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Author Topic: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]  (Read 467 times)

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Offline Moonie

Re: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2017, 05:37:14 AM »
There was very little that could have drawn Wolf’s eyes up from the floor at that moment, not the nudge from Nero and certainly not his words, good intentioned as they were. He wanted to protest that it wasn’t just because he was scared, but that would have sounded hollow and false. It wasn’t hard to see that he was terrified.

Nero reassuring him that they had one another’s backs should have been more comforting, shouldn’t it? It wasn’t like there was a question of his crewmate’s capabilities. They had all proven useful enough for Kirkley to invite them to join his crew.

Of course Wolf failed to apply that same logic to himself.

All Wolf could dwell on was how ashamed it made him feel as Vargas decided to also chime in, even if it wasn’t directed specifically at him. This man had only just been brought on board. Vargas was a new, fresh crewmate and here he was displaying more loyalty and trust than Wolf could even begin to muster. Hearing the answer to his question made him feel that much worse about it, and he gave a bare nod of his head.

Kirkley needed people that would follow him, not someone that balked and hesitated at critical and difficult moments. He deserved people like that on his ship, and Wolf didn’t feel like he was that kind of person right now.

It was awful, feeling unreliable and useless. Those were not things Wolf was used to feeling. Not that any emotions were well-practiced in his fleshy human brain. That he felt anything at all was Kirkley’s doing. He had been hollow and merely operational before meeting Kirkley, functioning to sustain life had been all that mattered to the AI.

Wolf’s arm twitched as someone gently touched his elbow before their hand slid down to grip his lightly. He hadn’t even noticed that Aesir had moved. Slowly he dragged his eyes up from their joined hands to look at the younger man. It was fascinating how fast he was growing, wasn’t it? Wolf felt smaller every day.

“No.” He had never seen nature before. They held no gardens or such at the lab, none that Wolf had ever seen, at any rate. The Cancer was a space station; there was no nature to be had there.

Wolf felt something burning in his eyes as Aesir kept talking softly to him, there was a dull ache in his head that wouldn’t go away. When his hand was squeezed, he returned the gesture, not even aware that tears were quietly rolling down his cheeks.

Did he trust Aesir? Absolutely, without a single doubt in his mind.

“I trust you.” Wolf’s voice was quiet and held a soft tremor. He didn’t really know what to do with himself, he didn’t know how to cope with the level of emotions rolling through him because the AI usually throttled that part of his brain. It wasn’t working properly and that scared him most of all. What if he was broken? He couldn’t stop himself, leaning into Aesir seeking comfort. “I trust Kirkley. I trust all of you. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t feel good. I haven’t felt good since we came here.”

His free hand came up to press his palm against his forehead as he closed his eyes, tears still sliding down his cheeks. “My head hurts.”

Offline Lion

Re: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]
« Reply #21 on: December 24, 2017, 07:19:44 PM »
Pffft fuck if he had anything to say that would bring about any sort of comfort to anyone. Nero didn't expect those words to comfort Wolf, but they'd felt right to say all the same. The sheer genuineness behind them surprised even himself. There was no pretense, no presumption, and he even believed it down to the pit of his gut. Because in nothing of what he said was he wrong. Not a single one of them was alone on that ship.

Odd how even though he'd said it, and believed it, his palm still itched, and his despite knowing that not a single one of them - Kirkley aside - knew what to expect, it did nothing to stop the rattling in his chest. Maybe not even Kirkley knew what to look forward to exactly. A vague idea, what he'd hoped to find, knowing they were stronger together than apart. His heart rattled faster and he needed something to calm down.  Nero didn't outwardly show his agitation, just that he didn't want to be on deck any longer than he had to, instead curling

His eyes flicked to Aesir, back to Wolf and his heart clenched a little, the pressure making him breath slowly outward. Yeah, that was miles more comforting than the vague thoughtless words he'd tried to convey. Thoughtless? No no, it wasn't that. Not at all.  Nero chewed a little more on his tongue, feeling his tooth prick at the flesh of that spongy thing. Tongues were awfully weird, always odd. A small welling up of copper on that tongue before he slathered it with a wad of spit, absorbing the blood and letting out a small breath to force himself to relax.

8 hours. That was plenty of time. A long wait. And he'd found he'd waited a lot longer for less.  Nero's eyes flicked to Kirkley again, and he offer a small smile. He was good, taken care of, cleaned, and healed. If a little worried for what they were all about to venture into, but there was no use worrying about it now. There was a time and a place. They'd get there when they got there.

Glancing down to Otto on the floor, the rattling in his ribs thumping lowly, slowly, heavily, loudly in his ears, his eyes softened. Otto'd done so much since the excursion out into the black. And the exhaustion was written all over his face.  He was reliable, could be counted on and a Nero kept running his nails over his palm. When he was needed he was there, didn't judge more than he had to, gave when it was needed. He could be depended on and that said more than Nero could put into words. Made Nero felt just a little less alone.  Sure, Otto had Kirkley, sure he had Aesir too.

Hesperus left, taking Shen with him. Nero had ducked off to the side just enough to keep Hes from taking a dirtnap. Er, grated flooring nap. Even with Kirkley there in front of him, Nero moved forward. A pick me up. So that's what he did. Said nothing, and very quietly stooped beside Kirkley and Nero, squeezed the big guy's shoulder reassuringly, before scooting forward and tucking one arm underneath Otto's knees and another just at his back. No sound or grunt of effort when he noised the sleepy guy up and carried him off down the hall out of the deck to his own quarters, the door automatically closing behind them.

He didn't ask any questions, just smiled down at Otto and made a funny face with a half-quirked brow.  "How you feelin' there, cowboy?" he hummed before settling Otto down on the bed.  His eyes settled on that tired face for once and he brushed his hair back, pushing it away with calloused hands, hands that used to grip rope and haul on the back of badarii for transport. That used to scamper down the side of cliffs into deep dark red caves. Spelunking. And his heart thumped so loudly in his ears he thought he as was going to go deaf.

Nero sat down next to Otto, and he kicked the side of the footlocker at his bed, opening the contents of what was inside. Shopping produced a plethora of contraband, and he reached down to pull up a small cache of dandylion, some of the finest from Cancer station.

Offline Cheesigator

Re: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2018, 06:36:33 PM »
The finality of dismissing his crew was usually never something that bothered him. Usually it meant getting prepared for the mission ahead, or a bit of relaxation before they got suited and geared up to go be rockstars and do their thing.

Tonight was different.

Hes was the first to flee the scene, latching onto his son and dragging poor Shen along with him to god knows where on some other part of the ship. Aesir answered his question, said he was okay, and then he got up and went over to comfort dear Wolf; the distress in his voice was unmistakable and it made Kirkley's heart clench, and the knots in his stomach just tightened when all he got from Otto was a small smile before Nero came over, hesitated a moment and scooped him up and disappeared with him, too. One by one all of the crew members took their leave, and as Kirkley slowly stood up he found he was the last one on the deck--save for Dez, who was spinning in a chair.

He was reminded of all the days he'd spent on this ship alone; all the nights he'd spent sitting on the floor looking out the windows at the endless sea of stars and wondering many things. Why he was still here, whether it was worth it to keep searching, to keep trying, and whether it was right or not for him to keep chasing down a person who continued to be born into a series of lives that had never met him, never heard of Kirkley or Fell or ever dreamed of the ancient ruins they once called home.

He dropped his gaze as he felt the heat welling up behind his tear ducts; he'd questioned himself even more after picking up Aesir whether or not he had the right to.

If he had the right to yank that fine young man from his home and his precious family, even if it was for his own safety. Who was he to make that call, that decision for him? It seemed like it was all he was meant to do, and yet he kept questioning himself over and over again. What right did he have to drag any of these other fine, wonderful people into this mess? Who was he to assume that he had any ground to stand on to make decisions for them as a captain, when he kept secrets and brought them through such unnecessary pain, fear, and trouble? They weren't getting paid for this mission. No one was.

They had no reason to follow him anywhere. And he knew he was asking way too much of them to be considered fair or just. How selfish was he?

He had originally planned to check up with every crew member individually, but Aesir and Wolf were together, Otto and Nero clearly needed some alone time, as did Hesperus and Shen, and Vargas seemed to be doing just fine--Dez was having the time of her life. He realized how much he envied her and wondered briefly if maybe that was part of why he didn't like her so much right now.

Her indifference to everything was something he craved for. 700 years ago sure maybe he could've done something like this without flinching but that had been a facade and he knew it as well as Ain or Hesperus did. He wasn't the strong man people seemed to take him for; he sure as hell wasn't strong enough to fight back the anxiety and fear that felt like it was slowly consuming him as he quickly left for his room and sealed the door shut behind him as he flopped onto the floor by the foot of the bed, back leaning against the side of the mattress as he took in a deep shuddering breath and tried to let it out nice and slow.

He couldn't do this, he really couldn't. He didn't want to go back there, didn't want to force anyone else to go back there with him. He wanted to go back to the way things had been a few days ago, before they came to this asteroid belt. He just wanted life to be simple, which seemed like such a simple thing to ask--but his life had never been that way. Not once could he remember it being anything but needlessly complicated, interwoven with so many other lives around it that he couldn't take a single step without the ripple affecting someone else he cared about. Every thing he did, every choice he made hurt someone, inevitably.

No matter how he looked at it he would always be a fuck up.

If Aion were to show up at any moment he'd have no guarantee that he could protect them and keep them safe like he said he would--he would try, but he'd failed in fights against Aion already so many times before. And really, the sheer sense of utter soul-sucking, chilling fear that gripped him at that thought was undeniable. There was nothing he was more terrified of right now than him--the god of time, coming once again to fuck up his life and take everything from him he'd ever cared about.

He was the real reason why no one could stay on the ship. He was the real reason they needed to keep together as a group, where Kirkley could see them at all times.

Because if there was one man Kirkley could never evenly face, it was him.

Kirkley found himself with his knees tucked up to his chest, forehead resting on his kneecaps as all the emotions he'd been holding back during the debriefing made every muscle, bone and organ clench and shake. The anger, the helplessness, the sense of loss and the mourning and knowing who he was going to have to face regardless of whether he liked it or not. He wasn't ready to see Bifrost again.

He wasn't ready to admit to himself that he'd lost him and he was never coming back.

About six hours from debriefing he finally reemerged, calm as still waters and composed. If he let anyone feel his sense of unease and fear they would pick up on it, subconsciously or otherwise, and the last thing he needed was to sew seeds of doubt into his own crew. He found them one by one, checking in and talking with each to see how they were doing, make a joke or two and give them the sense that this was a mission like any other, minus them getting paid. He'd resigned himself to the fact that he would get this over with and whether he liked it or not it had to be done. He couldn't lose Aesir again, and while he maybe didn't have the right to make his choices for him, he could do his best to give Aesir the tools he needed to grow and learn how to make them himself.

That was what he tried to convince himself, anyways.

An hour to time to leave and Shen got off of the ship, changing back into the true form of the giant freakish bird creature that he was and allowing Kirkley to land Loveless on his back. A half hour in, every crew member was instructed to get into their void suits, because it was almost showtime. A gentle reminder that no weapons were allowed, and Kirkley did his best to make a few shitty jokes, and tried not to keep worriedly looking at Aesir, Otto, or Hesperus. Tried to treat them like normal crew members for now, so they wouldn't feel pressured or ostracized.

Once he'd gotten the affirmative that everyone was suited up and ready to go, helmets on and oxygen working properly, he pursed his lips, and opened the cargo bay doors. Down the ramp he led them, onto the softness of the massive black feathers adorning Shen's back. Shen had created an atmosphere for them that also supplied gravity, and they only felt like they weighed slightly less. They were advised not to try jumping if they didn't want to float away, of course.

Kirkley led them up the length of Shen's back until they all stood at the back of his neck, and stretching before them was the vast ever swirling, changing mass of galactic matter and space dust that was the ring of Shen's head. The gases, clouds and dust calmly floated around it in a circular motion, all purples, pinks, and indigos, and Kirkley motioned for Aesir to step forward.

"Don't worry, the portal will be waiting, for you to return." Shen thought to all of them, and Kirkley scooped Aesir up into his arms bridal style, the look on his face only a little grim as he glanced at him through the visors of their helmets.

"When we get there, try not to touch anything just yet, okay?"

He looked over his shoulder at the others, shrugging and nodding towards the hoop.

"One at a time, after me, step on in." He shoved down the nervousness that he could swear was making his bones rattle, his heart hammering in his chest and making the blood roar in his ears as he flashed them a cheeky grin and made pretend like this was all just part of the fun.

"Water's fine!"

He stepped over the edge and dropped down, the moment his boot came near enough it seemed as if the void invisibly reached out and pulled him, and Aesir, right in, the two of them disappearing in an instant, and not coming back out on the other side.

For Aesir and Kirkley, it was only about a second at most, the most jarring feeling being their sense of balance going utterly haywire. A moment ago he'd been falling down and now he was taking a step forward as if walking through a doorway, the soles of his boots crunching the grass, leaves and twigs underfoot. A purple portal was behind them, and stretched in every direction around them... Was forest.

It was utterly silent, save for the slight breeze as Kirkley paused for a moment, took in a breath and held it as he shifted Aesir in his arms to reach up with one hand and pull his helmet off, copious amounts of hair falling in a fluffy pile around his neck and shoulders as the deep brown locks were tousled by the movement in the air. The fresh sent of the foliage hit him in full force, the same time that that feeling did.

That unmistakable feeling of warmth and familiarity. He closed his eyes and he could feel those tan arms around him, the sound of Bifrost's voice murmuring in his ear as if he were saying,

"Welcome home."

He opened his eyes and tears were already rolling down his cheeks as he looked down at Aesir, stepping away from the portal to let the others through, assuming they actually followed like they were supposed to. If they didn't, Shen would take care of it and make them anyways.

"Welcome home." He said quietly, taking advantage of the moment that he and Aesir had to themselves as he shook his head a little, blinking the water from his eyes. "Feel familiar yet?"

Offline Marakai2.0

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Re: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2018, 01:33:15 PM »
As the others made their way off the deck or in some cases stayed put for whatever reason, Vargas lingered for a bit longer for no reason other than not quite knowing what to do with himself. Eight hours, give or take, until they were going to whatever place it was they were headed to, using Shen as their mode of transportation.

He was the last of those who had left to actually leave the deck, filing out shortly behind Nero and Otto and making his way toward the cargo hold and the Skorpion, resigned at first to eight hours of pre-action jitters, though hoping for a distraction of some kind - any kind - that would keep his mind otherwise occupied.

Sometimes, he had to wonder why he had ever decided to be a merc. After Saprus had left all those years ago for Aedolis, it had been up to Vargas to keep food on the table for him and Ma, keep rent paid up so they could have an actual apartment on the Cancer and not be forced to live out of a shipping crate for the rest of their lives. Funny, how doing every odd job he could had gradually become doing jobs requiring armaments and the ability to kill another man. Though it only made sense, he supposed, to go wherever the credits led him.

Errand boy, manual labor, thug, merc. That was his life, he supposed, and he didn't even count that disgraceful stint he'd pulled guard duty. Ma had passed sometime shortly after he'd started flipping sides in the war....her, and his only reason to do what he was doing. He'd only continued because he was good at it - good at shooting things, good at killing men when it came down to it. Knew how to follow orders, so long as their was at least a middling payout at the end. The very idea of a soldier of fortune.

And where had it gotten him? At some point, he found himself in the captains chair in the Skorpion, staring at the blast shield covering the large windows of the bridge, barely able to see his own reflection in the glass. Idly, he reached for the box of cigars on the console, sliding it open and grimacing as he discovered something else he'd need to stock up when he got the chance.

He fired it up and leaned back into the chair. It was only a few minutes later, he was reminded of his first few years as a merc...those pre-mission jitters, not necessarily dreading anything because to be perfectly clear he had no idea what to expect. Kirkley said no weapons. No weapons, and it might be dangerous. And though he'd managed to be as n9nchalant about it as he could, mentally Vargas was screaming. What was a gunner supposed to do without a gun? What were any of them supposed to do if shit hit the fan and hell travelled North to visit for the season? Rocks and sticks and bricks and boards could only do so much in anyones hands, and Vargas wasn't sure he was prepared to deal with anything more than humanoid if that were the case.

And so there he sat, worrying about the things he didn't know about and couldn't prepare for. He has to wonder if the lack of information was on purpose or accidental, but then figured that Kirkley had been around the block more than enough times to know what he was doing - if he was withholding information, then surely there had to be a reason for it.

He sat, and he stared, face grim as he inspected what he could see of his own reflection through the veil of cigar smoke surrounding him. Trusting wasn't an issue, usually, not with the Tsumi who'd time and time again thrown himself headlong into the first and bullet-filled jaws of death for nothing more than a piece of Xerox paper with numbers typed on it, a simple promise of a positive balance in his bank account. No, the issue Vargas was having here was not his ability to trust in his captain and the other crew members...

It was whether that trust had been earned. He'd only been in the Loveless for a short time, and the first part of whatever it was they were doing had turned into a shitshow really goddamned quickly, and the gunner couldn't help but continue thinking that perhaps things would have gone more smoothly (or, at least, been less shocking) if they'd been warned a little more about what they had been flying into. That shock was gone, now, but he could still clearly remember the amount of stress everyone had been under during, and even after, the events that had brought Kirkley back looking like he'd been thrown into a meat grinder.

The crew had handled it...rather well, under the circumstances. The point was, though, that those circumstances could have been avoided, or at least lessened, if they'd been more prepared.

Did he trust Kirkley? He wasn't sure. He wanted to. Hell, to be part of the crew, really, he'd have to at some point. He didn't seem as if he were willingly throwing himself and his crew into danger, but...there were some things that Kirkley wasn't telling. And Vargas intended to find out just how much of his trust Kirkley had earned. After all, if Vargas was to trust his captain...shouldn't his captain trust his crew?

The rest of that night was spent pondering those thoughts, the distraction from the next day thus found but no more comforting than the worrying would have been.


A few hours sleep brought a slightly tired and perhaps even surly Vargas into the waking world, suited in his own void-suit, his helmet an expressionless black, so dark and opaque his face couldn't hope to be seen behind it. The speaker affixed to his helmet would assure that it was, indeed, him behind the black reinforced glass and helmet. Idly, he reminded himself to remove the Bull insignia from the shoulder of his suit, just another sign of the group he had been in so long ago, yet existed no longer.

When he spoke, his speaker crackled to life. "So we're really doing this, then? Jumping into...that?" He turned to look at the portal after Kirkley and Aesir vanished into it, and let out a sigh. "Well, at least I know I haven't seen everything yet. Here we-"

And he was gone, as he stepped in after the first two, his voice abruptly cut off as his world seemed to twist and writhe, existence ripped apart at the seams before jarringly slammed back together.

Looking down, Vargas found his booted foot firmly planted in grass. Green, lush grass, the sort which he'd never seen before. Not even Margad could compare to the green those tiny blades seemed to possess.

He looked up and around, and found they were surrounded by trees, innumeral in such a way that he couldn't imagine that so many could possibly exist in one place.

".....Okay, okay, where the fuck is this."

Offline Draconian

Re: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2018, 11:39:31 PM »
Aesir gave Wolf a look of concern, reaching up to wipe the tears away and press his palm to the other mans head. The meat of his hand pressing against the temple before he carded a hand through his hair and did his best to glance at Kirkley on his way, offer a small smile and then guide Wolf to his room. Aesir went about getting him a glass of water and helping him into bed - or at least trying to convince him to sleep. Left him the glass of water and finally, yawning widely and covering his face with his hands let himself into his own room.

A glance at the apple sapling beside his bed and he finally stretched his arms high up over his head and sat down gently, wincing ever so slightly and rubbing his chest. It felt tight from anxieties and things he couldn't control and Aesir reached to the potted plant and pulled it into his lap. Looking down at it like it could explain anything. Silently begging it to.

Nothing though. Not even whispers.

Aesir tucked his green hair behind his ear, frowning that it was growing so quickly here. Frowning that almost none of his clothes fit him anymore. That he was tired all the time and felt more alone than ever. His fingers brushed over the little leaf, bursting with life and so green and he knew that he'd done that. Didn't know how. Didn't feel safe admitting he could. That didn't stop him from letting his teeth sink into his tongue though or swiping it along his palm so he could smear the blood onto the leaf.

He'd never watched it before, not really. Had never explored the extent of his abilities and now that he had a moment alone... Aesir watched as the sapling shuddered, a small leaf growing new from the top of the sapling. Just a little bit. Enough to keep it going.

His mouth hurt now and he sighed, tucking the plant back on the bedside table and finally laying down. Aesir didn't remember falling asleep, but the dreams were nice. At least in those he got to have a proper goodbye with his parents.

The morning went by in a blur. Suit up. Talk down.  It would be a lie if he didn't admit that he was glad he didn't have to go through the weird hoop thing himself. Was pleased that he got to be carried through. Though he wondered, was it because Kirkley didn't think he could do it himself? For a moment, too angry and feeling insulted to really notice exactly what happened besides a bunch of magic mumbo-jumbo he'd opened his mouth to give Kirkley a piece of his mind once he was on the other side but...


Every thought left him and he could only stare. He curled up tighter in Kirkley's arms and watched him remove his helmet. Quickly following with his own because this was amazing. It smelled wonderful and Aesir's whole body was covered in goosebumps in under a second. His purple eyes wide, he stared ahead, examining the grass and the gentle breeze through his hair and... A glance at Kirkley, frowning at the tears.

Impulsively he brushed those tears away with his thumb, ignoring the brilliance of green before him for the giant scarred beast of a man that so tenderly held him. "Home?" He repeated, looking back out and away, frowning gently before he sucked in a breath and closed his eyes. Maybe he'd have dreams before. "It does," He said honestly, content to remain in Kirkley's arms. A strange flash of pain in his right arm and he rubbed at it curiously, flexing his hand and instead of wriggling to get away, simply rest his head on Kirkley's shoulder.

"I think I've had dreams of here. I remember feeling the breeze through my hair. The sun on my face. Felt the wind push at my clothing before I..." Aesir remembered the bit of whatever it was he'd stolen from Kirkley the day before from one of the boxes, how he'd impulsively tucked it into into the suit where it laid flat against his chest. In the dream his arms had been exposed. Bleeding to the earth. Making it lush and fertile.

Aesir didn't hear Vargas enter behind them. He was too busy staring at his hands and then staring out at the grass. "Are there others like me?" He asked curiously, looking up at Kirkley before curling his arms around the big mans neck, afraid of the answer either way. Yes meant he wasn't unique, wasn't special beyond behind some weird brand of Whatever He Was. No meant that he was alone and that was a lonely prospect.  "Can you hear that?" He suddenly said, eyes falling closed, giving his legs little wiggles to be put down when he'd been so determined to remain high up in Kirkley's arms just moments before.

"Kirkley," His voice was soft and he turned his head to catch the voices better, so faint and hard to understand, "Kirkley I can hear them talking." Aesir was, of course, talking about the plants. Whispering the stories they had to tell - but it had been so long and their voices were so weak. "I need to help them talk louder, you have to put me down."

Offline GoblinFae

Re: Point of No Return [Crew of The Loveless]
« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2018, 02:01:18 PM »
Time passed and Hesperus pulled the broken pieces of himself together enough to play the role expected of him. Nothing was better. Nothing was fixed. It never was and perhaps never could be but now was not the time to worry about such trivial feelings as love and desire. Survival was key and right then the demon could not help but feel an oily pit clench within his belly at what hell Kirkley was going to drag them into this time.

Everything from then on felt mechanical. Into his suit, out into space, onto Shen's back, why it was as simple as 1, 2, 3. Right? His skin still felt like it was crawling despite how still and tall he stood. Hesperus wanted nothing more than to run. All it would take would be one jump and he could float away into the void. Only his loyalty, if it could even be called that, to Kirkley kept him firm and sure-footed.

Shen's voice was a reassurance though and so even as Kirkley broke his own rules, scooping Aesir into his arms and popping off with him, Hesperus was kneeling to gently pat his friend's feathers in thanks. The demon wasn't sure if he did it more for Shen or himself though he was sure it was little comfort to either of them.

He snorted and rolled his eyes at Vargas's exit. There was always one in every group that had that false sense of bravado. The Incubus sighed and squared his shoulders. No time like the present to face the next shitstorm life was ready to throw at you. He knew the longer he waited, the easier it would be to turn back and abandon everything. He had done it enough with others before, but never to Kirkley. No, if anything it was the old skydog who had turned his back on Hesperus. Those wounds always festered but in times like this, or Shen's earlier distress Hesperus knew where he had to stand. Like the pathetic child he always was and always would be, he would stand at Kirkley's side until the story's end had been reached.

A wordless nod to Otto as he passed him and Hesperus was stepping through the portal. He had no plucky comments to add and wanted this over with as much as the next man. His stomach flipped with the disorientation and then he was through, stepping out behind Vargas and placing a hand on the man's shoulder as he nudged them both a few steps forward and out of the way.

He tugged his void helmet it off, tucking it under his arms as his eyes slid to Aesir and Kirkley. Gold eyes took in that closeness and the strangeness of the young man's actions as if intent staring would provide all the answers to his endless questions. It didn't of course, nor did the pure earthy scent in the air that spoke of primal things his instincts understood far better than his mind did. There was something about this place that sent a singing in his veins. He could only compare it to the heady sensation of luring partners to him with his scent and this was so much more than that. There was old magic at work here, old powers, and older memories. Hesperus was glad he was not a psychic like his father. He could only imagine how much overwhelming it would be if he was.

"The Meeting Place," he replied to Vargas, though the answer meant as much to him now as it did when Kirkley first uttered it: not a damn thing. "Though perhaps The Dying Place might have been a more appropriate name. Seems we're the only ones here," he grumbled, his morbid bite coming to the forefront with his discomfort at facing the unknown.