Val's own reaction to those claims was the first real emotion to show on her. She grit her teeth together, baring them at the Captain with a growl. Her hands dropped from behind her to her side and curled into fists. She started forward towards the stairs and the captain. But from behind her came the telltale sounds of four plasma weapons having their safeties turned off and begin charging up, and she froze in place for a moment. Her head whipped around, hair following behind her, and she looked at one of the pairs of guards, growling now at them. The guards raised their weapons, starting to point them at her. Val's eyes glinted red.
But Esmeralda simply smiled wide and held up a hand. The guards reluctantly lowered their weapons, but left the safeties on. Seeing this, Val seemed confused for a moment before she turned quickly once again, back to the captain. She looked the woman up and down, her growl dying in her throat and her teeth unclenching slightly. Esmeralda seemed to have lost her threatening visage and now looked far more lenient.
It took a moment for Val to come back to her senses completely again, her head clearing. Her fists uncurled and she stood up straighter, the glow in her eyes once more fading. She blinked and looked at the captain.
The captain slowly lowered her hand back to the railing and took a couple steps down towards Val.
"But it does not matter, and I do not care. The circumstances surrounding the specimen's escape are, in the long run, inconsequential. What matters is that it is gone, and is now somewhere on the planet below us. And, according to the reports so easily collected from the mech unit we have down there, we know that the creature has a nuclear weapon." Esmeralda made it a point not to mention the mech pilot's name, knowing it would eat at Val, but otherwise did not seem as malicious as she had before.
"What Doctor Simon here," she once again paused to look back up at the scientist on the dais, now motioning to her with her free hand, "Has determined during her studies of the creature, is that it feeds off such energies, which is likely why it stole it from the Armory pod."
The captain paused and took another couple steps down, now nearing the bottom.
"The reason why I am telling you all of this, Valanthe, is because you
are going to retrieve
our little science experiment, and bring her back
into the Space Corps' most loving embrace." The words, Val knew, were a dig at the scientist, Doctor Simon, and were referential, as many other things the captain had said in her speech, of said Doctor's illicit semi-relationship with the creature that had developed during their time of research.
Val could not blame the Doctor, despite her dislike for the woman and the distaste she had for the woman's easily sullying of the scientific process, because she had seen the alien, who had been named Ada by the crew. She was cute, bearing a humanoid appearance that had just enough alien in it to be exotic and not too much to be disliked. Val herself could not deny that a part of her had also had an attraction towards Ada, though she did not know if that was the human part of her or the alien part that had been spliced into her. And that scared Val, and was part of why she disliked the alien.
Val's reaction to Esmeralda's assignment of her to tracking down the alien did not surprise her all that much. After all, she had done similar jobs for the Space Corps in the past, since undergoing the splicing experiment. Other than the obvious physical changes that had come over her, Val also experience other changes in her biology. She had become more animalistic, but in an alien way. She could smell
things now that she couldn't before. The most obvious were emotions and blood types, the general stuff heightened senses bring you. But she could also smell the difference of species. There was a different smell between a human and, say, whatever alien species Ada was, for example. And it didn't stop there. She could determine the difference between any two living beings. This had made her the perfect person for the job of alien capture and retrieval.
The captain was now continuing. "Since you are the Senior Security Officer of the Sunstrider, and a somewhat high ranking official in the Space Corps' Security Guild, you will not be punished for your digression, especially because I truly do believe it was accidental." It was the first sign of any sort of benevolence towards Val that the captain had shown this entire time.
Val simply nodded her head in response.
"Also because of that, and really because I don't want you to have to do it alone, for safety reasons, I will be assigning you a squad of Sunstrider Security Personnel to join you on the planet below. They will follow your orders, do exactly what you want them to, no matter what it is. However, because of our current situation, stranded as we are, I can only spare four people for the away-team." The captain said as she finished stepping down the stairs and now stood on the staging area with Val and the soldiers, only a few feet away from them now.
"Our military escort, the Fist of the North Star, has also been so kind as to provide said security personnel with suits of powered armor. This should both provide protection to whatever wildlife you encounter down on the planet, and give you some semblance of authority should you come into contact with the civilizations that have been discovered to exist down there. You'll look like bona fide Space Cop alien hunters. Very official looking." The captain then paused and took another step forward, closing the distance even more with Val. She looked the pink haired woman in the eyes. "You, however, dear Valanthe, will go... Just. As. You. Are."
With each word she took a small step forward towards Val, until the third word where she stopped in front of her. At the fourth, she reached up and grabbed Val's hat, yanking it off her head before the other woman could stop her, thereby leaving her horns exposed to everyone gathered there. She lowered her arm, the hat still in her hand, and held it behind her, her other hand joining with it. She leaned down slightly, looking Val right in the face and smiling.
Val, for her part, stood there and took it, only wincing slightly when the hat was yanked from her head, bringing some of her hair up with it. She looked up into Lady Death's face and grit her teeth, barring her fangs at the captain and growling low.
"And how beautiful that is, indeed." Esmeralda said, bringing her other hand back around, lightly brushing the back of it against the side of Val's face.
Val's growl grew louder and the guards to either side of her and the captain shifted once again.
But then the captain stepped back, standing up straight again, the smile now leaving her face. Her hand joined the one with Val's hat behind her back once again.
"That will be all. You may go now, Ms. Liadon. Go to the Security Office. Gather your men. Your away team supplies will be waiting for you there. You are set to drop in one hour's time. Do not
With that, Captain Esmeralda Muerte spun on her heel and marched back up the steps to the dais. She motioned with one hand for Doctor Simon to approach the chair and then turned and sat in it. She place Val's hat on the arm rest of the Captain's Seat and placed her hand atop that. Doctor Simon moved to her side and they began a hushed conversation.
Valanthe's gaze lingered on the chair, on her hat, for several moments, before a nudge from one of the guards on her side brought her back. She turned and bared her teeth at the guard before walking away. The guards followed her soon after, and accompanied her off the bridge.
If one didn't pay enough attention to her horns as they were revealed and she left, they would not notice that they seemed to have grown about half an inch longer.