Captain Vul of the Halberd had requested that they meet face-to-face. Admiral Harvey had not been happy with this. It seemed that the only way to do it was for a small group to fly to the Halberd in a Pelican, this was because there was no way for the two ships to link up. Commander Pascoe would take a group consisting of four marines and two elites with him to the Halberd.
As the small troop ship came within 50 metres of the Halberd's hanger door it started to open. The large door swung down like a ramp to reveal only darkness, and the Pelican came to land within.
As they gradually got inside the hanger, they got a better view of the interior. It had a very mechanical feel to it; everything was made of metal, from the panels along the walls, to the grating on the floors, and the exposed pipes running all over the ceiling. The hanger was empty of all other vehicles with the exception of what looked like a huge mechanical lobster.
The Pelicans rear doors held for a moment until the all clear of air pressurizing was complete. The four marines hopped out of the back, and surveyed the empty hanger with shouldered rifles. The two Elites stepped down in a sort of crouch, avoiding hitting their heads on the bar above the crafts door. Pascoe had imagined that they would have been met here by a collection of the crew, but no such welcome party existed.
"Well this place looks pretty empty" one of the marines noted.
"I guess nobody's home," another observed.
"Don't assume anything Lieutenant," Pascoe ordered, "we don't know what these guys look like or anything." At that, a door near the back of the hanger slid up to reveal a long corridor and a figure in the doorway.
Pascoe's first thought at seeing this figure was that it was an older version of an installation monitor, which raised the question of whether or not the Halberd was actually inhabited. It was a large, purple, jar-shaped droid with a rectangular, yellow visor. It had four segments rotating around its base and it was hovering.
"Sir, orders?" the sole female marine requested.
"Stand down sergeant, Shan, what is that thing?" Pascoe asked.
"It appears to be a droid of some kind. Maybe 'that thing', is your welcome party sir," Shan replied.
"I do hope you're right Shan, because it's heading straight for us," Pascoe admitted.
"Welcome to the Battleship Halberd Commander Samuel T. Pascoe. I am Javelin Knight, Meta-Knight of Dreamland. I will guide you to the bridge," the small droid explained in a nasally, robotic voice, "Please, follow me."
The small droid turned around and led them through the door whence it came. On the way past, Pascoe noticed the height of the locking mechanism for the door; it came to about the height of his hip, he'd have to crouch down in order to use the controls; he stored this piece of information away for future reference.
The group navigated numerous corridors and elevators, until they must have reached the top of the ship. When they had been near the back of the ship, they had heard a low humming sound and what sounded like Warthogs driving back and forth all over the place. Apart from these sounds, there seemed to be no signs of life, further backing up Pascoe's theory.
They reached one, last corridor heading towards the front of the ship, and the door at the end slid open for them. None of them knew what they were expecting to find, but they knew that this wasn't it.
The décor was the same as the rest of the ship, but the large view screen and number of controls clearly indicated that they had reached the bridge. Although they hadn't had any troubles getting through the doorways, they suddenly felt much too tall to fit inside the ship; the highest controls came up to about mid-waist height, and the large window went from there to a little over head height of an Elite. Just in front of this windscreen was a wooden ships wheel.
Strutting about the room, squawking orders to everybody else, could have been no other than Captain Vul. Pascoe mentally congratulated himself on his parrot guess, it wasn't far off. Vul was a four foot tall, tan coloured bird wearing regal captain's garb. Stranger than him, was the fact that he wasn't the strangest creature in the room. Various, smaller figures were dotted about the bridge, ignoring the Captain and looking towards the newcomers. Something that Pascoe thought was note-worthy was the fact that none of them had legs; their feet were attached straight to their bodies.
Vul finally noticed that nobody was paying him any kind of attention, and snapped "Are you idiots listening to me?" He saw everybody else looking up towards the entrance and spun around, squawking in surprise when he registered the size of their guests. He recovered quickly to address them, "Commander Pascoe I presume, I am Captain Vul," he then ordered the rest of the bridge, "Stop gawking and introduce yourselves."
Two sword wielding, armoured creatures stepped forward. The slightly taller one was primarily turquoise in colour and the other was green. The former's helmet stuck out over its back and had ridges down the centre. If it had a face, it was lost in the darkness that the mask provided. The green one had a red tassel that sat at the back of its helmet. A pink mask covered its entire face.
It was the green one who spoke first, "Eh cor enarge n er, nigh Blade."
A few of the Halberd's other crew members sniggered while Pascoe was at a loss of how to respond, but it wasn't him that they seemed to find humorous. It looked as though the green one had just openly slighted Captain Vul. How? He didn't know, but the Captain looked like he was about to lay an egg.
One of the Elites stepped forward at this point and growled, "You should show more respect to you superiors."
Pascoe cringed; he didn't know how these people would react to being spoken to in that manner, especially from a guest on their ship. He was relieved when they all seemed to shrug it off, with the exception of a little orange guy who gave a timid jump at the growl.
However, Captain Vul had something to say, "Now that is the sort of respect that I want from you lot. It's what a commanding officer deserves," he said with a nod of approval.
"And that is the sort of respect that you would have, if you were the commanding officer," said, what sounded like, a deep, Spanish accent from the doorway behind the group of visitors. They all turned to acknowledge this newcomer.
The link from the bridge to the Heavy Lobster had been playing up recently, there hadn't been anything done about it because it hadn't been needed; Meta Knight had needed to manually shut down its defence mechanism so that it wouldn't attack the 'Pelican' when it entered the hanger. Sword or Blade could have done it just fine, but he had liked the position that it put him in; he could keep an eye on this potential threat, without them knowing about it. It was what he did best.
When the passengers of the Pelican stepped out, he had allowed his eyes to gain a hint of red to them. Why was it, almost everything in the universe, had to be bigger than him? It caused him to have to work incredibly hard to maintain a position of intimidation. Add to that, the lack of a neck and a mask that covered the top of his eyes made it difficult to look up. Needless to say that he wasn't impressed when the shortest of the group must have been well over three times his height.
They had enough wits about them to come armed, although Meta Knight himself wasn't familiar as to what they were armed with. They also had enough trust to keep them lowered. But maybe it wasn't trust; if he had been the one to take a group of his own followers to a mysterious ship, he certainly wouldn't trust it. Perhaps they were just as baffled by the situation as his own crew were; they needed the information that the Halberd possessed just as much as it was the other way around. He concluded that they hadn't come here to start a fight; as such they hadn't wanted to look like it. They were merely prepared for his own attack against them.
He had trailed them to the bridge without being seen, although he came close when one of the large ones at the back might have felt his presence; it had turned to check over its shoulder, in the exact direction that he had been only a moment before. He was sure to make note of this.
When they had entered the bridge, Meta Knight had come to stand in the doorway behind them. His own crew were much too distracted with the new arrivals to take note of him, so he was able to observe the goings on without being a part of them. Their visitors had only stood anxiously while Vul had attempted to make proper introductions. Their leader, Pascoe, had nodded at the acknowledgment of his name and had cringed slightly when the larger one at the back, the one that had almost spotted him, had spoken presumably out of turn. He himself had misgivings about Blade undermining Vul's authority, not for the bird, but for the impression that it gave to this group from the Deathrod. It seemed as though they hadn't understood exactly what Blade had said, but had gotten the gist from the rest of the knights' reactions.
It was difficult to determine the impression that the Commander and his group had gotten from his crew, as they seemed much too concerned with the impression that they were giving out. Currently though, they seemed to be having trouble with that. Meta Knight decided that now was a good time to step in; as this was going nowhere.
The laid-back attitude of the Halberd's crew instantly vanished and was replaced with the respect that Vul couldn't achieve. The Captain himself attempted to explain his way out of the situation that he seemed to now have, with what looked to be his superior, "Sir Meta Knight, I was just explaining to the knights about the proper manners that they should show in front our guests." He directed the last part at the green one who had started it.
The small creature in the doorway had a blue cape wrapped around itself with a tall collar. When it released the cape to move into the room, Pascoe could see that its body was a dark blue, spherical shape with purple feet. It wore grey shoulder armour over its short arms, and a large circular, metal mask shielded all but its glowing, golden eyes from view. A gold sword hilt, embedded with a large ruby, rested at his side.
"Thank you Captain, it is appreciated," Meta Knight said with a deliberately weary tone, as he made his way through to the bird. As he reached him, he said in a lower voice, "the Wheelies are getting agitated, they seem to know that something's up. I need you to rotate their courses and settle them down, before they get out again."
"Yes, of course sir," Vul responded and hurried out of the room. Having successfully gotten rid of Vul, Meta Knight turned to address Pascoe's group.
"I extend my apologies for not having met you here. There was urgent maintenance required for you to be able to successfully enter the hanger. I am Meta Knight, leader of the Meta-Knights and Battleship Halberd," he said with a slight bow.
Pascoe wasn't quite sure how to act here. He knew that he was expected to be entirely professional, but he wanted to be on comfortable terms with these aliens, and they seemed to be pretty laid back in what was a very important situation.
He decided on, "It's good to finally meet you, I am Commander Pascoe," he knelt down, offering his hand to shake. He thought he saw a flash of red go through Meta Knight's eyes as he hesitated. Pascoe internally panicked; there was no reason for this being to know what a handshake was; he was making himself look like a fool in front of everybody in the room. He was then relieved when Meta Knight took his hand after only a moment.
"Likewise," he said.