08.29.3013: Hostile Relations
Summary: Ariana, Hadrian, and Victor compare notes on the Hostiles.
Date: 29 August 2013
Related: Those listed on Sarah's page.
Victor Hadrian Ariana 

The Khournas Embassy, Embassy Towers, Landing
Stepping off the elevator into the Cindravale Embassy is to step into a slightly-ruddy hearth. The heat has been turned up a few degrees, and a dull red glow has been added with recessed lighting. The walls are fashioned out of grey volcanic stone, and the floor is brushed and warmed metal. All of the furniture here is made of similar brushed steel, warmed by imbedded heating elements, and shaped so that they enfold frames comfortably despite their minimal padding. On one wall are a selection of weapons, centered on a double-headed battle axe, but including another axe, two swords, and a warhammer. Another wall is decorated by the olive green scales of a drake skin, stretching from floor to ceiling and nearly fifteen feet along the wall.

The sitting room itself takes up about a third of the embassy's floor with a corridor branching off to the sleeping wing. The bedchambers are fairly standard to the expected comforts of a noble house, although they too boast the ruddy light and slightly warmer temperatures of Volkan.

29 August, 3013

Victor has sent out invitations to half a dozen of those who he has seen on the vidlogs with Sarah to meet with him on the subject. Since the location of the Hostile is still a secret from the general populace, Victor requested that those who wanted to meet with him do so in the Khournas Embassy of the Palace Towers, and so he waits, a six-pack of unlabeled brown bottles on the table before him, as well as an ashtray and a box of cigars. One of the stogies is tucked into the corner of the Khourni's mouth as he sits in one of the shaped-metal chairs, looking over data scrolling past on a tablet.

Hadrian arrived at the Khournas embassy with a certain familiarity- it was a place he had visited in his youth, with his mother. A cousin to many of the main-line Khournas, the Orelle doctor seemed surprisingly at home amid the trappings of his more war-like extended family. He brought with him his bag, as always, full of medical equipment as well as bio-samples taken from the captive. His notes had become extensive. As he arrives, he announces himself to the appropriate servant. "Lord Doctor Hadrian Orelle. I am here to see Sir Victor Khournas."

Working on a project of her own, Ariana shows up to the embassy dressed in her lab gear. For a while now, she has been curious on others' findings on their Hostile guest, as well as hearing out various opinions, thus she makes the trip from her lab on the Ring to Landing. It seems that she has come just in time with Hadrian's arrival and she offers up her own introduction to the same servant, "Lady Ariana Larent to meet with Sir Victor Khournas." Lowering her head, now, in deference to Hadrian, then intones, "It would seem that we are both heading to the same meeting, My Lord."

Victor rises from his seat as his guests approach, waving off the servant and coming forward to offer out his hand to the Orelle and a polite bow of his shaven head to the Larent. Before speaking, he collects the cigar from the corner of his mouth between the fingers of his left hand, "I'm Vic. Come on in, have a seat and a drink. There's wine too." Because not everyone likes beer, just everyone who lives in Volkan, at least in Victor's mind. He starts back toward the collection of seats, gesturing them forward as well, "The Professor's busy with her own questions, but we've been poking and prodding around at random. Figured it'd be good to get on the same page."

"It would seem so, M'lady." Hadrian replies towards Ariana. He wears his howie-style labcoat, as he seems to be most comfortable in it. The mandarin collar an orelle blue, the rest white, the buttons black. Orelle colors of understated family pride- but family pride none the less. "My studies and tests have yielded interesting, if potentially disturbing results. But, that is discussion for the ears of few." He follows the servant to the agreed upon place, taking Victor's hand as it is offered. "Hadrian." he offers simply, "I have said that we of the scientific community should be exchanging information. That which I have discovered is of a most disturbing nature." he reiterates to Vic.

Ariana trails behind the good doctor to meet up with Victor and once more, she graces the man with a polite nod of greeting and acknowledgement. "Lady Ariana Larent." She says so formally, before adding in what she, herself, has been working on, "While the only real contact that I've had with Sarah One-One-Three happened on the initial day that we were allowed to run tests on her, I have been busy reading the logs and such. I've been spending most of my time dealing with the poison which was used on the late Young Lady Yolanda Peake, so that if we ever encounter such a gain, we will be prepared." The offer of drinks does catch her attention and she lightly declines, "Once we are done here, I will be heading back to my lab to continue with my work. I do appreciate your gracious hospitality, however." To Hadrian, she considers, "So shall we begin? I am eager to hear of your findings, Doctor Hadrian."

Victor nods at the information presented by each of the actual scientists, frowning at the mention of poison, but nodding his acceptance. When they decline drinks, he reaches up to pull a bottle from the six-pack, tucking his cigar into one corner of his mouth again to pop the top free, and then leaning back in his heated metal chair with a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other. "I've been tryin' to prod it for weak points. In its society, history, whatever, not in its body. I've found plenty of them." Those rumbled words are accompanied by a toothy grin, and then he looks over to Hadrian, nodding his agreement with Ariana's eagerness.

"I started my studies on what we believed to be rations. In fact, it more resembles amniotic fluid than what we would consider rations. It would not provide enough sustenance for an adult of either Hostile or Human origin. This is made more interesting with the information I discover during a DNA and Genome scan." Hadrian begins as he takes a seat. Perhaps out of politeness he takes a beer, removing the cap and placing the bottle on a nearby table. "During a scan of Mitochondrial DNA I found a connection to a soldier who was declared MIA and presumed KIA during the second system war. An almost *exact* match."

Ariana takes a seat herself, back tall and straight, one leg crossing over the other as she rests her folded hands upon one knee. She then attentively listens once Hadrian speaks and at one point, she lifts a brow to express her curiosity. "Now that is interesting. And very curious. From the video which I have reviewed, they do not reproduce in the same way which we do. Not that even if Sarah One-One-Three were a descendant of this missing soldier, that they would share the near exact DNA."

Victor nods at Hadrian's first words, "Hope that ration pack I sent you was more help. The stuff they eat tastes like shit, but it's filling." Evidently, he's tried it. The news that follows, however, causes him to sit up straighter in his chair, leaning forward to rest a forearm on the edge of the table, beer and cigar evidently forgotten, "Wait. Does that mean that this Hostie's that same soldier from five hundred years ago? Or…" he frowns, shrugging his shoulders slightly, the pace of his words slowing as he considers, "I mean, I don't know a genome scan from a taste test, but the Hostie was sayin' somethin' about picking children and it's got a number instead of a fuckin' name. Did they crack cloning?"

"This soldier, a Sergeant Sarah Owens." Hadrian begins, letting the name fall. " Was serving house Ibrahm during the Second System War. It is my belief that the Sarah we have captured maybe a clone. One can infer that they may be grown in the very pods they are sent out with, given the nature of the aforementioned fluid we formally believed to be rations. That, however, remains conjecture. I did a check of Sergeant Owen's records, and discovered she birthed two children before she went missing, or was killed. She has a living relative. The Sarah we have in captivity, therefore, has a living relative." Hadrian puts a finger up, "The Mitochondrial DNA was a match- this means one of two things. Sarah represents an unbroken female line to Sergeant Owens, or is a direct clone of said DNA. In either regard, the fact that there is a living relative opens many new lines of inquiry, and brings us to face the fact that we may in a figurative, and potentially even literal sense be fighting ourselves."

"A relative?" Ariana's brow lifts gently once more and within her eyes there is just a tiny hint of agitation by this finding. That soon fades. "If Sarah One-One-Three is a direct clone, it disgusts me to know that they have dishonored our soldiers so and that they are using them to fight against us so many years later." Looking directly at Hadrian now, she asks, "Have you begun securing any necessary documents in order to, perhaps, meet with descendants of Sergeant Owens? And have tests run on them. I have a feeling that such a family reunion will have its share of tension, anger and heartache. Or even if they merely learned about these findings, but I do believe this needs to be done."

Victor grunts as the science-talk spills forth, nodding his thanks for the Orelle's explanation. The last name of the soldier means nothing, but the first name, that causes Victor to frown even more heavily. The discussion back and forth doesn't help matters, and he shakes his head sharply, "You mean the Sarah the Hosties captured or killed in the last System War has a living relative. That half-metal piece of shit in the cell doesn't have anything." His gravelly voice lowers to a near-growl at that. "Unless it gain's us somethin', I see no reason at all to have some damned reunion. That's treating the Hostie too much like a human." He waves his cigar-filled hand dismissively, "And I know, scientifically they're human. But the way they act, their souls, that ain't human at all, and it's a mistake to think of 'em that way." Rolling his shoulders a little as if trying to slough off a weight, he adds, "Least, that's how it seems to me."

"I have not yet contacted the relative. Her name is Ithaca Black, a contract employee of LucCorp. I felt it be unwise to do so without an appropriate venue. I imagine, discovering that a potential clone of your Twenty-two times Great Grandmother would be… disturbing. As I have little information on Ms. Black and know not her work in the war effort I am still debating informing her at all. Should her work be of great value to us, it may be in our best interest to not inform her whatsoever." Hadrian replies, "Still, I would like to see the captive's reaction to this information. It would be telling."

Ariana half-turns to Victor, simply nodding to his words. "That is understandable. Though, I do not see the Hostile showing any positive feelings in regards to Doctor Hadrian's findings or of the fact that it has a living relative among us. In fact, it very well could fly into some rage, if that is something that the Hostile do. The DNA aside, there is nothing of Sergeant Owens in that monster or else Sarah One-One-Three and the other Hostile, if they are also cloned from our own soldiers, would be more hesitant to destroy us. I did wish to review this… Ithaca Black's profile, however. See what I can gauge from her genetics and the like from her patient files if any exist. I mean, you were able to track her down."

Victor blinks at the name given, a little bark of disbelieving laughter rising from his lips, "What are the fuckin' odds…" the words are murmured, and then he shakes his head, clearing away the mutter to speak more clearly, "I know where Miss Black is." Now he leans back in his chair, taking a swig from his beer and then a draw on his cigar. The smoke is blown up toward an intake carefully positioned in the ceiling above his seat, and then he clarifies, "Lemme put you in contact with Lady Devon Grantham. Dee's got ready access to Miss Black."

"I am able to do a great many things, Lady Ariana. There are many scientists on the Ring, but few have the access one receives as an Orelle. This being said, I would very much like to take a sample from Miss Black, if she is willing. If only to verify my suspicions. As for the captive, I would like to begin more invasive testing once others have completed their tests. Given the difficulty of capture, I will need living tissue samples to conduct other tests. I am hoping to turn their strengths against them- as such, I may also request to remove one of her cybernetic implants, with the biological connection to see just how it has been done. The cybernetics are beyond our own, and this marrying of biology and cybernetic technology may very well prove to be a chink in their proverbial armor. Particularly if I am able to discover a method to disrupt communication via a biological, virological, or bacterial avenue." Hadrian smiles quietly, a dark thing really. "Sergeant Owens is dead. What has been crafted from her form is not her, this we can all agree on. However, I do recommend this information not be widely spread about, until such time as the impact on our own forces Morale would be understood. With proper propaganda we should be able to turn our own people into anger and fury over the.. Shall I suggest the word desecration.. of our own." There is little emotion in Hadrian's voice, simply that same dark smile. "To answer a question you had previously, Sir Victor, I have not yet tested the sample you sent me. I had taken over one of the multipurpose labs on the Ring, and must now allow others to their allotted time. I shall, however, begin attempts to recreate it. And I do recommend should you and your men find other Hostiles injured, and near death on the battle field or create some yourself I be summoned. I am all too happy to nurse them back to relative health in the name of our effort. If I am to find an appropriate avenue of attack via the means I am most familiar I will need a wider array of test subjects. Test subjects I am allowed to break."

At Victor's sudden eruption of laughter, Ariana turns an inquisitive eye in the Khournas' direction and doesn't quite catch his cursing when his tone quiets down. Then the news comes out and even the Larent cannot help but look a little pleased by this. "Now I must say that this is wonderful news. Is this Miss Black an associate of your betrothed then?" Half-turning in Hadrian's direction, she listens to each and every one of his words; her ice blue eyes lighting up when certain things are mentioned. "You know, I'm certain that Lord Brigham Peake will be on board with this project if more invasive studies are allowed. And like always, I will do all that I can to assist you on your projects."

Victor frowns at Hadrian's words, "They keep tellin' me I can't hurt the damned Hostie. I doubt they're gonna let you chop off one of its arms or legs. And if they're human, isn't anything you whip up going to fuck with us too?" Looking back over to Ariana, he shrugs, "Patient, Lady Ariana. I'll leave it to Dee to say any more." The request for further Hostile prisoners causes Victor to grimace and take another sip of his beer as if to wash the taste of the though from his mouth, "I see a Hostie on the battlefield, and I'm going to cleave it's head in, unless I'm given orders otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, they're too damn dangerous to leave alive. Besides, if they won't let you do what you want to this one, what's to say they'll let you do it with any others?"

"That is why I'd like to go to a route involving their more advanced cybernetics. It would be my hope that it be ineffective against our own. Particularly since the majority of us are without cybernetic enhancement. There maybe some friendly fire, but we are facing annihilation and genocide. Why should we not inflict such horror upon our enemy?" Hadrian asks, "I wouldn't want to rush into this sort of thing. I would want to properly test it. I would need many subjects, and potentially several years of study, testing, and work. I would be my hope to disrupt the connection between their cybernetic and biological systems in much the manner a dampening field would- only in such a way that it would be an infection. One infection to destroy another, Sir Victor." Hadrian continues, "There are many who suggest we simply give up and leave. I feel we can win if we turn their strengths into weaknesses."

Ariana's curiosity is all the more piqued when the word 'patient' is mentioned, but she does not push for further information on this Ithaca Black for the time being. "Even when Sarah One-One-Three's limbs were all depowered, I still had a feeling of nervousness that she would eventually escape the way our captive on the Ring escaped. Do we have the facilities to hold more captives such as our current prisoner and the means to keep watch over them at all times? That said, I do agree that there is a need to further study them far more deeply than we already have and I do hope that at some point, we are granted permission to do so."

Victor shrugs his broad shoulders at Hadrian's suggestion, "I'll leave figurin' that out to you science-types." His right hand drops to pat the side of his axe's head, "Me, I find an axe does pretty well at inflicting horror on the Hosties, without friendly fire." He snorts at the suggestion of leaving, "And if someone can figure out how to leave, they can get the fuck out. Me, I figure the Hosties can have the Crescent over my dead body, and not a second before." Looking over to Ariana, he shrugs again in response to her question, "I don't know enough about the tech to know how well she's bein' kept. For all I know, she could be transmitting everything we say to the other Hosties, and just waitin' for someone important enough to get in the cell with her to tear their head off. That's why I think it's such a bad idea to take captives."

"I don't need captives who are talking. I just need working biological systems." Hadrian replies. "They can be physically restrained through the entire process. What I would like to do, Sir Victor, is not ethical medicine or science by any means. It is the science of desperation, and ultimately horror. Imagine a line of soldiers able to cause systemic damage to our enemy with a simple dart, or poisoned blade. Imagine that when, and if they retreat they bring that weapon back to the heart of the fifth world. And imagine that when it next returns, a desolation of skeletons and rusted machine parts. That is my goal, Sir Victor. I would like my twenty-second great grand child to live a life of peace and happiness, and not have to worry about another attack from this disease infecting our galaxy."

While Ariana understands far too well Victor's concerns, Hadrian's rather uplifting, if dark, words seem to lift her own spirit as well. A gentle clapping sound can be heard coming from where she is seated and quickly she muses, "That is the future that I hope to see as well, Doctor Hadrian and I do hope that however stirring your explanation is right now, you are able to convince the Crown Council to agree on taking this action. Though… the trap which was set at the Imperious Mountains did not work as smoothly as planned."

Victor draws on his cigar again as he listens to Hadrian, letting his shoulders rise and fall in another shrug, "If you can do that without killin' everyone in Haven too," although technically the Fifth World is in the Haven System as well… "then good on ya. But until you can, I'd rather just get some way to get me, my axe, and a couple hundred thousand pissed of people like me out to the Fifth World after we kick their ass off our planets." The pauses, then adds, "And moons." After all, he's talking to people who live among the Lashes. He nods to Ariana, "I heard they got some Scouts behind the ambush." And the Young Lady, of course. "People keep thinking of the Hosties as dumb brutes, we're gonna keep losin' people a lot faster than we should."

"Which is why I suggest, Lady Ariana, that we do not deal the killing blow on highly injured Hostile targets, but allow me to perform surgery on them while they still live. It is not ideal, and will require many more subjects due to damaged systems- but will reveal more than autopsy." Hadrian replies, "I did tell those planning the trap that we did not know enough of their biological and cybernetic systems to ensure such an attempt would work as planned. I had suggested closer to lethal doses. It is quite clear that they have taken a different technological route than we, and more study is required before we can ascertain anything on their biology. It is ill advised to continue making assumptions as we have." He takes a slow breath, and then finally pauses to sip at the beer he'd taken.

Ariana turns slowly in Victor's direction when Hadrian brings up at their soldiers do not make these killing blows on their victims as if awaiting for some form of confirmation of this, before she turns away and looks to Hadrian once more in response to the Peake trap, "That error will not be made again, My Lord. I am glad that we were all able to speak this day. I've certainly become enlightened by Doctor Hadrian's findings. If we will defeat our enemies once and for all, we do need to come together and work together. Lord Brigham has been dealing with rather important projects of his own."

Victor shakes his head slightly at Hadrian's suggestion, one shoulder rising and dropping at Ariana's look for confirmation, "Like I said, unless I'm ordered to, I'm not planning on leaving a Hostie behind me that's not dead. Too much risk to everyone nearby. You know what happened up on the Ring, and that was just a Scout. Imagine if one of those big Elite motherfuckers," probably a good thing Ariana wasn't married into House Khournas, if Victor's mouth is at all stereotypical of Khourni language, "got loose around Cits." He does, however, raise his bottle a little in toast to Hadrian's last point, taking a sip. Sinking into a bit of a brooding silence, he lets out a breath through his nose, then gravels, "Knowin' that they use our people to clone, or somethin' like that… yeah, that's big."

"Very big." Hadrian agrees. "Sir Victor, Lady Ariana- I do believe I've imparted all I can, and now must return to think and study on the further information you've both given me. If at all possible, Sir Victor, I would like to get in contact with Ms. Black, but have no intention of telling her as of now what I have discovered. I would suggest the two of you keep it… on the down low, I believe the phrase goes. I would like to confirm my findings via a blood test. Although I trust my findings correct, I am still a man of science. I do not like to leave things to question, or conjecture when I am able to test for proof. AGain, should she be amiable to the request."

Ariana chooses to ignore Victor's cursing, being unable to miss it this time! It is Hadrian's announcement of his own departure that actually takes her mind off of the vile language. "As should I, though this was a much needed break from all of my testing." Slowly, she rises from her seat. "If either of you are in need of any assistance that I can offer, feel free to contact me. Working on finding a neutralizer for this poison, aside, I am planning on meeting with Sarah One-One-Three at some point in the near future for questioning purposes." Looking between the pair, she then refocuses on Victor, "Sir Victor, thank you for calling this meeting and I'm sure that we shall all keep in touch."

Victor nods at Hadrian's words, "I'll tell Dee, and have her decide if Miss Black's in any shape to talk." He makes a slight gesture with his cigar-hand, "And yeah, I'll tell her to keep it quiet. I'm sure she can get you a blood sample though." When the two state their intention to depart, Victor levers himself up out of his chair, setting down his beer bottle to nod to each, "Never did figure out a path to askin' questions. Guess we'll all keep on with whatever we each think's important. Thanks to both of you for stoppin' by."

Hadrian gives a nod as he stands to leave. "It was a pleasure, Sir Victor." he offers, before he begins towards the door and exits on his way. "We will speak soon, M'Lady." he offers to Ariana as he moves on his way. "I may have time to assist you with your research. I would be only too happy to do so."

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