For once, things more or less are going according to plan.
You all break into smaller groups to take care of various tasks, casting wary glances into the sky as you do so in anticipation of some serious death from above. Juan goes to roust Drax, and the effort does not take much- even hungover, the pirates are aching for a fight. After Mara’s nagging, recollections of Aoife tug at his mind but the godling dismisses them. They have bigger fish to fry at the moment. With Mara (and Datephus) manning the ship’s weapons systems, Juan and Draggor slide into the pilot’s and co-pilot’s chairs, respectively, and before too long the Dime Store Magic
is once again leading a squadron of dilapidated pirate ships into higher orbit above the ruin site. Draggor discovers that the control layout is intuitive enough, though not at all conforming to galactic standards. Still, it takes him but a moment to adjust. His queries on a manual and any automatic maneuvering programs go unanswered while Juan is concentrating on keeping the ship aloft. Eventually, Draggor will be able to deduce (or is told) that this vessel is in fact one of the famous magical ships of the United Worlds of Warlock. He’s never heard of one with some sort of computerized voice operating, but as the thing runs on magical power it’s likely best to expect the unexpected. They probably don’t deal in anything as pedestrian as operating manuals, however. Or escape pods, you can’t help but notice with a small sinking feeling.
You arrive in position above the ruins, and find nothing. No sign of the ley line storm or the meteors from yesterday’s race, no sign of any ships- Necrol, TGE, or otherwise. As neither of the pilots has the aptitude to run an in-depth sensor sweep, Mara clambers up from the gunnery station and makes a few quick passes before confirming that there are no contacts (beyond what you brought up with you), and no signs of any anomalies. Datephus will also be able to confirm those readings, for whatever it’s worth. So, you sit and wait for an hour. Juan (and those of you with clearer recollections of the events of the previous loop) will remember that the team exited the ruins at about 1400 hours.
On the ground
, things generally go similarly. Quan’s question prompts some thought from Starchief, Kar, and Kaedras, and the guardsman agrees that his recollection is likely good enough to satisfy Thraxus. The water relic, when activated, performed some sort of broad-based healing magic that restored both physical and psychological injuries, and reverted Icky’s corrupted power armor to its pre-corrupted state. At the cost of draining both relics present. While the three of you realize that drawing out the attackers is important, Kaedras and the rest of you decide to wait and see what Juan finds before activating anything. Kar mentions that he is none too thrilled at the prospect of fighting the super soldiers again, and Starchief confirms from his own experience how difficult and tenacious they are.
As the time of reckoning approaches, tension rises. All of your allied forces are on high alert- Quan’s bodyguards and about 50 of the FWC line infantry have taken defensive positions within the base perimeter. The pirates and the Atorians are both holding their respective quarters of camp, awaiting additional instructions. More than one person is getting impatient, and the longer this goes on the more the risks of sloppiness- or an “incident” increase. Hearts pound as you anxiously scan the skies for signs of the super-soldiers, and grips tighten on weapons. Still, nothing. Kar on the ground, and Juan in orbit, are the most attuned to the previous timeline, and are well aware (along with anyone you tell) that 1400 was the point of no return last time. The anxiety and adrenaline spike as you approach that time, then… Still nothing. You wait a little longer, giving it until 1430 hours, and still no sign of the Necrols or anyone else in orbit, in the sky, or on the ground. At that time, Quan begins getting communiques from the FWC, as well as a few impatient messages on comms from the pirates. Even Torrigan shows up, with a couple dozen Atorian troopers fully outfitted, and makes for Quan’s position. ”Commander Tran, do you have any contacts with the enemy yet?”
As she arrives, she signals for her women (and a couple of men) to take positions alongside the other defenders huddled around the ruins’ entrance. She waits expectantly for an answer from Quan, but manages to slip a wink to Starchief at one point.
In contrast to the excitement back at camp
, Icky doesn’t have much of a trail to follow.
Chef Icky wrote: ↑Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:43 pm
"Oi, Boog, whaddya reckon we got 'ere..." he mutters as he bends down for a better look. "Looks like a big hoof mark. Fairly heavy. But why would Sarge make a buzz-line fer da nexus only ta double back an' trot away from it?"
Metri inspects the tracks, strokes his chin, and makes a few thoughtful gargles in the back of his throat. ”Hm… Very strange this is, yes. Nexus, could be. Intelligence, also could be. Hm…”
Icky uses see the invisible and scans the area again- and again finds nothing. That settles it. Icky deduces two probable destinations. As he has zero chance of tracking Sarge through a rift, the minotaur decides to hold out hope that his armor is still on this planet, and heads for the hills. And back in the direction of camp. With nothing further to add, Metri resumes his place and you move out.
About hour after you leave the nexus behind, Metri reports picking up Sarge’s trail again, and confirms that it is headed for the hills in the distance. You take back to the air, but it isn’t long before Metri reports losing the scent again. Hard to say why, but as you get closer to the hills (and potential caves therein) you also draw closer to the ruins. With all the other funky stuff that is happening there, it’s not out of line to assume that it would have an effect on psychic scents similar to a ley line. Regardless, you’re only a mile or so northwest of the hills at this point- close enough that you might as well hoof it the rest of the way and give the place a once-over. The area is all unassuming wilderness- the base (and ruins) above you are built into the top of an escarpment that a quick survey reveals is unbroken. The terrain around the base of the cliff is a little rougher- a few very big hills, and lots of nooks and crannies big enough to hold a suit of armor. Icky’s about to give up the search when Metri, who had been meditating with his eyes closed, abruptly points Icky around one steep curve. There, nestled in-between a couple of hill faces, is a small cavern- practically an alcove.
Sarge is there, standing silently at attention. A thin, dark-haired human is standing before the powered armor, touching Sarge’s left arm with one hand and staring into its “eyes.” At your approach, the man starts and turns, raising his hands if you point a weapon at him. He looks at you, wide-eyed and a little wild-eyed. Icky doesn’t know the man, but Metri identifies him as Corvin Decker, the visiting VP from Naruni with whom the Yhabbayar dined the previous evening. ”More than you seem, you are, hmmm?”
Metri accuses, pointing a finger at Decker. Decker for his part, addresses Icky and merely says ”Wait! I am not your enemy. I am here…”
he jerks a thumb at Sarge ”…we, are here- to find some answers.”
If Icky relents, Metri will follow his lead but keep a steely-eyed gaze on the man. Assuming he doesn’t open fire, Decker looks you both up and down, licks his lips nervously, and slowly (if you let him) eases his hands back down. Any insistence that he leave his hands up will be met with an annoyed grimace but nothing more. Should you examine Sarge, everything will appear normal.
When he is allowed to speak, Decker will look Icky in the eyes, and say ”You’re from that ship. Tell me… are you, or any of your crew, experiencing particularly acute déjà vu today?”
Metri stiffens fractionally at the mention, but tries not to let it show.
It is now 1430 hours local time. What are you doing?