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Betrayal is a Double-Edged Sword - TC 3.2 DiD
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Song Of Obsidian



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PostPosted: Tue, 22. Sep 15, 14:26    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Chapter 116 - Storm-tossed


Liom Selek had expected it to be a good day. Every day was a good day, after all. He told his employees that very thing all the time.

The employees of the Daily Prime had started to notice something, though. Whoever Gunne's Heirs were, they were good at three things: killing Paranid, humiliating the Argon Federation's military, and making their boss' mood less like a joyful breeze and more and more reminiscent of a hurricane.

All conversation stopped when Selek stormed into the conference room and slammed the door behind him. "Everyone has read the brief?" he asked before even sitting down, and in a tone that implied only one answer would be accepted. And only one answer was received; four heads nodded. "Good." He finally took a seat at the head of the table and looked at each of his people in turn. These were not mere reporters; these individuals managed entire teams of journalists, investigators and support staff. During major news events, these were the men and women Liom Selek brought together to help make tough decisions.

This time, 'tough' was an understatement.

"I wanna know where the Heirs got this," said Niklas, one of the two leaders of the investigative teams.

Daye cut in with a bureaucratic sniff that didn't at all match the hardness in his eyes. "IF they got it and didn't manufacture it themselves. This is a political shitstorm in the making."

Everyone glanced at Selek. None of them had risen to this level of influence without some savvy. Janne Jovi had numerous contacts in the military, even in the higher echelons. Niklas Cruise had a finger on the pulse of the masses - the working class and the dregs of society that so many pretended to ignore. Nyota Cheram specialized in entertainment and, of all things, health care, always talking about things that people liked to hear about as long as it didn't require them to do anything themselves. Daye Brano ran all of their political analysis, and even counted President Herron as one of his personal friends. They all recognized that an Argon admiral collaborating with Paranid assassins was bad for everyone.

And to top it all off, they were the ones to whom the Heirs had sent a complete copy of the contract.

"A shitstorm," Selek echoed, " that we have been tossed into the eye of. Now we have to decide how to proceed."

Silence fell. They had been working together for years. Decades, in a couple cases. Every one of them had risen through the ranks. Some of those who worked for them griped about the clique Selek had formed, but he had chosen these four because their thoughts tended to flow on the same wavelengths. Someone could imply something and the others would understand. One could make a statement and the others would connect the dots from what they already knew. It was very satisfying camaraderie, but more importantly, it saved a lot of time - which was important for people who always worked with deadlines.

"They screwed us," Daye muttered.

"Aye. Do they know we have this yet?" By 'they', everyone knew that Janne was referring to their government.

Liom drummed his fingertips once on the hardwood table, then rapped his knuckles sharply and sat back. To his right, someone on the other side of the soundproof glass wall flinched. "Healthier for us to assume they do. If they do not, the Heirs could make our lives more complicated very easily."

Daye snorted, and was ignored. "We need to expose this," Janne said fervently. "The broadwave showed part of the picture. We need to tell everyone how big it is."

Nyota interjected quietly. "We need protection."

They all subsided again. It was a truth on all of their minds. None had any experience with a scandal this dangerous. The gravity of the situation created a unique deadline for them - a deadline by which they needed to act on their information before it became too dangerous to conceal. A deadline, they could deal with. But what came after...

"When they learn of it," Daye reflected, "they will try to bury as much of it as they can." He was their expert on the government; none disputed him. What he left unsaid was that anyone who knew what they knew would be buried with their evidence.

Liom Selek sighed softly, then leaned forward and clasped his hands on the table. "Then we take away their ability to bury it." A couple nervous glances were exchanged. They still might be in danger, no matter what they did. And they would remember who put them at risk. But they all instantly accepted the inevitability of their circumstances and each began taking notes while Selek talked. "Daye, you're working damage control on this. Call in favors if you have to, but I want warning if we are going to get hit. Janne, try to find out who Admiral Keswen's friends and allies are, and if any of them or his son are involved. Niklas, you'll take the lead in the story itself. Get the word out as fast as possible, to every world. But keep this labeled as allegation, not truth." He paused, and something in his expression drew every eye to the woman his gaze was focused on. "Nyota, you are on countermeasures duty. If Keswen was willing to pay that kid of money to kill the face-man for the Heirs, he might do the same to us. Coordinate with Janne and Daye as much as you have to, but keep an eye on everything Keswen and his people do." Nyota opened her mouth to respond, but the sudden intensity in Selek's eyes stopped her cold. "Admiral Liom Keswen has no more secrets, as of now." His eyes flicked to each person in turn. No one present recognized them. "You will all see to that every time you go on air."

Selek stood and moved for the door, stopping only when Daye asked, "What will you do?"

Their boss spoke over his shoulder on his way out. "I'll make sure we all stay alive."

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

Senator's Badlands opened up before me. The Yaki generally liked me, so I wasn't particularly worried about being attacked. Except for the fact that someone with a lot more pull than me had arranged for this meeting. So I chose to take a Yaki fighter, the Tenjin. It gave me decent speed and shielding, had some offensive power, and wouldn't be seen as a possible aggressor because it was only a fighter. I hoped.

Senator's Badlands is unfortunately a very large sector. The shipyard was over seventy kilometers from the north gate, and the south gate was another seventy-plus. Visibility was fantastic, at least, but I still couldn't see the Akuma anywhere. So I jumped to the south gate. The ship still wasn't on the scanners, but I could see a large, slow-moving shape to the northwest. A long way to the northwest.

'Decent' speed doesn't amount to much in a sector this big.

There were plenty of things I could do to pass the time, at least. Or should do. Such as reacclimating myself with my financial empire and production facilities. Sad, that I felt the need so often. Damned Teladi...

What I found was enlightening. Hohindras apparently wasn't paying as much attention as I would have thought. The microchip complex barely sold microchips at all. It did sell BoFu, BoGas, energy cells, silicon, crystals...so it was in fact quite profitable. Especially with three freighters assigned to it. Though only two were active. The third had orders to only sell microchips. It should have been moving nonstop. So I checked the pilot's log, and found that he was running into some conflict when trying to sell to trading stations. He also noted that every station that required microchips for production was stalled due to a lack of other goods. All in all, the microchip trade seemed to be a bust. A very expensive bust.

Add to that the fact that Mahi Ma apparently no longer needed microchips and had, in fact, ceased to make any requests at all, and I was just all sorts of perplexed.

I would have to deal with that later. A simple conversation was unlikely to suffice, when dealing with Hohindras. I needed to figure out what he was doing with all his time, if managing that complex wasn't it.

All of those factories with stalled production lines might make for decent opportunities though. When I had more free time.

Some peeks at my other ventures pleased me a great deal more. All was running smoothly. Same went for my two complexes. It was about time to look at expansion. If I recalled correctly, my plan for the missile complex added some heavier ship shields and a lot of corvette-sized weapons, while the weapon complex plan added more armaments for all classes. Hm...

By the time I finished perusing this and that, I was well within scanner range of the Akuma. Closer than I wanted to be, in fact. So I turned around and increased the gap to eighteen kilometers. Then I set a parallel course, which happened to point me toward the north gate, and hailed the captain, one Niklas Rana.

An Argon male with a distinctly friendly face answered. I was instintively distrustful. Wonder what that says about me. "What you ain't gonna do," he said with a kind smile, "is ask a destroyer cap'n for orders cuz you lost yo mates."

I gave him a half-smile in return. "I believe you have been expecting me."

His smile lasted longer than mine, but when I spoke his entire expression changed. The man's demeanor became purely predatory. "Ohhh. 'Bout time the chaff arrived. Know yo part in ala this?"

I shrugged and regarded him with a flat state. I wasn't about to let a pirate think he was on the same level as my people. Why? Not because of racial pride. And I was a pirate too, of sorts. But my government would expect me to establish some ground rules.

Still the loyal agent. Or a good actor.

"You know," the man said after a moment's thought, "One a' my crew saw the guy what called us. Big ole Split boy, my guy. Always looks people in the eye, just darin' 'em to try 'im." My smile flicked back on; typical Split. I hated him already. "But when he saw yo bossman? His eyes hit the flo'. Know what that tells me?" He waited a second, presumably to see if I would react. When I didn't, he continued on with a sadistic glint in his eyes...while still smiling like he was my best friend. I decided then that I hated every Yaki on that ship. "Tells me that if you don't do yo job, I know just who to call to set you straight."

If that happened, I knew what to expect. At this point I could be reasonably sure that Pu t'Tn could find me at any time. Which I didn't want to think about just then. If I gave him cause, I had to be ready to face him. And I wasn't. I shrugged at the man, just because it wouldn't do to let him know how unpleasant that prospect would really be for me. "You talk too much."

He barked a laugh, smile widening. "My crew tells me that very thang, now an' again. Lil' gripin' is good for 'em. But the looks in their eyes when I stop talkin'?" He winked at me, and probably would have kept going if I hadn't decide to play the part of an irritated Split warrior. Only partially feigned.

"Talk about something useful," I said with a moderately threatening growl.

The laugh returned. "Oh yeah, I'll be doin' that." He took a breath, as if steeling himself for something unpleasant. Like being straight-forward. "So, yo bossman wants new friends. But our friendship don't come free. So yo gonna help us steal some tech. Got a message from a squiddy, yeah?" My eyes narrowed on the man. I did NOT like him having access to that kind of information. Nor did I like Pu t'Tn having access to it. It was well past time to find ways to impede his intelligence-gathering methods.

The captain went on. "So yo gonna go to the squid. Do what it says. Keep 'em nice an' distracted. We'll take care o' the rest."

Great. "And if they tell me to kill Yaki?" I almost hoped they would.

"We'll make sho they're expendable."

We smiled at each other. At least I knew how much they valued their own people...nevermind the hired help.

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

The Boron, Humi Wi, had a voice only slightly less shrill and irritating than Mahi Ma's. He or she was aboard a destroyer in Ocean of Fantasy. Not the captain, though.

I was given a little background. Apparently, after the Boron declared Bala Gi missing and presumed dead, the Yaki decided to take advantage of his absence. They started stealing from his company. The Boron had decided to go after the stolen tech, and Mahi Ma volunteered me to help. I had no idea he was so enamored of me.

Since it was expected of me, I agreed to help. The assault force wasn't ready yet, but they wanted me to check on one of Bala Gi's research labs first anyway.

That took me to Menelaus' Paradise...

Now, this assignment put me in something of a predicament. First off, a Split helping the Boron is...rare. Inconceivable, really. But I did not want to use any of the Paranid- or Argon-built ships I had. Nor did I want to use anything smaller than a corvette, since I might be swarmed with fighters. That left me with few options, which was why I was flying a Split Heavy Dragon when I jumped into the sector.

The first thing I saw was a massive explosion. At a guess, that was probably the lab. Unless the Xenon were wiping the sector. A look at the scanners didn't show any Xenon, though. Just a flight of Yaki fighters engaging two Boron Barracudas. Poor squids.

Since I didn't want to accidentally kill the Boron myself, I kept flying. A pair of Yaki scouts came after me, but the quad array of particle accelerator cannons on top of my ship took care of them.

The Barracudas didn't last long, but they took a couple fighters with them. Mopping up was easy. I picked up one of the many crates floating around - it held an ion shard railgun - and, seeing nothing else to keep me there, returned to Ocean of Fantasy to report the lab's destruction.

Humi Wi was saddened, but didn't blame me for the loss. I was told that there was nothing left to be done until they gathered some intelligence and warships, and they would contact me when all was prepared.

I left before the Boron could think of anything else to say.

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Annette Barret





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PostPosted: Tue, 22. Sep 15, 19:40    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Song:

Just popped in to say Hi, I only started reading this recently so when I got the mail alert about this post I cheated and skimmed through enough to get a sense of who and where you are in the story.

You've whet my appetite, so keep up the good work.

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Song Of Obsidian



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PostPosted: Mon, 28. Sep 15, 18:37    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Chapter 117 - Into the Lion's Den


    "Admiral Liom Keswen has served in the Argon Federation Navy for over sixty years. He received several commendations for his contributions during the Great Trade War against the Yaki, as captain of the frigate 'Flint'. He has been entrusted with the protection of one of our key sectors in the heart of the universe, where he commands a task force that includes two of the most powerful warships in the Argon fleet. But now this man stands mired in controversy.

    Gunne's Heirs, a group of anonymous vigilantes who have been responsible for multiple attacks against both Argon and Paranid military ships, have made serious allegations against the admiral's honor and loyalty to the Federation. While the broadwave that went to every world and space station didn't name Admiral Keswen specifically, the group then sent a document to our headquarters that, if authentic, implicates the admiral in a transaction with a sect of the Paranid goverment.

    The Paranid Empire's response to this news is as yet unknown. We do know that the Federation has already launched an investigation into the matter, though Admiral Keswen remains in command of his fleet. When asked for comment, the admiral replied, quote, 'Find that Split bastard and ask him what he has to do with Gunne, besides killing his heirs. Don't bother me again. I have people to protect.'

    We will continue to provide the most current information on this scandal. The complete, uneditted document sent to us by Gunne's Heirs has been uploaded to the agency net and is accessible by all citizens in compliance with federal lawful behavior statutes.

    In our next update, a spokesman from the Federation Navy will be making an official statement."


I glanced to my right; Nyota's jaw was clenched tight enough to break teeth. "Don't think I like being called a vigilante," I said, taking a blind stab at the source of her anger.

"He's not wrong," she stated without moving her jaw. "But people like him are the reason why we've had to fight our own people."

I didn't see any point in mentioning that I wasn't one of their people. Choosing not to hide my race had been a calculated risk from the beginning; I wanted to make people think MY people were trying to help them. I hadn't done anything to discourage the belief that I had Argon overlords. But all of that came after Nyota joined with me. Before that, I had avoided communication with anyone while fighting under the guise of the Heirs. If I had the foresight to understand where this path would take me, I might have established some other personas...with disguises. Too late for that.

Nyota finally looked at me. "I want him to explain to me why he traded our lives for one sector's protection."

That took me aback. I frowned at her. "Even if he would talk to us, there's no way we could do it safely. And he wouldn't say anything to discredit himself. Besi-"

Several thoughts collided all at once. We could accomplish several things at once by visiting the good admiral. Re-establish our air of invulnerability by showing we weren't afraid of him. Show fairness by asking for his side of the story. Make ourselves visible again. And not just me...no. Nyota had to be there. An Argon. A passionate Argon warrior. Hm...

I smiled faintly at Nyota, and saw a tempering of her anger. Resolve could be infinitely more powerful, and she had it. We nodded in unison.

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

All but the easternmost segment of Montalaar was visible due to a satellite and my BoFu factory. I could see that the Colossus and Titan were flying in formation near the center of the sector - close to my satellite, incidentally - and that the carrier had increased its fighter complement from two to eleven: three standard Novas, and four each of the Sentinel and Vanguard variants.

The safer course would have been to jump in from the east. But I didn't want anyone to wonder why I was coming from that way, since I still liked using the large sector to the east as a temporary staging area. So Nyota and I entered Montalaar from the south. I was in Sprite, my poor neglected Eclipse. She flew the Nova Prototype.

Readiness must have been exceptionally high. I was hailed immediately. "Eclipse pilot, state your intentions."

I regarded the young man calmly for a few heartbeats. He was aboard the Colossus, and an officer, though I didn't recognize his rank insignia. "Stand by." I looked away, and patched the comm to the Nova Prototype.

"This is Nyota Braks, formerly of Weaver Squadron in Elena's Fortune and now flying for Gunne's Heirs. I need to speak with Admiral Keswen." The iron in her voice almost made me smile. Almost.

It didn't impress the officer, though. He sneered back at her. "He's not here. Thanks to you, he's been called before a committee to be interrogated for trying to get rid of you. You're the REAL traitors. Now leave this sector before I have you killed."

The threat was a real one; both capital ships were on a heading to intercept us. They didn't matter. Most of the fighters, however, could catch me, though not Nyota. And I know she wouldn't leave me. I didn't want to kill any more Argon if I could help it, but I kept the nose of my tank aimed at the north gate. I did want to show that I wasn't afraid...

"Traitors? Gunne's Heirs saved a lot of lives in Elena's Fortune. We've saved more taking on Paranid ships in Argon space. Admiral Keswen gave us up for protection for Montalaar. But he didn't tell anyone, did he? So he would have kept you all here to protect this sector from NOTHING. He's a COWARD!"

The man slammed a hand his console and half-rose from his seat, leaning in. His face filled the screen. "Don't you dare, you twisted little harlot. I'll ha-"

His expression twisted with shock and pain before it fell against the screen, and damn me if I didn't flinch. I became dimly aware of the sounds of weapons fire coming in from the comms as I watched that dead face slowly slide down and fall away, just in time to see another uniformed man go into a spinning fall, trailing smoke upward. I don't know how long the exchange lasted, because alarm klaxons began going off and drowned out everything else.

Several more figures ran across the narrow window, all armed in some fashion. The last one stumbled, and I saw some bolts of energy flying by him from the direction they were heading. The truth of the scene finally sank in. We had sparked a mutiny.

I pulled up out of the shipping lane and headed toward the east. Whatever was happening on that ship, it was so chaotic that I didn't want it to fly through a high-traffic trade lane. So I hoped it would follow me toward the east...if anyone was piloting it at all.

Nyota followed me. Thankfully, the Colossus turned with me. I couldn't see anything else aboard the ship, other than a couple corpses, smoke and red and white strobe lights. We could have left then, but I needed to know what was transpiring. Especially since we had triggered it. I wished I could see Nyota, but I wanted to keep that channel open and didn't want them to hear whatever we had to say. Once again I was a bystander.

I hate this.

I led Nyota some twenty kilometers to the east. Both capital ships followed. I wondered if the Titan's crew knew what was going on. Or if the carrier's fighters would scramble at some point. And if there was anyone left alive on the carrier at all. And most importantly...WHY? So many details in that one question...

I didn't want to fly in circles, so I cut the throttle and brought Sprite around to face the oncoming warships. It was safe, as long as those ships were out of weapons range. But I almost immediately started feeling jittery. Waiting and doing nothing was getting old. And this time I knew people were dying. For what?

My console chirped at me. Frowning, I looked down and saw that I had a message. From Nyota. I opened it with a little snort. Should have thought of that.

    I hate watching other people fight.


I snorted a second time and entered a short reply. Sorry. I know you went looking for me to stop doing that.

There was a small delay, but the console chirped again.

    At least I'm not watching you fight this time.


Heh. That one had me smiling. Damned woman. I composed myself and glanced at the screen that still showed a view of the carrier's bridge. Nothing. Worrying about me?

The klaxons went silent, bringing my attention back to the carrier. I received another message but didnt dare look at it then. Whatever happened next, I couldn't miss it.

The graciously brief wait felt interminable. Flickers of movement drew my gaze up, away from the screen. Once again life-pods were ejecting from an Argon warship...but not the Colossus. They were departing from the Titan. And I didn't know if they were friendly or not. They all powered down shortly after launch, coming to rest near a large silicon mine. So I jumped the Cerberus into the sector and put it on a course for the area. Whether it was to pick up the life-pods or transport us out of here, I didn't know yet.

The capital ships were still nine kilometers away when several people filtered into and out of the comm screen's view. Bodies were checked, weapons collected. Some sat in different seats, for whatever purpose. Then, finally, a woman came to the captain's chair and sat down. I held my breath.

"This is Lieutenant Cerise Keppel, speaking for the crew of the Pillar." Her introduction was very formal, and delivered with more authority that I might have expected of a middle-ranked officer. My brows rose. And rose still higher when she continued. "We wish to defect, if Gunne's Heirs will have us."

Damn. What happened to all those times that I'd make plans and people would follow my scripts to the letter? "We would be glad to receive you," Nyota said without prompting from me. But I had to cut in.

"Is the Titan on your wing a threat, Lieutenant?"

The woman shook her head. "No sir. We have been in communication with them. The life-pods hold those who chose not to join us. All those remaining are with us. Just get us in the fight."

Where had I heard those words before? "We'll work on that. First, I need navigation control of both ships. I'll relocate us, and then we'll need to speak with those in charge of both ships. In person. Understood?"

Keppel's jaw bunched, and for a moment I thought she would refuse. But after a few tense seconds she turned and spoke to someone over her shoulder, then turned to us again. "Control will be yours presently, sir."

I nodded, and started looking over the universe map to find a suitable meeting location. "Thank you. Do both ships have jumpdrives and energy cells?"

"Yes sir."

"Good. After the jump, have the leaders from the Titan brought to your ship. We will all meet there."

"Understood, sir," she said tightly. I nodded again, then cut the comms. There was a lot to prepare and not much time.

At least that much hadn't changed.

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Sabrina Bergin





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PostPosted: Mon, 28. Sep 15, 19:04    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Excellent:

Okay read that next chapter please.


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Ningannel





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PostPosted: Tue, 29. Sep 15, 18:11    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

•.



Last edited by Ningannel on Tue, 20. Oct 15, 03:04; edited 4 times in total
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Song Of Obsidian



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PostPosted: Thu, 1. Oct 15, 14:09    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Bad news, good news, and more bad news.

The bad:
I was building up a lot of notes on specific things I wanted to touch on with each of the next several posts. I kept them in my back pocket, since I took them to work with me. I learned last night that, after the disaster that was Sunday night at work, I forgot to take those notes out. They got washed on my days off.

The good:
I got a new laptop. A much better laptop. Once I get it up and running, I expect a lot better performance. And I may toss in a couple mods for my currently unmodded TC game. Yeah, I'm a Neanderthal right now. Old game AND vanilla.

The other bad:
Right now I think my writing is going to suffer some delays. If work gets better and I can accomplish anything there, I might get a post out soon to deal with the aftermath of the mutiny. Otherwise, it might be a few weeks before the next update.

Do appreciate those still reading, or new to my story. Hope the delay isn't too depressing.

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Triaxx2





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PostPosted: Thu, 1. Oct 15, 23:10    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

No worries, I've been waiting longer for other things.


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Sabrina Bergin





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PostPosted: Thu, 1. Oct 15, 23:40    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Song Of Obsidian wrote:


The good:
I got a new laptop. A much better laptop. Once I get it up and running, I expect a lot better performance. And I may toss in a couple mods for my currently unmodded TC game. Yeah, I'm a Neanderthal right now. Old game AND vanilla.

Do appreciate those still reading, or new to my story. Hope the delay isn't too depressing.


A new laptop/Computer is always a good thing, having said that sometimes they can surprise you by doing things in a different way to that which you are accustomed to. I do look forward to your next post but I will wait for as long as it takes. (It's one of the items I've white listed to my email account.)

One image occurred to me after reading the above.

Neanderthal sat in small cave somewhere, wearing naught but furs chewing on a haunch of meat, whilst tapping away at a shiny new laptop by the light of a small fire.


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Song Of Obsidian



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PostPosted: Fri, 2. Oct 15, 03:38    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Didn't even know you were still reading, Triaxx. Don't worry. We will get Scion sorted eventually. That story must go on.

Mm, meat. Not going to comment on my attire though...and you better not know what my cave looks like. I don't deal kindly with intruders.

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Triaxx2





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PostPosted: Fri, 2. Oct 15, 04:25    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I never stop reading things, except to read other things. Or rant like Daffy Duck at the auto-pillock.


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Sabrina Bergin





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PostPosted: Fri, 2. Oct 15, 09:06    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Song Of Obsidian wrote:


Mm, meat. Not going to comment on my attire though...and you better not know what my cave looks like. I don't deal kindly with intruders.


Don't worry Song, unlike someone we both know I can respect a persons wish for a little privacy. You should feed those Dobermans a bit more often though, they're starting to look a little scrawny. Wink


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Triaxx2





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PostPosted: Fri, 2. Oct 15, 14:09    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Oh, good, she only saw the Dobermans. Very Happy


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Annette Barret





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PostPosted: Fri, 2. Oct 15, 23:09    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Triaxx2 wrote:
Oh, good, she only saw the Dobermans. Very Happy


Or perhaps that is what she wants you to think. Twisted Evil

She is devious, lovable, but devious.

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Triaxx2





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PostPosted: Sat, 3. Oct 15, 04:27    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Fair enough. I'm wearing my clever hat.


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Song Of Obsidian



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Joined: 19 Jun 2013
Posts: 293 on topic

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PostPosted: Sat, 3. Oct 15, 11:16    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I thought that was a clown's wig.

And why would I want to feed the distrac- erm, dogs? A hungry guard dog is an eager guard dog.

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