Frontier Date 63.004Pf +96
In the two days that have passed since the exploration of the sathar artefact, the eorna have searched for a way to counter the sathar threat. The Great Mission of the eorna was to develop a race on Volturnus capable of defeating the sathar. The Ul-Mor, the Kurabanda, and the Edestekai are the results of eorna genetic experiments. As yet, none are capable of single-handedly defeating the sathar. However, the eorna have devised a plan that seems to present the only possible hope of saving Volturnus and its inhabitants from destruction at the hands of the sathar.
The plan is to unite the races of Volturnus in a common effort against the sathar. Although the races are suspicious of each other, it is possible that you, as impartial aliens, could overcome these suspicions and help them to fight the sathar. If your party is willing to go to the Mechanons, the Ul-Mor, the Kurabanda, and the Edestekai and convince them to fight the sathar, the eorna will offer the following ssistance:
The eorna will contact the Ul-Mor, the Kurabanda, and the Edestekai and persuade them to listen to the proposals you will bring. However, it will be up to you to convince these races to join the anti-sathar coalition. The Eorna are not yet prepared to allow their true nature to be known to the races involved in the Great Mission.
The eorna will provide you with a complete map of Volturnus, showing the probable location of the Mechanon complex. The eorna once built a planetary defense system to defend against attack from space. It is not known how much of this system is still operative, but the system's master control is in the hands of the Mechanons. You will have to determine how to activate the system once you enter the Mechanon complex, since the Mechanons may have modified the equipment.
The eorna will equip each of you with a polyvox programmed for the languages of the Ul-Mor, the Kurabanda, and the Edestekai. The eorna will supply you with enough jetcopters to carry your entire party, if you do not already have sufficient jetcopters.
While you are gone, the eorna will build what weapons they can and will also capture and take cybernetic control of various dangerous beasts who can be used in the battle against the sathar.
Once you have succeded in uniting the races of Volturnus, the battle will be fought near the ruins of the city of Volkos. As the only center of advanced civilization on the planet, the eorna complex must be protected.
The big trooper Con, drifts off into a coma as he receives medical attention. He soon wakes in unfamiliar surroundings. His surroundings seem familiar, but they are different. As Con looks around him he sees nothing but a jagged, rocky wasteland. On a large rock sits an old man wearing a dark victorian era suite, carrying a cane.
"Ah, there you are my boy." Says the old man as he rises to his feet. "I was beginning to wonder how long you were going to keep me waiting, never mind, come along we have only a short time." Con walks off with the old gentleman.
"Who are you? Where are we?"
"Don't you know, my boy. I am someone you should know well, or are you really this dense hmmm?" The two visitors to this waste land come to an ancient arch way. The old man gestures to Con, allowing him to pass through the arch and the old man follows. The two are transported to another place. There is life here. A small village teaming with hustle and bustle of life. Children running, people shopping.
"Look over there, my boy. Do they look familiar? Hmmm?" Con looks over and sees himself with his beloved Susannah. He was back in Monmouth, a happier time, when he was with her. This is how it once was, a time when nothing else mattered. Before all hell broke out. As Con watches the lovers he is ushered by the old man back through the arch.
"This is not what I wanted to show you, boy." As the pair move through the arch they are on Volturnus, at the settlement. There are friends and strangers moving about, going about their down time activities. Con watches as team mates file their reports, maintain their weapons and make plans. He watches as his mates design inventions that cause the others to shake their heads in disbelief, or was it pity? Sometimes Con wasn't sure.
"This is their present. Come along my boy, we are not their yet." Once again the old man gestures the warrior through the arch. The two appear in another wasteland. On a road winding towards a grim citadel is a procession of warriors from all different races and all different times. They gesture towards Con come with them. The trooper feels compelled to accept their invitation.
"No my boy, some call that citadel Valhalla, a place for fallen warriors. It is not our time to go there, not yet anyway." The two move though the arch yet again. "We are here, look familiar? Hmmm?" Con looks at the old man confused.
"This is where we began our journey." the warrior replies
"Yes, my boy, this is what you called Monmouth, well before the Sathar laid waste to it all. If you were to wander off with those warriors, this is what would happen not only to Monmouth, but to this entire region of space. Just another wasted region of the sathar empire. You failed your comrades. If you didn't accept the invitation to the hall of warriors, this would not have happened. You again fail your friends, like you did Tallas, like you failed Susannah." The old man spoke with a tear in his eye. "Do not let this be our fate, we do not belong to that band of fallen brothers, not yet." With that the duo moves through the arch.
On the other side, Con wakes to the scene of the medical facility as a medic hovers over him. He was back where he belonged, with his team.
When Crisbel arrives back at base camp it is indeed a welcome sight. He had been too close to meeting his maker in that last go round with the Quickdeaths and needed the rest. For the next few days he does nothing but relax. His ribs ache where the beast had nearly cut him in two and his fur was singed in many places where he had been burned by those slugs!
Looking across the room Crisbel registers he is not alone in the sick bay. As well as Sni'ktl and OMAC, several eorna medics are tending to the wounded. Con is stretched out on a cot far too small for his huge frame being tended by one of the eorna medical staff at the moment. Mr Sp'ock and Gloo are being treated once again by eorna medics with Sni'ktl hovering close by watching their every move with a keen eye. The Chief Medical Officer was beginning to realize that eorna medicine was as much psychological as physical. They appeared to use a combination of surgery and advanced medicines in conjunction with their mental capabilities, accelerating healing in some areas quite remarkably as he had just witnessed in Mr Sp'ock's case. Strangely they were producing much more mundane results with dralasites, Borovski in particular was not responding nearly as well as the rest of the patients.
"I wonder if it's the way a dral thinks?" Sni'ktl muses "Or their sense of humour? I wonder how funny they would think that is?" he continues drily to himself then spies OMAC across the room tending once more to Siu-Ling. Was the ice man melting? He had certainly begun paying the lithe female a great deal more attention of late, at least by OMAC's unique standards anyway. Soon after, Siu-Ling was discharged from sick bay and immediately headed off in search of her beloved Nounouche, the Tomar's Horse still being tended by the dralasite garrison in her absence. Siu-Ling is pleased to see that all of Nounouche's cuts and scrapes have healed well and decides to take the animal out for some exercise.
Raid had been discharged earlier that day and was trying to decide on what to do about his jet boots idea. Unable to figure a way to synchronize the firing of all the jets at once and also being unsure about the stability of mounting the jets on his boots Raid was less and less confident. Finally he decided that discretion is indeed the better part of valour and carefully disassembles the devices and files away his design notes for a future time and place.
The new quartermaster was throwing himself into his new job with a vengeance. As soon as possible Gloo calls a meeting with xZot and Sp'ock in the computer room of Mawson's Rest,
"Well if we're going to be near the eorna's hidey hole we'll need to bring all the equipment down, including the bots, that means a few runs up to get it. Since the gathered army will be assembling near Volkos that means the sathar will most likely deploy nearby and that means somewhere between us and the equipment effectively cutting us off from resupply, and then we'll be dependant on the eorna for supplies. If Raid isn't up to all of that flying maybe I could get a few eorna fliers to help me get it. We need to bring those folks down to Volkos anyway, and we have a whole ruined city where we can store the supplies."
"We should probably discuss that with local inhabitants first Raid, but please, continue." Mr Sp'ock interjects
"I know this may sound like a lot of work or seem excessive but we need those supplies if we are going to do this, those sathar aren't just going to come down in small easy to handle numbers, it's going to look more like a Vrusk water drill down here." Gloo looks at Sp'ock "No offence."
"None taken" Mr Sp'ock answers sharply. The dral continues
"No telling if the eorna will be able to recharge our packs or even have the time to do it, so we'll need all of ours, besides I'd prefer the equipment and people closer to us than the sathar. I'd rather destroy the supplies than let them have access to it, and with our personal defences so depleted we need those combat bots, the more shots they take the less likely one of us does, and we could use the extra guns."
"Maybe we should pick up the combat robot from Brucebane?" Commander xZot asks his X-O, "I think it will come in handy if we reprogram it to kill sathar on sight or something similar. Maybe it can be strapped into one of the passenger seats for transport?"
"Agreed!" Mr Sp'ock nods "Make that a priority and inform Mr Array" he orders Gloo. Gloo shuffles his notes around and continues.
"I have worked out how to bring more back per load, we use cargo slings. I'm sure I can borrow a couple from the eorna. They might not be able to carry more in terms of weight, but more in bulk. It will take a total of 6 trips to retrieve safely, 5 if its overloaded by about 60 kg. But it will take one extra trip alone just to get the medbay equipment if you wish to take it along, not due to weight but fragility and bulk, we can sacrifice items such as the parabatteries for the jetcopters to keep the number of trips down."
"We do not have the luxury of time," Mr Sp'ock quickly cuts in "We've lost three days already with the sathar expected in less than 20 standard days. Maybe one or two trips for now, we can discuss the rest later."
"Then there's the issue of Grods' and Mawsons' bodies, do they get left there for now? Or the eorna could cryo store them if needed, I only bring this up after hearing what the Sathar did with the eorna in the artefact, not something I wish to see happen to either." Gloo looks at both sternly, as much as a dralasite can, to get his point across.
"But we need those supplies, it's the only logistically sound way to do this, if we do separate supply runs and the sathar pick it up on radar, well whoever is flying just got into a whole lot of trouble, one sathar fighter and that bird goes 'foop'! Not to mention by the time the needed supplies were brought back it would most likely be way too late to be of any use. Anyone willing to take that chance? After it's moved I will give you both a inventory list of what we have, just in case I become as they say, combat ineffective."
After hearing of Gloo's idea to move all equipment and supplies to the ruined city, Raid comments,
"I fully agree. I was always worried that some Star Devil ship was going to show up while we were away anyway. The locations of these old pirate bases are just too well known for comfort. We may want to bring at least one of the generators as well though, if a copter can carry it."
After the brief interruption, Gloo continues his situation analysis
"I would also like to get these people on a war footing now, that means no extraneous equipment, such equipment and kits other than medical could be left in the helo, or explorer, but close enough if really needed, the sathar fleet may arrive in a couple fleets but a scouting party may arrive sooner."
xZot and Sp'ock begin handing out work assignments as Gloo heads off to the surgery.
"I'm going to see what I can barter the eorna for in order to get some first aid packs for everyone that would include 2 doses stimdose and 2 doses staydose, that way everyone could either revive somebody or stabilize them till a medic arrives, as well as see if they can restock our medical supplies, more specifically Biocort. Any questions? If not I need to go find `ol Snikkers and see what IS needed in the way of med supplies, other than what was mentioned."
As Raid prepares to raid the storeroom, Gleep asks him for some more unusual supplies
"Can you bring me back that holoprojector and a type 3 parabattery please. I plan to do some quick experimentation on creating a new image for the projector and give us a little camouflage for at least part of our defensive line." With no more questions Gloo goes to find Sni'ktl to see what med supplies he needs, before getting ready to go to Brucebane.
Gloo finds Sni'ktl in the Eorna Museum. At least that's what Sni'ktl thinks, he is actually in the sleeping quarters enjoying some reheated hallucinogenic sandshark. Having explored the eorna exhibits from many and novel perspectives, all mushroom inspired, Sni'ktl is now expounding to an illusionary xZot, his vision of the impending Sathar invasion.
"And then there's the charred flesh. It chokes my aureoles. Filling the whole sky. The whole planet choking. By the egg, there must be another way." When Gloo enquires of the CMO about biocort requirements Sni'ktl is quick to reply. "Biocort! If we made the Canals of Volturnus run deep with the stuff we couldn't heal her. I could bath in it every day and never heal the pain. But noble trooper, you need your directive. Yes let there be biocort. Many barrels, so we may sup deep of it in time of need." Shaking his head Gloo heads off to negotiate something with their eorna visitors.
Back in the computer room Raid is discussing various options with xZot
"If we do manage to unite the natives in an alliance against the sathar, a good strategy would be to lure the main sathar ground force into the ruined city and spring a co-ordinated ambush." Raid proposes to xZot. "Deceptive, long range eorna radio broadcasts from a chosen location in the ruins could be used to attract the sathar's attention from orbit. The sathar would expect only limited resistance from the eorna and go for the bait." Raid explains his idea further. "Our Volturnian allies, along with us, would be waiting in concealed positions among the ruined buildings. We could then hit the sathar force from all sides and at close range before they realized what they were up against. The close-in fighting would favour the natives primitive weaponry and cut down on the sathar's advantage in high-tech ranged weapons." Raid waits for xZot's reaction, then adds, "I know it's looking ahead, but we have to convince each of the races that we have a workable battle plan."
xZot listens to Raid's thoughts as he nods in an understanding way.
"I would be a pity to not have you with us as we talk to the other races." xZot refers to the possibility of Raid piloting the cargo flights in the relocation. "You have a good grasp of the tactics necessary to defeat the sathar." xZot praises his Chief Science Officer.
"While I have never fought sathar, from what I have heard I'd agree that we don't want to give them any advantage. If we are to succeed we need to set the terms." The grim sound of determination resounds in xZot's voice.
"Actually I perform better in an adviser role." Raid warns xZot privately. "I've always had a nasty habit of going catatonic in tense social or public speaking situations."
Listening to the excellent suggestions for digging in and equipping the defence of the ruined citadel, Sni'ktl feels that the Sathar are going to regret ever having visited volturnus. As the conversation turns to involving the other races Sni'ktl chitters out an idea that had been mulling in his head.
"Perhaps we could ask each race to provide ten warriors and ten healers to be trained in the use of equipment we can supply. From the way Gloo has been promoting his armoury it sounds like we could easily equip some extra teams in addition to those from the previous mission who've recovered. Perhaps the eorna can manufacture other weapons to improve the effectiveness of their kinder. If we train ten of each and each of them trains ten more well, the number start to add up."
"Don't mind him" OMAC chimes in after Sni'ktl's speculation "xZot's sandshark is still messing with his head. You need to multiply your figures by ten or even a hundred Doc. The sathar will be coming in their thousands!" he announces grimly.
"I bonded well with the females of the kurabanda village when we spent those days recuperating." Siu-Ling adds to the conversation. "Maybe I should talk to them. I'd also love to see the Clan Athru again. My days with the ul-mor seem so far away..."
Sni'ktl is impressed at the "barrels" of biocort he apparently requested of Gloo. The dralasite and eorna have surpassed themselves in producing biocort applicator refill "barrels" that enable the eorna product to be pressurized and used in frontier applicators and med-kits, each barrel refilling a standard spray hypo. With the several dozen barrels that the eorna have supplied, as well as the fresh supplies on hand in the Eorna sickbay, Sni'ktl is hopeful that he will be able to keep busy treating casualties. In fact the medical limitation has now become the number of medics on hand.
Frontier Date 63.003Pf +97
After the third day of treating their patients the eorna hand Sni'ktl the remaining twenty doses of biocort and promise that they should have another similar supply for the teams medics when they get back from their first diplomatic mission. Sni'ktl was disappointed, he had hoped to use eorna biocort to refill the biocort contents in all the medkits. His, OMAC's, McKilins, Jag's, and the two kits in the Jetcopter and store a replacement "barrel" in each jetcopter and the explorer with the rest in the sick bay at the ruins. The eorna were having problems with the concept of drug and surgical based medicine, the very basis of Sni'ktl's training and experience. Eorna techniques were excellent for rehabilitation but their understanding of trauma medicine was below par.
As he lays in hospital, the only thing on Con's mind is the impending Sathar invasion and how he has failed anyone who has ever mattered to him. Determined not to continue this trend, Con forces himself to escape his sick bed and prepare for the upcoming battle. Con gathers up his equipment and staggers out of hospital. Finding an area where he can train he forces himself through his routine. Once the physical training is completed, he begins working on his combat skills. No mater how injured he is, Con pushes himself determined not to fail the team. Once training is done, provided he's still standing, seeks out Gloo.
"Gloo, I need a bandolier and as many SEU clips that thing will hold." Con asks the quartermaster "I also need a military skien suit since this albedo suit is pretty much shot to hell" Coming out to reprimand Con for training whilst still under his care, Sni'ktl gets caught up in the horse trading and gives his laser pistol and SEU's to Gloo in exchange for an order for 1 Needle Rifle and 20 Needle Clips. After stocking up Con finds a quiet place to rest and make sure his equipment is ready for the upcoming battle.
"I could also use a backpack and belt pack." Gleep adds when he finds Gloo preparing his list for Raid's first trip to Brucebane.
"Hey, way to go, Gloo!" Siu-Ling congratulates the dralasite upon hearing of ids promotion to quartermaster. "Let me know if you need some help."
Gloo walks up to Raid handing over his list
"Well looks like this is what I need you to get, this is the most important anyways, and it should really prevent a need to send you back again." Gloo then heads over to xZot "We need to ask the eorna if they could go up and get those people from the city and bring them to Volkos where they would be much safer, and here's a copy of the list I gave Raid, this would be the most important stuff and would make sure there is no need to really go back after the sathar get here."
Mr Sp'ock intercepts the list and scans it's contents. The lists reads as follows: Heavy Laser, Frag Grenades x15, Doze Grenades x12, Tangler Grenades x10, Stunsticks x5, Laser Pistols x5, Laser Rifles x14, Powerclips (20 SEU x76, 12 SEU x18), Power Beltpack, Power Backpacks x27, Recoilless rounds x100, Gyrojet Clips 14 x 10, 1 Needle Rifle, 20 Needle Clips, Military Skiensuit (D-50, V-38, V-17, Y-33), Civilian Skiensuit (Y-50, D-50 x 2), artwork, sculptures from CO's personal quarters, food.
"Hang on Raid, before you go a couple of alterations to this list. We won't need all of the Recoilless rounds on this trip. It will take far too long to load them all and we won't need that many anyway. Get maybe 20 rounds and add a Robcomkit to your list. When you get back I want our loads evenly distributed around all three vehicles, both choppers and the explorer. We can worry about the details later."
xZot mutters to himself as he casts his eyes over Sni'ktl's request
"I don't know where I'd rather be?! If things turned bad, I've seen Snik's skills with a grenade, I think it would be safer to be outside! You can never tell what he's going to do next. Never before have I met a creature with eight limp wrists!" chuckling heartily xZot approves the request knowing that everyone needs something for personal security. "I just hope he doesn't hurt himself."
Frontier Date 62.099Pf +101
After several days of rest and relaxation Crisbel begins his rehab. Running in the morning, light weights in the afternoon, and combat training in the eve. His proficiency had improved drastically since coming along on this mission and he wanted to keep that edge. Once recovered and feeling better, he reports as much to his commander.
"So boss, what's the plan? We thinking the invasion is coming or what?"
"I'm glad you asked Crisbel, when Raid heads off on the resupply mission we will have a final strategy meeting. Go get everyone together." Popping into the radio room Commander xZot taps his radio operator on the shoulder "GleepGlooup, radio ahead to McKilin and Jag to let them know to start packing the essential items. Raid is prepping for take off now" As Raid heads off to Brucebane on his first resupply mission xZot calls another informal planning session for various team members to put their plans and points of view.
"My thoughts on Gloo's ideas. It wasn't my intention to relocate all our stores at this stage. If for no other reason, I don't think we've got enough time to move everything. I think that we need to unite the indigenous races if we had any chance of survival and this is our first priority at the moment!"
"Agreed!" Mr Sp'ock reinforces his C-O's point "McKilin, X'anthe and Jag can be tasked to assist Raid with the resupply" When Crisbel asks that he be given responsibility of the heavy laser Mr Sp'ock decides to use the situation as an exercise in tactical theory, quickly turning the session into a classroom.
"And why should we give such a valuable piece of equipment to the likes of you?" Mr Sp'ock clicks out, in his best attempt at parodying the atypical sergeant from a B-grade war holovid. Smiling back at the Security Chief, Crisbel answers
"Well sir, first I would entrench the heavy laser somewhere at the centre of the formation or in some other tactically advantageous position that we think the Sathar might attempt to exploit first. I can man the weapon, unless someone else is a better shot," Several pairs of eyes turn in Siu-Ling's direction but she ignores them as she listens intently to Crisbel's reply "Or until it goes dry." Crisbel finishes "At that point I would transition to my laser rifle. All other weapons will be laying in the foxhole and not actually carried. Once I empty the laser rifle or the sathar close, I will change to the sonic disruptor and then I will move to vibro knife and laser pistol when the Sathar reach melee distance. Thereby at all times protecting your valuable piece of hardware!" Crisbel concludes to the applause and raucous laughter of the remaining team mates. When the laughter dies down GleepGlooup reports to xZot that Lt. Commander Jameson is on the radio from Volkos asking to speak with the young yazirian Commander.
As xZot heads off to speak with Jameson, Sni'ktl adds his two credits worth to the conversation
"So we'll need a base here at Eorna Central. I nominate the museum, the atmosphere there is suitably calming" suggests Sni'ktl, totally unaware of any practical considerations. His fellow vrusk, Mr Sp'ock looks at the medic and simply shakes his head, wondering yet again about the doctor's propensity for dabbling in mind altering substances
When xZot takes Jameson's call they briefly discuss the team's various options. Jameson is particularly in favour of the Black Hand Gang making contact with the Mechanon's. As the only intelligent native species the Frontiersmen and women haven't yet encountered he is very keen to assess this potential ally's capabilities as soon as possible. He also reminds xZot that regaining control of whatever is left of the planetary defences should be their highest priority.
"At least you've already met the other races Commander xZot, these Mechanons, we know nothing about them and the eorna don't seem to have very good intel on them either which worries me." The experienced human officer finishes over the radiophone "Well it's your team and your call Commander xZot, I look forward to hearing your report when you get back.
Taken somewhat aback at the manner in which Jameson appeared to issue commands, xZot took some time to realize that he had come a long way from the reluctant leader at the outset of this mission. Although his title of 'Commander' had certainly been earned on the surface of Volturnus, Jameson's rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Truane's Star military, definitely superseded xZot's authority, the Black Hand Gang being essentially a government funded non-military rescue and exploration mission. This was now a war zone and xZot's command was now Jamesons army, along with whatever allies they could cobble together in the desperate defence of Volturnus.
When xZot returns to the discussion Mr Sp'ock addresses the issue of assignments for the next mission
"Commander xZot with yourself and Raid piloting the two jetcopters there is room for six other passengers. I suggest we rotate some of our people out of active service temporarily to accommodate Gloo and GleepGlooup who are obviously motivated about getting more involved again. The irrepressible Sni'ktl seems ready to race out again and somehow, after only three days treatment, Con Anderson is also straining on his leash." Mr Sp'ock shakes his head in disbelief "Three days ago he was on death's door!" Turning back to his duty roster he ticks off names on his list "If I add Siu-Ling and Crisbel that gives you a full roster Commander." Noting the look on his commander's face Mr Sp'ock continues
"I'm sorry sir but there's not enough room for everyone. Borovski and myself are still recovering from wounds and anyway, damn Sni'ktl won't release me for combat duty! Some rubbish about combat fatigue! He's ordered OMAC to detain us in sick bay until he returns." Glumly saluting his superior, the X-O wishes the slight, young yazirian good luck and reports back to the CMO.
The eorna have told you that there existed at one time a system of planetary defences designed to repel an attacking fleet and prevent an enemy from bombarding the planet. The eorna do not know how many of the system's automated weapons survive, but if the team can find the controls of the system, they can activate whatever remains of it. The eorna know that the controls are located somewhere beneath the strange mounds in the southwest of the desert. They are able to provide you with a map to the most likely general location of the planetary defence controls.
The Eorna also know and have told you that there are some creatures living beneath the mounds known as the Mechanons. The Mechanons apparently evolved from the few robots that were left after the great Sathar attack in the distant past. As far as the eorna know, the Mechanons also build other robots, so the robot population in this area may be very large. It is possible that the Mechanons are unfriendly; the eorna have not had contact with them for many years.
Jag could still hear Siu-Ling's words ringing in his ears as he watched the recon section of the Black Hand Gang lift off in their jetcopters and head off toward the mechanon mounds.
"No way Auramada would send only ten men. He will either outright refuse or get all riled up and send every available male, including himself and his sons, at least that's the kind of guy I took him for," Siu-Ling had speculated.
Jag was inclined to agree remembering back to the team's brief stay with the kurabanda tribe as he returned to his assignment, reinforcing the Black Hand Gang's operational HQ at Mawson's Rest.
From his sickbed Mr Sp'ock had assembled all the 'combat effectives' at Mawson's Rest, leaving James McKilin with the remaining freed captives at Brucebane. OMAC and Borovski had been set to work on reinforcing the perimeter with improvised sandbags as Jag and X'anthe camouflaged the prefab buildings. Home made paints using water and clays with strategically placed boulders and plant life helped to break up the artificial silhouettes of the structures.
Jag and Borovski also took turns riding Borovski's Loper mount, going out on patrols around the immediate vicinity of the outpost, often taking Siu-Ling's Tomar's Horse along for the exercise.
Discharging himself from the infirmary later in the day Mr Sp'ock began examining the programming of the second combat robot airlifted to the outpost along with Jag, on Raid's resupply mission. The X-O hoped to have the new robot programming ready for Commander xZot to approve on his return from the mechanon base.
After travelling to the general area of the mounds, the recon team finds the area shown on the eorna map. It appears to be a section of desert with occasional outcroppings of scrub vegetation. In fact, near the mounds, this vegetation becomes heavier and in many places it is dense enough to provide some cover. It appears that finding an entranceway into the mounds will require some searching.
Before leaving the jetcopters Raid removes his heavy power backpack and places it in the chopper's cargo compartment. In its place, he equips himself with the Techkit and Robcomkit from xZot's jetcopter.
"I have a feeling that we may need these tool kits in an area that is controlled by intelligent robots." Struggling under the increased load Raid then helps stack brush around the two aircraft to conceal them as well as possible.
Sni'ktl had had little time to mentally prepare himself. He hadn't been comfortable in the Jetcopter, his legs tangled together with his ammo bag and the specimen jar he carried mushroom spores in. The only place for his new rifle was down his back, no wonder his abdomen and shoulders ached now. He was pleased to have left his stunstick and the mushrooms in the ammo bag in the jetcopter along with all but two spare needle clips.
After securing the landing site the team fan out to begin their search. Suddenly you hear loud shrieking sounds. A large number of Human sized, two legged, lizard like creatures are running toward you, screaming, and attempting to beat you!
Seeing the lizard creatures running toward the group startles xZot into drawing his stunstick in an almost reflex action. Then, remembering that they were here on a diplomatic mission, he drops his weapon to a defensive position and adopts a passive posture. Signalling to the rest of the group to not attack unless they are attacked first, xZot, with Sni'ktl's help, will attempt to communicate with the advancing creatures.
As the lizardlings charge Sni'ktl waits with a doze grenade in one hand and a tangler in the other.
"Hey perhaps they only want to give us a group hug" he suggests.
When it becomes apparent that the attackers don't seem interested in the diplomatic approach Siu-Ling is first to react, hurling a dose grenade in the direction of the pack but the missile lands behind the charging humanoids to no effect. Seeing the primitive lizard men Raid quickly tosses a dose grenade into the advancing lizard men dropping one of them. Then, after yelling loudly to attract their attention, he flicks on his holoscreen and vanishes from sight in front of their eyes.
"These primitive types could be superstitious," he reasons. "Hopefully I will scare them."
Con steadied his laser rifle in a position as to not incite the lizard men to attack but to give the team a chance to make first contact peacefully, ready to protect the team if need be. As the enforcer carefully watches the scene unfold, Con has one thought in the back of his mind, not to let the team down. Reluctantly the warrior squeezes off a blast from his laser rifle hoping to scare away the advancing primitives.
Crisbel joins the fray, wounding one of the lizard men with his first rifle beam (23 points) before the creatures hurl a volley of stone tipped spears at the rough skirmish line formed by the military members of the team. All but xZot and Sni'ktl receive minor cuts from spears that barely manage to penetrate skien suits
"Look out!" remarks Sni'ktl as he hurls his dose grenade, dropping it into the advancing charge bringing down another humanoid.
Failing a diplomatic approach xZot will respond accordingly using his stunstick, set on stun, in a close quarters situation.
"Take me to your leader!" bellows xZot in his best attempt at a local dialect as he closes to melee the creatures.
"We need to proceed with caution and tact with the Mechanons, but this looks like a good time to get my laser pistol set at 2 and attack." Gleep suggests as he wounds another of their opponents (10 points). Opting for the non lethal option Gloo draws his sonic stunner, firing at point blank range when the nearest lizard man raises it's spear. Gloo imitates a human smile when the creature drops before realizing his pistol clip is empty.
Raid activates his stunstick on the non-lethal setting and prepares to defend himself. Raid continues to yell during the melee, both to avoid being hit by his friends and to frighten the lizard men. Despite the added weight of both technical packs Raid manages to close, land a blow and knock down another of the lizard like humanoids.
Con turns up the heat and empties his clip, drilling a hole through the leg of his nearest attacker (35 points) as Crisbel wounds another one (27 points) with his second successive shot. xZot lashes out again with his stunstick striking his target but the creature merely steps back and shakes it's head clear.
GleepGlooup continues blazing away with his pistol but having little success in the close quarters fighting while Gloo reloads his stunner. Seeing that the skirmish line was about to be overrun, Siu-Ling draws both pistols and in a blaze of laser fire, drops one of the wounded lizardmen with three out of four shots (60 points). With everyone now engaged by the humanoids several more minor cuts and abrasions are inflicted on the team. Although only Con and Gloo are unprotected by skien suits, Siu-Ling is starting to expose quite a bit of flesh as her suit almost disintegrates, only threads holding it together. Sni'ktl tries throwing a tangler into a pack of the creatures but the device rolls clear through the melee and explodes harmlessly several meters behind the fight.
Determined not to let his team down, Con goes onto the offensive, dropping his empty rifle he draws his machete and wades into the attack, his first blow slicing into a lizardman shoulder (17 points). Raid moves to support Con's charge but disappointed he realizes the extra weight he is carrying is definitely affecting his combat ability and fails to hit with his stunstick. Gleep finally looks like getting the hang of close quarter pistoleering, shooting his attacker twice in the belly (21 points).
When Siu-Ling dispatches one of the humanoids and wounds another with her next withering blast of fire, it's the turning point for the natives who turn and flee back toward the tree line. Ordering a cease fire, xZot turns to his science officers and indicating toward the stunned lizard men.
"Get your samples quickly, we're not hanging around for another attack." Turning back to the rest of the team he orders the security officers forward to search the scrub around the mound. Along the side of the mound there is a large pile of common rocks, possibly the remains of a rock- slide. A quick study of the area by the environmentalists confirms the suspicion and xZot orders the excavation of the area. After about one hour the team clears the debris from the entranceway. Once the debris is cleared away, the party can see a corridor leading to a large metal door. The corridor is littered with rocks and mud all the way to the door.
Heading down the corridor a distance of eight meters Raid reaches the large metal door. The door fills the entire wall in front of Him. It has no visible hinges and its metallic surface is studded with glowing yellow crystals.
While the team is finishing off the excavation of the area, Gloo decides that now would be the only time he'll have a chance to get his gear together. The dralasite trooper goes back to jetcopter thinking aloud.
"This will teach me for paying too much attention on the supplies instead of myself, way to go stupid." He grabs his bag of gear and puts on the civskeinsuit and a power backpack then takes a stunstick and 4 powerclips from the cargo bay. He then notices his extra pocket tool, "Why do i have this? Oh well..." and tosses it into the helo. Gloo then checks to see all the gear is ready (laser rifle set on 5, pistol on 5) then rejoins the group as they head toward the newly uncovered door.
Meanwhile the rest of the team asses the situation. Crisbel looks at the dozed lizards, shaking his head in frustration.
"Is there anything on this cursed rock that isn't trying to eat us?" There was no greater sensation than a copter ride with the wind at your mane Crisbel ponders quietly. Gathering his things, the yazirian leaves the first jetcopter, remembering the sensation of his feet dangling out the side door.
Covering her more supple and distinctively gender revealing areas with her vest, Siu-Ling wonders if anyone might have a new skeinsuit.
"xZot!" She waits until the yazirian is finished delegating and asks him, "Requesting permission to bind and muzzle one of the dozed lizardlings and take him with us when he comes to." xZot nods in approval when approached by SiuLing,
"Remember, treat our captive with some respect. I don't want anyone who sees us thinking the wrong thing. We need allies, not more enemies. One thing that might be a problem would be if it starts screaming when it comes around, we won't need that sort of attention. Are you sure you be able to control the creature?"
"Not a problem, Commander," Siu-Ling assures the yazirian. "At the first sign of danger, I'll let it go."
"Crisbel may well be right, although my analysis so far has failed to isolate Volturnus's eat all strangers gene." reports Sni'ktl. "The species engineered by the Eorna seem to have had that one edited out. Hopefully the Mechanons are the same. I really can't say much about these Iguana Erectus as I've classified them, without more data. I'll report back when I've studied Siu Ling's live sample. Let me know if there is any communication with the Mechanons. Perhaps they have an intercom installed in the door? Hello door, we were hoping to chat with Mr. and Mrs. Mechanon, are they home?"
Con stands by with his smoking laser rifle resting on his shoulder as he surveys the site, keeping an eye out for any lizard men who may be looking for an opportunity to jump one of them from behind. When all seems fine he offers his length of rope to Siu-Ling so she can secure her prisoner.
"Thanks, brother," she smiles. "Want to help me secure this guy?" She finishes binding the captive, then produces a tasty morsel, placing it on a rock near the Iguana erectus (genus capitalized, species lower-case) and waiting for it to come to.
The enforcer thinks to himself, "So much for coming in peace. Forming an alliance with the locals to drive of the Sathar will not be easy." Once Con is confident that none of the lizard men are a threat to the party he slings his rifle over his shoulder and joins the rest of the team over by the door. Turning to xZot,
"Oh great, another door. I wonder what kind of nasties are on the other side." With that Con readies his weapon for combat.
"They may be nasty, Con, but they are nasties we are trying to get working with us. Might be best to be ready, but not threatening." GleepGlooup replies.
"Amen to that Reverend. For once I would like the words 'We come in peace' not to be followed by combat. Diplomatic training might come in useful here." Con quips.
"Diplomacy eh? Mechanons hmmm..." Sni'ktl mumbles mechanically and fingers the small can of gun oil found in the but of his needle rifle, presumably there for arcane (to Sni'ktl) maintenance rituals. From what little the Eorna had told Sni'ktl about the Mechanons, the needle rifle would have to be a fool's choice of a weapon. Sni'ktl smiles to himself. That and the small oil sample makes it the diplomat's choice. Sni'ktl continues humming in that way only Vrusks can, hoping it will ease him into the mechanonistic mindset. He looks forward to offering lubaceous greeting to their hosts.
Raid checks his toxy-rad gauge, sets down the heavy techkit about two meters from the door, and begins a thorough security inspection with the help of his commander and fellow technician.
After hearing Raid's report on the large metal door, xZot heads down the passage to provide assistance. He scans the walls and door for indications on its operation he looks for tell-tale signs of wear that might indicate a control panel. Then, removing his goggles, xZot allows his sensitive eyes to adjust to the surrounds in a effort to locate some anomaly that might be the key they need.
Satisfied that there are no traps, and when xZot gives the word, Raid sets to work on opening the door. He carefully examines the glowing studs as well as the door's apparent outline, even running geoscans on the various materials at hand.
"I don't like the look of those crystals in the door" the Commander says. "Try and remove them before we open the door, just in case." Raids nods and turns back to the door. As soon as he attempts to pry the first piece from the door with a pair of needle nose pliers, laser beams shoot out from all the stones. Raids gasps in pain and the suddenness of the blasts (18 points), falling back away from the door.
Having seen the device operate at close range, xZot is able to quickly remove the rest of the crystals whilst remaining outside the field of fire. As he pries loose the last piece of crystal the door slides open automatically.
Once the door is open, xZot reminds everyone of their objectives and signals for everyone to take their positions. Motioning for the group to enter the complex and while he hopes for a friendly greeting, xZot activates his albedo screen as a precautionary measure. Raid picks the techkit back up and continues to lug it around along with the other kits.
"Don't mind me," he says. "I'm sure that these tools will be worth the extra sweat. Hopefully we will be finished here and flying off into the sunset before the day is over."
"Abandon all hope ye who enter here" Gloo mutters. "So what are the orders on confronting these bots we are supposed to make nice with? Shall we try to make contact first or just run roughshod through the place?"
"Remember guys, we are here to enlist help. Don't go shooting the Mechanons." With that, Gleep makes sure his pistol is put away and prepares to surrender if necessary so peaceful negotiations can take place.
With xZot's blessings, Siu-Ling binds and otherwise restrains the apparently male Iguana Erectus. Waiting for it to come to, she surveys the landscape, ensuring her safety under Zebulon's light. The Volturnian sky bears a few stormclouds near the southern horizon, a prelude to the impending sathar invasion that gives the human a jittery feeling in her abdomen.
"Huh?" she turns around thinking the groggy captive had grumbled. With a soothing voice, she speaks in a human dialect, since it's unlikely that the Iguana erectus has a fluent command of Pan-Gal.
"Easy, easy there, tread softly, friend." The words appear to have no impact on the creature, though her soft tone communicates no hostility. Offering the native Volturnian a bite of ground japnar-xi, she hopes that the Iguana Erectus will not attempt to harm the hand that feeds her. The creature however fails to respond, the effects of the stun grenades still to wear off. Having given up on befriending the Iguana erectus, Siu-Ling releases the animal's ankles and follows the crew inside the mechanon compound. Siu-Ling creeps along the corridors of the mechanon facility, following the sounds of her teammates, not far ahead.
Con pulled out of the way of the laser blasts directed at Raid. Giving his equipment one last check before going in Con announces.
"Boss, I'll walk point for a while if you don't mind. How's your body speak, by the way?" Siu-Ling overhears as she decreases the distance between herself and her company. Her footsteps have surely given her position away, given the crew's sudden silence.
"It's me, guys," she sets their suspicions to rest, expressing her change of heart once she'd had a closer look at the animal's proportionally miniscule skull. "I'd rather train a chillasaur to sit up and beg," she adds.
Raid nurses his most recent wounds and steps inside, picking up the heavy techkit once the door is opened. His main concern is watching out for automated security systems.
Entering the corridor xZot looks to his left and right at the closed doors that greet the group. Turning to the south xZot moves into position as the rest of the group moves in behind him. Checking the wall and door for an access panel xZot sets his mind to work trying to bypass the locks and security. When the door opens xZot gazes through the doorway, his albedo screen activated and his stunstick, set to stun, at the ready.
As the team pass through the doorway into the corridor running right and left in front a strange, rather loud humming sound, such as might be made by some large machine can be heard. The corridor itself is illuminated with a blue glow which seems to come from blue crystals which are embedded in the corridor wall randomly.
At a distance of 4 to 6 meters off to the south, you see an alien machine on tracks. It has four metallic limbs which seem capable of extension. It is moving toward you slowly. As it approaches, it gives off strange rhythmic electronic sounds, which might be some knd of music.
"It's a security robot!" xZot declares confidently "I think it's trying to tell us to leave." he continues over the sounds produced by the alien construction. "It looks like a low tech model, I'm going to try shutting it down. Cover me." The young yazirian commands as he dashes forward with his electrodriver.
Con and the dralasites bring their weapons to bear, covering their leader as Raid once again vanished from sight under the cover of his holoscreen. Crisbel turns to cover the northern approach as Sni'ktl loiters nervously amongst the group, urging Siu-Ling to catch up.
As xZot dives toward what appears to be the access panel for the security bot, the machine raises several of it's limbs and begins firing with a gyrojet weapon concealed in one of its left arms. It's first shot misses Cons head by centimetres, the big human not even flinching as he deliberately holds fire to avoid injuring his commander.
"Whew, so far so good!" xZot mutters as he whips off the access panel. Then before the robot or anyone else can fire a shot, xZot instinctively flicks a switch and the security bot stops dead in the middle of the corridor. Proud of his apparent ease at overcoming the alien technology, xZot stands up and turns to smile at his charges. The commander signals for Con to continue on point as the team move to the southern door and the technicians conduct a security sweep of the door panel.
As the sliding door opens, you see before you a huge hexagonal room. The room is 12 meters across. There is another door directly across the room from you.
On the nothwest side of the room is a large computer bank. Two bizarre looking machines that appear to be robots are seated in front of this computer bank, performing various functions. The robots have heads made of three large green crystals which jut out of their metallic bodies. Each has one limb plugged directly into a socket in the computer bank, while another limb at the back of the machine hangs free. This free limb has extensor like fingers on the end. It is not immediately apparent how these machines move, if they move at all.
To you left are three television type screens which show pictures of various areas of Volturnus. On one screen you see an aerial view of the ruins of Volkos. A second screen shows what is left of Slave City One, and the third appears to be scanning deep space. Three more of the robot-like machines sit in front of each screen. In the center of the room is a large metal table wth six small stools arranged around it. The walls of the room are covered with maps. Some of the maps you immediately recognize as being sections of Volturnus. All the maps are covered with strange lines, arrows, and other symbols. As you stand in the doorway the strange machines turn toward you.
Con wipes the sweat from his forehead after the robots head shot just misses
"Time to change my draws."
Crisbel turns to cover the northern approach as Sni'ktl loiters nervously amongst the group, urging Siu-Ling to catch up
"Coming!" Siu-Ling unslings her rifle and prepares to add logistical support to the operation at hand. "You sure you can disable it before it disables you?" she asks her membraned accomplice. Raid takes a few minutes to attempt reprogramming the security bot.
"I'm certain that this isn't one of the mechanons. They probably view these simple low tech robots as we view animals. If we can successfully reprogram a robot, we may actually be giving proof of our intelligence to the mechanons." Raid pauses. "Isolated societies such as the mechanons sometimes exhibit an overwhelming sense of racial superiority over outsiders. Showing them that we are intelligent may be just as, or more important, than being friendly. If we just act friendly they may treat us like we would treat a stray cat or dog that came begging for food."
A quick examination of the robot determines that the robot can't speak. Raid leaves the access panel off and taps at the key pad, listing the alien robots functions.
"It's mission is to prevent any non robot from entering the War Room." Raid reads off the keypad "Prevent, is defined as ordering to halt, and then firing with a gyrojet weapon if the warning does not work. Non robot is defined as any being who does not give the standard Mechanon recognition signal when approaching within 4 meters of the door."
Raid shakes his head at the prospect of re-programming the robot via key pad. It could take several minutes and speed is now of the essence, having successfully breached the Mechanons outer defences.
"Well at least it looks like Commander xZot switched the sentry off before he sounded the alarm" he smiles at his companions.
As the techies go about their task of reprograming the 'bots, Con keeps his weapon ready in case the techies come under attack. Keeping in mind the nature of the mission, he will not fire unless any member of the party are in certain danger.
As you stand in the doorway the strange machines turn toward you.
Keeping the barrel of her weapon pointed at the floor, Siu-Ling allows xZot and the others to enter first, covering their persons with a keen eye and quick reflexes. She studies each of the mechanical entities, looking for sensory organs and weak spots in their frames, should hostilities ensue.
"Guess we won't be bribing them with japnar-xi chunks," she mentally notes.
"I'm moving around the left to try and deactivate one." Raid whispers. Under cover of the holoscreen, Raid moves into the room on the left flank hoping to quickly shut down one of the robots.
Sni'ktl had been experimenting with attenuating his aereolic humming, to the humming of the mechanon complex when the door opened. Seeing the surveillance equipment and the chairs, Sni'ktl sums up his first feelings
"Looks like we're expected" he says. He steps forward and repeat a series some of the more resounding hums. He pours some oil on his hand to show how pro machine he is feeling today and steps up to the chairs. "Well it doesn't look like these other fellows will be needing these seats he says." Sni'ktl sits down and scritches.
Gleep softly, yet firmly (Dralasite joke on word meanings) says to the team
"These might be the Mechanons and besides, we don't need a big fight to deplete us in the face of an impending invasion." He slowly puts his pistol away, hoping the rest follow, and that they don't get shot at. Remembering an old saying, Gleep quips,
"Discretion is the better part of a dollar, whatever that may mean."
"They must be more sophisticated" Raid comments "I can't classify them, the crystals look like an integral part of the machine." xZot also shakes his head unable to offer any advice or hints from his own limited experience with the alien technology.
Signalling to everyone to hold back from any attempt to attack the robots for the moment. xZot steps into the room nodding agreement with Sni'ktl's observation that we were expected. Slowly holstering his stunstick xZot moves toward the table. Casting his eyes around the room and back to the table xZot looks for signs of a data entry panel or some other electronic means to communicate with our 'hosts', preferring to leave vocal attempts to communicate to the more refined skills that Sni'ktl employs. If there are signs of a hostile response, then xZot is ready to draw his pistol and defend
himself, indicating to the others to respond accordingly. While the boss is trying to make peaceful contact, Con watches his back just in case trouble rears its ugly head.
When the robots detect the team's entry into the room they immediately attempt to move at fast speed through the nearest unblocked door, avoiding team members wherever possible. Raid is unable to intercept any of the robots before they reach the doorway in the far side of the room ahead of him.
Seconds later, the team is left standing in a room devoid of robots and surrounded by the bizarre alien technology of the Mechanons.
Upon entering doorway Gloo turns around and covers the rear of the group, hiding behind the east side doorway using as much cover as possible. With his laser rifle at the ready but aimed low, Gloo covers the door at the north end of hall.
"Well commander I'm guessing those bots that fled aren't exactly rushing to get to see who gets their oil bath first, better get communication established quickly before they start takin pot shots at us, and the only diplomacy I know involves aggressive negotiations with this here laser rifle."
xZot tries to hide the dismayed look on his face as he watches the robots whiz past the group and out the door.
"Well," he starts to speak but is truly lost for what to say next, "Uhhm, I guess we should have a look around while they arrange the welcoming party." xZot flashes a wry smile.
"I'll bet they have a grasp of the indigenous languages, so we should try using the polyvoxs with one of those languages first, my guess is to use eorna first." Gloo opines.
Gleep moves to try and determine which device might be internal communications, hoping to operate it and establish communications with the Mechanon through their own technology.
"Good idea Gleep." Raid comments. "I'll provide any assistance that I can. This looks like eorna technology. I wonder if we could radio the eorna and ask them how to operate their old system? Unless the mechanons have since made their own modifications." Raid considers the possibility. "And what do we do if nobody answers?"
"If this is a surviving military installation from when the sathar attacked the first time," adds Gloo "these 'bots should have some idea of who the Sathar are and what type of threat they pose." Then Gloo adds meekly "I hope." And thinks of an old song once heard with the lines. "We come in peace...shoot to kill, shoot to kill, we come in peace, shoot to kill men." That's pretty much how things have been since coming to this desolate ball of rock.
Motioning to the other Techies to start analysing the equipment xZot turns to Raid or at least where xZot thinks Raid is under the holoscreen),
"Raid, can you do a quick recon down the corridor after our run-away robots to find out what direction the passage goes and how far? At the speed those 'bots were travelling I don't expect you'll catch up but be careful. Con, you and Crisbel follow Raid just in case he needs support, the rest of us will give this room the once over to see what we can learn.
"Aye Sir." Says Con. After a quick check of his equipment, he follows Raid down the corridor. "Hopefully these jokers will continue to ignore us long enough to decide they want to help us out." After hearing xZot's desire to take a less aggressive approach, Raid decides it would be more prudent to wait for specific orders before trying to deactivate anymore robots.
"It might be wise to limit our 'com usage as it is probably being eavesdropped." xZot continues, realizing what he is saying he scoffs. "Not that they don't already know we're here!" he laughs and continues "If there is no sign of them coming back after we have all finished, we'll follow them."
"Doesn't look like there are any radio devices here Sir!" GleepGlooup reports. "Looks like computer interfaces mainly, they probably have infra red or microwave comms for the 'bots. Or maybe more crystal tech."
"Siu-Ling, can you work on barricading the door we came in from?" xZot orders "We'll still need to be able to get out but I don't want anything else coming in around behind us when we move out."
Indicating for everyone to get to their tasks xZot turn to one of the computers. Seeing Sni'ktl standing there he couldn't resist the jibe.
"Hey Snik, watch you don't slip over in all that oil! Who said that vrusk don't have a sense of humour, I didn't even think there was such a job as a sexual aid for robots!" Chuckling heartily he turns back to the job at hand and listens to the oil drip in the background.
When Raid returns from his short recon he finds Siu-Ling, Gleep and Gloo standing around a frowning xZot. The commander had not moved from the mechanon seat in front of the central display monitor. Looking up a Raid's return xZot announces,
"Well it's got me buggered! Definitely the most advanced piece of technology I've ever seen, way beyond me." Raid just nods over his shoulder
"Did you find the off switch?" Raid quips light heartedly and equally casually the commander answers.
"Nope! Alright maggots, we're done here. Let's move out!"
As the patrol proceeds down the corridor after the 'bots, xZot muses aloud, "I think we should check the door in the corridor to the north before continuing on further."
"I'll go," Siu-Ling promptly offers, cautiously turning the handle as she listens for any sudden movement beyond the threshold before stepping into the next room or corridor. "Be ready with meds," she nervously jokes as she tilts her chin towards Sni'ktl.
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