[Quest] Shadow of the Colossus


Saiyan Elite
Level 2
Aug 1, 2018
Click Here
Orion leaned on the bar, staring out at the sea of people chatting, laughing and drinking at tables. The sun had barely risen and already the room was full of humanoids ready and eager to down beer after beer. Most looked like seasoned drinkers; the skin on their faces leathery and saggy, eyes red, clothes dirty and simple, beer bellies protruding beneath the table. They were probably drinking what little money they had, having that unearned sense of euphoria even if it was just for a few hours. Slums tended to encourage self destructive behaviour if it meant it felt good. Though Orion had seen it amongst the wealthy as well, just not as exposed.

Ugh, Tristelle said, safely nestled in his NOVA unit within his head. I’m glad I don’t have a nose.

“Feel free to use mine,” Orion said, bringing his attention back to the bar. “There’s plenty of stench to share.”

A heavy set man with his back to him looked over his shoulder and gave Orion an angry glare. Orion stared back dispassionately until the man turned around again and minded his own business.

The bartender, a singlet clad humanoid with blue skin and not a hair on him, finally shuffled back to Orion. All four of his hands clasped beer mugs. The bartender dropped them in front of patrons as he walked the length of the bar, giving the saiyan warrior the final drink. Orion nodded curtly and lifted his beer, striding away from the bar and into the writhing, noisy mess of patrons filling the tables.

In the corner of the room, a woman sat with a large leather satchel resting on her lap, a half empty glass of water on the table. Her long, flowing brown hair cascaded down her shoulders and partway down her back. Her white lab coat was unbesmirched by dirt or grime unlike many of the other bar patrons. She adjusted her large, square shaped glasses as Orion approached.

“So, are you ready to get started?” she said. Her soft features belied the no-nonsense attitude she seemed to wield. Perhaps that was why no one had tried to hit on her despite her looks.

Orion took a seat, propping his elbows on the table. “Let’s.”

Kitriana Wilde opened her satchel and withdrew a notepad and pen. She held them firmly, her pen hovering above the paper like a snake ready to strike. “What is your name?”


She scribbled it down. “Surname?”


“Previous experience?”

Orion chewed on that for a moment. “Plenty.”

“Any referees that you can provide?”

“None on this planet,” Orion said.

Depending where this Cevanti actually was, he didn’t know if anyone in the system could vouch for his work. That was an annoyance. Mercenaries often got new jobs based on their performances in their last job. Having a blank slate would make Orion appear less trustworthy or new to the game – in either case, a less than optimal candidate. It might have been possible that landing this job would be the first in rebuilding his reputation.

Orion took a sip of his beer.

“So I’m just to take your word on it, then?” Kitriana asked.

Ooo, I like this one, Tristelle said.

“My actions speak louder than words,” Orion said.

Kitriana tilted her head down and looked over her glasses. “Which I can’t see unless I hire you.”

Orion grunted.

Kitriana looked back to her notepad and scratched something down. “Did you read the advertisement?”

“I did.”

“So you know what the job’s about, then.”

“I do.”

“And does it concern you that we will be running about Cevanti’s wilderness, facing dangers of all kinds, chasing after something that may be, in the end, nothing more than an old myth?”

The story of COLOSSUS-X9 was an interesting one. A massive robot storming about the outer plains of Cevanti, incredibly dangerous and powerful, possibly a relic of an apocalyptic event that the planet went through eons ago. If it was true, it would be an enjoyable job indeed. Much more entertaining than a dreary assassination of a politician or guarding a caravan of supplies from bandits. Sure, some dull aspects of those types of jobs would be present in this one, but the pay off could be much more satisfying.

That was, of course, if it was true. If not, at least it would put Orion’s mercenary professionalism on the map for Cevanti. Can’t argue with results.

“No,” Orion said. “As long as I’m paid for the work I’m assigned, I care little about the reason for the job.”

Kitriana wrote something down in response to his words. “I see. Money is all you’re concerned about, then?”

Orion frowned. “Yes.”

Kitriana pouted in a thoughtful way, then added to her notes. “I guess it’s too much to ask a mercenary to find an interest in what I’m searching for.”

“If a mercenary showed any kind of interest in the job beyond the work required of them, then that should concern you,” Orion said.

“Why?” Kitriana asked.

Tristelle echoed the question.

“Because it insinuates that the mercenary may be employed to interfere with your work in some way,” Orion said. “Mercenaries devoid of ulterior motives just want to be paid and to move on to the next job. There are some… eccentrics who are sociable and enjoy engaging in conversation with their current employer, but they’re rare. Anyone who is consistently asking questions and poking into your work is, more times than not, planning to sabotage you.”

Kitriana stared at Orion for a long moment. “That’s not a response I would have expected.”

Orion took another mouthful of beer.

“And how would you react if we actually find COLOSSUS-X9? What would you do?”

“Whatever you pay me to do,” Orion said. “If you want me to take it down, I will. If you want me to keep you safe and leave it alone, I’ll do that instead.”

“What if I want you to ensure you do no damage to it whatsoever but it constantly tries to kill us?”

“I know I don’t have any referees,” Orion said. “But trust me, it wouldn’t be the first time a homicidal robot attacked me. I will do what you need me to do.”

“Very well,” Kitriana said, jotting down more notes.

People who hired mercenaries didn’t often ask this number of questions. They knew what they wanted, sometimes using past performance to guide their choice, and then they made that choice quickly. This Kitriana was new to the game. She obviously hadn’t dealt with Orion’s kind much in the past. Judging from her attire and her scholarly profession, she had no reason to. It felt much more like a job interview than it should have. But work was work.

“OK that’s the questionnaire portion of the interview over,” Kitriana said, standing up. “There’s one last test you need to complete before I hire you.”

Orion downed the rest of his beer and slammed the mug on the table. “And what is that?”

“A practical test,” Kitriana said. “To show you can hold your own if we end up in danger.”

Orion grunted.

“Do you want to complete the test or not?” Kitriana asked.

Stop being so prickly and do it, the AI said.

“Yes,” the saiyan warrior said, standing. How many hoops did he have to jump through before he would be awarded this damn job?

Kitriana led Orion out of the dimly lit bar and into the sunshine. She waved down a taxi and they both got in, Orion climbing in the back. The vehicle lifted off and sped down Markov’s streets. Orion stared out the window and watched as it whizzed by his window. Streams of people cluttered the sidewalks; it was early morning, but even at night the streets were packed. Many of the buildings were in some state of disrepair, whether it was missing glass panes on the windows or paint peeling off the walls. This was not a city for the rich and affluent.

“So while we head to our destination,” Kitriana said from the front passenger seat, “do you have any questions for me?”

Orion watched the city race past him as he considered. “No.”

Kitriana huffed a little. “You really have no interest in this whole expedition?”

“Only the credits it will gain me.” Orion paused. “Did you expect that mercenaries would care one iota what you are trying to do?”

“It’s fascinating!” Kitriana said. “It’s chasing down history! A legend! Imagine what we could learn as a planet if this turns out to be true! Why does no one else see the potential of this mission?”

“Mercenaries tend to look towards the future rather than the past,” Orion said.

Kitriana sighed as the taxi pulled up to an empty lot. A muscular man with a buzzcut stood on the sidewalk, arms bulging out of his vest. A large assault rifle loomed over his shoulder. A small squadron of men, around seven, stood around wearing black suits and black motor cycle helmets. Orion and Kitriana got out of the taxi and she led him to the man.

“Thanks for waiting,” she said. “Orion, this is John X and his mercenary crew. He is the front runner for this job.”

John X smirked.

“So why did you drag me out here if you’re giving this fool and his mob of fools the work?” Orion asked.

“I haven’t decided on who gets the job yet,” Kitriana said. “You two will fight. Whoever knocks the other out, or heaven forbid, kills the other, wins the job.”

“Killing isn’t forbidden, then?” John X said, a glint in his eye.

“I’d prefer it if you didn’t, but no,” Kitriana said. “I need to make sure I have the toughest bodyguard I can with me. If one dies, then they can’t have been all that tough now, could they?”

“Excellent,” the mercenary said, equipping his assault rifle.

Orion sighed and rolled his neck. “There’s only one way this can end.”

“I’m glad you can see the truth staring you in the face,” John X said. “Feel free to forfeit now if you like. It’ll save me a few clips.”

“If you need more than a couple of bullets to put down a target, I don’t know why you’re the front runner for this job,” Orion said.

“Alright, enough smack talk,” Kitriana said. “Spread out and fight. John X, feel free to use your mercenaries.”

“I have a better idea,” Orion said.

What are you doing? Tristelle said. You can take these guys no problem! You’re throwing away… oh, I see. Reading your mind can be quite useful.

“And what is that?” Kitriana said.

“Hire us both.”

John X threw his head back and laughed. “Both? She can’t afford both of us. Or is it that you’re just too scared to win the contract from me?”

Orion ignored the weak barb from the mercenary and focused on his potential employer. “Have you been listening to the news lately?”

“Yes,” Kitriana said. “Always. What’s your point?”

“Then you’ve heard about the reports outside the city limits,” Orion said. “Creatures going wild and attacking people leaving the barrier. Members of some cult assaulting those straying into the wilds.”

Kitriana folded her arms. “Yes, that’s why I’m hiring bodyguards.”

Orion shrugged. “It seems you might want as many people protecting you as you can. It sounds like these events are unusual.”

“Ah, so that’s your angle,” John X interrupted. “You’re trying to get your fee increased by scaring the poor little lady. Ha! If I were a little more unscrupulous, I might have tried the same strategy too!”

“I don’t have the credits to hire you both,” Kitriana said. “I know it’s dangerous out there, but I can only pay one of you to help me get my job done.”

Orion sighed. She was set in her path. “Fine. Then halve my fee.”

“What? Why?”

“Like I said, you’re going to need everyone you can get.” Orion stretched his arms over his head.

“That’s awfully gentlemanly for a mercenary,” Kitriana said, cocking an eyebrow. “After everything you already told me.”

“He’s just afraid of fighting me!” John X said, his team standing tall behind him in silent support. “He’s trying to get the work without proving himself! Kitriana, tell this loser to-“

Orion dashed at the mouthy mercenary and plowed his fist into his stomach. John X cut off, mouth wide open and groaning, doubled over Orion’s arm. He dropped to his knees and panted, his gun slapping on the ground. His posse stood uncomfortably, unsure whether to assault Orion or not.

“I was pulling my punch then, too,” Orion said.

Kitriana stared at the downed John X, scrambling for breath. “Well Orion, I think I’ll have to pick you to-“

“Take him too,” Orion said. “You can use all the protection you can get. I insist.”

Kitriana scrutinized the saiyan warrior with her gaze. “What’s the real reason?”

Orion rolled his eye. “I’m not a fan of watching… inexperienced people get themselves killed because of their inexperience.” Kitriana opened her mouth to interrupt but Orion stopped her. “I’m sure you are very knowledgeable in your field, but you’ve never conducted an expedition like this before. I’ve seen enough failed ones in my time to know when security needs to be stepped up.”

“So you’re a mercenary with a heart of gold, huh?”

“I’d rather not be given a corny label, if you don’t mind.”

Kitriana smiled, then looked at John X. The man had gotten to his feet but still leaned over his knees. “Are you sure I need him?”

“Better to be safe than sorry,” Orion said. “At the least, he and his men will make excellent sacrificial lambs.”

Kitriana laughed. “Perhaps that heart of gold moniker is misplaced after all.” She looked to John X. “All right, I’ve decided to take up Orion on his offer. You can both escort me into the Cevanti wilds. We’ll head out tomorrow at 0500 hours. I’ll send the meet-up co-ordinates later. That OK with you, John?”

The man stared daggers at Orion for a long moment, then met Kitriana’s eyes and nodded.

“Excellent,” she said. “I’ll see you both then.”

You got the job! Tristelle said in his head. Well done! Shame about your fee though.

“It’s not a big deal,” Orion said quietly as Kitriana caught another cab and zoomed off into the streets. “It’s more important I establish myself. Make my name known and trustworthy on this planet. Until I can find out how to track Taros again.” Orion clenched his fists reflexively. Even when he said that name it made him tense.

It's all the same to me, Tristelle said. I’m just along for the ride.

Orion turned his back on John X and floated into the air. “And one hell of a ride it’s going to be.”


Saiyan Elite
Level 2
Aug 1, 2018
Click Here
Orion rocketed through the air, enveloped in a white aura. The wind rustled his hair as he passed through Markov’s barrier against a backdrop of stars. The darkened silhouette of the abandoned section of the city painted a haunting reminder of what the wild creatures on this planet were capable of if given a chance. Orion didn’t have a strong concept of the types of threats that existed on Cevanti, but nothing had stopped him yet. And nothing would.

Two hover-trucks rested on the grass just outside the city barrier, protected by the turrets that fended off the wild zoids. John X stood around chatting to Kitriana Wilde, his mercenaries loading the backseat of both cars with weapons and explosives.

I hope those chumps will actually be useful, Tristelle said. Otherwise it’s just more dead weight to protect.

“I’m sure their guns will be enough to deal with the weaker zoids we find out here,” Orion said as he descended from the sky. “It’ll at least give me a chance to save some energy.”

John X looked over his shoulder as he heard Orion’s boots touch down on the ground. Apparently a man flying wasn’t out of the ordinary for him. “’Bout time you got here.”

“It’s 2am,” Orion said, crossing his arms. “I’m here on time.”

“If you were serious about this job, you would have been here earlier,” John X said. “Like we were.”

“Wait, are you wearing sunglasses in the dark?” Orion said.

John X touched the frames with a finger. “Part of the outfit. Helps me look professional.”

“Hindering your vision is anything but professional.”

“If we’re talking about vision, how does having one eye make your job? Hard?”

“All right, let’s not start arguing before we have even embarked,” Kitriana said.

Orion grunted. “Are we ready to leave?”

“Yes,” John X said. “My men have loaded the vehicles.”

Orion stared at John X. The mercenary was chomping at the bit to make the saiyan look bad in whatever way he could. Turning up on time and lacking a team of henchmen seemed to be strikes against him, at least in John X’s mind. Perhaps Orion’s presence chafed the mercenary’s sense of pride. Or maybe he was still smarting from the gut punch he received yesterday.

John X’s subordinates climbed into one of the hovertrucks. Kitriana got into the front passenger seat of the remaining vehicle. Orion moved towards the back seats, but John X slapped a hand on his chest. “You’re driving.”

Orion narrowed his eye. “Get off me.”

John X threw his open hands up by his shoulders. “Hey, calm down. Just letting you know your role in all of this.”

He bumped into Orion’s shoulder as he passed.

Deep breaths, Orion, Tristelle said.

The saiyan fired a sharp exhalation through his nostrils. “I’ve dealt with worse.”

Orion jumped into the hovertruck and started the engine. The vehicle slowly lifted off the ground and started moving, following behind John X’s soldiers.

The landscape outside Markov was wide and open. The hovertruck rumbled over grassless plains, worn down from constant mech patrols. Even in the darkness, Orion could see no threats on the horizon. Knowing that the barrier held powerful anti-zoid turrets to deal with threats close to Markov, it made sense. Not to slide into complacency, John X’s soldiers hung out the windows of the hovertruck in front of Orion, weapons in hand.

Orion stuck his elbow out the window, one hand on the wheel. A cool morning breeze washed over his face. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Kitriana pull her white lab coat tighter over her body. John X had been suspiciously quiet since they had left, but Orion wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Where are we going?” Orion asked.

“A little village out in the undefended parts of the planet,” Kitriana said. “My research tells me there is someone out there that has knowledge on what we’re looking for.”

Orion looked at her. “That sounds like you’re chasing a rumour.”

“It’s more than that,” Kitriana said defensively. “This is based on research. I have other leads, but I’m missing part of the puzzle. I’m hoping this person will be able to fill it in. Wait, did you think I was risking everything to chase a rumour?”

“Regardless of your research, you still are,” Orion said, returning his gaze to the road. “You don’t know what this person will say. You’re hedging that everything will somehow make sense with the testimony of one person who you don’t even know, much less whether you can trust them.”

“What do you think archaeology, history, any study of anything, is about?” Kitriana said. “It’s following leads, piecing together information, seeing the big picture in the maze of the little facts! Sure, this might not turn out the way I’m hoping, but it’s the best I have right now, and I believe it’s going to pan out.”

Kitriana folded her arms and turned her head, watching the landscape pass by.

Orion sighed. He didn’t know anything about her field of study, or any field. He was a warrior. He was a mercenary. He thought like one. Putting all of his hope on a single lead that could solve a mystery he had been working on for years wasn’t something he was familiar with. Such actions weren’t prudent when a single mistake could cost your life.

“I see your point,” Orion said begrudgingly. “Just… don’t get your hopes up.”

“I’ll do what I want,” Kitriana said.

Time passed slowly. The sun chased the night away until the breeze lost its cold bite. Zoids would sometimes appear in the distance, traipsing about aimlessly. Orion steered clear of them where possible, but some would hear the hum of their engines or see the movements of the vehicles and come sprinting after them.

A pack of metallic wolves caught wind of them and took pursuit, their feet tearing the earth to dust, teeth gnashing the sides of their vehicles.

“Bogies at three and nine o’clock!” John X said as he pressed the communicator in his ear.

His men emerged from the windows of the hovertruck ahead of them, aimed their rifles, and fired. The initial salvo of bullets indented the wolves’ chassis but they continued to keep up with them. As they pumped more bullets into them, their heads crumpling and legs bending at awkward angles, they either broke off away from the punishment or collapsed abruptly. Orion swerved hard to the right to dodge a tumbling zoid body.

“Heh, what did I tell you?” John X said, punching the back of Orion’s seat. “We don’t need you. You’re just a drain on Ms. Wilde’s bank account.”

Maybe you could break his jaw, Tristelle said. At least then you wouldn’t have to listen to him. You can still fire a gun with a broken jaw.

A few of the surviving zoids rediscovered their courage and converged on Orion’s hovertruck. A metal jaw clamped down on Orion’s door. Another leapt towards Kitriana’s window, managing to hook a leg inside and trying to haul itself into the vehicle.

“Help!” Kitriana yelled, taking off her shoe and beating the robotic leg to no avail. “It’s trying to get me!”

“Lean back!” Orion said. He leaned over and wrapped his fingers around the leg, squeezing. The leg crumpled beneath his strength until it broke. The sparking leg slipped free of the window and the wolf zoid tumbled to the ground, left in the billowing stream of dust behind them.

Still holding the foreleg and paw of the robot, Orion turned his attention to the zoid chewing on the top of his door. He stabbed the severed limb claws first into the top of the wolf robot latched onto the vehicle. Its red eyes flickered and blinked out as its teeth scraped along the top of the door and came loose.

“I’d like to see one of your soldiers of fortune do that,” Orion said.

“You might be able to handle the life-size variants of the zoids,” John X said. “But when a twenty-foot zoid is barreling down on you, you won’t be able to rip its leg off quite so easily.”

Orion grunted. “We’ll see.”

They burned the rest of the daylight hours zooming across the savannah landscape, repelling zoid attacks when they occurred and otherwise avoiding them where possible. The saiyan saw one of the giant zoids John X had mentioned looming far on the horizon, possibly a robotic dinosaur, but thankfully they drove nowhere near it.

Orion was amazed at how animalistic the zoids were, mimicking real-life behaviour of the creatures they were based on. Wolves moved around in packs, hunting and tackling other zoids, whereupon they would tear apart their carapaces and chew on the wires and metal plating. Robot vultures wheeled about their kills high above until the wolves left, whereupon they descended and likewise ‘feasted’ on the exposed components. Silver birds flitted between the sparsely dotted trees, singing songs through speakers in their beaks. Cheetah and lion zoids roamed around, finding shaded or rocky areas and congregating lazily in those places.

As the sun sank below the horizon, the sky turned to a vibrant orange. Trees had taken up much of the landscape ahead of them, indicating their trek through the savannah was drawing to a close. It seemed the next day would consist of struggling through dense jungle. Orion questioned whether the hovertrucks were equipped for such terrain, but Kitriana would have taken the path into consideration before planning their route. At best, it would be slow going. At worse, Orion could burn a pathway using his ki.

The two hovering vehicles pulled off what could charitably be called a road and disengaged the engines. The hovertrucks gently touched down on the ground and Orion jumped out, stretching his legs, glad to be standing for a change. John X’s mercenaries disembarked and removed tents and camping supplies from their vehicle, immediately setting to work, the orange sunlight glinting off their ebony helmets. John X joined them and slammed a pole into the earth, twisting it to break apart the loose soil.

You didn’t bring any camping supplies, Tristelle said. Looks like you’re going to rough it tonight. Unless Kitriana wants to share…

“Hmph,” Orion said, folding his arms. “Sleeping on the ground is not a new situation for me. Besides, the hovertruck is a suitable alternative.”

The saiyan warrior propped himself against the hovertruck door, watching John X and his team build their camp. Kitriana had dragged her bag out a distance from them and began setting up her large tent.

That’s easily big enough for two.

“Enough, Tristelle.”

Kitriana struggled with the supports, her arms shaking. The bar slipped and the entire tent gently settled on top of her. She huffed and punched her way out of the fabric.

Orion pushed off the hovertruck. “Need a hand?”

Kitriana shot him a dark glare. “No. This isn’t the first time I’ve set up a tent, you know.”

Could’ve fooled me.

“It would make things much simpler if-“

“How about you watch the perimeter?” Kitriana snapped. “That’s what I’m paying you for, isn’t it? To protect me? Not give me useless camping advice?”

Struck a nerve, I think.

“As you wish.”

Orion located a large, elongated rock jutting out from the landscape near their camp site. He ascended into the air slowly, the breeze whipping the ends of his robe, and floated to its apex, sitting on its rounded surface. A lazy curl of smoke reached past him from the fresh campfire below. John X and his men hauled stones in front of it, leaving trails in the dirt, and sat before the warmth of the flames. A shiver ran down Orion’s spine as the cool evening breeze tickled his neck.

The stars lit up the darkening sky. Visibility grew poor despite the open plains they camped in the middle of. Orion’s sight adjusted to the night luminance; he could make out blurs of movement every now and then, as if zoids were inspecting their camp from a distance, circling, unsure of them. Automated turrets formed the four corners of the camp’s perimeter, brought by John X, swiveling on their stands. The saiyan mercenary felt redundant, perched above them all, enduring the cold wind while the rest of the camp enjoyed the heat of the fire.

A zoid came into focus. A tiger zoid prowled close to the campsite, moving in slow, steady footsteps. The closest turret whirred in its direction, spinning up its cannon. The tiger retreated at the sound. This happened several times over the next few hours; a zoid would approach, carefully staking out their campsite, before running from the automated turret’s arming sequence.

Kitriana dropped down next to Orion, making him jump.

“Didn’t hear me approaching? That’s what you want in a lookout.”

Orion didn’t respond, partly because he assumed Kitriana was still frustrated at him, partly because of his embarrassment of getting lost in thought.

“Look… I’m sorry I got mad at you before,” KItriana said, staring at her dangling feet. “When you said this lead I’m chasing could turn out to be nothing… it upset me. I mean, I know everything you said. This could be all a wild goose chase. And I… I’m putting everything on the line to follow this. I’ve got no job. I’ve got no money. If this doesn’t work out…”

Orion shifted uncomfortably. “It’s… fine. I drew attention to something you were well aware of, something that didn’t need to be focused on. I am simply used to evaluating circumstances. The odds. It’s part of my line of work.”

“I understand,” Kitriana said, looking at him. “Let’s just forget about it, OK?”

Orion nodded.

“All right, I’m going to bed,” Kitriana said, climbing to her feet. “Maybe you should get one of them up here to cover you so you can have a break.”

“Agreed,” Orion said, pushing off the rock and free falling towards the ground. A moment before impact, the saiyan engaged his ki and expelled it out, stopping his momentum instantly. He touched down by John X. “Send one of your men up there. I’m getting some sleep.”

“Sure. It’s not like you did much up there, but whatever.” John X smirked, the flames of the campfire dancing in the lenses of his sunglasses.

Punch him in the face! Tristelle said.

“He’s not worth it,” Orion said under his breath.

He strode away from the campfire to the hovertruck he had already spent too much time in today. He opened the door and climbed into the back seat. At least the frigid weather couldn’t penetrate the vehicle. He lied down on the back seat, bending his knees to fit comfortably in the limited space. The whirring of the turret nearby was the only thing he could hear so far away from the campsite. At least if there was a zoid attack, the turret firing would certainly wake him up.

Orion closed his eye. His entire body throbbed with exhaustion. He forgot how tiring it could be to sit in a vehicle all day with no exercise, with nothing but the rolling landscape passing beneath him.

Orion, Tristelle said.

“Not now,” the saiyan said. “I need to sleep.”

Yeah I get that, it’s just-

“It can wait until tomorrow, Tristelle.”

The AI sighed. Fine, have it your way.

Post 1 - 2489 words. Post 2 - 2580 words. Running Total = 5069 words