Inara And Liane Pursue A Symphonian 28th Of June

[12:42] * Inara took a similar route a few moments later. Only she stopped long enough to glance at Zima and Liane and to jerk her head slightly to indicate that they should follow her.
[12:44] * Liane returned a nod to Inara, moving quickly to follow after checking the message on her personal comm, a slight frown crossing her face as she did. The camera was quickly shoved into a pocket, too, completing her rapid transition from gawking tourist to on-duty soldier once more.
[12:46] <Minaplo> [Zima followed, hand reaching to their sidearm automatically.-
[12:49] <Minaplo> [The alien's brisk pace turned into a run. They turned a sharp corner into an alley between a gaming store and what looked like a plant shop.]
[12:53] * Inara followed, of course. She was careful to give the alien just a bit of a lead, but at the same time she didn't want to completely lose their trail.
[13:02] <Minaplo> [As they turned the corner, they'd find- nothing. The alien was gone. All they saw was a garden, filled with dilapidated-looking flowers and a single twisted bare tree.]
[13:05] * Liane comes up behind Inara quickly. "… Dammit, where'd they go…" she muttered, peering at the garden curiously
[13:07] <Inara> "How frustrating. I just wanted to ask some questions. Well… let's just look around carefully." She wandered up toward the tree for a closer inspection.
[13:14] <Minaplo> [The tree rustled, a little uncomfortably, at her presence. Inara saw, for a flashing moment- a knotty bit of bark open, reveal an eye, then close again.]
[13:21] <Inara> "…" Inara jerked her head slightly again to indicate that there was something up with the tree. She put her finger to her lips.
[13:22] * Liane nods silently in acknowledgement…
[13:23] <Minaplo> [The tree remained- odd rustle here and there aside- quite still.]
[13:24] <Inara> Inara walked up to it, and… grabbed it. In a bear hug.
[13:26] <Minaplo> ["!!!!"-
[13:26] <Minaplo> [The tree's branches bent immediately around Inara, vines and roots twisting around her shoulders, trying to pull her off- to no avail.-
[13:27] <Minaplo> ["Hey, what are you doing?!" barked the tree from a tiny mouth on the base of the biggest branch.]
[13:29] * Liane puts a hand on her hip, near her sidearm, cautiously. Watches, waits for some kind of signal from Inara.
[13:31] <Inara> "So my hunch was right!" Inara sounded triumphant. "All right. Please don't be alarmed. I'm going to let you go. Before I do, promise you won't run off. We just want to ask you some questions."
[13:33] <Minaplo> ["Fine. But you have to help me right now."]
[13:34] <Inara> "What do you mean?"
[13:41] <Minaplo> [Liane would hear footsteps behind her. She'd react, but just a little too slowly-
[13:42] <Minaplo> [Standing in the alleyway was a tall humanoid figure wearing sleek white-silver armour that encompassed their entire body. They pulled a pistol out and pointed it at the group in general. "Where is he?"]
[13:44] * Liane plays dumb. "One, not sure who you're talking about. Two, even if I was, why would I tell someone who randomly came up behind me and pointed a gun at me and asked? I'm not about to be an accessory to murder."
[13:47] <Inara> "What she said." Inara nodded firmly. "Just who are you, anyway?"
[13:50] <Minaplo> ["Of course. My apologies." Said the armoured figure; they holstered their pistol.-
[13:51] <Minaplo> ["I'm Gauntlet. You might've heard of me, might not. It doesn't matter. There's a bounty on this one's head and collecting those is what I do."]
[13:56] <Liane> "A bounty for what?" Liane asked, matter-of-factly.
[13:59] <Minaplo> ["His head, predominantly."-
[14:00] <Minaplo> ["That was a small joke." Said Gauntlet. "He's dangerous. Causes a lot of problems."]
[14:00] <Liane> "Like?"
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["You ask a lot of questions for someone new to the scene." Said Gauntlet, who withdrew his pistol yet again. "I'll only humour two more."-
[14:03] <Minaplo> ["In case you haven't worked it out already, this one's a Symphonian. They fuse with living things to form a new composite form. Fusion can be temporary or permanent. This one here went to the far edges of the galaxy and fused with a real damn monster, something he can barely control. That sound dangerous to you?"]
[14:09] <Inara> "It sounds interesting all right," Inara said. "No need for the weapon, by the way. It's not like we're charging at you."
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["It's not for you, it's for him. Don't worry, I won't kill him. I just need it in case he tries any shit."]
[14:12] <Liane> "Quite dangerous." She glances back at Inara; does she still have the thing under control?
[14:12] <Minaplo> [The tree continued to struggle against Inara.]
[14:15] <Liane> "It's not going anywhere. What did he fuse with?" She looked prepared to step aside, but the information gathering was important.
[14:16] <Minaplo> ["No one knows. He calls it the Chaos Dragon, but what even is that?"-
[14:16] <Minaplo> [The tree stopped struggling. Instead, it rustled its bark and opened its mouth.-
[14:16] <Minaplo> ["Berlin," Said the tree, "is the capital of East Germany."]
[14:31] <Liane> "If you don't know what it is, then how do you know it's dangerous?" Liane asked critically.
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Because he can level cities with it, would be my, ah, primary piece of logical deductive proofery."]
[14:43] <Inara> "When did something like that happen?"
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, out of questions." Said Gauntlet.]
[14:46] <Inara> "Very well. Problem is, we still have plenty of unanswered questions left. And we'd like to ask him directly. So! What can we do to make you reconsider your goal here."
[14:49] <Minaplo> ["Come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn" Said Gauntlet, waggling his gun. "Why do you have to make this so hard on me? I've got bills to pay, y'know? Just trying to make my way in the world, and you've got to drag this out."]
[14:54] <Liane> "How much is the bounty?"
[14:58] <Minaplo> ["Well now, if I were the kind of person who'd be willing to sell this guy to the Overseer Ministry of Science, it'd be a million moks."-
[14:58] <Minaplo> ["But since I have as much love for the four-armed slave drivers as the next guy, I'm merely selling him off for a hundred thousand moks."]
[15:02] <Liane> "Good, we agree on something!" Liane grinned. "Who's paying a hundred K, then?"
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["No more questions!"]
[15:08] * Liane smiles. "You can't shoot first at us without violating the terms you signed on entry. And strictly speaking, we caught your bounty first, didn't we?"
[15:09] * Liane pointedly interposes herself between the tree and Gauntlet.
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["… Aw, come on."]
[15:13] <Minaplo> [He was already lowering his weapon.]
[15:13] <Inara> "Sorry, Friend. This is how it has to be."
[15:16] <Minaplo> ["Ugh."-
[15:16] <Minaplo> [He holstered his pistol. "Remember, the rule is you gotta actually confirm your bounty within 90 hours, or else it's free game again."-
[15:17] <Minaplo> [Gauntlet tapped his helmet, then turned and walked away. Liane and Inara would notice the faintest of shimmers in the air- a handful of invisible drones following after him.-
[15:18] <Minaplo> [A strange liquidy sound behind Inara, but when she turned to investigate… The tree was gone.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> [In its place stood the Symphonian in his humanoid form. His hood had fallen back, revealing a youthful face, with a silvery complexion, bright diamond-like eyes and long straight golden hair. His face was exceptionally alike a human's.-
[15:20] * Liane turned back to Inara with a shrug. "Well, this is going to be one hell of a story to tell the kids when this is all over…" She walked over to join her comrade, and the Symphonian.
[15:21] <Minaplo> ["Close." Said the Symphonian, hefting his staff so he could lean against it. "Not as dramatic as my last encounter with Gauntlet, but I'm okay with that. Thank you for the assist, my new human friends."]
[15:23] * Liane nodded. "You can thank us by hopefully giving a better explanation than he did of why Gauntlet's after you, for starters."
[15:26] <Minaplo> ["Of course. I-"-
[15:26] <Minaplo> [The Symphonian doubled over and vomited- a stream of stomach acids and liquidy metal that smelled of copper and rust.]
[15:28] <Liane> "Doctor, I think we need to get him someplace safe for the time being."
[15:29] <Liane> "We've got three days and change before it becomes a problem, so."
[15:29] <Inara> "We'll be fine." Inara tried to help him up. "If you can walk, let's go."
[15:30] <Minaplo> ["Sure, sure." He said weakly, getting to his feet and leaning harder on his staff.]

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