- 1 Pre-Game
- 2 Action Sequences
- 2.1 Game Recap: 2010-01-14 - First Contact
- 2.2 Plot Infliction I - New Job?
- 2.3 Game Recap: 2010-01-14 - Training
- 2.4 Plot Infliction II - Choices
- 2.5 Game Recap: 2010-01-28 - Damn those head shots
- 2.6 Plot Infliction III - WTF Happened?
- 2.7 Game Recap: 2010-02-04 - Merkin?
- 2.8 Plot Infliction IV - My kingdom for a flame thrower!
- 2.9 Game Recap: 2010-02-12 - Exploring enemy territory
- 2.10 Plot Infliction V - Lewis and Clark
- 2.11 Game Recap: 2010-02-18 - From There To Here
- 2.12 Plot Infliction VI - Meh
- 2.13 Game Recap: 2010-02-18 - Xoid Technicians Are Easy To Kill
- 2.14 Plot Infliction VII - Werethropod Lives! (Barely)
- 2.15 Game Recap: 2010-03-09 - It's the end of the Xoid Puppet as we know it...
- 2.16 Plot Infliction VIII - <This Space For Rent>
- 2.17 Game Recap: 2010-03-19 - Do Xoids have ball-sacks?
- 2.18 Plot Infliction IX - Click click click click hiss click (translation: fuck you)
- 2.19 Game Recap: 2010-03-25 - Unholy Alliance
- 2.20 Plot Infliction X - Attack of the Clones
- 2.21 Game Recap: 2010-04-01 - 4 Down, 121 more to go
- 2.22 Plot Infliction XI - Back in the Lab
- 2.23 Game Recap: 2010-04-08 - Escape From The Lab
- 2.24 Plot Infliction XII - Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right
- 2.25 Game Recap: 2010-04-22 - Magic Mushrooms
- 2.26 Plot Infliction XIII - All we are saaaaaaaaying.... is give peace a chance
- 2.27 Game Recap: 2010-04-29 - How Did We Survive That?
- 2.28 Plot Infliction XIV - How Many Of Us Actually Survived That?
- 2.29 Game Recap: 2010-05-06 - Now THAT was a fight!
- 3 Epilogue
Stanislav was once a densely populated city planet in the heart of the 2nd Galaxy. It's hayday is remembered fondly by the older residents of the planet as now it's in the middle of the war zone between the Xoids and the Reich. A number of years ago, the Xoids managed to get a large force to the planet and occupy a portion of it. However, despite occasional reenforcements from both sides, neither the Xoids or the Reich have been able to win the planet.
Being the expert diggers they are, the Xoids have descended to the lower levels of the planet and fortified there. The upper levels contain the Reich forces, various mercenary guilds and the rest of the population. In orbit there is a large Reich force defending the planet, and the external debris cloud of the system is crawling with Xoid ships. It's been a somewhat stable configuration for some time. Every so often a large cloud of recently grown Xoid ships leaves the planet, fights past the Reich ships and joins the Xoid ships in the debris cloud. Over the years, the interval between clouds has descreased as the Xoids build up their factories on the lower levels.
You ended up with 33 character generation points due to your parents having a "Crazy-Uncle" biologist who was professional at the time. A large majority of beings born on the surface have leaned towards the large and strong variety so that they can match the Xoids in size and weapon carrying capacity. This has reduced the number of smaller people, as well as people with more points devoted to intelligence, awareness, and will power. The crazy uncle, whose name is Zelius, attempted to talk your parents into a less brutish offsping, though it's up to you if they were convinced or not.
Zelius also tried to talk your parents into producing a mentalist as at this point in history Mentalists were just starting to be biologically created. Whether your parents were convinced or not, Zelius used four of your generation point to make you a mentalist.
20 years later, you have recently been reunited with Zelius. You had gotten your arm blown off by an unhappy Yiptak and went to him to attempt to convince him that because of the family ties he should grow you a new arm. He agreed in exchange for you being his assistant for a time. That time has already passed, but you've stuck around as he provides excellent food and a home base.
You have 20 skill.
Zelius has a number of medics in his employ who create patches. As you work for him as well, you can buy them at a discounted rate of 3 credits. You get paid 1 credit per day for courier services. The entire area you are in is jammed, so you are able to visit a customer and through telepathy conduct a transaction. Most often it's for Zelius to design an offspring or biological combatant of some sort.
Game Recap: 2010-01-14 - First Contact
The particular evening in which the game starts, Sudan Loup aka Garou finds himself without a particual job to do, so is out looking for trouble. Whilst wandering the corridors Garou encountered many a foe who wanted to extort cash from him and use him for target practice. A Vega Lizard with a flare rifle is easily dispatched, as is a Hylosis with a couple of blast rifles. After the fight with the Hylosis, Garou heads to the main bar, a relative safe haven for healing.
Once healed, he heads out again and is quickly attacked by a Groten weilding paired 429's. Garou is brought down and liberated of 5 of his patches. Feeling vindictive, he heads back in and heals at the same table with the offensive Groten. The Groten, thinking the puny furry being is a glutton for punishment, decides to heal up and wait again for Garou to leave. Once both are healed, Garou sneakily places a mentalist mark on him, and then alters his emotions so that he is so bored he decides to leave the bar. After a short time, Garou follows.
The Groten decides that since the bar is so utterly dull, he would head in the direction of one of the conduits to Xoid territory. Garou follows until he hears a fight where the Groten is, and, arriving at the scene, finds a dead Groten and a very not dead Xoid. A battle commences and the Xoid is brought down. Victorious, Garou feasts upon his fallen foe.
Back at the bar, a number of the scarier combatants are heading out as a largish force of Xoids have been reported on this level. Garou lets them know the coordinates of where he encountered his meal. Eventually the combatants return and Garou learns that the Xoid incursion was likely a training mission for Xoid combatants. What seems amiss is that the higher stage backup for the trainees seemed to fight as lunatics would.
Garou is involved in three more fights, though one isn't really a fight inasmuch as it is discovering what it is like to be assassinated.
He's called back to the lab by Zelius.
Plot Infliction I - New Job?
Zelius meets you at the entrance to the lab, though complex would be a more appropriate word. He has a staff of around 20 medics and lesser biologists, security including his Rouge Xoid body guard, and a couple of technicians. There's various customers in the public portion of the lab, many who have been de-limbed in some way and are getting replacements. Zelius leads you to his office. He does have a private lab where he spends a large portion of his time, but you haven't seen it.
"So, getting into trouble have we?" Zelius says as he looks over your wounds. "Hope you had fun." He grabs a couple beers out of a fridge and hands you one. "I've got a problem that you may be able to help me with. A client of ours ordered a combatant offspring grown for him, paid his deposit and then went and died on us. I could try to sell him, but I think it may be more profitable to train him first and then rent out his services. Feel like training a side-kick?"
I open the beer with a fang. "You know, I'm still technically at 'side-kick' status myself, for the most part. But, for you, I'd be willing to give it a try. I have a couple questions, though."
"Physically, what does this noob look like? Please say he's lupine, or can be made to look that way. If I'm ditching my lone-wolf act, I'd prefer it to be as part of a wolf pack. Also, size and speed are of interest - if he's huge and obvious, it might be a problem. And if he can't keep up, well, it'll be harder to keep him alive."
I take a chug of beer and lick my fangs. "I'd also be interested to hear what you might be thinking in terms of compensation for this training gig. Because, in order to maintain my svelte and non-threatening appearance, I'm thinking about getting some gear implanted - thug beam, move boots, shield - that sort of stuff. Later, obviously, when I can afford them, but some help in that direction would be appreciated."
I also use this opportunity to re-mark Zelius with a no-pointer.
"Well, he's as fast as you are. That's what made me think of this. I think he would make an excellent hand to hand combatant, assuming he can acquire the skills. That's one of the problems, he has no skill, so he would definitely be your underling."
"He's a stereotypical Groten in many ways. He masses a tonne, which may be somewhat helpful if you're trying to keep a low profile. Smaller beings stand out more than larger beings around here. He has hypernormal strength, fast speed, and average agility. He's also as dumb as a post with equally deficient awareness and will power."
"As for compensation, say 25% of anything I make on hiring him out, and of course a discounted rate for any biological services you require."
"Training him may be difficult in that it will be hard to keep him just wounding someone. But if there are Xoid incursions in the area, you may be able to let him loose on a Xoid. That reminds me, did you hear any details about the incursion?"
"Right, the xoids. The news after the incursion was that it was clearly a training run, with some scary xoids working as backup for the students. But, strangely, the scary backup xoids appeared to be insane - multiple attack frenzy type. Is this some sort of meaningful pattern that you know of?"
I scratch behind one pointy ear with a dewclaw. "I giant lout as a hand-to-hand combatant? He would be fearsome when he landed a hit, but that very advantage would make earning skill incredibly hard for him. And, frankly, I think the main reason I might be able to pull off being hand-to-hand is that I'm not that threatening and have a possibility of stealth - the Groten will consistently be cut down at range. It's handy that he's fast, but maybe we should try getting him to train with a rifle or blaster."
"So, how much would it cost to get my thug beam implanted?"
Strickly speaking, using the point system for character generation means that the Groten would only have difficulty with skill if a skill detrement was built in to allow extra points for size and strength. As Zelius is a seasoned biologist, this wasn't necessary. :)
You're not sure if he heard your thinking about the Groten as he was lost in thought after you mentioned the lunatic Xoids. He exchanged a meaningful glance with his Rouge Xoid bodyguard.
"Um, standard cost of implantation of equipment is 500 credits. Your discount brings it down to 300. We can negotiate that when the time comes. For now, I'd like you to let Goliath teach you how to tell the difference between the sane Xoids and the insane Xoids in case you encounter one. In the mean time..." Another meaningful glance between him and the Xoid. "... it seems I had better get back to work." And he hurries out of the lab.
You've never been alone with the Rouge Xoid before. His entire lower half is robotic. He has two immense blaster type weapons, though you've never seen him fire them. He's quite intimidating.
"You are to share this information with no-one." He grumbles. Then over the next few hours you are shown images of Xoids. For a while you can't tell them apart, but eventually he teaches you what to look for - a subtle targetting system is the main tell. The insane Xoids don't care about earning skill, so they are equiped with targetting units. Also, you're taught the difference between standard Xoid weapons and weapons that have been 'fitted' for the Xoid to give them a bonus to hit. The lunatics use the fitted weaponry. Goliath badgers you with image after image after image until you are able to recognize the lunatics instantly.
"Share this information with no-one." he reiterates and then escorts you out of the office. There's a one tonne Groten waiting for you in the main lab.
Good point about the official skill detriment. Still, I tend to count 1 combat skill earned when facing an approximately matching opponent - and inflicting +50 points of damage would tend to skew that. -shrug-
I try to keep my tail from drooping too despondently with fear while Goliath badgers me. "Am I being trained to spot these insane Xoids so that I can avoid them? Or so that I can report on them in case I see them?" I don't even bother to ask why I shouldn't share the information. All of my guesses suggest that it's knowledge that would dangerous and of little use.
Once in the presence of the Groten, I ask him, "So, what's your name? I'm Garou."
Goliath responds with a certain amount of contempt: "How you react when you see one is your business. You're being trained because Zelius wants to keep you alive."
The Groten stares at you. "I don't know. I was told to report to you for your training."
You know, speaking as a green mofo, I can totally understand why Goliath would tend to show contempt. I try to stay the zark out of his way.
I fix the Groten with a (comparatively) intense stare. "This is a pivotal moment for you. This is important. You need to figure out what you're going to be. Do you know what you want to be? You're going to be a combatant, because that is the will of your creator, in much the same way that you're a huge hulking brute. But there are still ways for you to affect who and what you are, and the very first part of that is what you're called."
There's a pause while I let that sink in, or rattle around, or whatever.
"So, what do you want to be called?"
Not that it matters, really, because I'm going to call him "fluffy" until I can think of a better nickname for him.
You can tell during the pause that he is thinking as hard as he possibly can. In that brain of his the neurons are firing so fast that he's obviously coming up with a totally awesome name full of meaning and virtue and speaks on a deeply spiritual level.
"Um... me brute? How about you call me Brute?"
"Excellent. Mr. H. Brute - I shall call you 'fluffy'. Now, down to business. Let's head outside and start your training, we can talk as we train."
Assuming that there's some sort of internal comm relay that allows contact beyond shouting range, I hail crazy uncle Zelius. "Pardon me, uncle, but are there resources to equip our newest protégé?"
As fluffy and I head to a space more conducive for rough-housing, I continue the conversation. "My job is to train you to be able to perform as a combatant. In order to do this, it seems to me that I need to keep you alive. And, probably the best way to facilitate that is if we can trust each other. So, I'm going to try to earn your trust, and I'm going to try to trust you. And the first stage of that is this:"
I stop, and reach up to place an prehensile paw on fluffy's shoulder and look up into his eyes. With as much gravity as I can muster, I tell him, "I hereby acknowledge and designate you as being NOT FOOD."
After a poignant pause, I resume walking towards the practice area. "It's not exactly a usual statement of accord, but it's what I've got."
"Right. So, continuing in the vein of keeping you alive, I think that it would be best for us to work on training you in the defensive arts. It's quite variable in practice, but the general field is commonly called 'infantry'. And we can do this in a very low-risk sort of way by simply having me beat the crap out of you over and over until you get toughened up and get the hang of avoiding my attacks - by ducking and parrying. This is pure defensive training, so don't bother trying to counter-attack yet. I'll do my best to not damage you too badly. In return, I'd take it as a kindness if you didn't crush me like a bug."
"Um... ok, I guess. I thought you were going to train me to crush Xoids?"
Each successful hit on him will require a will power roll on his part to not attack back. He will have a bonus of ten because he realizes that he is in training, so as his will power is 1, only a roll of double sixes will cause him to try and squish you.
He get's ready to duck.
You get a text message from Zelius: "I had a med pack with 20 patches put aside for him near the entrance. Jacob will give it to you." Jacob is a security guard at the entrance to the complex.
"I am going to train you to crush Xoids. But, in order to be able to crush Xoids you have to get to the Xoids, and that will often involve surviving them attacking you. So the crushing can only be learned after you learn surviving. OK?"
I do not spend more than two dice attacking him, so that I have the ability to go all-defensive if necessary. That way it would be pretty unlikely for him to hit me even if he did take a swing. Because despite what I said, I do have difficulty trusting him just yet. For the purposes of training, I only inflict damage after I've landed a few 'touches', and I try to hold back on how much damage I deliver. Hopefully it will cut down on the amount of time we have to spend training him with his med pack.
Is he very promising as a student?
It takes him a while to figure out the med pack. The first few times he uses it, he causes more damage than healing. But eventually he gets the hang of it. He is starting to get the hang of ducking and parrying - more so with parrying because of the fast speed. During your initial bought of training he manages to resist attacking you. However you can tell he's starting to get impatient.
"Crush Xoids now?"
So how far away from the complex did you go before starting the training?
"I've got some bad news for you, Fluffy, it'll be a while before you can crush Xoids. After we train you for improved survivability, we'll need you to practice on regular guys - and try to not kill them. Which, frankly, might be kind of slow and annoying. But the alternative is to have you face Xoids immediately, and that is a high-risk proposition for me and nearly certain death for you." After Fluffy has the basic knack for using his med pack, I speed up the healing process by assisting with my med pack.
"Is there some particular reason why you're so impatient to crush Xoids?"
How far away from the lab complex we go sort of depends on a couple factors that I hope I already know. Namely: whether or not crazy uncle Zelius means for the place to be a secret, whether there is a zone of relative safety if we're nearer the lab complex (assuming it's in a somewhat quiet zone), and whether there's some alternate quiet spot I know of that would suit our purposes. Speaking of which, I try to do locates regularly, to ensure that we're not too easily approached unawares.
"Seems wrong to get hurt and not crush something. I know it's for training, but still feels wrong."
Zelius's complex isn't a secret. It's far away from any passageways down a level, so you're relativly safe from Xoids, but there's still random goons wandering about. There is the occassional spectator of your training, but no one has attempted to interfere.
So how much training to you want to do? Are you going to attempt to get him to first stage all on your own, or are you going to sprinkle in some real world experience?
At the very least, I mean to give Fluffy a healthy head start on first stage infantry. But really it depends on his temperament. If I can keep him sufficiently engaged and willing, I'll be willing to grind away until he's first stage via pure sparring. I get the feeling that this is somewhat unlikely, though. And, he may well decide to put the skill earned instead into guerrilla. So it goes.
When it seems like Fluffy can't handle the sparring any more, and hopefully this is obvious before he succeeds in crushing me like bug, we'll head out for some supervised encounters in the real world.
"The think to keep in mind is that we should really try to not totally destroy people who are not Xoids. Strictly speaking, we are at war, and the only reason to fight other non-Xoids is for training and acquisition of equipment. Typically, the exchange from loser to winner is just one credit, but it's often circumstantial. Do you get what I'm saying? Pull your punches with low-skill guys, and try not to hit anybody other than Xoids in the head."
It occurs to me that I'm being too verbose. "Just try to do as I say. We should keep a running chat via tightbeam to coordinate."
Right now you out will power him 5 to 1, so you can keep him sufficiently engaged and willing, though he may grumble about it. You can easily convince him that he should start out as infantry if that's what you want.
"Right. Try to avoid head shots."
So, spar your way to first stage Infantry? Or go hunting?
I don't mean to brow-beat Fluffy into submission, because I'm hoping to establish a rapport with the hulking brute.
Maybe the thing to do is to continue the training until he's about half-way through first stage, then see where his proclivities lie. If he strongly would prefer to do some hunting, we could go out and find a suitable victim and see how he does. This experience might help him decide how he wants to proceed. If he gets his ass kicked at long range, he might viscerally develop a preference for finishing off the infantry stage via our sparring. Or, if he tastes some success, he might go for more hunting-training and try the more aggressive guerrilla stage off the bat.
Incidentally, I'm curious to know what his innate hand-to-hand is. Can I get a feel for it via his parrying?
His base hand-to-hand is 1.
Well, it's better than 0.
Game Recap: 2010-01-14 - Training
Brute aka Fluffy continued his training by fighting a rather unfortunate Reptiloid. The Reptiloid was killed by a fist driving his head into his chest. This seemed to go against the plan of just training and not actually killing anyone, but what do you do when you're one tonne and hypernormally strong? Fluffy seemed to quite enjoy it.
Garou defeated a Groten next, then a mouthy Yiptak was killed really dead. A Vega-Lizard was disarmed (rrrrrrip) and let go. A hand to hand Reglactin came to fight next, and was defeated. While healing, the pair was attacked at long range by a couple of Yiptak shock shooters. Fluffy was brought down, fortunatly landing behind cover and Garou was pelted as well. The Yiptak's losing their advantage at range fleed, but not before one of them was marked by Garou.
The pair followed the Yiptaks and reengaged them at a busy market, where they were defeated.
A SCENE FROM THE MARKET:
The 1000 kg monster that had been hunching down flexes his hypernormally-strong muscles and bursts into a freight train-like sprint. The monster isn't just huge, and it isn't just terrifyingly strong, it's also fast. And the single-mindedness of its charge is sufficient to quail the sturdiest of dispositions. It's amusing to contemplate who or what wouldn't voluntarily get out of the way, or to imagine how easily the unfortunately-in-the-way individuals would be brushed aside or simple trampled. Fluffy is not slowed by crowds.
This fearsomeness is probably part of the reason why its prey is so keen on not being caught. The chase goes for too long. So, frustrated, Fluffy pauses and scoops up a large table, rips off its legs, and flings it like a discus. A discus that weighs hundreds of kilograms. A discus that removes the Yiptak's head.
Plot Infliction II - Choices
Fluffy is now a first stage Infantry. You get the feeling that if he earned it just by sparring with you his bonuses and stamina from Infantry would have been pathetic, but as half of it was earned "in the wild", he gets a regular stage. He ends up with +4 duck, +2 Parry, +2 Awareness, and 21 stamina.
From all the combat you've done so far, you get 5 skill - most of it coming from the battles where the opponent had the intention of killing you dead (Xoid, Yiptaks, Reglactin). If you choose to go up in Leader, you get 5 bonus skill from the training of Fluffy. When you realize this, you have a feeling that this might have been Zelius's intention all along.
While in the market, you notice a Reptiloid watching you, smiling. The only reason you notice is because he is with a painfully attractive female Zygroten. While most of your brain is disengaging due to hormonal overload, the remainder thinks it recognizes the Reptiloid - you've seen him at court with some of the more capable combatants. Once he sees that he has your attention, the Reptiloid tight-beams you.
"Hi there. You work for Zelius, don't you?"
I'm certainly not going to turn down 5 bonus skill. And, frankly, a stage of Leader is almost exactly what the doctor ordered for Suden Loup. Besides which, when Fluffy gets more powerful it would be good to not have to rely on being able to beat him up. A stage of Leader it is, then. Garou isn't sneaky enough to pull off Ninja Werewolf in these corridors, anyway, so he's likely going to default to my typical combatant - all guerrilla.
I return the tight-beam, and the smile. Though I aim the comm at the reptiloid and the smile at the she-wolf. "Hi there." says my smile. "Hi there." I say in tightbeam. "I've done work for Zelius."
The she-wolf smiles back. There's a look of eagerness on her face that short circuits a few more of your neurons.
The Reptiloid responds: "Thought so... usually his guys keep a bit of a low profile. You seem to be bucking the trend. I like that. If you ask me, Zelius controls his guys a bit too much. Doesn't let them roam free as often as he should." He looks thoughtful for a second. "And well, to be honest, I don't think his heart is quite in it... for the war I mean. I think he's more interested in personal wealth than anything else. Can't say I blame him, exactly, but well a little patriotism from those with the power would be nice."
"So, I was wondering... would you be interested in a bit of side work?"
Fluffy looks confused. "Why are you staring at those two? Should I get another table?"
A stage of Leader gives you +2 Will Power, +2 Awarenss, and 6 Stamina. No bonus MBA. Additionally, you can max out one of your stages of Guerilla if you wish.
Aaaah, Leader. I pick the stage that I only got 2 H-2-H and max that one out, so that now I've got 7. I think that's also the stage that I only got 14 stam from, but I'll let god confirm about the actual delta. Best part, though, is that now Garou has halfway-decent awareness and willpower. Plus that certain je ne sais qoi and élan that comes with a stage of Leader.
There's also a sense of relief with Fluffy being harder to kill now. Less sense that Garou has to be ready to take on all opponents single-handed. Even though, it's kind of cool to try to be that.
I let Fluffy listen in on the conversation, including my internal tactical tags about their location. Though, if he arms himself with another table I won't exactly stop him, but I establish that our current tactical mode is one of readiness and discourse. Not action. Not just yet.
Should I be worried about the degree of influence that the she-wolf is applying? If it is genuinely clouding my perceptions and cognition, I'll try to dampen it. Either through willpower, or instructing Fluffy to obscure my view, and I'll do an awareness check to see if I'm being influenced mentally.
Regardless, I shut down the canis familiaris aspects and leave only the canis lupus. And in that mode I respond to the Reptiloid. "I suppose that you don't see the odd dichotomy of bad-mouthing Zelius about self-interest and personal wealth, and then follow it immediately with an offer of work. Which, I assume, you mean to pay us for." I watch the Reptiloid carefully, to see if he shows signs of having to re-work the logic for himself. "Because if you do see the dichotomy, that means you think we're stupid. And, by extrapolation, that you might be looking for stupid people to agree to your proposal." I show more teeth. "Either way, the price just went up. What's your offer...?" I try to imply by my awkward pause that I'm looking for him to fill in his name.
You're correct. The 14 stamina was for the stage which you got 2 hand-to-hand. So the stam would increase by 7 and the hand-to-hand would increase by 1. (Sweet)
You don't think you are being influenced mentally. Now that you're talking with the Reptiloid, you're able to shift your focus away from the she-wolf (a bit)
"As I said, I can't say I blame him for putting his own interests first. I just think that he should be a bit more forthcoming with his assistance to the people actually fighting the Xoids. For example, you've probably heard of the recent Xoid incursion. Rumour has it that the King and his Luitenants are planning a counter offensive to show the Zarking Xoids that this isn't an area to pick on. I'm sure Zelius is going to be receiving an order for a substantial amount of patches. Now, as primarially a business person, Zelius is likely to sell the patches at full price and reap a tidy profit. I think that if he were a more patriotic being he'd be offering them at a steep discount."
"Now Zelius is probably richer than even you realize. I'm sure that if he were to, say, lose his current supply of patches, it wouldn't be a serious blow. He would still have his complex and all his underlings and life would go on. The person or persons who took the patches would be able to get them to the combatants at a significant discount, helping the cause, while still making some serious money for their trouble."
"I mean just imagine if one were able to help obtain, say ten thousand patchs and was able to earn a credit each on them. Imagine the kind of gear you could buy for ten-K?"
He pauses for a bit. The she-wolf is distracted by something at a nearby shop which she bends over to look at.
The Reptiloid continues: "So, um, are you aware of the political situation here?"
I cock my head to one side. "Those are some mighty interesting numbers you're throwing around. Let's assume that I'm functionally oblivious to the political situation; educate me. But please start with your name. I'm Werewolf, and this is Fluffy."
Without looking, I try to gauge if Fluffy is getting riled at all. He may be programmed with some innate Zelius loyalty, and that might make him feel uncomfortable listening to the Reptiloid.
I spend a point to establish a telepathic connection to crazy uncle Zelius. "Hello uncle - I've got some Reptiloid with a foxy Zygroten propositioning me with talk of stealing your supply of patches. He's floated some political/ideological justifications and quoted numbers like 10^4. Does they look or sound familiar to you?"
Reptiloid: "Werewolf and Fluffy? Ha! I love it. I'm Solapur. My friend here is Buronga." (Which in the ancient Zygroten language means 'slutty').
"As for the political situation, it's rumoured that King Montgomery might be retiring as ruler of this section and gaining employ directly with the Reich. If that were the case, one of his Lieutenants would be the natural choice for new King. I'm an associate of Luitenant Hikaru and I have no doubt that he will assume the throne. Lieutenant Nyota simply hasn't got the ambition. If you were to assist me in this little endevour, not only will you be paid hansomly, but you will be in the eventual ruling party's good graces. This carries many advantages." The she-wolf seems extra perky at this point.
Fluffy doesn't seem to be riled. Seems a little bored.
Zelius: "Ah, that would likely be a scumbag by the name of Sola. He's still pissed that I wouldn't grow him a new pair of legs a few months ago without getting paid first. He's likely going to try to talk you into smuggling a small technician robot into the lab. The plan would be for the robot to disable the security protocals so that when they attack, I couldn't lock down the warehouse."
"I'd politely decline if I were you. He's scum, but he's still somewhat high up in the Monarchy structure, so you don't want to burn any potential bridges. That, and there's likely a sneaky Mavvice with an assault weapon nearby."
"Thanks for letting me know. It's satisfying to know that you are trustworthy. When you're done with the Reptiloid, let me know how the training is going."
You're all briefly distracted by a large bug flying by. It's about the size of an apple.
Well, that might short-circuit this little rendezvous. I aggressively swat the bug out of the air with my thug beam. And, being all Leader-y, I exploit my ability for clarity. "Xoids! Find cover and start locating!" I expect Fluffy to comply immediately. I'm curious to see how Solapur and Buronga respond.
I might be over-reacting, obviously, but I've only been professional for about a minute.
You attack aggressively. The bug attempts to evade, but you smush it. Solapur was locating as soon as he noticed the bug and Buronga is also nervously looking around, torn between diving for cover as you advised and staying close to Solapur who is staying put. Many others are looking around for any Xoids. Various other people around are looking to you to figure out what the hell you're talking about - not all of them saw the bug.
You don't spot any Xoids. Solapur spends a few more moments locating and then shakes his head.
Solapur: "Well, that was an interesting diversion. Maybe a Xoid spy or someone's sick idea of a joke. I should be getting back. If you are interested in doing business together, come find me. I'm usually at court." And he abruptly turns and walks away. The Zygroten looks disappointed and follows him.
Fluffy mutters: "What now?"
What a convenient way to get out of that particular conversation. I scoop up the smashed remains of the bug. "Now, let's take this device back to the lab for review, and let's plot a training excursion down a level. And confer with our evil master."
We head back by way of a weapons and equipment store - to sell off the appropriated laser rifle, and to obtain an opaque sack with which to carry the xoidprobe without risking it seeing anything. We don't actively hunt, and try to avoid too much trouble on our return.
"So, Fluffy, how are you feeling? You've clearly toughened up, and have achieved the basic survivability I was hoping you'd get. Now we get to try training for more aggressive skills, if we want. Both of us. What kinds of abilities are you most interested in developing?"
Well, the bug is currently a light paste, so no worries about it seeing anything.
Fluffy: "Like the idea of going down a level. Hard to try and pull my punches on guys up here. I have a feeling I'm going to have difficulty landing hits. Anyone I attack is going to go all defensive - at least if they're smart." He smiles. "Maybe I should focus on Infantry for a while."
Not being a technician or a biologist or particularly experienced or very specifically intelligent, it seems prudent to be suspicious of the famously-robust Xoid technology. If that is, in fact, what it is. I'm hoping Zelius can confirm if it's Xoid, or merely intentionally Xoid-like. Bio-tech has come a long way since the Galactic Wars.
I flash Fluffy a genuine smile. "You're wiser than most. By piling on the infantry you do indeed leave yourself more free to balance your tender attentions. Also, there's the small matter of the fact that if you go down I can't move you."
"I think we're in agreement about heading down a level to do some hunting/training. The training aspect is clearer - infantry for you and guerrilla for me. But what shall we hunt to try to accomplish that? Lone Xoids of mediocre ability might be slim pickings, and I'm afraid that we're just going to have to admit that we're not that stealthy as a pair - yet. Maybe what we need to do is find ourselves a good place to ambush people - preferably Xoids - that also includes some good hiding in case we decide that we don't want to engage." Garou wrinkles up his snout. "Or something."
Are we intercepted before we can report back to Zelius?
Likely. The market is some distance away from the lab. :)
Same order of battle as before - Fluffy in the lead, with Garou demurely commanding from behind pretending to be subordinate. Except this time I don't think we'll dally trying to hunt down mouthy people.
Game Recap: 2010-01-28 - Damn those head shots
On the way towards the complex, the pair encountered a group of about eighty combatants apparently under the command of Lieutenant Hikaru. Solapur was among them and he let them know that they were heading down a level to retaliate against the recent Xoid incursion.
Further on, they encountered an all too confident Groten who wouldn't let them pass. A brief battle ensued and the Groten was defeated. A trio of Yiptaks was encountered next and they quickly brought down Fluffy and then focused on Garou. Feeling a tad overconfident, Garou took a couple hits, thinking they couldn't do significant harm and thus leaving him dice to utilize. Unfortunately, one of the Yiptak's landed a nice hit to the head, almost dropping him. The final standing Yiptak and Garou called it a draw and they skulked off.
Four hours passed. There was much healing to do.
Once they resumed, they encountered a runner that was heading from the direction of the main way down a level. He was running at top speed to Court. He needed to warn them of the rather large Xoid incursion. Garou and Fluffy quickened the pace to the complex especially once Zelius contacted Garou and let them know the lab was under attack. They were ordered to check the area surrounding the lab and to not engage the main battle.
The first encounter was with a lone Xoid who had twin weapons and a large drill like apparatus. Though he had formidable firepower, he was brought down. Soon after, three more Xoids were spotted, two with drills and one standing guard. The one standing guard turned out to be one of the insane Xoids. The battle was long and fierce, and despite a valiant attempt by Garou at patching, Fluffy was killed by a spectacular shot to the face. The Xoids were brought down and killed... a lot.
One more Xoid was found before Garou finished his sweep. The Xoid quickly determined that he was out classed and attempted to do something with his drill, but it was yanked away before he could finish. He died shortly after.
The once again lone wolf went to the main entrance, past the carnage of the main battle, and back into the lab.
Plot Infliction III - WTF Happened?
Zelius and Goliath go to Court to find out what happened there. One of the staff biologists (an Equidon) named Fascia wanders over. She has some medical gear with her.
"Hey. Zelius asked me to do some work on you to say thanks for your help. Want anything implanted? We had better make it quick. I think we're going to be swamped with limb regrowing very soon."
I ask for the 35m thug beam to be implanted in one arm.
It also seems that Garou goes through patches pretty quickly, and will need to obtain some more. Before I spend credits on stocking up, I'll just wait for the surgery and to hear from Zelius about what he finds out. And what he might assign me to do next. It might be prudent to start saving up for a patch robot or three.
Out of curiosity, do I know (m)any other mentalists?
She begins work on your arm. It takes a couple of hours.
By then Zelius and a few other have returned. Seems there was a blood bath at Court. The King and Lieutenant Nyota are still alive, but a lot of others aren't. Before, when there have been large Xoid attacks, they went for a ship building facility near court, so over time, it's defenses have been beefed up. While still defendable, Court wasn't nearly as fortified. Seems the Xoid goal in this attack was kill as many people as possible. They brought a lot of intermediate scale napalm grenades with them. (Four of which were recovered from the drills the Xoids you killed had).
Lieutenant Hikaro's force went down a level, met little resistance and went down another level. They discovered a small troupe of Xoids and killed them, but couldn't go much further due to heavy fortifications. Seems the Xoids were waiting for a counter attack and let them go past before advancing up a level, thus fighting an already depleated force at Court.
There are remaining Xoids on your level. They killed all they could and then fleed into the maze of buildings, apartments, and roads on your level. Most of them are not the scary crazy ones that stayed until they died. They were armed with twin 2Dx10 assault blasters. It was nasty.
You don't know any other mentalists. As far as you know, you're the only mentalist in the area.
Well, so much for schemes to set up an un-jammable network of mentalists and getting rich.
2Dx10 assault weapons? Yikes.
So, what's the Royal response to the situation?
It seems that the royal response is to plug the hole down to the next level with some shield generators. Right now, Hikaru's men are guarding the hole (the previous guards were killed). The remains of Nyota's and Montgomery's men are escorting technicians. Problem is, it seems a lot of Xoids are still up on your level laying low.
You get this information by listening to the various combatants coming in for body part replacement. Most of the people coming in were like you, not at court, but caught the edge of the Xoid advance. The Xoids attacked them as they went by and some of them only lost limbs. You hear that there is a lot of bickering and finger pointing among the royal ranks.
Zelius sends you a text message: "I'll have something for you to do in a couple days. In the mean time, I'd suggest you go Xoid hunting. I understand the King is offering 100 credits a head for Xoids that are still on this level. Also, Goliath has more lessons for you. When you're ready for that, contact him."
It makes sense that there would be not-insignificant strife among the ruling class; this seems like the kind of tactical defeat that leads to the whole planet being taken over by invertebrates. Have the Xoids been typically out-strategizing the Royalty?
Xoid bounty hunting sounds like an appropriate diversion for Garou's spare time. With that in mind, I'll blow 60 credits on patches (for a nice round 20 more, thanks to Zelius' 3-credit/patch deal).
I go find Goliath, and wait patiently for him to address me. It's probably safe to assume that he needs no explanation from a lowly green combatant.
The Xoids haven't been typically this effective against the Royalty. Course, you've only been in the area a short time. You get the feeling that the Xoids haven't sent this large of a force to this particular section before, or at least not for a very long time.
Goliath is working on removing the explosives from the Xoid drills. Someone must have gone out and collected them. He glances up at you, gestures at a rather large patch sitting at a table near him, and says: "Apply that to your head." He then goes on with his work.
Seems like there's something new in Xoidland. More fighters, a better leader, or just a shift in strategy. I'd be curious to hear what the Royal mathematicians are prognosticating.
But that'll have to wait. For now I've got an abnormally large - and I'm guessing vaguely Xoid-ish - patch to apply to my head. Which, conspicuously, is where I keep my brain. I settle myself into a relaxed position out of the way, and I apply the patch as instructed.
The patch doesn't look Xoid-ish. It looks like a typical patch, only bigger.
Once the mesh invades your skull, your existing nanoscopic robots report that it is attempting to install some sort of database with additional programming. They want permission to allow it to continue. I assume you do and after a few minutes the process is complete.
Goliath looks up after a short time and makes some inconprehensable noise consisting of grunts, clicks and groans. After a ten seconds or so, the new programming kicks in and you understand that he just said: "You're going to learn the Xoid language. You've got a translation matrix installed, but we at the moment it's slow. We need to work it so that your brain is connected more efficiently, which means I'm going to talk at you a lot. Let me know when you get bored and want to take a break."
He then goes on to tell you a whole bunch of random shit about how the Xoid military usually operates. At least what he remembers, he's been a rouge for a while.
Translation matrix in Xoidese will be useful. Will Garou also be able to produce the requisite grunts, clicks and groans? If so, I try to speed up the matrix connection by repeating Goliath's spiel after translation from then back to Xoidese.
Just to check: how many of the burrowed-in Xoids are armed with 2Dx10 assault weapons? I'm not sure if Garou is up to, uh, earning skill quite that fast.
What sort of fighting force is at Zelius' disposal? Besides Goliath, I mean, who seems to be a force to be reckoned with all by himself. Sola seemed to indicate that there are (in)famously other operatives that Zelius runs, but that they're under considerably more strict control than Garou. I'm just curious to know what sort and size of machine that Garou is a cog in.
The first time you attempt to repeat the language, you think you see a smirk on Goliath's face, though it's hard to be sure. You really don't have the mandibles for it.
There's no way to know how armed the burrowed in Xoids are. From what you heard though, it seems the powerful Xoids fought until the end and only the less powerful ones ran for it.
Zelius had ten professional grunts in addition to Goliath. Now he has four.
Ha! I might not have the mandibles for properly pronouncing Xoidese, but I'm probably better suited for approximating gurnts/clicks/groans than Goliath's mandibles are for approximating a "smirk". I keep working at it.
Even if the "less powerful" Xoids are only armed with their standard paired riflebugs, they're probably relatively well-armed. It's just that Garou isn't anywhere near able to face anybody with a 2Dx10 assault weapon - that's a lot of harm-infliction potential with a frightening amount of walk-it-in capacity.
Is Garou counted among the "grunts"? If not, what makes them different? Are they slaves?
Yeah, 2Dx10 is mucho scary.
Garou wasn't counted among the grunts. The grunts are at least triple your size and have assault weapons. You don't think anyone is a slave, though you've never asked. Nobody seems particularly brain impaired, though they're not really bright.
Funny how not being all that bright can be difficult to distinguish from consciousness-bypassing neuromechanical slavery. Are there any surviving members of Zelius' grunt squad that Garou has any sort of rapport with? I'm assuming "no", but it's worth checking in case there's some additional tie of loyalty or conduit of information that can be used later.
Garou tries to actually engage Goliath in conversation with Xoidese, for practice. "So, what tactics does one use with a backup team of ten professional grunts to protect the main lab from an assault team of Xoids with superior numbers?" Huh, another question just occurred to me. "And was the lab just a target of opportunity, or was it specifically targetted? And if it was specifically targetted, did they miscalculate the assault strength because they didn't know about you? And, if that's so, what does it mean that they know about you now?"
Your translation matrix translates what you tried to say as: "Some smell of many combatants willing of guard toilet such that Xoids of plenty are depressed. And was toilet just asking for flowers if it horribly petted? And as it was horribly petted, does computer kill everyone? And if something's up, are you smart enough now?"
Goliath stares at you blankly for a few moments, then continues on his speel about various types of Mega-Xoids.
You weren't terribly close to Zelius' guards, though you've earned a bit of respect since they heard about the Xoids you took out during the assault.
So far, I am unimpressed with the translation matrix. But I'm genuinely interested in the questions, so I try again. "Sorry. I try less hard words. Was the Xoid attack on lab planned? Or was it chance? Did the Xoids know that you are here?"
Say, if there's Xoids, and Mega-Xoids, is there a class of Xoids in-between those two: Kilo-Xoids? Intermediate scale Xoids?
I guess earning the respect of the guards is something. Being a relatively tiny being that can't effectively use an assault weapon has me at a bit of a disadvantage in Stanislav.
Oh, I'm sure there's Kilo-Xoids. Mwa ha ha ha...
Goliath raises a hand as you begin your new attempt at speech. He seems annoyed. "Right now the translation matrix is putting all of it's effort in calibrating to your brain. Understanding comes first, speaking later." He pauses for a moment. "In a couple of days this is all going to be much easier anyway, assuming Zelius is sucessful."
Note to self: don't speculate on the existence of monsters to a creator of monsters.
Garou stops trying to mangle Xoidese. "What is Zelius attempting?"
"Something he'll show you himself."
I watch Goliath with a deadpan expression, and continue with the matrix refinement.
I telepathically contact Zelius. "Goliath is a big old chatter box. He's talking my pointy ears off about something you're setting up, and he's probably going to take whole hours to tell me. Can you just tell me what you're attempting so we can just focus on the translation matrix embedding? Unless you think he's going to move onto his other favourite topics: pressing wild flowers and knitting."
Zelius is quiet for a moment. "Goliath will escort you to the lab."
Goliath then stops talking at you as he receives a communication. Then he is still for a number of unsettling long moments. You're not sure why they are unsettling at first. The air seems to grow a bit thicker for some reason. Then you get it, Goliath is acting exactly like a Massetin you saw once acted when they were attempting to not kill someone. Once you realize this, you also realize that somehow his weapons got into his hands without you noticing them. You are momentarially mesmorized by the high quality craftmanship of the weapons that allowed them to look like oversized pistols, but actually are at least x10 assault weapons. They seem be straining somewhat as Goliath is holding them a little bit too strongly.
After a few more moments, the tension in the room disapates some and Goliath stands. He walks to the door that leads to Zelius' private lab, presses his hand on a sensor and the door opens. He then turns his eye on you and you can't help but look away from the intense stare. He says curtly in common: "This way" and goes into the door.
I wonder which is the greatest source of Goliath's annoyance: that Garou revealed that he leaked some information, that Garou commented on his wild flower collecting and knitting, or if those comments were a little too close for comfort.
Garou follows him into the lab.
Zelius is there waiting. There's a lot of equipment in his private lab that you don't recognize. There also is a lot of what looks like Xoid creatures. You spot three inanimate Xoids, as well as a host of other weird things. Once you're inside, Goliath leaves. There's one other person in the lab - a Takolee. He appears to be working on one of the inanimate Xoids.
Zelius: "You may want to avoid Goliath for a while." He sweeps his arm around the vast room. "Welcome to my lab."
"I'll explain a couple of things quick and then I have a job for you to do. I've seen the crazy Xoids before. Before I moved to this section I lived in another area that was hit. It seems they send the crazies up to soften a place up before they send something experimental up. Where I was they sent up these large ant-like creatures who were nasty hand to hand combatants. I left and travelled for a bit and found they had used this tactic in a number of places - soften up a section and then try something new."
"So, there's something coming. Probably something nasty. We need to figure out if we should evacuate this section or not. The main way down a level is in the process of being blocked. We could try to go to a different section, work our way down from there and then make our way back this way, but that would be time consuming and perilous. I've heard stories that amongst the vast array of apartments, shops and debris in the southern part of this section there are personel scale ways down. I was hoping that you might be able to find one with your mba. I admit, I don't know the scope of what you're able to do, so this may be asking too much, but if it's possible, it will really help us. We could sneak down and see if we can determine what's coming next."
The Takolee bounds up a piece of equipment nearby so he can talk at eye level. "Hi! I'm Paimon!" He seems way too cheerful to exist.
Zelius continues: "We're trying to keep our projects and what we know secret for now. There's something about the political structure here that I don't trust, though I can't exactly place why."
So, essentially, Zelius revealed nothing specific about what he's trying to accomplish, or what significance it may have. So it goes.
"I'll be discreet, and start trying to probe for hidden access down a level - under the guise of hunting the remaining skulking Xoids from the last assault." Garou pauses, and twitches his snout. "Can you tell me what particular aspect has Goliath pissed off? I'd like to avoid his triggers."
Also, if it's possible, Garou tries to sense whether Paimon is delicious without doing anything overt. Just curious.
On a scale of 2 to 12, the deliciousness of Paimon seems to be 9.
Zelius: "Goliath is a very 'chain of command' type of person. He wasn't expecting you to contact me directly when you couldn't get any more information out of him."
He pauses for a bit thoughtfully.
"I've been working on a project that you might be able to use to penetrate deep into Xoid territory. Not only would it be advantageous in the war, but we could use it as leverage to make us quite impressively rich. We've been very secretive about it because if it works and the royalty knew about it, they'd likely just take it over. Goliath's slip in telling you that my project involved you was part of his angst. I'm doing preliminary testing on it now and probably by the time you get back from finding a way down a level we'll be able to see if it works."
Paimon: "Oh! Come! On! Aren't you going to tell him?"
Zelius glares at the Takolee until he skulks off. Zelius then turns back to you. "Sorry for all the secrecy. As I said, I'm getting paranoid in my old age."
"Also, when you find a way down, make sure that Goliath can fit."
It's hard to resist snark about a "rogue xoid" that is a very "chain of command" type of person. But I don't think Garou is either that quick-witted or that stupid.
"Paranoid. Got it. Make sure egress suits Goliath: check. I'll try not to impair your plans by dying or anything."
Garou waits to be dismissed.
Game Recap: 2010-02-04 - Merkin?
Garou transmutes his MBA into permenant locate and goes hunting both for a way down a level and for Xoids to kill. He is able to kill enough Xoids to earn him two patch robots and also takes down an oppurtunistic Vega Lizard. It seems that there were many more Xoids out there than the royalty estimated. Garou learns that the bugs flying about are flying patches that will apply themselves to a Xoid in combat and who will infect a dead body to multiply their numbers. He also encountered a new smaller type of Xoid. They were typically in pairs - one sniper and one shock shooter.
Once he found a way down a level, he needed to take out one of these pairs and was successful with the help of an Orbodun that joined in the fight.
For the record, Garou could have been successful even if the Orbodun hadn't joined in the fight.
...any skilled combatant with paired 429NST blasters would have been fine.
Plot Infliction IV - My kingdom for a flame thrower!
Orbodun: "So what makes you think there's a way down here? By the way, my name is Pagenstecher."
The building you are in is in fairly good shape, largely due to automated maintenance. It does appear to have been abandoned for some time. As you and Pagenstecher look around, you find a hidden panel in a wall that opens up to an elevator. Pagenstecher will have to hunch down a bit to fit, but it's possible, which is good because he's about the same size as Goliath.
"My name is Garou. I'm a mentalist, and I'm following up the instructions of somebody whom I'm guessing has access to mathematicians." Garou does a locate, to see if there's any means to judge what's waiting below. "Now that I've located this, I'm disinclined to reveal its existence to anyone who might be down the next level by bumbling down. I mean to button this back up, and report back."
The wolf looks levelly at the bear.
"What do you plan to do? If you don't mind my asking."
Pagenstecher is thoughtful for a moment.
"I think I'm going to make my way back to court to see if I can convince them to honour their commitment on the Xoid heads. So, you're a mentalist, uh. Never met one of those before." You get the feeling he's not quite convinced you're telling the truth. "If I'm actually able to get the 600 credits, I'm gonna buy me some more gear. I could use a shield."
The wall panel is easily closed so that the elevator is hidden. The uber-locate doesn't reveal much of anything down below.
"I get a lot of hassle with people reacting to my size, and I appreciate your abilities. Would you mind if I put a temporary mental mark on you so that I can contact you mentally for possible future collaboration?"
How similar are the paths to our individual destinations? Garou probably means to travel for a bit with Pagenstecher so that he can dump the über-locate and start regenerating points of MBA without becoming too much of a target - due to lessened awareness. Without being able make an excuse to travel with the bear for very far through the Xoid Incursion Zone, the wolf might keep the bonus just to be on the safe side. Until he gets back to the lab.
"And it's eight heads - you're welcome to these two."
The Orbodun looks at you with trepedation. "The last time a canine type animal 'marked' me it was unpleasent. I would appreciate it if you didn't." He blasts the torsos of the two dead Xoids until the heads are easily ripped off.
If you travel with the Orbodun to court, there's a fairly clear path back to the lab - unless there's another major Xoid attack. As you start heading back, you see the occasional combatant - non Xoid and it seems as if the Xoids have either been all killed or become scarce.
What is the demographic of those flying bugs? Increasing, stable, or are they growing scarce too?
They seem to be growing scarce. You come across a few bodies that have been breeding grounds, and see the occassional bug, but little else.
Garou goes with the ursine, and then makes his way back to the lab. If there's sufficient duration to get a point of MBA back, the first order of business is to report into Zelius and give the exact location of the passage down to the next level. If not, then I'll just tell him when I get there. Probably moving quickly and without anything beyond nominal stealth - just staying near cover as much as possible and keeping out of lines of sight.
I hope Goliath has lessened his grudge by now.
There is indeed enough time to get a point of MBA back. Zelius is pleased. He requests that you arrange your abilities to have permenant telepathy by the time you get back. You split up with Pagenstecher once you arrive at Court and you make your way to the lab. Once there, Zelius says that he needs a couple hours before he's ready for you. Anything you want to do before you go back in?
Yeah. I buy a flamethrower.
When you return to the complex, Goliath escorts you to Zelius' private lab. Zelius and Paimon are there near a Xoid body on a table.
Zelius: "Greetings Garou. Nice flame thrower...." As you approach the table you see that the Xoid body is alive, but unconscious. At first it seems a bit odd that it was Goliath that came and greeted you at the entrance because that means that Zelius and Paimon - both non-combatants would have been alone with a live Xoid, but then you quickly realize that the Xoid could have easily been biologically tampered to remain unconscious.
"I've discovered why we seem to have an abundance of insane Xoids. The explanation lies with our big friend here." He gestures to the sleeping Xoid. "I'm curious, can you sense it's mind telepathically?"
All right, let's do this. I concentrate beyond the thing's compound eye and make contact with it via my permanent telepathy. "Knock knock."
You're easily able to connect to the Xoids mind and are quite surprised to sense that it isn't unconscious. You're inpromptu greating isn't answered. If anything, the Xoids mind seems... empty. You probe around a bit when suddenly you have the intense feeling that you are falling. Then you lose consciousness.
You awaken a moment later and open your eye. You're flat on your back and there seems to be a commotion going on. Instincts take over and you get up - abruptly via the quick rise ability.
Zelius and Paimon are there looking over a sleeping Zygroten that Goliath seems to have caught. Once you get up, Goliath unceremoniously drops the Zygroten and quickly puts himself between you and Zelius. You're a bit taken aback because you've never looked at him at eye level before.
Zelius peers around Goliath's bulk with a look of incredulous delight. "Holy Zark! It worked!" He's looking at you like you're the best thing since sliced bread and then says "I'm sorry Garou. I figured it would've taken days to figure out how to get you in there."
"I'm going to want the Zygroten body back eventually; I'd appreciate it if you take care of it." I do this telepathically, because I don't want to fumble around with unfamiliar mouthparts or alien comm technology. "I'm assuming that there is a way to reverse this, because if there isn't I'm going to be really really annoying about it."
I try to get a feel for the Xoid body. What kind of stats do I have to work with? I'm mostly interested in speed and agility - those are critical for my craft. Also, is there an implanted thug beam? I'm guessing not; that'll be on my list of demands.
Beyond the basic physicality, I suppose that there's a whole spectrum of unfamiliar Xoid technology that I need to get a feel for. Mostly comms, but also simple internal data protocols so that I can run the biotech.
"Here's an important question: where is my consciousness? Is the Xoid body merely a puppet, and if it dies I simply wake up in my old body? Because, if that's the case, and there's a supply of bodies I can burn through, we could kick some serious ass." I have this annoying sense that a Xoid body is incapable of smiling. And, thinking about that, I'm probably reminded about how much I liked showing off my fangs and the sense of being tricked and/or trapped is renewed.
I dub this incarnation WERETHROPOD.
You realize after the fact that communicating telepathically blew your last MBA point for using the temp variant of telepathy. It seems the two permanent mba points are gone. Also, you have trouble communicating with Zelius via line of site, but easily accomplish it anyway because you've had a mark on him for quite some time.
Zelius (out loud): "I'm assuming there's a way to reverse it as well. You consciousness is still in your body, the Xoid is just an extension of you. If it dies you will wake up in your own body, though I don't recommend letting it die. We think that the crazy Xoids that are coming up are the same Xoids over and over again except in new bodies. We think that if you die in there, the process of returning to your own body abruptly is quite stressful. The Xoids earn as much skill as they can before going insane and then just keep coming up as lunatic Xoids."
"It's excellent that you still have use of your telepathy. We wern't sure if you would or not. I had to clone one of the Xoid bodies and modify it so that you could use it. I would like to eventually make it more generic so that any mentalist can use one, but for now I've just got it working for you."
As you connect to the nanoscopic robots of your new body, they response similarly to how your old body did. Werethropod's stats are:
- Strength: 6
- Force: 24,000 N
- Speed: 6
- Agility: 3
- Base H-to-H: 0
- Size: 800 kg
- Base Stam: 20
So, the biggest detrements compared to your actual body are less agility (so less duck) and one less hand to hand. However, WERETHROPOD SMASH! Zelius definitly had you in mind when he made the body - you don't think you've ever seen a fast Xoid.
There are in fact two inplanted thug beams 1D - 30m range, one in each arm. You also have an implanted shield - 40 - duck buffer of 5. Both the shield and the thug beams are very well hidden - can't tell just by looking at you.
You also sense something in your mind. When you focus on it, it seems like part of your mind is next to a wall of some sort. You push on it a bit and it gives a bit, but when you stop pushing it bounces back.
A fast Xoid? Duuuuude. And I won't be complaining about doing 1D+30 damage. Nor about implanted shields.
So now the encouraged stage of leader makes a lot more sense if stress points might get racked up. And not getting double MBA is also a sanity-saver.
I guess the next obvious phase is to get proficient with this body, and to think of ways to sneak it to the down-level without getting shredded by Reich personnel.
"How did you figure out that the Xoids were using some sort of telepresence in cloned bodies?"
"Well, I was curious why there seemed to be a large number of insane Xoids, so I arranged to have a killed one brought to my old lab. After working on it for quite some time, I found yadda yadda yadda..." He then goes on to speak in biological terms that are waaaaaay over your head. You, Goliath and Paimon kind of look at each other dumbly as Zelius expounds his scientific genius.
Once he's done, Goliath speaks up. "Now might be a good time to practice speaking Xoid."
Zelius: "Yes, yes. Good, good. I'm going to get some champaign. Oh, and one more thing. The Xoid puppets are made to be as identical as possible to a regular Xoid. If they were just tools, I don't think the Xoids would have been as diligent in hiding the differences. I'm not sure what this means, but well, there you go." And he wanders to a cabinet and retrieves a large bottle of booze.
Time to practice speaking Xoid.
"Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poop On?"
"Which way to the little bug's room?"
"Does this carapace make me look fat?"
"Your eel has escaped and is juggling that Herboven's pomegranates."
"How in the zark do we get this body out of the lab without every wise-ass schmuck taking a pot shot at me?"
"The original plan was to make you look dead, put you in a sack and have your Groten partner deliver you to the way down. If he was stopped, he could say he was taking you home for lunch. Obviously we're going to need a new plan."
I guess the first thing to ask is whether there's any standardized way that a rogue Xoid like Goliath is marked as not-necessarily-hostile. I'm guessing that it's really mostly just a matter of Goliath being hyperbolically terrifying, but it's worth asking.
Assuming that there's no easy answer, I think that what we might need is a set of goons. Werethropod has the handy function of being able to appear unarmed, so some goons could move me at "gunpoint" to be interrogated by their "boss", and once at the portal could act as guards for the location. The problem then being that I think Zelius is low on goons to spare, and it's really zarking hard to find goons you can trust...
Makes me wish I had placed a mark on Pagenstecher regardless of his objections.
Game Recap: 2010-02-12 - Exploring enemy territory
A helmet and fake fur allowed Werethropod to leave the lab and make it to the way down. A couple of Felinids stood in his way briefly. Werethropod killed one and the other managed to flee.
He shed the disguise and went down to Xoid territory. He chatted with a few of them and tried to act like a sole survivour of a battle. The other Xoids seemed to assume he had brain damage. When he had a chance to be completely alone with another Xoid, he found that surprise is a very effective weapon when you need to get close and do massive damage in hand to hand. "So, let's go this way..." PUNCH!
Down a further level he found many Xoids, chatted in a bar with a Xoid bartender, and found a secure passage further down that a guard would not let him into.
On the way back, he met up with a Coska and Felinid that seemed to realize that he was abnormal - and seems to have also witnessed Werethropod's dispatch of another Xoid. They followed him back to the elevator up.
Plot Infliction V - Lewis and Clark
Lewis is the Coska and Clark is the Felinid.
Lewis: "So, are there a lot of Xoid mentalists? This if the first I've heard of one. If there's lots, that opens up a whole mess of problems for everyone up above."
Clark: "I thought you said he thought he was a Zygroten."
Lewis: "He did... I think he was just trying to throw me off."
Clark: "Wouldn't be hard. You're kind of gullable."
Lewis: "Shut up. You're the one who kept insisting he was the one."
Clark: "Hey, I was just homing in on what you saw in that stupid vision of yours. Furry Xoid - you're nuts, not him."
Lewis: "By the way big guy, sorry about invading your mind earlier. Won't happen again. What should we call you?"
Lewis: "Shut up!"
Just from the way these guys move and situate themselves when they are still, it seems they have major awareness. They are also quite well equipped - shields, assault weapons and lots of other random gear.
"As far as I know, there are no Xoid mentalists." Blink blink. No, wait - no eyelids. Never mind. "You can call me Garou."
"Before we leave this building, would you two sneaky fellows mind helping to conceal our presence here, and perhaps hide a few snoop-scanners that we can access for a heads-up when we return? There have been at least two sets of snipers that have decided to use this place as a nest."
Assuming that we appropriately prepare to travel with Werethropod acting as a prisoner (leaving the Xoid weapons hidden back by the elevator), I try to steer the conversation at the same time I steer the direction of our movement. "You guys are pretty well-equipped. Is there someone in particular that you work for?"
Lewis and Clark look at each other briefly. Clark scampers off to hide some scanners and communicators.
Lewis: "Well, there's at least 1 Xoid mentalist."
Clark: "We don't work for anyone at the moment. We had worked for the last bunch of months for a well funded king a bunch of sectors away, but that got dull. That, and he got assassinated by one of his underlings. The new guy was a total dickhead."
Lewis: "And he wanted us to work for free."
Clark: "Yeah, like that was going to happen. Anyway, we snuck off."
Lewis: "We got this idea that instead of working for other people, we would start up on our own. The two of us are good trainers, and some of the only mentalists around. So we thought we'd find some more like us and maybe starting training up a bunch of goons."
Clark: "We'd totally kick ass."
Lewis: "So, why do you want to go see this Zelius fellow? Aren't you worried that when you surrender yourself, you'd just be killed? Espeically if they find out your a mentalist. That might freak them out."
Clark: "Yeah, you totally freaked out Lewis."
Lewis: "Bite me. Who's the coward who complained about heading down to Xoid territory. Pussy."
Lewis: "Anyway, aside from you, there's a Zygroten up here somewhere that may have similar qualifications. We're going to look for him next."
Clark: "Yeah, then we can be Pussy, Chicken, and Bitch. And, I guess Bug... damn, that doesn't work very well. To be honest, I thought Lewis was getting a bit nutty when he told me to look for a furry Xoid."
Lewis: "Which reminds me, any idea where the Zygroten is?"
Clark: "That way vaugely... though I'm having trouble getting a bead on him."
"As it happens, I know that the Zygroten is located with Zelius. So, that should be pretty handy for you. And, incidentally, the Zygroten is male, so I think 'bitch' might be stretching the metaphor a bit. Maybe 'cur'? He's not of your caliber, though. So maybe 'whelp'."
"When we get there, you should be mindful of the security - a large rogue Xoid called 'Goliath'. He's pretty badass."
"So, what sort of training do you specialize in? And, do you mind if I start skipping. There's something incredibly entertaining about a point-eight tonne bug-eyed monster skipping that I just can't seem to resist." Werethropod starts to skip.
They describe their skills and you gleen that Lewis is 2nd stage Infantry, 2nd stage Leader and 1st stage Scout. Clark is 2nd stage Scout, 2nd stage Leader and 1st stage Infantry.
Lewis: "Told you he was nuts."
Clark: "Bitch still works."
Lewis: "You sure you want to come with us? You might get disected."
Clark: "Dude, he's skipping. I don't think he cares."
Lewis: "What aren't you telling us, anyway?"
"Answer me this: is my skipping not ludicrous and hilarious? Because if you don't think it is, I fear for our future endeavours together."
I stop skipping. "OK, it is possible that that was too silly. I'll grant you that. And perhaps I should not, in fact, wear a bright pink tutu for my next foray down a level."
"Mostly, though, the things that I'm not telling you aren't my things to tell. They're Zelius', and he'll tell you if he wants."
Speaking of which, if there's enough time to regenerate a point of MBA, I'll re-establish telepathic contact with Zelius to warn him of visitors.
Well, this conversation happens shortly after you leave the ornate building and start your way back.... And well, two combatants apparently leading a captured Xoid is sure to attract attentions from someone.
Indeed. This might be an opportunity for some training as infantry. Let the bad times roll.
Game Recap: 2010-02-18 - From There To Here
Werethropod along with Lewis and Clark proceed from the hidden elevator towards Zelius' laboratory. Along the way, the encountered several hidden Xoid emplacements. The typical strategy is that Werethropod is warned by the other Xoids that he should move to cover with them, which he does, and tries to attack/kill the Xoids while hoping that Lewis and Clark will prevent him from dying. This sort of works. The first time, Werethropod is badly hurt. Ironically, the second time, his poor health leads the Xoid victims to allow him to heal up to full stamina - before he tries to kill them. On one occasion, there was a sense that the trio were outmatched and they decided to avoid that particular battle. In the last occasion, one of the small sniper Xoids was taken alive. Along the way non-Xoids were also encountered, but the persuasive abilities of Lewis and Clark defused all problems.
Once at Zelius' lab, Goliath is deployed to usher in the trio. While ducking Lewis and Clark's questions, Garou wriggles inside the brain of Werethropod and after ten minutes of struggle manages to wake up in his Zygroten body.
Plot Infliction VI - Meh
That might have been a lot of mental effort, requiring recuperation, leaving Garou in need of some plot-less sleep.
And, maybe, the referee and player were too busy to exchange plotjectiles.
Game Recap: 2010-02-18 - Xoid Technicians Are Easy To Kill
Zelius assigns Garou the task of finding and linking up telepathically with an old contact. After travelling for a couple days, he is successful and a mission is organized for Werethropod. A Xoid building facility is the target - more specifically the Xoid technicians inside it. The mercenary group that Zelius has contacted will attack the facility which until now has been successfully defended by the Xoids. Werethropod will rush in to assist with the defense and when everyone is distracted by the battle, find and kill the technicians.
Garou once again inhabits Werethropod and is transported to the location in question.
Not deigning to waste time, Werethropod crept directly toward the intended target. But, before he could reach it, he was intercepted a couple times. The first time, the 800kg robo-bug and a 4-meter-tall lizard discovered that they had sidled up next to each other in the middle of a long passageway. There was some scuffling, but after Werethropod bashed off the Vega Lizard's arm it decided to leave. Next a pair of Zygroten jumped the ur-Xoid and attacked with swords. They were sufficiently skilled that they whittled their way through much of Werethropod's stamina and shields without sustaining any sufficiently decisive flail-blows. However, the potential lethality of the flail-equipped Werethropod was sufficiently impressed upon the lupine attackes such that they decided not to pursue him when he tried to leave.
Finally the not-really-a-rogue Xoid reached the target factory. He loitered a bit, and managed to get some medical assistance before the mammal attack came. Once the shooting started, he was drafted by the nominal leader Xoid and was assigned a position to defend. When the combat closed into the specific location of the factory, the other Xoids were suitably distracted, permitting Werethropod to sneak off. The options were two large armoured doors or an unguarded third door. Being
lazy and a coward tactically opportunistic, Werethropod chose the undefended door. It lead to a disused office area, and an elevator. The elevator went up to a floor now dedicated as a larder - full of disabled mammals. The larder level also had a balcony overlooking a large area that was nominally behind the aforementioned large, armoured doors.
It was full of technicians and equipment. There were two guards - one by the doors, and one in a perch.
Werethropod charged down to the nearer guard, and flailed its head off. Then there was an ugly firefight between werethropod and the other guard conducted with the assault rifle and paired rifles (respectively). After hosing down the second guard, Werethropod started systematically killing technicians (some had already started escaping). More guards came in, and got flailed to death. More technicians died. Even more guards came in; more flail-y death. The last of the technicians died or escaped, and Werethropod additionally hosed down the equipment with the assault weapon. Then Werethropod clambered back up to the larder to
escape flank his victims.
Retracing the route through the larder, down the elevator, and back through the abandoned office space, Werethropod peered into the barricaded line of defense held by the Xoids. Not being able to get a line of sight out to the attacking forces, to inform them of the modest success achieved so far, Werethropod decided on a distinctly "divine wind" sort of tactic.
This part is a bit blurry - perhaps further clarification will be forthcoming. Werethopod engaged the full contingent of battle Xoids, and spend significant time dancing. A few Xoids fell, and Werethropod lasted longer thanks to the group's need to keep paying attention to the main battle. But, inevitably, the flailing ur-Xoid was brought down.
But Werethropod is hard to kill, thanks to the skill being kept on a remote brain. Some time later, Werethropod was rousted to consciousness back in the ruined factory area. It seemed that a guard and a couple technicians thought to question him. Unfortunately, while they had successfully immobilized his arms, they had tethered him to a structure incapable of restraining him. And, strictly speaking, Xoid claw feet work just fine for a hand-to-hand combatant - especially an unusually fast one.
The guard was dead quite suddenly, with Werethropod's foot buried in its vitals. Then, gripping the corpse with his foot, Werethropod leapt out the nearby door. Then tearing away the dead guard's medical pack with his mandibles, Werethropod ran for it. As it happened, the Xoid force beat back the attacking force, and in their rage had pursued them away from the factory. And so, Werethropod escaped. Miraculously.
As he fled, Werethropod was assisted by a hidden sniper that kept the Xoid forces defensive, and the timely distraction of the mammal forces. Who, as it happens, managed to lure most of the Xoids into an explosive trap. Werethropod was signalled to proceed to a certion building...
Plot Infliction VII - Werethropod Lives! (Barely)
Arms bound behind your back, you make it to the building the sniper is in and make your way inside. The first person you see is a female Massetin armed with a couple of force blades. You also see a couple of Xoid bodies that have been sliced into many small pieces. She smiles at you evilly and says "This way." You are led further into the building.
Eventually, you head up a couple flights of stairs and end up in a small room with two Human occupants. Once is the leader of the group that Garou had met during the negotiations with Zelius and the other is obviously the sniper (Plasma rifle gives it away).
The leader (who you know is named Morgan) is smiling. "I'm amazed you got out. Give me your video feed of the entire battle in there."
Plasma rifle. Nice.
"Certainly, Mr. Morgan." I distribute the appropriate sensor logs. And, even limited to mandible posturing, I attempt to look smug.
Though, really, the smugness is more about the permanent telekinesis I can now acquire, and use to tamper myself free.
"When do we go back? I really want to retrieve that flail."
Unfortunately, your MBA works from line of sight from Garou, not Werethropod. You're able to telepathically contact people you've marked.
Morgan and the Massetin spend a few moments processing the logs, the sniper is remaining focused outside. The Massetin starts grinning huge and looks expectantly at Morgan. Morgan is thoughtful for a moment. "Go." he then says and the Massetin runs off. You notice she's got move boots of significant ability.
"You must have really pissed them off. They left that place almost undefended to go after my guys. Which reminds me..."
Morgan looks back outside at the battle. You can see that his group is falling back and the Xoids are advancing. Morgan's guys abruptly all go behind cover and the Xoids look like they're going to charge. Suddenly, there is a large explosion near the Xoid forces, obliterating a whole bunch of them. Morgan's guys come back out and continue the fight with the remaining Xoids. The Xoids are falling back, but given the odds, it's unlikely they'll make it back to their facility.
Indeed, the Xoids change tactics and scatter in a bunch of directions, trying to loose themselves in the city. Morgan's group doesn't give chase and instead returns to the building you guys are at.
"Let's go back to the building and see what's left."
Curses! It would have had significant Coolness Factor to have telekinetically tampered Werethropod's arms free.
As it is... "So, any chance you could free up my arms?" Thought occurs. "Also, salvaging any Xoid patches would be awfully appreciated."
Once you are out of the building and amongst Morgan's main forces, someone free's your arms. Many are looking at you wearily, but being beside an unflinching Morgan keeps them content. Everyone goes back to the facility and meet up with a Xoid-gore-covered Massetin who looks extremely satisified with herself.
Morgan to the Massetin: "What do you think?"
Massetin (growling evilly): "Let's do it."
Morgan turns to you. "Want to do that again? Right now all of those Xoids that escaped are heading back to their forces to warn them about a hand to hand rouge Xoid who doesn't look like a rouge Xoid. However, we have time to hit one more target before they can sufficiently disperse the warning. And this target's a hatchery. They've got it defended in a similar way to this one."
You notice your flail lying on the floor. You also spot a couple of Xoid corpses that have the med packs the Xoids were using.
And, uh, healing.
Actually, I suppose that time is a factor. It might be more appropriate to try to work the disarming approach of needing healing first...
Game Recap: 2010-03-09 - It's the end of the Xoid Puppet as we know it...
Morgan et all quickly go to the 2nd target of opportunity. On the approach, Werethropod notices that there is a large intermediate steed sitting outside the facility and it appears that gun emplacements are being added. Before he can get too close, he is warned off by a Xoid AI that isn't forthcoming in usable information. There's also a group of about 6 Xoids which look like they've been turned back as well.
Werethropod approaches the group and through his leadship ability and by virtue of having the only assault weapon, convinces them to approach the facility despite the warnings. Once inside, Werethropod is greated with an unusual sight.
First, there appeared to be 6 of the insane Xoids that had been encountered earlier. There's also a hand to hand Xoid that appears to be the leader of the group. Finally, there's a group of dead Xoids that appear to have been killed by the insane Xoids. The hand to hand Xoid, sensing a possible kindred spirit, took Werethropod to a side room and attempted to recruit him, while the other Xoids who came in with Werethropod were executed.
Once alone, Werethropod attacked. The battle was however brief, as the Xoid quickly exited the side room to call for assistance. Two assault weapon bearing lunatic Xoids came in and made Werethropod do some significant dancing before Werethropod also left the side room and attempted to leave the facility. He managed to get out a warning to other approaching Xoids before he was gunned down by the six crazy Xoids.
The approaching Xoids were greated with a warning that their commander was killed by a rouge group of Xoids, and then witnessed the bearer of bad news be killed spectacularly by said Xoids. If the crazy Xoids wanted to keep their presense secret, it didn't work out so well. It's quite likely that the hand to hand Xoid is royally pissed off.
Garou earned a couple of stress points for his trouble and woke up back at the lab. He filled in Zelius and Goliath what happened, and then went out with Clark to do some sparring at a back to work on some Infantry skill.
Plot Infliction VIII - <This Space For Rent>
Garou is dispatched to go receive payment from Morgon, which he does uneventfully. Upon return he finds that Werethropod II is almost ready, Lewis and Clark are continuing the training of more goons, and Goliath seems surly. He always seems surly, so all is good.
One of the new goons, a green looking Cracaloid Major greets Garou on his return. "Yo. I'm all trained up on Infantry. Lewis & Clark suggested I come to you for hand to hand training."
"Guerilla? On this planet? Are you suicidal?"
I suppose that, given the assumption there's a temporary lull, there's no harm in training the Crocaloid. If it's willing, a-training we shall go.
Meanwhile, Garou tries to establish a rapport with Lewis/Clark via a permanent telepathic link such that they can contribute infantry training input while I'm driving Werethropod II.
Game Recap: 2010-03-19 - Do Xoids have ball-sacks?
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: No, probably not.
Eventually, Garou is given a similar Xoid body and requests to be transported back to the scene of his previous body's demise. Upon reaching the area, he finds a group of six Xoids and a steed guarding the approach to the facility. The group spots Werethropod and instructs him to approach and be interrogated. The leader of the group isn't convinced of the honesty of Werethropod, and demands that he hands over his weapons.
Werethropod drops his rifles.
The leader demands he drop his flail as well.
Werethropod takes out his flail and beheads one of the other Xoids who wern't paying as much attention as he should have. The battle continues for some time - one other Xoid is killed outright with the flail and others are severely wounded. Werethropod probably would have taken them all out, but a lone Xoid combatant emerges from the facility 200 m away and blasts at him at range.
Werethropod manages to get to cover and waits for the surviving Xoids to pursue - which they do and without the long range backup are taken out. Werethropod lets the leader of the group live and he eventually wakes up. During a brief conversation, it is learned that the facility was re-taken by main Xoid forces and the 5 insane Xoids inside were killed. The hand to hand Xoid was not seen at all.
A small distance later, much slow healing happens in an effort to conserve patches.
During that time, he is tracked down by the hand to hand Xoid and a scout underling and attacked. The scout is killed and the two hand to handers trade pain. (Including, it should be noted, an un-duckable hit clashing with an un-hittable duck.) There is a brief pause in the combat as Werethropod backs off and the other Xoid patches up.
Plot Infliction IX - Click click click click hiss click (translation: fuck you)
The main things I'm curious to know are:
- How he knew I was a remote-drone.
- What was the purpose of coming back to the scene of the crime? I'm pretty sure it wasn't really to find Garou.
- What the hell his deal is - rogue, or what?
Unless there's MBA involved, which there might be - considering the insane Xoids. In which case, these questions get tumbled all topsy-turvy.
The Xoid is looking at you thoughtfully while he applies most of the scout's patches.
"Where the hell do you come from anyway? I was hoping to negotiate with you while you were happily bound in our lab, but seems like you're not as pathetic as I originally thought. May as well talk before we get some more training in."
Also you notice that Zelius has removed the mark you put on him. Probably happened during your last combat so you didn't notice right away.
"Tell me about your lab, and I'll tell you about mine."
While I watch the clubber Xoid, I contact Zelius mentally. "Sorry for the delay, boss. Distractions. What's up?"
Clubber smiles. "What's to tell. It's a lab. There's really smart guys there. I'm sure it's the same for your lab. I guess I'm more interested in your intentions and if they can be blended with ours. We've decided that it's unlikely you are part of the main Xoid military. If that were the case, we'd likely see more of you, not just one. You're not one of ours gone hostile because that body of yours wasn't part of our original inventory. The chances of you being part of the Reich et all are slim to none. That leaves another, shall we say 'ideological' group of Xoids that are stealing our work. So, should we bother negotiating anything, or are our viewpoints too different to even try?"
Zelius: "Not sure yet. Don't die. Something has happened at Court and there's a havily armed group of Hikarou's men outside. They're requested that nobody leaves. I think they're waiting for one of their senior guys to come talk to us. If things get ugly that might be the last Xoid body I can make for a while, so take care of it."
So, he's part of an "ideological" group of Xoids. Fascinating.
To Clubber: "The so-called Special Forces Xoids have been working in cooperation with the main Xoid military, so it's pretty hard to extrapolate what exactly your viewpoints are. All we knew was that we liked the potential of the tech and decided to quietly evaluate it. If you can extrapolate more about your what specifically your 'viewpoints' are, then maybe you've got some possible acolytes who might be receptive to what you propose."
To Zelius: "Don't die? Well, there go all my plans for the prom, thank-you-very-much. I'll see what I can do. What is the probability of hostilities at the lab?"
I guess now my plan is to extricate Werethropod II from his current risky locale, and stash him away in the semi-sentient van. Then, time permitting, to drag Garou's consciousness back into the Suden Loup.
A quick will power roll between the two of you indicates that he beat you by a fair bit (5+). So you didn't really notice when he switched to speaking in common part way through his last bit of rant. About half way through your response, you realize you're responding in common as well. You have no idea what significance that is, or if it's even possible to tell that you're not a Xoid using a translation matrix. He seems to speak common quite well.
Clubber is thoughtful for a few long momnets: "Our view is that this planet has been at a stalemate for too long. Can you guess why there isn't any way that either side can win? You obviously know why the mammels will never be able to take the planet back from us, right?"
Zelius: "The probability of hostility is only 18.3%. Goliath is quite twitchy though."
GAH. If that's the way it's going to be...
I cock Werethropod's awkwardly-segmented head to one side and stare blankly at Clubber. "Oh, I dunno, perhaps because after the mammals get sufficiently annoyed that they use a nova bomb, there won't be a planet to take back? Frankly, I have no idea, zark-face; do I look like a strategic geo-political analyst? Say your piece, if you have something to say."
To Zelius: "The whole 'don't die' plan is developing some glitches."
Clubber (sounding annoyed): "Fine. We want to ensure that you don't let our main forces have this technology, either intentionally or accidentally. With it, they would eventually win this planet and we would all be assimilated back into the main navy to continue this endless war. Statistically that means that we all pointlessly die, or if they make use of the tech we all go insane." He pauses, seeming frustrated. "Maybe we should arrange a meeting between your boss and my boss. Do you think we could agree not to kill each other until we can go down a few levels and access the hard-lines?"
Zelius: "What's going on? The group outside is just waiting there, so we've got a bit of time. Are you in hiding?"
Another Xoid comes into view. He's close enough that he's obviously good at sneaking. Clubber notices and they seem to share a quick communication. He then abruptly turns his head back to you.
"Now that's interesting. Seems our facility wasn't the first you attacked. And the other one wasn't used by us at all. And you were working with the mammels... Son of a zarking bitchworm... I think our mathematicians are going to have re-evaluate their probabilities." His mandibles adjust to a warped Xoid grin. "Y'know, I think in some twisted sense we may be on the same side."
The scout is also approaching, though he appears to be unarmed. At the moment, he's about 25 meters away.
I keep a (facet of my compound) eye on the scout. Does it look like a hand-to-hand combatant?
To Clubber: "Well, I think I can guarantee that we won't be letting the main Xoid forces have this tech. I'm afraid that a meeting would be problematic, though. Perhaps we could arrange something else, because your interpretation of the possible future does sound like the kind of forward-looking crap that my bosses are into."
Meanwhile, to Zelius: "I'm talking with a seemingly somewhat-rogue member of the remote-body 'special forces'. They've divined somehow that I'm a mammal remote-operating Werethropod, and they're interested in negotiation. Of a sort. Any instructions? Also, you might want to talk with Lewis and/or Clark - one of them usually has some prescience going, and may have some insights into what's going on at the lab." Actually, it might be easier to just include Zelius in the whole spectrum of my current experience telepathically than to keep editorializing it.
Back to Clubber: "I think there might be a way to conduct secure negotiations. What is the communication method you use to control your remote bodies?"
Clubber looks a little confused: "What communication method do you use?"
It's easy enough to link up with all three of them. Clark has enough points for a juicy morsal - which he does.
"Woah, that reminds me of some strange drugs I tried once in college... oh, um, I had a crazy ass image of a planet and it seemed like one of the continents was completely covered in machinary."
The scout doesn't obviously look like a hand to hander, but that's mostly because of the lack of club/blade/flail. Otherwise, it's hard to tell.
To Clubber: "I don't know the technical description, but it allows me to talk to my boss while I'm also driving the remote body. If you use something similar, that means we could act as proxies for our bosses for their safe and secure discussion."
A continent completely covered in machinery? I wonder if that's literal, or symbolic.
More importantly, what the hell does that have to do with the royal contingent looming over the approach to Zelius' lab?
I guess I was kind of hoping that after three stages of pure guerilla, Garou could spot hand-to-hand prowess just by the way a being carries itself. So it goes. Perhaps Lewis or Clark will spot something salient before I get surprised by Mr. Sneaky Xoid doing something violent.
To Zelius: "So, uh, what communication method do you think the remote Xoids are using?"
Clubber seems a bit eager: "Well, that's interesting. We definately should talk. At the moment, when I'm using the remote body, I don't have contact via my own." He nods toward the other Xoid. "Hence the courier of information. If you're able to talk to your boss while using the interface, that opens up many more possibilities."
"However, that means that my boss is out of contact unless we contact him conventionally."
Scout (in Xoidese): "Someone's coming. Five large mammels. Be here in a minute."
Zelius: "I figured they grew some Xoid mentalists. If they have a means of connecting the two minds without the owner being a mentalist... well, that has it's good and bad points."
In Xoidese: "Can you describe the mammals?"
I hope that they're not homing in on me...
To Clubber: "Perhaps you should confer with your boss first."
To Zelus: "How much of a risk would it be for the Xoids to be able to inspect Werethropod?"
Game Recap: 2010-03-25 - Unholy Alliance
The mammals in question turned out to be 5 Grotens who thought that because they outnumbered the Xoids, they would easily kill them. Well, they were wrong. In fact, Wethropod probably could have taken them down all by himself. Clubber managed to kill one, with a vicious double clubbing to a Groten's vitals. The others died by flail. All of the Grotens died from single attacks to the vitals, demonstrating that really large, strong, hand to hand combatants are to be studiously avoided at close range. Also, they make for very quick fights.
Clubber agrees to discuss the situation with his boss and meet up with Werethropod later.
Werthropod makes it back to his van, only to find it disabled and a Felinid attempting to gain entry. Turns out the Felinid was a significant hand to hand combatant and after not being scared off, engages with the lone Xoid. The battle was actually closer with the Felinid than the 5 immense Groten's which is somewhat ironic, but in the end the Felinid was killed.
Meanwhile... Coup at Court - King Montgomery is killed and Hikarou names himself King. They lock the entire kingdom down and take over Zelius's lab, putting him to work making mundane steeds. Goliath is exiled from the Kingdom and Garou's body is watched over by a Yiptak with an assault weapon.
Werethropod meets up with Goliath to re-arm him and then heads off to find Clubber. He meets up with Clubber, ends up talking to one of his superiors. Apparently, Hikaru made a deal with the Xoids that allowed him to become king. The Xoids end up making a deal with Zelius for eventual exchange of technology and the Xoids agree to not support Hikaru anymore. Werethropod is left to go back to his territory and attempt to kill Hikaru's men.
Plot Infliction X - Attack of the Clones
Zelius is busy compiling a list of everyone he believes has to be killed to free himself (and probably set himself up as the new king with you all being his leutenants). Clubber has offered to be with you and offers to trade training - he's got 2xLeader and infantry and he's working on a stage of Geurrilla - he obviously doesn't realize that you've got telepathic trainers already.
He's makin' a list, checking it thrice,
Gonna decide which bastard dies.
Kiiiiillier Xoids are com-ing, to-night.
Game Recap: 2010-04-01 - 4 Down, 121 more to go
Werethropod and Clubber make their way back up to the home territory with the intent of killing as many of Hikaru's men as they can. They first encounter three Reptiloids at a guard station. They are snuck up upon and killed... and eaten, but not before one of them sends a message to a series of bread-crum communicators they were using to communicate with home base.
Werethropod decides to wait to see what is sent to intercept them. Clubber goes along with it.
A hover platform with two Grotens and three more Reptilods come and attempt to spot them from a distance. The two Xoids were behind substantial cover so they were not able to be taken out at range. A hand to hand Takolee showed up next and attempted to draw the Xoids out from cover, but wasn't able to, so he retreated back to the others. The enemy waited for more backup and when three Vega Lizards joined the group, they all advanced.
Clubber and Werethropod got much practice parrying. However, Clubber was brought down and killed first, and Werethropod shortly after. Of the nine attackers, one of the Reptiloids was killed.
Garou wakes up in his body, but is paralyzed so that he doesn't arrouse the attention of the Yiptak guarding him.
Plot Infliction XI - Back in the Lab
Zelius, Lewis & Clark who were all linked up with you telepathically wince as you receive your additional stress points.
Zelius: "I think we need to formulate a plan to escape this kingdom. I don't think that taking it back from Hikaru is feasable."
"Now, where would you get an idea like that?"
-Pause for dramatic effect.-
"You know, not being in an 800 kilogram disposeable body any more tends to affect one's sense of what is worth trying. Let's sneak the zark outta here!"
All we have to do now is to find a way to escape the assault weapon goons at the lab, make our way through hostile royal territory to a tiny little elevator down into hostile alien territory. And then all will be great!
"First things first. What does Zelius need from the lab that he absolutely needs with him? What personnel? What needs to be destroyed so as to not fall into enemy hands?
...AND HOW DO WE GET THIS ASSAULT WEAPON GOON THE ZARK OFF ME‽‽‽"
Zelius seems uncomfortable: "Um, I don't really know. Wait... wait, I've got an idea."
Lewis and Clark mentally shrug their shoulders.
Lewis: "Well, this sucks. They've got 4 guards with assault weapons at the entrance to the lab, one Yiptak practically sitting on you, and earlier they cleared out all the trainee's weaponry and replaced them with stun weaponry. Fortunately we hid our assault weapons before that happened. Dude, I think Clark and I wouldn't have any trouble sneaking away, and you probably could too, but Zelius and the dozen or so medics here would be toast in combat."
Clark: "So what are the chances that those Xoids are going to figure out you botched that battle out there to get rid of the dude with the clubs?"
Lewis: "You think he botched it on purpose? Doubtful, he's not that subtle. But thinking about them again, I wonder if they're going to try to reestablish contact with you somehow. Maybe send up a bunch of the crazy Xoids again."
Clark: "Oh, good point. Right. Sneaking away is sounding better all the time. Can we assume you wouldn't be willing to ditch the non combatants and get out of here with us? We'd could do that whole mercenary group thing."
Lewis: "I could carry Zelius. Nothing else though."
"If it comes down to just what/who the three of us can carry on our backs, I can haul 100 kilograms. Zelius? Prioritize: besides yourself, what 100 kilos of people or equipment is most important to escape with if all else fails?"
"Not that I'm exceptionally certain about what 'all else' entails, exactly. I'd like to know how prone I am in my paralyzed state, what's the most expedient way to undo that, and whether we need to avoid tipping off the guards by having a rescue detail come for me. Also, how skilled are the goons with assault weapons, and how are the entrance guards deployed?"
I'm thinking that I can take pretty much any single combatant at close range, so the guard watching my body shouldn't be a problem unless I'm physically restrained or there's some other tactical factor. Likewise, as long as the guards by the entrance are merely professional and are grouped near to the entrance such that I can keep the uber-parry in effect, I might be able to handle them as well - albeit slowly, sans the 24,000 Newton, flail-wielding body. If they're seasoned, it'll be ugly, even with Lewis and Clark as backup. Might be better to circumnavigate or distract them instead of taking them out prior to exfiltrating the squints.
"How capable are the trainee's? If we 'liberate' the assault weapons from the guards, say? What do you think about using them to help usher the geeks outta this shithole?"
I hate to admit this, especially before a cruel god, but I worry that the "Special Forces" Xoids might have realized that one way to get Zelius to work for them is via having Hikaru capture him and trade him for other material support. Or, possibly, they might be satisfied with just having Zelius killed, to protect the secrecy of their little technical marvel. Regardless, odds are that the SF Xoids will have somebody or something watching that elevator. I might be earning scout skill in that phase of the operation...
Zelius: "Well, if you think 'The Xoid barks at the moon at midnight' to your nanoscopic robots, that will end the paralysis. Everything I need I keep inside my head, however, there's a total of 18 medics, biologists and technicians here that I wouldn't want to leave for dead. I don't think Hikaru will kill them if we leave, but I think it would be prudent to destroy the lab. Especially if the crazy Xoids eventually come."
Lewis: "And well, the people we were training originally were redeployed elsewhere. Hikaru's got us training his goons now. There's a dozen green guys here."
Clark: "The Yiptak seems to be a professional shock trooper, so not much of a problem. Of the 4 guards, two are professional snipers. They got's rifles. There's a Crocaloid Minor out there with the big laser - 1Dx10. I don't know if he's a shock trooper or shock shooter, but I'm guessing he's seasoned. And well, the Groten is scary. He, um, appears to have thug beams and move boots. I don't think he's seasoned, but on the high side of professional."
Zelius: "I think it would be too much of a conincidence if you woke up just after Hikaru's forces took out two hand to hand Xoids that came out of nowhere. It's unlikely, but there's a chance he'd put it all together. We may want to wait a while before we try anything."
Telepathy is da bomb for planning illicit action.
"What's critically important is the layout of the goons by the entrance. Are they all clustered by the door? Or, worse, are they spread out to cover the door from afar? And can anyone tell me more about the tactical situation my body is in?"
I think I'm going to burn a couple points for permanent telekinesis anyway - for longer-range parrying purposes. But can I employ it now to feel around my body for restraints?
"Inventory: What's available that might be of use? Obviously the assault weapons are gone, but I'd really be able to put a shield to good use. Even better would be a hover platform or two. With that, Lewis and/or Clark could have a good chance of being able to move more personnel stealthily."
Also - dude - move boots. That groten is zarking mine.
"I propose the following Order Of Battle:
Plan Alpha) If the door goons are nicely clustered for my ungentle attentions, then the best approach is to jump them as
precipitouslysuddenly as possible. Lewis/Clark sneak into the lab with my body and my guard, use prestidigitationswipe stuff to tamper his weapon, and I kill him nice and quiet. Meanwhile, Zelius gathers his people's. I head out and kill the door guards, with Lewis and Clark sneaking out immediately before to provide fire support on the zarking snipers. After they're all dead, we flee as fast as possible.
Plan Beta) If the door goons are annoyingly separate, we want to try to suck some of them in. To that end, I'll just get up and beat my guard to death, letting him get lots of nice loud blasts off to alert the outer guards. Lewis and/or Clark should then send one of their Hikaru trainees out to warn the guards that 'Garou is awake, and he's pissed'. After we've lured in as many suckers as possible to their death, we proceed with fleeing."
"Is there a comm system at the lab we need to disrupt? Either native, or breadcrumb?"
"Oooh, and here's a thought: how difficult would it be for me to carry Zelius around and use my hand-to-hand to allow him to tamper on people in combat? To, say, paralyze them?"
According to Lewis, the guys outside are clustered around the door. The last time he checked, they were playing cards.
Nada on the hover platforms, unfortunately. Also, unfortunate, but any spare shields lying about were 'claimed' by Hikaru's trainees. Though, they may be easily liberated.
"We have the internal comm, and there is a likely hood that the guards outside are within line of site of a breadcrumb."
I think Zelius in combat isn't really feasable.
All righty then. Sounds like Plan Alpha.
Should we clarify the points for the blunt force telekinesis before I play test them? And I confer with Lewis and Clark about finding and disabling that breadcrumb while I meditate back some MBA. I assume that one of them is fine handling the telepathic conference duty...?
Blunt force telekinisis - 1D Damage - 1 pt temp / 2 pt permanent
Game Recap: 2010-04-08 - Escape From The Lab
The plan initially goes well. Lewis and Clark distract the Yiptak and using telekinesis, diable his weapon. Garou wakes himself up and immediately attacks the Yiptak who finds out quickly that he is unarmed. He chooses to flee and tries to elicit the help of the trainee's still in the lab. Lewis and Clark who had a moment to retrieve their hidden assault weapons, convince the trainees that attacking would be a bad idea. The Yiptak is quickly killed.
Zelius's employees are gathered and prepared to leave. Garou, Lewis and Clark exit the lab to engage the guards on the outside. The Croc Minor with the assault weapon is the first to go down and the battle rages on with the others.
King Hikaru meets up with some of his men and they describe the attack with the two hand to hand Xoids. Hikaru is somewhat perplexed at the situation and after thinking about it for a bit, decides that he'd go discuss it with Zelius. Zelius is, among other things, a mathematician, so he may be able to shed some light as to where the Xoids came from. It's probably time to make a personal appearance anyway so that he can discuss the situation in the Kingdom.
Once they are almost to the lab, they suddenly hear the sounds of weapons fire, and quickly pick up speed to investigate. Seeing Zelius's men fighting against his own was quite dissapointing.
Hikaru orders his men to join the fight. It quickly becomes clear that Garou, Lewis, and Clark are out gunned so they step inside to recieve assistance from the 10 medics inside. The King's men follow and the battle continues inside the lab. Fortunately, with a seamingly endless supply of patches and medics to apply them, Garou's side wears down the other side.
There is one particularly tense moment where Garou is attacked by one of the snipers and the hand to hand Groten is waiting to smush Garou's brains if he goes down. The sniper was
one two points away from beating Garou by ten. The placement ended up being in the stomach.
Hikaru sends a terse message to Zelius: "You don't actually think you're going to escape the kingdom do you?", and then retreats from the lab. His surviving men shortly follow. The battle continues outside briefly, but the King's men run for it and get behind cover.
Zelius and one of his skilled assistances go with Garou, Lewis, and Clark and the rest are convinced to run away and hide.
Plot Infliction XII - Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right
I assume you liberated the move boots from the Groten. They need some modification before you can use them. They're x2 speed.
The big question is how fast do you want to travel to the elevator? The faster you go, the less reaction time you'll have against all those sniper Xoids among the apartments. The slower you go, the more chance there is of more of Hikaru's men catching up with you.
Yes indeed, the move boots are claimed.
For tactical consideration, what stages of medic and technician are Zelius and his assistant?
The question of movement rate is really one for Lewis, Clark, and Zelius. The scouts have seen enough of the sniper nests to get a feel for how hard they would be to spot, and Zelius with his mathematician powers of prognostication along with Lewis/Clark's prescience will inform how worried we need to be about how close behind us Hikaru's men will be.
Zelius has one stage of medic and a bunch of biologist. His assistant, let's call him Tomasetti, is one stage medic, one stage technician and three of biologist.
Zelius suddenly mutters "Oops." and looks a bit embaressed. When the rest of you look at him, he says: "We left those trainee's in the lab... and I blew it up."
You start travelling. Zelius, Lewis and Clark have a brief conversation about how fast they want to go, how easy to spot the snipers are, etc, etc, and you start moving at a fairly fast clip. You move such that potential sniper positions are avoided, or at least not in line of site for more than a turn.
There will be pot shots though...
One more thing... shortly after you start your Trek, Clark reports that he tried to contact Goliath to let him know you were coming, but he can't contact him. You all can still feel his mark, but he's not responding telepathically.
After dumping all my points for the Two-Tonne Punch, Garou is now mentally exhausted and can't use any MBA at the moment.
No response from Goliath with his mark intact means that he's been taken out but kept alive - and the prime suspect for that would be the Special Forces Xoids. Joy.
"So, Zelius, what's the probability that we're going from the frying pan into the fire? The Special Forces Xoids are almost certainly waiting for us at the elevator, right? Do we negotiate with them, or try to fight our way clear?"
"Also, we might want to consider developing something that might be able to block the telepathic control of the remote bodies. Lewis, Clark, it's possible that the Xoids don't know about Mental Shields. If we deploy them around Special Forces Xoids, we might render them prone."
Zelius: "Fire. Definitely fire. I think that above all else, the special forces are wanting to keep their tech out of the wrong hands, and well, that likely includes us. If they've come at us with a force that can take down Goliath, then any negotiations would involve us first being contained."
Clark: "Mental Shield? Dude, never tried that before. So few mentalists on this world, never thought we'd need one. Worth a shot though. Damn, should have thought of that when we had Werethropod to test it on."
Lewis: "Now that would piss them off, wouldn't it. If you not only stole their tech, but figured out a way to disable them quickly? I would think that if we demonstrated we could do that, they'd throw everything they had at us."
Zelius: "If they did throw everything they had at us, it may be a large enough force to get the Reich's attention. If we could stay alive long enough..."
"OK, next question: why would they keep Goliath alive? He's not useful for anything other than killing those who get in our way. And by taking him down, they've reduced his perceived tactical value to us, if they're thinking of using him as a negotiating piece. Maybe they plan on questioning him?"
What's the time scale for getting to the elevator? I have a feeling Garou is going to be wanting some MBA to play with.
Zelius: "18% chance they will use him as a negotiating piece. 76% chance they will try to extract information about us from him."
At your current rate of travel, it will take about 3 hours to get to the elevator.
Fortunately, I don't think Goliath knows much of tactical value. "How important is it that we try to retrieve Goliath?"
"What is the probability that Hikaru's forces need to rely on tracking us directly? If it's significant, maybe we can alter our mode of travel slightly to ensure that we're harder to track."
Also of tactical consideration is the handy pinch-point of the elevator. Most of the goons on this world will only be able to transit it one at a time, and I think we could deal with a very large number of beings if they're fed to us serially. Unfortunately, it could also act as a trap, allowing overwhelming force to flank us on the side that we're on - whichever side that ends up being.
I think that stealth is our best bet - get through the elevator and out of the kingdom, then stay out of sight and on the move. Then maybe we can make our way to another kingdom and set up that mercenary training house Lewis and Clark had in mind. Speaking of which, I switch the telepathic training dialogue with Lewis and Clark to focus more on scout now. Though, frankly, I think I might earn more guerilla skill in the near future.
Zelius (grimly): "Goliath has been with me for a long time. Tactically speaking it would make more sense to leave him, but personally I would like to attempt a rescue."
"I can't think of a way they would be able to track us other than directly. They don't have any mentalists that I know of, and communication is still jammed everywhere. I think that Hikaru himself has quite descent awareness, though I don't think it compares to Clark's. It's likely that Hikaru and that Takolee are tailing us, while the surviving Vega Lizard is going to get help."
"If we're not pinned down or with superior firepower breathing down our necks, it'll probably be worthwhile to see if we can rescue the big scary bug. Our ability to home in on him might catch them off guard."
"If Hikaru and the Takolee are tailing us, it stands to reason that they're keeping in contact with their forces via a trail of breadcrumbs. Maybe we should get Clark and Zelius to predict where they're likely to leave their breadcrumb, and have Clark hide explosives that will destroy or obscure the daisychain after a Zelius-calculated time."
Or, alternately, we might want to circle around and get the motherfuckers.
Game Recap: 2010-04-22 - Magic Mushrooms
The group flee towards the elevator of doom. They move fast enough that someone tracking them will unlikely catch up, and they can avoid most of the sniper positions. However, a few of the sniper positions are able to take pot shots at them, though they have little effect.
At one point, a very loud Xoid bellows out a command that can be heard throughout the kingdom. It seems to be located in the direction that the guys are heading. It's unknown what the command means. Clark has some MBA points available for prescience which he uses for a cryptic hint. He sees a Mega-Xoid Centipede covered in mushrooms which both Garou and Zelius gleen to indicate a mushroom cloud. Nukes be a comin'. They have 18 hours.
Eventually of the sniper positions slows them down enough that a group of Hikaru's men are able to reach the battle site before Garou and company can sneak away. They have a rather cheaply made van and 8 professional combatants (one with an assault weapon) deploy and fruitlessly try and find the well hidden guys. Garou advances and attacks while the rest sneak and try to take control of the van. Before the van is taken, it let's loose with a loud horn that can likely be heard for many kilometers.
Garou holds his own against the only professional combatants, and Lewis and Clark take out a couple of the Xoid snipers. They take the van towards the still hidden medic/tech when Hikaru shows up and disables the van with his large laser rifle. Hikaru and his Takolee swordsman join the fight. By this time, 6 of the 8 professional combatants have either been killed or fleed.
It's somewhat of a stalemate. Noone wants to act too agressively, and they all have significant defensive abilities. Many insults are traded and Hikaru is let in on the fact the area is going to be nuked.
4 Crazy Xoids arrive next and the mammels briefly join forces to take them out. The Xoids notably were using stun weapons. They are taken down just before an immense intermediate scale Xoid arrives on the scene.
Plot Infliction XIII - All we are saaaaaaaaying.... is give peace a chance
Hikaru tight-beams Zelius (and Zelius relays everything via the telepathic connection): "Ok, it seems like you've got something the Xoids desperately want. Sounds like it would be valuable, whatever it is. Let's cut a deal." Zelius just stares at him with an incredulous look on his face.
Meanwhile, the Intermediate Scale Xoid (ISX) aka Clubber tightbeams both Garou and the Takolee and says in Xoidese: "So, which one of you is my former battle buddy?"
The Takolee looks confused.
Nice. We're so all going to die.
Garou raises a paw and responds to the KiloXoid. Considering the Takolee's fluster, it's probably obvious anyway. "Present. You're looking well, Clubber. What's up?"
Telepathically to the rest of the crew: "This was the Xoid I was interacting with from the Special Forces Xoids. Somebody give me a read on this body's stamina. Because I get the feeling that he might not be here to take us in alive."
"Zelius, I think the tactical response to Hikaru is to ask what kind of deal he's proposing."
Zelius: "I'd rather tamper him such that all of his itch receptors are permanently on maximum, give him a small blade and watch him skin himself. Speaking of which, could you find out what happened to Goliath?" He then attempts to talk in a civil tone to Hikaru: "If you can figure out a way to get us all out of here, I'd be willing to negotiate." You think Hikaru's three stages of leader seem to sense Zelius's true desires.
Clubber: "Dude. Came to rescue you. We'd like to offer you and your scientist buddies there sanctuary. And you've totally got to try one of these bad boy bodies." Your stages of leader tell you that you should replace 'rescue' with 'capture' and 'santuary' with 'inprisonment'. And he definitely is excited about his new body, though more in a sense of using it, rather than letting you use it.
The tech/medic says in a meek telepathic voice. "Um, I'm guessing he's got 20 stam. And I think I wet myself."
Zelius says it's virtually certain that Clubber and Hikaru are talking as well.
To Zelius/Lewis/Clark: "Neither option seems particularly appealing in terms of alliance at this point. Unfortunately, since I'm at 13 stamina (although, mostly from stunning), there might not be a lot of resistance we can put up. In terms of long-term survival, I suspect that we're probably better off with Hikaru, but only marginally. Clubber and Hikaru are clearly probing each other, but since Clubber can't possibly trust Hikaru with the truth, and Hikaru is too savvy to accept anything other than the truth, I'm guessing that they're unlikely to start working together... right?"
"I think our best chance is sneaking Zelius out of here once the action starts. Then the victor can negotiate with me for telepathic proxy to Zelius. If I live. It would have to be after the action starts, though, because we need to distract Hikaru's monster awareness. Which reminds me - Clubber usually has a super-scout Xoid hanging around him. Lewis/Clark, do you see any?"
To Clubber: "Dude, you mean sanctuary similar to our buddy Goliath?"
Ah, the poor med/tech. He's pretty screwed. Although his existence also screws me, because if they glean that he's in the telepathic loop they don't really need Garou.
Tomasetti (the med/tech) says: "Um, I could do some patching while you guys are talking."
Clubber: "Goliath? Oh, that's the Rouge Xoid right? He's fine. He's pretty bad ass. Took out 4 of my troops before they managed to stun him. My guys got a bit overzeleous when I told them to secure the elevator. We've kept him unconscious to keep him safe, but we'd be happy to return him to you." He seems to communicate with one of the surviving shock shooters that fleed earlier. The small Xoid then runs off.
"I've ordered that the Rouge is brought here. Not sure how long it will take though, he'll have to be carried. I'm sure your biologist there can wake him up."
Zelius get's hailed by Clubber: "Greetings sir. Assuming you're the scientist that's got my superiors all in a tizzy, I've been ordered to request that you accompany me below. I am authorized to guarantee that you'll not be harmed in any way. We're really hoping that we can work together."
Lewis: "Ok, we've got some more company. A bunch of Hikaru's men have just snuck into view over there." He gives you a vector. There's 8 of them and they're some of his top guys. Two of them are significant snipers."
Clark: "That's nothing, just saw a bunch of those mini-Xoids over there." Different vector. "At least 10 of them, hard to tell."
Lewis: "See any scary Xoid scouts?"
Clark: "Nope. Do you?"
Lewis: "Nope. Making me nervous."
"Patches? Yes please."
"With the arrival of Hikaru's snipers and the Xoid snipers, we're officially just a prize to be plucked. And that gives me a powerful discomfort."
"Is there any value in suggesting to Clubber that Hikaru might have gleaned something about the technology? It might help make sure that they try to kill each other."
"By the way, Zelius, when/if they bring Goliath, you guys have codes to verify that he's not being unduly influenced, right? If we manage to tamper him conscious, I mean."
I put Garou's will in order, and prepare to compose a final haiku.
Tomasetti sneak over and starts patching people. He doesn't sneak very well, but not many would sneak well in this crowd. You think the Takolee is surprised by his sudden appearance, but that's about it.
Zelius looks at you: "I'm a seasoned biologist. What do you think?" He realizes a moment later he was being rude. "Sorry, a little stressed at the moment."
Lewis: "Um, I think that every one of those Xoid snipers are acquiring on me..."
Zelius: "I think perhaps they're aiming at me."
Clark: "This sucks."
Hikaru to Zelius: "I think it's inevitable that shooting is going to start. Either that or they're going to try and stall so that they can get that nuke up here. My snipers are ready to take out their snipers, but I think that they've got more troops than I do. The best chance for your survival is to hop on my back. I move extremely fast and I'm as sneaky as your two friends there. When the shooting starts, we make a run for it and let everyone kill each other. You and I can start up in another kingdom."
Clubber: "Well, shall we go? Or do you want to wait for Goliath to get here? Or maybe we should take out Hikaru's men first?"
A few crazy Xoids show up, and a few more of Hikaru's men show up too.
Clark: "I'm going to sneak off like I'm fleeing and find a good place to hide. When the shooting starts, should I attack the snipers, or that ISX there?"
Telepathically: "Looks like working with Hikaru is the only reasonable option at this point. Sorry Zelius, I think that Goliath will either be on the convoy that brings the nuke, or they'll have shoved a nuke up his unconscious ass. Tactically, I wouldn't trust Hikaru to be the one carrying Zelius, but I bet the odds do favour the success of that proposition over anything else we can muster on our own. It's up to you, Zelius, and your calculations, though."
To Clubber: "We were getting all ready to high-five you when we noticed that you've got all your snipers acquiring on one of us. What's up?"
Clubber: "Wow, you guys have descent awareness don't you. I'll make you a deal. Y'all start walking this way and they'll start acquiring on Hikaru instead."
Lewis: "Sweet..." There's a brief mental look of 'what's up?' in Lewis's direction.
"We may have a third option. I've been contacting previous trainee's telepathically ever since the coup. Looks like a few of them finally showed up. Blatherwick, can you hear us?"
Blatherwick: "Dude... you wern't kidding about the mess down here. Which one of those guys is Hikaru? Right, that one. I brought Hermosillo, Waldo and Hancock. Plus a couple of missiles. What's your plan?"
Clark: "Hancock? Sweet! You'll like him Garou."
Lewis: "Ok, introductions: Blatherwick is our most recent trainee. 2nd stage scout and 2nd stage infantry - mostly maxed out. Waldo is a seasoned shock shooter, Hermosillo is mostly a technician, and Hancock is a hand to hand combatant... and also a Gavagh. Waldo, what kind of missiles?"
Waldo: "The big kind. I won't be able to use them on Hikaru cause you're too close. That big Xoid is likely too close too. But that group of Xoids or the other group could be hit."
Zelius: "We appreciate your support, but really, it's only 3 extra combatants. I'm not sure if it will turn the tide that much."
Hermosillo: "Would a few smoke grenades help?"
"Smoke grenades would be huge. I vote that we take up Hikaru's offer, except that Zelius will stay on Lewis, and Lewis will in turn hitch a ride on Hikaru for the getaway. I can carry Tomasetti, and will attempt to flee along with Clark."
It's all about just surviving at this point. Though I have a feeling that I'm not going to be able to escape without parrying some intermediate scale attacks first, and that'll be exciting.
Zelius: "I see a 75% chance that Hikaru's offer was for me alone and that he actually hopes that the rest of you die in this mess. I don't think that Hikaru could carry both Lewis and myself." Hikaru is a big Crocaloid... but Lewis is pretty big too.
Lewis: "There's a mavvice with an assault weapon sneaking up on us too. Oh, and there's another Reptiloid." You spot the reptiloid - remember Solupur from waaaaay back?
While everyone is staring each other down, you're all patched up to full. The two surviving guys from the previous fight patch themselves up to full too, though one still is missing a leg.
Goliath wakes up. He reports that he's being escorted towards the lab by a couple of crazy Xoids with assault weapons (not stun). He was already up on this level when he woke up, so he doesn't know what is guarding the elevator. He's at full stam, but unarmed. He also caught a glimpse of the Xoid that tampered him back awake - nothing remarkable except a really large shield.
AAAAAAH. Full stamina. Pity I'll still be killed with one hit from the KiloXoid, and pity I still can't summon the two-tonne punch.
All right, let's rock. Fuck Hikaru; we'll let him cover us. Light up those motherfucking Xoid snipers, and blot out any line of sight on us with smoke grenade-o-rama. I'd like to intercept the Goliath detail as we try to extricate ourselves from this mess, preferably with Hikaru and his entourage in tow.
Then, clearly, the direction to go is up. And over. And as far away as possible. We'll have to see if Hikaru has any bright ideas later, after the ramifications of this brouhaha sink home.
Game Recap: 2010-04-29 - How Did We Survive That?
The full extent of the battle was obscured to the main characters due to the sudden thick clouds of smoke - which probably greatly contributed to their survival. There was the sound of "FWOOOOoooooosh-BOOM!!!" heading toward and emphasizing the approximate location of the Xoid snipers. This left the uneasy alliance of Zelius' crew and Hikaru's men to face Clubber in his KiloXoid body and a shock shooter.
Except that, once the fighting began, the Mavvice with the idiotic grin started shooting at Lewis (who was carrying Zelius). Treacherous bastard. The Xoid shock shooter was taken out, and Clubber was seeming ineffectual. So, with a burst of movement truly horrifying to consider (thanks to what seemed like 5-10 meter base movement) the KiloXoid charged off to gather up reinforcements so that they could be close enough to engage us inside the smoke. The characters had thought to use the pause to conceal themselves and make an escape attempt, but the zarking Mavvice lingered and revealed their hiding spots to the Xoids when they returned.
As the battle raged, both sides were eroded, but the Xoids seemed to be worse off for it. Then Lewis took a hard hit from Clubber (which was actually a nick, which is why Lewis lived) and was knocked down - leaving Zelius potentially unprotected. Seeing that getting Zelius away from the Xoids was the most important strategic concern, and the slim likelihood of accomplishing that himself, Garou indicated to Hikaru to gather up Zelius. Which Hikaru immediately did, and fled as though Zelius were a prize.
The characters converged to help Lewis, giving the Xoids an opening to distribute even more harm. Annoyed, betrayed, and harassed, the characters rallied and beat the crazy Xoids down and finish off the damn Mavvice. This prompted Clubber to repeat his combatant fetching. This time the characters made good their escape.
As they fled, they engaged in telepathic communication with Zelius. Hoping to goad Hikaru into continuing to work with the group, they ask Zelius about what instructions Hikaru's men have with regard to the characters. Hikaru ignored Zelius entirely, so Garou suggests he tamper Hikaru unconscious. This does not go well. Zelius is dropped, then instructed at gunpoint to tamper himself unconscious. He refuses, and telepathic contact is lost. Which does not bode well.
Continuing with their earlier plan, the characters intercept the convoy carrying Goliath in a possible rescue attempt. They jump the Xoids, and discover that their instructions are to kill Goliath before doing anything else. They do indeed succeed in dropping Goliath, but it takes them so long due to his impressive duck and massive stamina that they are shredded themselves a moment later. A flurry of patches later, Goliath rises, gathers up both assault weapons from the dead Xoids, and destroys an intermediate scale ant Xoid that appeared down the passageway.
Joined now with the powerful Goliath, the characters flee.
Plot Infliction XIV - How Many Of Us Actually Survived That?
We sneak as quickly as we can towards the last-known location of Zelius. Can we still sense his mark?
You can still sense the mark, though something odd happened shortly after you lost contact with Zelius. The mark seemed to split into two marks for a few moments. The second mark didn't last long, only a few seconds. Zelius's mark is quickly moving towards the main ship factory in the kingdom. It borders on a different kingdom.
Lewis: "Waldo got killed. Hancock got crushed, but is still alive. Seems Clubber went after them briefly before heading in the direction of Court. The rest of that group are still alive, though they've fled the scene. Should we try and meet up with them?"
Goliath is slowly being patched up by the flying patches. He had to patch his lower half with some robotic patches.
Gah - sounds like Zelius' head has been cut off and a life supporter borked into it.
We have very little hope of actually catching Hikaru at this point, due to his combination of move boots and resources. I propose that we swing past and collect our allies then proceed to the shipyard. Not necessarily to track down Hikaru - because we can do that at our lesiure via the mark on Zelius' head. But to see what the situation is, and the prospects for escaping this soon-to-be-nuked hole.
How fast is Goliath?
Goliath has a speed of 3. He suggests that he goes directly towards the ship yard, while you go and meet up with the others. You'll likely catch up with him just before he arrives there.
While heading towards the others, you hear another kingdom wide Xoid command yelled out. This one says "Fall back to incursion point." Lewis and Clark note that they spot sniper teams on the move heading towards the way down a level.
Yikes. Nuke(s) imminent. Spread the word.
Speed is of the essence. Is either Blatherwick or Hermisillo capable of carrying or fixing Hancock? If not, we may need Goliath to do the carrying. Do they need backup? With the new marching orders, perhaps we should have Lewis or Clark stay with Goliath to keep him covered while he dumps dice into movement.
What kind of timescale are we talking about here? How long would it take to run directly to the shipyard? Man, I wish Tomasetti was a second stage technician - so that he could fit those move boots while I carried him. Hmmm... maybe it would be better if he rode on Goliath.
Hopefully the Xoids will be mostly preoccupied with their own movement and will be less of a threat to us moving without spending dice on sneaking. The problem becomes Hikaru's people. I hope that they're mostly just professionals, such that my base sneak of 12 plus keeping to cover might be hard for them to snipe.
Clark: "When we did the prescience, it indicated that we had 18 hours before the nukes got here... though I guess the Xoids could have easily sped up that timetable."
Hancock's torso is already strapped to Blatherwick's back in a scene vaguely reminicient of Empire Strikes Back. Blatherwick's a Groten, so he actually was carrying everyone, which is why they were all able to sneak into the kingdom so easily. They indicate that they actually snuck through the ship factory to get into the kingdom, but it may be likely that Hikaru will tighten up security once he gets there.
Indeed, you are not bothered by Xoids or Hikaru's men enroute to the factory. Everyone is able to meet up at the edge of the apartment zone before needing to head out into relatively open terrain before getting to the factory. Clark sneaks ahead and reports that the entrance to the factory is heavily guarded.
By this time Zelius's mark is out of the kingdom.
It's been about 3 hours since Lewis had the prescience about the nukes.
Lewis spots Clubber. He's hiding at the edge of the apartment zone, eyeing the heavily guarded factory. He hasn't spotted you.
3 hours and we've formed up? Excellent. What's everyone's status?
...I can haz move boots?
What constitutes "heavily guarded", and how much open terrain is there before the entrance?
I'm toying with the idea of sneaking up on Clubber and luring him into the open to attract the attention/fire of the factory guards (I'm hoping that they feel an intermediate scale combatant bug is higher priority target than some wee little hand-to-hand puppy). Rather depends on what sort of entourage he's got with him, though. I'd rather keep the team to engage Clubber as small as possible, so that the rest can sneak up on the entrance and splatter the guards as necessary - if that's even feasible. Alternate tactics may be required.
Did we happen to discover Zelius' decapitated body on our way to the factory?
Heavily guarded is 20 professional troops with shields, grenades, and 1Dx10 assault weapons. Blatherwick reports that when they snuck through the facility, there were only a couple guarding the door at the time and there were a few seasoned combatants inside guarding the techies. There's about 100 meters of open space before you can reach them.
Clark sneaks closer to Clubber and reports that he's got three snipers and three shock shooters with him.
You didn't notice Zelius on the way, but once you catch up to Goliath, you see that he's got the body slung over his shoulder.
Hermosillo offers to fix your move boots. It will take a half hour.
20 dudes with big assault weapons across a 100-meter gap is officially daunting. Are there any other ways "up"?
There was a corridor up a level near Court. You had heard that it was barricaded by shield generators, similar to the way the way down was. Might be tamperable though, once you get past any guards. Problem is that to get there, you need to travel at least 50 meters in line of site of the 20 dudes before you can get across the expanse to another section of apartments that are near court.
The 20 dudes also have a number of fortifications they can use as cover, complicating the problem even further.
Goliath: "I say we go for it."
Lewis: "What do you think Clubber will do if we attack the factory?"
Clark: "Probably get his snipers to fire at both sides while he charges the factory... though he may decide to go to Court instead."
Tomasetti: "But Clubber must realize that Hikaru wouldn't stay here. Why didn't he retreat with the rest of the Xoids?"
Well, this is a fine pickle. Time is likely of the essence, so that prevents us from wasting time to back-track and approach the up-shaft from a different vector (most likely to discover that there's been similar reinforcements deployed there as well). Likewise, I have doubts that we would have sufficient time to engage Clubber's crew and scatter them, regenerate, then tackle the shipyard guards.
While we do have a couple very persuasive individuals, Hikaru's own dominating persuasiveness is probably insurmountable in this circumstance. So that's out.
Clubber's lingering is a bit troubling. I guess it's possible that he means to use his movement capability to get him and his crew out if necessary, when the time comes. But also possible is just that they all consider these bodies expendable, and are betting that we'll show up here, and are simply lying in wait for us specifically. Because, with a crew of snipers and shock shooters, they could be rapidly eroding the guards with hit-and-fade tactics (sneak, hide, aim/acquire, each sniper being teamed with a shock shooter to finish the target). Since they're not doing that, it makes me paranoid.
What might be also important to learn is if Hikaru and Clubber have any ad-hoc deal in place, so that they can both be rid of us. If my paranoia is right, if we simply charge out, we'll be facing all the guards PLUS all of Clubber's crew simultaneously. Which would suck. To test this, we should get one of the sneakier individuals to place a relay comm, then transmit tight-beam to the guards the exact positions of the Xoids - and see if they use that information to play with their assault weapons.
Regardless, I think we should see if mental shields block the remote body connection. That way we could quickly and quietly rid ourselves of the Xoid factor. Then all we would have to do is charge across 100 meters into a nest of 20 assault weapons...
Game Recap: 2010-05-06 - Now THAT was a fight!
Clark sneaks towards the Xoids and places a communicator that can be transmitted to as a relay between him and Hikaru's men. Once hidden, the coordinates of all the hidden Xoids are sent to the 20 professional combatants. Hikaru's men immediately opened fire at the hidden Xoids. Clubber was already behind cover, so wasn't in danger, but the sniper/shock shooter Xoids were hidden outside of cover. Two of them won initiative and were able to dive behind cover, the remaining four were not and became bug soup.
Lewis, Clark, and Garou snuck up on the remaining Xoids to try and encompase one in a mental shield. It was hoped that the shield would jam the telepathy between the Xoid body and it's controller. Clark put a shield on one of the smaller Xoids as a test and unfortunately, nothing happened.
While trying to decide what to do next, suddenly Clubber slumped and fell over. Seems Lewis wanted to try again, just in case. It quickly dawned on them that the smaller Xoids were in fact not remote controlled bodies, but just a different type of Xoid. The sniper and shock shooter Xoids paniced and were about to try applying one of Clubbers patches in the hopes of waking him up, but Garou, Lewis and Clark emerged and opened fire. One of the Xoids was killed and the other fled.
Garou de-limbed the massive Xoid and then Lewis removed the mental shield to allow Clubber to once again take control of the body. What should have happened was nothing, as once the connection was severed, Clubber would have had to be in line of sight to make the connection again. He also would have gotten the stress points just by being kicked out so fast. But since God wasn't thinking, Garou and Clubber got to have one last conversation about the situation. Seems Clubber was waiting for the group in a vain hope of joining forces again to try and retrieve Zelius. In the end, Garou lets Clubber withdrawl from the body on his own as to avoid any more stress points.
Clubber reports to his superiors that the telepathic link can be jammed, which causes a significant amount of angst. The nukes are 'fast tracked'.
The group again considers the 20 professional goons with assault weapons, shields, and grenades. The goons also have significant cover they can hide behind. A plan is quickly formed where Garou is to be the front man, crossing the 100 meter expanse as quickly as possible and drawing their fire. The rest of the group will be hidden and once the goons expose themselves, they'll be hosed down by Goliath, Lewis and Clark. Garou will try to draw them out from cover as much as possible to let them be taken out by the others (mostly Goliath).
Blatherwick (a hypernormally strong Groten) picks up Garou like a javelin and throws him almost half way there. Garou lands running and with the help of his recently fixed move boots, runs to within range of his thug beams.
Then he dances. Boy does he dance. 30 assault weapon attacks from 15 shock troopers have difficulty landing more than token damage, but it adds up. The five remaining goons are shock shooters and they inflict some serious harm. Garou is 5 stam away from being taken down in the first volley. Unfortunately for the shock shooters, they have identified themselves as the biggest threat. Goliath comes out of hiding and kills two of them. Lewis hits one in the arm, blasting it off. Clark significantly hurts another.
With more targets, not all the goons shoot at Garou, but a lot of them do. Garou survives the next round and with the goons going behind cover, he hides to let his patch droids heal him up. When the goons come back out from cover, they don't spot Garou and instead engage the other three.
The goons eventually decide that fighting Goliath, Lewis, and Clark is too dangerous when the three can use cover, so they go behind their own cover and stay there. The trio don't take the bait and stay at the 100 m range near cover. They hide and wait for the goons to come out. This gives Garou a chance to heal a bit and recharge his shield. Eventually, he sneak over one of the massive armour plates the enemy is using for cover. No one spots him and he uses Swipe Stuff to obtain more patches for his droids to use. The previous owner of the patches is unimpressed.
Garou leaps back over the armour hoping to draw out the combatants... but what comes instead is a bunch of grenades that toss him about like a severed Trop eyestalk. Still, the damage isn't comparable to an assault weapon and Garou survives. He quickly sneaks to the side to avoid a second toss of grenades and then hides once again. One of the shock troopers pokes his head out from cover to see if Garou was dead, but what he sees instead are 20-odd blasts of coallated energy emerging from Goliath's assault weapons. He doesn't see them for very long, as his head (eye's included) quickly kaslorpify.
More patching and then Garou attempts to sneak over the armour again. This time he's spotted and is shot at immediately. He's able to dance and jump back over the barrier. The grenades follow and this time due to a less than favorable duck roll, Garou is driven deep into the negative stamina. If the goons had followed him out, they would have surely killed him, but at the moment, they were not willing to face Goliath's weaponry again. Using telekinesis, Lewis and Clark assist the patch droids in healing up Garou.
Frustrated, the goons eventually try to follow Garou out to take out the annoying hand to hand combatant, and a couple more goons are killed or disabled by the trio at range. Unfortunately, even though the trio dove behind cover after attacking, their general location was known. During the battle, someone in the factory had dug out a missile bazooka and found some ship scale missiles to use. One is fired at the cover Goliath, Lewis and Clark just went behind, and while not taking the full ship scale damage, the group takes significant harm. Lewis loses consciousness, as does Tomasetti.
Briefly without backup, Garou dances some more as the goons focus their firepower on him. Things seem to become much more chaotic here on out. Lewis and Clark are briefly out of the fight, but Goliath quickly returns firing at range. Goon combatants are on both sides of the cover now so Garou is less able to use stealth. At one point, goons from one side of the cover fire grenades at Garou on the other side and do damage to both Garou and the goons on the other side. Another ship scale missile is fired at Goliath and again, Goliath is saved only by the cover he is behind. Lewis and Clark eventually return and add to the mix.
In the end, 7 of the 15 shock troops are dead and all of the shock shooters are dead or dismembered (some by grenades from the shock troopers). Garou is ducking and parrying furiously and most often the shock troopers either miss or only walk a couple of dice of damage into Garou which is mitigated by his patch droids.
Unfortunately, as is the case in AIF combat, people get lucky. During Garou's final defensive round, the last shock trooper on his last attack rolls double sixes for his attack, inflicting full damage. Garou's stamina is driven so deep into the negatives that he is automatically unconsious. On his round, the patch droid makes it a slim possibility for him to wake up and Goliath, Lewis and Clark attempt to draw the goons fire. But he doesn't wake up, and with 8 goons having two attacks each, at least one attack finishes off the prone Zygroten.