Ecstatic from the thrill of a great ride in the Great Game, Siu-Ling ushers her Tomar's horse to the water, gasping for breath as her diaphragm spasms with enthusiasm. Nounouche's pace slows to a halt at the pool's edge, whereupon he lowers his head and drinks freely of the mineral rich water. Siu-Ling dismounts, still gasping and smiling, her eyes two sickles of delight, and pats Nounouche once or twice before bending her knees slightly and resting her hands on her thighs as her team-mates approach. Within seconds, the pool is a splashfest of muddy beasts and still cheerful Volturnians and Frontiersmen.
Con rushes to Boro,
"Way to finish, brother!" Says Con, as if he assisted on an overtime goal in game seven of the Port Loren Cup finals. Con continues, "I was hoping you wouldn't drop the ball. We caught them off guard."
"Whoowee, Boro, when they said you were thorough, I thought they meant the other thing, budding or whatever they're calling it nowadays," Siu-Ling says. "Year of Borovski Getmeov!" she raises her tournament spear in ceremonial fashion, stimulating the collective reply of most of Athru's tribe with their own spears in the air and their best approximation of the dralasite's name.
Raid congratulates Boro with a hearty pat on the part of his dralasite body that looks most like a back. He then leads his mount to the water hole beside Nounouche. As the tired creature drinks, Raid splashes some water up to clean the wound left by the sandshark's teeth on his leg.
"It's not too bad, luckily. Quickdeath jaws, pirate knives, sonic crystals, flame throwing slugs, laser traps, nipping sandsharks..." Raid looks at the growing number of battle scars on his body. "What next?" He wonders aloud.
Once the lopers have settled down, Siu-Ling retrieves her friend and steed from the waters with a firm whistle. Her next priority will be to feed him, and then the rest of the group. Leading the jackal-horse by its reins, she passes Athru's loper and extends her arm up, allowing the patriarch's ninth tentacle to attach itself to her spine.
"It has been an honour, Brother under the One, to play among the True Warriors among us," she conveys before their brief contact is terminated and the human blinks.
"Come on, Bébé," she trots along with Nounouche, adrenaline still pumping through her system, and takes the galloping animal to a trough filled with grain and a protein meal the Ul-Mor call "Schwah'ya." Seeing a pair of young Ul-Mor carrying a long spear with several spitter corpses hanging therefrom, she looks forward to a good, nightly feast before the urgency of the moment recalls them to the lands where edestekai now roam free of Star Devil's tyranny.
Raid lets Siu-Ling handle the diplomatic issues again as he prepares the explorer for a return journey. He participates, but remains quiet, in the Ul-Mor celebrations that follow the game. Later in the evening, he tries contacting someone back at Mawson's Rest via radiophone to report the good news and check in.
Before leaving the Craterlands Gloo goes to the birds body and plucks some feathers to present to the Kurabanda.
"Well here's yet another thing that tried to kill us, at least it won't be bothering anyone else."
With the team succeeding in their mission to recover the artefact xZot, who is very anxious to leave the area, gets his things together for the trip back to the 'copter.
"I am sick of the gasses around here. My side are aching, my stomach is sore. The only good thing is that I have made up for all those bad jokes that I didn't laugh at!" Another old joke comes to mind that sets xZot cackling away again. "Two Drals walk into a bar...".
Sn'iktl wonders how the humans and Borovski have managed on their mission and basks vicariously in the fact that it was a Vrusk who retrieved the Kurabanda idol.
"Ah my little babies," he mutters "you need not fear for anything. Sni'kl-pop will look after you." Sn'iktl croons gently as he checks the temperature of the two eggs wrapped up warm in his blanket. xZot's squad board the jetcopters with their guide and travel until dusk before making camp for the night.
After making their way back, xZot sets to work preparing a meal as a makeshift camp is thrown up around the Jetcopter.
"Sp'ock, can you organize the watch roster for tonight? We don't want to become complacent about this place. I don't want any surprises."
"Of course Commander," the X-O replies
Later that evening Gloo looks up at the stars during his spell on watch, thinking of the past and present and wondering of the future. Remembering an old slogan from somewhere
"It's not just a job, it's an adventure." he mutters quietly to himself. Grateful that there are no more problems xZot and the team load up the 'copters and heads back to the Kurabanda village first thing in the morning.
At Auramada's village they present the Kurabanda Chieftain, with the artefact and confirm his support in the defence of Volturnus
"There are dark times ahead for us all and we must all face them together if we are to succeed." xZot reminds the Chief and his council. Gloo hands over the feathers to the king.
"That was one demon who wont be bothering your people again." Then he heads back to the jetcopter to sleep while waiting for the other team members. Whilst Gloo is in no mood for any celebrations, xZot is always ready for another feast and Sn'iktl talked incessantly about the cultural intricacies of Kurabanda celebrations on the return journey.
At the festivities that evening Auramada agrees to meet them for the battle with the Sathar, bringing his warriors and their hang gliders which can be used for special attacks on enemy units.
Frontier Date 62.396Pf +104
The next morning xZot's squad mounts up again and heads back to Mawson's Rest. Later that same day Raid's squad arrives back at the former pirate outpost.
Gloo grabs the powerpacks that need recharging and charges them after the vehicles have been fully refuelled. Gloo walks up to xZot "Well the things needing charging are done. But it may help the team to see that those still injured get looked at, cause who knows what the Edestekai will want us to do for them. If your not needing anything else I'm off for some sleep." Gloo then heads off to get some more rest.
After a debriefing session that brings everyone up to date with both missions xZot decides to take several days R&R to allow the medical team an opportunity to assess the health of the team members and also give team members time to brush up on new skills. xZot and Raid spend most of that time in the garage tinkering with engines, robots and other mechanical contraptions and Siu-Ling continues to enhance her extraordinary ability with energy weapons. Sn'iktl begins work on his one man adaptation of "The History of the Civilization of the Vrusk Collective" despite the almost complete lack of an appreciative audience within several dozen light years.
Frontier Date 62.394Pf +106
Two days later xZot announces the team for the Edestekai mission. All the usual suspects report for duty again with Mr Sp'ock insisting on joining the mission. The attentions of the Eorna medical staff have returned the entire Black Hand Gang to one hundred percent fitness. With xZot and Raid at the controls of the Jetcopters, the Gang head north to Brucebane.
Several hours later they arrive safely at the Edestekai village, the Edestekai approach them, forming a circle about them. Then the Edestekai will begin singing and dancing, while waving and clicking their limbs in their peculiar way. An Edestekai priest throws a handful of grain at the feet of the new arrivals.
"This ritual is the traditional welcome for strangers." Sn'iktl informs everyone from his research. "The newcomers are expected to sing and dance in return. If they do not, the Edestekai will be greatly offended."
"Then you better start dancin'" growls OMAC, but Sn'iktl didn't need OMAC's encouragement. Before he'd even finished explaining the ritual Sn'iktl was clicking and shuffling and waving arms and legs about as he attempts to imitate the triangular patterns of the Edestekai song and dance routine.
When the ritual is complete Sn'iktl inquires about meeting the High Priest and is directed to a temple official. He agrees to arrange an audience for the Frontiersmen in the supreme temple of Edesti. Upon arriving at the temple, xZot's people are directed in the Ritual of Purification by a temple official. This ritual must be performed by anyone who wants an audience with the High Priest. The persons to see the High Priest must make a donation to the temple, and then bathe in a specially prepared water and oil mixture. Finally, black ashes are smeared on the body as a sign of submission to the High Priest's authority.
The temple official then instructs them to state their business clearly, and very politely, when they meet the High Priest. They are then led by a temple official into the centre of a unique outdoor structure, the Crystal Stonehenge. The structure is made entirely of crystals that constantly reflect sun and moonlight, splashing rainbows of colour in all directions. The High Priest is standing in the centre of the circle of crystals, facing you. After a slight pause he speaks
"We have heard from the Messengers of the Gods that you were coming, and were ordered to listen carefully to all that you say. You may speak."
When xZot has finished their explanation and request for an alliance to combat the Sathar, the High Priest signals for his counsellors to enter and stand around him. After talking with them, the High Priest turns to face the player characters.
"We have listened carefully, yet it is difficult to believe that we should fight alongside god-killers, such as the Ul-Mor, in any battle. Now hear our decision: We will fight by your side only after you have proved that you are worthy of our trust and are blessed by the gods. To do this, you must perform a quest for our Temple."
At this point, the High Priest gestures to the sides, and four Edestekai enter the area, bearing something covered by a large gold-colored cloth. At the High Priest's signal the cloth is removed to reveal the body of a quickdeath.
"As you see," he says, "the spirit of the god of justice has left this body and now inhabits another. You must bring us another such creature, whole and alive with the spirit of the god of justice. If you do so, then we will do as you ask and join this alliance."
The High Priest turns and walks away, indicating that the audience is ended.
During the two day R&R period Gloo uses his free time to look over the inventory and notes any changes while the rest of the team heal. Looking at the remaining jet fuel he wonders about making expedient incendiary weapons.
"Maybe there's some empty containers in the mess I can use for this?" Gloo says to nobody in particular. "Well maybe later and when there's more time." He then wanders over to the techs as they are tinkering with the robots "Any of these going to be ready soon? We still have some weaponry we can arm them with. Anyway boss I was wondering about the use of that maintenance bot. Is it capable of carrying the recoilless rifle ammo for whomever is going to use it? Might as well use it as a pack horse." Then Gloo goes and starts cleaning and checking over ids weapons. OMAC joins the dralasite later that day to help fit the robot with a pack to carry ammunition and a sheath to carry the recoilless rifle.
"Not much point me lugging this thing around when we got this here jumped up vacuum cleaner can do it for me!"
For the remainder of the evening Gloo is to stunned to reply to OMAC's veritable monologue. The human warrior having barely spoken more than two syllables at any one time since their descent to the plate's surface.
The next morning at the Edestekai village after meeting the Edestekai head honcho the team react to the latest proposal. Siu-Ling rolls her eyes, but remains quiet this time, as her blood-sugar is much more stable than it was back in the mechanon complex. Allowing xZot to speak on behalf of the group, her eyes dart back and forth, impressed by the tripartite isometry characteristic of this species' anatomy and architecture.
Con begins to go through the check list to prepare for the next mission.
"Playing the Great Game one minute, staring down death the next. What a life!" Con puts the image of the BHG's life being the stuff of cheap holonovels and knows what is in store for The Gang once the Sathar arrive.
"Another quickdeath!" Raid thinks to himself. "The one creature on this planet I don't mind killing, and now we have to keep it alive!"
"I'm with you on that, brother," Siu-Ling tilts her head and whispers to Raid. "Wonder what Volturnus'll look like in 10 years if they keep bringing more. Good thing they can't reproduce," she adds, assuming this of most cyborgs and sathar attack monsters.
xZot listens to the discussions around him as he contemplates the Gang's next move.
"Well, we've already done the impossible by getting the other races to agree to a work together, catching a quickdeath should be a breeze." Sarcasm drips from xZot's mouth as he rolls his eyes under his goggles.
"We did see a quickdeath in a pit at the Sathar artefact, maybe we could try a similar technique to catch another one? We could go to an area that we think has a quickdeath roaming around, dig a big hole and see if we can catch it."
Raid considers the quickdeath's place in the Volturnian ecosystem and wonders how many native species may have been destroyed or displaced by the introduction of this sathar attack monster. The DNA evidence gathered by himself and Sn'iktl only seemed to confirm the theory that the quickdeath was indeed an introduced species, most likely genetically enhanced by the sathar to make it into a deadly predator.
"How many doze grenades do we have, and how many might it take?" GleepGlooup asks "We might need to do a little damage first to lower resistance, but I suggest we avoid blades and bullets to keep down the obvious damage.
Raid listens to Gleep and then gestures at the jetcopters nearby.
"Right, but let's do this from a safe distance above the ground and at a time and place of our choosing. We'll make the rules this time."
xZot continues contemplating previous encounters in an effort to highlight positive lessons "Tangler grenades didn't seem very effective last time, the quickdeath just tore the tangler treads apart. The creatures speed makes it difficult to use most non lethal weapons but Dozing it might work if the quickdeath is contained in a small area. Maybe we can rig up a booby trap using stunsticks or something like that?" xZot struggles to find other 'viable' options as he looks around the group as others offer their suggestions.
"If we 'soften' the creature up a bit with a few blasts from a sonic disruptor we might get a better opportunity to subdue it. Sni'ktl, do you have anything to tranquillize the creature if we can confined it?"
Upon hearing the councils request Gloo represses the urge to say aloud
"Would you like us to give it a bath and wax job while were at it?" Gloo now totally unable to be surprised by the indigenous population turns and leaves. It can't be that hard if these people can do it but I wonder how many of them die in the attempt?"
The dralasite quartermaster sits in the helo and ponders the problem. Taking out the inventory of supplies and looking it over to see what could be used in capturing a quickdeath
"Whole and alive," he mutters to himself again "just how whole and alive does it have to be?" he wonders aloud. Overhearing Gleep asking about doze grenades Gloo looks up from his inventory and adds
"Well we have 8 in inventory not counting any on personnel, I couldn't tell you how many we need to put one of them things out. One of the enviro techs will have to answer that." He looks questioningly at Sni'ktl and Raid before continuing "We have a problem with that though. Them things are some fast movers so it would have to be contained in an area to give the grenades maximum effect, like a big tiger trap for instance. The grenades would all have to go off at once so the demo techs will have to rig a remote detonation system in a satchel like charge." Gloo looks around and adds "We also need to figure how we plan to move this 'kitty' once we have it. We will have to secure the tentacles, legs and muzzle the thing. And let the peanut folks over there worry how to undo it. There's also the problem we have of finding one first."
"Not necessarily," puts in Sni'ktl "we know at least one place where quickdeath's can be found. The Place of True Warriors." xZot groans but nods in agreement.
"We've definitely got better things to do than traipse around the planet looking for a stray quickdeath. Sni'ktl's right, we'll head to the scene of our first encounter with Volturnus' favourite son and see how lucky we are." He finishes smiling thinly to his companions. xZot takes a final look at his list of assignments, checking off the names. Sp'ock, Sni'ktl, Raid, Siu-Ling, Gleep, Gloo & Con.
"I would have liked to take Crisbel but if the space is limited, he may have to stay behind this time." Mr Sp'ock nods his thanks to his commander at being included in the mission assignments and heads over to take his seat beside Raid in the second jetcopter.
Siu-Ling reports to xZot before the jetcopter takes off.
"Ready to go, Commander." With the Great Game over, and Nounouche safely corralled back at the compound, she takes a look back at the Edestekai elite's and imitates one of their triptych gestures as best as she can. "Good time to be a dralasite," she thinks, wishing she had a third arm right about now.
The Black Hand Gang make their final preparations before take off, leaving the Edestekai village in search of their prey. Gloo looks back at the inventory sheet and goes back to thinking about the task ahead. Sni'ktl remembers back to recent weeks when he thanked the Eorna technicians back at their city for the evaluation of suggested modifications to a clip of dose darts for his needle rifle.
"I'd hoped to get some needle clips converted to doze clips but it looks like Eorna weapons technology is quite different to Frontier weapons tech." The vrusk recalls with a hint of depression. "We me may even be more advanced than they in the art of war." He adds sadly to xZot as he hands in his needler rifle for redistribution.
"Maybe if there are more of these rifles we could. I wouldn't give up totally on conventional weaponry though. My analysis of the quickdeaths suggests that we will need to beat one frequently and severely before it is likely to succumb to doze technology. Perhaps you should give this rig to someone with an eye for it. I remember what happened last time I thought I had a quickdeath in my sights." Sni'ktl then makes an excuse and hurries off to check on his bigus birdus hatchlings.
"At least we're alive to tell the tale," Siu-Ling replies, remembering the recent incident with a sigh.
"If this is viable then I think Siu-Ling has the best chance of hitting the creature and should get the rifle." xZot muses aloud
"I'm not very good with PGS weapons." Siu-Ling answers "I'm a beam weapons kind of girl." She smiles coyly. Gloo listens to the needler rifle idea and shakes ids pseudohead.
"Uh, guys I seem to recall OMAC firing an autopistol at a quickdeath who had stuffed me in its mouth, and it didn't do a heck of a whole lot then, so I doubt a needler can penetrate that hide it has. We can try, but I doubt it will work. We have two needler rifles. We also have plenty of gyrojet pistols but, don't know what ammo they have. If we could get doze rounds for those it would help." Gloo waves a finger in the air. "We also need to remember that sucker can launch poison needles at us as well, so antitoxin needs to be ready."
Once on the jetcopter, she offers, "Commander, if you can get the copter low enough, I may be able to bring the animal down with a few shots." The sniper tilts her head, hoping that she can weaken the next quickdeath they see with a few accurate shots. "As long as it's not too turbulent," she qualifies. "It shouldn't be too much of a problem. I can set it to 15 SEUs until the first hit, then bring it down as needed until it looks like a tangler or doze can make the animal manageable."
Hours later the pair of jetcopters arrive in the vicinity of The Place of True Warriors. With no Quickdeaths in immediate view xZot thumbs his chronocom to the open channel.
"Well we can't hover here all day and all night. We'll have to set down some time to conserve fuel for the trip back. Who wants to go down first?"
xZot looks around for a place to set the jetcopters down, preferably where there is some obvious offer protection to the jetcopter and a height advantage for the assault. Spying a small oasis ringed by rocky outcrops xZot makes for a clearing to set the 'copter down. Raid brings his jetcopter down as close as practical to xZot's machine and the passengers disembark. As xZot and the others discuss setting the copter down, Con surveys his surroundings.
"Commander, what if we built some kind of observation blind? Maybe in a tree line or something? Maybe have it elevated so can get a good view of the surrounding area, and maybe it would allow Siu-Ling to get shots away from a nice safe distance? I don't have any ability to build anything but I know how to camouflage it. I can help those who have the building skills."
xZot listens to Con's suggestion and agrees with the concept,
"A small tower, or the like, will provide some measure of protection and a good vantage point but these rocks may serve equally well." the commander indicates the terrain features surrounding the oasis. "I think, more than anything, we need some bait. Did anyone notice any local game as we were coming in? I don't know what quickdeath's like to eat, except for us that is, but maybe a whiff a fresh blood will bring one in." His question draws a blank as heads shake around him. "If there was a local animal that would qualify as 'quickdeath food' around then catching one and putting it where we want to set the trap might spark the interest of a quickdeath." xZot speculates aloud before continuing to issue orders.
"Raid, you should stay by your 'copter and at the first sign of a quickdeath, get Siu-Ling up in the air and into position. We may need multiple shooters to do this quickly."
"Any takers?" Siu-Ling asks the rest of the crew in the back of the chopper. "How 'bout it, brothers? Who's up for some target practice?"
"I'll join ya Siu." Gloo grabs his laser rifle, a disruptor, stunner and doze grenades. Then with weapons readied, puts the grenades on impact detonation. The quartermaster makes sure the medics have medpacks then readies idself for the task ahead.
"I'm staying right in the pilot's seat with my seat belt on and my sonic knife ready." Raid responds over the radio. "I'll be ready to lift off. Don't worry."
While not wanting to use one of his team as bait, xZot realizes that while we are on the ground they are as much 'bait' as anything. Firmly grabbing his stunstick xZot waits for the inevitable. Mr Sp'ock turns to Sni'ktl and GleepGlooup who are hovering nervously around xZot's jetcopter, obviously in two minds as to where they should deploy.
"Why don't you two take position up behind those rocks?" he suggests, pointing a claw toward the spire west of the oasis. For lack of a better idea, the pair scramble over to take cover behind the rocks. Mr Sp'ock joins Con as he attempts to fashion a primitive hide behind a patch of scrubby vegetation to the south of xZot's position. Using a couple of blankets propped up by sticks and liberal amounts of sand, Con and Sp'ock settle down under the Volturnus sun and the team wait for their prey.
After several hours of exposure to the blazing sun, even under what little shade they can find, the team are reminded once again of the harsh conditions life has had to adapt to on this strange planet. Grumbling about the heat slowly turns to despair when a Quickdeath doesn't appear in the first couple of hours. xZot flicks the send button on his chronocom.
"Hey Snik, you're the nearest thing we've got to an expert. How long do we bake out here?" The vrusk clicks in reply what almost sounds like a human snort of derision before answering.
"Well I don't know nearly as much about these creatures as I'd like to, but any animal that large will need access to a water supply of some sort. I'm guessing that's why the Ul-Mor use this place for their manhood rituals."
No sooner does the science officer answer that Con spots a flash of light to the south moving rapidly in their direction.
"Did you see that?" he asks Sp'ock. The X-O nods silently then raises his chronocom to his mandible and clicks softly to the rest of the team.
"Heads up people, I think we're about to make contact." He reports in his typically understated fashion.
"Stand clear of the moving parts!" Raid yells over the whine of the engine. "We're going up fast. Hang on!" Raid looks over each
shoulder to check on his passengers, then eases his bird off the ground. The team had spotted the creature approaching at a reasonable distance but even so, the pilot cuts some dangerous corners as he rushes to get his helo into the air. Even so Raid worries that he may not reach his projected altitude of a mere 20 meters before the quickdeath close with he team.
"Come on beastie, come on..." Con feeling like the host of Mutual of Clarion Wild Kingdom, keeps his rifle trained on the approaching prey. Con uses his sungoggles to keep the sun out of his eyes and reduce the glare off the sand. Beside him Mr Sp'ock raises his laser rifle and takes aim at the rapidly approaching monster.
Gleep places a dose grenade within easy reach, then uses the rock for better balance and cover and takes careful aim with his laser rifle, set to maximum, he waits to fire when the beastie is within 100 meters for his first shot. Sni'ktl scritches as he nervously fingers his antitox, stimdose and biocort.
"Ok guys, remember we're takin' this one alive. No need to go doing this over again."
"Oooohhh, no problem there, I need to have my head examined for doing this once!" Con says.
Gloo looks at the approaching contact then back at the group raising their weapons as the helo lifts off.
"Uh guys, exactly who is going to fire lethal weaponry and just who is going to subdue? Those with gas mask should put them on." Seeing that lots of lethal weapons are pointed at the target already he reaches for the missiles he had prepared for the ambush, two groups of 3 doze grenades wired together.
Still unable to see the quickdeath, Siu-Ling double-checks her setting, drops to one knee and hears the gallop of the approaching marauder. "Stabbin'!" she whispers as her trigger finger causes everyone around her to clear a path in front of her rifle butt. 20 SEUs of friendly fire are enough to make any sentient move aside. She hears the commands behind her,
"Hold, hold, hold," but can hardly stand the anticipation. One eye closes as her sights zero in on the summit of the hill before her.
Raid is still only halfway through his abbreviated take off check list when the Quickdeath approaches the one hundred meter mark and Mr Sp'ock gives the command to fire. Laser beams lance out from Con and Sp'ocks' position in the primitive hide but only Sp'ock's second shot strike home (30 points). Nanoseconds later another volley stabs forward from Gleep, Siu-Ling, who can now see the approaching quickdeath after slightly changing her position, and xZot. At medium range for his rifle, Gleep was never much chance of scoring a hit but xZot is beside himself when his second shot finds it's mark (10 points). Siu-Ling proves once more why her reputation as a sharpshooter is well deserved, nailing the quickdeath in the upper chest (54 points) and making it stagger as it heads toward the oasis.
Seconds later the unbelievable speed of the quickdeath is demonstrated yet again as it drives headlong through Con's hide seeking to destroy it's occupants. The quickdeath attempts to grapple with Con using it's formidable tentacle attack but just as the creature attacks it's eye stalks retract and in this semi-blinded state, Con's hide is demolished instead of the human fighter. Unfortunately the same is not true for xZot and the quickdeath's tail dart attack, the commander grunts in surprise and pain when the dart lodges in his exposed shoulder (10 points)
Before anyone can react, the quickdeath lashes out again with it's tentacles. This time it succeeds in grabbing Con with it's tentacles and ignominiously stuffs Con into it's gapping maw (30 points). Con drops his rifle and cries out in pain as he struggles to break free of the attack.
As Con hangs in the jaws of death like a rag doll, he realizes that this was not such a bright idea and he must do something other then become the quickdeath' s tasty treat. There are to many scores to settle, too many pubs to close and too many credits to win at the gambling table. The will to survive is too strong in this one. As Con's life flashes before his eyes he reaches for his machete and tries to stab at the beast's jaw until it lets go. He manages to strike deep into the creatures jaw with his first blow (20 points) and is rewarded with a grunt of pain from his assailant.
With Con in immediate peril, Mr Sp'ock also drops his rifle and lashes out with his machete, scoring another wound along the quickdeath's side (20 points).
Raid decides to go ahead with liftoff. Having one chopper in the air would be a good idea if another quickdeath showed up or anything unexpected happened.
GleepGlooup hopes the encumbrance of Con should slow the beast down for another better placed shot. The dralasite attempts to avoid Con as he fires again but this second shot is wide as well, much to Gleep's chagrin.
Staying on 20 SEU for now Siu-Ling takes careful aim, on one knee draining a fifth of her power backpack. Ms d'Avignon, sharpshooter and novice explosivist, waits the necessary second for her long-nosed weapon to recharge itself, its resident beam generator pulsing inside the aluminium housing while another fifth of her pack's total charge is transferred to the rifle's power coupling.
"Ka-pack!" she gives the laser rifle a voice of its own, as she anticipates a direct hit to the animal's rib cage. "Just maim her," she keeps reminding herself. "Avoid the dome." And avoid it she does, in a rare display of humanity, Siu-Ling misses the quickdeath as it swings out of her line of fire at the critical moment, avoiding her beam.
"Shit!" Gloo roars and grabs the grenades he's been working on, the disruptor and stunner and runs towards the fight. Seeing that Con is in the creatures mouth Gloo works way to the side of the beast. "I'm gonna toss these grenades so watch it people! That means you Sp'ock!" Gloo readies ids throw, waiting for the best moment to toss.
"Sorry about this Con," He apologizes in advance and then adds softly "Boro, we will need your stunner to help bring this beast down." He wishes aloud that his fellow dral had joined the capture attempt.
Lancing stabs of lethal laser. Clouds, fumes, gas, blood guts. Con in trouble! Its all as much a blur as the Quickdeath's movements. Sni'ktl focuses his mind, filtering observation to focus on the most critical of paths. He decides in an instant and crosses the sandy stretch between himself and his commander. xZot's body shudders as the poison continues to rack his system (10 points) and then the doctor stabs once and precisely with the antitox into xZot's unsuspecting butt.
Then Gloo's grenades land amongst the antagonists. The quickdeath sways and collapses amongst the wreckage of Con's hide, then Con also unconscious, rolls out of the creatures maw to rest alongside Mr Sp'ock. The vrusk X-O, having also succumbed to Gloo's stun bomb, was already snoring on the sand.
The Gang send up a victory cry as soon as they realize the beast is down. As Sn'iktl attends to the revival of the dozed team members, Raid brings his jetcopter around to hover above the downed quickdeath. Gloo, GleepGlooup and Siu-Ling run several ropes underneath the creatures body and secure them to the underside of the hovering jetcopter then scramble aboard.
Sn'iktl takes his revived patients back to xZot's chopper and after a quick jab of biocort, the juiced up commander takes the helm to pilot the second jetcopter back to the Edestekai village. After several more hours of flying time, the team arrive back triumphant to the waiting Edestekai priesthood.
After another series of ritual greetings for both the BHG and their new God of Justice, the Edestekai agree to meet with the Volturnus alliance on the battlefield against the coming Sathar threat. Relieved that the last component of the alliance is locked in, xZot orders his team back to Mawson's Rest. On the journey back to their home on Volturnus, xZot reflects on this most recent of actions. The team was truly acting as a well oiled machine. Compared to their first encounter with the fearsome quickdeath's, this was almost easy and it was certainly quick! Perhaps this makeshift alliance of primitive natives, crystalline robots and fury dinosaurs might have a snowballs chance on Volturnus?
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