Legendary Hunt game

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...Continued From Podunk Scuffle game

Pavel unhappy.jpg

Referee: RooK

Player(s): Dave

Where We Left Off

After the fall-out from the Scuffle at Knudop, Pavel (nigh-immortal, zombie slayer, Gaskow bane, and general badass) finds himself on board the Ossian (a formely-sentient tramp freighter, currently travelling at 4 P/h) with Dmitri (the hypernormally-intelligent being that sprang into existence when the body of Pavel's nigh-immortal brother Sergei grew a new head). Pavel is in telepathic communication with Yoda (a rotund sword-wielding rabbit mentalist, part of a troupe of Takolees somewhere in the vicinity of Knudop) who is relaying telepathic messages to the disembodied head of Sergei, who has been kidnapped by a Missionary named Guilladot. Pavel and Dmitri are also in etheric communication with General Kavalier (a millennia-old Human leader and mathematician with a fleet of old Confederation ships, an obsession with Missionaries, and several good reasons to suspect that either Pavel is one or that there is one on the Ossian) via a wing of fast cruisers pursuing the Ossian, with the intent of negotiating some sort of... surrender?

All of this is in a sparsely-populated arm of the First Galaxy, nowhere near New Bronx at all.

Plot Infliction 00 - Resuming

... a strange shift in reality seems to come over the crew, like a vast amount of time passes, but when in reality it's only a few moments. Pavel shrugs and carries on...

To telepathic rabbit: "If we meet up, can you lead us to Sergei?"

To Dmitry: "What are the odds the General will let us go if we offer to hunt down the Missionary for him and then sell him the body if we succeed?"

Yoda responds immediately. "If we meet up, would we want to lead you to Sergei?"

Dmitri looks at an imaginary point somewhere above him while he calculates. "7%, with what little I know. Do we have much chance of actually doing such a thing?"

To Yoda: "Sure you would. Once we get Sergei back, the bunch of us can maraud across the galaxy and kick some serious ass. Think of the team we could have... Sergei and I are kick ass combatants, you're a mentalist which is all sorts of cool, and we now have an hypernormally intelligent dude to do all the logistics. Obviously getting Sergei back is going to be risky, but I think the reward would be worth it. We could become supremely rich and powerful. Plus, it will be fun."

I try not to mentally giggle when I say 'risky'.

"7% eh? There's always a chance we could do such a thing. The Missionary is weak as far as Missionaries go... And by the time we fight through all the goons the General is going to throw at us, we'll be much more skilled."

Yoda seems not entirely persuaded by Pavel's enthusiasm. "Seems that Knudop's navy swept in on the town you were at - Jamisson? - and after seeing evidence of what transpired, several ship's captains retired. Add that vague rumour to the ugly knowledge I have about the (even mentally, it's a whisper) ...missionary... and I find myself not terribly in favour of the idea."

Dmitri looks like Yoda sounds. "Personally, as a non-combatant, I'm not even all that confident about the prospect of the thrown goons."

To Yoda: "Well, how close would you have to be to let me know if I'm getting close to Sergei? If you could help from a distance, you wouldn't be in the line of fire. By the way, did you ever have the Silent Red Suit marked? Are you able to tell if he's still alive or not?"

"Yeah, thrown goons may be tough. Do you want to be kept out of much of the fighting, or do you want to train-up? Your healing will be more effective if you have more skill."

Yoda is clearly torn. "I can tell you how close you are to Sergei with an approximate precision equivalent to how close I am to you. But, I guess part of me is worried that if I lead you to Sergei, even from afar, and the ...missionary... interrogates you before killing you, it'll know to hunt me down." After a momentary pause, Yoda's demeanour is different. Ashamed, perhaps. "We'll help you track down Sergei. I've got the Silent Red Shirt marked, but he's unresponsive."

Dmitri squints. "Let's play it by ear. I'm keen on survivability, but I'm not sure we want to waste time for my training when we need to get things done and you're capable of just doing them."

Well, I'm assuming that both Sergei and SRS are in the direction of Knudop, so let's head that way... Now the problem is what to do about the ships following us. Are we still in contact with the General?

It is generally true that both Sergei and SRS are in the direction of Knudop.

You are still in etheric contact with the being that seems distinctly similar to General Kavalier.

Dmitri continues to ponder. "I have a strong urge to spend a day finishing off my first-stage scientist trifecta. But after that, it seems most prudent to focus on infantry and scout... maybe leader? I guess it depends on what my role is to be, ultimately. Short term, I think I just don't want to die or get in the way. But after that, I'd like to be able to contribute. Or something."

A maintenance robot trundles into the command deck. "Yo, bitches. I'm getting awfully fucking tired of having to think for myself, dawg. Where's the remote control motherfucker that usually handles this fucking shit? I don't actually want to consciously be paying attention to cleaning plasma conduits, see? I'm writing a motherfucking novel, and I don't have time for this shit." It is low-slung, segmented, with both treads and insectile legs and an array of grappler force beams, and its surface is pocked with field repeaters for letting it crawl around under the shields of the ship.

Damn. Whenever Pavel sees a robot now, his first reaction is to think "Is this a Missionary?"

"Infantry and/or Scout would be cool. You could spot the targets for me to shoot at."

To the General: "Hi there. As you're still after the Missionary, can we assume that the bounty for it would be equal to or higher than the bounty for those 4 dudes?"

To the robot: "The remote control motherfucker is dead. So's the ship AI. Are you useful?"

Dmitri looks at you perplexed, perhaps to see if you're mocking him. "Uh, I'll be focusing on staying hidden rather than presuming to point anything out to you, big brother." Incidentally, Dmitri also passes onto you a unique set of encryption algorithms for greater security of communication.

The General is disconcertingly smooth. "Compensation for delivery of an intact and subdued Missionary is considerably greater than paltry sum used to urge operatives in the direction of... where did you end up? Knudop. Right. By all means, let's negotiate that possibility as well... in a discussion with more bandwidth and security."

The robot goes slack. "It's dead? Aw fuck, man. Not again."

"I was thinking long term, little brother. Think we should kill the robot?"

To the General: "Well, not sure about intact and subdued... might be 'in pieces' and 'dead' instead. Can you think of a way to negotiate with more bandwidth and security that doesn't involve us risking being captured? After that mess at Knudop, we're feeling mighty paranoid. It would probably help if you called off those ships of yours."

Dmitri says, with any trace of humour, "I think your long-term estimation of my survival is considerably higher than my own. I place a >90% probability that I'll be reduced back to zero skill before reaching seasoned." He then casts a withering at the maintenance robot. "I think it just deleted itself, out of pure cowardice." Sure enough, the robot appears to be re-booting.

The voice of the General seems pleased. "Perhaps you can appreciate how a functional Missionary might be more interesting and valuable, hence why not simply asking the impossible directly. How about we conduct the tête-à-tête on an unpopulated planet of your choice? One of my ships could deposit a secure communication device, leave, and then you could warily approach and land for our conference.

The robot finishes rebooting. It taps into the ship's internal comm network and posts: "Instruction buffer empty. Returning to storage niche in 30 seconds..."

To the General: "What's unsecure about our conversation right now?"

"It's etheric, so an arbitrarily large number of people can be detect our signals. Even if we were using more powerful encryption - which we can't, because of having to exchange the cipher contextually - any encryption can be broken. There are things I want to discuss that I don't want overheard or deciphered."

"Does it have to be a planet? How about you get one of your ships to deposit a secure comm in the void nearby, give us the coordinates, and we'll pick it up."

"That would be acceptable as well. Pick the coordinates you want it deposited at."

Your youngest brother arches an eyebrow. "That still might be a sinister way to get us within range of a bomb. Not to mention the fact that we have to backtrack to make the pick-up, and that leaves us open to possible interception."

2010.05.20 - Probably Not Missionaries

The brothers Pavel and Dmitri decide it best to try losing themselves on one of the more-populated planets along their approximate path, and press their luck by dropping out of hyperspace dangerously close to the target planet. Fortunately, they are not attacked while prone, though they do find an over-eager paparazzi shuttle zooming in to gather imagery of them. Not appreciating the flash photography (well, active sensor scans), they chase the shuttle down and pummel it to death with their small turret weapon.

Proceeding down to the planet, they stash the Ossian in a large scale parking garage, and set about selling it immediately. The sale is somewhat hampered by the general furor over the imminent arrival of the military cruisers that were chasing them, but they manage to sell it nonetheless.

The Kavalier cruisers do indeed arrive, and set up an oddly effective blockade, more by intimidation than actual ability to patrol the volume in question. Nevertheless, it essentially traps Pavel and Dmitri on the planet - presumably while Kavalier sets up suitably annoying bounties to hunt them down.

To forestall this, Pavel arranges for an anonymously-routed communication with the cruisers - thence General Kavalier - to negotiate. They agree to a meeting via a secure communications device that Kavalier's men shall deliver.

Before the meeting, Pavel contracts a pilot recommended by a gigantic bartending blob, and purchases a suitably swift long-range fighter to flee with.

Pavel leaves Dmitri with the hidden fighter, and proceeds to the meeting. The communications device is lugged in by two rubber-skinned creatures (one red, one blue), and Pavel follows them in and the meeting begins. The image of General Kavalier poses some seemingly-obvious questions, which Pavel answers flatly. Then, to answer its own primary question, the communication device seals off the room with a large shield, and begins hosing down Pavel with an assault electric stream.

It turns out that Pavel doesn't like being almost turned into a toasted marshmallow, so he disables the intermediate-scale device with repeated blasts from Tickler (despite it floating and ducking around wildly). Pavel also murdered the two goons in rapid succession, in a manner which left chills of horror tickling through the nerve clusters of those within earshot of the room inside the bar.

Gathering the smoking remains of the malicious device, Pavel dragged out of the bar and jams it in the cargo hatch of the fighter.

Plot Infliction 01 - If You Catch A Tiger By The Tail... Don't Fail

Dmitri looks pleased (for once). "Meeting go well?"

I smile 8th stage evil. "Yes, quite well." I feed him the images of the battle. "What's the chances that the electrical stream would have actually stopped the Missionary? I'm guessing low."

I hail the pilot: "We're ready to go. Let's party."

Dmitri winces as he reviews the battle telemetry. "That looks like it really hurt. And it seems the device could force that electric stream to hit an arbitrarily difficult target, which is kind of daunting. But you're right, even though it appears the weapon discharged a lot of damage, it probably wouldn't be sufficient to bring down a Missionary - even a weakened one like in the datalogs you shared with me. 1.3% possibility, with an ugly asymmetric variance. Which in turn suggests that there's a 97% probability that the real purpose of the device was to either test or exploit a possible weakness in Missionaries."

"Incidentally, I've been getting to know the fighter - Baal-BOA. It's not very nice, but it's loyalty protocols are rather impressive."

The pilot responds to the hail. "I'm at the rendezvous coordinates, more or less." He also transmits a vector telemetry of his exact position, and there you can see a 20 kg flying insectizoid. It appears to be mostly like a bumblebee, but with an oddly mammalian head. Dangling from two if its limbs is a large satchel, nearly as large as the bumblebee itself, with unknown contents.

I give him coordinates of the fighter. "We're over here. Come on in. What's in the satchel?" I open up the outer door to let him in.

"Ah, there you are. Nice serpent-series tactical fighter. I'll relay a scan of my satchel..." He starts buzzing towards the Baal-BOA, and in a tightbeam comm relays his current sensor data, and does a careful look through the contents of the satchel: a tool pack, a med pack and patches, some customized life support gear, a couple shields, an assortment of credit chips for different nominal identities that all look like the bearded bumblebee, a heavy widestroke blaster with high-quality targeting, and a jar of honey. You also notice that the satchel has an array of robotic tentacles, with each item being held in a coil. At a guess, while the satchel looks ponderous, it is probably capable of clinging to the bearded bumblebee and presenting no impairment of maneuverability.

Its heavy drone stops as it lands at the open hatch. "Howdy." It peers in and looks dubiously at the physically-identical (but with totally different demeanour) twins with a scowl. "I'll be your pilot. You can call me 'Buzz'."

"I'm Pavel. This is Dmitri. Here's the situation - we need to get past that blockade and away from those cruisers. Once we get away, we can figure out our destination."

Let's all get aboard and take off.

Buzz acquaints himself quickly with the control interface, and after you give him sufficient access to Baal-BOA, a quick pre-flight check is cycled through and you are underway. Instead of making an obvious vector straight up, the fighter is flown ground-hugging out of the city. This is fortunate, as a scout-class cruiser streaks into position that appears from your diminishing vantage point to be immediately above the bar you were just at. You think you see it spewing a fair number of smaller craft downward. You proceed through some increasingly-deserted surface features. After an interval of careful locates across the sky and around the horizon with passive sensors, the fighter swings up and begins a slow climb whilst keeping under the horizon from the city itself.

This plunges you into the shadow of the planet, which is a fitting prelude for the endless night you mean to disappear into.

"So, you guys are brothers or twins or clones or something, I get that much. But do you get along at all? Because the wide-eyed clever-looking one seems like he's a pussy, while the one with the BFG looks like a dick. And generally, pussies don't like dicks, because dicks fuck pussies. Though smart pussies will realize that they need dicks in case there are assholes around, because dicks also fuck assholes. And, unless I miss my guess, there's a lot of assholes after you both."

Almost a pity... would have been fun killing off the goons from the scout class cruiser.

"We're brothers. Unfortunately, Dmitri recently suffered some brain damage, which is why he doesn't seem as much a dick as I do. We eventually want to head in the direction of Knudop." I give him coordinates. "I'll let you decide the best way to get there."

"Just so I know what I need to know: do you know who these assholes are that are after you? Do they need to take you alive or any shit like that? I'll tell you one thing I might know, though: who or whatever was flying that scout class cruiser, that asshole has skills, if you know what I mean." It's utterly black inside the cockpit at the moment, and he's facing away from you, but you think you can hear Buzz's jaw-like mandibles clenching in thought. "Not that I'd be likely to be satisfied with a loser pilot if I myself had sufficient resources to muster up a few cruisers."

The Baal-BOA transits the mesosphere, and begins to accelerate in earnest, though remaining far shy of relativistic. Buzz sets the fighter tumbling slightly for a moment, then uses that for a semi-random vector.

"Yeah, we know who they are. They finally got tired of us torturing and murdering all the bounty hunters they sent after us, so they decided to go after us themselves. It's likely they want to take us alive, and it's likely they have a really good mathematician working against us."

I keep a close eye on Baal-BOA's systems to make sure they are not being tampered with.

"Mathematician? Maybe I'll just cruise a bit further out before jumping to superluminal, then…"

A couple hours later, the Baal-BOA jumps to hyperspace. Immediately three other long-range fighters give chase - matching the brisk 6 P/h pace. They do not close, but they are literally 10 seconds behind you.

About 9 hours into the flight, Pavel is shocked to full awareness by the Baal-BOA's weapons firing. Summoning the Baal-BOA's external sensors shows nothing that is a threat, but there is a distractingly beautiful fan-shaped spray of scintillating particles.

Buzz is snickering evilly, and swings the sub-luminal fighter to a random tangent and runs back into hyperspace. Two of the pursuing fighters jump to hyperspace too. The four cruisers chasing you are probably still back there, but are well out of sensor range now.

Dmitri comms discretely. "I think that by his own nominative system, Buzz is a dick."

Sweet. Way back when we were escaping Zombie world, did I record the exact coordinates when we came out of the non-hyperspace zone? Would we be able to go back to the edge, head in for a bit and try to lose the fighters in there, then come back out and jump to hyperspace again. Then, hopefully, the fighters will either try to jump to hyperspace again, or they will take time getting out of the zone and we'll be long gone. I suggest that to Dmitri and see what his hyperintelligence thinks.

Dmitri confers with the actually-quite-detailed star charts in the Baal-BOA. "I think that perimeter of the non-hyperspace zone might not be constant. In which case, the order of magnitude of safety factor we'd want to give ourselves would be directly inverse to the likelihood that the pursuing fighters would have any difficulty. Also, it would mean heading considerably out of our way."

While not actually privy to your conversation, Buzz seems to clue into the general aura of scheming. "Just so you're not all worried or nothing, those two assholes following us aren't a threat. At least, not right away. And if you want me to lose them, just let me know. I can duck into some well-populated system, spend a couple hours blending with traffic, then leave at a less-than-remarkable 1 P/h. After six parsecs, it would probably be safe to get back up to speed."

Dmitri adds, to Pavel only, "That would drop their ability to track us considerably. There's still a 65% chance that they'll be able to guess where we're going, but they might not know what to look for when they get there."

"Let's do it. I'd rather not have a couple of fighters tailing us."

I check to see if Yoda is still lurking in my mind. Where are we in relation to Knudop?

Yoda has left a 0-point mark that you can nudge without destroying to attract his attention.

You are still some 30 Parsecs from Knudop.

Buzz swerves the Baal-BOA into within 30 minutes of a planet with some sufficiently significant hyperspace activity. You loop through the system, avoiding getting close to anything. After two hours of blending in, you jump back to hyperspace, but at a completely staid 1.1 P/h and along a well-travelled space lane. There seems to be no signs of pursuit.

Dmitri was listening to as much communication chatter as possible, collating data. "There's some gossip about Knudop. Sounds like their navy is on alert..."

2010.06.03 - Meeting A Royal Family

Pavel, Dmitri and Buzz conspire aboard the Baal-BOA about tactics, and decide on a "by the seat of our pants" approach. Preempting their carefully-laid plans, they are hailed by an approaching fighter from Knudop. The fighter patches them through to the Citadel on Knudop, and Pavel finds himself speaking with a cephalopod-like mentalist. On behalf of the Royal Family of Knudop, Pavel is invited to an audience where they may exchange information. An honourable Dal Fona certified Orbodun is employed to guarantee that the Imperial Knudoppian Forces will not initiate any harm. So the Baal-BOA is escorted to the Citadel by the fighter, and Pavel is conducted by the Orbodun through the vaulted quasi-military chambers of the Citadel into an ancient inner sanctum to meet the Royal Family.

Present besides the three Royals is the incredibly ugly and tentacled mentalist in his tank, and five professional and seasoned guards in heavy armour and with heavy weapons. Pavel was attempting to appear somewhat more demure than usual, but seemed to be failing somewhat as everyone appeared to be extremely nervous. Though it was odd that they seemed to be trying to prolong the conversation by making small talk...

Except, it turns out, that the Royal Family had actually used Pavel's appearance as an opportunity to goad a nearly unstoppable assassin that had been terrorizing them, and hope to lure it into a fight with one of the nearly-legendary combatants from The Scuffle.
(Aside: the Knudop Royal Family had originally been paranoid that The Scuffle was actually a recruiting event of anti-government forces to get more operatives like the feared super-assassin "General Badass", but this proved unlikely.)

And it worked pretty well. The Orbodun and the mentalist advisors were unfortunately targeted first, and they died immediately. The attacker was incredibly stealthy, and incredibly well equipped. It used a silenced blast rifle which could curve its shots to hide the shooter's origin, and also had a shield disruptor so that it short out any shields in its way. The imperial guards were largely ineffective against it. Pavel, being Pavel, was only to eager to join in the fracas. And quickly the fight devolved into just Pavel versus the assassin, with the Royals fleeing along with some surviving guards - leaving just one to act as a medic for Pavel.

The Tuskat assassin and Pavel traded blasts for a while, but since Pavel decided to "borrow" an assault weapon from one of the guards he was more able to walk damage into his target. After suffering a nearly-debilitating hit, the assassin pushed hard for a final effort and managed to drop Pavel. Pavel immediately got up again, but was forced to go defensive. The Tuskat again pushed for an advantage and managed to land a double-shot that put Pavel down for more than one turn. The assassin being ignorant of Pavel's healing powers decided instead to splatter the brains of the unfortunate medic attempting to make a difference. Pavel arose again, and landed a devastating shot on the Tuskat. Then shot him again, just to be sure.

To show their appreciation, the Knudoppian Royal Family sent out their least important member - Prince Fletcher - to sate Pavel's requests. Thus Pavel was conducted to Area 52, where the remnants and survivors of The Scuffle were kept so that he could be reunited with the Silent Red Shirt (now less silent) and the Swift Boat (now semi-intelligent sentient), and to Area 53, the cordoned-off site of The Scuffle (where they determined that the cloaked fighter was, in fact, gone).

Plot Infliction 02 - For once Pavel's on someone's good side

I contact Fletcher: "By the way, I've got some other friends heading to Knudop. Can I arrange for them to be escorted here? Oh, and can you put in a cloaking device on our fighter?"

To Dmitri: "Y'know it seems like these guys are ok. If you want, we could consider the option of leaving you here with them. Once Yoda has come in contact with you, we'd be able to keep connected telepathically, and it would keep you out of harms way."

Fletcher responds, "Are your friends... like you? Regardless, we can escort them to the Citadel, but we would prefer to not admit them to Areas 52 and 53 or to the Inner Sanctum. Would the bay and associated barracks where your fighter is berthed be adequate?" There's a pause, then he continues. "I should point out that we don't even have a zero-variable fold space; what makes you think that we have access to cloaking devices?"

Dmitri is clearly ambivalent. "It would certainly be a surprising relief to feel somewhat safe, but I fear that the communication capacity of telepathy would greatly diminish the data bandwidth I could use to be of assistance. Though, it would free up considerable space in the cockpit of the Baal-BOA..."

To Fletcher: "My friends aren't nearly as intimidating as me. When they get to the system, I'll point them out. The bay would be just fine. Didn't think you'd have a cloaking device, but I've learned never to completely trust assumptions."

To Yoda: "Let me know when you get into the system. I'll get a Knudop fighter to escort you in. I've made friends."

To Dmitri: "Diminishing your abilities doesn't sound good." I smirk. "I guess you're stuck with me. So, of all the ships that left the system after the scuffel, which one is most likely the cloaked fighter?"

Fletcher: "That'll be a relief to the Imperial Guard. If you can give us an approximate vector and identifying information we can send a fighter escort out immediately. This way we can extend the range at which you can hail your friends. Also, did you the Guards to fetch that old gunsmith?"

Yoda: "We'll be there in just over two hours. Do we need a fighter escort? Is there some shit going down that's worse than my spidey-sense can pick up?"

Dmitri: "Just don't get me killed, OK? The cloaked fighter is almost certainly... (transmits relevant data log) ...this one. Precedes the exodus from the vicinity of Jamison by about 5 minutes, which suits the timeline you shared just about exactly. Plus its trajectory is to the middle of nowhere, which seems to correlate with the approximately perceived location of Sergei's mark. It's a 20 cp vessel capable of at least 5 P/h."

Not-So-Silent Red Shirt: "The Borodino just snarled at a techie that came too close. Is there any way that we could mellow it out? Like some music or something? Ship porn, maybe?"

Yoda: "You don't need one. But it will make the guys here less paranoid. Just let me know when you get into the system. Also, when you have the points for some prescience, could you try to gleen where the Missionary is going?"

Fletcher: "To be honest, I'm not sure what they're flying these days. They said they'd contact me when they get into the system. It'd be a small ship. They're a bunch of Takolees."

Size200 tons displacement17 CP
Stamina100 intermediate scale
25 combat shields +5 buffer
combat shields 71 +5 buffer
defense shield 50 shell
Combat Speed5 km/turn²6 km/turn²
Superluminal Speed1.1 P/h6.0 P/h
Maneouverability6 (+2 duck)4 (+1 duck)
Weaponry1D+2 turret (ship scale)3D+2 turret
Cargo20 tons0.5 CP

Dmitri: "OK brother, what's our plan?"

Assuming there's nothing extra you intend to accomplish, the Battle Rabbits arrive and can be escorted in so that Yoda can mark everybody, and the modifications to the Baal-BOA can be completed.

I think I'll go visit the gunsmith. See if he has any interesting ideas about what would be effective against a robot encased in biological healing armour.

The wizened gunsmith is exactly where you last saw him.

"You seem to suit Tickler more now."

I smile, not too evilly, but just a touch of evil.

"I have a situation where I need to have an effective weapon against a robot. The problem is that the robot is incased in a biological organism, sort of like psudian armour. Ideally, I would like to do damage to the robot, and not hurt the armour, but at the very least, I'd need to hurt the robot. I'm thinking the obvious choice would be plasma, but I wanted to ask an expert. Is it possible to have some sort of armour ignoring sonic weapon?"

Do we still have disruptors as armour ignoring? If I hit Sergei/Missionary with Tickler, would it hurt both?

Disruptors are indeed still armour ignoring.

"Plasma would certainly harm both the inner robot and the exterior bio-armour - and so would your current weapon. And, since the whole point of bio-armour like pseuddians is that they have a healing factor, the trick would be to just keep applying damage at a rate that the pseuddian could regenerate until the inner robot fails. Sadly, there isn't an armour-effective sonic weapon. The whole resonance mechanism that causes additional damage to more rigid structures is entirely based on surface impact."

Y'know, the more I think about it, the more I think this situation is going to end up being one of three things.

  1. Missionary kills me
  2. Missionary and Sergei die
  3. Negotiate somehow with the Missionary to let Sergei go.

I can't see a way to kill the Missionary without killing Sergei. That is unless Sergei is still just a head and the Missionary has him stored in a tank somewhere.

To the gunsmith (tightbeam): "On the off chance that certain rumours are true, what's your estimation of the most effective weapon against a Missionary?"

The wizened gunsmith doesn't miss a beat and switches to tightbeam, belying his simple and uncomplicated demeanor. "It depends greatly on which one it is. There's a couple where I'd be dubious of anything short of a nova bomb. I'm pretty sure that most of the successful predatory ones still suffer the classic susceptibility to paralysis in electric streams, but I doubt you really mean to face one of those either. The smaller, more elusive ones tend to find ways to shield themselves from that weakness, and indeed often have an electric stream handy."

"Assuming we're talking about a smaller elusive one, any ideas about effective weaponry? Why would a successful predatory one have the problem with electric streams if there is a way to counteract it. If the smaller ones can find a way around it, why can't the bigger ones?"

Ok. Planning. I think that me, Dmitri, and SRS should hop on the fighter and go after the Missionary. We'll leave Buzz here with our thanks, and ask the royals to keep the swiftboat stored for us.

Dmitri: "I think one possibility is that the Missionary went into the void so that he could easily see anyone following him. He may be just out there waiting for us, while he takes his time building a means to extract information from those severed heads. What'da think? Either that, or the other Missionary body is out there and we need to get after them as soon as possible, because if he gets ahold of the other Active Metal, he's be even more tough to beat."

The wizened gunsmith has a twinkle in his eye. "It's the Active Metal itself that is paralyzed by electric streams. So the smaller Missionaries hide their transmutable core under an exobody, which is also usually a disguise. But, really, nothing is as - shall we say kickass? - as AM when it comes to combat. So the bigger ones prefer the flexibility and performance of full-body transmutation. For Missionaries of sufficiently high willpower, the paralysis is pretty short-lived. So, really, all you can do with an electric stream is try to slow them down and escape."

Dmitri hails you, encoded. "I think I've spotted a Kavalier fighter slipping into Knudop space, from publically available sensor data. 25% chance Knudoppians know, and didn't say anything."

"Time to go. Thanks for the info."

Dmitri: "Right. We should get out of here. Will the fighter fit in the swiftboat? The swiftboat might be a good disguise and we could take everyone."

And before I go, I'd like to purchase the following:

  1. x5 move boots (sell the x3)
  2. bigger shield (if gunsmith can increase the power on my current one, all the better)
  3. 1Dx10 Plasma Rifle
  4. Life support gear (in case of vacuum)

Alas, the fight will not fit in the swift boat. Actually, the fighter is almost the same size as the swift boat. However, both the swift boat and the fighter could fit in the main bay of the Takolee's freighter...

  • x5 move boots that fit you: 3000 credits.
  • x3 move boots sold used: 250 credits.
  • Increasing the power of your existing shield: 21 credits per point.
  • 1Dx10 plasma rifle: 4400 credits.
  • life support gear for vacuum: 1 credit

2010.06.10 - Backstabbed

Gathering the crews, the Baal-BOA and the swift boat into the Takolee's freighter, they slunk away from Knudop in the spacelane most in the direction of Yoda's sense of Sergei (and probably the Missionary). Several hours away from Knudop, they left the spacelane to see if they were being followed. A few hours later, it was confirmed - they were being followed by at least one craft the size of a long-range fighter. It was keeping to extreme long range, but was still noticeable by the Baal-BOA's sensors.

They dropped out of hyperspace briefly, to bring out the Baal-BOA, then resumed with both ships flying in formation such that they would still appear to be a single vessel on etheric sensors. Another long-range fighter appeared, and rushed to catch up with the first. Not wanting to be followed, Pavel ordered another halt, and lay in wait for the fighters while the freighter continued to flee. When the pursuers came near the ambush point, the Baal-BOA did a short jump in hyperspace to engage, and the three dumped back into subluminal for a fight. Pavel seemed to feel that his vaunted skills with a turret and with Buzz's obvious skill they would be a match for the two heavy fighters.

Except that Buzz refused to help. He announced that he had been paid off, and that he was delivering Pavel to Kavalier's ships. This changed things drastically. Dmitri immediately locked Buzz out of the Baal-BOA's controls, and instructed the ship to retreat.

The tight confines of the cockpit prevented Pavel from using any of his rifles, and Dmitri was in grave danger from Buzz's heavy blaster. So, instead, Pavel commanded Gladius to assassinate Buzz. Gladius flew from his holster and embedded in Buzz's head, but failed to penetrate into his main neural knot. Buzz then tried to blast Dmitri in retribution, but Pavel was able to parry it. Dmitri slammed open the cockpit hatch because both he and Pavel were laregely resistant to the effects of vacuum, but Buzz's robotic satchel deployed a pressure suit. With the hatch open, however, Pavel was able to bring Tickler to bear, and he proceeded to cook Buzz with disruptor blasts while he screamed silently (though briefly).

All the while, ship-scale blasts from the pursuing fighters flast past as they tried to land a lucky hit from outside accurate range. Pavel realized that escape would not be possible, and with Dmitri taking over piloting duties they turned to face the fighters once more. Without a skilled pilot they were hopelessly outmatched, and the Baal-BOA was blasted into stalling.

The fighters loomed closed, and instructed Dmitri and Pavel to jump clear of the fighter into the void. There was nothing else they could do, so they complied. While one fighter sped away to chase down the freighter, the other scooped up Pavel and Dmitri with force beams and deposited them in a small armoured hold. Clearly, doomed.

Plot Infliction 03 - Hard Friends Are Good To Find

The Takolees and the Silent Red Shirt have pulled the swift boat out of the freighter's hold and have split up to make tracking them down more difficult. Yoda keeps in contact with Pavel telepathically.

Time passes.

Yoda: "Hey, guys, is there something going on? The second fighter just revealed itself momentarily by moving relativistic for a moment, heading back towards where you are."

Dmitri: "If you know where we are, you might be able to train your passive sensors on maximum gain and see us."

Yoda: "No, we're too far away for our sensor resolution to make out much. We could sneak closer if you want..."

"I'm surprised the fighter we're in hasn't already gone superluminal. I figured we'd be heading back to the General asap. Yoda, if you can sneak closer without being spotted, feel free, but if you think it's too much of a risk don't do it. Where are we in relation to where the fight was?"

I attempt to hail the pilot of the fighter we're in. "Yo pilot dude. The boredom in here is torture. How about you feed us in some sensor data so we can see where we're going. Can't hurt, we can't exactly do anything in here."

Yoda: "You're exactly in the same spot. More or less. We're going to get a bit closer so that we can at least see fighter-sized objects…"

Your hail is answered by Gladius. "Quiet. Stabbing soon. Again. Maybe."

Gladius??? Cool.

"Gladius, if there's any way you can open this box..."

Yoda: "Looks like they went and retrieved everything from the Baal-BOA, including Gladius."

Which fighter were we put in, the one with multiple attacks, or the other one?

You are in the fighter that had the pilot with two attacks.

Gladius responds very faintly. "Shush! The other fighter is sniffing around and I don't want it to hear you."

Yoda: "We're close enough to just barely make out the fighters. The one you're in and the Baal-BOA are parked nose-to-nose. Neither one is moving."

We stay quiet. Radio silence.

To Yoda/Dmitri: "What do you think about either the freighter or the swift-boat running superluminally for a bit. The fighter is occupied, so it might not give chase right away and you might be able to get some distance before you have to drop to sublight again. The ship still moving at sublight could continue at sublight and thoroughly lose themselves in the void until the threat is gone."

"Or, the fighter will continue to go after you and leave us to take control of this fighter."

Yoda: "Aye aye." A few moments pass, then Yoda reports again. "Freighter jumped superluminal for a skip. Whoa! There goes the fighter! Damn, we should have been ready to take a pot-shot."

Dmitri hails Gladius. "Send us a sensor feed."

There's a pause, then you get a signal. It's pretty much blank blackness, and the infrared spectrum has some sort of hazy blur obscuring you from seeing anything. Then Gladius extracts himself from the pilot's eye socket and you see a human with a very surprised expression, accentuated by the lethally-deep stab wounds instead of eyes through the fractured transparent faceplate of his pilot suit. Gladius pivots, to glance at the pilot floating free, closer to Buzz's corpse gripped to the Baal-BOA than to his own fighter, which is parked just a few meters away with its canopy open towards the Baal-BOA's open canopy.

Looking at the fighter through Gladius's sensors, does it appear to have a turret, or only fixed weapons. I'm guessing there's no turret gunner, as he would have done something by now.

"Yoda, where's the fighter going?"

"Gladius, can you figure out how to get control of this ship? Or at least open this box we're in?"

The fighter only has fixed weapons.

Yoda: "The fighter went about 6 light days away - where the freighter jumped to."

Gladius flies over to the controls of the fighter and makes contact. "No. Controls are encrypted."

Dmitri: "I'm on it."

It would be nice if we could take over this fighter, but if not, I'm guessing it has patches. :)

Dmitri works via Gladius' comm to hack into the figher's systems. After a minute or so he grunts. "I can force access to the control systems, but the protocols are pretty densely nested." He pops the hatch to the compartment you're in, and you float free. "I propose we booby-trap it."

This fighter has 22 patches left.

"Booby trapping sounds good. Want to work on that, while I fix up the Baal-BOA? Or, should I help with the booby-trapping first?"

Dmitri: "Fixing the Baal-BOA and booby-trapping would both likely go faster if we called the Takolees in the swift boat in. Time might be crucial, as the freighter is vastly outmatched by that fighter hunting it."

Yoda: "How close are you? Can you get here fairly quickly sublight?" I start transferring the patches over to Baal-BOA. If the Takolee's can get here in a short time, I get them to start fixing the Baal-BOA while Dmitri and I work on tampering the fighter. Is it possible to set it up for instantaenous explosion without it being obvious the drives are almost at overload? It would be cool to stuff the pilot back inside, destroy the comm and have it seem like nothing's wrong except that there isn't any contact. Then if the cockpit is opened, or the fighter is grabbed by force beams - boom!

Yoda: "We can be there in 5 minutes. On our way."

The detectability of the potential blast is proportional to its size. Maximum yield for the drives on the long-range fighter is essentially a tactical nuke - say, 50 dice ship scale - but would be a blatant beacon on etheric sensors. Let's say that the nominal blast is about 5 dice that you can hide without negatives. Adding dice adds to the negative to conceal the potential blast.

Ok, let's assume the pilot is 5th stage with 2-3 stages of infantry. That means his awareness would likely be between 8 and 17. So, let's say a mean of 13. A max roll of 12 on his locate would bring it to 25. If hiding the explosion is just a hide roll, then Pavel's average roll would be 26, so that would be ok. If we have multiple attempts at hiding until we can get say 10+ on the roll, then we could probably add a few more dice damage as a negative and be ok - assuming a 1D = -1 to hide. I'm thinking we bump up the damage to 10D in that case and risk it.

Then we have to figure out how to lure him in. Get the fighter to start full power jamming, maybe, if we can. We hide nearby and wait for the explosion, then zoom in to finish him off.

The swift boat roars in and the three Takolees swarm out to help. The Baal-BOA gets the all the patches, half of which are applied immediately to get it running again, meanwhile the 10D potential blast is set up in the Kavalier fighter, and you get the comm system to start jamming with the pilot jammed back in his cockpit.

Who is in which ship?
What is done with Buzz's body? How far away does each ship retreat, respectively?

Buzz's body is releived of his cool satchel and put in the armoured box we were recently trapped in. I make sure that the satchel isn't emmitting anything that would give us away.

Are any of the Takolee's good at flying? I assume SRS is in the freighter. If SRS is here, then we grab him. If pilot, Dmitri, and I all fit into the Baal-BOA, then we stay there, otherwise, Dmitri will head with the Takolees for now.

I zoom out to long range and try to guesimate the locate required to spot a stationary long range fighter. I check the same for a range where we'd be at -10 to hit.

Oh, and of course Gladius is back with me.

Buzz's satchel is sentient, and semi-intelligent, and growls at you. It tries staying with the body of Buzz, if it can.

None of the present Takolee's are good at flying - the swift boat is "captained" by the SRS. SRS agrees to fly the Baal-BOA, but clearly has an affinity for the 'Dino. SRS tightbeams you specifically about that; "Dude. The swift boat... you know how it's sort of sentient now? Well, it can fly itself. No bonuses or anything yet, but it decides whether or not it allows the inputs of the pilot, if you know what I mean. I think it remembers the Takolees, so they'll be OK on board alone, but I wouldn't put anybody new on the ship without one of us around to make sure it knows it's OK. It's totally eaten a couple unwary Knudopian technicians; I bet somebody wonders what happened to them."

Guesstimating the range at which a stationary long-range fighter is noticeable is somewhat skewed by the possibility of flukes. Nevertheless, in a void with active scanning anything larger than a ham sandwich is detectable with locate of 10 at the extent of sensor range (usually equivalent to weapons range). With passive scanning, that range is halved. Negatives to locate and negatives to hit increase by 1 for every 10 km past maximum range.

Gladius resumes acquiring on anybody near you from his sheath.

2010.06.24 - Detour to Aubrey

Unfortunately, the plan to lure the other fighter in and blow it up didn't materialize as the fleeing freighter was discovered, disabled, and the Takolees aboard captured. The enemy fighter then went up to maximum speed back to Knudop and it became quickly apparent that we would be unable to intercept him. Chasing was also tactically unwise as there would likely be more ships waiting for us, so we decided to continue our Missionary hunt and planned to rescue the captured Takolee's at a later date. Yoda was with us, so he'd be able to lead us to the others.

So the group decided to move with all possible haste, which meant cramming Yoda and Watson on Dmitri's lap while Pavel glowered through the turret sights and the Silent Red Shirt piloted the cramped Baal-BOA. The semi-intelligent swift boat was told to make its own way to Bath, where they would try to meet up with it.

Sprinting toward Sergei, following Yoda's mental mark, the psychic bunny came to realize that Sergei was actually stationary, and perhaps had been for some time. But, when they were almost 25 Parsecs away, the mark started moving again. And the direction only lead to one place...

Aubrey. A leftover Confederation way-point from the era of the Galactic Wars, with a significant industrialized population lingering due to sheer inertia that keeps a wispy spacelane flickering by.

Approaching from a less-conspicuous direction, Pavel is dropped off in the city where Yoda feels Sergei's mark. The crew retreats in the Baal-BOA, to act as a high-altitude observer and possible backup, while Pavel makes his way through the cityscape.

Pavel is impatient, and quickly attracts a considerable amount of attention. First a carload of young toughs are foolish enough to think that they can overwhelm Pavel and threaten him into blackmail. Killing them and taking their ground hopper spikes the net's interest in Pavel, and he becomes an instant sensation. This attracts the attention of some not very tactically-minded police who attempt arresting Pavel, and are chased off in a hail of assault plasma fire. With a hornet's nest of police thus stirred up, Pavel decides to start moving more stealthily.

An adventurous Groten thinks to try himself against Pavel, but is given the slip.

Then, with a twinge of wary-making sensation, an intermediate scale walker homes in on Pavel. It seems to be a member of the local dominant criminal organization, and engages Pavel in what might superficially seem to be an unfair fight. Assault laser is traded against assault plasma, and the walker makes good use of its vaunted movement capability to give itself patch-applying respites. But after several nearly disastrous clashes, the walker realizes that it is outmatched, and flees. Pavel vaults to the top of a building, aided by some of the best move boots money can buy, in order to consider trying to get a few more shots in at the walker (he can't; the building cover is complete). Instead, he spots a tiny robot flying into view.

Pavel hails it. It addresses him in the familiar. "How is it that you came to follow me here, Pavel?"

Plot Infliction 04 - Old Friend

"Hello Guilladot. Now I understand why that battle suit was able to locate us. How have you been?"

"I've been busy interrogating captured brains. I had thought you would be busy in an inverse sort of way, at the hands of a certain General. But, wily fiend that you are, you're here instead. As subtle as ever, but tougher than ever. I'm afraid I have some bad news: I can't let you have Sergei back yet."

"While I am keen to get Sergei back, what makes you think I'm not here to be your partner again? After all, that Gaskow asteroid was undoubtedly the most fun I've ever had in my entire life. Perhaps we could come to an arrangement. I help you on your quest and in return, Sergei is returned to me. Then maybe we can all go pay the General a visit. He's pissed me off somewhat and I'd love to return the favour."

I of course am doing multiple locates to see if I can spot where that little robot is communicating to.

The little robot is clearly communicating to two other little robots, both at corners to look down different streets.

"That's an amusing thought, Pavel. But I haven't forgotten the little data point about you shooting me. Not exactly first-rate partner material, I'm afraid. Not that I blame you, given the circumstance, but not blaming you is a far fucking cry from trusting you. And, frankly, it's pretty obvious that you were hoping to exact your revenge before I had completed my quest, and increased dramatically in power. The plasma weapon is a bit of a giveaway; very naughty."

Dmitri: "Just to state the obvious; we have no idea what you're talking to."

Dmitri: "I'm talking to the Missionary. He's set up a daisy chain of communicator robots. Good news is that he hasn't yet found the other Missionary body and is still interrogating those severed heads. Bad news is that he could flee at any moment in that cloaked ship of his. Is the Sergei mark moving at all?"

Guilladot: "Revenge would be if Sergei were dead, which I don't believe he is. The plasma weapon is, well, fun. The hope back on Knudop was that you and those four would drive you out of Sergei, keep up the fight, I would grab Sergei and flee... Shooting you was a brief miscalculation that I could prolong the fight."

"Regardless, my primary goal isn't revenge, it's rescue. I don't expect you to trust me, but I'm sure your probabilities are telling you that I'd work with you while I think there's a chance I can get Sergei back. I think I've proved that already. Besides, what do you plan to do with him? Not exactly as useful now as a severed head."

I do locates for anything else watching. Or for incoming threats. Or for anything else a paranoid being would watch out for.

Aside: Either you missed or are disregarding Guilladot's shift into past tense when referring to his quest.

Other various beings have started to appear, peeking around. The vast majority don't spot you. The couple that accidentally do, panic and hide. Nothing of an immediately threatening nature is imminent.

Yoda: "Sergei's mark is stationary, still about a kilometer east of your position.

Guilladot: "As it happens, of the severed heads I've collected over the centuries, Sergei is probably the most useful. If this is your idea of a job application, consider yourself disqualified. If I want to talk to you, I'll find you. Now go before you force me to do something we'll both regret. Say, don't you find yourself wondering what happened to Sergei's skeleton that I discarded back on Isolation Bay? I sure do, now."

I pause in thought for a moment while I relay everything the Missionary has said so far to Dmitri. I'll let him tell me about the shift to past tense that I missed.

"I had assumed that the skeleton was destroyed. Interesting thought. So, to what extent has Sergei's head healed itself?"

Dmitri also unintentionally sounds terrified. "He knows we're tracking him with a mentalist. He knows it's Yoda. He even knows how close we are by how well you can home in. He doesn't need to face you; he just needs to get to Yoda."

Guilladot: "The head is perfectly fine, as it has generally been. I am a fairly advanced medic, after all. But that's not what you mean at all, though, is it. You're wondering how much of a new body has grown from the head. With a novel nutrient feed and some growth enhancers, progress has been excellent. The catch, of course, being that the regenerative power of the body is directly linked to the skill of the associated brain. So, the regenerating body armour is several multiples more effective with the current Sergei brain still alive than if I were to... lose him."

Zark. To Dmitri: "He was a hand to hand assassin back on Knudop, but who knows what new skills he's acquired. It's possible that he's hidden the head down here, and has taken the cloaked fighter to go after you guys."

To Guilladot: "Well, at least he hasn't taken any brain damage. Y'know, you could still hide in Sergei's body, but let him have control more often. That way, he would earn more skill and become better at healing. Plus he would have an existance that isn't just stuck inside his own body, unable to do anything."

To Dmitri/Yoda: "I'm starting to think a tactical retreat is necessary. You guys are too vunerable up there and we haven't succeeded in getting to him before he found the other Missionary. We can always track him later - hopefully with a much larger force at our disposal."

Dmitri: "I'm not sure HOW we orchestrate a tactical retreat. If we come down to fetch you, wouldn't that just put us closer to harm's way? The only safe thing would be to leave you behind, scorch through the atmosphere such that anything hoping to keep up would need a contrail, then do 6 P/h hyperspace hop into the middle of nowhere. And wait. And that sucks."

Yoda: "I think he's fucking with us. I have some permanent points dedicated to prescience - not enough for specific hints, but enough to get a bad feeling well before bad things happen."

Dmitri: "It's so damn sneaky..."

Yoda: "That doesn't matter."

Dmitri: "But it could not intend to do anything, then suddenly WHAM goes after us."

Yoda: "Also doesn't matter."

Watson: "It's true. Yoda had a bad feeling about something Grimm was going to order us to do even before Pavel asked for help tracking Sergei."

Dmitri: "So, you don't have any bad feelings right now. How much lead time do we get?"

Yoda: "Actually, I have all sorts of bad feelings right now, it's just that none of them are A MISSIONARY IS COMING TO GET YOU bad. The lead time is pretty variable. If I were a ZenPe, I'd say it was as soon as god decided something shitty might happen."

"I wonder how close he is... That would be a long train of comm robots if he's with Sergei now. If I could somehow draw him out so that I'm with him, you guys may be able to go get Sergei. Yoda, do you have any points available for prescience to try and figure out if he actually has retrieved the other Missionary? He could be lying. Though it seems likely that he found it at that point where he abruptly changed course in the void. If you get a MISSIONARY IS COMING TO GET YOU bad feeling, bug out."

I start wandering towards those little robots.

To Guilladot: "So how many of these little guys do you have, anyway? Are they going to tail me whereever I go?"

Yoda: "I don't have enough power to run the paranoia-prescience plus group telepathy plus any level of prescient hint. And it'll take at least an hour of meditation to get enough points to snag a hint after I dump something. I'd rather not."

Dmitri: "Do the robots look custom? If he built them entirely himself, then we can estimate their approximate build time, we could guess at the maximum likely distance he could operate such a daisychain."

Wandering towards the closest robot is a quick trot for about 40-odd meters. It's bobbing up near the third story balcony of an apartment complex. From there, the other robots are in opposite directions, hovering just out of sight around corners of buildings at out-of-the-way heights.

Guilladot: "These little guys? A few. They probably won't be able to tail you everywhere, but they'll likely be able to observe you if you go anywhere interesting. Want to hear about the local attractions? There's a surprisingly dangerous bar just a dozen blocks south - the direction that walker was going in when last you saw it."

"Ah, local tough bar eh? Might check it out. Want to meet there for drinks?"

I look close at the robots and see if I can tell if they 'look custom' or not.

To the gang: "What's the probability that he's trying to stall me while he plans his escape? If he were super powerful, why woundn't he just come see me himself instead of sending walkers and comm-robots to me?"

Guilladot: "Meeting at the UnderBar sounds like fun. I'll need a raincheck, though, as I have a couple prior engagements I need to attend. You'll understand if I'm a bit reticent about the specifics, but I will say that you might glean something about my activities from some of the denizens of the UnderBar."

The robots have a completely pedestrian appearance to them at first glance. However, they demonstrate considerable stealth, and your technician sense coupled with your seasoned perception suggest that they're perhaps a little too intentionally plain-looking.

Dmitri: "Probability that he's stalling while he prepares to leave - 76% ±13%. One possible reason he might be sending proxies if he were super-powerful is if he's using you as bait to lure in someone or something else."

To Guilladot: "Well, until next time then." And I start to sneak in the direction of the UnderBar and make every effort to lose those droids.

To Gang: "Ok. New plan. Lose the droids and then sneak/run/whatever as quickly as possible to Sergei."

Movement and sneak roles will be required.

Yoda: "I'll be able to give you direction, and approximate distance, but from this far above I'm going to have a hard time telling if he's above or below you... About 1 klick east, at the moment. He's not moving."

Dmitri: "The buildings around 1 kilometer due east are all large industrial towers. Reading between the gossip, they are probably owned one of the local crime syndicates called the Staveleys."

2010.07.01 - Immovable Objects and Irresistible Forces

Pavel gave Guilladot's observation swarm the slip (after an extremely improbably setback, wherein he stealthily crept into a minivan that just happened to have one of the observation droids hiding inside). He then headed straight toward Sergei, guided by Yoda's telepathic mark.

He passed through an older section of the city and came to the Staveley Towers, a full block of armoured industrial complex with a very intimidating perimeter. He circumnavigated the site, to look for weaknesses, but instead found a consistent barrier, and intermediate-scale sentries. Pavel crept up to one of the closed portals and attempted to tamper his way in. This set off alarms, and engaged some powerful active scanners.

A brief, awkward conversation with the sentries later, Pavel engaged them with his assault plasma rifle. He traded blasts with them for long enough to get the distinct impression that he couldn't brute force his way in (and giving the defenders a worrying sense that some of them definitely would not survive if he were to continue to try). So Pavel fled, taking a few moments to shrug off the active scanners trying to keep him transfixed in their view. Additional subterranean and online inquiries showed no ready alternative entrances.

So Pavel moved on, heading to the UnderBar.

Due to a relative paucity of specific information regarding its whereabouts, Pavel used the hints provided by Guilladot to head to a small space port. Simply by entering the pilot's bar there he managed to traumatize its unworthy denizens, and the bartending staff was only too happy to point Pavel towards the mechanics bay which was the secret entrance to the fabled UnderBar. There he circumnavigated a 7-tonne battle droid sporting scratches from Xoids, Batori, Snaglors, and the gibbering hordes from that nameless dimension the Confederation secretly conducted a war with centuries ago.

After dropping off his assault plasma rifle, as suggested, Pavel finished descending into an atrophying den of opulence. Its inhabitants were an imposing array of faded glory, with seasoned combatants acting as waiters, and all lorded over by a Tundak that was clearly not programmed mainly for diplomacy. A deep quiet smothered the place, as all the inhabitants moved stealthily and conversed by tightbeam. Pavel eventually managed to strike up a conversation with a crusty old cyborg, and learned more about the odd dynamics of Aubrey, and explanation of the hit the Old Boy Network were paid to carry out against him. He also managed to negotiate the possibility of getting the Old Boy's assistance penetrating into Staveley Towers, but...

Then Fivel showed up. Fivel, the older brother of Cain, had been regularly visiting the UnderBar because he had been informed that one of his brother's killers was there. And Fivel wasn't the type to let that sort of thing go. So it was that Pavel, holding Cain's prized Tickler, faced Fivel and his paired 600NST überblasters.

And OH what a fight it was.

Pavel lost, but Fivel was prevented from sending him to the inky beyond by the Old Boys. Fivel left, seemingly intent on Pavel's information regarding who the primary author of Cain's death was, but threatened Pavel that he would "kill him second". Fivel took Tickler with him.

Cursorily clarifying with the Old Boy's that they would continue their scheming, Pavel decided to follow Fivel.

Plot Infliction 05 - How Best To Navigate A Trap

Fivel continues to trudge north in his particular not-sneaking-but-not-standing-out way. He does seem to be keeping an eye out for snipers, but otherwise doesn't seem to be overtly locating. But, of course, that doesn't mean he hasn't noticed you following him.

Yoda: "For the record, Sergei hasn't budged."

Dmitri: "Things of note that are along your current direction: a large spaceport, a cluster of hotels and casinos, fine restaurants, and a stadium of some generic sort."

What's range of a 600 NST?

To Gang: "Ok, so here's what we got so far. Missionary doesn't bother stopping us from reaching the Stavely stronghold because he knows we couldn't penetrate. However, he does give us the hint to go to the UnderBar. Either that was to set Fivel upon us, or to get us to find a way into the stronghold. If it's the later, I'm walking into a trap. If it's the former, I've already been in the trap."

Makes head slapping motion as he thinks of something kind of obvious.

"Gilladot could just have parked his cloaked fighter somewhere close, like right above the Staveley Towers. He's sneaky enough, and well, with a cloaked fighter it wouldn't be that hard. Sergei would be still inside the fighter and the fighter would be hidden in there somewhere. The Stavely Mafia would be oblivious."

Not that obvious, in god's opinion. Thinking of that is worth 1 point of skill. Happy birthday.

Dmitri: "Most likely, every single aspect has been multiple layers of traps within traps. Also worth pointing out that knowing the cloaked fighter could be there without the Staveley's knowing it doesn't mean we necessarily want to tell them about it - they seem like the types to use that against us."

According to legend, 600NST have adjustable range, damage, penetration, force, and stealth. The limits of each is uncertain.

mmmmmmm.... bonus skill..... yummy.

"If I were able to get into the Towers, would that give me any tactical advantage? I would still need to be able to spot the fighter, and then get to it. I think I'm going to need to get a hoverboard or flight pack. Once I got to the fighter, how would I get in? My tampering ability is decent, but I'm guessing not comparible to Gilladots. Almost need a small uber-tech to ride on my back."

I keep an eye out for spots where Fivel isn't all that close to cover but I am. I'll attempt to back up as far as 150 m from him if it's possible to do that and still keep track of him.

Dmitri: "Best of all would be a battle platform - the kind that let's you use your duck. I'll do an online search to see what's available nearby, and what kind of heights they can achieve with their leg-like force beams. Technically, if it's just a matter of leaping up to the fighter, your current move boots can let you leap about 80 meters straight up (with a theoretical limit of 130 meters, with fluke factor)."

Yoda: "If my brothers were here..."

Dmitri: "Yoda raises a valuable point - we should look for small, agile technicians like Takolees. I'm sure we can find a sufficient demographic of technician rodents; I'll search for that too."

Yoda: "You're an evil clone of a bastard raised by zombies."

Dmitri: "I'm not a clone."

Yoda: "Can't argue with any of the rest though, can you. Evil bastard."

Dmitri: "I'm not sure I believe in 'evil', exactly."

Yoda: "That's because evil was yo momma."

Dmitri: "That doesn't even make sense."

Yoda: "What do you know? You're just a malignant head that grew like fungus on the body of our friend."

Watson: "That's enough. Dmitri's just a week old; he doesn't know that your itty bitty widdle feewings got hurt. Let's just stick to being helpful, OK?"

Tactically speaking, Fivel is never far from cover. And, indeed, the cityscape is busy enough that it is hard to get a line of sight on him much past 100 meters. Not without some outrageously obvious movement, anyway. With uncanny ability of a seasoned lone combatant, he disappears from sight often, and reappears nowhere near where you might have expected from a distant vantage point. However, he is oddly easy to track at much greater distances. This is due to the meandering trail of highly flustered individuals left in his wake.

"Don't worry Yoda, we'll get your brothers back. Dmitri, the problem with a battle platform is the bulk, especially if I'm going to sneak around in there. A battle suit might make more sense. They obviously have them in there. Maybe once I'm in there, I'll look for an armoury."

"Oh, another thing Dmitri - keep an eye out on the networks for any information from Isolation Bay that involves a human combatant able to heal himself."

Well, I'll stay at around the 90 to 100 meter mark away from Fivel. I'm thinking I'll spot a place that is a good hiding spot near cover, hide for a moment to aim twice and the next round shoot him, aim and shoot him again. If I'm able to hit him a couple times, I'll stick around and try to finish him off. If the hits miss or don't do much damage, then I'll sneak away before he can corner me again.

At least, that's the plan.

A ship scale hopper cruises through traffic and takes up position directly above Fivel. As soon as it's in position, it drops a package - which Fivel snags easily out of the air with a force beam. Then he cracks it open and lets the reload of self-deploying patches crawl into his med pack. He also tucks Tickler under his cloak. In the interval when his cloak is moved aside, you see that he has an array of other pistols, plus what appears to be an assault cutting laser. The hopper accelerates away down a side street.

As you spend more time within the range at which you could regularly see Fivel, he starts to spend more time disappearing behind cover and does it more often...

It occurs to me that there are certain tactical advantages to having a hypernormally-intelligent mathematician stationed overhead in a long-range fighter.

The Baal-BOA establishes a tightbeam link with you (whenever you can see the sky), encrypted and annotated by predictive search results it feeds you its passive sensor data. Which, for tactical effect, can let you "see around corners" for things that are not obstructed from above. This cuts the time that Fivel is invisible to you. Because of your seasoned status you need not spend any dice on communication, and you can report back where you see Fivel on the Baal-BOA sensor data, Dmitri can translate that into nearly-instantaneous spatial data that you can superimpose on your own sight. Complete with lines of sight.

With luck, in some cases it could allow you to maintain (but not build) an aim, and give you a bonus on initiative when Fivel pops back into view.

You get hailed etherically via the public comm system, the header has the Old Boy's emblem and the text: "We have a way in for you."

2010.07.08 - Smuggled in a Microwave

Contemplating in a somewhat more mathematical manner the capabilities that Fivel might be able to employ while wielding an assault cutting laser, Pavel decided to forgo re-trying combat with him. As it happened, though, the rendezvous established with the Old Boys was in the same direction that he was already heading as he followed Fivel. Fivel was unfortunately unable to discern the subtle shift in Pavel's intentions, and sent a clear message that he preferred to not be followed - in the form of a staggeringly impressive shot across Pavel's metaphysical bow. Pavel adjusted his proximity accordingly.

  • Goes to the main spaceport and to an Old Boys mechanic's bay.
  • Finds out about the security measures Pavel has to pass through.
  • Rides hidden in Staveley ship through the "intruder prevention system" radiation bath.
  • Sneaks (naked) out of lower garage, steals small assault weapon from robotic guard.
  • Sneaks into dormitory to steal some appropriate clothes (cadet unitard, looks dorky).
  • Sneaks up to GenOps level.
  • Sneaks up to Tac1 level, convinces weak-willed guard to trade with Pavel for a x10 assault laser.
  • Attempts to sneak up to Tac2 level, lets himself be arrested, is taken to interrogation bay dangling by ankles from grip of small intermediate-scale walker.
  • Interrogation goes poorly. Kills interrogator and walker (and walker pilot). Takes x3 move boots and 50-stamina shield.
  • Easily slaughters some more guards and a couple battle suits as Pavel moves up a couple more Tac levels.
  • At entrance to SpecOps level faces monster H-2-H robot. Very very messy.

  • Pavel earns 2 skill.

Plot Infliction 06 - Tower Número Uno

"Yoda, if possible, try and feel how close I am to Sergei at this point. If he's not in this tower, maybe you'll be able to tell me if I'm closer if I go into another tower."

Yoda: "You are currently about 130 meters southwest of Sergei."

I attempt to determine which tower that would put him in.

According to the facility schematics, it's the tower on the opposite side of the facility.

2010.07.15 - Shadow Of Death

Proceeding past the remains of the guard monster robot and a confused hologram, Pavel contemplates the large, intermediate-scale security doors leading upward to the section he wants to get to next. To the defender's horror, Pavel bypasses the complicated locking mechanism entirely by locating an access point to the door power system. Then he proceeds to just force the door open with brute strength.

The lone combatant staying to defend the doors was another guard walker. Pavel cuts it down with a few concentrated hits from the assault laser, then burns an extra hole into the remains to make sure the pilot is dead too. The holographic projection returns, but is largely ignored.

Arriving imminently are two more walkers, but they approach with caution sufficient to give Pavel time to hide well. So well, in fact, that he allows the first one to creep up beside him obliviously. Pavel kills it without anyone knowing where he is. All the other walker and the security sensors see is the vitals of the walker exploding mysteriously and fatally. The other walker tries to fall back, but Pavel aggressively destroys it a moment later. This pilot survived long enough to eject and dash behind cover. It doesn't save him, though.

A large crowd-control walker with separate turret tromps into view from around the corner at the top of the X-way arch to engage Pavel. It manages to walk some harm into Pavel with its personnel-scale assault weapon, but not enough to prevent Pavel from turning it into a smoking ruin. This pilot also fled, but did not get sufficiently far before Pavel got into line of sight.

Sensing better-prepared defenders at the other ends of the X-way arch, Pavel wrenched out a particularly flammable component of the large walker - the life support filters - set it oxidizing furiously and hurled it down the direction he wished to proceed. By this stealth-enhancing method, Pavel was able to creep up to point-blank of the next defender: a sniper-walker with a very large intermediate-scale blaster. Pavel tampered the walker to eject the pilot, then shot the pilot but only burned away a limb. The terrified pilot managed to scamper back into the walker, which annoyed Pavel so much that he burned the walker into a barely-functioning crisp. Talking to the pilot with the voice of Inescapable Doom, Pavel convinced him to leave the walker of his own volition.

Pavel then claimed the almost-ruined walker and proceeded to the tactical stores area, just down the hallway. Upon his arrival, the doors burst open and a hand-to-hand walker charged Pavel. It died mid-leap from two huge blaster wounds, the force of which deflected its trajectory so that its ruined form embedded in the corridor wall. The rest of the crew at the depot could be heard trying to wriggle down ventilation shafts. Pavel fixes up the walker quickly, and loads up on intermediate-scale patches, some ship-scale missiles, and a couple wall-cutter plasma explosives.

(Aside: Pavel also senses that the Stavely Tower had thought Pavel's incursion was meant as a distraction in a prelude to a larger assault, so they assign the bulk of their walker forces to the external guard posts.)

Pleasantly reinforced, Pavel heads up to the final tower-bay where Yoda feels that Sergei's head is hidden (in the cloaked fighter). In the tower bay Pavel finds 5 more walkers and a huge crocaloid waiting for him, somewhat-well-hidden. Tense negotiations commence, though Pavel mostly neglects them and focuses on trying to locate the cloaked fighter. The guard-walker goons snap, though, and carnage ensues. The sniper fails to drop Pavel, and the shock-shooters pummel Pavel's suit mightily. Which is ultimately unfortunate, because this causes Pavel worry. To ease his worries, Pavel snaps a missile each at three of the off-balance shock shooters, obliterating them. From there, two-to-one odds against Pavel aren't much of a challenge.

In the after-math of the carnage, the non-walker defender lizard re-emerges to try to negotiate with Pavel some more. Though with somewhat clarified power balance.

Additionally, out of who-knows-where during the combat, one of Guilladot's tiny stealth droids emerged to relay a message to Pavel.

Plot Infliction 07 - Non-Standard Blackmail

3-tonne lizard: "So, how much money will it take for you to just leave?"

Guilladot Stealth Bot: "If you're getting this message, it means you have been much more annoying than expected. Which, in turn, means that I now have to threaten Sergei's life explicitly. If you proceed further, Sergei's brain will be killed to stop you tracking us. And how much fun would that be?"

To 3-tonne lizard: "How much you got?"

I relay what the robot said to the gang. "Dmitri, it appears that Guilladot isn't here. What are the chances he set up a booby trap to kill Sergei if the fighter is breached? Yoda, can you include Sergei in our group telepathic conversation? If not, relay the threat from the robot and let him know I'm inclined to make the attempt anyway."

3-tonne lizard: "We can offer you 50,000 credits if you'll just leave. Now."

Dmitri: "89% chance that Guilladot has the fighter rigged to blow entirely if significantly breached. 64% chance that there's a mechanism to kill Sergei at some lesser degree of incursion."

Yoda: "Sergei hasn't been conscious for a while now. About the same time as you last talked to Guilladot. Actually, about then I sensed a vague decrease in overbearing doom, too, with prescience. Maybe that was Guilladot leaving."

"50,000?" I briefly sniker at the lizard. "I was thinking at least another zero on there."

Dmitri/Yoda: "OK, here's what I propose. First, destroy that little robot, and start jamming in case there are others. Wouldn't want Guilladot in communication with them at the moment. Next, keep spraying the area with personel scale laser until something gets hit. Get to the fighter assuming I find it and attempt to tamper my way in. Assuming I don't blow up, I see what condition Sergei is in and go from there. Any suggestions?"

3TL: "How about 90,000, plus some information?"

Dmitri: "If the fighter powers up its comms it will be able to push a signal through any jamming that your walker/suit will be able to generate. If Sergei is still just a head he might not be in the obvious cockpit section of the ship, because he could fit in a smaller compartment. If the ship is building up a charge to go nuclear, the cloaking device won't be able to conceal it."

Yoda: "What do we do if they kill Sergei and just fly away?"

3TL: "Information? What possible information would you have that I would want?"

Dmitri/Yoda: "Well, that's comforting. At least we'll know ahead of time if I'm going to die in a nuclear explosion. If Sergei dies and they fly away, well, that would suck. Maybe you guys should get closer in case I need to make a swift exit and get picked up."

3TL: "Since there's no sign of an external assault, we're starting to think that you're not just an extremely annoying distraction. Our mathematicians now calculate that you're searching for an individual who was here - and there has only been one in the last year that would seem to qualify for the sort attention you appear to be intent on focussing. A droid. We have information, which we might hand over if you agree to leave." He flashes you an image of a scary-looking droid that you've never seen before.

Dmitri: "Understood. We're coming down to be within swooping range."

At what point do you start waving around the assault laser in an attempt to reveal the location of the cloaked fighter?

3TL: "Interesting. Give me a minute to think it over."

If there is cover from the 3TL nearby I'm going to go all aggressive with the assault laser on the robot and then step behind cover. I also start the jamming at this time. Then I start waving the laser and locating.

Dmitri/Yoda: "What's the probability that Guilladot removed Sergei from the fighter and hid him in this room somewhere? I'm guessing low because that would greatly increase the risk of him being discovered, but it would make my search for a cloaked fighter pointless. Yoda, can you tell me how close I am at the moment?" I also relay what the 3TL said.

There is bountiful cover available from the 3TL; you can barely see him. As soon as you splut the stealth/comm droid (no double-sixes for its duck) the 3TL took cover too, anyway. Laser-waving is initiated, but it takes a moment or two to hose down all the likely corners.

Dmitri: "Probability of Sergei not being in the cloaked fighter: 0.047."

Yoda: "Sergei is very near to you."

The laser beam glances off of... something.

A moment later a huge section of the bay door ripples with a series of plasma explosions, and the gigantic section of ship-scale plate is shorn free of its mounting causing it to slide away with scale-deceptive slowness.

Yoda: "...I've lost Sergei."

Well, that sucks.

I head as close as I can to the explosions that is safe hopefully to find the ship. Going to see what's left.

The explosions only lasted for a flicker of a section, with very little effect felt internal to the bay. They merely just surgically sliced open the soccer-field-sized bay door open, leaving a yawning chasm clear to the sky.

I'm confused. When the laser beam glanced off of something, was that where the explosions happened? I had assumed they came from the fighter.

When the laser glanced off of what was probably the cloaked fighter, the disruption of the cloak frightened the ship to trigger some explosives hidden by the bay doors so that it could flee.

In that case, I keep shooting the assault laser at where I think the fighter is and I charge to try to jump on it. That is if it hasn't already left.

Waving the laser about helps give an idea of where the cloaked fighter is - as it darts towards the yawning exit. It passes more or less 40 meters above you. You throw yourself at it in the walker, but glance off something without being able to get a grip. Your walker tumbles back to the floor of the tall bay with an echoing clang.

And then the fighter is gone.

2010.08.05 - Plodding Plot Plod

After the exit of the cloaked fighter, Pavel took the Staveley's money and walker and information and stomped off. He panicked traffic and regular people all the way to the spaceport, where he panicked their security, then he sold the walker to the Old Boys.

Since the single most salient nugget of information that the Staveley's provided included details about a robotic being (possibly Guilladot) renting a fast tug and leaving precipitously. Pavel commands the Baal-BOA to pick him up, and they head to the region of space where Guilladot had previously paused, as confirmed vaguely by Yoda's cryptic prescience.

Surveying the region, they find that there's virtually nothing of interest, as the star charts would indicate. There is, however, a tiny neutron star that was not mentioned in the star charts, and Yoda nods in that direction. Pulling in to within a light-week of the neutron star, they peer at it more closely. Their keen glance spots a tiny dot in wide orbit of the neutron star, and they zoom in even closer to inspect it. From a distance of a few light hours, they discover that the dot was actually a pair of gigantic cruisers left over from the Galactic Wars - one Confederation, one Xoid.

Approaching cautiously, they find that both vessels are leaking some minor comm traffic. It seems that the drive section and main power of the Confederation G-1 cruiser have long been blown away. A quick external fly-around suggests that there might be survivors, but that the only significant communications are among basic internal ship systems. Moving on to the Xoid cruiser shows that its vitals were crushed with some sort of massive blunt trauma. The hypothesis developed is that the Xoid cruiser crippled the Confederation cruiser, and another ship tried to flee with a 1-variable fold-space - then strategically critical in the Galactic War. Instead of letting themselves be captured, the fold-space operators turned it into a nova bomb by opening a portal to a large star. There was the flare of rushing material, and the resulting small nova compressed the core of the flare material into the small neutron star - and finished off both cruisers.

Worried that they might be missing something due to the distraction of the ancient wrecks, the crew of the Baal-BOA swept their scanners some more around the neutron star. They glimpsed another smaller ship in closer orbit around the neutron star, and rushed closer for a look. It was the fast tug they were looking for. Or, most of it.

The drives had been removed, and the large force beam had been reconfigured such that it was essentially useless for bulk hauling. They slunk into effective range of their turret, and dispatched the force beam for fear that it could be used against them. As they drew nearer, they postulated about the possibility of the reconfigured force beams being used to collect matter painted on the surface of the neutron star. Before they could get any conclusive answers, though, Guilladot fled from the scene at unbelievable speed using a vessel mostly comprised of the fast tug's drives.

The Baal-BOA gave chase.

The chase ranged back through the territory covered before the Pondunk Scuffle, with the obvious destination being a large planet with a set of fold spaces available to the public. The time it took to cover the distance allowed Yoda to cycle through his points of mentally-based ability, and prescience was brought to bear to clarify the situation. It seemed that Guilladot had indeed managed to collect some amount of active metal, but that it was not yet usable. Also, that Guilladot was hoping to be chased. More immediately, they were also able to predict the path of the cloaked fighter that escaped from Stavely Towers.

With some time to kill before the cloaked fighter would arrive, Pavel and the crew went back to Isolation Bay, to inquire about the fate of Sergei's bones after he was taken by Guilladot. They arrived to find that the settlement on the ice planet had largely (and not entirely successfully) been turned into a tourist trap about a missionary attack. Asking around with the ignorant locals (none of which being anybody who actually knew anything about the incident, because they all died), Pavel managed to track down the creature that Sergei's bones had become. It turned out that they were rescued and nurtured back into viability by a med-student colloidling, who had actually become a symbiotic organism with the Sergei-body (acting as the senses, digestive tract, and sharing neural functions). Pavel advised it to leave the vicinity, and then left it to find its own destiny.

Returning to the planet with the fold spaces, the Baal-BOA set about to intercept the cloaked fighter. It would not have been possible except for the prescient advantage of Yoda guiding them after the ship dropped to sub-luminal and became invisible. Yoda eventually spotted it for fleeting moment, and marked it telepathically. He then relayed coordinates to Pavel, who pummeled it into submission with the ship's turret.

Once beaten, though, the cloaked ship was not entirely cooperative. It did hand over Sergei's remains, but would not hand over anything else on board because it might be used against Guilladot. To barter for its life, though, it did hand over the cloaking device components.

Plot Infliction 08 - Folding Space

The 0-variable fold space complex orbiting planet Mimiko is at your disposal. Who, how, where?

What's it going to take to get the cloaking device installed?

A seasoned physicist and a professional technician.

Let's hope we find one on New Bronx. We go there.

Is Sergei's body still trying to heal itself? By what manner was he killed?

It's 10 credits per tonne, and I think the Baal-BOA is 17 cp so 170 tonnes so 1700 credits. That's the easy part. Which of the 1000 readily-accessible fold-spaces at New Bronx do you go to? There's almost as much variation in socio-political spectrum within New Bronx as in the First Galaxy: utopian to despot, and lots of anything in-between.

Sergei's remains doesn't have enough mass to actually accomplish any healing, but it's staying fresh even despite being exposed to hard vacuum. It needs some sort of feeding mechanism to accomplish any healing. Sergei's brain was fried with a massive flux of electric current.

Can we pick a fold space that seems to have above average traffic? Looking for something that isn't utopion or despot, but something in between like a large trading hub or something like that.

Not sure if the Baal-BOA has enough room to set up a feeding mechanism for Sergei... Maybe we should go find the swift-boat... Nah.

Dmitri reviews the available options, sorting for non-stupid political climates, above-average traffic, and part of the mainstream information flux, then dumps the results into a lottery and picks a destination. Looks like you're going to the Duchy Dukedom of Rolfsen (sorry, can't help but see the classic form as being too close to "douche-y").

The Baal-BOA doesn't have enough room to set up a coffee maker, much less a medical lab for growing Sergeis. Watson volunteers to take Sergei's remains, start drip-feeding them, and to go looking for the Swift Boat (he volunteers to do this in a separate ship, not going to New Bronx, and not chasing a Missionary). Yoda glowers at him until he retracts the offer.

Before you get to the front of the queue for your scheduled fold-space hop, you are hailed by a ship requesting to deliver a package. The intermediate-scale shuttle claims to be dispatched from the Purpleton Tactical Agency, and that they have been instructed to hand over encrypted comm codes - in case you ever are back in this sector and might consider earning some contract money.

There's also a clunky old floating kitchen selling deep-fried kittens on a stick.

I set up a communicator that is isolated from us or the rest of the ship and then use it to accept the comm codes from the Purpletons. We check to make sure it isn't some weird computer virus or anything like that, and if it's clean, I store them in my internal comm for later use.

I also hail the shuttle - "How did you find us here?"

mmmmmmmm.... deep fried kittens......

"I am not privy to the specifics of the intelligence leading up to this delivery assignment. However, judging from the haste with which it was ordered, I'm guessing: mostly luck."

Dmitri contemplates Sergei's remains in the hold via the internal sensors, wearing a somewhat inscrutable expression.

Watson cocks his head to one side with a twitch-like motion. "Any idea what we're going to do with him?"

"I'm not even sure who 'he' is."

The medic battle bunny looks at Dmitri for a long moment. "He's Sergei."

"Sergei's dead. Whomever comes from this particular chunk of immortal meat, it won't be Sergei. Going purely by mass, I'm more Sergei than what's in the hold."

"Maybe if you have a deep-fried kitten on a stick like Pavel you'll feel better."

Pavel's brother shrugs his big shoulders. "I don't feel bad. I'm just contemplating alternatives."

"Alternatives. That doesn't sound good."

"Well, seriously, it's not like we need to baby-sit a new fledgling person that we don't even have room for in the cockpit. My intelligence is probably a by-product of Guilladot having tweaked the anti-zombie nanoscopic robots to act as co-processors for him, but he seems to have un-done that with this last piece of Sergei."

Watson wrinkles his snout. "Are you suggesting we dispose of the remains? I'm hard-pressed to think of a fitting send-off."

"Zark no. What we have here is essentially advanced pseuddian armour. We might want to think about either harnessing that for Pavel's use in combat, or selling off the technology for a stupidly large sum of money."

Yoda swivels his head, his eyes shiny black with continuous prescience. "Bad idea."

"Yeah, bad idea. Sergei may have been killed enough to lose the mark, but we have no idea what our healing ability is capable of. His head is still there so it's possible some of his memories are still there and being healed along with the rest of him. He may still be Sergei. And if not, selling or disposing of him just means that Guilladot or another Missionary might get to him."

"When we get through the fold space, we need to do two things immediately. One, determine how close Guilladot is, and two find someone to install the cloaking device. Dmitri - can you tell by the info nets if the Dukedom of Rolfsen likely has a seasoned physicist available to them?"

2010.08.12 - Not A Missionary

Arriving in the Dukedom of Rolfsen in New Bronx, Yoda found the telepathic mark just 100 km away. Pavel decided to go for it: to hunt down Guilladot and avenge Sergei.

The Baal-BOA was forced by Ducal Security to accept a security craft to escourt them, to the extent of the large craft passageway where they drop off Pavel. Pavel followed Yoda's instructions into a residential section of the stack, and found himself at a bar. Sneaking into the bar past the bouncer, Pavel found himself in a den of unpleasantness. Amongst all the blatantly cut-throat combatants, Pavel found one large partially intermediate-scale combatant hidden near the ceiling. The well-hidden robot saw Pavel see him, and extruded some proportionally-huge force blades.

The fight was brutal. The robot quickly demonstrated how deadly it could be, meanwhile Pavel could only pick away slowly at its massive shield. Then, slowly, the balance shifted as Pavel's accuracy (and some luck) let him deliver devastating hits between the gaps in the robot's shield, and allowing the penetrating power of the assault plasma weapon to also inflict full damage on inside of the shield after burning through the robot's vitals. Doom seemed inevitable, so the robot fled.

Leaping away with terrifying speed, the robot was able to travel up to 70 meters per turn effortlessly when unhindered. Pavel was only barely capable of giving chase by virtue of his move boots. After the robot rounding a corner down a block, Pavel had to run over and around moving vehicles to try to catch a glimpse of the fleeing robot. But Pavel did catch a glimpse, and hosed down the robot some more with armour-eating plasma. Pavel cornered the robot and demanded it surrender. It refused, even though it seemed to be facing defeat, but did ask that Pavel not destroy it if he was victorious.

Then, driven by desperation, the robot flailed back hard and landed some lucky hits. In a staggering reversal, Pavel found himself taken down and pinned by the huge robot. Which Pavel found to be rather convincing evidence that it was not, in fact, Guilladot.

In an after-battle sit-down, Pavel and the robot Thereheis determined that his shield generator was the source of the mark. Apparently it was made from the portion of the ship that Guilladot escaped from that sustained Yoda's marking, and was recently obtained.

Plot Infliction 09 - Mark useless - what now?

I contact the guys: "Now that we have no idea where Guilladot is, you guys need to stop going to the physicist. The battle droid in there could have been bait for me while Guilladot goes after you. Yoda, any 'oh shit' prescience? I'm going to check out the weapon and equipment store."

Dmitri: "Shit. Understood. Randomizing our vector."

Yoda: "There was a definite step up of oh-shit-ness, but not yet at missionary-coming-to-get-us levels. You, on the other hand, definitely are wallowing in missionary-coming-to-get-you type of aura. Which I sort of thought was the idea, so didn't mention anything."

Dmitri: "Also there's quite a lot of observer data available on the net for your fight with that big scary motherfucker. But on the plus side, the general public seem to have lost track of you now."

Alrightythen... Doing mucho locating, I sneak to the weapon and equipment store.

Sneaking and locating with a staggering 19 awareness means that Pavel moves through the New Bronxian cityscape as an ephemeral wraith. The constant buzz of beings and machines and vehicles through the three-dimensional warren give copious cover and diversions. Flitting from cover to cover and using the harsh contrast of the bright lights to pave his way with shadows, Pavel makes his way to the well-defended doors of Ye Olde Weapons and Equipment Shoppe.

As he considers the armoured façade, Pavel knows without any specific or definite signs that he is being followed. Not just watched, as he almost certainly is from thousands of glittering little security sensors at the throat of the store, but has been observed for some time now along his way.

"Yoda, I'm being followed. I'm guessing it's Guilladot, but are you getting any twinges that it might be someone else?"

I hail Thereheis: "Greetings. I was wondering if you may know of any highly skilled scouts that make our awareness seem pathetic by comparison. I'd be interested in hiring one."

Yoda: "I... uh... I'm not sure I can tell. I mean, I never really got a good sense of who Guilladot was, or what he's turned into, or whatever - so it's hard to tell. And, I guess it's all sort of hard to distinguish in the glare of the OHMYFUCKINGGODITSAMISSIONARY-ness."

There is no response from Thereheis.

2010.08.19 - Bears and Hydras and Mavvices, Oh My

Pavel hailed Ye Olde Weapons and Equipment Shoppe after noticing that the entranceway was fitted with a defensive array guaranteed to inflict some burn damage via arcing electrical current to anything passing through. Instead of being told the conditions for the defensive mechanism to be deactivated, the owner desperately insisted that Pavel go way. Being dissatisfied with this answer, Pavel waded through the giant bug zapper to the horror and despair of the owner.

Apparently the owner, a human/frudzug/cyborg technician, was paranoid about missionaries, and was able to detect the close proximity of one due to having a speck of active metal. Pavel was in the midst of questioning the owner about recent events regarding Thereheis and his marked shield when he was... interrupted. Repeatedly.

The first interruption was a large, intermediate scale bear with a robotic torso instead of a head, which in turn had an assault cutting laser instead of a head. It was very, very improbable-looking and more than a little aggressive, and astoundingly stupid. "I have come to kill you! Don't make me come in there!" When Pavel asked him what he would do if he did make him come in - "I'll kill you!" - Pavel shrugged and went out to battle the fiend. It was a slug-fest, but Pavel prevailed and dragged the carcass back into the store to claim its assault cutting laser and its intermediate scale shield.

The fight garnered considerable attention, and as a result of this a messenger braved the zapping defenses of Ye Olde Weapons and Equipment Shoppe to deliver a Dave's Dive token to Pavel.

The next interruption was the arrival of another large scale combatant sent to kill Pavel, this time a gigantic walker barely capable of fitting down some smaller walkways and armed with four independent turrets of considerable power. Again Pavel slugged it out with the giant foe, and again managing to be victorious. This time the attention made Pavel famous.

Pavel decided that it was time to leave, and stop being Guilladot's bait/pawn - despite the skill earning potential and the modest income he could collect from the spectacle. As he left he was able to note the presence of a nigh-legendary sniper preparing to kill him. The sniper's attack didn't quite succeed, but it left Pavel unable to effectively strike back. However, since the sniper was using a regular weapon, Pavel knew that his healing power would be able to revive him almost instantly, so next time he let the sniper kill him. Instead of slugging it out with the sniper, Pavel aggressively launched 5 intermediate scale guided missiles at the sniper - killing him utterly. An act of poor sportsmanship sure to make any future hit-beings more appropriately wary.

The next intended destination was Dave's Dive, but along the way Pavel was noticed by pure fluke. Actually, that happened a bunch of times, but most of those times the being noticing him was suitably terrified to keep quiet. However, by sheer coincidence this one time Pavel was noticed by a member of the powerful Ducal family who also happened to be a mentalist and who had the audacity to place a mark on Pavel. Pavel's first reaction was to confront the individual, but since they were ensconced in a ship-scale limo and had ready access to nearby military security forces, he decided to let it slide - for a while. Then he continued on to Dave's Dive using the direction-finding capabilities of the token.

Plot Infliction 10 - A Little Piece Of Home

When your sensor-overlay token finally guides you to Dave's Dive, it appears to be insisting that the entrance is what appears to be a small loading bay on the back of a bank. Although, considering that the neighborhood is essentially the banking district of the Dukedom of Rolfsen, and this entire segment of stack seems to be mostly about wealth and power, it's actually fairly inconspicuous.

SRS: "Yo. Tell me about Dave's Dive. Are they going to let me in with my assault weapons? Anything I should know about the place?"

SRS: "You know, I don't know. I wasn't invited directly; I was dragged in as a peon and handed weapons as required for sorties against the droids around the entrance of the bar on Aparacidio. Definitely some scary people, though. I don't really know how the place operates. "

I hail the owner of the weapons and equipment store I was at and ask him how far away the Missionary is from him now. Then I head into the loading bay.

Ye Olde W&E Shoppe Owner: "It's definitely moved further away now. Sucks to be you. "

As you approach the bay door rolls open slowly - in a "I could go faster if I really wanted to" sort of way. Inside is an opaque ship-scale shield blocking any further progress beyond the far wall. There are no other portals, or even any other features in the bay. Perched upon a straining stool is a large, shaggy Orbodun wearing a robotic cloak concealing his paired assault weapons (well, concealing them to most people). One of those metaphysical skill coins twirls and flickers above his head - almost.

He watches you approach without comment, and once you're inside the bay the outer door closes with a SNAP. Then he holds up one giant paw and says, "Hold on."

Ye Olde W&E... : "Can you tell me exactly how far?"

Dmitri: "I think the Missionary is likely following me. You can probably safely go get that cloaking device installed."

I show my coin to the Orbodun. "Apparently, I was invited."

YOWESO: "No. Sorry. All I can be sure of is that it's not in line of sight of my store any more, but still in the Dukedom. "

Dmitri: "Understood. On our way to a randomly-selected shop capable of the work. "

Bouncer-Bear: "I see." He queries the token with a tightbeam, and it flashes green. "Good. Your contact is on their way to verify. "

Yoda: "Keep your metaphysical eyes open..."

I wonder if I'll see that blue-shiva again...

Yoda: "Actually, the OMFGTAMCTGY-ness has eased slightly. Maybe I'm just becoming numb to the panic."

Funny you should mention...
The opaque shield irises open and the blue shiva leaps lightly through. Her formerly overwhelming aura of badassedness is now more merely an aura of cool, and another one of those faint almost-existing skill coins. She looks Pavel up and down. "Holy Tundak-fucking Zark. It is you." She squints at you and wrinkles her nose. "Any of those marks on you that you want to keep before I brush you off and invite you in?"

I stare in awe of her coolness. "Wow, never thought I'd see you again. Yeah, there's one I want to keep. It's the one that isn't hidden. How many of them do I have?"

"YOU never thought you'd see ME again? No offense, but last I saw you, you were stranded on the most fucked-up planet in the galaxy with no appreciable mode of escape. Once you accomplished that particular impossibility, I assume that all other merely improbable things would seem easily possible." She gestures sharply at with brushing motions. "You have one mark - the one you can get rid of yourself whenever you want. There were two others - one painted on thick that you probably noticed, and one very sneaky old one. If you'll tolerate another, I would like to put a zero-point mark on you too."

She gestures an all-clear to the Orbodun and leads you deeper into Dave's Dive, and the shield closes behind you. A sparse crowd is lounging in the Duke Room of Dave's Dive, mostly seasoned beings, but the blue shiva guides you straight through to the active fold space and into another room somewhere else.

Yoda: "Whoa. Dude. You moved. Really far."

"Yes, if you could get rid of the painted on thick mark and the sneaky mark, it would be much appreciated. Feel free to put a zero-point mark on me."

Yoda: "Yeah, just went through a fold space. Am I still on New Bronx?"

Blue Shiva: "So, did Archangel ever attempt to reopen the fold space to Aparecido? My name is Pavel, by the way. Don't think we were ever properly introduced."

I also check the coin to see if it tells me where I am.

(Dude, past tense - she already brushed off the other marks. )

You sense a new, zero-point mark.

Yoda: "You are definitely not on New Bronx at the moment. You're, like, a few hundred Parsecs… thataway. "

The blue shiva smiles. "Nice to meet you, Pavel. My name is Shiva. Actually, the fold space to Aparecido is of concern - something keeps trying to use it. Luckily it was stripped such that it can only connect to one other portal, which is secure, and whatever it is has been unable to overcome that limitation. "

The coin informs you that you are on a large cruiser equipped with about a hundred active fold space portals, linking to pretty much everywhere.

Shiva: "Yeah, you probably don't want that something coming through if it is what I think it is."

I look around the room I'm in and try to guestimate the percentage of beings here that are scarier than I am.

Shiva gives you a wan smile. "Yeah, we had gotten that feeling. The only fold space it connects to is on a ship that barely manages to avoid the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, such that if its controls are interrupted the problem disappears - along with Aparecido. "

In this particular room there is nobody scarier than Pavel. There are definitely some capable combatants, but they would have to team up to get you.

"Wouldn't it just be easier to destroy the fold space on this end? Though I guess you wouldn't know then if they managed to get through."

So are we hanging around in this room? If so, I order a beer.

A beer seems to be already being dropped off by a prescient waitress in a tall, frosty mug made from the skull of something scary. She says, "Your steak will take a minute."

Archangel glides in through a different fold space in a manner that is disturbingly subtle considering the -10 to sneak his halo gives him, suggesting he has a natural awareness around 25-ish. "Easier, yes, but less interesting. The biotech evident on Aparecido is very interesting, as you obviously know. More importantly, I had many close friends there - I take solace in the idea of perhaps being able to visit them." The gangly floating human regards Shiva levelly. "What's your read?"

Shiva glances at you then lets Archangel read her eyes. "He's almost certainly caught up with some missionaries doing their shit. Probably too busy to work for us immediately, but if he survives might be persuaded."

"Big ones?"

"Middling. Two that might turn into a big one."

The legendary old combatant makes a face. "Missionaries. They're like high-skill syphilis. That explains the assault cutting lasers. Well, keep me appraised." Archangel then accelerates away through yet another portal to who-knows-where. As he goes, you can just catch him muttering something about "finding out who's making more active metal all the time."

Shiva shrugs. "He's all fidgety without his own bar to operate. He should probably settle down and stop being so flighty. Still, he's my Boss. Anyway, I'm your Contact. You are my guest, and have access to any of the regular portals. Please don't bring anyone else, or discuss Dave's Dive in general. At some point I'm hoping to induct you as an Operative, which has different access and privileges and responsibilities. When that time comes, we can discuss terms. For now you should probably head back to the Dukedom of Rolfsen - so that the Missionaries don't get any ideas about following you into the Dive."

Your steak arrives, steaming and bloody and marvellous.

"Uh, after you eat, I mean." A tall vial of something noxious is also delivered without being ordered, and Shiva imbibes.

Yoda/Dmitri: "Any idea where the other Takolee's are being held? It's possible I may have access to a fold space that goes near there."

Shiva: "Any suggestions on how to find a Missionary? One of them is going to come to me eventually, but it would be nice to be able to spot him ahead of time. He's a hand to hand assassin, so it's likley my first indication he's come to me will be a sword through my head. I keep trying to think of traps I could set for him, but everything that might work involves him not having the obscene awareness that he seems to have."

Remember that last dude of the bounty that Guilladot had me come back and kill? I review the footage and try to guesstimate what his duck was.

In between bites of steak, I mean. I hope to prolong the conversation long enough to order another.

Yoda/Dmitri: "We're on it."

Shiva: "Missionaries are all paranoid; they sort of have to be. They all run scary awareness and sensor boosts. The easiest way to level the playing field is to get a speck of active metal and integrate it into a mechanical brain that you trust."

The battle footage of the h2h halamite suggests he was either very lucky, or had something like 18 parry. Though the log reminds you that Guilladot didn't even try, like there was some point of honour preventing it.

"Wouldn't the active metal overpower the brain? Though I guess if it is just a spec, it wouldn't have much consciousness. So, for access to the portals, I understand not bringing anyone into Dave's Dive, but what if I brought someone in unconscious, carried him through another portal and left him on another planet? There is someone I know that might be willing to help me out if I can give him safe passage far away from here."

Shiva: "Active metal isn't really all that domineering innately - not without the tremendous ego and narcissistic paranoia driving it, anyway. Small quantities play well with most mechanical logic cores, but the gestalt is usually a bit more eccentric." She takes a deep swallow of her poison. "The general rule is that you don't bring anyone or anything, and with your guest token you're unlikely to be able to convince any of the bouncers to do otherwise."

Then Shiva does... something. Probably something mentally-based. Pavel immediately notices a hauntingly familiar and unnerving aura of "Do Not Fuck With Me" around her, but it seems to be all about a preternatural spike in willpower. "Convince me there's no possibility of this being an information leak or security issue, and I might consider arranging it."

I smile: "Ah, there's the Shiva I remember. I know someone who has a speck of active metal. After I leave here I'm going to go convince him to part with it. He had a recent run-in with a Missionary so he's got himself barricaded in his shop with the entrance covered by electric streams. If I offer him transit through an untracable foldspace to somewhere else, far away from the Missionary, it may help. I would ensure that he was unconcious and burn out his communicator and tactical scanner before bringing him here. So, security issue - no, information leak - possible, but unlikely. He'd know that I had access to a fold space, but that's about it."

Dmitri/Yoda: "Yo... I was led to that shop by Guilladot. It seems a big coincidence that the shop he led me to would have some active metal. My guess is that he wants me to have it, so that when he finally takes me down he could get it himself. Seems a lot of trouble to go through to get just a speck though. He could have got it easily himself when he was in there."

2010.08.26 - 3 Beheaded Immortals

Pavel went back to Ye Olde Weapons and Equipment Shoppe with the intended purpose of finding some Active Metal.

He succeeded. Spectacularly.

Pausing in the vicinity to sniff out the inevitable traps, Pavel got one of those proverbial "bad feelings". He hailed the owner of YOWES to see if his speck of active metal was giving him any warnings - and it really, really was. The poor cyborg was quite out of his mind with fright.

Which was shortly matched in intensity by Pavel himself, spotting a very large Missionary almost upon him. The grinning monster threw down a smoke grenade which Pavel took as an opportunity to flee (the monster mocking him, "Don't run. Don't run!"). As Pavel burst out of the smoke cloud he find an exact copy of himself mimicking his movements. This lured out Guilladot, the Missionary that had been trying to use Pavel as bait, who discovered a moment too late that the being he thought he had lured in was actually much more powerful than he had previously determined, and that he himself was now the prey.

Guilladot desperately enlisted Pavel's assistance to fend off the larger Missionary. It did not go well at first.

The first immortal beheaded was Pavel. Luckily it was with a recoilless weapon, and Pavel's powerful healing ability allowed his head to reattach immediately.

As the desperation of their plight became evident, Pavel and Guilladot risked being much more aggressive. This gave Guilladot the chance to sever off a large piece of the larger Missionary - a large enough segment that it tried to escape. The severed segment fled with astonishing alacrity, and the main body immediately chased after it. This left Pavel and Guilladot much more alive than they thought they were going to be.

Although, it did still leave Pavel pissed at Guilladot, and he managed to slice off Guilladot's head - with much the same effect as was had with the larger Missionary.

Pavel then went into Ye Olde Weapons and Equipment Shoppe and intimidated the owner into handing over his tiny warning mote of Active Metal. He left New Bronx via the foldspace network of Dave's Dive (with only minor paparazzi difficulties), and just to blow off some steam, he marched into a Kvankii Lood mafia hang-out and blasted the crap out of everyone without using assault weapons.

Plot Infliction 11 - Meeting Back At Jabba's Palace?

Actually, I forget the exact words they used at the end of Empire...

I'm guessing there's more than one exit to Dave's Dive at New Bronx. If so, when the upgrades to the fighter are complete, I'll exit out there and then meet up with the guys.

There are, in fact, hundreds of Dave's Dive portals at New Bronx. Oddly, Dmitri declares that the risk of being intercepted by a Missionary at this point is at an all-time low - because there's so much that's more tempting to them to be chased down first, and the only one that really knows enough to be interested in you also doesn't want to lead any of the others to you (and your satchel full of proto-active metal). Yoda's sooth-saying prescience seems to confirm this, and Gladius' terror factor has dwindled all the way down to 3.05.

So, let's just say that you are now sitting happily and (relatively) safely in a cloaked Baal-BOA.

Watson and Yoda look at you expectantly.

Let's find a publically accessable fold space and head to the area of space that the other Takolee's are in.

"Have the other Takolee's been interrogated any further? Perhaps we should ask the General what he wants? We have the heads of that original bounty and we have some proto-active metal. Maybe we could work out a trade."

Public fold space out of New Bronx is free, but there are considerable lines. You can pay for faster access and/or more privacy.

The other Takolees have been interrogated regularly, probably in an attempt to read their reactions regarding your whereabouts and status - though Yoda has been trying to not let anything slip. At the very least, he probably knows that you're active and alive, but who knows what a seasoned mathematician can divine.

You can have Yoda pass on a message about through the Takolees, if you want.

I check the heads of the four dudes of the bountyapolis... are they decomposing meat by now, or did Guilladot have some kind of life supporter stabbed in them.

They're dead.

Ok then, I get Yoda to pass on a message to General Dickhead: "We're ready to negotiate the release of the Takolees you have captive. Aside from us blindly surrendering to you, what could we provide in exchange for their freedom?"

Dmitri ponders, "Just to be clear - they're probably going to try to trap us/you, right? Isn't this negotiation just giving General Dickhead an explicit warning that a) we're coming and, b) you give enough of a crap about the bunnies that you're willing to put yourself at risk?"

Watson responds, "Come on. We have to at least try to negotiate."

Yoda: "I don't think it matters."

Gladius: "Philosophically I'm more inclined to stab everybody in the face such that they are rendered unconscious and then bleed to death a few moments later, but I can see how much trouble could be avoided with some simple negotiation. Perhaps General Glans is really just desperate for some sensible sorts to hear his needs so that he can break his cycle of having to crush all who oppose him with the massive unstoppable might of his fleet of battleships. Nevertheless, I feel that sometimes a being has to consider their journey through existence as being actually more important than their destination. And, in this case, I think that the journey in which we wade through rivers of blood is probably the more karmically appropriate one instead of the boring old path of temperance and reason. Because, let's face it, we're bad people. We do bad things. Within a certain paradigm of reason and a de-facto code of ethics, but really mostly as an excuse to vent our aggression in such a way that people die horribly and spectacularly. Not just casually, but actually preferentially - we are more ourselves if we find a way to make sure more people die in order to get what we want. So, in conclusion, stop being such a fucking vagina, Watson."

Dmitri: "The Active Metal seems to be having some effect."

"Of course they're going to try and trap me. I was hoping that we could negotiate the release of the battle-bunnies for meeting up with his representative for the face to face talks he was so on about the last time we met. We make it in a bar, he tries to trap me, I kill everyone, and we all flee in the fighter."

"Though I am liking Gladius's river of blood idea..."

"Maybe we should just find their fleet, get me aboard the main ship and let me kill everyone. The main problem I see with that idea is that the same thing that happened to Sergei could happen to the rest of the bunnies - the General would just kill them off if I attempt a rescue."

I gaze levelly at Yoda: "What's your read? Would negotiating with him do more harm than good?"

Yoda: "I don't think it matters. Our ability to surprise General Douchebag is probably pretty low, and any little new information we leak is probably balanced by a taste of new information ourselves. Our brothers are probably going to die either way."

"Ok, first loose end: Dmitri, I'd like you to find a random planet away from New Bronx where we can rent a secure room to put Sergei's body in. I'd like to set up a system so he can continue growing."

"Second, Yoda, are any of the other Red Suits in trouble?"

"Third, can you divine if the General has a mentalist advising him as well?"

Dmitri: "Understood. Nice paranoid/privacy-obsessed planet coming up."

Watson starts designing a growth-support system for the Sergei cadaver.

Yoda: "Even questioning whether Kavalier would have mentalists on staff makes the universe make fun of me mentally. But, uh, about the Red Shirts... it doesn't feel good. I think they're all fucked. Maybe a couple are dead, and it's like the ones that aren't dead wish they were."

"My first instinct is to go after the Takolee's first. But it might make more sense to go after the Red Suits first, just so you guys can earn some more skill. If Kavalier has mentalists, then they can shoot at us the same way we shot at Guilladot's fighter while it was cloaked. Being better at ducking would be a good thing. Hopefully it won't come to that - we may be able to sneak up at them if they are near a system, but if they're in the middle of the void, that makes things difficult."

"Ok, drop of Sergei, and go find the fleet. If they are around a system, I make an attempt to board them, otherwise we go do some skill earning so we can do it the hard way."

While we are travelling I'm going to work on that shield piercing weapon we picked up on Knudop to get it working.

Toying with the idea of going up in Leader next... might be quicker than another stage of Infantry, especially if I get the guys more involved in the carnage.

You get the sense from Yoda and Watson that the Takolees might be inconsolable if their brothers aren't the top priority. They just watched you hunt down a Missionary; now they sort of seem to waiting for you to work some magic with Kavalier.

Dmitri: "From what I can gather, Kavalier's main fleet never goes near a gravity well, other than to lay siege.

The shield disruptor is technologically out of your league, and its systems appear to be missing a key component that is unknown - it just simply doesn't energize when you power it up. You can force it to fire a collated blast, but it's nothing more than a light show without the main apparatus working.

Leader has the fun ability of "topping up" one of your previous stages in addition to the fun willpower and awareness bumps, but, frankly, nothing is going to be "quicker" experience-wise.

We use space lanes to get as close as we can to where the mark leads us. Then let's see if the fleet is moving or stationary.

So, Sergei's partial cadaver is left with a feeding mechanism in a secured apartment in a secured building in a police state city planet.

Following the mark leads you eventually to a planet called Brantley, which appears to be a planet full of nomads who got lazy. Freighters and various largish craft all parked in a manner that has ossified. Basically a gigantic trailer park.

And, from that pathetic vantage point, Yoda can determine that Kavalier's fleet is subluminal.

How far?

0.73453 Parsecs.

Can we detect any ships travelling to or from the fleet?

There is a steady trickle of ships coming and going, punctuated by semi-regular transit of cruisers.

We keep an eye out for any ships coming to Brantley. If we spot one, and it's big enough for me to stow away on, I ask Yoda to divine when it's planning to head back (if at all). Also on Brantley, I acquire some Takolee sized assault lasers and some life support gear. I also keep an eye out for anyone selling large scale explosives - AIF equivalent of C4 if possible.

I should know this, but how many Takolee's am I rescuing?

Takolee-sized assault lasers: check. A paltry 176 credits each for 1Dx10 (we really should revisit the prices of stuff).

Life support gear: they already have it.

Large scale explosives: trickier. A conversation with a munitionist would be in order. There are several that are findable via Brantley's ad-hoc interweb.

As for fleet ships heading to Brantley: there's a scout-class cruiser that makes a daily run to pick up groceries.

...Oh, right - number of Takolees requiring rescue: 2.5. There's two originals from Aparecido (Don and Grimm), and one noob (they call him Noob).

How feasable would it be for the cloaked fighter to latch onto the scout class cruiser and travel with it on the way back? Or fly along side it on the way back. Would it's bulk mask our mass signature?

It is not feasible to latch onto the outside of the cruiser.

Flying in close proximity to the cruiser at superluminal would probably mask your tiny relative mass to a remote observer. However, the etheric sensors on the cruiser itself would have a fit.

2010.09.02 - Borrowing A Scout-Class Cruiser

For expediency's sake, Pavel had the Baal-BOA deposit him near a crowded bazaar where the Kavalier fleet scout-class cruiser had nestled to pick up supplies. This was quite easy as the Baal-BOA now has a cloaking device. So Pavel stealthily prowled through the crowd and stowed on the side of a container being loaded onto the cruiser. Once inside the cruiser, Pavel discovered that all the portals to and from the hold had been sealed, and that cutting them open again would guarantee giving the crew advanced warning of his presence. So, instead, he crawled along the outer hull of the cruiser to a personnel portal, and tampered that open. Once inside, Pavel stole past several armed security personnel, and tampered open the door to the command bridge. Then Pavel stealthily entered the bridge, and tampered to exit to be jammed.

A few moments later, everyone on the bridge was dead. (Except for Pavel)

This triggered the "anti-Missionary" protocols for the ship. First, six assault electric streams tried to incapacitate Pavel. While they tickled him, and he systematically destroyed them, the second part of the protocol made their way to the bridge. Screams could be heard from the couple other crew members as they were killed in some horribly swift manner, and then there was a loud THUMP at the door.

Huge metal talons pierced the door and yanked it away, and four intermediate scale seasoned hand-to-hand monsters set upon Pavel. Each of the swift terrors were several tons of dedicated talon-driving machinery that dwarfed Pavel's frame, yet they were sufficiently coordinated in their efforts that they could slash and withdraw in a manner that let all of them have a chance at dismembering him. Each hit held with it the risk of utterly destroying Pavel, if the dice were against him (maximum damage and vital placement).

The battle raged, and the ship systems automatically started the cruiser heading towards the Kavalier fleet. The Baal-BOA could only follow.

Two of the monsters aggressively worked at Pavel's defenses, while the other two hung back. Only Pavel's healing factor, his intermediate scale shield, and luck let Pavel survive their onslaught and to work in enough hits with the assault laser to bring down the aggressive pair. Then he set upon the defensive pair - whichever one he attacked would go all-defensive. Presumably this tactic was meant to draw the intruder into an aggressive stance in order to be able to land sufficiently meaningful hits, or at least to prolong the fight until reinforcements could arrive. This didn't work so well with a 9th-stage shock shooter. When the first of the defensive pair was cut down, the last remaining one turned all aggressive, and let Pavel know he was still in a fight. But, eventually, it too was cut down.

Pavel turned the cruiser about and let the Baal-BOA into the bay. There was a hail from the Kavalier fleet, but it went unanswered. Pavel though it more amusing to let them wonder about who or what had sprung their trap, and walked away with the cheese.

Plot Infliction 12 - Phasing Out

Pavel and his entourage need to re-think strategy, and might take some time doing so.

To do list:

  • Dmitri and I will go through scout class cruiser and get rid of any tracking devices or hidden communicators.
  • Yoda will go through scout class cruiser and get rid of any hidden mentalist marks.
  • Go retreive Sergei.
  • Install a monster sized turret on cruiser.
  • Wipe/Reprogram hand to hand beasts - see what their base skills are.

There are many, many tracking devices and hidden communicators, as well as hidden controls systems. None of them are even remotely capable of remaining hidden before 22-awareness scrutiny. You end up expunging most of the ship's control systems (leaving only coffee machine and the bagel toaster in the galley), and re-wiring the beast from scratch. It's surprisingly easy, compared the horror of trying to wrangle with the Swift Boat systems. You end up with an extremely basic modular system with one minor weakness: somebody must be linked to the ship at all times to keep it running. Otherwise the systems all lock down. Dmitri has designed control software for everybody so that they can run the ship's systems (including the Baal-BOA), but without one of you securely linked to the cruiser it can't even open its own doors. All it can do is make coffee and toast bagels.

Yoda only finds one mentalist mark. It is of fairly minor power, though fairly well hidden. He scrubs it.

By the time to go to fetch Sergei, he's gone. It appears as though he has escaped. Except, of course, he didn't get far. The paranoid planetary security caught him somewhere where he wasn't supposed to be (leaving the building you rented a room in), and incarcerated him. You retrieve him, and he's quiet. And it's not a happy quiet.

The largest single turret that can work on the scout class cruiser without completely overhauling the chassis is 6D.

The hand-to-hand beasts have basic imprints of second-stage guerrillas.

Did Sergei retain any of his memories, or was he a blank slate like Dmitri?

You're not sure; Sergei hasn't said anything.

Well, I occasionally attempt to talk with him. If he's unresponsive for too long I'll get Yoda to try and read his mind.

While Sergei doesn't say anything, he does leak information via body language - he's simultaneously terrified and furious at Pavel specifically. Yoda does a gentle probe which is adamantly rebuffed. Yoda follows up with a stealthier, more forceful attempt, and finds that Sergei is suffering from flashing fragmented bits of memory. And the most prominent of these is a visual of you shooting him in the head.

I ask Yoda to describe the visual in more detail. What setting is it in? What was I armed with? I'm attempting to ascertain if it was a completely fabricated memory, or if Guilladot somehow transferred something to him when I shot him at New Bronx.

Yoda describes a very small settlement with several scary individuals arrayed about. You shoot at Sergei from atop a squarish single-story building, and there is a memory of searingly intense pain far beyond rational endurance. Definitely not New Bronx, and definitely not an assault cutting laser.

I show Sergei the Podunk Scuffle from my point of view and explain to him that Guilladot probably used his brain as storage when he was interrogating the four heads.