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    The evening wears on, and the crew settles in to wait for the guards at dusk, moving into position as far from the guardhouse as they can be, and still be covered by the woods. Feina waits with them, silently, but brimming over with excitement.

Vash sits quietly in the underbrush, his sword in the crook of his arm, the grip resting against his cheek. He licks his lips. Nervous habit, he thinks. Nervous. Must be time. Not long now. Sakura hasn't yet drawn her sword but keeps her eyes open and ears alert as she waits nervously. Douglas remains still yet horribly tense, keeping the naginata sheathed, holding it silently and keeping any glinting metal bits covered, as well as the colored streamers upon it. Kerry finds a spot concealed in the leaves of a tree nearly on the guard's route. His sling is ready and he's got the lead bullets ready to hand. He's already picked out the clear lower branch he'll drop to when the action starts.

Pretty much on schedule the two guards come walking along. One of them is saying to the other, "I know, I know. I don't like how it feels either. But it's easy work, you know? Who in their right mind would come here?"

Sakura looks over at the Captain. Vash rises without a word and begins moving toward the edge of the tree line. Kerry grins at the human's words. Oh, maybe the proper owners, groundlings? Douglas swallows, then takes in a deep breath. He looks to Sakura, trying to conceal his nervousness, but looks away quickly when he knows he's failing miserably. He starts to trail along silently after Vash. Sakura brings herself off of her belly, hand sliding to her sword. She stays on her elbows and knees until the captain says otherwise.

Feina watches carefully, looking out at where she expects the guards to be visible first, being as still as any of the crew has ever seen her. She also seems sensible enough to let the better-armed and armored go in front of her, as enthusiastic as she may be. It's as if she knows what she's doing here.

Vash takes an off step, concentrating more on the edge of the trees than on where he's stepping. And so, naturally, he steps on a twig. A very dry twig. *CRACK* Vash freezes and winces visibly. Oh... shit. Sakura's ears droop a little. Douglas's ears perk sharply, and his breath catches. A moment later his hand is unfastening the strap holding the sheathe to the blade of his spear. Kerry flinches at the crack of the twig. Please let them be as deaf as Home Earth humans...

One of the guards looks straight at where Vash is standing. The other guard is looking nearby, and says, "Hello? Someone there?" Both of them draw their weapons and begin walking slowly towards the tree line.

Vash's eyes widen. He smiles just a little, and signals silently to the rest of the crew to fade back a little. C'mon... that's right... come a little closer, puta. Make this easier on us. Sakura creeps backward on her knees and elbows, as indicated by her captain. She's certain that he's lost his mind, but who is she to argue... Feina sees Vash's suggestion to fall back, and does so, slipping silently through some leaves and soon vanishing from sight. It's certain she's still watching, and likely to leap out with teeth and claws and her dagger should they be in trouble.

Douglas glances at Captain, and draws back slowly and as silently as he can. Kerry watches the humans move into the woods. That's it. Step into our parlor... Vash signals his crew around to each side, and with a few well-placed twig-snaps and rustling of brush manages to draw the guards a bit deeper into the brush, enough to give his crew the advantage for now. Once he's double-checked the crew's position, he curls his fingers around the grip of his sword and, without rising, calls out quietly, "You are surrounded. Lay down your arms or you won't leave this forest."

One of the guards looks completely stunned by this voice, turning to look at it. The other looks behind him, where he finally sees Douglas and Feina, who has faded out of the shadows and is grinning somewhat insanely. Her dagger glitters in the half-light, and her tail flicks. The second guard says succinctly, "Oh, shit." Kerry grins to himself as Vash offers the surrender and drops from concealment to a branch with a clear field of fire.

Vash rises up slowly into view from the high grass, not smiling, his hand still resting on the grip of his sword. "Lay down your arms." Douglas's eyes flicker sideways to Feina, then back to the two humans. She's exceptionally disturbing when she does that, he thinks. He keeps the blade of the naginata sheathed, but ready to be shaken off -- or flung at the guards -- if the moment calls for it.

Sakura rises slowly to her feet, swinging the hand-and-a-half sword out of its scabbard and testing her grip. Kerry skreeks at the guards from his new position, his sling swinging gently back and forth with a bullet ready to launch. The second guard glances at the first, who is staring at Vash. The first guard glances around, seeing motion, and then at the second, who tells him, "They got us a good one. We should surrender." Both of them drop their weapons and surrender.

Vash smiles a little. "You did the right thing, ese." He nods Douglas and Feina over. "Help me tie them." He turns back to the guards. "We get what we want and you can go after we're done." Douglas nods, setting his naginata against a tree and getting a few good lengths of cord out of a pocket.

Sakura says, "Captain, Sir?"

Vash says, "Doctora?"

The first guard is still busily staring at Vash, and the second is generally being docile, but neither is volunteering any information. Sakura switches to English. "You should probably check them for communication devices, Sir."

Vash nods. "A long shot, but not a bad idea at that. Feina, search them, will you?" Sakura keeps her sword in her hand, at least until they are securely restrained. Vash arches an eye ridge at the first guard. "What's the matter, homes? Never seen a forest ghost before?"

The guard says, "Sorry. I should be used to it, working here, but I've never seen anything like you before."

Vash grins a little. "No need to be sorry. Don't sweat it. So how many of y'all are there out here?"

Both guards remain quiet at Vash's question. The little vixen deftly disarms the two humans, then tells Vash, "Each had a knife and their swords, nothing much else." Neither guard seems perturbed by this, both of them taking it reasonably well. Douglas perks his ears a little, glancing to the guard, then to Vash, as he's tying them up. What an odd way of putting it... I wonder where these guys hail from?

Vash nods to Feina. "Nothing they might use to signal with?" Feina shakes her head no, with her usual energy. She glances back over her shoulder to where the clearing lies. Sakura slips her sword into its sheath and glances around quickly, trying to ensure that nothing -- or no one -- else is about.

Kerry spreads his wings and drops down to join the others. "Not very talkative, are they? Should we just take them home with us to Azteka? Get some use out of them that way."

Vash crouches down a little, the palm of his hand just on the end of his sword's grip. He lowers his voice a little, conspiratorially. "I don't kill unarmed men, friends. But I promise you this; it's in my power to make you wish I did. So... you want to tell me how many guards there are?"

The first guard is still staring at Vash. Feina looks oddly at him, but doesn't say anything. The second guard says, "There are six of us."

Vash smiles a little. "'S good, then. Thank you." He grins at the first guard. "Too strong for your own good, friend. We'll be back for you later." He rises and dusts off his knees. "Douglas. Gag them."

Before Douglas can gag him, the first one that's been staring asks, "Are you out of your minds?"

Vash smiles a little. "I'm just a lonely phantom. What makes you say that, friend?" Sakura blinks and turns around to look at the one that said that. Douglas bobs his head, and fashions makeshift gags from the guard's tunics, gagging them with them. He hesitates a moment, glancing to Vash.

Kerry snickers. "Quite possibly. Why?"

The second guard doesn't object to being gagged and merely shakes his head at the first one. The first one says, "If you're lucky, he'll kill you."

Kerry skrees, "Nah. If he's lucky, we'll kill him. Where is he?"

Vash shrugs. "Everyone dies, ese. 'Sides, I can't imagine you're interested in my well-being. You got something you wanna tell me?"

The guard just shakes his head, saying, "You've done it now. He doesn't react well to interference. You're just lucky he's not here."

Vash says, "You know where he is?"

The guard shakes his head, "No, I don't ask the master what he does." The gagged guard also shakes his head no, emphatically.

Vash grins. "Fair enough." He turns to the cougar. "Gag him. We're wasting time now."

Sakura snorts, distinctly unladylike. "He doesn't like interference. Neither do we."

Vash grabs the other guard and hauls him to his feet. "Into the trees. We'll come back for them when we've finished."

Both guards go quietly. Even so it takes a few moments to move them and make sure they're tied well and reasonably hidden. Vash nods after he's satisfied with the arrangements. "That'll do for now." He turns and begins moving back toward the tree line. "We'd better hurry. When those two don't check in they're gonna start getting suspicious."

At this moment the clearing is still quiet, the guard house on the far side of the clearing. It is a stone building with at least two, maybe three rooms, and a chimney, which has smoke coming from it. Alshain rests near it, but vaguely in the center of the clearing. As the crew circles around the clearing, all is quiet. As they approach the house, the door opens and another human comes out. He looks around briefly, missing the frozen-in-place crew, then goes in, closing the door behind him.

Douglas stops short, blinking. Oh, man... that was way too close... Sakura holds her breath, eyes wide. Ayah! Kami-sama... that was close... Vash frowns a little. Not gone looking yet? Must be a slow night. 'S'all right, we'll bring the party to you.

As they approach the house, it becomes clear that this edge of the clearing isn't really forest either, but merely a tree line to separate this smaller guard house from a much larger stone manor, which has several buildings, corrals, and paths running off into the woods in other directions. It seems quiet, and no smoke rises from its chimneys. Sakura whispers to no one in particular, "Home sweet home?"

Feina fidgets a little, "Do we wait for them, or go in?"

Vash doubles back a little toward the rest of the crew. "No one home, looks like, or else not on the upper floors," he whispers. "Let's secure the guardhouse as quickly as possible... then we'll see to whatever they attached to Alshain. After our escape route is secure we'll decide on the manor house."

Kerry nods. "Works for me."

Douglas nods quietly, and slips the sheathe from the naginata, tucking it into his belt. "Lead the way, Captain." Sakura unsheathes her sword and waits for the command.

Kerry slips his goggles off as the sun sets. "We own the night. Let's make Mr. D sorry he ever laid eyes on our ship."

Vash hmms. "Hey, Kerry," he whispers. "Think you can overfly the chimney?"

Kerry looks at the trees and at the hut. "I can get to the roof, at least. Why?"

Vash grins faintly. "Burning them out'll attract a lot of attention, if anyone's at home there in the manor. What do you say to dumping a wad of wet brush in that chimney?"

Kerry's fangs gleam in the twilight as he grins back. "Oh, I think I could manage that..."

Vash nods. "I knew you could." He turns to the others, "When Kerry plugs them up, we'll be in position outside the house. Half-encirclement. Think you guys can handle that?"

Sakura nods, "Of course, Captain."

Feina nods also, asking, "Hide until he's ready, or be in position?"

Vash says, "We'll move as soon as he starts the glide, and be in position when the plug goes down."

Douglas nods quietly, "I think I can do that, Captain." Feina nods and grins some more, her tail flicking behind her.

Kerry empties out his backpack and stacks his gear while brush is gathered, then helps stuff it full. "This should work nicely..." When it's ready he climbs the tallest tree near the hut, takes his feather out, and glides to the roof of the hut...

Vash waits until the bat has started his glide. He times it in his head against how long he expects to take to close the distance to the door. "Move. Semicircle around the door -- haul ass." He grips his sword and moves quickly into the clearing. Douglas follows after, holding the naginata upwards slightly so it doesn't drag against the ground and make any noise.

Kerry is able to catch an updraft from the clearing and lands gently and quietly on the roof. He moves as quietly as he can to the chimney, and upends the backpack full of leaves and debris down onto the fire. Surprise, surprise! As Kerry comes to a halt on the roof the door opens again and four more humans come out, armed and armored. They see the ship's crew and say, "Hey!" They hesitate there for a moment -- four armed animals in front of them. The apparent leader says, "What is the meaning of this?"

Vash grips his sword. "You're outnumbered. Lay down your arms!" Sakura comes around to the side she was supposed to guard, with her sword out... she waits for the guards to come rushing out...

Douglas murmurs, "Now would be a bad time to say 'boo,' wouldn't it?" He holds the naginata in a ready position, trying to remember all that he was taught, waiting, estimating... Kerry hears the door open just as he finishes with the leaves. Drat! He moves down the roof, readying a sling stone.

The leader says, "You're only making it worse for yourselves," then runs forward to Vash. The other three move in -- one to Douglas, one to Sakura, and one to Feina, who growls enthusiastically at him. Sakura readies her weapon and bares her teeth at the one approaching her, trying her hardest to look frightening.

Vash sets his stance and curls his fingers around the grip of the blade. "We gave you your chance! You'll die!"

Kerry arrives at the edge of the roof just as the guards charge, and his first sling bullet thwacks solidly into the back of the one moving on Feina. "Not nice. Give up now and maybe we won't take you back to visit Quetzalcoatl."

Douglas glances about quickly. Suddenly I'm not liking the odds...! "Feina!" he shouts, "Back away, quickly!" Then the naginata's blade whispers in the night, swung by the cougar against the human charging him... Douglas's blade sings through the air, cleanly missing his assailant. He curses, sparing a glance worriedly towards Feina.

Vash bends his knees a bit, tail lashing. "You're all dead!" He lowers himself again, then springs forward, hurling himself at and slightly past the lead guard. As he starts to pass there's a click, and his blade flashes in the dark. He lands a few feet behind the guard and turns, sweeping his blade in a wide arc, holding it up across himself diagonally. He turns the blade, and a reflection lights a slash of his face. Something dark drips along the rippled surface of the blade. "Lay down your arms."

Kerry launches a second bullet at Feina's opponent, but misses. Disjointed bits of commentary come through the translator, and the air is filled with high frequency, clearly translated Keero swearing. Sakura's opponent finally gets close enough that she can swing at him. She does so, cutting an arch through the air, a determined look on her face. Her opponent crumples to the ground and her blade comes away wet. She pauses just a moment to nudge him less than gently with her foot to ensure that he is indeed out.

Douglas glances again at Feina's onrushing attacker, then snarls and whirls back to the one he had missed earlier. The naginata swings in a sharp, shallow arc, raking the blade across the guard's breastplate. The man staggers a little, the blow stunning him briefly but not dropping him.

Feina realizes that it's okay to run away, Douglas just said so, and this guy is awfully big. She turns and runs towards the forest, her attacker cursing, as he knows if she gets there she's going to be impossible to find. Sakura turns and snarls at the one that is trying to hurt Feina... Kerry misses the fellow chasing their guide as he suddenly takes off after the retreating vixen, "Damned wingless excuse for a lousy dirtsucking perverted mental defective!"

The guard that Vash hit stops running and staggers to his knees, saying, "All right, I surrender," He clutches his wound.

Vash doesn't lower his blade. "Tell the others. Now!"

The guard calls out, a little weakly, "They're going to kill us, you idiots. Stop!"

Vash says, "I won't let you escape. Lay down your arms, or die." He kicks the guard onto his back. "Stay here. Your friends are dead." He springs again, off in the direction of Sakura's target. Sakura tries to cut down the man that's running after Feina, but she swings just a little too early and misses his back. Feina continues for the woods, vanishing into the safety of the foliage.

Last modified: 2001-Aug-20 01:41:26

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