|This article, Ryuko Kawada, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "Its my policy to see it through when somebody picks a fight with me."
- ―Ryuko Kawada
Ryuko Kawada is one of the most skilled and talented gladiators in the popular bloodsport, frequenting circuits throughout Kig-Yar space, the frontier, Jiralhanae territory and even circuits in Remnant space, and the ancient arenas on the Jiralhanae and Kig-Yar homeworlds. Despite her success, she abhors her position as a slave, and those who hold power over her. Determined to fight her way out of the pits, she has passed from owner to owner, most considering her too difficult to control.
Born on the world of Falaknuma in 2543, she was born to Shinichiro and Carol Kawada. Shortly after her first birthday, her mother walked out on the family, leaving just Ryuko and her father. Her father worked as a xenolinguistics specialist for the Office of Naval Intelligence. Specialising in Sangheili language and culture, his wartime service consisted of translating intercepted communications. Due to the nature of his work, he was frequently away from home, leaving Ryuko in the care of friends and family. Ryuko grew up wrapped up in her fathers work, learning Sangheili as a second language, but began to resent him as she grew, barely seeing him. She got into fights with other youths at her school, and had to change schools twice.
Growing up on Sanghelios
At the end of the war, her father was head hunted by the UNSC Diplomatic corps, due to his knowledge of Sangheili language and culture, and was selected to be one of the number of special envoys to Sanghelios. Knowing his work would keep him away from home for years, he brought Ryuko along with him, though she was reluctant to leave. Forced to go with him, they moved to Vadam Keep on Sanghelios. Introduced to the Sangheili youths, they found the irritable little human an amusement, especially when they learned she was fluent in their native language. At first dismissive of the youths, she opened up to them, and eventually made firneds with the children living in and around the Keep. Growing up amongst Sangheili youths, she became tough, boisterous and learned to fight early on. She became fluent in Sangheili, almost abandoning her native tongue, and learned to fight like a Sangheili, becoming accustomed to using a training sword.
Over the next few years, her father continued to work with the elders of the state to cement a Human-Sangheili alliance, and for his services, they were welcomed as honorary citizens of the state. Her father worked closely with Lak 'Vadam. Ryuko herself grew up to be tough and lean, and extremely quick witted. Both became naturalised citizens, taking on the culture, clothing styles and mannerism of their hosts.
Capture and Enslavement
Just after her 16th Birthday, she accompanied her father on a diplomatic mission alongside Elder Lak. Voyaging off Sanghelios itself, they journeyed several lightyears from the home world when the diplomatic party was ambushed by unknown assailants. In the chaos, Lak 'Vadam was killed, and Ryuko was separated from her father. Most of the party was killed and those who were survived were thrown into a prisoner hold.
Those few that survived were taken to a Kig-Yar trader station and immediately sold on. Slavers bartered and traded the survivors, and soon most were in a dozen different cargo holds going off to every end of the Frontier. Ryuko herself was sold to a Kig-Yar slaver who intended to sell her on as a servant, only after he broke her.
The Slave Pit
Stripped of all her clothing and possessions, she was bound up, and thrown into a slave pit on his vessel. Starved for two weeks during the journey through slipspace, the slaver approached her with food, offering it on the basis she would become an obedient slave. Her only response was to spit in his face. Another two weeks in the pit did nothing to change this attitude. Infuriated with his purchase, he sold her for a portion of her acquisition cost to a arena owner, who figured she'd make a fine warm up for the match ahead.
Brought to the arena a shadow of the girl the slavers bought a month earlier, she'd lost a significant amount of weight. They planned to throw her into a 'warm up' match, usually a spectacle involving one side that really can't fight, like an unarmed slave, and a powerful enemy, like a monstrous creature or a violent gladiator. Thrown into an arena against a mad and rabid Kig-Yar, armed with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, and deadly claws, they expected a quick and bloody fight. They got exactly what they asked for. Initially thrown aback by the savagery of her enemy, her ferocity and determination to survive shone through. Picking up a rock from the blood splattered floor, she lunged at her attack, and in a frenzied attack, crushed his skull with a rock. Standing up in the arena, she was covered in scratches and her enemies blood. She became an instant crowd favourite. She was sold on to a Gladiator training for a sizeable fund, where she'd spend her next few months
Bought by the Gladiator Trainer, Dacastus, she was taken to his gladiator school. Decastus was famed for training skilled Jiralhanae, Sangheili and Kig-Yar Gladiators, but Ryuko would be his first female human Gladiator. The gladiator school was housed in a complex closer to a prison in design, with each gladiator housed in individual cells. The training regimen was brutal, involving frequent physical exercise and combat training, as well as practice for battle in the arena. Gladiatorial games were rarely death matches, instead a blood sport involving bravado and shows of skill. None the less, casualties were many, and Ryuko earned more than few scars in training duels.
Discovering her skill with a sword, Dacastus focused on this, training her to become fast and skilled with a blade. However, all through her training she still showed her wilful attitude and strong desire for freedom, and multiple attempts at escape, fights with other slaves and disobedience. She was frequently punished, often in front of the other slaves, with lashings and floggings. Another common punishment she endured was the isolation cell and the 'hotbox', being thrown into a small metal box in the middle of the training yard during the baking heat of the mid-afternoon and left to swelter.
Despite the suffering and hardship, it became abundantly clear to Dacastus that she would become a gladiator of significant skill, albeit difficult, if not impossible, to control. Dacastus kept this fact a secret when she was sold on.
Taramanus, the First Master
Entertaining the visiting merchant, Taramanus, he displayed several of his best gladiators, in hopes of selling some of them. Taramanus became intrigued by this young human. Fighting against one of Taramanus' own gladiators, a Kig-Yar, she easily bested him and claimed the victory, humiliating the Kig-Yar in the process.
Sedating Ryuko, Dacastus then sold her on to Taramanus. She came round by the time Taramus was in the next system and only then did he realise why Dacastus was so desperate to be rid of her. She immediately caused immense amounts of havoc on the ship, before being returned to her cell.
Despite difficulties in handling her, Taramanus got her to her first booked match, a fight in a small arena on some backwater world. She quickly proved skilled, toppling the local champion with contemptuous ease and then aggravating the crowd. Taramanus grabbed his earnings and fled with her. Her first arena fight, with the baying of the crowd, and the rush of the adrenaline made her feel alive, more alive than she had in a long time. Taramanus booked her into a number of fights on several different worlds, with Ryuko winning each and every one.
Stint on the Bloodied Profits
Taramanus would bring her as a special exhibition to the Bloodied Profit, a mining vessel that had been heavily modified into a pirate warship and mobile arena. She'd fight a number of rounds in the blood soaked arena here. Still a rookie, she won most of them in close scrapes. Watching from the side lines was the veteran gladiator Tal 'Zerex. Impressed with the attitude of the young gladiator, he wasn't quite as impressed with her skills, but his curiosity was piqued when she insulted the crowd in Sangheili. When she was taken down to the slave pits, Tal sought her out and introduced himself, then derided her fighting skill. At first offended, she tried to brush him off, but Tal would persist. Having heard Tal's name since she was placed into gladiator school, she knew he was famous, skilled and well known, and finally decided she could learn plenty from him, so she accepted and he took her under his wing. In the few weeks of fighting on the Bloodied Profit, Tal imparted his experience to her, sharpening her skills and improving her fighting style. Ryuko was thankful and became good friends with Tal, referring to him by the Sangheili honorific 'Ser Tal', though she mostly used this to tease him since he had left behind most of Sangheili society and culture. However, Ryuko came to suspect he suffered from some form of drug addiction, drawing on his sometimes unusual behaviour and actions, an addiction she never wanted to share. Eventually, their time together on the Bloodied Profit came to an end, as Taramanus ventured to other arenas. Ryuko wouldn't see Tal again for years.
Impressed by her martial skill, and her ability to play an arena crowd, Taramanus began to become confident with his latest purchase. Confident he'd asserted his control over her, he took her to a high profile event hosted after an arena match, with the intention of showing her off. She proceeded to pick a fight with a gladiator and dishonoured him by beating this gladiator in public. Ashamed, Taramanus left the planet in a hurry. At the next world, he sold her on having no intention of trying to control this beast.
Trak F'Kor, the Second Master
Sold on quickly by Taramanus on his next stop, bordering Kig-Yar space. Sold to the privateer Trak F'Kor, he'd seen two of her previous fights, and was convinced she was a winner. Trak F'Kor had little previous experience in owning a gladiator, but was an avid fan of the sport and was convinced he could turn her around.
Knowing her to be near uncontrollable, instead of attempting to subjugate her, he instead gave her more freedoms, and promised more if she performed well. A simple premise, but it gave Ryuko a faint glimmer of hope. She fought and trained harder than ever, and battled in a number of local circuits. Steadily earning fame, she became famous enough to enter a major league in inner Kig-Yar space. Her efforts had reaped their rewards. She no longer wore a collar, she wore normal clothing and had free run of the ship.
First League Battle
Trak Became invented in her as not only a strong gladiator, but a winning gladiator. To this end, he placed her into a league battle. Coming into her first league match, she beat her opponent senseless and dazzled the crowd with her skills and fighting style. Climbing the ranks of the league, her successes began to threaten members of the Karokordo Trader Cartel, who ran a strict control of the league, by fixing results to maximise their profits.
Approaching Trak and asking him to throw their next match, Trak, intimidated by attracting the attention of the Cartel, agreed, and reluctantly, Ryuko agreed to this too. However, the cartel intended to see Ryuko 'accidentally' killed in the ring, and in the brutal match that followed, she fought to the death against a berserker opponent, eventually killing him with a sword flourish. Trak, knowing the Cartel would come for him, left before the match even ended, and was in the next star system when Ryuko landed her killing blow. Realising the kindest master she had, had abandoned her, she resigned herself to what fate had in store, as members of the Cartel claimed her as their own. Once against stripped of her belongings, she was again fixed with a slave collar.
The Third Master, Kar'tra
Sold On, Again
Taken by members of the Cartel, she was passed to one of their affiliates, a gladiator owner named Kar'tra. A strict and violent master, Ryuko lacked the energy to resist. Having just been abandoned by Trak, she lost her will to fight. In her training matches she barely fought back and her will to resist her captor was non-existent.
Kar'tra, almost disappointed after hearing about how wilful and disobedient, was prepared to retire her and just sell her on as a slave, when one of his superiors in the cartel insisted on having her as part of a large gladiatorial games hosted on Eayn. Kar'tra re-instilled her fighting spirit by having several other gladiators beat her, while he stood at the side lines, accusing her of weakness and cowardice. She lacked the spirit of a warrior, and one simple betrayal broke her when any other would of lived. Finally, he insulted the 'Vadams for being too weak to protect her and her father. Its then she snapped. She immediately fought back, disarming the slaves beating her, and hospitalising them both. Entering training harder than ever, her determination to show her strength to Kar'tra, and escape this hell, was greater than ever.
Journeying to Eayn, Ryuko was to take part in the Tarmaessenia games. Literally taking over one of the largest cities on Eayn, Kig-Yar athletes from across the planet, and the colonies, came to compete in traditional Kig-Yar sports, while gladiators would fight in huge spectacles in the arenas. Over the four week event she was booked to fight eleven times in different events. The events were as follows
- Duel: The first duel on her schedule, she fought a Kig-Yar gladiator to a stand still.
- Beast Fight: Watching people battle exotic beasts had always been a popular event, and for this fight Ryuko fought three predatory hounds from Erebus VII. Massive, feral alpha predators, these creatures were starved to increase their blood lust and set loose on Ryuko. She Butchered her way through the fight with ease but lamented having to kill otherwise innocent creatures simply trying to eat.
- Group Fight: A six v six match, Ryuko, and other Gladiators belonging to the Cartel, fought Gladiators belonging to another coalition of traders. A resounding defeat, her inability and unwillingness to fight as a team resulted in her battling three opponents at the end of the match, and was eventually defeated.
- Duel: Her second duel of the event, it took place close to the start of the second week. To a baying crowd, she took on a famed Kig-Yar gladiatrix, and won narrowly, suffering a deep wound to her arm. Her victory cemented her notoriety in the arena.
- Tag team: Paired with a gladiator from the cartel's own stock, she won by single handedly rushing in and downing both opponents in short order.
- Beast Fight: The second battle against a monster pitched four gladiators from the cartel against a single Tarexxian Goliath. A huge monster, possessed of slab like natural armour and muscles strong enough to crush a car, Ryuko and the team of four evaded its lumbering claws to try and chip away at its legs, when Ryuko elected to climb its back and plunged her sword between his shoulder blades, mortally wounding it.
- Group Fight: The second group fight pitched the group of 6 cartel gladiators against another team of gladiators from a separate conglomerate. This fight fared better, with Ryuko eliminating three enemies herself.
- Tag team: Her second tag team matched fared poorly compared to the first. Her opponents utilised a net and a long hook to pin her down and disarm her while her partner, previously upstaged by her actions, refused to help, instead taking both opponents down himself while she was pinned.
- Duel: Her last standard duel in the arena pitted her against Sen'k, a Kig-Yar mercenary turned gladiator. He opponent was an equal in speed, skill and strength, but beat her in experience. The bout ran for nearly thirty minutes before both wounded each other and forfeited in exhaustion. Sen'K would earn her respect that day, and they'd encounter each other in the arena over the next few years.
- Historical Re-enactment: A common feature at these games, and one of the later attractions, the arena was rearranged to host a re-enactment of a battle from the history of Eayn. This particular war was Fool's Landing, an attack by the forces of pirate prince Dak Tr'aas against the free traders of Tammak. The various participating gladiators were re-equipped to represent the poorly armed defenders of Fool's Landing, while the forces of the Kig-Yar military, dressed in historical heavy armour, played the forces of Dak Tr'aas. To accommodate the battle, the arena was flooded, and a fake island constructed. The pirate ships landed on the fortified island, and Ryuko, with many other gladiators, fought the military forces attempting to take the island. Ryuko herself held one of the bastions, the five major towers along the fortified harbour wall, keeping back a dozen or so warriors before eventually being overwhelmed. True to history, and in equal parts and effort to keep the gladiators in their place, the military won the battle. In line with historical event, the gladiators were stripped of their armour and clothes, chained together and marched around the arena, to the amusement of the jeering crowd. Ryuko had fought like a wildcat when they tried to chain her up, resulting in a number of scratches and bruises on top of her previous injuries.
- Exhibition Duel: The final day of the games featured no athletic events outside of gladiatorial matches. Ryuko's skill, ferocity and presence in the arena, as well as her rarity as a female human saw her called her up for an Exhibition Duel. Facing off against a slightly older female gladiator, known only as Sabine. For all her wits, ferocity and raw talent, she couldn't beat Sabine. A sword wielder, like herself, Sabine was stoic, fast and precise, parrying and returning every blow in short order. Worn down by Sabine's strikes, she was eventually downed with a brutal blow to her gut, and left collapsed on the arena floor. Sabine had no care for a victory celebration, and dismissed her fallen enemy, then left her.
The four week celebration coming to an end, almost four weeks of constant fighting left its toll on the exhausted Ryuko, who bore fresh scars from the battles, and humiliation left by the mysterious Sabine. Given time to recuperate, this humiliation would fester. This would come to a head at their next battle.
Hero of the Arena
Kar'tra knew the power of marketing, so following her success and the fame earned at the Tarmaessenia games, her 'rebranded' her as the 'Princess of the Sands'. Fitted in new, finely wrought, and revealing armour, meant to evoke a feeling of royalty, and armed with a fine blade, she toured the arena circuits on Eayn and the other colonies in the star system, earning quite a following. This was followed by numerous league battles, most of which she stormed through.
She became something of a celebrity of Eayn, with the Cartel's significant might being thrown being a publicity campaign behind her, marketing her as a sponsor of products, as a celebrity at important events (Alongside her master and handlers of course) and even interviews on media outlets, many of them doctored and controlled by her handlers. Ryuko herself was disgruntled with this. She didn't want fame or fans, she just wanted to escape the pits. However, the fighting continued to keep her adrenaline flowing and keeping her somewhat content.
Her matches became spectacles, attended by tens of thousands, and her victories immortalised in legend. Just following her win in the Lameria League, Kar'tra was approached by a mysterious Kig-Yar trader brokering for a third party, offering to purchase Ryuko for a substantial sum, however Kar'tra simply laughed it off. She made Kar'tra extraordinarily rich and influential. However, it would not last.
Rumours persisted the woman that defeated her at the games, Sabine, had come back to Eayn. Returning to Doisac which was her regular haunt, her master brought her to Eayn to fight in their arenas. Since the games, Ryuko had grown stronger and more skilled, and believed she could beat Sabine. Finally, they encountered each other in the final of the Blood Storm League. Ryuko, as brash as ever, taunted her opponent.
- Ryuko: "Gladiators like you make me sick. No passion, no flair, not even a smile in combat. I'm going to beat that face right!"
- Sabine: "Such idle threats do not concern me. You lack the skill to defeat me."
- ―Ryuko and Sabine have their rematch
The fiery and volatile Ryuko went against the stoic and precise Sabine in a battle that would go down in legend. In a battle nearly an hour, both lashed at each other, their skill near equally matched. However, Ryuko began to tire, and Sabine gained the edge, and in a few quick blows, the match was over, in a massive upset. Ryuko, the favourite, was toppled, and left defeated, the crowd booing and heckling her. Bellowing at Sabine, she simply dismissed the defeated gladiator and walked out of the ring.
Ryuko's fortunes reversed dramatically, and as Sabine rose in fame, her own dwindled. He confidence shot, she lost otherwise easy matches, and dwindled to near obscurity. Kar'tra lost signifiant amount of money on her and it looked as though he would not be able to recuperate any of it. That's when the the mysterious broker approached Kar'tra, and offered to buy her for only a portion of the original price. Kar'tra cut his losses and sold her on.
Unknown to Ryuko though, as she was sold away, a vassal of Vadam Keep, Tarq 'Gorram arrived on Eayn, searching for her. Tarq had been assigned to investigation the ambush on Lak 'Vadams delegation six years earlier, and was no closer to solving the mystery, when the daughter of two Serfs present in the delegation appeared on the news networks. Intent on rescuing her from her slavery and bringing her back to her home. Unfortunately, by the time he got to Eayn and discovered her trail, she had been sold on to the broker. Tarq elected to interrogate Kar'tra for information, and when he yielded nothing of use, Tarq executed him and attempted to follow. He wouldn't pick her trail up for another year.
The Fourth Master, Princess Faz'Xazal
Journey Into the Hive
Sold to this mysterious broker, she was taken onto his ship in her slave attire and collar, then taken into deep space to a rendezvous. It was then she got a chance to see her buyer. She was escorted to the docking ring and had a clear view of the ones who purchased her. An unusual ship pulled up alongside them, a deep green in colour with an unusual vertical-style layout and numerous spines. When the ships docked with one another, Yanme'e warriors and drones left the airlock. Handing Ryuko's chain to them, the broker was given a substantial amount of money, and she was pulled, with much difficulty, across the threshold and onto their ship. She'd heard rumours in the pits about how the Yanme'e treated their slaves, and she certainly did not want to be a part of it.
Once aboard the ship, she was pulled in front of a larger Yanme'e and put on her knees. He revealed himself to be Prince Phazixal, the mate of Princess Faz'Xazal. Princess Faz'Xazal was quite a fan of the games, and had journeyed to Eayn, at great expense, several times to watch them, and became particularly drawn to Ryuko. She wanted to bring Gladiator combat to the Yanme'e hives, and wanted Ryuko, along with a few other gladiators, to head up this effort. Ryuko wasn't in a position to decline this offer.
In Service to the Hive
Slavery under the yoke of the Yanme'e was different to any other she bore before this. While not collared, each and every slave, Ryuko included, were stripped of any and all clothes and marked with a pheromone scent to show them as belonging to the hive. Taken back to their hive, she was formally introduced to the princess, though their translator declined to include the numerous curses and threats Ryuko uttered.
The Princess had brought in a gladiator trainer, Reikus. A miserable old wretch, he was a drunkard and a lout, but had a long history of training good gladiators, and his services came cheap. Along with that, she bought seven other gladiators, including Ryuko's friend Sen'K. Under Reikus, the eight gladiators began to train in the sweltering heat of the hive, and fight for the entertainment of the hive in the arena built outside. Ryuko however, had lost much of her confidence and fighting spirit after losing to Sabine for a second time. Sen'K attempted to inspire her. Her strength had inspired him to fight harder in the arena, which allowed him to survive several dangerous bouts after the games. Ryuko's damaged confidence was healed, at least a little bit. Back in the arena, she was back on form.
The Princess, pleased with their performance, asked her subordinates to begin touring them on local circuits. Having been gone from the Eayn circuit for three months, her return brought some attention, but her mysterious disappearance after every match left many confused.
Princess Faz'Xazal was extraordinarily pleased with her gladiators, having every match recorded for her entertainment, and even took to having Ryuko kept in her throne room like a pet. Ryuko encountered a second wind to her career, finally coming to terms with her defeat and beginning to enjoy battle once again. However, the Princess had other plans for her. Taken to a chamber deep in the hive by two drones, she wasn't familiar with this area, and didn't understand what happening until the two drones pinned her down, and a male human was brought into the small chamber. Only then did she understand, the princess wished to have Ryuko birth more gladiators for generations to come. At this point, Ryuko had had enough. Summoning all of her strength and rage, she threw off both drones. Grabbing the closest one, she slammed it into the ground and began punching it repeatedly in the head, eventually caving its skull in. As the second recovered, it tried to lunge at her, but she tore one of the barbed limbs of the downed drone off and impaled the second drone in it's fleshy and exposed neck, killing it outright. The third, releasing its slave, flew to her, trying to to subdue her, but she caught its tackle and hurled it against a wall. Planting a knee on its back, she pulled its head back, snapping its head lose and killing it. Attempting to escape, she was swarmed by responding drones and subdued. It was then the princess realised her prized pet was dangerous, violent and uncontrollable, a trait she believed would be passed on to any off spring she bore.
The Princess decided her gladiator was no longer of use. She'd established her own gladiator team, and Ryuko was no longer needed, and too difficult to control. She was scrubbed of her pheromone scent and sold to a passing trader. The passing trader intended to sell her off on his next stop, but he never made it. His ship was attacked by the pirate Char Murv.
The Fifth Master, Char Murv
In the Grip of Pirates
The ship of the slave trader carrying her came under attack from Kig-Yar pirate, Char Murv. An action of swift violence, the ship's engines were knocked out early into the fight, and boarding pods bore through the hull, disgorge squads of pirates. During the chaos, Ryuko languished in her cell, unconcerned by the chaos around her. Eventually, the pirates seized control and took inventory of their loot. At least fifty slaves, and plenty of materiel. As Shipmistress Char Murv personally looked over their loot, she recognised Ryuko from her days as champion on Eayn. Curious as to where the gladiator had been for the better part of 6 months, she personally interrogated her and then had her, and the other slaves taken over to their vessel, and left the slaver vessel floating in space.
Once at their next port, Char Murv immediately took Ryuko to fight in an arena. By this point, Ryuko simply stopped caring about who owned her, since she'd changed masters that many times in a span of several years and instead just fought for her own entertainment. Char Murv sensed she was on to a winner here, and travelled into Jiralhanae territory to bring her from fight to fight, while eking out a life as a pirate and brigand, targeting merchants and traders.
Once again fighting in populated arenas, Ryuko felt a little more at ease, but wondered how Sen'K and the other gladiators owned by the hive got on. Despite several victories in the arena, Char was not especially experienced in owning a gladiator, and lacked the know how and connections to market Ryuko, as such she usually languished in the lower leagues, with few promotions. Char did attempt to promote her based on her gender, as few had seen a human female in the arena ring, but these promotions usually fell flat.
Partnership Cut Short
Ryuko settled into a rather relaxed lifestyle, fighting easy battles and trashing opponents in lower league matches. However, their partnership was cut short when Char lead her pirates against the wrong ship. They raided an isolated merchant ship, that was quickly reinforced by a pair of battlecruisers. Knowing she'd attacked the wrong foe, she attempted to escape, but the ship suffered a critical hit, destroying the coolant system and forcing her to eject the fuel cells. Boarded by these cruisers, she released her slaves and told them simply they'd be slaves of another, crueller master if they did not. A few among them chose to fight, Ryuko among them. As the Jiralhanae boarded their ship, the pirates and their slaves fought like lions. Char was killed holding the breach closest to the bridge, felling the first six to enter the breach before a spike grenade was thrown in, killing most of her defenders and crippling her, allowing a captain to execute her. Ryuko fought in the cargo bay, cutting down at least six Jiralhanae that attempted to pacify the rebel slaves, before a chieftain entered the fray and slammed his gravity hammer within six feet of her, throwing her against a cargo crate and knocking her out.
When she came around she had been stripped of her clothes, armour and weapons and was now in a crowded cell in the brig of one of the battle cruisers, alongside many of Char's former crew and slaves. Taken deeper into Jiralhanae territory, they were sold as slaves. Knowing how well she'd fought in the defence of the ship, she was sold as a gladiator. Purchased in a bidding war, her next owner was Calistus.
The Sixth Master, Calistus
Servitude To Calistus
Calistus was all round a very unpleasant creature. He possessed little to no care for sentient life, viewing every slave as property, not people and was generally unpleasant to look upon, being unhygienic and corpulent. In Ryuko, he saw a significant pay cheque, being experienced with marketing and promoting gladiators. He initially began touring her on a number of circuits before ramping it up, taking her to leagues in the inner Jiralhanae territories.
She grew in fame, with Calistus marketing her as the "Witch-Warrior of Sanghelios", a gladiator the crowd loved to hate. Her brash nature and habit of running her mouth certainly saw that image cemented. Calistus reinforced this by equipping her in a parody of Sangheili armour, to the entertainment and jeers of the crowds. This didn't hamper her ability to pound her opponent into the ground though.
She competed in a number of leagues and special exhibitions, and began to make Calistus a substantial amount of wealth. Toured like a prize pet, Calistus kept her by his side when he rubbed elbows with the rich and powerful, even the High Chieftains of Doisac. As she rose in fame on Doisac, her nemesis returned from her stint as Eayn champion. The unusual gladiator, Sabine, originally made her name on Doisac, and returned to her original stomping ground, and to crowds of adoring fans. Ryuko began training harder than ever before, determined to defeat her opponent. Calistus saw money to be made in this fight, even if his gladiator lost, and used his political leverage to make sure both entered the notoriously difficult Bloodborne Tournament. Predictably, both rose to the top of their group, and fought in the final. Part of the spectacle was that the arena was as much opponent as the gladiators, and they fought surrounded by pitfalls and booby traps. The battle was long and hard fought, with both possessing a determination to win and incredibly fighting ability. Wearing one another down, it looked like Sabine's superior stamina would win over Ryuko's energetic fighting style, Ryuko got a second wind, and charging her foe, she manage to knock her sword from her hand and force her to a surrender. Finally stood over the foe that had shaken her confidence so much, she just laughed and left the arena. Sabine's confidence, meanwhile, had taken a blow, seeing her opponent increase in skill and capability in so short a time.
Partnership with Sen'K
Ryuko was stronger and faster than ever, and her skill in the arena made Calistus disgustingly rich, which matched his vile appearance. Calistus expanded his gladiator stable, buying several more, including Sen'K, who, like Ryuko, proved too difficult to for the Hive to control and sold on. Noticing their bond, Calistus manipulated this, and attempted to but them in team championships. Initially unsuccessful, as Ryuko was far from a team player, they eventually turned a string of defeats and narrow victories into a successful string of battles, as both settled into the fighting style of one another, and Ryuko learned to trust some one, at long last. Sen'K himself was a skilled Gladiator, and very open and honest with Ryuko, as one of the few he trusted down in the pit. Calistus entered them into the notoriously violent Karrabas Duelling Games. Sen'K and Ryuko ploughed through their foes, Ryuko's energetic nature and volatile personality matched with Sen'K's more level headed approach.
Reaching the semi-final, they went up against a pair of human gladiators, both with berserker implants, causing them to fight with a maddening fury. They had both fought opponents like this before, but never two so strong and so skilled, and they quickly began to wear the two of them down. Ryuko, thinking she gained the upper hand, attempted a feint against one of her foes, but he saw through her deception and hit her with his club, breaking her sword arm and knocking her to the ground. Stunned, on her knees and defenceless, Sen'K leapt to her defence and landed a kick on her foe, knocking him off balance. However, the second fighter, seeing her weakness, lunged at her with his sword. Sen'K leapt back to attempt to stop him, but was pierced by his blade, his heart struck. A mortal wound, he fell to the ground, leaving both gladiators to finish her, until the intervention of the Enforcer, the referee, prevented them. Her best friend dying her in her arms, she refused to let it end like this and lunged at his killer when his back was turned, the blade piercing the back of his skull and skewering his head from one side to the other. His team mate, enraged, swung his club, hitting her once in the ribs, breaking most of those, then a second time, breaking her leg, before the enforcer stepped in to prevent any further bloodshed. The match was over. Sen'K was dead, and Ryuko was so badly beaten she couldn't even stand.
Taken to a chirugeon at the gladiator arena, she was painfully patched back together. However, she would need further surgery and time to recuperate. With her radius and ulna shattered, her femur fractured, three ribs broken, four more cracked, she wouldn't be able to fight for some time. Undergoing several surgeries, her bones were pinned back together with titanium bolts, and placed in casts. Despite the severe pain she suffered, Ryuko didn't care. Her closest friend died on the sands of the arena defending her. She blamed herself for his death, and was in such a sorry state she wasn't of use to anyone, especially Calistus. While she was out with injury, she was costing him a significant amount of money. To top that off, Ryuko had fallen into a deep depression, and refused treatment, pain medication and physiotherapy.
Addiction to Blood Salts
Calistus waited and waited, and even after the casts came off, she was a pathetic and useless thing, with no will to battle. Calistus grew sick of her half-hearted attempts, and booked her into an arena battle. In order to coax a battle out of her, her spiked her pre-match drink with blood salts. Blood salts are a common recreational drug on Doisac, refined from the adrenaline gland of one of the more predatory creatures on the world. When used by Jiralhanae, it delivers euphoria and increased pain tolerance, making it popular before battle, but in life not native to Doisac, the drug causes violent and extremely psychotic behaviour, while leaving the user very open to suggestion. The result was spectacular. Ryuko beat her opponent into a bloody pulp and continued to attack the man long after he died. The crowd loved her unbridled thirst for blood, and Calistus' coffers quickly filled. Ryuko would pass out and come around an hour later with no knowledge of the fight and a severe headache.
Calistus would begin using the drug with increasing regularity, and Ryuko would become an unstoppable berserker in the arena. As her tolerance for it grew, she began to remember the fevered, bloody bouts, and began to quickly grow addicted to the drug. The toll on her body was extreme, and after each fight she became worn out, her body going to extremes during the bouts, and she suffered more injuries than usual. As her dependency on the drug grew, and she began willingly asking for it, and soon she was consumed in the addiction, near constantly in a frenzied state. She was unapproachable by almost everybody, except for Calistus, who conditioned her to become obedient to him, even during her psychotic rages.
Skull Taker Tournament
Impressed with her new found obedience and rage, Calistus risked her in the Skull Taker Tournament. The ultimate gamble, the ownership of the gladiator is on the line as the owner of the winning gladiator takes ownership of the losing gladiator. However, with Ryuko following his every command, and near immune to pain, he risked it. His gamble paid off, and she snagged him three gladiators on the first day alone, four more on the next.
However, Calistus had a target in mind. Tarkudus, owned of Sabine, had entered his prize gladiator into the tournament under similar pretences, and planned to take Ryuko from her owner. Both slave owners planned to strengthen their own gladiator roster with the inclusion of the other. Calistus kept the Blood Salts as his trump card however.
When the fight came about it was short and brutal. With not care for her own safety, Ryuko lunged in, suffering a grievous wound in the process. However, with the distance closed, she quickly disarmed Sabine and dislocated her jaw by punching her in the face with the duster on her sword. Readying a follow up blow which would of killed her, Calistus ordered her to halt.
When the dust settled, Sabine's deed of ownership passed to Calistus, who now owned two of the greatest gladiators in their class.
The Midnight Rescue
Sabine's first days in Calistus' roster were unusual for her. An ace gladiator, she possessed some luxuries under Tarkudus, but under Calistus she slept in the same prison like structure as the rest, and was drilled in training with the rest. Its at this point she came to realise Ryuko was addicted to Blood Salts, and her psychotic behaviour came as a result of that powerful drug. Sabine attempted to talk her down, and for her trouble took Ryuko's mean right hook. Sabine's respect for her opponent wouldn't allow her to leave her to her fate, though, and she tried several times to convince her to go cold turkey.
Unknown to all involved, the vassal of Vadam Keep, Tarq 'Gorram, had made his way to Doisac in secret, using local contacts to get him onto the world undetected. Making his way to Calistus' compound in secret, he neutralized several of his sentries and made it to the edge of the training yard as Ryuko and Sabine practised. Calistus watched from close by, admiring the work of his prize gladiator as she she went through blood salt psychosis. It was at this moment Tarq broke from his hiding place and killed Calistus' two closest guards with pinpoint accurate fire from his carbine, and confronted Ryuko. He told her who he was, and why he was here. He would bring her home, to Vadam Keep, to safety. Calistus had evaded death as Tarq viewed him as harmless, and Tarq would pay for this mistake. Calistus ordered Ryuko to kill him, and she did so, without hesitation, stabbing him with her sword and cutting him from neck to navel. In his death throes, he dropped a data pad, which Sabine quietly took into her possession, nobody noticing her sleight of hand.
Ryuko would awake the next day in the throes of blood salt withdrawal. As she prepared her next hit, Sabine approached her and told her the events of the previous night. The memories returning to her in a flood of violent flashbacks, she screamed in horror. She killed her only means of escaping this world on Calistus word.
After coming to terms with what she did, she realised the cost of using the blood salts, and swore off them, going cold turkey. Blood Salts are especially addictive, and quitting wasn't easy, especially abruptly.
She could barely eat, and spent most nights trapped between constant pain, hunger and feeling freezing cold. Through the whole affair, Sabine looked after her, and Ryuko couldn't understand why Sabine was helping her, but at this point didn't much care. Calistus attempted to get her hooked back onto the drug, but she refused to eat or drink anything she feared was spiked. Rather than risk starving his best gladiator, he reluctantly allowed her to beat her addiction. Three months later, most of the ill effects of the drug and the withdrawal had left her system. It was at this point Sabine showed her what she had taken the night she killed Tarq.
She showed Ryuko the datapad, which contained information on the mysterious group that had killed her father and sold her into slavery. What little they had found was that they were a professional group, comprised of a number of different races. There were a few interesting details on the datapad however, such as the fact a number of bodies are unaccounted for, including her father, and four other members of the delegation, correlations in activities of this group, fragmentary information on their armament and equipment, and a sigil, apparently used by them. The sigil was a beast from Sangheili folklore, the Izebian, a monster reputed to have the ability to mask its appearance, like modern active camouflage. This information would prove useful in later.
Cost of Avarice
Having both Ryuko and Sabine on his roster made Calistus richer and richer still. However, his greed began to blind him. He was invited to bring his gladiators to a special tournament held in the frontier territories, with a high reward on offer. Calistus couldn't resist, and took all his gladiators there immediately. However, little did Calistus suspect it was a trap. His party reached the terminal point of their journey and landed on the world, only to find themselves surrounded by mercenaries. His slaves stood back and watched calmly as Calistus's guards came under a withering hail of fire. As he tried to creep back to the shuttle, the corpulent beast crawling along the floor. Before he could reach the ramp, Ryuko blocked his path. Taking the bayonet from one of his downed guards, she jabbed the blade into his throat again and again, sending arcs of blood splattering across her. He died slowly and painfully, and Ryuko watched the whole affair. Eventually his few surviving guards made it back to the shuttle and tried to escape, only to be shot down in a ball of fire. The gladiators were left on the ground, their master dead, and now lost, until they were claimed by the one who orchestrated this attack.
The Seventh Master, Themissiax
As the smoke cleared, and the mercenaries calm in to subdue the slaves, the orchestrator of this attack revealed himself. He was Themissiax, a powerful Chieftain on Doisac, with significant political and military power. While he wouldn't say why he killed Calistus, he announced all the gladiators were now his property. Nobody really wanted to argue with the chieftain and his small army of mercenaries.
Taken back to Doisac in chains, many of the gladiators, Ryuko's former friends, were sold on, apart from Ryuko, Sabine and a handful of others. Themissiax would keep them for his own ends, planning to use them as his own gladiators in the arena. A strict disciplinarian, their training was closer to the regimented training of soldiers, and more than once they were punished for mistakes.
During this time, Ryuko learned more of Sabine's past. Taken as a child from a human colony in the process of being glassed, she, and a dozen other children, were kept as sport, told to fight one another to the death. Sabine came out on top in the end, and when the war ended, and the Covenant fractured, she ended up as a gladiator slave on Doisac, where she's spent most of her life, hence her skill and familiarity with the arena. Ryuko shared her past with Sabine in turn, and both turned into close friends, even becoming a lethal duo in the arena. Ryuko laughed for the first time since her previous partner, Sen'K died, and eased back into their torturous lifestyle.
A few weeks into her tenure at Themissiax's manor, a friend of Themissiax, another gladiator owner, turned up with his human gladiator, a brute of a man. After some talks, and tours of his gladiators, Ryuko was chosen for an unknown purpose, Themissiax's guards dragging her away. She was stripped of her harness and taken down to a cell in the manor and chained to the wall. Expecting some kind of punishment, when the gladiator belonging to the visitor was ushered into the cell. Then she understand what was to occur, after all, the Yanme'e had tried to do the same to her once before. Themssiax and his friend chuckled to each other then left to dinner, leaving their slaves with one another. When they returned in an hour, they found an unexpected scene. During the attempt at forced intercourse, Ryuko caught him between her thighs and crushed his skull, killing him. Ryuko just smiled as Themissiax unbolted the cell door. The punishment was severe, and she was flogged badly by her fellow gladiators then thrown into the isolation cell for a week on minimum rations.
A few weeks later, during an annual transport between fights, something unusual happened. One of her chains had been improperly locked. Slipping her hand loose, she managed to remove her other manacle and her collar. As the transport passed the starport, she made her escape. She regretted having to leave behind her comrades, but this may be her one chance to escape. Creeping through the star port, chance was on her side. A ship of human make was docked, with only a few odd members of the crew dotted around. Taking her chance, she stowed away. However, the ship didn't take off, and she began to grow impatient, knowing it would only be a short period of time until Themissiax found her. As she say in the cargo bay, she heard the crew talk with one another. One of their number, 'Zoey' and been taken prisoner and was somewhere on Doisac.
Her time ran out, and hunting hounds caught her scent. Warriors surrounded the bewildered crew, asking them to hand the fugitive over. Initially confused, Ryuko stepped out of the cargo bay, surrendering them. Taken back in chains, she glanced back at the crew, not knowing then the enormous coincidence that was about to occur.
Taken back to Themissiax's manor and punished with an isolation cell, when she emerged the gladiator's ranks had swelled with a new member. A young woman, only a year or two older than Ryuko herself had recently been brought in. Fiery and resistant to the slave masters, and cynical and bitter with the other gladiators, Ryuko initially found her to be a stuck up bitch, but when both simultaneously went to rescue a single gladiator being beaten by two others, they began to talk. Finding they had things in common, when Ryuko learned her name was Zoey Hunsinger, she put two and two together and inquired how she'd gotten herself into this dank pit.
Zoey and her partner were the hired help on a cargo ship, the Chancer V, when it ran foul of well armed pirates. Rather than dump their precious cargo, they would eject the empty boxes, fitted with beacons to emulate their cargo (Which although Zoey wouldn't divulge, Ryuko had guessed the cargo was probably less than legal and very dangerous). Donning suits hardened against the vacuum, they threw the boxes out of the cargo bay, but something went wrong, and one of the tapes used to secure the cargo to the deck snagged her foot, dragging her with the cargo box out of the airlock. As the pirates took their empty cargo boxes, they found the human stuck to it, and decided they'd recoup their losses by selling her on as a slave. Thus she ended up on Doisac. Ryuko gave her a glimmer of hope in return for the story. She told her of the ship she stowed away on, and the crew she'd seen. It was indeed her crew.
The next day Ryuko got a chance to see her fight in a sparring match. Zoey was certainly trained, and knew her stuff, but she wasn't gladiator material, not yet. Taking her aside, Ryuko told her that her fighting style was sloppy, and relied too much on conventional methods, if she wanted to survive, she'd need to conform, and Zoey refused. Ryuko responded with a swift knee to her gut, followed by a mean right hook. Beating her to the floor, then beating her further for good measure, she told Zoey how it would be, bluntly.
- "If, IF, your friends get you out, it won't be for a while yet. If you're going to survive down here, you can't just fight like this is a life and death battle. These sick fucks like to be entertained. The sole reason you get to keep breathing down here is simply to entertain them."
- ―Ryuko tells Zoey how it is.
Helping the battered and bruised Zoey back to her feet, then dodging her dazed counter attack, she dragged her back to the barracks to rest. The following day she began privately teaching her how to fight like a gladiator. With Sabine's help, Zoey became quite the force in the arena, with Ryuko calling both of them 'big sis'.
A Plan Is hatched...
Unknown to both, attempts on the outside to rescue Zoey had not gone well. Her boss, Gavin Dunn, initially used the money earned from the smuggling run to buy her back and when that failed, he bet those earnings on her during her first arena fight. This bet caught the attention of Themissiax, who observed the betting of every match closely, so as to best manipulate his profit. Sending his guards to find him, he was escorted to Themissiax's booth so the two could talk. Interested to know if he was a cheater, Themissiax scrutinised him, and asked why he betted on the totally untested rookie. Dunn told him bluntly that it was easy to tell by just by looking at her, that "she's scrappy", What Dunn didn't tell him was that he knew this from personal experience. However, she became a run away victor, and her price increased tenfold over night, making her purchase impossible for the cash strapped crew of the Chancer V. Instead, Dunn began a different approach to rescuing his subordinate. Simon and Tal 'Zerex, now a member of the Chancer crew, began to spread unrest, as nothing covered the sound of gunfire like a war. Tal would begin assassinating important members of the slave trading infrastructure in the city, which began to stir up slaves. Somebody out there was attempting to stop slavers, and a lot of the slaves became hopeful. They laid the seeds of a rebellion.
In order to get the plan to Zoey, he offered good money to Themissiax to spend time with one of his Gladiators, hoping to pick Zoey. Themissiax instead offered him Ryuko, and told him to pay up front. By luck, he realised it was the very slave that tried to sneak onto the Chancer. Ryuko couldn't believe it when she was taken back down to that same cell, this time her hands and feet were chained to prevent her from killing him. When Gavin entered the chamber, she railed against the restraint, threatening to kill him, but relented when she realised it was the captain of the freighter she tried to infiltrate. He told her why he was here, and the jailbreak he'd planned. He asked her to pass the message along to Zoey, and when the day came, he promised he'd get both of them off the planet. Ryuko agreed, but told him it'd be suspicious if Gavin left without a scratch.
- Gavin Dunn: "We could do that. Or you could make pleasurable moaning sounds as I open and close the door."
- Ryuko Kawada: "The point of this is that it's /believable/."
- ―Dunn and Ryuko discuss how to disguise their meeting.
Ryuko suddenly decided to kindly break his nose and one of his fingers, and Dunn left to enact the next portion of the plan.
Discovery of the Demiurge
Despite the looming prospect of freedom, they'd also learned something wasn't quite on the level with Themissiax. Through the day, he'd be visited by other high ranking Jiralhanae, as well as Sangheili and Kig-Yar. This jumped from strange to odd when Ryuko spied a Sangheili entering his property while she was in the training yard. He bore a tattoo on his arm, a tattoo of an Izebian. Knowing this man was in cahoots with whoever was responsible for the attack that ended with her becoming a slave, she sneaked into the house to eavesdrop. There she overheard how Calistus was killed because he became too powerful, and of their plan to slowly seize the government away from the High Chieftains. Lastly she heard their affirmation, The Demiurge Will Rule. At last, her foe had a name. Before she could hear any more, her trainer, having noticed her absence, found her in the house and dragged her back outside to be punished. Locked in the stockade for 48 hours, Sabine crept out to give her water. Confiding in Sabine what she discovered, she vowed that she'd destroy them.
Themissiax realised Ryuko had been overheard, but couldn't simply have her executed, and her death in the arena would give him a financial loss, so he sold her on to Urugram, a collector, of sorts.
In the Claws of the Collector
Without warning, she was grabbed in the middle of training and dragged away from the compound. Her harness was unlocked, she was washed and then fitted with a collar, to be made 'presentable' for her new buyer, Urugram. Urugram was immediately smitten with the purchase and bought her straight away. Distraught by being separated from her friend, she was shipped to the opposite side of the Doisac capital. Dragged into his manor, she was dumped into a large cell, with a sand floor and various pieces of broke masonry. When she collected her bearings and studied her surroundings, she saw many other cells, with individuals in them of numerous races, in various environments. At this point, she realised she was part of some kind of exhibit. Crowds wondered between the exhibits, looking at their living inhabitants, Ryuko especially garnering substantial interest as one of the most well known gladiators. Ryuko, embarrassed by her lack of clothing and the interest heaped upon her, hid away as best she could. During one crowd, it became too much, and she tried to throw one of the broken pieces of masonry at them, and to her surprise, it shattered the glass. They hadn't thought to reinforce it to try and stop exactly this happening. Briefly escaping, she didn't get far before Urugram's guards caught her.
Realising she was far too difficult to control, he took her through his second, much more macabre, exhibit. It consisted of the stuffed bodies of dead gladiators, slaves and fallen enemies, of which bore some interest. He then bluntly told her she'd be joining this exhibit. She hauled to the taxidermists room, fighting like a wildcat the whole time, before being strapped down to the table. Left in the room with just the taxidermist, he casually talked her through how he was going to kill her, then prepare her body for display. Looking away from her and to his tools, he began to prepare. Using this opportunity, Ryuko squirmed free of her restraints and took up one of his meat cleavers. Gently padding on the tiled floor, by the time he realised she was free, she swung the blade at him, decapitating him in a single blow.
Sneaking out of the blood soaked taxidermy room, she crept through Urugram's menagerie, before coming upon his sleeping quarters. She cut him to ribbons while he slept, then crept outside, and escaped his compound.
Slave on the Run
Ryuko was now on the run. She was a single human slave in the Jiralhanae capital, and if she hoped to reach Themissiax's home, she'd need to cross the entire city on her home. Naked, and armed only with a meat cleaver, local law enforcement were quickly alerted to the runaway slave with murderous tendencies, and a bounty was placed on her head. Using her wits, cunning and occasionally a heft swing of her meat cleaver, she managed to cross the city in three days, keeping to back alleys and abandoned structures.
By the third day, she'd resorted to living off scraps, and as a temporary measure wrapped some discarded cloth around herself as a cloak to stave off the cold of the night time and cover herself. She'd also killed nearly half a dozen individuals who blocked her way, or came too close to discovering her. Her meat cleaver was beginning to dull and was coated in dried blood by the time she reached Themissiax's home.
Clambering up the west guard tower, she killed the sentry before he could raise the alarm. Taking his knife alongside her cleaver, she got to the gladiator compound and killed the two guards watching each side of it, and then a third guarding the armoury. Rousing the fifteen gladiators in the pens, including Sabine, she showed them to the armour, and as quietly as they could, they killed the numerous guards in the compound. Eventually, her and several others stormed Themissiax's room, killing his final bodyguard and capturing Themissiax. As the others held him down, Ryuko tortured him for information concerning the Demiurge. He resisted strongly at first, but as Ryuko increasingly threatened his manhood, his will began to break, and he told her what he knew. They were a secret society of influential individuals in the ex-Covenant races, intent on political manoeuvring so they can align the former Covenant races into a single political bloc, against humanity. Pressing for more information, such as numbers or bases, he only gave them the name of his Sangheili contact, Yora 'Vol, who stayed in a nearby hotel. Ryuko thanked him and prepared to kill him, when a team of surviving bodyguards broke into the room. In the ensuing chaos, Themissiax slipped out and his bodyguards were killed. With Themissiax gone, they lead the other gladiators outside. While Ryuko had vengeance on her mind, Sabine had freedom.
Sabine took charge of the situation, and lead them back into the city, to the outskirts of one of the biggest arenas in the city. There were hundreds, if not thousands of gladiators imprisoned in their pens, and if they could free them, they'd have an army at their back. Ryuko reluctantly agreed and they took the arena quickly and quietly, then released the multitudes of gladiators, who had already been whipped up into a frenzy by the recent anti-slaver attacks. At this point, the rebellion went from clandestine murder to full scale riot, as the gladiators went off in all directions, attacking Jiralhanae where ever they found them, setting fire to buildings and freeing more slaves.
Elsewhere, Dunn, Simon and Tal had stirred up trouble, launching clandestine strikes against infrastructure, assassinating influential individuals and generating internal strife, setting various Chieftains up against one another, inciting slaves to revolt, and freeing others. The result was a city consumed in chaos and havoc.
Meanwhile, Ryuko, Zoey and Sabine, along with a dozen others, went to where 'Vol was staying and ambushed him before he could escape. Before they started interrogating him, they discovered he had a ledger, containing vast amounts of internal information on the Demiurge. Ryuko only wanted the name of the people involved on the attack on Lak 'Vadam. 'Vol surrendered the names under duress, and Ryuko finally had her hit list. Now all they needed was freedom. They permanently silenced 'Vol and taking the ledger, they made their way to the starport. The thousands of free gladiators now banded together in storming the port, washing over the defenders. However, as quickly as they arrived, Jiralhanae forces came in an attempt to stop them escaping and retake the space port. They seized a few slipspace capable transports and began getting off the ground. However, Themissiax had rallied a force of soldier loyal to him to take the fight directly to the slaves, pressing on the star port in a directed attack.
Meeting up with the crew of the Chancer V, they fought their way through the starport and closer to freedom. As they fought their way to the ships, Sabine took a spike to the thigh. Now barely able to walk, she just slowed her comrades as their pursuers gained on them. Sabine stood her ground, telling Ryuko to get the others out. Ryuko reluctantly gave in and hugged her one final time, tears in her eyes, then left. Sabine held her ground with a spiker, firing down the corridor, which is the last time Ryuko saw her.
Escaping slaves piled onto the transports, while the Chancer V crew, with Ryuko in tow, as well as a few other slaves, boarded the Chancer V. Themssiax and his forces weren't far behind though, and as the Chancer took off, Themissiax jumped onto the boarding ramp. Telling the others to back up, Ryuko fought him alone in the cargo bay. Swinging his colossal hammer with the intent of crushing her, Ryuko deftly avoided each clumsy attack and picked him apart with every blow, cutting a tendon, wounding a limb, before delivering the final blow, cutting off his right arm. Bloodied, wounded and dying, Ryuko delivered a double kick to his chest, sending him barrelling into the airlock. Dunn sealed it behind him, looked Themissiax once in the eye and cycled the doors.
- "Get off my damn ship."
- ―Gavin Dunn
Blown out of the airlock at 15,000 feet, Themssiax was probably dead before he even hit the ground. The Chancer jumped to slipspace almost immediately, the in-atmosphere jump blinding pursuit vessels.
Ryuko and a handful of others escaped Doisac, and slavery. After their blind jump into deep space, they made a straight shot for the frontier. Once out there, they dispersed, each gladiator getting off at different spots so he can find his family or make a new life.
Once the rest were off, Ryuko asked to be dropped off at a Sangheili outpost, gave her farewells and heartfelt gratitude to the Chanver V's crew, and then hitch-hiking from ship to ship until she reached Sanghelios. Handing herself in, she was initially taken into custody by Republic military officials, she wouldn't yield until she could talk to a Vadam elder. Eventually granted an audience with one, she told him her tale, and showed him the ledger. The Demiruge, who had attempted to manipulate the Republic, were now exposed, and their greatest ally, anonymity, was taken from them, leaving their various members and agents exposed.
Shortly after her exposure of the Demiurge, she received the news that the Gladiator Uprising on Doisac had been crushed. Ryuko's transport was one of the last to make it off the world, and the ships behind her were shot down by encroaching air forces. Mounting a desperate last stand around the starport, the Gladiators fought a pitched battle for hours before ammunition ran dry. Fighting in hand to hand, many were captured and others surrendered. Newscasts from Doisac indicated all those captured were executed publicly, most of them by being forced into a form fitting steel gibbet that prevented all movement, then hung at the side of roads, where they would slowly die from dehydration and exposure, and left to rot, though a few others were executed in more gruesome manners, such as being flayed alive, eaten by animals or cooked in a public place and feasted on. Ryuko knew that even if Sabine had survived the fight, she would of been among those publicly executed, and with a heavy heart, came to terms that her last friend was probably dead, like all of her previous friends in the pit.
Ryuko Kawada, Vadam Housecarl
Warrior of the Vadam
Ryuko was welcomed back to Vadam state as a hero. Numerous citizens lined the streets as this ragged little human girl was welcomed back into the keep she hadn't seen for six years. She was just happy to be home though.
Soon after her return, she was offered the position of Housecarl, a serf position where they acted as the live in bodyguard of a member of the keep. She accepted this, and retrained under the warriors of the keep, becoming adept at the use of firearms and equipment such as point defence shields, explosives and some pieces of electronic gear. She still retained her sword she used as a gladiator, keeping it for more ceremonial uses, although it tasted blood a few times. The warriors of the Keep came to regard her as one of their own, and a lethal opponent not to be underestimated. Her skill would propagate through the state and attract attention. She was taken in as the housecarl of elder Hajal 'Vadam. She would serve him diligently for five months as his live in body guard, accompanying on trips across Sanghelios and beyond, though she loathed leaving the safety of the keep, fearing another attack by the Demiurge.
During her time as Housecarl, she defended her charge several times, a few times from attacks by assassins. She was also part of the force that defended Vadam Keep from an attack by terrorists associated with the Servants of Abiding Truth. During the battle, a force of around three hundred armed militants attacked the Keep, then defended by a hundred and fifty guards, including several housecarls, Keep Militia and several family members who took up arms. Ryuko was on the outer shield wall, defending the lower approach as the armed militants threw themselves against the wall, attempting to bring it down to approach the keep. Though she would not deny or confirm, several of her compatriots on the wall claimed she had a tally of sixteen foes brought down with her carbine from the battlements. When a small force managed to scale the cliffs, Ryuko was part of the responding force, engaging them in hand to hand fighting in the southern warrens. She would receive three commendations for bravery and skill after the battle.
Ultimately though, memories of her six years in captivity would weigh heavily on her, and the things that had happened to her were constantly on her mind. She discovered several of the names on her hit list had evaded authorities and were still on the run. Asking to end her contract, the 'Vadam Keep and the Republic compensated her significantly for services rendered, and using these funds, set herself up as a mercenary.
Ryuko Kawada, Demiurge Hunter
On the trail
Purchasing a sizeable arsenal and a Asura-class Assault Shuttle, she set out searching for the Demiurge agents that had escaped justice. A few weeks into the hunt, she picked up the trail of the first name on her hit list, only to enter a tense stand-off with Kambei 'Nerevar. Kambei was a member of The Crusaders, a military order of knights who seeked to apprehend the most dangerous and violent criminals. He had been tracking members of the Demiurge, having already brought five to justice. As good as Ryuko was, Kambei was a much better hunter than her, and she'd need his help. Backing down, she told him she was a citizen of the Vadam state, and that she hunted the Demiurge to bring them to justice, like she did. His superior tracking skills lead to a team up. She would act as an extra gun for him, and would be allowed to interrogate them before justice was dealt.
They caught the trail of Demiurge agent Faarl 'Damas, one of the squadron leaders from the attack on Lak 'Vadam. Approaching his encampment. Kambei trusted his ally little, so she was initially placed on point, then proceeded to cut down seven of Faarl's mercenaries. Her trust cemented, Kambei helped her fight through to 'Damas. Faarl attempted to commit suicide with his sidearm before they could reach him, but a pinpoint shot by Kambei disarmed him, and they began to their impromptu interrogation. Kambei learned Ryuko's motives when she demanded information on the slaves taken from the attack on Lak 'Vadam's diplomatic party. Faarl took part in the attack, but the one who orchestrated the attack was the one also responsible for selling the slaves on. Kambei told him his sentence, which was death, then gave the honour to Ryuko. A single plasma bolt to the head was sufficient. She tossed his body aside, and asked Kambei where their next target was.
Working with the Crusader
Their team up would prove to be useful to both, as Kambei's small party was in need of another warrior, and Ryuko desperately needed closure on those who destroyed her life. They proceeded to take out another four Demiurge agents, all of whom pointed them to the party leader before they were executed. Kambei would eventually pick up his trail of the agent responsible for the attack, Tarramal 'Korv. They tracked him to his fort out in the neutral territories, and under the cover of night stormed it, killing his guards and eventually subduing him and taking him off world before the rest of his forces rallied to save him.
As always, Kambei allowed her first crack at the prisoner, but told her they needed him alive for further questioning back on Sanghelios. Ryuko asked her what happened to her father when he was taken by his party. 'Korv's answer was short, blunt and brutal. They fed him to several predatory creatures they kept as pets. He was eaten alive by several beasts. Pushing Kambei aside, she dragged 'Korv to the airlock, beating off Kambei another time as he tried to stop her. 'Korv began to panic, shouting for the Crusader to stop her, but as she threw him into the airlock, those shouts turned to frantic pleading. She didn't care. She opened the airlock and blasted him out into space to die a slow and painful death in the void. Kambei was furious and demanded she headed back to her own ship, docked alongside his. Disconnecting from his vessels, they went their separate ways. As she left, he sent her one final communique. If she resolved her issues, she should send him a message. He always looked for reliable mercenaries to bolster his own forces. Ryuko told him she'd think about it, then departed.
Ryuko Kawada, Mercenary For Hire
Ryuko was at last, truly free. She had no ties left, no master to obey, no orders to follow. She was free to find her own path. She became a freelance mercenary, heading from job to job and fight to fight. Out in the frontier territories, she was never short of work, and a skilled and experienced mercenary, who was fluent in English, Sangheili, Jiralhanae and Kig-Yar, was always able to find work. She spent substantial time on Fell Justice, always finding easy work as a mercenary, bodyguard, enforcer or spy.
Team Up with Tal 'Zerex
The Artefact Job
Later that year, she was hired on as part of a ten man team by a artefact broker on Fell Justice. This ten man team, including mercenary pilot Beatrix Jäger and free lancer hacker Ezekiel Weatherby, headed deep into Covenant territory to an abandoned Forerunner structure, adrift in an asteroid field. Evading the detection of the Covenant Archaeology teams on the structure, the team made their way on, but soon encountered Covenant patrols. An errant shot from the Mgelekgolo in the team detonated a disused plasma conduit, starting a catastrophic chain of events that destroyed the gravitic stabilization systems on the station, causing it to fall into the gravity well of the gas giant it orbited. Now on a limited time frame, with asteroids pelting the station, they fought their way through the Covenant to reach their goal. The artefact, some angular box of unknown purpose, was taken from its resting place and carried by the mercenary team. With Ryuko on point, they carved their way through the remaining Covenant as the station fell apart around them, then finally made it off and back to Fell Justice with their prize.
For this they each received a small fortune, though the money wasn't of much interest to her. This established a 'tepid' working relationship with Beatrix, who Ryuko regarded as more than a little creepy, and the long lasting admiration of Zeke, who became more than a little infatuated with the warrior-woman that saved his life.
The Rescue Mission
During her time as a mercenary time she'd been haunted by recurring nightmares. She was pursued by a monster covered in shadow, chasing her through the arenas she'd fought in over the last few years. Eventually, this beast would catch her, and reveal itself, as a horribly malformed and twisted reflection of herself, with over grown, sharp teeth, a misshapen and contorted body, and sharpened claws, with a sickly complexion and blood leaving from every pore. Her monstrous mirror image would gain on her over time then catch her, mauling then eating her, while she still lived. At this point her nightmares ended. She Had many sleepless nights, haunted by this spectre, until she came to a conclusion. She needed closure over her escape from Doisac, and over Sabine, who she'd been forced to leave behind. By all rights, she was sure Sabine was dead, but she had to know for certain.
She tried to shake those feelings for months, but they wouldn't shift. Collecting bounties, fulfilling mercenary contracts and getting into brawls did little to shift these feelings, but she knew returning to Doisac was a virtual death sentence. Fortunately for Ryuko, opportunity fell into her lap.
Alliance with the Tyraxi
Contracted by the Tyraxi
Returning to her temporary abode on Fell Justice after collecting a bounty, she found the electronic lock on her apartment had been tampered with. Drawing her pistol, she slowly crept through the door and found the intruder. A huge example of a brute, she trained his pistol on his head and told him to drop to his knees or she'll give him an extra asshole on his head. To her surprise, he did, then immediately told her he came here to offer her a job. After disarming the stranger, she allowed him back to his feet and interrogated him. His name was Caeus, and he was a captain in the Tyraxus Clan. He'd searched her out because he needed her help, then showed her the bag he brought in with her. There was a substantial payment of credits, and he told her she'd get half up front, half after the job was done. She didn't care about the pay, but she was curious if Caeus could help her in exchange for the job. Caeus agreed.
Securing her payment, she asked Caeus what exactly the job was. Caeus told her that he'd been on Fell Justice as part of a team, working on a task on behalf of his Chieftain when part of his pack was captured, and were being shipped off world soon. He didn't have enough guns to rescue them, and needed somebody that was skilled and fluent in Jiralhanae. A friend had recommended Ryuko. Caeus took Ryuko to join his remaining team members, where it was revealed to Ryuko that his pack contained brutes and slaves. Repulsed by this, she was about ready to quit when Caeus told her that the Tyraxi are not malicious slavers. They abuse the rules to protect vulnerable people, and free them after they've worked off their debt to them, but many choose to stay with them. Caeus then told her that among those captured includes slaves, and he intended to bring them all back. Initially cautious of his motives, she agreed to the job.
Initially Caeus' backup, she wasn't fond of the brutes, until they came under attack. Ambushed by the mercenaries they were tracking, one of the slaves, Jasper Larter, took a spike to the knee and was stuck in the open, under fire. Caeus ran out under a hail of fire and carried Jasper back, taking a score of injuries in the process. In that moment, her opinion of Caeus and his pack improved. The salve was one of their own and he risked his life for them. With Caeus now wounded, Ryuko took the lead, cleared out the marksmen pinning them down then lead them on, catching up with the mercenaries before they could load up their vessel and make it off world.
An intense firefight erupted in the hanger, with Ryuko cutting down a number of mercenaries herself. Clearing out the area, they secured the prisoners, and Caeus secured their original goal, a data crystal with vital information the mercenaries ferried for their paymaster. Retreating back to their base of operations, Caeus gave her the second half of her payment, and told her they were in her debt. If she ever needed work, a place to stay, or somewhere to resupply, she should drop him a line.
Return to Doisac
Caeus and Ryuko would part way, and she'd find a few more jobs on Fell Justice, but the dreams haunting her would come back again and again. She had to know for sure if her friend Sabine died during that uprising. Only a few weeks later, she got into communication with Caeus and asked to meet him. Rendezvousing in deep space, between her shuttle and his heavy corvette, she docked with his vessel and headed over to talk. She told him her past, how she got here, and about her friend. She needed to know what happened to her, but a human woman, alone on Doisac, was a target. Caeus agreed to help her in this, and they arranged a plan of action.
Caeus would use a false identity to get onto Doisac, as the Tyraxi tribe weren't exactly welcome there, and Ryuko would adopt the false identity of Mako, a gladiator from the frontier territories. Dying her hair blonde, she donned a new set of gladiator armour and wielded a short Jiralhanae-style sword. Heading to Doisac on a shuttle, shortly after making landfall Caeus brought her to one of his contacts. He'd been present during the gladiator uprising, and had some information to share on the fates of those who were captured. He had indeed seen a slave matching Sabine's description in the hands of the victorious law enforcement groups, and she'd been placed into a gibbet then hung close to the central plaza in the city. However, her body and gibbet disappeared after six days. He'd assumed it'd been stolen by a souvenir hunter or a fan wanting the body to display, or the bones to keep as relics. Crestfallen, Ryuko asked Caeus if they could visit where she'd been hung.
Travelling across the city, she laid down a native flower with bright white petals where she'd been hung. The gibbets of other gladiators, still filled with bones, hung around the plaza. As they left the site, Ryuko leaned to Caeus and got his attention. They were being tailed. She'd noticed them some time ago, but hadn't been sure until they approached closer. Caeus had noticed them too, but wasn't immediately familiar with them. Luring them down a side alley, the two of them disarmed him and interrogated him at gun point. Unwilling to die for his paymaster, he divulged everything. It had been leaked that they were looking for Sabine, and that his boss would rather Sabine's fate remain a mystery. Losing patience, Ryuko was ready to skewer him with her sword when he told them who we worked, a powerful chieftain called Tarkudus.
Wary of approaching him directly, they planned to infiltrate his estate at night. Making preparations for it at their temporary staging area, they were surprised when a messenger arrived at their door from Tarkudus, offering to see them in person. Wary of this, they elected to meet him, albeit heavily armed. Heading to his estate they were greeted warmly as guests and offered food and beverages by their host. With no patience for this sort, Ryuko refused his offers and demanded to know what had happened to Sabine. Raising her voice against him, Tarkudus remained surprisingly calm. At that point, he called for Sabine to be brought in. Sabine calm in, unclothed aside from her collar and knelt beside her master submissively. At his urgings, she told Ryuko and Caeus what happened to her. Sabine had been captured and had not fared well in captivity after the uprising. Knowing she was involved in organising the uprising, she was interrogated daily. Tortured near continuously for days, when she would not divulge any information, she was eventually taken out to be hung from the gibbet.
Captured and strung up, she assumed she would die up there, until Tarkudus, the son of her first master, came in at night and retrieved her and nursed her back to health. She'd been recovering in his estate ever since. Demanding he release Sabine to Ryuko's care, Tarkudus flatly refused. Sabine was his property, and would remain with him. As the argument escalated, Sabine asked them to settle down, and they would come to an agreement in the morning. Ryuko and Caeus were taken to guest rooms, while Sabine was left alone to barter with Tarkudus. She told him she could no longer serve him as his slave, as she had tasted freedom, and couldn't go back to her life of servitude again. Giving him a passionate speech, Tarkudus relented. By the time morning came, Sabine was allowed to leave. Although saddened by leaving the master who had treated her so well, she looked forward to a new future, which she could forge.
Ryuko and Sabine, Mercenaries Incorporated
Time Off Work
Bidding farewell to her Tyraxi allies, Ryuko departed back to Fell Justice with her friend. Bringing her to live with her while she recovered her strength, Ryuko would usually go out to perform bounty contracts during the day and help her friend adjust to her new life on the night time. Having spent almost her whole life a slave, Sabine had little true understanding of the outside world, or of her rights, but was a quick study, quickly adapting to her new life, and even beginning to venture out of the apartment. With Ryuko's help, she would begin recovery, gaining her strength back, becoming well enough to walk soon and coping for herself. Within a few months, she'd recovered to a point where she was mostly self-sufficient and was approaching her condition of physical fitness she held as a Gladiator.
Eventually, Ryuko offered her to join her as a freelancer. They'd make one hell of a team, with Ryuko as the muscle and Sabine watching her back. Taking a short while to mull it over, she decided to go into business with Ryuko. Ryuko knew she was a smart and strong gladiator, but she taught her the finer points of fighting with a gun, and working as a mercenary. Sabine took to it fast, and learned quick. Of course, other parts of her reintegration into society were more difficult. Having lived a slave to the Jiralhanae since the age of four, she'd grown up living under another set of rules and laws, and the culture of her birth was almost alien to her. The biggest issue was simply trying to get her to wear regular clothing again, as she'd spent most of her life in what amounted to slave clothing for Jiralhanae, or less, and kept many of the mannerisms of a slave, like proper responses and attitude. It would take time to break these habits, many of which left Ryuko embarrassed, whether it was Sabine walking around her ship or her apartment naked, or the neighbours thinking Sabine was a slave (Not exactly a uncommon sight on Fell Justice).
Partners In Crime
The team up of Ryuko and Sabine would be extremely deadly. Taking work as mercenaries, they would go from job to job. Ryuko would prove well as the muscle of their operation, and Sabine as the brains. Despite living most her life a slave she was intelligent, driven and charismatic, in her own way. Taking on mercenary work, bounties and other work on Fell Justice and beyond and they made a name for themselves.
They even began to accumulate a number of contacts and found jobs further and further afield. They then got a job that seemed too good to be true. A pirate clan was transporting a sizeable amount of wealth, made up of cash, jewels and relics. On their last job, they crashed a pirate ship into the spacedock orbiting Fell Justice, causing horrendous amounts of damage, and giving them big debts to pay. Their job came from a rival pirate clan, offering them a portion of the loot if they pulled off this job. Sabine advised against taking the job, but Ryuko refused to be in debt. They immediately headed out.
The trade over of the loot would occur on a distant moon in the neutral territories, which would be their only opportunity to steal the goods. Approaching quietly in the Blade Flash, avoiding the sensors of their ships, they set down a short distance from the trade over. Approaching the clearing, they got as close as they could before they opened fire, slaughtering the guards with ease. Taking the prize, Ryuko remotely called the Blade Flash to come to the clearing on autopilot and pick them up. As the ship landed, they went to loading it up as quickly as possible. That's when Sabine noticed it. The cash was made up of bonds, given by the Kig-Yar central government. They'd just attacked the Kig-Yar union while they were paying one of their privateers. This money wasn't enough worth it any more, as it was so hot nobody would accept it as payment. However, their only chance of payment came from taking the loot. Loading up, breaking orbit then jumping to slipspace as quickly as possible, they immediately headed to their rendezvous without delay. Meeting on an abandoned mining station, they found their client mysteriously absent. They'd been set up. Perhaps somebody wanted the Union to suffer and left them as the scape goats, or perhaps somebody was gunning for them directly, either way, they were in trouble. Dumping the hot cargo, they returned to Fell Justice.
Mercenaries On The Run
Paranoid that they'd been tracked, Sabine barely slept for days, remaining on vigil over their modest apartment, while Ryuko went on like nothing was wrong. Four days after their botched heist, the trackers sent after them found them. Setting up snipers opposite their apartment, then an entry team near the front door, they began their assault by throwing a high explosive charge into the apartment, destroying their living room and blowing their eardrums. Rolling out of bed in her pyjamas and side arm at hand, she took out the first two members of the breaching team before the snipers pinned her down. Sabine came out with a plasma rifle in hand and knocked down three more. Knowing they were sitting ducks, the two of them moved from cover to cover, firing short bursts before diving out of their rear window, down to the entrance to the hangar. Ryuko started up her ship, while Sabine held them off. As soon as the engines were on, Sabine climbed aboard, and they blasted through the hangar doors and headed straight up, towards the Union ships blockading the system. Engaging in a close fire fight with a squadron of Seraphs, they barely came out on top and eventually jumped to slipspace, outpacing the pursuing warships.
The two had a substantial bounty on their heads, and every bounty hunter in the frontier was gunning for them. They needed to lie low, and had few places to turn to. It was too much of a distance to get to Sanghelios, and they had to go through space lanes controlled by the Union's allies, and the human territories were too distant too. After three close calls, coming close to being caught by bounty hunters as the transitioned from system to system, or making stops for resupply and refuel. She had one choice, to visit the Tyraxi. Making it to Jiralhanae territories, most of the bounty hunters dropped off the chase, and for those few that still stuck to their tail, they made three blind jumps to randomised coordinates, then made a straight line to Tirex's Rest.
Making it to orbit of the world, Caeus welcomed his friend back with open arms. Ryuko told him their situation and asked if they could hide out. Caeus told them he could easily disguise them as Tyraxi slaves. While Ryuko wasn't over joyed with the idea, she went with it. After all, both her and Sabine and the experience to hid as convincing slaves. In order to cement their disguise, Ryuko dyed her hair blonde again, while Sabine cut her long hair short.
Hiding their ship on the surface of Tirex's Rest, and changing their clothes out for slave harnesses, they went from hardened mercenaries to simple land workers, toiling on the Tyraxan lands. Such a simple life wasn't things either were used to, but Sabine welcomed it as a change of pace from their hectic life style. Ryuko however, found the simple life of farm work to be far too slow for her tastes. Despite requests put to Caeus to help him in the combat arena, he turned her down again and again, as it ran the risk of her attracting attention.
Several weeks down the line, things weren't going well. While Sabine had mostly adapted to their lifestyle, Ryuko didn't. She was becoming antagonistic, getting into fights with slaves and Jiralhanae and couldn't even complete a full day of work. Caeus considered removing her to a small post in the capital, if only to just stop getting complaints, when she chose for him. Getting her stuff, she left a small note for Sabine, bequeathing her the Blade Flash, then stowed away on a ship leaving Tirex's Rest.
Sabine, feeling betrayed and abandoned, would remain behind a few more weeks, waiting until attention died down before she left, heading off into space to forge her own path. Ryuko meanwhile, jumped from ship to ship, pulling odd jobs and mercenary work, searching for a greater purpose, or a better job.
Ryuko Kawada, Deckhand
Ryuko jumped from ship to ship, heading back to the Frontier. Performing odd jobs, here and there, she never stayed in one place for long. Desperation for work forced her to stray from her usual line of work, doing any kind of work, including courier, builder, farm hand and for a time, wood chopper.
Stopping at the outer colony of Raven, she didn't have quite enough money to get her next ride, preferring to move on rather than settle in one place. Finding no work in the main colony settlement, she set out, hearing that a farmstead to the north was looking for workers. Taking the two day walk out there, she arrived, asking for work. All they could offer was poor paying work as a farm hand. Strapped for cash, she took them on. The couple that owned it, Greg and Vivian Reeves, were too old to be able to work the whole farm themselves, and their children had since left the farm for work in the colony's capital. The old couple took Ryuko in and treated her as their own, feeding her and looking after her. Ryuko felt a little bit at ease, staying with them for two months, helping them with their farm, when in the middle of the night, she got a bad feeling and decided to leave, her instincts never being wrong. Walking down the road, she put some distance between herself and the farm, when she heard explosions in the distance and turned back to see a pillar of fire rising from the farm. Rushing back, she found the farm house consumed in flames, and Greg and Vivian consumed with it. Looking up to the sky, she saw a Phantom flying off towards the settlement. Screaming in frustration, she followed it back, taking Greg's old jeep.
Getting back to the capital, she found the hangar where the killers stayed. A group of Kig-Yar bounty hunters, they laughed with each other about brutally murdering an old couple. Rage at boiling point, Ryuko charged in, cutting their leader in two. Seizing up his rifle, she turned it on the confused and alarmed bounty hunters, and cut almost all of the down in one go. The few to scatter far enough to avoid her fury were quickly hunted down, finding no place in the hangar or the Phantom to hide from her. Looting their cash reserves and weapons, she left the hangar, deciding she couldn't stay in any one place too long.
Hooking up with Chancer V
Getting to the frontier planet Agrippa, Ryuko recommenced the search for temporary work, hoping to just keep moving. Finding work at a local dock, that's when she saw a familiar looking ship pull in. A battered and worn old Argo-class Transport flew in over the space line and pulled into the adjacent dock. Getting another worker to cover her, she headed to the next dock, watching as the crew unloaded. Rather than subtly approach them, or attempt to sneak over to the group, she instead charged in, she instead bellowed welcomes at her old friend Tal, and welcomed the group as old buddies.
The Perfect Scheme
"What Could Go Wrong?"
Strapped for cash, and with funds at an all time low, the crew stood a real chance of simply starving and running out of fuel. In desperation, Ryuko hatched a plan to get them rich quick. She still had the cover identity of the gladiator, Mako, intact, and knew of several local circuits where she could compete, and win easily. Explaining the plan to the initially sceptical crew of the Chancer, she managed to get them to come around. Their plan was to set down on a neutral Kig-Yar colony in a nearby sector, and Ryuko would be entered into a local arena circuit by her handler, played by Tal. Simon would bet their money on Mako, who would be a rank outsider in the bets.
While she herself wasn't fond of the idea of getting back into the arena, she was very fond of not starving, so she put aside her pride and prepared for re-enter the arena. With help from Tal (And unwelcome critiques from Dunn), she scrapped pieces of armour and old gear to create a makeshift set of gladiator gear, and took up the Jiralhanae-style sword once used during her time undercover with the Tyraxi. Using a few local ingredients, and some chemicals laying around, she dyed her hair blonde. For the final piece, Tal took a disused engine component, a O-ring, and machined it with hinges and a lock, and used that as her collar.
Returning to the Arena
Finally ready, she and Tal went out of the Chancer to compete. Registering her at a large arena in the city, Tal prepared her for the battle that lay ahead, while Simon took the last of the crew's funds to bet on Ryuko. Entering the arena as a total newcomer, with ramshackle gear, Ryuko, or Mako as she was now known, was the rank outsider. Pitted against a seasoned veteran, and home town hero, the match was over in a minute, when Ryuko disarmed him, cut him deeply against the chest and knocked him out with the hand guard on her sword. An eerie silence fell over the arena, and both Tal and Simon lamented at her haste, she was supposed to drag it out and make it look like she was a rookie. Collecting the winnings, Simon, Ryuko and Tal high tailed it out of there and back to the Chancer. Their scheme had worked better than they hoped, netting them enough money to get them supplies and enough fuel to reach the next port. Upon seeing the money raked in by the scheme, Dunn insisted Ryuko repeat it, with the hope of getting them enough money to fix the Chancer. While apprehensive, she came around to Dunn's plan, and decided to go back in to the arena a week later.
Tal had given her a pretty firm telling off after her last performance, and insisted she dragged this one out, and play the rookie. She was fighting a cagey Kig-Yar who used a spear and a shield, and was seasoned. Going back into the arena, she immediately began her deception by charging head long into the spear man. Her quick reactions turned a lethal lunge into a nick on her waist, and immediately battered against his shield. Knocking him off balance, she anticipated he'd use the spear as a club and took the brunt of the blow, staggering away, keeping up the charade. When the spearman lunged again, she rolled away, trying to keep clear of his range. Keeping the fight dragging out, she charged again, failed to inflict damage, then backed up, taking another nick from that spear of his. Looking back to Tal, he gave a nod for her to finish the fight. The spearman lunged again, and Ryuko parried, now knocked off balance, and his side exposed to her, she cut him deeply across the thigh and across the ribs, then as a coup de grace, grabbed the underside of his jaw and slammed him to the ground in a crumpled heap. Panting heavily after the fight, she heard the arena erupt into raucous applause. It was in that moment, as the adrenaline of the fight began to wear off, and the cheers were deafening her, she remembered the rush the arena gave her. Simon again collected the winnings, and the three got back to the Chancer without incident.
Ryuko, now fully behind the scheme, went back to the arena numerous times, earning money through victories and bets. Using some of the funds, Tal purchased her a custom built set of armour, with similarities to her old armour, though a vibrant red in colour. Using the rest of their winnings, the crew brought the Chancer back to full functionality. Ryuko was enjoying her time back in the arena too, having missed the brutal fights and the crowd's applause. She fought in six more matches, before she and the crew got cocky and entered her into a league tournament. Everything looked set for an easy victory, but the Chancer crew had failed to calculate one variable. Superfan Eruk N'Tral.
During her years as a gladiator, Ryuko's antics in the arena, her strong personality, and her unwillingness to back down earned her a strong following, and fan club that endured even after she left the arena. Fan club was probably too kind a word, since they bordered on cult reverence for Ryuko. Eruk N'Tral had long been a fan of Ryuko in the arena, first seeing her in the Tarmaessenia games, and followed her exploits all the way to Doisac, even coming out there several times to see her fight, but was heart broken when she escaped captivity. Eruk was a freighter captain by trade, and had stopped by this world on a refuelling run, and decided to spend his free time watching fights in the arena. That's when he saw the gladiator called Mako. Eruk couldn't believe his eyes. Mako was doppelgänger of his beloved Ryuko, and even her fighting style and arena persona were similar. Immediately putting in a call to a friend, he had them try to look up the history of the gladiator called Mako, but they found nothing. Eruk was sure, but he needed a second opinion. He put in another call to his friend Julus, another freighter captain, and Kawada fan, who he'd met at a fight where they both cheered her on. Julus made it out there the following week and sat in for a fight with 'Mako', and became convinced too. Soon, word spread through the grapevine that Ryuko was indeed still in the gladiator circuit under a new name, and soon dozens of her fans made it to every fight, watching with intense glee. News of her return spread though, and soon bounty hunters and Jiralhanae mercenaries came after her, as well as other interested parties.
Part way through the league, Ryuko began to get a real bad feeling about it. There were way too many interested eyes up in the crowd, and Tal and Dunn likewise felt there was a little too much heat, but the league's pay off was too good to give up. Contingency plans were made in case things got hot, but it didn't make Ryuko feel much better. She decided to finish the remaining fights as quickly as possible, rather than drag it out as planned. After a match, while Tal was escorting her from the arena, Eruk intercepted her. He fell at her feet, gibbering about how he was so grateful that she had returned. It was then Ryuko knew they were in serious trouble. If this loser had figured her identity, bounty hunters wouldn't be far behind. But she only had one matche left, and she was determined to finish it.
While Simon was picking up the cash, as usual, he was approaching by a Sangheili. Dressed plainly, and not carrying any obvious weapons, he didn't immediately appear a threat. Asking for a moment of Simon's time, he was initially refused, but when he called after him saying he had information on the Syndicate, Simon paused. The Sangheili presented him with a small holographic memory device, displaying information on Syndicate operations in the frontier territories. Some of this was known to Simon, but other parts were new intelligence. He promised Simon that his benefactors had much, much more information to share, and all Simon needed to do was leave the arena with Ryuko's handler, leaving Ryuko behind. Conflicted on the decision, Simon wasn't eager to sell out Ryuko, but the intelligence he offered was gold, and his campaign against the Syndicate had slowed to a crawl. Simon agreed, while beginning his own plan to double cross the Syndicate. He went back to Ryuko and filled her in on what happened. While hesitant, she agreed, knowing how important this was to Simon, but both agreed not to Tell Tal, as his lack of subtly would surely get them in trouble.
It was during her final that everything went south. Anticipating a quick victory, she instead got bogged down fighting a gladiator of near equal skill, and couldn't land a decisive blow. After a long battle, Ryuko finally came out on top, striking her opponent down. This is when the mysterious agent made his move. Three explosives were detonated in the arena, with one going off in the crowd, one going off in the gladiator pen and another near the south entrance, blocking it. A squadron of unmarked black Phantoms came in over the arena, and black armoured mercenaries descended from them, firing liberally on the panicking crowd. Simon meanwhile, picked up his cash and made his way down to the pen where Tal had been watching. With all the chaos in the arena, he told him they'd meet at the rendezvous as planned, and Ryuko was tough enough to get out on her on. Together, the two made it through the maze of tunnels under the arena to their rendezvous and waited for Ryuko to get herself out.
Both Simon and Ryuko underestimated their opponents. While Tal and Simon had managed a quick escape, Ryuko was pinned down in the arena tunnels. Seizing a weapon, she escaped into the Labyrinthine tunnels, and expected a quick escape. Instead, she found herself surrounded by a team of spec ops, with no identifying markers. Fighting like a cornered animal, she took two of them down and wounded scores more before she was subdued.
Back at the rendezvous, her allies waited another hour, before they were forced to leave, leaving Ryuko behind. The Chancer remained in orbit for six hours, scanning local frequencies for Ryuko, but when the number of bounty hunters increased, they were forced to leave the system. Ryuko herself was taken onto one of the unmarked Phantoms and taken to a waiting battlecruiser in orbit. Locked in the brig, Ryuko was convinced her team would come shooting through the door any minute. She waited days, before finally coming to terms with the fact she'd been abandoned. Accepting the inevitable, she slipped into a depression, and made no more attempts to fight her captors.
In the Demiurge's Grasp
After a week of captivity in the brig of a CCS-class, she was finally approached by the agent who had swayed Simon. Not saying a word, he pulled up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of a Izebian, the icon of the Demiurge. It was then Ryuko knew the direness of her situation.
She was taken back to Demiurge space, where she was introduced to the agent that had orchestrated her capture, a Sangheili known by the code name 'Kingslayer'. Kingslayer had been impressed by the fierce young woman. After all, she'd survived years of slavery in the gladiator pits, then not only manage to out wit several of their agents, but also secure vital intel that set back their advances in Sangheili space by years. While they had attempted to track her as a person of interest, her constant moving prevented easy tracking, that is, until, her fan club brought their attention.
Demanding to know what they wanted with her, Kingslayer gave her a straightforward response. She would become one of their agents, referred to as a Operant, and further the Demiurge's goals. Given her already substantial combat training, and links to the Vadam Clan, Crusaders, Tyraxus tribe and Devas, she was the perfect candidate. Ryuko simply laughed in their face. She'd never willingly work for them. Kingslayer bluntly told her she had no choice in the matter.
Taken to the Demiurge's hidden stronghold, she was taken into the Operant's headquarters, to its deepest level, to begin her transformation into a agent of the Demiurge. Finally stripped of her armour and the makeshift collar, she was placed in a stockade and hooked up to several audio-visual devices that would begin psycho-conditioning. Left hooked up to this device for weeks, she was exposed to horrifying imagery, subliminal messaging and active infrasound, with periods of sensory deprivation, the entire time she was given a cocktail of drugs intravenously, designed to make her more susceptible to their brainwashing attempts. The passage of time had no meaning for Ryuko, who felt like she'd been hooked up to this device for years, when in fact it had only been weeks. Eventually, all of the brainwashing began to sink in, and she gradually came around to the Demiurge's goals and ideals. The brainwashing implanted several override commands and verbal codes, trigger phrases that when heard by Ryuko would trigger specific events, such as berserker rage or the instinct to return to Demiurge space. To facilitate training she had electrodes implanted into her brain, and cybernetic probes plugged into her pain senses, intended to trigger pain to make sure the brainwashing stuck.
Once Kingslayer was happy with her indoctrination, he moved her to her physical augmentation. The Demiurge had invested significant time, effort and capital in stealing cybernetic and physical augmentation technology from their enemies, and research their own. Kingslayer had selected a range of augmentations designed to turn Ryuko into a weapon in the field.
- Cybernetic Implants: Fitted with numerous implants, these were mostly stolen from other factions and reverse engineered, and designed to be irreversible implants, and invisible to conventional sensors.
- Eye implants: Ryuko was fitted with eye implants, using bioplastic lenses fitted over her eyes. These lenses are fitted with a heads up display that links to her neural implants, and through implants in her optic nerve, can also record visual information, useful for Demiurge infiltration. These implants also increase her visual acuity through selective control of lens apparatus.
- Ryuko had significant neural implants fitted, the basest part being a standard pattern neural interface. The implants coiled around her cerebellum, and unspooled probes that have implanted themselves in various parts of her brain for maximum interfacing. The implants include short range wireless networking, the ability to send and receive communiques, and advanced firewalls. The neural implant was also linked to the various trigger phrases programmed into Ryuko, and in turn was linked into numerous other cybernetic implants.
- For exerting more specialised control over Ryuko, she had a specialist implant placed on the occipital lobe close to the hemisphere divide. This implant controls her neurochemisty and body chemistry. Largely activated by remote function, it adjusts her body chemistry to adjust her mood and performance. It can increase serotonin levels to instil feelings of happiness to combat fatigue and depression, or to decrease appetite during prolonged operation. The implant can exert control over her dopamine system to flood her brain with dopamine. This has the effect of giving her the sensation of 'reward', usually being used to flood her system after she does well on a mission. It can also alter the Norepinephrine level in the brain, increasing concentration for her task at hand. The implant can also flood her body with adrenaline before a fight to improve her capabilities. Other capabilities of this implant include the ability to deprive her of sleep, induce depression or limit emotional response.
- She was implanted with a subdural emitter, broadcasting a intermittent M-wave signal, only capable of being detected by devices specifically made to detect M-waves. The emitter broadcasts once every two hours out of missions, but beams updates every ten minutes during operations.
- For the ultimate control, Ryuko has a killswitch implanted in her brain, directly in the longitudinal cerebral fissure. This uses a tiny charge of gertex, with a casing designed to turn into shrapnel. It can be detonated by remote, or detonated when one of its implant spikes is disturbed, if, for instance, Ryuko tried to remove the implant.
- To keep Ryuko alive, even during prolonged operation, she has an advanced system of medical implants spread through her body. The main control system, which functions as a diagnostic and control system, is implanted in her upper back. This is linked to a number of hair thin probes spread through her limbs, and linked to her organs, that keep track of them, and report back abnormalities. In the event of an injury, a wound suppression system is activated. This system consists of a bundle of modules designed to decrease healing time. One module controls Leucocytic coprotein complex and microfibrin spindlase distribution from a nanite controlled node, allowing for near instant clotting of vascular breaches, without incurring fatal blood clots, all administered through carefully controlled application and nanite control systems. The second module is an Angiogenesis Protein Therapy system, promoting growth of new blood vessels from existing ones to heal wounds at an increased pace. The last module is a Nerve Stimulator implant, intended to control the release of neurotransmitters related to healing and recovery, allowing for neuromodulation of the immune system, allowing for control of the immune cycles, reduction in systemic inflammation and increases in the speed of healing. Her final medical system is a inbuilt defibrillator linked directly to her heart. This system re-establish normal sinus rhythm in the event the heart undergoes arrhythmia.
- Her ears are fitted with implants, with a two-fold intention. The first is to massively increase the acuity of her hearing, allowing her supreme directional control, and being capable of hearing distant noises, with supreme precision. The second is to augment her balance centres, allowing her to perform feats of acrobatics that would off-put even trained gymnasts.
- Her adrenal glands have been fitted with artificially grown implants that are studded with cybernetic implants, and is designed to produce a range of artificial chemicals for adjusting her combat prowess. This implant can produce Methampthetamines to stave of sleep, fatigue and hunger, and it can produce adrenal thermal metabolase, a catalyst that improves adrenal response, but also produces a co-enzyme inhibitor to remove the harmful byproduct. Lastly, it can produce Rider-class augmenter. A new generation rumble drug, it improves adrenal response again, and removes natural inhibitors of the body, while also producing blood coagulants. Used to produce berserker rages or to prolong her life when she's suffered near mortal injuries, the augmenter is a dangerous and unpredictable tool.
- Her lungs have been lined with a polymer that increases oxygen intake, while also filtering toxins and poisons from the air.
- Chemical Augmentations: Exposed to a variety of chemical augmenters, the similarities between them, and augmentations used by the Spartan program, and is bastard copies, could not be ignored.
- Her nervous system has undergone chemical enhancement, intended to improve her reaction speed through neural enhancement, increasing her reaction time by 300%.
- She was injected with a muscle fibroid protein that significantly increased the density of her muscle mass, giving her super human strength for combat.
- Lastly, she was injected with a catalyst that ossified her bones with a hardened ceramic material, rendering them unbreakable.
Her torturous alterations completed, Kingslayer gave her a few days to heal, before he threw her into a challenging training regimen, designed to attune her to her new modifications and shape her as a Demiurge Operant. These training sessions involved strict physical regimens, training on assassination and espionage, imprinting of information vital to a Demiurge agent, and simulation of traumatic events, intended to desensitise her to extreme violence. Her training pitted her against other operants, both willing and unwilling, and injuries, even deaths, were not uncommon. The training also gave focus on resistance to torture and deprogramming.
Once her training was complete, Kingslayer established several cover identities for her, and rechristened her with the code name, Crimson Serpent. She was furnished with numerous cover identities, such as the mercenary June Matoi, frontier entrepreneur and business woman Ragyo Ikari. Her cover personality of the gladiator Mako was also hijacked by the Demiurge for use with Ryuko.
After months of indoctrination, painful surgeries and intense training, the being that came out bore no resemblance to the woman that came in. Her psyche was fractured, her will broken, and the augmentations left her body alien to her, and not always under her control. Ryuko was reborn as an agent of the Demiurge, bound to their will.
Ryuko Kawada, Agent of the Demiurge
The First Assignments
Pleased with Ryuko's training and the results, Kingslayer sent her on her first mission, a trial of sorts, with Kingslayer directly overseeing it. Heading to the frontier world of Arganon, she was to terminate a former Demiurge contact, and businessman Shal 'Shoth. Ryuko was to make an example of him. Using her cover identity of Ragyo Ikari, and the cover of a Demiurge shell company, she was sent in to meet Shal to offer a business venture. A week of haggling and deals got her a meeting in his fortified manor. Face to face with Shal, she initially hesitated, on account of the six body guards flanking him. Kingslayer, observing through her cybernetic implants, initiated an over ride and flooded her system with rumble drugs and adrenaline. The meek young lady sat in front of them erupted into a rampaging monster, killing his first two bodyguards with ease, and apprehending their weapons. In the following three minute she brutally murdered the next three, while the fourth fled. Trapping Shal, she executed him, and made her way out, killing several more guards as she did. Seizing a Revenant, she drove through the compound gates and got back to her rendezvous point. It was then she began to come down from the combat drugs, and became acutely aware she'd broken several bones, and was covered head to toe in blood. She began rejecting her programming, she began to suffer from a panic attack, before Kingslayer intervened with a shot of chemicals to calm her down. Recovering, she was picked up by her handlers and extracted.
Kingslayer resumed her indoctrination, to ensure her next job would go more smoothly. Satisfied that she was ready to return to operations, he dispatched her on a mission to eliminate a syndicate boss who had repeatedly damaged Demiurge operations in the region. Using the cover of a girl at a local brothel he frequented, she bided her time until he came, then 'arranged' for the two of them to be alone in a room. This time there was no hesitation. She snapped his neck with frightening ease, then set the brothel ablaze with a home made incendiary device, to remove any evidence, then she calmly left and made it to the rendezvous point. Following this, she was tasked with assassinating nearly a dozen more Syndicate leaders, tearing their leadership apart in precise, bloody attacks.
At this point, Ryuko was little more than a weapon. Her emotions where controlled by cybernetic implants, and her free will little more than a fading memory. She loyally carried out assassination orders for the Demiurge, butchering men, women and children in their ongoing shadow war for dominance.
Ryuko fell into a haze, as the brutal cycle of murder and Demiurge control took its toll. She became little more than a shell, ordered to 'go there', 'kill him' and 'destroy that'. The fulfilled every order without question, dutifully killing her enemies without mercy or hesitation.
Such was her lethality, she even came under the direct command of the Demiurge's leader, the Archon. During these times, she committed operations that directly undermined the enemies of the Demiurge, such as missions to destabilize Jiralhanae space, assassinations that damaged the Republic's delicate sense of balance, and attacked the UNSC's infrastructure. As an Operant, she also was committed to several large scale operations, furthering the Demiurge's goals during large scale engagements.
Several months after her last task, she was assigned to Operation Anvil, a mission to damage the information network of the Devas, Sabine's freedom fighter army. Guessing their next target, Ryuko was disguised amongst the slaves bundled into a transport, and sent into the path of the Devas. The transport was, as predicted, seized and boarded by the Devas, who liberated the slaves. Some chose to stay and fight with the Devas, amongst them was Ryuko. Taking them to the planet side camp on the neutral world of Kulda, Ryuko put her plan into action. Later than night, she killed the Devas field commander, slitting his throat and throwing his weighted corpse into a river. By dawn, the Devas force jumped to full alert, as Ryuko had predicted. What she hadn't predicted was the arrival of Aikaras 'Tyron, Sabine's right hand and second in command of the Devas. Knowing he'd guess her identity soon, she put her plan into action and planted an explosive charge in the officer's tent, then signalled for extraction. The device detonated, but only killed one of the Devas commanders. Although he was wounded, Aikaras came out, to see the Demiurge ship appear above the camp. Quickly pursuing the ship, he came upon Ryuko. Initially confused by the appearance of his commander's ally, she opened fire on him without hesitation. Evading the fire, he repositioned himself to return fire. Sadly, it was too late, she slipped onto the evac shuttle and was gone. With the Devas shifted to high alert, clandestine operations were temporarily halted, and the Demiurge instead shifted to conventional warfare instead.
With the Devas operations in shambles, Ryuko was instead shifted to a mission more appealing to her skill sets. The Devas shifted focus to a coordinated attack on the Republic and their allies in the Basal Drift, an area of contested space. Headed by Ryuko, the operation was intended to cripple their intelligence and anti-terror mechanisms in the region, and destabilise it enough for the Demiurge to further their interests in the area.
This concentrated attack began with blinding the Republic. Ryuko lead an Operant attack that attacked a Justiciar keep at night, capturing their commanding officer. At the height of the brutal attack, Ryuko openly executed him with a plasma bolt to the back of the head, then left. It wasn't just an assassination, but a declaration of war. Ryuko would go on to kill three councillors on worlds in the Basal Drift, allowing councillors with sympathises or hidden allegiance to the Demiurge to rise to power. Councillor Hasf 'Jarom was killed by an explosive device planted on his escort vehicle, the charge incinerating his body, and the crowd surrounding it. At 'Jarom's funeral, his ally, Councillor Rayal 'Eroyol was killed by a sniper shot fire from Ryuko, hitting him from just over a kilometre out. In the ensuing panic, Councillor Ilab 'Hiran refused to leave his keep. Managing to infiltrate it disguised as a lowly serf, Ryuko doused his sheets in a potent poison and left, as if she'd never been there at all. 'Hiran died screaming.
In order to tip the scales, Ryuko went to the planet of Gilbau. Originally controlled by criminals, a Chapter of Crusaders had managed to bring the world to heel from their chapter house. Scaling the sheer cliffs just after dawn, Ryuko managing to infiltrate the keep, killing two guards. Making it to the chambers of Chapter Master Utash 'Utarl. Preparing to kill him, she found his bed vacant. He had awaited her, expecting an assassin any day, and rose from the back of the room, in full armour, sword drawn. Expecting the assassin to fare poorly against a crusader, he underestimated Ryuko. Familiar with Sangheili and Crusader fighting styles, she engaged him in battle with her own energy sword, out manoeuvring then slaying him. With the alarm risen, she raced back up to the battlements of the keep and leapt from them, activating a grav chute that allowed her to descend to the bottom of the valley below and effect her escape. With 'Utarl dead, the Chapter came under heavy attack from criminals, who were drawn to the scent of blood. Laid under siege by an army of miscreants and criminals, they were extracted at night by a Republic military squadron, and forced to leave behind their Keep.
However, her task wasn't done. Ryuko's final task in Operation Stoneheart was securing a Forerunner relic. Housed in a dig site on Gilbau, they faced a force of Reliquary Sentinels. They were a Military Order dedicated to securing and protecting Forerunner relics. The large force of sentinels were lead by a High Sentinel, known to the Demiurge only as, The Black Sentinel, and had established a defensive perimetre around the dig site, where they were excavating the wreck of a Forerunner transport. Ryuko and her Operants infiltrated under the cover of a military attack by the Demiurge, and during the strike they got into the transport, only to be faced by the Black Guard. In the ensuing fight, the Black Guard displayed otherworldly powers, allowing him to crush, tear and rend her Operants with only a gesture. Knowing a direct confrontation was useless, she ordered her Operants to throw themselves at the Black Guard. UNder a tide of attacks, he was unable to stop Ryuko from stealing the artifact and escaping. When Ryuko made it back to the surface, the Sentinels had managed to repel the attack, and the Black Sentinel, now covered in the blood and viscera of her team, followed her. Rather than staying and fighting, she immediately left the battle, escaping the Sentinels with her mystery relic. The relic was handed over, without Ryuko ever learning what it did. She didn't need to know.
Several months after the success of Operation Stoneheart, her new mission shifted focus to attacking the UNSC. In a short, and brutal operation, she was shipped to Arcturus in a transport vessel operated by a Demiurge shell company. Once there, she was tasked with butchering Captain Kellan Schuster and his officers. He had been appointed to the lead in an investigation of the Demiurge, and threatened their expansion into UNSC territory. Infiltrating the compound he used, she openly entered his officers and began her massacre. Heavily augmented, and clad in Demiurge power armour, she killed eleven ONI operatives, before finally killing Captain Schuster. The bloody deed done, she disappeared like she was never their at all. Demiurge counter-intelligence erased all security records, leaving the UNSC with more mysteries than they started with, and 12 dead field operatives.
The short and brutal operation over, she left, never to be seen again. However, ONI had began gathering a dossier on her, with the intent to assassinate her in return.
Following Idolator, she was dispatched to the neutral territories, to begin the act of destabilizing them in preparation for war. During this time, she travelled in the care of Garanum, codenamed Iron Lord, the top operative in this region. Both were under the command of Kingslayer to execute a list of eight targets. Garanum, posing as a travelling slave trader, disguised Ryuko as his slave and went from port to port, allowing Ryuko time to assassinate her targets. Few looked twice at a collared slave, allowing her to infiltrate many palaces and forts, and kill her prey without incidence.
However, the operation escalated when they intended to ignite the tinder to start a war in the neutral territories. The duo visited the Volendrunus Clan, with the intention of framing the Tyraxus Tribe for an attack on them. Travelling to their world, they had made all the preparations, with Garanum meeting the Volendruni leadership, while Ryuko would set an explosive charge. The entire operation was compromised by the fact that as soon as they touched down, they were met by Volendrunus himself, with the current Tyraxi ambassador, Ryuko's friend, Caeus. As soon as Caeus saw Ryuko with a collar on, he reached for his sidearm. What was supposed to be a simple operation quickly escalated into a fight. Ryuko abandoned Garanum, with Kingslayer's overriding order to save herself. Getting back onto his ship, she kicked the charge out, landing at Garanum's feet, then took off, not saying another word. The explosive detonated, killing Garanum, and leaving Caeus confused. These acts, ironically, brought the Tyraxi and Volendruni closer to reconciliation.
Upon return to Demiurge space, Kingslayer met her in person, to announce her special task. He took her before the Archon himself, to begin her more bloody mission yet. Operation Maxim was a plan to 'clean house'. She would be part of a team that would purge any disloyal membhers of the Demiurge, and terminate any spies in her organisation. Over the month, Ryuko began the bloody purges. These purges removed several Justiciar, Syndicate and ONI spies from their midst, most being apprehended and publicly executed as a lesson. During her operations, she killed no less that two Prelates (Department of Security and Department of Enforced Labour) and assassinated three of the military's Primes, the highest ranking commanders. On top of that, she killed numerous belligerents, activists and rebels, enforcing the will of the Demiurge. However, unknown to both her and Kingslayer, they were both manipulated into killing the Archon, planting an explosive charge on his personal shuttle. With his death, a new Archon rose to assume his position, and the new Archon remained as mysterious and as aloof as the previous one.
The actions of the last few months brought her to the attention of foreign intelligence agencies, both the Justiciars and the Office of Naval Intelligence began placing a high priority on discovering the identity of the assassin that had attacked them repeatedly. Thanks to Demiurge information control, and double agents implanted in these agencies, she managed to elude their attention, but the net began to close. Other interested parties had begun their own investigation. After two Devas operatives were killed by the same assassin, Aikaras 'Tyron began investigating their shadowy foe. Likewise, after an assassin brazenly assassinated four Crusaders, including a Saint and a Chapter Master, a conclave of Crusaders decided their foe must be intimately familiar with the Crusaders, and their tactics, and dispatched Kambei 'Nerevar to hunt this foe down and bring them to justice. Tal 'Zerex, her friend and mentor, had began tracking her, after growing suspicious of her disappearance. The Justiciars, now catching her trail, sent a well trained kill-team to terminate her ruthlessly, and bring in her remains as proof. The Assembly, intrigued by this assassin, sent their agent, Gavin Dunn, to ascertain her identity and expose her for a more lethal strike. The Syndicate, worried by several of their top bosses falling to this same assassin, dispatched a large contingent of Knight operators to terminate her. Lastly, the Office of Naval Intelligence sought to apprehend their mysterious assailant, and coming to the conclusion they were augmented, they dispatched specialist Spartan hunters, Ronin Team, to hunt down their enemy and terminate them.
The Demiurge, for once, were totally oblivious to the threat faced by their top operative, and instead sent her on a mission to Fell Justice, into a mission that would quickly devolve into a brutal nine-way battle.
Ryuko Kawada, codenamed Crimson Serpent, had just conducted an extensive in-house cleaning operation for the Demiurge, purging the organization of traitors and those disloyal to the Archon. With substantial heat on her in Demiurge space, she was ordered to Fell Justice, where she'd be heading up a major offensive against the Syndicate to seize their criminal assets for the Demiurge's own use. Ryuko would be at the head of this offensive, conducting random assassinations and terror attacks.
However, the last few months of antics had earned the attention of, well, everybody. A force from the Justiciars, Ronin Team from ONI, Syndicate assassins and Knight clones, Crusaders seeking vengeance, Devas seeking answers, Tal 'Xerex's Black Lance, and Gavin Dunn on behalf of The Assembly had all come to in search of her. On top of this, innumerous bounty hunters flocked to the city.
Her current safe house had come under observation by ONI, with two spec ops teams waiting for the go to attack. With Ronin Team three days out, they were preparing to take them out in one fell swoop. Unknown to both, a contingent of Knight operatives and Syndicate enforcers were readying up to hit the Demiurge safe house.
Independently, the Justiciars, Black Lance and Crusaders all arrived on the same day, spreading out to find their foe. The Devas, meanwhile, had been acting on Fell Justice a month prior, and had captured a pair of Demiurge agents. The first activated his killswitch, detonating a tiny explosive charge in his head to end his own life. The charge in the second agent failed to detonate, and after he expired during interrogation, they were afforded the opportunity to perform and autopsy and learn about Demiurge cybernetics, lessons they would put to use later.
Gavin Dunn arrived on behalf of the Assembly, in a purely investigative manner, though the all consuming conflict would quickly drag him in.
Despite numerous warnings that they risked becoming exposed, Ryuko's handler, Kingslayer, refused to withdraw, believing the threat to be minuscule.
At 12:57, the opening salvo of the battle was fired. Gore Kaspersky was sent by the Syndicate with the mission of terminating every Demiurge agent in their safe house in the Victor South district of New Cádiz. The Demiurge safe house consisted of a compound just inside a residential zone, looking like an industrial estate to most. Kaspersky blockaded the main roads going north and south with trucks, then rolled up on the complex in a convoy of nine modified SUVs, each with armour and bulletproof windows, and a few carrying a heavy machine gun. Surrounding the building, they opened fire, pouring machine gun rounds and rockets into the compound with no particular care for accuracy or collateral. Circling the building were two G-65 VTOLs, repurposed by the Syndicate as makeshift gunships, and firing more rockets down on the compound. After ten minutes of pouring fire onto the compound, Kaspersky deployed his forces, having a squad of enforcers stack up around the main entrance to breach it, while his prized Knight operatives stacked up on the side doors, ready to breach.
Despite the savagery of the opening salvo, the Demiurge within remained unflappable. While one Demiurge Operant had been killed, and six of their support staff, the rest were fine, and still operable. In contact with their mission handler, Kingslayer, his orders were to break out of the Syndicate encirclement and link up with another Demiurge safe house in the Old district. Put in tactical command of the situation was Arn 'Shem, better known by his codename of Vanguard. Arming up, Vanguard had his Operants secure their perimeter, with the intent of weathering the Syndicate's first strike, then breaking out during the lull in combat that would follow. Ryuko was tasked with holding the rest entrance with the aid of four Operants.
Breaching the main gate with a armour truck, the Syndicate's enforcers flooded in, only for their first wave to be flattened by a fuel rod cannon shot, wrecking the truck and killing several thugs around it. The rest were immediately pinned by a hail of precise plasma fire. The closest gunship was struck by a munition through a plasma launcher, sending it into a spin before it crashed into the west road, meters from ONI's hiding place.
At the west entrance, ten Knight operatives breached the door and flooded in. Assuming at first it was abandoned, the clone-soldiers fanned out, straight into the Demiurge trap. Kawada's cybernetic implants drove her into a berserker rage, pseudo-rumble drugs flooding her system, followed by other Operants. In the bloody melee that followed, the Knights were forced to withdraw, two of their number torn limb from limb by Ryuko, with another three were killed in the bloody melee, killing two Operants in return. While she attempted to pursue, Vanguard ordered her to shore up defences on the East entrance, where the Knights had breached, and killed the Operants holding it, and secured the east building.
At the main entrance, the Syndicate pinned the defenders with concentrated machine gun fire, and now had a foothold, several of their enforcers breaching the front entrance. Ryuko accidentally walked into the foyer where they were in the process of breaching, and forced the attacks into a rout by gutting five immediately, and chasing the rest off. Refusing to back down, she instead took up a discarded fuel rod cannon and fired on the east building, without care for collateral. The Knights withdrew, rather than hold out in the path of unstoppable fire.
Vanguard, meanwhile, had underestimated the numbers and determination of the Syndicate forces, and elected to withdraw. Ordering five Operants to hold their rear as a rear guard, he took the rest to the west entrance and broke out, making it across the street to the Argo residential complex. Behind them, he detonated charges in their safe house, bringing it down on top of the Syndicate and his rear guard.
Running Battle: Ronin Arrives
Inside the Argo residential complex, they began a series of skirmishes as they attempted to make it to their rendezvous point. The Argo residential complex was a warren of apartment complexes, connected by makeshift platforms and walkways. Inside here, the Demiurge forces continually set up ambushes and boobytraps, fighting from point to point in a desperate struggle to out wit and out run their opponent.
Ryuko acted as their pointman leading Vanguard directly and smashing through several Syndicate barricades, and terminating two Knight operatives as she went. The battle quickly turned into a bloodied close range brawl. This was fine by Kawada, who enjoyed the massacre, his cybernetic implants conditioning her for the conflict.
Trailing the Syndicate was two ONI spec-ops teams, shadowing them through the apartment complex using active-camo to evade attention. Ronin Team, their Spartan hunters, deployed straight from orbit, falling to the ground in a Osprey stealth gunship. Rather that jump straight into an engagement, they decided to lay a trap, catching them in a bottleneck at the exit from the Argo residential complex. Quietlky taking their position, they exterminated the Syndicate enforcers already holding the position, and established a trap, utilising their combat A.I. to track their opponents throguh the building's spotty surveillance network.
Funnelling them into the trap, Ronin sprang it and immediately opened fire on the Demiurge, pinning them down in a square between apartment blocks. Their sniper, Jan, kept them pinned at range, while their assault team pressed the attack, lead by the former Sangheili Zealot, Naga 'Ulnach. Ryuko went toe to toe with the Zealot, proving a match for his Sangheili strength. Their commanding officer, Jason Worth, commanded him to disengage and dived into the conflict himself. His heavily augmented senses, and unique cybernetic implants proved surprisingly effective against Kawada, who easily become flustered when her opponent not only evaded her attacks, but returned her attacks in kind. The melee was quickly going in Ronin's favour, when the Syndicate interrupted the firefight with a air raid by their gunship, firing rockets and machine gun rounds down on the square. Ronin's Osprey decloaked behind it and fired on their gunship, and the burning wreck crashed into the square, disrupting their battle. In the chaos, the Demiurge slipped away, evading Ronin's blockade. Both the Syndicate and ONI gave chase, with Ronin climbing back into their gunship to give chase.
Centurion Square: Assassins Unleashed
Recognising that not only the Syndicate but also ONI were after them, Vanguard requested immediate military extraction. Kingslayer complied, dispatching a stealth corvette to Fell Justice to retrieve them. Now on the run from Spartans and Syndicate, they elected to find a holding point to wait for reinforcements from their other cells to arrive. Using breaching charges they blew their way out of the Argo complex and made their way across several blocks to Centurion Square, a large shopping mall. Making their intentions immediately clear, they fired rounds into the air to force the civilians from the area and secured the mall's security centre, bringing down the shutters to slow their opponents. Ronin team gave little care for these obstacles, and instead used rockets on their Osprey to open it up. Preparing to land and take the fight to the Demiurge, they instead received a single, terse radio call in Sangheili. This was no longer their operation. Three Phantoms swooped in, and black armoured Sangheili descended from them, and stormed in.
The assassins moved like shadows, fading in and out of active camouflage, and struck with speed and fury. The Demiurge hadn't anticipated such a response, and were now on the backfoot, their Operants slaughtered by assassins they couldn't even see. Calling an all out rout, they broke into a run to the opposite side of Centurion Square, where they were due to meet their exfiltration unit. Ryuko wouldn't run from a fight so easily, and engaged two of the Assassins, succeeding in slaying one, and wounding the other. In the air above Centurion Square, Ronin broke into a verbal argument with the Sangheili commanded over jurisdiction and right, both thinking themselves in the right. This little spat was interrupted by the arrival of the Demiurge's escort, with three Phantoms opening up on them, while a convoy of ground vehicles made it to the exit of Centurion Square to evacuate their fellows.
Forced to temporarily withdraw in the face of superior enemy numbers and fire power, both Ronin and the assassins elected to take and orbiting position high above the city, to await their next opportunity to strike. With a safe distance between them and their enemy, Ronin bartered with the Assassins for a temporary alliance. They both had the same enemy and the same goals. They would be better pooling their resources.
Now the conflict went motorised, as a convoy of Demiurge armoured vehicles attempted to make it from Victor South to the Old District, by way of the west highway. With Kaspersky's manpower depleted during the first battle, he used his authority to seize the authority of New Cádiz reigning boss, Victor Sosel, using his men as his own. Mobilising every thug, enforcer, fixer and assassin he could, he dispatched them to stop the convoy in a haphazard manner, with mobsters throwing their vehicles and men at the convoy, attempting to blockade it several times. The result was a heavy toll on both sides, with vehicles destroyed, wrecked and otherwise driven off the road. An aerial conflict resulted in one of the Phantoms being downed, crashing right into the street, and forcing the Demiurge convoy off the highway and onto smaller roads, slowing their progress.
The Assembly, watching with great interest through the city's traffic cameras, began a closer analysis of their enemy. Their agent, Gavin Dunn, had touched down on Fell Justice and was already dispatched to the Demiurge's path to follow and observe. Using the traffic cameras, they finally got their first picture of the assassin they were so interested it, and upon cross-referencing discovered it was a former member of Dunn's crew. Helpfully 'leaking' this to Dunn, they asked that he use his knowledge of this person to trail her more closely. Dunn was more than a little perturbed that a former member of his crew, who had been missing for several years, had now turned up as a frenzied assassin. He instead decided his best course of action would be to try and talk her down.
He'd get his opportunity to do so when a Syndicate muscle car collided with the armoured van Ryuko was riding in, sending both through the wall of a multi-story parking lot. Ryuko stumbled from the wreck in a daze, but quickly gained her bearings and executed the surviving driver of the Syndicate car. Getting back into communication with her handler, she was ordered to lie low and and make her way to the Old District using the metro system. Obliging, she headed a major metro stop just a few blocks from her current position. Trailed by Dunn, she was confronted on the platform of the station. Calling out to his former crew mate, she only responded with fire from her plasma pistol. Against the advice of his Assembly handlers, he threw his gun away and raised his arms. He simply asked Ryuko to hold her fire. In her head, Kingslayer flooded her system with combat stimulants and ordered her to fire. While she hesitated she came to the realization that somebody on the Chancer had betrayed her, and it could well have been Dunn. Fostering this ill feeling, Kingslayer told her to terminate him now. Opening fire on Dunn, he was shielding by the body of Tal 'Zerex, his friend and crew mate of the Chancer. Absorbing her shots into his shielding, he too tried to talk Ryuko down. She responded with more fire, coming to the conclusion they were all behind her twisted fate.
During the confusion she made ran into the metro tunnels, disappearing from sight. Meanwhile, Dunn and Tal had some explaining to do to each other. Tal had come here to track Ryuko, in an attempt to save her, but it was becoming clear she may be too far gone. His last encounter with her had fared worse, with Tal almost being killed. The two agreed to work together to help Ryuko, but Tal was slowly beginning to be consumed by the thought that his friend may simply be too far gone, and a quick death would be more merciful than the tortured existence she currently lived in.
Navigating her way through the metro tunnels, she made it to her next port of call. There she planned on getting a metro to the old district and linking up with her allies. Patching back into communication with Kingslayer, she learned how dire their situation was. While Vanguard and his men made it to the Old District, they were again under siege. Kingslayer initiated one final contingency, and broadcast a ready code over open channels, to activate every Demiurge cell available to take the fight back to their enemy. Now the city erupted into an all out street war, Demiurge and Syndicate enforcers battling it out in open warfare. In their first strike, Kaspersky was wounded, and Sosel was finally made aware of the massive street war occurring in his city.
To make matters worse, bounty hunters, attracted by the scent of blood, had hacked the city's network and patched into the surveillance systems. One group found their prey, Ryuko, on the O-line of the metro system, and went to pursue. Soon this leaked to the Net, and hundreds of bounty hunters flocked to the city in an attempt to claim the bounty, dead or alive.
Now in an all out war, the Assembly initiated a fail safe. They cut the city off from the outside, putting their substantial processing power to use in hacking the city's communication grids to cut it off. Co-opting the city infrastructure, they took control of the metro system, the traffic network, the security systems and every camera in the city. As a final effort to take control, they hacked the Demiurge communication satellite Kingslayer used to direct the battle and forced it into a degrading orbit, where it broke apart and burned up on reentry. Now the Demiurge, Syndicate and bounty hunters were cut off, while the UNSC and Republic assassins were forced to use tight-beam communications between them and their ships to maintain communication.
War On The Streets
New Cádiz was now an open battleground, as bounty hunters, mercenaries, Syndicate enforcers and Demiurge operants battled on every street corner, turning the city into a war zone. Down Town Central in particular became a hive of activity as Demiurge clashed against the Syndicate right on the Syndicate's own turf, attempting to knock out their command structure. The resulting battle collapsed a central motorway and brought down two construction cranes, resulting in significant damage to several of the skyscrapers in the vicinity. The Old District turned into a siege as the Syndicate attempted to corner Vanguard and his unit near the Demiurge headquarters, and crush the opposition, destroying many of the historically significant buildings in this area, and bringing down the Ruyanna building, an old Covenant tower that in turn destroyed two smaller buildings, resulting in significant civilian casualties. Police forces were utterly overwhelmed by this, and could do little outside of set up pickets to secure certain areas. All sides, cut off from each other, rampaged without care or orders.
Meanwhile, bounty hunters turned up around the Victor South district, clashing with Syndicate, Police, Demiurge forces, and each other, in their search for Ryuko. Indiscriminate fire and brutal infighting resulted in high casualties for civilians, and bounty hunters attempting to track her into the metro system ended up derailing one of the metro trains, causing a disastrous crash that took out the Jurra Street T-Line station and took the entire T-Line out of commission. Ryuko constantly clashed with these bounty hunters in running battles up and down the metro line, jumping from train, to station to service tunnels and back again, wrecking the metro system in the process. In an effort to evade her enemies, she made her way back up to the surface streets, and battled them through the affluent Victor North district. This series of running battles went disastrously badly for the Bounty Hunters again, with the hunters regularly tripping over one another, and failing to keep up with Kawada who took an unconventional pathway through the malls, hanging gardens and galleries that dotted this district. The Bounty Hunters, despite an obvious advantage in numbers, failed to even land a blow on Kawada. The culmination of this battle occurred when one crew managed to pin her in the Sampada Banking building, chasing her up several floors of the office tower, before she escaped by leaping onto a crane constructing the adjacent building, leaving the Sampada building as it went up in flames caused by the battle. Initially dislocating her arm, she recovered quickly and made her way back to the ground, before proceeding on foot to the Old District.
Kingslayer, cut off from his agents, dispatched a cruiser to aide them, intending to evacuate as many of his best agents as he could.
The Crusader's Advance
With the chaos below, the Crusaders, who had previously waited in orbit, elected to strike. Kambei 'Nerevar, commander of the force, had decided upon the action of waiting for their enemy to expose themselves before striking, hoping to hit them at their weakest. Now with an all out war on the streets, they could not hope to wait, and instead struck a hammer blow. Taking their heavy corvette into orbit, they established a blockade, while sending down their fully compliment of twenty-seven Crusaders, with Kambei's team of seven heading to the heart of the battle, and the twenty others establishing a 'safe zone' in Torra District, a large civilian area.
Kambei's team had received tips that a killer matching their fugitive in size and skill was currently rampaging through the Victor North district. Descending in a dropship, Kambei observed the destruction in the streets and couldn't comprehend that this was the work of a single person. Reaching the ground, the team spread out in a loose hunting platform, quietly moving through abandoned streets to find their prey, terminating any bounty hunters or Syndicate enforcers who crossed their path. At the far left of their flank, Kambei's disciple, 'Esokol, encountered the running battle between a team of bounty hunters and Kawada, though she wasn't able to ascertain her identity. Alerting her fellows to this, they closed the net, using their dropship to attempt to funnel their enemy into a court to surround them. Recognising that she was gradually being trapped, she attempted to break out of the net, and in her furious attacks she wounded two of the Crusaders quite grievously, but failed to escape. Now trapped, she was confronted by her former mentor. Kambei, realising exactly who their foe was, hesitated at first. The young woman he'd guided and tutored was incapable of being the cold blooded killer responsible for the murder of his comrades. He held this thought all the way until she lunged, severely wounding him. Now on the back foot against her, and Ryuko's system flooded with combat stimulants, he was sent reeling under a flurry of blows. Kambei was so shocked that 'Esokol stepped in to aide him, leaping into the fray to attempt to even the odds. The three fought but failed to find an advantage over the other.
The battle was interrupted by the arrival of the Republic assassins. Initially mistaking the Crusaders for another group of bounty hunters, they descended into battle without warning, engaging the Crusaders. In the confusion of the brawl, Ryuko stole an explosive charge from one assassin and made an escape route for herself. The assassins, quickly realising who they were battling, disengaged, rather than assault a revered Military Order. Apologising for the debacle, the Assassins left without saying another word, leaving the Crusaders without their prey, and now battered.
The Devas Appear
Having slipped both the Crusaders and Assassins, Ryuko disappeared into the maze of abandoned buildings, squats and vagrant villages at the edges of Victor North and escaped everybody's attention. Due to the spottiness of surveillance coverage in this area, the Assembly and bounty hunters were unable to track her, and she escaped them, at least temporarily. The Crusaders, Assassins and Ronin Team were forced back to their ships to lick their wounds and to regroup.
However, another group now entered the fray. Coming in from the edge of the system in a group of three assault shuttles, Sabine and her Devas insurgents came down to bring their own forces to bear for the conflict. Not knowing the position of Ryuko, and unable to access city security system, she instead sought out her handler, Vanguard. Vanguard was squawking over short-band radio in an attempt to rally local forces, which in turn lead Sabine right to him. Descending on jump packs right onto the Demiurge's position in the Old District, they engaged in violent close quarters assault, not only gaining the advantage but quickly purging Demiurge resistance with the intent of securing Vanguard. Quickly capturing the Demiurge officer, they left with their prize, almost as soon as they had arrived. Having cut the heart from the Demiurge forces, they left them in an even worse state, the Demiurge defence of the Old District faltered.
Taking Vanguard back to orbit, he was brusquely interrogated, with the Devas utilising their knowledge of Demiurge implants to prevent him from killing himself. Under torture, Vanguard broke, and began answering Sabine's questions. He revealed the exact nature of her unwilling service to the Demiurge, and her extensive augmentations, but revealed there was no means to track her in the field. Done with Vanguard, Sabine vented him into the cold vacuum of space. With communications poor at best, thanks to the Assembly, the Devas would maintain a vigil, await for an opportunity to strike.
As the sun set, the battle of New Cádiz raged. Bounty hunters, Syndicate and Demiurge forces battled through the city streets, city blocks turning into killing grounds. A war waged up and down the streets, as both sides advanced and retreated, attempting to find some kind of advantage. As the night got later, the Syndicate and Demiurge withdrew, intending to lick their wounds. Other forces too, pulled back to regroup, with the wounded Crusaders pulling back, and Ronin Team reassessing their enemy and the situation. Tal 'Zerex and the Black Lance withdrew to an uncontested warehouse with Gavin Dunn, to discuss what the other knew. Dunn wanted to confront Ryuko again, to try and talk her down, and while Tal agreed with this course of action, he made provisions to for the worst case scenario, the scenario where he would have to put Ryuko down.
However, Ryuko's night wasn't over yet. Attempting to reach a safe house in the Jarra district, she was caught in a battle between the disparate police forces and bounty hunters tailing her. In the resulting battle, she killed two officers, and one of the bounty hunters, and hijacked a police cruiser to make an escape. However, one of the bounty hunters hit a wheel, blowing out the tire and sending her car careening through a wall and into a concrete river channel, smashing the car in the process. She wrecked her arm, and cracked a rib, but ignored the pain while escaping the wreck. Bounty hunters on her tail fired off a few shots, one landing in her shoulder and another landing a glancing blow on her side. Escaping into the sewer system, she knew she could easily be tracked by the blood she was losing, and turned it on her enemies, ambushing them as they entered the sewers, and killing them ruthlessly. Now free of her trail, she stumbled into the abandoned warehouses in the Jarra district, and found a place to barricade herself in overnight. Treating herself with some battlefield surgery, and painfully removing the bullet embedded in her shoulder, she patched herself up as best she could, resetting a broken finger and popping her arm back into her socket. Finally satisfied with her treatment, she attempted to get some rest, piling up cushions in an office and locking the door from the inside. She slept poorly, still being able to hear gunfire in the distance, and worried about being ambushed in her sleep.
The Second day brought about unusual alliances. In an effort to find Ryuko, the Crusaders and the Black Lance, separately attacked the Demiurge's headquarters, seeking information. Initially coming to blows, the two forged an uneasy alliance, brokered by Gavin Dunn. Likewise, the Assassins sent by the Justiciars allied themselves with Ronin Team, in order to increase their numbers. The Devas attacked the city space port, seizing control of it to assert control. Ryuko made use of the storm drains to travel the city unaccosted, evading attention. When she found the orbital elevator occupied by the Devas, she pulled back, seeking to find another way off-world.
Battle for Portend Space Port
High above, the Justiciars and ONI worked together to make a best guess of where their enemy would appear next. Ruling out Syndicate controlled territory, and the now contested orbital elevator, they guessed Portend Space Port. Descending in their dropships, and emitting a wide-band jamming field, they landed covertly at the edge of the Space Port and advanced, with Ronin team and the Assassin cadre at the head of this small force. Terminating the sentries, they breached the outer perimeter and slowly but surely overran and quietly executed every Demiurge agent in the vicinity. Once they were dealt with, they waited, hoping for their prey to arrive.
Ryuko came out of the Storm Drains close to the left airstrip and ascended up the draining ditch running along the strip to get to the main building. Finding no sentries, she was alerted immediately to something wrong. Cautiously scanning through the building, she was ambushed by two of the assassins, their energy swords swinging with intent to decapitate their enemy. Barely evading them, she used her augmented strength to leap to the next floor and then escaped to the maze of service corridors. Interrupting their pursuit was the arrival of the Syndicate forces sent to seize the space port, turning it into a brutal warzone as Spartans and Assassins fended off waves of Syndicate enforcers. Escaping to the rooftops, Ryuko was pursued by Ronin's leader, Jason Worth. Clad in MJOLNIR, and heavily cyberised, Worth was every bit a match for Ryuko, and managed to keep her on the defensive through the fight. However, a Syndicate helicopter, brought down by the fight, crashed straight into the rooftop, interrupting the battle and giving Ryuko an opportunity to escape. Making it across the rooftop and back to the tarmac, she managed to load up into a small VTOL and made for the air, intending to fly out of the city limits and drop off their radar. Gaining just enough altitude to escape, her VTOL was hit by precision fire from the ground, sending it into a disastrous spin. Unable to recover it, she was forced to crash the aircraft, smashing the aircraft through a building and landing on the road. The VTOL was totalled, and Ryuko was badly injured in the crash. With the leaking jet fuel igniting around her. Kicking her way free of the cabin, she escaped as the vehicle went up in a fireball.
Now badly wounded, she orientated herself and stole a car. Driving into the poor district of Tonam-Shem, she attempted to locate one of the free clinics in the area, but blood loss caused her to black out temporarily and crash the car. Forced to continue on foot, she finally made it to the clinic. Forcing her way in at gun point, she went into one of the medical rooms and barricaded it while she treated herself. She was forced to pull shrapnel from her arm and treat the severe burns on her left arm and leg. Treating the injuries as best she could, she pushed her way back out and disappeared again.
During her escapade at the clinic, her face was caught on a networked security camera, and facial recognition brought her to the attention of the Assembly, who alerted their agent, Gavin Dunn. This brought the alliance of the Crusaders and Black Lance down on Ryuko's head. Coming down in the Crusader's Phantom, they spread out across a wide area they suspected her to be in. Fanning out, the force swept the area, attempting to find Ryuko. First found by two of the Black Lance, they pursued her, chasing her right into the closing net of Crusaders. Even in her wounded state, she proved to be fast and wily, outrunning them in the densely packed back alleys. Cutting through a warehouse to get to the main road, she was confronted by Dunn at gunpoint. Dunn told her he could help her, and he just wanted to get her to safety.
- Gavin Dunn: "I don't know exactly what's going through your head right now, kid, but I know it ain't all your thoughts. They're whispering in your ear, telling you what to do again. I may not see eye-to-eye with you on much, but if I know one thing for sure, it's that Ryuko Kawada would never let herself be enslaved like that again!"
- Ryuko Kawada: ". . ."
- ―Dunn's attempt to bring Ryuko to her senses goes unanswered.
Ryuko, staying silent during this, waited until his guard dropped and sprang, somersaulting over him and grabbing his arm in a knee lock in the process, and dislocating it, then delivering a round house kick to the head, dislocating his jaw and concussing him. Escaping to the rooftop, with the intent of getting across the rooftops, she made it to two, before Kambei confronted her. Kambei too, made the mistake of attempting to talk her down, deactivating his sword, as a show of peace.
- Kambei 'Nerevar: "Ryuko, please! Throw down your arms and surrender. I can help you."
- Ryuko Kawada: "There's no helping me, not now."
- Kambei: "The warrior I knew would allow nobody to control her, least of all the Demiurge...come back to us Kawada."
- — Kambei confronts Ryuko on the rooftop
Ryuko, unsure of what to do, backed away from her, and for the first time in years, her programming faltered. As he came close to talking her down, Tal burst through the roof access door, taking Kambei by surprise. Tal immediately threw him from the rooftop, into the alley below. Tal would not talk it over with her, and instead he intended to put her down like a rabid beast. Drawing his sword, he plunged into a bloody melee with her, attempting to go for a quick and decisive blow to kill her instantly. Ryuko didn't make it easy, parrying and evading his attacks, until he landed a skilful blow and disarmed her, sending her sprawling onto the floor. Tal raised his sword to deliver the killing blow, and looked upon his enemy. In that moment, he saw the young girl he tutored on fighting, and his mercenary partner in many misadventures. Shutting down his sword, he could not bring himself to kill her. Ryuko responded by deploying a hidden wrist blade and stabbing him in the knee, then trapping his arm in a lock and using Tal's own weight to snap it, before finally delivering a brutal elbow strike to the head, intended to stun him. With her enemy knocked down, she made good on her escape, clearing the road, then making it to the Abanarth river and leaping in, disappearing beneath the surface.
Kambei, furious with 'Zerex's actions, withdrew with the Crusaders. Dunn departed too, leaving Tal and the Black Lance to continue a fruitless search.
Now the battle reach its zenith, as reinforcements from both sides poured in to New Cádiz. Most alarming for the Assembly, was the fact somebody was close to subverting their control of the network. Hackers for both the Demiurge and Syndicate had began wrestling portions of the city's networks from Assembly control, and their tenuous grasp on it was weakening, forcing the Assembly to do something drastic. Using their remote access, they forced the two power plants fuelling the city to go into overdrive, shorting transformer boxes across the city, and blowing the city power grid, triggering a city wide blackout. With the ongoing battle, it was impossible to get in and repair the damage.
Now the city was blacked out, and close to dusk. During the second night of conflict, Demiurge and Syndicate forces battled each other blindly, with many cases of friendly fire occurring during the night. Ryuko meanwhile had slipped the net again, and tried to find an overnight holt, managing to sneak into a condemned apartment complex and pass out in a gap between the walls.
The Third Day
By Dawn's Pale Light
Dawn broke with a city in turmoil. Intense fighting over the last two days left widespread destruction and damage in the city, and only parts of the city power grid had been restored, with large parts of it still blacked out. Demiurge and Syndicate casualties during the night had been exceptionally heavy, as both sides fought blindly in the darkness, and killed as many of their own men as they did each other. The Black Lance, lead by Tal, had rampaged across the souther districts, attempting to pick up Ryuko's trail, while the Crusaders had pulled back to their Heavy Corvette to decide upon an extreme course of action to end this battle. Ronin Team and the Justiciar Assassins were hunting themselves, switching to the Syndicate and Demiurge to weaken their chain of command and give themselves more room to operate. Bounty Hunters had torn the city apart in a frantic search for their prey, to no avail. The Devas held their own position resolutely, weathering numerous attacks with no casualties. Gavin Dunn meanwhile, was forced out of communication with his Assembly handlers and instead turned to tracking Ryuko, trying to predict where she'd go next.
Ryuko, meanwhile, was woken up to the sound of gunfire, and went outside to investigate the commotion. A pair of Demiurge agents and Syndicate enforcers were battle outside. Rather than aide either side, she waited for them to wear each other down, terminated the Syndicate agents and seized the Demiurge car to make good on her escape. Driving down into the Forsnel District, where power had bee restored, she was finally able to regain contact with Kingslayer, her handler. Kingslayer gave her coordinates to rendezvous with allied forces and prepare for evacuation. Ryuko obliged, heading towards the coordinates, but went into a district with operational camera networks. The Syndicate, Bounty Hunters and the Assembly all picked it up, with the Syndicate dispatching a squadron of Knight operatives to terminate her and the bounty hunters descending on her like locusts. The Assembly leaked her location across public networks, making sure the allied UNSC/Republic forces, and the Black Lance both saw it. They intended for their target to die, and for as many of their enemies to die in the process. This open communique was intercepted by the Crusaders, who took extreme action to intervene. Dunn too was alerted to this, and tried to persuade his handlers to let him bring Ryuko in for interrogation, since she had vital information on the Demiurge. They rejected this, and bluntly ordered him to observe her death to make sure she was terminated once and for all.
The Desperate Battle
In orbit, on the Crusaders ship, Kambei faced sedition. Many of his fellows felt his attachment to their prey compromised him, and he was unfit to lead this expedition. While furious at the accusations, he knew them to be true. He gave an impassioned speech that Kawada was a pawn in this, and like many other unfortunates, she needed protection. If they could secure her, they could also discover more about their illusive foe. Begrudgingly, his fellow Crusaders accepted this, and swore to follow him. Once their loyalty was ensured, Kambei told them of his new plan. The city was caught in a war between two reprehensible enemies, and the Crusaders could not simply allow this to happen. Kambei put forth that extreme action was necessary. They would take their Heavy Corvette into orbit and hold the city itself hostage, utilising its guns to bombard their enemies into dust. His fellow Crusaders agreed, as such extreme times demanded action as extreme.
The Crusader ship, The Resolute Hero, departed from its hiding place and sped to Fell Justice, burning through the orbit. Soon a crimson shadow was caste over the city, as Resolute Hero steadied itself into the best position over the city, and waited a moment. They took a moment to collate targets, and pick out the most intense areas of battle between their foes, where civilian casualties and collateral would be at their least, then fired. Plasma bolts rained down onto the city, incinerating buildings and leaving craters in road. Seizing control of the city airwaves, they made their mandate clear. Syndicate and Demiurge forces were to surrender, or face oblivion. The first barrage did little to halt their rampage, but the second made them pause, as the Resolute Hero bombarded the hotly contested Victor North district, bringing down skyscrapers under its bombardment, and sending clouds of smoke and debris spreading across the city. While the ship continued to pummel the city, Kambei descended in his dropship, intent on finding and stopping Ryuko.
Fighting On the Run
Ryuko was now on the drive of her life. Syndicate and bounty hunters were pursuing her through the street in a dramatic car chase as she desperately fought them off, ramming cars off the road, and shooting out the drivers where possible. The Assembly fought against her too, flexing their cybernetic capabilities to cause overloads in the underground steam pipes, causing violent explosions on the street. Ryuko narrowly dodged a few of these attacks. However, enemy numbers grew, and it quickly turned into a one sided battle, as even the armoured Demiurge car began to come apart under the intense fire.
Almost as if on cue, the Crusader's Phantom dropped down above her on the street and used its nose gun to tear apart her pursuers. The plasma cannon shredded cars, exploding and burning hulks left in their wake. The Phantom banked hard, following Ryuko around a corner, allowing the door gunners to shred another car. The dropship then dropped a pair of Crusaders on Ghosts, who immediately began to escort Ryuko, against her will. Kambei asked for Ryuko to pull over, and they'd take her into protective custody. This was interrupted by a truck slamming across the intersection, smashing one of the Ghosts aside, and knocking Ryuko's car off the road. Tal and the Black Lance leapt from the truck, firing on the Crusaders to ward them off while Tal gave chase. Ryuko kicked the door of her wrecked car off and crawled from the wreck before limping to the industrial train stop behind the warehouses and climbed onto a train as it pulled out. Tal leapt on, several cars behind her, intending to catch and terminate her. Determined to stop Tal and save Ryuko, Kambei had the Phantom pull above the train, allowing him to jump onto the roof.
Ryuko tried to make her way to the front of the train, cutting through the cargo pods as she did. Behind her, Tal was pursuing her, in the process of injecting himself with syringe after syringe of combat drugs, flooding his system with chemical enhancers to turn him into a raging berserker. Pursuing him in turn was Kambei, running along the rooftop. Although wounded after his previous engagement, Tal quickly caught to Ryuko, and drew his sword, lunging at her. Kambei swung through the window, kicking Tal aside, and shouted for Ryuko to run. Ryuko didn't hesitate, scrabbling to her feet and climbing into the next car.
Now Kambei and Tal faced off against one another, with one hopped up on enough combat stimulants to ignore any pain or injury, while the other was armed with only his nerves and experience. The two clashed, in a tumultuous clash, swords cracking on impact, fists impacting on armour and flesh. Kambei was certainly at a disadvantage in strength and endurance, but still had all his wits, and this would be the only advantage he would have. Kambei landed a blow on his shoulder, which tapped a nerve that should have debilitated any warrior in pain. Tal just bellowed in rage and through Kambei to the wall, the train's hull buckling under impact. Kambei rolled to evade the next blow, a sword strike that cut straight through the hull and shuffled back, attempting to get distance. He threw a plasma grenade into the carriage at the fuel cells it was transporting and run to the next car, an open flatbed. Behind him, the car exploded, a ball of flame erupting. Looking back with a sigh of relief, it was cut short as Tal leapt from the car, his blackened and scorched armour wreathed in flames. Slamming into the Crusader, he knocked him back into a box and began to rain brutal blows upon him, attempting to crush him with his bare hands. Dropping his sword, he fought, but struggled under the immense warrior's strength. Tal wrapped his hands around Kambei's throat and began to choke the life from him. Kambei desperately punched at Tal's head, but failed to stop him, or even making him flinch. In desperation, he drew his curve blade and slashed at his arm, weakening his grasp for just a moment and allowing Kambei to get his leg up and kick him in the chest, pushing Tal off himself.
Picking his blade up from the ground, he charged back against the warrior, swinging his sword. Tal brought his sword back on, and parried the blow again. The two clashed in a sword duel once again, but on the open flatbed, Kambei held the advantage, using the space to navigate around his foe and infuriate him. Meanwhile, Ryuko got to the front of the train, and broke into the automated control cabin, and took control of the train. As she tried to divert the cause, the battle behind her barrelled into the next car, and only one car behind her. The two warriors fought, and as they did, they attempted to fire on one another. One stray plasma bolt missed its target and hit the automated controls in front of Ryuko and destroyed it in a shower of sparks. The train's automated control went haywire and the train began to accelerate, and the brakes grew unresponsive. Ryuko desperately tried to slow the train, but it wouldn't respond, and was now accelerating to disaster, as part of the track ahead had been destroyed during the earlier bombardment.
Kambei and Tal battled in the motor car, each delivering a score of wounds upon the other. One wrong blow through Tal sliced into the coolant pump of the train's right engine, which soon overloaded and exploded, taking the other motor with it. Both Kambei and Tal were wounded, their armour just barely saving them from being killed outright. The explosion kick started a chain reaction, that caused in-hub motors on cars further down the train to explode, racking the whole train with explosions. Despite the injuries, the fire and the choking smoke, Kambei and Tal fought on, battle one another. Tal managed to grab Kambei's sword hand during a blow, and crush his hand, forcing him to drop his sword, then slammed him to the ground. Tal fell upon him, holding Kambei's head over the side of the train, and trying to force his head to the ground, with the intent of driving his head into the quickly passing ground beneath him. Kambei's head came into conflict with the ground, sparks flying from his helmet, and flesh tearing from his cheek. Summoning the last of his strength, Kambei took hold of Tal's shoulders, and placed his boot to his gut, then quickly shifting his weight, he threw himself and Tal over the side of the car. At the last possible moment, Kambei took hold of the lip of the train, hanging on, while Tal was thrown from the train, bellowing in rage. Tal smashed through the concrete wall of a building, then two more walls before coming to a stop, his body smashed and broken, but still alive.
Kambei clawed his way back up to the train, and limped to Ryuko in the lead car. She bluntly told him she lost control of the train, and they would need to leave. Kambei nodded in agreement, and radioed for his ship to come pick him up. The Phantom swung in above the train, having kept a safe distance, and hovered above it, gravity lift awaiting their arrival. At the last moment, their pilot reported a break in the track ahead. It was too late. The train hit the break, derailing. The already damaged train was torn asunder, coming apart and flying off the tracks, smashing through a tower block beside the tracks. The train at last came to a stop, smashed through the building and utterly destroyed. The Crusaders descended on the wreckage, and found their leader, his broken and battered body buried beneath the rubble, but Ryuko was absent. Recovering him, they withdrew, too battered to continue the fight.
The Demiurge's Final Gambit
Ryuko walked away from the wreck, miraculously unharmed despite the cataclysmic crash. She made her way to the rendezvous on foot, avoiding engagement where possible. She thought she had evaded attention, when Dunn stopped in front of her atop a stolen motorcycle. Dismounting, and with a gun pointed right at her, he had her dead to rights. Closing her eyes for the kill, she waited for the shot to come. Instead she heard the clattering of the gun at her feet. Dunn voluntarily disarmed himself, as a show that he was on her side. Taking the pistol, she was initially wary, but slowly accepted that Dunn didn't sell her out. Ryuko tucked the weapon into her waistband and accepted Dunn's offer of a ride to reach her meeting point, and he continued trying to sway her as they went.
- Gavin Dunn: "Come on, just drop it, come back with me, we'll get you somewhere safe."
- Ryuko Kawada: "There's no point. I can't leave the Demiurge, not even if I tried."
- Gavin Dunn: "I have contacts, we can get you out of here."
- Ryuko Kawada: "Just leave, Dunn. Leave before this gets worse."
- — Dunn tries to get Ryuko to leave with him.
Ryuko continued, with Dunn still trying to get her to come with him, when an ear-piercing shriek tore through the air. A rupture in the fabric of reality opened up above the city as a Demiurge cruiser pulled its way into real space, followed by two more. From their bellies descended dozens of dropships, screaming to the ground with the intent of evacuating the Demiurge agents still on the ground. One of the cruisers engaged the Crusader ship, the Resolute Hero, while the two others began glassing the city, planning to erase the evidence of the battle.
On the Resolute Hero, the badly-wounded Kambei stormed to the bridge. Despite his life threatening injuries, he refused to sit this out. Being appraised of the situation, he gave one single command, to beat back the Cruisers, at least long enough to allow the citizens of the city to evacuate. It was guaranteed suicide, but the Crusaders would not back down from such an affront to law. They engaged a vessel almost twice their length, attempting to use their superior agility to offset their smaller armament and weaker shielding.
All across the city, Demiurge forces touched down, evacuating who they could, and massacring the out-gunned Syndicate in the process. Ronin Team withdrew, knowing it would be suicide to stay, their Assassin allies withdrawing too. The Black Lance recovered Tal's broken body and evacuated too, seizing a shuttle and withdrawing the battle. The Syndicate was forced into a full rout, abandoning the city en-masse. Ryuko didn't care, as she and Dunn had finally reached her evacuation point. Reaching the compound, she saw the slaughtered corpses of the Demiurge soldiers, placed on display. However, she didn't have the time to pull back, and cautiously entered the compound. Once she was in the open, she was ambushed and surrounded by Devas shock troopers. Sabine revealed herself to her old friend, and curtly asked Ryuko to surrender and come with her. Ryuko responded by opening fire on Sabine's troops, prompting her to dive on her and draw her sword.
Around them, Demiurge dropships began to descend, spewing forth elite Demiurge warriors, who fell upon the Devas positions. All around them, a tumultuous battle erupted, but the two didn't care. Despite Ryuko's injuries, she was greatly enhanced by her augments, while Sabine was fitted with an energy shield to ward off harm. The two clashed, blades cutting into one another, raining blows on one another and brawling. However, Ryuko held the edge, and the balance tipped in her favour, with Ryuko gaining an edge over her opponent, then exploiting it.
Above them the aerial battle grew in ferocity, as the Resolute Hero took an ever increasing pounding. With her shields failing, and her weapon systems disabled, she began to lose altitude. The Demiurge began boarding her, with the Crusaders fighting them off in close-quarters fighting, brutal corridor to corridor fighting. Despite his injuries, Kambei lead his Crusaders in a fight against their enemies, desperately holding the line while the Demiurge attacked. Meanwhile, the two other Demiurge cruisers began glassing the city, beginning at the southern most point and working their way north, leaving smouldering wrecks in their wake.
When the battle seemed lost, another slipspace rupture tore itself open above the city. The Devas flagship, the ORS-class cruiser Freedom, tore its way into real space, ramming one of the Demiurge cruisers as it did. Cutting its way throguh the vessel like it wasn't even there, it swung heavily and cut straight across the bow of the second cruiser, its energy projector slicing it at an angle across the main hull, crippling it. The third cruiser began to enact evasive manoeuvres, bringing it into close quarters with the Freedom. This gave the Resolute Hero an opening to pull back, allowing the ship to get distance.
Ryuko was now out numbered, and her window for escape was closing. Charging into battle with Sabine, she fought like an animal, her body flooded with drugs that allowed her to ignore pain and injuries. The two brawled, their blades clashing, ringing even above the battle raging above them. Sabine managed to off balance her, and even when Ryuko was vulnerable to a finishing blow she failed to kill her. Ryuko responded by taking Sabine's sword arm into a lock, forcing her arm to straighten out, and delivering a thunderous blow to her solar plexus, cracking her ribs, then head butted her, cutting her across the forehead. With blood gushing into her eyes, blinding her, Sabine was in a poor shape to fight. Blindly stumbling back, with no idea of where her for was at, she was deftly disarmed and knocked down. At Ryuko's mercy, she just gave her friend an indignant smile. Her second in command, Aikaras, tossed a small sphere to her feet. The EMP charge held within detonated, shorting out her cybernetic implants. Three of her elite soldiers stepped up behind Ryuko and fired on her with stun devices, firing continuously until she was on the ground motionless.
Above a them, the Freedom continued to pound the last cruiser, volleys of plasma torpedoes incinerating entire decks in conflagrations of fire. The ship burned, five and smoke billowing from its hull. As the damage increased, it began to list, it's engines failing. Finally, it's reactor failed, shutting down, and it's reserves of plasma detonated, exploding. The ship plummeted to the ground, crashing into one of the evacuated districts and breaking apart. The Freedom hung above the city clearing the last few remnants of the Demiurge strike force. With their prey subdued, the Devas set up a wide area jammer, to prevent orders being transmitted to Ryuko, and spirited her away to a specially constructed cell, a faraday cage to keep her isolated from electronic signal, keeping her sedated the whole time.
With their goal completed, the Devas returned to their ship and departed the system, heading back into deep space, leaving in their wake in numerous questions and vast swathes of devastation.
Ryuko Kawada, Devas Freedom Fighter
After being captured by the Devas, the next thing Ryuko saw was the ceiling of a cell aboard the Devas flagship, the Freedom. Strapped to a cot and surrounded by medical machines, she weakly strained against the leather straps and chains halting her escape. Shouting hoarsely, medical personal soon came to her side, before eventually Sabine appeared over her, smiling warmly. Soon enough, she was out again. Soon enough, she woke again, with a splitting headache. However, she was awake, and alert, and shouting for her to be freed otherwise she'd kill everybody on this ship. Sabine came to her side, and began explaining what had happened.
At the end of the battle for Cadiz, Sabine had rendered her friend unconscious and spirited her away to the Devas flagship, imprisoning her in a Faraday cage designed to block signals from the outside, preventing her kill switch from being remotely detonated. Then, for the next five months, she was kept in a medically induced coma while the invasive Demiurge implants were surgically removed. The surgeries took a dozen hours each, and stretched over several months. Two weeks ago, the final implant was removed, and they began to bring her out of her coma. All the Demiurge programming came to the surface and she entered a berserker rage, straining against her implants. She had to be sedated, calming her down.
The next few weeks were difficult for Ryuko, as Sabine brought in several experts in the field of brainwashing, in an attempt to deprogram what the Demiurge did to her. For weeks, she resisted, physically and mentally, until she began to relent. Eventually, layer by layer, they removed the programming, and piece by piece, they began to bring Ryuko, or what was left of her, back together. Eventually, they even released her from her restraints. When they were done to her, Ryuko was a different woman, for the third time. Little parts of her began to show again, with her sarcasm, her wit, and her rebellious streak beginning to show again. She was still prickly, but the repeated brainwashing had left her a shell. She didn't say much, she barely laughed, smiled, or showed any emotion. Relearning how to be human would be the toughest thing she would have to do. Sabine guided her through it all, refusing to abandon her friend.
"I need something to kill"
Sabine had grown lenient with Ryuko. Ryuko was allowed to leave her cell for several hours a day, venturing the ship, eating in the mess hall, so on. Sabine proudly showed Ryuko to the bridge of her flagship, and showed her the elite soldiers of her army. Ryuko was mostly disinterested, still becoming accustomed to her new found freewill. During one of her periods of free travel, she walked through the lower decks, when she heard a crewman sing a song from a Sangheili folk song. The chorus was used as a trigger phrase by the Demiurge, intended to start a berserker rage, and that it did. By the time she was subdued, seven people had been hospitalised, some of them gravely wounded. She was taken back to her cell and sedated, but the drugs proved ineffective. She grew agitated, pacing back and forth in her cell. When Sabine visited, she only said one thing
While uneasy at such a prospect, Sabine decided to allow her to partake in the next Devas operation, hoping combat would temper her. The chance came several days later, when the Devas came upon the base of a small Kig-Yar pirate clan. Ryuko went down with the first wave, and went with their troops as they crept upon the bases perimeter. Once in range, they sounded the charge with a barrage of plasma mortars. Ryuko was in the first wave, sword in hand. For the first time in years, her body and will was her own. She fell upon the pirates with a righteous fury, that was all her own. Most of the Devas started in awe at this warrior tear apart the pirates. Soon enough, the pirates routed, allowing the Devas to take the base, free their slaves, and loot their stores. Ryuko just stood in the middle of the field, covered in blood, panting. She was finally free.
Coming down to inspect the devastation herself, Sabine saw the satisfied smile on her friend's face, and just chuckled. Together, they'd be unstoppable.
Death To Slavers
Showdown On The Chancer V
The Hunt For A Madman
Hunting Down The Demiurge
An End, Of Sorts
Between growing up on Sanghelios, and living as a gladiator, she's extraordinarily fit. Possessed of a small, but lithe body, with well developed musculature and almost no cutaneous fat. She's got more than a few scars, but most have healed well thanks to advanced Covenant biotech, leaving a few notable scars here and there, as well as a few nicks here and there. Due to the fact she spends the majority of her time outside, her skin has become tanned.
Ryuko is of far eastern descent, mostly of Japanese stock, though she also has European ancestors on her mothers side, accounting for her blue eyes. She has dark blue hair, which in recent years has been forcibly dyed on Calistus' orders for aesthetic effects, so it now has red running through it. She has deep blue eyes, the same as her mother.
Ryuko can quickly be summed up as loud, brash, stubborn and always spoiling for a fight. Even as a child she was energetic and boisterous, and growing up on Sanghelios cemented that attitude. As a child she always scrapped with the bigger Sanghelios youths, and growing up amongst them she took on many of their social conventions, such as personal honour. As a grown woman she's maintained thrives of personal honour, and this usually manifests as being a very sore loser. She's also prone to running her mouth, and will say exactly what what's a on her mind. She's also know to lash out physically when she's angry, or finds difficulty expressing herself. Despite being a slave for several years, she has still yet to get used to the clothing (or lack of clothing) given to slaves and gets easily embarrassed by her slave clothing, especially around other humans.
Losing her father crushed her, but her spirit refused to yield. Despite attempts by numerous owners to break her, she's refused to yield and still remains fiercely independent and determined to resist. She abhors slavers, and slave owners with a passion, but in the arena, she has a sense of belonging. In the arena, she loves a good brawl, and battles with an extreme vigour that few enemies can keep up with. She does what she can to protect other slaves around her, especially those who can't protect themselves. Despite this, she's not a team player, and prefers to fight alone, not playing well with others. In a few rare instances, her better nature shines through, when she can be kind and gentle, and even laugh and joke, both these instances are few and far between, since she trusts few people enough to open up around them.
Ryuko has trained extensively to attain her current skill level. Her main skill is that of a Gladiator, being both a skilled duellist and a excellent swordsman, as well as a excellent showman. Her skill is such, few opponents have ever landed a blow on her, fewer still have beaten her. She's also developed her niche in showmanship, working in the crowd by berating them and the other fighter, and running her mouth as long as she needs to. As a swordsman, there's few that can contend, and her speed and strength of arm allow her to easily beat most foes. Her fighting style is mostly a mixture of gladiator training, Sangheili swordsmanship and her own ideas, resulting in a fast and brutal style, relying on heavy blows launched with such speed and ferocity that there's little defence.
Ryuko herself is very athletic, being fast, strong and flexible. Her difficult training regime means she's stronger than most men her age and can easily out run them.
She has a number of other skills, such as rudimentary first aid for patching herself and has limited training in firearms from Trak, but rarely gets the opportunity to test this skill.
After her escape, and return to the state of Vadam, she was tutored in combat by the keeps warriors to become a housecarl, and protector in service to a high member of the keep. Here, she learned the finer points of handling fire arms, becoming proficient, then just plain deadly with them in a quick period of time, as well as being tutored on protective measures to cover her VIP. These skills would be regularly tested protecting her VIP and the Keep from threats.
When she went freelance, these skills were sharpened by the constant stream of jobs. To add to this, her self-reliance forced her to become familiar with maintaining her ship, weapons, armour and other pieces of tech. Her partnership with the Crusader, 'Nerevar, also introduced her to methods of tracking quarry and interrogation, tuning her senses to make her a great bounty hunter.
At the gladiator school run by Dacastus, she was given her first gladiator armour and weapon. Given a standard gladiator harness designed for human males, it was initially ill fitting and uncomfortable. Upon this harness her armour would be directly bolted onto the harness. After the first month, Dacastus had a custom made harness made especially for her. This harness, like the others used by the gladiators, was a set of metallic components connected by leather straps, which were locked onto her body by the overseer, and could only be unlocked by his key. The harness did little to spare her modesty, featuring a simplistic design that featured a collar, two straps on her upper arm, a strap across her chest, a codpiece and two straps on her thighs, all of which were interconnected. Her training armour was piled onto this harness, which consisted of a modest chest plate contoured to her body, two fauld plates that covered each of her thighs, greaves, and vambraces. For most of training she had a longsword made for training, with a dulled point, but later in her training, she was equipped with a sharpened version, making for genuine combat.
Taramanus only owned Ryuko for a short time, and during that time he bought her a single set of armour, a style intended for human males, again. This ill fitting armour hampered her agility, especially given it was designed for somebody with a larger frame. This consisted of greaves, vambraces, two rounded pauldrons, a breast plate that hung heavily on her torso and a single fauld hanging from her hips, suspended by a belt. She utilised a Jiralhanae style sword, with a wicked curve a the tip.
When Trak F'Kor bought her, her arms and armour came bundled under the price, Shortly after her first few matches, Trak bought her a custom made set of armour. Form fitting, practical and modest, the armour featured a cuirasse, greaves, faulds, vambraces and pauldrons, along with a high collar to protect her neck, and was fitted with an underlying body suit. This was teamed with a well balanced sword, with a basket style hilt. Unfortunately, this gear would be discarded when the cartel took owner ship of her.
under the Cartel associate Kar'tra, she was taken back to being dressed and armoured as an out right slave. Her newly made battle armour featured a cuirasse, vambraces graves and a 'skirt' made from multiple faulds overlapping one another. She utilised a Kig-Yar pattern of longsword, featuring a gut hook for cracking open armour.
During the Tarmaessenia games reenactment, she wore mock armour in the guise of historical Kig-Yar armour patterns, intended to replicate the armour of the Free Traders of Tammak. This armour, which Ryuko particularly hated, consisted of a bikini-style armour, especially made for the jeering crowd's pleasure, teamed with a short red cloak, a short sowrd and a shield. The shield was dumped soon into the battle, being thrown in the face of one of her opponents.
During her run as the 'Princess of the Sands' she wore a set of armour especially tailored to her by one of Eayn's top armoursmiths. The armour featured a segmented breast plate, extended form the armour collar at the top, to the tip of the plate at her abdomen, a similar segmented fauld hanging from her hips, with vambraces, greaves, pauldrons and something clothing to protect her modesty. All of this was gilded with silver decoration, and accented by deep blue clothes, with two hanging from her hips, and one over her right shoulder. To finish the appearance of royalty, she had a matching tiara, decorated with silver. Her weapon with be a single edged longside, polished to a fine sheen.
In service of Princess Faz'Xazal, her armour changed significantly, mirroring the exoskeleton of the hive members. The armour consisted of a moulded cuirassed, barbed braces and greaves, a codpiece and moulded tassets on each side of her thigh. These plates were a deep green colour and was made of the same material used in the exterior of hives and on their warships, a hardened ceramic. Her weapon was a curved sword, with various hooks and knicks designed to pry off of catch the armour of the enemy.
Under Char Murv, her armour and arms was of a poor quality. Her armour consisted of a modified cuirasse and greaves from a set of Kig-Yar armour that proved to be extremely uncomfortable to wear. In an attempt to market her, Char Murv had a set of armour commissioned to expose her feminine curves in alluring ways, which Ryuko particularly hated, given the amount of skin it showed. Her sword was a Kig-Yar design, designed for strong decapitation blows, and it claimed many limbs and heads during the defence of Char Murv's ship.
Calistus knew the power of marketing, and knew the crowd loved to hate a villain, so he promoted her as a sangheili trained war-witch and armoured her in armour designed in mockery of Sangheili battle dress. Like most Jiralhanae slaves, she's fitted with an under harness. This is locked onto her body by a key only Calistus possesses, and functions as the means to mount her armour on. The harness consists of red leather straps, criss crossing her body and with mounting points to hold armour or chains. The harness covers at least some of her modesty, with a codpiece and two vertical straps covering her chest. Onto this they mounted her armour, featuring an encompassing cuirasse, covering her front and back, from her neck to her navel and fitted with shoulder guards, that curved upwards, intended to give her a more fearsome appearance. Onto her waist, her harness is mounted with twin tassets, covering the right and left side of her hips, and the front of her tights. These are made from overlapping plates of armour, giving them some degree of flexibility. To round out the gear, she has boots, greaves and vambraces, fitted with spring loaded blades to defend herself in the event she is disarmed. Under her armour she wore Sangheili-style coverings, on her arms, running from her thumb to mid-way up her upper arm, and matching ones running from her ankles to just above her knee, and a similar piece below her curiasse, covering her neck. Her weapon as an elegant, single-edged longsword, finished in a red coating and ending in a circular hilt, allowing her use it as a knuckle duster and allowing her to perform flourishes with it.
Themissiax, much like Calistus, knew the advantages of marketing, and kept much of her armour similar, within a degree. Her newly commissioned set was designed to match that of the slightly better known Sabine, albeit in the red and black colours that had become her trademark. The under pinning harness was the same, but instead featured smaller faulds slightly further down on her thighs, rather than her hips, instead of the canted shoulder guards, she instead had two large conical shaped guards, and a different breastplate. She used the same sword as she did with Calistus.
In the menagerie, she was initially placed on display without clothing or armour, much to her embarrassment. When she was taken to be killed and stuffed, he'd arranged to have a copy of her famous armour and sword used as she was in service to Calistus. Her escape and murder of Urugram put a stop to this.
During the uprising, she was initially forced to use a meat cleaver stolen from Urugram's taxidermist and cover herself in rags. Upon reaching Themissiax's manor, she retrieved her armour and sword, as well as a spike rifle, which she would use until the end of the uprising. She wore a few extra rags over to the top of her armour, and wore them until her escape.
While a housecarl in service to Hajal 'Vadam, she wore a modified variant of the Scout Harness used by the Tan'Rith legion. Lightweight but still sturdy, it allows a full range of movement to Ryuko. It consists of a curiasse, with a breast plate and back plate, connected by adjoining shoulder plates, vambraces, greaves with connected kneepads, boots, cuisses to cover her thighs, and a cod piece. This armour was fitted with electronic systems including IFF, tracking, communication, damage response and networking. This armour was painted in the colours of the Vadam lineage, with a deep crimson on hue with white decaling. Under thus she wore a Sangheili battledress, consisting of a leotard, arm covers, and leg covers, made of a light weight polymer fabric that conferred a slight protection against shrapnel and glancing blows.
She kept her sword from her time as a Gladiator, but usually teamed with a plasma rifle, or a carbine, as well as a plasma pistol as a back up at all times.
As a mercenary, she kept a Scout Harness, this time painted matte black, with red decaling. Normally, she'd wear on the cuirasse, over normal civilian clothing, usually a vest, combat trousers and boots, the a leather jacket over her cuirasse, but occasionally for specialised missions she'd wear the whole set, usually with a unitard and arm covers on underneath, weather permitting. For vacuum environments, she usually travelled light, with a pressure suit and a rebreather mask covering her face, and providing her with fifty minutes of air. On rarer occasions, she'd used a full face helmet with rebreather. She also had cold weather gear.
For her armament, she kept a large arsenal on board her ship. The usual weapon load out consisted of a her sword, a rifle and her side arm, a plasma pistol usually kept at a 3 o'clock holster position on the back of her hips. Her arsenal included plasma rifles, a plasma repeater, a storm rifle and a carbine, along with batteries and ammunition for all of them. As well as this, it included plasma grenades and several explosive devices, though nothing possessing an especially large yield. Her vambraces were modified to have spring loaded blades fitted in them, that could deploy in a fraction of a second, as a nasty surprise for anybody that thought her to be unarmed. She also used a 'night night' glove, from time to time. A knock off of a UNSC non-lethal weapon, the glove is insulted and fitted with a high power capacitor. It is designed to discharge on impact with a target, such as grabbing them, or punching them, and deliver a high voltage shock, enough to knock them out. It can be modified to take on targets larger or smaller than humans.
She also got into the habit of using a piece of gear commonly seen in zero-g shipyards. A set of microthrusters mounted on a gimble and carried as a pack just above her waist, it allowed her to significantly adjust her agility. As effect in terrestrial environments as it is in space, the thrusters allow her to jet forward suddenly, leap at least a story up, clear large gaps or perform diving rolls, evading most threats.
Her personal means of transport was the Asura-class Assault Shuttle customised to her needs. The ship, which she came to call the Blade Flash, was originally a military spec Asura-class, fitted with most of the common systems, as well as a pair of fuel rod cannons in the weapons bay. The ship has been painted black, with red chevrons on the side. Internally, there's little in terms of modifications, though the three modular rooms have been fitted with unusual selections. The largest is a sparring room, for exercising and training, which has been fitted with a holographic projector to create training scenarios and opponents. The next largest is the lounge, a place to relax. Fitted with a few comforts, Ryuko tends to sleep in here rather the cabin. Lastly is her improvised brig, used for bringing in bounties. With improved locking mechanisms to prevent entry or exit without her knowledge, it is fitted with five stasis fields used to restrain prisoners.
In the cargo bay of the Blade Flash is her method of locomotion on the ground. She uses a stripped down Iruiru Armory C-7Z Gale, a type of hoverbike made for the civilian market on Sanghelios. Quick, sturdy and able to turn on a dime, it can take her and a passenger, as well as some extra cargo, and provide travel back and forth from the ship.