A Lightness in the Bones
OOC: This is a closed role-play thread between Tsaraine and Zero-One. Anyone else who wants to post in here; don't. Thankyou.
Medical Corps Center Three, Deep Tsarai, Tsaraine
Silence, darkness, cold. A pain worse than the usual dull ache of existence.
Rene groaned and struggled forth into conciousness, to bright lights and clustering faces.
"Argh." she groaned again, memory surfacing a short distance behind mind. "That bitch! Have her killed. Have her eviscerated!"
"It is already done, Domina."
She identified that voice as Kaiten. Her bodyguard sounded odd, his voice different to his usual unemotional tones.
"I have failed you, Domina," Kaiten continued, and Rene identified the odd tone in his voice as guilt.
"Nonsense," Rene snapped, "I'm still alive, am I not?"
"Had I done my duty properly, Domina, you should never have been harmed. I beg leave of you to end myself, that I may not endanger you again."
"Permission denied." Rene growled. "Kaiten, your training, your upbringing, your creation cost the state a not inconsiderable amount of resources. Quite aside from the ridiculous nature of your request, I shall not allow you to waste those resources on a whim. As your soverign ruler I command you to serve."
"Affirmative, Domina." Kaiten said quietly, head bowed.
"Thankyou, Kaiten. How did that bitch manage to attack me?"
"Her lover, Domina, was an SSC officer assigned to the Surveillance sub-corps. A man of little sense. She apparently convinced him it was your will to have the cameras turned off."
"She broke my authorisation codes? Kaiten, this-"
"No, Domina. The man apparently did not think to request the proper confirmations. As I said, he had little sense. The SSC has him confined at present."
"Let him stew there awhile, then. I am in no state to dispense justice right now. How runs the state in my absense? How long have I been absent?"
"Three days, Domina. Though I am in no position to recieve such reports, there has as yet been no calamitous breakdown of the systems. Apparently Corps Commandant tsaKell has taken command."
"Tsaraine's in good hands, then."
Rene struggled to sit up and failed, falling back to the bed feeling weaker than a newborn kitten.
"This has got to change." she growled, angry at the failures of her body; the old bone atrophy caused by lack of gravity so long ago, and the new, insidious little failures that rejuv therapy could not erase.
"Give it time, Domina." Kaiten offered.
Rene glared at him. "I'm fifty-seven years old, Kaiten. My bones have been wrecked by weightlessness, my body is slowly falling apart through rejuv. Time is something I'm running out of."
A thought struck her, bright and glorious in the hope it offered.
"Kaiten, get me a comms screen," she snapped, "And quickly; don't waste any more of my time."
"Affirmative, Domina." Kaiten saluted and departed.
Rene let herself fall back, mind abuzz. Would it work? It had for Nathicana, after all. No reason to think it couldn't. If necessary she'd sell the High Stone to pay for it; new asteroids were more easily found than new bodies, after all.
Kaiten returned with the comms screen she'd ordered, and set it up beside the bed, silently offering her the attached keyboard.
Rene accepted it, and began to type.
Message to: SHODAN, Queendom of Zero-One
Message fr: Domina Rene Seingult, Dominion of Tsaraine
To my fellow ruler SHODAN, of the Queendom of Zero-One, greetings.
Though it was before Tsaraine's entry into the Non-Democratic Alliance and my aquaintance with Dread Lady Nathicana, I read with interest the reports I recieved detailing her ... transformation, perhaps, is the word - under your care.
So it is with hope that I request similar services upon myself, to correct the damage of time and space. I hope that you shall find my flesh a suitable canvas for your work, damaged though it may be.
Most humbly yours,
~ Domina Rene Seingult
Division Five Commandant
A finger that was not truly a finger, merely an imaginary projection of data, tapped an equally unsubstantial lip. The gestalt pondered momentarily.
I'm becoming quite popular nowadays, although not in my local sphere. Who would've known that an acquaintance through a friend met at a little fair would become not only my sister-in-mind but such a contact to others? Although reality itself is based on probability and I am rather good at crunching the numbers--she chuckles slightly--causality is still a much better dice-roller than I an odds-maker.
She certainly understands my mindset, or at least pretends to understand it well enough. An atrophy case may be an interesting one to work with, indeed... most delicate.
The gestalt opens a connection.
<Communications to Tsaraine>
<< Salutations, Domina Rene Seingult, from the cold airless deserts of Rhea. I find your case rather interesting and would like to discuss it further. I can come down in person, if you wish, so we can decide exactly what you want securely. If that is not an option, then long-distance telepresence should work just as well.
<< I look forward to serving you... and expressing myself... in this matter. The artist thanks you for your offer of a canvas.
S.H.O.D.A.N. v3.0 : MCP, Q01
Cetagandan Duchess of Marilac
Medical Corps Center Three, Deep Tsarai, Tsaraine
Rene had fallen into a light doze, lulled by the gentle hum of machinery which formed a backdrop to this section of Deep Tsarai.
The comms screen binged at her, and she roused herself to read the message from Rhea; surely Zero-One had replied soon after recieving her missive, given the time lag between the Earth and Saturn systems.
One of the advantages of being a cyberconciousness, I suppose, Rene thought, reading the reply with growing relief, hope, even a little joy; Blessed Fate, there was little enough of that last one in her life.
Message to: SHODAN, Queendom of Zero-One
Message fr: Domina Rene Seingult, Dominion of Tsaraine
My thanks for your assistance, SHODAN. You are welcome to visit my nation personally if you wish; however, I'd advise you to enter via the Gateway of Tsaraine at Scheighu, South of the Skirré Mountains; the land to the North, underneath which is most of the nation, is heavily irradiated, and I do not know your avatar's resistance to radiation.
~ Domina Rene Seingult
Division Five Commandant
The Resi Corporation
-- "inane" post removed :roll: --
OOC: ...Oh, it is. But kindly remove your post; this thread is for myself and Zero-One only at present. I guess I should have stated so on the title or somewhat, but is it really that hard to refrain from making inane comments?
<Communications to Tsaraine>
<< Understood. I shall arrive shortly via Scheighu; it is not often a good idea to arrive unannounced via an unexpected vector.
S.H.O.D.A.N. v3.0 : MCP, Q01
Cetagandan Duchess of Marilac
The Queendom's Glory, currently forward-deployed with the Earth Theatre Fleet of the Queendom Armed Conflict Forces, dispatches a familiar-looking silvery shuttle from its bay, containing a more familiar-looking humaniform S.H.O.D.A.N. avatar. Dipping into the atmosphere, it approaches Tsaraine as directed.
Scheighu Cosmodrome, Scheighu, Tsaraine
Watching the little silver craft descend through the grey clouds was a man in the somber black and grey of Tsaraine's Space Command Division; the little silver stars on his coat proclaimed him a Squadron Commandant.
After the field technicians had signalled that the craft was clean to approach, he stepped out onto the tarmac to greet the avatar waiting for him.
"I am Squadron Commandant Ksergh ralNyran, of the Tsarainese Space Command," he said, saluting. "Welcome to Tsaraine, milady Shodan. I'm to take you to the Domina."
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods to the officer. "Thank you, Commandant." Smiling softly, she bows shortly. "Please, lead the way."
Looking around, S.H.O.D.A.N. maintained a smile on her physicality while sighing internally. How... monochromatic.
OOC: Monochromatic is good!
Gateway to Tsaraine, Scheighu, Tsaraine
Ksergh led Shodan's avatar to a waiting ground transport with the stylised eye of Division Five on the side. Tsarainese vehicle construction leaned towards the blocky and functional, fully enclosed to shield against the irradiated winds of the Wastes to the North.
The Squadron Commandant holds the door open for the avatar, and then gets in himself.
"To Deep Tsarai, driver. Medical Corps Core."
"Affirmative, Commandant." the driver confirmed, putting pedal to metal. The groundcar sped off along Tsaraine's mostly empty, well-mantained roads to the hulking block of the Gateway.
From the front the Gateway had a simple but elegant Romanesque pillared facade; however, the groundcar entered from the side, where only the heavy doors interrupted the smooth sides of the building.
The groundcar went down, into an echoing, brightly lit room filled with vehicles, crates and the cylindrical bullet shapes of Tsarainese maglev trains. They drove up a short ramp and onto the back of one of these trains, sandwitched between a pair of Division Seven military ambulances, to judge by their design and the sword-and-hammer emblems on their sides.
"This train will take us through the mountains and under the Wastes to Deep Tsarai," Ksergh told Shodan's avatar. "Once there, we'll disembark and take the vehicle tunnels to the Medical Core."
S.H.O.D.A.N. looks around as she's ushered into the groundcar, internal Geiger counter clicking off the millirads. Something happened here, and I'm not entirely sure what. I wonder if questions would be taken well.
Watching the interesting mixes of architecture go by, she nods her acknowledgement. "I understand... so most of your infrastructure is underground to deal with the radiation topside? I am, unfortunately, unfamiliar with the circumstances necessitating such precautions."
Evidently something radiological in nature. Nuclear bombardment, possibly?
She looks over at the Commandant, her slitted-pupil eyes glowing a soft green. "If I may ask, what happened? Curiosity is one of my greatest weaknesses." She chuckles softly at herself, a smile calculated to be disarming on her lips.
"We don't actually know," Ksergh replied. "There's an entire Corps in Nova Reio dedicated to finding out. We call it the "Obsidian Event" after what it did to the surface." he pointed upwards, indicating the surface far above. "Thirty-four years ago, now, though I wasn't born back then. One day, buisness as usual; the next, there's a thousand kilometers of softly glowing glass in the middle of the Commonwealth, and four hundred fifty thousand people dead. The causes range from antimatter dusting to an attack by Morgoth."
"Odd." S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles faintly. "Of course, the mystery only piques my curiosity that much more." She lets the smile fall. "How sad that the mystery had to come at such a price." She sits back quietly, not wanting to pry.
No need to commit a diplomatic faux pax before even reaching the Domina.
Tsaraine's maglev trains, having to make no concessions for terrain or the environment, were fast, and this one arrived at the Deep Tsarai terminus quickly. The driver moved them carefully off the carriage, and onto the network of transport passages which wove around the larger pedestrian tunnels.
"The vehicle corridors are seperated from the pedestrian corridors to prevent accidents," Ksergh explained, "And the emergency services - including the Medical Corps -have their own network for rapid response. The network we're on now is primarily for Division Five use - that's the administration. Most other Divisions don't have such a need for rapid movement, so their workers use the public train systems."
The transport pulled in to a parking bay marked with the hourglass-and-helix of the Medical Corps and a large "3", and here they had to disembark, as the vehicle network stopped, opening onto a pedestrian route.
"This is the "back entrance" to Medical Center Three," Ksergh told Shodan's avatar, "For the use of the elite. Ordainary citizens use the main entrance, and the Medical Corps' vehicle transport network goes into the Center itself, of course."
Ksergh carefully dodged a passing group of EMTs in the Medical Corps' green-and-grey, and led Shodan into the Center. Despite it's location a kilometer underneath the most inhospitable landscape on the planet, the Center could have been twinned with most other such facilities around the globe; the quiet hum of electronics and the smell of antisceptics, at least, were universals.
Stopping at a door marked with a number "14" and blocky runes in the Tsarainese script, they were met by a black-skinned man in the blue-edged black of the SSC, clearly a genemod; unlike the natural brownish-black of equatorial peoples, his skin was as black as the obsidian on the surface.
"You're the foreigner, then," he said to Shodan, "Hail. The Domina is awake and expecting you."
He saluted Ksergh, who saluted back smartly, and settled onto a chair next to the door to wait.
"She is more ill than perhaps you have been told, Commandant," he said softly as they approached the ward's sole occupant. Unsure of the correct term of adress, he fell back on Tsaraine's near-universal one. "She was attacked, recently, by her aide," he explained, "A shock to all of us. I think perhaps that has something to do with this."
"I can hear you talking about me, Kaiten." the Domina's voice, at least, was strong, a commander's voice. "So. You're Shodan, then. Take a seat," one hand escaped the sheets to wave at the next bed, "I am most grateful that you have agreed to see me."
"As I am grateful for the opportunity to help, among other things." Nodding curtly to the genemod guard, she hops lightly onto the bed indicated, crossing her legs beneath her, resting her hands on her knees. The bed visibly sags more than would be expected from her size and agility.
"Your guard was simply trying to be helpful with additional information I might need concerning your psychological state." She unabashadely stares at the thin frame of the Domina, slitted-pupil eyes scanning carefully, taking measurements and reading temperature, skin conductivity, sweat production and evaporation rates. "I'm tempted to believe him. Treachery is not good for the psyche."
"Treason is not good for the state," Rene said, "Which is what I'm more concerned about. Broken psyches run in the blood of we Seingults, I think, and we have survived over four hundred years, through civil war and strife. It's not my psyche I'm concerned about, it's my bones."
S.H.O.D.A.N. chuckles, low and dark. "It is good for neither. Given a most cursory inspection, however," she smiles softly, "I see you still have the knife's edge. Despondency simply would not do.
"Your message mentioned the basics--primarily null-gravity induced atrophy--and that is readily rectified. Still, one question remains... do you wish for anything... additional?" The soft smile becomes a mildly mischievous grin. "There is no need to return to mere normality, as you should know from your correspondence with the Dread Lady. I'm rather proud of my work on her."
"Ah, yes. I heard of those, also. Your ... additions." Rene pauses, thinking.
At what price does one put the frailties that tie one to the human fold? Tsaraine's position had always been that the flesh is no more than the cradle of the mind, another tool - the greatest - for use by and for the state. That was how the Rukine Knights had come to be, Kaiten among them.
But her flesh and bone is not a tool of the state - as Domina, she is the state, it's avatar and it's voice. Nothing in the Principles of Sound Governance covered this; how could Kail I, writing at the founding of the Commonwealth, have forseen such a thing?
Rene wrestled with the question in her mind while Shodan watched on. In the end, however, the Principles did mention this; "Do not shrink from opportunity, lest you lose it.".
"I do not think I need such strength as you gave Nathicana," Rene replied finally, "I shall be content with the strength to walk on my own two feet again. But ... there is a modification, the heart of the Ruki Project," she nodded at Kaiten, "Based upon the manipulation of electromagnetic fields. The Rukine Knights can sense and alter the emotions of most humanoids, using it."
Rene paused again. Shodan seemed ... interested, though it was hard to tell on the avatar's impassive face. Who knew what she was thinking?
"It is, at present, somewhat crude." Rene continued. That was omitting rather a lot of test failures, of course, but everything had it's teething troubles. "But I'm sure, with your technology, you could improve upon that."
Subtle. I like the potentials this has. "If I understand you correctly, you wish to better sense the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly on the wavelengths of bioelectrical activity?" The ends of S.H.O.D.A.N.'s mouth curve up a little bit more.
"That is... possible. I'm already thinking of possibilities, ways to enact it. The restoration of your strength is quite simple, all things considered; the formation of a sensor web to augment an already delicate sense will be... quite artful.
"Am I correct in my understanding?" She smiles questioningly, one eyebrow slightly arched. The mildly impish look she's had all throughout the interview remains now and shows no signs of leaving.
"You are correct," Rene replied, "In part. Sensing bioelectrical activity is relitavely simple; we can do it with machinery - although admittedly that technology is somewhat large - or genetic engineering. Although that is rather too late, obviously.
"But sensing bioelectrical activity is only the first step in altering it; I'd ask Kaiten to demonstrate, but I don't believe it would work on you. I'll have the Ruki Project Corps summoned if you wish; they can certainly explain it better than I."
"I believe that would be wise." S.H.O.D.A.N. leans back slightly, one thin finger tapping her chin in thought. "While a tranciever web wouldn't be so difficult, making one compatible with such tecniques requires more information than I currently have. The last thing I want to do is give you a worthless set of hardware."
Rene nodded, and raised her fist, where four metallic rings glinted.
"RP Core, this is Command. Get me Researcher Commandant ralYkaht."
The reciever of the comm, disguised as a small earring in Rene's right ear, allowed her to hear the reply.
"Commandant, get down to Medical Center Three immediately. Yes, that's an order. Yes, I'm grateful that you're here in Deep Tsarai, but your sister's birthday shall have to wait.
"There," she said to Shodan, lowering her hand, "That's got the Ruki Project Commandant coming down."
A few minutes later a harried-looking man was escorted into the medical center by Kaiten. His face might once have been handsome, but time had pulled it down, and that and his green Researcher's goggles made him look something like a Chinese temple demon.
"Hail!" he said, unable to hide the anger in his voice. Rene didn't care.
"Hail, ralYkaht. This is Shodan. You'll be working with her on some modifications to the Ruki electrosensory abilities."
S.H.O.D.A.N. nods to the researcher from her position sitting on the bed. "Yes... the idea is to give me enough information to create an artificial augment. Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated."
The Researcher gulped, and appropriated one of Rene's screens with a deferential bow. Calling up the Ruki Project's data - top-secret, and definitely not for the eyes of foreigners - he bowed almost as respectfully to Shodan.
"The basis of the Ruki cybernetic modifications is..."
From there it became highly technical, and Rene, for all that she prided herself on knowing the workings of the state, couldn't follow it. Shodan, however, appeared to have no trouble following it.
"There were also some plans for optical modifications," ralYkaht said at one point, "But it was decided that the rate of attrition due to malfunction would be too high, as our direct neural interface technology was not - is not - advanced enough to preform enough successful integrations."
"Pull up that data too," Rene commanded ralYkaht, "It could be useful. I've always fancied having green eyes."
She winked her own obsidian-black pair at Shodan cheerily.
"Direct neural interface is one of my specialties." S.H.O.D.A.N. grins slightly, lips parting just enough to show teeth. "And, Domina," she looks down at the woman impishly, "if you'd like I can make it so you can change your eye color at a whim."
Rene considered for a moment, then nodded, laughing.
"Why not? Why not indeed? Carpe diem, as they say.
"Is that all you need to know?" Rene asked, "I'm sure Researcher ralYkaht can provide more information if required."
"I'd like to keep him, if not handy, at least on call for reference." She nods from her position on the bed to the researcher. "Thank you for your assistance."
"Now," she looks back down at the Domina, "you wish to become healthy again, and the only augments you wish are this electromagnetic and optical transciever network... and varicolor irises." She grins warmly at the last two words. "It should not be too difficult, and not even require that much in the way of metal. I do not know how you take to the concept of cybernetics, but I find that--unless they specifically request--humans simply dislike the concept of being made of artificial components."
Rene shrugged. "It's not the body that counts, really. It's the mind. Surely you of all people should know that?
"But I'll admit I find the idea somewhat ... unsettling, though it seems irrational. But I dislike the idea of being trapped in this accursed wheelchair more. I have no objections."
"Of course I know... merely commenting on opinions I've observed."
"Unsettling? Then bioaugmentation it is for you." S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles. "When would you like to start?"
"As soon as possible." Rene replied fervently, "Definitely as soon as possible. I'm sick of being constantly dragged down by gravity. And it's not like I have anything better to do, right now."
"Outstanding." S.H.O.D.A.N. arches her back and steps off the bed, unfolding and balancing with preternatural grace. "The procedure will not be as difficult nor as intensive as the Dread Lady's, but the equipment is rather specialized. Would you mind accompanying me to Rhea, where I can take care of you appropriately?
"My plan is this: Your current structure is sound, merely too weak. All I have to do is rebuild the framework; counteract the atrophy. Easily done with nanites and sufficient source materials, which can be provided intraveinously. The emotional modification implant is also best achieved via nanotechnology, as are the irises. Not quite as hands-on as I'm used to."
She smiles oddly, a touch of wryness. "Of course, the advantage to being me is that I'm not limited to this instrumentality"--she indicates her avatar with sweeps of her arms--"and so I'm merely exchanging these hands for a different set..."
"Rhea? That is ... possible, yes. Command of the state has already been delegated, and I'm sure that they can cope without me. They've done well so far, at least.
"Come, Kaiten," Rene said, "We're going to Rhea."
Distances are measured in time. This was a shocking revelation when people first realized it was so; it wasn't until a particular postal clerk said that space and time were unseperable that it started making any sense greater than simple intuition. After a while, it simply became common knowledge, and thus brought about 'shrinking world' comments as the measurements constantly decreased... and a bit of confusion as different modes of travel meant different travel times.
The distance between Rhea and Earth is one of those distances. It can be anywhere from seventeen years to no seconds away, depending on how one goes about it. Queendom's Glory, S.H.O.D.A.N.'s space avatar, takes the trip in a relatively leisurely seven hours. Could've taken it in two, or zero, if it were an emergency... but, as the Domina said in different wording, time was not absolutely of the essence.
This trip follows the same pattern as last trips: transfer to a shuttle, flying up to Queendom's Glory, resting in the blue staterooms, landing on Rhea, passing through cold metal corridors to a simple cube-shaped room. It is dominated by a simple metal table with an equipment rack suspended above it; screens line the walls made of metal and pipes. A small red chair sits in one corner, a sink in the opposite.
"We won't be using this all too much," S.H.O.D.A.N. says, arms akimbo, looking around at the room, "as cutting is not so necessary. Still, I'd like to fit you with some nanocontrollers so you are repaired as you live, so to speak. Generally, they're simply surface 'implants' that provide resources and control the nanites working to rebuild your skeleton and musculature from the inside out.
"You'll also have to increase your food intake to something on the order of twice what you normally eat, primarily foods high in protein and calcium. As I hope to get you active shortly, IV is not the best option. Is this acceptable?"
"That's possible," Rene agreed, "Though I should ask you if dietary supplements - pills, in effect - would be acceptable, seeing as I already take them."
She waved vaguely at her legs, hidden underneath their blanket.
"You can go now, Kaiten," Rene added, "I'm sure Shodan can manage from here."
With a somewhat betrayed look, Kaiten nodded, and left the room; Rene knew he'd be waiting outside.
"That is acceptable; I've merely found that people are generally unconducive to taking the number of pills required. You are making this quite simple for me." Smiling, S.H.O.D.A.N. steps up to the bed and removes something that resembles a larger, bulkier sphygmometer cuff. It seems to be filled with some sort of colloid or liquid from how it moves in her hands.
"This is a nanocontroller; it will act as an external implant that constructs and controls the nanites that will build up your natural structure. From observation, it should take... about ten days. Slow, I know, but it's the safest I can do with noninvasive methods." Taking Rene's arm and pulling up her sleeve, S.H.O.D.A.N. wraps the cuff around her forearm. It tingles in an odd way, like the feet of a gecko must feel or like a very low-power vacuum cleaner.
"There... believe it or not, that's the extent of it. You will find yourself slightly sore and hungrier than you've ever been before for the next ten days, but that's as invasive as the procedure gets."
"Impressive," Rene murmured, looking at the band on her arm. "From talking to Nathicana, I was expecting something much more invasive, I'll admit."
"The thing is," S.H.O.D.A.N. begins, closing the drawer, "is that zero-gravity atrophy is holistically damaging. Your bones have leached calcium, giving you osteoporosis; all your muscles, including your cardiac, respiratory, and cavity wall musculature, have all atrophied; your lymph system is weaker from having lived in a more antiseptic environment... You're basically asking me to replace your entire body."
She turns around. "To put it bluntly, 'invasive' would mean basically removing your central nervous system and putting it in a new body. I'm rather certain that's not what you want..." Pausing, she puts her hands on her hips, tilts her head, and looks at Rene critically for a few minutes. Finally, she folds her arms with a smile, looking down in bemusement. "...and it just wouldn't be artistic. It wouldn't fly."
Stepping over, she taps the sleeve. "This, on the other hand, simply builds on what exists. It is a biomechanical leech-like symbiote, drawing blood through your capillaries and letting osmosis deal with distributing the nanites, which will construct and position additional stem-cells to assist with your body's natural healing process. Combined with chemical actuators that enhance cellular mitosis, we should have you up and running--literally--in ten days.
"It should feel like an extended growth spurt. I wholly expect you to be tired, cranky, and somewhat sore for the next week and a half."
"Well, no difference there, then," Rene joked. "I had no idea the damage was so extensive." She was silent for a moment.
"Can this thing work back in Tsaraine, or must I remain here for the extent of the ten days required?"
"It will. I will assign an avatar to act as a medtech, ensuring that you keep to a relatively strict diet. The technology is also proprietary, so there is a security concern... but I don't think that will be a problem. If you'd like a vacation, I'm willing to host you... if not, then you can say that you've made a day-trip to Rhea." S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles warmly.
"I shan't share it, don't worry," Rene smiled, "Though I think a "day trip to Rhea" might be a little hard to explain. I shall simply not mention it; the Tsarainese are used to mysteries, after all."
S.H.O.D.A.N. smiles. "Whatever you deem best. We'd best get you reunited with your guard and back to Tsaraine and get your recovery officially underway."
They left the small room to find, as Rene had predicted, Kaiten waiting just outside the door. If they'd been hours, he would likely still have been waiting for her to emerge.
Rene smiled, pleased with his loyalty in itself and for the elegance of it's crafting, carefully engineered as was the rest of the Rukine Knight.
"That's all?" he asked, and though his voice was it's normal level tone, and he showed no emotion, Rene thought he was suprised.
"That's all," Rene confirmed, "Shodan is skilled at her work."
She could have sworn the avatar smirked, though her face was as impassive as Kaiten's. Maybe she was imagining it.
The trip back to Tsaraine is identical to the trip from it... albeit in a different direction. Staterooms in shates of blue, genteel conversation from a screen on the wall displaying S.H.O.D.A.N.'s visage.