Like the lower levels of an ancient ship, the walls around this ring look out over the Mammon Machine with tiny little portholes. The walkway itself is about four feet wide with a large iron gate keeping people from wantonly leaping over the edge into the peaceful oblivion below. The slave quarters being on this floor, you can always hear the silent sobs of someone, child or adult, either mournful over their life or in pain from the constant experimenting. This is truly where angels would fear to tread...
The lab is quiet. Errily quiet. Being the hour in the morning it is, most of the researchers have gone to bed for the night and the place is vacant except for the dim lights running along the base of the walls providing emergency light to any one who might have been left behind, something that tends to happen alot when lots of projects are going on. Suddenly a blaze of blue light errupts along a rear wall. With an explosion of energies a portal appears, the wind throwing papers and notes accross the air abruptly. Dragging his newly appointed commander throught the distortion, Dr Leyland scurries through the vortex and throws the commander into a nearby chair. Next, ablaze in living shadows steps NNY... one of the more powerful test subjects, and two guards assigned to helping out. The guards are firing some sort of energy weapon back into the portal, keeping something away. Leyland franticly looks from the portal to his commander and yells, "Sir!! You better seal that thing quick! They're right behind us!!"
Gunzota collapses into the chair, blood and puss pouring from a gash in his stomach, the tatters of his armor smoking still from the onslaught, "I was careless..." he murmurs and fights the darkness that seeks to overtake him. His weapon had been lost in the fight, his right hand a mangled mess of broken bone, muscle, and flesh. He coughs blood forming at the corners of his mouth.
Dr Leyland franticly glances around and shakes his commander, "Uh... Sir?!? The dagger? Tell me you remembered the dagger?" From the vortex sounds of screaming can be heard as the attackers near the portal opened between the two worlds. NNY stands silently watching everything without intrest from his percing white eyes benath his veil of darkness. The two guards seem to share Leyland's panic, however, in that they begin to alternate between firing and looking over their shoulders.
Gunzota fortunately DOES have that, he had opted to not use it at first and his left hand comes up shaking holding the aforementioned weapon, "H-hurry th-this up!" he coughs again the arm drooping slightly. TO think he had been reduced to this so easilly.
Dr Leyland snatches the dagger greedily and throws it to NNY, "You know what to do..."
NNY grins as his hands come to grip the weapon once more. Looking back towards the portal, he shoves the guards out of the way and begins to laugh as the portal's energies are drawn into the dagger's blade. Then he turns, leans his back against the wall and stares into the blade...
Dr Leyland runs his hands through his hair and looks Gunzota over, "What the hell happened back there? I thought we where there for information, what possesed you to go after that guy? Don't we have enough Weapons already?"
At this point the general glares at Leyland, "He intrigued me, you however do not question me. Now, do SOMETHING before this cursed shell of mine decides to die. I still have much to offer Zeal in the living world."
Dr Leyland steps back and blinkblinks, "Um... right, y-yessir." As he rushes to get the healing stone he'd been studying as of late, he tries his best to shake the image of his former employer echoing almost the same words years ago. Grabbing the stone and running his hand thought his hair once more he hands the stone to Gunzota to hold over his chest and begins to bandage the more visible wounds. The stone's healing magic should immedatly begin to work...
Gunzota attempts to relax now as the stone begins to do whatever it is it does, "Tell me, is it possible for you to make me more than what I am now? A being that could live to serve Zeal and Lavos?"
Dr Leyland stops in mid-bandaging and stares, "I.... I have methods I could use, I suppose. But, you know your Queen forbid me to use those skills without her..." Casting his eyes to the side in distaste, "-permission-."
Gunzota says, "I have her ear Leyland. If I were to get her permission?"
Dr Leyland stares silently a moment at Gunzota, and then holds up his arm, pealing his long gloves back and revealing a mesh of wires and machinery running down the remainder of his right hand. "Yes... yes, I'd be eager to help... I'd need my own lab, somewhere where I can work without interference..."
Gunzota nods slowly closing his eyes, "I will see what I can arrange." he smirks to himself, "I wouldn't want you to be distracted after all."
Dr Leyland pulls his glove back on quickly, casting a glance at the absence of the guards and the non-careing looks from NNY. "Thank you sir. For now just hold onto that stone. It's a varrient of a healing tab I've been reaserching. I'm hoping somehow I can seccure a method of repairing the damage to my own wounds. But being so long since they where inflicted, I'm not so sure a normal tab would do much good for me. However, the stone should repair your more superficiousal wounds very quickly. The bandages are just to stop the blood flow till it sets in."
Gunzota nods slowly, "I will keep that in mind." he slowly stands from the chair
Dr Leyland stares at the wall behind NNY again and sighs, "Sir, what will you tell the Queen? Blaim it on the guards, or the Weapon's irratiblity perhaps?"
Gunzota says, "If it were easy to lie to her I would. I shall take full responsibility. And request the process, lose my humanity, if need be she may place mind control over me if she so desires. Repent for this set back, and return better prepared to cpature that being that did this."
Dr Leyland nods as he steps over to NNY, taking the dagger back forcebly, "Sir. If I might suggest... there is a way to block the mind control... I discovered it once I realised that I had crossed paths with this individual before..."
Gunzota hmms and looks to Leyland, "I'm listening Leyland. Go on."
Dr Leyland coughs, "Well, sir. You know that the method of control is bassed on the shards of Frozen Flame, which can actualy be manipulated to change it's shape under the right circumstances. It's the same proccess we use to force it into the subject's mind after the stone is attached to the head. Well, this entity, I once studdied him. Thought he was just insane, clearly I was slightly wrong about that. But, his daggers. They're not the ones he once had, those where hand made. So I began to study them, in secret of course. I can't identify the material that made them, but they possess a quality that allows them to absorb negative engeries.... If we inplanted a piece of the daggers blade beneath the location of the flame, it should in essence, cancel it out..."
Gunzota says, "Hmm I see. Interesting theory, but how do you know it will work?" he waits now intrigued, though it was not his intent to go against his Queen, if precautions were needed, so be it.
Dr Leyland shrugs, "Well, I can't excatly test it without going against the Queen's wishes, but you can see the material's effects here on NNY. It's what gives him his strength. He absorbs it all through his weapons..."
Gunzota says, "I see. So what are you suggesting we do then? A tool we cannot use, so then what use is it?"
Dr Leyland says, "No sir. I'm suggesting you trust me." Reaching into the pocket of his coat he produces a tiny coin sized piece of the black material and offers it over to his commander, "We could inplant this onto your forehead, just under the skin. Your bloodied anyways, no one would notice. Then if she orders the mind control, this will prevent you from being taken over, plus I beleive it should effectivly block the Queen's abilities to look into your thoughts. But we'd need to do this before your audience with her... time is of the esscence..."
Gunzota waits for a long moment considering, "Do it."
Dr Leyland smiles. "Immeditaly sir." Glancing at the silent observer he orders, "NNY! Make sure no one enters till the procedure is complete. Kill if you need to." Waisting no time he grabs a scaple off the desk behind Gunzota and smiles, "Would you like something to ease the pain?"
NNY laughs and marches over to the door, the darkness pouring off his skin causing the already dim light to seem to grow darker. Throwing his hands up to the side of the door he waits, breathing heavily.
Gunzota hmmphs, I've had much worse today." he sits back down in the chair, "Best do it while I am resolved.
Dr Leyland nods and immediatly cuts into the skin, doing his best to prevent the blood flow from getting the commander's eyes. Slipping the stone just under the skin, he takes the stone away and holds it to Gunzota's head for a few seconds. The flow of blood from the newly inflicted wound slows and stops. "That should do it." The piece of the dagger would be cool to the touch, but seems to draw a sticky warmth from the air, especialy in times of strong emotion...
Gunzota grits his teeth as the incision is made, and as the operation finishes gasps for breath, (Forgive me my Queen, but I do this to insure that I may best serve you.) he lets his head clear from the hazeand touches the spot with his still good hand, "I will meet with her right away."
Dr Leyland nods, "As I would expect. I'll put NNY away." Picking up the dagger from the desk he passes it over, "Best not to forget this."
Gunzota takes the knife and sheathes it at his side and places the stone over his mangled hand hoping to speed it's recovery, in the meanwhile he began to make his way to the throne room.
It was after a few minutes of getting himself more presentable that Commander Gunzota appearred at the throne room. He stepped in mustering his strength as he crossed that carpet over the void and kneeled before his Queen bowing his head, "My Queen. I come as your humble servant."
Queen Zeal sits upon her throne watching the two guards from earlier tell their stories to the doctors as they tend to their wounds, with a wave of her hand the image of the guards vanishes and she gazes down upon Gunzota with a look of annoyance, "How did your mission go? Did you retrieve the relic for me you promised?"
Gunzota says, "There was an unexpected complication My Queen. Namely a being who managed to best me in combat." he holds up the sitll mangled hand, "I will accept all responsibility for this failure, however given the circumstances unless I am given a proper treatment for my injuries it will be unlikely that I able to serve you in this." he lowers the hand, "It may be possible that Leyland may be able to do something more and make me a servant of yours for all time, a being capable of spreading our countries glory and commanding your armies as you see fit." he waits for a response on that.
Queen Zeal stares silently, thinking this information over. "Leyland is an incompetent fool who I only kept around for his knowledge of transworld travel. Gunzota, you disapointed me. I gave you our sacred relic, gave you access to one of my Weapons, and you repay me with failure." Standing she looks down at him and sighs as she begins to pace. "Where it not for your years of service I'd cast you down into this void like your predeccesor!!" Guesturing to the darkness beneath the platform she growls and begins to rub her hands. "Tell me why I should grant you the gift of your existence? Tell me why you deserve to breathe?"
Gunzota says, "Because unlike my predecesors I have only failed you once my queen. If you so wish you may take away my soul and keep my body an dmind to do your bidding, make me nothing more than a being that speaks through you and is you. I will give my will to Lavos to please you in this, and once it is done and I am capable I will destroy this being who taunts us, I will take back what is ours, take what is it's and burn the rest if you so desire."
Queen Zeal turns her back from the commander and stares up at the celing. Letting out a sigh she drops her head to the void below. "Gunzota... you've been close to my family since that idiot Dalton died. My children respect you like an uncle. I don't think it would favor much from public opinion if I killed you. You have led a very succesfull carrer until this day. You've been loyal to the life blood of my line, and you've done well to serve Lavos. Reguardless your actions deserve to be punished. Taking away your mind might not be the best course of action, as you will become addicted to the thoughts of Lavos much like the rest of them. Blindly serving him until the day the device is torn from your vacant vessel... However someone must take the fall for this. Like my late husband once said, 'Everyone must pay for their mistakes'. Do you put enough faith in your Leyland that you'd put your life in his hands? The only way I'd permit him experimenting on you is if you'd willingly subject to the mind control, on the grounds that he find a way to remove it without killing you."
Gunzota bows deeply, "I trust him in this regard Majesty. After all I have wronged you with my failure and I do not wish to repeat this offense again. Whatever means necessary to further your majesty's will."
Queen Zeal nods slowly and turns around. "Then you are to be publicly denounced in the commons, you will have the flame inprinted in your thoughts. Meanwhile I'll approve whatever Leyland needs. I hope your trust is not misguided. I hope this is not the day your spark is extinguished forever..."
Gunzota says, "I promise this is the day I raise from the ashes. I will become an eternal flame of glory to our people. That is why I submit myself to your will, you will guide that flame as you guide our people."
Queen Zeal nods her head and snaps her hand to the side, causing the bracelets on her arm to chime aloud. It's echo reverberates throughout the room as a loud piercing ring. "GUARDS!!! Prepare Gunzota for 'treatment'..." Immediatly a group of palace guards, summoned by the noise arrives and grabs ahold of Gunzota, dragging him away. As he passes by Zeal bows her head, "May the grace of Lavos be with you..."
Gunzota bows his head in return, "May it be with you always my Queen." he however does not allow himself to be dragged completely, after all he still had some pride left even in this state, and that he would never sacrifice even if his mind should be erased and Leyland wrong about this shard of metal in his head, but that would be left up to time to decide.
Munin enters into the room, pushing a gourney with the 'victim'- i mean patient bound in leather straps, looking none-too-amused (Just got to get this over with... why do I always get prisoner duty...? )
Gunzota is taken into the elaborate commons of the palace. Already full of people eating and conversion, all eyes turn to the display as the Commander is brought up onto a large stage. More people begin to enter, curious of the sudden silence from the crowd. One of the guards issues the announcement of Gunzota's failure and the decision by the Queen for his 'loyalties' to be 'readjusted'. It is asked if Gunzota would like to explain himself, and a hushed silence falls over the already quiet crowd.
Gunzota looks at the assembled people, "People of Zeal, I accept my punishment for this failure, however, you may rest assured that when all is done I will return to you stronger than before, as your true protector, I shall not fail our Queen ever again."
Munin stands off to the side, watching, neither showing support of the words being spoken, nor denouncing them. She is silent, waiting for the time to do her task, hand at a small pouch at her waist, the contents of which are hidden from view
Gunzota waits a moment for a reaction from the crowd before stepping back.
the crowd shows its approval of the declaration, zealous in their following of their Queen and her forces
Gunzota inwardly smiles, however on the outside he remains stoic backing up to be flanked by the guards. He has no idea what this will involve.
Munin walks over from the side, pointing to a hallway, and speaking to a guard while Gunzota looks at the crowd, whispering to them "First door on the left. Wait there. The procedure will begin shortly". They give him the instructions, and tell him to start walking
Gunzota allows himself to be lead off, well it seems he wasn't going to be publicly humiliated yet.
That has yet to come...
Munin follows after, closing the door behind her, the guards standing on either side of the doorway behind her. Without a word, she fishes into the pouch at her side, drawing out a small circular device, that looks almost like it's chitin of some kind
Gunzota says, "...Get it over with." he closes his eyes waiting for the 'blow' to come.
Munin raises an eyebrow, then narrows her eyes, smirking in a not-so-friendly manner. She twists teh small circle, which makes a pair of even-less-friendly looking spikes protrude from the sides. she rears her arm back a little, and smacks it onto his forehead, impaling the spikes into his skull, making the device stick to his forehead *obviously*. the spikes have some sort of barbs, preventing them from being pulled OUT of the skull
Gunzota grits his teeth and yells in pain falling onto his knees, "AGH!" instintcively he reaches up to try and pull the device out then slowly forces his hand down and his mouth to silence, two can play at this game.
The agony is not yet over. The circle begins to spin within the spikes, and slowly telescopes out, as it slowly drills into Gunzota's skull *telescoping drill, held in place by the spikes*
Munin watches dispassionately, waiting for the 'device' to complete it's job
What fortunately isn't apparent to anyone else is the fact that the drill is being absorbed into that dagger shard that had been implanted, but the pain is still there. Gunz's body curls up slightly.
With a sickening *CRUNCH*, the device vinishes it's drilling, and locks onto the forehead surface on either side of the traumatized area, it's task complete
Gunzota pants for breath as the device finishes it's job and says nothing, waiting.
Munin raises an eyebrow "Feeling... better?"
Gunzota still looking down, "Yes." he knew how the implanted acted and had a pretty good idea on how to play up on the fact.
Munin smirks bemusedly, again not in a friendly manner "Good. Then you know what to do from here...."
Gunzota slowly stands, oh does he? he waits swaying slightly on his legs.
Munin starts to organize several beakers off to the side, filled with bubbling liquid, paying the 'tormented' no mind for the moment
Gunzota quicklly scans the area for Leylands presence.
Munin says, "when your ready, you may leave. I'm finished with you."
From outside a hurried knock is heard at the door.
Dr Leyland opens up the door and glances around, spotting Gunzota he runs a hand through his hair, "Uh... I guess it went well. Who authorised the use of this lab?"
Munin stands to the side "I did. it was out of the way, no one was using it, and what needed doing is done."
Dr Leyland glares at the voice, "Oh... Munin. I'm surprised to see you get involved in such trivial matters."
Gunzota remains silent, he's a soldier, he can stand still for hours if need be.
Munin smirks darkly "I usually don't. It was requested by an unknown source. Since this is usually something the Queen commands, who was I to refuse?". She starts to walk past Leyland "Now, if youll excuse me, i have other matters to attend to."
Dr Leyland continues to glare as Munin walks past, "I'm sure you do..." Turning his attention away he asks Gunzota, "You in pain? Still got that stone I aquired for you? Might numb the wound a bit."
Gunzota removes the stone from it's place at his right hand and brings it to his fore head, ah yes, much better now.
Munin blinks, and stops, looking back over her shoulder "Stone? Numb the pain? Since when is THAT standard procedure, if i may ask?", sounding more curious than concerned. She takes a good long look at whatever it is Gunzota is putting to the forehead wound, as well.
Dr Leyland winces, "It's um... a healing stone. I'm sure you've read the document on my tab research, my attempts to find something stronger for more set in wounds. I got quite alot of positive feedback from it."
Munin says, "Oh?". She walks towards Gunzota again, looking closely, curiousity getting the better of her "I thought tab's counldn't affect soemthing of this magnatude, particularly due to the nature of the object in question. Always interfered with the magic of the tab..."
Gunzota gives Leyland a glance out of the corner of his eye, unease there for a brief moment.
Dr Leyland turns away from Gunzota after sharing his gaze, then turns to scowl at Munin, "Look, I don't like sharing my research notes with people not involved in my own projects, and as the Queen has graced me with unlimited restrictions in reguards to our Commander here including my own lab, I'd appreciate you butting out of my buisness."
Munin rolls her eyes, putting up her hands in a 'i give up' indication "Fine, fine... no need to get all huffy" a wink "It'll give you more wrinkles. I'm not questioning your 'unlimited restrictions', nor am i trying to butt into buisness. I'm a scientist. Curiosity comes naturally, particularly a break through like this". She walks to the door, smirking over her shoulder "so exCUSE me for doing my job"
Gunzota once Munin can't see his face he scowls, she was going to be an obstacle it seemed.
Dr Leyland growls quietly to himself, "Stupid self rituous.... just because she's the head of the research commitee... thinks she can just do whatever she wants..." Turning back towards Gunzota in the process he sighs, "So? Sir? Anything I can do to help? Do the precautions we took seem to be working?"
Munin smirks to herself as she reaches the door, opening it a bit to walk out "Precautions... ?". She actually gives a slightly lighthearted, amused giggle "Seems someone has something to hide....". It wasn't loud, but enough that the pair in the room can hear it. Then, she walks out, and down the hallway, closing the door behind her
Gunzota says, "...She will be an obstacle...and though there was pain, I am not feeling any adverse effects..."
Dr Leyland nods, "Excelent! Glad to hear it! Now as Zeal thinks I'm trying to 'fix' this, we won't have to worry about you pretending to be controlled for too long."
Gunzota says, "Yes." he sits slowly.
Gunzota asks, "So where do we go from here Leyland?"
Dr Leyland runs his hands through his hair again, "I guess the matter at hand only leaves two options. You want to try to resume your duties immediatly, or request time off to heal? I'd suggest healing.... you still have some wounds from the battle that haven't been healed yet."
Gunzota says, "That was my plan. It will also take time to replace my weapons and armor."
Dr Leyland nods, "Yeah... I'll see what I can throw together once the approvals go through for the lab. I used to be pretty good at building armor for my... um.... previous employeer..."
Gunzota says, "I see. I'm glad to hear you have many skills then."
Dr Leyland laughs, "Yeah.. you could say that. I'm a bit eager to have an opportunity to revive some of my earlier experiments... you think they'd let me have access to" ahem "any of the captured slaves?"
Gunzota says, "Possibly, the Queen seemed to allow you unlimited access, so it IS a possibility."
Dr Leyland nods, "I hope so. I was mostly bluffing on that to shut bossy bessy there up for awhile."
Gunzota blinks at the term and then growls, "I foresee trouble from that one."
Dr Leyland nods, "I've yet to find a reason to like her. Perhaps we'll have to find a way to get her out of the picture should she start to interfere anymore..."
Gunzota nods slowly, "Perhaps, thouhg I do understand she's made progress for Zeal, thus I wouldn't want to terminate her."
Dr Leyland chuckles, "Oh dear... I wasn't thinking along those lines... perhaps she could better serve the Queen as one of our experiments?"
Gunzota suddenlly pauses, "I'm listening."
Dr Leyland snickers, "Just a thought, sir. I'll have to tell you more of my older experiments once I get my lab set up. I've had some ideas for new Gevauden Units running around in the back of my mind that might be just perfect for someone of her status...."
Gunzota says, "Gevauden units?" he hadn't been familiar with this term before.
Dr Leyland smiles, "Like I said, I'll elaborate another time. Right now you need to focus on what your going to do about your daily routines, and we really should get out of this lab. This is a public lab that I was told was one of the more... 'unfavorable' ones. Some untrustworthy elements frequent here, thus my confusion about Munin's choice of locations..."
Gunzota says, "Very well. Till later Leyland." he stands and turns to leave.
Dr Leyland nods his head and follows slowly behind him, "Yes. Till later. Good luck with your new... 'mindset'" he says with a grin.