"Alright, Lieutenant, let's go over this again..."
Lyra pushes another temperamental strand of blue behind her ear, staring into the dark void of her coffee mug. Leaning back, she pulls her combat gloves off and massages her brow. "Listen, don't get on my ass about it. The thing took out a gnome four-wheeler with one hand! Civilians were in danger-"
"So you issued backup, and launched a warning flare, and saw to the needs of the people we're protecting..."
Lyra crosses her arms and avoids the telescoping eye of the Captain, its red core boring into her. "The perp was getting away - I had to follow. If I didn't, we wouldn't have the win here!"
The Captain raises an eyebrow, the flickering light of her right eye settling into a cold blue. "Oh, It's a 'win' now? To have brass from every echelon knocking on this chamber asking what the new kitten dragged in out of a tea shop in the Western Quad. Yes, we are definitively living the dream, little vossler."
Lyra looks the woman hard in the face, her expression set. "I didn't think IT would turn and FIGHT me...I was confident my bike would just rattle it a bit and give me a moment t-"
"Assess its capabilities? Size up the monster?"
"It was a threat!"
"This isn't a war, Lyra. There are rules and consequences. If we discover that this...thing is a sentient soul, it is known on record that you shot first."
A dangerous look spills across the Lieutenant's young face. "...Not if we change the narrative."
"I won't do that. You might be willing to adjust reality on the field to suit your paltry sleep habits, but I will not be one to sacrifice our integrity because you allowed yourself a destructive joy ride."
"But Cap!" The Lieutenant stands with desperation, the armored shroud flaring with energy, shocked to life through the nodes at the nape of her neck. The Captain raises her head to her, unfazed.
"You're young, Lyra. You have time to rectify this mistake. Learn from it, or I'll cut your wings myself." Captain Eksana leans back slowly, legs still crossed, and hangs one arm off the chair. The other pulls a long sheath from her belt, flicking her nodachi's guard with her thumb. The movement is slow and intentional, as the lens of her right eye turns jet. "Am I clear?"
Stamping down her emotions, the shroud's electricity slowly dampens, its geometric pieces folding back within the sleeves of its contour. Lyra breathes through each finger, pulling them from tight fists. Her eyes are steel and cold, but her voice diminutive. "As clear at the Temperance."
The Captain watches Lyra for a beat, before holstering her weapon once more. "And may its fire continue to burn some sense into you. As for our win... Beck, what do you have?"
She calls across the room to a long, steel table. Framed by stone columns cut into the metal, a series of runes flow up from the floor and along the metal edges, threatening to flare at any moment. The table is bent, barely holding under the weight of the being laid across it. Adamantine threads and platinum buckles bind the thing to the metal, and dozens of electrodes dot the body.
It is a dragonborn woman. No more than 17 or 18. Brass scales, rugged pants, tank top, and leather jacket. Muscular; built like a small tank; metallic claws, augmented jaw. Her clothes are tattered and torn, but the body appears immaculate. A keen eye up close, however, would reveal two thin gashes in the throat, a chorus of wires and cabling hidden just under the surface. Slashes in the rib cage, fully transfixed stab wounds through the chest, missing patches of scaling across the whole body; all replaced by intricate and masterful electronics and adamantine plating. From an untrained eye, it would look like no more than an expensive silver thread tattoo job.
Hunched over the dragonborn is a thin, lithe man of strikingly bland features. Forgetful, even, despite his skills, his whole being consumed by the white of his lab coat and long white gloves, currently stained with oil and ash. His face is a neutral mask of pale skin and opaque white eyes, framed in black eyeliner. His only defining individuality is a shock of green hair among the black side shave he is currently rocking. With a flourish of his hands, he lifts his goggles and addressed the Captain with efficiency.
"Sire Moria. Daughter of Arios Moria - Gladiator of the Inner Ring, and Kava Moria - deceased. Known: Sworn member, presumed dead by drowning. Siblings Ogdes, Desiree, and Orim, all serving in the Sandsea of Jakt by drafting. ...However, this creature is not bloodborn. In fact, no blood runs through these veins."
Lyra's hand twitches to her sidearm. "We talking some undead bullshit?"
Beck does not turn their gaze to her, instead speaking matter-of-fact to the air ahead of them. "Even an undead would possess a measure of ichor; lubricant to fuel their unnatural musculature and necromancy. No. This thing has no life. At least...not at the moment."
"It was QUITE alive when it crushed my bike!"
The Captain sighs. "...Does its make or model match any inside the Erudition?"
Beck blinks a few times, their face's pigments changing. For a moment, they are female and elven; a moment passes, and they are orc; then dwarven; then tabaxi. And then they are themselves again. "It matches no known archive of the Nightforged, nor any current schematic of automaton employed by Volition or Waveshaper Industries."
Blood drains from the Captain's face, memories spinning through her psyche. "Did the Nightforged build it? Take a corpse and repurpose it? They might live here now, but if they're allowed to do this, they'll outnumber bloods five to one in a month."
Lyra shakes her head. "One helluva way to bring out an ambassador... No, this thing's a weapon. We need to destroy it."
In the corner of the room stands a Drow man in a fine gray suit. Matte black with a gold ring for the iris, his eyes pierce into the room. Skin the color of night, and dark silver hair cultivated with precision and professionalism, the light around him fights to stay lit. "Her. She. And no one is going to lay a hand on her."
"Mr. F-Foster! I did not hear you come in."
Mr. Foster strides across the room. "You weren't supposed to." He delivers with no expression. With a look, Beck backs away from the body, and Foster addresses the Captain. "This girl is now under my care. She will receive all the treatment she requires with the context of her unique situation. No more discussion is required."
Lyra steps forward, "Now hold on a minute-"
Before the Captain can say a word, Foster calmly addresses the Lieutenant. "No one is going to harm this girl. You have no further authority in this matter. It is, quite literally, above your pay grade. ...So step your ass back. We need on the beat."
Lyra bites her tongue, glaring down the dark man. Beck, from a worktable at far end of the room, offers, "Of course, sir. However, you will need a technician of remarkable ability to provide such care. If you like, I could-
Foster raises a hand, shaking his head. "That won't be necessary. I assure you, I have the perfect candidate in mind. ...Now pack her up. We leave in an hour." And Mr. Foster, hands clasped behind him, drifts out the door in silence.
As Beck prepares Sire for transport, Lyra and the Captain trade looks. "Cap, what the actual hell was that?"
"Hell. Exactly." And Captain Eksana, sword held tight against her hip, clenches back the desire to run a man through.
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