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/qst/ - Quests

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A crown jewel of a planet out in the fringes of space. A mysterious habitable planet, known to once belong to the enigmatic and all-powerful yet mysteriously missing Eldan race. It is a legend among intergalactic legends, hidden deep within uncharted space, the dream of archaeologists, treasure hunters and all manner of adventurers.

It was only several years ago that the planet was discovered by famed Exile explorer Dorian Walker. And now, Nexus serves as the ultimate flashpoint in a conflict that has raged for centuries.

To the imperialistic Dominion, Nexus represents their divine birthright, claiming descendence from the Eldan themselves and asserting that the planet is theirs and theirs alone. To the scrappy Exiles, Nexus represents their last stand, their final chance at a home to call their own after being chased across the galaxy by the Dominion. As far as they're both concerned, Nexus isn't big enough for the two of them, and come hell, high water or an unstoppable plague, someone is kicking someone else's ass off the planet.

For the purposes of my sanity, as this is my first go at a quest and due to the overall weight of experience I have as that faction, You intend to make sure it's the Exiles who do the ass-kicking.
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At least, that's what you remember of what you promised to do before drifting off to cryo-sleep who knows how many years ago. You've been sitting on the flotilla in a deep slumber while you convoyed behind the legendary Gambler's Ruin on the way to Nexus once it was discovered. Your dreams have been strange and varied, but ultimately peaceful. Nothing's broken so far, and your pod should still be working, you hope. At the moment, your dreams are quiet and empty.

Suddenly, a new stimulus reaches you, one that, even in your deep sleep, you're all but certain didn't come from you. It is, in fact, the VR system attached to your cryo-pod, which the handy-dandy OS symbol points out to you. These images are being fed directly to your brain, so you're still technically asleep, but it seems the system is kicking on for you. A subdued sense of excitement wells within you as the system begins taking stock of your vitals and identity.

The VR system, in its infinite wisdom, is keen to remind you during its inventory that you are:
>Pick a name to determine race and gender

>Clyde Starwalker/Jessica "Jessie" Tanner, a scrappy Exile Human
>Taven Mistseeker/Nala Firestar, a nature-revering Aurin
>Kraggan Mountainlord/Siv Rubblerun, a literally rock-headed Granok
>Mordecai Emilianenko/Anastasiya Filipovich, a dour and eccentric Mordesh
>Taven Mistseeker a nature-revering Aurin
>>Clyde Starwalker, a scrappy Exile Human
Jessica "Jessie" Tanner, a scrappy Exile Human
Well, the majority says we're a human, but do we have boy parts or girl parts? No in-betweens.
Boy. What kinda quest is this gonna be ? I like it so far
WildStar itself is a sci-fi fantasy (emphasis on sci-fi) universe that, in many ways, feels like a space western. There's a new world to discover and a giant war to be fought with the Dominion, but there should hopefully be plenty of high-flying and almost cartoonish adventure either way.
Okay sounds fun to me
"Clyde Starwalker, human," the female AI voice intones back at you with a bit of mild flourish. "Vital signs: nominal. Brainwave patterns: active. Cryo-pod at full functionality. Subject is determined to be alive and well. Please respond to system with feedback to ensure final verification of analysis."

There is a brief moment of silence between you and the AI, your body appearing in your mind's eye as your thoughts start to coalesce into something coherent, despite still being asleep. The silence, nonetheless, is a bit awkward.

"Please respond," the AI requests again after a few agonizing seconds. There is another short moment of silence.

"...Wait, is that my cue to say something?" you respond in your mind.

"Feedback received. Subject is fully coherent and responsive." You mentally roll your eyes. "Starting awakening protocols. Beginning VR simulation."

A flooding rush of color sweeps past you from a point on the nonexistant horizon, giving you a sense of vertigo as the darkness is suddenly replaced by a virtual plane featuring the color and images of deep space, galaxies and nebulae as far as the eye can see. You are standing on what looks like air, if it weren't for the brightly-interlaced grid pattern beneath your feet holding you up. You know for a fact you're still in stasis in that cryo-pod on the flotilla, but at least in this place, you can get a better look at yourself, or at least how you remember yourself. You've got mildly tanned skin from being out in the sun and a ruffled head of brown hair. Your build is relatively average: not too lanky, not too bulky, but you've got a fair bit of muscle to you; you have no doubt your physique was (somehow) maintained during your sleep.

Once you've taken stock of yourself, another man - a bearded, goggle-wearing human - warbles into existance in front of you. You don't even need to pause for thought before immediately recognizing him.

Dorian Walker: the man, the myth, the legend himself. One of the greatest explorers in the universe, the finest explorer of the Exiles, and the man credited with discovering Nexus. How he did it is a story unto itself.

"Hey hey, bucko!" Dorian pipes up in that slightly gravelly, twangy voice of his. "Glad you could join us amongst the living! Name's Dorian Walker, but uh, you probably already knew that one, heh heh." Another image appears between you and Dorian. It's a 3D model of a beautiful blue-and-green planet, surrounded by two rings and two moons. "See that planet? That's Nexus. Beaut, ain't she? Well, she's real, and yours truly is the one who found her. She's got everything a planet could ask for: breathable air, natural resources, plenty of space, the whole she-bang-a-bang. And, stars willing, she's gonna be our new home."
"I'd say it'd be a simple matter of just spreading out and start pitchin' our tests," Dorian remarks, "but uh, there's two problems with that. One: the planet's way more dangerous than we thought." An obvious hologram of a wicked canine-looking creature bounds into view and snaps and growls at the open air. Without warning, though, the dog is punted away with a yelp by a clean jackboot of a rather snooty looking human, with his entourage of a stoic crystal-headed gynoid, a hunched over and vicious-looking scaly humanoid with a tail, and a squatty ratty fuzzball with a manic look in its eye. You almost instinctively scowl at the sight. "An' two: the Dominion followed us an' seem to have the same idea as us. They plan to take Nexus from us and force us outta here. Well, unfortunately for them, neither o' those problems have stopped us in the past, an' they ain't about to stop us now, not here." The holograms fade, leaving you and Dorian to look at the simulated image of Nexus.

"Now, before we wake you up," Dorian continues, "I'm just gonna help put you through your paces and make sure you know what you're doin' and what you're about to walk into. You've been asleep for quite a while, and you ain't the first person we woke up. I gotta make sure all that sleep ain't made you rusty. Every Exile knows how to pull their own weight one way or another, and if I'm readin' you correctly, you've at least done a little of everything. Flexible, I like it. What's especially nifty is that you got some combat experience. That's good. We could use someone who can help protect the people. Go ahead and show me your tools of the trade, eh, kid?"
Ignoring the rules of reality and despite not appearing with any visible equipment, you instinctively...
>[Spellslinger] ...reach to your sides and pull out your twin mag pistols. You look over the craftsmanship and inspect the "magic" bullets that are inside. You can feel the connection with the Void coming back to you, and the primal energies you can call upon with these puppies.
>[Engineer] ...reach behind your back and pull up a big ol' cannon of a Launcher. With a friendly beep, one of your personal servitors - a quadripedal bot with an eye and a turret attached to the center - walks out from behind you and stands at the ready.
>[Esper] ...reach for nothing, but rather hold up an empty hand in front of you. With a bit of flexing of your mind, you conjure a psychic projection of a small creature before it warbles into a psychic sword that flies up and swings around you, all without you needing to move.
>[Medic] ...grab your twin resonators off your back and look them over in your grip. These bad boys can project various intensities of radition: lightly to heal, heavily to harm. How benevolent yet ruthless.
>[Stalker] ...hold an arm out in front of you and flex, elongated claws appearing from your knuckles. You can feel the high-performance nanites in your system start to kick in, turning part of your body invisible at the same time and rendering you far-higher-than-average strength and agility.
>[Warrior] ...reach behind you and pull a giant fusion-powered claymore as big as you off your back. You double-check your arm cannon on your forearm, which serves to only supplement your truly destructive weapon.
>>[Stalker] ...hold an arm out in front of you and flex, elongated claws appearing from your knuckles. You can feel the high-performance nanites in your system start to kick in, turning part of your body invisible at the same time and rendering you far-higher-than-average strength and agility.
Any other takers before moving forward? Picking your class is a relatively big deal.
>[Medic] ...grab your twin resonators off your back and look them over in your grip. These bad boys can project various intensities of radition: lightly to heal, heavily to harm. How benevolent yet ruthless.
For point of reference:
>All classes can do good damage.
>Spellslingers, Espers and Medics can also heal decently, moreso than others.
>Engineers, Stalkers and Warriors can also lead the frontlines, moreso than others.
It's not just Medics that can heal.
You admire your nanomachine-crafted clawblades sticking out of your knuckles as your internal HUD starts kicking in, the augmented reality display showing off your vitals and surroundings within your retina. It hurt the first time all those years ago, but now it's no trouble at all (especially since you're not actually doing this in reality). The nanites flowing through your bloodstream are positively bristling, a nice tingle rippling up and down your body as they stand at the ready to do what you will. What's handy about being a stalker is how you never really need to carry any extra combat gear: when the time calls for it, you are your own deadliest weapon.

"Oh ho ho, a Stalker, eh?" the virtual Dorian quips, holding a hand to his chin as he gives you a once-over. "Real badass, ain'tcha? Got that bleedin' edge tech in yer system that lets ya slice 'n' dice who ya please. Remind me to get you to crack my brews open with them claws o' yers." He chuckles as you scratch the back of your head. You're not sure if Dorian is always this friendly with those just waking up from cryo-sleep. "Well, in any case, every little bit helps, and I ain't about to say no to a literal human weapon, so long as ya don't go crazy on me. You, uh, you ain't gonna go crazy on me, are ya, bucky?"

>[Shake your head.] "It's not how it works. I'm perfectly fine, Mr. Walker. You got nothin' to worry about."
>[Wave him off.] "Pfft, me? Crazy? Nah, yer joshin' me."
>"This tech hasn't failed me yet, and it's not about to start now."
>"BRRABLABAGRABLAAAAAAH!" [Make a scary face at Dorian.]
>[Shake your head.] "It's not how it works. I'm perfectly fine, Mr. Walker. You got nothin' to worry about."
You've heard the suspicions before. All that tech in him is gonna make him flip like a pancake, they say. You give a relaxed smile and shake your head at Dorian.

"Nah, that's not how this works, Mr. Walker," you assure him in that calming tenor of yours. "I'm not gonna go all 'Cellblock P-42' on you. I ain't Ripsaw, okay? I'm perfectly fine. You got nothin' to worry about."

"Ha!" Dorian slaps his knee. "An' here I thought I was the only one who saw that movie! I like you already, kid." He promptly straightens himself up a moment later. "In any case," Dorian speaks up to catch your attention. "This simulation will be pretty basic, but it'll get you back in the swing o' things right quick. You ready?"

Before you can properly answer, virtual Dorian vanishes, along with Nexus and the rest of the universe, turning bright white before your vision comes back into focus. You are standing on a small docking pad with a soldier transport jet next to it. Hot and humid air hits your nose, and the sound of birds and rushing water hits your ears as you stand in what appears to be a large jungle clearing. A small stream in front of the metal landing pad separates you from a large dirt clearing a couple dozen yards or so in diameter, with another path at the opposite end leading further into the basin. You can see rock faces all around the far edges of the simulation. The wind flows through the trees above, but you have a clear view of the sky overhead.

"Not too bad, eh?" Dorian's voice echoes from nowhere. "This simulation here is just a very small slice of what to expect on the surface of Nexus proper. There's all kinds o' biomes on the planet, but I ain't gonna throw you into a desert while you're still a popsicle. Like I said, this won't be too hard, if you're decent. Just go ahead and move around in that clearing, get the feeling back in your legs, then move on to the next waypoint I set for your next task. Limber up, get loose." You know this is a simulation, but even taking a couple of steps off the platform into the wet dirt gives you feeling in your limbs. You've no doubt that this VR stuff was a good deal. Once you finish this, you should automatically be able to translate your movements into the real world when you inevitably wake up.

>Take it slow. Run a couple laps around the clearing at a brisk pace. Maybe a few jumping jacks.
>Go through a rigorous military-grade exercise routine to shock your muscles into action.
>Perform a martial arts kata. The movements are routine but very thorough, and they help reinforce your technique.
>Push your nanites. See if you can't get moving and bouncing around at hyper speed.
>Go through a rigorous military-grade exercise routine to shock your muscles into action.
You decide to be extra-vigorous with your warmup. After all, it's the first time you get to feel something moving in years. You quickly set about going through a very rigorous regimen of exercises: numerous full body-weight exercises that stretch even you to your limit. Several minutes later, you've got a healthy sweat going, and you're suitably warm now.

Once you get feeling going through your body, you spot the waypoint Dorian set for you on your HUD, which conveniently follows the dirt path out the otherside of the clearing and winding past a few patches of trees into another area, with a raging river flowing parallel to your path, and a short but relatively steep cliff face in front of you, probably just several meters tall, the river next to you originating from the waterfall next to the cliff. The next waypoint is directly at the top of the rock face. A bit of scanning with your eyes shows a path you can clamber up with little issue. As you get to climbing and jumping up the side, Dorian's voice rings out again.

"Hey, uh, not to interrupt your time on the playground there, bucky," Dorian suddenly interjects, almost causing you to miss your grip on a rock. "But I'm just checkin' through your file here. You're technically freelance right now, but it says you put in applications for consideration at a couple of organizations. Says you're even a step short of bein' a Justice. I'm just wonderin' if there's anyone you're lookin' to follow up with once you hit topside."

>Free Companies of Nexus (FCON). Majority Granok and led by Durek Stonebreaker, they are the military wing of the Exiles, multiple bands of mercenaries all bound by a similar code who answer to Exile High Command.
>Exile Academy of Science (XAS). The eggheads and analysts of the Exiles, they're the ones who (try to) make sense of all the data everyone else brings in.
>Explorer's Union. Unofficially led by Dorian Walker, they are professional geographers, scouts, mechanics, pilots and pathfinders who help chart the planet and find things others usually don't.
>Pioneering League. The homebuilders and roadworkers, their specialty is constructing and maintaining settlements for the Exiles.
>The Judges. Few but proud, and led by High Judge Kallen Blackwood, they are the ultimate supercops, the final line of defense when it comes to law and order among the Exiles. Judge, jury and executioner, Judges are called in to resolve extreme disuptes and situations and work with local peacekeepers. All Exiles respect the Judges, willingly or otherwise. A Judge-in-training is known as a Justice.
>The Black Hoods. Majority Mordesh and led by Avra "the Widow" Darkos, they are the intelligence wing of the Exiles, the spies and assassins. They keep track of the Dominion as well as the Exiles. They have little issue with cruelty, and they're kinda creepy to boot. THIS OPTION IS CURRENTLY LOCKED.
>"Y'know, I think I'll just stay a freelancer for now."
>>Free Companies of Nexus (FCON). Majority Granok and led by Durek Stonebreaker, they are the military wing of the Exiles, multiple bands of mercenaries all bound by a similar code who answer to Exile High Command.
>Explorer's Union. Unofficially led by Dorian Walker, they are professional geographers, scouts, mechanics, pilots and pathfinders who help chart the planet and find things others usually don't.
How would the different choices affect the plot?
Not very much, initially. It just helps set what the character's overall interests may be and which organizations effectively get first dibs on him. That said, if you do join an organization or two, those will typically affect the sorts of jobs you're likely to get in the future. If you graduate and become a full-fledged Judge, for example, you have a lot more authority to swing around and will be called in to resolve issues where all other methods of resolution have failed. You'd still generally fulfill jobs any freelancer can do, but you would do so with the full authority of a Judge.
Then my vote is to join the judges
"Maybe I'll see if FCON's still interested," you remark after a moment as you continue scaling the cliff. "I know the old man wouldn't mind me joining the army or something. 'Course, there's also the Explorer's Union as well. If I'm gonna 'see the world,' I may as well see as much as I can. Can't forget the Judges, too. I like to think I'd make a hell of a lawman."

"Hrm," Dorian mumbles to himself. "True, you got the tech to make you a top-flight soldier no sweat, but I'm wonderin' if there ain't anything better for such a big, eh, investment as you. You might be a big too good just to be a regular ol' groundpounder; wouldn't want'cha wastin' your talents or anything. Just as well, the Explorer's Union would be keen to have you on as well; I'm sure with your talents, you can get to places not many others can, and we'd love to have you. I'll let FCON and the Union know you're thawin' right now. I'll let the Judges know as well: yer already a Justice in all but name, and I doubt the Judges would wanna give up on a prospect like you. Either way, even with my endorsement, you probably won't hear from either of 'em for a while, so you'll stay freelance for the time being. You think you can live with that, kid?"

With an artful leap, you clear the final stretch and gracefully land at the top of the cliff in a crouch. "I'll be fine, Mr. Walker," you respectfully reply.

"Jus' Dorian is fine, kid," the voice corrects you. "Don't make me sound TOO old. Feh."

You bite your tongue as you continue towards the next waypoint, which follows the bend in the river and leads to a sight that would definitely be out of place in a jungle. You stop at the edge of the next clearing and take a knee to observe. In the next clearing, there is a small encampment, with a personnel tranport jet sitting in the back and three or four armed and helmeted guards toting rifles and walking in a very loose patrol around the camp with a couple tents and an unmanned turret off to the side. The guards and equipment are all colored red, black, white and gold.

Dominion colors.

"All right, bucko," Dorian's voice returns. "Now you get to really show off. Clear the camp and take out those Dommies however you please."

You hum to yourself as you consider your options. It's not live combat, so you're not really at risk of dying in a sim, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take this seriously. You haven't had many opportunities to really test your abilities since the operation.

>Go loud. Charge in claws flaring and dice them up.
>Go quiet. Activate your nanites to enter stealth and slip through the camp to pick them off one by one.
>Hang back and observe. Dorian said it'd be easy, but it can't be that easy. Is there something you're missing?
The quiet option is definitely the smarter option. The less of a fuss you kick up, the more easily you can empty this camp of its personnel. Plus, there's no way you're not putting these nanites to use. As your neck cracks and you loosen up, the nanites on your skin turn you invisible to the naked eye. Only any advanced detection systems could even begin to detect you, and in a camp this small, the odds of that are slim to none.

With a practiced walk, you stride quickly but silently around the perimeter of the camp, looping around to the guard standing by the transport in the back. No one is looking in your direction, thankfully. The guard rolls out a kink in his neck as you approach from behind, a kink you are all too satisfied to relieve. In the flash of an eye, you engage and disengage your nanite claws from your hand, immediately lancing him through the throat. The choking sound is muffled by the helmet as you quickly nab him from behind and throw him into the brush behind you. You duck behind a tent before engaging your stealth again and loop around to another guard standing idly behind the turret. One snapped neck later, the guard is on the floor, but one of her comrades notices she's suddenly disappeared from her position.

"Hello?" the guard calls out with his highborne (read: British) accent, slowly advancing on the turret. "Evelyn? Where'd you go?"

Of course, it wouldn't be a real test if you didn't have to plan on the fly. No plan survives contact against the enemy and whatnot.

>Duck out and leave the body behind.
>Jump the barrier and ambush the soldier with surprise.
>Activate the turret and turn it on the rest of the camp.
Turn the turret on the camp
Heading to bed. Good job so far anon
The guard continues to approach the lone turret emplacement. One guard towards the entrance also looks back at him, perplexed at the scene. Without warning, the turret begins turning on with a low whine.

"Why is the turret active?" the guard asks aloud to no one in particular. "Evelyn, are you messing about? Turn off the turret! You know we can't have a live emplacement if there's no enga--"

A ratty-looking human suddenly fades into view out of nowhere, clearly gripping the controls of the turret, glaring at him with the look of death. Immediately, the turret roars to life, perforating the guard with sudden large-calibur fire and sending him flying to the dirt in chunks.

"Bloody--" the guard at the entrance exclaims before the turret turns on him and cuts him down as well. A fifth guard you didn't notice darts out of one of the tents for half a second, before she too finds out all too quickly what the disturbance is. For extra measure, you turn the turret in a slow arch, turning the tents to tatters with the turret fire. You even point the emplacement up at the transport at the summit of the camp and punch a few holes into the engine block, making sure it never takes off again.

Satisfied, you power down the turret and take a short prowl through the camp to make sure you didn't miss anything. Just as you finish your sweep, the sound of a low whistle rings through the air.

"Now there's efficient," Dorian remarks, "and then there's what you did. Not a scratch on ya, and the entire camp is a mess. Talk about makin' a statement, kid. How ya feelin'?"

>A little rusty, but I'm all right. Nothing I can't shake off.
>Never better! Haven't lost a step.
>I feel like I'm still asleep in that cryo-pod, Dorian. Come on!
>Woo! Man, that felt good!
>*phew* Thank the stars. I thought I lost it there for a second.
>A little rusty, but I'm all right. Nothing I can't shake off.
>>A little rusty, but I'm all right. Nothing I can't shake off.
>>I feel like I'm still asleep in that cryo-pod, Dorian. Come on!
One of these. We need to get as much wake-up training in as we can. Because I guess once we're thawed shit's gonna hit the fan.

This quest looks promising, we'll see how it turns out. OP, you should use a name/trip so we can more easily recognize you. (My trip is only for future reference.)
You roll your shoulder in a broad circle as you step out of the devastated campsite. Your movements could've been a little smoother, admittedly, but you're otherwise satisfied with your performance.

"I'm all right, Dorian," you quip. "A little rusty, but I'm already shaking it off. You sure this is what passes for a combat test, though? C'mon. I feel like I'm still asleep in that cryo-pod."

"That's 'cuz you still are," the explorer's disembodied voice retorts.

You stop for half a second before shaking your head. "Still, you got somethin' a little more challenging in store?"

"Keep yer britches on, sparky," Dorian replies. "I got a few more things for ya. Just follow the waypoints, an' you'll see what I mean." You absently rub your wrists as you leave the clearing and pass by a couple more ridges. You take in the sights of the sim in the meantime. The Exiles have jumped from planet to planet to stay a step ahead of the Dominion, and there's been plenty to see and record. But the colors here on (simulated) Nexus seem exceptionally vibrant. The tall wet grass wavers in the wind, the clay is a deep orange, and the disembodied three-story-tall upper torso of a giant deactivated robot sits stoically against a ridge, grey metal covered in patches of green --

Wait, what?

"Is that supposed to be there, Dorian?" you ask.

"'Course it is," Dorian remarks. "Nexus is a massive treasure trove of Eldan technology, and it's practically all over the place. Can't go two feet without tripping over some Eldan artifact or ruins or another."

>Are they really all over the place?
>Are they active?
>They're not all as big as that...destructo-bot, are they?
>What do we know about the Eldan? I mean, apart from the whole "went missing for centuries" bit.
>>What do we know about the Eldan? I mean, apart from the whole "went missing for centuries" bit. They're not all as big as that...destructo-bot, are they?
These fit together.
>What do we know about the Eldan? I mean, apart from the whole "went missing for centuries" bit.
>They're not all as big as that...destructo-bot, are they?

Liking this so far QM
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"Are the Eldan all as big as tall, dark and Killotron over there?" you ask aloud as you keep walking past the vista.

"Ehh, couldn't tell ya," Dorian's voice replies. "Some of their tech, yeah, but the Eldan themselves? Your guess is as good as ours. Not like they been around to tell us their life story for the past millenia or so."

"That seems to be about the only thing anyone agrees on," you remark. "Well, I mean, what DO we know about them, aside from that?"

"We've been on Nexus for a few years already before waking you up," the explorer-cum-historian starts, "and we've learned quite a bit about a lot of things, but the Eldan themselves are still a bit of a mystery. We still don't know where they went or what they used Nexus for. For the most part, we've still got what we have to go on from old history kept by our chroniclers."

"So that's, what? The Mechari saying they're the servitors of the Eldan?"

"And the Luminai, don't forget."

"Cassian humans with high concentrations of Eldan blood in them. It's the main basis between being 'Highborn' and 'Lowborn' in Dominian society, I remember."

"And how the Luminai trace their ancestry all the way back to the first Dominion emperor--"

"-- the Half-Blood --"

"Dominus," you and Dorian say in unison. You both also simultaneously hork a loogie at the mention of his damnable name.

"All that aside," Dorian continues, "we're steadily finding out more and more about a whole bunch of stuff, including what the Eldan were working on, but a lot of it is still obtuse. We'll figure things out in due time, don't you worry. That said, it doesn't help that the Dominion keeps breathing down our neck and impeding our progress. Eh, speaking of, you might wanna duck for cover."

The boom and screech of turbolaser fire fills your ears, and the adrenaline spike sends you immediately leaping behind a large palm tree, your nanites scrambling and bristling in your body. The fire pounds your cover for a second or two before coming to a stop. With measured and slow movements, you peek an eye out from behind your cover and spot the offender: an automated single-cannon turbolaser turret, mounted on a swivel, a tracking laser sweepin the immediate surroundings, a glowing light-blue energy dome of a shield covering it. The turret is also surrounded by half-buried land mines in a loose pattern surrounding it. A control panel connected to the shielded turret and partially obscured by cover is unmanned, but there are two guards, similar to those from the last camp, standing to the rear of the emplacement and scanning the area with their helmet-obscured eyes and rifles.

"You wanted a challenge, sparky, you got one," Dorian taunts. "Go ahead - surprise me."

The turret reminds you it's looking for you as it punches a hole in the dirt next to your feet. You're not certain if that turret can spot you through your stealth technology.

>Charge the turret itself and try to pop that shield through brute force.
>Slice the power cable connecting the turret to the control terminal.
>Try and hack the control terminal to turn the turret to your side and take out the soldiers.
>Take out the grunts first before dealing with the turret.
Activate stealth, then run to another cover, watch whether the turret continues to fire on our first cover. Then try to take out the grunts first. I guess they are within the mine-protected zone though. Perhaps throw something on a mine next to them.
>Slice the power cable connecting the turret to the control terminal.

Then take out the grunts, with just 2 of them we can probably brute force it once the turret is out of the way
Even someone like you knows that the first step to getting anything done correctly is to gather intelligence. Right now, there's a couple variables you're not clear on that don't sit right with you, notably how well that turret can spot you. Of course, you were also taught to move where no one is looking, so there's that.

You wait for several seconds before activating your stealth, the nanites turning you invisible to the naked eye again, and take another peek out from behind your natural cover. The turret is back to performing wide sweeps of the entrance to the camp you nearly stumbled through, if that laser sight is any indication. Whether it's credit to your stealth or the turret not looking at you doesn't matter, as you promptly take the initiative and move with meticulous steps out from behind the tree and move in a broad circle around the perimeter of the camp. The guards never catch on, and soon, you perfectly flank the camp from behind.

Narrowing your brow, you pause to analyze the situation, your internal HUD revealing the specifics of this setup and relaying them to you via AR. You can see the explosive radius of the land mines placed; they're rather small and don't overlap each other. Unfortunately, the two guards providing two extra sets of eyes are out of range behind the mine field and turret, so you won't be able to turn the mines against them from this distance. That doesn't mean you can't remove them from the picture. You creep up behind the two, and in a flash of metal, you lance your claws through the heart of the first guard. Before the other guard realizes what's happened, he takes a slash across the throat and a stab through the liver for his troubles.

Both guards are on the floor dead, and luckily for you, the turret isn't smart enough to turn around and acknowledge the disturbance behind it. Doubly lucky for you is that the power cable connecting the turret to its control panel and power source is currently in the turret's blind spot partially behind it, if your HUD is telling you the turret's pattern correctly. Quietly, you shuffle aside to the power cable, unsheath one of your claws, and slice clean through the coupling in a single uppercut swing.

That's when you remember the cable is still live, and that you've got nanite crafted claws directly attached to you.

Your electrocution is immediate, jarring and massive, the electricity shooting through your body in a flash and causing your muscles to seize before you force yourself to complete the cut before you flump to the dirt, still twitching a little bit, smoke rising from your body. This may just be a sim, but stars alive, that hurt.

At least the turret is powered down, you're pretty sure.

"Dah, now you've gone and done it!" Dorian hollers from nowhere. "Talk to me, sport! You okay?"

>Not my smartest idea.
>I'll live. Just...gimme a minute.
>Where's the granok who gave me that brew?! I'll turn him into gravel!
>>Not my smartest idea.
"The flash of inspiration came a bit late, I made a shocking discovery here."

Haha, seconding this, love MC's that make puns
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"Nnnnot my smartest idea," you eventually grunt out as you slowly but sure push yourself up off the dirt. The nanites in your body were already underway fixing you up from the inside out. Any wounds or charring you may have suffered are already disappearing at an accelerated rate. You still feel some tingling flowing through you, but that works its way out in due time. "The flash of inspiration came a bit late fer me," you wax poetically with a bit of a chuckle. "I'll admit: that was one hell of a shocking discovery there."

Dorian audibly groans. "Ah great. Instead o' stoppin' his heart, it just turned on his funny bone."

"I'm owed at least one, Dorian," you remark as you unsteadily get to your feet, holding onto the console barrier next to you for support.

"That don't change that a shock like that woulda killed most any other man. When I called ya 'sparky,' I didn't mean for you to take it literally. That was boneheaded of ya. I ain't even sure how yer still walkin' and talkin'."

You catch your breath for a second. "Nanites, remember?"

"Riiight, right," Dorian mutters. "Well, don't make a habit of it! You nearly gave the both of us a heart attack, if I were actually here."

"I'll take it to heart." You stand upright and shake yourself loose, fully restored from the system shock. "What's next?"

"Not much more, skipper," the voice remarks as the jungle begins to fade out into white nothingness. "One more stop!" The rushing sensation of the last sim ending, a new one eventually takes its place. This time, as the color comes into view, you are blasted by biting cold air and snowflakes hitting your exposed skin on your arms. Blues and whites fade into view as a view of a snowy tundra appears before you. Jagged glaciers stick up this way and that around the relatively small VR enclosure, with snowy mountains ringing out the border. You stand at the foot of what appears to be some sort of mettalic cylindrical structure built partly into the snow. White, gold and dark metals are all highlighted by ominous green glows running along the rims and conduits that wind their way up the structure. There appear to be three levels to it, and you're on the bottom level, standing on the cold metal.
"This," intones Dorian's voice, "is a sample of one type of Eldan ruins. You can find places like this all over Nexus, so don't be too surprised when you find similar structures in reality. Go ahead an' follow the waypoint. I wanna show you somethin'." Sure enough, the waypoint takes you down the metal path up a ramp to the next-level cylinder. Apart from the lightly blowing winds, the place is quiet and barren. It's just you and your thoughts. And right now, your thoughts are still mildly addled from that last shock, but you get over it. Just in time, too, as you summit the second level and are presented with quite a sight.

Dotted around the center of the circular platform are six metallic pedastals equidistant from each other. Floating atop each one and enclosed in what amounts to a fancy jar covering is a sort of concentrated energy. One is a warbling ball of clear water, one is a swirling ball of colored wind and lightning, one is a bright red ball of roaring flame, and one is a crackling ball of dirt and rocks. The other two enclosures contains essences that are a bit less tangible than the other four. One is a glowing green, opaque cube that appears to be covered in what can only be described as lines of code or language constantly swirling across its surface. The other contains a warbling, glowing green energy, not a harsh glow like the cube, but softer, with dots of light wafting about within the more gaseous form.

You move to the center of the circle and look over each of these enclosures.

"Pop quiz, champ," Dorian's voice cuts through the tundra gales. "You recognize these? What are they?"

>They're the primal powers: Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Logic and Life.
>Remind me?
>A VR tech test.
>They're the primal powers: Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Logic and Life.

That seems pretty obvious, nice job with the descriptions and characterization, there's a lot to chew on with these updates
>>They're the primal powers: Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Logic and Life.
You idly scratch at your cheek with one finger, ignoring the cool air breezing past you. "I didn't know I was still in grade school, Mis-ter Wal-ker," you quip, looking up to the sky.

Dorian harrumphs at you in turn. "Maybe not, but you'd be surprised how many people don't cotton on to this sort o' thing."

"Right," you acknowledge before taking another look around at the six enclosures. "Well, these all represent the six so-called 'Primal Powers,' the building blocks of our universe." You make it a point to visibly point at each enclosure with the correct power. "You got the four elements of primal power - Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. You also got the two primal forces - Logic and Life."

"Exact-a-mundo," Dorian praises you. "What else?"

Your mind pulls a little at any pertinent facts Dorian might be looking for. "Weeeell," you eventually start after a moment, "these primal powers make us who and what we are. Combined in the right, well, 'primal pattern,' you might even call the stuff our 'soul.' The, uh, the primal powers can also be manipulated, whether naturally or through tools, like a spellslinger's guns. This manipulation and application of the primal powers is what we know as 'magic,' at least among us."

"Y'know, for a human weapon, you sure do remember your holo-books," the explorer quips. "I'm legit impressed."

"I'm no expert on the matter, though," you're quick to point out. "I ain't no spellslinger, so I can't get into the real nitty gritty of it like they can or some scholars can."

"It's never too late to pick up a mag pistol or two, though," Dorian idly observes.

"That ain't the point, Dorian," you cut. "What does all this have to do with anything, least of all me waking up?"

"Be-CAUSE," he cuts back, "it's worth lettin' you know that the Eldan have done a whoooole lotta work with the primal powers, all kinds of experiments and observations. We're only starting to uncover the mysteries they unraveled, and they're really eye-opening. More so, the Eldan have created a 'focus' for every primal power - a giant conduit that channels and concentrates that specific power - and they're all here on Nexus. Between us and the Dommies, we only managed to find a couple so far, but those foci are what'cha might call a 'big deal' on Nexus. If we're gonna make this planet our home, we gotta find out everything that's goin' on, including all this work with the primal powers. I'm just making sure you're up to speed so you don't walk into this mess blind. THAT'S why we got this little review here. Ya dig me, chum?"

You're quiet for a moment before nodding at nothing. "Yeah. Yeah, I gotcha, Dorian."
"Eh, at least we're on the same page. Now come on, up ya go." A new waypoint appears at the top of the tallest cylindrical structure, and you're quick to follow the ramps up the side to the top. At the summit, you can see a small elevated platform in the back with an active console in the back. In the center of the circular arena of sorts, however, is a squatty little metal relic, colored a polished white, green and gold. It's only as you approach that the 'relic' activates, standing up with thin arms and legs sticking out of what was actually the torso of what appears to be a humanoid golem or robot of sorts. It's certainly like no Freebot you remember, that's for sure. It also doesn't help that it's literally twice as tall as you.

"That console in the back will end the simulation and start the final subroutines to thaw you out and wake you up. It ain't gonna activate, though, until you take down this Eldan construct. Trust me: it ain't gonna be the last one you meet, so you may as well get used to seeing them and their ilk in the future."

The construct, even though it doesn't have eyes you can immediately tell, is clearly glowering at you as it whirrs a low, ominous rumble in your direction, clenching its fists.

"Good luck, kid."

>Any start of fight quips?

>Charge the construct head on and try to eviscerate it before it can mount an offense.
>Hang back and play defensive for a bit. You need to know what exactly you're dealing with.
>Activate stealth and see if you can't somehow circle around behind it.
>Hang back and play defensive for a bit. You need to know what exactly you're dealing with.

"So how realistic is this sim, can I start my kill count with this one? Hopefully this time when I slice it nothing with come as a shock to me."
As always, like any good agent, you elect to play the long game. The last time you acted without thinking, you got a megajoule reprisal, and you don't want to go through that again. You need to find out what options you have, and you can't do that if you don't know what you're up against. You crack your neck as your flex your arms and draw out both sets of nanite claws from your knuckles.

"So, uh, Dorian," you call out as the Eldan construct lumbers towards you at a slow walk. "How realistic are these sims? Can I start my Eldan construct kill count with this one?"

"When's the last time you heard a hotshot pilot brag about all the planes they shot down in a flight sim?" Dorian counter-proposes.

"...Point taken."

The construct punctuates that thought, as it is now upon you and rearing back a punch to clobber you with. You weave to the side, the metallic fist sailing past your face with an audible whoosh. It's slow, but you definitely don't want to risk getting nailed by any of those shots. The construct turns to address you fully, following after you with two more punches and even a lumbering front kick. Each blow you artfully weave around, hesitant to throw an attack yourself. These attacks are all heavily telegraphed and pretty slow, admittedly. You call it caution, but the construct calls it an opportunity to press the advantage.

The Eldan machine brings up a foot high to stomp your head with. You slide underneath the foot as it crashes against the ground with a loud clang, and you immediately turn and slice at the back of its knee with a claw to retaliate. The joint sparks and screeches as you tear it open, and the construct staggers forward. There is a momentary pause in your thought process.

"Huh. No shock," you observe. "How shocking."

"You said you got one, kid," Dorian's disembodied voice chastises you.

But now you know you can damage it, bring it down. You feel bolstered as you begin to more thoroughly analyze your opponent, bits of your HUD poking at its silhouette to try and discern any weaknesses. Nothing yet, you observe. It seems the construct has other ideas, however, as it thrusts its chest forward prominently at you. The glowing green light on its chestplate begins to intensify, and your HUD is loudly complaining at you with WARNING icons pointing at the chest.

That's not good.

>Think fast!
Try to make it fall over forwards so the chestplate points to the ground. At least get to the back of the construct.
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You definitely don't want to stick around for whatever this Eldan contruct has planned, but your plans are a bit more proactive than reactive. Instead of merely getting out of the way, maybe you could find a way to conterattack or otherwise destabilize its move, if not turn it against it. Whatever the result may be, one thing is clear: you can't stay in front of this thing.

You feel your muscles strengthen in your legs as you gracefully bound to your right. Not a moment too soon, as a second later, the contruct's chest fires a concentrated green beam of energy at the ground towards your last position, mildly scorching the metal on the floor. Yeah, that would've been nasty to stand in, that's for sure. The construct isn't about to let such a good move go to waste, though, as it begins slowly rotating its body to track you, the breast beam dragging along the ground towards your new position.

It'd be menacing if it weren't so slow.

With shorter jumps allowing you to skirt dangerously close to the construct, you eventually slip behind its back faster than it can catch up, skidding to a stop on one foot. You promptly launch yourself up high off that foot and arc gracefully in the open air before throwing an aerial round kick to the back of the construct's head. You are rewarded with a satisfying metallic THUNK as you impact the back of the neck, causing the construct to stagger. The chest laser immediately sputters out, and the shock to the construct's system appears to have left it vulnerable, as it wobbles forward a bit to try and get its bearings. You must've hit something important during that attack, causing the ability to fail and the machine to be stunned.

You just gave an ancient guardian construct a concussion. Go figure.

Cut it open, try to look inside.

Aim for where a spine would be on a creature, let's see if their anatomy mirrors nature
Give me a d100 roll right quick.
Rolled 17 (1d100)

Rolled 48 (1d100)

Not taking advantage of the new opening would be just plain foolish of you. After all, it's not every day you knock a construct loopy, so you may as well exploit the opportunity for all it's worth. With a skillful nanite-powered jump, you leap upon the Eldan construct's back, lancing forward with both sets of claws to stab into its back. Fortunately, your blades find purchase through the metal body that comprises most of its torso, and you are properly lodged against its back, causing the automaton to stagger forward. Holding tight with one arm's claws still stuck through its internals, you begin ripping and shearing with your other arm's claws against its back. The sound of metal whining and complaining rings out as you keep stabbing and pulling, some leaving deep scratch marks, and other pulling entire chunks of metal aside to reveal the glowing green mechanisms beneath.

In your frenzy to disembowel your victim, however, the contruct regained its bearings beneath you. What you thought to be hunching over under your withering assault was actually the machine setting down into a small crouch. A moment later, it leaps a few feet into the air, still carrying you on its back like a mad koala. Before you can disengage your claws and dismount, the sudden sense of vertigo you suffer as you hang loose in the air is violently cut short by the construct slamming back to earth. An overpowering dome of raw technological energy - an application of Logic energy, in hindsight - explodes from the construct in a radiating blast from itself and blowing you away.

Your HUD is briefly scrambled, your nanites overwhelmed by the sudden influx of information and data as you sail through the air and slam your back on the cold metal floor beneath you. The shock knocks some sense back into you, and you immediately kip up back to your feet in a crouch, but the damage from that technological blast still smarts. Things steadily come back into focus, your HUD recovering as your vision refocuses.

Just in time, too, as you catch the Eldan construct square in your sights about a dozen yards away from you. From this distance, you can see the damage you did: bits and pieces of shiny metal are on the floor, part of its back panel is ripped aside and hanging open like half an angel's wing, and its green-glowing internals are partly hanging out, sparking. That knee you cut up earlier is still torn up.

You would be more proud of the number you did on the construct if you didn't notice that the construct was in a low three-point stance pointed squarely at you, your HUD yelling WARNING at you again. The construct's joints begin to tense as it glowers at you. There's a fair amount of ground between you and the construct, and if you didn't know any better, it intends to close the gap very quickly.

Be ready to get out of the way. Either to the side or over it depending on how high we can jump.

Give me another d100.
Rolled 97 (1d100)

Rolled 61 (1d100)

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You know what's coming. You don't need a fancy nanite-enabled HUD in your retina or an accelerated thought process or keen tactical knowledge to tell you what's coming. There's a million ways you could address this scenario, each of them tactically sound and putting you at little to no risk.

And yet, somehow, from deep within your empowered heart beating in your chest, you choose the most Exile-esque answer.

You drop down to a three-point stance of your own, leaning on a balled fist pressed against the metal underfoot. Your metals tense as you couch yourself like a lance ready to spring force. You feel empowered, your system kicking into gear to strengthen your muscles and heighten your reactions. Your breath is slow and controlled, but it still wavers in excitement. A gleam flashes in your eye; a grin cannot be suppressed on your face.

"C'mon, big boy!" you call out. "Let's boogie!"

The Eldan construct groans in response as its joints flex one last time before flashing forward towards you in a blink-and-you-miss-it dash. Swirling contrails and excess particles of green Logic energy are left in its wake as it thrusts its free hand forward in a knife-hand stab at you. Concurrently, you dash forward from your own crouch, closing the distance just as fast in a single stride, fist cocked back, hollering in defiance.

As expected, it's over in a flash.

The Eldan construct's arm is outstretched in its low lunging pose, knife hand cutting through nothing but open air. You took a much lower pose, legs in a broad and wide stance that puts you underneath most of the automaton's torso. Your fist is pointed up towards the sky, nanite claws engaged, skewered directly through the humanoid's neck. The neck begins to spark with energy as the lights across its body begin to flicker and fail.

With a grunt, you twist your arm, digging the claws around in its neck and feeling wires and piping sliced through. With a final forceful pull of your arm downwards, you rip your claws clean from the construct's chassis, forcibly severing the head in the process. It clanks to the ground unceremoniously, connected only by a small errant pipe, the light in its eye fading out along with the rest of its systems. You step backwards to avoid the body falling on you as it flops to the ground with a crash.

You take a slow, measured breath as your adrenaline subsides, the nanites relaxing after their workout. It's all you can hear beyond the snowy gales and the low thrum of the Eldan ruins beneath your feet.

>WOO! That was awesome! Dorian, you saw that?!
>...Did I get 'im?
>Heh. All too easy.
>(Say nothing.)
>>WOO! That was awesome! Dorian, you saw that?!
Option two is just stupid, option three is too arrogant.
>"You should have quit while you were .. ahead."
>WOO! That was awesome! Dorian, you saw that?!
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You can't help yourself. You feel a bit of spring to your step, and the excitement of victory washes over you.

"YEAAAAAH!" you hear yourself holler as you jump through the air pumping your fist, like you just hit a walk-off home run. You do a victory lap around the impromptu arena, waving your fists at the heavens above before skidding to a stop and doing a silly little happy dance with a bit of a twirl to it. "WOO! HOT DAMN, THAT WAS AWESOME! HEY, DORIAN, YOU SAW THAT?!"

"Well, ain't we a happy camper?" Dorian's voice remarks in that almost perpetually placid tone of his. "'Course I saw it. Kinda hard not to. You done good, kid. Still got room to improve, but now I'm confident you're ready for damn near whatever Nexus throws at you. You'll need to be; the planet's got a whole lot o' surprises waitin' for ya, and we got a lotta work to do. If this was any indication, though, I'd say the Exiles are in good hands."

"So we're done?" you ask to the heavens, mildly out of breath but still grinning like an idiot. "I can get outta here?"

"Just about," Dorian replies. "All you gotta do is hit that terminal on the far side, and that'll start the final thawing and awakening procedures. Ehh, I'd be quick about it, though, before that Annihilator turns you into a fine paste."

"What're you talkin' about? What Annihilator?"
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Perfectly on cue, from behind the giant snowdrift the ruin is buried in at the boundary of the VR simulation, an absolutely gargantuan mechanical body slowly rears up behind and just off to the side of the final terminal. Covered in white, black and gold with an extra red flourish to it, the machine can only be seen from the shoulders up, but it already dwarfs nearly everything you've seen up to this point. A wicked skull-like head turns and locks onto you directly with its beady, glowing red eyes, its arms resding upon the snowdrift behind the ruins.

Oh. That Annihilator.

Quick as a bolt of lightning, your nanites kick into overdrive, and you carry yourself so quickly to that terminal that you almost feel your body leaving your soul behind, it's going so fast. You activate the terminal.

For a full second, nothing happens.

Before the concept of panic even begins to consider hitting you, you glance up at the Annihilator. It's already winding up a giant fist as big as a mobile home and preparing to turn you into a fine paste, all with an almost defaning mechanical roar.

>Cower in fear.
>Stand defiantly.
>Roar back at it.
>Taunt it.
>Taunt it.

I'm leaving, god dammit, don't you think you're being a little HEAVY HANDED
> stand defiantly
Fuck puns

I just caught up, good stuff OP. Pity you ain't got many players, maybe more interesting OP pic will get some more clicks.
Fucking Robots
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Your only recourse is to stand tall and look (virtual) death square in the eye, even as it clenches its fists and prepares to swing it down on your head in a hammer blow. Rather than allow fear to paralyze you, you release it from you and find an odd sort of inner peace, a sort of pride welling up within you. You straighten your back and look the Annihilator square in the eye.

And then promptly hook one arm over the other in a good old-fashioned "up yours" gesture, right as you wink out of virtual existence before the fist crushes you.

You return to blackness, only the errant lines of a VR scape whizzing past you here and there. Your body is gone; it is only your consciousness once again. Save for the low whine of the system, all is quiet before Dorian Walker winks back into existence in front of you, hyuk-hyuking it up and slapping a knee.

"Ahhhh, I love doin' that one," he admits, pulling his goggles off his eyes and rubbing at them with his wrist. "But for real, though. You did great, slick, better than I expected. You got skills and know-how, and we're gonna need both if we're gonna tame Nexus. We've done all we can from this end, but you're definitely ready for the real thing. Don't worry; we're in the home stretch. Just kick back and take it easy while we bring you back." Dorian winks out of existence again, and you feel your consciousness beginning to pull as if forced back into a seat by G-forces. The lines of the VR scape travel faster as you feel sucked through the system.

But then, there's a graphical glitch. You come to a sudden stop, the system no longer moving. You appear to be stuck, frozen in this point in time, and there's nothing you can do about it. From the darkness at the end of the tunnel, a shimmering blue and white light appears, carrying with it a strange symbol, one you don't recognize. It floats gently in front of you, radiating a warm and reassuring light. It is small, but it holds your attention.

And then it speaks. Its voice is feminine, young and tinged metallic. She sounds almost like a ghost, but she speaks clearly, and she speaks directly to you in a friendly and reassuring tone.

"Hello," the image states matter-of-factly.
"You're different somehow... special.
"I need your help.
"Nexus has many secrets... and when the time is right, I will show them to you.
"Be safe."

Just as mysteriously as it arrived, the apparition vanishes back into the nothingness, and the system is restored, continuing the awakening process.

"--ou there, slick?" you hear Dorian's voice fade in through static. "Whoo, there you are. Scared me half to death there. There was a weird glitch there, caused a minor hiccup in the awakening. Hm, I wonder. Dah, you're fine, don't worry about anything. Just sit tight."
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At last, you begin to feel something again, as you feel yourself returned to a body again. Your body. Your REAL body. Your eyes are still closed, and you can't will them to open just yet. It feels cold, not like that VR sim with the Eldan ruins, but still chilly. Your first semi-conscious breath of real air smells icy and cuts through your nose. Your mouth tastes as little dry, your jaw starting to wiggle. You feel cushions against your back and head. You feel your nanites in your system bristling awake, as if to say "good morning" to their master. You feel pulled down slightly against your "bed," as though rising up an elevator. You can't quite move just yet, so you savor the sensations of your cryo-pod.

"Rise an' shine, cupcake," Dorian's voice cuts the silence through the internal speakers in your pod. "Welcome back to the realm of the livin'. You're in yer cryo-pod on your flotilla ship, the Aces High. It ain't the Gambler's Ruin, but it's not too bad, if you can remember. Your pod will deposit you in the Departures Terminal, where you can stretch your legs, check in and claim yer personal effects from before you went into deep freeze. I, uh, also recommend taking a shower first chance you get; you might be a bit, eh, ripe. There's also some info kiosks around you can check out, get you up to speed on things our little VR adventure didn't cover. Once you're ready, you can board the next shuttle bound for Nexus."

You flex your fingers and toes a little bit as your body warms up, the blood flow causing you to stir slightly. Your eyes finally flutter open for the first time, image hazy but steadily coming into focus. You are immediately greeted by the large frosted-over window of your cryo-pod and the surrounding metallic frame, "C. Starwalker" emblazoned across the inner rim, just in case you forgot who you were. It's oddly cozy, how snug it is. You could probably move your forearms and touch the door of your pod, but the rest of you is still waking up. Your eyes stray down and see your body, still clad in that Exile-issued jumpsuit-onesie thing everyone wears for cryo-stasis, kind of a wifebeater and shorts thing. Your toes wiggle back at you in greeting.

"Welp," Dorian continues, "as fun as this all was, this is where we must sadly part ways. FOR NOW, for now. Somethin's itchin' and tellin' me we'll definitely meet each other again, in person to boot. If I ain't out and abroad, you'll probably find me in Thayd. Ah, don't worry about that for now; all things in due time. Besides, I've got a real good feelin' about you, kid. Somethin' big is on the horizon, an' if I were a bettin' man, I'd put my money on you."
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"Keep the wind to yer back and the sun outta yer eyes. I'll be seein' you on Nexus, hotshot. Make me proud."

With that final farewell from Dorian Walker, the speakers cut out as the platform your pod is on comes to a sudden stop with a heavy WHUMP beneath you. You hear hissing as the pod depressurizes, and a couple seconds later, the door swings open rather suddenly. The warm air of the Aces High's recycled atmosphere hits you, and you take a deep breath. You sit there in your pod for a few seconds, your body fully awake as you drink it all in.

Beyond the doorway of your pod is the Departures Terminal of your colony ship, just as Dorian said. It's not the rustiest of rustbuckets, but it's still got that "rugged" feel, with pipes crisscrossing on the ceiling, lamps hanging from the pipes, stray boxes and even a bit of errant trash that missed the wastebasket. Arrows from your pod point you towards the main desk at the center of this atrium. Dotted around the room are a few spare info kiosks hooked up to projection tables. On the far walls are doors leading to other areas, one clearly flagged as the showers and bathrooms. Atop each door are holo-projectors - "televisions," some still call them - showing off a few images of Nexus. No Protostar ads, for once, thank the stars. Milling about the atrium are a couple other individuals in various states of reinvigoration. There's an aurin girl doing cartwheels in one of the open spaces, a human fellow off to a corner reviewing his gear, and a granok having a loud fight with a coffee vending machine and losing.

Finally, after a bit of doinyou reach for the edges of the pod and pull yourself standing upright. You mildly overestimated yourself, though, as you stagger just a little bid down the exit ramp of your pod onto the cool metal floor of the ship. VR is one thing, but moving your limbs for real still takes a bit of doing. It only takes a few seconds for you to get oriented and upright. It's probably best not to do anything too fancy right now.

You also wipe a bit of spittle from the side of your mouth and one the straps of your jumpsuit. Apparently, you were still drooling a little bit. Ugh.

Next to your pod is a small pedastal with a dome cover on top and a "Welcome back!" card taped to the side. Pulling off the card and hitting the button on the side slides the dome top off the pedastal, revealing a fresh set of new clothes and shoes, neatly folded and in your size. How generous. Grabbing the bundle, you tuck it under an arm as you consider your options.

>Head straight for the check-in desk.
>Head for the showers and get cleaned up and changed. You don't want to risk smelling yourself.
>Walk around a bit more and do some stretches.
>Get something to eat and drink.
>Check out one of the spare info kiosks.
>Head for the showers and get cleaned up and changed. You don't want to risk smelling yourself.
First impressions count. And we don't want one of the maintanaince droids mistaking us for refuse.
>Head for the showers and get cleaned up and changed. You don't want to risk smelling yourself

We can also limber up a bit in the shower, the warm water will probably do some good
>>Head for the showers and get cleaned up and changed. You don't want to risk smelling yourself.
As you stand idle and crack your neck with a couple satisfying pops, two thoughts promptly cross your mind.

1. I gotta get out of this jumpsuit.
2. I gotta take a piss real bad.

The cryo-pod did a good job of preserving you over the years, but you also don't want to take a chance at what you currently smell like, nor would you dare take a whiff of your pod now that it's aired out. Of all your options in your newly-restored life, the call of nature is the one you can't ignore, whether you like it or not. Change of clothes tucked under an arm, you march with purpose towards the washrooms through one of the open side doors.

After rounding a bend, you make it to a fair-sized mens' locker room, with several rows of lockers and benches between them. Off to the side are the toilet stalls that you immediately make a beeline for, slamming yourself into a stall and quickly undoing the front straps of the dirty jumpsuit. Relief is immediate, and four(!) minutes and a flush later, you have attained a level of peace and satisfaction that you haven't felt in ages. Sidling past the sinks, you pass a glance at a mirror and look yourself over for the first time. Your nanites aren't fancy enough to changes parts of your anatomy (yet), but you're more than satisfied with your hazel eyes and tussled, dirty brown hair atop your head right now.

Clyde, you good-lookin' devil.

Now that that's taken care of, it's time to get properly cleaned up. When you first entered the locker room, there was a whole row of clean, fluffy white towels hanging on hooks next to the doorway. Off in a remote corner, there is also what can only be assumed to be a laundry chute, asking you to remove your cryo-sleep jumpsuits and toss them in their for "cleaning and/or disposal." You nab a towel from a hook, stuff your spare clothes in an empty locker, and make for the chute, where you strip off the jumpsuit (with mild effort) and flick it down the hole in a lump, never to be seen again. There, butt naked with naught but a towel loosely hanging around your waist, your whole body breathes for the first time in a long time, and you release a breath you never knew you were holding. You almost feel like running naked through a forest. Almost, you're quick to reassure yourself.

Reinvigorated, you promptly head through the door at the far end of the locker room and enter the showers themselves. Despite being sparsely populated, the steam that hits your face is refreshing, and the cacophony of running shower heads is a good change of pace. The showers are separated into stalls, but the walls and doors to each stall are low, only coming up to your chest. Eh, you can live with this. Grabbing a small bottle of bodywash from next to the door, your feet absently carry you into an open stall, and after draping your towel on an empty wall to your left, you turn the knob in front of you.
The wall fixture hits you with a sudden stream of just-hot-enough water, and you almost melt on the spot. Any kinks or stiffness in your muscles, any stiff joints, any layers of grossness you felt on your skin, and pretty much everything else that ails you all immediately evaporate from your body. That post-piss zen you felt? That's nothing compared to this. You sigh as you let the water just hit you and soak you through. You can feel your nerves waking up, your scalp stops itching, and even your junk seems to thank you in its own way. You wish you could just stand in this shower forever.

Your reverie is broken by a low, impressed whistle coming from your right and slightly above you. Your brow furrows as you glance aside, and you do a small double take.

Standing in the stall next to you is a towering humanoid hunk of muscular grey rock and silicon, about three meters tall and almost as broad, barely squeezed into his stall. His bald head and the majority of his suds-covered upper torso are covered in artistic etchings that trace along his anatomy. This man-mountain of almost-literal "living stone" is a Granok, from the planet Gnox, and they're just as big as you remember them.

But that's not what's bothering you.

What's bothering you is that this granok is leaning over ever-so-slightly (for him, at least) into your shower stall, a leer in his eyes and a half-grin on his face. You follow his eyes, and you realize he's not checking out your face.

He's checking out your junk.

You feel your pupils dilate as you whirl back up to look him in the face. He's already leaned back into his stall, giving you a nod and a thumbs up.

"Not bad," the granok compliments you in that bass, gravelly - pardon the pun - rumble of a voice, a bit of a drawl to it (QM note: think typical New York). "Not bad at all. Ain't as good as mine, but I'm sure you've slain all kinds o' broads with it, right?"

You knew granok were typically loud, lewd, and crude, but holy shit.

>"A few, yeah."
>"What's it to you?"
>"Do you have to compare against every dude you meet?"
>"'Ain't as good?' You wanna bet?" Lean over and check out his junk as payback.
>Cover yourself up and keep quiet.

Aww come on man, way to kill the vibe
>>"A few, yeah."
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You look up at the granok incredulously, almost stunned to silence at how brazen he is at both observing and complimenting your tool. You're pretty sure there's unspoken bathroom protocol to prevent things like this. Exasperation creeps in as you half-shrug at with a thin, withering gaze.

"Why-- why?" you stammer. "Why you gotta go and do this to me, man? I'm just here, tryin-TRYING to enjoy a shower, I just woke up from cryo like, wh-wh-wh-like ten minutes ago, I'm just enjoying my first shower in YEARS, and you gotta go and fuggin', li-- make it WERID for me. Do you-- do you do this to every guy you meet?"

"Only da ones who enter the shower stall next to mine when there's plenty of other empty stalls with buffers next to them," the granok responds, still grinning. You glance around and notice that there are indeed several other stalls you could've picked, including the empty stall right next to you. You mentally kick yourself, even an errant thought passing that you should look over at his as compensation, but you promptly wave that away. You slump with a groan while the rockman cackles to himself. A brief moment of silence passes between you two as you start soaping up with the body wash. "Nah, but I'm legit curious," he speaks up again. "Tell me you put that thing ta use and smashed someone, eh?"

Your head bobs this way and that, debating whether you should answer. "...A few, yeah," you eventually admit.

"Were they hot?" The granok is staring ahead at the tile on the wall, though he occasionally shifts his eyes to glance down at you.

"I like to think so."

"Any of 'em you remember?"

"Hmmmm. Well, I'd just had this medical work done on me, so I'm sittin' this small medbay, one of the one-bedroom deals. This was a while ago." You start getting more into the story, gesturing with your hands but still careful not to talk too loud. "The nurse assigned to me was this nice, sweet young thing, with a big ol' red ponytail, cute as a button-- CASSIE, Cassie, that's her name." The granok turns his head to look down at you again, still rubbing some stuff into his scalp for some reason. "So Cassie's my observer, makes sure I'm okay. So we're just in my room while I'm in bed, just talkin' and hangin' out, get to know each other."

"I get the feelin' I know where this is goin'."

"So one day, just outta the blue, the nurse Cassie just storms in my room. She fuckinnn' locks the door, draws all the blinds, turns off the comms in the room, jumps on top o' me, boom boom boom." You punctuate each "boom" by tapping your fist into your other open palm.

"Haaaa, that's my boy!" the granok cheers you. "I love those ones. You know you got it made when they just can't help themselves."

"An' the best part?"


"She did this three or four more times, at least once a day, before I got moved."

"Atta boy." The granok holds out a giant fist in your direction, which you eventually pound back in return.
"Y'know, I wonder where she's at right now," you wonder aloud.

"Knowin' our luck, she's on Nexus. That'd be something if you saw her again, eh?"

"I guess, yeah."

The two of you drift back into momentary silence as you keep washing and soaking under the shower.

"It feels good, don't it?" the granok pipes up.

"Huh? What does?"

"Yer first shower outta cryo. Best you ever had, right?"

You think on it. They do say that the first water you taste after trudging through the desert is the sweetest water you ever taste, or the first burger you eat after fasting is the best burger of all time. "Yeah, it kinda does," you admit.

"Makes ya feel like a new man, don't it? Makes you think you can take on the whole fuckin' universe, now that you got your body back. Nexus, Dommies - they all better watch the fuck out."

>Are you fresh out of cryo, too?
>What do you do?
>I still don't know what to expect.
>I still don't know what to expect.
>>I still don't know what to expect.
>>Are you fresh out of cryo, too?
>>What do you do?
These are all good. Since this might be our new best buddy we have to get to know him.
> are you fresh out of cryo too?

I hope not
>I still don't know what to expect.
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You glance up at the granok, rubbing at the back of your neck - and not just because you're soaping it up. The confidence he's brimming with is a granok staple, but he does raise an interesting point. Being thawed out of cryo-sleep after years of stasis makes it feel like you've got a new chance. At what, you're not certain, but it's definitely a new opportunity to do something. Still, it doesn't change that you're at least several years' out of date, and even though things typically don't change much on a colony ship in the Exile flotilla, you know by now that the flotilla has been in Nexus's orbit for at least a few years now, meaning there's a lot you've missed and have to catch up on.

"I dunno," you admit as you stare forward at the tile grout on the wall. "I've been through the VR sim led by Dorian Walker that's meant to serve as a primer to Nexus, but I still feel outta my depth. I don't know what to expect, what with all the ominous warnings about Nexus being 'more than it seems' and 'way more dangerous than we thought' and 'filled with mysteries we're still tryin' to figure out' or some other mess. And that's without countin' the Dommies fightin' us tooth and nail every step of the way."

"What, the human's suddenly scared of a bunch o' weeds, angry cats and robots now?" the rockman taunts.

"That's not what I said," you immediately cut back. "I just don't like going into somethin' I don't know enough about, and it seems no one seems to know anything about this damn planet."

"Gotta go for it sooner or later," he proposes. "They say 'look before you leap,' but sometimes, you just gotta go for it, live or die."

"I know, I know." Your mouth wrings to one side. You don't like the answer, but it's the best one you'll get. "What about you? Did they just thaw you out, too?"

"Heh, yeah," he admits. "Popped me outta the freezer about an hour or so ago. Spent most of that time tryin' to find a good ale to drink - always gotta get a good morning drink - but there's barely anything but pisswater up in this terminal." The claim doesn't surprise you. If there's anything the granok culture prides itself on and takes most seriously, more than nearly anything else, it's their booze. You never get between a 'nok and his brew, not if you value your head.

"What do you do, anyway? You FCON or something?"

"Tch, you know it!" The 'nok beams at the showerhead as his chest swells. "Proud member of Kamm's Crusaders, if you must know."

"With a C or a K?"

"Kamm with a K, Crusaders with a C. We may have rocks for brains, but at least we know how ta spell."

"I'm sure you do."
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"What about 'chu, small-fry? You got a unit waitin' for you?"

You shake your head. "Nah, not really. I'm technically freelance right now, but that might change soon. Who knows? I might even be a Judge in the near future?"

"You? Judge?" He guffaws and wiggles his meaty (rocky?) hands in mock fear. "Ooh, better watch out. We got ourselves a real badass here, thinks he can make Judge."

You scoff and turn forwards again, ignoring the jab. Eventually, the rockman turns more fully in your direction, allowing you to better appreciate just how broad he is, and he extends a forearm out in front of him towards you, a genuine grin on his face. "Name's Grux. Grux Craghammer."

You look between the forearm and Grux for a brief moment. As crass and as shameless as he is, he's not a bad guy. He at least means well, and he can even be thoughtful once in a while, when he hasn't got titties on the brain. Faces you can count on are hard to find when you exit cryo-sleep, and if all the warnings about Nexus are for real, it'll never hurt to have some backup. It also doesn't help that he offered a greeting first, and your inner hospitality refuses to leave him hanging.

Besides, he's an Exile. You can't go wrong with that.

You crack a half-smile and return the forearm bump, his limb dwarfing yours and feeling like, well, a rock. "Clyde Starwalker."

"Starwalker, huh? Kind of a funny name."

"Hey, you don't hear me dissing Craghammer."

"That's 'cuz I'd slag you where you stand if ya did." He's still grinning.

>(Jokingly) I'd like to see you try.
>You looked at my junk and called my name silly. I'm owed at least something.
>Fine, fine.
>>You looked at my junk and called my name silly. I'm owed at least something.
I'm also fine with option 1
>(Jokingly) I'd like to see you try.
>extend claws to his neck
As a courtesy, I would like to remind you that you are both butt naked in the shower, and that Grux - while naturally larger than you - is unarmed. That's to say nothing of turning your blade on a fellow Exile, on an Exile colony ship of all places.
Not into his neck, just that he is judging us by comparing our musculature to his and he laughed at the idea of us being a judge. He made an idle threat (in good humour) to us which leveraged his unique advantage over us and we can do likewise. I wasn't meaning a hostile thing.
>You looked at my junk and called my name silly. I'm owed at least something.
"Now come on, that ain't fair," you idly complain. You're over here judging my tool, and you called my name stupid. I'm owed at least one."

"Heh, true," Grux chuckles. "Don't mean you'll get it, but it's true. But at least yer a good sport about it. S'why I like you humans. Aurin and mordesh seem a little test around me."

"I wonder why," you remark, rolling your eyes.

A few minutes later, you finally rinse off and turn off the showerhead. Whipping the excess water out of your hair like a dog, you grab your towel and sidle out of the showers, wiping yourself down. Grux is still in his booth, but it seems like he's starting to finish up himself; you figure he'll follow out behind you in due time. That shower feld especially invigorating, and you feel fully lucid and active now. Plus, you don't feel gross anymore, and that's always a plus.

You return to your locker and find your new clothes are thankfully still in place. For your efforts, you're now sporting a heavy white T-shirt, a blue overcoat with a flared collar that comes down past your behind, a pair of tan cargo pants and a pair of black lace-up boots to round it out. It's...something, but it's a start. You've no doubt you'll find something else to wear later.

After breaking in your new clothes, you head back to the main atrium. The cryo-pod you arrived in has vanished, no doubt returned to the bowels of the ship to be cleaned or sterilized or whatever. The check-in desk at the center of the room is empty, so you promptly take advantage and stride up. Manning the desk today is a human woman, dark brown skin with wavy brown hair, decked out in a partly unzipped blue jumpsuit, tapping away at the holo-terminal in front of her. As you approach, she looks up you and smiles genuinely.

"G'morning, Exile," she greets you. "Enjoy your beauty sleep?"

"You might say that," you quip back at her.

"Good to hear," she returns. "What's your name, honey?"

"Clyde Starwalker," you confidently anwer. She taps away at the terminal, mouthing out your name, and a minute later, she reaches under the desk and pulls out a small beacon, a little tube that fits neatly in your pants pocket.

"All right, Clyde," the woman starts. "It'll take a little time while we call up your personal effects and a couple extra bits of equipment out of storage for you. The beacon will let you know when it's ready, and you can come back here to claim your things. All right?"

"Sounds like a plan," you agree, and you shuffle away from the desk towards nowhere in particular. Chancing a look back towards the lockers, you spot Grux striding out, decked out in a black greatcoat that reaches the floor, a blue shirt, blue pants, tan combat boots, and an unlit cigar in his teeth (a granok creature comfort, you're sure). In any case, you've got some time to kill before your things are ready.

>Check out one of the info kiosks.
>Get some food in you.
>Stretch your legs.
>Link up with Grux.
>>Check out one of the info kiosks.
> check the info kiosk
See if there is a listing of jobs or something I suppose. I'm leaning toward archeology stuff
Your thirst for information outpaces your thirst for, well, any other drink. If you're going to drop on to a planet as hyped up as Nexus, you need to make sure you're up to speed, especially since you're at least several years out of date. You stride past the central desk and approach a kiosk, attached to a nearby projection table, which is already cycling through several different images of nearby moons, individuals or creatures. You probably won't find job listings here, but you'll at least have general information so you're not wildly out of your depth.

The kiosk greets you and asks for input.

>Races of the Exiles
>Races of the Dominion
>Neutral races present on Nexus
>Nexus: General Information
>Nexus: Known native sentients
>Pirates and Criminals
>"Input custom inquiry."
>Nexus: Known native sentients
>Pirates and Criminals
I just want to get out and do stuff.
>>Neutral races present on Nexus
>>Nexus: Known native sentients

>Nexus: Known native sentients

Nexus is filled with all kinds of life, and much of its inhabitants are sentient. These are among the more common sentient species you are likely to encounter on Nexus, skeech notwithstanding, along with our best understanding of them.

Dregs and among the earliest of Eldan experiments in pursuit of the ultimate lifeform, crafted from the parts of different humanoids. They have long since degraded and developed horrendous mutations after millenia of inbreeding. Most dregs stay to the deserts and badlands, subsisting off any scraps they can recover and repurpose into weapons and vehicles. There is no known way to discern gender between them. They engage in cannibalism, and they are somehow able to tame gorganoths. All dregs are presumed hostile and are to be considered dangerous.
The Pell are a tribal species who revere the Eldan as gods, referring to them as "the Masters." They are known to have assisted with Eldan projects long in the past and insist on continuing their work in most cases. The Pell are separated into various tribes, each tribe aligned with a different primal element and developing mutations due to their work with said element, such as Fire Pell having thicker skin or Water Pell developing gills to stay underwater longer. Some tribes are peaceful and friendly while others are perpetually hostile, so the Pell must be treated on a case-by-case basis. Local intelligence reports should inform you of local Pell and their tendencies.
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The Falkrin are an avian humanoid species, a fierce warrior people who tend to live in mountainous regions and locations with great affinity for primal air. They collectively worship the Primeval of Air, Osiric. Tribes are known as "broods," and communities are known as "perches," the strongest of the males among said community known as the "Broodlord." They are related to the Murgh, a similar avian - though nearly flightless - humanoid species who are far larger and brutish than the falkrin, typically used as muscle for the broods. Falkrin have a superiority complex and will refer to all other races as "groundwalkers." Falkrin are extremely aggressive when provoked or intruded upon, so caution must be exercised.
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The osun are a gigantic and resilient humanoid species; the average human will only reach the average osun's kneecap in height. Osun are extremely aggressive and exalt in martial prowess. Their Warriors are among the toughest on Nexus, their Forgemasters craft armaments with expert skill and in large quantity, and their Witches assist in guiding the osun and controlling others. Their fortresses are made of impenetrable materials (impenetrable by Exile and Dominion standards, for the most part). Osun engage in beast mastery and slavery, skilled at subjugating those around them. A popular method is to use what they call soulrot, a foul concoction that steals the will of those who breathe it, allowing them to be bent to the will of the osun. Osun are to be treated as hostile unless proven otherwise, though no such case has ever occurred.
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>Torine Sisterhood
Based in the jungles of Wilderrun, the Torine Sisterhood are Cassian humans - mostly female - who are powerful swordmaidens and have come to live in harmony with the beasts and predators of the jungle. Their leader is Tresayne Toria, the same Cassian swordmaiden who was brought to Nexus by the Eldan centuries ago and eventually gave birth to Dominus the Half-Blood, the first Dominion emperor; however, she and her collective have renounced any conceivable Dominion allegiances and are now devoted followers of Vitara, the Primeval of Life. Because of their devotion to Vitara and their proximity to the mythical Everpool, a so-called "fountain of youth," the Torine are effectively immortal, though they can be killed. Considerably taller than the typical Cassian and with red eyes, and combined with their swordmaiden training and inherent might, they are considerably powerful. They are known to tame pumera, the local feline predator species. The Torine are typically aggressive to outsiders, and the only thing they are known to respect is strength; should one sufficiently prove their might to them, the Torine will look upon them more favorably.
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>Pirates and Criminals

The Exiles and Dominion are not the only factions interested in Nexus; other parties have come to the planet in pursuit of riches and opportunity. Some of these parties, however, are known reprobrates and dangerous criminals, the proverbial "scum" of the universe. These factions are almost invariably dangerous and should be treated as hostile unless somehow proven otherwise.

Marauders are one of the most notorious factions of space pirates out there, seeking profit in all things. Their most common members are:
- the Oghra - green and lanky, they tech-savvy sharpshooters known for their guile.
- the Grund - large, brutish, shaved bear-like beings, most commonly employed as enforcers and muscle.
- the Eeklu - small and Chua-like but famed for their cunning and intelligence.
The Marauders engage in plundering, poaching, murder and other heinous crimes.
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>Darkspur Cartel
The Darkspur Cartel is one of the most infamous criminal organizations in the galaxy. Surprisingly well-organized and wielding great influence, most subdivisions of the Cartel are led by the Krogg, a race of large, muscular reptiles with great cunning and physical might. The rest of their ranks are filled out with thugs and criminals from any other race or faction looking to take part in their activities. The Cartel has dipped its toes into numerous trades, including gambling, prostitution, racketeering and drugs, only to name a few. One of their most famed creations is Slush, a highly toxic, highly addictive and almost invariably lethal alcoholic drink that is banned among both the Exiles and Dominion. The Cartel is also known to engage in the slave trade, kidnapping individuals and press-ganging them into their ranks or as forced labor or to be otherwise sold off. As an aside, Cartel members take their fashion seriously, and incidents of gang wars are known to break out over the latest outfits.
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>Neutral races present on Nexus

These are most of the races of individuals interested in Nexus but not typically affiliated with the Exiles or the Dominion.

Led by Phineas T. Rotostar and comprised entirely of clones of himself, Protostar is one of the largest and most successful corporations in the galaxy. To no one's surprise, Protostar sees Nexus as one of the greatest business opportunities ever, so they've large amounts of resources into any Nexus-related operations. While one may be concerned for their poor working conditions and apparent ineptitude in their procedures, Protostar remains successful in creating consumer goods for anyone willing to purchase. Protostar representatives are typically harmless to you, but not to your wallet or purse.
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A Freebot is, put simply, any form or model of robot that has achieved true free will (Mechari notwithstanding). Unofficially led by Al, a former Protostar automaton, the movement of "Freebotism" (as branded by Protostar) is a phenomenon unique to Nexus, caused by the energies of the planet. Any robot that is read the Freebot Code will be automatically freed of their former programming and become a Freebot on the spot. Freebots are peaceful and avoid any conflict, as they see combat as inefficient and fear deactivation. They are incredibly friendly towards everyone, including organics. However, if they are not careful, they can be mind-controlled into violence by the remnants of Megadroids.

Freebots just wanna be free, man.

([Clyde's mental note: that deactivated giant robot torso you saw in the VR sim was one of those Megadroid remnants.])
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The Lopp are a gypsy-like race native to the planet Lagos, where most things are as cutesy as they are. Typically peaceful, the Lopp only live for "shinies," which are typically any precious treasures but can also be anything the Lopp personally places value in. Their rite of passage to prove their worth to their village is even known as a "Shinequest." Do not let their appearance fool you: Lopp are amazingly durable and are known to take down beasts and individuals much larger than themselves with naught but a spear. They are also able, when necessary, to subsist on a diet solely of deep-fried foods with no consequence.
Ikthians are an aquatic species that have come to Nexus for scientific study. They live by majority rule, and individualism is quickly beaten down. They believe themselves to be wholly superior to all other beings, and any setbacks are mere miscalculations to them, with failure punished swiftly and lethally. Ikthians have managed to harness primal water, a typically rare feat, and have been able to power nearly all of their technology and alter their physiology with it, allowing themselves to become larger and stronger (such a variant shown here). Their experiments are dangerous and pose a threat to both the Exiles and the Dominion, and they are typically hostile to those who would interfere with their work. Though they potentially match the Exiles and Dominion in strength, they appear not to seek direct combat with either faction at this time.
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Hailing from the planet Eko, they are a Fringe-World race of merchants, pilots and, most famously, freight haulers. Most ekose on Nexus are older, as they have already risen in status and prominence to the point where they typically run their own business and have freedom of travel; younger Ekose have to earn their stripes before doing the same. Ekose practically live out of their ships and owe their livelihood to their ships, hence why the term "Shipwrecks!" is an expletive to them. They have their own pantheon of worship, a pantheon led by the Great Navigator who plots each Ekose's life; Ekose typically pray for safe travels and good living. Most Ekose are kind-hearted and friendly and typically stay on the defensive in a combat situation; rarely would one ever meet an Ekose pirate. Ekose are known to offer work to freelancers if they need assistance on a job.
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Grumpels are aquatic mammals from the planet Sirenia, which is covered in calm seas. They have heightened empathy in their communication, and this leads to them being almost perpetually happy. Grumpel culture is almost entirely built around gossip and rumor; the more outlandish the story, the happier they become. Grumpel are incredibly friendly and generous to everyone they meet. They are, put bluntly, completely harmless, though any information taken from a Grumpel must always be taken with a grain of salt.


Damn, thanks for powering through that, time to get food now?
Phew, that's a bunch of information to process. You knew that Nexus was a legend worth checking out, but you didn't know so many parties would be interested. As you mentally sort the info, the beacon in your pants pocket start buzzing and flashing a small red light. It seems your personal effects are ready at the front desk, but you can technically pick those up whenever.

>Go collect your things.
>Get some food first. A stay in the cryo-pods tends to leave a man starving.
>Walk around for a bit.
>Go collect your things.

Don't want to keep the receptionist waiting, we can get food after our things are ours again
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You wouldn't want to put this off any longer than you need to. Despite your nanites and other internal technology you received before entering cryo-stasis, you still feel a little naked without the rest of your equipment, or at least what little extra equipment you need. You deactivate the info kiosk and sidle back around towards the front of the check-in desk. The woman looks up from her terminal and smiles again.

"Ah, Clyde," she remarks, holding out her hand towards you. You promptly pull the beacon out of your pocket and return it to her, which she promptly hides inside her desk. She leans over in her seat towards the ground and pulls up a small cardboard box from the floor, "C. Starwalker" and a few other bits of information emblazoned on the side. "Your stuff came back pretty quickly. It's a good thing you didn't have much to check in when you went to sleep. Let's just go down the list real quick." She opens the box and begins taking out items one at a time, reading off the deposition in front of her for each item.

"One Tullstan 45 mag pistol, iron finish, wooden grip. Comes with mini-holster." Receiving the stalker treatment and regimen made your own body the most lethal weapon you have, but you never said no to a spare sidearm. You know at least the basics of calling primal energy through your gun for various effects, but at its base, it still functions as a serviceable blaster. You attach the holster to your hip and inspect the pistol before removing the safety strap from it and attaching it to the holster on your left hip. (QM note: second row, first column in the picture)

"One Novalogic GX-8 datachron, brand new. Courtesy of the Aces High." A small metallic panel that fits roughly in your hand glimmers with small windows flitting about it. It morphs into several various form factors, like a tablet or an AR window over the front of your face, before it returns to its smaller form factor. Your datachron is your all-in-one commlink, an extremely nifty bit of technology that lets you contact anyone, keep track of your data and money and inventory, and most any other modern convenience you can think of in a mobile computer. Your nanites could conceivably internalize this tech down the road, but it also helps that you technically never need to pull the panel out ever again to use its functionality. Everyone has one, and it'd be stupid not to use one.

"One secured datamatrix, flagged as 'Schematics'." The glimmering datacube drops into your hand, which you promptly feed to your datachron. You know this to be the particulars of your Stalker technology and rough capabilities, meant to be read if you need a more technical understanding of what your nanites do, as well as what other techonology you could later incorporate into you.
"One Helfan multitool. Courtesy of the Aces High." The small metallic grip fits in your hand and can be flicked to reveal any tool or datajack or brush or whatever you need for most any given task. No handyman ever leaves home without it.

"One care package of non-perisable foodstuffs. Courtesy of the Aces High." Jerky, food pastes, crackers, a canteen, and so on. It's a small thing to get you started before braving the wilds of Nexus. You're sure you can find more substantial food and drink once you reach civilization on the planet, but this is more for survivalists who have to stay out in the field for a while.

"One credstick good for $250." The balance is automatically handled by your datachron. It's your personal rainy day fund. Most all transactions can be handled by your datachron, but sometimes, nothing beats a credstick or two, since they're effectively the same as cash.

"One golden star badge, Judge design, 'Starwalker' engraved on the edge." The woman hands the badge to you with more reverence than the rest of your gear. This was your only real keepsake: the badge of your late granddad, Judge Joseph Starwalker. He was killed in the line of duty, and the family kept his badge in his honor. You slide it into your pocket.

"Aaand that's it," the receptionist concludes, pulling the box back under the desk. "Anything else you might own will be made available to you later, once you have a place to keep them and can contact us. Whenever you're ready, head through the doors in the back to go to the docks. From there, the shuttle will take you down to the planet's surface. You be good now, okay?" She winks at you. "Good luck on Nexus, hun."

You nod back at her with a "Thank you" and immediately make a beeline for the mini-cafeteria off to the side. You'd been putting off food and drink for long enough, and your stomach was complaining at you. People waking up out of cryo need to eat to kickstart their system. You consider your options.

>Burger and soda. Can't go wrong with some comfort food.
>Kale, crackers and hummus. An aurin specialty, good for a bit of healthy eats.
>Steak paired with some high-class red wine. The mordesh were always known for their fancy tastes.
>Wings, tossed in a liquor-spiked hot sauce. Because of course granok infuse their recipies with liquor.

>Eat in peace. You want to savor this.
>Go over some of your equipment or readouts while munching.
>Grab it on the go so you can get to the shuttle sooner.
>Burger and soda. Can't go wrong with some comfort food.
>Grab it on the go so you can get to the shuttle sooner.

Nothing like the classics
This >>1305725
I can see hot wings being a bad idea right after coming out of cryo.
The classics have never failed you yet. An Angus burger, medium-rare, with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and BBQ sauce, held in a wrapper. Combined with a handful of salty fries in a bag, and a lemon-lime soda, and you don't even need to start eating to immediately start feeling comfortable. As nice as it would be to sit down and savor the meal, you've been sitting on the Aces High long enough, so you move through the atrium into the hangar in the back. You can see a few shuttles hanging from cranes on the ceiling, and one shuttle is attached to one of the walk-on docks. You make a beeline for the shuttle, but the human tech working nearby stops you.

"Whoa, easy," he calls out, holding up a hand to stop you. "This shuttle is bound for the Northern Wilds on Nexus. Unfortunately, it's not ready for boarding yet. Just give us a few minutes, and it'll be ready to go." Of all the places to be stymied, it just had to be with the shuttle in direct sight. You sigh as you turn around and sit on a bench in the hangar. Ah well, you've waited several years already; what's a few more minutes?

You pull your burger out of the doggie bag and take a large bite. You immediately moan with your mouth full and slouch in your seat. It's a pretty straightforward no-frills burger, but it's still the best burger you've had in a long time. You suppose that's what cryo-sleep does to a man; it makes him better appreciate his creature comforts.

"Hope I ain't interruptin' anything." You look up from your burger to spot Grux towering over you, arms crossed over his chest and a grin on his face. His silhouette is immediately different than the last time you saw him. He's got a few extra armor pads on his limbs and a heavy-duty arm cannon/combat bracer on his left arm, but the most obvious difference is the orange-colored fusion-powered oversized zweihander on his back that's as tall as he is. The sword and the arm cannon are the hallmarks of your classically-trained Warrior: a melee powerhouse like you, but while you were more exacting and careful in your movements, a Warrior is a bit more...forceful, more obvious in his presence and movements.

You shrug at Grux, and he sidles over and takes the seat next to you, pulling his sword off his back and setting it aside before leaning back with a content sigh. He looks you over once.

"Kinda packin' light, there, ain'tcha?" Grux observes. "Where's your gear?"

>(Eat your burger in peace.)
>(Use your nanites to phase into stealth on the spot.)
>I always pack light.
>You're packing kinda heavy, yourself.
> use nanites
There's no reason to hide what we've got from him, were on the same side. Although, he seem a bit stalkerish, maybe he is a spy and the big and dumb appearance is just to get our guard down.

A fusion powered sword sounds ... er, idk what that means really. Swords are usually person powered, does it have lasers running down the edges or something?
How a Warrior's sword is flavored in-universe:
>For ages, warriors throughout the galaxy would slice and dice their enemies with swords, only inevitably to find themselves confronted with something uncuttable. But then someone came up with the crazy idea of hooking a blade up to a fusion accelerator. The result? A marriage made in slaughterhouse heaven. Today's power swords come equipped with ten megatons of liquid awesome hurtage. In. Your. Fist.
>(Use your nanites to phase into stealth on the spot.)

Continue to eat the burger, then phase back out

"That is a lovely sword, you have a story behind it?"
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Grux never cottoned on to your abilities during the shower, and even now, it's not obvious to him what you're capable of. In this respect, you are grateful, because if allies can't tell what you can do, then enemies can't either until it's too late. Still, he is an ally, so you feel it's only fair that a demonstration is in order.

Still munching on your burger, your nanites flicker to life, slowly turning your body - clothes and all - translucent before you completely disappear from Grux's vision. He's plenty surprised by the disappearing act, especially since the only sign that you're present is the floating burger still in its wrapper, clutched in invisible fingers. A bite-sized piece of the burger disappears.

"Ah-ha," Grux hums to himself. "Dat explains a lot. Not bad, Starwalker, but it ain't my style. I ain't keen on bein' a sneaky rat myself." He grabs the handle of his zweihander next to him and spins the handle around in his rocky hand. "I prefer bein' more upfront about the damage I can do."

Your head appears in view again, the rest of your body still missing and leaving you naught but a detached floating head chewing on some fries. "I can be plenty upfront when I want to be," you quip. The rest of your body catches up and becomes visible again. "What about you, Grux? How'd you get that sword?"

"What, this?" Grux hefts the greatsword slightly. "My old one got busted years ago by a draken during a skirmish on...some planet I forget the name of. So I knocked his block off and stole his." He grins a dopey grin as he spins the sword to show off some of the draken runes etched near one of the edges, proving his story true. "Hasn't let me down yet. Never saw that draken since, but I think he's still mad at me."

"Gee, ya think?" you quip again. "Do you even know what those runes say?"

"Feh," Grux waves it off. "I'm sure it's some psalm invoking one of their war gods or what-the-slag-ever. That's what they all write." You shrug back at him. "So! Any plans when you hit topside?"

"I dunno," you admit. "I'll probably make my way to Thayd, whatever that is, and figure things out from there."

"I heard of it," Grux offers. "Thayd is basically our capital on Nexus, our ultimate base of operations. Word is, it's a bit of a dump, though. Just moved into a bunch of old ruins and took over." Now Dorian's line about meeting him in Thayd makes a lot more sense, if that place is the heart of Exile operations on Nexus. "Any plans for what you do between now and Thayd, then?"

>Not really. I'm just playing it by ear.
>Bust some alien and pirate heads, naturally.
>Destroy the Dominion anywhere I see them.
>Help out the locals. If Nexus is as tough as everyone says, I'm sure someone needs some help somewhere.
>Go sightseeing, I suppose.
>Destroy the Dominion anywhere I see them.
>Help out the locals. If Nexus is as tough as everyone says, I'm sure someone needs some help somewhere.

I want to get a good read on what is going on down there and the sort of people around, especially if we're going to go Judge
Yeah >>1308628
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"No matter how hard we work to colonize the planet," you proclaim, "the Exiles won't know peace until the Dominion is kicked outta here. Someone's gotta crack some Dommie heads, so it may as well be me. That said, I can't ignore people in need. It's not in my nature. People are saying Nexus is the new death world, despite how pretty it is. There's people who came before me, and they're gonna need help. Exiles always help each other; that's how we keep together, and that's how we win. If we didn't, the aurin and the mordesh wouldn't even be here."

"So you wanna crack some skulls and make the world a better place for Exiles, eh?" Grux reiterates. "Buddy, you're startin' to talk my language."

"What about you?" you ask in return. "What'll you do when we hit the surface?"

"Same thing every member of FCON does: check in with Exile High Command first chance we get. Kamm's Crusaders need to know Lieutenant Grux Craghammer's been pulled outta the freezer. I link up with my boys an' girls, an' then we start bustin' heads."

"Sounds straightforward," you remark. The life of a soldier is a simple one, if you can get past the life-or-death fighting on the front lines. You figure it's no wonder Grux feels right at home in that command structure.

Your thoughts are interrupted as that same shuttle tech from earlier stands up, right as you polish off the rest of your burger. "All right, ladies and gentlemen!" he calls out to you and a few other people nearby. "The shuttle for the Northern Wilds is ready for boarding. Let's do this nice and easy." You pull yourself off the bench and are the first inside the cabin. It's not unlike any other passenger transport; it's not as spartan as a soldier transport, but it's not first-class flight, either. A few minutes later, after everyone has mounted up and the pilots do their last checks, you feel the ship detach from the hull and enter freefall for a moment before the thrusters kick on and push you back into your seat.

You look outside the window as the shuttle makes its approach. There, against the blackness of space, you finally see it with your own two eyes.

The VR presentation really doesn't do it any justice; the planet, its rings and its moons are even more beautiful in person. Your thoughts are all over the place. This will be your new home. This will be your last stand. This planet was supposedly the treasure of the Eldan. Countless mysteries and countless treasures await. It will not be without struggle: between the Dominion, pirates, the natives, and the local flora and fauna, it'll feel like everything's out to kill you. That's never stopped the Exiles before, and it's not going to stop the Exiles now.

A jolt of electricity runs down your spine as you get a good look at your destination.

Next stop: Nexus.
I think that's gonna do it for this first entry of WildStar Quest. I really felt like getting this off my chest, and though it took some time, it felt neat to write like this.

What'd you guys think? How'd I do?
Interesting topic, nice writing, keep going.
I enjoyed it, decent writing, interesting world, kinda locking in direction (I havn't played the game so I don't know how much this quest mirrors that). Pity about no players ... hopefully you can draw some more in next time by making some flashy OP post with less words and actions they can pick from without thinking about stuff. idk, ask on qtg.

I like it a lot, your writing is great and the universe seems interesting. I am not familiar with it either so it's cool to see it all come together and I look forward to playing in it
The thread is now archived on sup/tg/.

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