I was thinking, maybe now is a good time to try to come up with an…agreement…with the Huzards. It's in their interest as much as ours to get the ship up and running, as is it to defend it against outside threats…we don't have to make peace to look after our mutual interests…"
"I don't know…" Cass said "They've been pretty hostile…"
"Worth a shot though right?"
"I dunno Jay – The Huzards made repeated attempts to attack in the first few hours after you left and then they just went quiet; we've not seen or heard a thing from them since"
"So they've quietened down – What could possibly go wrong!?"
In spite of herself, Cass couldn't help but smile at this; Jay's optimism was annoyingly infectious and while she would have normally dismissed such positivity as idiotic in anyone else, with Jay it actually did seem like anything was possible.
"It can't hurt to try" she found herself saying
"The repairs are my priority" Jamie grunted "I'm going to scour the Supply Fields for anything that might come in useful and then make a start. We got temporary life support jury-rigged in a few areas while you were away, but there's loads more work to do"
"Yeah, that's fair enough" Jay nodded "The Supply Fields are low risk areas, but take a weapon with you and keep in touch – Things could have changed down there, so stay alert."
"You might want to put a call out to Artemis and White Wolf while you're on" Cass suggested "If you let them know what we're doing, chances are they might be able to help out"
"Right, that's a plan" Jay pushed himself up out of his chair "Ten minutes to grab what you need and then we meet at Cluster five to head down to the Arboretum"
Cass hung back as the others drifted out of the refectory and fell into step with Jay as he made his way down to his quarters
"Sorry about earlier" she murmured
"About what?"
"About not the mentioning the cyborgs and Plisken thing"
Jays expression clouded "Yeah, you should have told us" he grumbled
"Oh, I know" Cass sighed "I was going to tell you today instead, because we were pissed and I didn't want to spoil the night. I put safeguards in place" she paused to glance at him "Are we okay?"
"Yeah, yeah" Jay shook his head in resignation. He'd been angry with her, but he'd had time to simmer down other the last twelve hours. Nothing bad had happened and he supposed that this sort of thing was indicative of her exercising her new found confidence in command situations - She just needed channelling a bit.
"Cool" Cass took a deep breath as they neared her quarters "Sorry about the Wotsits as well" she said quickly
"Phil and I left your place in a real state after we all came back. I'll help tidy up later if you like?"
Jay was mystified "I don't even remember that" he murmured
"Charming" Cass rolled her eyes as she thumbed the lock on her door and turned back to him as it slid open "Jade says she's sorry about flushing all your coffee down the toilet as well - I don't think she liked the brand" she smiled cheekily "See you in five" and with that she was gone

"I don't like this" Cass grumbled as she ducked her head beneath a low hanging, moss-covered branch "It's too quiet"
For all his earlier optimism, Jay was inclined to agree. They had been in the Arboretum for almost an hour now and had seen nothing, either of the Huzards or the cyborgs that Plisken had bought aboard, and it was starting to concern him.
Their plan had been to make their way towards the largest of the Huzard settlements, around the great temple pyramid in the centre of the Arboretum, where they had hoped they would be able to gain an audience with the elders to try and negotiate a truce; but as they had neared their destination, the absence of any Huzard activity was seeming increasingly strange and it was becoming apparent that something might be occurring.
Shaking his head, Jay surreptitiously stole a glance across at Cass, stalking lithely through the undergrowth alongside him; she had changed into that figure-hugging nanosuit of hers again, and it was proving horribly distracting; making him wonder, not for the first time, whether he should suggest that she activated the stealth field.
Cass must have sensed the weight of his gaze upon her because she suddenly turned to look questioningly towards him, forcing him to snatch his eyes away.
"Yeah. Yeah, I agree" he murmured quickly "There's something not right here. We need to stay alert"
The little group of Dwarfers continued picking their way through the dense undergrowth in silence, amid the buzzing whine of insects and the unfamiliar calls of strange and exotically mutated birds. Another ten minutes or so passed before they came across a well-worn path snaking through between the trees; Jay calling a halt for a moment while he crouched down to inspect the tracks in the dirt.
"Not good" he muttered as he straightened up and pointed down at the ground "There, there and there" he indicated several almost imperceptible scuffs in the dirt "There seems to have been a struggle. The Huzard's were dragging something heavy between them"
"Like what?" Jade asked sharply
"It'll be a cyborg" Cass said, not bothering to look up from inspecting her terminal
Jay shook his head "I couldn't say..." he paused and narrowed his eyes before suddenly catching hold of Jade to pull her back into cover as he flattened himself up against a tree "We're being watched!"
"Shit" Cass scrambled to follow suit, diving in close behind another tree while she swung her terminal around in a wide arc "Where? There are too many damn lifesigns in this forest!"
Silent for a moment, Jay's eyes scanned the surrounding trees; his weapon held at the ready "No," he murmured, with a shake of his head "they're gone"
"Yeah, I got them" Cass said "Two traces moving away. Opposite directions"
"We should move" Jay pushed himself up and away from the tree "I don't like the look of what went on here. The sooner we get to where we need to be, the better"
Wordlessly falling back into formation, the Dwarfers hurried down the path towards the main Huzard settlement, each becoming more and more disquieted as they continued their journey - There were signs of more obvious struggles here and there, a large patch of drying red-black blood splashed across the trail at one point and, as they reached the city limits, two of the cyborgs severed heads, set atop stakes thrust into the ground on either side of the path at the top of the slope down into the settlement.
"They..." Jade frowned, gingerly taking a step forward to get a better view of the ruined skulls ahead of them "Have they had their brains removed?"
"We should turn back" Cass said firmly
A screeching hiss suddenly filled the air, making everyone start and wheel in the direction of the sound; the cacophony preceding one of the cyborgs who abruptly burst from the undergrowth onto the path behind them to take a stumbling step or two towards them before collapsing to the ground.
"Fuck!" Cass hissed, raising her weapon along with the others as the battered and blood slicked woman tried to drag herself up out of the dirt.
From the look of it she was in a very bad way. Three Huzard arrows protruded from her back and the mangled prosthetic arm she was trying to push herself up with was missing its hand. Her other flesh and blood arm was clutched up against her body, awkwardly cradling it against a painful looking injury.
"Help me" her breath wheezed unsteadily between blood flecked lips before her strength gave out and she collapsed back down into the dirt
Jade hadn't even needed asking and was already moving towards the stricken woman when a Huzard war party emerged from between the trees onto the path around the cyborg.
"Humans" the lead Huzard snarled with sibilant distaste as it cocked it's head to one side to regard the Dwarfer's with it's inhuman yellow eyes; the bone necklace it was wearing, jangling hollowly as it did so.
"More sacrificial offerings for the slaughter" another one of the creatures hissed as it and several of its companions began stealthily fanning out around the Dwarfers.
"I can have five drones here within thirty seconds" Cass said coldly "I say we kill them"

We're in the middle of hostile territory, and the Huzards are murderously unhappy
How do we want this to go?
Can we negotiate? - What will it take to convince them of our goodwill?
What happened to all the cyborgs?

Remember that since we last had any meaningful contact with the Huzards, Candice has levelled half a village and Jaxx has killed and eaten a good number of Huzards, so they're going to be very mistrustful

I've only tagged those who were mentioned in the last post who definitely aren't elsewhere; but if you want to write yourself in go for it, or if you need any suggestions about how you might, just get in touch


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