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Khas

The Winter Fortress

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(OOC: Alright, now that my week full of nonsense is done, we can finally get this RP a rollin')

 

Shar sipped from his mug of raktajino as he read over the latest report the scouts had sent back.  A few zombies and skeletons were wandering the local forest, but nothing that they couldn't handle.  He placed his mug down on the table, both to grab a bite from his egg-and-sausage sandwich, and to savor the aroma of the raktajino.

 

Say what you will about the Klingons... he thought.  They may be smelly, bloodthirsty, worm-eating barbarians, but by the gods, do they know how to make a good cup of coffee.  He was just about to take another sip when his communicator went off.

 

"Captain Shar.  Captain Tol'kan Shar." the voice on the other side of the communicator began.  Shar reached over and pressed a button on his communicator marked "reply".

 

"Shar here.  Go ahead."

 

"I've just received news that the latest batch of newbies has arrived.  Lord Commander Ronston requests that you be there to give them their proper welcome."  Shar sighed.  He knew this was going to happen.

 

"I'll be right there." Shar replied.  "Well, only one thing to do." he said to no one in particular, before rapidly devouring his sandwich and washing it down with raktajino.  Grabbing his power sword and phaser pistol and putting on his cloak, he began to dart from the dining hall towards the front gate.

 

Please, just this once, let there be no dumbasses among these newbies...

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Sulap trudged through the snow to get to the main gate, his sword lightly tapping against his leg while his rifle was slung across his shoulder.  The cold bit at him even as wrapped up as he was with cold weather gear.

 

'What kinda con you pulling here, Lobe Head?'  'Sir, I assure you I am 'pulling' no 'con'.'  'Targshit son, ain't no Ferengi in This Man's Army.'  'Well Sir, there is at least one.'  'Su-lap eh?  Thatsa Vulcan name, shoulda used yer own when you hacked this file.'  'Sir, I assure you-'  'Well guess what Wiseass?  Lets see ya try and scam the undead and icicles up in Snow Town.'

 

The short Ferengi stood in the snow in front of the gate, he took a moment wrap the end of the scarf his mother knit him around his face.  He exhaled a sigh, his first partime job he was hired because he was Ferengi, just a stock boy in a large shop that was the first thing travelers came to, but he was adorned in fancy robes and told to 'act like he owned the place' so new customers wouldn't haggle or ask for a discount from a Ferengi.  'The prices are fair and non negotiable.  If anything they should be raised.'  The truth of course, the job paid poorly and the real owner always complained about being one or two sales away from bankruptcy.  He hated that job, he hated being cold, he hated being considered just another sneaky Ferengi.  He would have loved to have verbally assaulted that officer and reduce him to tears, but that might have ended up in an even worse posting, if not ending his military career.  He looked around at the other recruits, remaining as silent as he did on the way up.

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Teena'los felt ridiculous. Ridiculously cold. It wasn't that many cycles ago that she was safely underground, warm in the embrace of her dark cavern home. Then all Hel had broken loose, and her clan was facing regicide and a coup d'etat. As part of the loyalist faction protecting the heir, she was "volunteered" to go to Machike-Shikumo, the clan's outpost on the border between the underworld and the surface. She was told to put on every stitch of clothing she had, both under and over her Highland Raider armor, as it would be "snowing."

 

"'Snow? What's that' I said. 'It's like white sand, just colder' they said. I've been on the surface dozens of times, been on long patrols too. So WHAT DAFUQ IS THIS PAINFUL, JOINT-SEIZING, MUSCLE-ACHING, TEETH-CHATTERING, BLINDING CRAP?!" She tried to kick the offending stuff off of her leg, but it stubbornly held its ground and just caused her to spin around and take a spill with a muted crunch. She stared up at the grey sky, emitting puffs of condensation from her mouth with each pant. Her fingers had stopped hurting, and were now numb. She felt sleepy. A sudden urgency gripped her. "Oh no no no, this is what that old geezer warned me about." She flailed about and got up on her feet, slapping the snow off of her clothes. Pinpricks stabbed her hands all over as she moved. "Hnrrrghhh...well I'm not...getting any AIMED shots in this weather. Good thing my Bowcaster is good for both point targets and area fire...mmm, fire..."

 

She stopped to read her order scroll one more time. "Detached as liaison to Winter Fortress. Winter Fortress. In winter. There's a joke in there somewhere, but damned if I can think of one." She looked up at the frosty edifice that loomed out of the whiteness ahead. She scrunched up the scroll in a balled fist as she shouted, "BECAUSE THERE AIN'T NUTHIN' FUNNY ABOUT THIS MOTHERKILLIN' SNOW!" She picked up the pace as she headed for the lonely tower.

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(Going to make my character have proper winter gear )

 

Even though Shynt was used to cloud wether when he lived in the woodlands, it nothing compared to the chill of this place. At lest there were some trees growing on this cliff. He hoped the no one knew who he was and what he “supposedly” done to noble in Eastern Woodlands. The real reason he came here was to find the true murderer and to clear his name.

 

 

He herd another drow near him  yelling about the snow. He tuned to talk to her. “Hay, relax. Snow is frozen water. You just need to brush it off and not step on the clear stuff..”

 

He stoped speaking when he saw her fall to the ground. He moved towed he and tried to get her back on her feet. “Are you all right?” It seemed like she was ill equipped for this environment. When she started yelling again, try to quite her down. “Oi, would settle down a bit? The last thing our drill instructor need to see is us acting like a bunch of Muppets.” Shynt look around the  group of fellow recruits. “Does anybody have a extra blanket and maybe something warm to drink? I think she starting to have hypothermia.”

 

He knew this was going to be a long campaign.

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Shar walked out past the fortress' gate to greet the newcomers - probably the usual ragtag bunch of misfits.  As he continued to walk forward, the group of new recruits came into focus.  There were about twenty or so - mostly human, with the occasional Klingon or Wookiee thrown in - for the most part, the usual recruits.  There were two Drow in the group, and a Kroot as well - less typical, but nothing he hadn't seen a few times before.  And... one Ferengi.  Okay.  THIS was odd.  Ferengi for the most part weren't known for their prowess in combat, to say nothing about their general unwillingness to seek it out.  Ultimately, he decided that it was irrelevant, and decided to give his usual introductory speech.

 

"Good morning!" the Andorian shouted.  "I am Captain Tol'kan Shar, commander of the Winter Fortress 8th Battalion!  And you lot, are now mine to command!"  A bit of a harsh intro, but then, this WAS one of the harshest locations in the world.  "For fifteen years, I've served at this place, so, I can safely say that half of the rumors you've heard about the Fortress are false."  He watched the recruits start to sigh in relief.  "However..." he began, getting their attention.  "All the rumors you've heard about the Tengaren Forest over there?  Well, they're probably true."  Now he watched as the cadets began to blanch in horror.

 

"You mean...." one of the human recruits began.  "That there are ghosts in the forest?  And zombies?"  Shar laughed humorlessly.  Oh, he might already have to send one of these newbies home.  Terrific.

 

"Boy, the undead are the LEAST of your worries regarding that forest!  Well, them and the Greenskin tribes that lurk in there.  In that forest, there exists every sort of infernal being you can think of.  Demons.  Daemons.  Pah-Wraiths.  Fek'Ihri.  Mazoku.  Apostles.  White Walkers.  As well as all sorts of horrors that haven't been named yet."  Shar paused, letting the info sink in.  "But, with training, skill, and more than a little luck, you can learn how to not only survive these monsters, but even turn the tide against them."  He took another look at the shivering cadets.

 

"Now then, let's get to the dining hall, and get you all a nice hot meal.  Can't have the newbies getting hypothermia, can we?"

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Sulap would turn around at the yelling, one hand on the sling of his rifle, the other on the pommel of his sword.  With a deadpan expression on his face he took his hands off his weapons when it was just someone like himself who wasn't used to the snow.  When the other Drow addressed them asking for something warm he would get out of line and look Teena'los over, "Her speach is neither slurred nor mumbled.  She does not appear drowsy and her breathing is normal.  It is unlikely she's suffering from Hypothermia.  I do have some Ulan soup if you believe she needs it."  He produced a metal canister from his coat, holding it to Teena'los as an offering before his ears twitched and he put the thermos away.  "I believe that is our New Commanding Officer approaching."  He would turn away and walk back to his place in the lineup just in time for Captain Shan's speech.  The Ferengi showed no emotion as he listened to the Andorian, he was reminded of the stories his father told about when the Andorians and Vulcans were bitter enemies.  He could see why, the pride of Andorians clashing with the Logical Smugness of Vulcans.  Ghosts, demons, 'gods', and the undead, perhaps there wasn't a worst posting than this.  He'd exhale slowly in a quite sigh and start to trudge forward to the dinning hall, hoping that they kept the inside of the fortress a more tolerable temperature.

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Suddenly Teena'los realized she wasn't alone. Thankfully, the first person she saw was a fellow Drow. The second person she saw looked more like a Dvergar with enormous ears and no beard. But before introductions could be made, a fellow who looked like he was out in the cold too long began speaking to the gathering with some authority. "Captain Shar," he called himself. Recognizing that he was their leader, and that this gathering was some sort of formation, Teena'los stood at attention and kept quiet. She recognized the first named creature, "Demon", but the others the blue-skinned captain rattled off didn't sound familiar at all. So, there's some kinda deadly forest over there, she thought, why do I get the feeling we'll be going in there soon enough? She welcomed the leader's suggestion to grab some warm grub, and as the recruits broke formation, she introduced herself to the others. "Sorry about the shouting, I thought I was alone until I suddenly saw you guys, heh." The smell of food wafting from the dining hall was inviting, as she shifted the Bowcaster on her shoulder.

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(Sorry Im having a bit of a block trying to write this.)

 

After helping the other drow up and thanking the Ferengi for helping, Shynt got back to formation.  

 

What the blue skin officer said confused him a bit. He did help some town guard with killing some zombies a few times. And  he herd of demons before. But just like Teena’los, he never herd of the rest of the creatures that he was saying.

 

He was a bit surprised that he and his fellow recruits were going to the mess hall and instead of training.

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Shar lead the recruits back through the gates, passing soldiers of various species along the way, each carrying out various tasks needed for the fortress' maintenance.  To his left, three male humans - two baseline, and one Tiberium mutant - were repairing a damaged tank while arguing over whether or not to give it upgrades, or just get it back to working again.  On one of the towers, a female elf was overseeing the installation of a new phaser turret - a Gatling phaser apparently.  Far in front of him, a male Protoss, female Marlfox, and male Klingon were triple-checking a new set of blast doors, while the partially-melted remains of the old set lay off to the side.  At his right, a male Twi'lek was testing the integrity of the hover bikes, while seven humans - four male, three female - etched some kind of ward into the soil.

 

"Um, what happened here?" one of the recruits asked.

 

"Oh, this?  Just a greenskin raid, nothing to really worry about.  You know what orcs and goblins are like, launching their Waaagh!s.  Nothing to get worked up over.  At least, not when compared to some of the other things we've fought."

 

"Other things?" another recruit asked.  "Do you mean the undead, or those worse things?"

 

"The latter." Shar replied.  "Believe me, if it were just greenskins and undead in that forest, this fortress wouldn't be needed.  After all, there's a reason that our library is the single largest repository of info on malevolent spirit beings in the world.  But enough about that for now.  Let's get you all something warm to eat before you develop hypothermia.  Besides, you'll need your energy when your training begins tomorrow.  For now, we get something to eat, and you get the grand tour of the Winter Fortress!".

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Sulap walked near Teena'los, "Control of one's emotions can be elemental to survival in such harsh conditions."  He felt slightly more comfortable around the two drow than the rest of the group, their ears reminded him of vulcan friends he left behind.  As illogical as the pair acted sometimes.  He surveyed the area as well, seeing a lot of damage and work going on.  "Captain Shar?  Is the mess hall equipped with replicators?"  He got a dirty look from one of the klingon recruits who sneered, "Whats the matter Ferengi Ha'DIbaH?  Think you'll starve if you have to hunt for yourself?"  Without missing a beat, "You look like the type who would be disturbed by the sound and smell of deshelling the snails that live in this area.  It would be a shame if your ancestors were dragged down to Gre'thor because you became nauseous."  The Klingon was livid, "Y-yo-you! Qu'vatlh!" some of the other Klingons were laughing at the joke that the small Ferengi made, "The little petaQ with the sharp mind and sharper tongue seams to have cut deeply brother." one teased the incensed recruit.

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Teena'los raised an eyebrow as Sulap told her something that not even Drow have bothered to say to her. Smiling pleasantly, she replied, "Right, thanks for the advice, Sulap. Hey, our Captain says we'll get a tour after some eats, I'm looking forward to seeing what makes this fort so useful against these spirit threats. I sure hope they have weapons that are effective against these beings, because my Bowcaster's good against corporeal targets, but I dunno how well it'd work against spirits."

 

As the short, large-eared fellow got into a ribbing match with a burly Klingon about hunting food, Teena'los turned to Shynt and whispered, "Sulap says he's a Ferren'ghi...nice enough guy, even if he looks a bit like a beardless Dvergar. Let's back him up if that Kotorc-looking alien with the deformed forehead and his buddies try anything." She motioned with her eyes towards the Klingon, who looked more flustered than anything. "Then again, in a battle of wits, it looks like Sulap's got things well under control."

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Shynt agreed on what Sulap said about controlling one emotions. “ That ture. I learned   that sort skill when I was a hunter.” Which was correct…. when he was out in the field. Hi seemed to have less composure when he around people make racist remarks(even if they're joking), especially if he drank too much.

 

He herd to argument happening between Sulap and Kilgon. He replayed to Teena’los on wether they should step in or not. “Let’s hope he dose.I prefer that we not get into a fight. Especially, since we just got here.” He waited to see what would happen.

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Shar chuckled at Sulap's comeback.  He'd found that a sense of humor was often needed at this base, what with everything that they had to face.

 

"Yeah, we've got replicators." the Andorian replied.  "And a team of cooks for special occasions.  Things like holidays, major victories, funerals, stuff like that."  At last, returning to the dining hall, Shar opened the doors.  "Ladies and gentlemen..." he began.  "Make yourselves at home."  Shar then started walking over to a replicator stationed at a nearby wall.  Maybe now he could finish his breakfast.

 

"Raktajino." he said to the replicator.  "Hot.  Two servings of vanilla cream."  On cue, a mug of the hot, sweet, Klingon coffee materialized in the replicator's reception pad.  Pausing for a moment, he voiced another order to the machine.  "Orange juice.  Cold.  And a plate of... six icoberry pancakes."  Once more, his requested food and drink materialized.  He carried his meal over to a nearby table, and started to dig in.

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Sulap was straight faced as the Klingon growled at him and turned away, waiting in line as he couldn't help but listen to the whispers behind him, "I am not familiar with this species Dvergar, but I can assure you I am not related to them." he said loud enough for both Shynt and Teena'los to hear.  "While Klingons are not the most logical species, they do value honor.  If he wishes to take this 'battle of wits' to a physical level, i will remind him there is no honor in defeating a weaker foe, and great dishonor in being defeated by one.  Even he should be able to identify a losing battle."  He'd step up to an open replicator, "Bertakk soup, 90 degrees centigrade.  One half loaf Kreyla, lightly toasted, with bread knife." he would look around a moment as his food materialized, then mumbled something.  "Please Repeat."  He made a groaning noise before speaking a little louder, annoyance in his voice, "Slug-O-Cola.  Ice Cold, Plain glass bottle with straw."  A bottle of a sickly green looking liquid would materialize and he would grab it and put it on his tray before trying to find an empty table to sit at, slicing his loaf of bread and dunking slices into his soup bowl.

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Teena'los was stunned at the crystal clear logic of Sulap's point regarding the Klingon and honor. "Fascinating," she whispered back to the Ferengi, raising an eyebrow. With her relatively short hair (for a Drow) and protruding long pointed ears, she looked like a photographic negative of a famous Vulcan science officer that she didn't know. Well, if Spock was wearing a pair of tinted glasses, that is.

 

Following Commander Shar's guidance and her new friend's example, she waited her turn then stepped up to a replicator. A relatively fast learner, she figured out that the device was like a food-summoning Gate that was voice activated. She stated as clearly as she could, "Haledri steak, tenderloin, medium rare."

 

The replicator beeped and replied, "Haledri not recognized."

 

Thinking quickly, Teena'los dropped the word and decided to embellish. "Steak, tenderloin, medium rare. Herb butter on top. Side of mushrooms, sauteed. Ah...a mug of Nuqran coffee, hot."

 

The replicator again beeped and replied, "Nuqran not recognized."

 

"ANY coffee, hot, black. Wait. Put some chocolate in it."

 

"One caffè mocha, coming up," replied the machine. On the tray materialized a plate holding a sizzling 2 inch thick, 8 ounce filet mignon, suitably adorned with herb butter, a generous side of sautéed button mushrooms cascading off of the steak, and next to it a plain white 12 ounce mug of steaming brown liquid. Everything smelled delightful. A full set of flatware including a serrated steak knife was laid across a folded napkin.

 

Teena'los stared at her tray without picking it up. Realizing there was a line behind her, she finally removed it from the replicator. A tear rolled down her face, accompanied by a huge smile.

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Shynt gave a silent nod to Sulap’s speech. It seemed like there was bad blood between there 2 species, even though he didn't understand why they were arguing over how they got their food. He also didn't understand what these “replicators” are. 

 

He got his answer when his fellow drow didn’t get what she wanted form some odd machine. He asked Shar why the strange device don’t cook the food Teena’los wanted. 

When it was his time to order, he tried to think of something that the replicator hopefully understand. “Um…two servings of medium rare steak with eggs and bread and too cups of morning tea.”

 

Lucky for hime this odd Machine made exactly what he ordered. Shynt grabbed both plates and headed towed were Teena’los was sitting. “Here you go. It seems that today is not you lucky day. What type weird from mana that thing is using?”

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"The replicators?" Shar asked after washing down some of his icoberry pancakes with a big gulp of orange juice.  "They're a bit of technology from before the Fall that we managed to salvage.  Basically, they take raw materials - water, sugars, fats, proteins, minerals, and so on, and arrange them in the right pattern and temperature so that it makes a copy of whatever food you want - so long as it's in the replicator's computer library."  The Andorian took another sip of his raktajino, before answering Shynt's second question.  "I assume you mean the currents of magic..." he began.  He'd often heard people refer to the currents as "mana" before.  "The beauty of this thing is, it doesn't use any of them.  It gets its power from some fusion batteries - you'll have time to learn of THAT process in the library -  which are another bit of Pre-Fall tech we managed to salvage."  Taking another sip of his coffee, Shar looked up.

 

"Speaking of magic..." he began again.  "Anyone here attuned to at least one current of magic?  Could always use the extra firepower."  One young human raised his hand.  "You there." Shar said, pointing to the new recruit.  "Name and currents."

 

"James Matthews, sir!" the human youth said.  "And I'm attuned to the red and blue currents."

 

"Fire and storms." Shar began.  "Nice.  I'm personally attuned to the black, gray, and green ones - shadows, death, and plants, respectively."  Shar took another sip of raktajino.  "Now, anyone else?"

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Sulap watched as the two drow ordered, or tried to order food from the replicator.  He was about to get up and give them some help when they figured things out.  He sat alone eating his soup and slices of bread.  He would take a sip from his soda when others started sounding off with their names and affinities, he would finish his sip before speaking up, "Sulap, adopted son of Safek."  He'd use his spoon to dunk a fresh slice of bread in his soup bowl, "I've been told I have a Violet affinity, but I have had no training in such regards." he'd lift the bread out of the bowl and start to eat it.

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Teena'los looked up at Shynt, misty-eyed, but beaming from ear to pointed ear. "What? Oh, thanks, but naw, I'm in heaven! Look at this steak! It looks and smells amazing..." Indeed, the combination of the garlic butter and mushrooms made a mouth-watering aroma. She stabbed the plump, carmelized steak with the pointy knife, and the juice was pink. She cut a couple manageable pieces, and popped one in her mouth. A fresh torrent of tears flowed from her closed eyes. "Oh Sharess...here, taste this." She forked the second piece onto the other Drow's plate.

 

A few moments later, as Shar was taking roll call of the new recruits and their currents of magic, it became Teena's turn, so she spoke up. "Teena'los Sarghress, sir. I have Orange for healing, Indigo for arcane attacks, and Black for darkness spells."

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(Do we have to maintain about our magic abilities in the if we already did so on the OCC thread? This seems to slow down the pacing a bit.)

 

“The Fall?” Shynt replied to his Shar. “That a bit of foreboding name. What happened?”

 

When he herd Teena’los thanks he lightly pated her on the back . “You’er welcome.” But when she him the the piece of on his plate confusion was written on his face. “Um... I ordered the same food.”

 

He herd Shar gave out orders and tuned to attention. “Sir, I have Green that I usually use to change and move around plants plants, black to hide myself in the shadows, and  Brown to keep the predators from attacking me.” He rarely used the last mana skill, because there was only a few he got the drop on.

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(OOC: While we know each other's magical abilities, the characters don't.)

 

Shar nodded as he heard the newbies list their arcane skills one by one.  Most were attuned to at least one current of magic.  Good.  While most groups of recruits only had two or three sorcerers in their ranks, this batch seemed to be made almost entirely of them.  Oh, he couldn't wait to rub THIS in the faces of some of the other captains.

 

Shar sighed when he heard Shynt's question.  From that question alone, he suspected that Shynt was from one of the rural areas, where education wasn't as widely available as it was in more urban ones.

 

"The Fall..." he began.  "Was probably the single greatest tragedy to befall our world.  From what our records tell us, a bit over ten thousand years ago, all the civilized races of this planet were united in one technologically-advanced civilization.  There was no war, no poverty, no hunger, no crime, none of that.  All the peoples of our world lived without want.  But like all good things, it wasn't to last."  Shar took a sip from his raktajino.

 

"For reasons we still don't fully understand, and likely never will, various cults showed up at this time.  At first, from what little evidence we've been able to gather, they seemed harmless, only revealing their true nature after they had firmly cemented themselves in society.  It was then that they started opening portals, which revealed their true purpose to the world.  Without warning, this world was invaded on multiple fronts.  Demons poured in from the depths of the Burning Hells.  Daemons emerged from the Realm of Chaos.  The Fek'Ihri crawled out of Gre'thor itself.  To say nothing about the other infernal beings who invaded.  Millions died before any effective resistance could be mounted."  Shar took another sip of his coffee.

 

"And to make matters worse, it wasn't long after this infernal invasion that the Great Insects arrived.  The details of the Insect War are... sketchy at best, but it is known that they sank at least one continent before their defeat.  That, as some of you know, came about at the hands of the now-extinct tribe of humans who called themselves the Brunnen-G.  After the Insect War, well... almost nothing is known.  All we know is that most of the world was driven back into the Stone Age, with a few areas still holding on to their more advanced technologies.  That, and the first Greenskins, Skaven, and Trollocs all showed up at about that time.  But aside from that... we've got pretty much zilch."

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Sulap finished his food quietly, getting up and bringing his serving tray back to the replicator, putting it on the platform and pressing a button, making it disappear.  He removed the straw from his bottle of Slugocola and took a few swigs as he listened to Shar explain about the Fall.  He had heard and read a few things about it, but ancient history didn't interest him that much, other than the 'lost' technology, as well as what they managed to keep.  He'd stand by the replicator and finish off his bottle, slipping it in the replicator and pressing the button again, making the trash disappear.  "Captain.  Do we have a quartermaster capable of enchanting weapons?  I was unable to get my sword enchanted before I was stationed here."

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"Whatever, Shynt, mine has heavenly garlic butter on it, try it!" Teena'los plopped a cube of yummy tenderloin on his plate, and continued to wolf down her own. "Want some mushroom to go with that?" She proffered her plate with a greasy smile.

 

She listened to Shar and Sulap talk about the Outsiders and enchanting weapons. Her quick thinking put two and two together, and thought enchanted weapons might be key to bringing down these creatures the captain discussed. "Sir, since Sulap brought up enchanted weapons...will that be necessary to fight these demons, daemons, and feck-what-not? Or will my Bowcaster be sufficient?"

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Shar washed down another forkful of pancake with yet another gulp of raktajino, before answering Sulap and Teena'los.

 

"My advice?  You shouldn't enchant your weapons.  Not only do the vast majority of those nasties go down to conventional weapons, but some - like Khorne's daemons - are immune to magic altogether.  And many of the others have non-magic weaknesses.  Just remember, while magic IS useful, it's not the be-all, end-all."  Shar took a look down up at the wall-mounted clock, and nearly spit out his coffee.  That time already?

 

"Well, looks like we'll have to cut breakfast short today.  We've got about five minutes before I finally begin the tour of the fortress, so start scarfing it down!"

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