Smoke from several small fires around the town rose into the air and mingled with the clouds in the sky from the oncoming storm. Gunter D Parker, alongside the crews of the Dark Star and the Constellation, stood at what had been, until a few hours ago, the main gates of Thelos. He watched as Abbrahan Shadowmark, and his lackey walked away from the conflict. A truce had been negotiated, but Gunter was led to believe that he had sacrificed himself, possibly multiple times, to kill this powerful magic user and stop whatever it was that he was planning.
As soon as the pair disappeared, the stress and relief flooded into Gunter in equal measure and he almost collapsed to the ground with a heavy sigh, panting as he tried to catch his breath. He looked to the Ulrichien woman stood next to him, who had just brokered the peace deal and pulled apart the space-time continuum to restore whatever foolish mistakes Gunter had made that would have cost him his own life. She was also breathing heavily, trying to control her panicked emotions.
Gunter was confused about the information that she had been telling him, not remembering the ten minutes or so that she had rewound. He stood up and pulled Ryvvierra into a hug “You’re telling me… I nearly died?”
Ryvvierra breathed a few more times deeply, calming down a bit more before she started to hug Gunter back again “Um… yeah I think so? All I know is that you did something that caused several bad things occurred at the Temple involving magical grenades and… yeah, I wasn’t having that.”
“If I was willing to sacrifice myself like that…” Gunter suddenly trailed off “He must have done something severe… threatened to do something so… evil… I would have probably ended up retaking the same path if you hadn’t stopped me.”
Ryvvierra exhaled slowly, “Yeah, I’m really glad I managed to stop you, and, apologies for the freaking out, but I didn’t know how much the guy knew and wanted to basically just say ‘You did a bad’”
“Thank you for saving me… again” Gunter will say, pulling away from the embrace to plant a kiss on Ryvvierra’s forehead.
Ryvvierra smiles at that, “Well, you are tough Gunter, but I couldn’t let you die… or best case scenario, lose the other half of your face.”
Gunter pulls out of the hug and shoves Ryvvierra gently, “Hey.” Gunter smiled and pulled her back into the hug, “You know that you love the half a face I still have… Even if I felt it was warranted to sacrifice myself to kill him… I hope that you have now brought us the time to work out a way to stop him where I don’t need to do that”
Ryvvierra hugs Gunter back tightly “Please, for the love of the gods… although maybe not the ones they worship… stay safe and don’t repeat history… and talk out your plans and be rational because you are dealing with a very powerful magic dude.”
“I would assume that I didn’t have have the time to talk out this plan… or even really make a plan… It would have been a spur of the moment situation if you… or one of the others… hadn’t stopped me.”
“All I will say is this… sneaking is not your forte” Ryvvierra said, before looking into Gunter’s eyes and seeing him rack his memory “But to be fair, strength isn’t mine… we all have our strengths and weaknesses… and some of our team members make up for our weaknesses, and we make up for theirs. The main thing is, you guys have to work together, not against each other. Otherwise, none of you will survive.”
Gunter smiled again, “I could say the same for your crew… keep a close eye on that… ginger-bearded dwarf, he seems to like causing trouble… and Marhden isn’t far behind… and are he and Brandiven officially a thing now?”
Ryvvierra sighed deeply “Yeah, I will try my best with them but… they can do ‘serious’ when absolutely necessary. They haven’t told us they are official yet… but we all know they are”
With one final squeeze, Gunter pulls out of the hug “Take care of yourself Ryvvierra… I want to meet up with you again… Ideally sometime when the world isn’t ending, or the spaceship isn’t crashing… you and the rest of your crew, and me and the rest of mine… just to…” Gunter stops and thinks deeply for a second, head cocking to the side “What the fuck do we actually do when it isn’t the end of the world.” He paused again… contemplating. “I’m sure we can working something out.” Gunter reaches forward and plants another gentle kiss on Ryvvierra’s forehead.
“I can assure you; this won’t be the last time we meet… and yes once all this world-saving bullshit is said and done, we can get some drinks, and Marhden will insist on taking you all to a brothel. But either way, you guys stay safe as well.” And she reaches forward with a very soft and gentle kiss to the burnt, right side of his face, feeling sorry that part of her vision came true, before turning and heading off to check on Orion and Valoor-nuun.
As Gunter turns and walks away, heading back towards the tavern at the centre of town. He reached up with his left hand and brushed his right cheek, for the first time in a long time wishing that he had some feeling in the burnt side of his face.
Gunter wandered absent-mindedly through the destruction away from the gates and towards the tavern at the centre of town. He continued stroking his cheek, lost in his thoughts, so much so that he almost missed Brandiven, sitting on some rubble from the attack. Gunter looked up at him, “Oh, hello. Thanks for all your help again.”.
Brandiven turned and saw Gunter approaching, “Oh, Of course. T’was why we were sent, after all.”
“I was the one who sent out the distress call that you answered… I mean… I assume it was you; the communication tower was a little messed up” Gunter mused, still idly rubbing his scarred cheek. “Do you mind if I ask, what happened to your eye?”
“Well, the official medical report says that it was pierced with glass. But in actual fact, it was surrendered for a deal I made.” Brandiven said, hopping down from the collapsed wall.
“What? When did this happen?” Gunter spluttered, completely shocked “Why would you give up your eye?”
“There’s… there was a vision I was shown.” Brandiven paused for a moment; the memory of the vision was difficult. “One that I wanted to prevent. I got my team the protection they needed; paying with my eye was nothing.”
“Fucking visions” Gunter was getting sick of hearing about visions of the future. He slowly looked down towards the ground and asked, “Do you ever miss it?”
“Tch, I mean, as long as I can still shoot, it’s nothing too bad.” Brandiven mimed firing his sniper rifle, looking down the sights with his good eye. He turned and looked back at Gunter and pointed to the burns on the side of his face. “Now, how about you? I apologise for being blunt, but I remember you had more of a face the last time I saw you.”
Gunter let out a half smile at that; most people seemed to dance around the subject, few people spoke so openly, “Yeah… that was… something” Gunter looked back at Brandiven, “We were sneaking into an enemy fortress on Atrig III, right after we parted ways last time. Things got… out of hand. A fireball was more massive than I expected and I almost died.”
“What, did your group have some kind of civil war?” Brandiven seemed taken aback that the crew of the Dark Star might be as flawed as the Constellation.
“Alarms sounded, people panicked. Eyenverney set off a fireball backed up by some gunpowder, and that is all I remember for the next 5 minutes or so.” Gunter knew that his crew had managed to put the fire out and used their magic to revive him and the others caught in the room.
“I see.” Brandiven pondered for a moment, rubbing the side of his face as he did. “You might want to try finding some higher form of healing for it if I were you.”
“They are no longer life-threatening,” Gunter said, thinking deeply “I want to keep the scars as a reminder even though it would be nice to be able to feel that side of my face. Sometimes.” Gunter trailed off, losing himself in thought again.
“Hmph” Grunted Brandiven, snapping Gunter back to reality. “I always tried to avoid scars when I could, but these ones,” He said, brushing the tips of his fingers over the scars on his face. “They’re not so bad. I see them more like a trophy. Reminding others that you can’t kill me that easily.”
“That’s what I thought of these. A reminder that it takes a lot to take me out, but also a reminder to my friends about how dangerous we can all be, and also a reminder to myself about the dangers of blurring the line between friend and foe.” Brandiven fell oddly quiet, looking at Gunter curiously. Feeling slightly uneasy, Gunter just asked “What?”
“Nothing. Just… tell your so-called friends to be more careful.” Brandiven finally grunted
“We are keeping a watch on him. I hope your eye was a worthwhile trade for keeping your team safe.”
“Well, they’re still alive, aren’t they?” Brandiven spread his arms wide, indicating the crew of the Constellation behind him. Gunter cast his eyes around the devastation taking them all in.
“They sure are. Try to do your best to keep them that way, your company is exciting, and at some time when the world isn’t ending, we need to work out what we do when we get together outside of… Work.” Gunter thought for a second. “So are you and Marhden… Together?”
Brandiven raised an eyebrow at that, “Huh, whatever gave it away?” He asked with a sly smile.
“I think it was about the second that I took over firing the port turret, and you disappeared into the engine room with him.” Gunter returned the smile, “And I developed a sincere desire to scrub clean all of our commlinks.” Gunter held out his hand for Brandiven, who took it and shook it.
“Yes, I’ll remind him to shut it off first the next time. He always has a habit of just… jumping on me.” Brandiven spluttered, a little awkwardly.
“That is something special. Take care of him” Gunter lets Brandiven go and starts heading back to the tavern “See you… hopefully soon… hopefully sometime when we can relax.”
“Yes. We both deserve a break, eventually. Until then.” Brandiven turned and went back to work, while Gunter headed to the tavern to assist co-ordinating the final evacuations.