9 Mar 1998. Zoltan, Jynx and Bassai retreat to the Intimidator.
(Airship) (Bassai) (City of Hands) (Jynx) (Savan) (Zoltan)
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Intimidator Armory
One wall comprised of multiple panels of some thick, transparent glass-like substance, and the other slightly curved with the shape of the side of the Intimidator's armored and gravity-defying 'envelope', this "armory" is a fairly open room, often with a table set up for meetings, or set aside for sparring matches. Numerous weapons and items of armor – old and new, battle-worthy and facsimile – are arranged along the inner wall, alternating with recessed alcoves containing cowled statues of ancient and faceless weapon-bearing priests.

After an incident in Safar, Bassai, Jynx, and Zoltan have fled to the Intimidator for safety. It was a frenzied flight, but eventually the three landed on the massive ship and were hustled to the armory… a relatively 'safe' room.

Zoltan painfully drags himself into the room and plops down in a chair. He lets his wings droop at his sides. Apparently the flight wasn't an easy one for him.

Jynx wanders into the room tiredly, his fur frayed from the flight and claws popped (since he didn't get to during the escape – latch on to the Vartan that is.) He finds a chair, and sits down in it minus his feline dignity.

Bassai slithers in, hissing in frustration. "The sheer effrontery of that poodle. Still… there is no need to overly upset myself. I'll simply inform the proper authorities, and unless he has an incredible amount of money and political pull, he will be experiencing the joys of slavery for some time. Guests of the Empire are not allowed to go around assaulting Naga citizens, and certainly not Government Ministers!" He stops his rant when he sees the furnishings of the room.

"Maybe that how you finance you efforts, Minister," Zoltan croaks out, his voice dry from flight. "Sue poodles."

Jynx, smoothing his fur down, only bristles again at the mention of dog-types, "Somebody should… "

"I see the name of this ship is well deserved," the Ringneck Naga slithers over to the statues and starts examining them, "Very, very impressive. Well, I'll only sue if it's better than taxation. Thank you once again for your timely, if embarrassing, rescue, Baron."

"Though there is not much dignity in being pounded into the ground either," the Minister hisses as he pokes his head around one of the statues.

Zoltan leans across a table, folding his hands in front of him. "You welcome. I couldn't just let you get torn to pieces by mob… although you guard is probably gone by now. I hope Star manage to gets away… "

The Khatta's ears perk at this, and he turns a worried gaze at the Vartan, "Do you think she'll be okay?" he forgetfully signs.

"I hope not, Bash is a simple person who performs his job well. I hope he was wise enough to run away… " Bassai hisses, sliding out from behind the statue and moving onto the next one. "Do you know where these are from?"

"She very tough, and crafty. I pretty sure she get away alrights, will just be problem finding her again I thinks," the Vartan signs to Jynx in reply. He scrawks to the Naga, "From the Temple I suppose. They make ship… I guess they make statues as well. Champion and I do sparring practice in this room."

Jynx looks wide-eyed at Zoltan, "You spar with the Champion? Isn't that a bit dangerous?" He remembers how good the Templars are at fighting, and shudders.

Bassai breaks off his examination to look over at the Vartan and Khatta. "I was supposed to meet her later today; hopefully that's still possible. Maybe I should ask her for lessons, what with all the problems I've been having lately." He chuckles dryly.

Zoltan chuckles. "What more dangerous… getting training from best or fighting enemy unprepared? I probably no made it through battles with Eeee as well as I did without she training."

Jynx nods to the Vartan, then sets his ears back at the snake's chuckle. The cat gives a quick glance at the Naga, and hushes up.

"I no sure how busy Champion is rights now. Ship was damaged in our recent battle, and we low on supplies because of riot in Rephidim docks." The hippogryph itches at his neck.

"Is something bothering you, Jynx? You were hardly this nervous the last time we met, unless memory fails me," the Ringneck says with an upwards curl of the corners of his mouth. "I was merely jesting, Baron; I don't have the time for martial training. What I have to tell the Champion won't take long."

"I-It's nothing… " the Khatta replies, looking away from the Naga.

"Considering she no can answer you, I no think it would take very long," Zoltan answers with a wink. "If you likes, I can pass message along for you instead." He glances at Jynx and then looks back to Bassai, "The boy got dunked in fountain and almost got killed. That make anyone nervous I would thinks."

"Yeah… made me nervous, " Jynx acts as though he were drying himself off, and glances at the Vartan.

"I ssee," Bassai slithers over to a third statue, and examines it, looking from top to bottom. "I appreciate the offer… but I think I should tell her. It would be shirking my responsibility otherwise."

The Vartan nods his feathered head. "I understands. I no sure if she returning to ship soon… she probably on ground rights now waiting to meet you. Maybe I can get one of flyers on ship to take you down?"

Jynx nods in agreement with the Vartan, perking up a bit, "Yeah, you don't want to keep her waiting, you know!"

Zoltan looks back at Jynx and itches at the stripe across his chest.

Jynx makes like he is drying off yet again.

Bassai stands motionless, and stares at the statue for some time before answering. "That won't be necessary… I am not looking forward to this duty."

The Khatta sighs a bit at the snake's reply, and his ears droop.

The Naga straightens up, "Still, at least her presence means I may be able to speak with Ibis. That will be much more pleasant." He slithers over towards one of the real suits of armour, his back still to the cat and bird.

"So be it… you maybe in for a long wait," Zoltan answers, and them moves to pour himself a glass of water.

The Vartan fills up his glass and downs the contents in one gulp. He refills it again and then pours a second glass for Jynx. "Can I get you something to drinks, Minister? There no many fineries on a warship… but I thinks I can find some cider."

Bassai pokes at the suit of armor, examining the buckles and its method of construction. He lifts an edge away from the hanger, looking behind it. He turns back around at Zoltan's offer. "Yes Baron, I would appreciate it greatly. It has been a rather hot day."

Jynx blinks at the cup, then slowly takes a drink (although he's had his fill of water for the day.)

The Naga slithers over to the table shared by the other two, and looks around for a suitable cushion – or at least a comfortable chair.

Zoltan moves to the back of the room and begins rummaging through some cabinets. "I hope that whatever news you have for Champion won't impede her return to Rephidim… we needs every fighter we can spare if Babel plans to use weapons we fear against Rephidim."

Jynx blinks at the Vartan, "Y-you mean they're trying to attack Rephidim? When? And what were you saying about that weapon they used? I mean, what can one weapon do against a whole sky-island?"

Bassai gets a little fidgety at the mention of the news, and focuses on selecting the perfect chair and moving it over to the table. His head flicks towards Zoltan at Jynx's question. "Do you have some idea of what is in store?"

"Plaguebringers," Zoltan responds, setting a bottle and a glass in front of the Naga.

There is another moment where the snake doesn't move, then his tongue flicks out and he slowly asks, "Is that what destroyed the Himar?"

Jynx looks confused, "Plaguebringers?" He thinks of Dominic, Lylia, and Eve. They could be annoying at times, but he still doesn't want them to be hurt.

Zoltan shakes his head. "What destroyed Himar was exile weapon called a boomer. Plaguebringers… I no sure what they are. They described to me as being great beasts who follow will of Sabaoth and leave death and destruction in they wake. I know nothing more than that."

After a moment, Bassai sits on the chair and curls himself about it. Once in place he fills his glass, and takes a long sip of the cider.

The Khatta shudders, "What did we do to the Sabaoth anyways? I think he just likes to kill."

"Great Serpent stop those crazy Eeees," Bassai breathes quietly, knocking back half his drink in one swallow.

"Is why I say… if you going to return to Rephidim, might be safer to do so on Intimidator. But we going into battle, and it no going to be completely safe here either." The Vartan refills his own glass from the pitcher of water to replace all the liquid he sweated out on his trip to the airship.

The black Khatta looks back at the Vartan nervously, "Which reminds me, you may need to put me back down there before you go, I have, er, unfinished business." He glances at the Naga, then back down to the ground.

"I've seen enough battles, Baron. I'm a scholar. I'm only interested in the conflict after it is long past. I have no desire… " The Minister pauses, focusing on a blank spot on the opposite wall. "Babelite forces killed most of my expedition crew, from the air. Shot them down despite my offer of surrender. I don't want to see that much blood again."

Bassai doesn't seem to be paying much attention to Jynx's nervous glances, or much of anything in the room, except for that spot on the wall.

Jynx curiously looks in the same place as the snake, but shrugs as he sees nothing.

Zoltan ruffles Jynx's headfur. "It maybe no good idea to go back right away. Maybe you should rest here a bit… I let you use Star's cot in my room." He then turns his attentions back on Bassai. "Minister, Babelites I met were willing to destroy whole country full of innocent people just to keep they horrible weapon from falling into our hands. If you no want to see blood, I suggest you steer clear of this ship… AND Rephidim for awhiles."

Jynx braces as the ruffle, then smooths his fur out with a small smile, "I will if I get tired." His expression changes to worry as he hears talk of Rephidim in a battle, "You don't think they'll actually make it to Rephidim, do you?"

Bassai drains his glass. "Yes. That's good advice, but I don't think it's feasible. I've made the mistake of letting other people handle my affairs in the past, and I'd rather risk the danger of personal intervention. My sensibilities will just have to stand aside."

"Not if I can helps it, Feli. My children and my Master is in Rephidim, I plan to fight to last breath if I haves to, to stop them," the Vartan responds to Jynx.

The cat doesn't look too reassured, and just gloomily takes a drink from his cup.

"I have no wish to go to Rephidim, and I want to contact those raiders. Both need to be done regardless." The Naga fills his glass again, setting the bottle back on the table.

Zoltan looks sidelong at Bassai, and then gives Jynx another pat on the back. "You looking tired now. I think it best if I take you to bed… take advice from someone who a father." He turns to Bassai, "You mind if we leaves you here, sir? I'll have word sent you way as soon as Champion is back on board… and see if I can gets flyer to send her message that you here."

Jynx glances again at the snake at the mention of 'raiders', but then quickly looks away again. He looks to Zoltan, "Yeah, I am getting kinda tired… " This seems true enough, as the Khatta's eyes are bagged and a general mood of fatigue emanates from him.

"That will be fine. I have this bottle and those interesting artifacts to entertain me," Bassai hisses, giving Jynx a very long stare before turning to nod at Zoltan.

The black Khatta cringes at the stare, and averts his gaze to the floor.

"One would almost think you were feeling guilty Jynx, but I expect you're just tired and falling asleep," the snake says, looking away and out the window.

The Vartan rises to his feet and shuffles Jynx towards the door. "I make sure a messenger send you word when Champion arrive."

Jynx just blinks at the mention of guilt in puzzlement, but then stands up from his chair. "Yeah… tired." The cat gives a genuine yawn, and obeys the Vartan's shuffling.

"Thank you, and once again for the rescue, Baron." Bassai watches them recede from the room.

Zoltan nods and quietly exits.

The Minister of Savanite Affairs stares at the door, and then around the large open room. Finally he looks back down at the table. Nothing is there. He takes out his notepad and makes a rough sketch of the mystery airship, from what he remembers of the composite diagram and the one in the text. It doesn't look right somehow. He tries changing a few of the lines… It's still wrong. Turning the page over he starts writing names: Fetiss, Thorn, Bash… That doesn't help either. He crumples it up. "Sephira, my love… I don't think you fixed everything, I still feel a pain." He reaches for the bottle, and pours another drink.


A few minutes and several twisty corridors later, Zoltan leads Jynx into his room on the Intimidator. It's a bit cramped for space, but large enough to room one large Vartan and one smaller cheetah. Oddly, the cot on the floor looks to be the bed the Vartan favors by the telltale feathers nestled in it… while the larger and more comfortable looking bed has a few little golden hairs nestled in its sheets.

Zoltan quietly closes the door and seats himself on the cot. "Okay… you gots a story to finish. You say you was mistaken for a Savanite and put on airship, what then?"

Jynx blinks at the clues of whose bed is whose, then decides to jump up on the larger, more comfortable one. He turns back around to the Vartan, and tries to remember where he left off. He opens his mouth as if to continue the story, then stops as a thought occurs, "You don't think that Bassai followed us, do you?"

"I had guard posted at door. He here as a guest and gets into big trouble if he follow us. We safe," the Vartan replies.

The Khatta nods, still giving a quick glance at the door, then continues as his eyes come back to Zoltan. "Well, like I said, to get away from the rats, I jumped in a cart full of Savanites, and we were put on a ship. At first I thought it was a slaver ship, but there weren't any slavers on it, just Savanites." The Cat readjusts his sitting position to a more comfortable one. "And that's where I caught up with Third-Eye."

Zoltan nods his head "I know ship you speak of. Was sort of there when it departed… but only for brief moment."

"Really? I didn't see you there." Jynx takes a sip from his cup, which he seems to have brought with him from the sparring room. "Anyways, it was weird. They did these spells and stuff to make us invisible, and after a while we arrived in the Savan. We took some carts and ended up at the City of Hands. I thought they'd kill me, but they thought I was one of them!"

The Vartan's eyes widen at this news, but he simply nods his head… waiting for the rest.

Jynx's expression gets somewhat distant, as if recalling fond memories, "I played with them, helped them with chores, and even went hunting with them! Look!" The Khatta raises his shirt to show two large circular scars on his right side, "I killed a Bromthen forest hog!" The scar looks painful, but the cat is grinning like an idiot.

"Good for you. I almost got mowed down by one during my first trip to Savan… hope that one you got was one that cause me so much trouble." Zoltan grins back.

The Khatta continues to grin, "If he was, he sure tasted good." He covers his scar back up, and then his face becomes a bit more sober. "They also taught me sign, and how to fight. The reason I looked nervous at Bassai's mention of the raiders was because, well, I was one of them."

Zoltan arches an eyebrow. "Black ship… that was yours?"

"It was Third-Eye's," the cat replies, "She had warriors and the Twelve-times-Twelve put on it, and sent us off to attack a slaver ship that was raiding a village." Jynx looks a bit uncomfortable at the next part, "A lot of people were killed, and… I killed too… "

Zoltan reaches out and gently pats Jynx's knee. "It not easy… I sure you only do what you have to do." He starts to look a bit uncomfortable as well… but keeps his reasons to himself for now.

Jynx sighs, but brightens a bit, "We won though, and freed the slaves. The day after that, there was some big ceremony, about which candidate won the contest of the Priest-King or something, and it looked like Third-Eye had won. She had me go up on stage and showed me for who I really was, saying that she didn't want to enslave outsiders, thanks to what she learned from you," the Khatta gestures to the Vartan, "and she was using me as an example of how we could live together."

"She been crowned already?" The Vartan absently starts to rub the translucent stripe across his chest again.

The Khatta frowns and shakes his head, "No. Just as I thought she was about to be, an argument started up. First, Storm-Hand argued that Third-Eye was being too soft on the outsiders, and reminded everyone on how she enslaved her family. Then, another Savanite came up, and declared her candidacy." Jynx grimaces at this thought, "She was another one of the sisters, but everyone had said that she was supposed to be dead."

Zoltan just… stares… at Jynx at this news. "The… f-first sister?" His hands start to shake. "Who was she? What her name?"

Jynx looks puzzled at the Vartan's reaction, and backs away on the bed a bit, "I think her name was Jade-Eyes, and yes, she was the oldest sister. But how did you know that? And for that matter, I thought you and Third-Eye didn't like each other?" The Khatta backs away some more.

Flattening his ears, the Vartan just hugs his arms around his chest. "Third-Eye and I had odd relationship. We join together so I could find Paradys… at first I dislike her because of horrible things I hear. Then I meet her for myself, over time I learn that there was amazing person under cold stone walls she build around herself. She just gotten hurt so many times that she too scared to trust anyone but herself… I taught her to trust others, and managed to cure her want for revenge." He closes his eyes. "In return… I gain a very very dear friend."

Jynx crosses his legs and curls his tail around his feet, "I thought she'd want to skin me alive after what I did to her last time, but she's really nice it seems. You must have done something to her."

Zoltan cracks open an eye. "When you see Storm-Hand again, ask her why she never tell anyone when Third-Eye was captured by slavers and abused for a year… this was BEFORE she turn family into slaves. If you in her shoes, and suffer for a year like she did… then return to find that nobody believe you, you probably be tempted to do same thing she did."

The Vartan just shakes his head. "I was just her friend. It all she ever really needed."

Jynx flattens his ears at this, "I try to stay clear of Storm-Hand; she doesn't like me that much, or anyone else for that matter." He listens to the Vartan some more, "Well, if that's all it was, then it changed her for sure, but I don't know if many of the People are too thrilled about her ideas concerning outsiders. They don't seem to like them very much; even ones who I had been friends with seemed to dislike me when they found out I wasn't one of them." The Khatta's ears droop. "She sent me to Safar to scout around. Exactly what for, I don't know, but I do know that there's bacon waiting back at the City!"

The Khatta grins at this last statement.

"Maybe she know I was going to be here. Listen… about this 'Jade-Eyes', she might no be safe. Her father tell me that she was taken by demon when she was just baby… hrrr, that no exactly rights." Zoltan frowns, thinking.

Jynx blinks at this, he knew Jade-Eyes was sorta spooky, but raised by a demon?

"That's why I have to go back, I have to tell her what I've found, and now that Bassai has shown up, I think she'd like to know." The Khatta stares at the deep thinking Vartan.

Taking in a deep breath, the hippogryph says a bit distantly, "There was a prophecy… it say that first daughter would bring destruction upon world. I think it somehow linked with a very powerful mage… supposedly only some weapon forged from another universe can destroy her. I thought weapon might be boomer, but boomer is no more." His taloned hands start worrying through the strands of his tail. "Dagh! I wish I could go with you… but they mights need me for fight in Rephidim."

"Then why don't you come with me?" the Khatta asks, moving closer, "I know she'd be glad to see you, and you could help her with her candidacy! Besides, they might need to know about this prophecy!"

Zoltan shrinks down, closing his eyes. "You ask me to choose between my best friend and my family."

"Family?" The Khatta blinks, and sits down again on the bed, "I-I forgot about that… " The Khatta's thoughts go back to his own family, and to the thought of Rephidim being destroyed. His heart sinks.

The Vartan looks down at his hooves. "You think… maybe… Twelve-Times-Twelve would have power to stop the Plaguebringers?"

Jynx thinks, "Well, they might. I saw them do some amazing stuff during the raid and while I was there, and they're supposed to be pretty powerful… " The Khatta ponders over this, and his face lights up, "It might work!" He thinks some more, and his face falls, "Then again, that's only if we could get them to help. A lot of them don't like outsiders."

Zoltan rests his head in his cupped hand. "There two reasons why Savanites would wish slavery and destruction on non-Savanites – revenge for those who was once slaves theyselves, and because they think that they stronger than us. I know what I could do to show them folly of both ways… but I only have once chance."

Jynx cocks his head sideways in curiosity at Zoltan, "What would that be?"

"By showing them what true strength is… and giving them somethings else to take revenge out on." Zoltan studies his wrist intently, eyeing a grayish glint that peeks out through the leather bindings around his arms. "I am the son of a pirate named Cambio Herbir. Most of Savanites in city is slaves because of him, or suffered under him. He dead now… but they probably willing to take they wrath out on his son instead."

The Khatta's jaw drops and his eyes go wide, "No! They'll kill you! Besides, that won't change a thing!"

Zoltan frowns, "I no intend to throw away my life on something so lightly. It would show them how empty revenge is… and where true strength is." He taps his arms. "This is nothing. When I was child… little older than you I thought I strong. It took me almost dying once to show me that true strength lie in you heart… not you muscles. If enough see the folly of they ways… they might turn."

"And maybe… they even learn they lesson before they kill me," Zoltan adds, smirking mirthlessly.

Jynx flares his nostrils in agitation, "Turning thousands of people isn't the same as turning one, Zoltan." The cat shakes his head, "I've lived with them – as one of them, their hatred goes back hundreds – thousands of years! And after what I've seen, I'm not so sure I blame them." The Khatta looks down at the bed.

"I know stories of Savanites as well as you have. Remember who pull you out of fire Storm-Hand made for you," the Vartan sighs. "It just get worse and worse… but complaining no fix it." He rests his hands on his legs and straightens himself out. "What you think I could do if I go to City of Hands?

"Well… I know Third-Eye would be happy to see you… " The Khatta thinks a bit, "A-and maybe you could talk to the Twelve-times-Twelve and tell them about things, like the prophecy, then maybe they won't consider Jade-Eyes!" Jynx looks desperate; he doesn't really want to go back to the city by himself.

Zoltan drums his fingers against his legs. "I ask Champion abouts it… if I needed for battle, I must stay. As for Twelve-times-Twelve… they must consider this 'Jade-Eyes' if she truly is family. And my time with Twilight-Wing teach me exactly what they tink of non-Savanites like me. I save Twilight-Wing's life on Paradys, and he treat me as though I was some filthy animal."

Jynx just nods and his ears droop, remembering the reaction he got from First-Dawn and Setting-Sun when they found out he was a Khatta.

The Khatta sighs, "Well, whatever you do, I have to eventually get back and tell Third-Eye all I've found out, she'll be expecting me."

"Is… Third-Eye alrights now? She doing okay? Even if I no able to come back, I be very grateful if you tell her that I miss her lots," Zoltan says, and then smiles a little. "You takes care of her… or I will go to City just to ruffle you tail."

Jynx smiles and nods, "She's fine, and just as bossy as ever, and I promise I'll let her know." The cat play-dodges away from the Vartan, jumping back on the bed a bit like a kitten.

The Khatta's expression becomes somewhat worried again, and he looks the Vartan in the eye, "And if you go back to Rephidim… will you check on my parents and sister? I-I don't want them to get hurt if the city is attacked… "

Zoltan smiles warmly; he is a father after all. "Just tell me where I can find them… and… hrr… think up good cover story for where you go. I no think they believes me if I tell them that you been in Savanite city."

Jynx cracks a tiny smile, actually, they just might. "It's Kurai's Pottery Shop in the Bazaar, a big building with a sign on the front and imports inside. You can't miss it. Ask for Dominic."

Zoltan nods his head and then yawns, blinking his eyes sleepily. "Tell you whats. I speak to Champion when she gets back… from there I decides where to go. At very least I maybe able to fly ahead with you and then meet up with ship over Savan if it going in that direction. But for now, I think I needs to get some sleep."

The black Khatta nods, then stretches with a sigh, "Well, I guess that'll be okay." He looks around the room timidly, then at Zoltan, "You don't mind if I, er… "

The Vartan flops over on the cot and rests his chin on his folded up arms. "I no think Moon-Brow mind if you borrow her bed. She Third-Eye's sister by the way… you probably noticed resemblance."

"She is?" The Khatta blinks, "I guess that's another reason why she looked so familiar." He looks at the bed, then gratefully slips into it. "How many sisters are there anyways? From what I heard, it seems like a new one pops up each week!"

"Seven." The Vartan ticks them off on his fingers. "Emerald-Eyes, Moon-Brow, Storm-Hand, Long-Lope, Fire-Mane, Third-Eye, and Cloud-Mark… although last sister no count. Was adopted."

"Oh… that's good… " the curled up Khatta trails off, and is soon snoozing visibly in true feline fashion.

Zoltan smiles to himself and soon dozes off as well.

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GMed by Zoltan

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Today is Ring Day, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)