. In a moment the beam narrowed, melting the steel. With a low bellow, the door groaned open, sound echoing in the chamber. Gia let the room fall to silence before grabbing her sword and following the the drone into a dimly lit hallway. Barren.
She shrugged and sauntered out to the promenade. Smug.
"HELLO?" her voice echoed off of metal walls.
Gia's eyes narrowed at her surroundings as she tightened her grip on her sword. Backup power still made the gates and a smattering of lights hum. Not a soul stirred.
Documents would likely be held at the core of the facility. Not deigning to care anymore, she jogged over to an imposing interior gate and fired up her torch. The seam glowed back at her as she moved it along the lower half of the gate with Bits boring into the top. Sparks flew like fireworks into the night sky.
Inside on the left, a glass-paned alcove betrayed a relatively intact workshop with blueprints plastered to the walls. Gia shoved her goggles back on top of her head. A cursory glance at the documents was a letdown -- of course the payload wouldn't be here.
"The Pact must've taken it with them," she heaved a sigh. "'Claw's gonna to blow a gasket."
Bits whirred in dismay. Gia punched the doorway hard, pulled the document tube from her shoulder and hastily stuffed the blueprints inside.
"The rest of this should fetch a copper or two darkside," she muttered, referring to the black market that thrived in the underbelly of central Tyria. "Maybe that'll be enough."
With an uncertain glance backward, Gia stepped through the threshold -- the front gate of Fort Trinity -- with Bits trailing silently behind her.
It was going to be a long ride back...
Gia barely managed to duck the axe hurling toward her head, then cringed at the sound of its blade lodging into a pillar behind her.
"But I didn't kn--"
"After all the EQUIPMENT and RESOURCES I handed you! You had some of my best intelligence, an open target, and you STILL managed to turn this thing sideways!"
"Your '*best intelligence*' obviously doesn't amount to much," Gia shot back. Her hands flew to her mouth as she realized she let the words slip. Steelclaw was *not* a charr known to handle criticism.
"You're lucky I don't gut you where you stand!" the charr roared.
"W-what about the others? I mean, add all that up and it's not a *bad* haul..."
"I HAD A BUYER FOR 'THE DEVICE'!"
Gia shrank. The only thing that pissed him off more than botching a job was stiffing a standing customer...
"Listen up, *cub*," Steelclaw jabbed her in the chest, pushing her backward, "You're going to find the Device and then you're going to Bring. It. To. Me. You turn up nothing, I take the price out of your ass." The imposing figure reached over her and ripped the axe out of the pole. "Now, get out."
Gia grabbed Bits and, without a word, slunk out of the Citadel.
Out of the gate, Gia heaved a sigh.
"Six help us, Bits. How're we gonna do this?"
Bits let out a muffled whirr under her arm. Startled, she let go of the little cube and bumped it gently forward with a gauntleted hand.
The woman shrugged, "Whatever. Guess we'd better go."
Gia let out a sharp whistle, calling a raptor over from the nearby pen.
"Eyy Sid. How ya doin', buddy?"
The raptor quirked his head to the side and licked her face in a massive, sloppy greeting.
"Ungh," she grimaced, wiping her face with an arm, "Yeah. Good to see you, too," she said flatly.
She clicked her tongue and the raptor knelt down, allowing her to climb into the saddle on his back. Gia flicked the reigns and Sid straightened. The raptor sneezed and shook off, nearly throwing her to the ground in the process.
The raptor tilted his head to the side, confused. She thought better of it and resigned herself to patting his scaly neck. "Nevermind. We've gotta catch an airboat to the 'Wastes...but let's go find a drink first, eh?" She straightened herself and patted an open saddlebag, letting Bits nestle inside.
Gia clicked again and the raptor happily trotted off.
Gia Lee (elementalist/weaver) flunked out of school, the administration citing that she had 'no real talent or feel for magic'. She'd grown familiar -- even friendly -- with the Charr thanks to her father's diplomatic ties and his work on the treaty, though fell in with a particularly notorious denizen of the Citadel. Steelclaw is known for running a rather ruthless cartel across Ascalon and central Tyria. He had briefly elbowed his way to the diplomatic table and recruited a drifting Gia before being thrown out. The gruff charr taught his recruits a thing or two about forging weapons and gear, and Gia uses these as a means to focus enough magic to get by. She settled in as a thief and mercenary in Steelclaw's operation and had been relatively loyal as repayment, but is increasingly looking for a way out.
Thought I'd take a stab at a "real story" this time and this is the first piece.As Gia heads for Dry Top and the Silverwastes -- I chose browns and warm colors, steel gauntlets and boots and accents with hints of color for her. The intent is kind of a "dusty steampunk" sort of look for her.